Tuesday, February 2, 2016

“White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard” For "Soupy Tuesday" and Groundhog Day!

Welcome to “Soupy Tuesday!” For those of you that are new to my blog…For the next few months I will be sharing a recipe for a delicious easy soup. As the days get colder, everyone enjoys a hot bowl of soup. So this soup or any soup for that matter is like a welcoming friend. Warm and comforting…If you would like to see a special recipe for soup or have one that you want to share just email me (angellite13(at)optimum(dot)net) or post something in the comments below. I will be happy to give you a shout out. Hope this keeps you warm and cozy for the next few months…

******* I just want to thank all of you who have been sending well wishes and  prayers to my mom who is in a rehab center for her back. Her condition is getting better with her PT and OT. She is trying to regain her strength. It is very slow going and my family thank you for your continuing prayers and thoughts. Also want to let you know that I will be only posting on “Soupy Tuesday” for a while. Thank you dear family and friends.**********
 

Not only is it “Soupy Tuesday” but it is also “Groundhog Day!” Groundhog Day is always in the month of February and is held on February 2nd each and every year. Groundhog Day or Groundhog's Day is a holiday celebrated in New York and Pennsylvania as well as many other states across the USA. In weather lore, if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If the groundhog sees its shadow, it will return into its burrow, and the winter will continue for 6 more weeks.

You may be saying what is a Groundhog anyway? The groundhog (Marmota monax) is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels. It's also known as a woodchuck, whistle pig, or marmot. “Punxsutawney Phil,” in Pennsylvania is the world’s most famous groundhog.



The earliest known American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Historical Society of Berks County in Reading, Pennsylvania. The reference was made Feb. 4, 1841 in Morgantown, Berks County, Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris' diary: "Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

So what do you think will happen today? Will the Groundhog see his shadow or not? What ever will happen, we will still have our bowl of hot soup! Join me today as I share with you a soup called “White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard” Generous measures of Swiss Chard and white beans make this soup filling enough to serve as a main course, accompanied by whole-grain bread and a salad on the side…Enjoy and stay warm….. 


White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Servings: 6



Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, halved, rinsed and sliced (see directions below)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 oz Portobello mushrooms, stems & gills removed then dice
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
3 oz Swiss chard, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide ( you can also use spinach or kale)
2 cans (15 oz each) Cannellini beans, drained & rinsed

Directions:
1. Sauté the vegetables: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and leek and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated, about 6 minutes.

(To clean a leek quickly, trim off the dark green tops. Cut the stalk in half lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Rinse the leek under cold running water, separating the layers to remove any embedded dirt. Prepare as directed, removing the root end.)

2. Finish the soup: Add the stock, chard and beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chard is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.



Wine Pairing” This pairs well with rich, medium-bodied white wine. Cin Cin!

           "Please Drink Responsibility"
 





Till Next Time………………………………...

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

“Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Chowder Soup” To Keep You Warm On A "Soupy Tuesday"


Welcome to “Soupy Tuesday!” For those of you that are new to my blog…For the next few months I will be sharing a recipe for a delicious easy soup. As the days get colder, everyone enjoys a hot bowl of soup. We here on the East Coast had a Blizzard this passed weekend. I ended up with about 27 inches of snow with the drifts on Long Island. It took a few days to clear out. So this soup or any soup for that matter is like a welcoming friend. Warm and comforting…If you would like to see a special recipe for soup or have one that you want to share just email me at this address (angellite13(at)optimum(dot)net) or post something in the comments below. I will be happy to give you a shout out. Hope this keeps you warm and cozy for the next few months… 


******* I just want to "thank" all of you who have been sending well wishes and prayers to my mom who is in a rehab center for her back. She has been there since the beginning of December and her condition is getting better with her PT and OT, but she had a set back the weekend of the January 16th and was taken to the hospital for a blood transfusion. She is now back at the rehab and is trying to regain her strength. It is very slow going and my family thank you for your continuing prayers and thoughts. Also want to let you know that I will be only posting on “Soupy Tuesday” for a while. Thank you dear family and dear friends.**********
 


The soup that I would love to share with you today is called “Crab, Shrimp and Corn Chowder” Just as good as the satisfying chowders you find in restaurants along the New England coast, this creamy chowder can easily be made at home in less than an hour. Why not whip some up right now?

Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Chowder Soup

Serves: 6; 1 3/4 cups each

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups Chicken Broth homemade or cans
2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
7 red potatoes or fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 container (8 ounces) pasteurized refrigerated lump crabmeat
12 small shrimp, cooked, and deveined
1/2 cup heavy cream



Directions:
Cook the bacon in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove the bacon from the saucepan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic to the saucepan and cook until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir the broth, seafood seasoning, potatoes, and corn in the saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the crabmeat and shrimp, plus add heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Divide the chowder among 6 bowls. Top each with about 1 tablespoon bacon. Serve with a big green salad and a chunk of crusty bread…to get up every bit…Enjoy!

*****Ingredient Note: If you can't find sweet onions, regular white or yellow onions will work in this recipe.


Till Next Time………………………………...

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

“Lasagna Soup” And My "5th" Year Blogiversary! Bring A Spoon!

“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is family”  Lee Iacocca

Welcome to Soupy Tuesday!” Today is a special day for me as well as being Soupy Tuesday…. can you guess why? I’m celebrating 5 years of blogging. It’s my Blogiversary! I am amazed and blessed everyday at the amount of my readers that have visited. I have 161 countries and over 90,000 people who come back to visit and read my story as well as my recipes each week. Wow, that is impressive! My heart overflows with thanks for reading, subscribing, commenting, and liking what I write.


I had no idea how this blog would impact so many people, including myself. Since I have started this blog every one of you has made me feel that I have something important to say and share. My passion for writing, my family traditions, recipes, and new experiences have given me confidence and motivation. Blogging has given me the opportunity to share my personal stories, create friendships, and give me support. I am looking forward to new experiences, with new recipes to share. I hope that you will continue to come back as my journey of year “5” continues! There is so much more to be accomplished! So let’s celebrate!

Wow, times flies when you are busy baking and cooking. So glad that you are coming along for the ride on this journey of mine. As I have stated many times in  previous posts, this blog was for me to share my memories of my Italian family with all of you. That still holds true but it is also for you as well to share your memories and food thoughts along the way. “5” years going strong, and looking forward to doing better as a blogger within 2016. Along the way I have met amazing bloggers, friends, and an incredible online community from all parts of the world. I have also been introduced to many new cuisines. I hope that my recipes and stories have inspired you to create your own memories. 


Not everyone will understand why you blog, but it is okay. People you never would have expected will turn out to be your biggest supporters; unfortunately, the opposite is also true. But at the same time, the blogging world can also be like high school at times, very judgmental. It’s okay to only post when I really have something to say. But at the same time, you can’t take yourself too seriously. The most important thing — which I think about with every post — is to genuinely be myself. People have told me that I write as if I were talking to my girlfriends. I hope that’s how it comes across. 

It is time to move forward, and I promise I will be giving my best whenever possible. If you would like to see something different or have an idea, please comment below and let me know what I can do to make your stay more enjoyable. 


Today sounds like a day for comfort food. Comfort food is what we all need once in a while to bring back those warm days of being home with family. The kitchen was and still is the heart of our home. Our family did everything in the kitchen. It was a small room compared to the kitchens of today, but that made it even better as it was our gathering place. We would talk at the kitchen table; we did our homework there, and many other family projects. It always seemed that as my mother was cooking or baking we gravitated to that room. 


Maybe because it was a happy place to be with everyone while we were waiting for dinner. Sometimes my mom and dad would take out a deck of cards and play Kings Corners with us, remember at that time there weren't any of the electronic games or computers that we have today. Not even cell phones. We had one phone in the house with an extension that would go into my parent’s room. But the main phone was in the kitchen. So cards and board games were always at hand. I remember the kitchen windows would be foggy with steam from the warmth of the kitchen, as we tried to look out to see when my dad would be coming home from work.

As we had our dinner we would talk about the days events, and God forbid that the phone would ring and it was one of our friends, that was a no-no. Dinner time was for family and nothing could come between that. Now dinner was always a hearty and comforting meal, especially on cold days. Winter time meant meat loaf, stews, and hearty soups, were on the menu for those days. Soups were so good back then and good for you. My mom would always use fresh ingredients and the best meats as possible. So you can see that food and the kitchen were pure comfort to us when we were growing up and it was those times that meant something so special to all of us.



What better way to celebrate my blog’s anniversary is with some comfort food like hot “Soup?” January just happens to be, “National Soup Month.” It is like a warm blanket comforting you as you sip the soup from a cup or scoop it up with a spoon. With the winter weather upon us, January is the perfect month to celebrate and enjoy soup of all kinds. This soup that I am sharing with you today is one that really proves you can eat your Lasagna even in a soup. So get your fork or better a spoon you want to get every drop and let’s “mangia tutto!”---(eat together)

                                                               “Lasagna Soup
   
All the traditional flavors of lasagna come together in this heartwarming meal in a bowl.

Yield: 8 servings (2-3/4 quarts)


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, un-drained
2 cans (14-1/2 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2-1/2 cups uncooked cut up lasagna pasta
1/2 cup Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

*****Optional: 8 oz of Ricotta Cheese. You can take 1 oz of cheese and dollop a spoonful on top of the soup. I just makes it creamier and also tastes more like Lasagna. Also instead of Pecorino Romano you can use Mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top and even place in bowl in broiler to get it melted….yummy!

Directions:
Place olive oil in pot; heat in a large saucepan, cook beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Breaking up beef into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce, peas, tomato paste, Italian seasoning plus season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Stir in cut up lasagna. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and cheese at the end before serving.



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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Yummy "Stone Soup" For A Cold "Soupy Tuesday"

Welcome to “Soupy Tuesday!” Hope that all of you had a magical holiday and that your New Year will be filled with all good things.. For those of you that are new to my blog…For the next few months I will be sharing a recipe for a delicious easy soup. As the days get colder, everyone enjoys a hot bowl of soup. If you would like to see a special recipe for soup or have one that you want to share just email me at ......(angellite13(at)optimum(dot)net) or post something in the comments below. I will be happy to give you a shout out. Hope this keeps you warm and cozy for the next few months…

******* I just want to thank all of you who have been sending well wishes to my mom who is in a rehab center for her back. She is coming along, but it is very slow going and thank you for your prayers and thoughts. Also want to let you know that I will be only posting on “Soupy Tuesday” for a while. I also want to mention that on January 18th is my “5th” year Blog Anniversary. So please come back on next Tuesday the 19th for that, I have so much to be grateful for. Thank you dear family and friends.**********



 
The soup that I would love to share with you today is called “Stone Soup.” I remember when my son Paul, was young and in school, he had a teacher called Sister Grace Ann, at St. Kevin’s, which is located in Flushing. Sister Grace Ann asked each child to bring in a flat stone so they could make “Stone Soup.” You can imagine what questions I got from my son, “Are we going to eat the stone?” etc. It was such a wonderful lesson that he learned and we had so much fun looking for a flat stone, which he brought to school for class that day. All the children were glued to Sister Grace Ann as she told the story of “Stone Soup.” The classic tale tells of three hungry travelers who encourage an entire community to work together to make a feast fit for a king. It starts with water and a stone, and slowly the soup builds into a healthy and hearty meal with everyone contributing an important ingredient. Much more than a classic folk tale, “Stone Soup” is an inspirational story about the strength people possess when they work together.



“Stone Soup,” is a folk tale told all over the world and is a parable about the sharing of resources, particularly in times of scarcity. In the tale, a community who think they have no food to spare when strangers enter the village asking for a meal, create a nourishing soup by unwittingly working together. They each contribute an invaluable ingredient after being asked to help add a little something to improve the flavor of a soup that the strangers are preparing, using only boiling water and a simple stone. (I should probably mention here that the stones are not actually eaten!) Before long, a delicious pot of soup has been made, to feed villagers and strangers alike. In the story, the stone serves as a tool to bring people together but it could also be a button, nail, shoe, or anything that you might carry with you. 


“Stone Soup” has been made many times and it is one of my favorite "recipes" because there is no recipe! Just water, stones, and just whatever food you have available. There is no secret to stone soup, but one thing is certain, it takes many people, sharing what they can to make a great feast.

So, come on in and create a big pot with your family and friends.. Here is a simple but enjoyable recipe that will bring everyone together for a delicious soup. Don’t forget to find that flat stone, which is an important ingredient in making your own “Stone Soup.”

Stone Soup

Number of servings: 8



Ingredients:
1 large cleaned flat stone
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 potatoes, peeled & chopped
2 large carrots, peeled & sliced
4 cups chicken broth, homemade

vegetable stock, or water
1 cup tomato sauce
1- 15.5 oz can corn, drained
1- 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 to 2 cups cooked meat (Chicken or Turkey)
1 cup cooked beans (your choice)
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper and peas
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix 
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
In a large stockpot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, on medium-low for five minutes. Place a stone in bottom of pot. Add the potatoes and carrots and stir. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and puree. Add the corn, tomatoes, meat, beans, peppers, peas, and seasonings. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasonings.

Till Next Time………………………………...

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Christmas Around The World" Days--10 & 11-Recipe --“Italian Struffoli"”

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” By Norman Vincent Peale


Welcome to the 10th & 11th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday I have been posting a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I have shared a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas.” I have decided to write two days together as I will not be able to post on Christmas Eve. Have a family member in a hospital and I realize that I can not split myself into two places. This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!

So again, I will be posting to this blog days 10 & 11 today and then I will taking some time after Christmas to take care of this family situation. My next blog post will be on January 12, 2016 a Tuesday and that means “Soupy Tuesday.” So please enjoy this blog post and be sure to mark it on your calendars to come back for January 12th, 2016. Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year to all!

Day 10 & 11, my countries are Italy and USA, America! “Buon Natale & Merry Christmas “
I decided to group these two countries together because I am an American and Italian. Christmas is a very important holiday for me and my family. We are very religious and this day is not only for gifts, Santa Claus, parties, and food, but it is the day that the Baby Jesus was born, which is the reason for the season.

One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in the USA and in Italy is the Nativity crib scene. Using a crib to help tell the Christmas story was made very popular by St. Francis of Assisi in the year 1223. The previous year he had visited Bethlehem and saw where the stable, where it was thought that Jesus was born. A lot of Italian-American families have a Nativity crib in their homes. The city of Naples in Italy is world famous for its cribs and crib making. 


These are known as 'Presepe Napoletano' (meaning Neapolitan Cribs). The first crib scene in Naples is thought to go back to 1025 and was in the Church of S. Maria del presepe (Saint Mary of the Crib), this was even before St. Francis of Assisi had made cribs very popular! Having cribs in your own home became popular in the 16th century and it's still popular today (before that only churches and monasteries had cribs). Cribs are traditionally put out on the 8th December. But the figure of the baby Jesus isn't put into the crib until the evening/night of December 24th! Naples is also the home to the largest crib scene in the world, which has over 600 objects on it!

In Italy an old Italian custom is that children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherds pipes, wearing shepherds sandals and hats. We in the USA do something similar and go Caroling from house to house, singing Christmas songs.

For many Italian-American families a big Christmas Eve meal of different fish dishes is now a very popular tradition! It's known as, “The Feast of the Seven Fishes.” ('Esta dei Sette Pesci' in Italian) The feast seems to have its root in southern Italy (Sicily) and was bought over to the USA by Italian immigrants in the 1800s. It now seems more popular in American than it is in Italy!



Common types of fish eaten in the feast include Baccala (salted Cod), Clams, Calamari, Sardines, Shrimp, Filet, and Eel. There are different theories as to why there are seven fish dishes eaten. Some think that seven represents the seven days of creation in the Bible, other say it represents the seven holy sacraments of the Catholic Church. But some families have more that seven dishes! You might have nine (to represent the Christian trinity times three), 13 (to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples) or 11 (for the 11 disciples without Jesus or Judas!)


Some families have a 'Creppo' or Yule Log which is burnt through the Christmas season. In Italian Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Buon Natale', in Sicilian it's 'Bon Natali' and in Ladin (spoken in some parts of the northern Italian region of South Tyrol) it's 'Bon/Bun Nadèl'. Epiphany is also important in Italy. On Epiphany night, children believe that an old lady called 'Befana' brings presents for them. The story about Befana bringing presents is very similar to the story of Babushka. Children put stockings up by the fireplace for Befana to fill. In parts of northern Italy, the Three Kings might bring you present rather than Befana. On Christmas day 'Babbo Natale' (Santa Claus) might bring them some small gifts, but the main day for present giving is on Epiphany.
Befana

Santa Claus is called “Babbo Natale” in Italy. Some people say that Santa lives at the North Pole. In Finland, they say that he lives in the north part of their country called Lapland. But everyone agrees that he travels through the sky on a sledge that is pulled by reindeer, that he comes into houses down the chimney at night and places presents for the children in socks or bags by their beds, in front of the family Christmas tree, or by the fire place. In the early USA his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them and Kris Kringle became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!

I love and enjoy cooking but baking is my favorite. I guess in my Italian family, I must have inherited the “baking gene.” I have learned so much from watching my mother and grandmothers when I was growing up. We had this wooden board, which was my great-grandmother’s. When the board was placed on the table, I felt like I was transported back in time, and I could see my great-grandmother Sofia rolling out the dough on her board. I have since inherited “the board” which I use to create my own traditions. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, she died when I was too little to remember, but I know that my sweet great-grandmother is right next to me and watching.

Babbo Natale

"Struffoli," is one of the most popular Italian sweets found on a dessert table for Christmas Eve. I remember the towers of Struffoli in my mother’s kitchen! I can just see my mom, my grandmother Julia, and my aunt Sophie making these sweet honey balls in the kitchen in our house. I am so grateful that I was there to learn and help make these fried goodies. These are reminiscent of mini éclair puffs drenched in honey! I hope that you try this recipe and make your own memories of this very sweet and traditional dessert.

"Struffoli"

Ingredients:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

(plus a little extra to work with)
3 Eggs
1/4 tsp of salt
2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of honey
1/2 cup of sugar


Directions:
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl add the eggs and salt. Mix well then put on floured board and knead until smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into 1/2 inch strips, and then cut the strips into tiny pieces 1/2 inch long. Shape these tiny pieces into balls by rolling them in your hand. Heat oil to 350°F. Drop the balls into the oil carefully a few at a time. Cook until lightly golden, turning them constantly with a wooden spoon, or a spider wand. Remove balls and drain them on a paper towel or use a clean brown paper bag.

Combine the honey and sugar in a saucepan and boil the mixture over low heat about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Now, add fried balls, 1 cup at a time, and coat in the honey syrup, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the balls with a spider or slotted spoon and place on a flat plate to cool. Now you can shape you coated Struffoli into a tree or piled up high like a mountain. (A trick if you want to mold the coated honey balls into a wreath or tree shape, wet your hand slightly and that will help you mold the Struffoli easier. Your hands will not stick to the honey.) Then add confetti or sprinkles. They keep up to 2 weeks, if they last that long. Enjoy !

Till Next Time………………………….

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

"Christmas Around The World" Day--9 Recipes --“Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin” & “Greek Spinach Pie”

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly Merry Christmas. - Peg Bracken
 

Welcome to the 9th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday for the next 3 days, till Christmas Eve, I will post a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I will also share a holiday treat, a homemade gift idea, or just a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas Eve.” This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!

Day # 9, My country today is Greece!

On Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing “kalanda” (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Sometimes the will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands. If the children sing well, they might be given money, as well things to eat like nuts, sweets and dried figs.



Christmas Trees are popular in Greece. But an older and more traditional decoration is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim. A sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross hangs from the wire. Some water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day someone, usually the mother of the family, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This is believed to keep the “Killantzaroi” (bad spirits) away. The Killantzaroi are meant to appear only during the 12-day period from Christmas to Epiphany. (January 6th) They are supposed to come from the middle of the earth and get into people's house through the chimney! The Killantzaroi do things like putting out fires and making milk go off. Having a fire burning through the twelve days of Christmas is also meant to keep the Killantzaroi away.


Every December, in Aristotelous Square in the city of Thessaloniki (which is the second biggest city Greece) a huge Christmas Tree and three masted sailing ship are put up. It's a popular tourist attraction. Going to a Midnight Mass Service is very important for most Greeks. After the service people can go home and end their Advent fast.


The main Christmas meal is often Lamb or Pork, roasted in an oven or over an open spit. It's often served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables. Other Christmas and New Year foods include “Baklava” (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavored with nuts and cinnamon), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry). The pastries are either eaten for breakfast or as starters. Another popular Christmas dessert are melomakarono, egg or oblong shaped biscuit/cakes made from flour, olive oil, and honey and rolled in chopped walnuts.
A traditional table decoration are loaves of “Christopsomo” (Christ's Bread or Christmas bread). It's a round sweet bread which is flavored with cinnamon, orange and cloves. The top is decorated with a cross. The bread is made on Christmas Eve ready to be eaten on Christmas Day.



“Christopsomo" Bread
In Greek Happy/Merry Christmas is “Kala Christougenna.” In Greece, presents are often brought to children by Aghios Vassilis (Saint Basil) on January 1st.

People in Greece also celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January. In the Greek Orthodox Church, Epiphany celebrates Jesus baptism when he was a man. It's also known as “The Blessing of the Waters.” There are many events throughout the country where young men dive into really cold lakes, rivers and the sea to try to be first to get a cross which has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the water. Whoever gets the cross first is meant to have good luck during the coming year. Epiphany festivals also include blessings of boats & ships, music, dancing, and lots of food.

"The Blessing Of The Waters"

My recipe for today is a Greek tradition, which is eating pork. So I have a fabulous dish called, “Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin.” I think that you will love this very simple and outstanding roast. This meal is ideal for a dinner party, Christmas, or any holiday, as tenderloins are quick to roast and easy to serve.

Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Serves: 6
Total time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
 


Ingredients:                                       
2 pork tenderloins (about 3/4 lb each)
1 cup soft bread crumbs (about 1 1/2 slices bread)
1/ 4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil1
2 teaspoon salt
1/ 2  teaspoon fennel seed
1/ 4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Directions:
Heat oven to 450°F. Spray shallow roasting pan and rack with cooking spray. Place pork tenderloins on rack in pan. In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Spoon herb mixture evenly over pork. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in the thickest part of pork. Cover pork loosely with foil. Bake 20 minutes; remove foil. Bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes longer or until thermometer reads 155°F. Cover pork loosely with foil and let stand 10 to 15 minutes or until thermometer reads 160°F. (Temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees and pork will be easier to carve)      

Greek Santa
                       *******************************

My next recipe for this country is called a “Greek Spinach Pie.” I love a good spinach pie. I always order this dish when I eat at a Greek restaurant. I love the flaky crust and the rich, warm, spinach filled inside. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Greek Spinach Pie

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp ground nutmeg 

1/2 Tsp salt
10-15 cranks fresh cracked pepper
2 large eggs
16 oz. frozen cut spinach
1 sheet (8 oz.) puff pastry
2 Tbsp flour for dusting
1 large egg (for glaze, optional)


Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Dice the onion into small pieces and mince the garlic. Cook both in a small skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent (about five minutes). While the onions and garlic are cooking, prepare the rest of the filling. In a bowl combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well. Before adding the spinach, strain it in a colander and press out as much moisture as possible (squeezing handfuls in a fist works well too). Once the onions have softened, add them to the cheese/egg mixture along with the squeeze dried spinach. Stir until well combined. Dust a clean work surface with flour and unfold a sheet of puff pastry onto it. Using a rolling pin, roll the puff pastry into a 12 inch by 12 inch square. Drape the rolled dough over a standard 9 inch pie dish. Spread the spinach filling evenly inside the pastry lined pie dish. Fold the corners of the pastry back over top of the filling. It’s okay if they do not fully reach to meet each other. If desired, brush a whisked egg over the top (this will give the surface a glossy appearance after cooking). Bake the pie for 45 minutes in a preheated 375°F degree oven. Allow the pie to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting to allow the filling to set.

****Notes :Allow both the puff pastry and frozen spinach to thaw in the refrigerator over night.

Recipe from: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/09/spinach-pie/



See you on Day # 10...

Till Next Time………………………….

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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"Christmas Around The World" Day--8 Recipe -- “Maple Shortbread Cookie”

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." by Harlan Miller (Better Homes and Gardens)


Welcome to the 8th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday for the next 12 days, till Christmas Eve, I will post a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I will also share a holiday treat, a homemade gift idea, or just a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas Eve.” This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!

Day # 8, My country today is Canada!


Canada is a very large country and people of many different cultural backgrounds live there. Because of these different cultures there are lots of different Christmas traditions in Canada. Many of the traditions and celebrations come from French, English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, and German influences.

The Eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia is known all over the world for its fir and pine Christmas Trees, so most families in Canada have a fir or pine Christmas Tree. One Canadian tradition is to send the biggest, best fir tree (grown in Nova Scotia) to Boston, USA because of the assistance given during the disaster, known worldwide, as the Halifax Explosion. This tradition has carried on for many years. Bostonian's always love and appreciate the Nova Scotia Christmas tree. They place this tree in the city and then light it during a ceremony to begin the Christmas season.

Nova Scotia Tree

Mummering is a tradition which mainly takes place in the province of Newfoundland, more commonly in small towns and villages rather than large towns and cities. It's also sometimes called 'Jannying'. People dress up in costumes and knock on someone's door and say in a disguised voice, "Are there any Mummers in the night?" or "Any mummers 'loud in?'", meaning 'are mummers allowed in the house?' Then they sing and dance and have Christmas cake and a cup of something nice before moving on to the next house. In some places, if the host does not guess who the Mummers are, the host must join the Mummers in their merry-making. Going Mummering is a fun Christmas season activity for adults. Mummers usually come out between December 26th and January 6 th. However, some come out only before Christmas Day. In some places Mummering is now banned because people used it as an excuse for begging.

On the south shore of Nova Scotia, over Christmas, there's the tradition of Belsnickeling where people dress up in funny Santa costumes and go from house to house until the home owners guess who you were. It was especially popular in West & East Green Harbor. The Belsnicklers often brought musical instruments and sang. They were served Christmas cake or cookies. This tradition was brought to Nova Scotia by the 1751 Germans immigrants who settled Lunenburg and South shore.


People in Canada send Christmas Cards to their friends and family. In northern Canada, some people plan a Taffy Pull. This is held in honor of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of single women. This party provides an opportunity for single women to meet eligible single men!

Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve. Others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day. Canadian children also believe in Santa Claus. Canadians are especially proud to say that their country is the home of Santa Claus. The Santa Claus Parade in Toronto is one of the oldest and largest Santa parades in the world! It started in 1913 when Santa was pulled through the streets of Toronto. Children along the route followed Santa and marched along with him. It's been taking place for over 100 years and now is a huge event with over 25 animated floats and 2000 people taking part! It's broadcast on TV around the world.


“Sinck Tuck" is a festival started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada. This celebration consists of dancing and gift exchanging. Labrador City in Newfoundland holds a Christmas Light-up Contest each year. People dress the outside of their houses up with lights and often have big ice sculptures in their front gardens! They have no trouble finding enough snow or ice, because Labrador City has about 12-14 Feet of snow every year! Oh My!

Many Canadian families have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season.

Many families of French descent have a huge feast/party on Christmas Eve called a “Réveillon” that lasts well into the early hours of Christmas morning after taking part in Christmas Eve Mass. When people are at Midnight Mass, they hope that “Père Noel” (Santa) will visit their house and leave gifts for children under the tree. The traditional Christmas meal for people in Quebec, is a stew called “ragoût aux pattes de cochons” which is made from pigs feet! However, many people now have a “Tortière,” a meat pie made from venison (or pork or beef).


At the end of the Christmas season, January 6th, people in the province of Quebec have a celebration called "La Fete du Roi" They bake a cake and place a bean in the middle. Whoever is the lucky discoverer of the bean, gets to be the king or queen, according to tradition. Reminds me of New Orleans, La in the USA. 

In Southwestern Nova Scotia, many families eat lobster, a shellfish caught off the shores of Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic Ocean, on Christmas Eve. At Christmas Canadians eat sweets called Barley Candy and Chicken Bones! They are really sweets made by local candy companies. Barley Candy is usually on a stick and is shaped like Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a tree and other symbols of Christmas. Chicken Bones are pink candy that tastes like cinnamon. You melt them in your mouth and once melted, they reveal a creamy milk chocolate center. Sounds yummy to me! 



My recipe for today is a “Maple Shortbread Cookie” Canada, meet your new favorite cookie. We've done our country's iconic flavor justice by adding maple to the flaky cookie dough, then topping them off with a syrupy glaze. Yummy!

Maple Shortbread Cookie

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Portion size about: 50 cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup un-salted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp maple extract
1 cup all-purpose flour


Maple Glaze:
1/2 cup icing sugar or powdered sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp maple extract

Directions:
In stand mixer with paddle attachment, or in bowl using wooden spoon, beat together butter, icing sugar and maple extract until fluffy; stir in flour just until combined.

Divide dough in half; shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 45 minutes.

Working with 1 disc at a time, roll out dough between waxed paper to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch maple leaf–shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Arrange, 1 inch apart, on parchment paper– lined rimless baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.



Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 325°F oven until edges are light golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 1 minute; transfer directly to racks to cool completely. (Make- ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Maple Glaze: In bowl, whisk together icing sugar, maple syrup, and maple extract; gradually whisk in up to 2 tsp water to make thin but spread able glaze. Spread over tops of cookies; let stand until dry, about 20 minutes. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container; store for up to 5 days.) Enjoy!

See you on Day # 9...

Till Next Time………………………….

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