Tuesday, May 26, 2015

“Fish and Vegetables en Papillote” For "Wordless Tuesday"


Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Come on in...Today I am sharing with you a delicious, tasty recipe.……

Many upscale Italian restaurants impress their guests with fish cooked al Cartoccio, or steamed in parchment paper, this is also called en Papillote in French. This technique is both functional and tasteful, because wrapping the ingredients seals in the juices and putting this dish together is effortless, yet the result is elegant. Let the drama unfold the next time you have company and take the high road to make this Pesce al Cartoccio. (fish in parchment) For added interest and presentation, place the fish on a bed of cooked vegetables before closing up the paper or foil. You can save time by cooking and refrigerating the vegetables up to two days ahead.  Cooking fish in parchment paper yields moist, tender results with little fuss. When your meal is over, just throw away the used parchment paper and now you have time to visit with your guests.

This parcel is typical made from folded parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminum foil, may be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food. The pocket is created by overlapping circles of aluminum foil and parchment paper and then folding them tightly around the food to create a seal. A Papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to smell the aroma when it opens.

The moisture may be from the food itself or from an added moisture source, such as water, wine, or stock. This method is most often used to cook fish or vegetables, but lamb and poultry can also be cooked en Papillote. Choice of herbs, seasonings and spices depend on the particular recipe being prepared.

For my recipe this week I am sharing a dish called, “Fish and Vegetables en Papillote” The packets are ideal for a single serving when you are cooking for one, and can be put together a day in advance for convenience. This cooking technique is foolproof even for new cooks, but a couple of guidelines are important. First, be sure to carefully close the packets so that steam does not escape, and second, never open the packets while cooking! Enjoy!


                                            "Fish and Vegetables en Papillote” 



Recipe makes 1 serving

Ingredients:
4 ounce fish fillets (salmon, snapper, cod, or halibut)
1/4 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1 small red potato chopped
1/4 cup julienne cut carrot
1 Tbsp whole capers
A few herbs such as ginger, thyme, basil, or parsley
Olive oil (about 2 Tbsp)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F degrees. Make a 14 inch square of parchment paper. Fold over to make a triangle and place fish in the center of the fold. Top with all ingredients. Sprinkle with herbs and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Crimp edges over to make a seal and twist the ends up to secure tightly. Place packet on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully cut open and serve immediately.

****Another option is grilling. You can put the parchment packet on the grill, just make sure that your grill is hot and cook for 15 minutes. Remember you can not open the packet until after 15 minutes or the steam will escape. 



*****A great wine to pair with grilled snapper, is Pinot Noir or a light Merlot from California. Salmon is a red wine fish. Serve with California or Oregon Pinot Noir, a good red Burgundy or a Beaujolais from France. If you prefer a white wine, choose an elegant Chardonnay from California.

"Please Drink Responsibly"


 


Till Next Time………

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 22, 2015

“Antipasto-Stuffed Baguettes” & “Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese” For "Memorial Day" Weekend


Well, its here, "Memorial Day" weekend! The unofficial start of the summer season. The last Monday in May is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States since 1971. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and then changed in 1882 to Memorial Day. A day that we commemorate all American soldiers who died in military service. Memorial Day is an occasion for expressions of memory as people think about the courage of their deceased relatives that served in the military. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. As time marches on it now has become a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family get- togethers, BBQ’s, fireworks, parades, and trips to the beach.

Grandfather Louis Fiore
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

My grandfather Louis Fiore served in the Army. He was a corporal in the 9th US Infantry and was in Company A. When he was 17 he in-listed. (which he was under age) My grandfather fought in WWI and was wounded, (shot in the leg) in the battle at Chateau-Thierry, in France. He received a Purple Heart for his bravery and other medals as well. After his leg healed, he chose to go to Germany and joined the Army of Occupation with his old unit. When he passed on he was buried in the Long Island National Cemetery, NY. I am so proud to have a grandfather who loved his country to defend it for our freedom. So, today I honor him on the Memorial Day weekend. 



For Italian Americans it is especially important to remember that more that 1.5 million Italian Americans served in World War II – thousands of them died to liberate Italy. All Italians and Italian Americans have much to be grateful for today on this Memorial Day. Memorial Day is also a time to celebrate peace and sacrifice. There are many popular activities that some may enjoy which takes place in your local towns or cities. However you celebrate your Memorial Day remember to incorporate your holiday traditions with your family and no matter where you are, take time to be thankful for our freedom.

One way to kick off the summer is with a family gathering…. This weekend I have two recipes that go together so nicely you will want to have seconds…“Antipasto-Stuffed Baguettes” is my first recipe and the second one is “Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese.” My family loves these spruced up Italian sandwiches. 

                                                 “Antipasto-Stuffed Baguettes

These Italian-style sandwiches can be served as an appetizer or as a light lunch. A homemade olive paste makes every bite delicious for your Memorial Day. 



Ingredients:
1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained, and no pits
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, thyme, and rosemary, crushed
2 French bread baguettes (10-1/2 ounces each)
1 package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 jar (7-1/4 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained, and chopped
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and quartered

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, combine olives, oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs; cover and process until olives are chopped. Set aside 1/3 cup olive mixture (refrigerate remaining mixture for another use). Cut the top third off each baguette; carefully hollow out bottoms, leaving a 1/4-in shell (discard removed bread or save for another use). Spread olive mixture in the bottom of each loaf. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Fold salami slices in half and place over cheese. Top with the spinach, red peppers and artichokes, pressing down as necessary. Replace bread tops. Wrap loaves tightly in foil. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve cold, or to serve warm, preheat oven 350°F. Place foil-wrapped loaves on a baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Cut into slices; secure with a toothpick. Yield: 2 dozen.

Editor's Note: 1/3 cup purchased Tapenade (olive paste) may be substituted for the olive mixture.

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied white wine such as Riesling. 




                                          “Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes cut into cubes
1 small onion cut into strips
Feta cheese for sprinkling on top (or goat cheese)
Fresh Basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste


Directions:
Chop into cubes, tomatoes, and Feta or (Goat) Cheese. Chop the onion into strips
In a bowl, add the onion, tomato, and cheese. Add a handful of fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped. Then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you want to add salt and pepper to taste. Allow a few hours for the flavors to touch and chill for about an hour.

So, enjoy your holiday weekend, be safe, and 'Tutti, Mangia”




Till Next Time…………………….

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

“Strawberries & Cream Pie” Plus “Strawberry Bellini's” For "National Strawberry Month"


“National Strawberry Month” is when we celebrate the love of strawberries and take notice of all the value this delicious fruit has to offer. So don't let this month pass you by without treating your family and yourself with some delicious strawberry treats in celebration of “National Strawberry Month.”


How we use strawberries; In addition to being consumed fresh, strawberries are frozen or made into preserves. Strawberries are a popular addition to dairy products, as in strawberry flavored ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, and yogurts. Strawberry pie is also popular. They are also dried and used in cereal and cereal bars. Strawberries, the romantic picnic food. Strawberries have always been popular placed in picnic baskets for romantic outings. Strawberries dipped in cream or chocolate has been a long favorite for many years.
Strawberry Nutrition; One cup of strawberries constitutes approximately 45 calories and is an excellent source of vitamin C and Flavonoids. When I visit the farmers market, the first place I look is where the fresh fruits and vegetables are located. I love to see so many beautiful varieties, especially when they are radiant with the sunlight over them for the world to see. As I am picking some berries to come home with me for a luscious pie, I am reminded of summer time. Picnics, BBQ‘s, the beach, or just a lazy warm afternoon at home in the back yard enjoying the spring and summer weather. There is nothing like smelling the aromas of a sweet fruit pie cooling on the kitchen counter. Pies are one of my favorite desserts. I adore all kinds of pies savory or sweet. I think that everyone loves pies especially my family, they enjoy fruit pies the most. 


I would love to share two recipes this week with you; one is called, “Strawberries and Cream Pie” This is the time of the year when the strawberries are the sweetest and the most plentiful. So as you are eating a slice of this delicious pie, you now need a cocktail to make it a perfect sunny day! A “Strawberry Bellini” is on the menu today, cold, refreshing, and gives you the feeling that you are on a Island of your own. Enjoy and as they say in Italian, Mangia!! (Eat)




Strawberries and Cream Pie”
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
1 refrigerated pie crust or if you can make your own crust.


Filling:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh whipped cream
2 pints (4 cups) cleaned strawberries 



Garnish:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:
Heat oven to 450°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell using 9-inch glass pie pan. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. In large bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar and almond extract until well blended. In small bowl with electric mixer, beat whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into cooled baked shell. Arrange strawberries, pointed side up, over cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate while preparing garnish. In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Drizzle over strawberries and cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set. If you any left store in refrigerator.

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

Strawberry Bellini

Ingredients:
1 bottle Prosecco
2 cups pureed strawberries
Fresh cleaned Strawberries for garnish



Directions:
Place 8 Champagne flutes in the freezer for 20 minutes. Open the Prosecco and let it stand in an ice bucket for 5 minutes. Into a pitcher, pour the 2 cups pureed strawberries. Gently pour in the bottle of Prosecco and stir gently to combine. Divide among Champagne flutes. Add a few fresh cleaned strawberries to the Champagne glasses as a garnish and serve.

For Children Friendly Bellini’s: substitute sparkling water for the Prosecco.

(Recipe courtesy Mario Batali)       

Please Drink Responsibly!






Till Next Time………………………………

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 15, 2015

“Mixed Greens & Mango Salad” & “Kale and Lemon Salad” For "National Salad Month"

As you participate in activities outside, with the warm weather, you will want to prepare quick and nutritious meal for your family. Well not to worry, because May is “National Salad Month.” Who knew that a whole month was allocated to celebrate the “salad?” What can be more simple and easy ,so you are not stuck in the kitchen cooking all day by a stove or oven? So, let’s make a tasty salad!

Salads can be served as an appetizer to stimulate your appetite, a side dish that will accompany your main course, or for your Entrée which would include your protein. (beef, pork, chicken, fish, and eggs) Desserts can also be called salads if you add gelatin and whipped cream for a delicious sweet treat or fruits for an Ambrosia salad. The salad can be made from many different ingredients, not just lettuce such as, vegetables, legumes, eggs, cheese, and pasta. They may be served either cold or hot, often raw vegetables are added and many sweet fruits. 


The word “salad” comes from the French “salade” which has the same meaning. The first appearance of the word “salad” was in the 14th century. Salt is also associated with salad because the vegetables were seasoned with a brine or a type of vinegar dressing. The “Salad Bar” term first appeared in American English in 1976. Many food historians say that the Romans ate mixed greens and dressing over two thousand years ago. In the United States the “salad” became very popular in the late 19th century. Throughout the second half of the 20th century salads have been sold in supermarkets, at restaurants, (salad bars) and even fast food chains that appeal to the health conscious customer.

A simple “green salad” or “garden salad” is the most common to be consumed. It is composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, and arugula cut into bite sized pieces. Due to their low caloric intake, salads are a common diet food.  Other vegetables can be added to your “tossed salad” which includes; cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, nuts, and so many others too numerous to mention. That is what is so wonderful about a salad; you can make it your own by adding whatever you would like to your salad. There is no right or wrong, no special recipe, and you can use what is in season.


Sauces for salads are often called “dressings.” In our Western culture, there are three basic types of salad dressing; the first is called the Vinaigrette, which is an emulsion of salad oil mixed with vinegar, spices and herbs, plus salt and pepper. The second one is Creamy Dressings; usually a mayonnaise based, but may contain yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk. The last is the Cooked Dressings, which resemble creamy, but are usually thickened by adding egg yolks with a gentle heating. In North America, mayonnaise based Ranch dressing is most popular, with vinaigrette's and Caesar-style follows close behind. Some other popular dressings are Italian, Blue Cheese, Russian, French, and Honey Dijon Mustard.

In my Italian family, there was never a dinner without a huge bowl of salad. My family would always say, that there was, “always room for salad.” Served along side our entrée or at the end of our meal, was mostly a green tossed salad with all the trimmings. An Italian vinaigrette dressing which consisted of the finest olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and spices which were drizzled on top of the salad. It was so tangy and sweet at the same time. Preparing any kind of salad is easy especially now you can purchase pre-washed salad greens at the supermarket or by supporting your local farmer’s market. So, no matter what type of salad you make for lunch, brunch or dinner, remember enjoy, and make family memories together. 


The Fennel Bulb
 My recipe this week is two salads that my friend Dani created and is sharing them with us. With the ingredients and the dressings these salads are definably flavorful and so refreshing. The first one is called, “Mixed Greens & Mango Salad.” They look so colorful that I had to try it. The fennel bulb provides a lovely and slightly licorice crunch, the avocado gives it a smooth texture, plus the mango provides the necessary sweetness. The second one is called, “Kale and Lemon Salad.” This was one of the yummier ones and lemony too! Thank you Dani, just Delizioso! So enjoy your salad and be creative with your ingredients. Let your imagination soar!

                                          “Mixed Greens & Mango Salad



Ingredients:
3 cups hearts of romaine
2 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup slivered fennel bulb
1/2 cup slivered purple cabbage
1/2 avocado
mango chunks (I used frozen as that is what I had on hand)
handful sunflower seeds


Dressing:
1/2 cup mango
Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 medium shallot
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash and cut all ingredients. Then arrange in a bowl with the avocado and mango chunks on top. Blend all the dressing ingredients together in blender or (a Vita Mix) and pour on top of salad. Enjoy!

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

                                                 “Kale and Lemon Salad”



Ingredients:
3 cups Hearts of Romaine
2 cups mixed baby greens
2 cups Kale (I chop mine well)
1 package of Grape Tomatoes
2 cups Red Cabbage
1/2 of a ripe avocado

Dressing:
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (ground alone in the blender)
One peeled lemon (seeds out)
1/4 cup water (add more to loosen things up) Small handful fresh parsley (pulse on low a few times to shred the parsley)

Directions:
Wash and cut all ingredients. Then arrange in a bowl. Blend all the dressing ingredients together in blender or (a Vita Mix) and pour on top of salad or put in a bowl and add the dressing a little at a time. Enjoy!


Till Next Time……

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

“Rainbow Fruit Kabobs" As May Is "Lupus Awareness Month"

Welcome! This week I am going a little off track and sharing something with my readers. I have a chronic illness called, Lupus (SLE). Some of you know this already. I was diagnosed in 1998 and have been living with its wrath for 17 years plus. Yes, it has been really hard dealing with this chronic illness, like a roller coaster ride, pain, lots of pills, doctors, side effects, other medical issues that add to my Lupus, fatigue, tears, and too many more issues to mention . But even with those issues I look at it as a blessing in some sort of a crazy way. The blessing is that I have learned so much from having this illness such as, life lessons about having patience, being a strong person mentally, have discovered the importance of being optimistic, understanding how people feel with disabilities, knowing and appreciate how important it is to have faith, family, and friends, plus being proud of the woman I am despite having Lupus. It isn’t that I didn’t know all this before, but it just seemed different to me now, as I am a person fighting everyday with this illness. 

There are two reasons why I am sharing this information and the first is that May is “Lupus Awareness Month.” The other is that I hope sharing my experiences will help others who have Lupus know that they are not alone. May 10th was "World Lupus Day," and May 15th is POP day, which stands forPut On Purple.” The colors of Lupus are Orange and Purple. So, please show solidarity and support by wearing purple or orange in the month of May and Purple on May 15th..

Lupus Awareness Month,” is observed to increase public understanding of the unpredictable and potentially life-threatening disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide. Someone in the US is being diagnosed with Lupus every 30 minutes. Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and can damage any organ in the body. Many symptoms of Lupus mimic those of other illnesses, which makes it very difficult to diagnose. Everyone who has Lupus can have different symptoms and different problems. No Lupus patient is the same. Researchers do not know the exact cause of Lupus, but it is NOT infectious, NOT cancerous and you CANNOT catch Lupus by coming in contact with someone who has the disease. It is important to emphasize that a complete medical evaluation by your doctor is essential to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment. I hope that this gives you, my readers some understanding of the illness. We all have illnesses in our families, and try to give to so many different charities, I indeed understand. After 56 years a new drug that will help Lupus patients became available a few years ago. So we need more funding and support for awareness. Please, Band Together, so we all can Change Lives and join or give generously to the "Lupus Foundation of America." Thank you. 



I remember when I was living in upstate New York, (which is where I was diagnosed), my parents came up to visit me in the summer. My dad had found an article on a website that he thought I may want to check out. The article was about the founder of this new web site called "But You Don't Look Sick." Christine Miserandino has Lupus and is an advocate for people with all kinds of invisible illness. I could not believe it when I visited her site. There were others who had Lupus plus other invisible illness and everyone was finding out information, expressing their feelings, and supporting each other. What a great title to call this website, as that is what everyone was always telling me, “but you don’t look sick” to have Lupus. Christine has hit it on the head, with this web site, where others can find a collection of stories, articles, book information, health resources and it is a very positive place for those who are living with chronic pain. So, needless to say I found a goldmine, I have to say a BIG thank you to my dad who found this article. 


Christine Miserandino you are my hero! Thank you for all you do. She gives inspiration to everyone that comes in contact with her. But when it comes to her “Spoonies” she is like a mother hen.  Yes, I did say “spoonie”.  I am a “spoonie” and so are over 11,000 other people that have joined Christine and the "But You Don't Look Sick" family. Christine is the author of “The Spoon Theory”which is a story to explain what life was like living with Lupus, a chronic illness to her friend. She used a “spoon” a normal every day item, so people would understand and be reminded of the small struggles and choices “we” make every day. When you are healthy you do not have to think about every thing you do within a day, such as working, cooking, the walk from your car to the store, or cleaning your house. It is a story about using your energy, choices, and consequences, of every- day life. The Spoon Theory is like our mantra or the secret society of the invisible illnesses. I can identify and support “The Spoon Theory.” Christine and the "But You Don't Look Sick" website has been my go to place where I can network with friends, have a positive attitude, and accomplish my goals.

Thank you for reading my story and I hope this has given you a better understanding of what it is like to have Lupus. “Spoonies” unite and please support our cause.

My recipe this week is a simple and easy dish called “Rainbow Fruit Kabobs.” With Lupus as many other diseases it is important to eat many fruits and veggies. Now as the weather is getting warmer, this will be a sweet and delicious dish to serve your guests, or treat yourself.

“Rainbow Fruit Kabobs”


Ingredients: (You can use any fresh fruit, Organic if you prefer)
Grapes
Blueberries
Kiwi
Pineapple
Oranges
Strawberries


Directions:
Wash and clean all fresh fruit. Cut Kiwi, Pineapple, and Oranges to bite size pieces. Any juice save for later. Clean strawberries, cut tops off. Now just thread the fruit on skewers. You can place them like the photo or you can put them in anyway you prefer. Pour over the fruit skewers reserved juice. Serve on a platter so the rainbow colors all match up…nice and refreshing…Enjoy!

Till next Time……..

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved    

Friday, May 8, 2015

“Rigatoni with Prosciutto & Peas In Vodka Sauce” To Celebrate Mother's Day


Ciao, it is Mother’s Day on Sunday.. I just want to wish all of my readers and followers who are mother’s, a beautiful, relaxing, and enjoyable day with your families. 
 
(L-R) Grandma Julia, Great-Grandma Sofia, & my mom, Madeline


As both a daughter and a mom, Mother’s Day gives me the opportunity to tell my mom how much I appreciate, respect, and admire her. It also reminds me of what my mom really means to me. As the oldest sibling in my family, I had the privilege of watching my mom raise my two younger brothers, work full-time as a teacher, and take care of our entire family, which included my dad, and my grandmother that lived with us. Her tireless example taught me the value of hard work and her encouragement of my creativity. Her ideas gave me the confidence to pursue my own dreams. She helped me to believe I could do anything that I set my mind to. My mother taught me the importance of education, work ethic, faith, and of course family. My mom taught me to be generous, grateful, and how to keep strong. Her attitude is always positive and is always trying to make everyone comfortable. Even if she is tired and exhausted, she pushes to make everyone happy. To her, my Dad and the family are so important. Her children and grandchildren are extra special in her life as well. 

Mother’s Day is an annual holiday that recognizes mother’s and motherhood. In the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. The holiday was created by Anna Jarvis who lived in West Virginia. The year was 1908 and she wanted to accomplish a dream her mother had, which was to have a celebration for all mothers. She kept promoting the idea and even enlisted John Wanamaker, a wealthy business man from Philadelphia. Her persistent promoting finally paid off, President Woodrow Wilson finally make it an official holiday in 1914. Eventually the holiday became so commercially publicized that Anna Jarvis ended up opposing the holiday she helped to create. When she died in 1948 she regretted that it had become a holiday in the United States. Today, Mother’s Day still remains one of the biggest days for selling flowers, greeting cards, and other gifts to celebrate mothers. It is also the biggest holiday for long -distance telephone calls. Carnations, became the traditional flower to represent the celebration of Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was her mothers’ favorite flower. As florists sales expanded the more types of flowers were sold. Florists promoted wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she had passed on.

In Italy, Mother’s Day was celebrated for the first time on May 12, 1957, in the city of Assisi. Throughout  Italy, it is usually celebrated on the second Sunday in May just like the United States. Italian Mother’s Day is not as commercialized like the United States. It is a day for families and for very personal expressions of love. Italian mothers, traditionally celebrate Mother’s Day by bringing the whole family together. La Mamma is not allowed to do any housework on that special day. She will have breakfast made for her, (fresh pastries and coffee/tea.) Cards are not as popular either. It is far more common for children to write their own poems or thanks for Mother’s Day than buy a store bought card. As for Italian mothers, attending church on Mother’s Day morning is still an important part of their tradition. In Christianity, the word “mother” is referred to the mother church, the giver of spiritual life. 


Well, Mom here’s to you! “Auguri per la Festa della, Mamma” (Happy Mother’s Day) I just want you to know that you are very special to me. You’re my mother, and a friend also. Just want you to know how lucky I am to have you in my life. Thanks for always being there for me and  I love you very much. So “Ti Viglio Bene Mamma” (I Love You, Mother) to you, enjoy and relax. It is your day to celebrate!

One of my Mom’s favorite foods is pasta. This recipe I am sharing is a delicious and simple Italian pasta recipe called, “Rigatoni with Prosciutto & Peas In Vodka Sauce”

Rigatoni with Prosciutto & Peas In Vodka Sauce


Ingredients:
1 pound Rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots (finely chopped)
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup good Vodka
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 ounces Prosciutto, chopped bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen sweet peas, brought to room temperature
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup chopped parsley flakes 


Directions:
Start by cooking rigatoni according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water. Heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped Prosciutto. Cook until crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove Prosciutto from skillet and place on paper towel to drain. With remaining olive oil in the skillet, add about 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. Add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes (optional) and cook for another minute. Remove skillet from heat and add tomato sauce, vodka and salt to taste. Stir to combine and place back on heat. Cook for about 8-9 minutes to allow the vodka to burn off. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the sauce becomes thick. Turn the heat down to low and add the peas. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and remove from the heat. Add crispy Prosciutto. Stir in pasta. If the sauce is too thick, you can add some of the reserve pasta water. Place parsley on top of pasta then serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a crisp salad, and your favorite crusty bread.  Serves: 4-6


As I close this post for now, have a wonderful and relaxing day. Everyday should be Mother’s Day. Enjoy the day and make many memories with your family and friends. Buon Appetito !!

Till Next Time…………………….

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love”

All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

“Garbanzo, Tomato, & Cilantro Salad with Lime & Chile Dressing” To Celebrate "Cinco de Mayo"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have a fabulous and delicious recipe or two waiting for you to try ….. 



Happy Cinco de Mayo or the fifth of May. This day commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances, street festivals, and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and New York.

One of my recipes today is a wonderful and nutritious dish that is perfect for a celebration. The flavors are just the right amount of spiciness to let your taste buds know that Cinco de Mayo is a time for a Fiesta! So try my recipe and under this recipe is a “Margarita” drink that you will love to go with your salad.…Olé!!



 “Garbanzo, Tomato and Cilantro Salad with Lime and Chile Dressing

Ingredients:
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed well
4-5 tomatoes, diced in 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
1 cup (1 large bunch) cilantro, washed, dried and chopped coarsely with chef's knife or food processor


Dressing:
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili powder (You could substitute hot sauce if you don't have ground chipotle)
1/2 tsp mild chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
Zest from one lime
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


Directions:
Drain beans into colander and rinse until no foaming remains. Let drain well. Mix dressing ingredients, then put beans and dressing into a container with a snap-on lid and shake a few times. Let beans marinate in dressing one hour or longer. Dice tomatoes, place in colander with a small amount of salt and let tomatoes drain 10 minutes while you dice onions and chop cilantro. Combine marinated beans with dressing, tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, and then stir gently until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Serves: 4 

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Olé!! Time for “Margaritas:

 


(Please Drink Responsibly)


Till Next Time……………………………

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 1, 2015

“Blueberry-Lemon Muffins” To Celebrate "May Day"


 Every May 1st historians generally agree that May Day celebrations probably originated in ancient Rome. The May Queen would oversee crops and rule the day. Some places also selected May Kings. The crowns were typical made of twigs, leaves, and flowers. The Maypole was typically fabricated the night before. 

The men would strip down a birch tree and plant it in the ground; this ceremony was symbolic of fertility rites. The next day, both men and women danced about the Maypole. Several longs ribbons hung from the top of the Maypole holding up a crown of colorful flowers. Each dancer held an end of one of the ribbons. The dancers alternated man and women. All the women would dance in one direction and the men danced in the other direction. The dancers would go under the first person and over the next person, weaving the ribbons about the tree and lowering the ring to the ground. Today, this tradition is still practiced but danced mostly young boys and girls.


The Celts had a similar celebration known as Beltain, Beltane, or Bealtaine which in Gaelic means “Fires of Bel” or “Bright Fires”. The ceremony honored the god of the Sun and the rebirth of the earth. Feasting, games, and bonfires began on the eve of May Day and continued through the next day with a day of bonfires and merrymaking. It was customary for couples to walk through the fires smoke or leap over the flames to insure a successful relationship. Faeries were (and are) abundant on the first day of May. Windows were decorated with flowers and food was left on the doorstep to keep the mischievous faeries out. During this time women would wash their faces with the May Day’s morning dew believing it would bring a good complexion and everlasting beauty.


Remember the childhood rhyme April showers bring May flowers? Flowers are a big part of May Day celebrations. May Day brings the image of maypoles, collecting flowers, and the delight in finding a surprise basket of flowers on your doorstep. Throughout its history, May Day has traditionally been a joyous celebration of spring, femininity, fertility, and the coming summer. The first day of May is celebrated in many parts of the world. It is believed it evolved from ancient agricultural and fertility rites of spring. There are signs of the first celebrations in Egypt. However, the majority of the current traditions stem from the Roman Festival, Floralia. This was a five day festival to honor the Goddess Flora with offerings of flowers, dancing, ringing bells, May Queens and erecting a Maypole.

The Maypole is to celebrate May Day or Midsummer. It is most popular in Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Austria, England, USA, and many other countries. In Italy, May Day is called “Albro della cuccagna“ which translates in English as “trees from the land of milk and honey.” May Day, is a public holiday all over Italy as the day of the worker. Many services will be closed but you may find interesting parades and festivals to celebrate the day. Maypole Dancing is now regarded as the most 'traditional' of May Day's characteristics.

Maypole

In the United States today, a Maypole Dance is an important part of many Elementary, Secondary or High School celebrations. Often the Maypole dance will be accompanied by other dances as part of a presentation to the public. When I was in elementary school, our class had many “May Day” celebrations. It took place in the school yard and all the grades participated. Many of my readers will remember my grandmother “Nanni” who I have written about in past posts on my blog. For those who do not know her story, I will tell you a little about her. Nanni’s profession was a milliner and an interior decorator. She made hats for those of you who do not know what a milliner does. She was very creative and had finesse for making beautiful things. She had her own business which was called “Roberta Originals.” Well, one year she had heard that my school wanting to have a May Day celebration. She thought that it would be a wonderful idea if she made and donated the Maypole for the children to use for the celebration.

"Nanni"

She spoke to the school and they agreed. So she made this huge very colorful Maypole. She attached streamers of colorful ribbons on the top and added decorations to the pole which gave it just the right touch. I was so proud that my grandmother (Nanni) made this for my school. After it was made, and the school had possession of it, we learned how to dance around it to create the braided ribbons. My family came to see the classes perform with the Maypole in the school yard that spring. If I remember correctly it was in the 1960’s. My parents took movies and photos of the Maypole celebration, but to no avail I have not found any photos yet. I have been searching for photos in my parent’s albums and boxes. If I find them I will post them on this blog.

Now, I have a very unforgettable recipe to share with you. It is a Blueberry Lemon Muffin. It is very good especially with a cup of coffee or tea. The blueberries are so sweet and the lemon gives this muffin a fresh flavor. As you enjoy these luscious muffins you can think about the flowers blooming and the sun shining. 
Plus the aroma of the muffins baking in the oven brings back memories of home, family, and fun mainly May Pole Dancing. 

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins


Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup frozen blueberries

Topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 Tablespoon real fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°F degrees and spray muffin tins with cooking spray or use paper cups. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. With a mixer beat eggs, milk and butter. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in blueberries gently. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

For the Topping:
Combine butter and lemon juice for the topping. While the muffins are still warm, dip the tops in the butter and lemon juice, and then dip in sugar. Enjoy!



Till Next Time………………………………...

Copyright  © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved