Dreaming of Tuscany

2016-06-15 15.16.42 MURAL

(photo courtesy:muralsyourway)

2016-06-18 17.13.36- TABLE LONG

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

Well, I am back… I have been very busy with my son’s graduation and honestly have not had time to set any tablescapes. I hope you enjoyed the recipes I posted during the time I was away. 

Now that the graduation is over, I have some free time again and that means time for a new tablescape.

My last post was my mother’s recipe for “Sunday Sauce” along with a complete Italian Sunday menu. And for me, what is an Italian meal without Italian themed dishes to go along with it?

Of all the Italian themed dishes I own (yes, I have a few), I think this pattern has to be my favorite. It gives you the Tuscan feel which just happens to be the theme of my kitchen.

The name of the pattern is Sanctuary Wine and they are from Certified International.

The colors are light rust, sage green with just a touch of brown, sunflower, lilac and cream.

2016-06-18 17.46.29 CLOSE -MUST USE

The dinner plate is a scene of a Tuscan village among the fields and the salad plate displays an uncorked bottle of wine with wine glasses surrounded by grapevines and a Tuscan farmhouse in the background. 

2016-06-18 17.32.50- DISHES

2016-06-18 17.33.34- DISHES SET

I am not using the salad plates for the tablescape today, but I am using the appetizer plates which have the same scene as the salad plate.

All of the plates have a crackled finish which adds to their old world charm.

I thought that my every day coasters would look nice on the table. The colors blend together well with the tablescape and they add to the theme.

2016-06-18 17.45.20----TID BIT- USE THIS

When I bought these dishes, I loved the design so much that I bought every type of dish from the set; bread plates, appetizer plates, trays, platters, pitchers, biscotti jar, and an olive oil carafe…. I have it all, except a baker.

That is the one piece they never made for the set – very odd. So I substituted another baker from a different set from Italy.

Here are a few of the other platters.

2016-06-19 03.33.12 - PLATTER A

2016-06-19 04.15.09 PLATTER B

So let’s start setting a table.

 I am starting with a sunflower yellow linen tablecloth and using sage green napkins. I wanted to pick up a few colors from the scene of the fields on the plate.

Since this a rustic, out in the country feel tablescape, I decided to go for natural elements and I am using wooden napkin rings.

2016-06-18 17.19.24- NAPKIN

Olive green woven placemats are added to coordinate with the color of the  napkins. Whenever I am trying to display a natural, outdoor feeling to a tablescape, I always use my brown rattan chargers.

2016-06-18 17.20.08- PLACEMAT CHARGER

I chose long stem olive green wine glasses to bring in yet another shade of green from the plate.

2016-06-18 17.35.26 - GLASSWARE - USE THIS.jpg

 Off white pearl flatware; again nice and neutral and it is an accent color on the rim of the plate.

2016-06-18 17.37.51 FLATWARE

 I just love the Tuscan village scene on the water pitcher and wanted to use the pitcher as a decoration instead of for a beverage. So, I am using the water pitcher as a vase for flowers. 

I have a collection of both dried and silk flower stems that I use as vase fillers for my fresh flower arrangements. 

For this tablescape I am using three beautiful silk stems in shades of a green, shades of light rust and shades of lilac to pick up the colors of the Tuscan scene. 

This works for me as a table accent and brightens up the table.

2016-06-18 17.43.51- PITCHER A

Since the name of the dishes are Sanctuary Wine, this was a great opportunity for me to use my wine barrel tray for my centerpiece and fill it with a bountiful antipasti.

2016-06-19 03.35.21 - WINE BARREL TRAY

(This tray is mango wood and not recommended for food use, so if you buy any mango wood trays, line it with a ceramic or glass plate first before serving food.)

I am using one of the round platters to extend the antipasti with a separate cheese platter. I love this platter because the scene is the Tuscan village among the grapevines.

My cheese platter consists of pepperoncino asiago red pepper cheese, provolone cheese, grapes and honey.

I had honey on provolone cheese as a sample in an Italian deli and I have been a fan ever since. You can also add the honey to ricotta on ciabatta bread, topped with the provolone and make a crostini.

2016-06-19 04.13.58- ROUND PLATTER

2016-06-18 17.14.58 CHEESE A

 The grapevine bread plate is what I am using to display a caprese salad of mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto with farm stand tomatoes, basil & balsamic glaze on a bed of arugula with an olive oil & oregano dressing.

2016-06-18 13.57.35 - BREAD TRAY

2016-06-18 17.14.29- CAPRESE SALAD

I think I could just have antipasti for a meal and be quite satisfied.

My favorite would have to be pickled eggplants, pickled mushrooms, Italian olives, chunks of provolone cheese and soppressata- hot or sweet, doesn’t matter.

I loved the antipasti my mother put together every Sunday; so here is my version.

I hope I am making mom proud.

My antipasti consists of…

Cheeses: pepperoncino asiago red pepper cheese, chunks of provolone cheese and mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto.

Meats: hot capicola, pepperoni, genoa salami, sweet soppressata and mortadella*.

Vegetables: assorted Italian olives, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, artichokes, pickled mushrooms, pickled eggplant strips, giardiniera* and pepperdew peppers stuffed with mascarpone cheese*.

Breads: stone wheat crackers, ciabatta bread and garlic bread sticks.

Fruit: red and green grapes.

*( Mascarpone cheese is basically Italian cream cheese)

*(Mortadella is Italian bologna with pistachio nuts)

*(Giardiniera is pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, celery, pimientos and olives)

I think that about covers it.

2016-06-18 17.15.36 ANTIPASTI IN BARREL

2016-06-18 17.36.20 - ANTI - CLOSE UP

It’s a great idea to have an edible centerpiece. Your guests can help themselves while you put the finishing touches on your gathering and you are not spending extra money on flowers or other expensive centerpieces you need to store after your guests leave.

In the past, I have used vegetables and fruit as a centerpiece and it looks wonderful. Artichokes make a beautiful centerpiece, lemons and grapes do as well.

(Remember my lemon centerpiece from the “I Love Lemons” post- 8/29/15?)

I am serving my antipasti tray with one of our favorite Merlot blend wines, Gran Passione Rosso. The addition of the wine makes this antipasti a meal unto itself.

2016-06-18 17.41.24- WINE BOTTLE- USE THIS

Review for this wine by winemadeeasy.com – “There is a strong flavor of dark cherry, black currant, prune, raisin, and dark chocolate with a smidgen of sweetness.” 

Just perfect with the assortment of meats and cheeses. 

An antipasti like this will surely keep your guests busy and satisfied before the entree is ready to be served.

2016-06-18 17.17.33- BUFFET

Now that the table is set, I am ready for my entree of Baked Rigatoni (not specifically a Tuscan meal, but just what I am in the mood for and very simple to prepare). A few side dishes and another glass of wine wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

After dinner, be sure to serve fresh fruit, nuts and Italian pastries and the Italian meal is complete.

Place setting

2016-06-18 17.39.51 PLACE SETTING

(Baked rigatoni recipe to follow below)

Table Details

Sunflower colored tablecloth from Homegoods

Sage Napkins from Amazon.com

Wooden Napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Sanctuary Wine Dishes and platters from Macy’s

Wine Barrel tray from Pier 1

Olive green wine glasses from Dollar Tree

Off white flatware from Amazon

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Olive placemats from Homegoods

Floral leaf vase fillers from Michael’s Arts and Crafts


This recipe for Baked Rigatoni is easy to prepare and is a definite crowd pleaser.

Three rules to live by when you have guests over…

1- always make something easy to prepare. 

2- it’s not a time to try out a new recipe. 

3. prepare whatever you can ahead of time.

Eliminate stress. 

2016-06-18 17.14.00 - TABLE CLOSE UP


This recipe will definitely save you time in the kitchen so you can spend more time with your guests.

I hope you try it and enjoy.

File Jun 13, 7 59 38 PM - BAKED RIGATONI FOR BLOG

Crusty Baked Rigatoni


  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef or turkey
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasonings
  • 1 large can (28 oz) peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can of “no salt added” tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 prepared pkg)        
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Locatelli cheese (or any grated cheese you prefer)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, stir well and cook according to package directions. Drain the rigatoni, place in a large bowl and toss with a “little” olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

In the same pot, heat approx 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and cook, stirring until soft (approx. 5 minutes) Add the meat and cook stirring to break up the meat, until no pink remains (approx 10 minutes).

Drain off all of the fat.

Add the parsley, oregano and tomatoes, tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes break down (approx 20 minutes).

Stir in the cream, raise the heat and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Return the rigatoni to the pot and toss well.

Oil the bottom of a shallow 3 qt baking dish. Spread half of the pasta mixture in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half the mozzarella and half the grated cheese.

Top with the remaining pasta, the remaining mozzarella and the remaining grated cheese. Bake until the pasta is crusty and golden brown (approx 30 minutes). Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes and serve. (Serves 6).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


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6 thoughts on “Dreaming of Tuscany

  1. jeanne

    diane – felt like a took a vaca to Italy — what lovely dishes /settingseanne — so warm and inviting for guests — and the food is enticing too — yum yum — Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person


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