Tuesday, April 28, 2015

“Shrimp Scampi Florentine” For National Shrimp Scampi Day..Enjoy!

“National Shrimp Scampi Day” is celebrated tomorrow, on April 29th every year. The word Scampi suggests the cooking style of the shrimp in the United States. This Italian -American shrimp dish is prepared by sautéing the shrimp in butter or olive oil, with garlic, lemon juice, fresh parsley, and your favorite white wine, which is then placed over Linguine pasta. National Shrimp Scampi Day is an unofficial holiday of unknown origin. The Italian people have been cooking shrimp this way for many years from the 1920‘s.

Shrimp is America’s favorite seafood and tastes succulent and sweet. Shrimp is available, fresh all year-round and is an excellent source of protein. Naturally low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories which are an ideal choice for a low-carbohydrate diet. They are also a source of omega-3 fatty acid, which medical research shows may reduce the risk of heart disease. The average life cycle of a shrimp in is only 13 months or less. They reproduce rapidly, which is a good thing since so many people like to eat them. Female shrimp lay over a thousand eggs, which are attached to her swimming legs. Most shrimp release eggs offshore in deep water from early spring through early fall.

Here are some tips to help you purchase, safe handling, preparation, and cooking of shrimp:

  • Raw, headless and unpeeled shrimp: 1/3 pound per serving
  • Peeled and de-veined shrimp: 1/3 pound per serving
  • Two pounds of raw headless, unpeeled shrimp will yield 1 pound of cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home
  • Shrimp are available in a variety of fresh or fresh or frozen and can be sold by peeled, de-veined, or with the tail on.
  • Shrimp should have a mild aroma (similar to the ocean), tightly adhering shells and firm fresh
  • Store shrimp in the coldest part of your refrigerator at 32 degrees F. and use within two days, or freeze at 0 degrees F for up to six months
  • Keep raw and cooked seafood thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges and your hands with hot soapy water
  • Always marinade seafood in the refrigerator
  • Discard marinade; it contains raw juices which may harbor bacteria
  • When marinade is needed for basting reserve a portion before adding raw seafood
  • Shrimp are easily prepared by the following methods: boiled, broiled, baked, grilled, or fried.
 My recipe this week is my take on Scampi called: “Shrimp Scampi Florentine.” This delicious dish is made with fresh flavors of spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, spices, and sweet shrimp. I would also recommend a very aromatic bottle of "Vintner's Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc, 2008" from "Rosenblum Cellars" in California. This Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and has aromas of citrus, melon, and figs. Chill a bottle to share with friends over good conversation. This versatile wine makes the perfect complement for fresh green salads, especially topped with crab or shrimp. 

 "Please drink responsibly
Shrimp Scampi Florentine

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: about 4 people 

2 1/2 lbs of fresh spinach
2 oz. of unsalted butter
1 shallot
8 oz of button mushrooms
2 tomatoes, seeded, sliced thinly
Salt and fresh ground pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg
1/2 ounce of flour
1/2 pint of whole milk
1 ounce of grated Fontina cheese: (Mild provolone, Gruyere, or Gouda cheeses may all be substituted for Fontina, depending on your personal preference)
1 lb of cooked, de-veined, and shelled shrimp

Cooked Pasta of your choice  

Rinse the spinach well, removing any thick stalks, and put into sauce pan with a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook for about 3-5 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat half the butter. Chop the shallot finely and cook it in the butter until soft. Next, wipe and slice the mushrooms. Place in pan and cook with the shallots. Drain the spinach well and chop finely. Mix the shallots, mushrooms, and tomatoes with the spinach. Then add seasonings and a pinch of nutmeg. Place mixed ingredients into oven proof dish. Melt half the remaining butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Gradually stir in the milk, return the sauce to the heat and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Grate the cheese and add half to the sauce. Heat the remaining butter and quickly toss the shrimp over heat. Put the shrimp on top of the spinach mixture and cover with sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over and brown quickly under a hot broiler. Serve immediately over pasta with a big tossed green salad, and a piece of crunchy Italian bread.  

Till Next Time……………………………

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

“Tuscan Salmon Pasta” A Recipe From "The Old Farmer's Almanac"

Welcome; All of my followers and readers know that one of my passions is reading, which includes books, magazines, short stories, and of course I wait every year to read the “Old Farmer’s Almanac.” I love this magazine/book. The Almanac is full of interesting stories, has so much information as to gardening, the weather facts, and of course how to grow foods and flowers. Each page has so much information, it is like an encyclopedia. If you have not tried a copy of the Old Farmer’s almanac you need to get a copy, you will not want to put it down. Do you know who’s Birthday is today? Robert B. Thomas’s Birthday is today…You may be saying to yourself who is Robert B. Thomas? Read more and you will find out….

Today, Robert Bailey Thomas was born in 1766. He was the founder and long time editor of the “Farmer's Almanac,” now known as the “Old Farmer's Almanac.” There were many competing almanacs in the 18th century, but Thomas's upstart was a success. In it’s second year, distribution tripled to 9,000. The initial cost of the book was six pence (about four cents). The words of the Almanac's founder, Robert B. Thomas, guides us still: "Our main endeavor is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor." To calculate the Almanac's weather predictions, Thomas studied solar activity, astronomy cycles, and weather patterns. He also used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, which is still in use today. Other than the Almanac's prognosticators, few people have seen the formula. It is kept in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Robert Bailey Thomas

Thomas also started drilling a hole through the Almanac so that subscribers could hang it from a nail or a string. Thomas served as editor until his death on May 19, 1846. As its editor for more than 50 years, Thomas established The Old Farmer's Almanac as America's "most enduring" almanac by outlasting the competition. In 1832, with his almanac having survived longer than similarly named competitors, Thomas inserted the word "Old" in the title, later dropping it in the title of the 1836 edition. After Thomas's death, John Henry Jenks was appointed editor and in 1848, the book's name was permanently and officially revised to “The Old Farmer's Almanac.”

The Old Farmer's Almanac, North America's oldest continuously published periodical, since 1792, features the best in home, garden, history, food, and fun. All this and the famous weather forecasts: as always, traditionally 80% accurate. The Old Farmer's Almanac is a reference book that contains weather forecasts, tide tables, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles on a number of topics, including gardening, sports, astronomy, and farming. The book also features anecdotes and a section that predicts trends in fashion, food, home décor, technology, and living for the coming year. 

The Old Farmer's Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don't like the question of weather left up in the air. Released the second Tuesday in the September that precedes the year printed on its cover. In recent years, The Old Farmer's Almanac line of products has expanded, always with an eye on Mr. Thomas's wise words about keeping things fun and practical. So now they produce many calendars, cookbooks, journals, the All-Season Garden Guide, music CDs, and many handy reference charts. In its bicentennial edition, the Almanac stated, "neither we nor anyone else has as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict weather with anything resembling total accuracy."

Today’s recipe is one that I am sharing from the “Old Farmer’s Almanac.” This dish is not only easy but a great way to incorporate Smoked Salmon and veggies together for a scrumptious pasta dish.

Tuscan Salmon Pasta

8 oz. bow tie pasta
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 oz. (3 to 4 tbsp) low fat cream cheese, roughly cubed
3 oz. smoked salmon, roughly chopped
4 artichoke hearts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, steam broccoli. Drain pasta and add cream cheese to the pasta. Toss a bit to melt the cheese, then add smoked salmon, artichoke hearts, broccoli, and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Till Next Time………

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

“Ravioli with Snap Peas & Mushrooms” & “Blue Sea Martini” For Earth Day!

Yes, I am back and ready to post fabulous stories and the most yummy and delicious recipes, that I know you will love and enjoy! So welcome back to “Family Plus Food Equals Love.”
It is “Earth Day’s” 45th Anniversary (tomorrow) April 22. In 1970 the first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million people across the United States with Senator Gaylord Nelson as its founder. Senator Nelson realized that the US cities were being choked by smog and the rivers were getting polluted which meant that our environmental landscape in the USA was gloomy. This US Senator from Wisconsin succeeded in passing a Congressional resolution declaring April 22 a National Celebration of the Earth. This ground breaking effort earned Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom award. More than 5,000 groups from 184 countries celebrate Earth Day. National events are held across the globe from Africa to Washington D.C. Today, Earth Day is an event to celebrate the environmental victories of the past four decades and consider the many opportunities for improvement in the future of our Mother Earth. Earth Day is a catalyst for ongoing education, action, and change. It simultaneously broadens the base of support and rekindles old commitments through highly participatory strategies.

Pledge to plant and speak for the trees, for April 22, 2015 - Be a part of the biggest grassroots effort in history by planting a seed/tree as a “give back” to Earth. It's a Native American tradition that when you take something from the Earth, you must give something back. Earth Day 2015 will be a global "give back to Earth" event, for all the planet gives humans. Their goal is to plant one billion seeds or trees! Please plant something that is organic, perennial, and suitable to the growing conditions in your area. Please nurture your plantings, like children, until they can sustain themselves on their own!

A great way to celebrate Earth Day is to prepare your food in a way that is easy on the environment. Earth day recipes should include local produce of fruits and vegetables which would contain less harmful pesticides as well as support your local farmers. If you use organic it could cut your families pesticide exposure by almost 90%. Purchase foods with less packaging so you do not crate more waste. Use your own reusable containers for your grab and go foods. Start to rethink the most energy efficient cooking methods for your foods. Avoid using your oven, and go for using your stove top, crock pots or even a toaster oven. When cooking, prepare enough to save or freeze to eat later. You will use fewer resources. Eat more raw foods, less to cook and better for your health. Run only full loads of dishes or clothes with Energy Star appliances. Wait till after 8 PM, as it saves energy by avoiding the power “rush hour,” when more resources are strained by higher emissions. These are just some ways to help out planet earth and our environment. So next time you purchase a bottle of water, remember to please recycle!

One of my two recipes this week is a very environmentally friendly dish. You can use organic vegetables from your local farm growers and only use your stove top to prepare this recipe. Don’t forget to celebrate Earth Day and be environmentally friendly! Enjoy!!

Ravioli with Snap Peas & Mushrooms

Serves: 8
1 package (20 ounces) refrigerated cheese ravioli
1 pound fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced or 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup hazelnuts, (or whatever nuts your family likes) coarsely chopped & toasted

In a large saucepan, cook ravioli according to package directions, adding snap peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, shallots and garlic; cook and stir until mushrooms are tender. Stir in milk, sage, lemon peel, lemon-pepper and white pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Add ravioli and snap peas to sauce; heat through. Sprinkle with cheese and hazelnuts.

Yield: 8 servings

Wine Pairings: Full-Bodied White Wine---Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay.


My second recipe is a cocktail called “Blue Sea Martini.” This delicious concoction gets its beautiful blue color from the addition of blue Curacao. Although this may look like the beautiful ocean, it certainly doesn't taste like it (thankfully) and instead tastes like a tropical island vacation.

Blue Sea Martini

Serves: 1
1-1/2 ounces lemon vodka
1 once blue Curacao
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup light white cranberry juice
Lime and lemon for garnish

Mix all of the ingredients in a chilled drink mixer filled halfway with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain drink into two chilled martini glasses and garnish with your favorite fruit!

Please Drink Responsibly…….

Till Next Time…….

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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Easter Greetings" & An Important Message

           To All My Family, Friends, Followers, & Readers : 

                     Wishing you all the Blessings of Easter
                               and all the Joys of Spring…

   Dottie  *                                  

*****IMPORTANT: Thank you for all of your comments and reading my posts every week. I will be taking a hiatus for some R & R for 2 weeks. I will be back stronger, with more fabulous recipes, and an updated blog on April 21 for “Wordless Tuesday.” Feel free to go through my blog at anytime and see other posts with delicious recipes from other years...... Enjoy! Ciao****


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

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

“Baked Fresh Ham with Port Wine” & “Bunny Buns” To Celebrate Easter Sunday

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! “May your Easter basket be filled with blessings and joy. I wish you, your family, and your friends a day filled with loving memories.”

Here on Long Island and many other places the weather is not cooperating with the time of the year. It is taking Mother Nature much longer to see the flowers starting to bloom. The sun should be getting warmer, and the air should have that hint of freshness that only spring can bring. Easter falls in the spring, which is when the earth renews itself after winter. Easter is a day to dress in your Sunday best, go to church, celebrate life, enjoy traditional foods with your family, and of course eat way too much chocolate. Sometimes we forget that Christians all over the world celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God.

In Italy, the church bells stop ringing on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus on the cross. Then on Easter Sunday morning, the church bells ring out once again, telling people that Jesus has risen. Italian children wake up on Easter morning and find eggs scattered in their rooms. Eggs, rabbits, and young animals are thought to represent re-birth and fertility in the spring. Easter is considered the most important religious event of the year in Italy, even shadowing over Christmas in its religious and cultural importance.
Lauren (my niece) at Egg Hunt

In my family we always had an Easter egg hunt for the small children. I recall back, taking those plastic colored eggs and filling them with some change plus candy or chocolate eggs. Then we would go outside in my parent’s yard and hide them. My nieces, nephews, and my son would all go out and see who could find the most. It was so funny to watch the really small children find the eggs; they would get so excited when they found one.

Throughout the world the most popular Easter symbol is the lamb. The reference to the lamb in Christianity goes back to the book of Genesis, from the Bible. In past centuries it was considered a lucky omen to meet a lamb, especially at Easter time. 

Butter in shape of lamb

In the 7th century the Benedictine monks wrote a prayer for the blessing of lambs.  Little figures of the lamb are made of butter, pastry, cakes, or chocolate have been substituted for the meat, forming Easter table centerpieces. Many Easter Sundays, I can remember my mom cooking lamb for dinner along with our Italian traditional dishes.
Easter celebrations have many customs and legends that have nothing to do with the religious Christian celebration of Christ’s rising. Did you ever think of where and how these traditional celebrations of colored eggs, cute little bunnies, and Easter Lilies come from? Let’s start with the Easter Bunny, which was a symbol of spring and fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the rabbit. This custom originated in Germany and brought to America particularly to Pennsylvania. The German children would eagerly await the arrival of the Oschter Haws, a rabbit who delighted children on Easter morning by laying colored eggs in nests. The German’s baked cakes for Easter in the shape of bunnies they spread the tradition of chocolate bunnies and eggs across the country. The practice of making nests for the rabbits to lay its eggs in became decorated baskets and colorful eggs which were swapped for candy, treats and small other gifts. The white Easter Lily has come to symbolize the spiritual values of Easter; purity, life, and renewal. The flower’s trumpet shape is a reminder of the heralding of Jesus, returning to Jerusalem.

Christians consider eggs to be “the seed of life” and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter eggs are colored and decorated to represent the sunlight of spring. Different cultures have developed their own ways of decorating Easter eggs. The most celebrated workshops are Faberge. They created exquisite jeweled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court, and they are still the most sought after eggs in the world.

My recipe this week is called “Baked Fresh Ham with Port Wine.” My brother found this recipe in the New York Times, many years ago and thought my mother would like to prepare this as our Easter Sunday Dinner one year. And I must say it was delicious. Between the ham, wine, rosemary, and sage, the aromas were incredible as well as the taste. This dish can be prepared for any day or any occasion.

Baked Fresh Ham with Port Wine

1  12-to-14-pound fresh ham, unsmoked 

3 large garlic cloves cut into 12 slices
1 tablespoon crumbled leaf of rosemary
1 tablespoon crumbled sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium-size onions, peeled
1/2 cup port wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups water, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375°F  Place the ham, skin side up, on a flat surface and, using the tip of a very sharp knife, make 1/4-inch-deep gashes, from the butt end to the shank end, cutting through the skin at 1-inch intervals. Insert a sliver of garlic into each gash. In a small mixing bowl, blend well the rosemary, sage, salt and pepper and rub the mixture on the ham. Place the ham, flat side up, in a large baking dish or roasting pan and place in oven. Bake, basting occasionally, for 2 1/2 hours. Remove all the fat from the roasting pan and add the onions. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cover with aluminum foil. Continue baking and basting for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove the fat from the pan. In a small mixing bowl, blend the wine, chicken stock and tomato paste. Add to the ham in the roasting pan. Re-cover ham with foil and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours or until the ham is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165
°F degrees. If the liquid is reduced too much, add 1 or 2 cups of water. Remove the ham from the roasting pan. Tilt the pan and using the spoon, skim off the fat and return the ham to the pan.  Cover with foil and let the ham rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.  Serve the ham sliced with the pan gravy spooned over. Yield:  12-20 people

My other recipe this week is called “Bunny Buns” by Rhodes Bake and Serve Rolls. This is an easy recipe and the children can help make these little delicious warm rolls for your Easter table.

“Bunny Buns”

12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold

Cut a small piece off of one roll for a tail. Roll remaining piece into a 12-inch rope with pointed ends. Twist top of rope together. Place on a large sprayed baking sheet and pull pointed ends apart for ears. Roll small cut off piece into a ball for the tail. Make an indentation with your finger at the spot for the tail. Moisten the tail with water and place in the indentation. Repeat the above steps with remaining rolls. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350° F 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy with butter for your Easter Dinner. Serves: 6

Till Next Time…………………..

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