Friday, August 29, 2014

"Eggplant Parmesan" For Your "Labor Day" Weekend Celebration...

Coming to terms with the end of summer is a rough thought for some people. Were did it all go? Yesterday seems like we were just staring the month of June and here we are going to start September! Parents all over are getting prepared with supplies for their children to start another year of school. Before school begins and we start packing up the beach gear, lawn chairs, pool supplies, plus our grills, we have one more weekend of summer time fun which is called "Labor Day!" Personally, nothing says Labor Day weekend to me like a family BBQ, cookout, or a family gathering. Labor Day is on Monday September 1st this year, and I’m sure we are all looking forward to a long enjoyable weekend as we start the month of September. This weekend celebrates the “unofficial” end of summer. Everyone is going to the beach, having picnics, going to fairs, and enjoying the last weekend of their summer activities. 

You may ask, what is Labor Day and why do we celebrate this day? So here are some facts about the holiday. Labor Day is an American Federal Holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. We pay tribute to the achievements of the American workers. It is also supposed to be a day of rest and considered a workingman‘s holiday. The first Labor Day was held on September 5th 1882 in New York City. Then on June 28th 1894 it became a Federal holiday, stating that the first Monday in September of each year would be legal holiday in all U.S. territories. In addition, Labor Day marks the beginning of the season for the National Football League, (NFL) and some college leagues as well. Labor Day is also a great day for stores to have “End of Summer” sales.

In Italy, many Italians observe Labor Day as well. It is called "La Festa dei Lavoratori." They observe this nationwide holiday on May 1st each year. A holiday that was connected with agricultural cycles and still celebrated in some regions throughout Italy. Farmers and workers traditionally took the day off. They relaxed and had parties with food, drinking, and dancing. This was to show their support for the labor union movement’s social and economic achievements on this day.

So before you bid this summer farewell, go out with a bang on this Labor Day! Whether you are heading out of town, staying in the city, spending the day quietly at home relaxing, or enjoying one final celebration of the summer, be sure to relish the day with your family and friends. Remember, Summer is over but your memories will last forever!

My recipe this week is “Eggplant Parmesan” and will be a hit on your Labor Day weekend. This recipe is one of my mom’s recipes and it is a total immune-boosting meal. Remember, eggplants are one of the “Super Foods” that have antioxidants included in it. Besides, it is delicious and very tasty. Made with the freshest ingredients and of course Love. As you take a bite of this wonderful dish, your cheese oozes and the eggplant with tomatoes are an awesome combination! What a flavor and very satisfying too. You would never know that you are eating something that was good for you. A full body “Zinfandel” wine would go wonderful with this recipe, so have a glass or two..   Enjoy, Mangia!

Eggplant Parmesan


1 eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup of Vegetable oil
1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups of plain bread crumbs with about 2 tablespoons of flour added
4 cups or more of your favorite Marinara sauce

**(you can use flavored bread crumbs if you like that better)


Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. Place slices in a colander and place a dish underneath the colander to capture liquid that will sweat out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° F. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Now dredge eggplant slices in egg and then in breadcrumb/flour mixture. After egg and breading, now place one layer of eggplant in the oil and brown each side. When browned place on paper towel to drain or on a brown paper bag opened up. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, using additional oil if necessary. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, evenly spread Marinara sauce on bottom of dish, and then arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of sauce. Top the eggplant with some of the mozzarella cheese and grated cheese. Repeat process until all the eggplant and cheese is layered. Spoon remaining sauce on top of layers and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino Romano grated cheese or mozzarella. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in your preheated oven, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Mangia Tutti!

Till The Next Time……………………….

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“Ritz Parmesan Chicken” & “Heirloom Tomato & Zucchini Salad” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have just one or two mouthwatering recipes which I know you have been waiting to try…….. Enjoy!


Ritz Parmesan Chicken

A quick dip in a mayo-lemon juice mix and a roll in crushed Ritz crackers could make this Parmesan chicken breast recipe a new family favorite. A glass of wine would be a lovely addition to this dish; you can add a Red Pinot noir or a light Merlot, a Sangiovese or even a Chianti….


1/4 cup Mayonnaise (Low Fat if you choose)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
25 Ritz Crackers, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup Parmesan grated cheese
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
4-5 boneless chicken breasts (depends on size)


Heat oven to 400°F. Mix mayo and lemon juice in medium bowl. Combine cracker crumbs, cheese, basil, and parsley in separate bowl. Dip chicken, 1 breast at a time, in mayo mixture, then roll in crumb mixture until evenly coated. Place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 35-40 min. or until done (165°F)

Serves: 4




“Heirloom Tomato & Zucchini Salad”

Tomatoes give this salad a juicy bite. It's a great use of fresh veggies from your own garden or the farmers markets.

Servings:12  Prep/Total Time: 25 min.

Heirloom Tomatoes


7 large heirloom tomatoes (2-1/2 pounds), cut into wedges
3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 medium sweet yellow peppers, thinly sliced
2 medium sweet onions, sliced thinly
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon each minced fresh basil, parsley, and tarragon


In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and peppers. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, sugar and salt until blended. Stir in herbs. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.

Yield: 12 servings (3/4 cup each)


Till Next Time……………………………….........

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

“Zucchini, Prosciutto, Tomato & Cheese Panini” For "National Sandwich Month"

Welcome readers, Andiamo a mangiare un panino! (Let’s eat a sandwich!) Yummy! As the summer months are winding down, we can’t forget that August is “National Sandwich Month.” I know that everyone has eaten at least one or more delicious filled sandwiches in their lifetime. We have carried them to school, work, picnics, and other activities. They usually can be eaten for a lunchtime meal or sometimes just when you are looking for that special something to eat. Sandwiches can be made with many combinations of vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, cheese, sandwich spreads, eggs, etc. They are sold all over the world in cafes, restaurants, deli‘s, food trucks, and even fast food restaurants. 

The first form of a sandwich is attributed to an ancient Jewish Elder, who is said to have put meat from the lamb and bitter herbs inside a matzo. (A flat unleavened bread) During the Middle Ages, thick slabs of coarse stale bread, called “trenchers,” were used as plates. The trenchers you could say were the first “open faced sandwich” that we know of today. In the United States, a sandwich is, made with two or more slices of bread, and with one or more layers of filling, typically meat, fish plus cheese, with the addition of vegetables. Sandwiches can be make hot or cold, open faced or can be a Triple Decker, a Dagwood, or a Monte Cristo. They can be a club or a sub, or French Dipped. Then of course we have a few of America’s favorites which include, a BLT, Grilled Cheese, Philly Cheese Steak, and the most favorite is the Hamburger! The bread can be coated with butter, oil, mustard or other condiments to enhance flavor and texture. A sandwich can also include tacos, burritos, bagels, wraps, and even are made of Ice Cream. Just use your imagination and you too can enjoy “The Sandwich.” 
Tuna Fish

Some of my readers may have heard this story before, so I thought I would repeat this memory for my new readers. I remember a story when I was young…. “Gone With The Wind,” the movie was playing at a theater near where we lived. It was one of my mother’s favorite movies. At that time in the late 1960’s, my mom was not sure if they would ever play it again and wanted us to see this classic. She took my two brothers and me to see the movie. It was on a Friday late in the afternoon and my mom made each one of us a tuna fish sandwich to eat for a quick dinner as the movie was 4 hours long. As a Catholic you could not eat meat on Fridays in those days. The movie had an intermission because it was so long, and that is when we started to eat the sandwiches. They were delicious as my mom put lettuce and tomato, with the tuna in between an Italian roll. We enjoyed them, but as you all know tuna does smell a little. I remember everyone looking at my brothers and me all lined up in the row eating the sandwiches. I remember saying to my mom, “everyone is looking at us”, and she said, “Do not worry about them looking; they are just jealous that they are not eating this fantastic sandwich.” Still to this day we remember that afternoon with the tuna sandwiches, my mom, and the movie. It will be a memory that we hold dear to our hearts. By the way “Gone With The Wind” is now one of my favorites and every time I watch it, I remember the tuna story.  

In Italy, “Panino” is the word for a sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. Some examples of bread types used are ciabatta, sourdough, and country style. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients such as salami, ham, cheese, other meats, as well as veggies and sometimes served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill. The term Panini has been adopted to refer to a pressed and toasted sandwich. Then there is Brischetta, an open faced, toasted bread brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic, topped with savory items, which might include tomato, basil, and thinly sliced Italian ham.

My recipe this week is a scrumptious sandwich called: “Zucchini, Prosciutto, Tomato & Cheese Panini.” Seasoned and salt-cured but not smoked, prosciutto is an Italian ham that is usually served in paper-thin slices because of its intense flavor. Prosciutto from Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is considered the best. When this sandwich is grilled to perfection, the cheese oozes out and all the flavors melt together. This sandwich is a delectable way to celebrate “National Sandwich Month.” 

Zucchini, Prosciutto, Tomato & Cheese Panini

Makes: 1 sandwich

2 slices country style bread or sourdough-type bread 1/ 2 inch thick
drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
Slices of Prosciutto or ham
Shredded young Asiago or Mozzarella cheese
Slices of tomato thinly sliced
Shredded zucchini

(I did not give you amounts of ingredients as you can add more or less of whatever you like)

Drizzle the olive oil over one slice of bread and layer the prosciutto over it. Sprinkle the cheese over the prosciutto and then add the tomatoes, and zucchini. Then drizzle some Balsamic Vinegar on top before putting the other slice of bread over it. Top with the second slice of bread and grill in a Panini maker. Follow directions on your Panini maker. If you do not have a Panini maker, you can use a skillet with grill lines. 

If using a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick sauté pan; when it begins to sizzle, add the sandwich and weight it down with a grill press, cast-iron pan, or a brick covered in aluminum foil. When browned on the bottom, turn it over and brown the other side. Can be served with a hot cup of soup for lunch or dinner. Mangia! Enjoy!

Till Next Time……………………………….........

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“BBQ Potato, Onion, & Mustard Packets” & “Potato Salad With Feta Cheese & Bacon”

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have just one or two mouthwatering recipes which I know you have been waiting to try…….. 

On this day we celebrate everyone's favorite vegetable, it isn't green and goes with every meal. It is the magnificent tuber. Yes, the potato! Today is “National Potato Day!” Hash browns, French fries, au gratin, home fries, baked potatoes, mashed, and potato salad, whatever your weakness, indulge it today! Cheap and easy to prepare, spuds are America’s favorite side dish. Accompanying everything from a juicy burger to a Thanksgiving turkey, potatoes are versatile and can be served with almost anything. Show your spud love with pride today and embrace this king of delicious dishes. No matter how you slice it, you really can't go wrong with this versatile root vegetable. Check out these tater-tastic ideas.

“Barbecued Potato Onion & Mustard Packets

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves: 6

2 lbs of potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, halved and thickly sliced
2/3 cup olive oil

“Barbecued Potato Onion & Mustard Packets
Place oil, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper in large bowl. Mix well to combine with a whisk. Add potatoes and onions to mustard oil. Toss to coat well. Place six sheets of heavy-duty tin foil on work surface. (Double up tin foil if it’s not heavy duty) Divide mixture between sheets, placing in the center and folding into well sealed but roomy packages. Place packages on medium heat, barbeque. Cook until potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning packages often, especially if barbeque hot, about 25-35 minutes. Remove packages carefully from barbeque. Slit top of the foil, watching out for steam, and fold back.

***Garlic, mushrooms, or spices of your choice can be included in this delicious barbeque side dish!

               _________________ _____________________ __________________

“Potato Salad With Feta Cheese & Bacon

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-6

“Potato Salad With Feta Cheese & Bacon
2 1/2 pounds of potatoes (with/without skins)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 thinly sliced onions
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
8 ounces of cooked chopped bacon 

Cover potatoes with cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt). Simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. This should take no more than about 20 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, thyme, sugar, and mustard. Add potatoes and toss gently to coat. Stir in the onion slices with the feta cheese and bacon. Yummy!

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

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

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

We don't really need many reasons to eat pie. We're happy to do it all day, every day. But, that doesn't mean that we'll turn down a legitimate pie-eating reason if it's handed to us, especially when it involves lemon meringue pie. Are you hungry yet? Pie lovers and lemon lovers from across the country get your forks ready....... Today, August 15th celebrates, “National Lemon Meringue Pie Day!”  

What is Lemon Meringue Pie? Served as a dessert, lemon meringue pie is a type of baked pie usually made with a bottom crust of shortbread pastry, lemon curd filling, and a fluffy meringue topping. Lemon flavored custards, puddings, and pies have been enjoyed since medieval times, but meringue was perfected in the 17th century. When true meringue made its appearance it still lacked its name and was often called “sugar puff.” Lemon Meringue as it is commonly known today evolved in America in the 19th century.  

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

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

Lemon Meringue Pie

Prep time: 25 minutes

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

Mix contents of package with sugar, 1/4 cup of water, lemon zest and egg yolks. Stir in additional 2 cups of water. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Cool for 5 minutes, stirring twice. Pour into cooled, baked 9 inch pie shell.

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

Beat 4 egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/3 cup of sugar, and cream of tartar beating until stiff. Spread over filling sealing to the edge of pie crust. Be generous as the meringue will shrink when baked. Bake at 350° F 10-15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool at room temperature 4 hours, then refrigerate. Serves: 8       

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


“Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail

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

Serves: 1
Prep/Total Time: 5 min.

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

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

(From: Taste of Home Test Kitchen)
****Lemon Meringue Pie Mocktail: Substitute 1/3 cup lemonade for the Limoncello.

Till Next Time……….

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“Baked Tomato Florentine Pasta” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have just one or two mouthwatering recipes which I know you have been waiting to try……..

Full of health-promoting antioxidants, this baked pasta dish delivers all the flavors of lasagna in less than half the preparation and baking time. Serve it with crusty Italian bread and a tossed green salad. 

Wine Pairings:

Red Wine: Pinot Noir, Cabernet, or  Sangiovese….

White Wine: Chardonnay Pinot or Grigio/Pinot Gris….


 “Baked Tomato Florentine Pasta

                                                 Prep Time : 15 minutes
                                                 Cook Time: 30 minutes
                                                 Serves: Makes 6 servings


1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups uncooked Penne pasta (6 ounces)
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed,
drained and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook turkey and onion in large nonstick skillet on medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, oregano, sugar, cinnamon, garlic powder, and red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package; drain well. Stir pasta and well-drained spinach into sauce until well mixed. Spread 1/2 of the pasta mixture in 11x7-inch baking dish. Spread ricotta cheese evenly over pasta. Top with remaining pasta mixture. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


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

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Mom's “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long” Recipe...Delizioso!

When I was a young girl, my mom came home one day from the market with a gigantic, long, green looking thing. This item looked like a baseball bat and if you put my brother Chris (who was the baby) next to it, it would be as tall as he was. I asked her this peculiar day, what is that for? She said to me, “we are going to cook it, stuff it, put it over rice, and eat it.” I asked her what was it called? She said, “It was an Italian squash called a goo-gutzalong." Pronounced (ku-koo-za or goo-gootz) Being young and had no idea, I said to her, “gross.” Then I remember my mom’s sweet words which were, “wait till you taste this squash, stuffed with a meatball stuffing in a tomato sauce, you will love it and want more. It’s like a melody in your mouth, mark my words!” Well, all I have to say is that, mother’s ARE always RIGHT! As I make this delicious dish today, my mom’s words still echo in my head, “You will love it!” And I do!!!

Cucuzza comes from the southern regions of Italy; Campania, Calabria, and Sicily. Its skin color is light green and the shape is very long, sometimes curved, and bottom heavy. In English, the word "cucuzza" means "super long squash." With its origins in Italy, the cucuzza seeds have been in the same family for generations. 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, which is sometimes late November. 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…”

Squashes come in many sizes, colors, and shapes. They are considered a vegetable in cooking, but botanically speaking, a squash is a fruit because of its seeds. In North America, squash is grouped into two categories, “summer” and “winter.” Summer squash is divided into 4 groups such as, crookneck, zucchini (green and yellow), straight neck, and scallop (patty pan). They have thin, edible skins and soft seeds. Summer quash are high in vitamin A and C plus have niacin. The flesh is tender and sweet plus requires little cooking time.

Summer Squash
Winter squash can be stored through the winter, even though they are a warm weather crop. They are acorn, spaghetti squash, calabaza, butternut, Hubbard, turban, banana, and many other varieties including pumpkins. The winter squash has hard, thick skin, which requires a longer cooking time. They are high in vitamin A and C, plus iron and riboflavin. Gourds and pumpkins are from the same family as squashes.

Squashes, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and lettuce, are just some of the veggies that people are using to prepare for their family table. This is a perfect time of year to not only enjoy your own garden of home grown foods but also to frequent your Farmer’s Markets for their produce. They are stocked with many varieties of fresh tasty foods and are waiting for us cook them to perfection. One of my favorites is the squash. 

Winter Squash

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, “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long.” Mangia! Molto Bene!


 “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long”

(Sorry, this photo was taken by cell phone)
1 long Cucuzza
2 yellow onions
2 large stalks celery cut chunks

Leaves from the celery
1/2 cup Tomato sauce (Del Monte)
Olive Oil (coat bottom of pot)
Salt & pepper to taste

1 recipe of “Mama’s Meatballs” for stuffing

***Yields: 10 meatballs per pound (Depending on how large your cucuzza is, if there is left over meat mixture, you can make meatballs and freeze them or even using them in the cucuzza soup part as little meatballs. 

Ingredients for the meatball stuffing:
6 eggs
3 lbs of beef chuck chopped meat
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 cups of bread crumbs (if too stiff add a sprinkle of water)
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 fistfuls of fresh parsley-chopped

(Sorry, this photo was taken by cell phone)
Directions for the meatballs:
Put the beef chuck in a med-sized bowl and add all ingredients. Gently combine the meat using your hands until evenly mixed. The mixture should be slightly wet and workable, not too sticky.

Directions for the Cucuzza Long:
Prepare Cucuzza by peeling it and cutting it in rounds or cylinders about 2” 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. 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 and flavor. Stir and then add your rounds of stuffed Cucuzza. Add some salt/pepper and water in pot. Do not cover the squash with water, but just enough to go half way up each piece, to cook in. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. You need to turn each piece every 10-15 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/simmer for about 1 hour or so depending on the size of your Cucuzza rounds. You know when it is done, when you can put a fork into a piece and it is softer. You can serve over rice. Enjoy!   

Till Next Time………………………….

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

“Grilled Salmon with Basil Lemon Butter” & “Lemon Iced Tea” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have just one or two mouthwatering recipes which I know you have been waiting to try…….. 

Lemons and summer time just seem to go together. The aroma of a fresh lemon gives you a feeling of a summer breeze at the ocean. My recipe today is an ideal combination of summer, freshness, and a tasty fish. Enjoy!

“Grilled Salmon with Basil Lemon Butter”

Basil Lemon Compound Butter
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 leaves fresh basil
1 lemon, juice and zest of
Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste 

Salmon 2 (6 to 8 ounce) salmon fillets
Vegetable oil for cooking


To make the compound butter: Place butter in a mixing bowl. Layer basil leaves on top of one another and roll tightly, like a cigar. Thinly slice, creating slivers of basil. Place basil in the bowl. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and incorporate all ingredients using a potato masher, pastry blender or a spatula. Add salt to taste. Place butter on one end of a 10-inch square piece of parchment paper. Roll butter in the paper, creating a cylinder, about 5 inches long. Twist the ends and freeze for about an hour before using.

For the salmon: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Brush salmon on both sides with oil. Sear skin side down 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 4 to 6 minutes longer.

Remove salmon from grill and take butter out of the freezer. Thinly slice one or two medallions of compound butter right though the parchment paper. Peel away the parchment paper and top salmon with the butter. Place salmon on top of fresh cooked spinach. Garnish with a lemon wedge if desired. Serves: 2


"Lemon Iced Tea" is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. It really is easy and quenches your thirst with that fresh taste of lemons. 

“Lemon Iced Tea


1 lemon

2 Tea bags (your favorite)
2 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Lemon juice


Boil two cups of water with sugar and put tea bags in it for 2 minutes. Pour this tea in bowl and mix lemon juice in it. Place this tea in refrigerator after cool. Transfer in serving glasses with ice. Garnish with lemon slices and a few leaves of mint.  Salute!!

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

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

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Southwestern Spiced Pork Chops with Peach Salsa" For National Peach Month

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

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

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

My recipe this week is in honor of the peach called, “Southwestern Spiced Pork Chops with Peach Salsa.” This dish enhances many different textures and is very appealing. The juicy peaches make a summer fresh salsa that complements the southwest seasoned grilled pork chops. Oh, Yummy!!! Don’t forget to get your fresh peaches, fruits, and vegetables at your Farmers Markets. It is important to support our local farmers.   

Southwestern Spiced Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients for Peach Salsa:
3 medium firm ripe peaches cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil

Southwestern Spiced Pork Chops:
6 bone-in pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Southwest Seasoning

For the Salsa, mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Brush pork chops with oil. Sprinkle with Seasoning. Grill pork over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve pork chops topped with Peach Salsa. Enjoy!!


I know that my readers have heard of my close personal friend Micheal Castaldo. I have written about Micheal before on my blog posts. He is an Award-winning songwriter/producer, recording artist, composer, Italian Cultural Ambassador, and entrepreneur. He is performing at the SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center) in New Jersey. Please take a moment and read through this Press Release. Don’t forget to purchase tickets to this awesome event that you will not want to miss! Thank you, from Micheal and myself. Ciao!! 

Sunday, September 212PM & 6:30PM
Tickets: $37, $57   
SOPAC Members: $32, $52

Investors Bank & Majestic Castle Music Presents: Michéal Castaldo A Musical Celebration of the Italian Spirit: “A Feast for the Ears, Eyes, and Soul”

Award-winning Italian tenor and songwriter, Michéal Castaldo will perform classic Italian tunes like “O Sole Mio,” “Con Te Partiro” (made famous by Andrea Bocelli), and his chart-topping original song, “Pray’r, ” as well as American hit songs sung in Italian, such as “Nights in White Satin, ” and “Hotel California” sung in the Calabrian language. This multimedia show will feature modern dancers performing vibrant dance routines to compliment each song performed by Castaldo, accompanied by The John J. Cali School of Music Strings of Montclair State University, NJ.

Michéal Castaldo has entertained audiences across the USA, Canada, and Europe with rousing renditions of classic Italian songs. With a voice that soothes the soul, Castaldo's performances are enchanting, heartfelt, and authentic. His stories in between songs share moments from his Italian upbringing, tidbits about his musical journey, and insight that went into his song choices.

“Michéal Castaldo is beyond captivating... beyond riveting ... his renditions filled me with tears of happiness”… Joe Franklin (Bloomberg Radio)

"An amazing Italian tenor"… Maria Bartiromo CNBC

"Michéal Castaldo has an amazing voice"... Ann Nyberg WTNH

Till Next Time………………………..

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