Monthly Archives: December 2021

Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to wish all my members a very Happy and Healthy New Year and thank you for being so supportive of me personally and this blog these past six years.

I consider you all a part of my extended family and I wish you all the best that life offers and many blessings in the new year. May all your dreams come true.

I pray we all have Good Health, Happiness, and a pandemic-free world in 2022.

I raise my glass to all of you….salute!

Here is to the year 2022!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

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Eggplant Stacks with Eggplant “Meatballs” …

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all recovered from the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and you and your families are well, staying safe and getting ready for 2022.

I know that I have posted the recipes for eggplant parmigiana and eggplant “meatballs” before, but I have to share this story with you today that involves eggplants.

Since the pandemic started, Bob and I have been ordering our groceries from either Instacart or Whole Foods and having them delivered. I am happy to say that the majority of the time the orders arrive in good shape and I am satisfied.

However, there are some orders you just shake your head and wonder how this order was filled and today was one of those days.

The first time I had to shake my head and wonder about the order was when I ordered 2 containers of Campari tomatoes (a little bigger than a grape tomato) from Costco and received ten extremely large tomatoes on the vine (bigger than the palm of my hand large) and had to make a vat of tomato soup to use them because they were too huge for my original purpose.

Well, today another incident happened that I had to shake my head at and wonder how this happened. (Keep in mind I request no substitutions). I ordered one small bag of Brussels sprouts and instead, I received 2 large eggplants.

Now other than being a vegetable, I don’t see the logic behind this substitution. It’s not that I ordered Brussels sprouts and they sent cabbage; that would seem close to the original order.

I had some frozen sauce, but I didn’t want stuffed eggplant and didn’t have the time to make a full eggplant parmigiana so I decided to use one eggplant for eggplant stacks (breaded and baked eggplant with grated cheese, mozzarella, and sauce) and the 2nd eggplant for eggplant “meatballs” which happens to be one of Bob’s favorites.

SERVED WITH A DOLLOP OF RICOTTA OVER CASSARECE PASTA

So dinner worked out in the end after a little extra planning because of this detour. I will repost the “eggplant meatball” recipe below if anyone is interested.

This just proves you just have to go with the flow some days, be grateful for what you have and keep going forward and step over the little bumps in the road.

Enjoy the remainder of the week and I will post my New Year’s Eve tablescape and dinner this weekend……

Eggplant Meatballs

(recipe courtesy of by Lynette Marie by way of Allrecipes – 2016)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups cubed eggplant, with peel (I peeled the eggplant)
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup grated cheese (recipe called for Parmesan, I used Locatelli)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (recipe called for 1 cup)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup dried bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet (I used a silicone mat, parchment paper can also be used). 

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and sauté garlic just until lightly browned.

Mix in the eggplant and water. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Allow eggplant to steam until soft, about 20 minutes.

COVER AND STEAM

Place steamed eggplant in a large bowl to cool.

AFTER 20 MINUTES, NICE AND SOFT

Mix the cheese, parsley, eggs, and bread crumbs into the eggplant. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture can be rolled into balls. Add more bread crumbs as needed to make the mixture workable.

ADD INGREDIENTS TOGETHER

Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes, then roll into balls or form into patties.

Place eggplant balls on a prepared baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

I add the cooked eggplant balls to the remaining sauce and then serve immediately.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

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.

Holiday Greetings (plus a new Cookie recipe).

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well and you and your families are safe from the unfortunate Covid surge that is sweeping the nation.

I had every good intention to post my cookies and Christmas Eve seafood menu for the Italian, “Feast of the Seven Fishes “ on Christmas Eve, but time just got away from me with preparations and shopping for the holiday and I had to put the blog on the back burner for a little bit this holiday. My apologies….

Now that things are a little calmer I can get back to the blog. (My prayers go out to anyone that is going through any illness this time of year. We had Covid last year and I never want to go through that again and my heart breaks for anyone ill with this virus).

I did want to share with you some of the dishes I served this year. So this will be a montage of dishes for Christmas Eve- my favorite “food holiday”.

The majority of recipes I am posting today are already listed on the blog and you can find them in the right-hand column under Seafood, Christmas, and Christmas cookies categories, or just use the search box for the name of the dish you are interested in.

I did add one new cookie this year and I will post that recipe at the end of this post, but I wanted to share the pics with you.

I wish you many blessings, good health, and prosperity as we approach the end of 2021……

Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Here is a little background and definition of the meaning of the Feast of the Seven Fishes courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, although it is not called that in Italy and is not a “feast” in the sense of “holiday,” but rather a grand meal. …

This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

Typical “fishes” include baccalà (salt cod), Frutti di mare (shellfish), capitone (eel), calamari (squid), scungilli (conch meat) and vongole (clams). Fried vegetables are also a popular accompaniment to the fish; expect fried artichokes, pickled vegetables, fried squash blossoms, broccoli rabe, cold broccoli & lemon salad, and other cold seafood salads.

The tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve comes from the Roman Catholic practice of not eating dairy or meat on the eve of some holidays, including Christmas. And the number seven is a symbol that’s repeated many times throughout the Bible – and in Catholicism, there are seven sacraments and deadly sins.

So let’s start with the first course…… the shrimp cocktail, followed by linguine with seafood sauce and then the additional fish dishes and sides, the fruit and nut course, followed by pastries, cake, Christmas cookies, assorted candies, coffee, and finally after dinner drinks… (It’s a long process).

There are other dishes that my mother used to add to her menu that I have eliminated over the years because it was just too much food for my small family and they included smelts, lobster tails, fried eel, fried shrimp, octopus, cod, salmon, tuna, and well the list goes on and on.

But no matter what, we make sure that we eat at least seven different varieties of fish. I have been known on occasion to add canned tuna to my seafood sauce just to make the official “7th fish”.

Cooks Note: the stuffed shrimp are stuffed with crabmeat, diced bell peppers, breadcrumbs, and a touch of mayonnaise & mustard (similar to a crab cake mixture).

The stuffed calamari is stuffed with breadcrumbs, shallots, eggs, parsley, cheese and I add diced shrimp and some sauteed calamari pieces.

The cold seafood salad consists of calamari, shrimp, scungilli, celery, lemon zest, olives, in a lemon vinaigrette.

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And now for the candy confections (torrone is a soft nougat with flavors of vanilla, lemon, and orange), assorted chocolates, a variety of Christmas cookies, and desserts (Italian pastries and cakes)… with espresso served with a splash of anisette liquor.

I always serve dessert with a jar of Amarena cherries on the table just like my mother did to top some of the desserts.

I am sure you have seen this famous jar in specialty shops or online shopping.

Amarena cherries are small stemless wild sour cherries in a rich syrup grown in Bologna or Modena, Italy. They can be used for gelato, cakes, and cookies and in some savory dishes as well.

We always have them in the house and I used them on the cheesecake in the picture below. They are very, very sweet so a little goes a long way.

And the new cookie this year that is added to my rotation is dead center on the tray and called “BRUTTIBONI” which translates to “ugly but good”. Ugly for the irregular shape and good for the taste.

It is a meringue cookie with a crisp exterior with a soft, chewy interior flavored with almonds, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.

My grandmother used to make this cookie when I was a child and I recently found this recipe on The Gazette.

Bruttiboni

Photo courtesy of The Gazette

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pure
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar granulated
  • 1⅓ cup whole almonds toasted
  • 1⅓ cup hazelnuts toasted and skins removes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Pulse almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor to obtain a coarsely ground texture. Alternatively, chop by hand. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixture), with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until they start to foam.
  • Add a pinch of salt.
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  • Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisk until you obtain stiff glossy peaks.
  • With a mixing spoon, fold in the nuts. Gently combine.
  • Transfer this mixture to a heat proof bowl and place over a pot of hot, barely simmering water. This mixture needs to be stirred for about 15 minutes.
  • Portion with a medium-sized scooper and place on baking sheet. 
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tops are golden.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet.

Notes

To roast the nuts: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position rack to the center.

Spread almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes to obtain a light roasting. Remove the skins from the hazelnuts.

Let the nuts cool to room temperature before using them in the recipe. 

  • The almonds and the hazelnuts can be roasted in advance and stored at room temperature until needed. This ensures the use of room temperature ingredients until you are ready to make these nut cookies.
  • Do not rush the process of adding the sugar while whisking the egg whites. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time to the egg whites.
  • The addition of cinnamon is optional.

*recipe adapted from The Gazette

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

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.

Baked Buffalo Style Chicken Wings

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I just wanted to share an old recipe with you that I added a “secret ingredient” to and it seemed to work out very well for me, and I just had to tell you about it.

When my son was still living at home, it seemed that I made Buffalo-Style Chicken Wings for him and his friends on a regular basis.

Back then I deep fried them and dipped them in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and melted butter served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

(No wonder he went to school in Buffalo, NY- close to “Anchor Bar” and the original hot wings recipe.)

Since then, I now bake our chicken wings and I started to use a dry spice rub on the wings before baking and then finish with the hot sauce, butter, and addition of minced garlic and honey.

You are probably wondering what my secret ingredient is and it is BAKING POWDER….. NOT baking soda.

A few recipes I recently came across used baking powder on the chicken to dry out the skin and make the chicken extra crispy and I am here to say it worked.

The skin was crispy on the outside and the chicken was juicy on the inside. I hope you all give it a try.

So here is my new and improved recipe for

Baked Buffalo Style Wings

Ingredients:

  • 2- 3 pounds of chicken wings (whole or they can be halved into party style separated at the joint into drumettes and flats).
  • 1 tbsp. BAKING POWDER
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp dried parsley (optional)

Cooks Note: if there are other spices you prefer, feel free to switch the spices to your liking and customize your wings, just don’t forget the baking powder.

For Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves

Cooks Note: if you can find “ Little Vicki’s Garlic Honey”, in your grocery store, that product is perfect for this recipe.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Line a broiler pan with foil and spray the top of the broiler pan with cooking spray OR line a sheet pan with foil and place a non-stick oven safe rack on top of the pan.

Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel and place them in a large bowl. Add the BAKING POWDER and the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, dried parsley, and chili powder.

Toss the chicken evenly with the Baking Powder and the spices

Place the wings on the rack in a single layer

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the wings are light golden in color and crispy

Remove the wings to a bowl and set them aside

In a small bowl, whisk the minced garlic, melted butter, and Franks Hot Sauce

Pour the sauce over the chicken wings and toss well to evenly coat

Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

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.