Friday, May 31, 2013

"Texas Hot Dog Sauce" Recipe & "Hot Air Balloon Rally"

1983 Balloon Rally
It’s Hot here on Long Island, in the 90’s, so time to get out and enjoy the summer time weather. Look up, it’s a bird, no it's a plane, no it’s a Hot Air Balloon! Wednesday, June 5th is "National Hot Air Balloon Day". The oldest successful human carrying flight dates back to 1783. The “Montgolfier” brothers developed a standard hot air balloon known as Montgolfier balloons. Their first public flight demonstration was an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes, followed later within the year by manned fights. In today’s modern world hot air ballooning is a sight to see at festivals and rally’s across the country. Sometimes there maybe hot air balloon rides at these events, where you can go up, up, and away in the skies, and experience a world above the earth! Depending on the balloon size, balloon operators can now carry from two to ten passengers at a time. These balloons have traditional shapes, but also have been adapted to cartoon characters, different forms, and are even made to advertise certain products.
Wellsville, NY 1983

Years ago I lived in a small town called, Wellsville, located in the Southern Tier of New York State. Wellsville is one of those little villages that you always hear about when people talk about iconic small-town life. It's the kind of place that time forgot about and a place that Norman Rockwell would have painted if he had the chance. Every year they have, “The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally”. I remember when we lived in the town, one of the perks to the Balloon Rally was that if one of the balloons would have to land for some reason on your property, the owners of the balloon would present you with a bottle of champagne. We never had that opportunity, but the tradition still exits today. From where we lived in a valley you could see them flying above the house over through the mountain areas in the early morning. Such a beautiful, slow, and peaceful sight.

Myself, Paul my son, & my dad  (1983)
In the summer of 1983 my parents came up for a visit and we attended the balloon rally that year. I remember the festival not only had the balloons, plus a parade in town. An awesome sight to see was early in the morning, going to the field and watching the balloons on the ground, being brought back to life. They start flat on the ground and then it starts to fill up or get fired which is what gives it the air. It does take a while, but when they are up and ready to fly, it is breathtaking to see! The 2013 Rally (38th year) will take place from July 19 - July 21. These Hot Air Balloon festivals are all around the country, if you haven’t seen this impressive sight check one out. Remember to look up, there maybe a balloon over your house someday.

Texas Hot
After our days activities at the Balloon Rally, we used to go to a restaurant in town called “Texas Hot”. The Texas Hot first opened its doors back in 1921, by Greek immigrants. The owners are in their third to fourth family generation and have kept the restaurant the same through all these years. This legendary restaurant always gets a 4 and a half stars, but it is world famous for their hot dogs smothered in “Texas Hot” sauce which is a cross between a spicy Texas Chili and a Sloppy Joe. The sauce is thin but full of meat and it poured on everything including burgers, fries, and baked potatoes. Many people have tried to duplicate the sauce, but no one has been able to as of yet. My recipe this week is my rendition of this famous, legendary sauce. Once you have eaten this Texas Hot sauce, it will be a mouthwatering experience you will never forget! Between the onions and all the spiciness of the ingredients your hot dogs will be an explosion in your mouth. So, get out and see a balloon rally and try my recipe, or if you are in the Wellsville area, please check out one of my favorite places to eat; “The Texas Hot Restaurant.”
"Texas Hot Dog Sauce" 

Texas Hot Dog Sauce

1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of sweet chopped onions
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup of finely chopped sweet onion
Hot dogs grilled
Hot dog buns steamed
Yellow mustard
Texas Hot Sauce

Place hot dogs in steamed buns and top with yellow mustard, then Texas Hot Sauce, and top with chopped onions. Serve immediately.

Directions:In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté till soft but not browned. Then add ground beef, spices, and mix well. Add enough water to just cover the mixture. Simmer mixture over low heat. Stirring occasionally until meat is cooked and sauce thickens about 30 minutes. Yield: 3 cups

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

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

“Savory Barbecued Chicken” For Your Memorial Day Weekend Party

Happy Memorial Day” weekend! The unofficial start of summertime. The last Monday in May is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States since 1971. A day that we commemorate to all American soldiers who lost their lives defending our country. Memorial Day is an occasion for expressions of memory as people think about the courage of their deceased relatives that served in the military. As time marches on it now has become a long weekend increasingly devoted to family get-togethers, BBQ’s, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on Memorial Day.

One way to kick off the summer is with a family BBQ, which is perfect because the month of May happens to be “National BBQ Month.” There is nothing like cooking outside on a grill. As you and your family reminisce about loved ones in the service there are so many quick and easy ideas for a very tasty BBQ. Some options are fresh corn on the cob roasted on the grill, enjoy the flavor of blueberry and rhubarb pies with homemade vanilla ice cream, and don’t forget, the gooey barbeque sauce or glaze to coat on your favorite meat, seafood or fresh vegetables…… yum, finger lick’ in good. So wipe down that patio furniture, let’s go outside, time to celebrate, and get grilling!

Before we start grilling, eating, and celebrating, let me share with you some interesting facts about the way we cook our food with this method. Typically to “grill” is to cook quickly, while “barbecue” is a much slower method using less heat than grilling over an extended period of several hours. Whether you use gas, charcoal, or flavored wood chips/boards, all of these methods add flavor and tenderness to your meats, veggies, and yes, sometimes fruits for desserts. You can use a wide variety of marinades but look for something with an acidic base, like a vinegar or citrus juice with enough flavor, but not over power it.

My dad is our Grill Master in my family. When we were young kids he would use charcoal but as the years went on he now uses the gas BBQ. He would even go outside in the rain with an umbrella or in the winter when it was snowing and start up the BBQ for our dinner. He puts on his apron with his tools and cooks for the family, his famous steak, chicken, ribs, or shish kebab recipes. Thanks dad for delicious meals and memories that will last forever! 
However you celebrate your Memorial Day remember to incorporate your holiday traditions with your family and no matter where you are, take time to be thankful for our freedom. 

**Everyone knows that a two-mile-wide EF4 tornado tore through Oklahoma City's suburbs earlier this week, demolishing an elementary school, destroying homes, and taking lives. Americans can once again show their generous spirit and look for ways to contribute to the relief and recovery efforts. If you want to help, PLEASE donate to the American Red Cross. You can call, text, or go on line to donate $10 or more. They also need prayers too! Thank you..........  

This week my recipe is a family favorite. “Savoy Barbecued Chicken” is an ideal recipe for this Memorial Day weekend and celebrate National BBQ Month. The flavors of the BBQ sauce are a tasty marriage for this delicious dish. The chicken is tender, moist, and gooey on the outside, just the way you love it. So, enjoy your holiday weekend, be safe, and 'Tutti, Mangia”

Savory Barbecued Chicken

1 1/2 cups of Ketchup
2 tablespoons of prepared mustard
1 small onion chopped finely
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 (3 to -3 1/2 pound) cut up chicken

Combine Ketchup and mustard, stirring well. Add next 6 ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Place chicken, skin side down, on BBQ grill. Grill for about 1 hour or until tender, turning chicken every 10 minutes. Each time you turn the chicken brush on enough sauce so it will create a gooey coating.  

Till Next Time…………………….

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

A “Spaghetti With Egg, Bacon, And Mushroom” Recipe Plus A “Chocolate Pistachio Loaf” For Dessert

How do you know you spend much too much time on the computer? When you sit at your desk and realize that you are looking at your screen and your computer is not turned on. Well, I wouldn’t say that I did that, but I had major technical problems with my PC tower this week. I had to call the “Computer Dr” and he took the tower away to be fixed and cleaned. As he was taking it away from my house, I felt like I had just sent my son to school for the first time. I know that in this age of technology there are so many ways to connect to the internet. I do have a Kindle so I was able to check my social media accounts which were a plus. You don’t realize that when you loose this form of communicating it is very strange. I do not own a smart phone or an iPad at this time so I really count on my PC to work on. I was without its use for three days and now as of today my computer is tucked back in its cabinet ready for me to use again. I am not a slave to the PC or addicted to it, but I know you must be saying only three days, but those three days seemed like more than a week. Even though I use my computer to write and work on my blogs etc., I did realize that I have to set some boundaries.

Here are some tips if you find that you are spending too much time on the computer. If your hands start to hurt, you feel tired, dizzy and sick. If your eyes hurt and you are seeing double. Take a break and go outside for a while. Do something different, a hobby or read a book. Sometimes you may even need a clock to time you on the computer. Take a break; you can always go back later on. I will definitely use these tips, see if you can.

While I was without the computer, I realized I needed to do something constructive. So, I cooked and baked which is a big passion of mine as you, my readers know. What a wonderful time I had spending in my kitchen and using my talents at the stove. A brilliant way to take a break from the computer and tasty as well. So here are two recipes this week for you to try. The first one is a delectable entrée called “Spaghetti with Egg, Bacon, and Mushrooms” and the next recipe is a moist luscious dessert called a “Chocolate Pistachio Loaf”. I hope that you enjoy these recipes and try something different other than your computer, take a break, maybe a walk in this lovely Spring weather.

Spaghetti With Egg, Bacon And Mushroom

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 people

2 oz of unsalted butter
8 oz of sliced mushrooms
4 oz of bacon, sliced in bite sized pieces
10 oz of spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped finely
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
2 oz of Pecorino Romano grated cheese

Melt half the butter in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and bacon. Cook for 10 minutes over a moderate heat, until the bacon is crisp. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in lots of boiling water until tender but still firm. (about 10 minutes) Drain and return to the pan. Add the rest of the butter, salt, pepper, mushroom, and bacon. Toss together. Serve with the hard boiled eggs sprinkled on top add parsley if desired. Serve grated Pecorino Romano cheese separately.

“Chocolate Pistachio Loaf”

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours
Oven Temp: 350° F
Makes: 1 pound loaf

4 oz of self raising flour
4 oz of unsalted butter
2 oz of sugar
2 oz of plain chocolate, chopped
2 oz of pistachio nuts, chopped
1 oz of ground almonds
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk

6 oz of plain chocolate, chopped or grated
1 tablespoon butter

Grease and line a 1 pound loaf pan with parchment paper. Put all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until they are mixed well. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake in pre-heated oven for 1 1/4 hours or until cooked. Turn the cake out of the pan and leave to cool on a wire rack. To make the icing, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water; beat the butter into the chocolate and pour evenly over the cake. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.

Till Next Time……………………………..

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Happy Mother's Day" Or "la Festa della, Mamma" Plus A "Frittata" Recipe

Sunday is Mother’s Day! I do hope each and every one of my readers far and wide have a beautiful day with your family and friends! On this day (which should be everyday) what do mothers wish for most as a gift? It isn’t flowers, chocolates, or jewelry. Give up yet? It is TIME! A special time to be together with the family, “a little me time” for relaxing alone and do whatever your heart desires. Mothers are always on the go, running, and driving from place to place with the children, shopping, cooking, working, and taking care of all that needs to be done. For one day a year let this be the day that mothers do what ever comes to mind. So husbands or partners take your children and go out for the day. Show your wife and mom that she means the world to you and give her time to be peaceful so she can relax.

Ok, ladies they finally left the house! You spent some time with the family as they presented you breakfast in bed and handmade cards from the children. Now everyone is in the car for their day out to give mommy some peace to relax. Turn down the phone, put on some soft peaceful music and you are ready for your special day of “me time”! Now you think, what should I do? There probably is a mess in the kitchen, and I should clean that up, STOP!!! No, this is your day, that mess can wait till later on. No cleaning, washing, tidying up, scheduling, or anything else you can think of. “We,” as caretakers must make time for ourselves. Ok, let me help you…what helps me relax and enjoy my “me time” is a hot herbal bubble bath, with candles, aromatherapy, a glass of wine or cup of hot tea, and a good book.

Herbal bubble baths are excellent for relaxing. Just letting go and all your aches and pains will go as well. You are tired of all that running around you do for the family. Your feet must have a day off too! Go and put a bottle of wine in the fridge to chill or put the kettle on for that hot cup of tea and I will tell you what you need to do next, remember no cleaning! Taking a long hot bubble bath scented with aromas that are pleasing, is a ritual to relieve pressure, tension, body aches, and stress. Ok the bath is ready, did you find a good book? One of my favorite books is called “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani. She takes you back to the Northern Italian Alps in 1905, a romantic love story. Her 10th book which is exquisitely written, a story of the power of abiding lasting love. She is an amazing writer, I have read all of her books; take it from me I give it 2 thumbs up!

Well, you have your bath ready, your book, a glass of wine or cup of hot tea, now all you need are some lovely soothing scented candles to enhance your day of relaxation. Aromatherapy is a way to unwind through smell. The most popular is through the use of burning scented candles. One way this helps the body is with the influence of aromas on the brain, especially the olfactory system. Not only the aroma of the candles but the colors of them have deep meaning to help people focus or meditate. I personally love the scents of vanilla. So you choose whatever your preference is. Bubble Bath time is here….sink into that luscious scented bubble bath and let all your troubles, worries, and fears float away. Relax and enjoy your drink, let the water make you feel you are on a beach with the hot sun giving you energy to start your new week. Close your eyes and smell the candles soothing scents. Float all your aches and pains away. Enjoy your book; let it take you to what ever destination you wish. This is your day of relaxing “me time.” Happy Mother’s Day to all…… 

My recipe this week is easy and quick. It is called a “Potato With Onions Frittata“. It is a thick Italian omelet with an egg base by adding anything you like to its contents. It is cooked in a frying pan on top of the stove. Your frittata can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, or a light lunch. My mom’s recipe is to add to the eggs potatoes, onions, and grated cheese. All your ingredients have to be cooked first as the frittata only takes about 15 minutes or less to cook.

To prepare to cook your frittata, you can heat some olive oil in your non-stick frying pan (just enough to coat it.) Whisk the eggs (3-4) with some salt and pepper to taste. You can add about 2 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano grated cheese as well. Then add your cooked sliced potatoes and sliced onions and mix with your egg mixture. Now pour the egg mixture into the heated pan. Leave your egg mixture to set for about 4-6 minutes. Once you see it set up a bit and the frittata moves easily in the pan, put a large plate over the pan and invert the frying pan so the frittata comes out onto the dish with the uncooked side down. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to the pan if needed. Slide the frittata back into the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Slide the cooked frittata onto a serving platter and slice it into pie-shaped wedges. Serve immediately and enjoy!! Buon Appetito!!

Well, Mom here’s to you! “Auguri per la Festa della, Mamma” (Happy Mother’s Day) “Ti Viglio Bene Mamma” (I Love You, Mother) enjoy and relax.

Till Next Time…………………….

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

Friday, May 3, 2013

"I'd Gladly Pay You Tuesday, For A Hamburger Today" National Hamburger Month

“I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.” Does that sound familiar? Yes, those of us that are from the older generation remember a character from Popeye called “Wimpy,” who just like most Americans have a fascination for hamburgers. Why is it, that the “Hamburger” is on Americas top 10 list for go to food? A hamburger or burger is a sandwich that consists of a cooked patty of ground meat and is generally served with various garnish or condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, relish, pickles, and we can’t forget the cheese. All of this is packed inside a sliced bun, often baked specially shaped for this purpose. Mostly the meat patty is beef, but hamburgers can also be made with ground chicken, turkey, and vegetarian. I guess with that being said, I can understand why everyone is in love with the hamburger.

The month of May is “National Hamburger Month” and is celebrated each year by a huge amount of people. This months special celebration should not be confused with May 28th which is “National Hamburger Day.” Did you know that the word hamburger comes from the Hamburg steak, (pounded beef) which originated in the German city of Hamburg? The term “hamburger” was first recorded in English in the year 1884 but was probably used much earlier. The recipe was brought to North America by large numbers of people emigrating from Germany at the time. The form hamburger steak first appeared in a Washington state newspaper in 1889. The first recipe close to the current idea of a hamburger, using ground beef mixed with onion and pepper dates from 1902.

Some Hamburger fun facts:
  • Americans consume 14 billion a year and buy 5 billion hamburgers
  • “Speedy” was the original mascot for McDonald’s 
  • McDonald’s is the most popular burger restaurant in the U.S.
  • White Castle is the oldest continuous running hamburger chains
  • 1945 was the year the first self-serve McDonald’s opened
There is no doubt that hamburgers are on the top of all Americans go to food, young and old. When I was young coming from an Italian background, my mom didn’t serve us hamburgers frequently. We ate more meatballs than hamburgers. Hamburgers were more of a “summer” food, grilled on the BBQ for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Fathers day, Labor Day, picnics, and family reunions. I remember those picnics with the family, having a juicy hamburger with all the fixings. I loved mine with ketchup, cheese, lettuce, and a pickle which was in-between a sesame seeded bun lightly toasted on the grill. When you took a bite, the cheese would be gooey and the ketchup would get all over your mouth. Besides the hamburger which was the main attraction my favorite side would be thinly French fries dripping in ketchup. As we grew up, my mother then would cook us hamburgers for dinner throughout the year. It doesn’t matter which way you eat hamburgers because it sill is and will always remain America’s favorite food.  So let’s have fun and celebrate this month by grilling up your own juicy hamburgers for you and your family!

My recipe this week is meal that takes the hamburger to my Italian roots. This super easy burger can be served over spaghetti or served on a toasted roll. Which ever way you devour it, you can taste the flavors of the onion, peppers, spices, cheese, and tomato sauce all wrapped into the ground beef. So delicious that with each bite you are taken back to Italy in a café overlooking the rolling Italian hillside. Molto Bene!!! 

Italian Hamburgers

Courtesy from "Taste of Home"
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

2 tablespoons dry un-flavored bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red sweet pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper
1/2 pound of lean ground beef
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
Spaghetti or toasted roll, optional

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Crumble beef and sprinkle 1 tablespoon Pecorino Romano cheese over the mixture; mix well. Shape into two patties. In a large skillet, cook patties for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Combine the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning; pour over patties. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve on top of spaghetti or on a toasted roll. Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah.

Till Next Time……………………………….........

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