Author Archives: aries041158

Grandma’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

Photo Jul 19, 3 00 55 PM (1)

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Hi Everyone, 

Hope all is well and for my members in the northeast, I hope you are handling the heatwave and my thoughts and prayers go out to my members in Texas who are dealing with the hurricane. My prayers for all.

Today’s post is about a traditional Italian summer favorite, Zucchini Flowers. Some of you may remember my first post about zucchini flowers in July 2018 (I will repost the original link at the bottom of the page). 

I have been posting this dish on my personal email quite a bit this summer and I have been asked to reprint the recipe once again.

Many people are unaware of this favorite Italian delicacy and for Italians everywhere, it is the beginning of the summer garden harvest.

When I used to entertain guests and serve this appetizer with a creamy ricotta and lemon/basil dip, people were shocked that the zucchini flowers were edible. They are delicious!

The first time I posted about this delicacy, I included the batter that I had been using for many years which included beer as part of the batter ingredients. Well, a week ago, a very generous neighbor gifted me some zucchini blossoms and I wanted to fry them immediately because they are best on the day they are picked and I didn’t have any beer in the house so I went old school and prepared them grandma’s way. 

Grandma used a simple batter of AP flour, club soda, salt & pepper, and baking powder that I wanted to share with you.

Whisk all the ingredients together very well, and coat the flowers lightly and fry to a golden brown. It’s as simple as that.

This batter brought back memories of grandma running out to the garden in the early morning when the flowers are open (and you can see if there are insects inside) to collect the blossoms to make either plain fried zucchini flowers or she would add them to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Every bite was a culinary treat.

Absolutely delicious.

Always a summer treat. Grandma picked the male flowers (long skinny stems). The female blossoms have a small zucchini attached and keep those on the vine until fully grown and ripe.

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(The dip is whipped ricotta with a drop of lemon juice, lemon zest, and some chopped fresh basil).

I really hope you try this recipe and enjoy every bite.

So here is the recipe for Grandma’s Zucchini Flowers….very simple and delicious…

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of flowers ( approx 30 flowers)
  • 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 24 oz. club Soda
  • olive oil

Directions:

  • Wash flowers under cold running water, drain and dry the flowers and remove the stamens inside, then remove the sepals on the outer leaves- be careful and watch for insects (mostly bees) inside the petals.
  • Cook’s Note: if the flowers are too wet, they will splatter once they hit the hot oil. Be Careful…
  • Dry the flowers on paper towels or on a tea towel and prepare the batter.
  • Heat 1-1/2 inch of olive oil in a skillet. Dip the flower in the batter and let excess drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side turning once until golden brown. (crispy not soggy).
  • Remove with a slotted spoon & transfer to a paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain excess oil.
  • You can sprinkle with sea salt or grated cheese and serve with ricotta dip.

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 There are many other recipes with leftover blossoms. 

For example, I add some diced and fried blossoms with some sauteed zucchini, cheese, sauteed onions, and a few eggs to make a wonderful summer quiche or add some fried flowers to a pizza. Both delicious treats.

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Below is my original post from July 18, 2018, with a little more detail and a recipe for stuffed zucchini flowers…..enjoy

Click on the link to open

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2018/07/18/summer-delight-fried-zucchini-flowers/2018 original post

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

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.

Photo Jul 08, 4 55 59 PM ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

 

Mascarpone Polenta with Mushrooms and Fried Egg

 

My rendition …

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Hi Everyone,

How many of you are like me and on occasion are stumped as to what to make for a weeknight meal? The days when you just can’t think of something new to make after you have run through your usual “go-to” meals in your head that you know will be a hit, but they just aren’t what you want?

I am fortunate that it’s just Bob and I and he is not a picky eater. If I said, “let’s have ice cream for dinner” he would be okay with that.

I always have frozen meals that I have prepared when I make a larger portion than we can eat in one sitting but nothing I had in the freezer appealed to me.

I still cook as if my son lived home even though he moved out eight years ago (it has to be an Italian mom thing. My mom never cooked for just two people after I got married either). I usually save those frozen meals for days I will be at the hospital all day so we have a hot meal when we come home.

No, I needed something different and then it hit me. A few years back (seems like yesterday but it was 7 years), Bob and I attended the Feast of Saint Anthony in the North End of Boston, and one afternoon we wanted to leave the festivities of the Feast and find a quiet restaurant so I read some reviews online and we booked a reservation at a restaurant called Nebo (stands for North End Boston).

It is a Southern Italian restaurant owned by two sisters (the Pallotta sisters- Carla  & Christine) and they happen to have roots in Bari, Italy like my family. The majority of recipes are family favorites passed down from their mother, so we had to try it.

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 We were fortunate enough that Carla and Christina came to the table to spend a little time with us and we spoke of our heritage and food and traditions. Lovely hosts.

(yes, they tan and I don’t)
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I found a fantastic appetizer on their menu that I thouroughly enjoyed and decided to try and recreate it at home – simple ingredients and it quickly comes together plus it’s delicious.2013-08-23 18.54.42

The appetizer is creamy polenta with mascarpone cheese with a saute of wild mushrooms accented with sage and a fried egg in olive oil to the top of the masterpiece. The restaurant and the hosts are both fabulous and I highly recommend a trip.

(Their appetizer does not have mascarpone cheese) 

So here is my rendition…..

You can even make this a brunch item.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of mixed mushrooms (cleaned and chopped)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (divided)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sage 
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • sprig of thyme
  • sage leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  •  1 1/2 cups of your favorite grated cheese (I use Locatelli)
  • polenta
  • water or milk or chicken broth for polenta – your choice
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • large eggs for frying

Directions:

I now use the 5 minute polenta in a box as opposed to the original slow cooked 45 minutes polenta so this step is very easy.

Prepare the polenta as per package directions which usually includes bringing water (or milk or chicken broth) to a boil with a pinch of salt and the chopped sage. Gradually pour in the polenta, stirring continuously for about 3-5 minutes until the polenta has thickened and pulls away from the pan. Take it off the heat and add the mascarpone cheese and Locatelli cheese.

For the mushrooms, melt 2 tbsp. of butter & 1 finely chopped shallot in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and for the first few minutes do not move them and let them start to carmelize. Then add 1 clove of chopped garlic, salt and pepper and continue to saute until golden brown. If the pan gets too dry add 1 tbsp more of olive oil.

Add 1 sprig of thyme and 1/4 cup sherry and scrape up the brown bits in the pan. Cook for 1 minute more to cook off the alcohol then shut the heat. Check for seasoning.

Last step, in another skillet,  add olive oil and fry a large egg and try not to break the yolk.

Assembly, add 2 tbsp of butter to the polenta and mix well to keep it creamy and place in a dish, add sauteed mushrooms on top of the polenta and top the dish with a fried egg and garnish with sage. 

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We had a wonderful weekend and I even got to meet Maryann Esposito from the “Ciao Italia” TV show and she autographed an Italian apron for me …

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Here is a little slideshow of some of the highlights of our trip ….

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I hope you try this dish and enjoy it! If you do, let me know what you think….

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

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.

 

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Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

Photo Jul 09, 8 47 17 PM (1)

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to share a recipe with you and one I was actually so surprised that it was requested.

Last night I made pork chops with vinegar peppers (a favorite meal of my mother’s) and posted the pic to my personal Facebook page. A lot of people remembered this old Italian favorite from their childhood and asked for the recipe, so I decided to share it with my blog members.

It is usually prepared with all HOT cherry peppers but I am now making it half hot and half sweet peppers because as years go by, Bob’s stomach is liking super hot and spicy less and less.  These are the peppers I use…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many variations to this dish. I hope you try this variation and enjoy it.

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Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

Ingredients: serves 4

  • 4 pork chops (I prefer Berkshire pork)
  • 12 oz jar of sliced hot cherry peppers***
  • 12 oz jar of sweet cherry pepper strips
  •  1 cup of vinegar from the jar ( I use a combination of the hot and sweet vinegar- you can use just one type if you prefer).
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 2 yellow onions- sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves – diced for the onions
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil (I used a garlic-infused olive oil)***

Garnish with Parsley Flakes

Cooks note***whole hot cherry peppers can be used as well but it is very hot and you would only need between 5-7 depending on how hot you want the dish. Also found in a jar in the Italian food aisle. You will have to slice and de-seed the peppers.

Cooks note*** – if you do not have infused garlic oil, saute halved garlic cloves in olive oil on a low flame until the garlic takes on a deep color and then discard the cloves.

Instructions:

(I marinated the pork chops in a thin layer of olive oil, salt and pepper and a spring of thyme for a few hours in the refrigerator and then took them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to get to room temperature).  Pat dry before adding to the pan.

When ready to cook:

Over medium heat add 3 tbsp of infused olive oil to a large fry pan. After a few minutes when the oil is fairly hot, add the pork chop and cook for 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops, and set aside. 

Add the peppers to the pan and saute for 2- 3 minutes, next add the sliced onion and saute for 3-4 minutes or until they wilt and start to get color, next add the diced garlic and seasonings and saute for 1 minute.

Saute this mixture for an additional 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the pork chops back and the reserved vinegar from the jars and 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine. Lower the heat and continue to cook covered for 30 – 40 minutes.

To make a thicker sauce (almost a glaze), remove the cover, and raise the heat so the sauce reduces down to your liking.

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I usually serve this dish with sliced roasted potatoes …

Any peppers and onions and potatoes I have leftover I make a frittata with some eggs, herbs, and cheese the next day.

Italians are taught not to waste anything.

Enjoy!

Photo Jul 09, 8 47 17 PM (1)

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

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.

 

 

So glad to be back…..I deeply missed you

 

thankful heart THANKFUL HEART

Hi Everyone, 

How are you? I hope that everyone is safe and well and that your families are doing well.

I cannot tell all of you how much I missed you and missed preparing the posts and reading your comments and having such wonderful conversations regarding food and tablescapes.

 I would like to fill you all in on what has happened to me during my months away and let you know that I haven’t abandoned you or the blog. I will be back in full force but it will take a little time so I am starting off slow with recipes.

Since my last post which seems like ages ago; not only did our country get hit with this awful Covid19 pandemic, I had personal health issues as well that prevented me from coming back to the blog.

My new heart showed rejection after 15 months (a surprise to all of us but it happens) and I had no choice but to be admitted to the hospital under the careful watch of the transplant team and heavy doses of very strong anti-rejection medications. I spent 10 days in the hospital and Bob was not allowed to be there with me in the hospital or see me for the entire stay. There was a no visitor policy in the hospital due to Covid19 so this was a solo experience and the longest that Bob and I have been apart in all our 35 years together.

After 10 days of treatment and awful side effects, the transplant team came in to tell me that the rejection has cleared and they could send me home on very strong oral medications that I need to be on for at least the next 4 months (along with all the wicked side effects I have been going through). I will have to have additional medical testing and blood work every week along with telehealth appointments with my doctors until I have to be back in the hospital for my next biopsy to check on the rejection status. I need to have readings of no rejection for three biopsies in order to change my medication once again and head down the path of recovery. I am so grateful that this hospital nightmare has ended and I am able to come home to Bob. It was very difficult being away from Bob and only able to facetime a few times a day and my heart went out to all the other patients and families in nursing homes, assisted living and group homes that can’t see their loved ones in person. 

My heart also went out to all the families who lost loved ones from the pandemic because I had a front-row seat to the tragedy that was happening in the hospital and I was scared to death that I would become sick from that as well but the hospital had me in isolation. May the victims rest in peace with the angels and their families find strength. My takeaway from this hospital stay was please wear a mask and practice social distancing – this is not a hoax or a joke. Follow science because this is real and scary and protect yourself, your family (especially the vulnerable), and your neighbors. As the saying goes, “we are all in this together”.

It is going to take us a little time to get the new schedule together and sort out the medications and new restrictions as we face this new step of the healing journey. But we have been faced with challenges before and we will keep going forward and try to remain strong and positive together. A small price to pay for the gift of life and having the ability to be alive for more years with the people I love.

I am sure that before you knew me, many people thought that once a new organ is received, all is well and you are good as new and that is not the case. Transplant is not a quick fix to normal that happens after a new organ and the precious gift of life has been granted and received, but a daily struggle to stay healthy with many restrictions to get the best outcome. Most people don’t realize that the life of a transplant patient is not unlike our lives under Covid-19 protocols – isolation, masks, gloves, disinfectants, constant hand washing, social distancing, and constant vigilance is just a way of life for a transplant patient and can become overwhelming at times. The world now lives like a transplant patient and everyone can agree it’s not easy.

However, it is truly a miracle and I am so blessed to have a fabulous transplant team and one of the best hospitals to rely on for their care and expertise. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today and I think of that every day of my life and thank God for my blessings that I am one of the lucky ones.

just wanted to say thank you for following my journey from the very beginning and for all your love, prayers, and constant support. I am not just saying the words, I deeply feel your love. It truly means the world to me, Bob, and Michael. You are our family and you give us the strength to go on, step by step, and day by day. We couldn’t do this without you.

I love you all very much and I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to have each and every one of you in my life- my prayer warrior family (and BTW- you do great work. Our prayers have been answered).

So, let me settle in and have a good happy cry and I will keep you posted.


Stay safe, stay well, and appreciate each day and each other.

With my deepest love, 

DishingwithDiane

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

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Hi Everyone. 

I am still, a little bit under the weather but I wanted to let you how to make

 Mardi Gras cupcakes.

If you don’t want to order a King Cake and want something you can do with the kids, I saw this on Pinterest years ago and thought this would be a great project. I have been making them each year at my house for Mardi Gras.

You can make or buy cupcakes, some white frosting, and colored sugar.

(Wilton brand colored sugar is great and it is sold at Michael’s Arts & Crafts or Party City ) and create your own Mardi Gras designed cupcakes.

(great for class moms or extracurricular after school groups).

Remember the Mardi Gras colors:

Purple for Justice,

Green for Faith and

Gold for Power

mardi-gras-cupcakes - mardi gras cupcakes

See you soon, with a new tablescape. 

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

 

One Year Heart Transplant Anniversary

Anniv Card 2 - Bob pg1

Hi Everyone,

Well, here we are…. I can’t believe that 365 days ago today, I received the call to go to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to accept the greatest gift of all- the gift of life from a total stranger. What a miracle for me to have a donor and his or her family that decided in their time of grief to think of someone else and be beyond generous, loving and caring and allow their loved one’s legacy to live on in someone they don’t even know. I am still overwhelmed and I don’t think I will ever get over their generosity or be able to put my gratitude into words.

It has been a long tough year with more ups and downs than I care to remember and I want to thank my beloved husband, cherished son and all my extra special prayer warriors for being by my side through good and bad times and never giving up on me. Your strength carried me through my darkest days and my happiest moments.

I made a promise to take care of my new heart in every way I can and I have been trying to do my best this past year no matter what obstacle was thrown in front of me. I have to be honest and tell you that it hasn’t been easy and things popped up that I never expected, but I was determined to make it through. The doctors and my transplant team told me that the first year is the hardest because there are so many side effects to the medications (such as my hair loss, a striking blow to all women) to adjust to and in addition, I had to get used to a laundry list of restrictions and essentially change everything about my life and how I have to live it.

It isn’t just about getting a heart and moving on, there are so many precautions that you have to take and tests that need to be done and constantly try to avoid illness because you no longer have an immune system on board to help you. There are so many things I took for granted that I had to give up (especially some of my favorite foods that I had to say good-bye to forever) and drastically change my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am still the most grateful person on this Earth for this gift of life and gift of having the opportunity to share many more years with friends and family and make more memories.

My biggest take away to share with all of you is to enjoy every day as best you can and really “don’t sweat the small stuff”. It’s not worth it. Go out and have fun, tell the people you love just how much you love them, laugh, experience new things, live, enjoy, make new memories, eat the cake and appreciate what you have. I am happy to say that after 27 years of heart disease I can now take a walk where I don’t have to stop every 5 minutes to catch my breath and I can walk up a flight of stairs or dance to a favorite song. All the things I missed and longed for that so many people did, without even thinking twice about it. Chalk off those things you want to do off your bucket list and be happy, be kind and be thankful. There is always something to be grateful for and always a silver lining to things that don’t go as planned.

So tonight, I am giving my new heart a gift. A “Celebration of Life” with a long-awaited dinner and celebration (in a restaurant and not confined to home) with my honey and better half, Bob (aka known as the best husband, best father, best friend, caregiver, nurse, angel on earth, love of my life and not a bad journalist either with all his updates). Bob has been through it all with me every step of the way and never complained about taking me to doctor appointments, hospitals or any of the demanding caregiver responsibilities- we are a team. We took our wedding vows quite seriously and made a new vow to continue to celebrate life every chance we get. Not many people get a second chance at life and we are not taking anything for granted. I LOVE him beyond words.

My only wish this year is that my donor family gets in touch with me so I can thank them in person for what they did for me and find out if my donor was a male or female, what they loved, their hobbies, their birthday, their name and if they had children  – and if they did have children, I want to show their children how much I cherish their mother or father and how committed I am to take good care of my new heart in their honor.

And to my prayer warriors, I love you all, more than I can say…

Thank you for your support, caring, encouragement, cards, phone calls to check in on me, constant prayers and most of all, your love. I felt you with me and it gave me the strength to keep going… Your prayers and just being in my life made such a positive difference in this long journey of healing.

So, I’ll continue to kick ass (my sister Linda would be so proud, family joke) and continue crossing things off my bucket list as I enter my second post-transplant year (hopefully less medically eventful) and take you along for the ride. We still have a lot to do.

Sending you all my love, warm hugs, and kisses,

Always & forever,

Diane 2.0

P.S. To start my anniversary on the right foot, my Transplant team called with all of my recent test results.  It seems my heart likes its new home and there are no blockages in my arteries, no narrowing of my arteries, no inflammation in my veins, no internal bleeding, and best of all…NO signs of rejection!

DishingwithDiane will be back in full swing posting tablescapes and recipes and once again would like to thank you for keeping me in your prayers and holding on an waiting for me to return. Thank you and God Bless all of my members aka my extended family.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

 

Pistachio Torrone

Photo Jan 07, 12 26 05 AM PISTACHIO TORRONE FOR BLOG

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Hi Everyone

Happy New Year!

I hope you are all well and everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve. I wish you many blessings along with good health, prosperity, lots of love & laughter and the making of terrific memories in 2020. Let’s start the decade off with all good things.

Today is a special DishingwithDiane post for me because I want to honor one of my dearest friends; my friend Roseanne.

Roseanne is selfless. She always puts other people first and has the kindest and most genuine heart. I am very fortunate to have her in my life and I just love her.

In addition to being the perfect friend, she is also the perfect baker and there isn’t anything she can’t bake. Every bite is so delicious, it could put you in a trance. 

When I had my “false alarm” call for the heart transplant, Roseanne sent me her famous brownies with a note that brownies make things better and she was right. A perfect brownie does take away all sadness.

Well, Roseanne has done it again. And just when you thought you couldn’t possibly look at another dessert after the holidays, I have the ultimate dessert I have to share with you.

Roseanne sent Bob & I a special gift of her pistachio torrone to enjoy on New Year’s Eve and it was fabulous. For those of you not familiar with torrone, it is an Italian nut and nougat confection.

You have probably seen the original version with the paper wafers and not covered in chocolate.

Ferrara Torrone - 6.35oz

I posted the photo of Roseanne’s torrone on Facebook and the reaction was overwhelming. Roseanne was very gracious and offered to share her recipe, so here it is. I hope you try it and enjoy.

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Roseanne’s homemade Pistachio Torrone.

Photo Jan 07, 12 28 00 AM pistachio TORRONE

Chocolate Pistachio Torrone

1. Melt approximately 5 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler.
2. Put some of the melted chocolate in base of a silicon loaf pan (a ¼
layer or less.) Roll pan to coat sides of the pan up to about one inch.
3. Freeze or refrigerate until hard.
4. Melt 7 ounces of white chocolate in a double boiler. Add 1 jar of
Pistachio paste (7 ounces) Then add 4+ ounces of pistachios. Stir
well.
5. Spread on top of the chocolate base. Freeze or refrigerate until hard.
6. Leave out on the counter until it is room temperature.
7. Melt some more dark chocolate to spread on the pistachio layer. This
actually becomes the bottom.
8. Freeze or refrigerate.
9. Remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Then
with a sharp knife, trim the excess chocolate. Turn over on a plate.
The silicone pan will let you bend it to remove the Torrone.
Keep refrigerated.

Easier method:
1. Put melted dark chocolate in the base of the pan. Do not roll. Refrigerate.
2. Pour pistachio mixture over top. Refrigerate.
3. Put one more layer of chocolate on top. Refrigerate.
This wouldn’t look as good but will taste the same. You can also do it with
one layer of chocolate for a nice pistachio candy which will save time.

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I hope all you bakers out there, give this recipe a try. You will absolutely love it as much as we do.  PS- it freezes well too.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

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.

 All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos without prior written permission. Thank you!

Photo Jan 01, 1 52 14 AM PISTACHIO TORRONE 1

Happy New Year!

NEW YEAR 2020

To all my Prayer Warriors, Friends, Family, and Members…

Hi Everyone,

I want to take this time to wish you all a very Happy New Year filled with love, health, happiness, laughter, and prosperity and also to thank you for all your love, caring and support that you have shown me this past year.

2019 has been a bittersweet year for me… I am elated and blessed to receive a new heart and the gift of life but also sad to think of my donor’s family and their grief. I wonder about my donor every day and hopefully, I will get some answers this year.

It has been a hard year of recovery with many ups and downs but all of you stayed by my side and gave me the strength to carry on and move forward. You all mean the world to me and I thank you for patience while DishingwithDiane was on hold.

I will continue to move on with your love and support and every day I pray that all of you receive many blessings for your kindness.

I feel that this new year, new month, a new decade and a new heart will bring many blessed days ahead and I hope that we continue to share this journey together. 

I will be back shortly with all of my tablescapes and more recipes. You are the best group of members anyone can ask for and I feel as if you all have become extended family.

Stay tuned for DishingwithDiane’s comeback. 

With warm hugs and love,
Diane 2.0

Holiday Nougat Candy …

Photo Dec 20, 7 24 10 PM Holiday nougat

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Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are all wrapped, ready and waiting for the holidays.

That’s not the case for me. I am so far behind, it should be October on my calendar. I thought that I was able to do it all this year but my body doesn’t want to cooperate. I am not at 100% healing yet and my stamina (or lack thereof) reminds me at every turn.

I am almost done wrapping my gifts. I put on Christmas music and tried to get in the holiday mood and the more I wrapped, the more I realized that it would be so much easier if everyone got gift cards. Something to think about for next year.

Bob and I were going to have a mellow Christmas this year because I am just not up to all the preparation. We didn’t send Christmas cards because other than a picture of me in a hospital gown after surgery (not my best look) there are no 2019 family photos for a card, so we made a donation to the Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Center instead.

I didn’t even want to put up the Christmas tree or have a big Christmas Day dinner. I wanted to just celebrate with the Christmas Eve Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes  (my all-time favorite meal) and have leftovers the next day and relax. Then we got the call…

It was from Michael, all excited that he was able to take four days off and come home for Christmas. After this call, I sprung into action like Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve. As soon as I hung up the phone, we took down the Christmas tree and decorations from the attic and decorated the house. I was exhausted. And as any devoted and loving mother would do, I promised I would bake all of his favorite Christmas cookies.

After all, having Michael come home is the best gift I could ask for; and I want this holiday to be special for him.

I am even preparing a mini Thanksgiving dinner one night that he is home because he missed Thanksgiving and had to work.

I am starting off slow and I will post as I go along. To start me off, my dear friend Elise Feiner, who manages Foodfanataholics on Facebook, passed along a recipe that is the new trend on Facebook…

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Holiday Nougat Candy

Very festive candy made with simple ingredients that looks great in a candy dish or as a filler addition to a cookie tray.

I wanted to share Elise’s recipe with all of you.

For all who know me well, you know I have to tweak a recipe (I can’t help myself), so I added marshmallow flavoring to the batter. I hope you try the nougat and enjoy it. 

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Nougat Candy by Elise Feiner

2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 (283 gram) bags Kraft mini marshmallows
2 (312 gram) bags Ghirardelli Classic White Chocolate Chips
2 cups gumdrops or I used 4 (6.5 ounces -184 gram) boxes of Dots It was more than 2 cups but it worked well and you don’t have to measure

COOKS NOTE: I added 1/2 tsp of marshmallow flavoring

Note: Once you start the actual process of making the nougat, you must work very quickly so have everything prepped and ready to go.

Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan with a flat bottom. First I put a layer of aluminum foil so it would stay clean because I am lazy. Then, lay a double layer of parchment paper on each half of the width of the pan and one double layer right down the middle of the pan to form parchment slings. Then lay a piece of parchment paper over the slings, see the photos below. Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with PAM. Open all your bags and boxes. I slit them down the middle to work faster.

You can either do this in a large pot or in a large glass bowl over a pot of boing water to form a double boiler. Whichever method you choose. Make sure you spray your pan or bowl very well with PAM or another non-stick spray. Spray your spoon that you will stir the mix with on both sides with Pam and spray a spatula with PAM as well.

Melt the butter and then white chocolate chips stir until they are just about melted. Add the marshmallows and stir until almost melted. Carefully move the glass bowl (use potholders it is very hot) if you are using that to the microwave and microwave at 30-second intervals until completely smooth (it took me 2 minutes.) first together until smooth. Fold in gumdrops or Dots. Spread on a parchment-lined 9 x 13 pan, using a spatula to pat it down. It is thick and you have to work fast. I used my hands in the end, it was warm but not hot but check the temperature so you don’t get burned… Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Cut into squares. You may store this is in the freezer.

I packaged the nougat in small ( 4 X 3 ) bags from Amazon. 

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

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