Tuesday, October 6, 2015

“Straw and Hay” A Recipe To Celebrate "National Noodle Day"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Did you know that today is “National Noodle Day?”So with that being said, it is time to celebrate with a mouthwatering recipe which I know you will love...Enjoy!
Noodles come in many varieties and “National Noodle Day,” which is celebrated each year on October 6th, honors them all. The word noodle derives from the German word “nudel.” Noodles are made by dough being rolled out and cut into a variety of shapes. Long thin strips are likely the most popular, however some of the other shapes such as; tubes, strings, shells, flat, wide and etc., are also under the “noodles” umbrella. Boiling, pan-frying or deep-frying them are the common ways of preparing the noodles. They then can be eaten alone, with butter or with a sauce or used in soups, casseroles, salads, lasagna, and etc. It is a question as to where the noodle was first invented but it is known that it has been a staple in many parts of the world for over 1800 years. The earliest mention of the noodle is from Horace’s writings in the first century BC. There is a report that, in 2002, archaeologists along the Yellow River in China found an earthenware bowl containing some 4000-year-old noodles which had been well preserved.

Here are five facts about Noodle: Australians consume more than 18 million kilograms of noodles every year, that’s almost one kilogram per person! In Japan, it is considered good form to loudly slurp your noodles as a way of telling your host that you are enjoying the meal. Noodles symbolize longevity in China. Noodles have been created from flour and water since 1000BC and today they are more popular than ever. Lastly noodles are low in fat and have a very low sodium content.

We’re just crazy for the “oodles of noodles” to be slurped down all across the world. Whether you like to twist long ribbons around your fork, slip strips into soup, dish out bow-ties and spirals, or layer sheets with all kinds of savory delights, today is all about “canoodling with noodles.” Noodles have been a comforting meal for a long time. 

While noodles can be made from virtually any kind of dough, wheat, rice, potato, nut, buckwheat, it’s all in how you like to slurp them down. Traditionally, you’ve got to boil them in water or broth to bring the texture back to life. From there, you can serve them drenched in sauce, chilled in a salad, stir-fried or tossed in with your favorite casserole. Under the umbrella of all things pasta, one might guess the main difference between noodles and macaroni is shape, but one would be mistaken to assume such. Although all pastas use a base of water and flour, noodles by definition must also contain eggs or egg yolks.

Bring the fabulous flavors of Italy to your dinner table! Serve colorful pasta cooked with ham and broccoli florets, a dish that's ready in 30 minutes! “Straw and Hay” is the whimsical name given to this noodle dish made with plain and spinach Fettuccine cut noodles. This dish is creamy and full of flavor.

Straw and Hay

Serves: 6

1 cup milk
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
8 oz uncooked fettuccine
8 oz spinach uncooked fettuccine
2 cups frozen Broccoli Florets
1/2 cup prosciutto or cooked ham cut into thin strips
1 (2.25-oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers (from a jar)
1 garlic clove, minced

In a blender, combine the milk, cottage cheese, and cornstarch; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan; add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese until melted. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. (Spinach fettuccine may cook in less time; add to plain fettuccine according to times on package.) Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook ham and garlic for 2 minutes. Add broccoli florets; cook until heated through. Then add the roasted pepper and the olives. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese sauce. Drain fettuccine. Add to sauce; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Expert Tips:
"Straw and Hay" is an Italian recipe that uses equal amounts of plain and spinach fettuccine. The noodles are tossed in a rich sauce with Parmesan cheese. This simple version recreates these flavors with a convenient easy recipe. Rosé wine and Focaccia go well with this quick fettuccine. Pass a bowl of red and green grapes at the end of dinner.

            (Please Drink Responsibly)


Till Next Time………………………….

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

“Spinach-Mushroom Stuffed Chicken” & “Pastina & Egg Soup with Spinach” For "National Spinach-Lover’s Month”

As another month becomes a reality and summer is exiting as the weather fades deeper into fall, it's the perfect season for spinach. A green leafy vegetable that adores cooler temperatures. October is “National Spinach-Lovers' Month,” and what better time to celebrate than by trying a spinach-based recipe? Before we get to that recipe or two, come with me and lets get to know a little about this green leafy vegetable. 

The first thing we learn is that spinach is fat free; saturated fat free; cholesterol free; low calorie; high in dietary fiber; high in vitamin A; high in vitamin C; high in iron, high in Folate; and a good source of magnesium. So we know that it has a high nutrition content, is rich in antioxidants and is an excellent source for our diet. It’s unfortunate that many people avoid spinach, for it truly is a super food and is one of the best vegetables we can eat.

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia. It is not known by whom, or when, spinach was introduced but the plant was subsequently introduced to ancient China, where it was known as the "Persian vegetable" The earliest available record of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal probably in 647 AD. In 827 AD, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century. Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably via Spain, and it gained quick popularity.

Some interesting facts on spinach: in 1533, Catherine de' Medici became queen of France; she loved spinach, she insisted it be served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as "Florentine," reflecting Catherine's birth in Florence, Italy. During World War I, wine fortified with spinach juice was given to French soldiers weakened by hemorrhage. The cartoon character “Popeye the Sailor Man” is portrayed as having a strong affinity for spinach, becoming physically stronger after consuming it.


The United States is the world’s second-largest producer of spinach, with 3% of world output, following China which accounts for 85% of output, then California 73% output, Arizona 12%, and New Jersey 3% are the top producing states, with 12 other states reporting production of at least 100 acres (2002 census). 

Spinach comes in many different varieties. Fresh spinach, especially baby spinach, is delicious in salads. Either mixed with other greens and vegetables, or served alone, spinach salad is a favorite in my house. Spinach is delicious added to pizza, vegetable dips, and pasta. Do you have a favorite spinach recipe to share? I’d love to add it to my collection!

I have two recipes for you this week; one is a delicious “Spinach-Mushroom Stuffed Chicken.” The other is a hot and cozy soup called, “Pastina & Egg Soup with Spinach.” These two great recipes emphasize spinach and are perfect for this time of year…enjoy!

      “Spinach-Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min.
Makes: 8 servings

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1/4 cup Julienne sweet red pepper (2-in. pieces)
1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin
2 cups white wine or low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in the spinach and red pepper; cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the Swiss cheese, bread crumbs, lemon peel, salt and pepper. Carefully loosen chicken skin on one side of each chicken breast half to form a pocket; stuff with spinach mixture. Place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until juices run clear. In a small saucepan, bring wine or broth to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1 cup. Slowly whisk in cream and mustard. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon over chicken. A baked potato would be a delicious addition to your stuffed chicken or some soup. 

***Originally published as Spinach-Mushroom Stuffed Chicken in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2004, p45

         “Pastina & Egg Soup with Spinach” or "Zuppa di Pastina all'Uova e Spinaci"

Pastina, those tiny beads of hard semolina pasta, always have a place in chicken soup, and children especially seem to love scooping them up. This version takes minutes to prepare with canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. But if you want to make it using homemade broth, you can. This recipe can easily be cut in half.

Serves: 8

2 quarts prepared low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup Pastina
4 cups washed spinach leaves, torn into small pieces, ***

or 2 packages frozen spinach, defrosted and well drained
4 eggs
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring the broth to a boil in a soup pot, stir in the pastina, cover the pot, and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium, stir in the fresh or frozen and defrosted spinach, and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the eggs and cheese together in a soup tureen or deep bowl. Slowly ladle the hot soup into the soup tureen; stir the soup as you ladle. The heat will cook the egg. Serve immediately.

**** Save time by purchasing cleaned, packaged spinach in the produce section of the grocery store.

****Adapted from “Ciao Italia” Mary Ann Esposito

Till Next Time………………………………......

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake” For "National Coffee Day!"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is always a yummy recipe for you to try …. Enjoy! 

Come on in, would you like a cup of hot coffee?…How do you like your coffee, with cream, milk, or sugar? I know you must be so happy that I have coffee on…. Who doesn’t like a cup of hot coffee? It is so comforting and tastes so splendid.

Join me as we celebrate “National Coffee Day!” This day is a worldwide event observed annually on September 29th. People across the United States celebrate one of the most beloved morning beverages on National Coffee Day. It is a morning favorite, however, it is found being served throughout the day. Either hot, cold, black, or with additives such as cream, creamers, milk, sugar, flavored syrups, or ice. 

There are many legendary accounts of how coffee first came to be but the earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or the knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries around Mokha in Yemen. It was here where coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, similar to how it is prepared today. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland from Ethiopia and began to cultivate the seed.

In 1670, coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Baba Budan, as he strapped seven coffee seeds onto his chest.  The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore. It was then that coffee spread to Italy, to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and then to the Americas.

This day is also used to promote fair trade coffee and to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers. Many businesses around the world offer free or discounted cups of coffee. Some businesses share coupons and special deals with their loyal followers. For overworked doctors, teachers, college kids, EMS, police, fireman, music artists, singers, chefs, bakers, authors, and yes, even bloggers, “National Coffee Day” should be every day. And we can’t turn down a free cup of coffee when it’s available. So check your newspapers, look at advertisements or even go to your local coffee shops and see what deals you can get, to celebrate National Coffee Day! Maybe a free cup of coffee………..

Here are some places to get that free cup of coffee…Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme on September 29--is giving you a free glazed doughnut and a free cup of coffee. Whole Foods Markets- nationwide have been celebrating National Coffee Day by giving customers a cup of coffee for just 25 cents! Even better, for every cup of coffee purchase you could help support a good cause. If you buy an Allegro Coffee for a quarter, Whole Foods will donate $1 to the Whole Planet Foundation.

Won’t it be marvelous to have a treat, like a piece of coffee cake to go with your coffee! There are many reasons to love coffee cake, but the fact that you can consume it for breakfast is tops on that list. Even if we have pancakes, French toast, and waffles to choose from in the morning, there's something really nice about having cake present at the breakfast table too. It just feels right. Coffee cake isn't only right for breakfast. It's invited any time there's coffee -- or even if there's just a coffee table present. For those of you who think coffee cake is not for you just because you don't want a cup of java, think again. Coffee cake is right for everyone -- even for the tea drinker like me. Please join me as I share with you my recipe this week for a delicious “Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake” Enjoy!

                                            “Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

If you like crumb topping as much as cake, this recipe's for you. A thick layer of cinnamon-spiced crumb topping sits on top of this coffee cake that starts with a cake mix.

Serves: Makes 24 servings

2 cups flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground Cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into chunks
1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix 
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, sugars, and cinnamon in large bowl. Cut in cold butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. 

Beat cake mix, egg, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or just until mixed.

Spread evenly in greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with topping mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan. Cool on wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.


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

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dottie’s "Apple Pie” Recipe & “The Apple Cocktail” As Fall Begins….

I feel a chill in the air! The leaves are starting to fall. This means only one thing, that fall has turned the corner. The first day of autumn was Wednesday, the Autumnal Equinox. It is so hard to believe that the summer went by so fast and here we are in the fall season. I am ready for the fall, are you? 

When it gets cooler, I love to open the windows and just be able to breathe the crisp air that comes at this time of year. To me this is a magical season. Pumpkins, apples, Indian corn, and gourds are all around us. The colors of the leaves, with its gold, red, and green hues that are so brilliant it is like a kaleidoscope of colors. The hustle and bustle of the approaching holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and my favorite of all, Christmas. The chill in the air means sweaters, jackets, and rosy cheeks on children’s faces from playing outside in the leaves. As you look inside the windows of the houses, you can see families cooking, fireplaces lit, and you get the feeling of a warm cozy home. 

Cooking hearty meals, such as stews, soups, baked bread, and apple pies are all aromas that enhance your senses that fall is here. As you take a brisk walk in the nippy air you can see pumpkins, wreaths, and scarecrows decorating the houses on the blocks. To me fall is also a time to be thankful for your family and your friends. So, now that you know what autumn means to me, come along and let us explore the “Apple”as September is the "National Apple Month."

Fun Fact: There are over 2,500 varieties of apples.

Johnny Appleseed Day” honors one of America's great legends. Johnny Appleseed was a real person. John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) was among the American settlers who were captivated by the movement west across the continent. As Johnny Appleseed traveled west, he planted apple trees along the way, and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. He was born on September 26, 1774. (This happens to be on Saturday) He started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania. During the life of John Chapman, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. John Chapman was a deeply religious person He was known to preach during his travels. 

According to legend, Johnny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received. It is believed that he died on March 11, 1845, from what was referred to as the "winter plague." The actual date of his death has been disputed. Johnny Appleseed is said to have worn a tin pot on his head to cook his meals in while on his journeys. While this claim is legend, he did frequently travel with a pot in his belongings and a satchel full of seeds.

Did you know? If you threw an apple in water, it wouldn’t sink. Apples float in water! This is because 25% of their volume consists of air.

Did you know? The deeper the colors if an apple, means that the more sugars, and more flavor they contain.

Apples are one of the few fruits you can find fresh any time of the year, especially September through November. However, to me the apple is the one fruit that I associate with fall more than any other. Apples are America’s favorite fruit. The state of Washington grows the most apples followed by New York, and then Michigan. This is a perfect time of the year to head on out to an apple orchard and pick your own apples for a pie, applesauce, or even baked apples. But to me the best way is to pick one off of the tree and try it. There is nothing like the crisp, cool, crunch you hear as you take a bite of this juicy, sweet piece of fruit. Today we have numerous varieties of apples to choose from. Some are best to eat while others are best for cooking and baking. You must have heard the old saying, An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg for his bread.”

Fun Fact: In the 1980’s, the Red Delicious accounted for three-quarters of the harvest in Washington State.

Did you know?:
That Honey Crisp apples are one of the most sought after apples in the U.S.

Fun Fact:
Country to popular belief, Fuji apples are named for Fujisaki town, not for Mount Fu

So, in honor of the beginning of fall, apple season, and Johnny Appleseed, I am sharing with you my “Apple Pie” recipe. This pie is a favorite among my family and friends. After years of making this scrumptious pie, I have perfected its fruity richness and I’m sure it will be very pleasing to your taste buds. Enjoy and make memories!

Dottie’s “Apple Pie”

8-10 apples (Macintosh and 2 Granny Smith)
1 cup of granulated sugar or less
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 recipe of Pillsbury Pie Crust (just unroll)
(You can make your own crust, but this is a time saver)
Secret ingredient is a dash of fresh Nutmeg 

Pare and slice apples very, very thin. Sift dry ingredients together and mix with apples. Line pie pan (9 inch glass or aluminum pie tin) with the pastry crust. Fill with apple mixture, dot with butter before putting on top of crust. Then put top crust on the pie. Crimp edges, cut three slits in top of pie or use a pie stencil. Brush pie with milk, cream, or egg wash. Then sprinkle the pie top with some granulated sugar before baking. Bake in a very HOT oven 450 ° for the first 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 ° for the next 45 minutes or longer till golden brown. Put pie on lined cookie pan, (foil or parchment paper) so if any drippings come out from the pie, it will be easier for clean up.


“The Apple Cocktail”

Yields: 1 drink

1 whole apple, one with a flat bottom
1 lemon wedge
1 apple wedge, cut in half
1 oz unsweetened apple juice
1 ounce Limoncello
1/2 ounce Vanilla Vodka
Splash cranberry juice
1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
Short clear straw

Core the apple to about the halfway point. Be certain not to cut through the bottom. Use the lemon wedge to squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on inside of cored apple. That is so the apple does not get brown. Then set aside. In mixing glass, muddle apple wedge and unsweetened apple juice. Add Limoncello, Vanilla Vodka, and cranberry juice. Shake well. Strain into cored apple and serve with a small straw. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. 

 (Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time………..

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

“Everyday Salisbury Steak” & “Mashed Sweet Potatoes” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to Wordless Tuesday! I have a couple of spectacular recipes for you to try…...Enjoy!

Tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd is the first day of Autumn! So this meal brings you back to those chilly nights, leaves falling, cozy, and comfy in the kitchen where the family always seems to gravitate. 

Ever wonder about where Salisbury Steak originated from? I’m always interested in who created this meal. So with the help of the Internet, I used “Google” and this is what I found out about this timeless dish.

Salisbury steak is a dish made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients, which is shaped to resemble a steak, and is usually served with brown gravy and mushrooms. Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823–1905), an early promoter of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss. The term "Salisbury Steak" has been in use in the United States since 1897. This dish is popular and it is traditionally served with gravy and mashed potatoes or noodles.

TV Dinner: Salisbury Steak with Mac & Cheese

For me Salisbury Steak conjures up memories of what I would have for dinner when I was young and going to school. Once in a great while my mom would make TV dinners for supper, especially if it was a busy day. This meal did have potential, if someone simply gave it some thought and a bit of creative effort. Well, I have a recipe for you that you will never think about those TV dinners again. A delicious meal of Salisbury Steak and Mashed Sweet Potatoes. I hope you and your family enjoy this rendition as much as my family does.

“Everyday Salisbury Steak”

Yield: 4 servings Total time: 30 Minutes

1/3 cup grated onion, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
Cooking spray
1 tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1/3 cup dry red wine *** see note below
1 1/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic, and beef in a large bowl. Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Melt butter in pan. Add mushrooms and red pepper, sauté 4 minutes. Stir in wine and remaining onion; cook 2 minutes. Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, and then add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until thick. Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes. Serve the steaks with the gravy ladled over the top and garnish with diced flat leaf Italian Parsley.

***Note: If you're cooking for kids, omit the wine and replace with more beef broth.

“Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

5 or 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg
1 tbsp pure honey 

(more or less to taste)

Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Simmer in a large 3-4 quart pot of water add some salt to the water. After 20 minutes or so, test potatoes with a fork to see if they are fully tender. When cooked, drain water and return sweet potatoes to pan over still-warm burner (leave burner off or on very low heat). Add butter to bottom of pan and stir until melted. Using a potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes with the butter, adding salt and pepper, to taste. Add Nutmeg and then honey to sweeten, stirring thoroughly. Do not over sweeten the potatoes; the honey should be barely perceptible but it should enhance the natural sweetness of the potatoes. Serve mounded with a pat of butter, if desired.


****From September 22nd-27th - Pope Francis will be making a historic visit to the United States. Just want to wish Pope Francis a safe and blessed trip while he is visiting America.*****

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

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heads will turn with “National Fall Hat Month” “Crispy Coconut & Scallion Breaded Chicken Cutlets” & “Creamy Blue Cheese Slaw”

Do you wear hats? I know lots of people who do and look absolutely stunning in them. I personally am a hat person. I grew up wearing a hat, especially in the winter. There are so many hats to choose from. How about you? Are you a hat person?

September just happens to be "National Fall Hat Month" and this quirky holiday couldn't come at a better time. The official day of fall is next week and temperatures are getting cooler. So it's time to dig out those hats that have been hiding in closets during the warmer months. Hats are a hallmark of the fall season. They can introduce a look, camouflage a bad hair day, and combat the nip in the air.

Fall Hat Month is always celebrated in the month of September. Both men and women wear hats and hats have been a part of our history for years. A hat is a head covering which may be worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. In the military, they denote rank and regiment. Purveyors of men's hats are called “Hatters” and purveyors of women's hats are called “Milliners.”

Audrey Hepburn
As we know both men and women wear hats from time to time, but it was not so long ago that you didn’t leave the house without some type of hat on your head, no matter who you were or your occupation. Just like clothes fashion, hats helped depict a time period. Just visualize a black top hat and right away you think of Abraham Lincoln in the 1800‘s. In more modern times, there was the pink pillbox hat worn by First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the 1960’s. Hats have always been a part of our history. Others who were known for there hats were Sherlock Holmes, Eliza Doolittle  from “My Fair Lady, Indiana Jones famous hat in the Raiders of the Lost Ark film series,  John Wayne’s cowboy hat, one of the most famous person who wears hats is Queen Elizabeth II, and the list goes on.

"Nanni with her fall hat"
The same is true about our ancestors. Many of the photographs we might have collected of our family through the years will have them wearing a hat, whether they were indoors or outside. So with the month of September being National Hat Month, this is a great opportunity to revisit those photographs and really look to see how many have worn hats and even children wearing hats. There are many styles and just as many names for those styles. There is the derby hat, newsboy cap, a beanie, a top hat and the large brimmed hats, to name a few. It is the very large broad brimmed ladies’ hats of the 1900 to 1915 period that were over the top. You often wondered how they managed to carry such a large hat and not fall over from the weight. Feathers on these large hats also nearly wiped out many bird species. Besides feathers, there might be even ribbons, bows, flowers, and beads all piled on the hat.

I remember going to NYC in the garment district when I was younger with my Nanni (grandmother) for her hat supplies as she was a Milliner. She owned her own shop and called herself “Roberta Originals.” Later on in her life she also was an Interior Designer. One of my many memories of going to her shop which was in Astoria, Queens was helping her for the day. She would take me on the bus and we would go into New York City in the garment district so she could get her supplies for her hats.

Nanni's business card before she moved the shop to Astoria

It was always an experience to be with her as she would teach me about many ways to be creative. Sometimes when we would be in the garment district she would bring me to a store that would carry buttons, scarves, feathers, felt, material and many other bric-a-brac that she used to create her “Originals.“ My Nanni you could say was very flamboyant in her ways. She always dressed to the nines and would expect me to be very prim and proper. Her hats were so beautiful and always different. All I had to do is have a hat on, (at that time they used hats when I was a young girl) she would take a chiffon scarf out of her closet and drape it on the hat, and a new hat would be born. 

Her hats were gorgeous! I especially loved the big floppy hats with the feathers and beautiful colors with bric-a-brac on them. I would always try on her hats and then she would be able to see where to put the accessories on her newest creations. You could say I was her hat model. She made hats for so many people and functions. I also remember that she would always have beautiful Hat Pins to add to her hats. These pins were very long and had a big end to them encrusted with jewelry, rhinestones, or beads. They were always on display in these vases like holders made from ceramic. 

"Hat Pins"

After her passing, I inherited many of her hats, felt ones, ones with feathers, and many with just scarves around the brim. I even have one with fox fur around the hat and a scarf that matches. Her hats were always put in these beautiful big hat boxes to store them year after year. I always show off one of her hats on my dresser according to the season. Every time I look at my dresser and see her hat, I always remember my Nanni and her exuberant ways to share her special profession and love of hats.

So in honor of National Fall Hat Month and a tribute to my Nanni, I have two recipes this week to share. You can pair a Pinot Grigio, Merlot, or a Sauvignon Blanc wine with this dinner.

Crispy Coconut and Scallion Breaded Chicken Cutlets

A crispy coconut breading is a healthier way to add sweetness and crunch to this creative chicken recipe.

Servings: 4

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut 

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 scallions
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg
8 small chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil

In a shallow bowl, combine the coconut, panko, and scallions. Place the flour in a second shallow bowl and beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water in a third. Season the chicken cutlets with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Dip each in the flour, then the egg, letting any excess drip off, then coat in the coconut mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the cutlets and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side; transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet. Repeat with the remaining oil and cutlets. Serve with “Creamy Blue Cheese Slaw”below or a salad of your choice.

In front of Nanni's Shop
“Creamy Blue Cheese Slaw”

Rich, pungent blue cheese gives this crunchy slaw a surprising creaminess and luxurious flavor.

Serves: 4

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 small red cabbage
1/2 small Red Onion
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. blue cheese

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir in the fennel seeds (if using). Add the cabbage, onion, and apple and toss to coat. Fold in the parsley and all but 1 tablespoon blue cheese. Sprinkle the remaining blue cheese over the top before serving. Enjoy!

(Recipe from Woman's Day)

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

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

“Mama's Stuffed Cucuzza Long” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have a mouthwatering recipe which I know you will love ……..Enjoy!

I remember my mother used to make a type of squash called Cucuzza (means super long squash), but we called it in Italian “goo-gutzalong.” She would take this Italian squash and stuff it with a meatball stuffing, cook it, and serve it over rice. Cucuzza comes from the southern regions of Italy; Campania, Calabria, and Sicily. Its skin color is light green and the shape is very long, curved and bottom heavy. It is prepared just like zucchini and has the same tender, mildly-sweet flavor with it‘s pure white flesh. This Italian squash can grow to three feet in length. The season for this squash is from June until frost.  Cucuzza is high in vitamin C and fiber plus contains no fat or sodium. Italian legend says, “Eat Cucuzza and you will prosper and live a long life…” 

(my mom, Madeline)
Italian recipes using Cucuzza range from very simple to quite complex. Anyway you prepare this sweet appealing squash would be a palatable experience and certainly full of flavor. I would love to share with you my mom’s recipe, called “Stuffed Cucuzza Long.” Mangia! Molto Bene! 

"Mama's Stuffed Cucuzza Long

1 long Cucuzza
Celery cut in chunks plus leaves
Tomato sauce (small amount)
Olive Oil just to coat bottom of pot
Salt & pepper to taste
1 recipe of “Mama’s Meatballs” (click link)

Prepare Cucuzza by peeling it and cutting it in rounds or cylinders about 2”inches thick. Next take out the seeds and leave most of the white pulp, just enough to be able to stuff with meatball stuffing mix. Put aside and prepare the un-cooked meatball mix. Once that is ready you can now stuff the cut rounds of uncooked Cucuzza. Stuff but not overflowing, then put aside. Now take a Dutch oven or large heavy pot and coat the bottom with some olive oil. Cut up your onions and celery. Once oil is shimmering add the onions and celery, sauté till somewhat soft, then add about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce for color. Stir and then add your rounds of stuffed Cucuzza. Add some salt/pepper and water to pot not to cover the squash, but just enough to go half way up each piece, to cook in. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. You need to turn each piece every 10 minutes, so each piece gets cooked and remember you are cooking uncooked meat. If you need more water add a small amount at a time. Cook for about 1 hour or so depending on the size of your Cucuzza rounds. You can serve over rice. Enjoy!   

Till Next Time………………………….

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

“Fresh, No Bake Blueberry Pie” In Honor Of The 9-11 Memorial

That Tuesday, (September 11, 2001) started out like any other day…I had on the Today Show and after drinking my tea, I went to take a shower. After my shower, my phone kept ringing, so I answered it and my husband was on the phone…He asked me if I was watching TV and told him that I had it on, but was in the shower. I could hear fear and tension in his voice, so I said to him, “what is wrong?” He told me that if I put on the news I could see what had happened, he said, “at 8:46 am a plane American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.” I had to sit down and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. Then at 9:03 am –another plane United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the WTC’s South Tower. At that time everyone did not understand what was happening, but realized later that day that these crashes killed everyone on board and hundreds inside the building as well as others outside.

Then another tragic incident happened at  9:37 am –Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crashed another plane into the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building. At 9:59 am –The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. At 10:07 am–After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard. Then tragically at 10:28 am –The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11. The rest is history that we will never forget!
Today is the 14th Anniversary of September 11, 2001, a day most Americans and the world will never forget. A terrorist attack on America took place that day, and thousands of people lost their lives. Over 2,996 (2,977 victims + 19 hijackers) the entire country as well as the world was impacted by this tragic day’s events. Non-fatal injuries were 6,000 +.  Within hours of the attack, a substantial search and rescue operation was launched. After months of around-the-clock operations, the World Trade Center site was cleared by the end of May 2002.

On the day of the attacks, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani stated: "We will rebuild. We're going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, and economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again." The damaged section of the Pentagon was rebuilt and occupied within a year of the attacks. The temporary World Trade Center PATH station opened in late 2003 and construction of the new 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006. Work on rebuilding the main World Trade Center site was delayed until late 2006 when leaseholder Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed on financing. The construction of One World Trade Center began on April 27, 2006, and reached its full height on May 20, 2013. The spire was installed atop the building at that date, putting 1 WTC's height at 1,776 feet and thus claiming the title of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. #1 WTC finished construction and opened on November 3, 2014.

In the days immediately following the attacks, many memorials and vigils were held around the world, and photographs of the dead and missing were posted around Ground Zero. A witness described being unable to "get away from faces of innocent victims who were killed. Their pictures are everywhere, on phone booths, street lights, walls of subway stations. Everything reminded me of a huge funeral, people quiet and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York gave me a cold feeling; now people were reaching out to help each other.”

On every anniversary, in New York City, the names of the victims who died there are read out against a background of somber music. The President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon, and asks Americans to observe Patriot Day with a moment of silence. Smaller services are held in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which are usually attended by the President's spouse.

I would like to say that my heart and prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones in the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Plus, my prayers also go to the First Responders, who have lost their lives due to their bravery. Plus we can’t forget the animals that helped in the recovery. May our country and the world be safe and may “God Bless America!”

If you would like to learn more information about the “911 Memorial and Museum,” just click on this link, 911 Memorial and Museum.”

In honor of all who lost their lives and families, my recipe today is what America is known for….“Pies.” Blueberry pie was first eaten by early American settlers and remains a popular dessert in the United States and Canada. Blueberry pie made with wild Maine blueberries is the official state dessert of the U.S. state of Maine. Blueberry pie has been documented in the Appledore Cook Book in 1872. 

                                            "Fresh, No Bake Blueberry Pie

1  9-inch Graham Ready Crust Pie shell 

2 large Bananas
1 jar of Polaner Sugar Free Apricot Preserves
1 to 2 Pints of fresh Blueberries
Home made whipped cream for the top

This pie is so delicious and easy; it actually takes about 10 minutes to assemble. Start by cleaning the blueberries, wash and pull off stems and ones that are not good. Put in a bowl and set aside. Now take the Graham Ready Crust Pie shell and take off the cover, as well as pull up the sides of the aluminum a little bit. Take the two bananas and peel, cut into small rounds. Arrange bananas on bottom of Graham cracker crust, in rounds. 

Put the 1 jar of Polaner Sugar Free Apricot Preserves in the bowl with the blueberries, and stir gently not to brake down the berries. After all is mixed together now gently place the blueberries on top of bananas in the pie shell crust. Spread to the ends of the pie crust. Lastly add the home made whipped cream to the top of the pie and cover. (Plastic cover that comes with the crust) Now refrigerate till you are ready to use at least an hour. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea.  

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

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