Category Archives: Holiday Tablescapes

Happy Easter 2016

2016-03-26 22.28.13 - INTRO

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

Hi everyone, 

I hope you are all having a beautiful beginning of Spring, even though here in the Northeast we had a little snow on the first day of Spring to say our final good bye to Winter.

Holy Week is such a busy time, we were all getting ready for Easter and baking our traditional breads and pies. I have posted my family recipes for Pizza Dolce (sweet pie) and Pizza Rustica (meat and cheese pie) at the end of the post.

Easter is a little early this year and Palm Sunday seemed to sneak up on us right after we celebrated St. Joseph’s Day.

Still having a very busy month of March, so my Easter table is a lot simpler for me   than last year.

2016-03-26 22.26.19- EXTRA 2

I am starting out with the cutest tablecloth; it is a white bunny and pastel floral printed design on a natural beige background.

2016-03-26 21.47.13 - TABLECLOTH

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Now for the dishes. I loved the combination from last year of the white dinner plate and the star of our show, “Sofie the Bunny” salad plates from Pier 1. The plates have soft shades of yellow, blue, red, orange and brown surrounding “Sofie the Bunny” along with flowers and butterflies with a beautiful scalloped edge to the plate.

2016-03-26 22.20.19-  EASTER DISHES

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While shopping for a few table accents, I saw bunny napkins that I thought would add to my “bunny theme” perfectly.

2016-03-26 20.29.25 NAPKIN

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 I also spotted sisal grass “bunny” napkin rings. Originally, I wanted the napkin rings to match the sisal grass basket from last year (pictured below) and at the last minute decided not to use the basket for this years table. I am keeping this year pastel.

But of course, I bought the napkins rings anyway.

2015-03-29 01.06.58 - BUNNY BASKET

2016-03-26 21.52.45 - NAPKIN WITH RING

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I am using pastel blue woven placemats since I wanted to keep everything very soft while still picking up a color from the salad plate.

2016-03-26 21.49.49- PLACEMAT

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I chose glass chargers so the chargers wouldn’t interfere with any of the colors on the plate.

2016-03-26 21.50.02 CHARGER

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 I added to my “Sophie the Bunny” collection this year and purchased two cake plates in the Sophie the Bunny pattern. I am using one to display Easter eggs and chocolate and the second one will be for the traditional Easter bread, “Colomba Di Pasqua”.

2016-03-26 20.58.41 - CAKE PLATE

2016-03-26 20.59.27- CAKE PLATE WITH CANDY

Colomba Di Pasqua is a yeast bread shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. It is similar to a Panettone and filled with raisins and candied orange peel. Topped off with almonds, sugar and baked on almond icing to give it a sweet crust.

In my family, we would always have Colomba for breakfast on Easter. My mother would buy the traditional classic flavor but I have branched out into buying the Colomba with chocolate chunks added.

I find that the Colomba from the Bonifanti company is by far the best.

March 2013 - Easter Cakes 002  WITH FRAME

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The flatware is my favorite everyday set in gold and silver.

2016-03-26 21.54.00 - FLATWARE

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I am using light lime goblets to add to the pastel theme and pick up yet another color in the salad plate.

2016-03-26 22.21.19 - GLASSWARE

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Every year on my table, no matter what the theme I choose, dishes or tablecloth I use, my two white ceramic rabbits will always be added to my tablescape.

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to include them.

2016-03-26 22.00.19- CERAMIC BUNNIES

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Last year I bought more ceramic bunnies for the table, and they are little “love bunnies”. I think I will add them every year as well; they are just too cute.

2016-03-26 21.55.49- LOVE BUNNIES

Here is the description and card that came with them.

2016-03-26 22.03.51- CARD

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Since there are so many bunnies on the table this year, I thought that it would be cute to add a few table accents of carrots. I bought these cloth carrots tied in small bundles and placed each trio near my white ceramic bunnies.

2016-03-26 21.58.57 CARROTS

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Adding to the pastel color scheme, I chose pastel egg cups that pick up even more of the colors in the salad plate. My husband bought me these egg cups as a no special occasion gift and I just love them (and my husband too of course).

He has become quite the shopper over the years when it comes to tableware.

Each cup has a delicate flower painted inside. I am using artificial speckled foam eggs for each place setting.

2016-03-26 20.39.02- EGG CUPS

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My centerpiece is very basic; a large bunch of assorted colored tulips. Nice, bright and it just says Easter and Spring. I have displayed them in my favorite Waterford vase.

2016-03-26 22.26.34  EXTRA 1

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And for me, Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without my favorite confection, ” PEEPS”.

 Peeps was the “first” candy I looked for in my Easter basket as a child and I have to buy them each year.

Have to admit, I enjoy them more when they are a little stale.

I am displaying Peeps around the table this year on a different set of white ceramic salad plates that are shaped like, what else? A white bunny.

2016-03-26 20.59.51 BUNNY PLATE

Peeps on display

2016-03-26 21.56.13 PEEPS

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 The last addition to my table is a white ceramic bunny candy dish. I made a promise to myself not to fill the candy dish with jelly beans until Easter Sunday.

There are too many goodies in the house for this holiday.

2016-03-26 21.56.53 - CANDY DISH

And that is my tablescape for Easter 2016.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and I wish you many blessings always.

Happy Easter !

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

2016-03-26 22.29.22 - BUFFET

Place Setting

2016-03-26 21.06.58 PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Bunny Tablecloth from Amazon

Bunny napkins from Pier 1

Sisal grass bunny napkin rings from Pier 1

Pastel blue placemats from Homegoods

Glass charger plates from Crate and Barrel

White Gibson dinner plate from Homegoods

“Sophie the Bunny” salad plate from Pier 1

Cake plate from Pier 1

Flatware from everyday set

Glassware from the Dollar Store

White ceramic bunnies from Pottery Barn

White ceramic “love bunnies” from Pier 1

Cloth carrot trios from Pier 1

Pastel egg cups from Homegoods

White bunny salad plates from Pottery Barn

White ceramic bunny candy dish from Target

Foam speckled eggs from Pier 1

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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

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

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

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The first pie is Pizza Dolce, (Italian sweet pie).

2016-03-14 16.41.40- pizza dolce

It is an Italian cheesecake made with ricotta, eggs, milk, sugar and extracts. It is definitely not a low-calorie pie.

INGREDIENTS:

24 eggs

3 lbs. Whole milk ricotta cheese (large container)  

1 qt. Whole milk 

1 oz. lemon extract 

1 oz. almond extract 

1 oz. vanilla extract 

1 oz. anise extract

Zest of ½ a medium lemon 

3 ½ cups sugar 

Colored confetti sprinkles (aka: rainbow nonpareil)

 DIRECTIONS

 Add eggs, milk and ricotta in a blender until smooth (I divide this to 1/3 at a time), transfer to a large bowl.

When completed, add extracts, sugar, lemon zest and mix well.

Spray two 9 ½ X 11 inch GLASS pans with Pam. Fill each pan ¾ of the way full—add rainbow confetti on top of mixture.

Place in a 350-degree oven for approx. 1 ½ hours. (More sprinkles can be added during the cooking time).

 (1 fluid oz. = 6 tsp or 2 TBSP)            This recipe makes 2 pans

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Pizza Rustica

2016-03-15 13.24.37 - pizza rustica ingred..use this

2016-03-15 22.21.40- pizza rustica 2016

2016-03-16 02.28.44- pizza rustica close

The second pie is Pizza Rustica and my absolute favorite.

It is a classic Italian Easter pie made with cured Italian meats, Italian cheeses and bound together with eggs. We usually eat thin slices of Pizza Rustica as an antipasto before a traditional lamb dinner, and it can be served either warm or cold .

This pie is also a main part of “Easter Monday” or “La Pasquetta” which means little Easter.

Easter Monday is a national holiday in Italy. Italians leave the city and head to the country, the beach or the mountains for a family picnic. Pizza Rustica, frittata, Easter bread, wine and chocolate biscotti are all on the menu.

The whole point is to celebrate the return of Spring.

We always celebrated Easter Monday when I was a child.

Depending on what region of Italy you are from, the name of this recipe may vary. It is also called Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Gaina and Pizza Piena .  

However, Easter is called Pasqua and Buona Pasqua means Happy Easter in Italy… no matter what region you are from!

Ingredients:

¼ lb prosciutto

1 stick soppressata (or mix half sweet and half hot)

1 stick pepperoni salami

¼ lb hot capicola

6-8 slices of genoa salami

1 basket fresh cheese…….NOT Mozzarella –– usually sold in a 2 lb baskets at the Italian market. Let it drain in a colander overnight and when ready to use squeeze out any excess liquid. (Use a wooden spoon or fingers to crumble)

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13 large eggs

¼ cup half and half

¼ cup grated provolone

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Nutmeg (approx 2 shakes)

½ Cup fresh Italian parsley

Black pepper

Salt – can be omitted because the cold cuts are salty

2 egg yolks & a tsp of sugar for the glaze

Two 1 lb balls of pizza dough ( either homemade, or from a pizzeria)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

  1. Cut first six ingredients (meat and cheese) into small bite size pieces & mix together in a large bowl (This prep work can be done on one day and assemble the pie the next day).
  2. When ready to assemble, add Romano cheese, Mozzarella cheese, provolone, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper to prior meat and cheese mixture
  3. Prepare small roasting pan or spring-form pan, with olive oil to coat the bottom and sides. Cut pizza dough and shape to form a bottom layer WITH SIDES and a top layer of dough. (If you don’t want a full top layer, cut the dough in strips and criss cross on top with no venting)
  4. After shaping the bottom layer of dough in the pan–add the meat and cheese mixture. Separately, beat the 13 eggs and half and half, and pour over dry mixture in pan and MIX WELL. Add top layer of dough (or strips)
  5. Roll top & bottom layers of dough together around the sides to seal. Vent the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife several times.
  6. Add sugar to the EGG YOLKS and brush the top of the pie to prepare a glaze when cooking.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hr to 1 hr /15 minutes….
  8. For the first 30 minutes cover the pie with aluminum foil.For the remaining 45 minutes bake uncovered. If using a spring-form pan-let pie stand 15 minutes –then release pan sides and transfer to plate. Can be served warm or cold.

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St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day

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

Hi Everyone, 

What a crazy month I am having; a lot of social obligations. Not a moment to spare to set a new St. Patrick’s Day or St. Joseph’s Day table this year; so for my members who want to review the recipes, I am posting the links from last year’s tablescapes and holiday recipes.

Enjoy!

2015-03-14 17.59.33- EXTRA LEPRECHAUN

St. Patrick’s Day- March 17th

Click the link below for the post and recipes!

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2015/03/15/saint-patricks-day/

St Patrick’s Day Recipes included in the post…

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage

(photo courtesy- hecooksshewines.com)

AND

Mini Shepherd’s Pie

Mini-Shepherds-PIes3-600x896

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5547597178_9560e0b681_z- st joseph altar USE

St. Joseph’s Day – March 19th

Click the link below for the post and recipes!

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2015/03/08/saint-josephs-day/

St Joseph’s Day Recipes included in the post…

Minestrone Soup

2015-03-07 20.14.23- MINESTRONE FOR BLOG

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Bucatini with Anchovy Garlic Sauce with toasted Bread crumbs

2015-03-08 13.03.08- MY BUCATINI FOR BLOG

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Zeppole di San Giuseppe pastry

2015-03-07 23.40.39 - St joseph pastry for blog

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Fig Cookies (Cucciadate)

10432988_10203212085284693_4395128701798220187_n- cuccidate from Paula Gati

(photo courtesy- Born Again Italian)

AND

Fava Beans (no photo)

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day with your family and friends.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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

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

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

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Happy Valentine’s Day 2016

Happy-valentines-day-HD-wallpaper-2016 - 2(photo courtesy of happybirthdaycakeimages.com)

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

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I know everyone is busy making plans for Valentine’s Day, either with their special someone or friends and family. 

Last year Bob and I we went out to a cozy little Italian restaurant for a light lunch and came home for dinner later that evening to heart shaped ravioli, a salad with heart shaped beets, chocolate covered strawberries and cupcakes.

2015-02-08 15.42.45- USE ravioli 2

Heart shaped ravioli for Valentine’s Day

(I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the shape for the beets).

2015-02-08 15.39.14-USE salad

Valentine’s Day salad with beet “heart” cut outs

2015-02-08 14.14.07- USE strawberry

Valentine’s Day

2015-02-08 15.20.17- use 4

Valentine’s Day

The older I get, the more I want cozy and quiet. I don’t need to go out to a restaurant for the overcrowded “Special Valentine’s Day” Dinner. Although it is quite entertaining to watch young couples out for the evening on Valentine’s Day. Bob and I have this little observation game we play to guess how long the couple has been together based on the way they act and look at each other.

Bob and I have been together for 31 years, so we have some experience with this.

This year, once again we will celebrate the official holiday with a quiet cozy dinner at home instead of dinner out. 

Bob and I celebrate Valentine’s Day every day of the year. I am very fortunate to have married such a loving and caring man and I am grateful every day.

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Last year I posted a Valentine’s Day Breakfast table.

2015-02-10 05.55.40 - opening table

and a Valentine’s Day Dinner table,

2015-02-08 14.19.34- USE candlelight

Valentine’s Day

so this year, I am posting a 

Valentine’s Day Dessert table. 

2016-02-12 22.47.56- INTRO

For dessert this year I am setting up a chocolate fondue pot. Bob and I received this fondue pot as a wedding gift and this is the third time I have used it.

2016-02-12 20.24.44- FONDUE POT

I placed the fondue pot on a white ceramic cheese board and added the most adorable red ceramic “love birds”. 

2016-02-12 20.07.19- LOVE BIRDS

2016-02-24 21.13.32- BIRDS THAT MATE FOR LIFE

I’ve made cheese fondue before, but this time it will be Chocolate Fondue. 

You have to have chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

( I have the recipe posted below).

So let’s start the tablescape….

 I have decided on a pink tablecloth! Nice and cheery.

I am not using the matching cloth napkins. I picked up the cutest luncheon napkins that look like conversation heart candies. 

2016-02-13 01.37.35 - TC & NAPKIN

 Trying to keep to a pink, red and white color scheme; the placemats are red and the chargers are white.

2016-02-12 20.22.32- PLACEMAT AND CHARGER

This time, NO dinner plates. I am using pink paper luncheon plates on top of the chargers. (easy clean up)

2016-02-12 21.59.29 - PINK PAPER PLATE

Even though the fondue is delicious on it’s own, I still have to have cupcakes on Valentine’s Day.  

At each place setting I placed a Valentine’s Day cupcake in a heart shaped ceramic dish surrounded by holiday colored M & M’s. (another candy I love)

2016-02-12 20.08.14- RED DISH -USE

2016-02-12 20.20.24 -  RED DISH CUPCAKE

I am also serving two of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats, Peeps and conversation hearts. Loved these since I was a child.

It’s just not Valentine’s Day without them.

Now I needed a serving bowl for the treats and I chose red martini glasses. 

Think about how you can re-purpose what you already own.

Golden rule: shop your house first. 

I like the way the red matches both the placemat and ceramic heart dish and it also adds a bit of color to the tablescape.

I think I have enough candy for the dessert table.

2016-02-13 01.03.41 RED MARTINI

2016-02-12 20.21.42 -MARTINI CANDY

For my drinking glasses, I am using decorated goblets with hearts. 

2016-02-12 20.29.21-- GLASSWARE

The flatware is good old reliable red.

2016-02-12 22.02.01 - RED FLATWARE

Now I had to think about what to serve as dippers for the fondue. My final choice was bananas, strawberries, cantaloupe, marshmallows, pretzels, pineapple and pound cake.

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To add to the theme, I cut the pound cake into little hearts.

2016-02-12 22.49.31 - POUND CAKE CLOSE UP

Trying to have as many hearts on the table as possible, I added heart shaped mirrors to place some votive candles on.

2016-02-12 20.28.54  MIRROR

 I had to get candles on the table, so I bought votive candle holders with more hearts painted on.

2016-02-12 22.04.05- VOTIVES

2016-02-12 22.04.14 VOTIVE CLOSE

Now to serve all the dipping goodies for the fondue, I am using various cake stands that I have collected over the years.

 The white with red ribbons cake stand, I received as a “Good Luck” gift when I started the blog last year and I just LOVE it.

2016-02-12 22.04.58 - CAKE WITH RIBBONS

The second white cake stand fits so perfectly with the theme of the table because of the colored hearts design.

2016-02-12 20.25.19- HEART CAKE STAND

And the third cake stand blends into the tablescape perfectly with it’s delicate shade of pink glass.

2016-02-12 22.06.15- PINK CAKE  FINAL

Last year I purchased felt confetti that look like conversation heart candies so I am using the same confetti again this year.

2016-02-12 22.01.13 - CONFETTI

A few heart danglers from the light fixture and we are all set.

2016-02-24 21.14.01- DANGLERS

2016-02-12 22.51.47 BUFFET

Place Setting

2016-02-12 22.22.43 -PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Pink tablecloth from Linens and Things

Paper Conversation heart napkins from Target

Pink paper luncheon plates from Target

Fondue set was a wedding gift

White ceramic cheese board from Target

Red “love birds” from Pier 1

Red flatware from Homegoods

White chargers from Pfaltzgraff

Red woven placemats from Homegoods

Red ceramic heart shaped dishes from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Valentine’s Day goblets from Marshalls

Red Martini glasses from Crate and Barrel

White cake stand with red ribbon was a “good luck” gift when I started the blog.

Heart cake stand from Sur La Table

Pink glass cake stand from Pier 1

Heart danglers from Amazon

Heart shaped Mirrors from Oriental Trading

Heart votive candle holders from Amazon

Felt conversation heart confetti from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

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2016-02-12 22.51.55 EXTRA 1 TO WINDOW

Chocolate Fondue Recipe

Recipe By:EAGLE BRAND(R)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND(R) Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate chips and butter with EAGLE BRAND(R) condensed milk and water. Cook and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla.
  2. Serve warm as a fruit and cookie/cracker dipping sauce or drizzle over ice cream or cake. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

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I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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

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

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

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images- valentines day 1(photo courtesy of 10-themes.com)

Happy New Year 2016 – Lentil Soup

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

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

Hi Everyone,

From my family to yours, have a very Happy, Healthy New Year.

All the best to you in 2016.

It is customary in many countries around the world to eat “Good Luck” foods to ring in the New Year.

On New Year’s Day in the Italian tradition it is customary to eat Lentils and Cotechino Sausage. The lentils, because they are shaped like little coins symbolize good fortune and prosperity. The cotechino, is a big pork sausage that’s boiled over low heat for about four hours before serving. When sliced, the pieces also look like coins and is meant to give wealth in the new year. My grandmother would also add spinach to the lentils because it is green and resembles the color of money.

So to keep with tradition, I wanted to share my recipes for Lentils with you. 

2015-01-01 20.58.20- replace soup

Diane’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely

I have also used a 1/2 lb. of chopped bacon or pancetta sautéed in a small amount of oil as the first step.

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • (sauté bacon or pancetta if using) or add the ham bone.
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic, tomato paste and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese

 Cooks Note- salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

 I hope you try this recipe and it brings you and your loved ones,

good fortune in 2016 !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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

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

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

Thanksgiving Holiday

2015-11-29 01.24.57 - INTRO

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

Hi everyone,

I was so busy shopping & cooking for the holiday that I didn’t have time to post my Thanksgiving tablescape, so here it is. I thought it was so sweet that so many of you sent me emails to see if I was okay because the post wasn’t up on Thanksgiving. I am fine, thank you.

I hope you all had a very lovely Thanksgiving with your family and friends. This year for us it was only dinner for two; our son could not be with us this year.

Although, if you saw what I cooked, it looked like dinner for 20. I love, love, love Thanksgiving. It has been my favorite holiday since I was a child. Even though we were only two, I prepared all the traditional foods for this holiday. I just couldn’t eliminate anything.

(I’ll post some food pictures at the end of the post).

Every year after cooking for two days, I say that I am going to cut down on what I prepare for the next year and then while food shopping, my Italian gene kicks in and I go overboard.

Every dish I prepare is a memory and a link to when my family was still here with me. How I wish those days could come back.

The only thing I did change this year was the size of the turkey because it was only Bob and I.

2015-11-29 01.28.58 - INTRO II - CLOSE UP

This year my Thanksgiving tablescape was completely different from years past.

I usually have solid dinnerware in fall colors with matching chargers along with turkey accent plates and platters. Some autumn colored votive candles and autumn leaves scattered around the table on a leaf design tablecloth. Not this year….

1393071_10202673799509100_2146320635_n--- old thanksgiving place setting

This year something new caught my eye.

Pumpkin designed dinnerware.

Every Fall catalog that I received from either Pier 1, William Sonoma, Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn had pumpkin designed dinnerware; but one pattern really caught my eye and that was from Pier 1 (Pier 1 has become my 2nd home these days).

What attracted me the most to the dishes was the glazed crackled finish giving it some Old World charm. The dish is an off white crackled background with pumpkins and vines in soft colors of orange, beige and olive green.

2015-11-29 00.57.51 DISHES

Now a photo of the complete set…

2015-11-29 00.58.58 COMPLETE DISHES

 I bought a pumpkin tablecloth last year that I never used that I thought would look great with these dishes since it had a similar pumpkin and vine design.

2015-11-28 09.06.23 - THANKSGIVING TABLECLOTH

I am using my annual Thanksgiving napkins in assorted autumn colors and a bronze pumpkin napkin ring.

2015-11-29 00.42.54 NAPKINS

Since you all know by now that that primo course of our Thanksgiving menu is “Uncle Vinny soup”; I am keeping with the pumpkin theme and using a glazed ceramic pumpkin soup tureen with matching pumpkin soup bowls. The soup tureen and bowls are sage green in a glazed finish.  

(I didn’t display the soup bowls in my pictures so you could get a good look at the pumpkin dishes; but we used them during dinner).

This is my go to soup tureen for this holiday. I should just rename this the “Uncle Vinny soup tureen & bowl set”, since I only use it once a year for this soup.

2015-11-29 01.02.32 - SOUP TUREEN

The chargers I chose are the same ceramic chargers in solid autumn colors that I use every year. They are just perfect for the holiday. I have had these chargers for many years and they are in assorted colors of olive green, gold and bronze.

2015-11-29 00.45.22 CHARGERS

At first I was undecided if I wanted to use a placemat and then after going through my collection, I decided to use a woven placemat with autumn colors of gold, bronze, rust and brown .

2015-11-29 00.48.42 - PLACEMAT

I am using my everyday flatware in a gold and silver. 

2015-11-29 00.54.11 -FLATWARE

The glassware I selected were gold goblets; another Thanksgiving favorite. Unfortunately, while taking them out of the box, we discovered that two were broken. Since I didn’t have enough remaining to set the table, I quickly switched to a plain clear goblet.

2015-11-29 01.49.24 CLEAR GOBLET

Just to show you the gold goblet, I took a picture and Bob and I used them for a cocktail. (About that later).

2015-11-29 01.50.19 AMBER GOBLET

Now for the centerpiece. Every year I use my ceramic cornucopia as part of my centerpiece. This year I decided to put the cornucopia in a natural basket along with pumpkins, chestnuts and the most beautiful candles.

I had to buy these candles as soon as I saw them because the colors match the colors in the dish perfectly.

2015-11-29 01.22.56 CENTERPIECE

I placed pumpkin votive candle holders on each side of the centerpiece with a pumpkin spice scented candle. The house smells wonderful.

You know I love candles.

2015-11-29 00.36.41 PUMPKIN VOTIVE

I am using pumpkin salt & pepper shakers,

2015-11-29 00.36.12- PUMPKIN SALT AND PEPPER

and a ceramic pumpkin napkin holder.

2015-11-29 00.37.49 PUMPKIN NAPKIN HOLDER

I am finishing the table with autumn table scatter, 2015-11-29 00.53.29 TABLE SCATTER

and mini ceramic turkey salt & pepper shakers.

 Many times I use salt and pepper shakers for accent pieces on the table to carry the theme and not for salt and pepper.

2015-11-29 00.39.49- TURKEY SALT AND PEPPER

2015-11-29 01.28.16 - BUFFET

Place Setting

2015-11-29 00.41.07- PLACE SETTING

Bob and I toasted the holiday with an Apple Cider Bellini– just delicious!

The recipe is very simple. Rim your glass with cinnamon sugar, fill the glass half way with apple cider & top it off with Prosecco. Garnish with a thin slice of apple.

2015-11-29 01.14.41 -APPLE BELLINI

Here are pictures of my Thanksgiving 2015 turkey, dinner plate & dessert plate.

2015-11-26 19.40.06- Turkey 2015

Of course we started off with Uncle Vinny soup.

2015-11-29 01.59.01 UV SOUP

Along with the turkey, we had sage stuffing, sweet potato casserole, stuffed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, green beans with almonds, cranberries and toasted breadcrumbs and homemade gravy. 

2015-11-29 02.32.22 - DINNER PLATE

And lets not forget dessert…..

Sweet potato pie infused with rum topped with whipped cream.

This was my first attempt at this pie and Bob loved it. 

2015-11-29 01.17.43- PIE

with an ice cream cannoli on the side.

2015-11-29 01.21.22 DESSERT

My annual “guest” to the table is a stuffed animal my Dad gave me and I display it every year. It’s a turkey holding an “Eat Ham” sign.

Shopping in Hallmark with my Dad one day, I thought it was so cute. Next thing I knew, Dad bought it for me and brought it as his guest for Thanksgiving.

2015-11-29 01.51.58 EAT HAM

It was a great meal and now I look forward to making turkey soup and turkey pot pie.

My wish for you are many blessings and I hope your blessings last a lifetime!

Be grateful for the precious gift of family, good friends, good food, a home and good health.

My sincere best wishes always.

2015-11-29 01.26.13- BUFFET I

Table Details

Pumpkin tablecloth from Kohl’s

Autumn napkins from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Chargers from Bloomingdales

Basket from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Placemats from Homegoods

Pumpkin napkin rings from Amazon

Pumpkin napkin holder and salt and pepper shaker- had them too many years to remember

Mini turkey salt and pepper shakers from Crate and Barrel

Pumpkin dinnerware from Pier 1

Pumpkin votive holders from Pier 1

Glazed pumpkin soup tureen and soup bowls from Crate and Barrel

Flatware –  my every day silver and gold set

Table scatter from Pier 1

Gold goblets from Sur La Table

Plain goblets from Marshalls

“Eat Ham” turkey plush from my Dad

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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Happy Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN
2015-10-27 08.21.16- PEEPS GHOST

Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe that October is almost over. My mind is still back at Labor Day.

Is it me or does it seem as if September to December fly by? Maybe it’s because the Halloween candy is out in August and the Christmas decorations are out in September. 

When I was a child, we didn’t see the decorations for the holidays until that particular holiday was upon us and I think we were all much calmer and enjoyed each holiday much better.

The holidays seemed special back then.

I am going to miss October. There are so many things that I love about thimonth that I don’t want to see go away so fast. I love pumpkins and mums on the front steps, apple picking, apple cider, apple cider donuts (my favorite), plus pumpkin & apple pies.

But most of all, I just love decorating for Fall and Halloween.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

October 2011 273 GHOST WITH PUMPKINS - HALLOWEEN BLOG

(I took this picture at Krupski Farm- Long Island, NY)

What other time of year can you have more candy in the house than you will ever need at one time with no explanations as to why and no guilt ?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Of course we all buy a bag (or two) of our favorite candy just for ourselves and not for the trick or treaters coming to our doors. Admit it, we all do it, I’m not judging. I have a weakness for Milky Way Simply Caramel and peanut M & M’s.

I am not into the scary zombies on my front lawn, skeletons, coffins or bloody tablescapes. No, I like to decorate in a different direction. I have been known to display a few “friendly” ghosts here and there outside among my pumpkins, a witches hat decoration on the door and a few bats hanging around. I don’t want to scare the little ones when they come to the door to trick or treat.

I love to see the costumes on the little ones and even the costumes on the pets. I remember preparing my son’s costumes when he was a child. How excited all the kids were while making that big decision as to what to be dressed up as. All the thought that went into the final decision.

Well, if you think about it, to a young child, this is one of the most important choices they will have to make all year; so you have to have patience while they make this big decision.

 I have to say, as crazy as it was getting the Halloween costumes & the parties ready, I sometimes get melancholy for those days and would love to see another Ninja, Power Ranger, or Harry Potter costume hanging around the house with a plastic pumpkin full of candy that I would have to go through before my son even took a bite of  “anything”.

So, let’s get started on this year’s Halloween tablescape…

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-10-27 - INTRO - USE

If I was preparing this tablescape back in the day when my son was a child, it would definitely be a buffet and the tableware would be ALL paper goods and plastic dishes. The centerpiece would have NO candles and would probably just be a large metal spider basket full of cans of Silly String and some small toys – there is just so much candy you can give them. (Is Silly String still even sold today, or have I just shown my age?).

The menu is always the same; Pizza for the kids and for the adults, 3 Bean Turkey Chili with Sour Cream Cornbread.

But this year, I am doing a sit down Halloween table, adults only.

I am starting off with an orange tablecloth with a design of black spiders and black bats on a spider web. 

2015-10-26 09.11.14- HALLOWEEN TABLECLOTH

The napkins are plain and simple. Black napkins with clear Lucite napkin rings.

2015-10-27 09.59.17 - NAPKIN USE

I bought a few plastic spider rings to be added to the napkin ring for a little whimsy and to break up the solid black a little bit. 

2015-10-27 09.59.32- SPIDER RING

I found these great black, orange and white woven placemats in Homegoods that just scream (no pun intended) Halloween and really add to the table. There are two different designs.

One placemat is entirely the orange, black and white pattern. 

2015-10-26 10.59.13- HALLOWEEN PLACEMAT SOLID

The other placemat only has the border in the orange, black and white pattern.

2015-10-26 10.59.24- HALLOWEEN PLACEMAT BORDER

No need for a charger plate with these placemats, because the placemat with the border outlines the dishes perfectly. I am using bright orange ceramic dinner plates and I went with a themed paper plate for the dessert plates. The chili of course will be served in individual ceramic bowls.

2015-10-26 11.01.38- DISHES

Of course for Halloween, the flatware will be black.

2015-10-26 10.02.27 HALLOWEEN FLATWARE

 The glassware for this tablescape are Halloween tumblers with various Halloween designs circling the glass. I found these glasses in Marshall’s many years ago and I use them every year. For an additional added touch, I am using orange and black paper straws.

2015-10-27 12.26.14- GLASSWARE

I am starting off the centerpiece with a few candelabras covered in spider webs. For this adult table, I will light the black tapered candles. I think it’s a nice touch. I wouldn’t recommend tapered candles with children around.

2015-10-27 20.27.1 CANDELABRA

The main focus of the centerpiece is a large metal spider shaped basket complete with a metal spider on the rim (and a fuzzy one thrown in the basket) filled with Halloween shred and what else- CANDY.

2015-10-27 12.25.42 - SPIDER BASKET

Notice the M & M’s and Milky Way bars?  I told you I have a weakness.

2015-10-27 10.01.32 - CANDY BOWL

In addition to the candelabras, I have to have more candles when we lower the lights to eat, so I have added black and orange votive candle holders around the table. I am using pumpkin spice tea light candles and the house smells wonderful.

2015-10-26 10.33.31- CANDLES USE

The table scatter will be none other than candy corn. I think that I am one of the few people who actually EAT candy corn and like it. Of course, I eat each color separately. I don’t know why, a childhood thing.

In addition to the candy corn, a Halloween table just wouldn’t be complete without sugar and honey pumpkin candies and Peeps (my favorite) in the shape of Ghosts.

2015-10-26 11.42.42 - CANDY # 1

My table accents are various shaped Halloween candy dishes. The set includes a bat, cat, pumpkin and ghost. I bought these a few years ago in Sur La Table and this is the first year that I am using them. I packed them so well in my attic Halloween box, I forgot about them. They will soon be filled with candy.

2015-10-26 10.04.22- HALLOWEEN CANDY DISHES

One of my favorite additions every year to my table, is my Frankenstein mug (respectfully known around here as Frankie). He was the base for a bouquet of flowers I received many years ago. Today he is the holder for pretzel sticks. I decided to decorate the pretzels sticks by adding plastic witches fingers. 

2015-10-27 10.05.32- FRANKIE

Another table accent that I usually just use as a decoration on my entrance table by the front door are Halloween salt and pepper shakers. A cute cat and pumpkin and ghost and pumpkin. I have had these so long I don’t even remember where I got them from.

2015-10-26 11.47.46 -HALLOWEEN SALT AND PEPPER

The menu will always stay the same, since it is now a tradition with pizza and chili; but dessert will be Halloween cupcakes in spider cupcake holders. I have added a few sugar googly eyes and sprinkles to each cupcake.

Aren’t these the cutest cupcake holders? I just love them. When I saw them in Crate and Barrel a few years back, I was so happy to find them, you would have thought I won lotto.

2015-10-27 12.24.28 - SPIDER CUPCAKES

I am now ready for all the trick or treaters and of course a piece of candy here and there. (Honestly, I can’t wait until Halloween. I am writing this post and eating peanut M & M’s.) 

I hope you and your family have a very Happy and Safe Halloween!!

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

Diane

2015-10-27 12.38.31- INTRO 2

2015-10-27 10.09.03 - MUMMY

Place Setting

2015-10-27 12.41.50 - PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Tablecloth from Etsy

Napkins from Amazon

Clear napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Dinner plate from Dollar Tree

Dessert plate from Party City

Spider Bowl from Crate and Barrel

Spider Cupcake holders from Crate and Barrel

Black flatware from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Halloween glassware from Marshall’s

Placemats from Homegoods

Candelabras from Terry’s Village

Orange and black votive candle holders from Dollar Tree

Spider webs and candy from Party City

 Halloween shred and cupcake decorations from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Frankie mug from a previous floral arrangement

Orange and black paper straws from Amazon

Halloween salt and pepper shakers- very old, forgot from where

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HALLOWEEN BOO FOR BLOG

(Photo credit: jerseycares.org)

Fourth of July

4th-Of-July2- 4th INTRO

(photo credit: workswyomissing.com)

2015-07-04 00.38.57- INTRO II

Wow, it’s the 4th of July

and that means Summer get togethers with family and friends.

 At the end of the post, along with my recipe, my dear friend Marie Renello of “Proud Italian Cook” has graciously allowed me to post a great 4th of July dessert recipe from her blog.

Fresh Watermelon Cake with Berries and Cream

Wait until you see this, it’s absolutely fabulous and I have included the link to her website so you can see step by step instructions with photos and browse the rest of her great recipes. She is amazing!

A little stroll down memory lane for me before we start the tablescape…

I have always loved this holiday since I was a little girl. My Uncle Vinny (every Italian girl has an Uncle Vinny) used to bring the greatest fireworks and my all time favorite “sparklers” to our home every year. (We won’t mention that they were illegal back then….anyway, the story continues).

My cousins and I couldn’t wait for dusk so he could set off the fireworks. It was a production for him to set up and we all watched in amazement. He would always set up down the block and we weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the preparation. That was rule # 1.

We would lay on blankets on the front lawn, looking up to the sky for the show with all the oohs and aahs that go along with fireworks and then the sparklers would come out. Did I mention they were my favorite?

I still feel like a kid on 4th of July whenever I see sparklers at any special occasion such as a milestone birthday or a wedding.

But before the great fireworks extravaganza there was the barbecue. Oh, the food. My parents took all their hosting events very seriously and of course, being Italian we had more food in one day than you could possibly eat in a month.

We had a traditional antipasto with all the cheeses, cured meats and pickled vegetables – that was just a given. My Grandmother would make Linguine with Crab Sauce from the fresh crabs my Dad caught at Jones Beach Pier. Very often I would go crabbing with Dad and get all the traps ready. I still have the original traps in my attic; but I have never used them without Dad.

Linguine was mandatory, because after all, what is an Italian get together without some sort of macaroni on the table, no matter what the occasion? Then my parents went to town with the rest of the food.

I remember going with my Dad to the Italian food store to get sausage for my Mother’s Sausage and Peppers and skinny sausage rings for the grill. Everything had to be just so. Then there was the butcher to buy the steaks, chicken thighs and lamb for the grill. My Mother would marinate the meat with her “secret recipe” (I wish I knew what was in that).

Can’t forget some sort of fish to grill (most of the time my Father caught the fish himself) and last but not least, the lonely platter of hot dogs and hamburgers and their buns just waiting in case anyone should ask for one. After all, this was an American holiday.

My mom would start with all the side dishes. Caprese salad (home grown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil drizzled with olive oil and some fresh black pepper), roasted peppers in olive oil and Lots of GARLIC (you won’t have a cold with that dish or friends either because you would smell like garlic for days), Potato, onion and string bean salad in oil and red wine vinegar (recipe in Beach Stripe post),  Foccacia with olives and rosemary, tomato salad, pasta salad, rice salad, panzanella salad (stale bread soaked in the juice of tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and onion) and then the American, baked beans, tossed salad and corn on the cob.

Of course this was followed by all types of fruit and Italian pastries, Grandma’s amaretto cream puffs plus apple pie and ice cream. Espresso with anisette, sugar and a tiny piece of lemon peel and “American” coffee as my family called it.

After the fireworks,  Grandma always had some snacks ready in case you were hungry. Yes, I said hungry. The snacks were always zeppoles and calzone stuffed with ricotta and ham. Keep in mind this was all for a dozen people. And yes, we ate the zeppoles and calzones.

Food is Love to any Italian family. What can I say?

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I introduced my potato salad with God forbid, mayonnaise to the party. Mayonnaise was not used at these outdoor barbecues because it could spoil, everything had vinegar in it. I put my potato salad on ice and after much convincing, it was allowed to stand next to all the Italian dishes.

Over the years I have received many compliments on my potato salad, so I wanted to share it with you today. I love sharing recipes with all the DishingwithDiane members.

I made it a tradition in my family that the first time I will ever make this during the year is on the 4th of July. After that, I make it all summer. 

(I have included a recipe for my Potato Salad at the end of the post).

The funny thing is, that with all the Italian influences; you would think that the Italian flag would be flying, but the back yard was decorated in all Red, White and Blue and God Bless America signs and American flags hanging proudly on the back porch and the front of the house.

We are proud Americans of Italian descent.

My grandmother loved this holiday to celebrate America because for her, coming from Italy at a young age, America was truly the land of opportunity.

Fourth-of-July-WhatsApp-Messages- 2ND CHOICE

(photo credit: 4thjulyusa.com)

Now on to the tablescape…

For this tablescape, I chose a very rustic looking dish set. The set is by the American Folk Artist and antiques collector, Warren Kimball and the pattern is called Colonial. It is a melamine dish made to look like a “wooden American flag”. I just felt it fit perfectly for the 4th of July and melamine is shatterproof and perfect for outdoor events.

2015-07-04 00.41.45- DISHES

Now the tablecloth. I am using a navy tablecloth with white stars– just perfect. I never bought the matching napkins to the tablecloth so since this a barbecue; I am using 4th of July paper napkins for the holiday and continued with the flag theme.

2015-07-04 03.41.06 - NAPKIN AND TABLECLOTH

I dug out my galvanized charger plates. (My husband thinks they look like the tops of garbage cans, but I am using them anyway); to continue the rustic feel.

There is just something about these charger plates that also give me the Americana feel and I think they look great with the dishes. Once again, I am using my old stand by, my red woven placemats.

2015-07-04 00.40.46- CHARGER- PLACEMAT

The flatware was an easy choice because when I bought the dishes, I also bought the matching flatware.

2015-07-04 00.40.23 - FLATWARE

I use these dishes and flatware the entire month of July.

Yes, I change my dishes monthly.

What’s a dish collection if you don’t use them? Use your stuff, don’t save it, have fun!

Remember, make every day a celebration!

The glassware, well it was a toss up. Either striped blue and red glasses or the mason jar mugs. I chose the blue and red striped since I just used the mason jar mugs for my Memorial Day tablescape. 

2015-07-04 00.42.44- GLASSWARE

 I wanted to keep the centerpiece simple since the entire tablescape has a lot going on with all the extras on the table.

I am using a water pitcher with a star design and “America the Beautiful” written around the neck of the pitcher.

Let’s move on because I will have that song in my head all day. I think I just stopped singing it from Memorial Day.

I put red, white and blue carnations and Gerber daisies in the pitcher.

2015-07-04 00.54.00-1- CENTERPIECE

Close up of the flowers.

2015-07-04 01.39.55 -FLOWERS 1

I usually use artificial flowers when I entertain outside in the Summer, just in case the real flowers have a mind of their own and wilt in the heat. No one wants a wilted centerpiece.

2015-07-04 00.47.34 - INTRO

I decided to add some galvanized pails that match the charger to hold a few additional items for each place setting. This addition is also my “party favor” for guests. In the pail, I put a mini bottle of Coke- very American, a small American flag, a themed paper napkin and a cute little patriotic pinwheel clip.

Just before the guests arrive, I will add some fresh baked cookies and of course they will have to be chocolate chip. 

2015-07-04 01.39.17- PAIL

Close up of the party favor.

2015-07-04 01.40.25- PINWHEEL CLOSE UP

I love to have party favors at all my parties. It doesn’t have to be a big gift. A little token from the party adds to the wonderful memories. I have used cookies, jam, mini champagne bottles, candy, etc. Use your imagination. I feel an edible item is the best- everyone loves to eat.

(I ordered some sparklers for this tablescape, but they didn’t arrive in time- oh well, I’ll use them next year. That is, if they last that long….I just love sparklers. I may be serving dinner or dessert with sparklers. Bob will be surprised; then again with me, maybe not).

 I love using candles on a table too. Everyone looks good in candlelight.

For this tablescape, I am using some patriotic star votive candles that I have had for years to add a little brightness. I had to take the photo with one candle not lit so you could see the pattern on the glass without the glare from the flame.

2015-07-04 01.43.00 - CANDLE

Just for a little fun I also place two Frisbees on the table. You might need a little exercise after your big meal.

2015-07-04 01.04.36- FRISBEE

Table Setting2015-07-04 00.39.41- PLACE SETTING

And now my 2015 July 4th tablescape is done.

2015-07-04 00.57.34- BUFFET

Thank you for letting me share my memories of the 4th of July with you. I hope you enjoyed the tablescape and you try the Potato salad and Watermelon cake recipes below. 

 I have such fond memories of the 4th of July and all the fun we had. Sadly, most of the relatives that I shared 4th of July fireworks and barbecues with growing up have passed on; but they will always be in my heart.  

I am now ready for my own barbecue (on a much smaller scale of course).

I have to go boil some potatoes and make potato salad, so I’ll see you next time. 

Have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!

Make some great memories of your own with your family and friends this holiday.     

Be safe and keep your pets safe too.

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

Diane

2015-07-04 01.00.06- PLACE SETTING II

Table Details

The dishes and flatware were purchased so long ago, I forgot from where. I have a lot of sets that I can’t remember where I purchased them- sorry, be prepared. After all, my collection of dishes was collected over 40 yrs.

Galvanized chargers from Pottery Barn

Red placemats from Homegoods

Red and Blue striped glasses from the Dollar store

Patriotic pitcher from Homegoods

Navy tablecloth from Macy’s

Red, white and blue carnations,Gerber daisies, flags and pinwheel clips from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Frisbee and paper themed napkins from Party City

Patriotic votive candles from Crate and Barrel

RECIPES

Diane’s Potato Salad

2015-07-04 07.59.17- POTATO SALAD CLOSE UP

2015-07-04 07.58.42- POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

5 lb bag of red potatoes- NOT PEELED – boil whole until a fork can pierce the skin but not mushy – DRAIN

2 ½ C         Hellman’s mayo – NOT LIGHT  

5 TBSP      Red Wine Vinegar

3 ¾ tsp       Kosher salt

2 ½ tsp       Sugar

¾ tsp          Pepper

2 ½ C         Celery (chopped)

1 ½ C         Red onion (diced)

1 dz            Hard boiled eggs

(Shredded carrots are optional)

* Safety check…

Check your eggs for signs of cracks. Since fresh eggs are harder to peel it is best if you purchase your eggs a week prior to boiling. You can test the freshness of the eggs by placing them into a glass of water. The freshest eggs will lie on the bottom of the water on its side. As an egg ages the air pocket inside grows so your egg will start to stand up on end. An egg that floats to the top should be discarded.

Directions:

Mix mayo and vinegar together—Add salt, pepper, and sugar and mix thoroughly.

Add celery and onions—Next add potatoes WARM  (cut into bite size pieces)

Add eggs (sliced) and fold all ingredients together.

ENJOY!

*I think the potato salad tastes best after it has cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours and all the flavors have blended together. If you try this recipe, please send me your comments. I love hearing from you.

Fresh Watermelon Cake with Berries and Cream

from “Proud Italian Cook”

cut-melon-cake1redo- watermelon cake

Refreshing, unexpected and a beautiful way to serve a watermelon, transformed to look like a cake. It’s healthy and delicious too!
Author: Marie
Ingredients
  • 1 whole seedless watermelon
  • 3 cups of heavy whipping cream ( you’ll probably have some extra)
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar or other sweetener like stevia
  • assorted fresh berries and other garnishes of your choice like nuts, sliced almonds, coconut, sprinkles, etc.
 
Instructions
  1. First whip your cream with the confectioners sugar and vanilla, whip until you get nice stiff peeks, then refrigerate bowl.
  2. Wash and dry the whole watermelon.
  3. With a sharp knife slice the top and bottom off.
  4. Standing upright begin removing the dark green rind all around.
  5. Keep trimming the sides removing the light green rind underneath and trimming it into a nice cylinder shape.
  6. Wipe and pat dry the cylinder with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  7. Place shaped and patted dry melon on serving platter.
  8. Spread cold whipped cream all over with a rubber spatula, top and sides.
  9. Garnish with berries or other things of your choice.
  10. At this point you can refrigerate it until ready to cut. I placed the whole platter into my fridge and didn’t cover it, but if you had a cake plate topper that would fit over the top, that would be fine too but not necessary.
  11. If you have some of the “cake”remaining after cutting just refrigerate soon after so the whipped cream doesn’t melt down, especially on a hot day.

Click on the link below for the step by step instructions with photos

http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2015/06/fresh-watermelon-cake.html

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happy-4th-of-july-wallpapers-festivals-and-events- 4TH CLOSING

(photo credit: crossfitfairfax.com)

Memorial Day Celebration

Memorial-Day-Short-Notes-and-Saying-of-Memorial-Day-2015 -memorialdayquotes.net

photo credit: memorialdayquotes.net

Well, I am slowly getting back on my feet again after surgery and I couldn’t wait to do another tablescape.

I have to thank my husband Bob for helping me put this table together. I did all the planning and he did all the lifting for me because I am still in pain from surgery- we are a good team.

Just love that man!

Today we celebrate Memorial Day.

This year, Memorial Day is Monday, May 25, 2015

I saw this on ABC News and wanted to pass this along. I will definitely participate in this honor to our fallen heroes.

“The National Moment of Remembrance” encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

images- salute to the flag

(photo credit: Americanflags.com)

Now on to the tablescape…

At the end of the post I have included two recipes for Memorial Day; one for the grill and one for the broiler. You never know what the weather will be like, especially since it has been so cool here for the past few days.

The recipes are Chicken Kabobs and Broiled Portobello Mushroom Caps with Caramelized Onions

(Click photos to enlarge)

2015-05-23 21.32.00- MEMORIAL TABLE INTRO

Memorial Day for me is twofold. First, I am not forgetting that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to honor our soldiers who have died serving our country. That will always be the first priority; but Memorial Day over the years has also become the unofficial start of summer and an opportunity to get together with family and friends. 

I only hope that people do not forget the true meaning of this day and it doesn’t just become a reason for a barbecue. We must never forget our soldiers who sacrificed for our freedom. 

To honor this holiday, I chose dishes called “America the Beautiful” by Gibson Home. America the Beautiful sort of says it all – land of the free, home of the brave. I just love these dishes; they combine our patriotic spirit with the stars and stripes and also the natural beauty of our country.

2015-05-23 22.51.51- MEMORIAL FULL SET

As soon as I saw these dishes, I loved the colors and the design and was immediately reminded of the first two lines of the lyrics to the song, “America the Beautiful” (which by the way, I sang to myself for 2 days because I couldn’t get the words out of my head).

“O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain”

To get that feeling of the song into the tablescape, I decided to use a white pitcher and bowl set (which I thought was very Americana) filled with stalks of wheat for my centerpiece. The wheat in the pitcher represents the “waves of grain” on the dish. I have had this pitcher and bowl set forever. I bought it as a decoration for one of my son’s elementary school events when I was PTA President back in the day— he will be 25 yrs old soon- you do the math. Can’t believe how fast time passes by.

 I added a few American flags to the pitcher and my centerpiece is now done. It had to be one of the easiest and fastest I think I have ever put together.

2015-05-23 21.32.48- MEMORAIL CENTERPIECE

Next, I chose a navy blue tablecloth and napkins with clear napkin rings.To dress up the napkins a bit, I placed flag toothpicks under the napkin rings – keeping the patriotic theme going.

2015-05-23 22.37.33- MEMORIAL NAPKIN

To go along with the tablecloth and napkins, I added red woven placemats and white charger plates. 

2015-05-23 21.37.03- MEMORIAL WHITE CHARGER-RED PLACEMAT

With simple red flatware.

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 No fancy goblets for this table setting either. I wanted to keep it simple, so I am using mason jar mugs. For some color, I added red, white and blue paper shred so it would be easier to see the mugs for the photograph and then I added red paper straws with a star design. 

2015-05-23 22.39.56- MEMORIAL MASON JAR

Here is a little Diane tip for you….

If you are outside and want to prevent bugs going in your drinks, just poke a hole in a cupcake baking cup with a straw and put it upside down on the rim of the glass— guaranteed to keep your drink bug free.

You can also use the cupcake baking cup right side up to catch drips from ice cream bars – no sticky fingers.

(Sorry about using a stock photo but I didn’t have any patriotic baking cups to show you how it looks on the mason jar mugs- remember, I am not the baker so baking supplies are not usually found in my home). I hope the tips help the next time you have a barbecue.

cupcake-600_600x350_71428644581- kitchen tricks- for blog

photo credit: food.ndtv.com

Back to the tablescape…

My first table accent is a ceramic angel holding an American flag. To me, this angel represents all the angels that are now with our fallen heroes and a reminder of all the families who have sadly taken home the American flag in a flag case in memory of their loved ones who served their country. We must never forget the military families as well and their sacrifice for our country.

2015-05-23 21.45.27- MEMORIAL ANGEL

I am always looking for more patriotic accessories to add to my collection and this second table accent was a great find for me. As soon as I saw it, I thought that it was just so simple, beautiful and definitely unique. It is an arrangement of wood curl rosettes to represent the American Flag. 

2015-05-23 22.41.11- M- WOOD CURL

I think it looks great on the dining room table to complete the tablescape and then it will become part of my kitchen decorations until it finds a new home on my 4th of July tablescape. And last but not least, a little patriotic table confetti just for some fun.

2015-05-23 21.54.25- MEMORIAL CONFETTI

I placed both the angel and the wood arrangement on “upside down” white coffee cup saucers to help them stand out; because I thought they got lost on the navy blue tablecloth. Don’t be afraid to re-purpose your household items.

2015-05-23 21.49.09- MEMORIAL BUFFET

Place Setting

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I just can’t seem to get enough of this pattern so I decided to set up a second place setting to show you. This time, the place setting is for dessert, using the mugs and dessert plates from the set. I don’t usually photograph my dessert tablescape but I made an exception for these dishes. 

Dessert Place Setting

2015-05-23 22.53.58 - M- DESSERT PLACE SETTING

I love the “star” pattern on the dessert plates and I just might have to add this plate to my 4th of July tablescape. We’ll see…

I couldn’t show you a dessert table setting without adding a dessert, and what could be more “American” than apple pie?

2015-05-23 22.59.48 - M - DESSERT

So now the table is set, and I am ready for Memorial Day.

Thank you for letting me share my Memorial Day tablescape with you and hopefully you picked up some ideas to use for your tablescape.

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day and have the opportunity to see family and friends and possibly attend a parade or two, and

Please remember our fallen heroes.

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

Diane

(Don’t forget the recipes below)

Tablescape Details

Navy tablecloth and napkins from Macy’s

Napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Red woven placemats from Bed, Bath and Beyond

White ceramic charger plates from Pfaltzgraff

Red flatware from Homegoods

America the Beautiful dishes by Gibson Home from Amazon

White bowl and pitcher from “my attic”

Wheat stalks from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

American Flags from “the garage”

Patriotic paper shred from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Flag toothpicks from Stop and Shop

Mason jar mugs from Webstaurant

Patriotic Angel from Oriental Trading

Patriotic table confetti from Pier 1 Imports

Wooden curl flag arrangement from Pier 1 Imports

Apple Pie from KK Bakery- it was delicious!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Chicken Kabobs

You will need either metal or wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers soak them overnight in water to prevent burning when grilling.

Marinade:

Oregano

1 cup of chopped basil

5 cloves of crushed garlic

Olive oil

 Other ingredients:

4 chicken breast halves

Zucchini, sliced

Vidalia onion, cut into wedges

2 Bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces

(Other veggies can be used as well, it’s a personal choice—some suggestions are cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and squash.)

Directions

  • Wash and dry the chicken
  • Cut the chicken into cubes (roughly the same size for even cooking)
  • Season with kosher salt and pepper (remember to dry the chicken first) and set aside
  • In a zip lock bag add your marinade ingredients: olive oil, basil, oregano, and garlic
  • Add the chicken to the bag and make sure all pieces are coated with the marinade.
  • Marinate for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator

While the chicken is in the refrigerator, prepare your veggies. Chop all veggies in bite size pieces and set aside AND preheat the grill for high heat

When ready to skewer the chicken, thread the chicken and veggies onto the skewers alternately (at least ½ inch apart for even cooking)

 Lightly oil the grill and place the kabobs on the prepared grill.

 Cook, turning frequently for 15 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear. (OPTIONAL: barbecue sauce can be added at this time).

 Broiled Portobello Mushroom Caps with Fontina Cheese and Caramelized Onions

 This has to be one of my favorite meals and so easy…

 Ingredients:

2- 3 Portobello mushroom caps

Kosher salt

Fontina cheese, shredded

2 large red onions- sliced

Olive oil

1- 2 pats of butter

2 tbsp. Marsala wine

 Directions:

Start caramelizing your onions, this will take 30 minutes….

Slice 2 large red onions and set aside. (The onions will cook down)

Coat the bottom of a wide saute pan with olive oil and butter. I use a ceramic coated pan to prevent the onions from sticking.

Heat the pan on medium high until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let them cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions. Keep the onions from drying out as they cook by adding a little water to the pan.

Let the onions cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. After 20 minutes lower the heat and add a little bit more oil, if you think the onions are about to burn. As the onions cook down, you may need to scrape the pan every few minutes if they are sticking. Continue to cook until they are a rich, brown color.

At the end of the cooking process, I add Marsala wine to deglaze the pan and add some flavor to the onions.

While the onions are cooking, grate the cheese, set aside and clean the Portobellos.

To clean the mushrooms remove the stems and scrape out the gills using a spoon. Brush off any dirt with a damp cloth and dry the mushrooms.

Turn on the broiler in your oven.

When the onions are close to being done… arrange the mushrooms under the broiler within 6 inches from the source of heat, top side up. Broil the mushrooms 5 minutes, until they soften a little.  

Turn the mushrooms over and fill the caps with shredded cheese and broil for 2 more minutes until the cheese melts.

Serve the mushrooms on a bun with the caramelized onions.

Easter Celebration!

slide-12- Easter Sunday

(photo credit: sharefaith.com)

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Click on Photos to Enlarge

Easter Sunday is April 5, 2015

At the end of this post I have included recipes for some traditional Italian Easter Pies passed down through my family for generations.

Pizza Rustica and Pizza Dolce.

(More of an explanation about these pies in the recipe section).

And with a little help from my friends, there are even more Easter recipes to add…

Marie Renello from Proud Italian Cook has been kind enough to share another recipe of hers with us, Easter Lamb Cake – an edible centerpiece.

And Paula Carbone Gati from Facebook page, “Born Again Italian” has been kind enough to share another recipe of hers. Paula is sharing her recipe for Easter Bread With Colored Easter Eggs.  An Italian tradition all the kids love. (Sorry I cannot link to a Facebook page but please visit her page on your own).

2015-03-29 12.04.21- BUFFET-

Celebrating Easter

This is one of my favorite holidays. In addition to the deep religious meaning of Easter, I enjoy the holiday food, special desserts, the coloring of Easter eggs,  Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies and let us not forget, my all time favorite… 

PEEPS!  

That marshmallow confection that just can’t be beat ( you have to eat them stale to enhance the flavor. I know I am not alone with this theory). Today they come in all colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, Peeps on a stick, Peeps in a pie, Peeps milk; but there is nothing like an original yellow Peep on Easter morning.

This is what I looked for first in my Easter basket as a child.

928_033-yellow-chicks-5pk- Peeps

Now on to the Easter Sunday Tablescape.

This year I am designing my tablescape around a new salad plate that I just purchased in Pier I. The name of the pattern is “Sophie The Bunny,” and it is absolutely adorable. I fell in love with this plate, (that happens to people who collect dishes). The plate has soft shades of yellow, blue, red, orange and brown and the cutest bunny with flowers and butterflies. The scalloped edge of the plate is just perfect and delicate.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-03-29 11.48.34- BUNNY PLATE -

This started me thinking about what else I have that is bunny related and would coordinate with the plate. I have a few bunny items so I had to dig through my collection.

I started this tablescape with a yellow pastel tablecloth. (Something about Easter makes me want to be surrounded in pastel colors). Once I pulled out my straw “Bunny” Basket, I knew I wanted to use that as part of the centerpiece.

2015-03-29 01.06.58 - BUNNY BASKET

I needed to have that natural earthy look somewhere else on the table, so I chose brown rattan chargers.

2015-03-29 01.11.09 - RATTAN CHARGER

I love the pattern of the plates so much that I bought the coordinating paper buffet napkins to use instead of the yellow cloth napkins that match the tablecloth. The napkins have the same background pattern as the plate with lovely sentiments written on them.

2015-03-29 01.12.55 - NAPKIN

“Sophie The Bunny” had to be the star of this tablescape, so I needed a pretty plain and simple dinner plate. I chose a solid white dinner plate.

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For my glassware, I am using amber goblets, because the color brings that earthy feel to the table and matches the basket and chargers. 

2015-03-29 11.50.43 - GOBLET

The only piece missing is flatware, so I added my silver and gold flatware and we are on to the centerpiece.

As I mentioned before, I am using my straw Bunny basket; so I filled the basket with newspaper 3/4 of the way and topped that with green metallic Easter grass. I have a few foam Easter eggs to add to the basket in pastel shades that blend in nicely with the colors of the plate. 

2015-03-29 01.16.14 -EGGS WITH EASTER GRASS

2015-03-29 01.20.15 - BUNNY BASKET WITH EGGS

But the bunnies don’t stop here. I have white ceramic bunnies that I purchased in Pottery Barn many years ago, and added them to the tablescape. This is such a great decoration that they are on my table every year.

2015-03-29 01.35.24- STANDING EASTER BUNNY WITH TEXT

2015-03-29 01.35.11- SITTING BUNNY

Now I needed some flowers, so I took a clear cylinder vase and filled them with forsythia branches. (Look familiar? I used these cylinder vases in the Spring tablescape with tulips). I wanted a little more of the earthy feel so I added some river stones to  the vase.

2015-03-29 11.53.35- VASE WITH FLOWERS-

Every Easter table has to have jelly beans somewhere, so I added jelly beans to another smaller cylinder vase and placed a scented candle in the vase. In between the jelly beans and the candle I cut out a cardboard coaster with a piece of parchment paper, so the candle and jelly beans don’t meet (just in case you want to eat the jelly beans after the holiday).

2015-03-29 12.19.21- VASE WITH JELLY BEANS-

Now the matching vases and the bunnies on each side of the basket make the centerpiece complete.

2015-03-29 12.03.45- BUFFET II

2015-03-29 12.06.26- BUFFET 1

 On the table this year is a new addition, and they are “Love Bunnies” from Pier I.

They were just too cute to pass up.

2015-03-29 01.21.29 - LOVE BUNNIES

Table Setting

2015-03-29 12.17.47- TABLESETTING-

Tablescape Details

Pastel yellow tablecloth from Christmas Tree Store

White ceramic dinner plate from Homegoods (pattern- Gibson Elite)

“Sophie the Bunny” salad plate from Pier I 

Rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Easter Bunny Basket from Pier I

Pastel Foam Eggs from Pier I

Pastel paper napkins from Pier I

Amber Goblets from JC Penney

Love Bunnies from Pier I 

Cylinder vases from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Candle and River Stones from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

White Ceramic Bunnies from Pottery Barn

 Thank you for letting me share my Easter Tablescape with you.

For those that celebrate this holiday, I wish you a very Happy Easter!

(To my friend, Jeanine Fisher, I hope you liked the bunnies and the tablescape. I know this is your favorite holiday).

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

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word, share the Facebook page on your timeline and ask your family and friends to follow.

RECIPES

Before I start with the Easter recipes, there are a few additional Italian Easter culinary traditions that I feel are worth mentioning. (Sorry no recipes for them).

1391175519- colomba IIphoto credit: panettone-shop.nl

The first is a traditional Italian Easter bread called, Colomba Di Pasqua. It is a yeast bread shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. It is similar to a Panettone and filled with raisins and candied orange peel. Topped off with almonds, sugar and a baked on almond icing to give it a sweet crust.

We would eat Colomba for breakfast on Easter.

I personally love the Colomba Di Pasqua made by “Bonifanti”, it is the absolute best. They can be ordered online at Eataly. You will not be disappointed. (and they come in chocolate too).

March 2013 - Easter Cakes 002  WITH FRAME

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 9.51.14 AM- easter wheat pie

photo credit: foodista.com

The next pie that is also a must at the Italian Easter dessert table is Pizza Grana (wheat pie). It is a cookie crust made with ricotta and whole grain wheat with orange, cinnamon, orange flower water and always has a lattice top. Delicious.

5104lQo24sL._SY300_-  Italian easter egg

photo credit: pastacheese.com

In addition to a chocolate bunny, every child in an Italian home waited for the Italian Easter egg. The egg is hollow but always filled with candy and a surprise inside.

My mother would always put these at our place setting at dinner; and it killed us to wait for the entire meal to be over so we could finally open this chocolate egg for the surprise.

This tradition of giving the Italian Easter egg is one I passed on to my son. When I see them displayed in stores during Easter time, I get a smile on my face and a rush of good happy memories of my childhood.

1929-2- torrone candyphoto credit: gourmetItalian.com

Torrone – I am sure you have all tasted Torrone at one time or another. Torrone is a nougat candy made with honey, whipped egg whites, vanilla and almonds. Torrone is available all year and I am sure you have seen it being sold by the chunk at every Italian Feast you have ever been to.

But at Easter the Torrone were special. At Easter, the large box of Torrone contained 18 mini boxes of individual pieces of Torrone covered in a thin wafer,  (the Ostia- which are just thin sheets of unleavened wheat bread). They came in lemon, orange and vanilla flavors and it was a project to decide what flavor you wanted. (My personal favorite was the lemon). I remember peeling off the thin wafer on top of the Torrone and eating that first; and then biting into the nougat. Eating Easter Torrone for a child was a special event; at least in my home.

Now back to the pies

First of all, the word pizza in this case is not the pizza we know with red sauce and cheese. In this case “pizza”  in Italian simply means pie. 

These are the photos from my pies from last Easter. They are not picture perfect but I didn’t make my pies for this year yet, but you’ll get the idea.

Pizza Dolce

2014-04-23 16.02.44 -- 2014 pizza dolce

The first pie is Pizza Dolce, (Italian sweet pie).

It is an Italian cheesecake made with ricotta, eggs, milk, sugar and extracts. It is definitely not a low-calorie pie.

INGREDIENTS:

24 eggs

3 lbs. Whole milk ricotta cheese (large container)  

1 qt. Whole milk 

1 oz. lemon extract 

1 oz. almond extract 

1 oz. vanilla extract 

1 oz. anise extract

Zest of ½ a medium lemon 

3 ½ cups sugar 

Colored confetti sprinkles (aka: rainbow nonpareil)

 DIRECTIONS

 Add eggs, milk and ricotta in a blender until smooth (I divide this to 1/3 at a time), transfer to a large bowl.

When completed, add extracts, sugar, lemon zest and mix well.

Spray two 9 ½ X 11 inch GLASS pans with Pam. Fill each pan ¾ of the way full—add rainbow confetti on top of mixture.

Place in a 350-degree oven for approx. 1 ½ hours. (More sprinkles can be added during the cooking time).

 (1 fluid oz. = 6 tsp or 2 TBSP)            This recipe makes 2 pans

Pizza Rustica

2014-04-22 20.14.24 - pIZZA rustica III

 The second pie is Pizza Rustica and my absolute favorite.

It is a classic Italian Easter pie made with cured Italian meats, Italian cheeses and bound together with eggs. We usually eat thin slices of Pizza Rustica as an antipasto before a traditional lamb dinner, and it can be served either warm or cold .

This pie is also a main part of “Easter Monday” or “La Pasquetta” which means little Easter.

Easter Monday is a national holiday in Italy. Italians leave the city and head to the country, the beach or the mountains for a family picnic. Pizza Rustica, frittata, Easter bread, wine and chocolate biscotti are all on the menu.

The whole point is to celebrate the return of Spring.

We always celebrated Easter Monday when I was a child.

Depending on what region of Italy you are from, the name of this recipe may vary. It is also called Torta Pasqualina, Pizza Gaina and Pizza Piena .  

However, Easter is called Pasqua and Buona Pasqua means Happy Easter in Italy… no matter what region you are from!

Ingredients:

¼ lb prosciutto

1 stick soppressata (or mix half sweet and half hot)

1 stick pepperoni salami

¼ lb hot capicola

6-8 slices of genoa salami

1 basket fresh cheese…….NOT Mozzarellausually sold in a 2 lb baskets at the Italian market. Let it drain in a colander overnight and when ready to use squeeze out any excess liquid. (Use a wooden spoon or fingers to crumble)

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

13 large eggs

¼ cup half and half

¼ cup grated provolone

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Nutmeg (approx 2 shakes)

½ Cup fresh Italian parsley

Black pepper

Salt – can be omitted because the cold cuts are salty

2 egg yolks & a tsp of sugar for the glaze

Two 1 lb balls of pizza dough ( either homemade, or from a pizzeria)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

  1. Cut first six ingredients (meat and cheese) into small bite size pieces & mix together in a large bowl (This prep work can be done on one day and assemble the pie the next day).
  2. When ready to assemble, add Romano cheese, Mozzarella cheese, provolone, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper to prior meat and cheese mixture
  3. Prepare small roasting pan or spring-form pan, with olive oil to coat the bottom and sides. Cut pizza dough and shape to form a bottom layer WITH SIDES and a top layer of dough. (If you don’t want a full top layer, cut the dough in strips and criss cross on top with no venting)
  4. After shaping the bottom layer of dough in the pan–add the meat and cheese mixture. Separately, beat the 13 eggs and half and half, and pour over dry mixture in pan and MIX WELL. Add top layer of dough (or strips)
  5. Roll top & bottom layers of dough together around the sides to seal. Vent the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife several times.
  6. Add sugar to the EGG YOLKS and brush the top of the pie to prepare a glaze when cooking.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hr to 1 hr /15 minutes….

For the first 30 minutes cover the pie with aluminum foil.

For the remaining 45 minutes bake uncovered

If using a spring-form pan-let pie stand 15 minutes –then release pan sides and transfer to plate. Can be served warm or cold.

Easter Lamb Cake

Easter lamb cake

Making Easter Lamb Cake
 
brought to you by “Proud Italian Cook”
 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR CAKE
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract, optional
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 heaping teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar and half and half or milk to make the right consistency
  • FOR DECORATING
  • 1 bag of flaked coconut
  • 2 raisins
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • red food color
  • piece of ribbon
  • paper Easter basket grass
  • assorted jellybeans
 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. generously butter and flour lamb mold.
  2. Beat butter, add sugar and extracts and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour with baking soda until well incorporated.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time alternating with the sour cream until batter comes together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared face side of the lamb mold, facing down on a baking sheet.
  6. Fill to the rim wiping up the edges clean.
  7. Reinforce the ears by placing a toothpick horizontally in each ear.
  8. Carefully place lid on and bake for 1 hour, but check for doneness 10 minutes before.
  9. FYI, you will have leftover batter with this recipe, enough to make a small cake.
  10. For Decorating, make the frosting with the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, half and half and a pinch of salt, mixing until you get a nice semi firm frosting.
  11. Add raisins for eyes, a cherry for nose and tie a ribbon around the neck.
  12. Cover platter with Easter grass and jellybeans.

Italian Easter Bread

11063338_10203894531825430_559535688_n- PAULA'S EASTER BREAD

brought to you by “Born Again Italian”

Makes 6 individual loaves

1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1.25 cups milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar

3.5 cups flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
sprinkles or pearlized sugar

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard-boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs raw without hard boiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don’t crack!

In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just till butter melts. In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot – it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don’t worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a “braid”, pinching the ends, and loop into a circle.

Place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles or pearl sugar. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden – about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

You can eat the eggs, but if you leave the bread sitting out for a few hours, don’t eat them. Common sense

Wishing You A Happy Easter!

960x540- easter close for blog - bunnies

(photo credit: mysanantonio.com)

 

 

Saint Patrick’s Day

--pot of gold

(photo credit-dullesairportrotary.org)

Saint Patrick’s Day is March 17th

At the end of the post I have included my recipe for

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

and a link to website Foxeslovelemons.com for a recipe for Mini Shepherd’s Pie; just in case you want a change from Corned Beef and Cabbage.

 Well it’s time for the wearing of the green. On Saint Patrick’s Day everyone is a little Irish.

When Saint Patrick’s Day comes around each year, I immediately think of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on 5th Ave in Manhattan, corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, Irish soda bread, bagpipes and green bagels for breakfast.

(click on photos to enlarge)

2015-03-14 23.07.48- INTRO TABLE

I chose to include another symbol of Saint Patrick’s Day at my table and that is the Leprechaun. A leprechaun is an Irish fairy who looks like a small, old man 2 feet tall. Legend has it that they are unfriendly BUT they also have a hidden pot of gold! 

2015-03-14 17.52.45- LEPRECHAUN

Of course this tablescape had to center around the color green, so here we go. The tablecloth is green lace with a shamrock pattern which I placed over a simple white tablecloth. I found the cutest placemats in Homegoods when I went in looking for a pastel blue tablecloth (didn’t find the blue tablecloth by the way) but fell in love with these placemats. I didn’t even think of using them for Saint Patrick’s Day until I took my green dishes out and noticed the colors in the placemat border matched the color of the dishes. I originally thought to use these placemats with my “watermelon” dessert dishes for the summer. (We’ll get to those on another post).

2015-03-14 17.04.30- LACE TABLECLOTH

2015-03-14 17.05.35- PLACEMAT

I used a white charger plate followed by a green dinner plate and then a darker green salad plate. See how the dishes picked up all the shades of green in the placemat border? Kelly green is usually the Saint Patrick’s Day green but with all my dishes, that is the color that I don’t own. (I have to work on that).

2015-03-15 01.05.52- DISH TRIO

To brighten up the table a bit (and not have a green overload), I added white napkins instead of green with dark green napkin rings. Just for a little fun, I placed a few felt shamrocks that I bought in Party City on each salad plate; along with a mini glass shamrock for “good luck”.  The table looked a little bare so I added some Saint Patrick’s Day confetti of shamrocks and gold nuggets scattered on the table.

2015-03-14 23.07.30 - POT OF GOLD ON PLATE

2015-03-14 23.15.42 - SHAMROCKS AND NUGGETS

Topped each place setting off with an individual pot of gold  (this time only gold chocolate coins) for each guest and added my shamrock glasses. I love these glasses. They were a great find for me many years ago in Marshalls; because you don’t often see glassware for this holiday that aren’t acrylic. These are a little larger than I would have liked and very thick glass, but they work. I used a green glitter shamrock as a coaster so the glasses would be highlighted against the tablecloth.

2015-03-15 01.05.44- GOLD COINS

2015-03-14 23.10.50- SHAMROCK GLASS

Now on to the centerpiece. I had to display my leprechaun surrounded by his pot of gold. I used a plastic Kelly green cauldron for my base. I didn’t want to fill the entire cauldron with coins (that would take me forever); so I stuffed newspaper 3/4 of the way in the cauldron and then added a little more green with vase filler in various shades of green and gold. A few gold coins here and there and we are done with the centerpiece.

2015-03-14 23.19.52- CAULDRON

I needed a little bit more pizzazz for the table, so I took two glittery garland shamrocks that came on stands from my Saint Patrick’s Day decorations in the front window. I normally display these shamrocks with other Saint Patrick’s Day decorations; but this time I added them to the tablescape. I placed them on each side of the centerpiece and it makes the table complete. (Remember, shop your house first for tablescape decorations).

2015-03-14 23.07.48- INTRO TABLE

2015-03-14 17.57.21-  SHAMROCK ON STAND

And what is a Saint Patrick’s Day table without Irish Soda Bread, so I went out to buy that too. (Purchased this one in an Italian bakery so I’ll let you know if it has that old fashioned traditional Irish Soda Bread taste).

2015-03-14 18.00.42 - IRISH SODA BREAD

Table Setting

2015-03-14 23.08.13 -TABLE SETTING

Table Setting Details

White tablecloth and napkins – from Linens and Things

Green napkin rings – from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Green lace shamrock tablecloth – from Amazon

Placemats – from Homegoods – NEW purchase!

White charger plate – from Pfaltzgraff

Green Dinner Plate – from Amazon (by Gibson- pattern: Green Aruba)

Dark Green Salad Plate – Had them too long to remember the pattern or where I purchased them

Mini black cauldrons, chocolate coins, felt shamrocks – from Party City

Glass table confetti – from Pier I

Vase filler –  from Pier I

Leprechaun – from Oriental Trading – a few years ago

Shamrock Glasses – from Marshalls

Glittered shamrocks on stands – from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Flatware –  my every day silver and gold set

Irish Soda Bread – from Alpine Bakery, Smithtown NY

As I mentioned in my Chinese New Year post, I am fascinated by other cultures and customs and every year when I make the traditional corned beef and cabbage and eat Irish soda bread, I often wondered, why these foods for this holiday? So I did some research and this is what I found out, just in case you were curious too.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage

photo credit- hecooksshewines.com

Corned Beef and cabbage isn’t actually the national dish of Ireland. You wouldn’t eat it on Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin. During the time of the Irish immigration to the U.S., the first generation of Irish- Americans were in search of the comforting tastes of their homeland. On Saint Patrick’s Day that meant boiled bacon. But the immigrants were too poor to afford the high price of pork and bacon products. Instead, they turned to the cheapest cut of meat available: beef brisket. The corned beef was paired with cabbage, as it was one of the cheapest vegetables available to the Irish immigrants.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish-Soda-Bread

photo credit- recipegirl.com

I couldn’t find an exact answer as to why Irish Soda Bread is served on Saint Patrick’s Day, but Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of Ireland and therefore brought over with the immigrants. 

And that is my tablescape for Saint Patrick’s Day. It was a pleasure sharing my ideas with you. I hope this post gave you some new ideas for your Saint Patrick’s Day table.

2015-03-14 17.59.33- EXTRA LEPRECHAUN

“May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.”

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

Diane

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Recipes

My dear friend Nancy Lucas and I had very similar recipes for crock pot Corned Beef and Cabbage, so the following recipe is a combination of the two…

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 8 1/2 hours

Optional cooking time: 2 hours LOW – then 2 hrs HIGH – then 1 hr LOW)

Ingredients

6 red potatoes or fingerling potatoes, halved

4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 (4 to 5-pound) corned beef, rinsed

3 large bay leaves

1 tsp ground thyme (or 1 sprig of fresh thyme)

1 teaspoon black pepper corns

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or dark mustard with horseradish

8 ounces beer (any unflavored kind will do; you can substitute water here, as well)

2 cups low sodium chicken stock or water

1 medium head of cabbage, cut into 2-inch wedges

Directions

  1. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion in the bottom of a large slow cooker pot.
  2. Rinse the corned beef and lay it over the vegetables. Add in bay leaves, pepper corns, and Dijon mustard.
  3. Pour beer and stock over everything. Make sure liquid covers most of the corned beef; if not, add more water or stock. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.
  4. Add the cabbage to the slow cooker and cook until cabbage is just tender (about 30 minutes).
  5. Remove the meat to a cutting board, cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  6. Slice on the diagonal against the grain
  7. Serve with the veggies and extra mustard

Mini Shepherd’s Pie

Mini-Shepherds-PIes3-600x896

This recipe is brought to you by Foxeslovelemons.com website.

Due to copyright laws, I cannot post the recipe on my blog.

Click on the link above to visit that website for the recipe.


images- st patrick's leprecaun