Category Archives: Recipes

Honey Bow Tie Christmas Cookies

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Hi Everyone,

How are you? I hope you are all fine and not too stressed from the holiday season. The shopping, wrapping and baking can be exhausting.

If you are like me and belong to some “food groups” on Facebook, you have seen daily photos of Holiday Cookies. Some bring back memories of baking with a family member; possibly a grandmother or mom who is no longer with us. Some bring back memories of a favorite bakery, a favorite restaurant or a favorite person.

Whatever it is, food is a hug from the past.

Which brings me to my Christmas cookie story.

Back in the day, my grandmother visited us every weekend when I was a child and we (as in my mother, sisters and aunt) would take one night in December to make Christmas cookies; preparing trays for guests who stopped by during the Christmas holidays.

There were the usual pignoli cookies, ricotta cookies, rainbow cookies, sesame seed cookies (Regina) and then there was my favorite, the “honey bow tie” cookies. A magical crispy piece of fried dough flavored with citrus and vanilla covered in honey and decorated with colored nonpareil sprinkles. A little rum and anisette was also incorporated into the dough. 

I don’t know the proper name for this cookies in Italian, but just one bite and you won’t care what they are called.

(If anyone recognizes this cookie and has the proper name please let me know.)

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Anyway, all the years we made these cookies, no one ever thought to write the recipe down. We just followed instructions for our part in the cookie making process from grandma and my mother. I was in charge of sprinkles. A job I took very seriously.

When my grandmother passed away, we were all older and had married and had moved out of the house by then. Our tradition was now over. Gone were the days of all of us gathered together in the kitchen making cookies with Italian Christmas songs playing in the background. Something I miss terribly.

Since grandma was gone, my mother would make these cookies by herself and bring them to us for Christmas. 

And even as adults no one thought to write the recipe down.

After my mother passed away, there were no more cookies; just the Atlas pasta machine that she made them with and her pastry cutter.

When my mother passed away, I took a box of her belongings and put them in the attic. A half empty bottle of Shalimar (her favorite perfume), some costume jewelry (she loved pearls), white elbow length gloves (she wore with many gowns to weddings) and a notebook where she jotted down grocery lists and phone numbers, just so I could have a copy of her handwriting.

One day I bought a decorative box from Homegoods and decided to give my mother’s belongings a better home so I took the box down from the attic and started to transfer the items and I dropped the notebook. A very worn out and ripped yellow piece of paper fell out and when I picked it up it said…

“Christmas Bow Tie Cookies”

I almost passed out. The handwriting was so faded but I had the recipe ! I copied the recipe to my computer and now I was in business. I bought all the ingredients and made a test batch. Okay, mine were not as pretty as my mothers and grandmothers (I needed practice), but the taste was there.

I received a gift from my mother in heaven!

And since then, my husband, son and I have made these cookies with Christmas music playing in the background. This brings back a great memory for me.

I have to say that there were years that we didn’t have any free time to make them, so we skipped a year here and there. I advanced from the manual Atlas Pasta machine to the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment that makes life much easier- no more hand cracking the old pasta maker.

This year my son is working in the hospital and his patients come first and he won’t be coming home for Christmas, so my husband and I made the cookies to send to him across the miles.

A labor of love.

So I wanted to share not only this story with all of you but my recipe as well. I consider this story my own “Christmas Miracle” that happened to me with my favorite Christmas cookie and a gift from my mom. 

Give them a try. Just a note, they are time consuming.

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(Below is the recipe with pictures and step by step directions.

(I posted the recipe a second time at the end of the post in case you wanted to print the recipe to make the cookies yourself.)

MOM’S CHRISTMAS BOW TIE COOKIES

Ingredients:

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  • 2 ½ lb all purpose flour
  • 8 or 10 eggs (depending on size)
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 oz vanilla extract *
  • 1/2 oz rum extract *
  • 1/2 oz lemon extract *
  • 1/2 oz orange extract *
  • 1/2 oz almond extract *
  • Honey (large jar) –approx 4 cups
  • Confetti sprinkles (non pareils)
  • Vegetable or Canola oil
  • Water – approx 1 cup
  • Sugar (optional)

COOKS NOTE: * ½ oz = 3 tsp

Make a well with the flour on a large pastry board.

I have been known to get some of the egg on the floor when my well collapses so I use a large bowl instead of the pastry board  for my flour.

Measure the flour

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Beat the eggs and place in the well.

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Next add the 1-½ tsp baking powder and ½ oz each of the 5 extracts (1/2 a small bottle each or 3 tsp) and some cinnamon and sugar.

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Work all this together and knead the dough. When the dough is ready for cutting and shaping, the dough should have bubbles in the center (cut the dough to see if it ready).

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When ready, cut into pieces and roll like a hot dog (I know, they really don’t look like hot dogs.)

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 run the dough through the pasta machine on the following settings:

First on # 1 then # 3 then # 4 then # 6

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Cut in strips with a pastry cutter and shape into bow ties.

COOKS NOTE: Keep the strips of dough you are not currently using covered with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out before you shape them.

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Pinch the center of the strips to shape the dough.

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After shaped, fry in vegetable /Canola oil until gold in color and drain (very quickly-be careful not to burn them and make them too dark. They will puff up once they hit the hot oil.

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Nice golden color- not too dark.

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Next, prepare the honey and water mixture (1 jar of honey to ½ jar of water) in a large pot on a low flame to thin out the honey a bit. Place 4 bows at a time in the honey and dip the cookie.

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Layer the dipped cookies on a platter and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and sprinkles. Continue this process layer after layer.

Cooks note: I use a box lined with aluminum foil to sprinkle the cookies and then transfer to a platter. This gives you more room to work.

(Store covered in aluminum foil in a cool place).

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MOM’S CHRISTMAS BOW TIE COOKIES

(for printing)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ lb all purpose flour
  • 8 or 10 eggs (depending on size)
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 oz vanilla extract *
  • 1/2 oz rum extract *
  • 1/2 oz lemon extract *
  • 1/2 oz orange extract *
  • 1/2 oz almond extract *
  • Honey (large jar) –approx 4 cups
  • Confetti sprinkles (non pareils)
  • Vegetable or Canola oil
  • Water – approx 1 cup
  • Sugar (optional)

Cooks note: * ½ oz = 3 tsp

Make a well with the flour on a large pastry board. Beat the eggs and place in the well. Next add the 1-½ tsp baking powder and ½ oz each of the 5 extracts (1/2 a small bottle each or 3 tsp) and some cinnamon and sugar.

Work all this together and knead the dough. When the dough is ready for cutting and shaping the dough should have bubbles in the center (cut the dough to see if it ready).

When ready, cut into pieces and roll like a hot dog, and then run the dough through the manual pasta machine on the following settings:

First on # 1 then # 3 then # 4 then # 6

Cut in strips with a pastry cutter and shape into bow ties. (take the strip of dough and pinch in the middle).

Cooks Note: Keep the strips of dough you are not currently using covered with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out before you shape them.

After shaped, fry in vegetable /Canola oil until gold in color and drain (very quickly-be careful not to burn them and make them too dark). They will puff up once they hit the hot oil.

Next, prepare the honey and water mixture (1 jar of honey to ½ jar of water) in a large pot on a low flame to thin out the honey a bit. Place 4 bows at a time in the honey and dip the cookie. Layer the dipped cookies on a platter and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and sprinkles. Continue this process layer after layer.

Cooks note: I use a box lined with aluminum foil to sprinkle the cookies and then transfer to a platter. This gives you more room to work.

(Store covered in aluminum foil in a cool place).

I hope you try these cookies and enjoy

Until my next post, make every day a celebration !

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Escarole and Beans

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Hi Everyone, 

Well, it’s that time of year again when the weather is getting cooler and we are turning to comfort food, soups and stews.

Since the temperature took a drop this past weekend, I decided to make an old favorite,  Escarole and Beans

Many families make this many different ways, but the recipe below is my version. 

Bob is not a big fan of just escarole and beans, so today, just for him, I served it over soft polenta and it was a big hit. The important thing to remember about escarole is WASH IT WELL. I rinse mine in a large bowl of cold water at least three times. A lot of dirt hides in the leaves and you don’t want dirt in your soup.

But here is my traditional recipe. I usually serve this without the polenta and just a nice warm piece of rustic crusty bread for dipping. 

I hope you give it a try on a cool fall night. A hearty meal in 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Escarole and Beans

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Ingredients:

3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a soup pot)

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder to taste

Parmesan rind (optional- remove before serving)

2 heads of escarole- washed VERY WELL, rinse a few times, drained and chopped or torn by hand into bite sized pieces

2 (14 oz.) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed- divided: 1 ½ cans whole, ½ can mashed

4 cups of chicken broth

Freshly grated parmesan

Slices of rustic crusty bread

Directions:

Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the soup pot

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes plus a pinch of salt and sauté for a minute or two

Add the tomato paste and sauté or toast it for a minute in the pan before mixing it well with the garlic

Add the escarole and stir to coat with the oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the escarole wilts. Add another pinch of salt.

Stir in the beans (1 ½ cans whole and ½ can mashed) * you can mash by hand or in the food processor.

Lower the heat, and add the chicken broth or water (more if you prefer it soupier).

Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and parmesan rind (if using)

Simmer for 10-15 minutes

Serve with a drizzle more olive oil over each serving, add grated cheese and more red pepper flakes (optional).

Serve soup with a slice of warm rustic crusty bread like ciabatta

Serving suggestions:

Over polenta

With grilled sausage

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And share this post with your family and friends.

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Penne with Cauliflower & Roasted Chick Peas

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Hi Everyone,

The other day some friends and I were talking about some of the old “peasant food” meals that our mothers and grandmothers prepared when we were younger. Meals that we took for granted back then.

The meals were always prepared with the best quality of simple ingredients that you could find. The fresh ingredients really made a difference in the taste of whatever you cooked.

Peasant food meals today are making a comeback on many Italian restaurant menus, but as “nouvelle cuisine” that has become all the rage with a higher price to pay. 

I have already posted some old “peasant food” recipes to this blog; but today I wanted to add another meal for you to try that I grew up with. 

  The older recipe posts can be accessed via the calendar to the right of the page. Just select the date that you are interested in. 

Recipes for…

Cavatelli Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies with Toasted Breadcrumbs  -(posted 6/23/15)

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AND

Ceci (chick peas) with Sausage and Shell Pasta – (posted 4/23/16)

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AND TODAY I WANT TO ADD

Penne with Cauliflower and Roasted Chick Peas

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Ingredients:

1 (28 oz) can of peeled tomatoes- diced

1/2 cup of olive oil

3 cloves of minced garlic

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 head of cauliflower- broken into florets

1/4 parsley

1/2 cup (or more) grated cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

Salt & pepper

1 lb penne

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and the cauliflower- mix to combine….

Add the broth, reduce the heat and cover to steam the cauliflower. Cooked covered for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce…..

Cook penne in salted boiling water- drain and add to the skillet along with the parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Cook for 1 minute and then add grated cheese.

I roasted a can of drained chick peas in a little olive oil on a low flame with salt and pepper and added the chick peas to the penne right before serving.

I hope you give this recipe a try. Have fun cooking !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration !

Diane

 

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

And share this post with your family and friends.

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

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

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Sunday Sauce

Orecchiette with Sunday Sauce …

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Sample of Sunday Sauce meat …

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Hi everyone,

Today I was thinking about how I came to love Italian food and cooking. This passion started as a young girl.

First of all, I am using the word “macaroni” instead of pasta for my story because growing up it was always macaroni. I have no idea when it became “pasta”.

When I was a child my mother made so many wonderful dishes for dinner. Every day when I walked in the house after school, the house smelled wonderful (except for the nights she made tripe (2nd stomach of a cow) and potatoes for my dad- another story, another time).

I have to say that I took all those wonderful meals for granted at the time. That was just the thing my mom did – she cooked a delicious meal every night along with taking great care of her family. My mother made everything look effortless. She was just amazing. Cooking, cleaning, entertaining, she did it all.

As I got older, I realized that she was somewhat of a miracle worker too. She made everything from scratch and cooked on a 24 inch stove- hard to believe but true. Every Sunday when my father’s sisters and their families would come for dinner, my mother would not only have the best antipasti waiting for her guests but she made “homemade macaroni” with meat sauce, salad, roasted chickens and the best roasted potatoes EVER for at least a dozen people; sometimes more.

And I can’t even start to mention what she did on a holiday.

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Here is a photo of Mom’s stove

Flowers34HollowLaneKitchen- MOM'S STOVE

 Back then, it was the same menu every Sunday– antipasti, macaroni, sauce meat  (eaten separately from the macaroni), roast chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, fruit & nuts, Italian pastry along with wine and espresso for adults. The children were only allowed soda on Sunday.

At the ripe old age of seven, once you made Communion, you were allowed to have a drop of wine in 7-up and taste demitasse coffee, complete with anisette and lemon.

A very special rite of passage.

Our Sunday meal lasted many hours and was wonderful to laugh, talk and make memories with your family.

I would hear my mother get up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to make the homemade macaroni and she would cut & shape the dough by hand. It was either tagliatelle, orecchiette or cavatelli. She would make the macaroni and when we woke up, they were drying on kitchen towels on the dining room table. What a sight to behold or should I say, what a blessing? She would start her sauce early in the morning for the three hour braising of the meat; which consisted of lamb, beef, pork and her famous meatballs.

My sisters and I would go to church and when we returned, the aroma was heavenly. A combination of meat sauce and basil…ahhh!

I had the prestigious job of “testing the sauce”. My mother would give me a fresh piece of Italian bread and I was allowed to dunk it in the sauce. I was in heaven.

When I became a mom, I passed this job on to my son. He is now an expert at testing sauce and he has picked up the Italian cooking gene; so we can keep our traditions going.

Fortunately for me, my son has been home for a visit this week and did the honors of testing this sauce for me; just like the good old days when he lived home.

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I don’t have my mom’s exact recipe, but here is the closest I could come to

 Mom’s Sunday Sauce.

I have also included a recipe for braciole and meatballs.

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sunday Sauce

Ingredients:

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For the sauce:

 Lamb- either 1 pkg of neck bones, 1 pkg stew meat or loin chops

Sausage – 4-6 links hot AND 4-6 links sweet with fennel

Braciole- 1 lb. boneless beef round- store bought braciole or homemade (recipe below)

Spare Ribs- 1 lb. country style (optional)

4-5 (28 oz.) cans of San Marzano whole Italian tomatoes. (Put the whole tomatoes in a bowl and crush them with your hands or blend in a food processor or pass through a food mill- crushed by hand is traditional. For a thicker sauce, 1 can of puree can be substituted for 1 can of whole tomatoes).

Cooks Note: San Marzano tomatoes are the Best… read the can to make sure that they are imported from Italy- D.O.P.- Some brands say San Marzano, but are not imported – be careful…….I use Cento certified organic or Vantia DOP. There are many imported brands to choose from.

 1 (8 oz.) can of No salt Delmonte tomato sauce or organic sauce

2 Tbsp. tomato paste (I like Mutti from Italy the best)

1 cup red wine (whatever you like to drink)

1 cup water

Garlic, 3-4 cloves-minced

½ medium yellow onion, diced

Olive oil (approx. 3 tbsp. to cover the bottom of the sauce pan)

Fresh basil

Fresh bay leaf – 2

Red pepper flakes

Black pepper

(Salt to taste)

Grated cheese

Oregano, 1 tbsp.

Dried Basil, 1 tbsp.

Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp.

2 “Dorot” brand frozen garlic cubes

2 “Dorot” brand frozen basil cubes

Parmesan rind

Directions for the Sauce:

  • Let meat stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking
  • Heat oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat.
  • Pat the meat dry, season with salt and pepper and place in the pot in batches. Do not crowd the meat because it will steam and not sear.
  • Start with the lamb and pork ribs
  • Cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides.  Transfer the pork and lamb to a plate.
  • Place the braciole in the pot and brown on all sides.  Remove and set aside with the other meat.
  • Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside with the other meat.
  • Add the onions, garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until tender, 2-4 minutes
  • Add a small amount of wine to the pan to deglaze and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom
  • Add the crushed whole tomatoes, tomato paste, 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of water and mix well.
  • Add the braciole, lamb, pork ribs, and sausages plus any juices that may have accumulated on the platter back to the pot (the meatballs will be added later.)
  • Add 2 Dorot cubes of garlic, 2 Dorot cubes of basil, the Parmesan rind and the remainder of the red wine and mix well
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook over med low heat with the lid half on, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more water
  • Prepare your meatballs during this time.
  • When the sauce has cooked for 2 hours on low with the lid half on the pot, add the  meatballs.
  • Cooks note: Meatballs can be raw or fried …
  • Cook another 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the meat is tender
  • Remove all the meat from the sauce.
  • Prepare the macaroni as per package direction for al dente MINUS 2 minutes
  • Save some macaroni water
  • Drain the macaroni (DO NOT rinse with water-that takes away the starch) and return to the pot with the sauce. Stir well and cover the pot tightly.
  • Leave the macaroni alone for 2 minutes (the heat of the sauce will finish cooking the macaroni and absorb the sauce). If the sauce is too thick add some pasta water
  • When completed add the grated cheese, and chopped fresh basil and serve with the sauce meat—serve the sauce meat in a separate dish. Macaroni can be served with additional grated cheese and whole milk ricotta for a topping

Cooks Note: this will yield a few quarts of leftover sauce that you can freeze…

Step By Step Slideshow Directions:

START with the seasoned meat photo…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now for the meatballs…

Meatball Ingredients:

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1 lb. ground “grass fed” beef

1 lb. ground pork

1/2- 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs ( I average 3/4 cup)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Directions to make the meatballs:

  • Break up ground meat with the back of a spoon in a large bowl. Add the fresh parsley, grated cheese, chopped garlic, breadcrumbs and eggs and mix well with your hands. Mixture cannot be too wet or it will fall apart when trying to shape. If this occurs, add more breadcrumbs.
  • DO NOT overwork the meat
  • Use either a meatball gadget, melon baller or your hands and form 1” meatballs. (Hands rinsed with cold water prevent excessive sticking.)
  • Cooks Note: at this point there are two options, EITHER add the meatballs to the sauce raw or brown the meatballs first in a skilltet. Your choice…if you want to brown the meatballs, directions below.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides 1-2 minutes before adding to the sauce.

Step by Step Slideshow Directions:

START with breaking up ground meat…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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BRACIOLE INGREDIENTS:

1 pound very thinly sliced boneless beef round

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Italian flavored bread crumbs

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions to make braciole:

Lay the beef slices on a work surface. 

Brush each piece with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Evenly spread the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, parsley, over the meat. 

Roll up each piece like a sausage.

Secure closed with a toothpick or tie with kitchen string.  Set aside.

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I hope you try this recipe and enjoy a very traditional Sunday Sauce meal.

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 Easter 2016

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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”.

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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.

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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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Note– Scroll to the top left hand corner of each picture for the white and red “pin it” button and add DishingwithDiane.com photos to your Pinterest page.

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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Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

2016-02-07 16.38.34 - spinach balls for BLOG

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

Hi Everyone,

I just have to share this. I posted this experiment to my Facebook page and received so many questions and comments, that I decided to post it to the blog.

Last Sunday when my husband was watching the Super Bowl, I decided to spend my time in the kitchen and cook. (You guessed it, I am not a football fan).

For those of you that remember my post back in December for my rice balls; you know how thrilled I was with my new gadget.

So, on Sunday I was thinking, since I liked the rice balls so much, can I make a stuffed meatball with the rice ball maker? And the experiment began….

I put together my meatball mixture, added some chopped spinach and shredded some mozzarella cheese on the side to use for the stuffing.

Diane tip: Before shredding, put the mozzarella cheese in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to shred and not get stuck in the box grater.

So far, so good.

I sprayed the bottom cup of the gadget with cooking spray so the meat mixture wouldn’t stick and then filled the cup. I made a well in the meat and filled it with shredded mozzarella.

Added some more meat on top to form the ball and it was done.

2016-02-07 16.38.34 - spinach balls for BLOG

I set up the usual breading station, breaded all the meatballs and let them rest for 5 minutes.

This time there was no deep frying involved. I baked the meatballs to make sure that the meat cooked all the way through.

2016-02-07 17.39.58- spinach meatballs 2 FOR BLOG

Once they were done, I cut it open and we had a WINNER. Gooey, hot melted cheese mixed with the meatball and spinach.

Bob and I loved them and I wanted to share the recipe.

If you don’t have a rice ball maker, you can easily make small meatballs like this by hand. Enjoy

2016-02-07 17.43.04- meatballs finished FOR BLOG

Stuffed Spinach Meatballs

Using the Rice Ball Maker 

Ingredients:

1 pkg. Ground turkey or beef

1 small onion, diced (shallots can be substituted)

Seasoned breadcrumbs

Grated cheese

Salt & Pepper

No salt organic seasoning

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp. Fresh parsley

Fresh mozzarella, diced in small cubes or shredded 

1 egg, lightly beaten for meat mixture

10 oz. pkg. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained*

Diane tip:* To drain spinach completely—after package is thawed, place spinach in a dishtowel and ring the towel out and release all the liquid.

2 tbsp. olive oil for cookie sheet

For the Breading:

3 eggs lightly beaten

Breadcrumbs (I mixed homemade and panko)

Water

Procedure:

In a large bowl, mix seasoned breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, onion, no salt seasoning, salt and pepper ……

ADD ground meat, Worcestershire sauce and 1 slightly beaten egg. ADD the drained spinach and gently mix the meat and seasonings –do not overwork the meat

Using the rice ball maker…

Either use cooking spray or brush bottom cup with olive oil to prevent the meat from sticking

Fill the bottom container with the meat mixture

Make a well in the meatball and insert either mozzarella cubes or shredded mozzarella

Add meat on top to close the ball, invert and place on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.

(If the meat sticks when removing the ball, run a butter knife around the cup to loosen the meat)

Complete forming all the meatballs before the next step

In the 1st breading tray mix 3 slightly beaten eggs with a few tbsp. of water (add additional salt and pepper if desired)

2nd breading tray, mix breadcrumbs (I use plain and panko) and add additional grated cheese if desired.

Dip the meatballs in breadcrumbs, egg mixture and then BACK to breadcrumbs and place on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees

I baked the first side for 15 minutes, flipped the meatballs and baked for an additional 10 minutes

If you use grass fed beef shorten the baking time. Grass fed beef has less fat and will dry out.

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 I hope you give this recipe a try… If you participate in Lent as I do, you might have to wait awhile.

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.

Note– Scroll to the top left hand corner of each picture for the white and red “pin it”button and add DishingwithDiane.com photos to your Pinterest page.

Seafood Salad

Christmas 2012 027- SEAFOOD SALAD

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Hi everyone,

As Christmas approaches many of you are preparing your Holiday Menus. In my family the menu for Christmas Eve was always more important than the Christmas Day menu.

Christmas Day was very simple with stuffed shells or lasagna, turkey and some vegetable side dishes. The end.

But Christmas Eve was a different story. Christmas Eve was the Feast of the Seven Fishes (or La Vigilia  a day of abstinence.) In the Catholic Church this prohibits the consumption of meat, so La Vigilia was ALL fish, NO meat. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is celebrated in southern Italy from Rome on down and my family comes from Naples and Bari.

Okay, I know you will ask, Why the Seven Fishes?

The number seven is mentioned hundreds and hundreds of times in the Bible.

In my family I was raised that the Seven Fishes represent the “Seven Sacraments” – baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance or reconciliation, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and marriage.

I have also heard many different reasons for the seven fishes and they are as follows:

The Seven Virtues – faith, hope, charity, temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice

The Seven Deadly Sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride

Seven days it took God to create the world

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgment), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence), fear of the Lord (wonder and awe)

The number of days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem

Miracle of the Seven Loaves and Fish – Jesus fed 4,000 people with only seven loaves and fish

The Seven Hills of Rome

So you get the idea, there isn’t one correct answer. It varies by region. To really get you confused, some families insist on 13 fish dishes for Christmas Eve to represent Christ and his 12 Apostles.

We’ll move on….

This has to be my favorite holiday meal all year. I always looked forward to all the fish dishes with such anticipation. Maybe because I would always go fishing with my Dad all the time as a child and as an adult; that is the reason I love fish so much.

Here is a sample of My Christmas Eve Menu and I think I go over the seven fish requirement.

Appetizer:

Shrimp Cocktail 

1st course:

Linguine with Fish sauce (consisting of crabs, clams, mussels, scungilli (conch), shrimp, tuna, calamari (squid), and scallops).

2nd course:

broiled salmon

stuffed calamari

coconut shrimp

fried calamari

baked clams

mussels in white wine and butter

crab cakes

seafood salad 

and the two most traditional fish dishes

Baccala (dry salted cod fish) with potatoes in a tomato sauce

&

fried eel 

Sauteed broccoli rabe with LOTS of garlic

&

 tossed green salad

3rd course:

Fruit and nuts – including roasted chestnuts

Dessert:

demitasse

Variety of Christmas cookies -including pignoli

Panettone

Italian bow tie cookies topped with honey and sprinkles (similar to Struffoli) sorry I don’t know the name.

Yes, dinner lasts for hours and hours and every bite is so delicious.

When my husband and I were dating (he is not Italian), his first Christmas Eve with us was very overwhelming. Now, after 30 years, he is accustomed to the menu and all the courses; and he even has a few favorites.

After this huge fish dinner, we went to Midnight Mass, came home to sausage and peppers (you could eat meat after midnight) and then we opened all of our gifts.

Buon Natale !

Recently, I had a request from a DishingwithDiane follower for my recipe for seafood salad, which consists of calamari, shrimp and scallops, octopus is optional.

Many years ago, I found a terrific recipe from Italian Food Forever and have tweaked it over the years and here is the end result. I hope you enjoy it.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Blessed 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.

Christmas 2012 027- SEAFOOD SALAD

Seafood Salad – serves 6

Ingredients

3 Cups White Wine

5 Bay Leaves

2 Cloves Garlic, crushed

2 Lemons

1 Pound Calamari, cleaned and cut into rings

1 Pound Medium Shrimp, cleaned and deveined

1 Pound Scallops

1 Cup Black Olives

Chopped celery

Dressing:

1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Lemon Juice

3 Large Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced 

1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley

Dash Red Pepper Flakes

Salt & Pepper To Taste

Directions:

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

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

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

If you want to include Octopus in this salad, you will need 3 cups cooked Octopus chopped into 2 inch pieces. 

If you are cooking octopus, add it to the pot after cooking the scallops (once all the other seafood is removed from the pot), and cook it for about 45 minutes to an hour or until it is tender.
Remove it from the pot and let it cool.
Remove the skin and suckers, and cut it into bite sized pieces.
Mix the octopus with the other ingredients.