Category Archives: Holiday Ideas

Succulent Topped Pumpkins for Fall

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I just got back from a wonderful two-day fall event at Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA. If you are a succulent lover, visit them and you will feel like you died and went to heaven. There are acres and acres of colorful and amazing varieties of succulents and roses, lining the fields and hillsides and staging areas of design. It was also fun to be with 200+ others who are intrigued and obsessed by these plants – some even more than me!

One of the events I participated in was hosted by Laura Eubanks of Serenity Gardens. With her excellent direction, we created a gorgeous Succulent Topped Pumpkin centerpiece, which will last well through the holidays. Three years ago, this creative Master Gardener was looking for something unusual to accent her holiday decorations, and after a little experimenting, she came up with the succulent pumpkin! Her creations are available for sale at a variety of locations including Roger’s Gardens and through her website. You can also request a custom gift, centerpiece or landscape arrangement and have it shipped to any location.

Or – like me – you can learn to do it yourself! The workshop included all the tools you need but here’s the short list if you want to DIY:

  • Pumpkin
  • Florist Moss
  • Cuttings of a variety of succulents in varying sizes
  • Cones, Acorns, Magnolia Pods
  • Craft Glue or Hot Glue Gun

Watch this instructional 4-minute video with Laura and photojournalist/author Debra Lee Baldwin for complete directions on creating your own masterpiece. Have fun! Send pictures!

Waterwise Botanicals Fall Garden Party

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Waterwise Botanicals Fall Garden Party

Looking for something succulent to do this Friday and Saturday October 25-26, 2013? Join me at a Fall Garden Party at Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA.

This two day event features Debra Lee Baldwin, garden photojournalist and author. As Debra introduces some of her favorite easy-care succulents for Southern CA gardens, she explains how to beautifully combine them in landscapes, gardens and containers. Based on her new book,  Succulents Simplified, this fun and informative presentation celebrates the shapes, colors and textures of succulents, and gives tips for keeping them fat and sassy. Come be reassured, entertained and inspired! Book signing follows.

Next on the schedule is a Holiday Succulent Centerpiece Workshop.
Lois Walag, owner of Succulent Salon is “Obsessed” with succulents! She’ll teach you how to make a living centerpiece that will bring you years of perennial joy! Registration fee: $45. Price includes all material to construct a 10″ diameter centerpiece. Pruners are suggested and will be available for purchase.  Limited Space. Students must register in advance via PayPal on Lois’ website at www.succulentsalon.com.

Saturday morning features Rebecca Sweet, author, designer, and book launch of her newest, Refresh Your Garden Design – Simple Strategies to Wake a Weary Garden. With all of the buzzwords and trends in gardening these days, how do you know where to begin? Rebecca takes a fresh approach to explain, simplify and reinterpret traditional design concepts for home gardeners of all levels. Both practical and inspirational, you will learn how to identify what has gone wrong with your garden and, more importantly, how to fix the problem. Book signing follows.

We are looking forward to the entire weekend and expanding our love and knowledge of succulents. Hope to see you there! Make sure to RSVP. This event is free!

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce

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IMG_0657I love Bon Appetit magazine – it helps me to think outside the box and cook things with a little more flair and elegance. Cooking boxed mac and cheese for ten years can really shut you down. While thumbing through a recent issue, it was the photo of the whole cauliflower that caught my eye, not so much the recipe. Here was a whole roasted cauliflower prepared like I had never seen before. Because I am on a lighter diet, I changed it up, left out the sugar, and really modified the goat cheese dip, but it was such a treat! I served it with blackened tilapia and a green salad, a simple dinner but so amazing. You gotta try this!

Here’s my  variation, but all the credit goes to Bon Appetit.

Ingredients

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes1 bay leaf
  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed

Goat Cheese Dip

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup non fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)

Preparation

Roasted Cauliflower

  • Preheat oven to 475°. Bring wine, oil, kosher salt, juice, butter, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15-20 minutes.
  • Using 2 slotted spoons or a mesh spider, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet, draining well. Roast, rotating sheet halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes.

Goat Cheese Dip Assembly

  • While cauliflower is roasting, blend goat cheese, yogurt, milk, and oil in a small bowl until smooth; season with sea salt. Transfer  cheese mixture to a serving bowl and drizzle with oil.
  • Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with goat cheese sauce.
  • DO AHEAD: Whipped goat cheese can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2013/05/whole-roasted-cauliflower-with-whipped-goat-cheese#ixzz2TJP8eJv1

White House Kale Salad

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My garden is overflowing with kale – I’m not complaining! It just gave me more incentive to try a new version of kale salad. This recipe was served at the White House to the Obama’s on Thanksgiving and was written up in the Washington Post. I made it a couple nights ago (it’s perfect for spring time) and it was BOMB! We had some leftovers, which made an amazing lunch the next day – not too soggy and the flavor maybe even better. Having not been acquainted with fennel, it was really a nice addition and not too overpowering. And don’t leave out the fresh jalapenos! I also used regular toasted almonds spiced with cumin and smoked paprika, since marcona almonds are not available at my local market.

White House Kale Salad

6 servings
MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Whisk to recombine before serving.

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • Juice of 2 medium lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 2 bunches young kale, washed and spun dry, stacked and cut into thin slices
  • 1 bulb fennel (fronds, stems and outer layer removed or reserved for another use), cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, white and light-green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or cut into slivers
  • 4 ounces spiced marcona almonds (one cup; see NOTE)

Directions:

For the dressing: Combine the shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad: Place the kale in a large serving bowl. About 10 minutes before serving, add the dressing to taste and toss to coat evenly. (You might not use all the dressing.)

Add the fennel, radishes, jalapenos, scallion, cheese and almonds, tossing to incorporate.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: Spiced marcona almonds might be hard to find in a store, but you can make your own. Whisk an egg white in a medium bowl, add 1 cup of marcona almonds and toss to coat. Combine 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika in a separate medium bowl. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Cool before using.

Gulliver’s Creamed Corn w/Parm

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Time to pull out the favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner! I started making this 12 years ago, and it’s a hit every time. This morning my Colorado friend Mac asked me to email it to her, so thought I would post for you as well! The recipe is adapted from the famous Gulliver’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

Gulliver’s Creamed Corn with Parmesan

Serves 8

2 (20 oz.) packages frozen corn kernels
8 oz. whipping cream
8 oz. milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 good pinch cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons flour

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Combine ingredients up to cayenne pepper in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer 5 minutes.
3. Blend melted butter with flour.
4. Add to the corn and cook on low until thickened, about 5 minutes.
5. Mix well and remove from heat.

Put finished corn in heat proof casserole, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 min at 350′, then lightly brown under broiler.

Succulent Candles

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Candace sent me this link to some awesome succulent candles at one of my favorite stores, Tuvalu in Laguna Beach. Only $6 each, they would make a great accent for a dinner party placesetting. Also says you can float them in water. When you visit Tuvalu, make sure to check out Candace’s Neckcandy jewelry creations!

Here Fishy Fishy

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My friend Carrie moved from California to Colorado and back to California just like me. She’s a quilter and painter and crafter, so when I started this blog, she was one of the first to reply. Today she sent me her own succulent project – her brother just put in a pond and she found this fish container and added succulent clippings from her own garden. She’s gifting it to him, and I bet he will love it! Thanks Carrie!

Pumpkin Pot

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I saw this Pumpkin Pot in the Los Rios District of San Juan Capistrano. I had to take a close look because the pot looked just like a pumpkin…and it was – a real one! This would make such a fun Thanksgiving centerpiece. When the pumpkin starts to soften too much you could just repot the whole thing in a new container. Great idea!

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