Monthly Archives: June 2017

4th of July – 2017

Photo Jun 21, 12 24 07 PM.jpg INTRO - USE THIS !!!!!

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

Hi Everyone,

I will be very busy the next few weeks so I decided to post a “4th of July” tablescape a little early.

 I am serving a very American menu and not the usual Italian influenced 4th of July menu I grew up with.

I know it is an American holiday with the standard barbecue fare of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, but being Italian, my family always celebrated the Italian way with antipasto, linguine with crabs, chicken, steak, fish, lamb kabobs, sausage and peppers, caprese salad, roasted peppers, potato/onion/string bean salad, panzanella salad, tomato salad, rice salad, tossed salad, focaccia with olives & rosemary and zeppoles.

I can’t even start to name the desserts we would have…

My American menu this year will be hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, corn on the cob, French fries, apple pie, and ice cream.

This year I even purchased red, white and blue popcorn.

Another Homegoods find.

Photo Jun 21, 1 47 31 PM.jpg POPCORN

I made a test batch of popcorn. The kernels didn’t pop as red, white and blue as I wanted, but it tasted great with a little butter and a dash of cayenne.

Photo Jun 21, 12 23 44 PM.jpg POPCORN IN BUCKET

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I love decorating for the 4th, but seriously, there is just so much you can do with red, white and blue. I already have two sets of dishes that I use for 4th of July and if you have been following the blog you have seen both of them.

Here is a little reminder….

2015-05-23 21.49.09- MEMORIAL BUFFET

2015-07-04 00.57.34- BUFFET

I try to mix it up every year with the standard stars and stripes, but this year I happened to wander into Sur La Table one afternoon and it changed my 4th of July decorating world.

Instead of the usual stars and stripes, Sur La Table is featuring a new design called “Fireworks” and I love it. I bought the platters, plates, napkins, serving bowl and salad tongs. This is a very cheery pattern. I think you will like it…..

Photo Jun 21, 12 24 44 PM.jpg EXTRA

I am starting off with a navy tablecloth with white stars that I use quite often for my 4th of July and Memorial Day tablescapes. It has always been a “patriotic” favorite of mine. 

(PHOTO looks black with the lighting but the tablecloth is navy)

Photo Jun 21, 1 42 05 PM.jpg TABLECLOTH

To that I am adding red woven placemats and galvanized metal chargers. You have seen this combo before, but I think this combination looks best with the tablecloth.

Photo Jun 21, 12 11 09 PM.jpg PLACEMAT AND CHARGER

My dinner plates are a solid navy melamine plate with a white star border. Very bold and matches the tablecloth. 

Photo Jun 22, 9 49 02 AM.jpg DINNER DISH

The salad plates are also melamine and they are my new “Fireworks” purchase from Sur La Table. Red, white and blue fireworks bursting across the plate. I think they are great with the dinner dishes.

Photo Jun 21, 12 03 55 PM.jpg SALAD PLATE

I also bought the “Fireworks” napkins and I am using a red, white and blue spray napkin ring made out of glass and plastic beads. 

The napkin rings also remind me of a fireworks display.

Photo Jun 21, 1 41 35 PM.jpg NAPKIN AND RING

Cutlery is red enamel by Cambridge.

Photo Jun 21, 12 14 38 PM.jpg RED CUTLERY

I usually use red and blue striped glassware, but this year I am using cobalt blue goblets for a little change.

Photo Jun 21, 1 42 27 PM.jpg COBALT GOBLETS

 I have used this centerpiece before for the 4th of July and I just love it.

The centerpiece is a crème, red and blue water pitcher with stars and “America the Beautiful” written around the neck of the pitcher. 

Adding a Flag with some red, white and blue carnations and Gerber daisies makes it complete. Simple and perfect for the table.  

Photo Jun 21, 12 16 41 PM.jpg CENTERPIECE

Table accents for this tablescape will start out with mini galvanized pails that I found in Dollar Tree. I am going to use the pails as votive candle holders with just a little bit of sand in the bottom of the pail to hold the candle in place.

Photo Jun 21, 12 05 24 PM.jpg PAILS FOR CANDLES

You can also string a tag on the handle and use the pails as place-cards instead of candle holders.

Photo Jun 21, 1 45 16 PM.jpg PAIL PLACE CARD

Next, a flag salt and pepper shaker set added to the table. Remember, salt and pepper shakers are great for a tablescape to enhance the theme and small enough not to get in the way of the serve ware.

Photo Jun 22, 12 29 59 PM.jpg SALT AND PEPPER - USE THIS !!!!!

The last table accents are patriotic table scatter and a wooden sign that reads “God Bless America” which I found at a spa gift shop of all places. You never know where you’ll find things.

Photo Jun 22, 8 06 54 AM.jpg TABLE SCATTER

Photo Jun 21, 1 43 40 PM.jpg GOD BLESS SIGN

The serving pieces are quite large so I am setting them up on the buffet server and not directly on the table.

The first piece of serve ware is the large “Fireworks” melamine platter. The platter is 14 x 20. I will be using this platter to serve hot dogs and hamburgers. 

Photo Jun 21, 1 52 00 PM.jpg LARGE TRAY

The next piece of serve ware is a large “Fireworks” melamine serving bowl and I am using stars and stripes melamine salad tongs. I didn’t want to use the Fireworks  salad tongs and have them blend into the design on the bowl.

This serving bowl is 14 x 4 and has the capacity to hold 5 quarts.

I will use this bowl to serve my 4th of July potato salad.

Photo Jun 21, 1 53 02 PM.jpg SERVING BOWL.jpg WITH FRAME - USE THIS !!!!

 Since I got married, the first day of the year that I make my potato salad has always been 4th of July and never a day sooner. It has become a family tradition.

I will repost the potato salad recipe for you at the end of the post, absolutely delicious.

2015-07-04 07.59.17- POTATO SALAD CLOSE UP

Along with hot dogs and hamburgers you have to have French fries. I will be serving Tuscan French fries* and serving them in mini fry baskets along with condiment cups for ketchup.

* Tuscan Fries are made with garlic & fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage) added to hot oil and drizzled over the French fries.)

Photo Jun 22, 8 09 22 AM.jpg BASKET WITH CUP

 I am lining the fry baskets with red and white check basket liner tissue. This tissue is food grade so it doesn’t leak or fall apart (especially with greasy French fries).

Photo Jun 21, 1 58 39 PM.jpg BASKET WITH LINER

I just love mini serve ware of any kind. It must go back to the days when I had mini everything in a doll house. I just find the mini items too cute to pass up.

Remember the mini colanders?

For the corn on the cob, I will be using another melamine platter, but this one is  white stars on a navy background with a red border. 

This tray is 7 x 15.

Photo Jun 21, 1 54 01 PM.jpg OBLONG TRAY

The main dessert has to be red, white & blue of course, so I will be serving vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries along with some apple pie.

Bob needed a dessert sampler ahead of time, so here are the photos. 

Photo Jun 22, 11 30 11 AM.jpg ICE CREAM

Photo Jun 22, 9 58 11 AM.jpg APPLE PIE FROST

I have one more 4th of July family dessert tradition to tell you about.

Every year we purchase Friendly’s Watta -Melon roll. It just isn’t 4th of July without it. My son came up with this tradition many years ago and it has been going strong for decades.

Watermelon and lemon sherbet with chocolate chips as the seeds. To me, this means Summer has arrived.

I bring it to the table on a platter with fresh watermelon cut into the shape of stars (using a cookie cutter) and the addition of some sparklers. 

I love sparklers.

Reminds me of my Uncle Vinny. He brought sparklers every 4th of July.

rolls_ice-cream-rolls_wattamelon-roll (1).png 2.jpg FRIENDLY'S IN BOXrolls.jpg watta.jpg WATTA SLICE

And that completes this year’s 4th of July tablescape. I hope I gave you some inspiration for your own 4th of July celebration.

Have a wonderful holiday and take this opportunity to make beautiful memories with your family and friends.

Be safe and keep your pets safe too.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Photo Jun 21, 1 48 50 PM.jpg BUFFET.jpg WITH NAME - USE THIS FINAL

Place Setting

Photo Jun 22, 8 03 09 AM.jpg PLACE SETTING ON THE 22ND

Table Details

Navy tablecloth with white stars from Macy’s

Red woven placemats from Homegoods

Galvanized chargers from Pottery Barn

“Fireworks” cloth napkin from Sur La Table

“Fireworks” serving bowl from Sur La Table

Star and Stripes salad tongs from Sur La Table

Large “fireworks” platter from Sur La Table

Stars oblong platter from Sur La Table

Navy and white star dinner plates from Sur La Table

“Fireworks” salad plates from Sur La Table

Mini fry baskets and condiment cups from Sur La Table

Mini galvanized pails from Dollar Tree

Red, white and blue glass spray napkin rings from Pier 1

Patriotic pitcher from Homegoods

Patriotic artificial flowers from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Patriotic table scatter from Pier 1

God Bless America wooden sign from Drew Patrick Spa

Red, white and blue popcorn from Homegoods

Blue goblets from Crate and Barrel

Red flatware from Amazon

Food grade basket liners from Amazon

Ice cream dishes from Williams Sonoma

Ice cream spoons from Chefs Catalog

NOTE: ALL melamine serve ware is indoor/outdoor and is ONLY top rack dishwasher safe.

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Potato Salad Recipe

2015-07-04 07.59.17- POTATO SALAD CLOSE UP

Ingredients:

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

2 ½ C         Hellman’s mayo – NOT LIGHT  

5 TBSP      Red Wine Vinegar

3 ¾ tsp       Kosher salt

2 ½ tsp       Sugar

¾ tsp          Pepper

2 ½ C         Celery (chopped)

1 ½ C         Red onion (diced)

1 dz            Hard boiled eggs

(Shredded carrots are optional)

* Safety check…

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

Directions:

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

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

Add eggs (sliced) and fold all ingredients together.

ENJOY!

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

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Photo Jun 21, 12 24 44 PM.jpg EXTRA

 

 

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Cooking with Herbs …

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

Photo Jun 16, 4 43 04 PM.jpg INTRO

Hi everyone,

We had a mini heatwave here in the Northeast the past few days. The temperature went from very cool weather to being in the 90’s in a matter of days.

Since the weather has been so unpredictable, I have had a late start planting my garden.

We finally bought our plants and they are all in the ground.

Now we wait for the first bounty.

I feel like my Dad when I plant a garden. He followed in the footsteps of his family and planted a vegetable garden every year. Back in Brooklyn, all the neighbors would share whatever vegetables they grew. 

Sharing your garden bounty is always a nice part of summer. 

Bob and I usually plant tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and some herbs.

This year I am increasing my herb plantings.

I don’t know about you but it seems I am constantly buying herbs in the grocery store. I buy basil and within a day it turns brown. My parsley turns yellow almost immediately.

So I have decided that this year, is the year of the herb garden. I have added thyme, sage, dill, rosemary and tarragon to the usual parsley and basil.

While I was planting the herbs, I thought it would be great to make a quiche using a combination of herbs for a light brunch with a side salad. So I did some research for a new recipe and I found one for a “Crustless Herb Quiche”. I want to share this recipe with you today. Very fast and very easy.

Photo Jun 16, 9 08 44 PM.jpg HERB QUICHE

Along with the quiche I made a Baby Spinach Salad. 

My take on an old classic.

The classic spinach salad minus the bacon, fresh mushrooms and croutons.

The right salad dressing means everything to enhance the flavor of a salad and I have had the good fortune to meet a wonderful fellow foodie named ” Cucina Teresa” on one of my Facebook food groups who makes the perfect salad dressing.

Spinach salad calls for balsamic dressing and Cucina Teresa makes the best creamy balsamic salad dressing I have ever tasted. (which I highly recommend for this spinach salad recipe.) I just can’t say enough about it. I know I sound like a walking advertisement, but it’s that good.

CUCINA TERESA.jpg for blog

I have included her ordering information after the “Recipe” section at the end of this post, in case you are interested in trying her dressing. You will not be disappointed. 

Photo Jun 17, 12 17 01 AM.jpg SPINACH SALAD

Another salad for this brunch is one my mother made all the time with cucumbers from her garden. 

Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Dill.

Photo Jun 17, 12 38 51 AM (1).jpg CUCUMBER SALAD

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Brunch is served ...

Photo Jun 17, 12 45 46 AM.jpg COMBO BRUNCH

(Recipes at the end of the post.)

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What better way to enjoy herb inspired food than on “herb” themed dishes. I have just the right set.

 The dishes I am using for brunch are made by Certified International, designed by Susan Winget. I just love her work.

It is an earthenware dish with a cream background with designs of herbs, butterflies and bees in shades of blue, lilac, green and yellow with a brown rim. The name of the featured herb is on each plate.

I only bought the salad plates and mugs along with a few serving trays because I intended to only use this set on the patio, just for dessert and coffee/tea after dinner on summer nights.

Photo Jun 16, 11 08 52 PM.jpg DISHES

 The large serving tray is 14 X 14 and highlights lavender and chamomile alongside a birdcage and butterfly. The tray is cream and lilac with various shades of green and a brown rim.

Photo Jun 16, 4 27 28 LARGE PLATTER

The small serving tray is  11 x 5 and is cream and green with a brown rim. The word “herbs” is spelled out on the tray with a design in lilac, blue and green that features not only herbs and a butterfly, but a gardening tool as well.

Photo Jun 16, 4 19 34 PM.jpg SMALL TRAY

The set comes with the most adorable tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl that caught my eye first. Both pieces have a cute butterfly attached to the lids.

The tea pot is a watering can with accents of lime green with a design of chamomile flowers (one of my favorite teas) and a butterfly on the lid.

Photo Jun 16, 4 24 00 PM.jpg TEA POT

The sugar bowl is a flower pot with accents of lime green with a floral and butterfly design, a butterfly on the lid and the message on the creamer says, “Plant your wishes”. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 28 29 PM (1).jpg CREAMER

The creamer is also a watering can, with accents of lime green and a similar floral and butterfly design and the message on the creamer says, ” Hope for rain”. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 28 50 PM.jpg CREAMER

I am using the same burlap tablecloth that I used for Easter. I just love this tablecloth and find it is the perfect backdrop for a lot of my dish collections that feature garden themes. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 39 31 PM (1).jpg TABLECLOTH

You will be very surprised, but I am not using a cloth napkin. For this tablescape I am using a paper guest/dinner napkin and therefore no napkin rings. I found this napkin in a gift shop in Stony Brook, NY and it turns out that the napkin is also by Susan Winget. Somehow, I am drawn to her work everywhere I go.

Susan’s work reminds me of two other designers that I admire, Susan Branch and Marjolein Bastin.

The napkin is cream with lovely branches of lavender and a few bees. Perfect for the dishes. Thinking about it now, I should have bought more than one package.

Photo Jun 16, 11 28 39 PM.jpg NAPKIN

No placemats either for this tablescape, just my brown rattan chargers. Another natural earthy addition to go along with the theme. I suggest if you buy only one set of chargers, purchase brown rattan. They are very versatile.

Photo Jun 17, 12 18 00 AM (1).jpg CHARGER

I have a new flatware purchase that I bought for a different dish collection but thought that it would be perfect on this table. The flatware has wooden handles in the same shade of brown as the plate rim and they coordinate perfectly with the chargers.

Photo Jun 16, 4 40 36 PM (1)

No glassware, I am just using the matching mugs from the set. The mugs are over-sized and have a mint green handle and the same designs as the salad plates.

Photo Jun 16, 4 25 31 PM.jpg MUGS

My centerpiece is all about gardening and I am using a wooden cream picket fence plant holder that was given to me back in the day when my son was still in grade school. The plant holder has hand painted designs of watering cans, birdhouses and flowers.

This planter is over 20 years old.

Photo Jun 16, 11 28 07 PM.jpg PLANTER B

Close up of the hand painted designs.

Photo Jun 16, 4 22 49 PM.jpg CLOSE UP OF FENCE - USE

I am filling the plant holder with an artificial Lavender plant (you know how I am with live plants and yes, after a good two years of tender loving care, I killed the bamboo. A story for another time).

Anyway, this lavender plant reminded me of the design on the napkins and matches the colors on the plate; and for $ 9.99 in Homegoods it was a great bargain.

I am adding a few garden tools, garden gloves and some packets of seeds to complete the centerpiece.

I just love the way the centerpiece turned out so I am leaving it on an end table in the living room for the entire summer (it was put together in five minutes).

Photo Jun 16, 4 23 20 PM.jpg CENTERPIECE

For a little fun and a pop of color, I have added a packet of seeds to each place setting for decoration that can be used as a favor.

Photo Jun 16, 4 40 36 PM.jpg FAVOR

Favors do not have to be expensive. Just a little token as a reminder for your guests of the party, luncheon, dinner or gathering is enough.

This tablescape and centerpiece, reminds me of the visits Bob and I have made to a Lavender Farm in East Marion, NY called “Lavender by the Bay”.

If you are ever on Long Island, NY and want to take a drive and see a gorgeous field of lavender, that is the place to go.  

Lavender by the Bay

DSC_0708- LAVENDER FARM FOR BLOG II

DSC_0700- LAVENDER FOR BLOG

Together will the dried lavender, they also sell lavender products from sachets to lotions, including lavender honey (one of my favorites).

2016-08-31 12.56.46.jpg LAVENDER - STORE

I should have purchased this sachet, it would have looked adorable on the table. It blends right in with the dishes. Next time…

DSC_0685.jpg LAVENDER SACHET

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Photo Jun 16, 4 43 21 PM (1).jpg BUFFET

I hope this tablescape gave you some inspiration to try a new recipe for brunch, take a drive to a lavender farm or plant an herb garden of your own.

Good luck to anyone with a garden this year and I will keep you posted on the success of my garden. 

Don’t forget the recipes at the end of the post.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well.

Diane

Place Setting

Photo Jun 16, 11 06 55 PM.jpg - PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Salad plates and mugs from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Tea pot from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Creamer and Sugar bowl from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Serving platter and trays from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Burlap tablecloth from Amazon

Paper Napkins from Tapestry Designs

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Brown flatware from Amazon

Artificial Lavender plant from Homegoods 

Picket Fence plant holder was a gift

Seed packets, gardening gloves and gardening tools from Ace

Recipes

Crustless Herb Quiche 

from Chef Mary-Frances Heck of Fitness magazine

  • Makes: 4 servings
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Carb Grams Per Serving: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, 3 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in herbs and remove from heat.

Spray a 9-inch glass pie dish with cooking spray. Arrange onion-herb mixture in dish. Whisk together eggs and milk; season with salt and pepper. Pour into dish and dot with goat cheese. Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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Diane’s Baby Spinach Salad

I use a creamy balsamic vinaigrette for this salad.

Ingredients:

All ingredients can be adjusted to your liking.

  • ½ cup of dry mini farfalle (bowtie) pasta. (I use Barilla brand)
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces (or any nut of your choice)
  • ½- 1 cup mozzarella “pearls” (or goat cheese or feta)
  • ½ an English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup red onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup scallions
  • 1 hard- boiled egg, sliced
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl toss together pasta, spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, walnuts, mozzarella pearls, cucumbers, red onions, scallions, sliced egg and tomatoes. Mix well.
  3. Just before serving pour dressing over salad, toss, add some fresh basil and serve.

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Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill Dressing

By Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4-6 Kirby cucumbers (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice and dill
  • Season with salt and pepper, and whisk well to combine
  • Add cucumbers, and toss to coat. Garnish with more dill, if desired.
  • Serve, or refrigerate, covered, up to 4 hours

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The Cucina Teresa website is under construction at the moment but you can inbox her facebook page, “Cucina Teresa” and she will give you prices and directions on how to send payment for this fantastic product.

CUCINA TERESA.jpg for blog

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Photo Jun 16, 11 06 07 PM.jpg EXTRA

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to  DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post…

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