a feast for my parents wedding!

my lovely parents wanted to celebrate the renewal of their wedding vows with a great feast to bring together about 30 of their close friends and family members. who better to cater the meal than their own daughter?! i spent a couple of days in the kitchen cooking up a Greek-themed feast. after which i was a little burnt out from cooking, so it's been a while since my last blog post. for now, here is my menu (more recipes to come soon):

flat bread crackers baked with sea salt and pepper
tzatziki yogurt dip with cucumbers, dill, lemon and spices
roasted carrots tossed with balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme
cucumber, radish and red onion salad lightly pickled with fresh dill
white bean spread with fresh sage, shallots, garlic and lemon zest
grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants, onions and sweet spices
orzo salad with feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts,
bell peppers, green onion and fresh basil
organic champaign grapes, dried figs, fresh apricots, marinated olives
artisan cheeses and breads
grilled lemon-herbed chicken and
smoked wild alaskan salmon (by my father)

the spread

beautiful stuffed grape leaves and peppers

perhaps the best part of the evening was the carrot cake cupcake tower! my parents had a carrot cake for their original wedding, but for a fun summer celebration i wanted cupcakes! a good friend generously gave me an amazing family recipe for carrot cake, which worked perfectly for these delightful cupcakes.

some were topped with organic, unsweetened shaved coconut... other with ribbons of carrots sauteed with maple syrup. gorgeous!

congratulations mike and zoe! you two are such amazing role-models. love you, aub

my family, celebrating the renewed marriage of my parents at the woodland park zoo's carousel

a blue breakfast

it's finally blueberry season! blue dog farm in carnation, washington has a selection of amazing organic blueberries. in less than two hours i had picked over 15 pounds of giant and perfectly ripe blueberries! they are now taking over my fridge and freezer...

blue berry & fig bars!
perfect for breakfast, dessert, or freeze for a later day.
this recipe made a large 9x13 inch pan of bars.

the crust:
in a food processor or blender, grind 2 cups of steel cut oats until fairly fine. then add a quarter cup of flax seed and 1 cup of walnuts. blend until nuts are roughly chopped. remove mixture from blender into a bowl, and mix in: 1 1/2 cups more of oats, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 beaten eggs (or egg whites), 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (more if you like it sweet). mix until mixture starts to hold together... adding more liquid if needed.

the filling:
in a small sauce pan, heat 4 cups of blue berries, the juice of one orange, and a drizzle of maple syrup or agave nectar. bring to a boil, then add a 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch. continue to heat until mixture thickens. then add 1 cup of dried figs, chopped, and the zest of a lemon.

layers: spread 2/3 of the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan. wet your hands to keep the crust from sticking to your fingers! if you can't cover the entire bottom of your pan, just use a portion of it instead of making it too thin. even out the crust and then top with the blueberry fig filling. the filling should be about half an inch thick or more. then sprinkle the rest of your oat and nut mixture onto the top. it's ok if it's not entirely covered.

bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until oats start to brown. let cool completely before trying to cut these guys into bars! perfect for breakfast with a scoop of greek yogurt and honey, or serve for dessert with some frozen yogurt! you can even wrap them individually and freeze them - then just remove one the night before to let thaw out in your fridge for the next morning!

fancied quesadillas and flavorful salsas

i couldn't even remember the last time i had made a quesadilla... but once i made these, i realized how much i had missed such yummy goodness! quesadillas stuffed roasted piquillo peppers, cilantro and jack cheese, along aside two awesome salsa salads: a corn & basil salsa, and a mango & rhubarb salsa!

corn & basil salsa salad:
this is one of my favorite summer time salads. i prefer to use cherry tomatoes (from my parents garden) but they are far from ripe now. luckily, we do have tons of basil growing though! mix:
2-3 ears of corn, hulled, boil for about 2 minutes and let cool, then slice off the cob
1-2 bell peppers, any color
1 cup diced tomatoes, or a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
large handful of basil, sliced
small handful of cilantro, sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

mango & rhubarb salsa:
delicious, sweet, tangy, great textures and flavor combination! mix:
1-2 ripe mangos, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2-3 stalks of rhubarb, halved lengthwise, and chopped into quarter-inch slices
1 green onion, sliced
1 small chilli, or half a red bell pepper if you don't want the spice
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
juice of half lemon
top with chives
add a dash of sugar if your mango isn't ripe enough to offset the sour of the rhubarb or spice

the simple part of this meal is making the quesadillas: i used smaller corn tortillas, but others prefer flour tortillas. i bought a jar of roasted piquillo peppers - bright red and full of smoky flavor without too much spice - sliced those up, and added them between layers of shredded jack cheese with some cilantro. grill on a frying pan or in the oven, slowly, until both sides are lightly browned.