Friday, March 27, 2015

“Cuzzupa” or “Cruzzupe” Italian Easter Cakes For Palm Sunday

This post is a revise from April 10, 2014. Everyone always asks me about my Easter Cake recipe so I thought I would revise the whole blog and recipe. Hope that you enjoy! 

Spring has finally arrived, even though the weather is still cool. But that is not going to stop the coloring of eggs, bunny rabbits, Easter bonnets, parades, and egg hunts as Easter is right around the corner. It’s also time to start thinking about baking Easter cakes and sweet desserts for your Easter dinner. Christians in over 80 nations will be celebrating Palm Sunday this weekend, and Easter Sunday next weekend. “Happy Easter” is translated in Italian as “Bouna La Pasqua,” and “Happy Palm Sunday” is “Felice Domenica delle Palme.”

On Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday as it is often called, Christians celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with palms. In Italy, this Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, mass will be celebrated by Pope Francis I. On Palm Sunday when I was growing up, we would go to church, and receive the Palms. When we returned home I can recall creating palm crosses and beautiful braided wreaths.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week and it is the holiest of all the weeks in the Roman Catholic faith. We would go to church on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and most of all we went on Good Friday. That was the last day of eating a meatless meal. On this day, Jesus died on the cross at 3:00 pm. Some times I would go with my family to the Easter Vigil. This took place on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. I remember that it was a beautiful, impressive, but solemn mass.


Also want to wish all of my Jewish friends out there a “Happy Passover” as well. Passover begins at sundown on Friday April 3rd and ends the evening of April 11th. Passover is a beautiful and meaningful holiday. It allows the Jewish community to relive its past, celebrate the present, hope for its future by lovely rituals, and by being together with family and friends which is bound by tradition.


Great-Grandmother Sofia
During Holy week, between going to church, we would do all of our Easter baking. Easter cakes and many desserts. I have a wonderful recipe for a very traditional Italian Easter cake called “Cuzzupa” or “Cruzzupe.” This is a time-honored recipe from my great-grandmother Sofia and comes from Calabria, Italy. It is made with Anise (licorice flavor) and made into a braided wreath or nest with hard boiled colored eggs placed into the dough, and then colored sprinkles are added to top off the cakes. The consistency is a cake type of dough not bread. 

This recipe won first place two years ago in a contest for Easter Cakes on Cooking With Nonna.” Rossella Rago who is the owner of “CWN” selected my recipe and what I won was a huge, beautiful basket filled with all delicious items from Academia Barilla. Thank you Rossella for the honor of posting my families favorite Easter Cakes.

I remember a time when I was about 9 or 10 years old…………….We had a large kitchen. My family and I would prepare for baking day with a large wooden board that we used to roll out our dough and create our special cakes and cookies for holidays through out the year. This antique pastry board was passed down through the years from my great grandmother Sofia’s, which I have inherited to create my own delectable sweet treats. As I roll out my dough, I think back to a simpler time. The smells in the kitchen would always give me that warm and toasty feeling. It was a feeling of love, family and food. Food was and still is a big part of my family. 


Cuzzupa

Ingredients:
6 cups of flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
Anise Seeds (between 1/3 and 1/2 oz of crushed & cleaned anise)
4 tablespoons Crisco (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
6 eggs (save 1 egg white to brush on cakes before baking)
3/4 cup of milk
Confetti candy sprinkles


Directions:
Color hard boiled eggs (amount is up to you) a few days ahead of time. Preheat oven to 350F°--375F° depending on your oven. Grease flat cookie sheets or pans. Crush Anise seeds and put into dish (before, use a cotton handkerchief to gather anise and twist hanky under it. Then rub hard on the ball of Anise. After rubbing it rolled up in between both hands (make fists.) Open carefully and sort out Anise from brown husks and sometimes small stones.)

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Then mix in Anise. Mix in Crisco with sugar and after make a well shape. (Remember, this is the traditional Old Italian way, but you can also use a bowl to mix all ingredients.) Put in eggs (save/1 egg white) and milk. 



Gradually take flour from sides of the well and mix with eggs and milk. Don’t break the wall as all liquid will run out. When all mixed you knead dough till all mixed good and a smooth texture. Might have to put a little flour on board or counter, so it will not stick. Not too much flour or the cakes will be too dry. Then cut a chunk and leave the rest on the side of board or counter.


Roll out dough in a long and thin strip. Make the strip the thickness of a wooden spoon handle, not any thinner as the dough will break. If you twist 2 strips together to make a braid make each a little thinner than your finger. They will swell as they bake. Put your colored eggs in the braid, nest or dolls, whatever you decide to create. Be careful as you put them on a baking sheet so they don’t break or crack. Roll small pieces of dough and then flatten out with the palm of your hand to cover around the side of the egg on dolls or nests. This helps keep the eggs more secure. If you make dolls, put a slit on feet and hands.


Now beat saved egg white and with a pastry brush, brush egg white on all parts of your cakes. (Careful not to get egg white on cookie sheet as it will burn and also try to keep egg white off of colored eggs as they will be spotty after they bake.)  After the egg whites are on brushed on the cakes dip a finger in egg white mixture and then dot with candy confetti sprinkles on the dolls, crosses or what ever you made. 

Then bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. They should be lightly browned. Let them sit about 10 minutes to cool off before taking them off the cookie sheet/pans, they may crack or break so be careful removing them from the pans. You can store in an air tight cookie tin for about a week, if they don’t get eaten before that.

Till Next Time……………………………….........................

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Onions, & Potatoes" As "National Cleaning Week" Begins



Long ago, I remember when I was young, spring time meant cleaning or “Spring Cleaning” as my mom would say. This meant that homes all over the country, mostly housewives opened the windows, shook out the rugs, cleaned closets, drawers, and spiffed up the house for springtime. It just seemed right due to the fact that all winter everything was closed up tight. Today, in 2015 we are far too busy to dedicate a week or a couple of weeks just to spring cleaning.


Were you all aware that the 4th week in March just happens to be “National Cleaning Week?” This week is for cleaning up after one season and getting ready for the next. It's for getting your environment clean so you can feel good about yourself and your home. The environment where you spend most of your time can be at home, at work, your shop, basement, or anywhere that you spend a lot of time. It's when we put away and toss out everything from one season to the other and clean up everything that we are going to keep out for the new season. We wash and scrub everything.  


For some reason when we "spring clean" it makes us feel really good. It feels like were getting rid of the old and gloomy winter days and welcoming the new birth of spring. We put away all the winter clothes and joyfully bring out the spring clothes. We open all the windows and doors of the house and we start letting the house air out. We welcome the new spring breezes that blow through all the windows into our house to freshen up every single corner. What do we do next? We clean, clean, clean! We wash the windows, we mop the floors, we swipe the cobwebs out of the corners of the ceiling, and we clean all the air conditioner vents. 


Not only do we clean inside, there is outside that needs cleaning up as well. We pull out the grill that's been stored in the garage through winter and we start cleaning up the grills and adding new parts while replacing the old tank (if it’s not charcoal). We start organizing the potting shed and dragging out the rakes, shovels, hose, and potting soils. We pull out the flower pots and get them all cleaned up because we know they are soon to be the new home of a beautiful flowering plants. We get all the old junk that has collected up on the back porch or the yard over winter and put it all away to make room for the hanging baskets and flower pots. We sweep the leaves that have collected from the winter. We pull all the matching chair cushions out of storage and put them back on the chairs. 


Now I know you must be thinking, oh my goodness where do I start? So much to do and what do I do first? This must be overwhelming for everyone, but not to worry I have some tips that will help make your home and outside look amazing. Pick one thing a week that you would like to tackle. It may be the front closet or the upstairs windows. If you don’t have time to fit these things into your schedule can you hire someone? There are lots of teens looking for part-time work. You don’t need to be the only one in the household looking after all of these things. Teach your children early on about the ‘chores’ that need to be done. Break tasks down and don’t overwhelm them with the sudden urge to have a cleaning day. You’ll only turn them off and make it more difficult to get things done. Find a way to get and keep your organization. Get rid of clutter. Become a minimalist. If it is not necessary – get rid of it and let someone else use it. There are a number of books and sites out there on simplifying life and dejunking your space. Put one or two of these ideas into practice and feel the stress lift. My rule for getting rid of things is, “If I haven’t used the item in a year, then it is out!”

What does “Spring Cleaning” mean to you? If you have any tips or ways to spring clean that you want to share, just comment below…..would love to hear from you.........

Make your own cleaners:

*********WARNING: Never mix cleaning products containing bleach and ammonia as dangerous fumes will result.****************

General Purpose Cleaner:
1 teaspoon borax
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dish washing liquid
2 cups hot water

Combine all the ingredients. If you don't have washing soda (generally found in the laundry section of supermarkets), use 1 teaspoon baking soda instead. For a more pleasant smell, use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Be sure to label the bottle accordingly.



Heavy Duty Disinfectant Cleaner:
1/4 cup powdered laundry detergent
1 tablespoon borax
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup pine oil or pine-based cleaner

Slowly stir the detergent and borax into the water to dissolve. Add the pine oil (available at hardware stores and supermarkets) and mix well. For bathroom cleaning, use the mixture full strength. In the kitchen, dilute it with water.


Wood Cleaner:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Mix the ingredients well, rub on the floor, and buff with a clean, dry cloth.


Carpet Freshener:
1 cup crushed dried herbs (such as rosemary, southernwood, or lavender)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda

Combine all the ingredients in a large jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend. Sprinkle some of the mixture on your carpet, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum it up. It will give the room a pleasant smell and neutralize carpet odors.



Now that you have this valuable information you are ready to clean your house inside and out. Just remember your home is your castle, so make sure you enjoy your life and surroundings, not to get overwhelmed, and if you don’t finish a project remember, that "tomorrow is another day"…..

When you are in a cleaning mood, you have no time to create an elaborate dinner, so I am sharing my mom’s recipe for her “Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Onions, & Potatoes” dinner. It is all in one pan and you can prepare it all ahead and store in your refrigerator till you are ready to bake it. 

“Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Onions, & Potatoes



Ingredients:
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peel & cut into 1-inch chunks
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded & cut into 1-inch pieces
2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded & cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions cut into 1 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp of oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1 pound Italian-style link pork sausages 



Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F Spread the vegetables in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano. Make sure vegetables are in a single layer so they will all brown. Pierce each sausage, if using links, in two or three places with a fork. Place sausage in between the peppers, onions, and potatoes. Bake till sausage, vegetables, and potatoes are cooked and browned. Bake about 45 -60 minutes. Serve with a salad and a piece of Italian bread. Enjoy!

 

Till Next Time………….


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

Friday, March 20, 2015

“Spaghetti with Asparagus Tips” For The First Day Of Spring!

We have “sprung ahead” for daylight saving time and now spring begins today March 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm EDT. The first day of spring, also known as the Vernal Equinox, is when the Sun crosses the equator from North to South signaling the beginning of our spring season in the Northern Hemisphere.

But, I don’t think Mother Nature has received the memo that winter is leaving us for another year. There is a cold snap and a snow storm on its way to blast us one last time. (I hope) Yet another round of snow is set to strike the Northeast with between three and six inches of snow expected to fall between West Virginia and Massachusetts. Everyone is dreaming of spring, temperatures rising, budding trees, flowers pushing through the earth, and the promise of new birth.



Many cultures celebrate spring festivals and holidays around the March Equinox, like Easter and Passover. Christians celebrate Easter during the spring season to glorify Christ’s resurrection and a metaphor for rebirth of nature or new life. Eggs are traditionally a symbol of fertility and growth. This is why Easter eggs are so popular at this time of the year.

According to folklore the first day of spring is the only time of the year that you can balance a raw egg on its end. The egg legend got its start in 1945 when a reporter for Life Magazine wrote a story about a Chinese ritual in which people stood eggs on its end the first day of spring. The truth is that you can balance a raw egg any other day of the year. The pull of gravity or the position of the Sun has nothing to do with it. But it is fun to try. I remember when my brothers and I were young, we tried to balance the eggs one first day of spring. But we had to balance them at the exact moment spring arrived. We would look at the clock and take our raw egg to the kitchen table and then try to balance it. Sometimes, all three of us would get real close, but then it would roll the other way. A few times they cracked and raw, gooey eggs would be on the table. Needless to say it really didn’t work, but the fun and laughter we had will be a memory that will last forever.

This year some people around the world will have the chance to experience a total Solar Eclipse, Supermoon, and the Spring Equinox all in one day. We in the United States will not be able to see a total eclipse. A much larger portion of the world gets to see varying degrees of a partial solar eclipse (Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East and Northwestern Asia). The next time that the equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it does not always appear as close together as that. If you would like more info on these experiences, there is a website that I always use called Space Weather. They are a wonderful website that shows photos of the Northern Lights as well as anything to do with weather in space, which really at times affects us on earth. Just click on Space Weather and the link will take you there. 


There are many things that spring time is known for. It is a prelude for summer to clean up your garden to get ready for planting and enjoying your backyard for relaxing in the warmer weather. There are many events and holidays that fall in Spring time, to name a few Major League Baseball starts, Spring fashions, Earth Day, Easter Sunday, Passover and of course Mother’s Day.

At this time of the year it seems that we all are getting tired of winter vegetables.  Some fruits and vegetables reach their peak in the spring. To name a few of my families favorites which are Artichokes, Asparagus, Fennel, and Beets. I have a recipe that I know you will love. It is a real favorite of my family. It is called “Spaghetti with Asparagus Tips.” Please try it as it is easy and very nutritious for you. Asparagus has a lot of vitamin K. I know that you will enjoy this recipe and make it a favorite in your house too. Asparagus grows wild, thin, and tall in Umbria, Italy. There are many favorite ways to prepare it, including grilled, marinated in salads, and combined with spaghetti. In this dish only the asparagus tips (punte) are used; save the slender stems to use in soups or sautéed with other vegetables.


Spaghetti with Asparagus Tips” or “Spaghetti con Asparagi

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed, & tips cut 1-inch long
6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, & cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly fresh black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup reserved cooking water
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus extra for sprinkling on top



Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the cooked spaghetti (at least 12-inches in diameter). Stir in the garlic and asparagus and cook until they begin to brown slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper, lower the heat, and cover the pan and cook the mixture for 5 minutes or just until a knife is easily inserted into the asparagus tips. Keep the sauce warm while the spaghetti is cooking. Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt and spaghetti. Cook until the spaghetti is al dente, firm but cooked through. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the water and spaghetti to the pan with the asparagus sauce. Over medium heat, reheat the mixture, stirring quickly to blend all the ingredients. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and stir in. Transfer the spaghetti and asparagus sauce to a platter and serve immediately. Pass extra cheese for sprinkling on top. Enjoy & Happy Spring!


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Ciao a tutti, I know that my readers have heard of my personal friend Micheal Castaldo. I have written about Micheal before on my blog posts. He is an Award-winning song writer/producer, recording artist, composer, Italian Cultural Ambassador, and entrepreneur. Micheal is very proud and excited to announce his radio tour. All these radio programs and DJ personalities (in the poster below) will share his new digi single, "Everything Happens For a Reason." Please follow Micheal on this tour and hear some behind the scenes stories. He will reveal one unique story for every show, so stay tuned to hear the story unfold. There will be more radio interviews set up during the month of April and will create a new flyer to include those dates/times etc. Micheal thanks all of his fans for their awesome support and love.  www.michealcastaldo.com  

 

***** An add on WROC at 9am EST on 3/22 With Michael Moran and “The Italian Carousel” with Joe Capogreco



 

Recipe taken from “Ciao Italia” 

Till Next Time……………….

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Sesame Beer Bread" & "Shamrock Shimmy Drink" For St. Patrick & St. Joseph's Day

“May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.” This is a blessing for St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated today, March 17th. This is a day that everyone is Irish, a day to be merry, and commemorate the love of St. Patrick for his followers, Irish or not. 

St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Rainbows, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.


This is also a day when stories of Leprechauns and spirits are told. In Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the country of Ireland. According to folklore, these “faerie folk” were to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. In most tales and stories Leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures that enjoy solitude and live in remote locations. They are said to have been cobblers or shoemakers. They are supposed to be very rich, having many treasure crocks filled with gold buried in secret locations.


Another popular belief is that you may find a Leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some say that they have mythical power and magical control over the workings of Earth, and even have the power of trickery that confuses their target allowing the Leprechaun to play tricks on his victims. In 1831 Samuel Lover describes the Leprechaun wearing a red coat that was laced with gold, a cocked hat, pointed shoes, a beard like an elf, silver buckles on his shoes, and spectacles stuck on his pointed nose. The modern image of the Leprechaun is depicted by having red hair; with a beard, wearing an emerald green frock coat, and often with a crock of gold.  He has knowledge of the many locations where more treasure is buried.


Did you know that the color associated with St. Patrick was originally blue not green? Green was the color that was most widely associated with Ireland and the Irish people. The change from blue to green began about the 1750s. St. Patrick‘s color now in modern times is green, also due to the phrase, “the wearing of the green.” The shamrock is now the symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are considered to bring good luck. 

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

                             
“St. Joseph, protect me and my family as you did with the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever strong in the virtue of the Blessed Mother, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen” 

As much as I love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, being an Italian American I also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, which is on Thursday, March 19th. St. Patrick often it is expressed through the “wearing of the green,” and “wearing of the red,” is what the Italian people do for St. Joseph.  According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. 


The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ step father, St. Joseph has solemnity and rank in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and is the patron Saint of not only carpenters but also, married people, family life, and workers.  In some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is regarded as Father’s Day. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s custom. In Italy a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar would have flowers, limes, candles, wine, Fava beans, cookies, specially prepared cakes, breads, and Zeppole. (A Neapolitan pastry) Other treats are called Frittelle, Sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard.  

St Joseph's Alter
This is done as a thank you to St. Joseph for surviving a famine that the Italian people went thorough. Foods that are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph’s Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. Auguri !!! 

My recipe this week is “Sesame Beer Bread.” This recipe is traditional bread for St. Patrick (Beer) and for St. Joseph (bread with sesame). A hearty bread coated in sesame seeds, with a subtle beer flavor. This bread is good along side a soup. Because it contains no fat, so it should be eaten the same day. It can also be served warm with some butter or room temperature with a cup of tea, a mug of cold beer, or a “Shamrock Shimmy Drink.” (See below for recipe) Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and the Feast of St. Joseph. Hope that you find the luck of the Irish and the peace of St. Joseph!

Sesame Beer Bread



Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
12 1/2 oz of light beer
1 1/4 teaspoons of milk
2 tbsp of sesame seeds

Directions:
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add beer to well. Stir until soft, sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. If too sticky to handle, just powder your hands with a little flour. Gently shape to fit greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan. Press into corners if necessary. Brush top of loaf with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 375°F oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Cut into 16 slices. Should be eaten within a day, I am sure that will not be a problem.  

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

The Shamrock Shimmy


1 part Gin
1/2 part Crème de Menthe
2 parts Ginger Ale

Shake with ice, strain and Enjoy.



(Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time……………….

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

“Cookie Sticks" To Celebrate The Girl Scouts 103rd Anniversary!

Don’t forget to wear green this weekend, it is a celebration! Yes, you guessed it, The Girl Scouts of America, are wearing green as it is their 103rd anniversary! Oh wait, did you think I was talking about some other celebration wearing green. I can’t forget to mention that St. Patrick’s Day I will celebrate on next Tuesday the 17th. So make sure you come back for a “wee” little recipe or two. But in this post, I would love to write about the Girl Scouts and share my experiences with you.  


Juliette G. Low
The Girl Scouts of America started on March 12, 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, Ga.  Her first meeting had 18 young girls in attendance. Juliette Low, who was called Daisy, encouraged girls to prepare for roles as professionals and for becoming active citizens in their communities. There were no exceptions, and called for all girls no matter what color, creed, economic status, or disability for over 100 years. The first African American troop was established in 1917. Today, the Girl Scouts organization says it is dedicated to developing girls in the 3 C’s - Courage, Confidence, and Character.
Juliette Low in the early years supported the organization with her own funds. In 1915 it is said, that she sold her exquisite pearls in order have some money to run the organization for another year. She agreed with the board of the organization to establish a membership fee and institute a fundraising plan. Her friend Mrs. Macy donated $1000 to recognize the power of the Girl Scouts as well as Juliette’s work. This is how the Girl Scout cookie fund raiser sales began, to help support the organization for the girls. 100% of the cookie proceeds stay with the girls and their local charities. Every cookie has a mission which is, “To Help Girls Do Great Things." 

I was 10 years old (1964)
In honor of the Girl Scouts, (3 yrs ago) the US Postal Service unveiled a stamp. In 2012, the Girl Scouts of America had a membership of more than 3.2 million girls and adults, spanning 90 countries. Nearly 60 million living women in the United States today are Girl Scout alumnae, and I am one of them. Many years ago, I was a Girl Scout in troop #41, in Queens, New York. I started out as a Brownie, a Junior, and then became a Cadet Girl Scout. Now they have Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and finally Ambassadors. I still have my sash which includes all the badges I earned and many pins of excellence. I remember when I was a Girl Scout our troop went camping in upstate NY. It was in May and I was going to get my Emergency Preparedness Badge. My friends and I were very excited to go on our trip. We planned on hiking, campfires, and having fun. 

My sash with all of the badges and medals
That year the weather did not cooperate, as a snow storm occurred in the month of May out of no where. I don’t mean just snow, I mean a blizzard! Now remember, we were dressed with shorts, light jackets, and camping gear. We all were freezing and had no means to leave the campsite, till the storm finished. So we had to endure with what we had. The pipes to the well water had frozen and there was no water to be had, so I suggested that we get every pot we could find and fill it with snow, which then we put it on the fire and it melted to which we used to cook with and keep ourselves warm. Needless to say, I earned my Emergency Preparedness Badge that year with no problems. But it will be a year that I never will forget. 

I bet you didn’t know that these women were Girl Scouts before they became famous: Vanessa Williams, Jan Davis (NASA Astronaut), Barbara Walters, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lucy Ball, Shirley Temple Black, and Bette Davis, just to mention a few.

My recipe this week is called “Cookie Sticks.” These are easy, heavenly, and delicious. But don’t’ forget to buy Girls Scout cookies and support your local Girl Scout Troop in your community. Enjoy!!!!

                                                    “Cookie Sticks” 



Ingredients:
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 1/2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to sugar mixture and mix well. Divide dough in half. On a greased baking sheet, shape each portion into a 15-in. X 3-in. rectangle about 3 in apart. Sprinkle chocolate chips over dough; press lightly. Bake at 375°F for 7-8 minutes. (Bake for 9-10 minutes for crispier cookies) All depending on your oven. Cool for 5 minutes. Use a pizza cutter to cut each section into 4 large pieces to make them easy to transfer to cooling racks. Use a serrated knife to cut the cooled sections into 1 -inch strips. Enjoy!


Till Next Time……….

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“Pasta Shells with Uncooked Tomato, Avocado, and Shrimp” For "Wordless Tuesday"


Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no stories just a fabulous and delicious recipe or two….. 


Consider the Avocado to be something of a secret sauce ingredient because it is not a typically associated with pasta.  Although avocados are never used cooked in pasta sauces, their creamy texture is enhanced by the heat of the cooked pasta. They are pared with shrimp in this recipe by adding body and a delightful distinctive flavor. Other suitable pastas for this dish are Cinese Rigata, (ridged med shells) spaghetti, orecchiette, and eliche (pasta spirals).

Conchiglie Con Pomodoro Crudo, Avocado, E Gamberetti” or in English “Pasta Shells with Uncooked Tomato, Avocado, and Shrimp”



Ingredients:
2 1/4 lb. fresh, vine ripened tomatoes, or ripe cherry tomatoes, blanched, peeled, & cored.
3/4 lb. cooked, peeled, small shrimp, cut in half lengthwise or larger cooked shrimp, diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados
1 lb pasta shells or your choice of pasta




Directions:
Cut the tomatoes into quarters lengthwise then push out and discard the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into rough dice or chop coarsely. Place them in a serving bowl. Add the shrimp, basil or parsley, garlic, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground pepper, to taste, to the tomato pulp. Insert a knife into the avocado at the top, where the navel is. Cut into the avocado until you reach the pit, and then make a clean incision all the way around the length of the fruit. Twist the halves in the opposite directions to open the avocado. The pit should fall right out. Peel and thinly slice each half crosswise; then cut the slices each half crosswise; next cut the slices again into small strips or dice. Add the avocado to the bowl with the other sauce ingredients. Toss to mix well and let stand at room temperature while the pasta cooks. Taste for salt before combining with the pasta. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add the pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Cook until al dente stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Drain and toss with the sauce.

    


This recipe is taken from a cookbook that I have for a long time called, “Pasta, Recipes, and Techniques,” by “Cooking Club of America.” 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.” She also has posted meatball recipes that I participated in as yesterday was "National Meatball Day" So stop over at her blog and tell her that I sent you....






 
Till Next Time………

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