Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" Plus "Orange-BBQ Chicken with Grilled Vegetables" For "Memorial Day"

Welcome to my blog ! This coming weekend will be “Memorial Day” weekend! The unofficial start of summertime. The last Monday in May is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States since 1971. A day that we commemorate to all American soldiers who lost their lives defending our country. Memorial Day is an occasion for expressions of memory as people think about the courage of their deceased relatives that served in the military. As time marches on it now has become a long weekend increasingly devoted to family get- togethers, BBQ’s, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on Memorial Day. 

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.

Louis A. Fiore (grandfather)

My grandfather Louis Fiore (my mom’s father) 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 BBQ, which is perfect because the month of May happens to be “National BBQ Month.” There is nothing like cooking outside on a grill. As you and your family reminisce about loved ones in the service there are so many quick and easy ideas for a very tasty BBQ. Some options are fresh corn on the cob roasted on the grill, enjoy the flavor of blueberry and rhubarb pies with homemade vanilla ice cream, and don’t forget, the gooey BBQ sauce or glaze to coat on your favorite meat, seafood or fresh vegetables…… yum, finger lick’ in good. So wipe down that patio furniture, let’s go outside, time to celebrate, and get grilling!

Before we start grilling, eating, and celebrating, let me share with you some interesting facts about the way we cook our food with this method. Typically to “grill” is to cook quickly, while “BBQ” is a much slower method using less heat than grilling over an extended period of several hours. Whether you use gas, charcoal, or flavored wood chips/boards, all of these methods add flavor and tenderness to your meats, veggies, and yes, sometimes fruits for desserts. You can use a wide variety of marinades but look for something with an acidic base, like a vinegar or citrus juice with enough flavor, but not over power it.

My dad, Bob Sauchelli
My dad is our Grill Master in my family. When we were young kids he would use charcoal but as the years went on he uses the gas BBQ. He would even go outside in the rain with an umbrella or in the winter when it was snowing and start up the BBQ for our dinner. He puts on his apron with his tools and cooks for the family, his famous steak, ribs, or shish kebab recipes. Thanks dad for delicious meals and memories that will last forever!

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. 

This week my recipe is a family favorite. “Orange-BBQ Chicken with Grilled Vegetables” Barbecued chicken is an ideal recipe for this Memorial Day weekend and celebrate National BBQ Month all in one shot. The flavors of the BBQ sauce are a tasty marriage for this delicious dish. The chicken is tender, moist, and gooey on the outside, just the way you love it. So, enjoy your holiday weekend, be safe, and 'Tutti, Mangia”

“Orange-BBQ Chicken with Grilled Vegetables”

Jazz up BBQ chicken with the juice and zest of a fresh orange. Citrus brings a bright, refreshing tang to a savory better-for-you dish.

1/2 cup Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
1/2 tsp. zest and 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 orange
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 lb.)
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise in half
1 yellow squash, cut lengthwise in half
1 red pepper, cut into quarters
1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing

Heat grill to medium heat. Mix barbecue sauce, zest and juice until blended. Grill chicken 6 min., turning after 3 min. Brush with half the sauce. Add vegetables to grill. Cook chicken and vegetables 9 to 12 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF) and vegetables are crisp-tender, turning and brushing chicken occasionally with remaining sauce and brushing vegetables with dressing.

****Bonus: Stir 1/4 tsp ground ginger into the barbecue sauce mixture before using as directed.

                                             “Orange Non-Alcoholic Drink

This drink was shared by my friend Dani. Scrub outside skin of orange. Fill a glass with cold water, sparkling water, or ginger ale with ice. Add sliced oranges in thin rounds and then add thin sliced ginger…stir and let steep for a while, now add a straw…you have a very tasty, refreshing, and nutritious drink to add to your BBQ and summer. Thanks Dani!


“8 Clever "Tips" And Uses For Orange Peels

We usually throw away the orange peels once you done with eating or juicing an orange. Orange peels are a powerhouse of nutrients and anti-oxidants. They have high amount of vitamin C content than the fleshy content found inside. They can be used for various purposes such as:

1. Deodorize: It's no secret that the smell of a freshly peeled orange can clear out a room. Place the peels at the bottom of your garbage bin, or hang them from a string in your bathroom for a constant fresh scent.

2. Stove-top air freshener and humidifier. Heat up a pot of water and throw in orange peels and other spices such as cinnamon and cloves. This will make your home smell good (and humidify it!), which is helpful if your kitchen smells strongly of the meal you just cooked up.

3. Orange Zest is probably the most self-explanatory of all the uses for orange peels. Zesting an orange peel with a Micro Plane is a great way to add a sweet and tangy taste to your meat marinades or favorite baked goods. Orange zest can even taste great in your morning cup of coffee or afternoon cup of tea!

4. Start a Fire: Oranges can also be used to start a fire! Use a dried orange peel as kindling the next time you are on a camping trip, or use it to make your hearth fires fragrant and bright.

5. Make Orange Peels Dipped in Chocolate: A wonderful delicacy, candied orange peels are a popular after-meal snack in a number of European cultures, and they are quite easy to make too! Just melt some chocolate and cover one or all sides in a sugared orange peel.

6. Garbage Disposal Cleaner: A great way to clean out your garbage disposal is by putting orange peels down the disposal. Place them in the disposal and run it until clear, then run some water down after it. The citrus will get rid of any scents coming from the disposal.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure: Orange rinds can be used to lower blood pressure. They have been a part of Chinese herbal medicines for thousands of years for this purpose.

8. Mosquito Repellant: If you are looking for a natural way to repel Mosquitoes, take fresh orange peels and rub them all over your skin. The citrusy smell will repel the Mosquitoes.

Till Next Time…………………….

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" & A "Cherry Cobbler" & A "Cherry Cobbler Cocktail" For "National Cherry Cobbler Day"

Welcome to this weeks blog post…..Today is a day to celebrate as May 17th is “National Cherry Cobbler Day.” Cherry Cobbler is a delicious dessert that is a favorite for young and old alike. Originated in the United States, mid 19th century, a cobbler refers to a variety of dishes that consist of a deep dish dessert with fruit filling (cherry being a popular choice) covered with a biscuit-like batter, that is then baked. Some cobblers have both a top and bottom crust. Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. Did you know…Fruit cobblers can be made with almost any fruit, separately or in combination? The cobbler takes its name from the biscuit dough crust on top, it is rough looking or “cobbled.” It was because of the lack of suitable ingredients and the proper cooking equipment that the English settlers were unable to make their traditional suet puddings, so to improvise, they covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked biscuits or dumplings. A cherry cobbler differs from a cherry crisp as the “crisp” usually has oatmeal in it. Sometimes the cobbler is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! Yummy!

Cobblers are also a fantastic way to celebrate the fresh bounty of the season, and as it happens, the first fresh cherries of the year have begun to pop up at grocery stores and farm stands across the country. Cobblers don't take a whole lot of pastry know-how, but this little tip may help you: no matter what recipe you use, taste the fruit before you add any additional sweeteners. Batches of any fruit, especially cherries, can vary wildly in flavor, so you'll want to consider their place on the sweet-tart range before you add too much sugar. 

Today also happens to be, the feast day of “San Pascual.” He was a 16th century Spanish shepherd who became a Franciscan lay brother. He served his fellow Franciscans in various capacities and monasteries as shepherd, gardener, porter, and cook. Since childhood he had built-up a deep sense of the presence of God and was particularly devoted to the Eucharist. San Pascual was known for his administrations to the poor and for his many miraculous cures.

San Pascual
Today, San Pascual is chiefly known as a patron of the kitchen in token of his work as a cook. In religious art he is shown dressed in the brown robes of a Franciscan, kneeling in a kitchen while in engrossed in meditation of the Eucharistic. In New Mexico his image has become an ubiquitous element of “Santa Fe-inspired” décor. San Pascual is patron of shepherds, cooks, and Eucharistic Congresses or associations. 

My recipe this week is from a cookbook I found at a yard sale many years ago. “Betty Crockers Bisquick™ Cookbook” This cobbler is on page 23 in this cookbook. I have the pleasure to participate in my food blogger friend Louise‘s, “Months Of Edible Celebrations.” She is posting to her blog recipes that are taken from cookbooks, magazines, booklets, etc. on Wednesday, as “Cookbook Wednesdays.” So stop over at her blog and tell her that I sent you, she may have a cup of coffee for you...This “Cherry Cobbler” is so yummy that your family will love every morsel. So flavorful and easy to prepare. I also have a drink called a “Cherry Cobbler Cocktail” that will make your taste buds dance…So enjoy “National Cherry Cobbler Day!” (Look for “Tips” under the recipes…)

It’s even easier than pie! Bake tempting cobbler the easy way with cherry pie filling. It’s perfectly baked under a tender, flaky crust. So good!!

Cherry Cobbler” Serves: 6

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
1 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Spread pie filling in un-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Place in cold oven. Heat oven to 400ºF; let heat 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven. While pie filling is heating, stir remaining ingredients until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls onto warm pie filling. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until topping is light brown. 

******Expert Bonus:
This recipe is so easy and delicious. Also much lighter cobbler than traditional recipes. Cherry is a favorite but works with any flavor pie filling. So good with ice cream or whipped topping. You can add Chocolate Chips and an extra drizzle of chocolate. Add and melt 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, drizzle on top of cobbler. Because ovens generally take ten minutes to preheat, heating the filling and the oven at the same time is a convenient dovetailing method. Also, if cobbler fillings aren’t heated before the dough is added, the dough may still have many uncooked spots after baking.

A “Cobbler” is also a cocktail drink, which probably predates the fruit cobbler pie. The “Cobbler Cocktail” usually consisted of whiskey or rum with fruit juice and/or sugar, garnished with mint and/or citrus.

Cherry Cobbler Cocktail

8 oz London Dry Gin
6 oz Cherry Brandy
3 oz sugar syrup
3 oz lemon juice
4 tsp Cream de Cassiss

Pour into a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon, a cherry or a mint sprig. Serve with a short straw.

                            Please drink responsibly! 



How To Store Cherries:
Cold storage is key to keeping cherries fresh. According to a cherry expert we spoke to, cherries can lose more quality in one hour at room temperature than a day in the refrigerator. Thus, get your cherries in the fridge as soon as possible, preferably wrapped in a plastic bag. Wash them with cold water just before eating. Avoid washing prior to storage, as moisture can be absorbed where the stem meets the fruit and lead to splits or spoilage. Cherries can also be frozen. Pit them if you wish, or keep them whole with stems intact. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until firm, and then place in a bag or container.

How To Choose:
Of course, the best way to know whether cherries are worth buying is to taste one, if your farmers' market vendor or grocery store provides samples. But here are some other rules of thumb:
Sweet red cherries: Depth of color is more important than the particular shade of red. Look for fruits with deep, dark saturation. If the stem is intact, a bright green color indicates freshness; however, a lack of stem doesn't necessary mean the cherries are low quality. Red cherries should also be firm. Wrinkling along the shoulders near the stem means the cherries have sat at room temperature; they may still be sweet, but are probably not at peak freshness.
Rainier cherries: Many people think these reddish-yellow cherries are under ripe, but this is the natural color of Rainier cherries. They are also naturally less firm than red cherries. A red or pink blush indicates sun exposure, which leads to sugar accumulation. Brown flecks are generally not defects but a further indicator of sugar accumulation. (Red cherries have this, too, but it's less visible.)

How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis:
Generations of people have reported that cherries help keep painful osteoarthritis (OA) and gout flares in check. Now, scientists are putting this popular folk remedy to the test, with promising results. Researchers have tested different amounts of several varieties of cherries in almost every form, from juice to pills. And though most studies are small and the findings preliminary, evidence of the benefits of cherries is growing.

Gout Management:
In a study of 633 participants, Boston University Medical Center researchers found that eating at least 10 cherries a day protected people with existing gout from recurrent attacks. The findings were published in 2012, in a supplement to the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. “Cherry intake was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of gout flares over a 48-hour period,” says study co-author Hyon K. Choi, MD. “We extrapolate that cherries will continue to work long-term.” He attributes the positive effects to anthocyanins, plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins are found in red and purple fruits, including raspberries and blueberries, but cherries, especially tart cherries, contain higher levels.

Liquid cherry extract

Found in health-food and specialty stores, this product appears to provide the same benefits. In a retrospective study of 24 patients presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism, saw a 50 percent reduction in flares when gout patients took one tablespoon of tart cherry extract, the equivalent of 45 to 60 cherries, twice a day for four months. “This is definitely a topic worth further investigation,” Dr. Choi says. “If cherries prove effective in large trials, they could provide a safe, non pharmacological option for preventing recurrent gout attacks.”

Before the introduction of refrigerated transportation, only locally grown produce was available to most Americans. This was reflected in their choice of desserts. Cherry cobblers were a Midwestern favorite, apple and blueberry cobblers were enjoyed in the North, and peaches graced cobblers of the South.

Till Next Time……………………..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" & “Greens with Chicken & Tuscan Lemon Dressing” & “Mega Mint Iced Tea”

Welcome, to this weeks blog. Did you know that Sir Thomas Lipton was born on May 10, 1848 in Glasgow, Scotland? Yes, this is the man that Lipton Tea is named for.. 

Sir Thomas Lipton
Thomas' family owned a grocery store, in Glasgow and he had an interest in the business from an early age. At the age of fourteen, with eight dollars in his pocket, he became a stowaway on a ship to America. He earned a living as a farm worker in Virginia and South Carolina. He became a grocery clerk in New York. In 1870, Thomas returned to Glasgow, and four years later opened his own grocery store. By the time he was thirty, Lipton ran a chain of stores, moved his headquarters to London, and was a millionaire. He had a keen sense of advertising and marketing that would help him put a Lipton shop in every Scottish city, and beyond.

Lipton became a household name through innovation in the tea business. At a time when tea was shipped and sold in bulk, Lipton developed tea bags. He insured that the tea bags had consistency and freshness for tea consumers. He also sold different blends to different countries, to make up for variations in water from region to region. He managed to lower the cost of tea with greater efficiency of production.

He began purchasing tea estates in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and packaged and sold the first Lipton tea. Staying true to his vision, he arranged packaging and shipping at low costs to sell his teas directly from the tea garden to the tea pot.  In 1893, he officially established the Thomas J Lipton Co., a tea packing company with its headquarters and factory in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Lipton teas were an immediate success in the United States and the United Kingdom. In recognition of his exceptional contribution, Thomas Lipton was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1898, and became Sir Thomas Lipton at the age of forty-eight. Lipton is now the world’s leading tea brand, sold in more than 150 countries.

Tea is an aromatic, uplifting beverage savored for centuries around the world from India and Ireland to the U.S.A. I am enjoying a big cup of hot steaming tea as I am writing this post. Drinking tea is my very favorite beverage. I love hot tea especially in the winter and iced tea in the hot summer months.

The traditional method of making a cup of tea is to place “loose tea leaves” in a tea infuser or a teacup and pour hot water over the leaves. After a couple of minutes of steeping time, remove the leaves and strain while serving a perfect cup of tea. Another form of a tea bag was introduced by Lipton in 1996, which has a unique design. It is called the “pyramid tea bag,” or “sachet bag,” because of its three-dimensional shape which allows more room for tea leaves to expand while steeping. 

I have two recipes this week for you; the first one is called; “Greens with Chicken & Tuscan Lemon Dressing” and the second is “Mega Mint Iced Tea.” 

Greens with Chicken & Tuscan Lemon Dressing

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 min
Brew Time: 5 min

1/2 cup boiling water
4 Lipton Tuscan Lemon Flavored Black Pyramid Tea Bags
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. seasoned salt
6 cups mixed salad greens
1 lb. cut-up cooked chicken
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup raspberries

Pour boiling water over Lipton Tuscan Lemon Flavored Black Pyramid Tea Bag tea bags; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove Tea Bags and squeeze; cool. With wire whisk, stir in olive oil, honey, vinegar and seasoned salt; set aside. On serving platter, arrange greens. Top with chicken, bacon, onion and raspberries, then drizzle with Tuscan Lemon Dressing.

Mega Mint Iced Tea

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 5 min
Chill Time: 20 min 
Brew Time: 5 min

4 cups water
2 Lipton® Iced Tea Brew Family Size Tea Bags
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 cups water

Pour boiling water over Lipton Iced Tea Brew Family Size Tea Bags and mint. Brew 5 minutes. Remove Tea Bags and mint. Stir in ice water and chill until ready to serve. Serve in ice-filled glasses and sweeten as desired..


There's always time for better tea, though, so here are ten tips and tricks to take your tea to the next level. Tea is only second to water when it comes to beverage popularity, so popular that it's consumed as much as coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol combined.

1. Don’t make tea in the microwave….
One of the elements of a perfect cup of tea is brewing it at the right temperature. Microwaves, as convenient as they are, simply don't give us control over the temperature of the water, so it's best to use a kettle.

2.Get the Temperature and Time Down for Steeping Tea….
Speaking of temperature, this graphic provides recommended temperatures and brew times (as well as caffeine content), while this one (above) shows temperatures and steeping times in a much more immediate way.

3. Control the Caffeine in Tea…
Steeping time also matters when it comes to how much caffeine ends up in your cup. For more caffeine alertness, steep for a shorter amount of time. For less caffeine, you can do a brief steep, pour out the brew, and then re-steep to cut as much as 80% of the caffeine.

4. Buy the Best Tea-Brewing Gear…
You don't need a special tea kettle to make great tea, but they sure come in handy, with options to set the temperature, automatically turn on or off, and sometimes even remove the tea bag. The mugs, brewing baskets, and other accessories you use can also make a big difference in your enjoyment of your tea.

5.  Buy Better Tea Leaves…
Besides temperature and steeping time—and water quality—the other most critical element when it comes to a perfect cup of tea is, of course, the quality of the tea itself. Try checking out tea houses or my favorite is Teavana.

6. Avoid Watery Iced Tea…
When it comes to iced tea, make sure you use double the amount of tea normally used so the ice cubes don't dilute your drink or use iced tea you've frozen in ice cube trays to avoid this problem. You can also cold-brew your iced tea for a stronger, smoother cup (and brewing tea in the fridge avoids the risk of bacteria like sun tea has).

7. Find the Tea Alternatives to Coffee…
I know this sounds like blasphemy to coffee lovers, but you can love both coffee and tea. Both have benefits. If you're currently a coffee-only person, though, give tea a chance with these recommendations for coffee-like teas. (They're not as strong as coffee, but they are uniquely flavorful.)

8.  Drink to Your Health…
This tip won't make your tea better, but it helps to understand how tea makes you better. (so you drink more of it!) There are so many ways tea is incredibly healthy for you even healthier than water and you can boost tea's health benefits with lemon.

9. Tea also helps soothe stress and keep us relaxed. Did you know that there's credible evidence that tea reduces the risk of heart disease, and possibly even helps prevent cancer andAlzheimer's disease? Indeed, tea is considered a super food; whether it's black, green, white, or oolong tea.

10. Tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that regular tea drinkers, people who drink two cups or more a day, (that is me) have less heart disease, stroke, and lower LDL cholesterol. Many tea drinkers find the beverage soothing, a remedy for sore throats, and upset stomachs. It is easy to make, affordable, and offers a variety of flavors. 

Bonus: The Many Other Things You Can Do With Tea Besides Drink It.....
Use used tea bags or fresh tea for your body and your home. For example, feed plants with used tea bags, clean windows with tea, sooth sunburns and stop bleeding with tea bags, clean hardware floors and hide scratches with tea, freshen up small spaces with a tea bag, and maybe even get rid of warts with tea.


Till Next Time………

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

"Happy Mother's Day" To All Mothers And Mothers To Be...A Tribute To My Mom!

Welcome, I want to wish all of my followers, family, and friends a blessed and glorious Mother’s Day! A few years back I wrote an article for my friend Margaret, at Italian American Girl’s website. Please visit her site, she has a lot of interesting articles. Don't forget to tell her I sent you.. It was a Mother’s Day tribute to my mom. I thought I would repost this article for my mother this year. As most of you know my mom has had a rough time of it and was in a rehab for her back, from November to March of this year. She is doing a little better, but is no where near she should be. A few set backs but we keep going and my mom just embodies how strong mothers really are. So I hope that you enjoy this post and have the best Mother’s Day ever..... 
"Happy Mother’s Day" mom, as you celebrate 62 years of mothering and 40 years of grandmothering. These are the raw numbers of age, but they don’t reflect the memories, stories, lessons, and wisdom that come to us with the fullness of a life lived with intensity, insight, love, and faith. 

Mothers are angels sent from God. They are like snowflakes; each one is different and unique in their own way. Not until I had my son did I realize the sacrifices mothers make. Madeline, my mom is the heart of our home. She is the one that gets everyone together for birthdays and holidays. She loves to cook meals for the family.  Everyone in the family can attest to her strength, her honesty, and her warmth. My mom embodies what a mother should be and shares her wisdom with everyone she meets. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, spending time with my dad, family, and friends. I have so many memories of my childhood with my mom, but these thoughts are a special way to wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day !!! 

One of my mother’s favorite hobbies is to read books. So mom, here is one of the best books you have ever read. Each of us has entered my mother’s book in a different chapter—some long ago, some more recently—but we are, nevertheless, all part of a story that began in Brooklyn, NY and to the present in St. James, Long Island where she and my dad resides. 

My mom was a teacher by profession and as they say chief, cook, and bottle washer. She did it all. Took care of three children, ran a home, worked, and there was always a hot meal on the table at night for dinner. On Sundays, church was always the top priority as the whole family would go to Mass together. Sunday was not only for church but for family. We always had grandparents, friends, and relatives to share in our Sunday dinner. The table had to be set just so, with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. A typical Italian Sunday meal was centered on pasta (macaroni or mac’s for short we would call it) and meatballs as a first dish and then came the entrée with all the trimmings. After every one was almost busting out of their clothes came the coffee, demitasse, (Italian black coffee) tea, fruit, nuts, figs, and all the desserts. We of course do not eat like that anymore, thank goodness or we will have to be rolled out of the house. Things were different then. Both my parents are my heroes. They not only share their love of family and food but also their faith. No matter what life brings, they taught me to be strong and know that family and God is always there with love and support above all things. 

The end of this story is not yet written, so we will refrain from speculation, but suffice it to say that we will be eagerly awaiting the sequel on Mother’s Day next year. But as we reflect today upon the time we all have to give with our Mother, grandmother, wife, confidant, relative, and friend, however long or short, we are reminded that our connections with one another constitute our greatest blessing. To that end, let us celebrate times shared, advice given and sought, wisdom imparted, stories remembered, and the joy of life. Thank you mom, May there be many more chapters to come…. Love your daughter, Dottie X <3

Till Next Time…..

Copyright © 2016 "Family Plus Food Equals Love" All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" And A “Perfect Spinach Salad” Recipe For "National Salad Month"

As we begin the month of May, the weather is getting warmer. This means that you will be outside more and enjoying your days in the sun. As you participate in activities outside, you will want to prepare quick and nutritious meals for your family. Well not to worry, because May is “National Salad Month.” Who knew that a whole month was allocated to celebrate and enjoy 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 a main course, an appetizer to stimulate your appetite, a side dish that will accompany your main course, for your entrée which would include your protein, (beef, pork, chicken, or fish) and also for desserts that you can add gelatin and whipped cream for a delicious sweet treat. 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. 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 & 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 vinaigrettes 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.

My recipe this week is from a cookbook I received for Christmas from my sister-in law, Lori. “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” This salad is called “Perfect Spinach Salad.” I have the pleasure to participate in my food blogger friend Louise‘s, “Months Of Edible Celebrations.” She is posting to her blog recipes that are taken from cookbooks, magazines, booklets, etc. on Wednesday as “Cookbook Wednesdays.” So stop over at her blog and tell her that I sent you...This dish is so yummy that you will want to make this everyday. So flavorful and easy to prepare. So enjoy a salad in the month of May and be creative with your ingredients.

Perfect Spinach Salad

Total Time: 1 hr
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 25 min
Yield: 6 servings

3 whole uncooked eggs
7 slices thick-cut peppered bacon
1 small whole red onion
1 package white button mushrooms
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 dash salt
8 oz baby spinach, washed, & dried 

Variations: 1. Add 1 cup of grated Swiss Cheese to the salad.
                    2. Add 1 cup of Chicken or Turkey to the salad.

Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat and allow to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain off the water and add ice on top of the eggs. Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy/chewy. Remove to a paper towel. Drain the fat into a bowl and reserve. Give the skillet a wipe with kitchen paper. Slice the red onion very thinly, and then add to the skillet. Cook slowly until the onions are caramelized and reduced. Remove to a plate and set aside. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the same skillet with a little of the reserved bacon fat if needed. Cook slowly until caramelized and brown. Remove to a plate and set aside. Chop the bacon. Peel and slice the eggs. Make the hot bacon dressing: Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, Dijon and salt to a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk together and heat thoroughly until bubbly. Add the spinach to a large bowl. Arrange the onions, mushrooms and bacon on top. Pour the hot dressing over the top; toss to combine. Arrange the eggs over the top and serve.


Tips” For Naturally Cleaning With White Vinegar

  1. Counter tops- clean with a rag and vinegar. 
  2. Drain or garbage disposal- pour in 1 cup baking soda then one cup hot vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes. Run hot water down the drain. (Note: some garbage disposals do not react well to this cleaning method check all manufacturer instructions first.) 
  3. Microwave- mixing equal parts vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a boil inside the microwave. Wipe clean. 
  4. Refrigerator – clean with a half-and-half solution of water and vinegar. 
  5. Dishwasher - pour a cup of vinegar inside an empty machine and run through cycle. 
  6. Plastic food containers - wipe them with a cloth dampened with vinegar to remove stains and smells. 
  7. Lunch Box – place inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in vinegar and leave overnight to remove odors. 
  8. Mini Blinds - Dip gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts vinegar and warm tap water. Run your fingers across both sides of each blind. 
  9. Tarnished Metal - make a paste with equal amounts of vinegar and table salt. 
  10. Grease – use a sponge soaked in vinegar. 
  11. Grill – spray a solution of half water and half vinegar on the cooking surface. 
  12. Sponges – placing in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup vinegar. Let soak overnight. 
  13. Grout – let full-strength vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrub it with an old toothbrush. 
  14. Germs – spray with full-strength vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. 
  15. Toilets – pour in a cup or more of vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush. 
  16. Stale odors - wiping down with undiluted vinegar on a rag. 
  17. Wood – remove water rings with a solution of equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain. 
  18. Scissors – clean off sticky residue with a cloth dipped in vinegar. 
  19. Odors – place a bowl of vinegar in the room overnight. 
  20. Hands – Wipe your hands with vinegar to remove strong scents like onion and garlic, as well as stains from fruit juices. 
  21. Cutting boards – wipe wooden boards with vinegar. 
  22. Mildew – spray shower walls and shower curtain with half vinegar and half water to help prevent mildew.
*****A few precautions when working with vinegar:

Do not add vinegar directly to materials containing ammonia as this could produce harmful vapors. Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Till Next Time……

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