Category Archives: Desserts

Happy Halloween 2018

 

Photo Oct 31, 10 06 50 AM INTRO

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

Hi Everyone, 

Well, it’s that time of year again, hard to believe that Halloween is here!

I feel as if I just packed all the Halloween boxes for storage in the attic and now they are downstairs once again in my living room for me to browse through and see if I can make a different tablescape than last year.

From this point on, my holidays become a blur. The day after Halloween, I start to write my Thanksgiving menu and then I “stress eat” the leftover Halloween candy until the menu is complete.

(I am trying to save a few Almond Joys for this very occasion).

I still decorate outside for Halloween, to entertain the little trick or treaters, but I have limited my decorating inside, except for my tablescape.

I always have to have a tablescape to put me in the mood for Halloween.

The big challenge is to make it look different from year to year. 

This year the tablescape is all about the “haunted house”. I was in Pier 1 (my home away from home) and there was the cutest haunted house cookie jar.

I don’t know why I now have an attraction to cookie jars. First the vintage red truck and now this haunted house.

I bought the cookie jar with the intention of leaving it out on my kitchen counter for decoration and then the more I looked at it, a tablescape in my head was born.

So, let’s start a tablescape…

The tablecloth is orange with black bats, spider webs and of course spiders. I love the pattern but the material is a little hard to work with. It is rayon and tends not to stay in place. It gets stuck on everything and always bunches up. Keep that in mind if you ever buy this material.

Photo Oct 30, 5 59 20 PM HALLOWEEN TABLECLOTH

The placemats this year are one of my favorites. Black woven placemats with an orange, black and white braided border. They bring out the best of any Halloween plate.

Since the border is so pretty, there is no need for a charger plate.

Photo Oct 30, 6 01 34 PM PLACEMAT

 Solid orange ceramic dinner plates along with a paper Halloween dinner plate on top.

If I use a paper plate for anything other than cake or a sandwich I like to have some support from another sturdy dish underneath to hold my food and prevent the weight of the food from going through the paper plate.

This particular paper dinner plate was a perfect design, since it featured the haunted house.

Photo Oct 30, 6 02 44 PM PLATES

Napkins are the standard black cloth and I chose to roll the napkins this time and not use a napkin ring. I just placed the dinner fork on top and added a decorative plastic spider climbing on the fork.

Thinking about it now, that spider on a fork isn’t very appetizing.

Photo Oct 30, 5 59 43 PM NAPKIN

Flatware is black matte.

Very simple and perfect for this tablescape and Halloween in general.

Photo Oct 30, 6 00 40 PM FLATWARE

Now, the glasses. I have six different designs of Halloween glasses with witches and ghosts and candy corn and somehow I always come back to this glass. I guess you could say it is my favorite Halloween glass.

It has it all the designs I want on one glass, the witches, ghosts, candy corn, pumpkins and the added bonus of a haunted house to carry out my theme this year. I added a black & orange paper straw for some fun.

Photo Oct 31, 10 09 21 AM GLASSES

The centerpiece. As much as I love the haunted house cookie jar, I felt it needed a little boost as a centerpiece so I used a cake stand to give it some height. I continued to shop the boxes of decorations for anything else I could use to enhance the centerpiece and there it was…

In one of the boxes, I found a metallic Halloween wreath. Solid black jingle bells alongside orange pumpkin jingle bells- perfect.

Photo Oct 30, 6 09 24 PM hALLOWEEN JINGLE BELLS

I used this wreath to circle the cookie jar and now I was happy.

Photo Oct 31, 11 25 29 AM CENTERPIECE APART

A little Halloween paper shred to hide the white cake stand and the centerpiece was complete.

Photo Oct 30, 6 09 04 PM CENTERPIECE

Completed Centerpiece…

Photo Oct 30, 6 13 18 PM EXTRA

The top of the cookie jar has a black crow perched on the roof so I wanted to add more crows to the table and used two black glitter pumpkins with crows perched on top to anchor the centerpiece.

(You probably remember these crows from last year).

Photo Oct 30, 6 07 57 PM BLACK CROW RIGHT

Photo Oct 30, 6 08 23 PM BLACK CROW LEFT

I wasn’t done yet. Bob and I went to a local craft fair and I bought two galvanized haunted houses, so I added them to the corners of the table.  

Photo Oct 30, 6 11 11 PM GALVANIZED HOUSE 2

Photo Oct 30, 6 11 36 PM GALVANIZED HOUSE 1

I found one more haunted house in my box of decorations. This is a tealight holder, and I thought we could have it lit during dinner with the lights dimmed since I didn’t use any candles on the table this year.

Photo Oct 30, 6 05 52 PM TEA LIGHT HOUSE

Of course, I had to add my favorite table accent and that is a salt and pepper shaker. A ghost and pumpkin and a black cat and pumpkin.

Photo Oct 30, 6 07 22 PM SP SHAKERS

And if you have been following DishingwithDiane for the past few years then you know of my love for my ceramic Frankenstein mug or as we call him “Frankie”.

Frankie held a floral arrangement back in the day, that was a very thoughtful gift and since that time he has always been highlighted on all of my Halloween tablescapes.

Instead of flowers, Frankie now holds pretzel rods with witches fingers every year. If you look at any of my past Halloween postings, you will find Frankie somewhere on the table.

Photo Oct 30, 6 10 21 PM frankie

I have two traditional food items for my Halloween tablescape every year.

First, I use my metal spider cupcake holders and add a Halloween cupcake with google eyes as a treat, besides all the candy.

I think this just reminds me of when my son was small and how he got the biggest kick out of these cupcakes and holders. So this is for my son.

Photo Oct 31, 10 21 40 AM CUPCAKES

If you recall the story, when my son was small, after trick or treating I would have some of his friends and their parents in for Halloween dinner.

It was always a Halloween punch and pizza for the kids and turkey and three bean chili with sour cream cornbread for the adults.

Well, this tradition never stopped and Bob and I have this for dinner every year on Halloween.

Photo Oct 30, 9 00 05 PM CHILI AND CORNBREAD

(Recipes to follow).

Place setting

Photo Oct 31, 10 10 05 AM PLACE SETTING

So that is my tablescape for Halloween 2018.

I hope you and your friends, family and children have a wonderful and safe Halloween.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

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

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

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

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Recipes

Turkey and Three Bean Chili

Ingredients

1 onion diced (1 cup)

1 tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves- minced

1 ½ red or green bell peppers-diced

3 carrots- diced

2 pkgs. of ground turkey (ground beef can be substituted)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1 capful of “Revenge. Pit Bull hot sauce”

4 teaspoons green chili’s (fire roasted in a can)

2 cups water

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15.5 oz) can pink beans (or pinto beans), drained and rinsed

½ cup green scallions….

 

  • Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes
  • Add the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute
  • Add the ground turkey, raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink
  • Stir in the tomatoes, water, green chili’s, hot sauce and scallions.
  • Cook partially covered, stirring from time to time for 30 minutes
  • Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper
  • (Additional peppers ie: adobo sauce and hot peppers can be added or jalapeno or red hot pepper)

 Garnish with shredded Hot Jalapeno cheese and sour cream, plus corn bread

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SOUR CREAM CORNBREAD

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup all purpose flour

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup sugar 

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp baking soda                                                             

½ tsp salt

1-cup sour cream

¼ cup milk

1 egg (beaten)

2 TBSP melted butter

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees

 In a bowl, mix 1-cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup yellow corn meal. ¼ cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp each baking soda and salt. Stir in 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup milk, 1 beaten egg and 2 TBSP melted butter.

 Pour into a greased, 8-in square pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cut in 16 squares. Best served warm.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin & Apple Picking Time…

 

Photo Oct 21, 12 25 58 PM APPLE FEATURE

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

Hi Everyone,

Well, I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that it’s Fall and the time of year for pumpkin and apple picking.

Two things I normally enjoy unless it’s 56 degrees and there are 100 people around me with the same idea. That is what happened to me.

This weekend was the weekend that everyone in the tri-state area decided to get a pumpkin and some apples. The farms near me where packed! Even the small farms that I thought were a hideaway and no one knew about, I found out they did… I was kidding myself thinking this was going to be a quiet leisurely day.

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It is a Fall tradition that every year in October (hopefully before Halloween) that everyone has a pumpkin or two or three displayed on their front steps or walkways with some Mums or other fall decorations, so off we went as hunters and gatherers out past the corn maze and hay rides to find the perfect pumpkin.

I won’t even start listing all the pumpkin items on the market (lattes, ice cream, cereal) and now the farm-stands are going pumpkin crazy with pumpkin everything as well. I’ll move on, I can’t take it.

I like a good pumpkin pie and some pumpkin muffins, but I can’t have pumpkin every day. (No offense to all the members that are pumpkin lovers).

The line at the farm was so crazy for a homemade pumpkin pie that we skipped that idea and went straight to the fields to look around and find the pumpkin we wanted. And there it was, clustered with other pumpkins but looking as if it would look so much better back home on my front steps.

Goal number one completed, we had our pumpkin.

Photo Oct 21, 11 31 45 AM APPLE PLAQUE

Now on to the apples … 

I think I can eat apples in many forms every day and be a happy girl.

Although, here is a little bit of info about me… I love apple pie, baked apples and apple strudel but not apple crisp. There is no specific reason why, I have always been like this. If someone has an excellent apple crisp recipe, send it my way and maybe you can change my mind.

My first stop before I head out to pick even one apple, is the line for apple cider donuts.

For this I have a lot of patience while I take in the apple donut aroma. I have to say that the line was moving pretty quickly. The servers had an assembly line moving and before you knew it, I had a warm bag of donuts in my hand covered in cinnamon and sugar.

Another deep breath to take in the aroma before Bob and I went outside with the donuts and some coffee and sat on a bale of hay to enjoy our snack. I took one bite and had my first taste of Fall– pure sugary caloric heaven.

The apple cider donut put me in the mood for apple cider, so I went back inside the farm stand to buy some fresh apple cider, and I noticed they were putting out candy apples and caramel apples. Caramel apples were another favorite of mine as a child, but now I am afraid I would lose a tooth so I passed them by.

I went back outside and Bob was finishing his coffee and donuts and we were ready to pick apples.

We put the apple cider and the rest of the donuts in the car and we were ready for the apple orchard with our bushel.

I have to say that I am the last person who knows what varieties of apples are good for what, except that grandma always used Granny Smith apples for apple pie, so we just got an assortment and then we were on our way home.

In the car, we couldn’t stop talking about the apple cider donuts since we could still smell them. I told Bob about the caramel and candy apples, and caramel apples were one of his favorites too.

Right then and there on the ride home, I decided I was going to try to find some new apple recipes and one of course, had to be apple cider donuts. I have a donut pan just sitting in my pantry that I never used. So it was off to Pinterest for ideas.

Since I am not the baker, below is my attempt at baking.

All recipes are at the end of the post!

I started my baking with the apple cider donuts. Not bad for a first try. I found the secret to a moist apple cider donut is to boil the apple cider down to almost a syrup and of course the more sugar and cinnamon, the better.

Photo Oct 21, 11 31 55 AM APPLE CIDER DONUTS

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I didn’t want to make caramel apples, but I wanted the flavor so I searched Pinterest again and found a recipe for caramel apple cupcakes. Now this I could do. The taste of the caramel apple on a stick and I would still have all my teeth.

This was a very easy recipe and I had to buy the Popsicle sticks for the effect of a real caramel apple .

Photo Oct 21, 12 37 24 PM CARAMEL CUPCAKES 2

Now we needed some mulled apple cider and we were all set, so I found a recipe for that too. We enjoyed the cider with our dessert.

Photo Oct 21, 1 07 00 PM CIDER AND CUPCAKE

Now that Bob and I have had all our apple favorites, I can finally adjust to Fall but just not the cooler temperatures rolling in so fast in the northeast. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that….

I hope you try these recipes and enjoy every bite.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to join Dishing with Diane.com and become part of the family!

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

Sign up via the homepage or Facebook.

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

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

  Recipes...

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Apple Cider Donuts

Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Reduce the apple cider: Stirring occasionally, simmer the apple cider in a small saucepan over low heat until you’re left with about 1/2 cup. Start checking at 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc until you have 1/2 cup. Mine takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

 

  1. Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the reduced apple cider, and whisk everything together until smooth and combined. Batter will be slightly thick.
  3. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—for ease, I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling about halfway.
  4. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges and tops are lightly browned. To test, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donuts bounces back, they’re done. Cool donuts for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Re-grease the pan and bake the remaining donut batter.

 

  1. Coat the donuts: Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice together in a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, dunk both sides of each donut in the melted butter, then generously in the apple spice topping.
  2. Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Make ahead tip: You can freeze the donuts, coated or not coated in the toppings, for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave. I usually just zap ’em for a couple seconds.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Note on the apple spice: Do you have apple pie spice where you live? It’s pretty standard here in the US. If you don’t have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. – SEE BELOW
  2. I usually use buttermilk, but I’ve found that any milk (dairy or nondairy) works pretty well. For a denser crumb, you can use 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream instead.
  3. Don’t have a donut pan? Make donut muffins in your standard 12-cup muffin pan. Grease your pan or use muffin liners, fill each 3/4 full, then bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about 10-12 apple cider donut muffins.
  4. Want to make mini donuts or mini donut holes in a mini muffin pan? Grease your pan, add the batter to the pan only about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 8-9 minutes.

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I found a recipe for apple pie spice…

Apple Pie Spice
  1. 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon.
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
  4. 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom.

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Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Courtesy of Momontimeout.com

Prep Time – 10 mins    Cook Time- 25 mins     Total Time 35 mins

There is no better way to usher in fall than with these delicious Caramel Apple Cupcakes. Moist cupcakes loaded with apples and applesauce for double the apple flavor. A decadent caramel frosting top them off beautifully. 

Course: Dessert  Servings: 12 cupcakes  Calories: 244 kcal   Author: Trish – Mom On Timeout

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce OR vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded apple Rome, Granny Smith, or other baking apple or combination of two varieties

Caramel Frosting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with parchment baking liners and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth.
  4. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla extract.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture until combined.
  7. Stir in the shredded apples.
  8. Evenly divide the batter between the 12 cups.
  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Caramel Frosting

  1. Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Stir in heavy cream.
  3. Microwave at 50% power for 1 minutes. Stir. Repeat int 30 second intervals until caramels are melted and smooth.
  4. Spoon frosting onto the top of cooled cupcakes and spread. You want a nice thick layer. If the caramel starts to thicken, microwave for another 30 seconds at 50% power, stir, and spread on cupcakes.
  5. Popsicle sticks are optional 🙂

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Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Courtesy of Tonkcats at Genius Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine brown sugar, allspice, 1 teaspoon cloves, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and apple cider in large saucepan.
  2. Bring to boiling.
  3. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain to remove spices.
  5. Serve in mugs with clove-studded orange wedges.

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Goodbye Summer 2018

Photo Sep 21, 9 04 13 PM (1) INTRO WITH HEADING

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

Hi everyone,

Well the sunsets are earlier and the realization that summer is coming to an end is haunting me.

I like the spring, love the summer, can tolerate the fall and despise the winter. The thought of snow, cold and shoveling is making me sad already.

I don’t go by Labor Day as my guide to the last day of summer. No, I hold on to the bitter end and wait until the first day of Autumn shows up on the calendar.

This year, it’s Saturday, September 22, 2018. 

Although, a few weeks ago in the Northeast it was still in the high 80’s and humid and as if someone flipped a switch, it became cool, breezy, raining and 57 degrees with a high of 68 degrees after Labor Day.

I didn’t know what my Goodbye to Summer Tablescape would be and then one day while shopping in Pier 1, the best idea was right in front of me – Watermelons!

Many of you might remember my obsession with the vintage red truck cookie jar at Christmas.

Photo Dec 17, 11 55 26 AM CENTERPIECE 2

Well, Pier 1 has a vintage red truck cookie jar filled with watermelons and a tray to match. That is all it took to get me started.

Watermelon happens to be my favorite fruit and I constantly buy them all summer long.

(Along with Friendly’s “Wattamelon” ice cream roll).

rolls_ice-cream-rolls_wattamelon-roll (1).png 2.jpg FRIENDLY'S IN BOX

So, it looks as if Watermelon is now the “2018 Goodbye to Summer” theme.

To prove my love of watermelons, I even have a “watermelon shaped” clutch bag.

Photo Sep 21, 12 38 29 PM WATERMELON BAG

So, after seeing the clutch bag, I know what you are thinking and yes, I have watermelon dishes (two different sets actually).

The set I am using today and another set that I use for dessert.

 This is an additional watermelon serving bowl that I will be using on today’s tablescape.Photo Sep 21, 12 33 16 PM CHP BOWL

So, let’s get started on a tablescape…

First, the tablecloth. I am going to use burlap for a neutral background.

Photo Sep 21, 1 29 16 PM BURLAP TC

Solid green napkins to pick up one of the shades of the rind from the dishes.

This time I placed the folded napkin under the salad plate and have just a small portion exposed. I want the focus to be just on the dishes.

Photo Sep 21, 9 02 17 PM (1) NAPKIN

The placemats can be nothing else than a woven slice of watermelon.

Couldn’t pass these up.

Photo Sep 21, 12 39 27 PM WATERMELON PLACEMAT

No charger plates because you wouldn’t see the placemats and they are too cute to hide.

Now the dishes…The dinner and salad plates are exactly the same to this set and there is also a small salad bowl to match.

The dishes are ceramic with a white background with various sizes and shapes of sliced watermelon with shades of green and the deep pink of a ripe watermelon.

Just the color alone is refreshing.

Photo Sep 21, 12 34 40 PM WDISHES

Complete set…

Photo Sep 21, 12 35 03 PM W-COMPLETE SET

Here is my second set of watermelon dishes that I use just for dessert. 

 The dessert plates are melamine for outdoor use and the pattern is similar to the other dishes. It has a white background with not only slices of a watermelon but a whole watermelon as well.

Photo Sep 21, 10 08 54 PM DESSERT DISH

The serving bowl and dessert bowls are also ceramic and just too cute.

Even though the bowls and dishes are not part of the same collection, I think they look great together.

Photo Sep 21, 10 13 23 PM DESSERT BOWLS

Glassware will be clear acrylic tumblers with a design of watermelon slices.

(great find in Homegoods). 

Later they will be filled with a watermelon beverage, mini wedges of watermelon and refreshing mint.

Photo Sep 21, 12 31 03 PM W-GLASSWARE

Flatware is brown to continue the neutral feeling.

Photo Sep 21, 12 39 46 PM FLATWARE

The Centerpiece…

Here it is, my new red vintage truck & watermelon cookie jar. I just love it.

The cookie jar truck has a lid piled high with watermelons.

(I am sorry I didn’t buy this sooner so I could have displayed it in my kitchen the entire summer).

To give the tablescape some height, I am placing the truck on an inverted crate.

Photo Sep 21, 12 30 51 PM REDTRUCK

The platter is also a red truck with a cargo of watermelons and matches the cookie jar exactly. I will use this platter to serve watermelon slices.

Photo Sep 21, 12 32 49 PM RED TRUCK PLATTER

I have a few table accents in mind.

The first one is a coaster that I picked up in a tiny, I guess you could call it a general store (NOT Cracker Barrel) at a road stop on the way upstate to see our son. It is a coaster with a design of a watermelon with a slice cut out and the caption reads “Summertime Favorite”. They only had one, and I bought it anyway because it just struck me.

Since this is all I have and it is small, I will display it on a clear acrylic easel as I would a photo on the table.

Photo Sep 21, 12 30 12 PM WATERMELON COASTER

My second table accent, (if you haven’t already guessed), is my favorite item for the tablescapes and that would be salt and pepper shakers. They are ceramic slices of watermelon in the true deep tone of real watermelon.

Photo Sep 21, 12 31 38 PM WATERMELON S AND P

Next table accent, will make you laugh…

A few years back, Kleenex introduced tissue boxes designed like fruits. Of course I bought the watermelon box and I thought I could re-purpose it once the tissues were gone, so I filled the box with artificial greenery and use it as a display next to fruit platters at summer gatherings.

Just like the Ferris Wheel from the “State Fair” post, I love conversation starters.

Photo Sep 21, 12 37 03 PM TISSUE BOX

At the last minute, I decided to put two more table accents on the table…

A real watermelon…

  And a vase of sunflowers in a mason jar with rocks.

Sunflowers also scream “Summer” to me and this brings a pop of color to the table.

Photo Sep 21, 1 30 54 PM FLOWERS AND WATERMELON

Now that the table is done…I wanted to make some watermelon “food items” along with slices of fresh watermelon and the first thing that came to my mind were watermelon cupcakes.

(Do you see how my mind goes to dessert first)?

I love these cupcakes because they not only have the layered colors of a watermelon slice with seeds, but the buttercream frosting is watermelon flavored (thank you, Kool-Aid). 

They will look so cute on the table.

Photo Sep 21, 9 30 28 PM CUPCAKE 2

(Recipe for watermelon cupcakes at the end of the post).

Well, now that I had a watermelon dessert, I might as well make a complete Goodbye to Summer Lunch with some watermelon tucked in here and there and some of my favorite summer foods.

Since I can’t have a watermelon sandwich to start with, here is our menu…

Goodbye to Summer Lunch

Shrimp salad roll – for those of us allergic to lobster.

(recipe at the end of the post)

Photo Sep 16, 12 16 09 AM SHRIMP SALAD

Homemade potato chips.

(recipe at the end of the post)

Photo Sep 15, 11 52 18 AM HOMEMADE CHIPS -use

Tomato, Watermelon & Feta skewers with mint & lime.

(recipe at the end of the post). 

Photo Sep 15, 11 28 30 PM FETA, TOMATO WATERMELON

Watermelon cooler made with lemon sorbet. 

(recipe at the end of the post).

Photo Sep 21, 10 28 41 PM COOLER

Fresh watermelon slices.

Photo Sep 21, 11 28 28 PM W-SLICES

 Watermelon Italian Ice (store bought).

Photo Sep 21, 10 19 31 PM ITALIAN ICE

Watermelon Cupcakes.

Photo Sep 21, 10 34 05 PM (1) CUPCAKE

(recipe at the end of the post)

Dessert is Served…

Photo Sep 21, 10 33 53 PM DESSERT IS SERVED

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I could go on and make a watermelon cake, watermelon pizza and watermelon sorbet, but I don’t want to get carried away. Maybe next summer.

NOTE: You won’t believe what I came across while looking for the Bellini recipe, a recipe for a “watermelon sandwich”.

See the surprise recipe I found at the end of the post!

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Now my Goodbye to Summer lunch is ready.

Place Setting

Photo Sep 21, 11 30 10 PM PLACE SETTING

Bob and I will enjoy this lunch as I count the days until summer once again.

(If anyone is interested, it is 272 days as of September 22, 2018). 

to the first day of Summer.

Friday, June 21, 2019.

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Thank you for visiting my blog and letting me share my Watermelon Tablescape with all of you.

Here is a little extra helpful hint with your watermelon purchases…

 A video on how to tell if the watermelon is ripe...open the link

https://commonsensehome.com/tell-watermelon-is-ripe/

Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!

I decided to have a Watermelon Bellini after all, to send off Summer in style! 

Watermelon Bellini

 (with and without alcohol) 

(recipe at the end of the post).

Photo Sep 21, 11 52 22 PM BELLINI

Stay well, 

Diane

Ask your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane.com. and become part of the family!

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

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

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

RECIPES

Watermelon Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Beth @ The First Year – blog

Ingredients

Cupcakes – makes 10-12 cupcakes

  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • leaf green food coloring by Wilton (or similar light green food coloring)

Buttercream

  • 2 sticks of butter, unsalted at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp of powdered watermelon Kool-Aid mix
  • small about of red food coloring, to give the buttercream a pinkish color
  • mini chocolate chips

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Place cupcakes liners to muffin pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar, beat using an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the egg whites, beat again.
  3. Add in the sour cream and vanilla extract, mix by hand with spatula.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, gently mix with a spoon.
  5. Gradually add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, do not dump it in, rather take spoonfuls of the flour mixture and gently shake it over the wet ingredients, as if you were sifting in the flour. Fold in the mixture until no flour remains. Repeat with the other half of the flour, folding it in and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate everything.
  6. Add in the green food coloring, mix to incorporate.
  7. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling each 1/2 full.
  8. Bake at 375º F for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º will keeping the cupcakes in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool before adding the buttercream.

Buttercream

  1. In a mixing bowl beat the butter and vegetable shortening with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, mix by hand with a spatula.
  3. Add in more powdered sugar as you see fit, up to 2 more cups, mixing first by hand then with an electric mixer.
  4. Add in the watermelon Kool-Aid powder and a small amount of red food coloring (to give the frosting a pinkish color), mixing one last time with an electric mixer.

How to assemble

  1. Place the buttercream in a large piping bag fit with a 1M Wilton piping tip. Push the buttercream down into the bag. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, starting in the center of the cupcake, swirling out, and then swirling back into the center, progressively stacking the frosting as you get to the center.
  2. Add mini chocolate chips on top of the buttercream.

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Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime

Recipe courtesy of Sara Foster of Southern Living

Makes about 3 dozen skewers

No time for skewers? Gently toss the ingredients in a salad bowl, or dice the tomato, watermelon, and cheese into small cubes to serve as a fresh relish for grilled meats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes (about 1/4 of a 3-lb. watermelon)
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 36 (3-inch) wooden skewers

Directions:

Gently toss together tomatoes and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 1 hour. Thread 1 tomato piece, 1 watermelon cube, and 1 feta cube onto a skewer, and place in a serving bowl. Repeat with remaining skewers. Drizzle with remaining marinade, and serve immediately.

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

Shrimp Salad

Courtesy of The Blond Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound medium shrimp in shell
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery

Instructions:

  1. Boil 1-1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan and add shrimp. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, or until pink and just cooked (do not overcook).
  2. Drain shrimp in a colander and rinse with cold water and allow to cool.
  3. While shrimp are cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill weed and Old Bay Seasoning in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until shrimp are ready to be added.
  4. Peel and devein shrimp and cut in half (or chop, depending upon preference). Add shrimp, red onions and celery and stir well to coat with mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Homemade Potato Chips

Courtesy of Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 7 unpeeled medium potatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 quarts ice water
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • Oil for deep-fat frying

Directions

  • 1. Using a vegetable peeler or metal cheese slicer, cut potatoes into very thin slices. Place in a large bowl; add ice water and salt. Soak for 30 minutes.
  • 2. Drain potatoes; place on paper towels and pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, celery salt and pepper; set aside.
  • 3. In an electric skillet, heat 1-1/2 in. of oil to 375°. Fry potatoes in batches for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.
  • 4. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with seasoning mixture. Store in an airtight container.

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Watermelon and Lemon Sorbet Cooler

Courtesy of Paula Deen       Servings: 10

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lbs (4 cups) seedless watermelon, sliced with rind removed, plus wedges for garnish
  • 1 cup lemon sorbet
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • fresh mint, for garnish

Directions:

In a food processor, blend watermelon, sorbet and lemon zest until very smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cold water; cover and refrigerate until very cold. Serve over ice and garnish with watermelon wedges and mint.

 

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

Watermelon Bellini

Recipe courtesy of  Virginia Willis of Southern Living

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. coarse sugar
  • 3 cups frozen seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup sparkling wine, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Additional sparkling wine
  • Garnish: watermelon wedges

Instructions:

Cut lime in half. Cut 1 half into wedges, and rub on rims of 8 (6-oz.) cocktail glasses; dip rims in coarse sugar to coat. Process frozen watermelon, 1 cup chilled sparkling wine, sugar, salt, and juice from remaining lime half in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared glasses; top off with additional sparkling wine. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

**NOTE- Any summer melon will work. For a nonalcoholic option, replace the sparkling wine with sparkling white grape juice, sparkling cider, or club soda.

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

Just had to share this, the surprise recipe I found.

It looks as though I CAN have a Watermelon sandwich.

Open Face Watermelon Sandwiches

recipe courtesy of FreshfromFlorida blog

Watermelon-Open-Face-Watermelon-Sandwiches-4 (1) for blog

Yield 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 medium-sized Florida watermelon, seeds and rind removed
  • 1 handful fresh Florida mint leaves, chopped
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 loaf of your favorite crusty bread, sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Crumble chilled goat cheese into a small bowl. Lightly mix cheese and chopped mint. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.

Cut bread into 8 small slices and drizzle with olive oil. Toast bread slices until golden brown and crispy on top. Let bread cool slightly.

Spread cheese mixture on the top of each slice of bread. Cut watermelon slices into fun shapes and layer watermelon on top of cheese. Lightly season the top of the sandwiches with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Photo Sep 21, 1 32 05 PM WATERMELON EXTRA

 

 

 

State Fair

 

Photo Sep 08, 1 10 35 AM (1) INTRO -FINAL

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

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well.

I have been faced with a challenge. I have a dear friend who is visiting from out of state and I invited her to lunch. She is bringing along her 4-year old grandson who she said is “very fidgety”. OK, here is the challenge, how do you entertain a 4-year old through lunch?

 I had to seriously give this some thought because I didn’t want him to just play a video game all alone, but instead be involved at the table so I can have the pleasure of his company. I love his age, they are cute and funny and simply a joy. 

Over and over in my head I kept thinking “fun and games”. I didn’t want to do a craft and keep in mind, it has been 27 years since I had a little one.

Originally, I planned lunch outside, but here in the northeast the weather has been a little crazy, either very hot and humid or raining, so this will have to be indoors.

 I thought of using the beach ball dishes and beach toys on the table from a previous tablescape.

Click link to see entire Beach Ball post.

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2015/06/20/beach-ball/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then I thought a basket of food would be better for a 4 – year old than a ceramic dish, so I started thinking of what would go in a basket for a child. The usual hot dogs and hamburgers came to mind and then I had a thought… how about a corn dog? I am sure he doesn’t have that everyday and it might be fun to eat a hot dog on a stick.

That’s all it took and my mind started to go from there. I would make the tablescape as if he went to a State Fair. The New York State Fair is in full swing and short of taking a field trip to Syracuse, I had to start thinking.

I wrote down all the food and snacks I was thinking about to have them both Grandma and Mom approved. I didn’t want to go against any family food restrictions or allergies.

So once I got the green light on the food, I was ready to go.

This tablescape is my rendition of a State Fair. Hope you like it…

Here is the menu with snacks…

  • corn dogs
  • French fries
  • popcorn
  • peanuts
  • cracker jacks
  • cotton candy
  • kettle corn
  • cupcakes (ice cream would melt)
  • funnel cake
  • lemonade

First the tablecloth – I wanted something fun and one of my linen tablecloths wouldn’t work, so I bought a plastic “popcorn” themed tablecloth from the party store.

Photo Sep 02, 5 15 19 PM POPCORN TABLECLOTH

I had to buy some popcorn napkins to match.

Photo Sep 07, 5 50 46 PM POPCORN NAPKINS

No dishes, just red plastic food baskets lined with red & white check food grade tissue paper.

Photo Sep 07, 5 49 33 PM FOOD BASKET

Photo Sep 07, 5 56 02 PM PLACE SETTING

 Lunch will be a corn dog, French fries and a box of Cracker Jacks. 

(I still love Cracker Jacks. Much better prizes back in the day).

Photo Sep 07, 5 50 07 PM CRACKER JACKS

Photo Sep 07, 9 36 08 PM CORN DOG AND FRIES

I made the corn dogs but bought the French fries because I love the large crinkle cut fries from Nathans. 

(Recipe for homemade corn dogs at the end of the post).

No glasses, just cans of lemonade and bottles of water.

All served on a square wooden charger plate. It really comes in handy as a tray.

Photo Sep 02, 5 23 07 PM WOODEN TRAY

The first snack is cotton candy. I decided to serve this in sugar cones, since I couldn’t get the paper cones or sticks that the cotton candy usually comes on and I didn’t want to purchase a cotton candy machine.

Photo Sep 07, 5 54 30 PM COTTON CANDY CONES

Next up, roasted peanuts served in white ceramic berry baskets.

Photo Sep 07, 5 54 08 PM PEANUTS

Now, my absolute favorite food on the Midway- funnel cakes.

Homemade funnel cakes are easier than you think to put together and don’t forget to cover them in powdered sugar.

I served them on a white tray and added the cutest mini boxes of my favorite flavor jelly beans – Popcorn! 

Photo Sep 07, 7 15 02 PM JELLY BELLY

Funnel cakes.

Photo Sep 07, 9 35 23 PM FUNNEL CAKES 1

I need to work on my technique…Photo Sep 07, 8 31 16 PM FRYING FUNNEL CAKES

Photo Sep 07, 8 32 58 PM FUNNEL CAKE DRAINING

(Recipe for homemade funnel cakes at the end of the post). 

Of course we had to have popcorn with a popcorn themed tablecloth. So I filled plastic popcorn containers at each place setting.

Photo Sep 07, 5 55 12 PM POPCORN

I added a ceramic popcorn shaker to the table, that is supposed to be used for extra salt but I use it for finely grated cheese.

(Love popcorn and grated cheese and a touch of cayenne).

Photo Sep 07, 5 53 43 PM POPCORN SHAKER

*********

Well, the food is taken care of, so on to the tablescape.

I remembered all the stuffed animals that I brought home from fairs and carnivals that my son won from various Midway games, so I thought it would be fun to place some stuffed animal “prizes” with carnival tickets all around them as a table accent.

(I really missed Toys R Us not being in business anymore for this purchase).

Of course my friend’s grandson can help himself to whatever he wants.

Photo Sep 07, 5 47 31 PM TOYS AND TICKETS

And now the centerpiece.

I have, believe it or not, a white metal & galvanized Ferris wheel that hold cupcakes.

Photo Sep 07, 5 48 51 PM FERRIS WHEEL

I bought this last year at Pier 1 and it was just too cute to pass up. It was one of those purchases that I brought home and Bob said, “Do you think you’ll really use that”?

I am happy to say that I have used it on numerous occasions as part of a dessert table at an outdoor barbecue – good conversation starter.

I cheated and bought frosted cupcakes and topped them with kettle corn (another State Fair treat) and added them to the Ferris wheel.

Photo Sep 07, 7 52 33 PM CUPCAKE

(I just didn’t have the time to bake and frost cupcakes).

Photo Sep 07, 7 56 25 PM FERRIS WHEL WITH CUPCAKES

I think it looks really cute and what child wouldn’t want to pick a cupcake off of that Ferris wheel?

Okay, so I have the food, table accents and a centerpiece, but I wanted to do a little more and send him home with a party favor. 

This took me a while to think about and then I had the best idea.

What is the ultimate take away prize from the Midway that “everyone” has taken home at one time or another? Give up? A goldfish in a bag.

Of course I wasn’t going out to get real goldfish, but I could make a goldfish in a bag soap. So that is what I did (with my craft assistant Bob to help me).

Sometimes it pays off to be Cub Scouts den mother, class mother and PTA President. You remember some crafts from the past. (And I mean 27 yrs ago in the past).

I’ll have to make one for my son for his Christmas stocking and see if he remembers this from grade school.

Some melted clear suspension soap, a vinyl goldfish, clear cello bags, some twine and we are in business. Fragrance can be added to this DIY project. I didn’t want to attempt that because I was afraid that the fragrance would change the color of the soap and make it cloudy. 

Once completed, I placed a goldfish soap bag at each place setting.

Photo Sep 08, 12 23 29 AM GOLD FISH FAVOR AT TABLE

Now my little guest has something else to take home along with the stuffed animal plush toys.

Photo Sep 08, 12 20 52 AM GOLD FISH FAVOR 2

*********

NOTE:

I was not given permission from the author of this DIY project, to post her project instructions on my blog due to copyright laws. Sorry.

If you are interested in making this craft, there are so many tutorials for this project on Google.

*********

 I am done with this tablescape and now I just had to wait for their arrival.

I hope they like it…

PS- If all else fails and he doesn’t like anything and is bored, my backup is a sand art kit to keep him busy.

Either way, something else for him to take home.

Photo Sep 08, 1 15 50 AM SAND ART

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

I hope all of you enjoyed my rendition of a State Fair tablescape and it gave you some ideas that you can use in your home.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word and ask your family and friends to join DishingwithDiane.

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

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

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

RECIPES

Homemade Funnel Cake

(recipe was given to me many years ago- author unknown)

1 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 large egg 
2/3 cup milk
2 TBSP sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt,
1 tsp vanilla 

Mix all ingredients well and add more milk if too thick.

Instead of a funnel, use an old plastic squeeze ketchup bottle…EASIER!!

 Heat a small amount of canola (or vegetable) oil in my small cast iron skillet.

 Then, ……I random squirt and swirl batter in oil.

 Flip when it starts bubbling and turning brown (like you do when making pancakes.)

Serve with confectioners sugar

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

Before I continue, these are the best bamboo skewers I found for corn dogs or candy apples, perfect size –available on Amazon – (6 1/2 inches, 100 pieces for $8.90).

Photo Sep 07, 5 46 05 PM BAMBOO SKEWERS

Homemade Corn Dogs

 PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES… COOK TIME: 3 MINUTES… TOTAL TIME: 13 MINS are a classic fair treat, and now you can make them at home!  – adapted from Cooks County Recipes.

Mix together a quick cornmeal, dip the hot dogs, and fry!

Ingredients:

 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

 3/4 cup buttermilk

 2 eggs

4 hot dogs

 all-purpose flour, for rolling

vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

Directions:

Preheat the fryer to 350 degrees F.

To make the batter, whisk to combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.

In another small bowl, whisk to combine the buttermilk and eggs, and mix this into the dry ingredients until there are no more streaks of flour, but be sure to leave lumps in the batter (do not stir those out, as you may over-mix). Transfer the batter to a tall glass.

Skewer the hot dogs onto wooden sticks and roll the hot dogs in enough flour to coat, then shake the excess off.

Dip the floured hot dogs into the tall cup of batter and put them straight into the fryer for about 3 minutes, but be sure not to overcrowd your fryer. Depending on size, you might need to make two or three batches.

The corn dogs are ready when the exterior is golden brown.

Serve the corn dogs with ketchup and mustard if desired, and enjoy!

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

StateFairGrunge_forWebLight STATE FAIR

Be prepared for “Company”…

Photo Aug 04, 11 57 58 PM STRAWBERRY INTRO

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

Hi Everyone, 

This is a little advice to always be prepared for unexpected company…

When I was a little girl, my mother always kept a pound cake in the freezer for “company”. This drove my sisters and I crazy because there were many nights we just wanted to thaw it out and eat it.

My mother used to serve us toasted pound cake with fresh fruit and ice cream for dessert on a regular basis and we just loved it.

But the pound cake in the freezer was off limits!

I never fully understood why my mother did this, until this past Friday.

Did you ever get a phone call in the morning from someone that you haven’t seen in a while and they tell you that they will be in your area late afternoon and want to stop in and say hello?

Well, I got that call Friday morning. I invited them for dessert and when I hung up I went into a mini panic.

What would I serve for dessert? Of all days, I couldn’t leave my house to run and get a dessert because I was expecting a delivery from Lowes and I had to be home, so I had to get creative.

I usually hate unexpected company because I like to plan my tablescapes and meals way ahead of time.

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

First the tablescape…

If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know I always change my dishes on a monthly basis to rotate my collection. This month it is all about the  strawberry. Nice and cheery. So it looked as if that would be the tablescape theme since I had everything I needed at my fingertips.

I started out with a basic white weave cotton tablecloth. 

 I have strawberry salad plates, table-runner and napkins already in the kitchen, so that is what I used. I had no time to fuss.

The linens are a solid white background with clusters of strawberries and small red stamped flowers.

Photo Aug 04, 10 43 38 PM TABLECLOTH, RUNNER, NAPKINS

There isn’t enough room on the table for a placemat with the table runner so I just started with a glass beaded charger. I love this charger because it adds something to the tablescape but doesn’t overpower it.

Photo Aug 04, 10 37 37 PM GLASS CHARGER

Followed by a white alabaster dinner plate and my adorable strawberry salad plates.

The dinner plates are white alabaster glass with swirling semi-opaque streaks.Photo Aug 04, 10 38 11 PM WHITE ALABASTER DINNERWARE

The salad plates are a very heavy white melamine with clusters of strawberries around the rim.Photo Aug 04, 11 03 41 PM SALAD PLATE

 Another piece of serveware that I purchased with these dishes is the serving bowl but I didn’t need to use it.

I just wanted to show you what was available.

Photo Aug 05, 2 12 31 AM SERVING BOWL

I originally bought the salad plates to match a strawberry water pitcher that I bought many years ago. I used the water pitcher on Friday for homemade lemonade.

It’s fairly small for a water pitcher (only 8 X 8), which I liked because it doesn’t take up that much room on the table.

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 00 PM STRAWBERRY WATER PITCHER

Water pitchers to me are like salt and pepper shakers. They can carry the theme of your tablescape without being in the way, and are great table accents.

 Along with the water pitcher I used ceramic strawberry salt and pepper shakers on a green leaf plate.

I just loved these when I saw them because of the plate that it came on (and my love of salt & pepper shakers).

They are cute enough to be used on the kitchen counter as an accent for summer decor.

Photo Aug 05, 1 22 51 AM STRAWBERRY SALT AND PEPPER

The flatware was white pearl to match the dinner plate and not clash with the napkins since my red cutlery was too dark.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 10 PM CUTLERY

I used Waterford crystal tumbler glasses, perfect for lemonade and already in the kitchen cabinet, so things were moving along.

Photo Aug 04, 11 56 27 PM WATERFORD TUMBLER

I was in a pinch so my centerpiece had to be a jadeite cake stand. I think this color looks good as a contrast to the strawberry table runner.

Photo Aug 04, 11 55 16 PM JADEITE CAKE SERVER

I added a few jadeite salad plates, one under the cake stand and one to use with the jar of strawberries in syrup.

Photo Aug 05, 12 13 34 AM JADEITE PLATE

Photo Aug 04, 10 35 16 PM STRAWBERRY WITH SPREADER

I had a strawberry spreader on hand in case anyone wanted some strawberries on their loaf cake and not just on their ice cream.

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

That completed the tablescape…

I thought the tablescape looked cute once it was set and that is when I decided to make it a blog post.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 53 PM EXTRA

Place Setting

Photo Aug 04, 11 05 14 PM PLACE SETTING

Now for the dessert…

 I already mentioned that I had a jar of Italian strawberries in syrupand I could serve them with ice cream, but that didn’t seem to be enough so I had to keep thinking.Photo Aug 04, 11 53 56 PM STRAWBERRIES IN SYRUP

BTW- the strawberries in syrup are not as sweet as the Amarena cherries in syrup.

I used the Italian Amarena cherries with my lemon ricotta pound cake- recipe in the index.

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

I bought three pounds of beautiful organic strawberries in Whole Foods for 2.99 a lb. the other day and they were staring at me when I opened the refrigerator, so they became the star of the show.

I had a recipe for “Strawberry Crisp” that I made for a friend who visited a short time ago that only ate gluten free. It is made with oat flour and no refined sugar. I don’t even know where I got the recipe from, but I knew I had all the ingredients in the pantry and that could work. 

I hate when I don’t have the author of a recipe to share with you, because I always want to give credit where credit is due, so I apologize.

If anyone recognizes the recipe and knows the author, please let me know.

Photo Aug 04, 11 54 41 PM CRISP

I wanted to have another dessert choice because the crisp was not going to be very sweet because there is no added sugar, but it is good served with ice cream.

So my last dessert was a loaf cake with a lemon glaze. The recipe is easy and it originally calls for blueberries but I switched it up with strawberries.

Photo Aug 04, 5 56 31 PM STRAWBERRY LOAF

I added some strawberry wafers to the table that happened to be one of my recent purchases from Homegoods. I usually buys these wafers to top ice cream, but I served the wafers in a bowl as a little something extra to munch on.

Photo Aug 04, 5 55 03 PM STRAWBERRY WAFERS

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 15 PM BOWL OF WAFERS

So I started baking and kept thinking of mom and the pound cake in the freezer. She knew what she was doing back then.

I think from now on, I will always have a pound cake or two in the freezer for “company”. I suggest you do the same.

That could have made my life so much easier.

Mom had the right idea, as always.

If my company didn’t like strawberries, (which I thought about after the cakes were in the oven) I was ready to order a pizza or anything take out that they preferred that could be delivered, but it all worked out.

The strawberry desserts were a big hit and the visit was lovely catching up with each other.

I think mom would have been proud of my desserts today.

Plus, Bob was thrilled to come home from work to desserts…

Dessert Plate…

Photo Aug 05, 12 28 42 AM DESSERT PLATE

(Recipes at the end of the post).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

If you enjoy the posts, please ask your family and friends to become members of DishingwithDiane.

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.

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

Recipes…

Strawberry Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 cups about 2 quarts sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¼ cup oat flour oats that have been ground into a fine flour, or can substitute with whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together strawberries cornstarch, and almond extract until completely combined.** The cornstarch should dissolve in the small amount of liquid so that you don’t see a white powder and the berries are all completely coated.
  3. Transfer berry mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a separate small bowl, stir together oats, oat flour, almonds, and salt. Add melted butter and maple syrup, stir until completely combined. I like to use my fingers to really mix together the ingredients into the crumble topping.
  5. Spread oat crumble in an even layer over the top of the berries.
  6. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown.

  7. Allow crisp to cool before serving.
  8. If you refrigerate the crisp, it will firm up even more and it will be easy to slice into squares.

Recipe Notes

  • This keeps well in the refrigerator for at least 1 week!
  • **NOTE: The sweetness of the dessert will depend on the sweetness of the berries that you’re using, since that’s the main ingredient.
  • If you don’t have really sweet, fresh, local fruit, just add some sweetener of choice before baking. You can use maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, Splenda, stevia, anything that you prefer!

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

Strawberry Loaf

courtesy of Betty Crocker

REMEMBER, RECIPE WAS ORIGINALLY FOR BLUEBERRIES, SO I KEPT BLUEBERRY INSTRUCTIONS  IN ITALICS IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE ORIGINAL RECIPE.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
cup granulated sugar
eggs
teaspoons vanilla
cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
cup fresh blueberriesI substituted strawberries
Steps

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.

In medium bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon peel and juice.

Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Fold in 3/4 cup of the blueberries. – I substitute strawberries.

Spoon batter into pan.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup blueberries – I substituted strawberries on top.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Glaze
cup powdered sugar
teaspoons whipping cream or milk
teaspoon lemon extract( you can also substitute vanilla extract).
In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle glaze over loaf. Let stand until set before slicing.

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Homemade Lemonade

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  1. In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir.
  2. Adjust water to taste.
  3. Chill and serve over ice

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Photo Aug 04, 11 06 07 PM EXTRA COOKIES

More Than Just a Bowl of Cherries….

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 58 PM INTRO

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

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far, but if you live in any part of the country that is going through a heatwave, torrential rain or tornadoesstay safe. 

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

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

Bob and I planned on cleaning out the attic of old holiday decorations this weekend. (I have so many items). I just can’t believe how much I have accumulated over the past 20 years. I used to decorate the entire house for every holiday when my son was small. Now he is a man with his own house and I don’t use half the decorations I have, so it’s time to say goodbye to clutter.

Because of the heat we postponed the attic cleaning for another day. Bob insisted on going up in the attic for a few minutes just to count how many boxes we had and came down with a small brown unmarked taped box.

He asked what this was that was sitting alone in the corner of the attic and I had no clue. I have to tell you, it felt like Christmas morning opening this box with the excitement of a surprise.

Once I opened it, I found some of my mother’s dishes.

A dish I loved as a little girl, a combination snack plate & cup “cherry” dish. This brought back a flood of memories for me. My mother and I had many breakfasts on the back patio with these dishes. I always thought they were so fancy when I was a child.

They are fine china from Japan, part of the Toscany Collection and the pattern name is “Marischino”.

They are now considered vintage! 

How old am I?

Photo Jul 23, 11 33 12 AM CUP AND SAUCER

I am the youngest of three daughters and there was a 14 & 11 year age gap between me and my sisters. When my sisters were in school, I was still home with mom.

My mother would make wonderful muffins and pound cakes and she used these dishes for us to have breakfast on the back patio with her baked goods.

That was a real treat not having the usual cereal, oatmeal or eggs.

We would go out early morning once my sisters left for school and just enjoyed nature and listening to the birds chirping. The time of day when the rest of the world is still asleep and the dew is still on the grass.

I wanted to use these dishes right away and since I just bought the most delicious cherries in Whole Foods, this was meant to be. I don’t have any of my mother’s baked goods recipes but I do know how to make a cherry crostata and that is fairly easy so I was off.

I always keep an extra store bought pie dough in the refrigerator whenever I want a crostata or if I get unexpected company and I need something quick, so I was well prepared. I pitted the cherries and started the baking.

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 27 PM CROSTATA

I decided to make some cherry crumb muffins while I was at it and serve it with Morello cherry preserves.

Photo Jul 23, 11 25 50 AM MUFFINS

(Both recipes can be found at the end of this post).

While the crostata and muffins were baking I carefully washed each plate and cup and then set a quick simple table.

I would have had breakfast on the patio like mom and I did back in the day, but Bob would never be able to handle the heat even for a short period of time. Even the patio umbrella wouldn’t have helped him. I love hot weather but my honey needs air conditioning, so we had breakfast indoors.

I used a sage green and white woven tablecloth with matching napkins. I love this particular tablecloth and napkin set because the pattern is reversible and I get a lot of use out of it.

(Both sides shown below.)

Photo Jul 23, 11 30 04 AM REVERSIBLE TABLE CLOTH

I wanted to highlight the dishes a little more and I didn’t quite have the right color placemat so I went with a glass charger instead. The charger has a little beaded design around the rim which adds a little sparkle to the table and still lets you focus on the plate.

Photo Jul 23, 11 34 40 AM CHARGER

The flatware is white with silver threads running through it, very simple. This will match my tray and coffee accessories.

Photo Jul 23, 11 28 18 AM (1) FLATWARE

I decided to put the coffee pot, creamer and sugar bowl on a separate tray. 

Having everything on the tray looks nice and neat.

I have had this silver tray with white handles and matching coffee pot and accessories for 30 years since I got married. It has seen a lot of tablescapes.

Photo Jul 23, 2 01 30 PM TRAY

No breakfast table is complete without flowers, so I added some white heather to a new vase I just bought.

I keep a box in my garage cabinet of all artificial flowers that I use for my tablescapes and this bunch was just right. 

This vase is my new Homegoods find that I am in love with. A vase from Italy for $7.99. I loved the pattern the minute I saw it and it was perfect because I incorporate the color green in a lot of my tables.

The only downfall is that it is very thin (that is what you get for $7.99), so you have to be extra careful with it.

Photo Jul 23, 11 26 48 AM VASE

 In addition to my floral centerpiece, I thought a bowl with fresh cherries would look lovely as an addition to the table.

Instead of a fruit bowl, I thought of something else I could use. I received this 1 qt. enamelware colander for Christmas last year and thought of it immediately because it has a cherry design.

Photo Jul 23, 11 17 20 AM COLANDER

This colander is wonderful because it comes with a drain plate so you can leave your washed fruit on the table.

Photo Jul 23, 1 19 21 PM TRAY WITH CHERRIES 2

It is part of the Barbara Gullett collection for the company Golden Rabbit.

Photo Jul 23, 1 17 20 PM COLANDER WITH CHERRIES

In addition to the cherry design, it comes in blackberry, herbs, lettuce, radish and strawberry.

I know I sound like an ad for the company but I am not being paid by them, I just love this product. While I am at it, even the box is beautiful if you give it as a gift. Okay, I’m done.

Photo Jul 23, 1 01 09 PM GIFT BOX

If you have a similar decorative colander and don’t want to use it to serve fresh fruit on your table, use it for a floral arrangement. Colanders looks nice in the summer filled with sunflowers or daisies.

Breakfast was delicious and Bob loved having cake for breakfast. I felt like I was a little girl back in time, having breakfast with mom.

I hope you enjoyed discovering along with me, one of my buried treasures from my mother. 

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Photo Jul 23, 12 51 54 PM CLOSE

Cherry Crostata

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1 lb. of cherries (stems and pits removed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten OR 2 tbsp. orange marmalade (with 1 tsp. water)
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
  •  
  • Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add the cherries, orange juice, zest, cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt, and mix thoroughly to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a 10-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cooks Note: sprinkle a layer of very fine breadcrumbs on the dough before you add the cherry mixture. This will prevent the bottom of the crostata from getting soggy from any of the cherry juice.

Pour cherry mixture into the middle of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit to enclose and make a 2-inch crust all the way around the crostata. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.

In a small bowl, mix together the marmalade and water. Brush the marmalade mixture onto the 2-inch crust. Sprinkle crust with turbinado sugar.

Place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. 

Bake crostata until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream 

Cooks Note: Use store-bought frozen and thawed cherries for a shortcut!

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

For those of you who prefer a homemade pie crust, this is the recipe that I use…

Basic Pie Crust by Martha Stewart

YIELD: ONE 9-INCH CRUST

Ingredients:  

  • 1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  3. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough to a 14-inch round with a floured rolling pin. Wrap dough around rolling pin, discarding paper; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate (opposite). Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough).
  4. Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim and press to seal. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp rim of crust. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

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

Cherry Crumb Muffins…

Adapted from a blueberry crumb recipe for the website  KITCHEN GENIUS.

35 minutes  – yields 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line or butter muffin tin.
  2. To make topping: put flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl and toss together. Add in the cold butter bits, and toss to coat, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside the mix in the refrigerator while you prepare the batter.
  3. For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and fold together quickly to blend. Fold in the cherries. The batter will be lumpy.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, sprinkle some topping over each muffin, and use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

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

Enjoy!

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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.

Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights…

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

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well. 

I have been away from posting for quite a while and missed all of you. I was away because I had a lot of things going on at once. I had a wonderful few weeks with my son who was visiting during his vacation. We had a great time and we were out and about every day and I had no time to post.

 

For my husband and I, having our son home makes our home complete.

Also during my absence, I celebrated a milestone birthday and turned 60-years old!

Photo Apr 11, 11 47 20 AM (1) 60 Balloons @2

I don’t know where the years have gone and it seems the older I get, the quicker the years pass but I am very happy to celebrate this milestone birthday. My son was still home and having him celebrate my birthday with me was the best gift I could have ever received. 

I apologize to those who wrote and wanted a new Easter tablescape. I promise you, you will have one next year. And I want to thank those who sent e-mails to see if I was okay when I hadn’t posted. I was overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.

Now for today’s post …

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

The name of this post is “Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights”.

 Some of you who have been members since DishingwithDiane began three years ago will remember the story I told about my grandmother and eating polenta with mushroom sauce off of her special pastry board. When Grandma called for “polenta night”, you dropped everything and headed over to her house. No questions asked and there were no excuses not to show up. It was as sacred as going to church, you couldn’t miss it.

(This photo is an idea of how the polenta was served on the board at grandma’s house minus the bowls, and Grandma made a lot more polenta.)

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 16 PM -INTRO 1- POLENTA AND BREAD -BOARD

Not too long ago, I went to lunch with some of my friends and we were talking about family traditions and I mentioned eating polenta off the board at Grandma’s house. Some of my friends remembered the earlier post and some never heard the story.

(Here is a recap of my original story for my new members.) 

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

For those of you who are not familiar, Polenta is cornmeal. Sort of like “Italian grits”. The original polenta was cooked stove top, low and SLOW.  And I mean slow. I remember my grandmother and Mom mixing the polenta in simmering water and salt for close to 45 minutes, then adding grated cheese and butter once it became thick and creamy. 

Grandma even had a special spoon to turn the polenta and when I see this spoon in Italian specialty shops, it always makes me smile. 

(A polenta spoon can be purchased online at Fante’s Italian Market if interested. Their website is always fun to browse). 

14227 polenta spoon fantes italian market

Thank God polenta now comes in an instant version that you only need to stir for less than 5 minutes, so I never bought myself the polenta spoon.

I find the best polenta to be “de la Estancia” brand.

Organic and “not gritty” at all, very creamy.

(I purchased this bag at Whole Foods but you can also order it online on Amazon.com)

Photo Apr 21, 2 48 33 PM (1) POLENTA BAG

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

As I said before, when Grandma called and said it was “polenta night”, everyone went over. Her wooden polenta board made a grand appearance at the table. It was huge and spanned the entire table. She had it stored all wrapped up in a clean bed sheet in her hallway closet. And after every use it was washed and oiled before putting it away for the next polenta night.

We all sat around the board at the dining room table and Grandma would spread the hot polenta out of her saucepan onto the board and top it with her famous mushroom sauce (very thick, almost like a Bolognese) and grated cheese. Everyone picked their spot and started to eat and talk and talk and talk. 

As with any Italian family there was more than one conversation going on at a time- we got used to jumping in and out of conversations. 

Back to the polenta…

Polenta starts to get hard around the edges at room temperature and that was always the time that my cousins and I wanted to become creative and make a design in the polenta.

I can’t tell you how many times we ate the polenta with the goal of making it look like the boot of Italy – never happened.

If Grandma had company for dinner outside the immediate family, she served the polenta in bowls with her sauce. Not nearly as much fun.

So after strolling down memory lane at the diner with my friends, I decided to make them polenta on the board so they could experience it first hand. Of course, I will set a place setting with bowls in case eating off the board is not what they had in mind.

I am serving the polenta with a favorite salad of mine, that both my grandmother and mother made all the time. It is so simple, delicious and refreshing – Orange and Fennel Salad. 

Salad was always served in my house after the main meal, so I will be following that tradition with this luncheon as well.

My grandmother served fennel at the end of every meal (especially holidays) to aid with digestion, because God forbid you had heartburn or felt bloated after one of her meals, she would be insulted.

The salad is simple and consists of orange slices or segments, salt, pepper, sliced fennel and olive oil. Done… 

I add some fennel fronds and orange zest before serving for garnish. (olives & sliced red onion are optional).

Photo Apr 21, 7 24 00 PM FENNEL SALAD

I don’t really have a specific recipe for this salad since I just toss it together, so I am printing the recipe at the end of the post from the website Memorie di Angelina with their link if you want to see step by step instructions with photos.

Every Italian meal has bread and I will serve this meal with homemade olive bread. Yes, I said homemade. We all know, I am not the baker but I am going to give this a try. I have to use the no knead bread recipe because homemade dough and I are not best friends – I added kalamata olives.

(Link to Bob’s Red Mill Bread Recipes will be posted at the end of this post.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 08 17 PM OLIVE LOAF

Photo Apr 21, 8 04 39 PM SLICED BREAD

Usually I tell my guests what I am serving for a lunch in case there are food allergy concerns but this is a “surprise lunch” and I have other lunch options on stand by. I made my version of polenta with Grandma’s mushroom sauce, but I added hot sausage for a little kick. 

Photo Apr 21, 8 31 49 PM FOOD CLOSE UP

 While purchasing all the ingredients for this luncheon, I was basking in the memories the polenta brought back to me. The days when all my family was still with us and we were laughing and eating. 

We were always eating!

Polenta, which was once thought of as a peasant meal, has now become quite popular in Italian restaurants.

I hope you try this recipe (with the instant polenta) and enjoy.

If you have any leftover polenta from the saucepan, spread it out onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened, cut rounds out of the polenta (with a wine glass or cookie cutter) and save them wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator. Perfect for any leftover sauce.

You can refrigerate for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Another great tip from my Mom…

Fry the polenta slices the next morning in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Add a fried egg and you now have a polenta breakfast.

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

Since my last post about polenta three years ago, I have purchased my very own polenta board. (How I wish I had my grandmothers. I don’t know what happened to that.) and I have polenta night on occasion and think of Grandma. 

My polenta board is actually made to serve pizza but I have adapted it for polenta and it is also great to add some extra height to a buffet table.

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 06 PM -INTRO FULL TABLE

If you decide to have a polenta dinner party with friends, make different sauces in addition to the mushroom sauce. You could have marinara or pesto sauce if your guests want a lighter sauce. The mushroom / sausage sauce is a bit heavy.

So let’s start a tablescape…

I want this tablescape to feel as if I was eating at a farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany.  I am sure that it would be just a picnic table I would be eating on but I decided to start with one of my favorite tablecloths. 

I am using a cream tablecloth with an olive branch design to transport us back to Italy.

I love anything with this design and I think that is one of the main reasons my kitchen has a Mediterranean theme.

(This tablecloth is polyester which is one material I usually stay away from, but works perfectly for this meal because it is stain resistant. Between the tomato sauce and not eating off a plate, I didn’t want to take the chance and ruin the tablecloth because of a spill. It has a non-stick coating and liquid spills bead up as well.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 00 21 PM TABLECOTH

The napkins are olive green and I am using wooden napkin rings with a sprig of fresh rosemary for an earthy touch.

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 13 PM NAPKIN AND RING

Here is something new for me, NO placemats or chargers for this rustic table.

Just a salad dish and a pasta bowl. Pasta bowl for the polenta if you’re not ready to eat off the board and a salad dish to enjoy my salad at the end of the meal. I wanted to make this meal exactly as Grandma did. 

I do have the perfect dishes for this tablescape…It is very rare for me to purchase a square plate, but I saw these dishes and knew they would be a perfect addition to my Mediterranean kitchen. 

The dishes are cream porcelain with a pattern of green and black olives. The pattern is part of the “Olive Branch” Dinnerware Collection and is manufactured by Lorren Home Trends. As an added bonus, the dishes are both microwave & dishwasher safe.

Photo Apr 21, 7 09 02 PM DISHES

My only complaint with the set, is that the coffee cups are the size of demitasse cups and nothing you could use for morning coffee.

Photo Apr 21, 7 11 07 PM DISH SET

Flatware will be brown for that earthy feel… 

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 41 PM FLATWARE

and my glassware will be clear stemless wine glasses.

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 19 PM GLASSWARE

And now for the star of the show…the polenta board. It also doubles as my centerpiece.

Photo Apr 21, 6 55 27 PM POLENTA BOARD

 I just love this board. I found it while getting in some retail therapy and searching Google for a polenta board. 

(I do my best shopping online late at night).

Before I used it, I washed it with a damp cloth and then oiled it with food grade mineral oil, that you can purchase in Bed, Bath & Beyond.

For my table accents, I am borrowing everyday items from my kitchen. Starting with olive branch salt and pepper shakers. As you all know by now, I LOVE to use salt & pepper shakers to carry a theme. It is an easy inexpensive accent that adds so much to the table.

 The salt and pepper shakers are by Bonita Home and match the dinnerware in cream ceramic with the olive branch design.

Photo Apr 21, 7 57 25 SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS

Another accent is an 8 inch artificial olive tree wrapped in burlap purchased at Ballard Design that I keep on my kitchen window sill. It adds so much to my kitchen and is a cute accent for this tablescape. (If you’re are not familiar with Ballard Design, it is a European inspired home furnishing store. There are a few retail stores but most items can be purchased on their website.)

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 38 PM OLIVE TREE

Adding to the olive branch theme is a water pitcher that I bought in Sur La Table a few years back. Not the same manufacturer but it blends in perfectly.

You always have to shop your house first.

Photo Apr 21, 7 01 49 PM PITCHER

Some matching dish towels from the kitchen for any spills and now I am done.

Photo Apr 21, 6 56 05 PM TOWELS

Well almost... The polenta board tablescape may be complete but not the polenta board lunch.

In addition to the salad and homemade crusty olive bread, there is always room for dessert and I chose to make another Italian favorite- Olive Oil Orange Cake. I remember my parents eating this cake for breakfast with coffee.

It is close to a sponge cake and doesn’t have a strong taste of olive oil at all. It has the hint of orange flavor and Bob tells me that it tastes like the filling of sfogliatelle pastry.

Photo Apr 21, 7 06 54 PM OLIVE CAKE

Photo Apr 21, 8 07 03 PM CAKE SLICE

I don’t have my grandmother’s original recipe, so I adapted this cake recipe with a few tweaks from the recipe on the website Italian Food Forever. Deborah Mele is one of my favorite chefs and I have been following her for years. I suggest you visit her website, ItalianFoodForever. (The link to this site is posted with the recipe.)

All my friends were good sports and ate off the board (made clean up a lot easier) and some are going to try this dish with their families. It is a lot of fun. Between the salad, bread, polenta and cake, this was the perfect meal.

Table Setting

(I set the table just in case bowls were preferred).

Photo Apr 21, 7 58 55 PM TABLE SETTING

(Don’t forget the recipes at the end of the post)!

Enjoy!!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become a member of DishingwithDiane.com by entering their e-mail in the box in the right hand column of the home page or join via Facebook.

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

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

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Recipes 

Polenta with Mushroom and Sausage Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz.) box or bag of instant polenta 

1- 1/2 lbs. mixed mushrooms (white button, baby bellas, shiitake and oyste are a good choice)- diced

4 sausage links- I usually use 2 hot and 2 sweet- casings removed

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 large onion- chopped

2 cloves of garlic-minced

salt and pepper to taste

dash of red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine 

1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth

2 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced

2 tsp. corn starch OR 1/2 cup heavy cream … (I use the heavy cream method)

8 oz. unsalted tomato sauce

5 oz. unsalted butter – divided

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 tsp. ground fennel (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the sausage meat and brown.

Add another pinch of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground fennel and mix well with the onion / sausage mixture. (Adjust spices to your liking).

Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft with a golden-brown color. 

Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan from the sausage.

Cook until wine has evaporated.

Add the 8 oz. can of unsalted tomato sauce and 2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley. 

Add the beef or vegetable broth –reserving 1/4 cup of broth if you are using corn starch.)

Stir the 1/4 cup broth with the 2 tsp. cornstarch until dissolved. Add the cornstarch and broth mixture to the skillet to thicken the sauce. OR * 1/2 cup heavy cream can be substituted for the cornstarch and broth mixture.

Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Taste for seasoning.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare your polenta according to package directions. 

When the polenta is done add 3 tbsp. butter and 1 cup (or more) grated cheese. Mix well and then take off the heat.

Once the sauce is off the heat, add 2 more tbsp. butter and mix well.

Ladle the polenta into shallow bowls if you are not going to be using a polenta board and top with the sauce. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

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Fennel and Orange Salad

Recipe courtesy of http://memoriediangelina.com

Ingredients

  • 3-4 fennel bulbs, preferably not too large
  • 4 or 5 oranges
  • Best quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few black olives for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Prep the fennel: Trim the fennel bulbs top and bottom. If you’re working with a larger, older fennel, particularly one that is spotted like this one, remove the outer layer. Now cut the bulb into quarters, then slice each quarter very thinly from top to bottom, making sure that each slice has a bit of the base, which will hold the slice together.
  2. Prep the oranges: Trim them top and bottom, then take a paring knife and cut from top to bottom along the sides, between the pith (the bitter white stuff just under the peel) and the flesh. Once the orange is peeled, trim off as much of any remaining pith as you can, then slice the orange horizontally into thin, rounds.
  3. Compose the salad: Arrange the fennel and orange slices decoratively on a serving plate (or, even better, on individual plates if you have the time). Season with salt and, if you like, freshly ground pepper. Garnish with the black olives if using and drizzle everything very generously with the olive oil. And for an elegant final touch, if you like, top with bits of fennel frond.

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No-Knead Artisan Olive Bread

Recipe Courtesy of https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/

 

Ingredients:

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Add in chopped olives and gently mix in with your hands just enough to incorporate them . Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature for 10 hours (or overnight).
  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a 4 qt. Dutch oven into the preheated oven, without lid, for 30 minutes.
  3. While Dutch oven heats, turn risen dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands, dust loaf lightly with flour. Cover dough loosely with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. Then, with floured hands, carefully place loaf in preheated dutch oven.
  4. With a very sharp knife, slit the top of the loaf in several places.
  5. Cover Dutch oven with its lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 12 minutes more.
  6. Remove loaf from Dutch oven and cool completely before slicing.

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Olive Oil Orange Cake 

This delicious recipe brought to you by Italian Food Forever 
http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2013/07/olive-oil-orange-cake/

ingredients:

  • 2 Small Seedless Oranges
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin!)
  • 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Dash of Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

To Garnish:

  • Powdered Sugar

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring-form pan.
  2. Cut off a small slice of the thicker top and bottom parts of each orange, discard these pieces, and then cut the rest of the oranges (flesh and peel) into chunks.
  3. Place them in a food processor and puree until blended but with some texture left.
  4. Add the oil to the oranges and pulse until blended.
  5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy and then slowly add in the sugar.
  7. Begin to add the egg mixture in three parts alternating with the orange mixture just stirring until combined. (Be careful not to over mix which will deflate the eggs and create a dense cake.)
  8. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool before slicing.

Enjoy!