Friday, March 28, 2014

All About "Rice" And A "Mushroom Risotto" Recipe... Delicious!!

If you have walked down the rice aisle lately at the supermarket, you’ve no doubt been surprised at the number of options available for the consumer who needs to purchase this very common staple. These days, rice is no longer just a few select varieties. Worldwide there are more than 40,000 different varieties of rice. There are about 20 rice types grown in the US. They are classified as Long, Medium or Short grain. California grows, short and medium grain. While Arkansas produces medium and long grain varieties. Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas grow long grain rice with some production of medium grain varieties in each state. Long Grain: perfect choice for a side dish, main dish, or salad recipes. Medium grain: ideal for dessert, casseroles, bread and stir-fry recipes. Short grain: great for stir-fry recipes and puddings. Did you know that rice consumption is on the rise? In fact, Americans eat twice as much rice now than they did 10 years ago. People have been growing rice for almost 10,000 years. 

Rice has many health benefits such as being rich in fiber. Rice reduces blood pressure due to its low sodium content. It also has the presence of potassium. Rice will stimulate the elimination of liquids, reduces the pressure, and risks of heart problems. Brown rice is the healthiest and white rice is the least nutritional, but it is not considered particularly unhealthy. Rice is high in complex carbohydrates, contains almost no fat, is cholesterol free, and gluten free which makes it easily digestible. 

Rice is a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after corn. Rice was introduced to Europe through Western Asia, and to the Americas through European colonization. Muslims brought rice to Sicily, where it was an important crop. It was cultivated and promoted by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. In the year 1694, in the USA, rice arrived in South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar.

There are many varieties of rice and culinary preferences tend to vary regionally. Raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses, including making many kinds of beverages, such as rice milk, and rice wine. Rice flour does not contain gluten, so is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. Rice flour and starch often are used in batters and a breading method to increase crispiness. Rice is cooked by boiling or steaming, and absorbs water during cooking. It can be cooked in just as much water as it absorbs, or in a large quantity of water which is drained before serving. Electric rice cookers, more popular in Asia and Latin America, simplify the process of cooking rice. Arborio rice is sometimes quickly fried in oil or fat before boiling (for example saffron rice or risotto); this makes the cooked rice less sticky, and is a cooking style commonly called Pilaf by American chefs in India, Pakistan, and Iran. Almost one in five adult Americans reports eating at least half a serving of white or brown rice per day.

Arborio rice: Arborio rice is named after a town in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions of northwest Italy. A short grain Italian white rice, Arborio is popular in risotto and other Italian rice dishes. Arborio's short, plump grains contain more starch than most other rice varieties, which makes it ideal for starchy rice dishes like risotto. It is also well suited for rice dishes where the rice must retain a shape, like sushi. Its pearly appearance and short, fat grains are expected to be served slightly al dente, still firm inside. It can be ground into flour and added to dishes that require a creamy consistency.

Please join me in cooking this recipe which is a favorite of my family. It is made with Arborio rice. This dish is called, “Mushroom Risotto.” This rice dish can be a tasty side with either chicken and or fish. I know that your family would love it just like mine does. Don’t get discouraged making Risotto. It takes practice to get your Risotto to the perfect consistency. The main key to making this recipe is stirring the rice in the same direction and always use a wooden spoon. The reason for the wooden spoon is that it will not break down the rice in your Risotto. This recipe is adapted from Chef Tomm‘s “Risotto.” Note: This recipe is the base for all risottos. For instance if you wanted to make this a chicken and grilled asparagus you would cook the chicken and asparagus separately then add them hot, toss them with the risotto then finish it by adding the cheese and butter.

Mushroom Risotto

2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into small dice (approximately 1/ 4 inch)
10 ounces baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/ 2 cup of white wine (the kind you like to drink)
2 sprigs of Thyme
7 cups Chicken stock, hot (it doesn’t stop the process of cooking if it is hot)
Note: (You may not need all of the stock)
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or more if you like
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus for shaving (or more if you like)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms. Cook the onions until translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Once the onions are translucent add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine to the toasting rice ensuring that it is all cooked off before you add any stock. Add a 6-ounce ladle of the chicken stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Add in two sprigs of thyme. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the thyme. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Portion risotto into 4 warmed serving plates, serving with extra shaved cheese. Bon Appetit !

Wine Pairings To Drink;

Barolo Wine: A red wine from Piedmont, Italy with ripe cherry, raspberry, and creamy vanilla spice. 

Pinot Noir Wine: A red wine with red berry, truffles, and it is earthy.


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

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

“Rigatoni with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes” & “Banana Napoleon With Cocoa Sauce”

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no more words, just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting for…..


 “Rigatoni with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes


1 pound of fresh broccoli rabe
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of tomatoes, diced
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound of rigatoni
3/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano grated cheese


Coarsely chop the broccoli rabe. Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes, until tender-crisp and drain. Return broccoli rabe to pot and sauté with garlic and olive oil for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Separately, cook the pasta in water until al dente (cooked just enough to retain a firm texture). Drain the pasta and toss with a tablespoon of the pasta water. To serve, sprinkle the cheese in a bowl and add the vegetables, then the pasta. Toss like a salad. Serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings  Prep Time: 15 minutes  Cooking Time: 25 minutes


“Banana Napoleon With Cocoa Sauce”

Ingredients for the Cocoa Sauce:

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
6 tablespoon of water
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

For the Napoleon:

6 graham crackers
3 large bananas, sliced into 4 inch pieces on a diagonal
10 tablespoons of light non-dairy whipped topping

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of water until smooth. Set aside. In a small pot, combine the remaining water with the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the reserved cocoa powder. Return the mixture to the stove and let it cook for one minute, until it thickens slightly. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. This sauce can be made in advance.

Break the grahams crackers in half . You will have 12 two–inch squares. Place one graham cracker square on each of four plates. Place some of the bananas on each graham cracker. Top with one tablespoon of whipped topping and then 1 teaspoon of cocoa sauce. Top and repeat with another graham cracker, banana, whipped topping and cocoa sauce. Place a third graham cracker an top and garnish with half tablespoon of whipped topping, add a few strawberries on the plate. Serve immediately.

Yields: 4 servings  Prep time: 20 min  Cooking time: 45 min (including cooling)

****Recipes taken from “Celebrity Chef’s Across America”

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

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 21, 2014

“New York Maple Festival” & “Maple Salmon Fillets”

Come, taste the Tradition! This weekend is Maple Festival time in New York State. There are so many iconic symbols that illustrate what New York State is known for and Pure Maple Syrup is one of them. New York State is 1 of 17 states in the USA that produce 100% Pure Maple Syrup. “The Empire State“ has a distinctive climate, its soil, and trees are recognized as the finest, and perfect for producing Pure Maple Syrup.  

Did you know that New York State is the second largest state in America to produce maple products? Yes, it is true, but Vermont is number one. Canada, although produces more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, and it is mostly produced in Quebec. These dedicated “sugar-makers” take pride in their syrup, and all things made with maple. These Maple Farmers work hard in the forests to continue the tradition of collecting sweet sap for their production of Pure Maple Syrup. That is the way it has been for hundreds of years, and they intend for the tradition to continue for years to come in the future.

It takes more than 40 gallons of maple tree sap to produce one gallon of Pure Maple Syrup. A maple syrup production farm is called “sugar bush” or “sugar wood”. Sap that is collected is boiled in a “sugar house” or “sugar shack”. Maple trees can support between one and three taps, depending upon the trunks diameter. An average maple tree will produce about 9 to 13 gallons of sap per season. Sap is usually tapped during the day, but not at night because the temperatures drop which will restrain the sap flow. Maple Trees can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.

Maple Syrup is often eaten with waffles, pancakes, and French toast. It is also used as an ingredient in baking as a sweetener and for a flavoring agent in many recipes. The United States uses a grading system for their standards of Maple Syrup, which is divided into two major grades: Grade A and Grade B. The grade of syrup not for table use is called commercial or Grade C. Grade A typically has a milder flavor than the Grade B, which is a very dark color, but has a very rich maple flavor.

I remember when I lived in upstate New York, there was a wonderful Maple producer called Sprague’s Maple Farms. They are located in Portville, New York. Portville is a quaint town in the Southern Tier. Numerous times I have been to their farm, not only purchasing maple products, but to have breakfast and dinner at their restaurant. This weekend is their “Maple Festival.” March 22, 23, 29, and 30th. Sprague’s has a year-round, full service restaurant, featuring their own 100% pure maple products. They give tours and demonstrations, plus have many activities for children. Maple cake donuts, maple cotton candy and sugar on snow are very popular with their customers. 

Sprague’s Maple Farm also has a beautiful gift shop featuring all their Maple products and you can purchase products from their online store as well. But the best thing about Sprague’s is their “Pure Maple Syrup“. I can’t tell you how amazing it tastes especially on top of pancakes. So smooth, flavorful, and gooey, it brings back comfort foods that you longed for from home. So, experience an old fashioned good time, make Sprague’s a pleasure to visit. They uphold the tradition of generations who came before them, including Native Americans, who were the first to practice the maple trades. It’s Pure Maple Syrup time! 

My recipe this week is in honor of our maple syrup producers. It is called “Maple Salmon Fillet.” This delicious sauce is sweet, due to the maple syrup, but it is a perfect flavor with the salmon. It has an oriental undertone because of the soy sauce. The salmon is so moist and tasty that you will think you are in the orient. I made a side dish of asparagus and some white rice for a delightful meal. 

Maple Salmon Fillet”

1/4 cup pure Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1-2 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of ginger, minced
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Mix maple syrup, soy sauce, minced garlic, and minced ginger. This is the glaze.
Prepare the baking dish/sheet. Use aluminum foil to line the baking dish/sheet to
save on scrubbing. Spray cooking spray on the foil. Sprinkle the salmon fillet both
sides with salt and black pepper, then pour some of the glaze on the salmon. The
glaze is a bit watery so fold the foil a little inward to make sure the glaze is gathered
with the salmon and not running around the sheet. Cover and let the salmon
marinate in the refrigerator for no more than 30 minutes. In the meantime,
preheat oven to 400°F and cook your rice. Place the salmon in preheated oven, bake
for 20 minutes uncovered or until it’s cooked through. While the salmon is in the
oven, wash and cook the asparagus. After 20 minutes, the rice should be cooked and
so you could serve everything together. Warm up the rest of the glaze before serving
the sauce for salmon. Then Enjoy!

Till Next Time…………..

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Zeppole"And A "Cappuccino Martini" For The Feast Of San Giuseppe

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no more words, just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting for…..

“On this feast day, may you know the compassion and caring, the faith and obedience, the love for Jesus shown to us through St. Joseph”

This is for all the Joseph’s in my life, family and friends!


Makes up to 2 dozen

Vegetable or canola oil to fry with
1 1/2 cups water ( warm -115°F)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp of salt
Choice of topping, like powdered sugar or honey

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a medium bowl combine flour and salt. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise for one hour. Heat oil to 375°F. Use non-sticking spray on your spoon or ladle. Use your spoon or ladle to put batter in oil. (You get different shapes when you fry them. In Italy they would use their hands to drop the batter in the oil.) Fry Zeppole for about 2-3 minutes (depending on the size) until golden on the outside and cooked through. Place them in a brown paper bag and sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle some honey on them. Serve Warm.  


"Cappuccino Martini"

Enjoy creamy flavor of cappuccino with Baileys Irish Cream and a hint of  Kahlua coffee liqueur with chocolate flavored vodka to recreate the creamy taste of a truly Italian cappuccino. Unlike hot cappuccino, this cocktail must be served chilled though.

Serves: 1 serving   Prep time: 3 minutes  Glass: Martini

2 oz Chocolate Vodka
2 oz Baileys with hint of Coffee Liqueur
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz Half and Half
1 Chocolate Bar or Cocoa Powder
Ice Cubes

Take all ingredients (except chocolate bar) in cocktail shaker filled with fresh ice. Shake cocktail shaker thoroughly for 25-30 seconds. Strain and pour mixed drink into chilled martini glass. Garnish with chocolate bar or with coco powder and serve. (Adapted and courtesy from

Till Next Time………………………………......

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 14, 2014

“Sesame Beer Bread” To Celebrate St Patrick's Day

“May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”  

This is a blessing for St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated on Monday, March 17th. This is a day that everyone is Irish, a day to be merry and commemorate the love of St. Patrick for his followers, Irish or not.

St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.

This is also a day when stories of Leprechauns and spirits are told. In Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the country of Ireland. According to folklore, these “faerie folk” were to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. In most tales and stories Leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures that enjoy solitude and live in remote locations. They are said to have been cobblers or shoemakers. They are supposed to be very rich, having many treasure crocks filled with gold buried in secret locations. Another popular belief is that you may find a Leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some say that they have mythical power and magical control over the workings of Earth, and even have the power of trickery that confuses their target allowing the Leprechaun to play tricks on his victims. In 1831 Samuel Lover describes the Leprechaun wearing a red coat that was laced with gold, a cocked hat, pointed shoes, a beard like an elf, silver buckles on his shoes, and spectacles stuck on his pointed nose. The modern image of the Leprechaun is depicted by having red hair; with a beard, wearing an emerald green frock coat, and often with a crock of gold.  He has knowledge of the many locations where more treasure is buried.

St Patrick

Did you know that the color associated with St. Patrick was originally blue not green? Green was the color that was most widely associated with Ireland and the Irish people. The change from blue to green began about the 1750s. St. Patrick‘s color now in modern times is green, also due to the phrase, “the wearing of the green“. The shamrock is now the symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are considered to bring good luck.

“St. Joseph, protect me and my family as you did with the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever strong in the virtue of the Blessed Mother, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen”

As much as I love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, being an Italian American I also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, which is this Wednesday, March 19th. St. Patrick often it is expressed through the “wearing of the green,” and “wearing of the red,” is what the Italian people do for St. Joseph.  According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint.

St. Joseph

The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ step father, St. Joseph has solemnity and rank in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and is the patron Saint of not only carpenters but also, married people, family life, and workers.  In some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is regarded as Father’s Day. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s custom. In Italy a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar would have flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, cookies, specially prepared cakes, breads, and zeppole. (A Neapolitan pastry) Other treats are called frittelle, sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard.  This is done as a thank you to St. Joseph for surviving a famine that the Italian people went thorough. Foods that are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph’s Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. Auguri !!!

My recipe this week is “Sesame Beer Bread.” A hearty bread coated in sesame seeds, with a subtle beer flavor. This bread is good along side a soup. Because it contains no fat, so it should be eaten the same day. It can also be served warm with some butter or room temperature with a cup of tea or a mug of cold beer. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and the Feast of St. Joseph. Hope that you find the luck of the Irish and the peace of St. Joseph!

“Sesame Beer Bread”

3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
12 1/2 oz of light beer
1 1/4 teaspoons of milk
2 tbsp. of sesame seeds

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add beer to well. Stir until soft, sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently shape to fit greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan. Press into corners if necessary. Brush top of loaf with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 375°F oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Cut into 16 slices. Should be eaten within a day, I am sure that will not be a problem.  


Till Next Time……………….

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

“Sicilian Rice Balls” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no more words, just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting for…..

“Sicilian Rice Balls”
Arancini di Siciliani

Nanni Sauchelli's fabulous recipe, adapted from "Ciao  Italia"


1 cup Arborio rice
3 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup diced mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup diced prosciutto or ham
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
2 cups fresh bread crumbs, toasted
1/4 cup homemade tomato sauce
Vegetable oil for deep-frying


In a saucepan, bring 2-1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 15 minutes. The rice should still be quite firm. Drain and transfer to a bowl.

Lightly beat one of the eggs and add to the rice, along with the grated cheese, parsley, 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce, plus salt/pepper. Mix well. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. In another bowl, mix the mozzarella cheese, prosciutto or ham, and the remaining 2 tablespoons tomato sauce.

With floured hands, divide the rice mixture into 8 or 10 portions and roll each portion into a ball the size of a small orange. Poke a hole into the center of each ball with your finger and insert about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mozzarella mixture. Reshape and smooth the balls to enclose the filling.

In a shallow dish, beat the remaining 2 eggs. Spread the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the balls into the eggs, turning to coat them well. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat them evenly. Then let them dry on a plate and in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

In a deep fryer or deep heavy pan, heat the vegetable oil to 375°F  Now; fry the rice balls until they are golden brown on all sides. Drain them on brown paper and serve immediately, with the fresh tomato sauce. 

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

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 7, 2014

“Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie” To Celebrate "Festa della Donna"

“La Festa della Donna, “is also called “International Women’s Day,” and it is celebrated on March 8th, which honors the equality of all women. This holiday originates from ancient Rome to celebrate the first day of spring and the goddess called Ariadne. It is a day of remembrance and history for women all over the world. On March 25, 1911, a fire in a sweatshop owned by the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York killed 123 female garment workers. Unsafe conditions contributed to the high death toll. Many of the fire escapes were locked to prevent women from slipping out, even for a moment's break. Most of the victims were Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions.

Festa della Donna is also known to commemorate both the social, political, economic achievements, and rights of women. In Italy, this celebration was held for the first time in 1911. Most Italian men say with feeling and expression “Auguri alle signore!” This means “Best Wishes to the Ladies”. With that being said, the men in Italy, (the country of romance and food) prepare special dishes and baked goods for the women in their life. Whether it is their wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, sister, or daughter, they celebrate with respect and gratitude towards these women. 

There is another custom for this day, which men present flowers to the women in their lives. This custom started in Italy, some sources say, Rome in 1946. The particular flower of choice is called the “Mimosa,” and was chosen by Italian feminists. This flower was chosen because of its bright yellow color, fragrant scent, it is inexpensive, and it blooms this time of the year.  The Mimosa is cultivated for its flowers and honey production. The essential oils are used in perfumes and cosmetics.

As we celebrate women this month I can not forget to include my mom in this post. Monday, is my mother’s Birthday. My mom is the heart of our home. She is the one that gets everyone together for Birthdays and Holidays. She loves to cook meals for the family especially her grandchildren. She exhumes Love, Joy, and Faith plus has the Patience of a Saint. Everyone in the family can attest to her strength, her honesty, and her warmth. My mom embodies what a mother should be and shares her wisdom with everyone she meets. She has many hobbies some include, reading, cooking, spending time with family, and friends. I have so many memories of my childhood with my mom, but these thoughts are a special way to wish my mom a Happy Birthday!!!

My mom, Madeline and myself

My mom was a teacher by profession and as they say chief, cook, and bottle washer. She did it all. Took care of three children, ran a home, was a teacher, and there was always a hot meal on the table at night for dinner. I don’t know how she did it all. She would make us breakfast in the morning and made sure we had very nutritious and satisfying lunch for school. Then in the evening she made dinner mostly from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients. Many of my fondest memories were helping my mom make dinner. The smells of chicken or pork cooking in the oven with potatoes, onions, and veggies were a wonderful way to grow up. On Sundays, church was always the top priority (the whole family would go together and get dressed up not like today with jeans) and then we would come home and prepare for dinner which we would eat about 2:00 pm our larger meal. Sunday was not only for church but for family. We always had company over, whether it was my grandparents, friends, or aunts, and uncles. Now, this is what I mean about food being centered around our family. The table had to be set just so, with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. We had a centerpiece that coordinated with the seasons. We would always use the good china, and silverware. Especially before a major holiday, like Christmas or Easter the silver polish would come out. My job was to help clean the silver serving trays and candle sticks. We also polished all of the furniture as everything had to be just perfect. Even now if I smell Gorham silver polish it brings back memories of family gatherings long ago.

L-R: Grandmother Julia, great-grandmother Sofia, & my mom (1950)
Now back to the food, my mom would list on a piece of paper what she was going to make for that Sunday meal which was very important. She always said to make a list so you would not forget to put a dish out on the table. A typical Sunday meal was centered on pasta (macaroni or mac’s for short we would call it) and meatballs as a first dish. Then the entrée with all the trimmings chicken, pork, or a roast beef were placed on the table. Our vegetables included broccoli, stuffed mushrooms, fried cauliflower, and many more too numerous to mention. Then the starch was either potatoes or rice. A lettuce salad was a must. It contained everything from lettuce of all types, cucumbers, radishes, red onions, and tomatoes. The dressing was made with the best olive oil and always balsamic vinegar. After every one was almost busting out of their clothes came the coffee, demitasse, (Italian black coffee) tea, fruit, nuts, figs, and the desserts. Now baking is my forte so I salivated over all of the Italian pastries including Cannoli, Sfogligtelli, Cream Puffs, Italian Cookies with Pignoli nuts, and Cheese Cakes. We of course do not eat like that anymore, thank goodness or we will have to be rolled out of the house. Things were different then, I think this describes it very well,  “Family Plus Food Equals Love.” So this one is for you Mom…Love you! Hope that you enjoy your Birthday! Love your daughter Dottie xx

My recipe this week is in honor of “Festa della Donna” and my mom, Madeline. What better way to celebrate than with a dish my mother makes called, “Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie.” It is easy, and delicious to serve for a brunch or a light dinner. It is extremely appealing to look at, as the green color of the spinach gives life to your vase of yellow Mimosa flowers on your table. This can be served with a salad, and a sparkling Mimosa cocktail to add to your celebration.

Italian Spinach Ricotta Pie

1 tablespoon of butter (unsalted)
1 cup of fresh onion (minced)
10 oz package of chopped spinach
2 eggs
15 oz container of Ricotta (either whole milk or low fat)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
3/8 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1-- 9 inch pie shell (deep) (Oronoque is the brand of pie crust)  

Follow directions for baking pie shell (unfilled). Drain spinach by using hands to squeeze out moisture, or use a strainer. Melt butter and sauté onions until soft. Add spinach and stir until most of the moisture is gone. Then remove from heat. In a large bowl, add all the other ingredients to the spinach and stir until mixture looks like green and white marble. Pour into baked pie shell and bake at 350° F for about 40 minutes or until top is golden and filling is set. Yields: 8 slices depending on how large you slice them.

Mimosa Cocktail
8 oz of chilled orange juice (fresh squeezed or in bottle)
4 oz of chilled Champagne or Prosecco

Pour orange juice into a chilled fluted Champagne glass over two ice cubes. Fill with the chilled Champagne or Prosecco, stir gently. Serve with a cherry, or a twist of an orange slice.


Till Next Time………

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

“Penne with Broccoli and Mozzarella” For A Meatless Meal

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no more words, just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting for….. 


                         “Penne with Broccoli and Mozzarella


2 bunches of broccoli in cubes or florets
1 pound of Penne pasta (De Cecco Brand)
1 onion sliced
2 cloves of chopped garlic
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 lb of fresh mozzarella cubed 

Salt & fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Cook broccoli until almost tender. Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, use a large pan to sauté the sliced onions and garlic in olive oil with butter for about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook until they are slightly browned. Toss the cooked broccoli into the pan. Drain the pasta and toss into the broccoli mixture. Stir in the mozzarella until slightly melted. Season with salt and pepper. Plate your dish and serve topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.   Serves: 4-6 people 

Till Next Time………..

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved