Be prepared for “Company”…

Photo Aug 04, 11 57 58 PM STRAWBERRY INTRO

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Hi Everyone, 

This is a little advice to always be prepared for unexpected company…

When I was a little girl, my mother always kept a pound cake in the freezer for “company”. This drove my sisters and I crazy because there were many nights we just wanted to thaw it out and eat it.

My mother used to serve us toasted pound cake with fresh fruit and ice cream for dessert on a regular basis and we just loved it.

But the pound cake in the freezer was off limits!

I never fully understood why my mother did this, until this past Friday.

Did you ever get a phone call in the morning from someone that you haven’t seen in a while and they tell you that they will be in your area late afternoon and want to stop in and say hello?

Well, I got that call Friday morning. I invited them for dessert and when I hung up I went into a mini panic.

What would I serve for dessert? Of all days, I couldn’t leave my house to run and get a dessert because I was expecting a delivery from Lowes and I had to be home, so I had to get creative.

I usually hate unexpected company because I like to plan my tablescapes and meals way ahead of time.

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First the tablescape…

If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know I always change my dishes on a monthly basis to rotate my collection. This month it is all about the  strawberry. Nice and cheery. So it looked as if that would be the tablescape theme since I had everything I needed at my fingertips.

I started out with a basic white weave cotton tablecloth. 

 I have strawberry salad plates, table-runner and napkins already in the kitchen, so that is what I used. I had no time to fuss.

The linens are a solid white background with clusters of strawberries and small red stamped flowers.

Photo Aug 04, 10 43 38 PM TABLECLOTH, RUNNER, NAPKINS

There isn’t enough room on the table for a placemat with the table runner so I just started with a glass beaded charger. I love this charger because it adds something to the tablescape but doesn’t overpower it.

Photo Aug 04, 10 37 37 PM GLASS CHARGER

Followed by a white alabaster dinner plate and my adorable strawberry salad plates.

The dinner plates are white alabaster glass with swirling semi-opaque streaks.Photo Aug 04, 10 38 11 PM WHITE ALABASTER DINNERWARE

The salad plates are a very heavy white melamine with clusters of strawberries around the rim.Photo Aug 04, 11 03 41 PM SALAD PLATE

 Another piece of serveware that I purchased with these dishes is the serving bowl but I didn’t need to use it.

I just wanted to show you what was available.

Photo Aug 05, 2 12 31 AM SERVING BOWL

I originally bought the salad plates to match a strawberry water pitcher that I bought many years ago. I used the water pitcher on Friday for homemade lemonade.

It’s fairly small for a water pitcher (only 8 X 8), which I liked because it doesn’t take up that much room on the table.

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 00 PM STRAWBERRY WATER PITCHER

Water pitchers to me are like salt and pepper shakers. They can carry the theme of your tablescape without being in the way, and are great table accents.

 Along with the water pitcher I used ceramic strawberry salt and pepper shakers on a green leaf plate.

I just loved these when I saw them because of the plate that it came on (and my love of salt & pepper shakers).

They are cute enough to be used on the kitchen counter as an accent for summer decor.

Photo Aug 05, 1 22 51 AM STRAWBERRY SALT AND PEPPER

The flatware was white pearl to match the dinner plate and not clash with the napkins since my red cutlery was too dark.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 10 PM CUTLERY

I used Waterford crystal tumbler glasses, perfect for lemonade and already in the kitchen cabinet, so things were moving along.

Photo Aug 04, 11 56 27 PM WATERFORD TUMBLER

I was in a pinch so my centerpiece had to be a jadeite cake stand. I think this color looks good as a contrast to the strawberry table runner.

Photo Aug 04, 11 55 16 PM JADEITE CAKE SERVER

I added a few jadeite salad plates, one under the cake stand and one to use with the jar of strawberries in syrup.

Photo Aug 05, 12 13 34 AM JADEITE PLATE

Photo Aug 04, 10 35 16 PM STRAWBERRY WITH SPREADER

I had a strawberry spreader on hand in case anyone wanted some strawberries on their loaf cake and not just on their ice cream.

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That completed the tablescape…

I thought the tablescape looked cute once it was set and that is when I decided to make it a blog post.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 53 PM EXTRA

Place Setting

Photo Aug 04, 11 05 14 PM PLACE SETTING

Now for the dessert…

 I already mentioned that I had a jar of Italian strawberries in syrupand I could serve them with ice cream, but that didn’t seem to be enough so I had to keep thinking.Photo Aug 04, 11 53 56 PM STRAWBERRIES IN SYRUP

BTW- the strawberries in syrup are not as sweet as the Amarena cherries in syrup.

I used the Italian Amarena cherries with my lemon ricotta pound cake- recipe in the index.

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I bought three pounds of beautiful organic strawberries in Whole Foods for 2.99 a lb. the other day and they were staring at me when I opened the refrigerator, so they became the star of the show.

I had a recipe for “Strawberry Crisp” that I made for a friend who visited a short time ago that only ate gluten free. It is made with oat flour and no refined sugar. I don’t even know where I got the recipe from, but I knew I had all the ingredients in the pantry and that could work. 

I hate when I don’t have the author of a recipe to share with you, because I always want to give credit where credit is due, so I apologize.

If anyone recognizes the recipe and knows the author, please let me know.

Photo Aug 04, 11 54 41 PM CRISP

I wanted to have another dessert choice because the crisp was not going to be very sweet because there is no added sugar, but it is good served with ice cream.

So my last dessert was a loaf cake with a lemon glaze. The recipe is easy and it originally calls for blueberries but I switched it up with strawberries.

Photo Aug 04, 5 56 31 PM STRAWBERRY LOAF

I added some strawberry wafers to the table that happened to be one of my recent purchases from Homegoods. I usually buys these wafers to top ice cream, but I served the wafers in a bowl as a little something extra to munch on.

Photo Aug 04, 5 55 03 PM STRAWBERRY WAFERS

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 15 PM BOWL OF WAFERS

So I started baking and kept thinking of mom and the pound cake in the freezer. She knew what she was doing back then.

I think from now on, I will always have a pound cake or two in the freezer for “company”. I suggest you do the same.

That could have made my life so much easier.

Mom had the right idea, as always.

If my company didn’t like strawberries, (which I thought about after the cakes were in the oven) I was ready to order a pizza or anything take out that they preferred that could be delivered, but it all worked out.

The strawberry desserts were a big hit and the visit was lovely catching up with each other.

I think mom would have been proud of my desserts today.

Plus, Bob was thrilled to come home from work to desserts…

Dessert Plate…

Photo Aug 05, 12 28 42 AM DESSERT PLATE

(Recipes at the end of the post).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

If you enjoy the posts, please ask your family and friends to become members of DishingwithDiane.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

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Recipes…

Strawberry Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 cups about 2 quarts sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¼ cup oat flour oats that have been ground into a fine flour, or can substitute with whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together strawberries cornstarch, and almond extract until completely combined.** The cornstarch should dissolve in the small amount of liquid so that you don’t see a white powder and the berries are all completely coated.
  3. Transfer berry mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a separate small bowl, stir together oats, oat flour, almonds, and salt. Add melted butter and maple syrup, stir until completely combined. I like to use my fingers to really mix together the ingredients into the crumble topping.
  5. Spread oat crumble in an even layer over the top of the berries.
  6. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown.

  7. Allow crisp to cool before serving.
  8. If you refrigerate the crisp, it will firm up even more and it will be easy to slice into squares.

Recipe Notes

  • This keeps well in the refrigerator for at least 1 week!
  • **NOTE: The sweetness of the dessert will depend on the sweetness of the berries that you’re using, since that’s the main ingredient.
  • If you don’t have really sweet, fresh, local fruit, just add some sweetener of choice before baking. You can use maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, Splenda, stevia, anything that you prefer!

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Strawberry Loaf

courtesy of Betty Crocker

REMEMBER, RECIPE WAS ORIGINALLY FOR BLUEBERRIES, SO I KEPT BLUEBERRY INSTRUCTIONS  IN ITALICS IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE ORIGINAL RECIPE.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
cup granulated sugar
eggs
teaspoons vanilla
cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
cup fresh blueberriesI substituted strawberries
Steps

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.

In medium bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon peel and juice.

Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Fold in 3/4 cup of the blueberries. – I substitute strawberries.

Spoon batter into pan.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup blueberries – I substituted strawberries on top.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Glaze
cup powdered sugar
teaspoons whipping cream or milk
teaspoon lemon extract( you can also substitute vanilla extract).
In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle glaze over loaf. Let stand until set before slicing.

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Homemade Lemonade

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  1. In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir.
  2. Adjust water to taste.
  3. Chill and serve over ice

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Photo Aug 04, 11 06 07 PM EXTRA COOKIES

Summertime Potato Salad…

Photo Jul 22, 12 44 32 PM potato salad

 

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Hi Everyone, 

I have to share this recipe with you. Whenever I am invited to a barbecue, everyone asks me to bring the same thing- my potato salad.

This has to be the easiest recipe around and it is always a crowd pleaser, so I wanted to share this with all of my members.

I have been making this potato salad over 20 years and I don’t remember where I got the original recipe from. Of course, I have tweaked it a little here and there over the years (I couldn’t help myself).

In my house, we have made it a tradition that this potato salad does not make an appearance until the 4th of July. After that, I make it the rest of the summer.

The recipe calls for 1 dz. hard boiled eggs, so make sure you check your eggs for freshness.

Check your eggs for signs of cracks. Since fresh eggs are harder to peel it is best if you purchase your eggs a week prior to boiling.

You can test the freshness of the eggs by placing them into a glass of water. The freshest eggs will lie on the bottom of the water on its side. As an egg ages the air pocket inside grows so your egg will start to stand up on end. An egg that floats to the top should be discarded.

If you try this recipe, PLEASE let me know what you think.

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DIANE’S POTATO SALAD

PREP TIME : approx. 2 hours

Ingredients:

5 lb. bag of red potatoes -NOT PEELED -boil whole until fork can pierce skin but not mushy/ DRAIN

2 ½ C         Hellmanns mayo –not light

5 TBSP      Red Wine Vinegar

3 ¾ tsp       Kosher salt

2 ½ tsp       Sugar

¾ tsp          Pepper

2 ½ C         Celery (chopped)

1 ½ C         Red onion (diced)

1 dz            Hard boiled eggs

Directions:

Mix mayo and vinegar together—Add salt, pepper, and sugar and mix thoroughly.

Add celery and onions—Next add potatoes WARM  (cut into bite size pieces)

Add eggs (sliced) and fold all ingredients together.

(Best when chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours).

ENJOY!

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become members of DishingwithDiane.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

 

 

More Than Just a Bowl of Cherries….

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 58 PM INTRO

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Hi Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far, but if you live in any part of the country that is going through a heatwave, torrential rain or tornadoesstay safe. 

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

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Bob and I planned on cleaning out the attic of old holiday decorations this weekend. (I have so many items). I just can’t believe how much I have accumulated over the past 20 years. I used to decorate the entire house for every holiday when my son was small. Now he is a man with his own house and I don’t use half the decorations I have, so it’s time to say goodbye to clutter.

Because of the heat we postponed the attic cleaning for another day. Bob insisted on going up in the attic for a few minutes just to count how many boxes we had and came down with a small brown unmarked taped box.

He asked what this was that was sitting alone in the corner of the attic and I had no clue. I have to tell you, it felt like Christmas morning opening this box with the excitement of a surprise.

Once I opened it, I found some of my mother’s dishes.

A dish I loved as a little girl, a combination snack plate & cup “cherry” dish. This brought back a flood of memories for me. My mother and I had many breakfasts on the back patio with these dishes. I always thought they were so fancy when I was a child.

They are fine china from Japan, part of the Toscany Collection and the pattern name is “Marischino”.

They are now considered vintage! 

How old am I?

Photo Jul 23, 11 33 12 AM CUP AND SAUCER

I am the youngest of three daughters and there was a 14 & 11 year age gap between me and my sisters. When my sisters were in school, I was still home with mom.

My mother would make wonderful muffins and pound cakes and she used these dishes for us to have breakfast on the back patio with her baked goods.

That was a real treat not having the usual cereal, oatmeal or eggs.

We would go out early morning once my sisters left for school and just enjoyed nature and listening to the birds chirping. The time of day when the rest of the world is still asleep and the dew is still on the grass.

I wanted to use these dishes right away and since I just bought the most delicious cherries in Whole Foods, this was meant to be. I don’t have any of my mother’s baked goods recipes but I do know how to make a cherry crostata and that is fairly easy so I was off.

I always keep an extra store bought pie dough in the refrigerator whenever I want a crostata or if I get unexpected company and I need something quick, so I was well prepared. I pitted the cherries and started the baking.

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 27 PM CROSTATA

I decided to make some cherry crumb muffins while I was at it and serve it with Morello cherry preserves.

Photo Jul 23, 11 25 50 AM MUFFINS

(Both recipes can be found at the end of this post).

While the crostata and muffins were baking I carefully washed each plate and cup and then set a quick simple table.

I would have had breakfast on the patio like mom and I did back in the day, but Bob would never be able to handle the heat even for a short period of time. Even the patio umbrella wouldn’t have helped him. I love hot weather but my honey needs air conditioning, so we had breakfast indoors.

I used a sage green and white woven tablecloth with matching napkins. I love this particular tablecloth and napkin set because the pattern is reversible and I get a lot of use out of it.

(Both sides shown below.)

Photo Jul 23, 11 30 04 AM REVERSIBLE TABLE CLOTH

I wanted to highlight the dishes a little more and I didn’t quite have the right color placemat so I went with a glass charger instead. The charger has a little beaded design around the rim which adds a little sparkle to the table and still lets you focus on the plate.

Photo Jul 23, 11 34 40 AM CHARGER

The flatware is white with silver threads running through it, very simple. This will match my tray and coffee accessories.

Photo Jul 23, 11 28 18 AM (1) FLATWARE

I decided to put the coffee pot, creamer and sugar bowl on a separate tray. 

Having everything on the tray looks nice and neat.

I have had this silver tray with white handles and matching coffee pot and accessories for 30 years since I got married. It has seen a lot of tablescapes.

Photo Jul 23, 2 01 30 PM TRAY

No breakfast table is complete without flowers, so I added some white heather to a new vase I just bought.

I keep a box in my garage cabinet of all artificial flowers that I use for my tablescapes and this bunch was just right. 

This vase is my new Homegoods find that I am in love with. A vase from Italy for $7.99. I loved the pattern the minute I saw it and it was perfect because I incorporate the color green in a lot of my tables.

The only downfall is that it is very thin (that is what you get for $7.99), so you have to be extra careful with it.

Photo Jul 23, 11 26 48 AM VASE

 In addition to my floral centerpiece, I thought a bowl with fresh cherries would look lovely as an addition to the table.

Instead of a fruit bowl, I thought of something else I could use. I received this 1 qt. enamelware colander for Christmas last year and thought of it immediately because it has a cherry design.

Photo Jul 23, 11 17 20 AM COLANDER

This colander is wonderful because it comes with a drain plate so you can leave your washed fruit on the table.

Photo Jul 23, 1 19 21 PM TRAY WITH CHERRIES 2

It is part of the Barbara Gullett collection for the company Golden Rabbit.

Photo Jul 23, 1 17 20 PM COLANDER WITH CHERRIES

In addition to the cherry design, it comes in blackberry, herbs, lettuce, radish and strawberry.

I know I sound like an ad for the company but I am not being paid by them, I just love this product. While I am at it, even the box is beautiful if you give it as a gift. Okay, I’m done.

Photo Jul 23, 1 01 09 PM GIFT BOX

If you have a similar decorative colander and don’t want to use it to serve fresh fruit on your table, use it for a floral arrangement. Colanders looks nice in the summer filled with sunflowers or daisies.

Breakfast was delicious and Bob loved having cake for breakfast. I felt like I was a little girl back in time, having breakfast with mom.

I hope you enjoyed discovering along with me, one of my buried treasures from my mother. 

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Photo Jul 23, 12 51 54 PM CLOSE

Cherry Crostata

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1 lb. of cherries (stems and pits removed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten OR 2 tbsp. orange marmalade (with 1 tsp. water)
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
  •  
  • Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add the cherries, orange juice, zest, cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt, and mix thoroughly to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a 10-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cooks Note: sprinkle a layer of very fine breadcrumbs on the dough before you add the cherry mixture. This will prevent the bottom of the crostata from getting soggy from any of the cherry juice.

Pour cherry mixture into the middle of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit to enclose and make a 2-inch crust all the way around the crostata. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.

In a small bowl, mix together the marmalade and water. Brush the marmalade mixture onto the 2-inch crust. Sprinkle crust with turbinado sugar.

Place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. 

Bake crostata until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream 

Cooks Note: Use store-bought frozen and thawed cherries for a shortcut!

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For those of you who prefer a homemade pie crust, this is the recipe that I use…

Basic Pie Crust by Martha Stewart

YIELD: ONE 9-INCH CRUST

Ingredients:  

  • 1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  3. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough to a 14-inch round with a floured rolling pin. Wrap dough around rolling pin, discarding paper; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate (opposite). Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough).
  4. Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim and press to seal. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp rim of crust. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

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Cherry Crumb Muffins…

Adapted from a blueberry crumb recipe for the website  KITCHEN GENIUS.

35 minutes  – yields 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line or butter muffin tin.
  2. To make topping: put flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl and toss together. Add in the cold butter bits, and toss to coat, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside the mix in the refrigerator while you prepare the batter.
  3. For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and fold together quickly to blend. Fold in the cherries. The batter will be lumpy.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, sprinkle some topping over each muffin, and use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

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Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please spread the word to your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane either via email or Facebook.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

Summer Delight – Fried Zucchini Flowers

 

Photo Jul 08, 4 55 59 PM ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

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Hi Everyone, 

This time of year is an extra special time in the garden for Italian moms and grandmothers. If you were born into an Italian family, you know what I am talking about- zucchini flower (or squash blossom) time.

The zucchini flowers are the edible flower of the zucchini plant and are a beautiful shade of orange and yellow. They are very delicate and taste somewhat like a zucchini.

Honestly,  it’s very hard to describe their exact flavor except for the word “delicious”.

When I was a child my parent’s garden had every vegetable you could imagine and I remember my grandmother going outside early in the morning to pick the zucchini flowers while the blossoms were open. Grandma would gather enough flowers to make a zucchini flower and egg frittata for breakfast and have some leftover to batter and fry for lunch. 

There are so many ways to enjoy zucchini flowers. Battered and fried with or without stuffing, on a pizza, in a frittata, made into fritters, in pasta, in risotto, eaten raw in a salad, and even a zucchini blossom soup.

Before you start picking flowers, here is a little information you should know.

Each plant has male and female flowers and the male flowers are the only flowers you pick. The male flowers are only on the plant to fertilize and will never produce a zucchini. They are grown on stalks and are identified by their long thin stem.

MALE ZUCCHINI FLOWER

The female flowers grow more toward the center of the plant and are attached to a small zucchini. Leave the female flowers to produce a zucchini.

FEMALE ZUCCHINI FLOWER

The flowers are very delicate and taste best if you make them the day they are picked. You have to gently open the petals and check for bugs, remove the stamen and then gently wash the flowers and let them dry before you can use them in any recipe.

If you have never tried zucchini flowers, I strongly suggest that you do.

If you don’t have a garden with a zucchini plant, don’t worry, check your local farm stands or specialty grocer.

If that isn’t available, many Italian restaurants have this dish as an appetizer this time of year.

 They are a great crispy summertime treat.

(Fiori di Zucca Fritti).

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Today I am posting two recipes that I use to make these blossoms. 

Stuffed zucchini flowers with my tweaks (or course I couldn’t leave the recipe as is) . I stuffed them with a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, basil, parsley, locatelli cheese and prosciutto di Parma.

AND

  Just battered and fried.

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My stuffed zucchini flowers…

Photo Jul 09, 2 50 18 AM FRIED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

My plain battered and fried zucchini flowers…

Photo Jul 17, 2 42 48 PM PLAIN AND FRIED ZUCCHINI

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Recipes

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

For 12 Flowers

By Diane K.

Stuffing ingredients: 

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Shredded mozzarella

3-4 tbsp Grated Locatelli cheese- or your choice of cheese

1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp milk

Salt and pepper

Diced prosciutto de Parma (optional)

 Batter ingredients:

½ cup AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

1 cup beer  (or club soda)

Directions:

For stuffing:

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, mozzarella, locatelli, parsley, basil, garlic powder, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and diced prosciutto. Mix until smooth. Taste for seasonings.

 For batter:

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Gradually add 1 cup beer, whisking until batter is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.

Set aside for 10-20 minutes

Procedure:

Cut the stems to one inch

Remove the sepals from the base (green pointy leaves that protect the flower bud at the base of the flower).

sepals-and-stems- zucchini blossoms

Open the flowers by gently spreading the petals and remove the stamens inside the flower. Be careful, watch out for bees.

zucchini stamen 2

Clean the flowers by gently running them under cold water (look for insects inside).

Make sure they are dry before you start the rest of the recipe. If there is water on the flowers, it will splatter once it hits the hot oil. 

Cook’s note: I dry them on a tea towel for at least a half hour.

Spoon 1-2 tbsp of the filling in each flower. Close the top by gently twisting the ends of the petal to seal in the filling.

Cook’s Note: a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with the corner cut off can also be used to stuff the flowers.

Heat  1- 1/2 inches of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. 

Cook’s Note: vegetable oil or peanut oil can also be used.

Dip the zucchini flower in the batter and let any excess batter drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once until golden brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain.

Sprinkle with either sea salt or grated cheese.

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Battered and Fried zucchini Flowers

Ingredients courtesy of My Italian Grandmother website.

Ingredients:

1 cup of AP flour

1 cup water or seltzer

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Cut the stems to 1-inch

Remove the sepals from the base ( green pointy leaves that protect the flower bud at the base of the flower).

sepals-and-stems- zucchini blossoms

Open the flowers by gently spreading the petals and remove the stamens inside the flower.

zucchini stamen 2

Clean the flowers by gently running them under cold water and checking inside for any insects.

Make sure they are dry before you start the rest of the recipe. If there is water on the flowers, it will splatter once it hits the hot oil. 

Cook’s note: I dry them on a tea towel for at least a half hour.

In the meantime, prepare the batter. Add all ingredients together and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat  1- 1/2 inches of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. 

Cook’s Note: vegetable oil or peanut oil can also be used.

Dip the zucchini flower in the batter and let any excess batter drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once until golden brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain.

Sprinkle with either sea salt or grated cheese.

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I hope you try either of these recipes and enjoy the summertime treat of fried zucchini flowers (Fiori di Zucca Fritti).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!.

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word to join DishingwithDiane.com to your family and friends either via email or Facebook.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and e-mails. I LOVE hearing from you.

 

Happy 4th of July

4th of JULY -MY FOX8.COM

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Hi everyone, 

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful 4th of July!

There is no formal tablescape for me this year, Bob and I are going out for the holiday. 

I just wanted to share a new menu item that I have added this year along with the traditional “Diane’s 4th of July potato salad”.

This year I added a flag pizza to bring along to our friend’s house with the potato salad and desserts. I thought it was a cute idea and I saw Giada make it on one of her shows. I have been up early making pizzas.

Photo Jul 04, 12 48 00 PM FLAG PIZZA

I have included the recipe for the pizza and the potato salad below.

4th of July Flag Pizza

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

FOR THE SPINACH

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

5 ounces baby spinach, chopped

1-2 teaspoon kosher salt

TO ASSEMBLE

2 tablespoons flour

1-pound pizza dough

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 cup pizza sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon ricotta cheese

28 slices pepperoni

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the spinach and the salt and cook, stirring often, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the spinach in a fine mesh strainer. Set aside.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on a clean work surface. Place the dough on top and sprinkle it with the remaining tablespoon of flour. Roll the dough out to a 15 X 10-inch rectangle. Drizzle the oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread it evenly using a pastry brush. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the sauce over the entire crust. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, creating a 5 X 4-inch rectangle in the upper left corner with slightly less cheese. Squeeze the liquid from the spinach and spread evenly over the upper left corner. Dot small clumps of ricotta cheese over the spinach to form the “stars. ” Arrange the pepperoni over the remaining surface of the pizza in horizontal rows, slightly overlapping the slices to form the stripes.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through and the cheese is bubbly.

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Diane’s 4th of July Potato Salad

2015-07-04 07.59.17- POTATO SALAD CLOSE UP

PREP TIME : approx. 2 hours

Ingredients:

5-lb bag of red potatoes -NOT PEELED -boil whole until fork can pierce skin but not mushy/ DRAIN

2 ½ C         Hellmanns mayo -not light

5 TBSP      Red Wine Vinegar

3 ¾ tsp       Kosher salt

2 ½ tsp       Sugar

¾ tsp          Pepper

2 ½ C         Celery (chopped)

1 ½ C         Red onion (diced)

1 dz          Hard boiled eggs – (sliced)

Shredded carrots are optional

Directions:

Safety Check…

Check your eggs for signs of cracks. Since fresh eggs are harder to peel it is best if you purchase your eggs a week prior to boiling. You can test the freshness of the eggs by placing them into a glass of water. The freshest eggs will lie on the bottom of the water on its side. As an egg ages the air pocket inside grows so your egg will start to stand up on end. An egg that floats to the top should be discarded.

Mix mayo and vinegar together—Add salt, pepper, and sugar and mix thoroughly.

Add celery and onions—Next add potatoes WARM  (cut into bite size pieces)

Add eggs (sliced) and fold all ingredients together.

Cooks Note…

I think the potato salad tastes best after it has cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours and all the flavors have blended together.

ENJOY!

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Have a great day !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Please spread the word and ask your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments & emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce …

 

Photo Jun 28, 9 16 36 PM CAPELLINI WITH FRESH TOMATOES

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Hi Everyone, 

Very busy since my last post and the time is flying by. I can’t believe that we are at the end of June already. Wasn’t it just Easter?

I have received several emails regarding a recipe that I had posted on Instagram and I wanted to share it with all of my DishingwithDiane members. The recipe is for a tomato sauce that takes less than 20 minutes and is made with fresh tomatoes. I use cherry tomatoes.

Sounds to good to be true, but it is.

With all of our gardens that are bountiful this time of year with tomatoes and basil (one of my favorite combinations), this recipe is perfect.

It is a go to recipe of mine for the summer months. 

It is much quicker than ordering take out and much healthier.

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think.

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Garden Tomatoes

Photo Jun 28, 7 30 40 PM INGREDIENTS

Ingredients

3 pints of cherry tomatoes – washed and sliced in half — ( Roma or vine tomatoes can be used as well- your choice.)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cloves of sliced garlic (or more)

Red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. of tomato paste

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh thyme

1 tbsp. butter

Pasta of your choice

½ to 1 cup of white wine (optional)

1 cup frozen or fresh peas (optional)

Diane’s tips: 

Dry herbs are stronger than fresh herbs so you need to use a smaller amount.

Don’t just sprinkle dried herbs in your pot, instead rub dried herbs between your fingers to crush the herb. This releases the oils that are left in the leaves which adds more flavor.

Directions:

Wash and slice 3 pints of cherry tomatoes in half, set aside

In a large skillet, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 cloves (or more) of sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (the desired amount you want).

Once the garlic starts to turn golden, add the tomato paste and saute for a few minutes to toast the tomato paste and blend it well with the garlic.

Next, add all of your tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, some fresh basil leaves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  I added 1 cup white wine (optional).

Simmer for approx. 15- 20 minutes on medium heat partially covered. Stir occasionally and crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to release their juices.

Add peas now if using (optional)

In the meantime, make your pasta per directions, two minutes shy of al dente.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water and add the drained pasta to the skillet to finish cooking.

If pasta sauce is too thick or too dry, add some pasta water- ( a tbsp. at a time).

Off heat, I finish the sauce with 1 tbsp of butter, grated cheese and a few fresh basil leaves.  Serve and enjoy!

Slideshow of steps starting with ingredients…

 

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word to your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE to hear from you.

 

Fiesta Night

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 48 PM INTRO FIESTA

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to June!

Wow, the months are flying by? Why does it seem that every year goes by quicker and quicker the older we get, not like childhood when a year felt like an eternity?

In my home, June’s arrival means that Bob is ready for grilling. He makes sure the grill is spotless, and his grilling baskets and barbecue tools are ready to go.

This must be a guy thing because I never have the desire to stand in front of the grill watching my meal cook. Even though I cook every night and stand in front of the stove, the grill does not interest me.

The temperature reached 80 degrees and Bob said he was in the mood to grill steak for tacos, so he went to purchase some skirt steak and other ingredients I needed to complete this meal while I stayed home and started a marinade with oranges, limes, cumin, garlic and olive oil.

My marinades are always different depending on what I have in the house but I always try to get a citrus in the marinade.

Since this was the FIRST OFFICIAL grilling moment of 2018…

I decided to make this taco dinner into a Fiesta Night.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 28 PM EXTRA

I have great dishes for this meal that are a combination of perfect Fiesta colors – red, yellow, blue and lime. This is a 10.5 inch ceramic plate that is dishwasher & microwave safe- always a plus. I picked them up last year at Dollar Tree when I was hosting a taco bar luncheon.

Photo Jun 09, 11 51 35 AM DINNER PLATE

I wanted to use all the colors from the dish for my tablescape, so I am starting out with one of the brightest tablecloths I own, a very bright lemon yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 10 33 52 AM TABLECLOTH

Another color in the plate is red and that will be the color of the napkins along with brown wooden napkin rings because I want to use my brown rattan chargers and the wooden napkin ring will look best.

These rattan chargers are my absolute favorite because they go with so many dinnerware patterns.

Photo Jun 07, 6 53 18 PM NAPKIN AND CHARGER

The flatware I am using is a set I don’t get to use very often. They are what I call, my “Cinco de Mayo” flatware because they have all the colors of a Mexican Fiesta –  lime, orange, navy, red and yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 11 48 28 AM FLATWARE

The glassware brings me right back to Dollar Tree. I went back to the store to purchase additional plates for the luncheon and these glasses were on the shelf just calling my name. This was a great find because they had all the colors of the dinner plate.

It is a 16 oz. glass with stripes of red, yellow, green and blue. Just perfect for what I needed.Photo Jun 08, 3 32 27 AM GLASSWARE

 

I had an acrylic pitcher from back in the day, that I keep on the patio table to hold fresh basil & lavender to repel mosquitoes ( a little tip from my Mom) and it matched perfectly. 

Photo Jun 08, 3 35 40 AM WATER PITCHER

Since this tablescape was spur of the moment, I had to think of what I already had on hand that I could use for a centerpiece and table accents. I had a box in the basement of the “Mexican” decorations that I used for the taco bar luncheon, so it was time to see what I could use again.

 I brought the box up and found a sombrero and maracas along with a bag of artificial red chili peppers.

Photo Jun 08, 1 48 32 AM SOMBRERO

Photo Jun 07, 6 50 48 PM MARACAS

Photo Jun 08, 1 51 44 AM CHILI PEPPERS

My next great find, which I honestly forgot I had was a Mexican serape table runner. I love this. It brings all the colors I am looking for together and captures that authentic Mexican feel.

I normally don’t use a table runner but this bright yellow tablecloth needed something extra.

Photo Jun 09, 10 34 46 AM TABLE RUNNER

You know by now how much I love to add salt and pepper shakers to my tablescapes to carry out the theme, so I went to my collection and took out the cacti set.

Photo Jun 08, 3 36 59 AM SALT AND PEPPER SHAKER

I thought that the tablescape needed a little accent of green and nature, so these succulents wrapped in burlap were added. (Of course they are artificial because I can kill a succulent- I definitely have a brown thumb. I killed the bamboo).

Photo Jun 08, 3 29 47 AM SUCCULENTS

My love of candles continues so I added a few to the table, Mason jar tea lights do the job.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 46 PM CANDLES

Okay, we are on our way to a Mexican tablescape.

Now to continue planning the meal …

 I plan on serving the skirt steak tacos with lots of standard taco toppings, red rice and something new for me, Mexican corn or Elote.

The Meal…

Skirt steak

Photo Jun 09, 10 08 09 AM SKIRT STEAK

Taco Toppings… tomatoes, lettuce, corn salsa, cheese, hot sauce and sour cream.

Photo Jun 04, 9 51 33 PM TOPPINGS

Red Rice– Bob and I both love rice so I always include red rice when I make a taco meal. This time I added a can of pinto beans.

(This Red Rice recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 17 27 PM RED RICE AND BEANS

 And now the Mexican Corn...I love to order this corn whenever I see it on a menu, so I had Bob buy some queso fresco cheese while he was shopping and I’ll give it a try.

The recipe doesn’t look difficult at all. The original recipe calls for cojita cheese but he couldn’t find that.

I topped it with a great seasoning blend that I bought in Trader Joe’s- Chili Lime.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 32 PM CHILI LIME

(This Elote recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 16 06 PM MEXICAN CORN

When I was hosting the taco luncheon I decided to buy taco holders. All of the taco holders that I looked at in Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma were interlocking metal racks and I preferred individual holders.

I finally found some plastic taco holders that can be separated individually or clipped together and interlocked depending on how you were serving your meal. These holders are the best purchase for a taco night. 

There is no mess with tacos falling over and contents of your tacos spilling out and it looks cute on the plate. Plus it makes it much easier for your guests to handle.

 I think they are still available on Amazon.

Photo Jun 08, 3 21 09 AM TACO HOLDERS

I prefer using them separately but you can interlock as many as you want together.

Photo Jun 08, 3 22 48 AM DOUBLE TACO

DIANE’S NOTE:  

If you don’t want to purchase taco holders, you could also use an inverted muffin tin. Place the taco shells between the cups and they will stand up.

ff229ac352fa5e600d01032d66de9380 MUFFIN TACO HOLDER 2

OR an inverted cardboard egg carton.

e0e77e653a180e5c2c2a798c21d805d5 EGG CARTON TACO HOLDER 2

Not as decorative for a party as the store bought taco holder, but it will work.

Along with the tacos, you need taco toppings. And to serve your toppings, you need lots of bowls. I had previously purchased plastic molcajete serving bowls to hold the tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. 

I served the toppings on a mango wood wine barrel tray. I like having the toppings all on one tray instead of scattered around the table. I think it looks much nicer.

Bob and I both don’t care for avocados, so you will never find guacamole as a topping for us. 

You will never see cilantro as part of our topping choices either.

We are part of the population that for us, cilantro tastes like soap. Since this is hereditary and we both carry the gene, our son doesn’t care for cilantro either.

Whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant we can never eat the salsa and have to be very specific with the server to have cilantro omitted from our meal and substituted with parsley.

So, don’t get upset with cilantro haters, we’re not being fussy, it’s just in our DNA.

Photo Jun 08, 3 24 35 AM BOWLS

Photo Jun 08, 3 26 56 AM TRAY

I love using cast iron fajita skillets to serve steak. It keeps the meat warm and I love to hear the sizzle. I am ready to purchase an additional skillet just for grilled vegetables.

This particular skillet comes with a wood underliner hot plate and pot holder for the handle. You have to be very careful with cast iron because it gets so hot. I suggest you buy the pot holder.

Photo Jun 09, 9 41 38 AM FAJITA SKILLET

And now I have saved the best for last!

Individual servings of “Mexican Layered Dip” served in a mini margarita glass. It is the cutest appetizer.

I brought out a platter of these for my luncheon and they were a big hit. Served with tortilla chips and vegetable spears.

I am sure you have all seen a version of 7-layer dip, now you can customize your dip in a single serving.

 

Just layer your dip ingredients in the glass and add your toppings. I used “guacamole”, refried beans, sour cream, salsa and topped it with cheese, tomato, scallions, olives and a lime wedge. 

Ingredients are up to you. 

Photo Jun 09, 11 56 09 AM MARGARITA GLASS

Photo Jun 09, 8 15 13 PM DIP

Yes, I did say guacamole and I only used a little just for color and to give you a better idea of what the traditional finished product should look like- I didn’t eat it. 

I wish you could have all seen the surprised look on Bob’s face when one of the shopping list items was the “smallest container of guacamole he could find”.

 He is so used to my recipes and food experiments all these years, that he just goes along with everything and questions nothing –that man is an angel.  

Diane’s note, if you use guacamole, layer it on the bottom of the glass so it has the least exposure to air. Exposure to the air will make it turn brown. 

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I was looking at the cacti salt and pepper shakers and had a great idea.

I decided to make some candy covered cactus pretzel rods for the table. I had pretzel rods in the house and some leftover green candy melts from St Patrick’s Day and I have a basket of sprinkles in every color so this could come together quickly.

Just a little something extra for the table, served in a ceramic flower pot.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 57 PM CACTUS PRETZEL RODS

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Place settingPhoto Jun 09, 11 55 01 AM - PLACE SETTING WITH TEXT

 

So that is our Mexican Fiesta

to welcome in the month of June and the grilling season.

 

I think we need a margarita and some churros and we will be all set.

Photo Jun 05, 12 05 47 AM TACO NIGHT

Photo Jun 09, 8 14 30 PM DIP AND CACTUS 2

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I shared today for your very own Mexican Fiesta.

Until my next post, “make every day a celebration!”

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become members to DishingwithDiane.com

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, I LOVE hearing from you. 

Recipes…

Mexican Red Rice

(recipe courtesy of GeniusKitchen.com)

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion just begins to brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder and salt, lower heat and cover.
  4. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

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Elotes (or Mexican Grilled Corn)

adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema*
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese*
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 lime

*Author’s Note: If Mexican ingredients are hard to come by where you live, you can substitute sour cream for the Mexican crema. You can also substitute parmesan cheese for the cotija cheese in a pinch!

Instructions:

Grill the corn to your liking. I personally find it crunchier and more flavorful to take it off earlier, rather than later.

In a 9×13” baking dish, combine the mayo, Mexican cream, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and chili powder. Mix well.

Roll the grilled ears of corn in the creamy mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated on all sides.

Serve with lime wedges

Cooks Note: (optional)  I dusted the corn at the end with the Chili Lime Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe’s.

290xNxmexican-fiesta-party-games-1.png.pagespeed.ic.TQKJCL0RNp FIESTA 2