Monthly Archives: January 2017

My Comfort Food – Macaroni

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Hi everyone,

As we come to end of January, I hope that 2017 has been treating you well so far. 

This year I did not have a specific New Year’s resolution, instead I set out to change up my tried and true dinner meals and make dinner a little more interesting.

I went on Pinterest and began searching for new recipes. Some were flops, and some we liked.

I am still a work in progress searching for new meals, but once in awhile you just have to stop and go back to an old favorite. To me,that would be macaroni.

You could say that is my number one comfort food. Not only macaroni and cheese but long fusilli with a meat sauce, spinach fettuccine, Pastosa ravioli with mom’s Sunday sauce, and yes, the childhood favorite of pastina with butter and cheese.

 You have guessed by now that I love my carbs. One of the easiest dishes I make that is a family favorite comfort food is “Baked Rigatoni”.

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My baked rigatoni has been requested for many a potluck and it was a favorite of my son and his friends back in the day. So “baked rigatoni” it is. Quick and delicious and the crispy pieces of rigatoni baked on top covered in mozzarella cheese are the best.

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(The recipe is at the end of the post)

So now that I have my entree, lets work on the tablescape. Something that makes you think, Italian.

I am starting with a red and white check tablecloth. A lot of people associate this tablecloth with a small Italian cafe. 

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The napkins are solid red and the napkin rings are wood. I placed a bread stick and a small branch of rosemary tucked inside each napkin ring just for a little fun.

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Before the charger plates, I started out with a red woven placemat.

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I took out my favorite brown rattan chargers and a simple white dinner plate to use as a base for the pasta bowls. The rattan charger coordinates with the wooden napkin ring.

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I have the perfect pasta bowls to use and they come from a pasta set that I bought from a Macy’s clearance table for $ 7.99 for the set of 4 pasta bowls, a large serving bowl, wooden serving utensils and a cheese server.  I bought both sets they had.

The bowls are white with hand painted designs of different pasta shapes and utensils in bright colors of  yellow, red, blue and green with a check border of red, white and black.

Not planned, but so happy that the border of the bowl matched the tablecloth.

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The complete set… for $ 7.99

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The flatware is black to take a color from the bowl and not make everything red and white. I needed some contrast against the tablecloth.

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I am using clear stemless wine glasses. A new purchase and I just love them. Perfect to use with one of our favorite red wines.

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If my guests don’t care for wine, I have included some Italian soda.

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Now I need a centerpiece.

No, it won’t be a Chianti bottle with a candle and all the wax drippings.

 I didn’t want to order flowers for the centerpiece, so I decided to look around the house for an idea for an Italian theme tablescape. Not too far a stretch in my Italian home. I decided on a centerpiece made with macaroni.

Remember, shop your home first for ideas !!!

I have a variety of glass apothecary jars that would work perfectly; that I usually use for a candy bar when I serve a dessert table.

And I have a lot of bags of macaroni in my pantry that I bought in Homegoods with beautiful colors and shapes.

I am always picking up interesting food items in Homegoods. Next to gadgets, that is my favorite aisle.

The centerpiece is coming together.

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The jars with macaroni alone didn’t look finished to me, so to complete the centerpiece,  I went back to looking around the kitchen.

I decided to use two empty 28 oz cans from San Marzano tomatoes as vases filled with parsley; which I just happen to have in the kitchen.

No Italian house is complete without parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, pepperoncino (red pepper flakes) and garlic.

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Now for a few table accents…

I found salt and pepper shakers to coordinate with the bowls a few months back on one of my midnight retail therapy sessions, so I added them to the table. 

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The cheese server from the set is also on the table.

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Mini colanders to serve sliced Italian bread. I love “mini” anything so I just had to buy a few of these colanders. They are great for washing fruit and today for holding bread.

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and a wooden serving board to display some fresh mozzarella, Locatelli cheese, tomatoes, garlic and basil; all components of this Italian meal.

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I served the baked rigatoni with a salad of romaine lettuce and some antipasti ingredients; marinated artichokes, olives, mozzarella, soppresata and tomatoes topped off with a mix of “garlic olive oil” from “The Crushed Olive”, and red wine vinegar for the dressing.

The Crushed Olive is a specialty store that sells a variety of vinegar and oils.

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I made individual salad plates with a combination of the antipasto salad along with a traditional caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with olive oil and oregano). The remainder of both salads were served on the table for second helpings.

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Very simple and very delicious.

And last but not least, I made a tomato tart to serve with this meal. This is a recipe from Laura Vitale from The Cooking Channel and I love it and make it all the time. 

(Recipe at the end of the post).

Ready for the oven…

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Out of the oven and ready to eat…so good.

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Now my craving for macaroni was over and I will continue to look for new recipes to share with all of you in the coming months.

I hope you enjoyed sharing my comfort food tablescape with me and it gave you some ideas to set your table.

Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!

Diane

Don’t forget the recipes below

Place Setting

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Table Details

Red and white check tablecloth from Amazon

Red napkins from Amazon

Wooden napkin rings from Amazon

Pasta Sets from Macy’s clearance

Black flatware from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Stemless wine glasses from Amazon

Clear apothecary jars from Pottery Barn

Colorful pasta from Homegoods

Salt and pepper shakers from Amazon

Mini colanders from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Wooden serving board from Amazon

Red woven placemat from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

White dinnerware from Homegoods

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CRUSTY BAKED RIGATONI

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 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 cheese
  • 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 a large sauce-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, Italian seasoning 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.

Top with the remaining pasta, the remaining mozzarella and all of the Parmesan 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).

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Roasted Tomato Tart

Recipe courtesy of Laura Vitale

Total Time:  45 min…Prep:  15 min…  Inactive Prep:  5 min…  Cook:  25 min…
Level:  Easy    Yield:   6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • One 10-inch sheet frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, thawed
  • 1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese
  • 1 – 1/2  pounds plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry so it’s 1/2 inch bigger on all sides. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and use a fork to prick all over the pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Scatter the fontina all over the pastry (leaving the border untouched) and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the oil, Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer (it’s ok if they overlap a little) over the crust–leaving the border–and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake until the tart is deep golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Tear the basil leaves, then sprinkle the basil over the tart before cutting it into squares.

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Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” and “share” DishingwithDiane.com  .

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

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

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Rainy Day Recipes…

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Hi Everyone, 

I don’t know if any of you are like me and have joined various “food groups” on Facebook. I love chatting with members of these groups, sharing recipes and finding new ones.

I received numerous requests for two recipes that I recently posted on one of my Facebook food groups; so I thought that I would share the recipes with all of my members.

I call them “Rainy Day Recipes” because they are comfort food to me when the weather outside is cold and nasty and you just want to stay in and be warm.

The recipes are for Spinach Quiche and Sausage, Bean and Spinach  Soup.

Enjoy!

Sausage, Bean and Spinach Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. sausage (casings removed)
  • 2- 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 10 oz. pkg. of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and wrung free of water)
  • 1 medium onion- fine dice
  • 2 carrots – fine dice
  • 1 celery stalk – fine dice
  • 1 potato – fine dice
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 spring of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cans cannellini beans- drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups broth – chicken or vegetable
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • (piece of parmesan rind – optional)

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat, add sausage and brown – approx… 10 minutes
  • Add ¼ cup red wine to scrape up all the sausage bits
  • Add diced onion, carrots, celery, potato and tomato paste- cook until the vegetables get soft
  • Add garlic, beans, and diced tomatoes, mix well. 2-3 minutes
  • Add broth, spinach, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and parmesan rind if using. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.
  • The soup tastes better the more it sits.

Cooks Note: I served this soup with melted Dubliner cheese on toasted ciabatta bread. 

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Spinach Quiche

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Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • ½ cup real mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1/3 cup minced onions or shallots
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 8 ounces shredded, sharp or mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and wrung free of water)
  • (1) 9-inch unbaked frozen “deep Dish” pie shell

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Hand whip eggs, half-and-half, mayonnaise, and flour in a medium-mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients.Pour into an unbaked 9-inch, deep-dish piecrust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until top is golden brown.

6-8 servings

Cooks note: this basic recipe can also be used to make chopped broccoli quiche too – use  Dubliner, Swiss or cheddar cheese. Mix whatever combination you like.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” and “share” DishingwithDiane.com  .

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

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

 

Happy “Second” Year Blogiversary

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Hi Everyone,

I am so excited that DishingwithDiane.com is TWO YEARS OLD today.

Wow, what a journey. I can’t believe that two years have passed.

As the saying goes, “it seems like only yesterday” that we started.

I have had so much fun sharing my tablescapes, family stories and recipes with you these past two years.

I want to thank all of the DishingwithDiane members for your support and for sharing and spreading the word about the blog as we continue to grow.

Please continue to ask your family and friends to follow, like and share DishingwithDiane.com so they will never miss a post.

It is just wonderful for me to have so many new friends in my life and receive so many comments about the blog.

Continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

I hope that I have inspired you to try a new recipe or given you ideas to create your own tablescapes.

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So now as we start year number THREE, let’s have a celebration!

Let’s set an anniversary tablescape…

I am starting out with a light dove gray tablecloth.

(With the lighting I was working with, I couldn’t get the true color gray from the tablecloth)

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The napkins are black and the napkin rings are silver and black beaded. The sparkle the napkin rings adds to the table is perfect for a celebration.

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The placemats are black woven and I am using black chargers as well. I wanted the focus to be only on the dishes; plus I love the beaded detail around the edge of the charger, it highlights the plates.

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The dishes I chose for this occasion are by Isaac Mizrahi and the pattern is Madison Bloom. They are porcelain and feature a very soft and muted floral design.

The dinner plate and salad plate feature the same soft gray floral design with different color backgrounds. The dinner plate background is in off white and the salad plate is in black.

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Complete set…

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The flatware is acrylic made to look like crystal to coordinate with the stemware.

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And once again, I am using my Waterford crystal champagne flutes.

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I just love my second year blogiversary cake so much, that I decided to use it as my centerpiece.

The cake highlights the dishes perfectly. Three tiers of rosettes in black, gray and white to match the floral pattern on the dishes.

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The cake plate is clear glass. I didn’t want any color to interfere with the rosettes. I am displaying the cake plate on a mirrored disc for a little more sparkle.

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You know I love candles and to go with this tablescape, I am using a pair of black metal and crystal tree tealight candle holders with cup shaped blooms. I wanted to use these to continue my floral theme.

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The more candles the better as far as I am concerned, so I am added a few black and white “damask pattern” votive candle holders to add a soft glow.

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A few pieces of black, pearl and gray table confetti and some 2017 party danglers for the chandelier and the table looks complete to me now.

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Place Setting

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A bottle of prosecco to accompany the cake and we are all set for another celebration.

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This year the filling is chocolate mouse and banana creme with fresh bananas.

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Once again, I am truly grateful to all of you for allowing me to share my passion with so many new friends and members.

With each bite of this anniversary cake, I will be thinking of all of you and your support and well wishes throughout the year.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On to year THREE of tablescapes, stories and recipes….

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Table Details

Gray tablecloth from Party City

Black napkins from Amazon

Crystal flatware from Amazon

Champagne flutes from Waterford

Black, gray and off white dishes from Isaac Mizrahi

Black and silver beaded napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Black woven placemats from Homegoods

Black beaded charger plates from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Black, gray and white table scatter from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Crystal tree tea light holders from Amazon

Damask votive candle holders from Kate Aspen

2017 party danglers from Party City

Blogiversary cake from Alpine Bakery – Smithtown, NY

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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Welcome All New Members

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Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to say a big hello and WELCOME to all our new members both on Facebook and email.

We are approaching our second anniversary this month and I am so excited to have you all come along with DishingwithDiane.com for more stories, tablescapes, and recipes.

 Please ask your family and friends to join us.

Make every day a celebration with DishingwithDiane.com!

Diane