Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent, Saint Nicholas, Sunshine Award & An “Escarole Soup” Recipe

December 2013
As I began to write this post, my eyes glanced at the calendar, and as I looked closer, I see that it is December 6th! As I get older, I learn that each year the days and months get shorter. With that being said, the beginning of December means that Advent is upon us. Advent is the religious countdown to Christmas and my favorite holiday of the year. It seems to be a magical time, as I start to decorate my house for this joyous season. Everyday another room gets transformed into what my family calls "Dottie’s Christmas Village." I have many candles and lots of beautiful angels plus you cannot forget the tree, with jolly old St. Nick under its branches. My Nativity takes a special place on my mantle surrounded by golden angels and branches of pines trees that fills the room with the scent of outdoors. As I unpack all of the decorations and ornaments for the tree, I seem to travel back in time. I am reminded of all my treasured keepsakes and who gave them to me throughout the years. One of the first items I always take out first is my Advent calendar, and place it in a spot that all could see. During the Advent season, Christians all over the world start to prepare for the birth of Jesus. In celebration of His birth, there are many preparations, such as decorating your house, your tree, wrapping gifts, cards to write, meals to cook and plan, plus baking cookies, gingerbread houses, and lastly who will be attending Midnight Mass.

Advent Calendar
Advent is a tradition in my home, when my son was young. My grandmother (Nanni) started giving him an advent calendar every year, so he could understand how many days were left till Christmas Day. Everyday my son looked forward to opening another door and see what was behind it. Sometimes a short poem, a Christmas word, a chocolate kiss, or something that pertained to the birth of Jesus. After my Nanni passed on, I continued the tradition for my son as well as my nieces and nephews. 

The beginning of December is not only for Advent but also on December 6th, today we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas! Whether you call him, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, St. Nick, or any other names that are used for him, Santa is still the hero of millions of children in the whole world. He had a reputation for secret gift giving. Legend states that the children put outside their shoes to dry, and that St. Nick placed coins, apples, and goodies in the shoes. That is how he became the model for our modern day Santa Claus, which also comes from the Dutch name called Sinterklaas. St. Nicholas (San Nicola) is the patron saint of Bari, in Italy, where his relics are buried in the Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of St. Nicholas). Therefore, I hope that your shoes have many goodies from Saint Nicholas!

St. Nicholas
As I end this post, I have one last event that I must share with you my readers. I am so pleased to accept the "Sunshine Award" from my friend Catherine of "Living The Gourmet." Thank you so very much, Catherine for giving me this award. It means a lot to me and truly, you are a good friend. To participate please answer the questions below! Have fun and thank you!!

There are a few rules to receiving this award:
1. Include an image of the award in your post or on your blog.
2. Link the person(s) who nominated you.
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself.
4. Name 10 bloggers to receive this award. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Sunshine Award

Catherine’s questions to me and my answers:

1. Describe something that amazes you?
How time goes by so fast, that we have to be so grateful for the time we have to be with our family and friends.

2. If you could pass one lesson on to children what would it be?
To be thankful for all that, they have in their life, “more” is not the answer in life.

3. What is your #1 indulgence?
Coffee Ice Cream, or Ice Cream of any kind.

4. What is one healthy habit that you embrace?
I try to cut back on eating meat, have more veggies! Also, try not to eat Ice Cream!

5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A night owl, totally!

6. What do you value most in a person? Why?
Honesty and their compassion towards the other person. Without honesty you can not trust the person to be compassionate to others.

7. If you can eliminate one thing you have to do routinely what would it be? Why?
To get dressed…I love my PJ’s. They are comfortable which lets me get my creative flow going, to cook, bake, and most of all write!

8. What do you do if you need peace of mind?
I try to sit quietly, put on some classical music. Then, I thank God for all I have, say a prayer and that usually brings me back to a place where I can now deal with things better.

9. What is the one thing that makes you the happiest?
Seeing my family and knowing that God and His Angels are watching over everyone.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve? Why?
When people get animals and they do not take care of them. They are innocent souls that we need to take responsibility for. I am a total advocate for all animals.

11. What is your favorite outdoor activity and how often do you engage in that activity?  Love SNOW, and to walk as it is snowing would be my favorite thing to do in the winter. I look forward to that all year long.

Now for the nominees! (Just click on each link)

Christmas Spirit 

Catholic Cuisine
My Little Italian Kitchen
Hungry Runner
Italian American Girl
Cooking With Nonna
But You Dont Look Sick
Christmas Memories 

Holidays Cozy Style
Christina's Cucina

My recipe this week is “Escarole Soup.” This recipe is a traditional dish that is made to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, on December 6th. Its origin is Italian and you can add white kidney beans and tortellini to the soup.

Escarole Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 lb of escarole, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. You can add a can of white kidney beans (washed and rinsed) plus cooked Tortellini. Serve with crusty Italian bread and top with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.

Till Next Time……

Copyright © 2013 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Happy St. Nicholas Day, Dottie!

    When my kids were little we use to always make advent calendars from construction paper. I would cut out the paper in a festive shape and then cut out the windows too. The kids, when they were a bit older, use to go through magazines and cut out Christmas images and then I would select the ones to "hide" behind the doors. Sometimes I would surprise them with pictures they didn't cut out, lol...

    Your decorating sounds so festive. I don't decorate as much anymore so I gave many of my decorations to my son and daughter for their houses.

    Congratulations on the award! And thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself, coffee ice cream is a weakness of mine too, lol...Escarole Soup has not been on my table in way too long. I actually know how to say it in Italian too, that's how often we had it at our house when I was growing up. I really should make some for "old times sake:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Dottie. I just love visiting your "home" on the internet:)

  2. Happy St. Nicholas Day to you as well, Louise. Thank you for stopping by. I really like your idea of the Advent Calendars that you made when your kids were young. It is always a fun time when you can use your imagination. I used to do much more decorating but have moved into a smaller home. If I could have Christmas up all year I would be thrilled. Thanks for the congrats, I have to thank Catherine. She nominated you as well, so that is why I did not re-nominate you again. It was fun answering the questions. The Escarole soup is so good, especially on a rainy day like today here in L.I.
    Hope that Marion is doing ok? Thanks, Blessings for a good weekend, Dottie :)

  3. Hi Dottie , First , congrats on your award . This my favorite time of the year , and also my busiest. We also give our kids Advent cards which they enjoy so much . I , too go down memory lane at this time of year and I am so blessed , it seems the things you have to do is endless ... but I love it and know it is worthwhile and it brings so much joy into our lives . I enjoyed reading your post as I always do . The Escarole soup is to die for . I will make it soon but I will add a little heat (jalapeno peppers) my family love spicy ... Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful and blessed weekend . thanks for sharing :).

  4. Dear Nee, Thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by. I think most people find that this is a special time of year to. I know that we are blessed with family and friends, but the smiles on their faces when we do things special for them just makes my day! Yes, that soup is so good, my mom used to make it for us when we were kids, very healthy, and delicious as well! I love the idea of the peppers with it. I also like a little heat sometimes. Gald that you enjoyed reading...Blessings Dottie :)

  5. Dear Dottie,
    I completely forgot about St Nicolas day! In my region in the north of Italy we celebrate St Lucy's day which is on the 13th of December. She comes and brings gifts to the children in their shoes.
    I bought advent calendars for my children too (but without chocolate though! They get enough sugar!).
    I love Advent as it is special time of the year!
    You have made a fab soup here! Beautiful Dottie!
    Well done on your award and thank you so much for sharing it with me :-))

  6. Hi Alida, Thank you for stopping by..Yes, I know St. Lucy is next Friday, and she is the patron Saint of the eyes. We celebrate her day as well, but I have never heard of St. Lucy bringing gifts to the children. So many customs, I guess each region of Italy has their own. Yes, Advent is a special time, as the countdown continues.... the soup was my mom's recipe. Sometimes we had that for dinner growing up. It is really easy and it so'll want a second bowl. Thanks for your words about the award. I thought your blog was worthy of an award as well. Enjoy! Blessings, Dottie :)

  7. So nice to have such lovely comments, but they are extra special coming from an fellow "Italiana"! This soup is exactly what I love about Italian peasant cooking, super easy, super healthy and super delicious! How can anyone top that? xx

  8. Hi Christina, Thank you for stopping by. So happy that you enjoyed reading my stories and my recipe. My mom would make this dish for us when I was young, and you are correct, simple, easy, and so yummy. Simpicilty is what Italian cooking is all about. Good hearty and healthy meals from fresh ingredients. That is what I remember my mom teaching me when I was young. You must have the same experience being Italian too! Hope that you enjoy your weekend, blessings, Dottie :)

  9. Dear Dottie, I love the history of St. Nicholas and thank you for including it in this post. So many think of St . Nick as a "legend" or "myth".
    I do love escarole soup. It was a staple growing up. I loved to dip the Italian bread in the broth.

    I am happy that you liked the award and thank you for participating.

    Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

  10. Dear Catherine,

    Thank you for stopping by. So glad that you enjoyed the story of St. Nick. I also love his story as well. Especially in an Italian family the Saints have molded our lives, with stories, customs, and traditions. The escarole soup is so good. I always remember my mom serving to us when we were kids, and you are right, nothing like dipping the bread in the soup.
    Thank you again for the award, and the help, it was fun to do. Blessings, Dottie :)

  11. Merry Christmas! Time indeed passes quickly.

    Your escarole soup looks delicious. A simple and soulful soup.


  12. Hi Velva,
    Welcome to my blog, and thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas to you as well! Thank you for your comments on the soup. It is really good and as you said soulful! Great to meet you, please come back again, as next week starts my "12 Days of Music"..
    Blessings for a wonderful week. Dottie :)