Friday, January 30, 2015

“Mild Buffalo Chicken Wings” & “Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip” For Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl XLIX is nearly upon us. Plenty of fans will pack into living rooms, basements, Sports Bars and we can’t forget tailgating at the field. Fans will be looking forward to drinking beer, chowing down on plates of comfort food, and dressing in the colors of their teams, as they watch the big game. Then there are the commercials that companies pay an enormous amount of money just to run on the Super Bowl. We can’t forget halftime, a time when music and excitement will be running the show, especially now that Katy Perry's Super Bowl 2015 Halftime Show will be epic.

This years Super Bowl XLIX game is scheduled to be played on Sunday February 1, 2015 at 6:30 Eastern Standard Time on NBC. It will take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The two teams playing for the ultimate Championship is the New England Patriots vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

I, on the other hand like some people will not be glued to the TV set watching the game. I do not like football and do not even understand what is going on. I will watch the halftime show, sometimes but that is all.

My brother Chris

My family mostly the men, are true die hard fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. My dad, and my brother are sports fans too, but it all seemed to start with my late brother Christopher. Chris was a fanatic with sports of all kinds, but he was a true fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So much so that when he had his son Nicholas he taught him all the aspects of the game including Football Fantasy. He had many of the Steelers memorabilia including tee shirts with his favorite players numbers on them, mugs, crying towel, hats, etc. You get the picture. As the years went on, Nick’s mom Lori and his sister Lauren became true fans as well.

Nick, Lori, & Lauren

Every year they try to attend game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when their team is at home. They always have so much fun and enjoyed not only the game but they have met some really nice people at the tail gate parties before the big game. They always dress in full Steeler regalia, hats, shirts and even put black under their eyes. Nick, (my nephew) is one of the biggest Steeler fans I know and so the tradition continues. If Chris, (my late brother) was with us today I know he would be very proud of not only his son Nick, but also his daughter and wife, who is always rooting for his favorite team.

So as we celebrate this special game, it is time to share two of my recipes. One is called, “Mild Buffalo Chicken Wings” and the other is called, “Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip.” These are recipes were adapted from Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. 

“Mild Buffalo Chicken Wings”

Serve hot with celery sticks or veggies.

Makes: 6 servings

2 1/2 lbs. chicken wing pieces
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce
2 Tbsp. Ranch Salad Dressing

Bake wings in foil-lined pan at 500°F on lowest oven rack for 20 to 25 minutes until crispy, turning once. Toss wings in Buffalo Wing Sauce and ranch dressing to coat.

Or substitute 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, 1/3 cup melted butter and 2 tbsp. ranch salad dressing.


“Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip”

This robust creamy dip tastes like Buffalo Chicken Wings but without the mess! Serve hot with celery sticks or veggies.

Makes: 4 cups dip

1 (8 oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or your favorite shredded cheese, (cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart baking dish. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through, stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers, vegetables, or corn chips.


Reduced Calorie Recipe: Substitute Neufchatel cheese for the cream cheese, and low fat options for the salad dressing and blue cheese.

Microwave Directions: Prepare as above. Place in microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on High 5 minutes until hot, stirring halfway through cooking.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine ingredients as directed above. Place mixture into small slow cooker. Cover pot. Heat on High setting for 1 1/2 hours until hot and bubbly or on Low setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir.

Tailgating Tip: Prepare dip ahead and place in heavy disposable foil pan. Place pan on grill and heat dip until hot and bubbly. 

Till Next Time………………………………......

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“Red Potato & Leek Soup” & “Garlic Asiago Bread” As We Battle The Blizzard Of 2015

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there are no stories just a fabulous and delicious recipe or two….. 

One of my best friends, Dani who lives upstate made this recipe, “Red Potato & Leek Soup.” She shared her delicious dish with me and it is really not hard to prepare. She used a Vita mix to puree the soup. If you do not have a Vita mix, you can use your blender. Snow, cold, and wind…Blizzard conditions are here on Long Island…Two perfect recipes for staying in for a few days. Enjoy! Plus, who ever is in line of this Blizzard, please be safe and keep warm..


                                          “Red Potato & Leek Soup

Serves: 2-4 people

7 red potatoes peeled and diced small
3 leeks cleaned and chopped (used the white part & 3 inches of the green part)
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
6 cups of water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, at medium heat add the butter, olive oil, and the garlic. Now add in the leeks and onion, sauté for about 5 minutes until you can smell them a bit. Add in the potatoes and continue to sauté. Cook until the potatoes are tender and cooked. (The bottom of the potatoes crisped a bit so when added to the 6 cups of water/stock the potatoes had that yummy crispy part, which added to the flavor)

When potatoes, leeks, and onions are cooked, add salt and pepper to taste. Next puree half in a blender until creamy, and add it back to the pan. (Do not over blend) So you now have half smooth and the rest is whole pieces. To serve, pour the smooth part in a bowl first, and now add the whole potatoes in the center and garnish with a few scallions. It tastes like a baked potato!

*Vegetarian version: use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth

**Vegan version: make as vegetarian; only use olive oil and do not add any dairy


Garlic Asiago Bread

You can’t have “Red Potato & Leek Soup” without a chunk of bread. This homemade bread has chunks of cheese and fabulous garlic taste. Perfect along side of a good tasty soup.

Bake: 20 min. & cooling
Yield: 20 servings

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1-1/4 cups warm water (110°F to 115°F)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
3 to 3-1/4 cups bread flour
1 cup cubed Asiago cheese 

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the oil, garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough. Stir in cheese.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide in half. Shape into 5-in.-round loaves. Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

For egg wash, in a small bowl, combine egg and water. Brush over loaves. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. 

Yield: 2 loaves (10 wedges each).

Till Next Time………

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Savory “Chicken Pot Pie” To Celebrate “National Pie Day!”

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 comfort food like a tasty “Chicken Pot Pie.” Are you hungry yet? Pie lovers across the country get your forks and spoons ready. Today is “National Pie Day!”

One of the fondest memories for many of us is that smell of baking pies in the oven. To be able to walk in the house and find our mother baking was a sight to see. The smell of the baked fruit or a savory pie permeated all through the house. To see the kitchen table filled with all the pie making paraphernalia was so exciting it just made your mouth water. Pies are one of the most inviting comfort foods that there are and making, baking, or eating it can lift our spirits and bring warmth to our every beings. Soothing, soul-satisfying comfort foods can bring back special memories of meaningful moments of the past. Mashed potatoes, hot soup, hearty stews, warm chocolate chip cookies, and fresh baked pies are all foods many of us associate with comfort. They may be simple foods but they evoke fond memories, and bring joy as well as comfort to our everyday lives.
Many years ago the pies of the Romans, especially at banquets in the days of the empire, were often elaborate creations. In England meat and fish pies had become common by the 14th century.  Fruit pies, often called tarts, were common by the 16th century. The mince pie was an important feature of the Christmas festivities. The mincemeat filling was a finely chopped, cooked mixture, including raisins, currants, apples, suet, sugar, spice, and often meat, brandy or cider, candied peel, and other ingredients. The English settlers in North America retained their taste for pie and adapted it to their new conditions, creating the pumpkin and the cranberry pies. Pie has remained a popular dessert in the United States. In Italy, pie, or pizza, consists, in its most basic form, of a spread of dough covered with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and baked in an oven. I happened to be watching the TV show called “The Chew” and I learned that a hand pie is another way to say what we know today as a “Calzone” and turnovers.

A pie is a baked food, with a baked shell usually made of pastry dough that covers or completely contains a filling of fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, cheeses, creams, chocolate, custards, nuts, or other sweet or savory ingredients. Pies can be either "filled", where a dish is covered by pastry and the filling is placed on top of that, "top-crust," where the filling is placed in a dish and covered with a pastry/potato mash top before baking, or "two-crust," with the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Some pies have only a bottom crust, generally if they have a sweet filling that does not require cooking. These bottom-crust-only pies may be known as tarts or tartlets. An example of a bottom-crust-only pie that is savory rather than sweet is a quiche. Blind-baking is used to develop a crust's crispiness, and keep it from becoming soggy under the burden of a very liquid filling. If the crust of the pie requires much more cooking than the chosen filling, it may also be blind-baked before the filling is added and then only briefly cooked or refrigerated. Pie fillings range in size from tiny bite-size party pies or small tartlets, to single-serve pies and larger pies baked in a dish and eaten by the slice. The type of pastry used depends on the filling. It may be either a butter-rich flaky or puff pastry, a sturdy short crust pastry. Occasionally the term pie is used to refer to otherwise unrelated confections containing a sweet or savory filling, such as Eskimo pie or moon pie.

Several examples of a “savory pie” would be Bacon and egg pie, Chicken and mushroom pie, Corned beef pie, Cottage pie, Meat and potato pie, Pizza pie, Pork pie, Pot pie, Potato pie, Quiche, Scotch pie, Shepherds' pie, (mashed potato crust) Steak pie, and too many more to mention.

Then we have various examples of “sweet dessert pies.” Some of these pies are pies in name only, such as the Boston cream pie, which is a cake. Many fruit and berry pies are very similar, varying only the fruit used in filling like the Apple pie, Dutch apple pie, Blackberry pie, Blueberry pie, Cherry pie, Key lime pie, Lemon meringue pie, Mince pie, Mock apple pie, Peach pie, Pecan pie, Strawberry pie, Banana cream pie, Buttermilk pie, Cheesecake pie, Chess pie, Chocolate pie, Cream pie, Custard pie, Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake pie, Rhubarb pie,  Strawberry-rhubarb pie, Shoofly pie - a pie filled with molasses, and the Sweet Potato Pie.

I don’t know about you but I am ravenous now with all that talking about pies. So let’s devour my recipe this week which is one that just makes your mouth water and releases all your tensions. This dish comforts you with each fork or spoon full you take and fills your stomach with my savory pie called “Chicken Pot Pie.” Mangia! Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's Chicken Gravy
3 cups cooked cut-up mixed vegetables (diced carrots, peas, cubed potatoes, corn, and mushrooms)   
2 (4.5 ounce) cans Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained

or 1 1/2 cups of diced fresh cooked chicken breast

Let the pie crusts stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or until they're easy to handle. Place 1 pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Stir the gravy, vegetables and chicken in a medium bowl. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pie plate. Place the remaining pie crust over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Cut several slits in the top crust. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let stand for about 5 minutes and then eat your pie till you feel comforted!

Till Next Time………

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's My Blogiversary!!! Time to Celebrate With A “Breakfast Strata Lorraine” Recipe

Wow, time flies when you are busy baking and cooking. Another year has rolled around and I truly thank all of you who took the time to read my posts and recipes. So glad that you are coming along for the ride on this journey of mine. As I have stated in previous posts, this blog was for me to share my memories of my Italian family with all of you. That still holds true, but it is also for you as well to share your memories and food thoughts along the way. “4” years going strong, and looking forward to doing better as well as bigger within 2015.

I started writing this blog one day without knowing what or who would read my words. I just wanted to record all my culinary experiences about my family’s recipes that were handed down from generation to generation. Over the last 3 years, this blog has chronicled my development as a cook, baker, and a food lover. I can’t believe that this blog has been seen by 159 countries. Over 76,000 views by you, my readers and followers. Now that is impressive! But most of all it is a blessing and I have invested a huge part of who I am. So I need to say, “Thank you” again, without the people who have read my stories, it wouldn’t be anything more than a journal of my family’s recipes and memories. Along the way I have met amazing bloggers, friends, an incredible online community from all parts of the world, and also introduced me to many new cuisines. I hope that my recipes and stories have inspired you to create your own memories.

Not everyone will understand why you blog, but it is okay. People you never would have expected will turn out to be your biggest supporters; unfortunately, the opposite is also true. But at the same time, the blogging world can also be like high school at times, very judgmental. It’s okay to only post when I really have something to say. But at the same time, you can’t take yourself too seriously. The most important thing — which I think about with every post — is to genuinely be myself. I tell people I write as if I were talking to my girlfriends. I hope that’s how it comes across.

Thank you all so much for reading, commenting, sharing, and following me on this journey! I’m so excited to see what this year #4 has in store. I can’t wait to share it with you! But first I have a recipe that I know you will want to make over and over. This recipe is “Breakfast Strata Lorraine” very easy and was inspired by the ingredients in a scrumptious classic quiche Lorraine. This do-ahead breakfast or brunch dish is great when you’re entertaining a crowd. Assemble the strata the night before and refrigerate, then bake the next morning. (This recipe serves 12 but you can cut the ingredients back to half.)  

Breakfast Strata Lorraine
Serves: 12

2 Tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 Tsp of fresh thyme
Salt to taste, plus 1 Tsp
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb spinach
1 1/2-lb sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1-inch squares & toasted until dry (about 9 cups)
1 lb of bacon or (ham)
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (you can sub Swiss)

10 eggs
2 1/2 cups half-and-half

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook bacon. Use the drippings to caramelize  the onions, add the onions, season with salt, pepper, and thyme, now cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan over medium heat, warm 1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add half of the spinach, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander. Repeat with the remaining 1/2 Tbs. olive oil and spinach. Using a rubber spatula, press out the excess moisture.

In a large bowl, toss together the bread cubes, the caramelized onion, spinach, bacon and cheese. Transfer to a 4-quart (4-l) baking dish. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, half-and-half, the 1 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste. Pour over the bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 16 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350°F  Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is browned and the strata is cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes more.

Till Next Time…………

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

“Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo” & A “Bloody Mary” For "International Hot & Spicy Food Day"

Another day of cold weather here in Long Island. That sounds like a day for something Hot! No I don’t mean a hot cup of tea, or soup…but something that will wake your taste buds…Come join me as we celebrate “International Hot and Spicy Food Day!” which is every January 16th.

For one red-hot day a year, the world’s chili heads, heat-seekers, and extreme eaters can take their passion to extremes. “International Hot and Spicy Foods Day” sparks a wildfire of events, from habanero-eating challenges to fancy-dress contests and cook-offs of popular recipes. Archaeological evidence suggests that people have been using hot spices in their recipes for over 6,000 years. Did you know that the hottest chili pepper in the world is the Naga Jolokia or Ghost Pepper? On average, one of these peppers is over 170 times spicier than a jalapeno pepper! Among serious aficionados, it also re-kindles the great debate: which chili pepper tops the official Scoville heat scale? 
Naga Jolokia

How is pepper heat measured you ask? How hot is your pepper? The Scoville Heat Unit Scale also referred to as the Scoville Scale, or Scoville Chart, is a long-standing measure of the hotness of Chile peppers. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemical receptor nerve endings in the skin. The number of Scoville heat units indicates the amount of capsaicin present in a particular pepper. The scale was developed in 1912 by American chemist Wilbur Scoville, specifically to rate the pungency or heat of peppers. Officially, his method was known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. (SOT) Try repeating that three times!

Scoville Heat Chart

There’s no denying the daredevil nature of some of the celebrations. However, people who like a meal to tingle their taste buds, not make their eyes water, shouldn’t feel left out. Enjoying a touch of heat in our cooking is a worldwide human trait, so what better day to invite your family and friends to discover a different cuisine? Thai, Indian, Creole, and Caribbean dishes are all famous for their blends of aromatic ingredients, but many cultures boast their own favorites. After all, variety is truly the spice of life…

Throughout the world, there are hundreds of different spices that contribute to an array of hot flavored foods. Hot foods can actually be very good for you because of their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Garlic, chilies, onions, allspice, and oregano, all kill bacteria and make food safer to consume. In general, hot and spicy foods are stimulants. They stimulate the circulation and raise body temperature. To celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day, try a few hot peppers or hot sauces with your food today!

Today I am sharing with you two recipes, one is “Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo” and the other is a traditional classic “Bloody Mary.” Remember, if you are not into “heat” on your foods, you can limit some, by reducing the red pepper flakes. 

“Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo”

Diavolo is the Italian word for devil and refers to sauces seasoned with hot chilies. In this 20-minute recipe, red pepper flakes provide plenty of heat for a shrimp and tomato sauce that's tossed with linguine.

Makes: 12 servings (you can cut the serving in half for 6 servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, cleaned, and de-veined
6 clove garlic, finely chopped (about 3 tbs)
2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes
(You can add or cut back on red-pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans (28 ounces each) Italian-style peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
3-4 leaves of fresh basil (cut up)
2 pounds linguine

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 30 seconds. Add garlic, pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until shrimp are curled and pink. Be careful not to overcook. With slotted spoon, remove shrimp to bowl. Meanwhile, cook linguine in large pot of lightly salted boiling water until al dente, firm but tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well. Stir together tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining salt in skillet. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat; cook for 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. To serve, add cooked shrimp to sauce; gently heat through very briefly. Toss with the pasta or serve on top of it. Lastly add fresh cut up basil to top of dish.


No matter what the season, a “Bloody Mary” is one of America’s top three favorite cocktails.

Serves: 1
1 1/2 ounces vodka (1 jigger)
6 ounces tomato juice
1 splash lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 drops Tabasco sauce or more

Combine first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake to combine flavors. Strain ingredients into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery stick, lemon, or a cocktail shrimp and serve.

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

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

“Ricotta Balls Soup” & “Easy Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies” For Wordless Tuesday

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” This is a post with no stories, just a delicious recipe or two….. Today I have two yummy recipes. As we continue with National Soup Month, I have another one to share with you. Plus an “easy peasy” cookie recipe for a dessert to melt in your mouth. Enjoy and everyone keep warm and safe…

One of my favorite soups that my mother made when I was young and still does today is called “Ricotta Balls Soup.” When family members hear that she is making this, their mouth's water and it brings back childhood memories and living at home.


                                                                  “Ricotta Balls Soup

2 lbs of Ricotta Cheese 

4 cloves of peeled whole garlic
Fresh cut parsley / a handful
1 cup of bread crumbs (unflavored)
3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of vegetable oil 
3 to 4 quarts of water

Put water in a wide but not deep pot. (Dutch Oven) After water is boiled put in 4 cloves of peeled garlic. Add about 1/4 cup of oil to water. Then add fresh parsley and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Lower water to a simmer; meanwhile prepare the Ricotta Balls mixture.

Mix together in a large bowl, ricotta, eggs, grated cheese, salt, pepper, and the bread crumbs. After combined, roll the mixture into small balls, (like meatball shape) make sure they are small, they will expand when cooked. (Like golf ball size) Once they are shaped into balls, place carefully in simmering water to cook. Cook them for about 20-30 minutes. Turn them very carefully in the pot as they will break apart. They tend to puff so do not overcrowd them. The water which becomes the soup, turns a little creamy from the cheese of the ricotta balls and has the flavor as well.  This recipe makes about 30-35 balls depending on how big you make them.


                                       “Easy Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies”

Making them is easy when you use a cookie mix! Chocolate candy-topped peanut butter cookies are always a winner. 

Servings: 36

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker Peanut Butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
36 Hershey's Kisses Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped 

Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until dough forms. Shape dough into 36 (1-inch) balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately press 1 milk chocolate candy in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Store cookies in tightly covered container.

Till Next Time…………

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Memories Of Snow"---Plus A “Home-style Beef Stew” Recipe

 "Baby, it’s Cold Outside" is a song with words and music by Frank Loesser. It is a romantic winter song that premiered as a duet in 1944 with his wife, Lynn Garland. 

What made me think of this song is, here on Long Island our temperatures have been below freezing, in the single digits, and even into the minuses. It seems that all across the country, there is what the meteorologists call a “Polar Vortex.” I know we are in the month of January, but our temperatures have not been that low in a long time. How are you keeping warm and cozy? Are you near a fireplace, or under your blankets?

My dad with my son, Paul 1980
I remember when I was growing up we always had a lot of snow in the winter. Sometimes schools were closed and my brothers and I would get bundled up like Nanook of the North. We would go outside in the yard and build a snowman which always seemed to end in a snowball fight. My dad used to take us on a hill, near the golf course in Queens, where we could go sled riding. He would take the sled that was his when he was a child (Sno Plane) and we would all pile in the car with boots, gloves, hats, and scarves. The anticipation of sliding down the hill took our minds off the fact that it was so cold. This hill was in the neighborhood which we called “Suicide Hill.” We would usually see our friends and their families as my dad would pull into a parking spot. We all piled on the sled and went down the hill, some of us tumbling down into the cold thick snow. 

Sometimes my brother would go down on the sled belly up, and you could see him speeding down that hill, missing all of his friends. As the sun was setting, my dad would say time to go home, which by now we had had enough. When we walked into the back door of the house my mom had hot chocolate or a hot mug of soup waiting for us to warm our cold insides. I always enjoyed coming back in the house as the aroma of the chocolate would be all throughout the house. Our cheeks were rosy, our gloves were soaked and stuck with snow, and we even had snow in our boots. But as we peeled off the winter cold from our outside activities I would not give it up for the world. Memories are made even in the coldest snowy days. As I reminisce about when I was young, I have been in the kitchen making the best recipe for keeping warm and comfy. That would be by cooking a warm bowl of Beef Stew. 

Did you know that January is “National Soup Month?” Soup can be dated back to about 6000 B.C. Did you know that soup is the #1 choice for comfort foods? I can't think of anything better than a nice hot bowl of soup or stew to make a person feel comforted when their feeling down or just cold. There's just something about having a hot steaming bowl under your nose, with a nice wedge of homemade bread and all your worries go away for the moment.

Soup usually consists of more liquid than stews, but this is a controversy, whether you decide that stew is labeled a soup. Whatever you decided soup or stew gives us a nice warm feeling inside. It's a good idea to always have some soup available for those unexpected rainy days, because the truth is; soup is healing, inside and out. Have you ever noticed when a loved one is sick, the first thing they ask for is soup? Soup feels real nice to a sore throat. Its smoothness and soft veggies slide down the throat without scratching and with very little effort. This is another reason why soup is a great meal to give a sick person. It can be eaten quickly with little effort at all and they feel comforted.

Soups are quick, easy, and practically no fail. You don't have to be an expert cook to make a great bowl of soup or a great stew. Soup also freezes easily too. You can make up a big pot and freeze part of it for a rainy day. In doing research for this post, I found that “Soup Month” is gaining momentum in other countries as well. Why? Because everybody loves soups and every country is famous for their own traditional soups.

Food in general has always had a way of sticking in our minds. How many times have you walked in a room and you smelt a familiar aroma that sent fond memories of your mom and grandmother’s cooking, rushing to your taste buds? We all have those memories and we would be lost without them. That’s why it’s so important for us to make fond memories of meals around a dinner table that our children can carry with them through their adult life. 

Memories of enjoying a warm bowl or cup of soup or stew were like a big hug for me, from my mom! In my Italian family, my mom would make some form of soup or stew for our dinner especially when it was cold out. Whether it was homemade chicken soup when we were sick or a cup of soup after we were out in the snow, building a snowman. There is nothing like that warm aroma of steaming bowl to melt all your troubles away. One of my favorite stews is called “Home-style Beef Stew.” I would love to share this recipe with you, my readers. Once you have had this stew, you will be hooked and want to make this delicious, thick, and flavorful recipe over and over again. Make sure you have a bowl of soup or stew before January is a memory. Enjoy!!

                                                    “Home-style Beef Stew

Hearty and full of rich homemade flavor, this beef stew recipe is an easy way to get in servings of protein and vegetables. It’s especially good on a colder day alongside a crisp green salad and a slice of homemade bread. Enjoy and keep warm!

Recipe Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 85 min

1 lb. beef eye round roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
32oz of Beef stock (homemade or your favorite)
2 cups water
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups baby red potatoes, halved
3 carrots, sliced

Toss beef with flour; set aside. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and brown beef. Remove beef from saucepan; set aside. Stir onions and garlic into same saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in Beef Stock, water, Worcestershire sauce, and beef pieces. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until all is blended together. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes or until beef is almost tender. Stir in potatoes and carrots and simmer an additional 40 minutes or until beef and vegetables are tender. **(If it is too thick, add more beef stock, if it is too thin add more flour and stir) Try this dish tonight to help keep your family warm!

Till Next Time…………

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

“Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Taking down Christmas decorations and storing them away until next December certainly indicates the end of the holiday season. As much as we may enjoy celebrations it is time to move on and start the New Year getting back to normal. So, “Wordless Tuesday” is a post with no stories just a fabulous and delicious recipe or two…..

Broccoli Rabe,” also known as rapini and cime di Rapa, has a pleasantly bitter flavor that is an appealing contrast to the sweet pork sausage. As you toss, both ingredients become trapped in the hollows of the ear-shaped pasta, (Orecchiette) making every bite wonderfully flavorful. Prepare this dish in cool-weather months, when “Broccoli Rabe” is in season. Delizioso!!!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
Salt to taste
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup chicken stock
Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
Orecchiette, for 6 servings
Cook the Orecchiette pasta 

Cut off and discard the lower part of the Broccoli Rabe stems, leaving the broccoli about 8 inches long. Remove the large tough leaves, leaving just tender leaves and flower buds. Peel the thick, lower part of the stems by lifting strips from the stem end with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and drawing them up toward the bud area. A perfect peel is not necessary, but removing the peel does remove bitterness. Cut the stems into 1 1/2 to 2-inch lengths. Wash the broccoli thoroughly and dry it well.

Remove the casing from the sausage and crumble it. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and cook until the sausage is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and continue to sauté until the sausage is lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. 

Drain the fat from the pan and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add about half the broccoli rabe to the pan and toss it until it begins to wilt. Add more of the broccoli rabe to pan, as it will wilt. When all the broccoli rabe has been added, cover the pan and steam the broccoli until wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes. Taste and season lightly with salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in the butter until melted, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Boil gently, uncovered, for several minutes more to reduce and concentrate the liquid. Again taste and correct the seasoning. Set the broccoli aside until the pasta is ready.

Cook the Orecchiette. Drain them well and return them to the pan over low heat. Add the broccoli rabe sauce and toss gently to blend. Taste carefully for seasoning, and remove from heat. Add half of the grated cheese and toss to blend. Transfer to a serving platter or a bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese. Serve immediately. 

©©©©  White Wine: Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are your perfect pairs for “Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe”

(This recipe was adapted from Lidia Bastianich)

Till Next Time……………

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