Recipe: Cucumber Mint Yogurt Drink

Start your summer off with a delicious and refreshing drink…chill your serving glasses in the freezer before you start!

Serving size: 2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Armenian cucumber (or small Persian cucumbers)
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions: 

  1. Slice cucumber as thin as possible.
  2. Then dice the cucumber slices into very small cubes.
  3. Add the diced cucumbers to a pitcher
  4. Chop mint leaves (use dried mint if fresh min is unavailable).
  5. Add the finely chopped mint to the pitcher.
  6. Add a cup of yogurt to a medium bowl and whisk.
  7. Slowly add two cups of water to the yogurt while stirring.
  8. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and stir.
  9. Add the yogurt mix to the pitcher and stir.
  10. Chill for 30 min in the refrigerator.
  11. Pour chilled drink into chilled glasses.
  12. Garnish with a slice of cucumber, cut half-way to center and position on rim of glass.
  13. Serve the drink with a spoon to scoop up diced cucumbers!

Enjoy this simple and refreshing drink!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

 

Recipe: Fish Lavash Wraps

This is a quick and delicious oven-baked fish wrap with minimal ingredients.

Serving size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. halibut
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 6″ x 9″ pieces of lavash bread
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • Herbs: parsley, oregano or tarragon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut filet of halibut into four equal pieces.
  3. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
  4. Cut lavash bread into four 6″ x 9″ pieces with scissors (or use pre-cut lavash bread)
  5. Lay lavash pieces white-side down.
  6. Place halibut in middle of lavash and add two slices of butter next to each other on top of fish.
  7. Optional: add a sprig of your herb of choice on top of butter slices.
  8. Fold and wrap each piece of fish with lavash, making sure butter side is on top with the weight of the fish holding the wrap together.
  9. Lay wraps in pan and bake in preheated oven for 15 min until golden brown.
  10. Brush residual butter from pan over the wraps.

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

 

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower

Here’s a scrumptious, healthy (vegan) meal or side dish in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole cauliflower (medium size) 
  • 1 cup olive oil (add more as needed for larger sized cauliflower)
  • 5 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

Dressing

  1. Pour about 3/4 cup of the olive oil into a medium bowl
  2. Add the smashed garlic
  3. Add salt and black pepper
  4. Add ground cumin, curry powder and cumin seeds
  5. Mix ingredients together (sesame seeds and slivered almonds will be added later)

Cauliflower

  1. Cut cauliflower into four quarters
  2. Turn cauliflower over and brush in dressing, making sure to fill in all crevices.
  3. Continue to brush sides of cauliflower, scoop as much of the solid garlic and cumin seeds as possible.
  4. Place cauliflower pieces in a baking pan and brush or drizzle the remaining dressing on top.
  5. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
  6. Add the slivered almonds on top of the cauliflower.

Bake

  1. Broil first on low heat until golden (middle rack on low broil) for about 10 min.
  2. Brush dressing from bottom of pan over cauliflower.
  3. Then bake at 500 degrees for about 10-15 min.

Transfer cauliflower to a serving plate and spoon toasted almonds and sesame seeds from pan on top.

The aroma and texture of this dish is amazing…I hope you enjoy it when you give it a try!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

 

FANS With A Cause

When a great group of friends come together for conversation and coffee, amazing things can happen! That’s exactly how our charity group, FANS, was born. 

We were greatly inspired by the 2018 documentary, Motherland, directed by Emily Mkrtichian, Jesse Soursourian. This powerful documentary is about two women who go against traditional values to bring about change in Nagorno Karabakh. They put themselves at great risk to remove mines in a post-war era so families can safely live on the land and rebuild their lives.  These women break the social stigma as independent women in a primarily male-dominant society. 

Having each enjoyed relative success in our own business ventures, our group of friends decided it was time to empower aspiring women in Armenia to be able to start and manage businesses of their own.  We named our charity FANS, which is a combination of the initials of our first names — Fuliane, Angela, Nazeli, and Shushan. Our first event brought greater awareness to this cause in May 2019, when we hosted our first Mother’s Day Celebration at the Lombardi House. The event was a huge success thanks to our incredible network of friends and volunteers. With our collective efforts we raised enough money to launch our Motherland Fund for Women Entrepreneurs.

Over the course of the next several months, FANS began changing lives of women in Armenia. 

One of the first beneficiaries of the Motherland Fund was Alina Elizbaryan. Alina was able to upgrade her family-owned dairy business with modern equipment and make the day-to-day process more efficient. Arevik Sargsyan is another young English teacher who will now be expanding her greenhouse and aspires to own her own flower shop one day. 

Alvard Petrosyan works in agriculture alongside her family. With our assistance they are growing their business to include a larger area for quality control and increased technology. This will allow for increased and sustainable production. 

Lusine Ghukasyan is an aspiring baker and dreams of starting a bakery in her small village located in the Tavush region. With help from the fund and assistance and support of her family, Lusine will soon be baking for her small community. 

Along with her family, Tereza Kocharyan manages her family’s bee keeping business and has always dreamed of starting her own hair salon. With support from those who believe in our cause, we were able to make her dream come true and today Tereza’s hair salon is open for business. 

This is only the first wave of women with an entrepreneur spirit whose lives were changed with our mission to empower and elevate them. These hard-working women each had a dream and we simply helped them take a giant step towards making that dream a reality. 

While we anticipated another wonderful Mother’s Day event for 2020, current circumstances have required us to postpone the event scheduled for May. Our vision of helping women in the Motherland achieve success, however, remains undeterred. We look forward to organizing another event to support this cause in the days ahead when gatherings are once again safe.

Please follow @fanswithacause on Instagram for updates and announcements. 

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

Recipe: Shrimp Alfredo Fettuccine

Dining in for Valentine’s Day? Try this creamy and delicious Shrimp Alfredo Fettuccine with just the right touch of romance!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs. shrimp (20-25 count)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 stick butter- 1/4 to sautéed onions-1/4 before flour-1/2 add to the sauce at the end
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (for sauce)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for pasta)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (for pasta)
  • parsley to garnish
  • 1 pack Fettuccine (follow package instructions to cook)

Directions:

  1. Dice onion and transfer into a bowl.
  2. Chop cloves of garlic and add to bowl.
  3. Add butter to a pan over medium heat
  4. Sauté the onion and garlic
  5. Add more butter to the pan and add flour to thicken the sauce.
  6. Cook pasta per package instructions while sauce is cooking.
  7. Add heavy cream to the sauce, stir slowly and bring to a boil.
  8. Let cream simmer for 5 min.
  9. Add parmesan cheese and salt & pepper to taste.
  10. Add sweet paprika (for a pink hue!)
  11. When sauce thickens, remove from heat.
  12. Cut up small pieces of butter and add to sauce, stir until butter melts.
  13. Add shrimp and cook for 5 min. (or until pink in color)
  14. Add cooked pasta to a bowl.
  15. Top with your shrimp and sauce.
  16. Add more parmesan cheese, paprika and parsley for garnish
  17. Serve with you favorite white wine!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

Recipe: Ikra

A wonderful and simple vegan dip with grilled eggplant and bell peppers!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplant
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro optional
  • 1/2 cup parsley optional
  • 1 tbsp. pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pine nuts for garnish
  • salt
  • black pepper

Directions

  1. Use a fork to puncture holes in eggplant and grill both the eggplant and bell peppers until charred.
  2. Remove from grill and peel off the skin.
  3. Chop the eggplant and bell peppers into large pieces. (Clean skin and insides–including seeds)
  4. Use a paper towel to wipe off any residual seed or skin.
  5. Chop onion and garlic.
  6. Chop cilantro and parsley-about 1/2 cup combined (optional).
  7. Add bell peppers into food processor and blend (empty into a bowl and set aside).
  8. Add eggplant to food processor and blend.
  9. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a skillet and add onions.
  10. Sauté onions, add chopped garlic.
  11. Add pepper paste and tomato paste, mix.
  12. Add chopped bell peppers, thoroughly cook bell peppers.
  13. Add eggplant and continue cooking.
  14. Add parsley and cilantro (optional).
  15. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Cook until excess liquids have evaporated.

Garnish

  1. Olive oil
  2. Chopped Parsely
  3. Pine nuts

Serve with pita chips, pita bread or baguettes! Your choice!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

 

Recipe: Oven-Baked Beef Kebab with Eggplant

 

Enjoy this personal twist on a traditional family dish that’s fun to assemble and easy to bake! They’ll come out moist and flavorful every time!

Ingredients

 

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 eggplants
  • 18-20 fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo red pepper
  • 1 tsp. mint
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bulgur #1
  • 4-5 mini bell peppers
  • 1 bunch fresh mint for garnish

Sauce

  • 1 tsp . Olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbls. tomato paste
  • 1 tbls. red pepper paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried mint
  • 2 cups water

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the eggplant (I prefer Japanese eggplants) in just three sections (don’t need to peel the entire skin)
  3. Cut the eggplants just over an inch wide
  4. Optional: Lightly season eggplant slices with salt and grill. You may also fry them or simply add them to the dish raw.
  5. Chop half the onion (the other half will be used for the sauce).
  6. Add the chopped onion to the ground beef in a large bowl
  7. Add bulger, salt, Aleppo pepper and dried mint to the beef
  8. Mix all ingredients well by hand
  9. Chop the other half of the onion
  10. Heat very little oil to a frying pan and add the chopped onion
  11.  Add salt, tomato paste, red pepper paste, dried mint, water and sugar
  12. Whisk all ingredients together, when sauce starts bubbling, remove from heat
  13.  Cut the edges of the fingerling potatoes so that they are the same length as the slices of eggplants.
  14. Assemble the dish by layering the bottom of the baking dish with some of the sauce (Just enough to cover the bottom).
  15. Make small meat balls with the beef mixture and place around the pan, alternating between beef, eggplant and potatoes.
  16. Add the remainder of the sauce on top of the diesh
  17. Slice the baby bell peppers and add to the top of the dish.
  18. Cover with foil, bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
  19. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes.
  20. Garnish with fresh mint and serve!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

 

Tips on Hosting a Dinner Party

Hosting an event and catering and event both have similar responsibilities—-however, the essential difference for a host to keep in mind is entertaining both our guests as well as ourselves. Being a part of the event is just as important as planning it and sometimes it’s easy to exclude ourselves from the fun because we’re so preoccupied with managing the details. Preparation is important— to plan the event and dress the part—it is equally important to feel included in the festivities. I truly believe it’s important to not only look the part, but to be a part…and enjoy the occasion!

I recently hosted a very special dinner for my cousins. About eight years ago we realized that as our lives got busier with work and our families, we saw each other less and less. It was hard for us to accept distance when we were raised together and had been very close since childhood; so we made a pact to have dinner together once a month, just us. Each of us takes a turn hosting this important dinner, and we have the chance to catch up, share laughs, play games, eat good food, and enjoy each other’s company! Our rules are simple. The dinner is intimate, it’s with cousins only, we prepare the food instead of ordering it, and we don’t use plastic ware. Of course there are some exceptions—life happens. Sometimes our children join us, and we have an opportunity for more games, more bonds, and hopefully more traditions to pass onto them. What’s most special about our deal is that we created it between cousins and it has grown into our tradition.

I truly believe it’s important to not only look the part, but to be a part…and enjoy the occasion!

Recently, it was my turn to host and I had a few things in mind for the dinner. My job as the host is to prepare great food, drinks, and entertainment. Consideration for your guests is important for any event—their likes and dislikes—when planning. Knowing my cousins, I realized they hated cocktail hour, and I needed to give them what they really wanted: sitting together at the table, talking and enjoying delicious food. With this in mind, I made cocktail hour face-to-face, with the same space for conversation but with more food within reach for us to munch on. We sat at the table with low floral centerpieces and a middle runner filled with food. The table was a grazing station with a variety of appetizers and dishes spread across the table. My goal was to have the food flow naturally, just like the conversations we’d be having at the table!

For any event I give myself the freedom to be creative—and while I admit I do procrastinate a bit when it comes to my own events—-I am mindful that planning is important and preparing is necessary. These are a few things I always consider:

  1. The food—I have fun with preparing the menu for my guests, and especially with my cousins, I like to ask what each prefers to eat.
  2. The theme—this is vital for the ambiance—it’s important to set the tone of the evening for guests and the added effort shows you care. In selecting the theme, I always consider the season. The menu selections for the event are usually custom tailored to seasonal food items. The colors of the season also inspire both the table setting and arrangements which contribute to the overall ambiance.
  3. The entertainment—my family loves playing games, these are often competitive but always end with love and laughter!

 

Whether entertaining or hosting, preparing or planning, I always remind myself to enjoy the process. Some of it comes with experience and trying new things, but I like to have fun and be creative every step of the way.

 

For more tips on hosting and how I prepare for an event, click here!

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

Recipe: Fourth of July Caprese Salad

A fun twist to a classic Italian salad.

Supplies

  • star shaped cookie cut out set (You can find it at Michael’s or Amazon)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 blue basil stems
  • 1/2 block Karoun Nabulsi Cheese

 

Directions

    1. Start by slicing the tomatoes into halves and transfer it to a bowl.
    2. The cheese is one-inch thick. Cut it in half to make it 1/2 an inch thick. Use different sized star shaped cookie cutters to cut stars
      out of the cheese slices. Add the cheese stars to the tomatoes.
    3. Add blue basil.
    4. Dice your cucumbers in a diagonal. Use the smallest size star shaped cookie cutter to cut stars out of your cucumber slices. Add the slices to the salad. 
    5. Drizzle olive oil on top of your salad and enjoy! 

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.

Recipe: Watermelon Salad

Try this easy, refreshing and fun salad. A perfect activity to do with your kids!

 

Supplies

  • star shaped cookie cut out set (You can find it at Michael’s or Amazon)

 

Ingredients

  • 1 small watermelon
  • 2 ounces of feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 4 to 5 stems of mint
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey

 

 

Dressing

  1. Whisk your lemon juice and honey together.

 

 

Directions

  1. Cut the watermelon in 1/2 inch thick slices. Use different sized star shaped cookie cutters to cut stars out of the watermelon slices. Place your cut out watermelon pieces in a large bowl.
  2. Add blueberries, crumbled feta cheese and mint.
  3. Drizzle your dressing on top of your salad and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Shushan Darzian is the founder and owner of Ladybugs Catering & Events. Her passion for food, presentation and exquisite detail drive her mission to provide outstanding service for her clients. As a former educator, she is committed to life-longing learning and loves to travel. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons.