Monthly Archives: June 2018

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce …

 

Photo Jun 28, 9 16 36 PM CAPELLINI WITH FRESH TOMATOES

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Hi Everyone, 

Very busy since my last post and the time is flying by. I can’t believe that we are at the end of June already. Wasn’t it just Easter?

I have received several emails regarding a recipe that I had posted on Instagram and I wanted to share it with all of my DishingwithDiane members. The recipe is for a tomato sauce that takes less than 20 minutes and is made with fresh tomatoes. I use cherry tomatoes.

Sounds to good to be true, but it is.

With all of our gardens that are bountiful this time of year with tomatoes and basil (one of my favorite combinations), this recipe is perfect.

It is a go to recipe of mine for the summer months. 

It is much quicker than ordering take out and much healthier.

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think.

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Garden Tomatoes

Photo Jun 28, 7 30 40 PM INGREDIENTS

Ingredients

3 pints of cherry tomatoes – washed and sliced in half — ( Roma or vine tomatoes can be used as well- your choice.)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cloves of sliced garlic (or more)

Red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. of tomato paste

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh thyme

1 tbsp. butter

Pasta of your choice

½ to 1 cup of white wine (optional)

1 cup frozen or fresh peas (optional)

Diane’s tips: 

Dry herbs are stronger than fresh herbs so you need to use a smaller amount.

Don’t just sprinkle dried herbs in your pot, instead rub dried herbs between your fingers to crush the herb. This releases the oils that are left in the leaves which adds more flavor.

Directions:

Wash and slice 3 pints of cherry tomatoes in half, set aside

In a large skillet, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 cloves (or more) of sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (the desired amount you want).

Once the garlic starts to turn golden, add the tomato paste and saute for a few minutes to toast the tomato paste and blend it well with the garlic.

Next, add all of your tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, some fresh basil leaves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  I added 1 cup white wine (optional).

Simmer for approx. 15- 20 minutes on medium heat partially covered. Stir occasionally and crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to release their juices.

Add peas now if using (optional)

In the meantime, make your pasta per directions, two minutes shy of al dente.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water and add the drained pasta to the skillet to finish cooking.

If pasta sauce is too thick or too dry, add some pasta water- ( a tbsp. at a time).

Off heat, I finish the sauce with 1 tbsp of butter, grated cheese and a few fresh basil leaves.  Serve and enjoy!

Slideshow of steps starting with ingredients…

 

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word to your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane. 

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

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE to hear from you.

 

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Fiesta Night

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 48 PM INTRO FIESTA

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to June!

Wow, the months are flying by? Why does it seem that every year goes by quicker and quicker the older we get, not like childhood when a year felt like an eternity?

In my home, June’s arrival means that Bob is ready for grilling. He makes sure the grill is spotless, and his grilling baskets and barbecue tools are ready to go.

This must be a guy thing because I never have the desire to stand in front of the grill watching my meal cook. Even though I cook every night and stand in front of the stove, the grill does not interest me.

The temperature reached 80 degrees and Bob said he was in the mood to grill steak for tacos, so he went to purchase some skirt steak and other ingredients I needed to complete this meal while I stayed home and started a marinade with oranges, limes, cumin, garlic and olive oil.

My marinades are always different depending on what I have in the house but I always try to get a citrus in the marinade.

Since this was the FIRST OFFICIAL grilling moment of 2018…

I decided to make this taco dinner into a Fiesta Night.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 28 PM EXTRA

I have great dishes for this meal that are a combination of perfect Fiesta colors – red, yellow, blue and lime. This is a 10.5 inch ceramic plate that is dishwasher & microwave safe- always a plus. I picked them up last year at Dollar Tree when I was hosting a taco bar luncheon.

Photo Jun 09, 11 51 35 AM DINNER PLATE

I wanted to use all the colors from the dish for my tablescape, so I am starting out with one of the brightest tablecloths I own, a very bright lemon yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 10 33 52 AM TABLECLOTH

Another color in the plate is red and that will be the color of the napkins along with brown wooden napkin rings because I want to use my brown rattan chargers and the wooden napkin ring will look best.

These rattan chargers are my absolute favorite because they go with so many dinnerware patterns.

Photo Jun 07, 6 53 18 PM NAPKIN AND CHARGER

The flatware I am using is a set I don’t get to use very often. They are what I call, my “Cinco de Mayo” flatware because they have all the colors of a Mexican Fiesta –  lime, orange, navy, red and yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 11 48 28 AM FLATWARE

The glassware brings me right back to Dollar Tree. I went back to the store to purchase additional plates for the luncheon and these glasses were on the shelf just calling my name. This was a great find because they had all the colors of the dinner plate.

It is a 16 oz. glass with stripes of red, yellow, green and blue. Just perfect for what I needed.Photo Jun 08, 3 32 27 AM GLASSWARE

 

I had an acrylic pitcher from back in the day, that I keep on the patio table to hold fresh basil & lavender to repel mosquitoes ( a little tip from my Mom) and it matched perfectly. 

Photo Jun 08, 3 35 40 AM WATER PITCHER

Since this tablescape was spur of the moment, I had to think of what I already had on hand that I could use for a centerpiece and table accents. I had a box in the basement of the “Mexican” decorations that I used for the taco bar luncheon, so it was time to see what I could use again.

 I brought the box up and found a sombrero and maracas along with a bag of artificial red chili peppers.

Photo Jun 08, 1 48 32 AM SOMBRERO

Photo Jun 07, 6 50 48 PM MARACAS

Photo Jun 08, 1 51 44 AM CHILI PEPPERS

My next great find, which I honestly forgot I had was a Mexican serape table runner. I love this. It brings all the colors I am looking for together and captures that authentic Mexican feel.

I normally don’t use a table runner but this bright yellow tablecloth needed something extra.

Photo Jun 09, 10 34 46 AM TABLE RUNNER

You know by now how much I love to add salt and pepper shakers to my tablescapes to carry out the theme, so I went to my collection and took out the cacti set.

Photo Jun 08, 3 36 59 AM SALT AND PEPPER SHAKER

I thought that the tablescape needed a little accent of green and nature, so these succulents wrapped in burlap were added. (Of course they are artificial because I can kill a succulent- I definitely have a brown thumb. I killed the bamboo).

Photo Jun 08, 3 29 47 AM SUCCULENTS

My love of candles continues so I added a few to the table, Mason jar tea lights do the job.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 46 PM CANDLES

Okay, we are on our way to a Mexican tablescape.

Now to continue planning the meal …

 I plan on serving the skirt steak tacos with lots of standard taco toppings, red rice and something new for me, Mexican corn or Elote.

The Meal…

Skirt steak

Photo Jun 09, 10 08 09 AM SKIRT STEAK

Taco Toppings… tomatoes, lettuce, corn salsa, cheese, hot sauce and sour cream.

Photo Jun 04, 9 51 33 PM TOPPINGS

Red Rice– Bob and I both love rice so I always include red rice when I make a taco meal. This time I added a can of pinto beans.

(This Red Rice recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 17 27 PM RED RICE AND BEANS

 And now the Mexican Corn...I love to order this corn whenever I see it on a menu, so I had Bob buy some queso fresco cheese while he was shopping and I’ll give it a try.

The recipe doesn’t look difficult at all. The original recipe calls for cojita cheese but he couldn’t find that.

I topped it with a great seasoning blend that I bought in Trader Joe’s- Chili Lime.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 32 PM CHILI LIME

(This Elote recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 16 06 PM MEXICAN CORN

When I was hosting the taco luncheon I decided to buy taco holders. All of the taco holders that I looked at in Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma were interlocking metal racks and I preferred individual holders.

I finally found some plastic taco holders that can be separated individually or clipped together and interlocked depending on how you were serving your meal. These holders are the best purchase for a taco night. 

There is no mess with tacos falling over and contents of your tacos spilling out and it looks cute on the plate. Plus it makes it much easier for your guests to handle.

 I think they are still available on Amazon.

Photo Jun 08, 3 21 09 AM TACO HOLDERS

I prefer using them separately but you can interlock as many as you want together.

Photo Jun 08, 3 22 48 AM DOUBLE TACO

DIANE’S NOTE:  

If you don’t want to purchase taco holders, you could also use an inverted muffin tin. Place the taco shells between the cups and they will stand up.

ff229ac352fa5e600d01032d66de9380 MUFFIN TACO HOLDER 2

OR an inverted cardboard egg carton.

e0e77e653a180e5c2c2a798c21d805d5 EGG CARTON TACO HOLDER 2

Not as decorative for a party as the store bought taco holder, but it will work.

Along with the tacos, you need taco toppings. And to serve your toppings, you need lots of bowls. I had previously purchased plastic molcajete serving bowls to hold the tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. 

I served the toppings on a mango wood wine barrel tray. I like having the toppings all on one tray instead of scattered around the table. I think it looks much nicer.

Bob and I both don’t care for avocados, so you will never find guacamole as a topping for us. 

You will never see cilantro as part of our topping choices either.

We are part of the population that for us, cilantro tastes like soap. Since this is hereditary and we both carry the gene, our son doesn’t care for cilantro either.

Whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant we can never eat the salsa and have to be very specific with the server to have cilantro omitted from our meal and substituted with parsley.

So, don’t get upset with cilantro haters, we’re not being fussy, it’s just in our DNA.

Photo Jun 08, 3 24 35 AM BOWLS

Photo Jun 08, 3 26 56 AM TRAY

I love using cast iron fajita skillets to serve steak. It keeps the meat warm and I love to hear the sizzle. I am ready to purchase an additional skillet just for grilled vegetables.

This particular skillet comes with a wood underliner hot plate and pot holder for the handle. You have to be very careful with cast iron because it gets so hot. I suggest you buy the pot holder.

Photo Jun 09, 9 41 38 AM FAJITA SKILLET

And now I have saved the best for last!

Individual servings of “Mexican Layered Dip” served in a mini margarita glass. It is the cutest appetizer.

I brought out a platter of these for my luncheon and they were a big hit. Served with tortilla chips and vegetable spears.

I am sure you have all seen a version of 7-layer dip, now you can customize your dip in a single serving.

 

Just layer your dip ingredients in the glass and add your toppings. I used “guacamole”, refried beans, sour cream, salsa and topped it with cheese, tomato, scallions, olives and a lime wedge. 

Ingredients are up to you. 

Photo Jun 09, 11 56 09 AM MARGARITA GLASS

Photo Jun 09, 8 15 13 PM DIP

Yes, I did say guacamole and I only used a little just for color and to give you a better idea of what the traditional finished product should look like- I didn’t eat it. 

I wish you could have all seen the surprised look on Bob’s face when one of the shopping list items was the “smallest container of guacamole he could find”.

 He is so used to my recipes and food experiments all these years, that he just goes along with everything and questions nothing –that man is an angel.  

Diane’s note, if you use guacamole, layer it on the bottom of the glass so it has the least exposure to air. Exposure to the air will make it turn brown. 

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I was looking at the cacti salt and pepper shakers and had a great idea.

I decided to make some candy covered cactus pretzel rods for the table. I had pretzel rods in the house and some leftover green candy melts from St Patrick’s Day and I have a basket of sprinkles in every color so this could come together quickly.

Just a little something extra for the table, served in a ceramic flower pot.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 57 PM CACTUS PRETZEL RODS

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Place settingPhoto Jun 09, 11 55 01 AM - PLACE SETTING WITH TEXT

 

So that is our Mexican Fiesta

to welcome in the month of June and the grilling season.

 

I think we need a margarita and some churros and we will be all set.

Photo Jun 05, 12 05 47 AM TACO NIGHT

Photo Jun 09, 8 14 30 PM DIP AND CACTUS 2

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I shared today for your very own Mexican Fiesta.

Until my next post, “make every day a celebration!”

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become members to DishingwithDiane.com

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

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, I LOVE hearing from you. 

Recipes…

Mexican Red Rice

(recipe courtesy of GeniusKitchen.com)

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion just begins to brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder and salt, lower heat and cover.
  4. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

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Elotes (or Mexican Grilled Corn)

adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema*
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese*
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 lime

*Author’s Note: If Mexican ingredients are hard to come by where you live, you can substitute sour cream for the Mexican crema. You can also substitute parmesan cheese for the cotija cheese in a pinch!

Instructions:

Grill the corn to your liking. I personally find it crunchier and more flavorful to take it off earlier, rather than later.

In a 9×13” baking dish, combine the mayo, Mexican cream, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and chili powder. Mix well.

Roll the grilled ears of corn in the creamy mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated on all sides.

Serve with lime wedges

Cooks Note: (optional)  I dusted the corn at the end with the Chili Lime Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe’s.

290xNxmexican-fiesta-party-games-1.png.pagespeed.ic.TQKJCL0RNp FIESTA 2