Fun with Cucumbers

Hot Off the Press: a new magazine start-up called Our Green Plate—focused on farm to table and food culture in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. #ourgreenplate

I had the opportunity to do some recipe photography for the magazine. It was so much fun to work with the art director Brian Donahue at BeDesign Inc. and Karla Spies the amazing food stylist and set design collaborator.  cucumberMartini_heroThe recipes are delicious and perfect for the bounty of cucumbers harvested from the garden.


Cucumber Martini

1 serving

7 1⁄2 tablespoons or a scant 1⁄2 cup vodka, preferably organic

1 1⁄2 teaspoons cucumber simple syrup*

1 cucumber 1 lime

lemon bitters (optional)

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Cut the lime into eighths. Place 4 cucumber slices in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and add the simple syrup. Squeeze in one of the lime pieces and muddle them together.

Fill the shaker with ice, add vodka, cover and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add 2 or 3 drops of lemon bitters and garnish with thin slices of cucumber.

*For cucumber simple syrup, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water together in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 5–8 minutes. Remove from heat, add 6 or so cucumber slices. Pour in glass jar and store in the refrigerator up to a week.


Tzatziki Dip

This is a very flexible recipe; you can make it with or without the herbs, and omit any herb you don’t like or don’t have. If you just have parsley, that’s delicious too. If you like it extra garlicky, add another clove. Bottom line: it’s basically impossible to mess this recipe up!

4 servings

1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1⁄2  cucumber, English preferred
  • 1⁄2  tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste or put through a garlic press olive oil

Peel and grate the cucumber on the large holes of a grater. Place in a small sieve and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze out all the excess water. Mix the cucumber in a small mixing bowl with the Greek yogurt, garlic, chopped herbs, and lemon juice. Allow to rest in refrigerator for an hour or more before serving to develop flavors. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve on a plate or in a bowl with a little olive oil drizzled on top (optional).




gazpacho_2_MG_2274My favorite thing about Gazpacho soup is you can really put whatever vegetables you want and blend it up.  A trip to the garden or farmers market and pick up the ingredients. I use this recipe as a rough guide for my chopping and blending.  I always add a jalopeno or some hot pepper into the blend. And usually whatever tomato juice, V8 or bloody mary mix I have in the refrigerator.  Of course the garnish is also fun, be as creative as you want.  Best served cold.


Rooster Feather recipe’s

BBQ_Saucehero2 BeerJelly_ BlueberryPoundCakefinal chocjamcupcakehero2 Ketchup_ 2 PinappleChutneyPiecesI worked on shooting the recipes for these amazing products called Rooster Feather.

My friend in river falls makes these awesome jams, BBQ sauces, ketchup ect. We worked as a group to pull together the sets and styling. So much fun to work and sample these products. Once you try this BBQ sauce you will be looking at an empty bottle and trying to get more. You can follow him on Facebook and check out the web site to get more recipes.

food styling: Kati Standal

Here is the recipe fro the Asian BBQ sauce-



  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs dried dill
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon filet (about 1″ thick)


Put water, salt, sugar, dill and soy sauce in a large bowl, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into large zip-loc bag. Add ice and salmon; seal. Put in the fridge for 2 hours. Flop the bag a couple times.

Oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Take salmon out of the brine and put skin side down on baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Brush the Rooster Sauce on salmon flesh side for about the last 2-5 minutes. The filet will be done when fat starts to bubble out. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Grill: Get a full chimney of charcoal going. I you have a gas grill follow oven directions above. Cover half of the grill with aluminum foil. When the coals are ready, bank coals on one side of the grill. Place the grill rack with the aluminum foil on the opposite side of the grill for indirect grilling.  Take salmon out of the brine and put skin side down on aluminum foil side of the grill. Check after about 15 minutes. Depending on the heat of your grill this could take between 17 to 20 minutes. Brush the Rooster Sauce on salmon flesh side for about the last 2-5 minutes. The filet will be done when fat starts to bubble out. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Baba Ganoush

babaganousheggplant2grillWhat do you do when your friend gives you some eggplants from his garden? Make Baba Ganoush. I find eggplant intimidating, I look at it and have no clue what to do. I do like Baba Ganoush and after looking up the recipe I decided to give it a try. I choose to grill it which was real easy since I asked my husband to grill it. The best part about the dip is the tahini anything with tahini is good for me, it’s like a sesame peanut butter.

The best Baba Ganoush is in the middle east, I have never had it as smokey and flavorful as there, I don’t know how they do it.  Perhaps I should request my neighbor smoke the eggplant next time he has his smoker going in the backyard. This is a simple and tasty dip, great for all those fall vegies.


ceviche 54I can’t eat Ceviche without being transported back to ocean side on the beach. Has to be one of my favorites places to be.  I tried ceviche for the first time on some tropical Island and I was hooked, ordering it on every menu it was listed.  It is so light and flavorful, can’t get enough of the fresh lime juice.  A friend of mine served his homemade ceviche at a BBQ, that bowl of ceviche was gone in minutes.  He served it with slices of avocado, tomatoes and tortilla chips to pile it all on top.  You can make it with several different types of fish-tuna, red snapper,monkfish, shrimp or swordfish.  The fish is cooked in the citrus juice an acidic marinade, which takes at least 8 hours or overnight.  A light fresh appetizer or as your main entree-yum.


recipe from epicuriuos

Edamame Sweet Pea Dip


Edamame Sweet Pea Dip

It’s snowing outside in mid february and all I can think about is spring.  I have a craving for something fresh and green.  I heard about this sweet pea dip that sounded interesting, there are a lot of versions you will find, most of them with garlic mint and parmesan cheese. This one sounded good to me and low-calorie.  I mixed half edamame peas and half sweet peas, we really liked the combination. The Edamame gives it the rich base layer and the sweet peas give it some sweetness. It does have a very nice fresh flavor, thoughts of fresh spring peas in the garden.  Happy dipping

recipesweetpeaDip 34

Sweet and Savory Meatball Cone

food stylist: Maggie Stopera

We decided to have some fun and do something out of the box.  I will not take all the credit for this one, it has been a collaboration of me and the food stylist.  We thought about something sweet, ice cream treat. And ended up with a meatball cone.  We decided to make all different flavors of meatballs, a veggie Quinoa bulgur with black beans, hamburger with wild rice and spam with jalapeno.  They were all pretty tasty and I included some recipes you can try out.  If you really want to impress your guests or family try serving them in a cone.

Bon Appetite

Spicy Dark Chocolate Bacon Popcorn

Fresh popped popcorn is always a good snack or dinner.  I had a roommate in college who used to make peanut butter popcorn, ooo that was good. Till she went on a diet and we didn’t have much peanut butter popcorn after that.  This recipe is in honor of the good old days, before the freshmen 10 lbs; that still won’t go away.

What could be better than chocolate and bacon on your favorite snack.

There is a local movie theater that serves bacon popcorn. -sounds interesting- A tip I learned from a friend;  next time you’re at the movies order some junior mints with your popcorn, and mix the junior mints in with your popcorn..mmmmmm

I think this recipe is worthy a try if you like to experiment with your popcorn.

Meat and Cheese Bouquet for your Man

What do we get him for his birthday?  This was the question the other day; he doesn’t like cake, dessert, sweets or even carbs for that matter.  What can we do to celebrate? How many times have we asked this same question for a lot of holidays.  Well, I know he likes meat and cheese.  How about some meat and cheese sticks?

That was the plan, the next morning Karla comes to the studio with all the goodies.  She brought: salami, cheese, olives, beef sticks, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and green onions.  Karla Spies is a food stylist here in Minneapolis and this is her creation;  The Manly Meat and Cheese Arrangement.  What guy (or gal) would not love to receive one of these?   Karla went to work in the kitchen, and as you can see she did go over the top and made these beautiful meat flowers.

We are now working out our business plan. So let me know if you would like to order a meat and cheese bouquet for your special someone. We are also taking suggestion on what to name our meat and cheese flowers. Please submit your suggetions:)

Thanks and have a great weekend.