Tuesday, August 25, 2015

“Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Burgers With Pineapple" And 2 Other Pineapple Recipes For Wordless Tuesday...

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have three recipes for a day of summer fun…. Enjoy!

It is almost the end of August and I can’t believe that the summer is almost over…Everyone is getting busy preparing for school and getting back to work after vacation time. Before we know it, fall will be around the corner…But I think we still have a few weeks of summer left so we should make the best of these days. The three recipes I am sharing today are mouth-watering and delightful to celebrate these last warm days of summer…..
My first recipe is grilled fruit and chicken together. They are a terrific flavor combo for this surprisingly easy and unexpected hot sandwich. Today I am featuring the Pineapple. They are second only to bananas as America's favorite tropical fruit. Pineapple is delicious on it's own, but if you want something quick and easy to make, try grilling it. Pineapples have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. Although the season for pineapple runs from April through August, they are available year-round in local markets. 

The flesh and juice of the pineapple are used in cuisines around the world. Whole, cored slices with a cherry in the middle are a common garnish on hams for the holiday table. Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts such as fruit salad, as well as in some savory dishes, including pizza toppings. Crushed pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets, and ice cream. The juice of the pineapple is served as a beverage, and is also as a main ingredient in cocktails.

Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. This breaks down the protein in the food. Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis and indigestion. So enjoy these recipes below and have fun in the sun…

                                                       “Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Burgers With Pineapple

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
5-oz. soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup pineapple juice
4 round slices of pineapple
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to even thickness
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 large burger buns lightly toasted

Combine first 5 ingredients and place in a gallon size freezer bag. Place chicken breasts in bag and coat evenly. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or for as long as 24 hours. The longer you marinate, the more intense the flavor will be. Lightly oil the grill and grill chicken thoroughly. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on each breast. Place chicken breasts on lightly toasted buns add lettuce leaf and top with a slice of grilled pineapple. Perfect for a warm summer day!


A cool and refreshing cocktail will go so well with your entrée of “Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Burgers With Pineapple.”

Piñata Cocktail

1/2 pineapple, sliced
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
8 ounces dark rum (Zacapa)
2 ounces Simple Syrup
4 more basil leaves for garnish

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Grill pineapple slices until juices start to caramelize and pineapple is lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Cut 1 slice into quarters and set aside. Coarsely chop remaining pineapple. Muddle chopped pineapple, lemon juice, and 1 cup basil in a large pitcher. Add rum and Simple Syrup and stir to combine. Strain into 4 Old Fashioned glasses filled with crushed ice. Garnish each with a basil leaf and reserved pineapple.

(Please Drink Responsibly)


A fun, fast and fantastic dessert for a summer evening.

Grilled Pineapple & Vanilla Ice Cream  Topped With Hot Caramel

Prep Time:15 min. 
Total Time: 30 min.
Serves: 8

1 3/4 lb Fresh Pineapple
1- 8 oz jar of Carmel Topping
8 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream

Peel pineapple and cut crosswise into 8-1/2 inch thick rings. Remove the core from each ring. Grill rings directly over medium heat on an oiled grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until grill marks appear, then set aside. Top each ring with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with heated caramel topping.

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

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Discovering Italy's Culture" & A Yummy Recipe Called “Sofia’s Italian Baked Tomatoes”

A few days ago I was watching a video called “Discovery Atlas: Italy Revealed.” It depicts the passionate culture of Italy as it follows six stories of Italians, including a jockey participating in a traditional “palio,” to a former fisherman trying to set a diving record off Sicily’s coast, to the Missoni family of the fashion world, and a Venetian gondolier’s attempt to keep his family in his native city. I was amazed while I was watching this very scenic and heart warming video. It brought to mind that the Italian people are on a journey, that features many cultural customs such as fashion, cinema, food, music, and architecture just to name a few.

When the Italian’s came to the United States, they developed many customs that were not part of their lives before they came here; creating a culture that is independent of any other. As I continued to think about this, I thought that it would be an interesting subject to share with you my readers about Italy’s cultural icons. Since, my great grandparents came from Italy to the United States I can understand the culture behind my families heritage. It must have been extremely challenging for them to come to another country, with another language and now have to learn how to fit in with other customs that they did not understand. I feel very blessed and honored to have come from a background of exceptionally strong and dedicated men and women to seek a better life for their families. Here are some of the famous Italian Cultural Icons that may give you a better understanding of why Italy is the birthplace of Western Culture and is often nicknamed "ll Bel Paese" (The Beautiful Country)

Architecture: Italy has a very broad and diverse architectural style. Some famous structures are the Coliseum, Tower of Pisa, Grand Canal (Venice), Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square (Vatican).

Visual Arts: Over the centuries, Italian Art has gone through many changes. Italian painting is traditionally illustrated by warmth of colors and light. Famous paintings and figures are Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo’s David, others by Raphael. Donatello, Caravaggio, Botticelli. Many of these artifacts are religious in nature.

Micheal Castaldo
Music: From folk to classical, music has always played an important role in Italian culture. The Italian Opera, Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Verdi, Toscanini, Rossini, Puccini, Pavarotti, Bellini, Andrea Bocelli, Enrico Caruso and  Michéal Castaldo,  who is an Award-winning songwriter, producer, and recording artist. A true Italian legend.  

Cinema: The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908. Some famous icons are, Dario Argento, Rossano Brazzi, Federico Fellini, Isabella Rossellini, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Roberto Benigni and Dino De Laurentiis.

Fashion and Design: Italian fashion is regarded as one of the most important in the world. Milan, Florence, and Rome are Italy’s main fashion capitals. Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada, Pucci, Valentino, and Versace. 

"Cooking With Nonna"
Italian Cuisine: Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Cheese and wine are major parts of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally. Some famous dishes include pasta, pizza, lasagna, focaccia, gelato, bread, olive Oil, salami, Parma ham, coffee, and cappuccino. Check out Rossella Rago‘s Cooking With Nonna You can’t get more Italian than her recipes, made by her and her sweet Nonna's. 

Religion: Roman Catholic is by far the largest religion in the country. The Roman Catholic Church (Vatican City) has been separated from the state, but still plays a role in the nation’s political affairs. 

Famous Places: Adriatic Sea, Bologna, Calabria, Catania, Emilia-Romagna, Mt. Etna, Florence, Genoa, Lake Como, Milan, Modena, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Perugia, Parma, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Turin, Tuscany, Tyrrhenian Sea, Venice, Verona, and Mt. Vesuvius to name a few famous places.

Italy is filled with beauty, culture, and history. There is so much more to this boot shaped country and its people. My recipe this week is one that my great-grandmother would make and has been passed down to me. My great-grandmother Sofia came from Calabria, in Italy. This recipe can be a side dish for any entrée or served along side a Frittata for lunch.  

                                          “Sofia’s Italian Baked Tomatoes

6 medium tomatoes (ripe but firm)
2 cups of plain dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano Grated Cheese
3 tsp minced fresh parsley leaves
3 tsp minced garlic cloves
2 tsp of minced fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste
5 tbsp (plus) olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Use a baking pan and spray with Pam or coat with olive oil so tomatoes will not stick, then set aside. Cut tomatoes after washing, in half diagonally. Gently squeeze out the juice and the seeds. Be careful not to puncture the skin. Place in baking pan cut side up. Mix the bread crumbs with the basil, minced garlic, grated cheese, and parsley in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, after cooked. As the grated cheese has a salty taste. Add some olive oil and mix with hands. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to fill. If you need more oil, put in a small amount each time until you get the right consistency. Now take your tomato and top each one with your bread crumb mixture, gently filling them. Drizzle with a small amount of oil evenly on top of each tomato half. Bake, about 30 minutes uncovered, until tomatoes are cooked, (soft) and stuffing is golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: 12 halves

*********A wine to pair with your tomato dish would be a Sauvignon Blanc or even a Pinot Grigio.

(Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time………..

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“Chicken & Prosciutto Crepes” In Honor Of Julia Child's Birthday

Bonjour or Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is a mouthwatering recipe which I know you have been waiting to enjoy!  

Julia Child's Birthday (August 15, 1912) was last Saturday and the anniversary of her death (August 13, 2004) was also last Thursday. Julia would have turned 103 years old if she was still alive…But her legacy continues…. She was an American cooking authority, cookbook author, TV Cooking show host, etc. Julia Child shared the passions, philosophies, and products of her kitchen for many years. Now she is sharing the kitchen itself with millions, having donated it to the National Museum of American History in 2001. I, for one am a huge fan. I will continue to learn, whether it is through her cookbooks, or old re-runs of her TV show. Thanks Julia….

To celebrate Julia Child, who many people consider the chef of her generation, I have listed below a few of her memorable quotes about life, fun, and food, courtesy of “Goodreads.”  

1. “A party without cake is just a meeting.”
2. “Life itself is the proper binge.”
3. “You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh    ingredients.”
4. “Fat gives things flavor.”
5. “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
6. “In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.”
7. "Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper.”
8.  “A house without a cat is like life without sunshine.”
9. “I believe in red meat. I've often said: red meat and gin.”
10. “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

In honor of Julia, I am sharing a fabulous and delicious recipe that she would have loved. Among the many foods that Julia Child adored were Puff Pastry, Crème Puffs, Chicken Kiev, Quiche Lorraine, Crepes and so many more dishes…

Chicken & Prosciutto Crepes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Oven Temp: 400 °F
Serves: 4-6 people 

Crepe Batter:
4 oz of unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1/2 pint of milk
1 tbsp of olive oil
Oil to grease pan

4 tbsp of unsalted butter
3 tbsp of unbleached flour
1/2 pint of milk
2 tbsp of Fontina or Gruyere cheese
2 chicken breasts; cooked & shredded
3 slices of Prosciutto shredded
Salt & pepper

Garnish: Parsley

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and drop in the eggs. Start to mix in the eggs gradually, taking in flour from around edges. When becoming stiff, add a little milk until all the flour has been incorporated. Beat to a smooth batter, and then add the remaining milk. Stir in the oil. Cover the bowl and leave it in a cool place for thirty minutes. Heat a small frying pan, or 7 inch crepe pan. Wipe over with oil. When hot, add enough batter mixture to cover the base of pan when rolled. Pour off any excess batter. When brown on the underside, loosen and turn over with a spatula and brown on the other side. Pile on a plate and cover with a clean towel until needed. 

To make the filling, melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the cheese, chicken, Prosciutto, salt & pepper and stir until heated through. Do not re-boil. Divide the mixture evenly between the crepes and roll up or fold into triangles. Place in baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Heat in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley…Serve immediately!!!  Buon Appetite!

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

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love “

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pucker Up, It's “Lemon Meringue Pie” & “Lemon Meringue Pie-Cocktail” Time!

We don't really need many reasons to eat pie. We're happy to do it all day, every day. But, that doesn't mean that we'll turn down a legitimate pie-eating reason if it's handed to us, especially when it involves lemon meringue pie. Are you hungry yet? Pie lovers and lemon lovers from across the country get your forks ready.…Tomorrow August 15th just happens to be “National Lemon Meringue Pie Day!” 
What is Lemon Meringue Pie? Served as a dessert, lemon meringue pie is a type of baked pie usually made with a bottom crust of shortbread pastry, lemon curd filling, and a fluffy meringue topping. Lemon flavored custards, puddings, and pies have been enjoyed since medieval times, but meringue was perfected in the 17th century. When true meringue made its appearance it still lacked its name and was often called “sugar puff.” Lemon Meringue as it is commonly known today evolved in America in the 19th century.

The lemon custard is usually prepared with egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. This gives it a texture similar to that of a sturdy pudding. The meringue, which includes well beaten egg whites and sugar, is cooked on top of the pie filling. As the meringue bakes, air bubbles trapped inside the protein of the egg whites will expand and swell. However, if the egg whites are beaten too much, or if a tiny amount of fat is allowed to contaminate the mixture, then the proteins will not be able to form the correct molecular structure when cooked, and the meringue may collapse when cooked. The meringue can be beaten into either soft or stiff peaks. The temperature the pie is baked at and the method by which sugar is added also determines the texture and durability of the meringue.

So when life gives you lemons try something different and delicious like “Lemon Meringue Pie!” 

Lemon Meringue Pie”

Prep time: 25 minutes

1 box Lemon-Jell-O pudding and pie filling
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of water
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
2 cups of water
1 baked 9 inch pie shell

Mix contents of package with sugar, water and egg yolks. Stir in 2 cups of water. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Cool for 5 minutes, stirring twice. Pour into cooled, baked 9 inch pie shell.

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/3 cup of sugar

Beat 4 egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/3 cup of sugar, and cream of tartar beating until stiff. Spread over filling sealing to the edge of pie crust. Be generous as the meringue will shrink when baked. Bake at 350° F 10-15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool at room temperature 4 hours, then refrigerate. 

Serves: 8       

Warning: The pie filling is quite hot when pouring it into pie shell. Keep this pie refrigerated. In humid weather meringue may "weep" (small dots of liquid form on the surface). To lessen this possibility, apply meringue to lemon filling while it is still hot, cool pie to room temperature before refrigerating, and/or use confectioner's (powdered - 4X or 10X) sugar instead of granulated sugar when making the meringue.


Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail

Don't let the light lemon flavor and the rich, creamy texture fool you. This cool, smooth drink is an adult only indulgence.

1 Serving
Prep/Total Time: 5 min.

1 lemon wedge
Coarse yellow and white sugar
1-1/2 to 2 cups ice cubes
3 ounces Limoncello
1 ounce half-and-half cream
1 tablespoon lemon sorbet
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Rub lemon wedge around the rim of a martini glass; dip rim in coarse sugar. Set aside. Fill a shaker three-fourths full with ice. Add the Limoncello, cream, sorbet, and lemon juice to shaker; cover and shake for 10-15 seconds or until condensation forms on outside of shaker. Strain into prepared glass. Yield: 1 serving. (From: Taste of Home Test Kitchen)

******Lemon Meringue Pie Mocktail: Substitute 1/3 cup lemonade for the Limoncello.

(Please Drink Responsibly!)

Till Next Time……….

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

“Turkey Sloppy Joe's” & “Baked Sweet Potato Fries" For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I am sharing two mouthwatering recipes which I know you will enjoy!  Today’s recipes are true classic comfort foods “Turkey Sloppy Joe's” and “Baked Sweet Potato Fries” as a side dish. A Sloppy Joe is a sandwich consisting of ground beef, onions, green pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or barbecue sauce, plus other seasonings, then served on a hamburger bun. The dish originated in the United States during the early 20th century and is an all time favorite among children and adults. So take a journey with me back in time for tempting “Sloppy Joe's” and “Sweet Potato Fries” Yummy!!!

Turkey Sloppy Joe's

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 hamburger buns, split

In a large skillet, cook turkey, onion and pepper over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, breaking up turkey into crumbles. Stir in tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Serve in buns. Yield: 8 servings.

Optional: Add a slice of American Cheese on top of Sloppy Joe's before putting top bun on. It melts and gives a cheesy flavor to the dish.


Baked sweet potato fries are one of my favorite side dishes when I’m serving burgers or Sloppy Joe's at home. These aren’t quite as crispy as French Fries but they’re tasty and easy to make. You can also totally switch up the seasonings and your taste buds won’t get bored.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 large sweet potatoes, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
Spices of choice (I use:salt, pepper, parsley, & sometimes cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 400°F degrees. Put oil and spices in small bowl and mix well. Slice  and peel sweet potatoes in match stick strips and put on large baking sheet. Pour oil over the fries and toss by hand until evenly coated. This will also coat the baking sheet. (you can also put foil on bottom of baking sheet for easy cleanup) Bake for 25-30 minutes or more until slightly browned and tender. After about 30 minutes, I turn the fries so they evenly cook and get browned. Serve with ketchup or honey. (I love honey with them)

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

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

Friday, August 7, 2015

“Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie” & “Irresistible Peach Smoothie” For National Peach Month

Everywhere I look this summer there are delicious, sweet, juicy peaches. There is a reason why I am seeing more peaches all over and that is because August is “National Peach Month.” Did you know that the peach is a member of the Rose family? It was first cultivated in China. The peach tree is considered to be the tree of life and peaches are symbols of immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are carried by Chinese brides and the image is placed on pottery as a gift which has great value. Travelers along caravan routes carried the peach seed to Persia before it was cultivated in Europe. In the 1600s Spanish explorers brought them to the New World and by the 1700s missionaries had established peaches in California. Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. The United States is the world’s largest producer of peaches. The peach is the state fruit of Georgia and South Carolina. The peach blossom is also the State Flower of Delaware. The city of Johnston in South Carolina is known as “The Peach Capital” of the World.

Other major producers are Italy, France, Greece, and Spain. Peaches (or pesca in Italian) have grown in Italy since the Middle Ages. The yield time is from July to September. There are four main growing regions in Italy and they are; 
Emilia Romagna, Campania, Piedmont, and Veneto. Many products are made from peaches such as; peach marmalade, peach essence, peach juice concentrate, and peach puree to name a few. Years ago I heard stories of my grandfather, who would slice a peach into a glass of wine. In order to eat the peach slices, they would take a knife and use the tip to spear them in the glass. This was the classic Italian way. The peach adds a pleasant accent to the wine, and the wine can be either red or white depending on the region you are in. We are all peach lovers in my family. My dad especially loves them on top of cereal and I love peach pie.  

Peach varieties can be either clingstone, where the flesh of the fruit clings to the stone, or freestone, where the stone twists away from the fruit. The peach pit contains hydrocyanic acid, which is a poisonous substance. Peaches are a good source of vitamins A, B and C. Medium peaches contain only 37 calories. You can ripen peaches by placing them in a brown paper bag for two to three days. Nectarines are a variety of peach with a smooth skin, and are not a cross between a peach and a plum. The juice from peaches makes a wonderful moisturizer, and can be found in many brands of cosmetics. Summer and peaches make a perfect pair. Peach ice cream and peach sherbet are a cool and refreshing summer favorite. Ripe peaches also freeze well for later use.

My two recipes this week is in honor of the peach one is “Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie” (one of my favorites) and the other is called “Irresistible Peach Smoothie.” The juicy peaches make a summer dessert and drink unforgettable. Don’t forget to get your fresh peaches, fruits, and vegetables at your Farmers Markets. It is important to support our local farmers.   
“Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie

Serve this juicy double-crust peach pie with vanilla ice cream sprinkled with toasted nuts. The brown sugar and the cinnamon complement the natural sweetness of the fresh peaches.

1 1/3 cups cold butter
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice-cold water
(optional: you can use ready made pie crust)  
8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches (about 4 lb)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions for pie dough:
Cut 1 1/3 cups butter into small cubes, and chill 15 minutes. Stir together 4 cups flour and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup ice water with a fork, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and dough begins to form a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, if necessary. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap; press and shape dough into 2 flat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around a rolling pin. Place rolling pin over a 9-inch pie plate, and unroll dough over pie plate. Press dough into pie plate. Roll remaining dough disk to about 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. 

Directions for filling:
Peel peaches, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cut slices in half. Stir together brown sugar, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 cup flour in a bowl; add peaches, stirring to coat. Immediately spoon peach mixture into pie crust in pie plate, and dot with 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter. (Do not make mixture ahead or it will become too juicy) Carefully place remaining pie crust over filling; press edges of crusts together to seal. Cut off excess crust, and reserve. Crimp edges of pie. Brush top of pie with beaten egg. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Cut 4 to 5 slits in top of pie for steam to escape.  Freeze pie 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a jelly-roll pan in oven 10 minutes. Place pie on hot jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425°F on lower oven rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F; bake 40 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly. (juices will bubble through top) Transfer to a wire rack; cool 2 hours before serving.


Irresistible Peach Smoothie

This frosty, fruity sipper really hits the spot on a steamy August afternoon. (or anytime!) 

2 cups of sliced peaches
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of vanilla ice cream
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
A few peach slices for garnish

Combine diced peaches, milk, ice cream, and lemon juice in a blender; purée until nearly smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately garnished with peach slices, or mint leaves if you like.   Serves: 3

Till Next Time………………………..

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies” & “Oatmeal Cookie Crush Cocktails” For Wordless Tuesday...

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is a mouthwatering recipe which I know you have been waiting for….. It is the beginning of August and today I have two delightful recipes which I know you will love…….. Enjoy!  

Did you ever feel like just having a yummy cookie with chips in them, chewy, and warm?  Who can resist the aroma of fresh baked cookies wafting through the house? There is something about eating one or maybe two…which brings back memories of my mom’s kitchen and the family. These delicious tasty cookies are pure comfort foods to me. I will have to make some of these scrumptious cookies as my son Paul and his girlfriend Nikki will be coming in for a visit this Friday. He lives upstate New York and I have not seen him in about 2 years or more. I am sure that they will be thrilled with a good chewy cookie as a treat after dinner. Classic cookies from Hershey’s kitchen to my kitchen. Beautiful to look at and even better to eat.

Here is my recipe for these fabulous cookies called, “Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies” and a cold cocktail to have with it on these hot days, called a, “Oatmeal Cookie Crush Cocktail.” Enjoy and make some memories for your family!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins 

Heat oven to 350°F. Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons unto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Makes about 48 cookies.

***Cookie Bar Variation: Spread batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars. About 3 dozen bars.


Oatmeal Cookie Crush Cocktail

Makes: 2 servings
Prep: 5 minutes

Ice cubes
3 oz Butterscotch Schnapps (about 5 tablespoons)
2 oz Baileys Irish Cream (1/4 cup)
1 oz Coconut-flavored Rum (2 tablespoons)
1/2 oz Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps (1 tablespoon)
Oatmeal cookies, crushed, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys, Rum, and Goldschlager Schnapps. Then shake well. Strain into 2 rocks glasses. Sprinkle with crushed cookies. (Cocktail courtesy of Rachel Ray)

(Please Drink Responsibly!)

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

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

“Egg & Spinach Salad with Lemon/Pepper Dressing” & “Raspberry and Peach Crisp” & “Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach Mojito” All For “National Culinary Arts” Month

The month of July is over and today is the last day. Wow, July just flew by, but we have one more event to talk about. July is “National Culinary Arts” Month. “National Culinary Arts” promotes awareness of professional cooks, chefs and their contributions to the culinary world of excellence. Culinary artists are responsible for skillfully preparing meals that are as pleasing to the palate as to the eye. The world of Culinary Arts not only consists of creating delicious dishes, but also the use of kitchen utensils, tools, and equipment that must be associated with preparation of the recipes.  

My “Foodie” experiences started when I was a young girl……I would always watch my mom prepare and cook dinner. My job was always to set the table, quite boring. As I got older I would help my mom prepare the food by prepping
 vegetables or fixing the salad, but that would not due either. I desperately wanted to be taught how to create such mouth watering dishes. So, then I became more curious about cooking and wanted to learn more. That is when my mom started to teach me about how to cook certain recipes. My mother and grandmothers' taught me the basic instructions of cooking and baking. They said that baking was a science and you had to follow the recipe as written. When you cook you can be more creative by adding a little of this or that. Buying the correct tools and equipment are extremely important to create wonderful and tasty recipes.

I received my first cookbook from my mom in 1974. It was the same cookbook that we used at home when I was a young girl. She wrote in it and it said, “Enjoy! Be happy in your kitchen as I am in mine, Love Mom.” For those of you wondering what cookbook it was, “Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook” revised edition 1971. Her copy was from 1948 which was the first printing of the cookbook.  As the years went by and I became a wife and mother I learned how to improve my skills by still watching my mom, plus cooking shows, and reading recipes in cookbooks. This month is the perfect time to try your hand at cooking! Here are some helpful tips for beginning your own Chef’s kitchen and the tools that you need.

Buy basic equipment invest in a good set of sharp knives, my friend Rossella Rago from “Cooking With Nonna” has a fabulous set of knives that I have personally have purchased and use all the time. They are extremely sharp and are a good price. If you are interested click on this link,Cooking With Nonna Knives” and you will not be disappointed. Then there are sturdy pots, pans, and a set of glass baking dishes that will have to add to your kitchen equipment. You will also need measuring cups and a set of measuring spoons. A food processor and an electric mixer will come in handy as you learn the ins and outs of food preparation. You will also need some wooden spoons, a wire whisk, a few spatulas, a vegetable peeler, a pastry brush, a grater, a cutting board, and a strainer just to name a few. The inventory of tools and equipment are countless, but as you learn to advance in your cooking techniques you can always add to your collection. 

Familiarize yourself with cooking terms such as poaching, braising, roasting, grilling, and par boiling. Again these are just some examples that you will need to learn. You can use cookbooks for research and also an online cooking dictionary. “You Tube” is also a good way to learn the correct terms to use for your preparation of special dishes, especially if there are tutorials. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of cooking classes being given in your neighborhood such as in schools or libraries. Look at cookbooks and read them; sometimes they supply you with “Cooking 101” information that would be extremely helpful for you.

But most of all make your cooking and baking experience fun! If you make a mistake, just try again. Every inspiring cook or baker needs assistance, so ask help from your family, friends, and even your children. Chopping, cutting, and dicing are how they learn. So put on your apron and get out your knife and start chopping to create your next flavorful meal as the master chef of your own kitchen.

One of my recipes this week starts out with a very easy and light dish especially on these dog days of summer. “Egg & Spinach Salad with Lemon/Pepper Dressing” But it is not just for summer, you can enjoy this salad with its light lemony flavor all year round.  Then we have a “Raspberry and Peach Crisp” It can be served for breakfast, brunch and for a decadent dessert. I obtained this recipe from, “The Taste of Home” which you can find online. You can substitute any small fruit if you are not fond of peaches and raspberries. This is a perfect Summer time treat and you can create this in 35 minutes. I also have added a recipe for a refreshing cool drink which is a “Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach Mojito.” This will be a lovely cocktail that you can add to your meal. I hope that you enjoy your new recipes and I’m sure that your taste buds will be dancing as you taste each dish.

Egg & Spinach Salad with Lemon/Pepper Dressing”

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: Makes 10 (1-cup) servings

1/2 cup of Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of Vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of Lemon pepper seasonings
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2-3 slices crumbed cooked bacon
2-3 chopped hard-cooked eggs
1small red onion sliced thin
2 packages (5-6 oz each) of Spinach leaves
1cup of croutons (optional)

Mix olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and lemon/pepper seasoning in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Toss spinach, mushrooms, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped hard cooked eggs, red onions sliced, and croutons in large bowl. Serve with dressing.

Raspberry and Peach Crisp

Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6 people

5 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup thawed apple juice concentrate

1/3 cup of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of quick cooking oats
1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
1/4 cup of cold butter
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Combine peaches and raspberries in a greased 2 qt baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and apple juice concentrate until smooth, drizzle over fruit. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake, uncovered at 375 ° for 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. You can serve this warm and top with vanilla ice cream or serve cold. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, but I guarantee there may not be any leftovers with this exquisite summer treat!! 

Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach combines European raspberries and red peaches from Ardèche in the South of France, which are blended with Grand Marnier’s signature orange essence and premium-quality cognacs sourced from the Cognac region and aged in French oak barrels.

Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach Mojito

2oz Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
Handful of mint leaves
5 fresh raspberries
Club soda

Muddle mint and raspberries in shaker. Add ingredients except for the club soda and shake. Pour into a Collins glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Makes: 1 cocktail

(Please Drink Responsibly!)

Till next time……..

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

“Mama’s Lasagna” Recipe, For "National Lasagna Day" Plus Exciting News From Michéal Castaldo

Beneventi a tutti…Welcome everyone…. I know that this is not my usual day to post, but I have had technical problems with my computer and did not post anything last Friday. Thanks to my computer man, George…I am back posting more stories and more delicious recipes. So with that being said, I have to wish everyone, a “Happy National Lasagna Day!” Yes, an entire day dedicated to “Lasagna,” who knew! 

National Lasagna Day” is celebrated in the United States every July 29th. Originally from the Emilia Romagna region which is the center of northern Italy and includes a tradition of fresh rich foods. Each region in Italy has their own way of creating Lasagna. In the southern regions the sauce is likely to be a simple Tomato or Ragu, where in other areas like the northern part of  Italy a Béchamel sauce (white and creamy) is used. In Italy and the United States the fillings may vary as well. You can create a vegetarian filling such as spinach or eggplant, onions and garlic, tasty tuna or seafood, sausages and a wide selection of sharp cheeses. Lasagna has become a familiar dish in many other places of the world, from Europe to America. Who doesn’t love Italian food?  Through the years Italian mothers and grandmothers have prepared and created many fabulous recipes for their families.

The origins of Lasagna dates back to the 1st century B.C. where a common meal consisting of fine sheets of fried dough were called “lagana.” In the 2nd century a Greek scholar provided a recipe for lagana that was made with sheets of wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavored with spices and deep fried in oil. An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish of lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing which sounds like our modern day Lasagna. When Italians immigrated to the United States they brought with them many cooking recipes and traditions. Lasagna is made with either rippled or flat noodles. Rippled noodles are common in southern Italy but rarely used in northern Italy. Rippled noodles are most popular in the United States.

Lasagna is made by towering layers of lasagna noodles packed with a creamy filling and made with a homemade meat sauce. The combination of spices, ricotta, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano grated cheeses, are what I would call the most perfect Italian dish. It consists of your whole meal in one Lasagna pan. From your preparation, to taking it out of the oven and seeing it bubble with cheese on the top, plus the aroma floating around your kitchen is simply heavenly. Throughout the years, Lasagna still and always will be a favorite among my family and guests around my kitchen table.
My recommendation for pairing wine with Lasagna is Red Zinfandel. The color of a Zinfandel wine is deep red, bordering on black. Zinfandel is a spicy, peppery wine, with a hint of fruity flavors that include berries or dark cherries. The rule of wines is that you want to drink from light to dark. Therefore, Champagne tends to go very well with appetizers. White wine is usually a match for salads and lighter dishes, while red wine works perfectly with steaks and heavier meat sauces. Port wine is often the perfect end to a meal, especially with a chocolate dessert.

To celebrate "National Lasagna Day," I want to share my mother’s recipe with all of you. Enjoy your Lasagna or in Italian (Godetevi il vostro lasagna) and make it a tradition at your family table. 

                                                      “Mama’s Lasagna

1 lb Lasagna noodles (your choice)
16 oz Ricotta cheese
1 lb of Mozzarella cheese (sliced or cubed)
3 /4 cup Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 Egg
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Favorite Tomato Sauce w/meat or without (click on link and it will bring you to my Grandmother's sauce recipe.)

Boil water with a little salt and a little drizzled oil in a large pot. (The oil helps the Lasagna noodles not to stick) Add your Lasagna noodles to the water and let it cook for about 7 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the noodles with cold water so they do not stick, while you are preparing the filling. You want the noodles to be a little firm as you will be cooking them again in the oven. Mix together in a large bowl, ricotta cheese, egg, mozzarella, salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 375° F degrees. Take a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon some tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish so the lasagna will not stick. Now layer your ingredients starting with the noodles. Next, assemble a layer of the ricotta cheese mixture over your noodles. Now, spread some tomato sauce over the cheese. Duplicate this process with all the layers and finish off with some mozzarella and a small amount of grated cheese on top. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the top is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbling. Let the Lasagna rest for 15 minutes so it is easier to serve. Garlic bread and a wonderful Italian green salad is a delightful addition to this dish. Mangia!

You can also add cooked chopped meat to the tomato sauce or even sliced or ground sausage without the casing. You can also use the no boil Lasagna noodles.


                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Exciting News from Michéal Castaldo!

My readers and followers know my personal friend, Michéal Castaldo. He is an Award-winning songwriter, producer, recording artist, and entrepreneur. He is announcing the Fifth Anniversary release of his very popular album called “Aceto.” What makes this very special is the fact that it is a high-resolution digital release. With the growing popularity of online streaming sites, high-resolution audio for music is able to deliver sound that is exceptionally better than standard CDs and MP3s. Every sound created in the recording studio will be clearly delivered to the listening audience in celebration of this beautifully inspirational album. It will be available on iTunes, Pono, Tidal, Amazon Music, and Spotify on August 18, 2015.

“Aceto,” honors Michéal’s late father Pasquale. The “Aceto” album includes 22 classic and original Italian songs whose themes evoke feelings of grace, healing, and remembrance. Michéal has said, “The “Aceto” recordings offer elegant harmonic structures and flowing melodic lines, I chose them because they helped me heal and hope that they will put listeners in an introspective mood.”

Some of the songs on the “Aceto” album are ones that have been heard before, but most were never performed in Italian before Michéal sang them. Unlike his peers who simply translate songs, Michéal Castaldo takes a different approach to his music. For “Aceto,” he carefully chose 22 classic songs that have withstood the test of time across many cultures and put his own creative spin on them to produce old songs with a fresh, new sound. The high resolution audio simply takes Michéal’s music to another level of listening pleasure. Please support Michéal and his music by visiting iTunes, Pono, Tidal, Amazon Music, and Spotify on August 18, 2015. Michéal Castaldo sends you his sincere thanks. For more information about Michéal Castaldo, his music, or his concert tour, please visit www.MichealCastaldo.com

Till Next Time…..

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