Monthly Archives: March 2015

Easter Celebration!

slide-12- Easter Sunday

(photo credit: sharefaith.com)

2015-03-29 12.05.40- FULL TABLE-

Click on Photos to Enlarge

Easter Sunday is April 5, 2015

At the end of this post I have included recipes for some traditional Italian Easter Pies passed down through my family for generations.

Pizza Rustica and Pizza Dolce.

(More of an explanation about these pies in the recipe section).

And with a little help from my friends, there are even more Easter recipes to add…

Marie Renello from Proud Italian Cook has been kind enough to share another recipe of hers with us, Easter Lamb Cake – an edible centerpiece.

And Paula Carbone Gati from Facebook page, “Born Again Italian” has been kind enough to share another recipe of hers. Paula is sharing her recipe for Easter Bread With Colored Easter Eggs.  An Italian tradition all the kids love. (Sorry I cannot link to a Facebook page but please visit her page on your own).

2015-03-29 12.04.21- BUFFET-

Celebrating Easter

This is one of my favorite holidays. In addition to the deep religious meaning of Easter, I enjoy the holiday food, special desserts, the coloring of Easter eggs,  Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies and let us not forget, my all time favorite… 

PEEPS!  

That marshmallow confection that just can’t be beat ( you have to eat them stale to enhance the flavor. I know I am not alone with this theory). Today they come in all colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, Peeps on a stick, Peeps in a pie, Peeps milk; but there is nothing like an original yellow Peep on Easter morning.

This is what I looked for first in my Easter basket as a child.

928_033-yellow-chicks-5pk- Peeps

Now on to the Easter Sunday Tablescape.

This year I am designing my tablescape around a new salad plate that I just purchased in Pier I. The name of the pattern is “Sophie The Bunny,” and it is absolutely adorable. I fell in love with this plate, (that happens to people who collect dishes). The plate has soft shades of yellow, blue, red, orange and brown and the cutest bunny with flowers and butterflies. The scalloped edge of the plate is just perfect and delicate.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-03-29 11.48.34- BUNNY PLATE -

This started me thinking about what else I have that is bunny related and would coordinate with the plate. I have a few bunny items so I had to dig through my collection.

I started this tablescape with a yellow pastel tablecloth. (Something about Easter makes me want to be surrounded in pastel colors). Once I pulled out my straw “Bunny” Basket, I knew I wanted to use that as part of the centerpiece.

2015-03-29 01.06.58 - BUNNY BASKET

I needed to have that natural earthy look somewhere else on the table, so I chose brown rattan chargers.

2015-03-29 01.11.09 - RATTAN CHARGER

I love the pattern of the plates so much that I bought the coordinating paper buffet napkins to use instead of the yellow cloth napkins that match the tablecloth. The napkins have the same background pattern as the plate with lovely sentiments written on them.

2015-03-29 01.12.55 - NAPKIN

“Sophie The Bunny” had to be the star of this tablescape, so I needed a pretty plain and simple dinner plate. I chose a solid white dinner plate.

2015-03-29 11.51.42- DINNER PLATE-

For my glassware, I am using amber goblets, because the color brings that earthy feel to the table and matches the basket and chargers. 

2015-03-29 11.50.43 - GOBLET

The only piece missing is flatware, so I added my silver and gold flatware and we are on to the centerpiece.

As I mentioned before, I am using my straw Bunny basket; so I filled the basket with newspaper 3/4 of the way and topped that with green metallic Easter grass. I have a few foam Easter eggs to add to the basket in pastel shades that blend in nicely with the colors of the plate. 

2015-03-29 01.16.14 -EGGS WITH EASTER GRASS

2015-03-29 01.20.15 - BUNNY BASKET WITH EGGS

But the bunnies don’t stop here. I have white ceramic bunnies that I purchased in Pottery Barn many years ago, and added them to the tablescape. This is such a great decoration that they are on my table every year.

2015-03-29 01.35.24- STANDING EASTER BUNNY WITH TEXT

2015-03-29 01.35.11- SITTING BUNNY

Now I needed some flowers, so I took a clear cylinder vase and filled them with forsythia branches. (Look familiar? I used these cylinder vases in the Spring tablescape with tulips). I wanted a little more of the earthy feel so I added some river stones to  the vase.

2015-03-29 11.53.35- VASE WITH FLOWERS-

Every Easter table has to have jelly beans somewhere, so I added jelly beans to another smaller cylinder vase and placed a scented candle in the vase. In between the jelly beans and the candle I cut out a cardboard coaster with a piece of parchment paper, so the candle and jelly beans don’t meet (just in case you want to eat the jelly beans after the holiday).

2015-03-29 12.19.21- VASE WITH JELLY BEANS-

Now the matching vases and the bunnies on each side of the basket make the centerpiece complete.

2015-03-29 12.03.45- BUFFET II

2015-03-29 12.06.26- BUFFET 1

 On the table this year is a new addition, and they are “Love Bunnies” from Pier I.

They were just too cute to pass up.

2015-03-29 01.21.29 - LOVE BUNNIES

Table Setting

2015-03-29 12.17.47- TABLESETTING-

Tablescape Details

Pastel yellow tablecloth from Christmas Tree Store

White ceramic dinner plate from Homegoods (pattern- Gibson Elite)

“Sophie the Bunny” salad plate from Pier I 

Rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Easter Bunny Basket from Pier I

Pastel Foam Eggs from Pier I

Pastel paper napkins from Pier I

Amber Goblets from JC Penney

Love Bunnies from Pier I 

Cylinder vases from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Candle and River Stones from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

White Ceramic Bunnies from Pottery Barn

 Thank you for letting me share my Easter Tablescape with you.

For those that celebrate this holiday, I wish you a very Happy Easter!

(To my friend, Jeanine Fisher, I hope you liked the bunnies and the tablescape. I know this is your favorite holiday).

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word, share the Facebook page on your timeline and ask your family and friends to follow.

RECIPES

Before I start with the Easter recipes, there are a few additional Italian Easter culinary traditions that I feel are worth mentioning. (Sorry no recipes for them).

1391175519- colomba IIphoto credit: panettone-shop.nl

The first is a traditional Italian Easter bread called, Colomba Di Pasqua. It is a yeast bread shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. It is similar to a Panettone and filled with raisins and candied orange peel. Topped off with almonds, sugar and a baked on almond icing to give it a sweet crust.

We would eat Colomba for breakfast on Easter.

I personally love the Colomba Di Pasqua made by “Bonifanti”, it is the absolute best. They can be ordered online at Eataly. You will not be disappointed. (and they come in chocolate too).

March 2013 - Easter Cakes 002  WITH FRAME

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 9.51.14 AM- easter wheat pie

photo credit: foodista.com

The next pie that is also a must at the Italian Easter dessert table is Pizza Grana (wheat pie). It is a cookie crust made with ricotta and whole grain wheat with orange, cinnamon, orange flower water and always has a lattice top. Delicious.

5104lQo24sL._SY300_-  Italian easter egg

photo credit: pastacheese.com

In addition to a chocolate bunny, every child in an Italian home waited for the Italian Easter egg. The egg is hollow but always filled with candy and a surprise inside.

My mother would always put these at our place setting at dinner; and it killed us to wait for the entire meal to be over so we could finally open this chocolate egg for the surprise.

This tradition of giving the Italian Easter egg is one I passed on to my son. When I see them displayed in stores during Easter time, I get a smile on my face and a rush of good happy memories of my childhood.

1929-2- torrone candyphoto credit: gourmetItalian.com

Torrone – I am sure you have all tasted Torrone at one time or another. Torrone is a nougat candy made with honey, whipped egg whites, vanilla and almonds. Torrone is available all year and I am sure you have seen it being sold by the chunk at every Italian Feast you have ever been to.

But at Easter the Torrone were special. At Easter, the large box of Torrone contained 18 mini boxes of individual pieces of Torrone covered in a thin wafer,  (the Ostia- which are just thin sheets of unleavened wheat bread). They came in lemon, orange and vanilla flavors and it was a project to decide what flavor you wanted. (My personal favorite was the lemon). I remember peeling off the thin wafer on top of the Torrone and eating that first; and then biting into the nougat. Eating Easter Torrone for a child was a special event; at least in my home.

Now back to the pies

First of all, the word pizza in this case is not the pizza we know with red sauce and cheese. In this case “pizza”  in Italian simply means pie. 

These are the photos from my pies from last Easter. They are not picture perfect but I didn’t make my pies for this year yet, but you’ll get the idea.

Pizza Dolce

2014-04-23 16.02.44 -- 2014 pizza dolce

The first pie is Pizza Dolce, (Italian sweet pie).

It is an Italian cheesecake made with ricotta, eggs, milk, sugar and extracts. It is definitely not a low-calorie pie.

INGREDIENTS:

24 eggs

3 lbs. Whole milk ricotta cheese (large container)  

1 qt. Whole milk 

1 oz. lemon extract 

1 oz. almond extract 

1 oz. vanilla extract 

1 oz. anise extract

Zest of ½ a medium lemon 

3 ½ cups sugar 

Colored confetti sprinkles (aka: rainbow nonpareil)

 DIRECTIONS

 Add eggs, milk and ricotta in a blender until smooth (I divide this to 1/3 at a time), transfer to a large bowl.

When completed, add extracts, sugar, lemon zest and mix well.

Spray two 9 ½ X 11 inch GLASS pans with Pam. Fill each pan ¾ of the way full—add rainbow confetti on top of mixture.

Place in a 350-degree oven for approx. 1 ½ hours. (More sprinkles can be added during the cooking time).

 (1 fluid oz. = 6 tsp or 2 TBSP)            This recipe makes 2 pans

Pizza Rustica

2014-04-22 20.14.24 - pIZZA rustica III

 The second pie is Pizza Rustica and my absolute favorite.

It is a classic Italian Easter pie made with cured Italian meats, Italian cheeses and bound together with eggs. We usually eat thin slices of Pizza Rustica as an antipasto before a traditional lamb dinner, and it can be served either warm or cold .

This pie is also a main part of “Easter Monday” or “La Pasquetta” which means little Easter.

Easter Monday is a national holiday in Italy. Italians leave the city and head to the country, the beach or the mountains for a family picnic. Pizza Rustica, frittata, Easter bread, wine and chocolate biscotti are all on the menu.

The whole point is to celebrate the return of Spring.

We always celebrated Easter Monday when I was a child.

Depending on what region of Italy you are from, the name of this recipe may vary. It is also called Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Gaina and Pizza Piena .  

However, Easter is called Pasqua and Buona Pasqua means Happy Easter in Italy… no matter what region you are from!

Ingredients:

¼ lb prosciutto

1 stick soppressata (or mix half sweet and half hot)

1 stick pepperoni salami

¼ lb hot capicola

6-8 slices of genoa salami

1 basket fresh cheese…….NOT Mozzarellausually sold in a 2 lb baskets at the Italian market. Let it drain in a colander overnight and when ready to use squeeze out any excess liquid. (Use a wooden spoon or fingers to crumble)

************************************

13 large eggs

¼ cup half and half

¼ cup grated provolone

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Nutmeg (approx 2 shakes)

½ Cup fresh Italian parsley

Black pepper

Salt – can be omitted because the cold cuts are salty

2 egg yolks & a tsp of sugar for the glaze

Two 1 lb balls of pizza dough ( either homemade, or from a pizzeria)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

  1. Cut first six ingredients (meat and cheese) into small bite size pieces & mix together in a large bowl (This prep work can be done on one day and assemble the pie the next day).
  2. When ready to assemble, add Romano cheese, Mozzarella cheese, provolone, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper to prior meat and cheese mixture
  3. Prepare small roasting pan or spring-form pan, with olive oil to coat the bottom and sides. Cut pizza dough and shape to form a bottom layer WITH SIDES and a top layer of dough. (If you don’t want a full top layer, cut the dough in strips and criss cross on top with no venting)
  4. After shaping the bottom layer of dough in the pan–add the meat and cheese mixture. Separately, beat the 13 eggs and half and half, and pour over dry mixture in pan and MIX WELL. Add top layer of dough (or strips)
  5. Roll top & bottom layers of dough together around the sides to seal. Vent the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife several times.
  6. Add sugar to the EGG YOLKS and brush the top of the pie to prepare a glaze when cooking.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hr to 1 hr /15 minutes….

For the first 30 minutes cover the pie with aluminum foil.

For the remaining 45 minutes bake uncovered

If using a spring-form pan-let pie stand 15 minutes –then release pan sides and transfer to plate. Can be served warm or cold.

Easter Lamb Cake

Easter lamb cake

Making Easter Lamb Cake
 
brought to you by “Proud Italian Cook”
 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR CAKE
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract, optional
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 heaping teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar and half and half or milk to make the right consistency
  • FOR DECORATING
  • 1 bag of flaked coconut
  • 2 raisins
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • red food color
  • piece of ribbon
  • paper Easter basket grass
  • assorted jellybeans
 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. generously butter and flour lamb mold.
  2. Beat butter, add sugar and extracts and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour with baking soda until well incorporated.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time alternating with the sour cream until batter comes together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared face side of the lamb mold, facing down on a baking sheet.
  6. Fill to the rim wiping up the edges clean.
  7. Reinforce the ears by placing a toothpick horizontally in each ear.
  8. Carefully place lid on and bake for 1 hour, but check for doneness 10 minutes before.
  9. FYI, you will have leftover batter with this recipe, enough to make a small cake.
  10. For Decorating, make the frosting with the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, half and half and a pinch of salt, mixing until you get a nice semi firm frosting.
  11. Add raisins for eyes, a cherry for nose and tie a ribbon around the neck.
  12. Cover platter with Easter grass and jellybeans.

Italian Easter Bread

11063338_10203894531825430_559535688_n- PAULA'S EASTER BREAD

brought to you by “Born Again Italian”

Makes 6 individual loaves

1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1.25 cups milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar

3.5 cups flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
sprinkles or pearlized sugar

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard-boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs raw without hard boiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don’t crack!

In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just till butter melts. In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot – it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don’t worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a “braid”, pinching the ends, and loop into a circle.

Place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles or pearl sugar. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden – about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

You can eat the eggs, but if you leave the bread sitting out for a few hours, don’t eat them. Common sense

Wishing You A Happy Easter!

960x540- easter close for blog - bunnies

(photo credit: mysanantonio.com)

 

 

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Spring Is Here!

spring

photo credit-theholidayzone.com

SPRING is officially here on March 20, 2015

At the end of this post, I have included a recipe for a lighter spring meal, “Spring Frittata with Brie”, from my dear friend Marie Renello, who has the most fantastic website,Proud Italian Cook”. I have been following Marie’s website for a long time and her recipes, photos and step by step instructions are fantastic. You will want to make everything she posts. Take a look for yourself; just click the link above for a visit to her website.

Never has there been a season more welcomed than Spring 2015.

Let’s put all the shovels, snow blowers, winter coats, freezing temperatures, ice and snow behind us and look forward to budding flowers, singing birds and warmer weather!

Spring to me is all about the color coming back into our lives, the trees blooming, the flowers budding and the birds singing. So the Spring tablescape had to be colorful. I wanted to change it up a bit and prepare a very simple tablescape and a setting for four instead of six.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-03-15 12.51.42 - INTRO

I always start my tablescapes by picking out the dinner plate first and see where that leads me. I shop around the house to see what I can add to the table once I get an idea in my head.

This year, I chose a plate that had butterflies, bees and flowers in beautiful shades of green, yellow, coral and blue. What says Spring better than butterflies and flowers? Well, maybe some songbirds but we’ll add that to the centerpiece. 

2015-03-15 12.45.05 - PLATE

I thought the dinnerware would look great with a mint green tablecloth with matching cloth napkins to highlight the different shades of green on the plate. I used burlap flower napkin rings to add more flowers to the table setting and still keep it a neutral color that wouldn’t over power the other colors on the table. 

2015-03-15 12.09.17 - PLATE WITH NAPKIN

Instead of a charger plate, I used a yellow and white woven placemat. 

2015-03-15 11.11.33 - PLACEMAT

Now the yellow, white and mint green colors from the plate are repeated with the table linens.

2015-03-15 11.14.14- PLATES AND PLACEMAT

Now on to glassware. I purchased these green goblets a few years ago in of all places, the Dollar Store. I remember going in for some aluminum trays for the grill and coming out with goblets and being quite surprised that the Dollar Store even had glassware. I use these goblets a lot during Spring season because I just love the color.  It is soft and yet still very cheerful. 

2015-03-15 12.43.07- GREEN GOBLET USE THIS

I shopped around the house to add a few more things to the table. First, a crystal honey pot. Since there are bees on the dinnerware, you can’t have bees without honey. And I love the sparkle the crystal brings to the table.

2015-03-15 12.44.04 - HONEY POT

My second choice for the table was a small Lenox votive candle holder; but I topped it with an air freshener instead of using a candle. The scented flowers add the smell of Spring to the table. (You can refresh the scent with a few drops of your favorite scented oil). It would be perfectly fine to use a scented or unscented candle, but I liked the look of more flowers on the table.

2015-03-15 12.42.01 - LENOX FLOWER POT

Next, a framed photo that I purchased in Hallmark many years ago as a gift for my Mother. The saying reads “You bring sunshine to the lives of those who know you”. That was definitely her. Everyone that knew my Mother, loved her. I loved the saying because my Mother would always sing the song, “You are my Sunshine” and this gift just felt like the right fit for her.

I like to include small sentimental objects on the table to remember the ones we loved who are no longer here to share these occasions with us.

Also, the tulip in the frame matches the tulips on the table.

2015-03-15 12.43.34 - FRAME

And last but not least as they say, a floral treasure box. This is a gift that is close to my heart. I received this from my Mother many, many years ago. Inside it reads ” A daughter is a joy forever”. This has always been very special to me and is now the home of a piece of my Mother’s jewelry and sits on my vanity tray.

My Mother and I always exchanged these little gifts to warm the heart.

Sometimes the smallest token can mean the most to us; especially when given with love.

2015-03-15 12.42.12- KEEPSAKE

2015-03-15 12.42.37- keepsake inside II

With the addition of my silver & gold flatware to the tablescape, we now move on to the centerpiece.

2015-03-16 17.23.59----new table spring

Spring is about color and life waking up from a gloomy winter so I decided to include some colorful ceramic songbirds birds to the centerpiece that matched the colors in the dinnerware. 

2015-03-15 12.06.53 - Bird close up

It would be too sparse to just have the birds on their own, so I added a white birdcage with a cute little crystal bird on the top. If you like the birdcage look, but want to change it up a bit, you can either weave a decorative ribbon into the top spokes of the cage or tie a ribbon into a large bow on top of the cage to highlight your dinnerware colors.

(I couldn’t find any ribbon that I liked for this tablescape).

2015-03-15 12.06.53 - BIRDCAGE

Inside the birdcage I added moss, a nest and some eggs along with a small white ceramic bird. The birdcage needed some sort of platform to stand out, so I placed it on my white ceramic cheese board as the base of the centerpiece. Yes, I said cheese board, think outside the box! 

2015-03-15 11.15.28 - NEST

2015-03-15 11.18.24 -CLOSE UP WHITE BIRD AND NEST

You have to have fresh flowers as part of a Spring tablescape, so I bought some beautiful tulips and displayed them in simple cylinder vases. The addition of fresh flowers definitely makes it feel more like Spring. For some extra sparkle, I placed the vases on a small mirror coaster and added crystal gems to the vase.

2015-03-16 08.14.41- tulips II

Now the centerpiece is done. I wanted this table to really get you in the mood for Spring.

2015-03-15 15.28.37 - BUFFET

Tulips are very delicate. To make the tulips last a little bit longer, I add some 7-Up to the water; a trick my mother taught me years ago. Or you could add plant food purchased at the florist, but try the 7-Up first. The 7-Up keeps the water clear and the plant food can make the water appear cloudy. 

Table Setting

2015-03-15 12.45.54 - PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Tablecloth with matching napkins from Christmas Tree Store

Dinnerware from JC Penney many years ago – (by Coventry fine porcelain – pattern: Secret Garden)

Green Goblets from the Dollar Store

Napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Placemats from Homegoods

Birdcage from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Ceramic birds from Lowe’s Home Improvement

Nest and eggs from Pier I

Vases from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Mirror coasters and crystal gems from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

White ceramic cheese board from Target

Frame and Keepsake Box from Hallmark

Lenox votive candle holder from Macy’s

Crystal honey pot was a gift

Tulips from KK Floral

It was a pleasure sharing this tablescape with you to welcome Spring into your homes. My wish for you, is that you spend every day of this new season full of happiness and in good health.

2015-03-15 12.49.03 - EXTRA CLOSE UP WITH BIRDS AND FRAME

Since Palm Sunday is March 29, 2015, this tablescape can easily be used for Palm Sunday as well. Just add some palm to the vases of flowers and a small palm cross to each place setting. (Daffodils, Gerber daisies and Lilacs are also good flower choices as well as the Tulips).

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word, share the Facebook page and ask your family and friends to follow.

Recipes

Spring Vegetable Frittata with Brie
 
This recipe is brought to you by  Proud Italian Cook
 (click link above to get to the website for step by step instructions with photos)

 
Ingredients:
 
  • I used a 10″ nonstick skillet
  • 6 eggs
  • ⅓ cup or more grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to coat pan
  • 4 asparagus shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 baby zucchini cut into rounds or the smallest zucchini you could find
  • ¼ cup of fresh or defrosted peas
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 5 or 6 grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 oz. of Brie cheese, rind removed
  • parsley for garnish
Instructions:
 
  1. Beat your eggs in a bowl with the water, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat skillet on medium high with a nice drizzle of olive oil and very quickly saute the zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, peas and scallions. Leave half of the veggies in the pan, remove the other half.
  3. Pour in egg mixture and reduce heat to medium low and let the eggs set so it’s not so runny, then place the rest of the veggies all around with half of the Brie.
  4. Make sure your broiler is on and place the whole oven safe skillet under it, this will not take long, a few seconds maybe a minute or so, keep checking, sometimes I turn the pan to make sure it is evenly cooked.
  5. When frittata is nice and golden remove and dot with the remaining Brie and garnish with parsley.
  6. You can eat this hot or at room temperature.

images- SPRING END

photo credit: animals.desktopnexus.com

 Enjoy Spring!

 

Saint Patrick’s Day

--pot of gold

(photo credit-dullesairportrotary.org)

Saint Patrick’s Day is March 17th

At the end of the post I have included my recipe for

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

and a link to website Foxeslovelemons.com for a recipe for Mini Shepherd’s Pie; just in case you want a change from Corned Beef and Cabbage.

 Well it’s time for the wearing of the green. On Saint Patrick’s Day everyone is a little Irish.

When Saint Patrick’s Day comes around each year, I immediately think of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on 5th Ave in Manhattan, corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, Irish soda bread, bagpipes and green bagels for breakfast.

(click on photos to enlarge)

2015-03-14 23.07.48- INTRO TABLE

I chose to include another symbol of Saint Patrick’s Day at my table and that is the Leprechaun. A leprechaun is an Irish fairy who looks like a small, old man 2 feet tall. Legend has it that they are unfriendly BUT they also have a hidden pot of gold! 

2015-03-14 17.52.45- LEPRECHAUN

Of course this tablescape had to center around the color green, so here we go. The tablecloth is green lace with a shamrock pattern which I placed over a simple white tablecloth. I found the cutest placemats in Homegoods when I went in looking for a pastel blue tablecloth (didn’t find the blue tablecloth by the way) but fell in love with these placemats. I didn’t even think of using them for Saint Patrick’s Day until I took my green dishes out and noticed the colors in the placemat border matched the color of the dishes. I originally thought to use these placemats with my “watermelon” dessert dishes for the summer. (We’ll get to those on another post).

2015-03-14 17.04.30- LACE TABLECLOTH

2015-03-14 17.05.35- PLACEMAT

I used a white charger plate followed by a green dinner plate and then a darker green salad plate. See how the dishes picked up all the shades of green in the placemat border? Kelly green is usually the Saint Patrick’s Day green but with all my dishes, that is the color that I don’t own. (I have to work on that).

2015-03-15 01.05.52- DISH TRIO

To brighten up the table a bit (and not have a green overload), I added white napkins instead of green with dark green napkin rings. Just for a little fun, I placed a few felt shamrocks that I bought in Party City on each salad plate; along with a mini glass shamrock for “good luck”.  The table looked a little bare so I added some Saint Patrick’s Day confetti of shamrocks and gold nuggets scattered on the table.

2015-03-14 23.07.30 - POT OF GOLD ON PLATE

2015-03-14 23.15.42 - SHAMROCKS AND NUGGETS

Topped each place setting off with an individual pot of gold  (this time only gold chocolate coins) for each guest and added my shamrock glasses. I love these glasses. They were a great find for me many years ago in Marshalls; because you don’t often see glassware for this holiday that aren’t acrylic. These are a little larger than I would have liked and very thick glass, but they work. I used a green glitter shamrock as a coaster so the glasses would be highlighted against the tablecloth.

2015-03-15 01.05.44- GOLD COINS

2015-03-14 23.10.50- SHAMROCK GLASS

Now on to the centerpiece. I had to display my leprechaun surrounded by his pot of gold. I used a plastic Kelly green cauldron for my base. I didn’t want to fill the entire cauldron with coins (that would take me forever); so I stuffed newspaper 3/4 of the way in the cauldron and then added a little more green with vase filler in various shades of green and gold. A few gold coins here and there and we are done with the centerpiece.

2015-03-14 23.19.52- CAULDRON

I needed a little bit more pizzazz for the table, so I took two glittery garland shamrocks that came on stands from my Saint Patrick’s Day decorations in the front window. I normally display these shamrocks with other Saint Patrick’s Day decorations; but this time I added them to the tablescape. I placed them on each side of the centerpiece and it makes the table complete. (Remember, shop your house first for tablescape decorations).

2015-03-14 23.07.48- INTRO TABLE

2015-03-14 17.57.21-  SHAMROCK ON STAND

And what is a Saint Patrick’s Day table without Irish Soda Bread, so I went out to buy that too. (Purchased this one in an Italian bakery so I’ll let you know if it has that old fashioned traditional Irish Soda Bread taste).

2015-03-14 18.00.42 - IRISH SODA BREAD

Table Setting

2015-03-14 23.08.13 -TABLE SETTING

Table Setting Details

White tablecloth and napkins – from Linens and Things

Green napkin rings – from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Green lace shamrock tablecloth – from Amazon

Placemats – from Homegoods – NEW purchase!

White charger plate – from Pfaltzgraff

Green Dinner Plate – from Amazon (by Gibson- pattern: Green Aruba)

Dark Green Salad Plate – Had them too long to remember the pattern or where I purchased them

Mini black cauldrons, chocolate coins, felt shamrocks – from Party City

Glass table confetti – from Pier I

Vase filler –  from Pier I

Leprechaun – from Oriental Trading – a few years ago

Shamrock Glasses – from Marshalls

Glittered shamrocks on stands – from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Flatware –  my every day silver and gold set

Irish Soda Bread – from Alpine Bakery, Smithtown NY

As I mentioned in my Chinese New Year post, I am fascinated by other cultures and customs and every year when I make the traditional corned beef and cabbage and eat Irish soda bread, I often wondered, why these foods for this holiday? So I did some research and this is what I found out, just in case you were curious too.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage

photo credit- hecooksshewines.com

Corned Beef and cabbage isn’t actually the national dish of Ireland. You wouldn’t eat it on Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin. During the time of the Irish immigration to the U.S., the first generation of Irish- Americans were in search of the comforting tastes of their homeland. On Saint Patrick’s Day that meant boiled bacon. But the immigrants were too poor to afford the high price of pork and bacon products. Instead, they turned to the cheapest cut of meat available: beef brisket. The corned beef was paired with cabbage, as it was one of the cheapest vegetables available to the Irish immigrants.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish-Soda-Bread

photo credit- recipegirl.com

I couldn’t find an exact answer as to why Irish Soda Bread is served on Saint Patrick’s Day, but Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of Ireland and therefore brought over with the immigrants. 

And that is my tablescape for Saint Patrick’s Day. It was a pleasure sharing my ideas with you. I hope this post gave you some new ideas for your Saint Patrick’s Day table.

2015-03-14 17.59.33- EXTRA LEPRECHAUN

“May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.”

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to follow. Thank you. 

Recipes

My dear friend Nancy Lucas and I had very similar recipes for crock pot Corned Beef and Cabbage, so the following recipe is a combination of the two…

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 8 1/2 hours

Optional cooking time: 2 hours LOW – then 2 hrs HIGH – then 1 hr LOW)

Ingredients

6 red potatoes or fingerling potatoes, halved

4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 (4 to 5-pound) corned beef, rinsed

3 large bay leaves

1 tsp ground thyme (or 1 sprig of fresh thyme)

1 teaspoon black pepper corns

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or dark mustard with horseradish

8 ounces beer (any unflavored kind will do; you can substitute water here, as well)

2 cups low sodium chicken stock or water

1 medium head of cabbage, cut into 2-inch wedges

Directions

  1. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion in the bottom of a large slow cooker pot.
  2. Rinse the corned beef and lay it over the vegetables. Add in bay leaves, pepper corns, and Dijon mustard.
  3. Pour beer and stock over everything. Make sure liquid covers most of the corned beef; if not, add more water or stock. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.
  4. Add the cabbage to the slow cooker and cook until cabbage is just tender (about 30 minutes).
  5. Remove the meat to a cutting board, cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  6. Slice on the diagonal against the grain
  7. Serve with the veggies and extra mustard

Mini Shepherd’s Pie

Mini-Shepherds-PIes3-600x896

This recipe is brought to you by Foxeslovelemons.com website.

Due to copyright laws, I cannot post the recipe on my blog.

Click on the link above to visit that website for the recipe.


images- st patrick's leprecaun

 

Recipe Index added to DishingwithDiane

blank-recipe-card-22413056- DREAMSTIME

For your convenience, DishingwithDiane.com has created a new page that will list all the recipes that have been posted to the site; and on what entry you can find them. Use this recipe guide as a quick reference.

Just click on “Recipe Index” at the top of the page. 

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Thank YOU!

Butterfly-Pink-Floral-Bridal-Thank-You-Brown-Front-l1- THANK YOU FOR BLOG 2

Yeah! Thank you all for your support following the blog.

DishingwithDiane.com has reached over 100 likes!

If you enjoy the posts, please tell your family and friends and continue to share the page on your timeline and spread the word. 

This blog is truly a labor of love sharing my hobby with so many.

Your comments and messages have been so inspiring and I hope the blog gives you many new ideas to decorate your own tablescapes and try new recipes.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Saint Joseph’s Day

Once again the month of March is like February, and all the holidays that I prepare a tablescape for are all a few days apart so I decided to showcase them randomly and not on the actual date to spread them apart. Let’s start with Saint Joseph’s Day.

(click on photos to enlarge)

happy-st-josephs-day

(photo credit-sodahead.com)

Saint Joseph’s day is March 19th

At the end of this post I have included all the traditional recipes for Saint Joseph’s Day including a recipe for “fig cookies” or Cuccidate from a dear friend, Paula Carbone Gati who has a fantastic facebook page I follow.

Paula’s page is called  Born Again Italian” and it highlights all the old Italian family recipes. Give it a look.

10432988_10203212085284693_4395128701798220187_n- cuccidate from Paula Gati

There is no special tablescape that I can prepare for Saint Joseph’s Day unless I make a Saint Joseph’s Day altar and that is a little bit much for a household of two. If there were Saint Joseph’s Day dinnerware, believe me, I would own them. Instead, I use my dishes from Italy.

2015-03-08 11.36.28- DISHES FOR BLOG

I am having this meal twice this month. The first time so I can show you a picture of what my holiday meal will look like for Saint Joseph’s Day and then the second time on the actual holiday, March 19th.

 Saint Joseph is the patron saint for my family, so instead of a tablescape, I decided to share with you some of my family traditions and customary foods for this special holiday.

Before we start, a little background for Saint Joseph or San Giuseppe that might help you understand the holiday a little better. Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary. It is in Sicily where Saint Joseph is regarded as their patron saint for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought and the people prayed to Saint Joseph for rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers and the rain came they would prepare a feast in his honor.

Well, the rain came and the people prepared a large banquet. Legend has it that the fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and that is always part of the Saint Joseph day dinner.

When I was younger (much younger), on Saint Joseph’s Day my Grandmother would take me to bring food to the Saint Joseph’s Day altar of her local church after Mass. Many of the older generations set up altars in their homes, but we did not. We always wore red to honor Saint Joseph, in the same way that green is worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The altars are quite a sight to see and they have 3 tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. The top tier holds the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by flowers (especially lilies). The reason is that – “The lily is associated with Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, through an ancient legend that he was chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily”. 

 The other tiers hold candles, figurines, special breads, pastries, lemons for luck, fava beans, pineapple for hospitality and wine. There is also a basket on the bottom tier where you can place prayer petitions.

 Here is a picture I found of of a Saint Joseph’s Day altar just to give you a better idea. Definitely wouldn’t work in my dining room.

5547597178_9560e0b681_z- st joseph altar USE

(photo credit-isitsauceorgravy.com)

 In my family, my Grandmother (even though we are not Sicilian) believed deeply that praying to Saint Joseph would protect her family and she bought all her grandchildren, at a very young age, a statue of Saint Joseph. This is a photo of mine that I proudly display in my bedroom today. It is over 50 years old. In fact, my son’s middle name is Joseph to honor Saint Joseph.

st joseph statue

In addition to the celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day, I have always enjoyed the FOOD for Saint Joseph’s Day. Many of you know this day only by the pastry (zeppole or sfinge di San Giuseppe) but we had a fantastic meal before the pastry.

(There were no words to describe how fantastic these pastries were today)

2015-03-07 23.40.39 - St joseph pastry for blog

Purchased at Alpine Bakery- Smithtown, NY

My family would make the pilgrimage each year to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx because we wouldn’t run the risk of buying ingredients at a local grocery store and be disappointed. No, ingredients had to be Italian and imported. No questions asked.

If you ever have the chance to visit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY you will be thrilled. The food is so fresh and it is like stepping back in time with the mom and pop shops. But Arthur Avenue isn’t just shops, it’s restaurants as well and the food is fabulous. A real Little Italy.

Different regions celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day differently but all involve meatless foods (because this holiday always falls during Lent), minestrone soup and pasta with breadcrumbs (The breadcrumbs represent saw dust since Saint Joseph was a carpenter), seafood, and fava beans for luck and for dessert, the star of the show, zeppole and sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Here is a picture of my minestrone soup

2015-03-07 20.14.23- MINESTRONE FOR BLOG

In my family, we made minestrone soup followed by bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs. (For those of you who are not familiar, bucatini is basically a larger spaghetti with a hole inside. Another pasta that is traditional is mafaldine; this looks like thin strips of lasagna noodles). Sicilians usually make the dish with sardines (Pasta con Sarde) instead of the anchovies.

Here is a picture of my bucatini with breadcrumbs

2015-03-08 13.03.08- MY BUCATINI FOR BLOG

The Saint Joseph’s Day bread was another special part of the meal and my Dad would buy the bread and have it blessed before he brought it home. It is a round crusty loaf scored with a cross.

joebreadsm2- ST JOSEPH BREAD

(photo credit-bennisoncakes.com)

And now back to the pastries. They are called zeppole or sfinge di San Guiseppe and I am sure you have all seen them. It’s a sweet dough like a big cream puff split and filled. They can be filled two ways. One with cannoli cream with tiny chocolate chips and candied fruit and also with custard cream; both topped with powdered sugar and a cherry and both delicious. Every year I always have to have one with each filling.

A fine tradition I passed along to my son.

st joseph's pastries 2

(photo credit-homestyledessertsbakery.com)

A lot of the old traditions unfortunately are not practiced as much today. Grandparents and parents have passed on and lives have become much busier, but I try to keep as many traditions going in my family as I can. I do make the bucatini with anchovies and the minestrone soup, but I buy my pastries because baking is just not my thing. (I have included the recipe at the bottom of the post, in case you want to take the baking challenge). I personally don’t make the fava beans for this holiday either, but I wanted to mention it again because it stands for “good luck” in case you wanted to include them on your menu.

All in all this holiday brings back great memories for me when I was younger and my family was still here with me, enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

Here is a picture of me (I am the toddler) with my parents, grandmother and two older sisters. All of my family have passed on now and all are missed every day. I keep the traditions alive to honor them; and thank them for all they have taught me about traditions and being proud of my heritage. 

Squeglia Family

(click on photos to enlarge)

I don’t have many photos for this holiday but at the bottom of this post, I will leave you with some traditional recipes if you want to celebrate St Joseph’s Day with your family.

It has been my pleasure to share my traditions with you for this special day. I hope this post gave a few of you some inspiration to try some new Saint Joseph’s Day holiday recipes.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Saint Joseph’s Day is also the birthday of my dear friend Sue Tetonic.

Happy Birthday Sue!

RECIPES

Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4 

cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly,

until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. I add a little grated cheese

to the breadcrumbs as well. You can never have to much cheese.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped (small can- 2 oz.)

Salt

1 pound bucatini

1/2 cup olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs

 Directions:

 Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve some pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat

Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies.  Cook, stirring

until the anchovies dissolve.  Remove the skillet from the heat. 

Stir in the parsley

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the

skillet with the anchovy sauce.  Toss until the strands are well coated.  Add

some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.  Set aside 2

tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs.  Add the remaining crumbs to the

skillet and toss the pasta again.  Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.  

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup celery, with leaves, chopped

1 carrot, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes, with juice

1 large can of cannellini beans

5 cups of beef or vegetable stock

½ cup flat parsley, finely chopped

1- 2 cups finely sliced, then roughly chopped spinach

2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into little cubes

½ cup small pasta (like ditalini)

Freshly grated Parmesan or Locatelli cheese

1 tsp. dried basil (optional)

1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until soft. Toss in the garlic and stir for another minute.

Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pot and cook down for 15 minutes.

Stir in the beef or vegetable stock and the bay leaf and beans and bring to a boil. Add half the parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, pinch of red pepper and lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes

Add the spinach, zucchini and pasta and cook at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. * If you are not serving the soup immediately, make the pasta separately and add to the soup when serving otherwise the pasta will absorb all the soup if left in the pot to sit.

When ready to serve, stir in the rest of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the crusty bread and topped with grated cheese

Fava Beans
(I do not remember who gave me this recipe).

1 lb. dried fava beans
1 bunch green onions
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook dried fava beans in boiling water until tender, adding more water as needed. Sauté seasonings in olive oil ’til tender, then add to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Recipe credit-mangiabenepasta.com)

(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles

Ingredients:

 Pastry:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Filling:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

 Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maraschino cherries

 Directions:

 To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a

boil.  Remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.

Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves

side of pan.  Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard

after each addition until smooth.  Continue beating until dough is satiny and

breaks in strands.  Allow the mixture to cool.

 Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.  For each pastry,

pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.  Bake

for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool before

filling.

 To make the filling:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, whisk together

milk and egg yolks  Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.  Place the

saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking

constantly.  Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in rum, orange zest,

and vanilla.  Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic

wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then

refrigerate until cold.  Fold in the whipped cream.

 To assemble the zeppole:

Cut the pastries in half horizontally.  Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry

bag with a star tip.  Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom

half of each pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.

Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.

Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Dust the pastries with

confectioners’ sugar.

Fig Cookies (Cuccidate)

Courtesy of Paula Carbone Gati from facebook page- Born Again Italian

Dough:

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of Crisco, cold and broken into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 tsp vanilla

Filling:

One 12 oz pkg of dried figs, I use either mission or calimyrna
1/2 cup almonds… chopped,,,not to fine,,,more on the course side
1/2 cup of dates -no pits
1/2 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange marmalade
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tsp of good cinnamon

Icing:

4 cups confectionary sugar
a few table spoons of milk
nonpareils

In stand mixer…mix all dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt set aside….to this add butter pieces little at a time, then cold Crisco, then have all wet ingredients mixed and slowly add this to the flour until a nice smooth dough forms…after the dough comes together..put on table and knead a few minutes till the dough is smooth, add more flour if necessary… make a smooth ball and cover in saran and refrigerate …while you prepare filling

I double this recipe..because I make a big batch and for the amount of work that goes into this its best to do it at once…it makes approx 5 doz cookies for this recipe…. which is a good amount..but you can freeze these cookies..I usually pack 6 at a time in a Ziploc then put in glad ware container and take out as needed..they freeze really good.

I remove the dried stems from the figs, and put all the dried fruits through the meat grinder
when all the fruit is ground up I add the rest of ingredients,,, and mix really well…I usually let this sit over night for all the flavors to really marry.

Start the assembly…taking a piece of dough at a time roll out to make approx a 3 inch by 12 inch rectangle..cut with knife to square off…then take the fig filling and make a log approx 12 inches long….place this log onto the rectangle of dough and roll and have seam side down….cut approx 1 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment lined cookie sheets…..350 degree oven for approx 15 minutes, till bottoms are slightly golden…
Make icing and after cookies are cool….spread a little icing onto each little bundle and sprinkle with some nonpareils…