Category Archives: Vegetables

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese…

Photo Oct 06, 5 08 36 PM BAKED SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE

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Hi Everyone,

Well, I hope your Fall is off to a good start. For me, I am slowly adjusting to the season and the cooler weather.

I can’t say that I am at the pumpkin latte, apple cider donuts and big sweater level yet, but I am working on it. 

The cooler weather and the month of October always brings my mind to comfort foods. Soups, stews and mac & cheese. Mac & cheese being my favorite. 

I am always on a quest for new recipes and then I tweak them to my liking. The other day while searching for fall recipes, I found a great recipe that caught my eye on the website HalfBakedHarvest.com.

It is “Baked Squash Mac & Cheese”. Two things I like rolled into one entree- not bad.

The mac & cheese is served in a mini squash (or pumpkin) for a great presentation and can either be a lovely weeknight meal or a seasonal lunch for company, served with a salad.

I bought all the ingredients, tried the recipe, loved it and wanted to share it with all of you. So here we go…

A slideshow preparing this recipe will be posted after the written recipe.

I had one big problem, everywhere I went I couldn’t find really small squash and I didn’t want to use a small pumpkin so the squash I bought would be considered a medium size. 

I still think that this would look cuter with small individual squash, but the taste was great.

Ingredients…

Photo Oct 06, 2 35 14 PM INGREDIENTS ONE

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese

courtesy of HalfBakedHarvest.com

Photo Oct 06, 5 07 14 PM BAKED SQUASH CLOSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-6 small acorn squash or pie pumpkins
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt + pepper
  • 4 slices thin prosciutto
  • 4 slices sourdough bread pulsed into fine crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-pound short cut pasta
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less to taste

COOKS NOTE:  I added shallots to my onions…

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the tops of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the pumpkins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet. Lay the prosciutto flat on the baking sheet next to the squashes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp. Remove the prosciutto from the pan and continue baking the squash another 10-20 minutes or just until tender to touch but not falling in.
  3. Add the crisp prosciutto and bread to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the crumbs and cook until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage and cook another 30 seconds. Spoon the crumbs out onto a plate. Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain.
  5. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the same pot used for the crumbs. Add the onions and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk, whisking until combined. Raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted (if needed, return the pot to the heat to fully melt the cheese). Stir in the pasta. Spoon the mac and cheese into the roasted squash bowls, you may have leftover mac and cheese depending on the size of your squash. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs over and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven…dig in!!

STEP BY STEP SLIDESHOW…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy the recipe and let me know what you think.

Stay well, 

Diane

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

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

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

 

Goodbye Summer 2018

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

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Hi everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Dec 17, 11 55 26 AM CENTERPIECE 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 38 29 PM WATERMELON BAG

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

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

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

So, let’s get started on a tablescape…

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

Photo Sep 21, 1 29 16 PM BURLAP TC

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

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

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

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

Couldn’t pass these up.

Photo Sep 21, 12 39 27 PM WATERMELON PLACEMAT

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

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

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

Just the color alone is refreshing.

Photo Sep 21, 12 34 40 PM WDISHES

Complete set…

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

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 10 08 54 PM DESSERT DISH

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 10 13 23 PM DESSERT BOWLS

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

(great find in Homegoods). 

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 31 03 PM W-GLASSWARE

Flatware is brown to continue the neutral feeling.

Photo Sep 21, 12 39 46 PM FLATWARE

The Centerpiece…

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

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

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 30 51 PM REDTRUCK

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 32 49 PM RED TRUCK PLATTER

I have a few table accents in mind.

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 30 12 PM WATERMELON COASTER

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

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

Next table accent, will make you laugh…

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 12 37 03 PM TISSUE BOX

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

A real watermelon…

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 1 30 54 PM FLOWERS AND WATERMELON

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

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

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

They will look so cute on the table.

Photo Sep 21, 9 30 28 PM CUPCAKE 2

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

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

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

Goodbye to Summer Lunch

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

(recipe at the end of the post)

Photo Sep 16, 12 16 09 AM SHRIMP SALAD

Homemade potato chips.

(recipe at the end of the post)

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

Tomato, Watermelon & Feta skewers with mint & lime.

(recipe at the end of the post). 

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

Watermelon cooler made with lemon sorbet. 

(recipe at the end of the post).

Photo Sep 21, 10 28 41 PM COOLER

Fresh watermelon slices.

Photo Sep 21, 11 28 28 PM W-SLICES

 Watermelon Italian Ice (store bought).

Photo Sep 21, 10 19 31 PM ITALIAN ICE

Watermelon Cupcakes.

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

(recipe at the end of the post)

Dessert is Served…

Photo Sep 21, 10 33 53 PM DESSERT IS SERVED

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

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

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

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

Now my Goodbye to Summer lunch is ready.

Place Setting

Photo Sep 21, 11 30 10 PM PLACE SETTING

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

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

to the first day of Summer.

Friday, June 21, 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!

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

Watermelon Bellini

 (with and without alcohol) 

(recipe at the end of the post).

Photo Sep 21, 11 52 22 PM BELLINI

Stay well, 

Diane

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

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

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

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RECIPES

Watermelon Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Beth @ The First Year – blog

Ingredients

Cupcakes – makes 10-12 cupcakes

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

Buttercream

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

Directions

Cupcakes

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

Buttercream

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

How to assemble

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

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Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime

Recipe courtesy of Sara Foster of Southern Living

Makes about 3 dozen skewers

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

Shrimp Salad

Courtesy of The Blond Cook

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

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Homemade Potato Chips

Courtesy of Taste of Home

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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Watermelon and Lemon Sorbet Cooler

Courtesy of Paula Deen       Servings: 10

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

Directions:

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

 

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

Watermelon Bellini

Recipe courtesy of  Virginia Willis of Southern Living

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

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

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

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

It looks as though I CAN have a Watermelon sandwich.

Open Face Watermelon Sandwiches

recipe courtesy of FreshfromFlorida blog

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

Yield 4 Servings

Ingredients

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

Preparation

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

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

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

Photo Sep 21, 1 32 05 PM WATERMELON EXTRA

 

 

 

Summer Delight – Fried Zucchini Flowers

 

Photo Jul 08, 4 55 59 PM ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

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

Hi Everyone, 

This time of year is an extra special time in the garden for Italian moms and grandmothers. If you were born into an Italian family, you know what I am talking about- zucchini flower (or squash blossom) time.

The zucchini flowers are the edible flower of the zucchini plant and are a beautiful shade of orange and yellow. They are very delicate and taste somewhat like a zucchini.

Honestly,  it’s very hard to describe their exact flavor except for the word “delicious”.

When I was a child my parent’s garden had every vegetable you could imagine and I remember my grandmother going outside early in the morning to pick the zucchini flowers while the blossoms were open. Grandma would gather enough flowers to make a zucchini flower and egg frittata for breakfast and have some leftover to batter and fry for lunch. 

There are so many ways to enjoy zucchini flowers. Battered and fried with or without stuffing, on a pizza, in a frittata, made into fritters, in pasta, in risotto, eaten raw in a salad, and even a zucchini blossom soup.

Before you start picking flowers, here is a little information you should know.

Each plant has male and female flowers and the male flowers are the only flowers you pick. The male flowers are only on the plant to fertilize and will never produce a zucchini. They are grown on stalks and are identified by their long thin stem.

MALE ZUCCHINI FLOWER

The female flowers grow more toward the center of the plant and are attached to a small zucchini. Leave the female flowers to produce a zucchini.

FEMALE ZUCCHINI FLOWER

The flowers are very delicate and taste best if you make them the day they are picked. You have to gently open the petals and check for bugs, remove the stamen and then gently wash the flowers and let them dry before you can use them in any recipe.

If you have never tried zucchini flowers, I strongly suggest that you do.

If you don’t have a garden with a zucchini plant, don’t worry, check your local farm stands or specialty grocer.

If that isn’t available, many Italian restaurants have this dish as an appetizer this time of year.

 They are a great crispy summertime treat.

(Fiori di Zucca Fritti).

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

Today I am posting two recipes that I use to make these blossoms. 

Stuffed zucchini flowers with my tweaks (or course I couldn’t leave the recipe as is) . I stuffed them with a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, basil, parsley, locatelli cheese and prosciutto di Parma.

AND

  Just battered and fried.

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

My stuffed zucchini flowers…

Photo Jul 09, 2 50 18 AM FRIED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

My plain battered and fried zucchini flowers…

Photo Jul 17, 2 42 48 PM PLAIN AND FRIED ZUCCHINI

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

Recipes

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

For 12 Flowers

By Diane K.

Stuffing ingredients: 

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Shredded mozzarella

3-4 tbsp Grated Locatelli cheese- or your choice of cheese

1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp milk

Salt and pepper

Diced prosciutto de Parma (optional)

 Batter ingredients:

½ cup AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

1 cup beer  (or club soda)

Directions:

For stuffing:

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, mozzarella, locatelli, parsley, basil, garlic powder, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and diced prosciutto. Mix until smooth. Taste for seasonings.

 For batter:

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Gradually add 1 cup beer, whisking until batter is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.

Set aside for 10-20 minutes

Procedure:

Cut the stems to one inch

Remove the sepals from the base (green pointy leaves that protect the flower bud at the base of the flower).

sepals-and-stems- zucchini blossoms

Open the flowers by gently spreading the petals and remove the stamens inside the flower. Be careful, watch out for bees.

zucchini stamen 2

Clean the flowers by gently running them under cold water (look for insects inside).

Make sure they are dry before you start the rest of the recipe. If there is water on the flowers, it will splatter once it hits the hot oil. 

Cook’s note: I dry them on a tea towel for at least a half hour.

Spoon 1-2 tbsp of the filling in each flower. Close the top by gently twisting the ends of the petal to seal in the filling.

Cook’s Note: a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with the corner cut off can also be used to stuff the flowers.

Heat  1- 1/2 inches of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. 

Cook’s Note: vegetable oil or peanut oil can also be used.

Dip the zucchini flower in the batter and let any excess batter drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once until golden brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain.

Sprinkle with either sea salt or grated cheese.

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

Battered and Fried zucchini Flowers

Ingredients courtesy of My Italian Grandmother website.

Ingredients:

1 cup of AP flour

1 cup water or seltzer

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Cut the stems to 1-inch

Remove the sepals from the base ( green pointy leaves that protect the flower bud at the base of the flower).

sepals-and-stems- zucchini blossoms

Open the flowers by gently spreading the petals and remove the stamens inside the flower.

zucchini stamen 2

Clean the flowers by gently running them under cold water and checking inside for any insects.

Make sure they are dry before you start the rest of the recipe. If there is water on the flowers, it will splatter once it hits the hot oil. 

Cook’s note: I dry them on a tea towel for at least a half hour.

In the meantime, prepare the batter. Add all ingredients together and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat  1- 1/2 inches of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. 

Cook’s Note: vegetable oil or peanut oil can also be used.

Dip the zucchini flower in the batter and let any excess batter drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once until golden brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain.

Sprinkle with either sea salt or grated cheese.

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I hope you try either of these recipes and enjoy the summertime treat of fried zucchini flowers (Fiori di Zucca Fritti).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!.

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog and please spread the word to join DishingwithDiane.com to your family and friends either via email or Facebook.

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

Also, continue to send me your comments and e-mails. I LOVE hearing from you.

 

Fiesta Night

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 48 PM INTRO FIESTA

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

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to June!

Wow, the months are flying by? Why does it seem that every year goes by quicker and quicker the older we get, not like childhood when a year felt like an eternity?

In my home, June’s arrival means that Bob is ready for grilling. He makes sure the grill is spotless, and his grilling baskets and barbecue tools are ready to go.

This must be a guy thing because I never have the desire to stand in front of the grill watching my meal cook. Even though I cook every night and stand in front of the stove, the grill does not interest me.

The temperature reached 80 degrees and Bob said he was in the mood to grill steak for tacos, so he went to purchase some skirt steak and other ingredients I needed to complete this meal while I stayed home and started a marinade with oranges, limes, cumin, garlic and olive oil.

My marinades are always different depending on what I have in the house but I always try to get a citrus in the marinade.

Since this was the FIRST OFFICIAL grilling moment of 2018…

I decided to make this taco dinner into a Fiesta Night.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 28 PM EXTRA

I have great dishes for this meal that are a combination of perfect Fiesta colors – red, yellow, blue and lime. This is a 10.5 inch ceramic plate that is dishwasher & microwave safe- always a plus. I picked them up last year at Dollar Tree when I was hosting a taco bar luncheon.

Photo Jun 09, 11 51 35 AM DINNER PLATE

I wanted to use all the colors from the dish for my tablescape, so I am starting out with one of the brightest tablecloths I own, a very bright lemon yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 10 33 52 AM TABLECLOTH

Another color in the plate is red and that will be the color of the napkins along with brown wooden napkin rings because I want to use my brown rattan chargers and the wooden napkin ring will look best.

These rattan chargers are my absolute favorite because they go with so many dinnerware patterns.

Photo Jun 07, 6 53 18 PM NAPKIN AND CHARGER

The flatware I am using is a set I don’t get to use very often. They are what I call, my “Cinco de Mayo” flatware because they have all the colors of a Mexican Fiesta –  lime, orange, navy, red and yellow.

Photo Jun 09, 11 48 28 AM FLATWARE

The glassware brings me right back to Dollar Tree. I went back to the store to purchase additional plates for the luncheon and these glasses were on the shelf just calling my name. This was a great find because they had all the colors of the dinner plate.

It is a 16 oz. glass with stripes of red, yellow, green and blue. Just perfect for what I needed.Photo Jun 08, 3 32 27 AM GLASSWARE

 

I had an acrylic pitcher from back in the day, that I keep on the patio table to hold fresh basil & lavender to repel mosquitoes ( a little tip from my Mom) and it matched perfectly. 

Photo Jun 08, 3 35 40 AM WATER PITCHER

Since this tablescape was spur of the moment, I had to think of what I already had on hand that I could use for a centerpiece and table accents. I had a box in the basement of the “Mexican” decorations that I used for the taco bar luncheon, so it was time to see what I could use again.

 I brought the box up and found a sombrero and maracas along with a bag of artificial red chili peppers.

Photo Jun 08, 1 48 32 AM SOMBRERO

Photo Jun 07, 6 50 48 PM MARACAS

Photo Jun 08, 1 51 44 AM CHILI PEPPERS

My next great find, which I honestly forgot I had was a Mexican serape table runner. I love this. It brings all the colors I am looking for together and captures that authentic Mexican feel.

I normally don’t use a table runner but this bright yellow tablecloth needed something extra.

Photo Jun 09, 10 34 46 AM TABLE RUNNER

You know by now how much I love to add salt and pepper shakers to my tablescapes to carry out the theme, so I went to my collection and took out the cacti set.

Photo Jun 08, 3 36 59 AM SALT AND PEPPER SHAKER

I thought that the tablescape needed a little accent of green and nature, so these succulents wrapped in burlap were added. (Of course they are artificial because I can kill a succulent- I definitely have a brown thumb. I killed the bamboo).

Photo Jun 08, 3 29 47 AM SUCCULENTS

My love of candles continues so I added a few to the table, Mason jar tea lights do the job.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 46 PM CANDLES

Okay, we are on our way to a Mexican tablescape.

Now to continue planning the meal …

 I plan on serving the skirt steak tacos with lots of standard taco toppings, red rice and something new for me, Mexican corn or Elote.

The Meal…

Skirt steak

Photo Jun 09, 10 08 09 AM SKIRT STEAK

Taco Toppings… tomatoes, lettuce, corn salsa, cheese, hot sauce and sour cream.

Photo Jun 04, 9 51 33 PM TOPPINGS

Red Rice– Bob and I both love rice so I always include red rice when I make a taco meal. This time I added a can of pinto beans.

(This Red Rice recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 17 27 PM RED RICE AND BEANS

 And now the Mexican Corn...I love to order this corn whenever I see it on a menu, so I had Bob buy some queso fresco cheese while he was shopping and I’ll give it a try.

The recipe doesn’t look difficult at all. The original recipe calls for cojita cheese but he couldn’t find that.

I topped it with a great seasoning blend that I bought in Trader Joe’s- Chili Lime.

Photo Jun 09, 2 38 32 PM CHILI LIME

(This Elote recipe will be at the end of the post).

Photo Jun 04, 9 16 06 PM MEXICAN CORN

When I was hosting the taco luncheon I decided to buy taco holders. All of the taco holders that I looked at in Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma were interlocking metal racks and I preferred individual holders.

I finally found some plastic taco holders that can be separated individually or clipped together and interlocked depending on how you were serving your meal. These holders are the best purchase for a taco night. 

There is no mess with tacos falling over and contents of your tacos spilling out and it looks cute on the plate. Plus it makes it much easier for your guests to handle.

 I think they are still available on Amazon.

Photo Jun 08, 3 21 09 AM TACO HOLDERS

I prefer using them separately but you can interlock as many as you want together.

Photo Jun 08, 3 22 48 AM DOUBLE TACO

DIANE’S NOTE:  

If you don’t want to purchase taco holders, you could also use an inverted muffin tin. Place the taco shells between the cups and they will stand up.

ff229ac352fa5e600d01032d66de9380 MUFFIN TACO HOLDER 2

OR an inverted cardboard egg carton.

e0e77e653a180e5c2c2a798c21d805d5 EGG CARTON TACO HOLDER 2

Not as decorative for a party as the store bought taco holder, but it will work.

Along with the tacos, you need taco toppings. And to serve your toppings, you need lots of bowls. I had previously purchased plastic molcajete serving bowls to hold the tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. 

I served the toppings on a mango wood wine barrel tray. I like having the toppings all on one tray instead of scattered around the table. I think it looks much nicer.

Bob and I both don’t care for avocados, so you will never find guacamole as a topping for us. 

You will never see cilantro as part of our topping choices either.

We are part of the population that for us, cilantro tastes like soap. Since this is hereditary and we both carry the gene, our son doesn’t care for cilantro either.

Whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant we can never eat the salsa and have to be very specific with the server to have cilantro omitted from our meal and substituted with parsley.

So, don’t get upset with cilantro haters, we’re not being fussy, it’s just in our DNA.

Photo Jun 08, 3 24 35 AM BOWLS

Photo Jun 08, 3 26 56 AM TRAY

I love using cast iron fajita skillets to serve steak. It keeps the meat warm and I love to hear the sizzle. I am ready to purchase an additional skillet just for grilled vegetables.

This particular skillet comes with a wood underliner hot plate and pot holder for the handle. You have to be very careful with cast iron because it gets so hot. I suggest you buy the pot holder.

Photo Jun 09, 9 41 38 AM FAJITA SKILLET

And now I have saved the best for last!

Individual servings of “Mexican Layered Dip” served in a mini margarita glass. It is the cutest appetizer.

I brought out a platter of these for my luncheon and they were a big hit. Served with tortilla chips and vegetable spears.

I am sure you have all seen a version of 7-layer dip, now you can customize your dip in a single serving.

 

Just layer your dip ingredients in the glass and add your toppings. I used “guacamole”, refried beans, sour cream, salsa and topped it with cheese, tomato, scallions, olives and a lime wedge. 

Ingredients are up to you. 

Photo Jun 09, 11 56 09 AM MARGARITA GLASS

Photo Jun 09, 8 15 13 PM DIP

Yes, I did say guacamole and I only used a little just for color and to give you a better idea of what the traditional finished product should look like- I didn’t eat it. 

I wish you could have all seen the surprised look on Bob’s face when one of the shopping list items was the “smallest container of guacamole he could find”.

 He is so used to my recipes and food experiments all these years, that he just goes along with everything and questions nothing –that man is an angel.  

Diane’s note, if you use guacamole, layer it on the bottom of the glass so it has the least exposure to air. Exposure to the air will make it turn brown. 

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I was looking at the cacti salt and pepper shakers and had a great idea.

I decided to make some candy covered cactus pretzel rods for the table. I had pretzel rods in the house and some leftover green candy melts from St Patrick’s Day and I have a basket of sprinkles in every color so this could come together quickly.

Just a little something extra for the table, served in a ceramic flower pot.

Photo Jun 09, 7 06 57 PM CACTUS PRETZEL RODS

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Place settingPhoto Jun 09, 11 55 01 AM - PLACE SETTING WITH TEXT

 

So that is our Mexican Fiesta

to welcome in the month of June and the grilling season.

 

I think we need a margarita and some churros and we will be all set.

Photo Jun 05, 12 05 47 AM TACO NIGHT

Photo Jun 09, 8 14 30 PM DIP AND CACTUS 2

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I shared today for your very own Mexican Fiesta.

Until my next post, “make every day a celebration!”

Stay well, 

Diane

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

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

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

Recipes…

Mexican Red Rice

(recipe courtesy of GeniusKitchen.com)

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion just begins to brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder and salt, lower heat and cover.
  4. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

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Elotes (or Mexican Grilled Corn)

adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema*
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese*
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 lime

*Author’s Note: If Mexican ingredients are hard to come by where you live, you can substitute sour cream for the Mexican crema. You can also substitute parmesan cheese for the cotija cheese in a pinch!

Instructions:

Grill the corn to your liking. I personally find it crunchier and more flavorful to take it off earlier, rather than later.

In a 9×13” baking dish, combine the mayo, Mexican cream, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and chili powder. Mix well.

Roll the grilled ears of corn in the creamy mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated on all sides.

Serve with lime wedges

Cooks Note: (optional)  I dusted the corn at the end with the Chili Lime Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe’s.

290xNxmexican-fiesta-party-games-1.png.pagespeed.ic.TQKJCL0RNp FIESTA 2

 

Stuffed Peppers with Rice and Beans

Photo Sep 07, 9 59 45 PM RICE AND BEAN STUFFED PEPPERS

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

Hi everyone. 

I just wanted to share a recipe with you that I put together last night.

It was very easy and came together fairly quickly in case you are looking for something to have for a school night. The rice can be made ahead of time.

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I just don’t know what to cook for dinner and I need a few changes from the usual favorites.

I had previously posted my traditional stuffed pepper recipe with ground beef on the blog (September 20, 2015); but for this recipe I changed the beef to black beans.

Very good for my vegetarian members too.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Have fun cooking and enjoy!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post…

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

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

Stuffed Peppers with Rice and Beans

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium onion –sliced

3 garlic cloves –minced

5 bell peppers- whole

3 TBSP olive oil

2-3 cans “no salt” 8 oz. tomato sauce … (3 cans will make it juicier)

2 cups cooked brown rice – (follow package directions)

1 TBSP Italian seasoning

4 TBSP plus of grated cheese

8 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Cut the tops from 5 green peppers; discard the seeds and the membranes
  • Dice the tops in pieces for the rice filling – set aside
  • Cook the whole green peppers, uncovered in boiling water for about 6 minutes; invert to drain well
  • Start to prepare the rice in either a steamer or stovetop
  • In another saucepan over medium low heat, add the olive oil
  • Allow the oil to heat up for a few minutes and then add the diced peppers and onions, a pinch of salt and cook for approx. 7 minutes stirring occasionally to soften
  • Add the minced garlic to the peppers and onions and cook for 1 more minute
  • Add the 2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained – cook 1 minute
  • Add the 2-3 cans of tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and 2 TBSP of grated cheese
  • Allow this to cook on a lower temperature for 15-20 minutes with the cover ON until the sauce is done
  • Add the cooked rice, mix well and add the remaining grated cheese
  • Stuff the peppers with this mixture and top with additional grated cheese and mozzarella cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to melt the cheese then serve

Depending on the size of your peppers, you will have leftover filling for a quick lunch the next day.

 

Next up, Cauliflower!

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

Hi everyone,

I am still searching for new recipes and I came across two recipes on Pinterest that I had to share.

I have already been through the kale phase of the culinary world with kale added to quiches, soups and kale chips and now I am moving on to the next trend, Cauliflower.

I have made cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crusts but I found two more recipes I think you will like.

photo-jan-23-2-13-11-pm-general-tso

The first recipe is “General Tso’s Cauliflower”

courtesy of the website, Delish.com

I am sure many of you have been to a Chinese restaurant and ordered General Tso’s chicken with it’s deep fried chicken and a sweet and spicy sauce, one of my favorites. Well, here is a new cauliflower version. Not fried, baked.

Ingredients

photo-jan-23-11-18-05-am-ingredients-cauli-tso

Step By Step…

photo-jan-23-11-29-05-am-cauliflower-1-use-withphoto-jan-23-11-32-16-am-dredge-2-use-withphoto-jan-23-1-01-09-pm-in-process-3-use-withphoto-jan-23-12-08-42-pm-step-4photo-jan-23-1-34-39-pm-step-5photo-jan-23-1-41-30-pm-step-6photo-jan-23-1-56-03-pm-step-7photo-jan-23-1-59-20-pm-step-8photo-jan-23-1-56-52-pm-step-9photo-jan-23-2-06-58-pm-step-10photo-jan-23-2-13-11-pm-step-11

To serve, I added rice, an egg roll and wonton soup.

photo-jan-23-2-34-08-pm-1-cauliflower-plated

General Tso’s Cauliflower

SERVES: 4 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 c. sweet chili sauce
  • 1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Green onions, for garnish

COOKS NOTE: Of course I had to tweak something so I added bell pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Dredge cauliflower in flour, milk, and bread crumbs and transfer to a baking sheet lined with a rack or a parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake until deeply golden and crispy, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small saucepan over low heat, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and softened, 2 minutes, then add sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. Simmer 5 minutes until thickened.
  4. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl and add sauce. Toss gently until completely coated.
  5. Serve over rice with sesame seeds and green onions.

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photo-jan-29-5-38-20-pm-cailiflower-tots

The second recipe is a cauliflower substitute for “tater tots”

Courtesy of the website,  Justataste.com

Who hasn’t at one time or another bought a frozen package of tater tots for your children?  I was guilty of that myself when my son was small and we had to get to soccer practice.

This recipe caught my eye because they are baked, not fried and only have FIVE ingredients. (Well, I added parsley, so I used six) Serve them with ketchup and you are all set.

Ingredients

photo-jan-29-3-01-52-pm-five-ingredients

Step By Step…

photo-jan-29-3-15-03-pm-step-1photo-jan-29-3-44-26-pm-step-2photo-jan-29-3-58-42-pm-step-3photo-jan-29-4-10-24-pm-step-4photo-jan-29-4-14-22-pm-step-5photo-jan-29-4-15-49-pm-step-6photo-jan-29-4-19-50-pm-step-7photo-jan-29-4-37-59-pm-step-8photo-jan-29-5-09-48-pm-step-9photo-jan-29-5-34-25-pm-step-10photo-jan-29-5-38-36-pm-ready-to-serve

Ready to serve…

photo-jan-29-5-38-20-pm-cailiflower-tots

5-Ingredient Baked Cauliflower Tots

Yield: About 35 tots   Prep Time: 30 min   Cook Time: 45 min

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup small diced onion
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg

COOKS NOTE: I added some parsley to the mixture, next time I’ll try chives.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a nonstick baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the water and cook them just until fork tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Thoroughly drain the florets and transfer them to a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower for a few seconds just until it breaks down into small pieces (about the size of grains of rice). (Do not overmix the cauliflower or the mixture will be too wet to form.)
  3. Measure out 3 packed cups of the cauliflower and add it to a large bowl. (See Kelly’s Notes.) Stir in the diced onion, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, mixing until thoroughly combined. (The mixture should be roughly the consistency of mashed potatoes.) Using your hands, scoop up 1- to 2-tablespoons of the mixture and mold it into a tater tot shape. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the shaping process with the remainder of the mixture, spacing the tots about 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake the tots for about 20 minutes then flip them and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until crisped. Remove and serve with ketchup, pesto, hummus or your preferred dipping sauce.
  5. Kelly’s Notes:
  6. The onion should to be cut small enough so that it’s not too chunky and can be easily mixed into the cauliflower mixture.
  1. Any extra puréed cauliflower can be turned into my go-to mashed potato substitute, Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives.

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

I hope you look over both these recipes and give them a try if you’re looking for something different to serve.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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

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Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

2015-01-22 21.43.24 - giambotta pic

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

Hi everyone,

I am back from my holiday break. I hope 2016 is treating you well so far.

Bob and I had a wonderful three week visit from our son and we all had a terrific time together.

The weather held out on our day trip to NYC, so we were able to visit Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in all it’s splendor, the light show at Sak’s Fifth Avenue and we even had time to have Holiday Tea at The Plaza Hotel.

(Enjoy the slideshow)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The three weeks still gave us time together to try some new restaurants near home, see some movies, spend some family time relaxing and time to celebrate Christmas and bring in the New Year.

Of course I cooked ALL my son’s favorite foods during his visit and trust me, it was a labor of love. I was so thrilled that he was home.

Now our son has gone back to school, holiday decorations are put away, life is getting back to our usual routine and the weather has changed here in the northeast to bitter cold.

Bitter cold to me is a reason for comfort food. Besides the three bean chili, mac & cheese, chicken soup and beef stew; I have another favorite comfort food. It was one of my mother’s favorites too.

It is a southern Italian vegetable stew called Giambotta.

(pronounced: jam-BAUNT)

When I was growing up, my mother made Giambotta at the end of the summer/early fall with all the remaining vegetables from the garden and then occasionally during the winter months. I just love it and make it all year.

Giambotta can be a side dish or a main course. You can add cannellini beans or chick peas too. Add your favorite vegetables and have fun experimenting with flavors.

(This is a great dish if you have guests that are vegetarians).

I usually serve Giambotta with either appetizer size sandwiches of “Mozzarella en Carozza”. Simply put, Italian fried mozzarella cheese sandwiches. 

OR

 Polenta, either sliced into rounds or soft polenta. 

(The photo shows the homemade polenta rounds).

So let’s get started…

Recipes

Giambotta

2015-01-22 21.43.24 - giambotta pic

Ingredients:

3 TBSP olive oil

2 – 4 garlic cloves- minced

1 small onion-sliced

3 carrots- diced

3 stalks of celery-diced

4 small red potatoes- washed & diced

Fresh parsley (approx 2 TBSP)

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) of low sodium chicken broth

2 cups green beans – fresh and blanched is best or frozen is fine

1 eggplant –diced in cubes

2 zucchini- diced in cubes

1 (10 oz) box or bag of frozen peas

Red & green bell pepper or 4 Italian frying peppers, sliced

1 Cup grated cheese

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp. dried oregano 

Fresh basil (approx 5 leaves-chiffonade)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning

(1 can chick peas or cannelini beans- rinsed and drained -optional)

(Parmesan rind- optional)

(1/2 cup white wine – optional)

Directions:

  • Sauté onion in olive oil with garlic for 5 minutes, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Add carrots, parsley, celery, peppers and potatoes and sauté for 10 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, broth and green beans, season with oregano, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, fresh basil and Parmesan rind & white wine (if using).  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes to cook the sauce (taste for seasoning – additional salt & pepper can be added)
  • After 30 minutes—Add eggplant, peas and zucchini, cannelini beans or chick peas (if using) and simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind before serving

Sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Cooks Note: if the giambotta looks too soupy for you, add half the can of beans to the giambotta and mash the other half of the beans before adding to the giambotta to make the stew thicker.

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

Mozzarella en Carozza

My family usually made this dish for an easy lunch or antipasto with a green salad and fruit; but I love it with Giambotta.

You must serve it immediately because the cheese will harden. It is very easy but messy and you have to be very careful when turning the sandwiches in the oil to keep the sandwiches together.

Don’t over stuff the sandwiches with cheese. Leave some room around the edges so the cheese doesn’t ooze out.

If you use fresh mozzarella and not slices, let it drain for a few minutes to get rid of some of the liquid.

I watched my mother make this sandwich and never had a written recipe, so to give you an idea of measurements, I am posting the recipe from the cookbook,

“Extra Virgin – Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen”.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, Extra Virgin, 2011

Total Time: 20 min    
Prep: 10 minutes   Cook: 10 minutes  Level: easy
Yield: 4 sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces mozzarella di bufala
  • 8 slices soft white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil
 DIRECTIONS

Slice the mozzarella and divide among 4 slices of bread. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread.

Whisk the eggs with the milk in a small casserole dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add the flour to a casserole dish. Dust the sandwiches in the flour, and then dip into the egg mixture.

Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick pan. Add the sandwiches to the pan and fry on both sizes until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. The mozzarella should be completely melted and very “stringy” when the sandwich is eaten. Slice the sandwiches in half to make 2 triangles.

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Polenta

Use instant polenta, otherwise you will be at the stove for 45 minutes stirring old style polenta. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) box of instant polenta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions:

Follow package directions. When polenta is done, take the pot off the the heat and then add butter and cheese, AND heavy cream and mascarpone cheese (if using).

Serve soft polenta in a shallow bowl and add Giambotta on top.

Or serve polenta rounds…homemade or store bought.

For homemade: Spread the soft polenta onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan. Spread the polenta out as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened, cut rounds out (with a wine glass or cookie cutter).  

You can either serve as is, fry the polenta slices in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden (then drain on paper towels), or broil for 3 minutes on both sides.

Extra rounds can be wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator. You can refrigerate them for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Store bought…I have never used this product myself, but I see the rounds in the dairy case. Pre-cooked, just slice, heat and serve.

81QWybKPPUL._SX522SX522_SY201_CR,0,0,522,201_PIbundle-12,TopRight,0,0_SX522_SY201_CR,0,0,522,201_SH20_- polenta roll(photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

I hope you have an opportunity to try these recipes and enjoy.

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.