Happy Chinese New Year- The Year of the Ox.

Hi Everyone,

As always, sending you good wishes for you every day but today is the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Ox.

I was reading a few fun tips from China Highlights.com and wanted to share them with you below. It is a very interesting read and it will give you a little insight to the Chinese customs for this holiday and help you if you feel like celebrating this holiday….

The main Chinese New Year activities include 1) putting up decorations, 2) eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, 3) firecrackers and fireworks,  and 4) giving red envelopes and other gifts. 

Chinese New Year Show

Public celebrations: In many Chinese cities, from New Year’s Day, traditional performances can be seen: dragon dances, lion dances, and imperial performances like an emperor’s wedding. A great variety of traditional Chinese products are on offer, and rarely seen Chinese snacks. City parks and temple fairs are the places to go for this.

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year 2021

By FercilityUpdate Feb.08.2021

2021 Chinese New Year Animal is the Ox

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival,is China’s most important festival. It is time for families to be together and a week of an official public holiday.

Chinese New Year Quick Facts

Chinese New Year Facts

Chinese New Year falls on Friday, February 12 in 2021.

Chinese New Year 2021 is a Year of the Ox

Chinese Zodiac Years

1. Chinese New Year Decorations — Lucky Red Items

Every street, building, and house where Spring Festival is celebrated is decorated with red. Red is the main color for the festival, as red is believed to be an auspicious color.

Red Chinese lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity.

2. Chinese New Year’s Eve — Family Time

Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is a time for families to be together. Chinese New Year’s Eve is the most important time. Wherever they are, people are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families.

The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is called ‘reunion dinner‘, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year.

Chinese New Year's Eve Date

3. Firecrackers and Fireworks at Chinese New Year

It has long been a Chinese tradition to set off firecrackers from the first minute of their new year. Fireworks have increasingly been added to the cacophony. From public displays in major cities to millions of private celebrations in China’s rural areas, setting off firecrackers and fireworks is an indispensable festivity.

Chinese New Year Activities

4. Chinese New Year Gifts and Red Envelopes

Like at Christmas in other countries, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. In rural areas and for older people the New Year gift giving tradition is still strong, but increasingly younger people prefer just to receive red envelopes (by hand or electronically).Chinese New Year GiftsAt New Year red envelopes are customary in China.

The most common New Year gifts are red envelopes. Red envelopes have money in, and are believed to bring good luck because they are red. They are given to children and retirees. Customarily only employers give red envelopes to working adults.

Chinese New Year 2021 celebration

What Chinese Eat for New Year’s Eve — Foods with Lucky Meanings

Chinese lunar New Year 2021 Date

Food for the New Year emphasizes lucky symbolic meanings such as fish, which sounds like the Chinese word for ‘surplus’. These foods are eaten during the 16-day festive season, and particularly for the New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner.

The luckiest Chinese New Year foods (and their symbolic meanings) are:

  • Fish (an increase in prosperity)
  • Chinese dumplings (great wealth)
  • Glutinous rice cake (a higher income or position)

The Luckiest Things to Do at Chinese New Year

  • Giving money/gifts in lucky numbers and lucky red packaging with lucky greetings.
  • Eating lucky food like fish on New Year’s Eve, especially carp or catfish with some left over for New Year’s Day.
  • Lighting lots of red firecrackers and fireworks to scare away evil and bring good luck.

The Unlucky Things to Do at Chinese New Year

  • Having an accident, especially if it means hospital visits, crying, and breakages: all bad omens.
  • Giving gifts with unlucky meanings, colors, words, or numbers, or even saying something inauspicious.
  • Sweeping up on New Year’s Day: don’t “sweep all your luck away”.

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

Stay well,

Diane

Two-Year Heart Transplant Anniversary!

Hi Everyone,

I just want to take the time out to thank so many of my members for all the congratulations and well wishes I received for reaching this milestone of

2-Years Post Heart Transplant.

It has been a bumpy ride but I want to thank all of you for your support & love. Your kindness and caring mean the world to me. I appreciate your patience when I was in recovery and couldn’t post regularly and your encouraging words to keep me motivated. You have all become family to me and I cherish each and every one of you. Thank you.

I had a small celebration this year and couldn’t go out to dinner with friends like last year but Bob came through as he always does and he made me dinner, decorated and bought me a scrumptious cake – a 3 tier shortbread cake with cream around the edges and filled with fresh strawberries. He remembered how much I liked the cake last year (photo below) that was also a shortbread cake but filled with bananas, strawberries and raspberries and all topped with macarons.

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I wanted to share with you some pics from this year……. my beautiful cake, balloons and cards from family. It was such an emotional day for me and I am so grateful for this second chance at life and the opportunity to have these past 730 + days to make new memories and appreciate each moment of being alive and being able to do things that I couldn’t do before transplant like go for a long walk or climb a flight of stairs.

So, take it from me- when things get tough, look for the silver lining. There is always something to be grateful for each and every day. Stay well, stay safe and know how much I care and cherish each one of you for being a part of my life.

Looking forward to year # 3 and what life brings….

January 31, 2021

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

Stay well,

Diane

Happy 6 year Blogiversary!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well. Today is a celebration at my home and for all DishingwithDiane members.

HAPPY 6TH BLOGIVERSARY

Recipe for this cake is at the end of the post.

It is hard to believe that today marks 6 years ago that I started “DishingwithDiane.com” and I want to thank each and every one of my members for making this such a wonderful experience for me.

I feel as if I have gained an extended family sharing my tablescapes, recipes and stories with all of you. I love your comments, messages and feedback when you try a recipe or find a new product I shared.

And thank you for being so patient and supportive through my medical journey with my heart transplant. Your understanding when I wasn’t able to set a tablescape and just share recipes and your kind words of encouragement, love and caring meant the world to me and gave me strength.

I didn’t set a tablescape today because a large majority of my dinnerware sets, platters and cake stands are still in storage and with the Covid19 pandemic I have not been able to get to the unit and retrieve my inventory, but I am still working on that. So there will be many new tablescapes in the future.

So for now on this 6th anniversary, I wanted to celebrate all of you and extend my gratitude to my members/now family. I have a lot of ideas for tablescapes and recipes and plan on having a lot more fun with the blog entering our 7th year.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

_______________________________________________

The recipe for the featured cake slice above (taken from Pinterest) is courtesy of Sugar Hero website

(https://www.sugarhero.com/)

and is listed below:

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MOUSSE CAKE

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake – a gorgeous three-layer mousse cake with chocolate, raspberry, and vanilla mousse, all on a chocolate brownie base. prep time3 HRScook time24 MINStotal time3 HRS 24 MINSSERVINGS: 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BROWNIE LAYER:

  • 3 1/3 oz all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)
  • 2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 7 3/4 oz granulated sugar (1 cup +2 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs large, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE:

FOR THE RASPBERRY MOUSSE:

  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries fresh
  • 9 oz white chocolate finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream divided use
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Pink food coloring (optional)

FOR THE VANILLA MOUSSE:

  • 9 oz white chocolate finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream divided use
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tsp powdered gelatin unflavored
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)

TO FINISH:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 1 pint raspberries fresh
  • Chocolate curls or other decorations

US CUSTOMARY – METRIC

INSTRUCTIONS

TO MAKE THE BROWNIE LAYER:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment and spray well with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside for now.
  • Cube the butter and place it in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally as the butter melts. Add the sugar and stir it into the melted butter until combined. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool to lukewarm. Once it has cooled, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. The mixture will start out grainy, but as you add the eggs, it will become shiny and smooth. Whisk the vanilla in. Finally, add the dry ingredients, and stir them in with a spatula.
  • Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan, and bake it for 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the brownie layer completely before proceeding.

TO MAKE THE MOUSSE LAYERS:

  • Prepare your pan. You need a 9-inch pan with sides at least 3 inches tall, and the ability to remove the bottom. Either a cake pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan will work. Line the inner wall with a 4-inch high acetate cake collar or strip of aluminum foil or waxed paper. Make sure the acetate or waxed paper is long enough so that it overlaps itself, and if you are using foil/waxed paper, make sure you cut the strip tall enough to extend at least an inch over the pan’s sides, since the cake is about 4 inches tall.
  • Place a cake cardboard in the bottom of the pan, then carefully place the baked brownie on top of the cardboard. Prepare the chocolate mousse layer: combine the chocolate, 3/4 cup of cream, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a large bowl, and let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  • While you wait for the chocolate mixture to cool, prepare the gelatin. Whisk together the gelatin and the cold water in a small bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water. When the chocolate is at room temperature, microwave the bowl of gelatin for 15 seconds, until it is melted. Whisk the melted gelatin and chocolate together.
  • Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate, and once it’s incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse on top of the brownie, and spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate the cake for 25 minutes, until the mouse has started to set and is firm enough that a second layer can be added.
  • For the raspberry mousse, make a quick puree by blending 1/2 cup fresh raspberries in a blender or food processor. Pour them through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds, and measure out 1/4 cup raspberry puree. (If you have extra puree, save it for another use.)
  • Combine the white chocolate, raspberry puree, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Continue to make this layer the same way you made the chocolate layer, by melting and cooling the chocolate, whisking in melted gelatin, and folding in whipped cream. Add a few drops of pink food coloring to boost the pink color, if desired. At the very end, stir in the remaining 1 cup of fresh raspberries and pour the mousse over the chocolate mousse layer. Spread it into an even layer, and refrigerate again.
  • Finally, prepare the vanilla bean layer. Combine the white chocolate, 1/2 cup heavy cream, honey, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Continue to make this layer the same way you made the previous two layers. At the very end, stir in the vanilla bean paste and pour the mousse over the raspberry mousse layer. Refrigerate to set the mousse layers very well, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • To finish the cake, push the bottom out from the pan, or unhinge the sides, and unwrap the acetate strip. Transfer the cake to your serving platter. Make a quick chocolate ganache by putting the chopped chocolate in a small bowl and heating the cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate melts and you have a smooth, shiny mixture.
  • Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and use a spatula to nudge it right to the edge and over in evenly spaced drizzles. Don’t worry if the top is not smooth—it will be covered up! Add the fresh raspberries and chocolate curls on top of the cake. Refrigerate to set the ganache.
  • For the cleanest slices, cut the cake when it is well chilled. Use a large sharp knife, and wash it frequently between cuts. For the best taste and texture, allow the cake slices to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Store Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

NUTRITION

https://eb2b19f3bd81851179aaf9b1ac43cdbf.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlSERVING: 20g | CALORIES: 604kcal | CARBOHYDRATES:50g | PROTEIN: 5g | FAT: 43g | SATURATED FAT: 26g | CHOLESTEROL: 120mg | SODIUM: 115mg | POTASSIUM:342mg | FIBER: 4g | SUGAR: 38g | VITAMIN A: 1105IU | VITAMIN C: 9mg | CALCIUM: 124mg | IRON: 2.2mg

New ways with Cauliflower (repost)

Hi Everyone.

I have been receiving some comments asking for different recipes for cauliflower and I had posted two a few years ago for….

General Tso’s cauliflower

along with

Cauliflower Tater Tots

I decided to repost these recipes and the post includes step-by-step instructions with photos.

Click on the link below to open the original post and enter the world of new ideas with Cauliflower… Enjoy.

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2017/02/03/try-some-cauliflower/

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

Baked Cod and Cold Broccoli Salad

Hi Everyone,

I hope this weekend finds you all well.

I made another quick meal that I wanted to share with my members. I posted this to my personal Facebook page and received a lot of requests for the recipe so I wanted to share with all of you. It is simple and healthy and a break from pasta, beef or chicken.

I made a baked cod in butter sauce with blistered tomatoes garnished with lemon, scallions and parsley. And as a side dish I made an Italian style COLD broccoli salad with garlic and lemon. Two quick dishes to make one great meal.

I tweaked this recipe from the author Katya at the Littlebroken.com website a few years ago. Her original recipe called for 4 tbsp of butter and I cut that down and she used 1/4 tsp sugar which I eliminated and I added some dry herbs and white wine. I always tweak recipes to my liking.

So here is my version of Cod with Tomatoes and Herb Butter….

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. of fresh Cod cut into 6 oz portions
  • 1 medium shallot- finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes- cut in half
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 tbsp of freshly chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chives) for garnish
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 ½ lemons – 1 full lemon for juice / ½ sliced for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small saucepan heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally

Add the cherry tomatoes, chicken stock, and red pepper flakes (if using). Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until tomatoes break down and release their juices. Add white wine and simmer a minute or two longer until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the butter and fresh herbs. The butter will make a velvety and thick sauce. Cover and keep warm while the cod bakes.

Drizzle the bottom of a casserole dish with the 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil. (Choose a dish where the cod will fit in a single layer with some room around each piece).

Pat the cod dry and place in the casserole dish in a single layer. Season with salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste. Drizzle the top lightly with the remaining ½ tbsp. of olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 12-18 minutes or until easily flaked. (Baking time depends on the thickness of the cod).

Remove from the oven and evenly spread the tomato butter mixture over the cod. Cover again with aluminum foil and let in stand at room temperature for 1-2 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Garnish with additional chopped herbs and serve immediately.

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Now for the side dish… The beauty of cold Broccoli Salad is that it can be made ahead of time. I usually make this is the morning so the lemon & garlic have time to flavor the broccoli.

This salad is a staple for our Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Christmas Eve.

Cold Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 large heads of broccoli crowns
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the broccoli)
  • 2-3 larges cloves of garlic- chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (preferably from Italy)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooks Note:

  1. whole broccoli can also be used too- just peel and slice the stalks into bite size pieces
  2. adding kalamata olives is also an option
  3. if you prefer, you can also sauté the garlic in the olive oil for an infused garlic flavor and pour over the broccoli once it cools. I do this step when I have extra time.

Directions:

Cut the broccoli crowns into bite size pieces

I steam the broccoli for approx. 6 minutes until a knife can be inserted easily and they are tender. I think this keeps a nice green color ( Boiling is another option if you prefer).

Once the broccoli is cooked put it in a large bowl and while still warm, add the lemon juice and toss well.

Add the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and toss well to cover the broccoli with all the flavors.

Can be served warm or cold, but I usually chill this is the refrigerator and take it out 10-15 minutes before serving.

Cooks Note: can also be made with cauliflower or Romanesque.

I hope you try one or both of these simple dishes and enjoy. Leave me a note in the comments as to what you think of the recipes and include your pics of these dishes. Stay well.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

“Garlic” honey and Soy Broiled Salmon

Hi everyone,

I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you today. I found a new product that I love that inspired this dish.

It is “Little Vickys Garlic Honey”

Among all the Christmas “foodie” gift baskets that we received, included in one of the baskets was this jar of honey with a flavor combination that we have never seen before, honey infused with garlic and I really wanted to try it immediately.

This honey is good with grilled meats, cheese platters and I will try it on a homemade pizza, just fabulous!

Since it was raw, (a definite restriction for a transplant patient), I normally couldn’t have it but it smelled so delicious that I called my transplant nutritionist to ask if I could try it. Her reply was as follows ” I can only use 1 tbsp. and cook it well.” That was all I needed to hear and now for a recipe.

I have two recipes that I use when I make salmon, one with honey and one with maple syrup. I will post both for you today but obviously I used the honey recipe with the new garlic honey and it was amazing !!!!

Below is the recipe from the Eating Well website that I use. I found this recipe years ago and I have tweaked it to my liking. I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

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Honey & Soy Broiled Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 scallion, minced (Save some for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey (garlic honey if you have the opportunity)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-pound salmon fillet (skinned and cut into 4 portions). See cooks note below how to skin salmon.
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cooks Note: to toast sesame seeds….heat a small dry skillet over low heat. Add seeds and stir CONSTANTLY for 2 minutes until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Cooks Note- How to skin a salmon fillet– Place salmon with skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip a long knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30-degree angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.

Directions:

Whisk scallions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey dissolves

Place the salmon in a sealable plastic bag, ADD 3 tbsp of the sauce. Seal the bag and let the salmon marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.

Preheat the broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and either coat with a thin layer of oil or use cooking spray.

After 15 minutes, transfer the salmon to the baking dish, “skinned side” down. (Discard the marinade).

Broil the salmon (4-6 inches from heat source) until cooked through, 6-10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

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This is the Maple Syrup & Soy Glazed Salmon Recipe from a previous post….click on the link below to open.

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2016/04/16/maple-soy-glazed-salmon/

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

Brown Butter Sage Sauce with Pignoli (pine nuts)….

Hi Everyone,

Today, I am posting a recipe for not an entree but a sauce.

Last night I made Butternut Squash ravioli that I purchased from a local Italian deli a month ago and I had sitting in my freezer. I chose the frozen ravioli because I wanted something quick, and to cook fresh pasta is the quickest meal you can make, even straight from the freezer. I had a day where the time just flew by and I just wanted to get dinner on the table.

I posted the photo of my dinner on my personal Facebook page where I share recipes with some of my fellow foodies and I was shocked that I had an overwhelming request for the recipe for the Butter Sage Sauce. I decided to share this on Facebook and with all of my members since it appears to be so popular.

Here is my recipe for the sauce. I find I use it mostly with fall flavored dishes such as the butternut squash ravioli or pumpkin gnocchi or tortellini.

So, keep the recipe on hand in case you want a quick sauce for pasta. Enjoy!

I just received the Phillips pasta machine for Christmas, so next time you might see this dish with my “homemade” pasta.

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Butter and sage sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter (8 tbsp.)
  • 15 fresh sage leaves (rinses and dried)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional) *keep in mind this is a strong spice and can be overpowering so go easy.
  • Toasted pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

Cut 8 tbsp. or 1 stick of unsalted butter into 8 pieces. Place in medium size skillet over medium heat. (Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly).

As the butter melts, it will begin to foam, continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the color goes from a lemon yellow to a golden tan and then finally a toasty brown (this takes about 8 minutes total-but watch it carefully).

Meanwhile, pat 15 small leaves of fresh sage dry if they are damp.

Add the sage leaves to the pan and cook until they crisp up, just a few seconds.

Immediately scrape this mixture into a heatproof bowl. Let the mixture cool slightly, then add seasoning of pepper (kosher salt if needed). —- I add the additional cinnamon and nutmeg.

In the same skillet, toast pine nuts or walnuts for a few minutes to bring out the flavor and the oils.

Toss the sage butter sauce over pasta, add the nut topping and grated cheese can be added as well. Enjoy!

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

Hi Everyone,

 I hope the new year is off to a great start for all of you.

To me, it felt like this Monday was officially the start of the new year instead of last Friday since Bob and I lounged around most of the weekend after we put away all the Christmas decorations and Christmas dishes and platters and cookie tins.

Everything is back in its place in the attic, except for the Christmas tree. The tree will stay up until the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on January 6th and then we take the tree down and hope for a blessed year with much happiness, love, good health, and beautiful memories until we see the ornaments come out of the box and the tree go up once again.

I am getting back in the swing of things and starting a new routine for 2021 and the first item on my agenda is cooking and preparing healthier meals.

I am not starting a diet because that is always short lived but I am getting back to not giving in to all the sweets and treats around the house that arrived during the holidays. You know, the 37 days between Thanksgiving and New Years Day when caution is thrown to the wind and pounds add up on the scale. The cookies are now a memory.

Of course, I had to keep the Italian tradition of sausage and lentils for New Years Day to bring good luck. I made lentil soup with pancetta, carrots and spinach for New Years Day and sausage and peppers for New Year’s Eve so we were covered for good luck (I hope & pray).

The official old school Italian meal is lentils with a particular sausage called “Cotechino”– (see the photo below). I have substituted the Cotechino sausage because Cotechino is too fatty for me and I never liked the taste so I used sausage with broccoli rabe -which happens to be another good luck food.

Now back to regular weeknight meals.

I wanted to share a recipe I prepared today that was delicious and 30 minutes to cook and approximately 15 minutes to prepare. Today I made Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto. It is both, filling and easy.

I absolutely Love risotto of any kind and years ago I copied a basic recipe from Williams Sonoma and have tweaked the ingredients for different varieties like pumpkin, butternut squash, mushroom and now shrimp and asparagus.

I know, you think I would be tired of fish after the Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner for Christmas Eve but shrimp is a weakness that I could have every night. I hope you try the recipe and enjoy.

Risotto with Shrimp & Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups low sodium stock (chicken, vegetable, or seafood)
  • COOKS NOTEwhen making seafood I lower the stock to 5 cups and add 1 (8 oz.) bottle of clam juice to = the 6 cups (this substitution is optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups medium grain rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese (locatelli or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (washed and diced)

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Reduce the heat to keep warm.

In a large saucepan over medium heat melt 2 tbsp of the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and asparagus and cook stirring for 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set aside and leave the asparagus to continue to cook.

Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are hot and coated with the oil and butter, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. The risotto is done when the rice grains are creamy on the outside and firm yet tender to the bite, 20 -25 minutes.

Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and cheese. Add the shrimp back in to the risotto and mix well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

(can be drizzled with a good finishing olive oil).

Serves 4-6

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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

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Hot Cocoa Charcuterie Board

(Click on all photos to enlarge)

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone had a very pleasant, peaceful and safe New Year’s Eve celebration to bring in 2021 …….

Bob and I usually have a formal dinner for New Year’s Eve (just the two of us lately), followed with appetizers, desserts and champagne at midnight.

Gone are the days that we used to go to catering halls or restaurants with friends and family for large gatherings. I always felt rushed with the catering halls and just my luck it was always the coldest night of the year (for me anyway).

I was never a big fan of going out for the occasion and always preferred staying home.

When I was a child, my mother and grandmother made stuffed shells for dinner with sausage and peppers and then at midnight after our champagne toast and hugs and kisses, we ran outside with pots, pans and wooden spoons making as much noise as we could (we were fortunate that this was a neighborhood participation event and no one got upset from the commotion).

Once we came in, my mother always had more food on the table and this time it was appetizers and rice balls and a tray of cookies and pastries. It felt as if we ate for an entire day and then we had the lentils to look forward to on New Years Day for Good Luck.

This year we just had the sausage and peppers for dinner,

skipped the appetizers and I decided to do something a little different for dessert this year.

Bob and I received so many gift baskets this year from friends and family that couldn’t be with us to celebrate the holidays. You have to see the amount of cookies, candy, fruits and cake we have in this house! Not diet friendly…

So I decided to make a dessert/hot cocoa charcuterie board this year, omitting the appetizers and grazing on goodies for at least one more night before we get on the scale January 1st for the dreaded holiday weight gain realization.

Let’s put that thought aside for now…..

Thinking about the dessert board or “dessert charcuterie platter”, I have noticed that one of the trends that took off this Holiday Season was the hot cocoa bombs and I thought it would be fun to include them.

Obviously, I wasn’t leaving the house to go to a bakery to shop for cocoa bombs so I ordered a mold and decided to make them myself to add to the dessert tray since I already had all the ingredients in the house.

(In a future post I will show you step by step instructions. I have to upload my photos for the cocoa bombs).

So, here we go…… I started out with the largest wooden cutting board that I had and and a wooden tray, then gathered all my ingredients on one counter and transferred items to the board as I started to unpack the goodies.

There really isn’t any set instructions for setting this up, just wing it and go with the flow. And add whatever makes you happy.

I still have so many more treats and fruit, enough for another board. I will have to start freezing the cakes and cookies today.

I included various items from the gift baskets from Harry & David and local-LIBred and a few pantry staples…..

  • Mini marshmallows
  • Regular marshmallows
  • Whipped cream
  • Non- Pareils
  • Apple chips
  • Candy canes
  • Starlight mints
  • Caramels
  • Andes peppermint crunch mints
  • Coconut roasted almonds
  • Cinnamon roasted pecans
  • Red velvet cookies
  • Mini- powered donuts
  • Chocolate cherries
  • Malted milk balls
  • Chocolate hazelnut pirouettes
  • Moose Munch popcorn
  • Oatmeal coconut cookies
  • Novelty solid Santa chocolates
  • Raspberry filled galette cookies
  • Assorted chocolate truffles
  • Candy cane tootsie pops
  • Ferrero Rocher
  • Hot cocoa bombs
  • Assorted flavored hot chocolate mixes

For my décor, remember – “Shop your house first before you run out and buy new items”. Many items in your home can be repurposed so you don’t have to purchase new items.

I used a Hot Chocolate Bar sign that I picked up as part of a fundraiser from a local store along with some of the premade “item description signs”.

I took the gold tree off of my dining room table Holiday centerpiece (it is part of a trio of trees) and works perfectly on the dining room table because it is a great height for entertaining.

You can still have a conversation with guests without it being in the way and you never lose the Holiday elegance.

The old fashioned Santa figurine holding the tree is one of my favorite pieces. My parents bought him for me years ago and every year he usually sits on the entryway table and is part of my Christmas Card display. Love him.

The “ugly sweater” napkins I purchased from Party City for the holidays. I usually use cloth napkins for everything and never use paper napkins but these were too cute to pass up.

On to my “snowmen” mugs with lids. Part of a set of four that I very rarely have the opportunity to use but cherish none the less because they were a gift from a student I had when I taught religious education at our church. Just looking at them brings a smile to my face remembering that student. I had some great memories from those special days.

The ramekins are by CMG -(made in Portugal) that I picked up a few years ago in Homegoods originally for holiday crème brulee. I love the design.

And my special little “hot cocoa” ornament purchased last year in Macy’s. If I ever start a mini Christmas tree with food ornaments in the kitchen, at least I have one ornament already.

I added a flashing jingle bell necklace to the tray (purchased from Hallmark) to add a few pops of sparkle and then accented the board with rosemary sprigs because it was too cold for me to go outside and start cutting the pine tree branches.

And there you have it, my first hot cocoa charcuterie board.

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your very own board in the future.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.

Happy New Year- 2021!

Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year 2021…

I wish all my DishingwithDiane family good health, happiness, love, and prosperity.

Many blessings to you and your families.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and 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.