Category Archives: Christmas…

Christmas Cookies 2022- Part C

Hi everyone,

Click on photos to ENLARGE and then hit the back arrow to return to the post.

The Christmas cookie-baking marathon has come to an end for 2022, and here is part C. Have a wonderful holiday and Happy Baking…..

This year I have included some of the traditional favorites along with adding some new cookies to the roster.

The majority of my Christmas Cookie recipes are in the files, so I will provide the link to the old cookies and supply the recipe for the new cookies for 2022.

So far I prepared the following…..

Lemon Ricotta Cookies- Without Eggs or Butter

This recipe caught my eye because it doesn’t have eggs or butter which intrigued me. Plus, I had some ricotta in the refrigerator that needed to be used so I gave it a try. The lemon glaze was outstanding and it’s a new addition to the cookie tray.

Recipe courtesy of Maria Vannelli RD


  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest one whole lemon
  • 1 ¼ cups of AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp of ricotta
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup sanding sugar


  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons of milk


  • Use your fingertips to rub the sugar and the lemon zest together for a couple of minutes
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Add the ricotta and the lemon juice. Begin combining the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, then use your hands to gently knead together for 1-2 minutes
  • Cover and refrigerate for 60 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 325 toward the end of the chill time and position the rack in the middle oven
  • Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats
  • Use a medium scoop (about 1 ½ inches) and divide the dough into 20 equal pieces (25 grams ea.) or portion out 1 tablespoon of cookie dough
  • Place them on the parchment about 2 inches apart.
  • Roll out each scoop of cookie dough between the palms of your hands and roll the tops in the sanding sugar
  • Place on the parchment paper with the sprinkles facing upward
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned
  • Allow cooling slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  • Add the glaze and allow to set on a cooling rack

Italian Pistachio Cookies

This recipe brought back memories of a cookie my grandmother used to make and I had to give it a try. Very nice dense taste of pistachios and Bob loved this cookie.

Here is the recipe: Courtesy of


1-1/4 cups ( about 5 ounces ) finely ground pistachios, plus more for coating
1 cup confectioners’ sugar ( about 4.5 ounces )
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond flour ( 2 ounces )
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia


In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Knead into a dough ( it will be very sticky).  Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place about 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar on a plate.
Form the dough into 2 rolls, about 1 inch in diameter and 10 inches long.
Cut into pieces about 1-1/2inches long or 9 pieces per roll.  Roll each piece between the palms of your hands to smooth each cookie into a log and round the edges.  Roll each piece in the confectioners’ sugar to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheets. Press down on each cookie to flatten it slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool. 

Russian Tea Cakes aka Snowball Cookies

This recipe has been on and off my cookie tray for years and years. I haven’t included it in a few years so this year it is back on. Usually made with pecan halves, this year I had an abundance of walnuts and substituted them for the pecans- still very tasty. And a very easy cookie to make.

Here is the recipe: Courtesy of Sweet & Savory


  • ½ cup (60g) pecan halves Note 1
  • 1 stick (115g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (30g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for coating

Note: I test all my recipes with both measurements for the most precise and accurate result!


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • In a large skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until nutty, stirring constantly. Coarsely chop them.
  • In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. (Start on low speed gradually increasing to medium-high.)
  • Add flour and salt. Mix until combined.
  • Then stir in the chopped pecans.
  • Using a small cookie scoop, form 1-inch dough balls and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown around the edges and on the bottom.
  • Place ½ cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the warm cookies and roll to coat. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Roll the cooled cookies again in the remaining powdered sugar and enjoy.

Colored “Stained Glass” Pizzelles

This recipe is on many Christmas trays every year and is one of my favorite cookies to bake. This year I decided to try a new recipe from Ciao Italia with colored sprinkles to give the pizzelle a stained glass look. I love the way they turned out and add a little sparkle to the cookie tray.

Here is the recipe: courtesy of Ciao Italia


  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups multicolored sugar sprinkles


  1. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Add the vanilla extract. On low speed, blend in the flour mixture a little at a time until well blended. The dough will be soft.
  3. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  4. (Note: You can make the dough in a food processor, combining the butter and sugar first, then eggs and vanilla, and last the flour mixture.)
  5. Heat a pizzelle maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. If it is nonstick, spray it with a baking spray or lightly brush with vegetable oil.
  6. Pour the sugar sprinkles into a shallow dish. Using 2 teaspoons scoop up a spoonful of the dough, and using the spoon as a guide, roll the dough in the sugar sprinkles, coating it well. Place the dough in the center of the form; if you have a 2-form maker, or 4-form maker, roll the balls first before putting them on the form.
  7. Close the lid and latch it for a count to 30. Lift the lid and remove the pizzelle with the edge of a fork and place them on cooling racks in single layers to cool completely. For darker-colored pizzelle hold for a longer count. Continue making pizzelle until all the dough is used.
  8. The pizzelle should be thin and have a crisp texture. When completely cool, wrap them in groups of 6 in plastic wrap and place them in airtight containers. Pizzelle can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months.
  9. Variation: When just removed from the pizzelle form, the waffles can be rolled around cannoli forms, or pressed between two small custard cups to form shapes that can be filled with cream, custard, or fruit. Scoop softened ice cream between two pizzelle to make delicious ice-cream sandwiches.

This recipe was featured on Season 11 – Episode 1120.

Rainbow Cookies

This is my all-time favorite Christmas cookie. I had a little trouble this year with a different brand of jam and it was too runny; the taste is still the same but other than that it was a success. I usually use the brand “Bonne Maman” for the jam, and I am going back to that next year…

These layers of almond cake are stacked with apricot and raspberry jam and colored to represent the Italian Flag.

You will need three- 9 X 13 pans

Here is the recipe:

Recipe from Mary Carpino and Nicole Carpino Frasco… adapted by Margaux Laskey


  • Nonstick cooking spray or neutral oil, for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1(8-ounce/227-gram) package pure almond paste (not pastry filling)
  • 1½cups/340 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup/201 grams granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1teaspoon almond extract
  • Red and green food coloring, preferably gel
  • 1(12-ounce/340-gram) jar apricot or raspberry preserves (not seedless) Cooks Note: I use a layer of apricot and a layer of raspberry).
  • 8 ounces/227 grams semisweet or bittersweet bar chocolate
  • Sprinkles, for finishing (optional)


Arrange 2 racks in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Make room in your refrigerator for 1 half-sheet pan. Grease 3 (13-by-9-inch) baking pans or quarter-sheet pans with cooking spray or a little oil, then line with parchment or wax paper. (This helps the paper stay in place.) Spray or oil the parchment.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with a hand mixer), or in a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer, break up the almond paste using a fork or your fingers. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract. Using the paddle attachment, beat on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Turn off the mixer, add a third of the flour and salt, then beat on medium-low until just combined. Repeat with another third, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and continue until all the flour is added and incorporated. Transfer batter to a large bowl. Rinse and dry the mixing bowl.

Add egg whites to the mixing bowl and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, 30 to 45 seconds. Fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined.

Remove one-third of the batter to one of the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the batter in the pan all the way to the edges. (This can get a little tricky, but have patience and take your time. The oil on the pan should help hold the paper in place, but if you’re having trouble, hold the paper in place with one hand while you spread with the other.) Remove another one-third of the batter to a medium bowl and add a couple drops of green food coloring. Stir until blended, and add more to reach your desired shade. Transfer green batter to a prepared pan and spread evenly. Add a couple drops of red food coloring to the remaining batter, stir to combine, add more as needed, then transfer to the last pan and spread evenly. Firmly tap each pan on the countertop to release air bubbles.

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, rotating pans halfway through until the edges are barely browned, the tops are just set, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Immediately slide cakes from the pans onto racks using parchment paper. Cool completely.

Using the parchment paper, slide the green cake onto a half-sheet pan. In a small saucepan, heat preserves over medium until loose, then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Spread half of the preserves over the green layer, going all the way to the edge. Carefully flip the uncolored layer on top (use a large offset spatula to help), and remove the parchment paper. Spread with the remaining preserves.

Top with the red layer and remove the parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and place another rimmed baking sheet on top of the cookies. Transfer to the refrigerator, then top with heavy cans so the weight is evenly distributed. Refrigerate overnight.

Melt half of the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30-second bursts. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate on the top and to the edges, then refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Melt the remaining chocolate. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on a cutting board, then place on top of the cake and invert the cake onto the board. Spread the bottom with the remaining chocolate. Let cool for a few minutes, then use the tines of a fork to draw waves in the chocolate and add sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate until almost firm, but still slightly soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. (If you wait until the chocolate is fully set, the chocolate will crack when you cut.)

Run a sharp knife under hot water, dry, then trim the edges and save for snacking. Cut the cake into 1-inch squares, running the knife under hot water and drying between cuts. Return to the refrigerator to set completely. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. Allow to come to room temperature a bit before serving.

Rosette Christmas Cookies

The rosette is a lightly deep-fried cookie and a Scandinavian tradition. My mom and grandmother did not make these for Christmas but I had an Aunt that did and she made different shapes every year on her cookie trays. The rose and star were my favorites so when I purchased my rosette irons I made sure I purchased those shapes first. Sprinkled with powdered sugar they are quite tasty, almost like a zeppole flavor. You have to be really fast preparing these because they easily burn.

Here is the recipe: Courtesy of Life on Misty Acres


  • Frying Pan
  • Rosette Iron


  • Vegetable or Canola Oil is Enough to make a layer on the bottom of the pan- I made it 2 inches.
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Flour


  • In a saucepan pour 2 1/2 – 3 inches of oil and heat it up. You will want your oil to be around 350-370 degrees Fahrenheit (170 -190 Celsius). You don’t want the oil to be too hot.
  • Beat the eggs, sugar, and salt. Add milk and flour. Beat until smooth. Set batter aside.
  • Once your oil reaches the correct temperature you will then want to start to heat the iron. This is very important. Stick the iron in the oil and let it warm up for a few seconds. If the iron is not hot enough the batter will not stick to it and clumps up.
  • Dip the iron into the batter (be careful not to let the batter go over the top of the iron or you will have trouble getting the rosette off of the iron). Once the batter is stuck to the iron then you will move it to the frying oil. This step only takes about 3 seconds. You want the rosette to be lightly browned.
  • We use a butter knife to get the cookie off the iron and push it down with the iron to get it nice and brown. Sometimes we flip the cookie over to make it evenly brown. 
  • Once the rosettes are cool, you will then sprinkle them with powdered sugar. 
  • Time to eat them and share them with friends! These are best eaten on the day they were made. You can store them in a dry, slightly sealed container. My grandmother used to store them in clothing boxes. If you seal them too tight, they will go soggy.


It may take a few rosettes to get the hang of it. Heat is usually the issue.

A quick tip: It is better for the oil to be a little hotter and then burn a few rosettes rather than have the oil be too cool. Do not bring the oil to a full boil.

Please be safe and enjoy these beautiful cookies!


I hope you enjoyed these recipes for Christmas 2022!

If you try any of the cookie recipes, please let me know what you think, and have a safe, healthy, and blessed holiday from my family to yours…..


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,



Christmas Cookies 2022- part B

Hi everyone,

Click on photos to ENLARGE and then hit the back arrow to return to the post.

The Christmas cookie-baking marathon continues and here is part B. This year I have included some of the traditional favorites along with adding some new cookies to the roster.

The majority of my Christmas Cookie recipes are in the files, so I will provide the link to the old cookies and supply the recipe for the new cookies for 2022. Stand by for additional posts, I am not done yet.

So far I prepared the following…..

Saltine Chocolate Brittle or Christmas Crack

Always a favorite addition of salty and sweet for a quick bite and is very easy to prepare.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Cranberry Orange Swirl Cookies

The combination of oranges and cranberries has always been a favorite of mine in muffins, loaf cakes, and scones. When I found this cookie recipe with these flavors, I was thrilled. This is a basic sugar cookie recipe filled with fresh cranberries and orange peel.

Recipe courtesy of “Beyond the Chicken Coop”


  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, fresh and zested
  • 3 cups of AP flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder


  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel fresh, zested


In a mixing bowl, add butter and sugar and mix until fluffy.

Mix in vanilla, eggs, and orange peel

Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix

When the dough is mixed well, remove it from the bowl and form it into two rounds

Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ONE HOUR

For the Filling…

In a food processor add cranberries, sugar, and orange peel. Process until finely chopped

Prepare the cranberry filling just before using it. If you make the filling too early, the mixture will become too juicy. If this happens strain off the liquid before adding it to the dough.

Rolling the dough…

Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 10 X 14 rectangle

Add half the filling mixture on top of the dough leaving a ½ inch border

Carefully roll the dough into a log – no need to pinch the seam. The dough will hold its shape once chilled.

Place the log on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it tightly. Place the log on a baking sheet

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling

Refrigerate for 2 hours

Slicing and Baking

Remove logs from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap

Slice the dough into ¼ – ½ inch slices and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet

Bake at 375 degrees preheated oven for 10-12 minutes

Remove from baking sheet and cook on a baking rack

Nut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter cookies have always been a favorite of my husband and this year, I decided to try making his favorite cookie with a new ingredient that he has become a fan of – mixed nut butter. The results were fantastic. The nut butter consists of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia, and flax seeds.

This recipe was given to me by my dear beloved cousin Jeanette Geyer many years ago and I have adapted it with nut butter this year. Her memory will live on in my house this Christmas.

You can use this recipe for peanut butter cookies.


1 stick butter (soft)…

1/2 C Peanut butter…

1/2 C sugar…

1/2 C brown sugar…

1 egg…

1 ¼ cup flour

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt


Mix these ingredients together…then add…1 1/4 C flour…1/2 tsp. baking powder…3/4 tsp. baking soda…1/4 tsp. salt…mix well & chill dough…roll to the size of walnuts or use an ice cream scoop.

place 3″ apart on a greased cookie sheet…flatten with a potato masher dipped in flour or use a fork crisscross.

bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. makes about 2 to 3 dozen cookies depending on the size. I usually double the recipe…

ENJOY…it’s like a blast from the past!!!

Pignoli Cookies

Always been a favorite on any Christmas Cookie tray, and this year I am trying a new recipe. My older recipe is still in the files for your review.

Recipe courtesy of


  • 1 ½ lb. almond paste
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 lb. pine nuts


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Add 1 ½ lb. of almond paste, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 4 egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer or just your favorite bowl if you are mixing by hand. Mix until combined
  • Scoop enough dough to form an approximately 1-inch ball of dough. Add the ball to the bowl of pine nuts and use your hands to crush/push pine nuts into the balls of dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough or the pine nuts won’t stick.
  • Continue this process until you’ve used up all your dough and each ball is perfectly covered in pignoli!
  • Place your pignoli-encrusted dough balls on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Let your cookies cool and enjoy

Cannoli Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookies every year. A combination of ricotta, pistachios, and chocolate. I usually make them bite size but this year I tried a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop and made it the size of a soft chocolate chip cookie. I’ll see which way my family prefers them.

Here is the recipe:


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 10-ounce bag of mini chocolate chips divided
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios


  1. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs then ricotta cheese until well combined then mix in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and fresh orange zest.
  2. Next, mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Mix in the flour. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and the pistachios. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop or spoon, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly then move to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Microwave the remaining chocolate chips on high in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spoon melted chocolate into a small resealable bag, clip one corner slightly, then drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Let cool for the chocolate to set.

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

This is definitely my favorite cookie to bake and the most requested every year. Absolutely delicious.

Recipe source: adapted from both Land O Lakes and MarcieJ’s review on


2 cups + 2 Tbsp. (300g) all-purpose flour * see cooks note

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1 Tbsp. pieces
  • 2/3 cup (140g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract *
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, seedless if preferred
  • I substituted amaretto for the almond extract and it was 2 tbsp. of amaretto for every ½ tsp of extract.

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup (124g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • 2 – 4 tsp water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour and salt, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together butter and sugar until combined (it will take a minute or two since the butter is cold. If you don’t have a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes the bowl, then occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl). Mix in almond extract then add in flour and blend until the mixture comes together (it will take a bit of mixing since the butter is cold, so be patient, it will seem really dry at first).
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, about 1 Tbsp each, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Make a small indentation with your thumb or forefinger in each cookie (large enough to fit 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of jam). Fill each with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp jam. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (or freezer for 10 minutes). Bake in preheated oven for 14 – 18 minutes.
  4. Cool for several minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool (at this point you can add a little more jam if you’d like to, it just won’t be set like the other is). Drizzle cookies with glaze when cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.
  5. For the glaze:
  6. Whisk all glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, adding enough water to reach desired consistency. Pour or spoon the mixture into a sandwich-size resealable bag, cut a small tip from one corner, and drizzle over cookies or use a fork in a quick back-and-forth motion to spread the glaze.
  7. * Cooks Note:Measure flour scoop with a measuring cup and level with a butter knife. Don’t whisk or sift first and don’t spoon into the measuring cup.


I hope you enjoyed these recipes today and stayed tuned for Part C coming up later in the week for more cookie recipes.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


La Befana & The Feast of the Epiphany…

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well and 2022 will be the beginning of a year of many blessings for all of you.

Today is January 6th and otherwise known as The Epiphany (the 12th day after Christmas).

According to tradition, trees and decorations should be removed on either the 5th or 6th of January (a practice my mother made sure was followed in our home).

For the Roman Catholic Church, Epiphany on January 6th celebrates the visit of the Three Kings (Magi), Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar, led by a star to meet and bring gifts to the infant Jesus.

On the Feast of the Epiphany in my home, we traditionally celebrate by eating Panettone. This marks the end of the holiday season.

Panettone is an Italian cake that is recognized by its tall domed shape. It is a sweet dough with raisins and candied fruit and today there are many varieties on the market and you can buy chocolate, pear, and chestnut to name a few. The store Eataly sells many different brands and varieties. This year we purchased our favorite, glazed chocolate.


Along with The Feast of The Epiphany, in Italian households, we celebrate La Befana on January 6th…

According to folklore, La Befana is said to be an old woman and many refer to her as a witch who lived alone in the hills of Italy spending her days cleaning and cooking. One night she noticed a bright light in the sky but she ignored the light and went back to sweeping her home.

On this very night, the Three Wise Men arrived at the home of La Befana and asked her how to get to the road to Bethlehem and they asked her to join them on their journey to bring gifts to the Christ child.

She initially refused because she was too busy doing her housework, but then she tried to follow them.

She was unable to follow them or find Jesus and Italians say that Befana is still searching for that baby and, on her quest, she leaves treats and toys, candy and fruits for well-behaved children and the naughty children get chunks of coal, onions, garlic, and dark candy or even straw from her broom.

She rides on a broom and enters the home through the chimney and is a nice old witch, so La Befana is also said to sweep the floor for you.

When I was a child, we followed tradition and left a plate of cookies and a glass of wine for La Befana (this is similar to leaving milk and cookies for Santa). The cookies were always in the shape of a star to signify the Star of Bethlehem that La Befana saw through her window.

I had the pleasure of making these cookies every January 5th with my grandmother while she told me the story of La Befana. We always received gifts from La Befana in our Christmas stockings but my grandmother told me in Italy some children received their treats from La Befana in their shoes.

I could listen to my grandmother for hours on end and she meant the world to me. Still does...

I have posted a recipe for La Befana cookies below that I have been using for years and I don’t remember where I copied it from so I am sorry to the author of the recipe that I can’t mention your name for full credit but it is not my recipe or my grandmother’s recipe- it is a typed copy from an article but very good.

It is basically a sugar cookie with added anisette, vanilla, and orange zest and I hope you try them. Buona Befana! – Happy Befana!

Befanini - Befana Star Cookies

La Befana Star Cookies


  • 3 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons anisette
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Multicolored sprinkles


In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

In an electric mixer (the paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy and light.

Beat in the egg and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition, followed by the vanilla extract, anisette, and orange zest. Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed to form a stiff dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill until it is firm enough to roll for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or line them with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the remaining pieces refrigerated. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a floured 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into stars. Place the cookies ½ inch apart on the baking sheets.

Gather the scraps together and repeat rolling and cutting until you have used all the scraps; it may be necessary to refrigerate the scraps until they are firm enough to roll again.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the cream. Using a small pastry brush, lightly brush the surface of the cookies with a bit of glaze and decorate them with sprinkles ( I use confetti sprinkles).

Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time.

Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets, then gently remove them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.


If you are interested in reading the story of “La Befana” to your children or just want to have the book as a keepsake, the classic story is told by author Tomie dePaola and is sold on Amazon.

Have a wonderful feast day, enjoy some cookies and panettone and enjoy every day to the fullest.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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May be an image of text that says 'Happy Feast of the Epiphany!'

Holiday Greetings (plus a new Cookie recipe).

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo courtesy of The Gazette


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


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


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

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

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

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

*recipe adapted from The Gazette


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” and “share” 

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

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

Merry Christmas

Hi Everyone,

Bob and I are feeling much better after our Covid 19 diagnosis and recovery- just moving in slow motion, still tired. Thank you for all the private messages wishing us well- deeply appreciated.

I finally finished a tray of Christmas Cookies this morning on Christmas Eve. I don’t think that I have ever been this late baking for Christmas.

I hope some of you had the opportunity to try some of the cookie recipes I posted last week and added them to your holiday trays this year.

Here is my cookie tray for 2020

(click photo to enlarge)

I did receive some feedback and it seems that the Chocolate Crinkle & the Tri-color Cream Cheese cookies were a big hit this year- Enjoy every bite.

I have a few new cookies I baked this year that I will have to add to the blog- Peanut Butter Crinkles and Ginger Snaps

Our son is not able to come home this year for Christmas due to safety reasons for Covid 19, so Bob and I are celebrating just the two of us.

We will have our traditional Italian, Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner tonight. (there are posts and pictures on the blog from previous years); and tomorrow a zoom Christmas with our son.

I wanted to wish all my DishingwithDiane family a very

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

It has been a rough year for many of us and I hope the new year brings you and your families good health, happiness and many blessings for 2021!


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Thank you for visiting my blog.

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

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

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails

I Love hearing from you.

Seafood Recipes

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your family and friends.

My holiday was wonderful because my son was able to come for the holiday for the first time in four years. (He is usually working).

I followed the Italian Christmas Eve tradition and had the “Feast of the Seven Fishes”. This has to be my favorite meal of the year!

I have been getting a lot of requests for the recipes on my personal Facebook page and decided to post all of the recipes that I use to the blog, so you can all enjoy them.

Some recipes are so old that I don’t remember where I got them from, some are a combination of my recipe tweaks over the years and some are fairly new from various websites that I will give credit to when I know the author. 


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

I wish you peace, happiness, love, health and many blessings in 2019!

Stay well, 



Thank you for visiting my blog and please ask your family and friends to join and become part of the family!

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

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


Crab Meat Stuffed Shrimp

(I do not remember where I got this recipe).

Photo Dec 25, 8 16 42 PM STUFFED SHRIMP

2 dozen jumbo shrimp
1 med onion finely chopped
1/2 med green pepper diced fine
1/2 cup of celery finely chopped
1/2 cup of butter melted and divided
1 lb. of lump crab meat *
1 large egg beaten
3/4 cup of cracker crumbs (saltine or Ritz – your choice)
1/2 cup of mayo
1 tbsp. mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

paprika and lemon for garnish

*Cooks Note: I use Phillips lump crab meat in the black can. Sold in Costco.

Peel shrimp leaving tails in tack, cut slit almost through back of shrimp using paring knife. open shrimp to flatten and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray or drizzled with olive oil and set aside.

In a skillet, cook onion, pepper, and celery and 1/4 cup of butter, stir often and cook until soft.

Combine crab meat, egg, cracker crumbs, mayo, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper in a bowl. Stirring gently add in the cooked veggie mixture and mix well.

Top each shrimp with approx. 2 to 3 tbsp. of crab meat filling…and sprinkle with paprika and drizzle remaining 1/4 cup of butter over top of stuffed shrimp.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes and then put under the broiler for about 5 minutes till tops are nice and browned …basting with pan juices while broiling, serve with lemon


Saffron Fregola with Seafood

(This recipe is courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

Photo Dec 25, 8 24 45 PM FREGOLA

A bit of culinary exotica, fregola is a type of pasta from the Italian island of Sardinia. The more common Israeli couscous may be substituted. Serve this hearty stew with a refreshing butter lettuce and pear salad and plenty of crusty bread for dipping.


  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb. medium scallops, tough muscles removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup fregola (Sardinian couscous) or Israeli couscous
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. clams, scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cooks Note: I add mussels and cockles


Crush the saffron in a small bowl and add the wine. Set aside.

In a large, heavy pot over high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. When the pan is very hot, add the shrimp and sear for 1 minute per side (do not cook all the way through). Transfer to a bowl. Add the scallops to the pot and sear for 1 minute per side, also without cooking all the way through. Transfer to the bowl with the shrimp.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the saffron mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the fregola and stir to combine, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the clams and mussels if using, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover the pot tightly and steam for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and quickly add the shrimp and scallops. Cover the pot tightly again and continue to cook just until the clams open and the shrimp and scallops are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Discard any shellfish that failed to open. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.


Cod with Tomatoes and Herb Butter

(This recipe is courtesy of –Author: Katya @

Photo Dec 25, 8 30 18 PM COD WITH TOMATOES


Tomato and Herb butter

  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1-pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chives, cilantro), plus extra for garnish


  • 2 – 2¼ pounds fresh cod fillets, cut into 6-8 oz. portions*
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper


Tomato and Herb Butter

  1. In a small saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallot and garlic for 4-5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-17 minutes or until tomatoes break down and release their juices and liquid has almost evaporated.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and fresh herbs. The herb butter should be velvety and thick. Cover and keep warm while the cod is baking.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle the bottom of a casserole dish lightly with olive oil. You want a dish big enough to fit the cod in a single layer with some room around or you will get too much juice during baking.
  3. Pat dry the cod really well and place in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper to taste but be generous. Drizzle the top lightly with olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon. I used about ½ lemon. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 12-18 minutes or until easily flaked. Baking time will depend on the thickness of the cod.
  4. Remove from the oven and evenly spread the tomato butter over the cod. Cover back with aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature for 1-2 minutes before serving. You just want all the flavors to come together.
  5. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, if desired, and serve immediately.


*I used about 2¼ pounds of cod that I was able to cut into six (6-8 oz.) individual portions
**This cod serves really well with cooked rice, quinoa, or crusty bread to soak in all the juices.

Serving size: 1 (6-8 oz.) cod fillet with butter sauce


Stuffed Calamari

(This recipe is mine from a combination of different recipes over the years).

Photo Dec 25, 8 44 34 PM (1) STUFFED CALAMARI

  • 1 lb. calamari tubes & tentacles (purchase squid already cleaned)
  • 2 ½ cups Italian style breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • ¼ cup fine diced parsley
  • ¾ cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup milk & 1 egg (lightly beaten) OR 2 eggs
  • ½ cup olive oil OR LESS
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 oz each: diced shrimp * chopped calamari * crab meat
  • ½ cup chopped onion sautéed in 2 tbsp butter
  • Splash of white wine
  • GenovaTonno tuna in oil (optional- gold can)
  • Pointed toothpicks
  1. Sauté chopped onion in 2 tbsp butter and set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, cheese, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, lemon zest, diced fish, splash of white wine, salt, pepper, onion and butter mixture and olive oil.
  3. The mixture should me slightly mealy but hold together if you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. (a little loose- needs more breadcrumbs).
  4. Take a small amount of stuffing and fry to test for seasoning before stuffing the tubes.
  5. Stuff each calamari tube halfway full, using your fingers to stuff the mixture well into each calamari tube. (When the calamari cook, they blow up, so you can’t fill them too full of stuffing or they will split open).
  6. Close each calamari tube with a toothpick
  7. Add to the fish sauce in the last ½ hour of cooking

Alternate directions is to bake calamari in tomato sauce in a separate baking pan.


Seafood Salad

(This recipe is courtesy of Deborah Mele from Italian Food Forever. I have admired all of her recipes for years. She is fabulous.)

Photo Dec 25, 8 44 53 PM (1) SEAFOOD SALAD

Antipasti di Mare ~ This is a wonderful Christmas Eve appetizer but is tasty year round. This seafood salad often contains octopus as well as shrimps, scallops, and calamari, but if you prefer, you can certainly leave the octopus out.  The octopus requires a much longer cooking time, so if you choose to include it, you will need to add an additional hour or so to your preparation time.

Serves 6

3 Cups White Wine

5 Bay Leaves

2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed

2 Lemons

1 Pound Calamari, Cleaned And Cut Into Rings

1 Pound Medium Shrimp, Cleaned And Deveined

1 Pound bay Scallops 

1 Cup Black Olives

Chopped celery


1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Lemon Juice

3 Large Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced Br

1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley

Dash Red Pepper Flakes

Salt & Pepper To Taste

In a stockpot, combine 3 quarts of water, the wine, bay leaves, and crushed garlic. Slice the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the mixture. Drop the lemons into the pot. Bring the mixture first to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium low.

First cook the shrimp, cook 2 minutes and remove from the pot. Cook the calamari 1 ½ minutes and remove from the pot as well. If you are cooking scallops, cook in the same manner for 2 minutes. Mix the seafood together and set aside.

Place the seafood in a bowl and add the chopped celery. Add the dressing ingredients and mix well. Cover and let marinade a minimum of 12 hours. Just before serving, adjust the seasonings, and add the black olives if you are using them. Serve
Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2002


Coconut Shrimp and Fried Calamari


Fried Calamari

(Recipe courtesy of



  1. 1 lb. calamari, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles left whole
  2. 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. 2 tsp paprika
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp black pepper
  7. 1 tsp garlic powder
  8. 1 tsp cayenne
  9. 1 tsp red chili flakes
  10. oil for frying
  11. chopped parsley for garnish
  12. lemon wedges to serve

Lemon aioli:

  1. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  2. zest and juice of 1 lemon
  3. dash of Tabasco
  4. salt and pepper to taste


Prep 15 minutes * cook 45 minutes * ready in 1 hour

  1. Prepare lemon aioli – whisk together mayo and tabasco- season with salt and pepper
  1. Soak calamari in buttermilk for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Preheat frying oil to 350 degrees F.
  3. Combine flour with seasonings from paprika – red chili flakes.
  4. Dredge calamari in seasoned flour, tossing evenly to coat.
  5. Carefully drop a handful of the calamari into the hot oil.
  6. Cook until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a paper lined baking sheet.
  8. Repeat with remaining calamari.
  9. Sprinkle parsley on top. Serve with lemon wedges and lemon aioli.

Notes:  Why buttermilk instead of eggs? The acidity in the buttermilk helps keep the calamari tender and helps create a lighter, crispier batter.

So, adding eggs or breadcrumbs is not necessary.


Coconut Shrimp

(This recipe courtesy of a friend, Marcia Haynes Bohle).

Coconut Shrimp

1/2 tsp salt

 2 ½ C flour divided

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 C cornstarch

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 tsp minced garlic

 1 ½ C sparkling water

1 tsp paprika

 2 C panko bread crumbs

2 ½ C shredded coconut

Vegetable oil for frying

1 lb. Raw Shrimp- peel/de-vein, leave tail on.


In a gallon zip lock bag: 1/2 C flour & 1/2 C cornstarch

In a shallow mixing bowl: 1 C flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning, 1 egg, 1 ½ C S. Pellegrino or other sparkling water.

On a foil lined jelly roll pan: 2 C panko bread crumbs, 2 1/2 C shredded coconut, 1 C flour (toss together).

Peel & de-vein the shrimp. Leave the tail on.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place in the zip lock bag with flour & cornstarch. Shake to coat.

 In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, garlic, spices, egg, sparkling water. This should make a batter, just a little thinner than pancake batter. Holding by the tail, dip each shrimp into the batter an onto the jelly roll pan which has a mixture of bread crumbs, coconut and flour. Coat well with the coconut mixture and chill the breaded shrimp for 30 min.

Deep fry for 2-3 min in vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sweet & sour sauce, sweet Thai chili sauce or whichever sauce you like. I’m guesstimating the measurements so feel free to tweak it any way you like.


Baked Clams Oreganata

(This recipe courtesy of CookingItalianComfortFood)

Photo Dec 25, 8 36 15 PM BAKED CLAMS

  • 18 little neck clams with reserved clam juice
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil plus more to drizzle over clams
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

lemon wedges for garnish

Unless you have worked at a clam bar, shucking clams is not an easy task. Here is an easy way to get the clams opened and save your fingers from shucking.

 Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. After you washed and scrubbed the clams, place in a single layer on a Focus Foodservice Commercial Bakeware 13 by 18 Inch 18 Gauge Aluminum Half Sheet Pan
Place in the oven for only 2-3 minutes. This will be enough to loosen the clams up so they will be easy to open.

Take the clams out of the oven and with a butter knife or other thin knife without teeth, pry open the clams. I open the clams over a bowl to make sure I catch all the juice that comes out, you will use it in the stuffing. Open up the clam, get rid of the top shell, and loosen the clam in its shell by sliding the knife under the clam.

In a medium bowl mix together the bread crumbs, oregano, parsley, garlic, grated cheese, 2 tablespoons of reserved strained clam juice, olive oil, and black pepper.

Take the clam and hold it over the bowl with the stuffing. Top the clams with this mixture, but don’t pack down the bread crumbs. Drizzle with some olive oil.

Place them under the broiler until the clams are done and the bread crumb is crispy and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.


Shrimp Cocktail

(This recipe courtesy of Food Network)

Photo Dec 24, 7 12 56 PM SHRIMP COCKTAIL

Court Bouillon:

  • 10 cups cold water
  • 2 medium carrots, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, quartered
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  • 1 pound medium or large shrimp, in the shell, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Cocktail Sauce, recipe follows
  • Lemon wedges


Put the water, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, set a cover on top slightly ajar, and cook for 10 to 30 minutes.

Drop the shrimp into the liquid and turn off the heat. Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they curl and turn pink, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for medium shrimp, 3 minutes for large ones. Drain and cool to room temperature. Peel the shrimp and remove the vein along the curve of the shrimp, if desired. Refrigerate if not serving right away. If refrigerated, bring the shrimp to room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

To serve put the cocktail sauce in a medium bowl and surround with the shrimp, or loop the shrimp over the edge of an individual cocktail glass and top with the sauce. Garnish with the lemon and serve.

Optional Tip: To de-vein the shrimp before cooking, hold a shrimp between the thumb and forefinger with the rounded side of the shrimp upward. Place the pointed end of a wooden skewer at the junction of the second and third segments of the shrimp shell, about 1/8-inch down from the top. Gently push the skewer through the shell and then lift up to remove the vein.

Cocktail Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
  • 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or to taste, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Combine the ketchup, lemon zest and juice, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Add hot sauce, if desired. Mix well, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups


Crab Sauce (usually served with linguine for Christmas Eve)

(This recipe is mine combined from various recipes over the years).



2 shallots diced

5-6 cloves of garlic (or more) – diced

Olive oil

Parsley- roughly 3 tbsp- finely chopped

1 small can of anchovies with oil

6 cleaned blue claw crabs (your fish monger will clean them and just rinse them when you get home).

2 cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes – blended in the food processor

Red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper – to taste

1 cup clam juice

1 cup white wine

Tomato paste (optional)


Coat the bottom of an 8 qt pot with olive oil and heat on medium

Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes until translucent.

Add the garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until golden brown – be careful not to burn

Add one small can of anchovies with their oil and stir to dissolve –

(this does not make the sauce taste fishy. I add it in my white clam sauce as well).

Once dissolved add the parsley and fresh ground black pepper, salt and some red pepper flakes to taste and sauté

Now add the crabs and sauté for about 5-7 minutes until the claws become red. Mix well with the parsley mixture to get the oil and garlic in the nooks and crannies of the crab.

In the meantime, put two cans of san Marzano whole peeled tomatoes in the food processor and blend.

Add the tomatoes, wine and clam juice to the crabs.

Sauté on medium for approx. 20 minutes with the lid a jar. After 20 minutes if the sauce seems too watery add 1 tbsp of tomato paste and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Simmer on low until you prepare your pasta (usually linguine for this dish al dente- 7 minutes.-– (I cook the pasta two minutes shy of being done).

Add your pasta to a large pot or saute pan and add the crab sauce, cook for two minutes so the sauce can be absorbed by the pasta. 

Serve with the crabs, or make the crabs a second course


And to end the meal, a platter of Christmas Cookies

Photo Dec 26, 10 06 03 AM CHRISTMAS COOKIES 2018

(recipes posted for the cookies in the following link)



New Year’s Eve – Welcome 2018

Photo Jan 01, 2 48 53 AM INTROClick PHOTO to enlarge, and hit the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Hanukkah & Christmas.

I on the other hand was so sick on Christmas Eve that my whole day was spiraling downward. I woke up feeling awful, stuffy and congested but I was still ready to cook and start my crab sauce and get the meal completed.

First problem, I burned an entire pot of fregola (a form of toasted pasta) with clams and scallops which didn’t add to my day. Burned so badly that the clams & shells stuck to the sides of the pot and I had to scrape them off with a metal spatula- not a pretty sight and I won’t even tell you what the pan looks like.

Word to the wise, cast iron heats up very, very hot and you have to either watch the pot every minute or adjust cooking times. I was just very thankful that I didn’t have company coming over. 

Christmas Eve, Feast of the Seven Fishes is my favorite meal of the year. I was determined to get that meal on the table and I don’t know how I had the strength to finish, but I did. I posted some pics below of the entrees I completed and just didn’t bother with the shrimp scampi and crab cakes. I ran out of energy.

I made baccala (cod) with potatoes & tomatoes – cold broccoli salad with lemon & garlic, baked clams – linguine with crab sauce, mussels & clams – crab meat stuffed shrimp -coconut shrimp – stuffed calamari (squid) and cold seafood salad with shrimp, calamari, scallops, celery, olives in a lemon oil dressing.

I didn’t have time or strength to prepare a Christmas Eve tablescape or Christmas Day tablescape and Bob put together our traditional Williams Sonoma croissants, Christmas morning breakfast.

Photo Dec 27, 3 57 10 PM CHRISTMAS MORNING


 I am happy to say that I am feeling much better now, so I am posting a

New Year’s Eve tablescape. 

I hope you all had a very nice New Year’s Eve. Since it was 10 degrees in the Northeast, Bob and I stayed home for a cozy dinner.

I made shrimp- clam bisque as the first course.

Photo Jan 01, 2 22 30 AM SOUP

Baked crab cakes with tri-color couscous and a salad for our main course.

Photo Jan 01, 11 47 03 AM CRAB CAKES

And Chocolate Pots de Creme for dessert.

Photo Jan 01, 1 24 44 PM POTS DE CREME

And at midnight, we had assorted hors d’ oeuvres and Prosecco.

Photo Jan 01, 12 29 07 AM HORS D'OEUVRES

So, let’s get started on the tablescape…

This year’s theme is all poinsettias! Something I wanted to do for Christmas.

I love poinsettias; such a beautiful flower but it doesn’t love me back as much. If I buy real poinsettias early in December, I usually have a poinsettia twig left in the pot next to the fireplace on Christmas Eve with hopefully one leaf left. So, I decorate with artificial and Bob buys a real plant close to Christmas and takes loving care of it.

I am starting with a very cheery modern take on a traditional holiday tablecloth. The tablecloth has a white background (sorry, looks off-white in the photo) with red poinsettias, of course and shades of green holly branches.

To me, this tablecloth almost looked like a watercolor painting. This is not the usual plaid for the Holiday season. I purchased the matching napkins as well.
Photo Dec 31, 10 36 44 PM TABLECLOTH

I had to have poinsettia napkin rings and shopping online after Christmas last year, these just caught my eye. I think they are perfect with the placemat.

Photo Jan 01, 12 33 32 AM NAPKIN

I bought poinsettia placemats in Pier 1 last year and have been counting down the 12 months to use them with this tablescape. I just couldn’t resist these.

I didn’t want to use any chargers with this tablescape because the placemats were so pretty. Even the glass chargers didn’t work, you couldn’t see the entire poinsettia.

Photo Dec 31, 10 36 22 PM PLACEMAT

 The set of dishes that I am using are porcelain dishes by 222 Fifth (I buy a lot from that company) and the pattern is called “Winter Harmony”.

The dinner plate has a white background and along the border are poinsettias, holly berries and a beautiful flower that looks like a magnolia to me. The dish has a scalloped border outlined in a thin trim of red.

Photo Jan 01, 12 42 53 AM DINNER PLATE

The salad plate has a white background but the design on the plate is more lush than the dinner plate. This time the entire plate is covered in poinsettias, berries and flowers, all in white and red and it too has the scalloped border trimmed in red.

Photo Jan 01, 12 43 47 AM SALAD PLATE

This is the complete set…

Photo Jan 01, 2 29 55 AM DISH SET

I loved this pattern so much, I bought the platters, tiered servers, cake plate and tea pot.

The flatware for this table are my every day silver and gold combination from Towle.

Photo Jan 01, 12 39 13 AM FLATWARE

The glasses are champagne flutes from my Waterford collection.

I just switched to the matching water goblet for the meal.

Photo Jan 01, 2 27 57 AM WATERFORD

As you know by now, I love candles.

For this table, I used mercury glass votive candles scattered on the table.

Photo Jan 01, 2 49 26 AM CANDLES

My 2018 table decorations will also be my table decorations for New Year’s Day to complete my poinsettia centerpiece. Horns, hats, blowers, eyeglasses and beads. Along with a few small bottles of La Marca prosecco.

Photo Jan 01, 12 37 25 AM CENTERPIECE

Place Setting

Photo Jan 01, 12 39 44 AM PLACE SETTING


 My dinner for New Year’s Day will be the traditional Italian “good luck” foods for the new year.

The menu is as follows: 

The first course has to be lentils. The story is that lentils are eaten because the shape resembles coins which hopefully will bring you good fortune and prosperity. My family also adds spinach to the lentils because it is the color of money.

The second course is cotechino. Now this is a large pork sausage (looks like a large salami), made from fatback and pork rind and it needs to be boiled at a low temperature for hours. The story is that the richness of the sausage will bring you wealth.

I was never a fan of cotechino, so I substitute any other pork. Pork sausages, pork loin, etc. This year I am making a broccoli rabe and sausage stromboli. I figured the pork and the green for the color of money has to bring me some good luck.


And that is my New Year’s Eve /New Year’s Day tablescape to welcome 2018!

It has been my pleasure to spend 2017 with all of you and I look forward to the new year together.

From my house to yours, I wish you many blessings along with love, health and happiness in 2018.



Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 


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Holiday Breakfast Table


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

Hi Everyone,

Wow, another Christmas is over. The days and years seem to fly by too fast.

I was quite busy preparing all the fish for our Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes” dinner and didn’t have time to take pictures of my tablescape.

But Christmas morning was a different story. Every year we have our traditional breakfast and the main course is always Williams Sonoma croissants. I always order the combination of plain and chocolate.

Not to sound like an advertisement for this product, but they are delivered frozen, you take the quantity you want out the night before you want to eat them to let them rise for 9 hours. In the morning you bake them and the house smells “Wonderful”. Nothing like the smell of fresh baked goods.


The other additions to our breakfast table are eggnog muffins with rum. If you are serving children, omit the rum, increase the eggnog and add vanilla. I love these muffins. Delicious and easy.


( Recipe at the end of the post).

Of course we had to have Panettone on our breakfast table. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Panettone is an Italian Christmas Cake with candied orange peel, raisins and citron. You must try it at least once.

Every year I buy a different variety to change things up a bit; sometimes traditional, sometimes pear, chestnut and my favorite chocolate. This year it was chocolate. The company I love the best is Bonifanti – fantastic. I usually order mine from Eataly, NYC.


You can eat Panettone at breakfast with coffee, as a snack with berries and whipped cream and at dinner with wine. This year I made Panettone two ways.

I served it sliced from the package and then I made overnight Panettone French toast.



I had never tried to make the overnight French toast before so this was a new experience. I have made Panettone French toast on the griddle in the past, but I was trying to make life easier. If you prepare this, keep in mind it takes 40 – 45 minutes to bake, so you have to plan your time accordingly.

Add a nice dusting of powdered sugar before serving for a pretty presentation. It must have been too early in the morning for me because I forgot to do that.

(Recipe at the end of the post).


 Bob and I liked the French toast a lot and it will be back on our Christmas breakfast table next year.

And I always add my Honey Bow Tie cookies to the breakfast table – another family tradition. The recipe and the story behind it was in my previous post of the same name, posted 12/21/16.


This year Bob surprised me and bought me one of my favorite snack items to add to my breakfast plate. I very rarely eat them but I have loved them since I was a child.

“Hostess Sno Balls”


Has anyone had these?  Pink or white it doesn’t matter. 

There is just something about the coconut and marshmallow chocolate covered cake with a creamy center that I love. Twinkies can move aside.

Well, with a Christmas breakfast, you have to have a Christmas tablescape.

We use the same dishes each year for this occasion. Another part of our tradition.

I am using dishes and mugs from Williams Sonoma called “Christmas Carols”. An off white porcelain dish rimmed in red with a variety of scenes depicting lyrics to Christmas songs.


But before the dishes, I started out with the matching off white tablecloth 


and napkins with red and green woven napkin holders.


Followed by red charger plates and green dinner plates just to use the Christmas colors.


The glassware that I am using is another exclusive to Williams Sonoma and they are called “Santa and Reindeer”.

They are sold as juice glasses but they are 14 oz. and I think that is a little too much for a juice glass. I would normally serve water or soda in a glass this size.


My flatware is red of course for Christmas.


To serve our breakfast goodies, I am using a white cake plate with red ribbon .


The three tiered cake stand that matches the dishes.


And the cutest red sleigh cupcake holders for the eggnog muffins displayed on a Christmas tree cutting board that was hand made by my cousin Frank- he is so talented.



My centerpiece is a tabletop size real Christmas Pine Tree that I have been watering every day and keeping it alive (with Bob’s help of course). It was touch and go for a while when some of the pine needles started to fall off, but I kept the faith and it’s still alive. (I have a reputation for killing ALL plants, shrubs, and bouquets I come in contact with).


The last addition to the breakfast table was a Willow Tree figurine -“Treasure 2016”. This year has been very important for us and we wanted her on the table to remind us of our blessings.

I collect these figurines. I just love them.


Place Setting


Well, that was our Christmas breakfast table. I hope I gave you some ideas to incorporate into your Christmas morning breakfast table for next year or a New Years Day breakfast table- wishing you many blessings in 2017.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!



Don’t forget the recipes.


Eggnog Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

Serve these muffins with butter or jam … very yummy! If you plan on serving them to children, leave out the rum, increase the amount of eggnog, and add vanilla extract.


2 cups flour
2/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup prepared eggnog
1/2 cup dark rum
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease one 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake about 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
Cool slightly before serving.


Overnight Panettone French toast

Courtesy of Naptime Recipes


1 loaf panettone (about 2 lbs. on the box)
6 large eggs
2 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Slice the loaf of panettone into about 8 to 10 even sized slices. Generously butter a 13 x 9 baking dish and fit the panettone slices in, allowing them to overlap. You may have to turn some slices sideways to make everything fit snugly – this is fine!
  2. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and pour the mixture evenly over the bread in the baking dish. Push the bread down so it soaks up as much of the custard as possible. Cover the baking dish and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours, or up to 12.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and allow the bread and custard to come to room temperature. Then sprinkle the top lightly with some granulated sugar and bake it in the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the French toast is puffed up. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with warm maple syrup.

This tasty treat appeals to both kids and adults and is even great for entertaining! To dress it up a bit try dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar.

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes prep time, 40 minutes cook time


Table Details

 “Christmas Carols” dishes and mugs from Williams Sonoma

“Christmas Carols” tablecloth and napkins from Williams Sonoma

Three tier “Christmas Carols” cake stand from Williams Sonoma

“Santa and Reindeer” glassware from Williams Sonoma

Red and green woven napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Red chargers from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Green dinner plates (Gibson)-pattern Green Aruba from Amazon

Red flatware from Homegoods

White cake plate with red ribbon was a “good luck” gift when I started the blog in 2015

Red Sleigh Cupcake holders  from Crate and Barrel

Willow Tree “Treasure 2016” from Hallmark

Panettone from Eataly, NYC


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