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Exotic Flowers in Boston

Incredibly Delicious and Healthy Blooming Onion Recipe

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

I love flowers and I also love healthy and delicious food so when I tried out this recipe and flipped over how great it was?  I had to share.  This is after all, a floral blog so that not only includes beautiful arrangements but anything else that I can find that’s spectacularly flowery!  Trust me- this recipe makes the cut and it’s super easy so anyone can make it.  There are only a few ingredients and the bet part?  It’s low in calories and fat as well as visually pleasing.

The dish is called “Bloomin’ Onions”, which you may of heard of or ordered before in a restaurant.  The difference between this appetizer and the others is that the frying factor is eliminated making it less greasy and healthier for your body.  Pair this with a chicken or fish entrée and you’ll start to see magic appear on your dinner plates.  This also makes an exquisite presentation because of the rich purple coloring alongside buffet items or as a plate dressing for other main courses.  Give it a try and see what you think!  



photo credit:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Take a red onion (preferably large) and slice into eighths.  Make sure that the slices are still attached to the root so that are still held together.

  1. Drizzle olive oil over flower and in between the petals.

  1. Insert bay leaves and rosemary sprigs every other petal.

  1. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

  1. Roast for 40 minutes and eat immediately.   

Tags: Chef, cooking, #EXFL

Cool Dishes to Barbecue this Father’s Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19th and just as the weather seems to be finally warming up, those grills are being awakened from a long winter’s nap in storage!  One of the biggest traditions associated with this holiday is cooking cheese hamburgers, hotdogs and other choice meats right over an open flame.  Did you know that for the last 50 or so years, aprons, oven mitts and chef hats still remain the number #1 present to gift old dad particularly for this very reason?  Well, it’s time to put them to good use!

This Father’s Day, challenge yourself to try new and exciting recipes that will excite a fresh culinary tradition for your family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a patty of ground beef but isn’t it time we showed dear old dad that we really care by grilling outside the familiar box?  Contemporary chefs from around the world are shaking their grilling styles up a bit this Father’s Day offering delicious menu items that are both inventive and creative.  From fish to poultry, to top grade “A” meat, by infusing some of these selections into your Father’s Day barbecue, you’ll make this a special holiday that he’ll never forget!   


Meat and Chicken:

Ribs are pretty much a staple so spice things up with marinades like bourbon tequila to make every last bite pack a punch!  For burgers, mix oregano, celery salt and paprika for a nice wave of spice.


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There’s no better place to cook fish than on a grill so make sure you salt everything before you begin and add playful juices such as lemon and lime.  Salmon, trout and shrimp are my favorites!


Tags: Father's Day, Barbecue, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living

Vegetarian Christmas

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 11, 2015


Vegetarianism is growing in popularity for many reasons including weight control, organ health, animal conservation and dental hygiene.  There are many different types of non-meat-eaters including those who eat fish and dairy but omit pork, beef and chicken.  Due to this expanding range of vegetarians, several people are giving this diet a try because they’re able to tailor their food selection with omitting everything they like.  


Lucky for many of us (I myself am a vegetarian), eliminating the meat and poultry from diets has gotten even easier because food companies, supermarkets and farmers are realizing the growing demand to eliminate fat and increase healthier eating habits.  Grocery stores now offer a wide array of non-meat products such as veggie burgers and tofu based meals allowing us to find the foods that are nutritious and appetizing to our taste.


With that said, is it possible to host a holiday dinner such as Christmas without serving any meat as a main course?  Is the turkey and roast beef what makes this feast so special or can an all-vegetable menu still satisfy an entire house of guests?


I believe that it can if you take special care in selecting particular dishes that will both compliment one another as well as fill everyone’s bellies.  Having platters of only raw celery sticks and carrots as appetizers may encourage a rumbling growl from stomachs and in all honesty, there’s a better way to go about it without having to starve.  Over the years, I’ve collected some fabulous additions to my holiday fare that is both filled with vegetables and satisfyingly delicious!  Here’s what I’ll be cooking in my kitchen this Christmas for both my meat eating and vegetarian guests.

Looks good to me!

Tags: Christmas, Chef, cooking, Vegetable Garden

Labor Day - Feast and Relax

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Sep 04, 2015

Labor Day is a holiday tradition celebrating the great efforts of American workers and their contribution to society both economically and socially.  Traditionally celebrated on the first Monday of September, the day is symbolic to rest, play and enjoy the people around you.  Weather permitting, a last summer visit to the beach, a family barbecue or a pool party is commonly the events you see being used to observe Labor Day usually planned to also say good bye to the warmer days of the year.  For those of you anticipating on hosting a feast to accompany your special soiree, you’re going to want to incorporate the characteristics associated with this holiday within your food selection.  Menus should coordinate well with the feel of the get together so the cuisine should be brightly colored, veggie based and prepared predominantly in the outdoors.  These might seem to be sticky guidelines for the struggling chef but I can assure you there are a few recipes perfectly suitable for your Labor Day fete!  These are the hottest recipes for 2015’s end of the year celebration.

German Potato Salad

You’ll need a bag of small wax potatoes (either red or white your choice) and clean well to remove any dirt on the skin.  Boil the potatoes in a pot of water with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once cooked, rinse in a colander with cool water and set aside.  In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add one medium sized onion finely chopped and sauté until softened.  Place the cool potatoes and onions in a large mixing bowl and then add finely diced scallions, one tablespoon of vinegar and three sprigs of dill mashed well.  Stir together until all of the ingredients have combined and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the dish in the refrigerator until serving time and watch your guest go wild for the beautiful tasty sensation!  

All American Burger Dog

This is a great recipe I found that the kids have a great time preparing and eating!  The combination of a hotdog and hamburger (really, what’s not to love?) becomes a fun grilling treat, which is a perfect main dish accompanied with chips and potato salad.  All you have to do is make a regular hamburger patty with lean meat and form into a tube.  Wrap plastic around the beef and work with reshaping until you are confident the form has been set.  Unwrap the hamburger dogs and grill on medium heat until cooked through.  Add a slice of Swiss or cheddar cheese and continue to cook until the topping has melted.  Place the dogs in a long bun that has been seasoned with a light spread of mayonnaise.  Right before serving, give it a thick swipe of ketchup on top to finish the decadent masterpiece!  

Tags: Holidays, Chef, cooking, September, Labor Day

Canning Your Own Tomatoes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Aug 20, 2015

If you’re lucky, you’ve got tomatoes coming out of your ears right about now and you’ve even considered the possibility that you might have too many?  Bite your tongues!  You can never have enough of those beautiful, juicy red vegetables and chances are if you’re like me - you’ve found plenty of ways to use your crop efficiently and effectively.  There’s the marinara sauce, tomato pies, tomatoes on the grill, garden salads, ratatouille, fried green tomatoes, stuffed tomatoes and if you’re a clever chef- you can even make your own Bloody Mary’s.  

If the stove has already been burning making these delicious tomato based concoctions and your pile is still overflowing with your harvest, you might be getting nervous about the possibility of waste.  Pitching vegetables because they aren’t used in a timely fashion is a shame and is often looked upon as a tragedy by hard working gardeners who have nourished the plants since they were mere seeds.  

Well, worry no further!  Canning tomatoes are a popular procedure when farms produce a vast amount of one crop and need a back up plan for preservation.  Many are deterred from this method because they believe it’s more work than its worth but honestly, its pretty simple.  Follow these steps for jarring your tasty tomatoes and enjoy them all year round.

Step 1 Select Your Preferred Tomato Variety.  

Keep in mind that less water such as Roma will keep better than juicier tomatoes with a thinner shell.

Step 2 Sanitize Your Jars for Canning

You need to make sure that your containers are squeaky clean so place them in your dish washer then place them and their lids in a pot of boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.

Step 3 Prepare Your Tomatoes

Place the chosen tomatoes in a pot of boiling water and then immediately drain by putting them in ice-cold water.  You’ll be amazed how fast their skins peel right off.  You also want to discard any bruised or damaged vegetables as well because they wont preserve decently once canned.

Step 4 Fill Er’ Up!

Fill the jars with tomatoes leaving at least 1 ½ to 2 inches of space, which will then be filled with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the rest with boiling water.  Make sure all of the air bubbles have left the vessel and seal the lid securely.  If you’re feeling daring, add a sprig of rosemary or basil for seasoning.  

Step 5 One More Round of Boiling

You’ll need to boil the sealed containers in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes to make sure the contents will “can” properly.  Let them cool completely and then store in a cool place.  

Step 6 Bon Appétit Enjoy!  


Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Vegetable Garden, Tomatoes

Zucchini Greatness at the Dinner Table

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Aug 07, 2015

Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? Is your squash challenging you to come up with new recipes that are fun, healthy and inventive?  Look no further. This year’s harvest of the delicious legume has been wildly successful making it imperative to whip up several different ways to utilize the crop.  Since zucchini is a tough vegetable to freeze (although possible) the smart way to handle an abundance of one vegetable is to get creative with your culinary options.  You’ll be pleased to know that squash can be used in a wide variety of dishes offering delectable taste at a low calorie intake.  Even the fussiest eaters will dive right in to these suggestions that have become my summer go to recipes during zucchini picking season.  Give them a try and watch this veggie become your family’s favorite!

Grilled Zucchini

There’s nothing more delicious than veggies cooked straight on the grill.  With minimal seasoning of salt, pepper, olive and rosemary, you can turn an average side dish into the main attraction.  Mix with other varieties such as carrots, peppers or potatoes and give yourself a break to make cooking easy!

Zucchini and Couscous

I love this side, particularly with salmon because the flavors compliment one another with texture and color.  All you have to do is dice zucchini in small triangles and sauté in a pan with olive oil.  Follow the directions to a Near East couscous package (the parmesan box is so good) and once it’s ready, mix the squash together and let sit for 20 minutes.  If you also have tomatoes growing at the same time, throw those in too for a little added decadence.

Zucchini Focaccia

This might take a little longer than the others but boy, is it worth it!  Roll out two squares of pizza dough and slather a layer of soft garlic cheese over the top.  Place the top square over the other and dust with olive oil.  Seal the edges by gently pinching the sides to capture the flavors.  Layer strips of zucchini and red onion in rows and season with salt, pepper and another serving of olive oil.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Slice like pizza and serve immediately. YUM!

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

Garden Tomato Sauce

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 24, 2015

There’s nothing like making your own sauce with the main ingredient being hand picked from your own garden.  Yes, it might be an overzealous bit of pride in the hard work it took to cultivate the delicious beauties but there’s no doubt that real tomatoes taste better than store bought.  I bet you didn’t know that while the “Anti Carb War” is still being fought, there are great benefits to eating certain dishes that, yes, contain some form of pasta.  Marinara can be looked at from an entirely different perspective if you just take the time to tweak what goes into your recipe.  The first step, of course, is to avoid the mainstream grocery stores and look for other locations where the food hasn’t been altered such as farmers markets, farm stands, and hopefully- are own backyards.  Once we’ve done that, it’s only a matter of creating the right taste and texture that you and your family prefer.

Different varieties of tomatoes provide different attributes that will change the way your sauce comes out.  For instance, some varieties are more watery while others have more seeds.  Some tomatoes possess a bite in seasoning while others lean to the sweeter side.  It all depends on what your recipe calls for and what you need those yummy veggies to do once they’ve been added to the pot.  When I make my own sauce, I depend on a meatier type but I also combine other varieties to flavor it with richness.  I prefer the Jet Star tomato for my base and then add baby heirloom tomatoes to finish it off but there is a multitude of different ways to do it.  These are some descriptions of popular New England tomatoes to help you choose what the right tomato is for you!  


These bad boys are big, juicy and most importantly, delicious!  They contain a great balance of sweetness and acidity making them popular in sandwiches and salads.  Since the rind holds well after cooking, Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect to use if you enjoy an earthy rendition of marinara because you’ll be able to have chunks of the fruit and a fair amount of seeds present.  


These guys are my favorite because depending on the shade of the fruit, the taste will vary significantly, making an otherwise boring pot of sauce an exciting treat!  There are a few guidelines though such as red being the sweetest while green holds the stronger tart characteristic.  Yellow heirlooms can be bitter so they’re fabulous when you need to bump up the flavor of a too sweet tomato sauce.  If you want my advice, mix them all together for the most interesting and delicious outcome!

Cherokee Purple

This one has a gorgeous color that your sauce will benefit from because it will turn a deeper shade of red than common sauces.  Originally from the heirloom family, this variety needs an extended amount of time to grow in the heat than other types but boy is it worth when they’re ready to be picked.  Pasta lovers will love their rich and complex taste while enjoying a recipe that requires little help of flavor from other ingredients. Olive oil, salt and pepper is all this variety will need!

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Tomatoes

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jul 13, 2015

New England gardeners should be pleased to know that their tomatoes will surely be making their summer debut within the next few weeks.  Particularly if you have invested in varieties such as “Beefsteak”, “Early Girl”, “Fireworks” or “Jet Star”, your crops will surely be bursting with an abundance of brightly colored red fruit.  Although we’ll have to wait a bit longer for further seasonal types such as “Ponderosa Pink”, “Hillbilly” and my favorite, “Mortgage Lifter” to ripen to perfection, we’ll still have plenty to pick from to get Boston’s veggie lovers started.


So now that we have tomatoes, what should we do with them?  Cook them of course!

Tomatoes are not only a delicious vegetable but they have several beneficial health attributes as well.  For one thing, they contain large amounts of Vitamin A and C, not to mention a good helping of folic acid.  They have also been know to preserve brain and nerve tissue plus provide the body with aiding functionality of low blood pressure rates, conversion of glucose into energy and also act as an antioxidant to fight against diseases such as diabetes, depression and cancer.  All in all, it’s a good thing to always have in our diet and lucky for us, there’s a ton of ways to include tomatoes in our meal schedule.  Here are three dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner where we can enjoy the taste and health benefits!


Toast and Tomato is a tradition in my family where it is most enjoyed during the lazy mornings of summer and there is no question that this fare tastes the best if they’ve come from your own garden.  All you have to do is toast two pieces of wheat bread and lightly spread a low fat butter or substitute across the surface.  Choose your variety of tomatoes and thinly slice the fruit making sure the pieces aren’t too bulky because if they are, you’ll have a doozy of a time eating it!


The BLT is a widely overlooked sandwich and is sometimes ignored for its overwhelming simplicity but as we all know, sometimes less is more.  All it takes to cook this mouth-watering treat is a warm roll, a fresh couple of iceberg lettuce leaves, 1 to 2 pieces of well sautéed bacon and the star ingredient- a juicy red slab of red tomato.  If you would like to lower the calorie intake, just swap the bacon for a turkey or soy option.


Ratatouille is probably one of the most decadent yet simple dishes that tomatoes are the most celebrated.  Since the concoction is traditional within a multitude of cultures, we are lucky to have a variety of recipes to choose from.  My favorite involves adding chopped green pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms to a simmering pot and seasoning it with salt and pepper.  Once the ingredients condense, add a can of tomato paste and a bunch of your own tomatoes.  Allow to cook until resembling a sauce and serve as is or serve over rice or pasta.  

Tags: Chef, cooking, #EXFL, outdoors, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

Flower Infused Summer Cocktails

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 10, 2015

Flowers have long upheld their reputation of making beautiful displays within vase centerpieces, boutonnieres, hair accents, nosegays and eye appealing raised garden beds.  Boston florists have used their ingenuity to design wonderful arrangements utilizing texture, shape and color but now they’re getting even more ambitious when inventing new floral creations…


If chefs have been incorporating blossoms within their culinary efforts for decades, why not infuse the drink menu as well?


Industry professionals are finding that they can now increase their product demand by adding specialty summer drinks to their inventory segments!  It’s a contemporary suggestion but targeted demographics are actually surpassing their projected expectations by 50%.  The reasoning behind this lies in the appeal of adding bright shades to drinks that would otherwise be clear in appearance. Another explanation is due to the positive association that the brain makes between health, color and warmer weather elements.  The psychological attraction to this concept has allowed designers to indulge in their frisky creativity therefore inventing some of Boston’s most popular new seasonal refreshers.  Here is a sampling of this trendy way to fend off the summer heat waves!




Nasturtiums have been held in high esteem for their added excellence within recipes craving a peppery taste.  The beautiful orange, yellow, pink and red heads are also terrific in kicking up the taste of vodka once it’s had a chance to assimilate within the alcohol for a few weeks.  Serve at a dinner party to amp up the summer feel or simply keep it for yourself to enjoy on a hot and steamy day!





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Although a name says a lot, don’t count on it before you’ve tasted this delicious drink that has the herb, lavender, to thank for its sweetness.  You can place stems with attached heads in a variety of liquids including soda water, ginger ale or ice water.  Any variety will do but I prefer French lavender for the fresh and crisp accent it gives to my tea.            




                     photo credit:

These are so good I can barely stand it!  Traditional margaritas can be made playful by adding the blossoms of brightly colored hibiscus plants.  Not only do they electrify a dark pink color but they also radiate the summer spirit of fun in the sun!



Tags: Gardening, Chef, #EXFL, herbs, Outdoor Living

Summer Dishes For Your Newly Grown Vegetables and Fruits

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jul 08, 2015

Now that our gardens have begun to fill with sensational fruits and vegetables, its time to start planning a fun summer menu to best utilize our efforts!  There’s a pretty high probability that if you’re a gardener in New England, you’ll see the snap peas, cucumbers, green beans, strawberries and lettuce as some of the first arrivals.  Later on in the season, eggplant, squash and my favorite, tomatoes will appear with gorgeous color signally that their time has come to impress upon your culinary skills.   As the summer comes to an end, potatoes, corn, garlic and onions are ready to be added to the sauté pans to kick up the spice and zest of your favorite dishes!   It all sound fantastic, but lets focus on the produce that we’ll be able to cook with now that will be great options for your warmer weather dining room tables.  Here are my must-haves that have always pleased my entire family-including the kids!



Cucumber and Couscous

Couscous is a wonderful grain to get your little ones accustomed to as early as possible because the taste is mild with a low fat content and can be mixed with a variety of vegetables for a healthy dinner side.  One of the first things I throw in the pot are chopped cucumbers seasoned slightly with Italian salad dressing.  Stir the contents of a Near East pre-packaged couscous box and add chunks of the water- based succulent.  You might even want to toss in a few cherry tomatoes to add more color and watch your family devour a healthy and fresh summer salad!


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Snap Peas and Sweet Potato

You would be surprised by the reaction of guests when you add a well-cooked sweet potato with a handful of raw snap peas to the dinner table.  All you need to know is butter the spud lightly and add your desired seasoning such as thyme, white pepper, salt or rosemary once its been cooked to taste.  Mash up the contents and generously shower with a bunch of fresh green snap peas.  The texture is pleasant and allows an unusual but sensational blend of flavors.  I highly suggest this as a featured menu item since the presentation is impressive when served with a grilled helping of swordfish or salmon. 




There is no telling the possibilities when you can grow your own varieties of lettuce.  You can use the roughage as either a plate garnish or create wonderful salads that will leave your mouth watering.  If you’ve never eaten lettuce picked straight from the garden, you’re in for a treat.  The crisp yet buttery consistency of the leaves allow a fun combination when paired with berries such as blueberries or strawberries and works well with breads for easy lunch options of pita or club sandwiches.  One tip for the eager picker: make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly to evade dirt and soil smudges. 

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, #EXFL, Vegetable Garden

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