Summer Afternoon Tea Extravaganza

Last year my mom and I started a new tradition to host a summer afternoon tea. A few weeks ago we celebrated our Second Annual Summer Afternoon Tea Extravaganza.

We hosted twenty of my mom’s closest friends and family and served a multi course meal which included soup, sandwiches, desserts, biscuits and cookies, and a variety of teas. We set the table with my mom’s white china and used mismatched floral tea ware for a more informal feel. For centerpieces we used daisies in thrifted tumblers and added taper candles in glass holders for a classy look. We also set out hats on the chairs for the guests to wear. So much fun! Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

We used the Chintz pattern set I gave my mom for Mother's Day.

We used the Chintz pattern set I gave my mom for Mother’s Day.

Fresh daisies adorned our table

Fresh daisies adorned our table.

My mom made her delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, which is always a crowd pleaser.

My mom made her delicious roasted butternut squash soup, which is always a crowd pleaser.

Traditional cucumber sandwiches are always a favorite.

Traditional cucumber sandwiches are always a favorite.

These open faced Mozzarella-Tomato bites were delish!

These open faced mozzarella & tomato bites were delish!

For dessert we had an assortment of biscuits and tea cookies as well as fruit tarts and other yummy treats.

For dessert we had an assortment of biscuits and tea cookies as well as fruit tarts and other yummy treats.

I made delicious fresh strawberry cupcakes.

I made delicious fresh strawberry cupcakes which my sister in law decorated so beautifully.

My 9 year old made her very own Victoria Sponge with fresh berries and whipped cream topping.

My 9 year old made her very own Victoria Sponge with fresh berries and whipped cream topping.

We had a wonderful afternoon together laughing, eating, sipping tea, and enjoying each other’s company. There really is no better way to enjoy an afternoon than in the company of those you love and hold dear. Truly, life is better with friends and tea, of course! We can not wait to do this again next year.

Enjoy!

~Ana

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Inspiration Monday #2

While on vacation in Florida, we visited the zoo. What a nice way to spend the day! While my husband was out fishing with my brother and a friend, my sister in law and I packed up the kids in the car and headed out. It was a blistering hot day but the kids really enjoyed the visit to the zoo. I too, had a wonderful time photographing the flora and fauna on exhibition. I was really inspired by the vibrant colors of the blooming flowers and the animals. Louis Armstrong said it best in his song about the beauty of our world… I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

What’s inspiring you?

~Ana

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Cooking with Kids

Hi friends! I have surely missed all of you! Sorry that I have been MIA. I have been traveling for the past few weeks. I will be in and out for the next few weeks as I will still be traveling but I will try to post as often as possible. Aside from traveling, I  have also been busy wrapping up some projects.

One of the awesome projects I worked on was  a summer cooking class for children ages 9 through 13. In the class, I introduced them to basic cooking skills using fruits and veggies. For our first class we made Roasted Tomato Soup and Apple Crisp.  The lessons included simple recipes that showcased techniques and basic knife skills. Their goal was to produce the two  recipes using techniques that we covered in class. I could not believe the results! I was amazed at how fast kids learn. They truly are little sponges, capable of absorbing incredible amounts of information! They produced the dishes with such skill and finesse! For homework, the kids were to reproduce the dishes all on their own for their families, at home.

One of the advantages of teaching this class was being able to have my daughter join me. She has been cooking with me since she was about 2 or 3 years old but it wasn’t until about two years ago that she became very interested in learning technique. I took the class as an opportunity to hone her skills and she loved it. I have found through the years that when you involve kids in the cooking process at home, they will be more likely to try the food they make and can even develop a love for cooking. I really enjoyed seeing her cooking all on her own. She was so proud of herself and her accomplishments! Her daddy and I were too. And of course, we got to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

These two recipes are great for kids and adults just learning to cook. They require minimal prep and very few ingredients,yet they are chock-full of flavor. Here it goes…

Roasted Tomato Soup

15 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 Garlic head, pealed (whole)

3 tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 teaspoons Italian herbs (seasoning)

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)

1/4 cup Heavy cream

1/2 cup water (or as needed to adjust consistency)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450º F. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, garlic, and salt. Mix together until well coated.

2. In a roasting pan, spread the tomato mixture evenly and roast in the oven until soft. About 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and carefully pour in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

5. Pour into a large cooking pot, add water, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and stir together to combine.

6. Add more salt, only if it needs it, one teaspoon at a time and stir to mix well.

7. On medium heat, allow soup to come to a simmer (it will be bubbling slightly) stir occasionally and once it comes to a simmer, turn off the heat.

8. Serve immediately and garnish with a side of crusty bread.

Apple Crisp

4 medium  Apples, thinly sliced

1⁄2 cup Brown sugar

1⁄3 cup All Purpose Flour

3⁄4 cup Oatmeal

1 1⁄2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

1⁄3 cup Butter, softened

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray or grease it with butter; place sliced apples in bottom of pan.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, and cinnamon.

3. Stir butter into sugar mixture until crumbly.

4. Sprinkle crumbly mixture over the apples.

5. Bake 30-40 minutes or until fruit is tender and top browns.

The pictures are my daughter’s finished dishes. She did a great job! Don’t you think? I hope you and your kiddos try these recipes. They are a great way to introduce your child to the world of cooking. If you do try them, write me a comment. I would love to know how you all liked them!

Enjoy!

~Ana

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