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Hi Shirley

It’s official – I can no longer say, “I’m back,” as a heading to a post. I’ve used that a few times after a planned extended break from blogging. I said, “I’m back!” as recently as last spring. I meant it at the time. I wholeheartedly planned on getting back to blogging on a regular basis, but then life, in the form of a new business, got in the way.

It’s been more than a month since my last post. As soon as summer remotely felt as if it was over, Harmony Boards took off like a speeding bullet and I’ve been non-stop, often working 12-hour days, ever since. I am not complaining! I love it, but it makes finding the time or wrapping my head around doing anything else, very difficult.

That changed with a comment I received from loyal blog follower, former Les Gourmettes student, repeat blog contest winner and friend, Shirley G.

Shirley { 10.20.19 at 8:33 AM }

Hey Linda,
I haven’t seen a blog post from you in a while…is everything alright? Did I accidentally remove myself from your list??? You know I am not the most tech-savvy person around…lol.
Thanks and I miss your posts!

Thank you, Shirley, for the love, for missing me and for giving me the wake-up call I needed! Here’s a recipe with a tablescape that I’ve been wanting to post. It is from a dinner party I co-hosted on Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day. My co-host, Angela, is 100% Italian. So this 100% Irish girl and Angela taught a lovely group of women to make Gnocchi and I made up a big pot of Cacio e Pepe Pasta (literally cheese and pepper) and an even bigger bowl of Panzanella Salad and of course, an antipasto Harmony Board. We sat outside and it was a glorious night celebrating Italian food and the end of a long hot summer.

Photo Credit: Saltandlavender.com

Panzanella Salad

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 cups 1-inch cubes of Italian or French bread
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber, seeded and sliced 1/2-inch thick (peel left on)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 30 large basil leaves, julienned
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and patted dry


  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 – 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside on paper towels to crisp.

Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking until the vinaigrette comes together.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers.

(If you would like to prepare ahead – don’t add the basil yet. You may stop at this point, cover and set everything aside and wait until 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, then add in the basil and toss everything together)

Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Generously season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend before serving.

Serves 12

Disclaimer and Credit: (giving where credit is due) In the rush to serve 10 women their salad course, I did not get a photo of the finished salad. I found this very similar photo on a wonderful food blog Salt and Lavender. This is her photo of Panzanella Salad.

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1 Barbara Fenzl { 10.23.19 at 8:18 AM }

I loved seeing this post, Linda, and glad that you are blogging occasionally. Yea for Shirley for spurring you on!

2 Anonymous { 10.23.19 at 9:01 PM }

I need to try this. It looks delicious!

3 Shirley { 10.24.19 at 5:11 AM }


Woohoo. Thank you for your wonderful post!!! I love that beautiful blue tablescape (simple, yet elegant) and the bread salad looks amazing.

So happy for your success with Harmony Boards.

Hope you are enjoying this fabulous Fall weather as much as I am and I am so looking forward to a Halloween post (always one of my favorites).

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