Friday, September 28, 2012

"Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Raisin Vinaigrette" Recipe For "World Vegetarian Day"

Here we are approaching the beginning of October. The months are just flying by, but I bet you didn’t know that October 1st is World Vegetarian Day? It is the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month that is full of parties, potluck dinners, food tasting displays and lots of friendly discussions.

This holiday is an International Observance so everyone all over the world will be celebrating. World Vegetarian Day was established as an annual celebration to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of Vegetarianism. This day was originated in 1977 and was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.

You may ask, “Who celebrates this holiday?” Mostly Vegetarians, but even those who are not vegetarians who want to be healthy or just love fruits and veggies. This special day and month serves as an enticement to give meatless meals a fare try. It brings awareness to the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

It is important to note that all vegetarian diets are not alike. There are many categories to vegetarian diets, but theses are the major ones used which include:

Ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs; but no meat
Lacto-ovo vegetarians: eats dairy and egg products; but no meat
Lacto-vegetarian: eats dairy products; no eggs or meat
Vegan: eats only foods from plant sources
Semi-vegetarians: who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish

There are many cultures and religions that require you to eat vegetarian. People that are practicing vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, (BMI) lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, and metabolic syndrome. This also includes dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders. Non-lean red meat, in particular, has been found to be directly associated with increase risk of cancers of the esophagus, liver, colon, and the lungs.

Here is a small list of notable people who have been reported to have been on a vegetarian diet at some point during their life; Alyssa Milano, Bob Barker, Sir Paul McCartney, Russell Simmons, Carrie Underwood, Lea Michele, Kristen Wilg, Forrest Whitaker, Russell Brand, and Bill Clinton. So make a difference this October by informing others about the benefits of Vegetarianism. You will be helping to make a better world because vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, save animals’ lives and help preserve the earth.
This weeks recipe is one that is not only nutritious, but very tasty and it fits within the guidelines of a vegetarian diet. “Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Raisin Vinaigrette.” A slightly chunky raisin sauce dresses up roasted cauliflower florets to make this simple side dish that is special enough for a dinner party. This recipe was taken from the “Vegetarian Times”. Enjoy and don’t forget what you mother always told you to do which were, “to eat all of your fruits and veggies!”

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Raisin Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower

1 small head of cauliflower, washed and cut into florets (1 1/2 lb)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced (2 tsp)

To make roasted cauliflower; preheat oven to 425° F. Toss together cauliflower, oil, and garlic on large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread cauliflower in single layer on baking sheet, and roast 20 to 25 minutes or until florets are browned on the edges, turning occasionally.


1/2 cup of raisins
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

To make Vinaigrette; place raisins in heat-proof bowl or measuring cup, and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes or until the raisins are soft and plump. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup soaking liquid. Now blend raisins, soaking liquid, oil, and vinegar in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve Roasted Cauliflower drizzled with the Vinaigrette. You can use this vinaigrette for other tasty veggies as well. Serves: 4 people.

Till Next Time……………….

Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September is "National Honey Month" & A "Baked Apples With Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey” Recipe

“That buzzing noise means something. Now, the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you are.. a bee! And the only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it!” Pooh Bear himself said this quote and it was from, “Winnie The Pooh and The Honey Tree.” Yes, honey is a sweet and gooey fluid produced by honey bees, and derived from the nectar of flowers. According to the US National Honey Board, “honey is a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance."

You must be wondering why I am talking about bees, honey, and Winnie the Pooh? That is because September is “National Honey Month , which is why beekeepers and honey lovers are celebrating! Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans began hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt and Rome, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, plus many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian people used honey for embalming their dead. The art of beekeeping in ancient China appears to be untraceable and was used not only for culinary purposes, but also for practical health uses. In 2010, China, Turkey, and the United States were the top producers of natural honey.

Did you know that honey is not all the same? Honey is available in many varieties! When bees visit mostly one kind of flower as they gather nectar, the honey they produce has a unique taste, aroma, and color from that particular flower. Other honeys are delicious blends of floral sources such as clover and wildflowers. There is raw honey, which contains enzymes that help digestion, several vitamins and antioxidants.
This brings me to the medicinal uses of honey. For at least 2,700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical applications. Only recently honey has been found to have antibacterial properties and an antimicrobial agent for treating a variety of ailments. Did you know that honey is used in the treatment of diabetic ulcers? Honey also prevents dressings from sticking to healing wounds. I bet that you didn’t know that honey combined with lemon is often taken orally by laryngitis sufferers, in order to soothe them? But as we all know the main uses of honey is in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, beer, and tea.

My recipe this week is in honor of “National Honey Month,” is a baked apple recipe with dried figs, raisins, nuts, and of course honey. As the weather is getting cooler and the first day of fall is right around the corner, this recipe is a perfect warm and scrumptious dessert to serve for your family. Apple season is getting into full swing, so this is a delicious way to use those crisp, juicy apples. We know that baked apples are a favorite in America, but it is also a favorite in northern Italy. Half of the Italian crop of apples comes from the Alto Adige and Trentino regions. This comfort dessert is not too hard and it makes your taste buds dance. So enjoy and have some “Honey”!

Baked Apples, Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey

4 large Golden Delicious or Cortland apples, washed and cored through the center
5 dried figs (I use Mission / Kalamata Figs)
4 dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, in small cubes
1/2 cup of orange juice or apple juice

Put the figs in a bowl and pour hot water over them which will allow them to soften up; let them stand for about 30 minutes. Drain the softened figs, cut off the stems and discard. Now cut figs into small pieces and place them in a bowl with the apricots, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. Stir in the honey and coat well. This is your filling for the apples. Preheat oven to 350° . Next core apples and cut a shallow slit around the center of each apple, just through the skin, approximately 1/8 of an inch deep, this is so the apples don’t explode and it makes a better presentation on your plate or bowl. Divide and stuff the mixture in the cored apples. Dot the apples with the butter and place them in a baking dish. Pour the orange or apple juice in the bottom of the dish. Now bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples are just soft enough but not collapsed. If filling begins to blacken, cover the apples with foil and continue cooking. Serve warm with some of the pan juices or a dollop of whipped cream. “Yummy in my tummy,” Winnie the Pooh would say!!!

Till Next Time…………..

Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Purple Foot Festival" & A "Little Italian Wine Cookie" Recipe

Some of my readers maybe to young to remember an iconic TV show called “I Love Lucy”. In 1956 one of Lucille Ball’s episodes was called, “Lucy’s Italian Movie” or better known as “The Grape-Stomping” episode. On route to Italy, an Italian producer offers Lucy a role in a film called “Bitter Grapes.” So she decides to take a job in a vineyard to absorb a “little color.” This was one of the funniest story lines ever and one that will live on forever.
 Did you know that you can re-create this Grape-Stomping episode by attending the Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, New York? The Casa Larga Vineyards is New York’s premier wine producer and has won many awards for their highly regarded production of table wines. On Sunday September 16, 2012 the Casa Larga Vineyards will be host to “The Purple Foot Festival.” This is a way to celebrate and kick off harvest time at the Casa Larga plus take into account the owners (Colarutolo) family’s Italian heritage.

Casa Larga is best known for the authentic old world grape stomping that earned it the name of the “Purple Foot”. Grape stomping is done only at certain times of the year, when the grape picking is in full swing. This event gives you the opportunity to experience and learn traditional grape stomping methods. Their process is taking grapes and put them in wine barrels that are cut in half which then are pressed by machines. “Back in the day,” in Gaeta, Italy; the grapes were pressed by women because they had gentler feet. The idea for this event was thought up 16 years ago and it is fun to watch people’s expressions when they step in the barrel.
But the “Purple Foot Festival” offers much more than foot-staining grape stomping. Guests can take their purple feet around the vineyard on hayrides or attend and Italian dance class. There are activities for those under 21, including a children’s area with a maze, a magician, crafts, live music, and many vendors with irresistible goodies. Adults will enjoy beer tasting, Casa Larga’s wine tasting, hard cider samples, winery tours, and seminars on food paring with wines which can be purchased at their vineyards. Fairport is located in Monroe County, New York and is 9 miles east of Rochester. It is also know as the “Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal” and was named in Money Magazine’s “Best Place to Live”. So, if you find yourself up in that part of New York State, have some fun, turn your feet purple, and visit Casa Larga Vineyards.

My recipe this week is called, “Little Wine Cookies” or “Biscottini al Vino.” This recipe is courtesy of Mary Ann Esposito, of Ciao Italia. When these cookies are baking you can smell the wonderful scents of the wine and I’m sure it brings back memories of long ago. These cookies are made for dunking in wine or with coffee. They are not soft but keep well in an airtight container. My great-grandmother had a recipe for wine dunking cookies but that recipe was not written down and my great-grandmother is no longer with us to ask. But this delicious, hard cookie is a keeper.

Little Wine Cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of red wine such as Vin Santo or Corvo Red
4 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, mixed together for egg wash

In an electric mixer on medium speed, blend together the sugar, vegetable oil, and wine. Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add them to the sugar mixture and blend together at medium speed until a soft dough forms. The dough should not be sticky, but soft and smooth.
Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Once chilled, the dough is very easy to work with. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll them with the palm of your hand to form a 4-inch rope that is 1/2-inch thick. Bring the ends together and pinch them tightly, forming a circle that looks like a miniature bagel. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on un-greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are golden brown. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Yield: 6 dozen
Till Next Time………

Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memory Of September 11, 2001...We Must Never Forget!

Today is the 11th Anniversary of 9/11, a day most Americans and the world will never forget. An attack on America took place that day, and thousands of people lost their lives. The entire country was impacted by this tragic day’s events.

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. My prayers also go to the First Responders, who also have lost their lives due to their bravery. May our country and the world be safe and may,
“God Bless America!”

Till Next Time.......

Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"It's TV Dinner Time" & An "Easy Comfy Dinner" Recipe

September has begun and we are getting back to our normal routines. School is back in session and memories of summer vacations will hopefully last till next year. It is such a busy time of the year and parents everywhere are trying to make sure their children eat a well balanced dinner after school and activities. I remember when I was growing up; my mom always had a hot, fresh meal for our dinner after our school activities. Dinner time was sacred, it was a time to talk about our day and discuss the events of the world. It was family time, no phone calls, no television, and no friends came to the door, and nothing disturbed us, as we were all together enjoying my mom’s delicious fresh meal she made for us with her tender loving hands. Sometimes my brothers and I had commitments to school activities at dinner time and we were not able to be all together at the table. Most of the time there would be a plate ready to heat up in the oven, but once in a while my mom would give us a TV Dinner as a treat when we came home. It was a fast and nutritious way of having a hot meal before we had to finish our homework and then head off to bed. To me when I think or see a TV Dinner I think of comfort food that brings back many happy memories of my family when I was young.

September 10th is the anniversary of the TV Dinner and it is called “National TV Dinner Day.” The first TV Dinner was sold by C.A. Swanson & Sons in 1953. The TV Dinner was a frozen, precooked meal that was placed in three compartments in an aluminum tray and it was perfect for individual servings. The first product included turkey with dressing, buttered peas and sweet potatoes. A few years later, Swanson added another compartment to the tray for desserts. Each ready-to-eat meal cost under $1 and was packaged to resemble America’s latest craze-The Television! The product fit perfectly on folding trays so people could watch TV while they ate.
Vintage TV Trays

There is some debate as to who actually invented the frozen meal. We know that Gerald Thomas from Swanson & Sons is often credited as the inventor of the TV Dinner, but Clarence Birdseye probably invented the frozen dinner in 1923, as it was Swanson that coined the phrase “TV Dinner”. Many modern TV Dinners can now be cooked in the microwave as well. These TV Dinners are not just for dinner anymore. Today’s large assortment of frozen breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts or snacks are all available in all sorts of sizes and prices. These frozen meals come in many combinations, such as fried chicken, pizza, Salisbury steak to name a few. Other brands besides Swanson began making these meals such as Banquet, Lean Cuisine, Marie Callender’s, Stouffers and many more.

So to honor the TV Dinner I thought my recipe of the week would be, to re-create the TV Dinner as a comfort food, but without the compartments or trays. A dinner that is fast and easy for your active families. I call it “Easy Comfy Dinner”. This is so simple and nutritious plus it is something that can be heated up if you need to for the late bird in your family. This dinner includes a hot open-faced Turkey sandwich, sweet buttered peas, plus creamy mashed potatoes, with a crisp green salad and a home made warm brownie for dessert.

Easy Comfy Dinner

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
Leftover turkey meat, sliced (you can also use deli turkey)
1 can of turkey gravy or leftover homemade gravy
1 can of sliced mushrooms drained
4 large slices of whole grain bread

Heat gravy in a skillet until heat up. Add pieces of cooked sliced turkey or sliced to the gravy. Coat the turkey with gravy and cool till heated through. Place a slice of bread on a plate. Top with sliced turkey and gravy. Yield: Serves 4

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Yukon Gold peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of milk
4-5 scallions thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Smash potatoes with a masher and add milk, butter, sour cream and scallions into potatoes until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Peas
Your favorite frozen or fresh peas cooked tenderly to perfection with a pat of butter to add flavor to your taste buds.

Warm Brownie
Your favorite Brownie warmed with frosting melting down its side and nuts to give it the right crunch. Yummy! Just hits the spot with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate to end your “Easy Comfy Dinner.”

Till Next Time…….

Copyright © 2012 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved