Category Archives: All Occasion Tablescapes

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”.


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.


(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. 


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.


Before the charger plates, I started out with a red woven placemat.


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.


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.


The complete set… for $ 7.99


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.


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.


If my guests don’t care for wine, I have included some Italian soda.


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.


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.




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. 


The cheese server from the set is also on the table.


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.


and a wooden serving board to display some fresh mozzarella, Locatelli cheese, tomatoes, garlic and basil; all components of this Italian meal.


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.


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.


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…


Out of the oven and ready to eat…so good.


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!


Don’t forget the recipes below

Place Setting



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





  • 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).


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


  • 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


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.


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.



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.



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).


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.


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


We are off to a good start.

The table was starting to come together.


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.


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).


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




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.


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.



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

a banana split.


Dessert is served…






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).




(photo courtesy of Tanya Sieh costumes)

Until my next post, make every day a celebration !



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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Greetings from Long Island


6359827257422308901231023530_6358825248226733632106411457_li- Greetings from LI POSTCARD

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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.


(photo courtesy of

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.


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.

2016-07-04 16.32.24- PLACEMAT

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. 

2016-07-04 16.42.08- GLASSWARE

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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2016-07-04 16.37.52 TABLE CLOSE UP

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

2016-07-04 16.55.14- PAELLA PAN

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

2016-07-04 16.56.09- SERVING BOWL

The tablescape is now complete.



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.


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.

a4ef88b6-a493-40bb-ba9c-781edec72fdf- captree fleet - use

(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.


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. 

2016-06-22 18.36.53- LOBSTER ROLL

and I am happy with the soft shell crab sandwich.

2016-06-22 18.38.04 - SOFT SHELL CRAB

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.


(photo courtesy of


(photo courtesy of


( photo courtesy of

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

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

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.)


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.


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.

2016-07-04 16.47.01 BEER

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

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)


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)

2016-07-04 19.49.51- FULL TABLE WITH FOOD

Place Setting

2016-07-04 16.54.23 -PLACE SETTING- 2

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


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 !



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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 – “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

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


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


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


  • 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!


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

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


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Uncle Vinny’s Soup

2015-11-08 23.24.56 - INTRO

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

Hi everyone, 

I prepared this tablescape on Friday and was about to post it when the terror attacks struck Paris and then I couldn’t post anything. My heart is broken and saddened by the events in Paris and my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris.

This is a fun blog meant to be informative and entertaining and that is my goal. I hope this post can make you smile, even for a brief moment…..

Yesterday I was reminiscing about my Uncle Vinny. Uncle Vinny was a very tall, loud, loving man that worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and his family meant the world to him. He was the father to my cousins Laura and Jeanette and husband to my Dad’s sister Rose. He was also one of the first “foodies” that I ever met, even before that term was made popular.

To me he was a gentle giant and if you read my 4th of July post, he is the uncle that always drove out from Brooklyn to give us the best fireworks display each year. He loved all the kids so much. But for me, he always brought me my favorite, sparklers!

Back to my uncle, the foodie. My Uncle Vinny was very particular about what he ate and he had to have his food from certain places around Brooklyn. This drove my Aunt Rose crazy. He had a special butcher, fish monger, and grocer. You name the food and he had someone special to buy it from. All the store owners knew him and knew how he liked his food. 

In addition to the usual Italian fare, he introduced me to certain Italian delicacies when I was a child. For example, Uncle Vinny ate rabbit, snails, tripe, frog legs and the ever frightening lambs head at Easter. Yes, I have to say that I have tasted it all; probably because he told me after I took a bite what I was eating, but I tried it none the less.

But of all the foods he loved, Uncle Vinny LOVED “escarole soup with meatballs” the best. Today it is know by the name, Italian Wedding Soup. I have no idea how this soup evolved into that name and honestly, I have never seen it served at any Italian wedding I have attended.

2015-11-08 23.38.01 INTRO 3 - SOUP AND TUREEN WITH SOUP

In our home we renamed the soup to be respectfully called “Uncle Vinny Soup”. Even when I had friends over, they all knew it by that name. Uncle Vinny became famous for this soup and I think as a food lover, he was thrilled that a food was named after him.

In fact, every year we had to have Uncle Vinny soup for our primo course at Thanksgiving. I still keep this tradition going since I got married and passed this along to my son. It brings a smile to my face when serving this soup, as if Uncle Vinny is sending us a blessing from heaven. 

And no Thanksgiving is complete without it.

Yesterday for some reason, I woke up and Uncle Vinny was on my mind. Did you ever have that happen with someone? You just can’t stop thinking about them. Well, in his memory, I decided to make his soup and not wait until Thanksgiving. I had all the ingredients in the house and took that as a sign to start making soup.

Of course, I will still be making this soup again on Thanksgiving.

We can’t break a tradition.

I want to share this special recipe with all of you. I hope you try it and enjoy.

But first, a simple Autumn tablescape to showcase the soup.

2015-11-08 23.25.17 EXTRA

Naturally with all of the beautiful colors of the leaves changing this time of year, I had to use dishes with autumn leaves featured. 

The dishes I am using today are my every day Autumn dishes, (yes, I change my dishes quite often). The dishes are a light beige background adorned with leaves in beautiful fall colors, along with acorns, cranberries and tartan plaid ribbons.

Something different for me this time; the dishes are square. I usually gravitate toward round dishes, but they were too pretty to pass up.

The name of the dish pattern is “Autumn Celebration” and that is exactly what it is.

2015-11-08 14.08.11 - DISHES

Since there are so many colors and patterns going on with this dish, I decided to stay with the neutral color scheme for my accessories so I am using a very basic tan tablecloth.

2015-11-08 14.17.55- TABLECLOTH

However, I am picking up the leaf pattern from the dishes with the napkins I chose. They are once again, a light beige background with autumn leaves in the same fall colors as the dish.

2015-11-08 14.26.19- UV NAPKIN PATTERN

The napkin rings are wrapped rayon yarn in autumn colors. I am using the spiced red and gold from the set that also includes forest green and brown. 

2015-11-08 14.24.21- NAPKIN RINGS

2015-11-08 14.11.44 NAPKINS

You know I love to set a table with a charger plate but it wouldn’t work for this tablescape. Since the dishes are square I am using  NEW autumn placemats that I bought in Pier 1 that could work perfectly. The placemats are gathered maple leaves. I fell in love with these placemats as soon as I saw them. The colors are just so rich with the gold accents.

2015-11-08 14.06.09 PLACEMAT

The flatware is also a neutral color and I am using off white with a pearl finish to pick up the background of the dishes. This time I am setting the table with the addition of a soup spoon.  It doesn’t come with the set but I always use a soup spoon for soup instead of a large dinner spoon.

I have been doing this since I was a child (thanks Mom) and it’s a habit I just can’t break. I even bought a set of soup spoons for my son when he got his apartment.

2015-11-08 - FLATWARE 14-05-51

Keeping up with the simple and neutral color scheme; I am using amber goblets for my glassware. You have seen these before on a few of my other tablescapes. The amber picks up the color of the acorns on the dish.

2015-11-08 14.10.20- GOBLETS

I wanted an earthy feel to the centerpiece, so I am using a basket made completely out of twigs. I usually have this basket in my den (remember the Safari room)? This time I am filling it with assorted gourds and autumn leaves for a real outdoor feel.

2015-11-08 23.55.19 CENTERPIECE

2015-11-08 23.36.39-- GO

The table scatter (which I must have) for my tablescapes, are various colored autumn leaves.

2015-11-08 14.23.09- LEAVES SCATTER

I am using two other pieces from the Autumn Celebration collection and that is the soup tureen and also the small oval Thanksgiving platter which I will use to serve hot biscuits.

2015-11-08 14.13.02- TUREEN

2015-11-08 23.23.26 - SOUP IN TUREEN

What is better than soup with hot buttered biscuits? I could have that every day for every meal.

2015-11-08 23.22.54 - SOUP AND BISQUITS

The saying on the platter is a quote from American poet, Wilbur D. Nesbit.

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day. The heart will find the pathway home”

2015-11-08 23.06.00 PLATTER

This simple lunch is served in memory of my Uncle Vinny; a man who brought a lot of love and fun to the family and is missed so deeply.

There is a reason why Uncle Vinny was on my mind today; maybe to send us a blessing before the holiday season or just remind me not to forget to make the soup.

Please try the soup recipe (recipe printed at the end of the post) and may you and your family receive many blessings of your own.

Don’t forget some hot buttered biscuits to go along with the soup. These are buttermilk biscuits topped with sesame seeds and LOTS of butter.

2015-11-08 23.26.47 - BISQUITS

Place Setting

2015-11-08 23.35.40 -PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Autumn Celebration dishes from Macy’s

Napkins from The Christmas Tree Store

Tablecloth from Amazon

Napkin Rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Maple Leaf placemats from Pier 1

Off White Pearl flatware from Amazon

Twig centerpiece from Fortunoff’s

Gourds and leaves from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Amber goblets from JC Penney

Soup spoons from Chef’s Catalog

I have also included my recipes for homemade chicken broth, chicken stock, meatballs and meatballs with sausage along with the soup recipe in case you want to look these over as well.

Have fun cooking.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


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

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

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

Let’s get started…

I am making homemade chicken broth first. Usually, I have some broth in the freezer, but not today.

2015-11-08 16.34.53 INGREDIENTS - USE THIS

Uncle Vinny Soup

2015-11-09 17.15.28- CLOSE UP 2


  • 8 cups of homemade chicken broth (recipe follows), canned or boxed is fine*.
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated cheese + 3 tbsp. for egg mixture
  • 1-2 bunches of escarole, washed and shredded (approx. 3-4 cups)
  • ½ cup of parsley- chopped fine
  • 1-2 cans of cannellini beans (your choice) –rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ lbs. of mini meatballs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Cooked ditalini, acini di pepe or pastina – (1 cup dry)

  • (Optional – 2 tbsp. chicken fat)
  • (Optional – shredded chicken from homemade soup)

In a large pot, sauté the carrots, celery and onion in 3 TBSP of olive oil for 10 minutes until veggies soften. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tbsp. tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute

Add the chopped escarole and beans to the pot and sauté until the escarole wilts (3-4 minutes)

Add 8 cups of broth (homemade, canned or boxed *), parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. (If you are using chicken fat add it now)

  • If you use boxed soup, “Imagine” has an organic chicken broth but DO NOT BUY the Kosher chicken broth variety- that contains soy, canola oil, yeast extract (aka MSG) and xanthan gum

While the soup is simmering on LOW, make the mini meatballs (various recipes below, either with or without sausage), and then add them to the broth – they will cook in the broth in approx. 20 minutes (they will float to the top of the pot when they are done)…If you are using shredded chicken from the broth, add it now.

Meanwhile, prepare the egg mixture – In a bowl combine 3 large eggs to 3 tbsp. of grated cheese. (Additional parsley can be added at this time). Beat the mixture lightly with a fork or whisk.

Add the mixture in one fell swoop to the hot broth, stirring vigorously with a whisk or fork so as to break up the egg (this will form fine light flakes or stands of egg). Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly and remove from heat.

I serve the soup over cooked pasta in the soup bowl. (I don’t like to add the pasta to the soup because it expands and gets mushy the longer it sits)

Serve the soup with additional grated cheese

Serves 6-8


  • 1 ½ lbs. ground grass fed beef or ½ lb each of meatloaf mix( Veal, pork, beef)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced or 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar
  • Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Combine ALL ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The mixture should be solid, not mushy. If too mushy, add more breadcrumbs. Roll the meat to form mini meatballs


  • ½ lb. grass fed ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ½ lb. ground veal
  • 2 mild sausages, casings removed
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced or 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt & ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk

Using a whisk, mix the milk and the breadcrumbs in a deep bowl. Add ALL the remaining ingredients. Mix well and form the mini meatballs. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place meatballs 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until lightly brown…add the meatballs to the soup


This is a good basic broth to keep in the freezer to use as a base for other soups, as a flavor base for sauces, or to use on it’s own. Simmer it slowly to prevent cloudiness. To create a richer, darker broth, you can roast the chicken in the oven before simmering.

  • Add any saved chicken parts (wings, necks and bones you saved in your freezer for stock) to the pot


DO NOT wash the chicken

  • 1 (4 lb. chicken, whole)
  • 8 cups of water (2 quarts)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled
  • 3 stalks of celery cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 3 generous sprigs of fresh thyme OR 1 tsp. dried
  • 3 generous sprigs of fresh parsley OR ¼ cup just leaves
  • 1 small bunch of dill, tied together with a string
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to rub inside the cavity of the chicken (2 tsp salt & ¼ tsp fresh black pepper) plus additional salt and pepper for seasoning
  • (Optional – 1 organic tomato, quartered)
  • (Optional – 1 (14 oz.) can of low sodium chicken broth for added flavor)
  1. Combine ALL ingredients in a large stockpot. Do not remove the skin from the chicken because this helps to create a richer soup. Simmer on MEDIUM to just under a boil
  2. Reduce the heat to a very LOW simmer, so that 1 or 2 bubbles break the surface of the broth about once a minute – this will cook for 3 hours. Periodically, skim fat and scum from the surface with a ladle, large spoon or skimmer……(To prevent losing a lot of stock when skimming, put the skimmed liquid into a degreasing cup, and return useable broth back to the pot)
  3. At hour # 2 or until chicken is cooked through but not dry, remove the chicken from the pot and continue to simmer the broth. Cool the chicken for about 10 minutes. Cut the chicken meat from the bone, and return the bones to the pot and cook for the last hour.
  4. When all the cooking is done, strain the broth through cheesecloth into another pot. Taste and season with salt & pepper
  5. Broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

Chicken Stock instead of broth


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 ½ lbs. of chicken wings, backs and bones
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions coarsely chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley stems
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add ALL the chicken parts and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Remove the chicken and reserve.
  2. Add the carrots, onions and celery to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns and parsley.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned chicken and vegetable bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a LOW simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours – occasionally skimming excess fat.
  5. Remove from the heat, strain and press on the solids with the bottom of the ladle to extract out all the liquids.
  6. Stir the stock to facilitate cooling and set aside.
  7. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze up to a month — yields 1 ½ quarts

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!


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

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beach-sign2-2- beach sign 2

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Barnyard Brunch

2015-09-12 21.03.01- ROOSTER AND CENTERPIECE

(Click on photos to enlarge)

A few years back I had the wonderful opportunity to host a brunch in my home for some dear friends. The brunch turned into more of a healing process for me than just a tablescape. I’ll explain…

Not only was it my Mother who started and continued to add to my collection of dishes over the years, but my Dad was right there with us and he got a kick out of how enthusiastic I was about tablescapes.

After my Mother passed away, my father became my shopping partner; from groceries to dishes and everything in between. We shopped all over the place every day.

We were in Homegoods one day and I spotted these Rooster dishes and I just loved them. I would have stopped right then and there and purchased the entire set, but time was not on my side at that moment. I had an appointment to get to and we had to leave the store. 

On the way to my appointment, my Dad and I talked about how cute the dishes were and how I would definitely have used the dishes for a country themed brunch. After we arrived at my appointment, the dish conversation stopped and that was it.

I knew I would never see these dishes again because as most of you know, in Homegoods, you have to buy the items when you see them or they are gone.

The next morning my Dad came over with a BIG box for me and once I opened it, it was the entire set of Rooster dishes, plates, bowls, cups and serving pieces. I was totally in shock and a few tears were shed. You see, once my Dad left my house the night before, he returned to Homegoods and bought everything that he saw that was part of the Rooster collection.

2015-09-13 01.16.33 - EXTRA DISHES

I was beyond thrilled and I started immediately thinking about a tablescape for these dishes. My mind was full of ideas.

I could finally use the Rooster canister set that I purchased in Cracker Barrel on one of our trips to Myrtle Beach. At the time of the purchase, I thought the canisters were absolutely adorable and I just had to have them. I really had no purpose for them other than the fact that they were cute. They really belonged in a country kitchen, which I did not have nor planned to have. But, not having an immediate purpose for something that caught my eye for a tablescape never stopped me before, so the purchase was made. 

We discussed this in one of my other posts; you never know what you can use for a tablescape in the future, so if you love an item and it is within your budget, buy it. 

My ideas kept flowing and I was getting all excited about this tablescape and organizing a country themed brunch. My thoughts kept going back and forth between tablescape design to the food that was to be served.

Unfortunately, right after this purchase my Dad started to feel ill and one thing led to another over a few months and he had to have surgery. He survived the surgery, but he was stricken with a deadly hospital infection, and after a tough fight my Dad passed away. I was devastated. I lost my desire to set any more tablescapes. Now both my parents were gone.

One day a dear friend of mine was over after the funeral to see how I was and asked what I planned for my next tablescape. Honestly, I hadn’t given it much thought, I wasn’t in the mood. She asked about the Rooster dishes I told her about months before that my Dad bought for me and she said something that completely turned me right around.

She said, “Do you think that your Dad bought those dishes to sit in a box or to be used at what you do best to make you and all of us happy?”

“Set the table in memory of your Dad”.

2015-09-13 10.07.10 - INTRO

And that is how the Rooster tablescape was reborn. She was right, my Dad would have wanted me to continue to do what I loved. I started thinking about planning a brunch that same day.

The brunch turned out to be lovely and all my friends shared stories about my Dad and we laughed and ate and it was very healing for me. God bless girlfriends, the women in your life that get you through the good and the bad.

For the brunch back then, I served it buffet style and I gave all my guests a favor of fruit preserves tied with raffia ribbon to take home. (99% of the time, my guests go home with a favor).

My friends have come to expect a favor and I can’t even imagine what they would say if I ever stopped.

 I was now back to setting tablescapes and doing what I love.

(Photos of the original buffet are at the end of the post)

The Rooster tablescape I am posting today is not for a buffet, but for a sit down breakfast and I think both my Dad and Mom would have liked this tablescape too. So here we go…

2015-09-12 21.01.00 - CLOSE UP INTRO

I started out with a red and creme checkered tablecloth that has a rooster pattern and began building the tablescape from there. This is a new purchase and I was so happy when I saw this tablecloth; it was just perfect for the occasion.

2015-09-12 20.39.07 - TABLECLOTH

First up, the charger plates. I am back to my favorite charger plates and that would be the brown rattan chargers. I decided not to use a place mat because that would crowd the table way too much.

2015-09-12 20.39.47 -CHARGER

The dishes are melamine (basically shatterproof, which is good for outdoor tablescapes too). The plates have a light gold background with a very colorful Rooster and I loved the sayings on the dinner plate and mugs…...Life is Good * Freedom & Pride * C’est La Vie * Good Food and Peace.

2015-09-13 01.16.54 DISHES

For the glassware, I used mason jar mugs. I just love these mugs and thought that they looked very country.

2015-09-12 20.56.16- MUG

I found a Rooster serving plate recently when I went to visit my son, that added to my Rooster collection so that is on the table as well. Good place for some breakfast muffins or bagels to be served.

2015-09-12 20.47.03 - PLATTER

I used red bandannas from the party store to be re-purposed as napkins, instead of the usual scarf tied around your neck. I didn’t want to use the napkins that match the tablecloth because I thought they would just blend in way too much and be lost on the table.


For the flatware, I am back to red, (I get the most use of this color). This time I placed the flatware in the mason jar mugs just for a change of pace.

2015-09-13 01.23.33 - FLATWARE

What are Rooster dishes without a Rooster?

So my little table mascot was unpacked (Dad purchased him too for me). I think he definitely looks like the rooster on the dishes.

2015-09-13 01.18.28 - ROOSTER

For my centerpiece I started with a red enamelware pitcher. I think enamelware just screams country. I have an entire set of enamelware in both red and blue with the platters, plates and bowls; but for this tablescape I just needed the red water pitcher.

2015-09-13 01.26.14 - EXTRA SUNFLOWERS

I displayed some beautiful sunflowers in the pitcher with goldenrod branches.  For my table confetti, I added a few sunflower seeds on the table.

Sunflowers always bring a smile to my face.

2015-09-12 20.44.50 - CENTERPIECE

Now I needed a few table accents and the tablescape will be complete. I chose a metal rooster basket filled with ceramic brown eggs and the cutest mason jar salt & pepper shakers.

2015-09-12 20.48.43 -ROOSTER BASKET 1

2015-09-13 01.24.43 - SALT AND PEPPER

I added another Rooster find that was purchased from the General Store at the Milleridge Inn Shops here on LI many years ago.

This great find is a divided serving dish with a Rooster design.

2015-09-12 20.46.27- DIVIDED DISH

Topping the tablescape off are two sunflower tealight holders. So cute with both a lady bug and a butterfly 

2015-09-13 10.14.39- TEA LIGHTS

and a few mini bales of hay.

2015-09-13 10.08.43- BALES OF HAY

 Now the tablescape is complete. I couldn’t find a place for the rooster canisters this time, so they will come back out for my next Barnyard Brunch when I serve it buffet style and I will use them as flatware holders.

And my white chicken wire egg basket with have to wait until the next tablescape too.

Now all I have to do is plan the food to be served for this breakfast and send out some invitations.

Thank you for letting me share with you the memories of my first Rooster tablescape, along with my current 2015 Rooster tablescape. 

I enjoyed putting this tablescape together for you and sharing both my old and new pictures. 

I hope this table gave you some ideas for you to use at your next brunch. 

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



Place Setting

2015-09-13 01.17.27- PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Rooster Dishes gift from Dad 

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Red flatware from Homegoods

Mason jar mugs from Webstaurant

Red & creme check rooster tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops

Red bandannas from Party City

Feather Rooster gift from Dad

Brown ceramic eggs from Cackle Hatchery

Round Rooster serving plate from Homegoods

Divided Rooster serving dish from the General Store at the Milleridge Inn shops

Mason jar salt and pepper shakers from Amazon

MIni bales of hay from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Sunflower tea light candles from Party Lite Fundraising party (15 years ago)

Sunflowers from a local Farmer’s market

Metal rooster basket – can’t remember

Red enamelware pitcher – can’t remember (some of these items go back 40 yrs).

Photos of the original Barnyard Brunch

As you can see, we had more than enough food and ate, laughed and talked for hours. We had salads, cakes, bagels, brownies, muffins, waffles, eggs, hash browns, spinach quiche, bacon, breakfast sausages,cookies and fruit.

Enough food for 40 people and we were only 20 people. 

A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends.

(Click photos to enlarge)

We had a nice selection of food…

Summer 2010 095- BB 11

Summer 2010 094 - BB10

Finally had a chance to use the Rooster canisters… Aren’t they cute?

Summer 2010 089 -BB9

As an appetizer we had mini muffins and cookies …

Summer 2010 088 -BB8

Trying to convince ourselves that we could still be healthy with all this food, I served a fruit tray…

Summer 2010 087 BB7

I used some mini bales of hay as table accents along with our mascot Rooster…

Had to squeeze him in between the food…

Summer 2010 086 - BB6

We ate for hours…

Summer 2010 085- BB5

Other side of the table with the hot food…

We had spinach quiche, hash browns, waffles, French toast and eggs

Summer 2010 082 BB3

Can’t forget the favors…

Summer 2010 081 - BB2

I placed a watering can full of sunflowers on the buffet and used whole sunflower seeds as my table scatter…

Notice the invitation on the buffet? It’s a Rooster design in an animal print. 

And we all know how I feel about animal prints from my Safari post…

Summer 2010 079 -BB 1


Thank you for visiting my blog.

 Please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become members.

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

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Go and spread the word…

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

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Summer 2010 073 - BB sunflower