Christmas Cookies 2022- part A

Hi everyone,

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Well, it’s that time of year again and I started my Christmas cookie-baking marathon. This year I have included some of the traditional favorites along with adding some new cookies to the roster.

The majority of my Christmas Cookie recipes are in the files, so I will provide the link to the old cookies and supply the recipe for the new cookies for 2022.. I will be baking all weekend so stand by for additional posts.

So far I prepared the following….

Pistachio Cookies

This recipe was given to me by my dear friend Michael Gottuso who happens to be one of the best chefs I know and his meals just wow me at every turn.

Thank you again, Michael.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Rum Balls

This is one of the easiest recipes I make and I just love them. They are the perfect size to fill in the little empty spots on a cookie tray. Also, one of the best recipes to take to a cookie swap- they transport well and are a crowd pleaser. Making them a few weeks ahead of Christmas or your event is even better because they marinate and get better and better.

Be warned, they are potent with the rum, so keep the kids away.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Another favorite and always the first cookie I bake. This year I added 1 tbsp of Grand Marnier liquor for a slight hint of orange flavor. If you don’t want to add alcohol, then you substitute orange extract or stick to the original recipe and no added orange essence.

Here is the link to the recipe:


This was my new addition for last year and it was a big hit.

“BRUTTIBONI” which translates to “ugly but good”. Ugly for the irregular shape and good for the taste.

It is a meringue cookie with a crisp exterior with a soft, chewy interior flavored with almonds, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.

Simply delightful. Light and flavorful and this cookie was made every year by my Barese grandmother. Unfortunately, I never had her original recipe and then found this recipe in an article I read last year and it brought back memories of grandma.

Here is the recipe:


  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pure
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar granulated
  • 1⅓ cup whole almonds toasted
  • 1⅓ cup hazelnuts toasted and skins removes


  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Pulse almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor to obtain a coarsely ground texture. Alternatively, chop by hand. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixture), with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until they start to foam.
  • Add a pinch of salt.
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  • Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and whisk until you obtain stiff glossy peaks.
  • With a mixing spoon, fold in the nuts. Gently combine.
  • Transfer this mixture to a heat-proof bowl and place over a pot of hot, barely simmering water. This mixture needs to be stirred for about 15 minutes.
  • Portion with a medium-sized scooper and place on a baking sheet. 
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the tops are golden.
  • Allow cooling on the baking sheet.


To roast the nuts: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position the rack in the center.

Spread almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes to obtain a light roasting. Remove the skins from the hazelnuts.

Let the nuts cool to room temperature before using them in the recipe. 

  • The almonds and the hazelnuts can be roasted in advance and stored at room temperature until needed. This ensures the use of room-temperature ingredients until you are ready to make these nut cookies.
  • Do not rush the process of adding the sugar while whisking the egg whites. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time to the egg whites.
  • The addition of cinnamon is optional.

*recipe adapted from The Gazette

Sesame Cookies or Regina cookies

One of my favorites and they find a home on my cookie tray each year.

Here is the recipe:


  • 1 lb. Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ cups of flour
  • 3 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of pure vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • Approx. 2 cups of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup of milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Cream the Crisco, sugar, eggs, and vanilla
  • Add the flour and baking powder – a little at a time until it forms a soft dough
  • Turn the dough onto a floured board and mix well
  • Break off small amounts (approx. 1 tbsp) and roll them into a log shape
  • Roll the logs in the milk and then in the sesame seeds
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies is light brown


If you have been to a real authentic Italian bakery then you have seen these almond biscotti. They are very hard and crunchy biscotti made for dunking in espresso or hot chocolate. Unless you want a dental visit, don’t take a bite. Some people refer to these as dog biscuit biscotti.

The flavor is fantastic, with almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and eggs and I add a touch of ground cloves. This is my husband’s favorite biscotti and it appears on our cookie trays for Easter and Christmas.

Here is the recipe:


  • 1 lb. natural almonds (approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter OR ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs

Egg wash: 1 egg and 2 tbsp milk


Toast almonds in a jelly roll pan in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes and let them cool

In a blender or food processor grind ¼ of the almonds fine with ¼ cup of the granulated sugar and transfer to a large bowl

Stir in the flour, remaining ¾ cup sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder. Stir until blended

Add butter and combine with the mixture.

Add the remaining almonds, chopped coarsely, and the eggs and knead the dough until combined

This dough will be VERY STICKY– you may use water on your hands to help with the stickiness.

Form the dough into long rectangles onto a greased and floured cookie sheet (makes about 3 loaves).

Brush each rectangle with the egg wash before baking for 25 minutes

After 25 minutes diagonal slices and then put the slices back in the “turned off” oven for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,



Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole

Hi Everyone,

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I hope you are all well…… If you are anything like me, you are probably caught up in preparations for the holidays quickly approaching with lists and lists of things to do. Somehow the time just flies by so quickly.

I just wanted to share a recipe that might make your life a little easier on Christmas morning if you need to serve breakfast to a crowd. I am referring to

“Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole”.

This recipe is easy to put together and prepared the night before and then pop the casserole in the oven for an hour in the morning and breakfast is served.

You can serve this casserole with additional fresh fruit, some juice, coffee, and maybe even some maple bourbon syrup to bring it to the next level and have a stress-free breakfast that is delicious and satisfying.

You are not limited to blueberries if that is not what you crave. I have prepared this dish with apples and cranberries; and you could also use raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or sliced pears.

Be creative and even combine some fruits. The casserole ingredients are highlighted with warm spices to enrich the flavor, and not only does it taste delicious but your house will smell like a bakery.

The recipe is below, so give it a glance and if you try it, let me know what you think.

I am dedicating this recipe to my two “Amazing” Cousins, Alex and Dan who share my love for all things French Toast!

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole


  • 1 (14 oz) loaf of challah or brioche bread … (Great results if you use dayold bread that is sliced and cubed and left to sit overnight to get a little dry and crusty).
  • 1 ½ cups of blueberries – fresh or frozen (I prefer fresh)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups half & half (whole milk can be substituted)
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of pure vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed


Grease a 9 X 13 casserole dish with butter. Slice and cube the bread into 1-inch pieces. Spread the bread cubes in the buttered dish and top with your fresh blueberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, half & half, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla, and (pumpkin pie spice if using), and pour over the bread cubes.

Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight to set.

Next, prepare the topping in advance, cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator overnight….

Use this to sprinkle over the soaked bread before baking.

For the topping:

Whisk the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and cut in the cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks working the dry mixture into the butter to make a streusel topping.

In the morning…….

Preheat oven to 350

Remove the pan of soaked bread cubes from the refrigerator and let the pan sit for 10- 15 minutes to get to room temperature before going into the oven and sprinkle the topping over the cubes.

Topping sprinkled and ready for the oven!

Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Serve immediately.

Final Product and ready to eat…..

THIS RECIPE CAN BE HALVED in a 9-inch baking pan and the bake time will be 35 minutes.

Cover leftovers tightly and it will store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Simple Charcuterie – Easy Entertaining

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to December 1, 2022…. I really can’t believe that December has arrived. I have been so busy in my personal life lately that I can’t believe that we sailed past Thanksgiving already- the year is flying by.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I wish you many blessings.

And now here we are at the beginning of December and that means getting ready for the holidays and entertaining.

I have a little secret to share with all of you that keeps me a little ahead of the entertaining panic when someone stops by for a visit. We have all been there when someone calls that they will be right over…..

I always keep a few staples in my pantry and refrigerator for a last-minute guest and this has saved me from panic on many occasions.

I keep packaged breadsticks, a variety of nuts and dried fruit, a package of soppressata and or prosciutto, and packaged crackers on hand along with everyday items that are always in my home such as fresh fruit, mozzarella balls, and variety of soft cheeses such as goat cheese or any flavor hummus plus fancy bamboo extra long toothpicks. These ingredients will go far and they make a lovely presentation.

The photo of a recent charcuterie board I made is a perfect example of using these staples. Prepared under fifteen minutes.

Here we have breadsticks, almonds, walnuts, dried apricots, Medjool dates, crackers, and two easy appetizers… Simple and delicious!

The first appetizer is a pear slice wrapped with a slice of prosciutto and garnished with arugula and a dollop of herb goat cheese (this is always a big hit).

The second appetizer is a bamboo toothpick with a cherry tomato, a mozzarella ball, a slice of soppressata salami, and a basil leaf. (Optional: drizzle with balsamic glaze).

Just a quick example that entertaining can be easy and fun and not so stressful. Have fun with your guests and enjoy the holidays….


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Happy Halloween 2022

Hi everyone, Happy Halloween!

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It seems the months are passing by so quickly and here we are at the end of October already. I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy Halloween.

This is the second year that DishingwithDiane is donating a tray for charity at a local school and I am honored to be asked again.

I was under a little pressure this morning to get it completed and wrapped for pick up and combine that with opening the door all day for trick-or-treaters and that is why this post is a little later in the day.

Yesterday I spent the day making rainbow cookies in the colors of Fall for the donation tray along with Halloween bark and once again I had to buy the sugar cookies at a bakery.

Maybe next year I will add that skill to baking but for all those who know me well, baking is not my strong point. It is a labor of love though and I am happy to make the donation…

After the pick-up and a big sigh of relief, Bob and I decided to have a luncheon celebration for the holiday before the trick-or-treaters arrive so we had “Bats & Pumpkin” ravioli served with butternut squash sauce (recipe to follow).

I prepared a simple tablescape and used plastic cutlery and paper napkins along with casual porcelain dishes that I recently purchased in Homegoods.

I only purchased the dinner/salad plates and I am looking for matching bowls. The pattern is called “Wicked” by Jahie Pty. Ltd.

(Please let me know if you see them around-thanks).

The ceramic mugs are a favorite of mine and feature a witch’s house and creepy trees…

The Halloween centerpiece is an oldie but goodie and it’s one of my favorite ceramic houses purchased many years ago in Pier 1, it makes an appearance somewhere in the house on Halloween.

Table accents are my tried and true Frankenstein mug that also makes an appearance every year since he arrived with a bouquet of flowers attached many years ago.

This year Frankie is holding black licorice. The other accents are candy bowls and pumpkins.

And speaking of candy- I am a candy corn lover, I will admit. And my new favorite flavor is “Smores”.

A big shout out to Bon Bons Chocolatier in Huntington, NY for the best candy corn in the world…..

My new Halloween purchases are salt and pepper shakers that are “Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein”; I couldn’t resist this set since their lips are magnetic and they never leave each other’s side with a forever Halloween kiss.

Dessert always reigns supreme on any table, especially on Halloween, and this year I have two special treats.

The first dessert is Halloween cupcakes displayed in plastic wine flutes filled with candy corn.

The next dessert is ghost cupcakes along with a mini pumpkin cheesecake and a special Halloween beverage. I purchased pumpkin cocoa bombs from Trader Joe’s for an extra little something.

I just love these ghost cupcakes (I purchased these because I am not that talented with frosting…)

We have been celebrating all day and adding one more holiday completed for 2022… Have a great Halloween! Be safe.

Butternut Squash Sauce

I have used this recipe from Simplyrecipes for years with a little tweaking. I will post the original recipe and my changes in parentheses.


  • 1 butternut squash weighing about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots or onions (I use shallots only)
  • 1/4 cup packed, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (I use mascarpone cheese)
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish (I use chopped sage in the sauce and to garnish).
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Pasta Water as needed to thin the sauce, about 1 cup


  1. Bake the butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise in half and scoop out the guts and seeds and discard them (or save the seeds and toast them). Pour 1/4 cup of water into a baking dish and place the butternut squash halves cut side down. Bake for 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the squash. Allow cooling for 10 minutes. Scoop out the squash flesh from the skins and put it into a blender. Discard the skins.
  2. Sauté the shallots: in the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Purée in a blender: Add the shallots to the blender. Add 1 cup water, the parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little more water. (I add some sage to the blender as well).
  4. Add sour cream and heat until warm: Pour the sauce into a small pot set over low heat. Mix in the sour cream and warm it through. Do not let the sauce boil.
  5. Cook pasta in boiling salted water:Fill a pot with water and salt (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Set over high heat to bring to a hard boil. Add the pasta and cook at a hard boil, uncovered until al dente.
  6. Mix cooked pasta with sauce:When the pasta is ready, drain and put it into a bowl. Mix with a little of the sauce and serve. Add a dollop of additional sauce and some parsley right when you bring it to the table.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Rustic Pizza

Hi Everyone,

How are you? The weather is getting very chilly and it’s time to head back “indoors” to the kitchen.

I know a lot of people love Friday night pizza and I found a great “yeast” just for pizza making that requires no rising time that I just had to share with you.

So, with a quick gathering of simple ingredients to make the dough, add your sauce and toppings and a fresh hot pizza is yours for under 30 minutes from start to finish…..

I make this dough for a quick pizza when I have leftover odds-and-ends toppings from other meals that I want to use or if I have an abundance of fresh tomatoes. The combinations are limitless.

For the pizza I made I didn’t even make a classic circle but a rustic free-form shape and added some topping combinations I had on hand….a trio of flavors…tomato with mozzarella, basil, and oregano, butternut squash with meatballs, and broccoli rabe with sausage…

This recipe can make a regular 12-inch pie crust or 2 thin-crust pies. And the company lists a website for more recipes…

The product is Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast

Photo courtesy of Fleischmann’s

and here is the tried and true recipe from Fleischmann’s (I use this for stromboli as well)……. Have fun!


  • Crust:
  • 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann’s® Pizza Crust Yeast (or Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)*
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of pizza sauce
  • other toppings as desired
  • 1 to 2 cups (4 to 8 ounces or 125 to 250g) shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. The dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead** on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. (If using RapidRise Yeast, let the dough rest at this point for 10 minutes.)
  3. Pat dough with floured hands to fill greased pizza pan or baking sheet. OR roll dough on a floured counter to a 12-inch circle; place in greased pizza pan or baking sheet. Form a rim by pinching the edge of the dough.
  4. Spread with pizza sauce. Top with desired toppings and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake on the lowest oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is browned.

    *If you don’t have a thermometer, water should feel very warm to the touch.

    **To knead the dough, add just enough flour to the dough and your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Flatten the dough and fold it toward you. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away with a rolling motion. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat the “fold, push and turn” steps. Keep kneading the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Use a little more flour if the dough becomes too sticky, always working the flour into the ball of dough.

    Recipe Note: Use crust to make one thick-crust 9-inch pizza. Increase baking time to 20 minutes.


I hope you have an opportunity to try this recipe and enjoy some pizza making…..

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Italian Vegetable Stew (aka Giambotta)

Hi everyone,

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Hope you are all well… Happy First Day of Autumn!

I am back from taking a month off for some much-needed rest and relaxation and to catch up on a few things we needed to get done around the house. I am rested and ready to cook, share recipes and prepare tablescapes…..

This time of year is bittersweet for me… Leaving the beach and the great hot summer days behind and getting prepared for cooler days, earlier sunsets, and all the fall treats and traditions.

Every year when we transition from summer to fall, I start making recipes that use the last of the summer vegetables before the pumpkins and squash arrives. Our bountiful summer gardens are coming to an end about now and we want to hold on to those summer flavors just a bit longer.

In the next few days, I will be posting a few of my favorite end-of-summer recipes. These are the recipes that have become a tradition in my Italian family.

The first recipe is a vegetable stew. My mother would always take the last of the summer harvest and make a vegetable stew with all the odds and ends that are left on the vine.

Some years yielded more zucchini than tomatoes or more eggplant than green beans -whatever the case, my mother made it work and it was always delicious. Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations.

Nice and hearty and served simply with grilled ciabatta bread rubbed with garlic or a loaf of crusty Tuscan bread. Topped with grated cheese, it is always delicious. Over the years I like to serve this with polenta* topped with grated cheese.

This recipe is called “Giambotta” and it has basic ingredients but you can add or subtract whatever ingredients you prefer. There is no right or wrong, it depends on what you grew in the garden and what you want to add.

Giambotta can be a side dish or a main course if you add some protein such as chickpeas or cannellini beans.

And a great dish if you have guests that are vegetarians.


Photo courtesy of Running to the Kitchen website


3 TBSP olive oil

2 – 4 garlic cloves- minced

1 small onion-sliced

3 carrots- peeled and diced

3 stalks of celery-diced

4 small red potatoes- washed & diced

Fresh parsley (approx 2 TBSP)

4-5 vine tomatoes diced OR 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 medium eggplant –diced in cubes (peeling optional)

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 chickpeas or cannellini beans- rinsed and drained -optional)

(Parmesan rind- optional)

(1/2 cup white wine – optional)


  • Sauté onion in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
  • Add garlic, carrots, parsley, celery, peppers, and potatoes, and sauté for 10 minutes
  • Add fresh diced tomatoes OR 1 can of crushed 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, cannellini beans, or chickpeas (if using), and simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind before serving

Sprinkle with grated cheese. 


This meal can be served with polenta. *Polenta is a northern Italian coarsely ground cornmeal. When freshly cooked it is soft and creamy and is a gluten-free substitute for any recipe that calls for pasta.

When polenta cools, it firms up and can be sliced and fried or layered like pasta sheets.

The old-fashioned way to cook polenta took roughly 45 minutes to cook stirring constantly but now there are many companies that sell instant polenta that cooks between 3-5 minutes. Here is an example of one brand, so you know what to look for.

Photo courtesy of Amazon


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


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

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


Cooks Note: when my mother made this dish, any leftover soft polenta was cooled on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the polenta out as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened and cooled, cut out rounds with a wine glass or cookie cutter or cut in slices, and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, my mother would fry the polenta in a 1/2 cup of olive oil or butter in a large skillet on both sides until golden (then drain on paper towels), or broil for 3 minutes on both sides. Serve with scrambled or fried eggs instead of toast.

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

If you don’t want to make your homemade rounds you can buy them. 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

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

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Chicken Marsala

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Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well and staying comfortable and cool dealing with the heatwave we are having.

I knew today was going to be extremely hot so I got up early and decided to cook dinner while the kitchen was still cool. Tonight’s dinner is a favorite of my son and it is Chicken Marsala. Nice and easy and so flavorful and fairly quick to make. I am looking for all shortcuts during the heatwave.

Bob and I have been going out to dinner the past few nights dealing with the heat and not wanting to cook but I am getting tired of eating out and needed a home-cooked meal.

I wanted to share this recipe with you (serves 4) if you needed a new idea for dinner. I am serving this with one of my favorite Summer salads that I have previously posted which is tomatoes, peaches, burrata, and fresh basil with a light lemon/olive oil vinaigrette.

Have a great day and stay cool.

Chicken Marsala


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, (approx. 1 ½ lb. pkg – pounded thin- 1/4 inch)
  • ½ cup AP flour
  • 8 oz of baby Bella mushrooms (or assorted mixed mushrooms)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper and dredge in the AP flour (shake off excess)

Add the chicken to the pan and sear on each side for 3-5 minutes, turning once until golden brown, remove to a plate.

If needed, add a little more oil and butter to the pan if it is dry. Add the onions and the mushrooms and a dash of salt to draw out the liquid and sauté until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are soft (approx. 10 minutes). ADD the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.

ADD the Marsala wine to the pan and let it reduce to half scraping up all the bits on the bottom of the pan.

ADD the chicken stock and the sauteed chicken with any juices that have accumulated on the plate, bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium and cook for another 10 minutes to cook the chicken through and thicken the sauce.

Remove the chicken to your serving platter and add 1 tbsp of butter that has been dredged in flour to the sauce, cook for a few minutes to thicken, and ADD the chopped parsley. Check for seasoning and serve this sauce over the chicken. Enjoy!


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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

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

Tuscan Bean Soup

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Hi everyone,

Hope you are well. Once a week before my next grocery shopping, I clean out the veggie bin in my refrigerator and decide what I can make with the leftover veggies from that week before my next shopping trip.

Today I had some cherry tomatoes, one leek, one zucchini, carrots, two bell peppers, a small bunch of kale that needed to be used, and celery. I had a lot of ingredients for either a frittata or a Tuscan bean soup so I decided to go with the soup for lunch.

I also had some leftover ciabatta bread I could grill and I always have beans & broth in the cabinet so I was set. I wrote down my steps as I went along and decided to post this quick recipe. I hope you try it and enjoy it.

And remember, all these veggies can be substituted with whatever you desire or have leftover in your veggie bin.

Have a great weekend and Happy Cooking…..

Tuscan Bean Soup


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, washed and diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • ½ lb. of cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1-2 bell peppers, washed and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 bunch Dino/Tuscan kale, washed, stems removed, and leaves chopped (I find this type of kale not so chewy).
  • ½ tsp of crushed Calabrian peppers in a jar OR ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 small zucchini diced
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 8 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (14 oz) of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • Grated cheese for serving
  • Ciabatta bread for serving


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the leek, carrot, bell peppers, celery, and zucchini for approx. 8 minutes until they are soft
  • Stir in the garlic and Calabrian peppers and 1 tbsp of tomato paste and cook for an additional minute
  • Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they break down
  • Stir in the fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and add the vegetable stock and parmesan rind if using. Stir to combine and add the beans. Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with the LID ON, then stir in the kale. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until the kale wilts.
  • Season to taste, and serve with grated cheese and toasted crusty bread.
  • Remove the parmesan rind before serving and any stems from the thyme…


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs & Patriotic Pasta Salad

Hi everyone,

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I hope you all had a very enjoyable 4th of July. The weather was perfect and we had a lovely day relaxing, eating delicious food, and an evening of watching fireworks and celebrating America.

Bob and I decided that we didn’t want to have the usual hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken barbecue that we usually prepare every year for this holiday. We wanted to change up the menu along with the side dishes and we decided on having a rack of baby back ribs.

We absolutely love ribs and I found a recipe on Instagram months ago for pressure-cooked pork ribs that I have been meaning to try with only 4 ingredients. Of course, I tweaked the recipe a bit.

The original recipe was by author: Diane Schmidt.

I just bought a new spice rub from Trader Joe’s (BBQ 101)- a little sweet and savory, plus I always have a bottle of Stonewall Kitchen Boozy Bacon Barbecue Sauce in the refrigerator so I was all set.

Cooks Note: the spice rub contains brown sugar, smoked paprika, dried roasted garlic, dried red chile pepper, salt, dried onion, and black pepper.

I even wanted new side dishes along with the traditional potato salad & corn and I decided on red, white, and blue pasta salad with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. I am not talking about the pre-made salad but a homemade Patriotic salad with food dye and pasta (see below– it’s easier than it sounds).

Dinner was fabulous with fall-off-the-bone ribs and we enjoyed every bite and then finished the meal with Patriotic rainbow cookies and ice cream. Just in time to go to a local fireworks display.

I was so impressed with the rib recipe that I just had to share the recipes with you…I hope you try them and enjoy them.


Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Adapted from a recipe by Diane Schmidt


  • 2-5 lbs. of baby back ribs
  • 1 cup of water or stock
  • Spice rub for the ribs -homemade or store-bought (I use Trader Joe’s BBQ 101)
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce to finish the ribs


  • When cooking ribs (baby back or spareribs), remove the membrane or silver skin that covers the bone side of each rack. If it’s left on, it keeps seasonings and smoke from penetrating the meat, and it cooks into an unpleasant leathery skin.
  • Cut the ribs into portions to fit inside the instant pot
  • Be generous when coating the ribs with the spice rub
  • Place the ribs on the rack that comes with the instant pot to keep the meat out of the cooking liquid
  • Add 1 cup of water or stock
  • Place the lid on the pot and CLOSE the pressure regulator
  • Cook the ribs on high for 25 minutes
  • Allow the ribs to naturally release for approx. 8 minutes
  • Place the ribs on a hot grill at 500 degrees or finish cooking under the broiler for 5 minutes on HIGH to crisp up the pork, without drying the meat.
  • Top the ribs with barbecue sauce and serve


Patriotic Pasta Salad

I boiled my pasta as per the package directions. When finished cooking, I rinsed 2/3 of the pasta and divided it into three bowls.

Before starting with the food dye, I suggest you wear plastic food safety gloves to save your hands from the dye.

To bowl # 1, I added 1 tbsp of water and 1 tsp of blue food coloring and mixed well.

To bowl # 2, I added 1 tbsp of water and 1 tsp of red food coloring and mixed well.

The pasta with the food coloring can be rinsed gently to get rid of excess color before serving

To bowl # 3, I added 1 tbsp of olive oil to prevent the food dye from rubbing and transferring color on the plain pasta and mix well.

Keep the pasta separated until ready to serve with your favorite vinaigrette because the colors could bleed into the plain pasta if sitting too long.

Add-ons could be mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers- have fun with this.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

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

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