sueños tropicales / tropical dreams

This past weekend I hosted a tropical moving away party for one of my best friends I.  After countless hours of browsing on Pinterest, I came up with a plethora of tropical party ideas, ranging from decor to finger foods to bar setups. I wanted the overall ambiance to embody a tropical glam feel. Below I have highlighted some of the DIYs & party treats that were a part of our upscale luau…any of these sassy, creative & chic ideas can be utilized for outdoor gatherings & parties all season long. Check out my photos below to gain some inspo for your next shindig:

IMG_1592a sassy tropical invitation was a must…check out paperlesspost.com for free online customized party cards IMG_1175IMG_1155I spray painted pineapples metallic gold & white to use as decor (alongside candles & tropical oversized greenery) to amp up the glam feelProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_1552 (2)and of course no tropical party is complete without a beautiful bird of paradise flower arrangement…IMG_1571 (1).JPGIMG_1570.JPG
I utilized bright pops of color in throw pillows & my porch decor to tie together with the theme…Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetIMG_1576 (1).JPGIMG_1550 (1).JPGIMG_1578 (2).JPG
BAR & DRINKS //

I served a tropical rendition of my favorite island sip, the Painkiller (coconut milk & passion fruit juice). I found the cutest rock candy sticks to use as sassy swizzle sticks alongside my tropical concoction! Fun coral cups & aqua napkins tied my bar cart all together (note: it was breezy outside so I used a brown coconut as a weight to hold my napkins down..eeek the cuteness is killing me!)  I also served a tub filled with coconut waters on ice for my guests to stay hydrated the tropical way. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_1573.JPGIMG_1559.JPGlast but not least, the icing on the cake for my alcoholic “beverage”selection–the cutest damn jello shots EVER. I’m completely obsessed with these (thank you Pinterest). I simply halved a lime, & carved out the inner pulp so the perfect cup-shaped lime shell remained. I then mixed watermelon jell-O with passion fruit rum & poured the mixture into the hollowed out lime shells. I let the Jell-O set for 4 hours–& out came the cutest little baby watermelon shots!! I added a sprinkle of sesame seeds (you can’t taste them at all) on top to give the effect of watermelon seeds. IMG_1424I also surprised my guests with tropical goody bags-filled with a small can of pineapple juice, a baby shot of Malibu coconut rum & a baby shot of regular rum. The perfect party favor filled with island flavors. & don’t forget the Hawaiian paper umbrellas!! 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetIMG_1566.JPG

SNACKS & NIBBLES //

I served a pineapple shaped cheese ball-such a hit. I used my normal cheese ball recipe and shaped it into a pineapple. I layered whole pecans around the top of the cheese ball to mimic a pineapple pattern. Lastly, I stuck the leaf part of a fresh pineapple onto the top of the cheese ball for the complete look. So cute & so easy!Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetI also had individual cups of tropical trail mix-macadamia nuts, peanuts, white chocolate chips, cashews & dried banana chips. I served fresh Thai basil rolls with peanut dipping sauce (one of my guilty pleasures. Also served cold so that makes it a perfect party app) Lastly, I served assorted fruit kebabs & chocolate covered banana bites! Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Advertisements

sandy coconuts & palm leaves

all this talk on my blog about cocktails, Thailand, spring weather & porch decor has got me in the mood! This weekend I will be hosting a tropical themed porch party. I’m going for a tropical-bohemian-chic look, which is my favorite design style as of late….shades of green accented with deep purples & peachy pinks, tropical greenery & florals, pops of metallic, natural wood table settings & silver serving trays, pineapple motifs, tropical themed foods (such as chocolate covered frozen banana bites & coconut macaroons!), & of course a delicious signature coco-pineapple cocktail concoction. This ain’t your average Luau! & a full-monty tropical party isn’t complete without adult goody bags- mine will be sporting baby bottles of Malibu rum & pineapple juice! A complete blog post will follow the event, showcasing the little design details I have put together. Stay tuned! For now, I thought I would really get my creative juices flowing with a post dedicated to all things tropical !  Here are a few (or a lot) of inspirations that have helped me to channel the island vibes! All photos below are via Pinterest. 

spring sips

it’s about that time– 70 degree weather, blue skies, a steady breeze, a patio lit with mystical string lights, good company & outdoor grilling. Kick back & round it all out with a beautiful craft cocktail. I love mixing and matching fun & funky cocktail flavors, & trying new renditions of the classics-so here I’ve put together a list of must try sips this season.

(note: cocktails are best paired alongside a bohemian chic porch–look out for a post coming soon highlighting porch decor to channel your boho spring patio oasis!)


Untitled presentation.png1 can of blood orange San Pellegrino / 2.5 shots of vodka / splash of POMMA pomegranate liquor / 5-6 strawberries, muddled / 3/4 cup frozen peaches, partially thawed / 1 shot of grapefruit juice / 1 shot of POM juice / crushed ice

muddle fruits-mix all liquids & shake over crushed ice-pour drink over muddled fruits-garnish with basil, rosemary, or mint

uptownBoho original


Untitled presentation (92).pngmargarita: 1 oz gold tequila / 1 oz triple sec / 1/2 oz fresh OJ / 1 oz simple syrup
simple syrup: 1 cup organic sugar / 1 cup water / 1 TBSP turmeric
rim: 1/2 tsp ground turmeric / 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder / 2 tsp sea salt

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (94)

2 cups blackberries / 1/2 cup sugar / 1/4 cup water / 4 cups club soda / vanilla ice cream / gin  / rosemary

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (95).pngcocktail: 1.5 oz simple syrup / few drops of bitters / 2 blood orange slices / 6 oz blood orange juice / 1.5 oz bourbon / 2 oz club soda / herbs for garnish
spicy vanilla sugar: 1/2 cup sugar / pinch of cayenne pepper / 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

view the original full recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (96).png4 oz ginger infused vodka / 4 oz fresh green apple lime juice / 1 TBSP honey simple syrup

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentationmargarita: 4 oz tequila / 2 limes juiced / 4 oz blackberry simple syrup / 1 egg white / 2 sprigs rosemary, muddled / salt
blackberry simple syrup: 4 cups blackberries / 2 cups sugar / 2 cups water

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (93).pngcocktail: 4 tbsp fresh fig puree / 2 oz vodka / juice of 1 lemon / 2 oz rosemary honey simple syrup / club soda
simple syrup: 1/2 cup honey / 1/2 cup water / 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (98).png1/2 cup fresh raspberries / 3-4 large mint leaves / 1 large scoop lemon sorbet / 6-7 oz dry Italian prosecco

view the full original recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (99).png rum / 5-6 mint leaves / 2 TBS sugar / 1 oz fresh lime juice / 1 TBS fresh passion fruit juice / passion fruit for garnish / 6 oz sparkling water

view the full recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation (100).png1 cup strong hot coffee / 1 TBSP coconut sugar / 1.5 oz rum / 1/2 cup coconut milk / 2 TBSP toasted coconut / whipped cream

view the full recipe & photos here


Untitled presentation.png cocktail: 1/4 cup apricot puree / 2 scoops coconut sorbet / 12 oz chilled prosecco
apricot puree: 4 apricots pitted & chopped / 1.5 cups water / 1/2 cup sugar / pinch of salt

view the original recipe & photos here 

oh the places you’ll go

My new bucket list goal is what I’m calling 30 under 30-to travel to 30 countries by the time I turn 30 years old. I’ve already made it more than halfway, but here are a few of my top must-see travel destinations for the upcoming years.

Untitled presentation (31)                                                                               

Untitled presentation (30).pngAny place where you can order an entire meal for 1 U.S. dollar is high on my radar. Additionally, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about the freshness and quality of food in Vietnam. Pho-ck yeah. Add on beautiful turquoise bays, lush greenery, and rich culture, and you’ve got a country that easily makes it’s way onto my list.

wanderlust1 (1)

                                                                                 

Untitled presentation (33)A few years ago I visited France for the first time.  One thing I missed, however, was the experience of the French countryside, most evident in the southeastern region of Provence–characterized by vast fields of purple lavender, the smell of fresh thyme, and picturesque villas and ruins. Provence is also famed for its world class antiquing, wine tasting, and food. My mom is the ultimate shabby chic vintage lover, so this is a trip high up on my radar for a mother-daughter getaway. My dream trip to Provence would include renting a car and cruising through the stunning French countryside. And lots of wine.

wanderlust6.png

                                                                                  

Untitled presentation (34).pngI honestly don’t know that much about Morocco, but I do know that I’m obsessed with interior design and Moroccan elements speak my language. I’m absolutely head over heels with Moroccan architecture, patterns, colors, materials, and design elements. Ornate patterned tiles in shades of blue and yellow. glass plated silver lanterns, unusual shaped windows and doors. My reasons for visiting Morocco lie in the design field, but I would also love to experience the foods, vibrant villages, and markets that make up a place unlike anywhere I’ve ever traveled.

WANDERLUST4 (1).png

                                                                                

Untitled presentation (35).pngRocky coves, sandy crescents, the infamous blue and white clad hillside villages, and grilled octopus that is practically still swimming–these are some of the reasons why Greece has been on my travel list for years.  I absolutely love the simplistic architecture and design elements that capture Greece, along with knockout food and a relaxed vibe every day of the week. The Small Cyclades are a particularly remote group of 4 islands, away from the larger and more touristy destinations of Greece.         wanderlust9.png

                                                                                  

Untitled presentation (36)The next continent that I plan to take on is South America. I am particularly drawn to Columbia for it’s less-touristy, bright and bold atmosphere.  Cartagena is the “queen of the Carribbean coast”       (-Lonely Planet), a gorgeous fishing town with old-world colonial charm.  From people watching in chic cafes in the old town, to soaking up the history lining the cobble-paved streets, or relaxing on the pristine, high-class beaches of Bocagrande to the South, Cartagena is a vibrant mix of old and new, of fast and slow.  I can’t wait to experience such a rich culture first hand.

wanderlust7.png

                                                                                     

Untitled presentation (37)Quite possibly one of the most magical places on earth, Cinque Terre is a group of 5 fishing villages nestled side by side on one of the most stunning coastal backdrops known to man. Marked by steeply terraced cliffs dotted with mystical shades of color, Cinque Terre is an absolutely stunning getaway. Loads of history, arts, and a rich Italian culture put this magnificent little corner of the world at the top of my wanderlust list.

Untitled presentation (38).png

                                                                          

Untitled presentation (39)My perception of South America as a whole can be captured in this one city: bustling, energetic, seductive, and sexy. Old neighborhoods lined with coffee shops, romantic cafes lit by candles, people doing the Tango all through the night, and stunning architecture are what draw me in. The city itself is said to have a European feel to it, with a fiery Latin American twist.  Additionally, Buenos Aires boasts a heavy artistic scene, creating the ultimate creative playground for adventure seekers like myself.

Untitled presentation (47).png

                                                                      

Untitled presentation (41)An island nestled in Indonesia, Bali is best known for its pristine beaches, a plethora of lush greenery and sprawling rice paddies, juicy fresh fruits & juices, volcanic mountains, and coral reefs. From my experience island-hopping around Thailand, I’m already well aware that the islands sprawling across SE Asia have a magical & surreal element to them. I can only imagine the rich, bustling culture, vibrant markets, and emerald-turquoise waters that make up this tropical paradise.

WANDERLUST5.png                                                                           

Untitled presentation (42).pngPortugal has made it onto my list for it’s diversity: some of the most stunning beaches in Europe, on the Southern coast of Algrave; hiking amidst granite mountain peaks and jagged cliffs; exploring through colorful small villages and rich historical towns; all night drinking and dancing festivals; and a vibrant food scene featuring fresh seafood, crusty breads, olives, cheeses, smoked meats & red wines. Enough said.

Untitled presentation (44).png

                                                                                         

Untitled presentation (45)I had a layover once in the tiny, 4 room airport in Reykjavik, Iceland and ever since then I’ve been intrigued by this country. Maybe a somewhat strange place (the national food is a hot dog..) but also a beautiful country with insane, one of a kind landscapes and natural phenomenons that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

wanderlust2 (1).png 

 

taste of the tropics

I decided to take some of my favorite flavors and marry them into the goodness of a bowl…pina coladas, coconut shrimp, avocado, and ginger. The result was a beautiful bowl delight which I’m calling a Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl. I hand breaded and baked my own coconut shrimp for a healthy version of the deep-fried, crunchy island classic. I then built a bowl with my favorite salad ingredients, and I tied in a ginger-based dressing for an Asian kick. Coconut shrimp paired with citrus is a no-brainer, so I threw together a quick pineapple basil salsa. The final product was a tropical infusion of Island-Asian flavors. I also added some peanuts last minute to bring in some crunch, but next time I would opt for Macadamia Nuts instead. Though I didn’t follow a recipe, I’ll list the ingredients below, along with approximate amounts and steps.

FOR THE SHRIMP:

1 pound (20-25 count) large shrimp, butterflied
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
~10 crushed whole grain crackers (1 cup ground)…(this is the healthy version, use Panko bread crumbs if you aren’t into the healthy sh*T!)
Olive oil for spraying the baking sheet
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   2. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, or spray a sheet with olive oil   3. Put the crackers in a sealed ziploc bag and crush them (with a rolling pin or meat-pounder or some other heavy object) until they resemble finely ground bread crumbs.    4. Set up your breading station: place the flour in a bowl; whisk the eggs and put them in a separate bowl; and mix the coconut and bread crumbs and put them in a bowl.   5. Sprinkle the deveined and butterflied shrimp with salt and pepper.   6. Working in batches, first dip the cleaned shrimp in the flour, and shake off excess; second dip the floured shrimp into the egg mix; lastly dip the shrimp into the coconut-crumb mixture, making sure to press the coconut onto the shrimp so it sticks in place. 7. Transfer breaded shrimp to the baking sheet; Bake for about 15 minutes,until coconut begins to lightly brown.

PINEAPPLE SALSA:

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
Handful of basil, thinly sliced
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients in a bowl together. Add more lime juice if desired.  

DRESSING- to make a tangy vinaigrette, I combined:

~1/4 cup of my favorite ginger dressing
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1-2 tsp of rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime

This is an approximation, so if it tastes too much like vinegar or lime juice, then add more water and honey. If it tastes too much like ginger dressing, then add more of the other ingredients until you reach a good balance.

OTHER BOWL INGREDIENTS:

A handful of lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
Few thin slices of red onion
~4-5 jalapeno slices
~Handful of peanuts OR macadamia nuts
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Sesame seeds for garnish

Arrange all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the nuts and sesame seeds. Drizzle the salad mix with the dressing until evenly coated. Next add the pineapple salsa, the coconut shrimp, the nuts and the sesame seeds and enjoy.

NOTE: this will make a large batch of coconut shrimp. I ate them as leftovers with a BBQ-jerk dipping sauce. They would also go well as a snack alongside a mango chutney.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Ingredient Prep

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Coconut shrimp breading station [flour dust, egg wash, coconut]

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Final coconut crusted shrimp ready to bake

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Final Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl: Lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, jalapenos, & avocado slices drizzled with a lime-ginger-honey vinaigrette / pineapple-basil salsa / baked coconut shrimp / roasted peanuts & black sesame seed garnishProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

8th wonder of the world

In August 2015, I discovered a completely magical place. A place I have daydreamed about finding for years. A place I have envisioned myself stopping by after a long day of work, as my way of relaxing. No, I’m not talking about a spa, Disney World, or an-all-you-can-drink alcohol buffet. I am talking about the ultimate food lovers dream…a cornucopia of smells, flavors, cultures.  This 8th wonder of the world is better known as BOROUGH MARKET in London. I have been to my share of food havens (coming from a person who used to go wander around the aisles of Whole Foods for fun). I love farmers markets, organic shops and farms. Any place where I can go and aimlessly meander around looking at food, while picking up on new ingredients and flavors and concocting recipes in my head as I go along.

Borough Market is located in the heart of London, underneath London Bridge. It is the only independently run market in all of London. The market dates back to 1756, still in the same location.  I was most astounded at the variety of things going on in this place. The market boasts over a 100 individual stalls, with local artisan meats, cheeses, produce, vegetables, drinks and flowers along with a huge variety of international fare. To top it off there is a food truck lot outside with cuisines galore (goat milk ice cream sundaes, anyone?) There are literally about 17 different vendors here that only sell varieties of cheese. But, let me cut to the good stuff. Here is a sample of what I saw in my 4 hour venture around Borough market:

cheeses raised on local British, French, Italian, Swiss, and Irish farms. Meats imported from Spain, Gelatos handcrafted from the boys in the North of Italy. Locally crafted liquors, Wines from vineyards in France, Whiskeys from Ireland, a beer Shoppe from Germany, an espresso bar from Italy, and teas imported from India and around the UK. A giant selection of the freshest meat and still-swimming seafoods, and an oyster bar. Spice and condiment shops to be paired with freshly baked breads and pastries made by plump French ladies in flour-dusted chef hats. A shop selling fresh pastas (you can watch the guys in the back rolling the pasta sheets out), and a stall specializing in craft sangria flavors. A full on jungle-themed shop, with tropical flowers everywhere. A stall that sells only different varieties of mushrooms from around the world. A craft paella stand. Freshly pressed juices and an organic smoothie bar. An olive oil boutique. A stall specializing in truffles, and truffle-infused oils. There is even a French stall that sells antiques.

Borough Market quickly made its way to the top rankings of my ongoing favorite-places-in-the-world-list.  Just walking around for a couple of hours will entirely expand your knowledge of food and worldly cuisines. The market embodies a hustling, vibrant atmosphere with the buzzing of different languages alongside aromas sent down from the Heavens. This place is a truly gratifying learning experience with lots of free samples. An experience where all 5 senses are awoken and stimulated in new ways. Thank you London, you’ve outdone yourself again.