Category Archives: All Occasion Tablescapes

Cooking with Herbs …

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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.

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 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.

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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

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

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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

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Cabin in the Snow

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Hi everyone,

As many of you know I change my dishes quite often. I have two cabinets in my kitchen with glass doors so I can admire the “Dishes of the Month” every day. 

I try to rotate dishes every month but sometimes that doesn’t work out due to a busy schedule; but I definitely find the time to change my dishes every season.

Today I was putting away my February dishes and realized I never shared this pattern with you, so here is breakfast with the dish of the month… 

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I have had these dishes since 1995 and it is perfect pattern for the colder months. Year after year they are either my January or February dishes.

The name of the pattern is “Cabin in the Snow” by Tienshan and I remember that my first purchase was at a craft fair. I bought a service of four and then continued to shop around to add pieces to the collection. I ended up with quite a few pieces over the years; serving bowls, platters, casserole dishes, gravy boat, creamer and sugar and the salt and pepper shakers.

The dishes are stoneware and the dinner plate and salad plate have the same picture. An off white background with the top of the dish in deep blue and off white in a design that reminded me of sponge painting. Also on the plate is a log cabin, pine trees and the bottom of the dish is snow, of course.

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This is a very simple tablescape to set, so let’s start…

I am using a dark navy tablecloth along with a bright red placemat to pick up the colors on the plate. 

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I am keeping the tablescape simple to serve breakfast, so there are no charger plates.

I chose cornflower blue and off white check napkins and a wooden napkin ring.

I didn’t want a navy napkin to match the tablecloth because that would make the table too dark.

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The flatware matches the set (I had to buy this once I saw it).

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For breakfast I am using clear juice glasses and the matching mug to the set.

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My centerpiece will be very functional with items we need for our meal.

 I am using one of my favorite serving pieces; an acacia wood serving tray. Love acacia wood…..

The tray reminded me of being out in the woods with all the trees, so I wanted to bring a piece of nature inside to the table.

photo-feb-25-6-54-45-pm-acacia-tray

 I am using the tray with some of the other pieces from the collection; the cabin shaped creamer and the pine tree sugar bowl.

For a little whimsy, I surrounded these items with some artificial snow and some pine cones. I had to have some snow with a plate named, “Cabin in the Snow”.

photo-feb-26-8-46-59-am-creamer-and-sugar

A few table accents. The cabin and tree salt and pepper shaker and a few serving platters for breakfast, along with a few scattered pine cones on the table from my trees in the backyard.

Remember, shop your house first for table accents.

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Today we had time to relax and had nothing planned, so breakfast was pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns. A little juice and coffee and we are all set.

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Another piece on the table, “that didn’t come with the set” is a coffee carafe with a snowman in the snow. The carafe picks up all the colors of the plate and I think it fits right in. Another craft fair find.

photo-feb-26-10-07-37-am-carafe

I hope you enjoyed sharing breakfast with me and my Cabin in the Snow dishes. Now I can pack these dishes away for next year.

Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!

Diane

Place Setting

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Table Details

Cabin in the Snow Dishes from Tienshan

Cabin in the Snow flatware from Tienshan

Cabin in the Snow cabin & pine tree salt and pepper shakers, and mugs from Tienshan

Cabin in the Snow cabin & pine tree creamer and sugar bowl from Tienshan

Navy tablecloth from Homegoods

Blue and white check napkins from Amazon

Red woven placemat from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Juice glasses from “I can’t remember, had them so long…”

Wooden napkin rings from Amazon

Acacia Serving tray from Pottery Barn

Artificial snow from Pier 1

Snowman carafe from Craft fair

Pine cones from the backyard

photo-feb-26-8-50-05-am-end

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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”.

photo-jan-16-6-18-03-pm-1-rigatoni-use

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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photo-jan-20-11-00-28-am-the-end-pasta

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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Back to the 1950’s

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Hi Everyone,

With fall already here, Bob and I decided to take a drive out east on Long Island before the caravans of apple and pumpkin pickers crowd the roads.

 What started as a simple day trip, ended up as a tablescape.

If you live on Long Island, NY you are quite familiar with the term “out east”. If you aren’t familiar with Long Island, sit back, I’ll explain….

Any town east of the town of Riverhead on Long Island is considered the East End of Long Island or “out east”. The east end is made up of the North Fork and the South Fork. (still with me?) If you imagine that Long Island is shaped like a fish the North and South forks are the tail.

map_of_the_boroughs_of_new_york_city_and_the_counties_of_long_island-long-island-map-riverhead-star-ii

Each fork is famous for different things; the north fork is the vast majority of LI wineries, farms, orchards and shopping. This is the place to go when you want a peaceful drive out to the country or a day of farm stands and wine tasting.

The south fork is famous for the Hamptons, Montauk Point, shops, restaurants, small villages and of course celebrity spotting.

 Montauk Point is THE END of Long Island (another term for a later date, I don’t want to confuse you) and is famous for not only the Montauk Point Lighthouse but fishing and surfing. I hope I didn’t lose anyone.

Bob and I frequently take a drive “out east” on the North Fork to visit a winery or a farm stand or just to try a new restaurant. Recently, during our drive we passed by a garage sale and Bob’s eyes lit up.

Yes, my husband loves garage sales because he collects old radios. He started his collection back in the day with his grandfather and I think it keeps grandpa close to his heart and those childhood memories alive.

I just knew we were going to stop.

Bob spotted an old juke box radio that looked like it popped out of a 1950’s soda shop. I immediately knew we would own this new treasure. Bob saw an addition to his collection and after careful inspection, I saw a centerpiece.

And that is how this tablescape was born. My mind started racing about all the things that an old fashioned soda shop would have. Coca Cola glasses – I have them, banana split dishes -I have them, ice cream soda straws – I have them. Yup, this could be interesting.

The one thing I didn’t have was a tablecloth for this theme. This required a little shopping.

All of the 1950’s decorations I have ever seen always focuses on the colors, pink, turquoise and black & white check. Well, I searched online, (including Amazon) and no check tablecloth that I liked, so I was off to Party City. I purchased a vinyl tablecloth along with some 50’s theme napkins and danglers for the chandelier.

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When I had Bob’s 50th Birthday party ( ????? years back), I ordered some 50’s nostalgia items online that I was going to use as decorations at the party and I knew I had a few extra things, so I went shopping in the attic…

I found paper placemats that listed “1950’s slang”. For example “bread” meant money, “horn” meant telephone and “threads” were clothes. So I added the placemats to the table for a little fun.

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I am using black dinner plates with a circular design on the rim that reminded me of the look of the old 33 RPM records (I know I am showing my age).

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Many years ago I bought porcelain salad plates that look like 45 RPM records  which I never had the chance to use, so I added these dishes to my place setting to keep the record theme going.

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Along with the salad plates, I had two “record” platters that matched the salad plates.  

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We are off to a good start.

The table was starting to come together.

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No flatware, just finger food.

We recently went to a hamburger restaurant, called Cheeburger, Cheeburger after a long afternoon of shopping and they were serving the kids meals in cardboard replicas of 1950’s cars. I had an “aha moment”, so I asked the waitress if I could buy a few and they were kind enough to sell them to me.

Here is a sample of the designs.

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I’ll have to use these on my table to serve the ultimate soda shop lunch; a hamburger and fries. (Plus a bottle of coke for the coke glasses).

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Still digging in my buried treasure, I found some 1950’s toothpicks, a plastic record centerpiece and a 1950’s menu. I completely forgot I bought this menu. It has all the 1950’s prices listed inside and just so much fun to read.

Hamburgers,  $0.25- onion rings, $0.20- ice cream cones, $0.10

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And now for the star of the tablescape and where this all started.

My centerpiece, the juke box radio or Bob’s new treasure as we like to call it.

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As I previously mentioned, the menu for this tablescape can be none other than a hamburger and fries, and if you don’t want the soda, you have to have a shake.

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And let’s not forget another dessert (if you have room). The perfect ending to this meal,

a banana split.

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Dessert is served…

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PLACE SETTING

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I hope you enjoyed this tablescape. I had a lot of fun with it and remember, anything can become a centerpiece for your tablescape. Think outside the box.

 

All I need is to wear a poodle skirt, pony tail, bobby socks and saddle shoes and I am all set. (Back to showing my age).

 

067dc6072941ac32b30bdf83e7a4ceeb-poodle-7-to-use

 

(photo courtesy of Tanya Sieh costumes)

Until my next post, make every day a celebration !

Diane

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Table Details

Black and White check tablecloth from Party City

1950’s themed napkins from Party City

1950’s danglers from Party City

Black dinner plates from Homegoods

1950’s porcelain salad plates & record platters from Bret Bortner for BIA

Paper placemats, 50’s picks, menu  from “the attic treasure box”

Coca Cola glasses from Dollar Tree

Ice cream soda straws from Amazon

Juke Box radio from “North Fork garage sale”

Cardboard 1950’s cars from Cheeburger, Cheeburger

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And share this post with your family and friends.

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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Greetings from Long Island

 

6359827257422308901231023530_6358825248226733632106411457_li- Greetings from LI POSTCARD

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

Hi Everyone,

WOW !  Summer on Long Island, NY

I hope your summer started off great. The weather in the northeast has been mostly sunny and a heatwave here and there, just the way I like it.

How I have waited for this season to arrive since that first snowflake fell on Long Island this past winter.

Being from an island and surrounded by water, you guessed it, the beach and the ocean play an important role in our summer life.

Long Island is a great vacation spot.

We have some of the best beaches and freshest seafood.

SEAFOOD TOWER A- USE

(photo courtesy of pinterest.com)

There are numerous attractions on Long Island; from beaches to wineries, museums to formal gardens and lighthouses to mansions. Too many attractions to mention here without me sounding like a travel agent or a tourist brochure.

I won’t lie though, summer on LI also brings a lot of traffic with all the tourists; but once you get to your destination, it’s worth every minute you were stuck on the road.

So today I wanted to welcome you to 118 miles of fun in the sun

and prepare a Long Island Clambake for you.

 “Summer on Long Island”

2016-06-19 13.50.33 CAPTREE BRIDGE

Captree Bridge- gateway to Robert Moses Beach, Jones Beach and Captree State Park.

2016-06-19 13.51.56 MARINA - FERRY

Ferry to Fire Island from the Bay Shore Marina.

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Today I would like to prepare for you a summer tablescape along with a summer seafood dinner as if you were a guest invited to my home.

Sort of two posts in one…

2016-07-04 16.50.52 INTRO

 We are headed outdoors on a great summer day.

I love to entertain in the summer and outdoor dining for me means relaxing and soaking up the sun. Eating al fresco is a joy. 

 Starting off with individual woven place mats in cocoa brown.

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I still love a charger plate, even outdoors, so to add to the place setting I am using mother of pearl chargers.

After all, mother of pearl is made from the inner lining of various mollusk shells, so they are just what we need for a seashore place setting.

2016-07-04 16.32.41 CHARGER

The napkins are dark tan (even though the sun makes them look like gold in the pics) and I am using a rope napkin ring in off white for that nautical feel.

2016-07-04 16.40.20 - NAPKIN AND RINGS

The main focus of this tablescape are the salad plates. I found them in Bed, Bath and Beyond last summer and I knew immediately I had to own them. They are just too cute. Since I am a Long Islander born and raised, this just made sense. 

 Melamine salad plates that symbolize Long Island.

They have a beige background with the map of Long Island in brown; complete with surrounding bodies of water and nautical designs in turquoise and white to showcase our lighthouses, boating and sailing. Too cute, right?

2016-07-06 14.43.51 LONG ISLAND PLATE

This tablescape gives me the opportunity to use another recent purchase of mine; glass dinner plates in the prettiest shade of turquoise.

I originally bought these plates to match some nautical glassware I have; but I think they will be a nice addition to this tablescape.

 The dinner plates just remind me of the ocean; and combined with the salad plate- a match made in heaven.

2016-07-06 14.40.56- GLASS PLATE

I am using stemless wine glasses with various seashore designs. The base is also a soft shade of turquoise. 

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The flatware is off white pearl which matches the rim of the mother of pearl charger.

2016-07-04 16.39.55- FLATWARE

For a centerpiece, I am keeping it simple so I have enough room for the food; so I am taking out the wooden sandpipers once again. I added a little sand on the table along with some seashore accessories. 

2016-07-04 16.46.25 - CENTERPIECE

One of my favorite additions to this tablescape is a recent gift, given to me from my honey, Bob.

The gift is a sign that says, “Gone Coastal” – that’s me. I keep this on my desk at home. I just love it.

As you can see, the painting on the sign is a crab; also a very important part of Long Island.

And the bonus is that the sign is the same colors as my place setting.

2016-07-04 16.39.27 -COASTAL SIGN - 2

 A few more table accents and this tablescape will be complete. Seashell salt and pepper shakers, clam shell tea lights and some scattered fish net around the centerpiece.

I love this picture of the salt & pepper shaker because the way the sun hits the table, it reminds me of the sun reflecting off the ocean.

2016-07-04 16.39.00 SALT AND PEPPER

I filled the tea lights with turquoise & tan rocks and gems that match the colors of the salad plate instead of a candle.

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I am using a paella pan to serve the shellfish and shrimp.

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and some blue and turquoise Italian made ceramic platters and serving bowls with a fish design for the rest of the meal.

The colors of the platter and bowls pick up the color of the dinner plate. Almost looks as if they were made as a set.

2016-07-04 16.55.34 PLATTER

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The tablescape is now complete.

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PART II

And now, the clambake menu…

You have many options to get fish on Long Island.

You can start by catching your own fish. There are so many places on Long Island to go fishing. Too many to mention.

One that is close to my heart is Jones Beach Fishing Pier. My dad went fishing every day at that pier and also brought Michael down on many occasions. I think he was getting ready to make Michael a fisherman.

DAD AND MICHAEL -JONES BEACH PIER- USE

If you are not into fishing, there are many places to purchase fresh seafood. 

You have the option of going straight to the docks and waiting for the fisherman to come in; and see what is available to purchase from the days catch.

If you change your mind about fishing yourself, you could join the fisherman and set sail. Each boat has a schedule posted and they go out daily. It is a four hour fishing trip for around $40 and the rod, reel, bait and tackle are included.

Nice day trip for the kids.

This is a picture of the Captree State Park Fishing Fleet.

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(photo courtesy of NYS visitor's guide)

My dad would take Michael to Captree for lunch and time at the playground and wait for the fishing boats to come in.

Captree is a small NY State Park with a beach, fishing pier, playground, bait shop and restaurants.

MICHAEL AND DAD AT CAPTREE - USE

If you don’t have the time to wait at the dock or set sail, then head on over to a seafood market. 

We have a lot to choose from on Long Island, and many have a restaurant or clam bar attached so you can eat there or take home a meal.

Here is just an example of one of the seafood markets that I shop in. The variety is endless.

“Claws Seafood Market * Crab Shack * Clam Bar”

(Click photos to enlarge)

(Photos courtesy of Claws Seafood Market)

According to my husband, they have the best lobster roll. 

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and I am happy with the soft shell crab sandwich.

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If you’d rather not cook at home or want more than take out, there are numerous restaurants serving Long Island seafood; some with gorgeous waterfront views.

image WATER - REST 1 -NEWSDAY- USE

(photo courtesy of newsday.com)

CLAUDIOS REST JAKERAJS.PHOTOSHELTER.

(photo courtesy of jakerajs.photoshelter.com)

SARATOGA - EASTOFNYC...

( photo courtesy of eastofnyc.com)

But today, instead of a restaurant on the water, join me at my home as I prepare for you, my version of a

Long Island clambake.

Well, we have to have clams at a clambake and clams are a big part of the seafood of Long Island, either raw, baked or steamed. I prefer to steam clams on the grill with some white wine (some use beer), butter, shallots, garlic and parsley or thyme.

When I was a child, I would go clamming with my family and eat clams raw, straight from the ocean. My dad would shuck the clams and serve them minutes after we got them. You can’t get any fresher than that.

Today, raw bars with both clams and oysters are very popular in the local restaurants.

Raw clams are usually very sweet on their own, but you can also eat them with a little lemon and hot sauce.

clams on the half shell

(photo courtesy of Newsday.com)

Along with the clams I like to steam mussels the same way; and then grill some marinated shrimp and spicy chorizo sausage for my clambake.

2016-07-04 18.14.54 MUSSELS

I’ll add the clams, mussels, shrimp and chorizo all together on the paella pan and then add some finishing touches.

There are so many farms on Long Island, that a stop at a farm stand is all you need to find the additions to complete the clambake. I usually buy local corn and baby red potatoes.

Here is the finished dish.

2016-07-04 19.49.40 PAELLA

Another claim to fame for Long Island are the Peconic Bay scallops; harvested by the most devoted baymen who just love what they do for a living. I love scallops; so they will be on today’s menu as well.

(Bay scallops are small and sea scallops are larger).

0009_bay scallops- mariobatali

(photo courtesy of mariobatali.com)

I don’t prepare the scallops on the grill; instead I marinate them, broil them and add them to either linguine or capellini with a summer sauce of fresh tomatoes, white wine, basil, garlic and broccoli rabe.

2016-07-04 19.49.03 SCALLOPS

 We have a Chef here on Long Island, Chef John Ross, who has earned his place in history as the Chef of North Fork cuisine. He was farm to table before it was popular and the scallop recipe is all his. I found this recipe in one of the many publications he wrote for over his 40 year career.

(I will share his recipe at the end of this post. You have to try it.)

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Now the crabs…every kid on Long Island has gone crabbing at least once during summer vacation. I used to go with my dad and spend hours at the docks. Throwing traps in the water with a chicken leg or two inside as bait and waiting patiently for a crab to come along. I still have my dad’s crab traps.

It is a lovely cherished memory I have of him.

My dad was a master at cleaning a crab and my mother would make a delicious tomato based crab sauce with his catch and we would eat the crabs with linguine – for hours.

I am not making a crab sauce today because I have the sauce for the scallops with capellini; so today I am baking the crabs with garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese, lemon and white wine. The same type of stuffing you would use for a baked clam.

Just to let you know, you have to have a lot of patience not only to catch a crab, but to eat a crab. Breaking the shell with the mallet or seafood crackers and digging out the meat with a small seafood pick is time consuming.

But if you are with a group of family and friends, having a great conversation and a glass of wine, the time goes by so quickly and every bite is delicious.

CRABS

Now some beverages to go along with the clambake.

Long Island has numerous vineyards and wineries on the north shore so we have to include local wine with dinner. One we enjoy with seafood is a Sauvignon Blanc from the Osprey Dominion Vineyards bottled in Peconic, Long Island.

2016-07-04 16.47.24 OSPREY WINE

Long Island craft beer is growing in popularity and Bob likes to sample different varieties when we go out to eat but one of his favorites is the Port Jeff Brewing Company’s Schooner Pale Ale bottled in Port Jefferson, Long Island.

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If you can find both the wine and beer where you live, give them a try.

And of course, everyone has heard of the Long Island Iced Tea.

This isn’t something that Bob and I drink but I decided to post the recipe because it has become so iconic to Long Island.

Long-Island-Iced-Tea-Recipe FOR BLOG

(photo courtesy of houseofpremiervodka.com)

After dinner there is always room for dessert. We always serve sliced watermelon, fruit, toasted marshmallows and a farm stand pie. 

2016-07-06 14.35.15 WATERMELON

Today I am serving good old apple pie.

2016-07-06 14.36.01 PIE

Last year, Bob and I went to a launch party for one of Long Island’s food magazines and we discovered something new to add to the dessert list for our guests.

Wine sorbet – yes, that’s right, sorbet made with wine from the vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island – delicious.

My favorite is the chocolate Merlot.

choco_cup_1-389x375 WINE SORBET

(photo courtesy Frosae website)

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And that completes my summer time meal.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my home and my version of a

Long Island clambake. 

I wish I could share it all with you in person and I hope this post made you feel  

“Welcome to Long Island”.

Come and visit.

(Don’t forget the recipe at the end of the post)

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Place Setting

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Table Details

Cocoa brown woven placemats from Homegoods

Tan napkins from Homegoods

Rope napkin rings from Bed, Bath & Beyond

“Long Island” salad plates from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Turquoise glass dinner plates from Pier 1

Stemless wine glasses from Pier 1

Mother of Pearl charger plates from Pier 1

Seashell salt and pepper shakers from Pier 1

Clam shell tea light holders from Pier 1

Off white pearl flatware from Amazon

Wooden Sandpipers from Amazon

Turquoise & Tan rocks and gems from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Paella pan from William Sonoma

Turquoise Italian ceramic platter and serving bowl from Homegoods

“Gone Coastal” sign from my honey

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Broiled scallops with Linguine

From Chef John Ross

1 lb. linguine 

Grated parmesan or locatelli cheese

1 ½ lbs. of bay scallops

For the marinade:

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. fresh thyme

1 lemon – juice and zest

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Place 1 ½ pounds of Peconic Bay scallops in a bowl.

Add the marinade ingredients to the bowl and toss the scallops. Let the scallops sit in this marinade while you prepare the sauce and linguine.

For the Sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 chopped medium red onion

1 tbsp. of minced garlic

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

½ cup of white wine

½ cup of chopped fresh basil

1 head of coarsely chopped broccoli rabe

Heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 chopped red onion and a tbsp. of minced garlic and cook at medium heat for 5 minutes.

Quarter 1 pint of cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes before adding ½ cup white wine. Let this reduce and the sauce thicken, then add ½ cup chopped fresh basil and remove from the heat.

Trim the ends off of 1 head of broccoli rabe, rinse and chop coarsely. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 pound of linguine. Cook until almost tender and add the chopped broccoli rabe to the pasta. Let it come back to a boil and drain.

Combine the sauce and the pasta/broccoli mixture and keep warm.

Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with a no-stick spray. Spread out the marinated scallops on the sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 10 minutes or until just cooked and browning on the top.

Serve the scallops on top of the pasta and add grated cheese.

* cooks note – I usually use 2 pints of cherry tomatoes along with a ladle of pasta water because I like more sauce with my pasta.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration !

Diane

ORIENT BY THE SEA MARINA LIWINES.

(photo courtesy of liwines.com)

Please ask your family and friends to follow DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

And share this post with your family and friends.

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

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

***************************************************************

Note–  You can add DishingwithDiane photos to your pinterest page; just hit the save button in the top left hand corner of the pictures.

Dreaming of Tuscany

2016-06-15 15.16.42 MURAL

(photo courtesy:muralsyourway)

2016-06-18 17.13.36- TABLE LONG

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

Hi Everyone,

Well, I am back… I have been very busy with my son’s graduation and honestly have not had time to set any tablescapes. I hope you enjoyed the recipes I posted during the time I was away. 

Now that the graduation is over, I have some free time again and that means time for a new tablescape.

My last post was my mother’s recipe for “Sunday Sauce” along with a complete Italian Sunday menu. And for me, what is an Italian meal without Italian themed dishes to go along with it?

Of all the Italian themed dishes I own (yes, I have a few), I think this pattern has to be my favorite. It gives you the Tuscan feel which just happens to be the theme of my kitchen.

The name of the pattern is Sanctuary Wine and they are from Certified International.

The colors are light rust, sage green with just a touch of brown, sunflower, lilac and cream.

2016-06-18 17.46.29 CLOSE -MUST USE

The dinner plate is a scene of a Tuscan village among the fields and the salad plate displays an uncorked bottle of wine with wine glasses surrounded by grapevines and a Tuscan farmhouse in the background. 

2016-06-18 17.32.50- DISHES

2016-06-18 17.33.34- DISHES SET

I am not using the salad plates for the tablescape today, but I am using the appetizer plates which have the same scene as the salad plate.

All of the plates have a crackled finish which adds to their old world charm.

I thought that my every day coasters would look nice on the table. The colors blend together well with the tablescape and they add to the theme.

2016-06-18 17.45.20----TID BIT- USE THIS

When I bought these dishes, I loved the design so much that I bought every type of dish from the set; bread plates, appetizer plates, trays, platters, pitchers, biscotti jar, and an olive oil carafe…. I have it all, except a baker.

That is the one piece they never made for the set – very odd. So I substituted another baker from a different set from Italy.

Here are a few of the other platters.

2016-06-19 03.33.12 - PLATTER A

2016-06-19 04.15.09 PLATTER B

So let’s start setting a table.

 I am starting with a sunflower yellow linen tablecloth and using sage green napkins. I wanted to pick up a few colors from the scene of the fields on the plate.

Since this a rustic, out in the country feel tablescape, I decided to go for natural elements and I am using wooden napkin rings.

2016-06-18 17.19.24- NAPKIN

Olive green woven placemats are added to coordinate with the color of the  napkins. Whenever I am trying to display a natural, outdoor feeling to a tablescape, I always use my brown rattan chargers.

2016-06-18 17.20.08- PLACEMAT CHARGER

I chose long stem olive green wine glasses to bring in yet another shade of green from the plate.

2016-06-18 17.35.26 - GLASSWARE - USE THIS.jpg

 Off white pearl flatware; again nice and neutral and it is an accent color on the rim of the plate.

2016-06-18 17.37.51 FLATWARE

 I just love the Tuscan village scene on the water pitcher and wanted to use the pitcher as a decoration instead of for a beverage. So, I am using the water pitcher as a vase for flowers. 

I have a collection of both dried and silk flower stems that I use as vase fillers for my fresh flower arrangements. 

For this tablescape I am using three beautiful silk stems in shades of a green, shades of light rust and shades of lilac to pick up the colors of the Tuscan scene. 

This works for me as a table accent and brightens up the table.

2016-06-18 17.43.51- PITCHER A

Since the name of the dishes are Sanctuary Wine, this was a great opportunity for me to use my wine barrel tray for my centerpiece and fill it with a bountiful antipasti.

2016-06-19 03.35.21 - WINE BARREL TRAY

(This tray is mango wood and not recommended for food use, so if you buy any mango wood trays, line it with a ceramic or glass plate first before serving food.)

I am using one of the round platters to extend the antipasti with a separate cheese platter. I love this platter because the scene is the Tuscan village among the grapevines.

My cheese platter consists of pepperoncino asiago red pepper cheese, provolone cheese, grapes and honey.

I had honey on provolone cheese as a sample in an Italian deli and I have been a fan ever since. You can also add the honey to ricotta on ciabatta bread, topped with the provolone and make a crostini.

2016-06-19 04.13.58- ROUND PLATTER

2016-06-18 17.14.58 CHEESE A

 The grapevine bread plate is what I am using to display a caprese salad of mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto with farm stand tomatoes, basil & balsamic glaze on a bed of arugula with an olive oil & oregano dressing.

2016-06-18 13.57.35 - BREAD TRAY

2016-06-18 17.14.29- CAPRESE SALAD

I think I could just have antipasti for a meal and be quite satisfied.

My favorite would have to be pickled eggplants, pickled mushrooms, Italian olives, chunks of provolone cheese and soppressata- hot or sweet, doesn’t matter.

I loved the antipasti my mother put together every Sunday; so here is my version.

I hope I am making mom proud.

My antipasti consists of…

Cheeses: pepperoncino asiago red pepper cheese, chunks of provolone cheese and mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto.

Meats: hot capicola, pepperoni, genoa salami, sweet soppressata and mortadella*.

Vegetables: assorted Italian olives, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, artichokes, pickled mushrooms, pickled eggplant strips, giardiniera* and pepperdew peppers stuffed with mascarpone cheese*.

Breads: stone wheat crackers, ciabatta bread and garlic bread sticks.

Fruit: red and green grapes.

*( Mascarpone cheese is basically Italian cream cheese)

*(Mortadella is Italian bologna with pistachio nuts)

*(Giardiniera is pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, celery, pimientos and olives)

I think that about covers it.

2016-06-18 17.15.36 ANTIPASTI IN BARREL

2016-06-18 17.36.20 - ANTI - CLOSE UP

It’s a great idea to have an edible centerpiece. Your guests can help themselves while you put the finishing touches on your gathering and you are not spending extra money on flowers or other expensive centerpieces you need to store after your guests leave.

In the past, I have used vegetables and fruit as a centerpiece and it looks wonderful. Artichokes make a beautiful centerpiece, lemons and grapes do as well.

(Remember my lemon centerpiece from the “I Love Lemons” post- 8/29/15?)

I am serving my antipasti tray with one of our favorite Merlot blend wines, Gran Passione Rosso. The addition of the wine makes this antipasti a meal unto itself.

2016-06-18 17.41.24- WINE BOTTLE- USE THIS

Review for this wine by winemadeeasy.com – “There is a strong flavor of dark cherry, black currant, prune, raisin, and dark chocolate with a smidgen of sweetness.” 

Just perfect with the assortment of meats and cheeses. 

An antipasti like this will surely keep your guests busy and satisfied before the entree is ready to be served.

2016-06-18 17.17.33- BUFFET

Now that the table is set, I am ready for my entree of Baked Rigatoni (not specifically a Tuscan meal, but just what I am in the mood for and very simple to prepare). A few side dishes and another glass of wine wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

After dinner, be sure to serve fresh fruit, nuts and Italian pastries and the Italian meal is complete.

Place setting

2016-06-18 17.39.51 PLACE SETTING

(Baked rigatoni recipe to follow below)

Table Details

Sunflower colored tablecloth from Homegoods

Sage Napkins from Amazon.com

Wooden Napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Sanctuary Wine Dishes and platters from Macy’s

Wine Barrel tray from Pier 1

Olive green wine glasses from Dollar Tree

Off white flatware from Amazon

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Olive placemats from Homegoods

Floral leaf vase fillers from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

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This recipe for Baked Rigatoni is easy to prepare and is a definite crowd pleaser.

Three rules to live by when you have guests over…

1- always make something easy to prepare. 

2- it’s not a time to try out a new recipe. 

3. prepare whatever you can ahead of time.

Eliminate stress. 

2016-06-18 17.14.00 - TABLE CLOSE UP

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This recipe will definitely save you time in the kitchen so you can spend more time with your guests.

I hope you try it and enjoy.

File Jun 13, 7 59 38 PM - BAKED RIGATONI FOR BLOG

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 or Locatelli cheese (or any grated cheese you prefer)
  • 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 the same 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 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 and half the grated cheese.

Top with the remaining pasta, the remaining mozzarella and the remaining grated 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).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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One More Seaside Dinner

2015-07-22 18.35.33- SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS for blog

Hi everyone,

This post was written last weekend when we were all waiting for the hurricane & nor’easter.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-10-09 23.23.09- SEA INTRO

Okay, it is October 3, 2015 and Autumn has only officially been here for 10 days and I miss the Summer already. Today it was cold, rainy and plain disgusting outside; so what do you do to cheer up?

Some people make soup on days like today, which is all well and good and I will be doing that during the week. Some people stay in pajamas and watch movies all day, which is also good. But for me, I cook! Today I set a beach themed tablescape. I just had to hold on to one more seaside dinner….

 I was in the mood for Linguine with Clam Sauce today, so Bob went out and bought 2 dozen little neck clams for me. He is an angel. He went out in the worst weather- a nor’easter.

I just had to have a beach themed tablescape if I was going to have a seafood meal.

2015-10-09 23.19.34 BUFFET

I am desperately missing the beach, the sun, the sand and the sound of the waves.

I dug out some of my summer dishes and accessories which I already packed away for the season, but I didn’t mind the extra work to unpack them. Besides, Bob is a great assistant. I direct and he does all the lifting. My husband is priceless!

I have a lot of nautical and fish dishes that I have accumulated over the years but one of my favorites is the Bella Seashell dishes I purchased over 15 years ago. The colors are both soothing and cheery at the same time and that is what this rainy cold day needed. So let’s get started on this dreary October day.

The dishes are coral, aqua, burgundy and seafoam green earthenware with hand painted starfish and seashells on an off white background. When I look at this pattern, it reminds me of all the beautiful shells at the beach and I can almost smell the ocean.

Just in case you are interested there are only 240 days until Memorial Day from today. I keep telling myself I can make it.

2015-10-09 23.59.13 DINNER PLATE

2015-10-09 23.58.44 SALAD PLATE

I am using a Nicole Miller tablecloth that has all the same colors of the dishes but in a very muted pastel (I just love Nicole Miller patterns). I thought that this would be a great back drop for the dishes so it wouldn’t over power the table but still keep the theme going.

2015-10-06 - TABLECLOTH

Next, a seafoam green woven placemat and a white ceramic charger plate. The seafoam green picks up another color featured on the dishes.

2015-10-09 22.58.10 PLACEMAT AND CHARGER

I didn’t buy the matching napkins to the tablecloth because sometimes I would rather pick up individual colors from the dishes I am using; so I chose coral napkins to feature yet another dish color.

I was so excited to find nautical rope napkin rings at the end of the season and I knew they would be perfect for a beach tablescape. I also have nautical rope plates — but we’ll get to that on another tablescape.

2015-10-06 12.13.03 CORAL NAPKIN AND RING

The flatware that I am using happens to be the only nautical themed set that I have (so far) and they have adorable sailboats with a nautical rope trim design on the handle.

2015-10-09 23.30.35 FLATWARE

I was going to use peach long stem glass goblets for this tablescape, but then the goblets would be too high and block the centerpiece. Instead, I chose small water tumblers with aqua schools of fish circling the glass.

2015-10-09 23.03.32 GLASSWARE

If you visit the beach as often as I do in the summer, not only do you see Seagulls flying around but you can usually see Sandpipers. They are cute little birds that you see while they are searching in the mud and sand for food. 

While I was browsing on Amazon one night for some beach decor, I came across this trio of brown and creme wooden sandpiper statues, and I knew immediately that they would be just perfect for a centerpiece. So the purchase was made and I am now adding them to my tablescape. I am so happy with this purchase.

I might even keep them out next summer on an end table in the living room as a nice summer decoration.

2015-10-09 23.02.17 SANDPIPERS

Of course the centerpiece had to include some seashells and I am using some of my “vacation seashells”. I mentioned this in another post that these shells have been collected from our past vacations.

A souvenir that brings back great memories for me.

For an extra little beach touch, I decided to accent the centerpiece with fish netting and some glass gems along with the shells to add a little sparkle to the table.

2015-10-09 23.09.07 GEMS

2015-10-09 23.21.15 CENTERPIECE

You know how much I love candles on the table by now, so I am using clam shell tea light holders and filling them with sand to hold the candles in place. The tea light holders were another great find last year in Pier 1.

I think that candles bring such a pretty soft glow to any table

2015-10-09 23.29.36 CANDLES

A few accent pieces of mini ceramic starfish plates and a seashell salt and pepper shaker pulls the table together.

2015-10-06 12.17.12 - STARFISH DISH

2015-10-06 12.14.54 -SEASHELL SP

Oh, before I forget. My latest find that I am not using today, but had to display on the table just to show you, is a vintage ceramic soup tureen with a pastel seashell design. I just love this tureen. The colors match the tablecloth perfectly. I bought this late in the season and never had the opportunity of using it yet. But I see a big pot of New England Clam Chowder filling this bowl next summer.

(A little secret: I bought this soup tureen a month ago in the car on the thruway while we were driving home from my son’s house. I just love the Ipad on long trips. Bob can’t believe that I can shop in a moving vehicle.)

2015-10-09 23.22.20 TUREEN

Now the tablescape is complete.

I am now ready for my Linguine with Clam Sauce and a taste of the summer and the sea.

I can’t believe I did this, but I forgot to take a photo of today’s meal. I was so busy unpacking the soup tureen that I completely forgot. The photo I posted above is the Linguine and Clam Sauce I made a few weeks ago that I posted on Facebook. I just wanted to show you what the final product looks like.

I hope this tablescape brightened your afternoon.

It certainly helped me get through a rainy, dreary day.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

2015-10-09 23.18.09 INTRO 2

Place Setting

2015-10-09 23.15.45 PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Bella Seashell dishes from a purchase 15 years ago…

Nicole Miller seashell tablecloth from Amazon

Nautical rope napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Coral napkins from Amazon

Seafoam green placemats from Pier 1

White chargers from Pfaltzgraff

Nautical Sailboat flatware from Towle

Fish glassware from Homegoods

Clam shell tea light holders from Pier 1

Fish Net from Party City

Colored Gems from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Seashells from past vacations

Ceramic starfish from Homegoods

Seashell salt and pepper shakers from Pier 1

Wooden Sandpiper statues from Amazon

Seashell soup tureen from Etsy

Thank you for visiting my blog.

 Please ask your family and friends to become members.

Follow me on Facebook or follow the blog directly from the DishingwithDiane.com website. 

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

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

beach-sign2-2- beach sign 2

(Photo credit: deanmillerprints.com)