Summer Sunday : Afternoon Tea

My idea of an ideal Sunday afternoon is getting my closest friends together for an English inspired afternoon tea session.

Conversations and the aroma of baked goodies filling the air. It wouldn’t be tea time without an elegant selection of tea cups and fresh cut flowers from the garden!

 

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Here is whats on the Menu:

  1. Daarjeling, Masala Chai | My grandmother brought loose leaf Daarjeling tea from a tea plantation in Daarjeling, India. This tea was so fragrant and infused with spices such as whole cinnamon and cardamom for an added warmth.
  2. Cucumber Tea Sandwiches | thinly sliced cucumbers, pepper jack cheese, lemon-dill mayo
  3. Chicken Cranberry Sandwiches |oven roasted chicken, cranberries, smoked chipotle gouda, sourdough bread , dijon mustard
  4. Personal Chicken Pot Pies | Chicken, carrots, peas in a creamy Alfredo sauce, topped with crust
  5. Cinnamon Streusal Muffins | These are from a boxed mix, but are delicious!
  6. Sparkling White Grape Cider | Passionfruit Italian Soda 

 

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This is from another tea that I hosted with Zaina. We switched things up a bit and added homeade vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate frosting to the menu. Strawberries and nutella, meringue cookies from a local bakery, added more sweetness to the table.

The understated yet elegant runner is from Crate and Barrel. Crate and Barrel has fantastic dining decor items.

We added a string of Christmas tree lights for some fun.

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This comforting and light pumpkin spiced cake is an amazing fall addition to an Afternoon tea. I added some color to the platter with some fresh sprigs of rosemary from the garden. 

Scones are traditionally the heart of an English Afternoon Tea. The Tea parties depicted above did not have them. But, I do love make lemon blueberry scones. I use Tiffani Thiessan’s recipe – https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/blueberry-lemon-scones

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They are super easy to make and always come out spectacular. I serve them with raspberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream from Whole Foods. Clotted cream can be difficult to find in the States; the one I buy is the real deal and imported from England.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

 

The Perfect Weekday

I love a casual weekday where I can do things that I love. These ideal weekdays are a rare treasure. However, when they do occur, although understated, they are beyond special.

I started the day poolside with a homemade breakfast parfait. It had greek yogurt, fresh berries, granola, almonds, and a drizzle of honey.

 

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After this delightful breakfast, I went to Rolling Greens, a local nursery, to get some indoor trees for our house.

This was an adventure in itself. I love Rolling Greens.

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I ended up getting this tree for our living room. It adds so much freshness and a splash of color to our otherwise monochromatic living room.

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They had some rustic flowers laying out on the counter.

For lunch, I decided to make a Cleo inspired Grilled Halloumi, Watermelon Salad on a bed of lettuce with a light vinaigrette. Halloumi is a Mediterranean semi-hard cheese and its flavors are released when grilled.

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This was scrumptious.

Afternoon snack

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Would it even be a relaxing weekday, if you didn’t watch your favorite tv show? I had to make some stove top hot chocolate with dark chocolate, some half & half for added creaminess, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I also cut up some fresh strawberries and had a mini chocolate croissant from Whole Foods.

Ramekins make everything better, right.

 

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For dinner, I arranged a cheese board with three types of cheeses, grilled crostini, fresh grapes, walnuts, raspberry jam, and a drizzle of honey.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

Shakshuka : A Mediterranean Breakfast

 

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This is my signature and go to breakfast dish – Shakshuka. A Mediterranean staple, I fell in love with this in my travels to Israel and Arabia.

Shakshuka is essentially eggs that are cooked in a homemade,stewed tomato sauce.

I serve cucumbers and feta on the side. Sprinkle a little Zaa’tar (Middle Eastern dried herbs- thyme, oregano, etc.) on top for an earthy finish.

I also serve with some warm pita bread or buttered well done, English muffins.

 

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Shiza’s Shakshuka

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 1: sautee in olive oil

  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 minced green or red bell pepper
  • A few cloves of minced garlic

Spices:

  • Ras El Hanout, sold at World Market, healthy amount (few tablespoons) | this adds an incredible layer of warmth and fragrance
  • cumin powder (about a teaspoon)
  • red chilli powder or paprika depending on how spicy you want it to be
  • salt to taste

Step 2:

  • 1- 35 ounce can of Whole Italian Tomatoes (chop these canned whole tomatoes yourself prior to putting in the pan)
  • After adding in the spices, if the sauce tastes acidic add a little bit of sugar to offset the acidity – this depends on how it tastes after adding in the spices. You have to taste the sauce and decide for yourself.
  • Harissa – morrocan tomato paste , sold at world market ( a few tablespoons); deepens the flavor of the sauce ; can substitute tomato paste

Step 3:  in a separate ramekin, crack each egg one by one and then start placing the eggs directly into the sauce one by one. I add as many eggs as I think will fit into the sauce and the pan. Typically about 8-10 eggs are added.

  • Once all of the eggs are in the pan of sauce, sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the eggs
  • Place the Pan of Shakshuka into the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes.
  • You know it is ready when an inserted wooden toothpick into the egg comes out clean
  • Garnish with some chopped cilantro for added freshness

 

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Fresh flowers are completely optional, but I think it makes all of the difference to the aesthetic of the table. I arranged these bouquets with flowers from our garden. All of the flowers are different and even though their sizes vary greatly, I still love the look of it together.

Bon Appetit!

XOXO,

Shiza

The Floating City: Venezia

Summer in all of its anticipated glory is the time of the year we make concerted efforts to explore, traverse, and adventure hoping that we can accumulate a collection of memories that will last a lifetime.

You never know what experiences will be memorable. Last summer, while planning my trip to Italy, I initially thought that Venice would be an overhyped destination. I was more excited to see the less well known regions of Italy such as the Cinque Terre.

To my surprise, out of all of the extraordinarily beautiful cities that I visited in Italy, Venice is my favorite.

Venice is essentially a luminous labyrinth of bridges and canals interconnected in the most uncanny yet majestic way. Below the countless bridges, reveal centuries old water from the Adriatic Sea that was diverted into creating the Venice Lagoon.

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Me, Shiza, enjoying the Gondola ride

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  Opulent & Ornate | St. Mark’s Basilica  

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Inside the Gold laden Basilica

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Where to Stay | NH Collection Palazzo Barocio 

One of the most daunting aspects about visiting Venice is knowing where to stay. If you don’t choose wisely, you will have to haul your luggages around through cobblestone roads and bridges.

Therefore, it is vital that your hotel has its own water taxi dock. Once exiting the train station and fashionably enjoying a water taxi ride ride along the Grand Canal, our hotel had its own private dock, making it so easy for us! We stayed at the  NH Collection Palazzo Barocio hotel.

The rooms are of stellar quality, the staff are wonderful, and the lobby always had a warm welcome of Pelligrino and fruit infused waters.

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Hotel’s private water dock entrance

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View from our Hotel’s private dock

XOXO,

Shiza

 

from above

Long time no blog! But here I am, fresh out of my first year of college, with new experiences, friends, and thoughts under my belt for lots and lots of posts. Much of my inspo and ideas stem from photos or videos- and this post was the brainchild of browsing through my photos from the past year.

I feel like many of us are enthralled with being up high- the popularity of rollercoasters, lookout points, hiking, and skydiving are evidences of it. My collection of photos preview places I have visited that are upon higher altitudes- airplane trips, hikes, even the view from my dorm room. What makes views from up above so mesmerizing? Maybe because it gives us a sense of power- having the means to be able to look upon the city from their corner office is every successful lawyer’s or businessperson’s dream. Or maybe its the opposite- being up so high, reflecting upon the struggle to get to the point, humbles us and lets us dwell on the insignificance of our existence.

Whatever the reason, incredible views from above mesmerizes most. I’ve shared some of them below- many were taken on a whim after realizing their beauty, so some are not the best quality but I hope they make you feel something anyway.

Xo,
F

Fall Adventure Ideas

With the chilly weather and college application deadlines looming ahead, I haven’t been out on a fun, carefree adventure in a while. I have been craving the excursions of summer and of last year, when I had more time on my hands. I figured it was time to ditch the books and my cozy room for a new experience that will inspire me. Here are a couple of ideas that will get you out of the house and throw in a little adventure into your week.

Museum Days

Truthfully, I’m down on to go to any museum during any season. But I think museums during autumn are special. People walk into the halls bundled up in their fall gear, coffee and camera in hand. The art and history are lovely, but people watching is nice too, especially in LA. Most museums take only about an hour or so to go through, so after your short excursion you have the rest of your day to hit the books or do other work.

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The Broad, Los Angeles

Morning Hikes

Talk about killing two birds with one stone- satisfying the crave of adventure and exercise is fulfilled with hiking. The cool morning air energizes your lungs and the nature clears your mind. Fall hikes are definitely picturesque as well, with the color change of the trees and the falling leaves.

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Abalone Cove, Palos Verdes

Antique Stores

My sister and I were bored one day after school, so I invited my friend to come with us to the local antique store we discovered a couple of years ago. Crammed with things from used postcards to Russian dolls, its truly an exciting place, albeit a little creepy. Also a fun place to take cool, vintage pictures! You never know what you will discover at an antique shop; it is like going back in time. I found a yearbook from the 60’s with the funniest senior quotes.

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Studio Antiques, El Segundo

Coffee Shops

It’s not autumn (or a hectic school year) without weekly trips to the local coffee shop to motivate myself with a farfalla (Oreo/espresso frappe aka heaven in a cup) to do school work. I love the atmosphere of coffee shops. Make it an adventure and discover a new coffee shop every week, try a new drink or pastry every time you stop by, or talk to the interesting person in front of you in line who orders the same drink as you. july-18-2016-841

Blue Butterfly Coffee Company, El Segundo

Corn Mazes

I had at least add one cliché fall activity in here. Personally, I’ve never been to a corn maze but it sounds like a great and exciting time. The car ride there would be an adventure in itself; most farms with mazes are a good drive away. Gather a couple of your friends, and prepare to spooked and challenged by a well-made corn maze.

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Big Horse Corn Maze, Temecula (not my photo)

So there you have it, 5 excursions you should go on between finishing assignments and avoiding the rain without going too far and not spending a lot of money. Also, very moderate and doable, so you can’t put it off. Go on, adventure awaits!

Have fun,

Firda

Mexican inspired Egg White Frittata

This is a healthy and scrumptious recipe that will satisfy your taste buds and your new years resolution to eat healthier. Its also a great way to use up leftover egg whites, thats what I did. I made creme brulee yesterday and was left with 8 egg whites, so I decided to make use of them for breakfast today! This recipe was made up on the spot with the ingredients I had at hand. If you do not like egg whites you can do whole eggs. Alot of the ingredients CAN be substituted with other flavors & ingredients. It will still taste great, trust me…….So have fun with it and alter it to your taste.

Servings: 5-6
Ingredients:
-8 egg whites
-1/2 red onion, diced small
-1/4 bell pepper, diced small
-1/2 jalapeño, finely diced seeds & all because we like the heat
-1 ripe tomatoe, diced small
– a handful of cilantro, chopped
– a handful of mint, chopped
( you can sub basil if you do not have these herbs)
-few dashes of lemon pepper
– 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (Tabasco or Tapatio Sauce are substitutable)
– Mexican style Cheddar Cheese, shredded ( pepper jack or simple monterey jack would work too)
-Salt , to taste
– A drizzle of olive oil

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Chop all of the vegetables. Whisk egg whites. Add all of the vegetables and herbs. Mix well and add the spices and sriracha sauce.
3) Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully pour egg mixture into the pan. Cook on the stove for 4-5 minutes on medium high heat to get the bottom of the frittata set.
4) Once the eggs are set, place skillet
into the oven . Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the eggs have thouroughly cooked. Generously sprinkle the shredded cheese onto the eggs in the last few minutes of baking.
5) Cool frittata for a few minutes. Then, slice and serve. Serve with a side of toast and jam . A homeade juice compliments well with this dish. I drank some homeade pineapple juice. Bon Appetit❤️

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*Cooking time varies each time. Keep an eye on your eggs to ensure that they do not burn. They will be done when the center is set and completely cooked. Baking them in 350 degrees will reduce the bake time. I used a lower heat to ensure the eggs would be thoroughly cooked.

XOXO,
Shiza

How to throw a Tea Party : S&Z’s Tea

My bestfriend (co-founder of the blog) Zaina and me decided to throw a tea party last winter break. Today, I am going to share with you guys how to throw a tea party and some tips & tricks that will make it fun.

1) Select a theme. We did Alice in the Wonderland so that it would be more whimsical. Also, choose a dress code. We decided upon a dress & heels code to make it classy. I would recommend throwing the party with your bestfriend. Trust me it makes the experience waaaaay more fun and easy!
2) Make a guest list, do not invite too many people. It should be a small, intimate gathering with just your closest friends. I would recommend inviting from 6-8 people. Send out invitations about 2-3 weeks before the party. I found a cute invitation printout online and thats what we used!

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3) Plan out a menu and decide upon a location. We did it in the backyard. Have your bestfriend sleepover the night before the party so that you guys can purchase all of the ingredients and bake all of the baked goods the night before. This way you have more time to get ready and set up the next day.

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4) Make little whimsical tiered serving dishes using mismatched plates. I stacked different floral plates with a tea cup in between. For the cutlery we did small white appetizer plates and mismatched tea cups and clear wine glasses. Also we used a cheetah printed satin table cloth to add a more wonderland vibe to the table.For an added touch, we placed a white runner and placed rainbow christmas lights alongside. Here are pictures of how it all came together💓.

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Overall, the party was a success. We drank many cups of tea and my friends and I had an amazing evening. Afterwards, we did a photoshoot and played ping pong. Hope you guys are inspired and host your own tea parties. If you do, leave us a comment about how it went. Goodluck💓
XOXO
-Shiza