Monthly Archives: January 2016

Dinner by the Fireplace- Soup & Sandwich

2016-01-24 13.27.55 - SNOWSTORM JONAS

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Hi Everyone,

I hope all of my friends on the East Coast survived “Snowstorm Jonas” with no problems last week.

We had 26 inches of snow where I live; but luckily no power outages. I guess we had to pay the price for having a 60 degree Christmas.

It seems as though once the snowflakes start to fall, everyone starts to cook. The craving for comfort food and baked goods is overwhelming. And let’s not forget the hot chocolate after shoveling ourselves out.

I made Tuscan Bean Soup and Vegetable Lasagna during the storm and if I didn’t have my Blogiversary cake left to eat, there would have been Brownies coming out of my oven.

I just LOVE soup with a sandwich or even soup and a buttered roll and any chance I get to make soup, I grab it. I think I could live on soup and be quite happy.

I am always collecting soup recipes and tweaking them here and there and I found a great recipe on Pinterest by Wanderlust Kitchen. I have many recipes for Tuscan Bean Soup, but I wanted to give this a try. (Of course with a little tweaking). It promised to be a 30 minute meal with preparation included.

2016-01-30 22.59.41  SOUP CLOSE UP

I was also in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich and

my husband is the “King of the grilled cheese sandwich”.

He makes the best sandwiches I have ever had. We attribute this to his college days working part time at the grill of a local bowling alley to make a little extra spending money. (If we’re lucky, he’ll tell us his secret.) 

You just can’t beat bowling alley grilled cheese and french fries. I don’t know what it is.

2016-01-30 22.59.38  SANDWICH CLOSE UP

 If you have soup and a sandwich as a meal, what better way to eat it, then on a soup and sandwich tray duo? These trays are by Miles Kimball. 

Aren’t they the cutest? What more can I say? 

White ceramic trays perfectly sized for soup and a sandwich or soup and a salad.

2016-01-30 21.38.3  DUO TRAY

I recently saw these trays featured in a cooking catalog; but they were not used for soup. They were used for cake and ice cream or a muffin and fruit. 

With my love of soup, I just couldn’t pass these up and it makes your meal portable.

I bought these years ago from a catalog that I loved that went out of business recently, “Chefs Catalog”. I’ll miss their catalog. I bought so many products from them. (Just ask Bob).

Another one of their products that I love, is their soup spoons. Can’t forget those.

chef catalog soup spoon

Since I was a little girl, my mother always served soup with a soup spoon and I still do it today. I have gotten so used to it, that it drives me crazy when I go to a restaurant and they serve soup with a large dinner spoon and not a soup spoon.

You think they would know better.

 I think I might have to start carrying around my own soup spoon.

Anyway, here is the final product for my Snowstorm Jonas menu.

2016-01-30 22.59.48 - FINAL

Bob and I decided since the meal was portable, we would have dinner in front of the fireplace, instead of setting the table in the kitchen.

We wanted to be toasty, comfy and cozy while the snow was falling.

2016-01-30 23.30.28- FIREPLACE WITH FRAME

So during the storm, I had my honey, my soup, a sandwich and a fire. 

What more could I ask for? 

So Let it Snow!

2016-01-23 17.12.53- SNOWSTORM JONAS - USE THIS WHITE LETTERING.jpg

Note– Scroll to the top left hand corner of each picture for the white and red “pin it” button and add DishingwithDiane.com photos to your Pinterest page.

Now for the Recipes…

Tuscan Bean Soup

Note: Recipe adapted from Wanderlust Kitchen.

 I made a few changes to the original recipe: 

  • I used 3 cups of chopped spinach – original recipe used kale, ribs removed
  • I used 1 (14 oz) can of canellini beans, drained and rinsed and 1 (14 oz) can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed- original recipe used 2 (14 oz) cans of canellini beans, drained and rinsed.
  • I used locatelli grated cheese & Dubliner cheese to top the soup- original recipe used Parmesan & Dubliner cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow summer squash, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 quart vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 6 quart or larger Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, and squash. Saute for 4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Cook 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the broth, beans, and tomatoes. Bring the contents to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and add the chopped spinach. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Use an immersion blender* to partially puree the soup, leaving some chunks of beans vegetables for texture.
  • Add the salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Notes

*Alternatively, transfer small amounts to a counter top blender and puree as desired.

Serve topped with Parmesan or Dubliner cheese and a side of crusty bread.

Bob’s Grilled Cheese

Ingredients: serves 2

  • 4 slices of bread (your choice)
  • butter
  •  8 slices of American cheese

2016-01-30 22.44.09 INGREDIENTS

Directions for ONE sandwich:

  • Preheat skillet on LOW
  • Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a microwave safe dish for 25 seconds
  • SECRET # 1 – Brush one side of each slice of bread with the melted butter
  • In the preheated skillet add 1 tbsp butter
  • Once melted, place the first slice of bread, BUTTERED SIDE DOWN in the skillet
  • Add four slices of cheese
  • Top with the second slice of bread, BUTTERED SIDE UP
  • Increase heat to MEDIUM
  • Cook for approximately one minute pressing down occasionally with a spatula until bottom half is golden brown
  • FLIP the bread and REPEAT THE PROCESS with the second side of the sandwich
  • FLIP the bread once again and repeat the process completely flipping each sandwich twice
  • Now shut the burner and remove the skillet from the heat
  • SECRET # 2–  Cover the skillet with either a cheese melting dome, plate or pot cover for 1 minute and allow to sit and the cheese to completely melt
  • Slice, serve & enjoy!

Enjoy the preparation slideshow

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

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

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

 

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Happy “One Year” Blogiversary!

 

2016-01-23 00.46.04- ANNIVERSARY SIGN - BLOG

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Hi Everyone, 

I just can’t believe that DishingwithDiane.com is a year old already.

The year just flew by and I have had so much fun sharing my stories, my tablescapes and my recipes with you.

I want to thank all of the DishingwithDiane members for your support and I love your comments and feedback. I feel as if I know you all personally and we are old friends.

Please share and ask your family and friends to become members and join the fun.

Well, we are starting year number TWO, but before we start we have to have a celebration!

2016-01-23 03.32.49- INTRO BLOG

My favorite color combination is black, white and gold and I have the perfect dishes in just those colors.

I am breaking out the fine china. (I really shouldn’t say breaking and fine china in the same sentence. Gives me a chill). Back to the celebration tablescape.

I am using Lenox fine china in the Minstrel Gold pattern. I fell in love with this pattern immediately because of the color combination and the floral shapes. The dishes feature beautiful gold and black flowers on a white background, trimmed in gold.

2016-01-23 02.37.22- BLOG DISHES

The dish description said it was inspired by the Art Deco theme. I am a big fan of Art Deco. I should have been born in the 1930’s.

Choosing a tablecloth was not a hard choice for me. I bought this Kate Spade (love her too) tablecloth last year and had it packed away. You guessed it, I bought it because of the color combination and now is the perfect occasion to use it.

I was originally keeping it for a New Year’s Eve tablescape, but a Blogiversary is a very special occasion.

Black, gold and a pale blush polka dots on a white backgroud. Kate Spade features a lot of polka dots in her collections. If you are a fan of polka dots, Kate Spade is the place to look. I guarantee you will find something you love.

2016-01-23 02.34.02- BLOG TABLECLOTH

There is so much pattern going on with this tablecloth, I decided to use black napkins instead of the matching napkins to tone it down a bit. You don’t have to “match” everything- there are no rules.

I still wanted that celebration feeling so I am using rhinestone napkin rings.

2016-01-23 02.13.39- NAPKINS BLOG

With this color combination, there really was no other choice than to use black placemats and gold chargers. Now everything looks complete.

2016-01-23 02.33.46- PLACEMAT AND CHARGER - BLOG

Once again, I am using my everyday, silver and gold flatware.

This flatware goes with everything.

2016-01-24 01.50.02- FLATWARE BLOG

Well, we have to have a “good luck” toast, so this calls for my Waterford champagne flutes. For more sparkle, I set the table with the matching goblets. 

2016-01-23 02.14.53- GLASSES BLOG

For my centerpiece I wanted something simple and elegant, so I brought another piece of my Waterford collection out of storage; the matching vase to the champagne flutes. I brought the vase to my favorite florist for an all white arrangement.

2016-01-24 01.55.01 CENTERPIECE 2

My florist John is simply the best! He knew exactly the vision I had with the white flowers and the crystal vase. John has been my florist for many years.

If you are ever in need of a florist, call

 Raindrops & Roses Florist

 in Bay Shore, NY and ask for John. You will never be disappointed.

To add to the sparkle, I placed the vase on a mirrored disc. 

2016-01-23 00.44.02- CENTERPIECE

You know by now how much I love candles, so I added crystal candlesticks on each side of the vase. These candlesticks are rimmed in gold and I filled in the candle base with gold glass pebbles and I added a clear tapered candle, speckled in gold. They were placed on mirrored discs as well.

2016-01-23 02.15.49- CANDLESTICK BLOG

 I had a few gold votive candles that I thought would bring a beautiful glow to the table. These candles are leftover party favors that I once used for a New Year’s Eve party.

2016-01-23 02.19.01- BLOG GOLD VOTIVES

I did mention there would be a celebratory toast, so to chill the Prosecco, I am using a gold wine cooler. I love the bold pop of color the wine cooler brings to the table among all the icy clear crystal.

2016-01-23 03.36.23 - WINE COOLER BLOG

I love using confetti on my tables and this table called for “special celebration” confetti in white, silver and gold. A combination of tiny champagne bottles and champagne glasses covered in glitter. 

2016-01-23 01.57.54- CONFETTI 1 BLOG

I think just a sprinkle around the mirrored discs would be enough. The confetti would get lost directly on the tablecloth with the polka dot pattern.

2016-01-24 00.25.33- CONFETTI 2- BLOG

2016-01-23 03.31.32 - TABLE 2 BLOG

And NO celebration is ever complete without some eating involved, especially dessert? My husband bought me a “One Year Blogiversary” cake.

2016-01-23 02.31.18- CAKE BLOG

Of course, decorated in white, gold and black filled with lemon curd and raspberry mousse. Two of my favorite fillings.

I have the perfect cake stand for this occasion and I am so excited to finally have a chance to use it. I found it online during one of my retail therapy sessions and just couldn’t resist the beautiful wavy design of the glass and the gold border. 

2016-01-23 02.17.03- CAKE STAND BLOG

I was waiting for the perfect occasion to use this cake stand, but I never thought that the occasion would be a Blogiversary.

2016-01-23 03.30.56- LONG TABLE- BLOG

A last minute touch of some “2016” party danglers hanging from my dining room fixture and my celebration tablescape is complete.

2016-01-24 01.54.12 - danglers

(photo courtesy of amscam)

 Bob and I are going to enjoy some cake and a glass of Prosecco and celebrate this very special occasion.

2016-01-24 01.46.12 - PROSECCO BLOG

 I wish you could join me for DishingwithDiane.com “1st anniversary”.

I will be thinking of you and your support throughout the year.

I am truly grateful to all of you.

On to year TWO of tablescapes, stories and recipes…

Place Setting

2016-01-23 03.32.16 - PLACE SETTING BLOG

Table Details

Kate Spade “Logan Park” tablecloth from Macy’s

Black napkins from Amazon

Rhinestone napkin rings from Amazon

Black woven placemats from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Gold charger plates from Pier 1

Gold & Silver flatware –every day set

Champagne Flutes and Goblets from Waterford Crystal

Crystal vase from Waterford Crystal

Crystal candlesticks from a wedding gift (1988)

Gold cake stand from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Gold votive candles from Kate Aspen

Mirrored Discs from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Wine cooler from Target

Confetti from Party City

“One Year Blogiversary Cake” from Alpine Bakery, Smithtown, NY

2016-01-23 02.46.18 - CLOSE UP USE

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page. 

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

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

 Blogiversary-Thank-You

 

Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

2015-01-22 21.43.24 - giambotta pic

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Hi everyone,

I am back from my holiday break. I hope 2016 is treating you well so far.

Bob and I had a wonderful three week visit from our son and we all had a terrific time together.

The weather held out on our day trip to NYC, so we were able to visit Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in all it’s splendor, the light show at Sak’s Fifth Avenue and we even had time to have Holiday Tea at The Plaza Hotel.

(Enjoy the slideshow)

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The three weeks still gave us time together to try some new restaurants near home, see some movies, spend some family time relaxing and time to celebrate Christmas and bring in the New Year.

Of course I cooked ALL my son’s favorite foods during his visit and trust me, it was a labor of love. I was so thrilled that he was home.

Now our son has gone back to school, holiday decorations are put away, life is getting back to our usual routine and the weather has changed here in the northeast to bitter cold.

Bitter cold to me is a reason for comfort food. Besides the three bean chili, mac & cheese, chicken soup and beef stew; I have another favorite comfort food. It was one of my mother’s favorites too.

It is a southern Italian vegetable stew called Giambotta.

(pronounced: jam-BAUNT)

When I was growing up, my mother made Giambotta at the end of the summer/early fall with all the remaining vegetables from the garden and then occasionally during the winter months. I just love it and make it all year.

Giambotta can be a side dish or a main course. You can add cannellini beans or chick peas too. Add your favorite vegetables and have fun experimenting with flavors.

(This is a great dish if you have guests that are vegetarians).

I usually serve Giambotta with either appetizer size sandwiches of “Mozzarella en Carozza”. Simply put, Italian fried mozzarella cheese sandwiches. 

OR

 Polenta, either sliced into rounds or soft polenta. 

(The photo shows the homemade polenta rounds).

So let’s get started…

Recipes

Giambotta

2015-01-22 21.43.24 - giambotta pic

Ingredients:

3 TBSP olive oil

2 – 4 garlic cloves- minced

1 small onion-sliced

3 carrots- diced

3 stalks of celery-diced

4 small red potatoes- washed & diced

Fresh parsley (approx 2 TBSP)

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) of low sodium chicken broth

2 cups green beans – fresh and blanched is best or frozen is fine

1 eggplant –diced in cubes

2 zucchini- diced in cubes

1 (10 oz) box or bag of frozen peas

Red & green bell pepper or 4 Italian frying peppers, sliced

1 Cup grated cheese

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp. dried oregano 

Fresh basil (approx 5 leaves-chiffonade)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning

(1 can chick peas or cannelini beans- rinsed and drained -optional)

(Parmesan rind- optional)

(1/2 cup white wine – optional)

Directions:

  • Sauté onion in olive oil with garlic for 5 minutes, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Add garlic, carrots, parsley, celery, peppers and potatoes and sauté for 10 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, broth and green beans, season with oregano, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, fresh basil and Parmesan rind & white wine (if using).  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes to cook the sauce (taste for seasoning – additional salt & pepper can be added)
  • After 30 minutes—Add eggplant, peas and zucchini, cannelini beans or chick peas (if using) and simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind before serving

Sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Cooks Note: if the giambotta looks too soupy for you, add half the can of beans to the giambotta and mash the other half of the beans before adding to the giambotta to make the stew thicker.

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

Mozzarella en Carozza

My family usually made this dish for an easy lunch or antipasto with a green salad and fruit; but I love it with Giambotta.

You must serve it immediately because the cheese will harden. It is very easy but messy and you have to be very careful when turning the sandwiches in the oil to keep the sandwiches together.

Don’t over stuff the sandwiches with cheese. Leave some room around the edges so the cheese doesn’t ooze out.

If you use fresh mozzarella and not slices, let it drain for a few minutes to get rid of some of the liquid.

I watched my mother make this sandwich and never had a written recipe, so to give you an idea of measurements, I am posting the recipe from the cookbook,

“Extra Virgin – Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen”.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, Extra Virgin, 2011

Total Time: 20 min    
Prep: 10 minutes   Cook: 10 minutes  Level: easy
Yield: 4 sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces mozzarella di bufala
  • 8 slices soft white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil
 DIRECTIONS

Slice the mozzarella and divide among 4 slices of bread. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread.

Whisk the eggs with the milk in a small casserole dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add the flour to a casserole dish. Dust the sandwiches in the flour, and then dip into the egg mixture.

Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick pan. Add the sandwiches to the pan and fry on both sizes until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. The mozzarella should be completely melted and very “stringy” when the sandwich is eaten. Slice the sandwiches in half to make 2 triangles.

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

Polenta

Use instant polenta, otherwise you will be at the stove for 45 minutes stirring old style polenta. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) box of instant polenta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions:

Follow package directions. When polenta is done, take the pot off the the heat and then add butter and cheese, AND heavy cream and mascarpone cheese (if using).

Serve soft polenta in a shallow bowl and add Giambotta on top.

Or serve polenta rounds…homemade or store bought.

For homemade: Spread the soft polenta onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan. Spread the polenta out as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened, cut rounds out (with a wine glass or cookie cutter).  

You can either serve as is, fry the polenta slices in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden (then drain on paper towels), or broil for 3 minutes on both sides.

Extra rounds can be wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator. You can refrigerate them for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Store bought…I have never used this product myself, but I see the rounds in the dairy case. Pre-cooked, just slice, heat and serve.

81QWybKPPUL._SX522SX522_SY201_CR,0,0,522,201_PIbundle-12,TopRight,0,0_SX522_SY201_CR,0,0,522,201_SH20_- polenta roll(photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

I hope you have an opportunity to try these recipes and enjoy.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

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

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2016 – Lentil Soup

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

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Hi Everyone,

From my family to yours, have a very Happy, Healthy New Year.

All the best to you in 2016.

It is customary in many countries around the world to eat “Good Luck” foods to ring in the New Year.

On New Year’s Day in the Italian tradition it is customary to eat Lentils and Cotechino Sausage. The lentils, because they are shaped like little coins symbolize good fortune and prosperity. The cotechino, is a big pork sausage that’s boiled over low heat for about four hours before serving. When sliced, the pieces also look like coins and is meant to give wealth in the new year. My grandmother would also add spinach to the lentils because it is green and resembles the color of money.

So to keep with tradition, I wanted to share my recipes for Lentils with you. 

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

Diane’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely

I have also used a 1/2 lb. of chopped bacon sauteed in a small amount of oil as the first step.

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • (saute bacon if using)
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic, tomato paste and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese

 Cooks Note- salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

 I hope you try this recipe and it brings you and your loved ones,

good fortune in 2016 !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

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

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.