Friday, June 27, 2014

“The Picnic Game” And My Letter Is "X" For “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake”

I am 'going' on a picnic and I am bringing a “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake” that begins with the letter “X”. My friend and food blogger Louise, from “Months of Edible Celebrations” is the hostess of this year on-line picnic, called “The Picnic Game.” She has hosted this game for 6 years. Louise starts organizing by getting out her picnic basket at the end of June. Then, the final round up is usually July 1 st. as July is “National Picnic Month.” If you would like to join the Picnic Game, you can visit Louise anytime for more details. So come and join me as we visit all of our friend’s picnic blankets, and get an opportunity to taste the goodies from each basket. It's an enjoyable way to meet new people and form friendships with other lovely food bloggers. I’m hungry, so let’s check out what everyone has at their picnic table!

You're going on a picnic and you're bringing………….. 

(Click on each recipe and it will bring you to the owner of this fabulous dish!)

A-Angel Food Cake

B-Basil Leaves in Caramelized Prawns

C-Chicken Piccata

Darned Easy Potato Salad

E-Eccles Cakes filled with Leeks, Spinach and Blue Cheese

F-Fourth of July Picnic S'more Tartlets

Gluten-Free & Eggless Chocolate Steamed Cake

H-Ham Cheesy Patties

 Italian Frittata with Vegetables

J- Jelly Roll
K-Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread

L-Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

M-Meringue Roulade with Raspberries

N-Nutella Rice Pudding

Old-Time Favorite Iced Red Bean Popsicles

Q-Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad

R-Raspberry & Fig Cobbler

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (Helado de frutillas y cheesecake) 

T- Two-Ingredient Ice Cream Bread

Uninvited Smashed Potatoes
V- Vegan Mango Salsa

W-Watermelon Salad

X- “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake”

Y- Yellow Squash Crustless Quiche

Z- Zucchini Cake-Double Chocolate 

The beginning of July is in the next few days, and as you know it is known as “National Picnic Month“ So, go to the attic or garage and dust off your picnic basket, get your blanket, and pack some yummy food. Are you ready for your picnic now? Wait, you can’t go anywhere yet, you need to plan this a little more. First you need to decide what type of picnic is this, do you want to go to the park, the beach, or go on a hike? Picnics are extremely popular with couples in love and families with children. 

Let’s put together a checklist of what you really need for your picnic with your loved ones. Remember this is still a picnic not a formal meal, so go with the flow. Choose a spot that is special to you like a park, the beach, near a lake or in a wooded area. Some activities you can do is try to fly a kite, playing games such as cards, backgammon, Frisbee, swimming, hiking, crossword puzzles, and also reading a book. Music is important as well, so bring a radio, or whatever you listen to music on. You picked a spot, found some things to do on your picnic and now we have to remember to pack some important items for an unforgettable day. Besides your blanket, you may want a pillow, a folding chair, an umbrella (for heat as well as for rain), sunscreen, hats with brims, water bottle, bug spray, napkins, disposable plates, cups, and utensils. The most essential item of your picnic is the basket you carry your food in for a memorable culinary experience.

Food is the most important part of the picnic that people can share. Because it is a picnic you want to eat something that is easy, not that messy, as well as delicious. Some types of foods would include bite-sized items, small items on skewers, wraps, sandwiches, cheeses, fruits, and you must have a bottle of water or lemonade. strawberries, grapes, cherries, peaches, melon cut in small pieces are delectable examples of bite-sized fruit. Then we have decadent desserts like cookies, Biscotti, cupcakes, and bread cakes that are not too gooey. One of the last items I would remember to take on this fabulous picnic is a large garbage bag to place all the trash in. We don’t want to litter our beautiful parks, beaches, or lakes.

I think we are all set now to go on our picnic. My recipe today is called…(remember there is Xmas in July)

                                            “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake”

1 pkg. (2--layer size) cake mix. White cake is best but can use yellow cake mix.
1 can of Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package of sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 big red bow

Follow directions on cake box, and then pour into greased, floured Bundt pan. I want it to be round to resemble a wreath with a hole in the center. Bake according to directions on the cake box. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool for another 15 to 20 minutes on a rack. After cooled then put on a plate and frost with the cream cheese frosting. It is fine if frosting is not perfect. Now you take the shredded coconut in your hand and carefully pat on some of the coconut. Go around the cake and the top as well as the hole in the middle. Cover cake completely with the coconut. Now that the cake is coated, attach your red bow on one side of the cake and now you have a “Xmas Coconut Wreath Cake.”

It is so moist and sweet due to the coconut. Plus, it is pretty placed on a plate that your guests at your picnic will be amazed. Have a great time at the picnic and don’t forget to visit all the other picnic letters….Enjoy!!!


Till Next Time……………………………….....

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Italian Ricotta Crepes with Honey & Raisin Sauce" Plus A “Lemon Drop Martini"

Benvenuti, Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is just a mouth watering recipe or two which I know you have been waiting to try…….. 

Italian Ricotta Crepes with Honey & Raisin Sauce.” What a light, fresh, and sweet dessert for summer day or night.  A delightful accompaniment with a cup of tea, coffee, a cocktail, or even a glass of cool lemonade for those hot days.


Italian Ricotta Crepes with Honey & Raisin Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 2-3 minutes
Serves: 4 people

4 tablespoons of clear honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon of raisins
1 tablespoon of Pine Nuts or almonds

8 oz of Ricotta Cheese: whole or part skim milk 
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon of Pine Nuts or almonds

CREPES: Makes: about 12
4 Eggs
1 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of water
Small amount of Butter or oil for pan                                  

Put eggs in a blender, and then add water and salt. Then add flour a little at a time as you are blending together. Brush melted butter or a bit of oil in your sauté pan and pour batter into the pan, (I use a shot glass to measure out the amount of batter) Tilting, to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook only until the underside is lightly browned and is just set, then turn and cook the other side. Invert onto plate; continue until you have about 12 depending on the size of the crepe.

TIP: You can freeze these crepes till you are ready to use. Make sure you use a piece of wax paper in between them before you freeze, so it is easier to take apart without breaking the crepes.

To make the sauce, put all the ingredients into a small pan and warm through gently. For the filling, beat the cheese and lemon rind until soft; mix in raisins and pine nuts. Divide the filling among the hot crepes and either roll them up or fold into triangles. Arrange the crepes on a warm plate spoon the sauce over the top and decorate with twists of lemon. Serve immediately warm or hot.


Pucker up for this sweet and sour cocktail that makes a great dessert drink. It is a very easy drink that can be more or less sweet or sour by adjusting the lemon and syrup according to your taste. You may also want to experiment with flavored vodkas.

“Lemon Drop Martini Recipe”

Yield: 1 Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Lemon twist for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with the lemon twist.

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

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Everything is coming up Onions! With An “Onion and Turkey Lime Salad”

This weekend starts the official summer season, so “Everything is coming up Onions!” All types, sizes and colors are all around us. They are sold in grocery stores and farmers markets all across the United States. Some onions are highlighted at sporting events, have been featured in movies, and written about in books. They add flavor to recipes from breakfast to gourmet dinners. Onions are eaten with your fingers, dipped in sauces, and covered with spices. You can eat them raw, or grilled, cooked in soups, and caramelized or sautéed. The onion is one of my favorite vegetables. So, come on with me and let’s see what onions are really all about.

The onion is believed to have originated in Asia, but it is likely that they may have been growing wild on every continent. Dating back to 3500 BC, onions were one of the foods that did not spoil during the winter months. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the onion, believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternity. In the Middle Ages, onions were used to pay rent and were given as gifts. Native American Indians cooked wild onions and also ate them raw. Onions not only provide flavor; but they also provided health benefits as well.

Did you know that onions are high in energy and water content? They are low in calories, and have abundant amounts of B6, B1, and Folic acid. Chemical compounds in onions are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Raw onions have also been helpful in reducing swelling from bee stings. In the USA products that contain onion extract are used in the treatment of topical scars. According to an American chemist the chemicals in onions also have the potential to alleviate or prevent sore throats. While members of the onion family appear to have medicinal properties for humans, they can be deadly for dogs, cats, and guinea pigs.

Onions come in an assortment of sizes, colors, and shapes. Yellow, red, and white are the three colors of onions. Yellow onions are full-flavored and are mostly used in cooking. These onions turn a rich, dark brown color when cooked. The red onion, with its wonderful color, is a good choice for eating raw in a salad or in grilling on the BBQ. While the white onions are traditional for cooking. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed. The Cippolini onion is specific to Italian cooking and is smaller in size. This onion can vary in colors, but the most common is the yellow Cippolini in a flatter shape. Cippolini onions are delicious for pickling, and boiling, but are perfect for skewers, grilling, and roasting.

I know that when I am peeling onions or even cutting them, my eyes water and tear up. Here are some tips on avoiding teary eyes. To make onions milder, soak them in milk or pour boiling water over the slices and let stand. Rinse with cold water. Eye irritation can be avoided by cutting onions under running water. Another way to reduce irritation is by chilling, or by not cutting the root of the onion as that is the part that has the highest concentration of enzymes which activates the gas, so our eyes water. If you use a sharp blade to chop the onions, this will help with the tearing of your eyes.

                                             How about some onion trivia

1. What should you eat to get rid of onion breath?
Answer: (Parsley

2. New York City is known as the Big Apple. Before having that nickname, it was known by a different nickname. What was that name? Answer: (New York City was called the “Big Onion” because it was a place from which you could peel off layer after layer without ever reaching the core.)

My recipe this week is an “Onion and Turkey Lime Salad.” This recipe is adapted from the National Onion Association. (NOA) Hope that you enjoy and try different types of onions in your next meal.

Onion and Turkey Lime Salad

6 cups narrowly wedged white or yellow onions
6 cups slivered sweet red peppers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups cooked turkey, shredded
1/4 cup frozen grapefruit juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lime peel, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons crushed hot red peppers (dried)
1/4 cup lime juice
Favorite greens for salad
Sour cream (optional)

Sauté onions and peppers in oil until tender. Add turkey, grapefruit juice, lime peel, cumin, crushed pepper and garlic; heat thoroughly. Add lime juice and mix. Cover and refrigerate. Arrange 1-1/2 cups salad on top of your favorite greens-lined individual salad plates. Serve with sour cream. (Optional) Makes: 6 servings.

Special notes: Nutritional per serving: About 407 cal, 44 g pro, 22 g carb, 13 g fat, 30% cal from fat, 137 mg  

Till Next Time………………….

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

“Italian Stuffed Baby Eggplant” For "Wordless Tuesday" Delizioso!

Ciao, Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting to try… 

My recipe this week is “Italian Stuffed Baby Eggplant.” My mother would make this dish mostly in the summer time. A dish her grandmother, Sofia created. (photo of Sofia below) So delicious and easy. It is so mouth-watering that you will be craving for more…This yummy dish can be served hot or cold. I love it with Italian bread eaten cold, plus a glass of rich red wine. A perfect dish for the hot weather and entertaining.  


“Italian Stuffed Baby Eggplant”


6 small eggplants (makes 12 half shells)
Olive oil
3/4 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 8oz cans of tomato sauce (Del Monte)
1/2 teaspoon of basil flakes (or fresh)
1 egg
1-1/4 cups of bread crumbs (unflavored)
1/4 cup of grated cheese (Pecorino Romano)


Cut eggplant lengthwise in half and scoop out the inside of the eggplant. Cut scooped out insides into bite-sized pieces. Put scooped out shells in some salted water to parboil. Put just enough oil to cover the bottom of a 3-quart pot. Heat and sauté minced garlic. Then add tomato sauce and stir. Next, put in the cut up insides of the eggplant with salt/peeper and let cook until soft. (not mushy). Add water if needed. After they are cooked, remove from the heat and cool off a little. Combine the egg, breadcrumbs, grated cheese and basil flakes, and mix well. Now add to the combined mixture the cut up cooked, cooled eggplant insides. Drain eggplant shells in colander. Put a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of baking pan. Now fill the eggplant shells with the mixture and place in baking dish. Put tomato sauce on top of stuffed eggplant. Also, add a small amount of water to the bottom of pan and bake for 25 minutes at 350°F. 


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

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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Story About My Dad Singing In "The Boy's Chorus Of The Metropolitan Opera" Happy Father's Day To All

I was in the attic of my parent’s home recently. As I looked around, I could see the sunlight coming in the window. The sun focused on an empty box in the corner. It was not too big, but just enough to keep some memorabilia stored. I wondered what was in this box and decided to ask my dad. This is a story about what he found in that box……………..

My father is 87 years young! He told me that what he found was memorabilia from the years 1937- 1943. These papers, photos, booklets, and autographs were from a time when he sang in the “Boy’s Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera” in New York City.  He sang with the chorus for only six years, but his experiences were incredible  throughout those years.
Bruna Castagna (Opera Star)

I recall hearing stories as I was growing up about my dad and his singing at the Opera house, or as he would call it “The Met.” I remember hearing the names of many of the Opera singers such as Lily Pons, Bruna Castagna, Ezio Pinza, Doris Doe, and his favorite of all who was Grace Moore. What a perfect time to sit down with him and ask him how he became one of the boys in that famous chorus? This is what he explained to me…..

The year was 1937 and he lived in Astoria, New York. In the early 1900, men would sell butter and eggs to customers and deliver them. The door bell rang. Mr. Ferruti came in. (a.k.a. butter and egg man) My dad was in his room singing out loud. As my grandmother was paying him for the food, she yelled into the room and told my dad to stop singing and be quiet. Mr. Ferruti told her not to stop him from singing that he had a wonderful voice. He said that my dad should go with him, to an audition that his son was going to the next day, at the Metropolitan Opera house. With no professional training behind him, my dad went to the audition and he was accepted! He was one of fifteen in the Boy’s Chorus and he was thrilled! He had to take the subway and travel to NYC. At that time a subway ride was five cents and that also included a transfer. I could not imagine, first of all that the price was five cents, but also, he was ten years old, traveling by himself. How things have changed in the years. In 1940 my dad’s brother was accepted as well in the chorus, and then they both traveled together, in the subway. (Those of you that are wondering, yes, Mr. Ferruti’s son Hugo, also made the audition as well) 

Program for opera "Louise"
In the years that followed, my dad said that he sang in four operas with the Boy‘s Chorus. They were, Carmen” in 1937, with Bruna Castagna/ Boris Godunoff” in 1939, with Ezio Pinza / Charpentier’s “Louise” in 1939, with Grace Moore, Ezio Pinza, and Doris Doe / La Gioconda” in 1940, with Ezio Pinza, and Bruna Castagno. These opera performances were sung over a number of times. Besides the operas that the Boy’s Chorus sang with, they also made other appearances outside the opera house. They sang at the Plaza Hotel, May 10, 1940, Carnegie Hall, in 1940, plus Dec 26, 27 in the same year for St. Joan of Arc Theatre Guild Christmas Festival. 

My dad name is on bottom right

Throughout the years they traveled to different cities for performances of these operas. Boston and Philadelphia were cities he recalled, but he remembers traveling to other cities, as they toured with the opera company. They took a Pullman train, where they could sleep on the train in sleeping berths. My dad sent my grandmother a post card, which said they were having a great time, and the best was sleeping on the train. It must have been fun as he was 13 years old to be on the train with the other boys. My father always had his autograph book with him and would get autographs of many other opera stars, as well as the other people in the company, such as the conductor, ballet stars, singers, and dancers. I looked at his book and it is very impressive, just too many names to mention. But at least he has memories of a time long ago.

Then my dad went back to the story about Grace Moore, which was his boyhood crush you could say. There was one more story that he wanted to tell me about his ”Grace Moore.” It seems that one day they were rehearsing the opera “Louise,” and it was a really long day. Everyone was getting anxious and restless. My dad said he heard Grace Moore telling Doris Doe backstage that she was hungry. So, my father saw this as an opportunity to do something nice for Ms. Moore. He went to some of the workers backstage and asked them for five cents. He collected 35 cents and ran to the Horn & Hardart’s across the street, which he paid for a triple decker ham and cheese sandwich. Then he brought the sandwich to Ms. Moore and told her that he heard her say she was hungry. She was thrilled and said to him, “you darling boy, Thank you!,” as she hugged and kissed him. My dad was flabbergasted. A week or so later, he received in the mail at his home, an envelope from Grace Moore. Inside was a signed photo of her and dated 1939 with the name “Louise,” plus a 5 lb box of chocolates. Well, I could tell as my father with a tear in his eye, was telling me this story that he was amazed that she even knew his name. So he brought the box of chocolates to rehearsal and shared with the other boys. 

Grace Moore (autograph sent to my dad) 
{{Grace Moore was a "rebel" of her time. She broke many rules of convention and sometimes even shocked the small town she grew up in Jellico, Tennessee. They called her loving “The Tennessee Nightingale.” She left her mark however on the world and such a mark it was that Elvis is said to have named his beloved “Graceland” after her. "To produce something in life that outlives your own life” is said to be the true mark of a legend, he stated. In Copenhagen, Denmark, on January 26, 1947, Grace Moore boarded a plane to fly to Stockholm. The aircraft taxied out to the runway and was cleared to takeoff. The aircraft stalled, crashed to the ground and exploded. On the evening before her death, Grace Moore had sung to a packed audience of more than 4,000 people. Tragically, Ms. Moore lost her life in that plane crash following a concert which ended in a standing ovation and countless encores. She was buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee.}} 

In 1943, about 16 years old, my father left the “Met.” He learned so much and had awesome experiences, but it was time to move on. Throughout his life, he has never given up singing. He will always sing as long as he can as it brings such joy to others and is my father’s passion. When he worked for JCPenney as a Senior Control Buyer, in NYC, he joined the JCPenney Chorale group. They would sing at the holidays in the lobby of the building and even would go out to hospitals and nursing homes. When St. Patrick’s Cathedral celebrated their 100 Anniversary he also sang for that special day as well with the rest of the chorale group.

But that’s not all; his singing career was in full force. He sang for many years at St. Kevin’s Church in Flushing, in the choir. (For a few years I also sang with him as a choir member) As a member of the parish, he decided to be in some of the church productions that they put on for fund raising. He was in “World Wide Whirl” in 1982, and in 1989 “America Sings,” to name a few. In these productions he not only sang but also acted. (Who knew my dad was a ham?) There was one other play that he did in (1977-78?) and that was for Holy Cross High School. The musical play was called “Funny Girl.” One of my dad’s favorite plays.

 St. Thomas More Choir (second row 3 from the right)
Now, we are in the year 2014 and my father is still singing with his church choir but now in St. Thomas More, in Hauppauge, Long Island. He has been singing with them for 20 years this July…….and it still continues……

I would like to say Happy Father’s Day to all my readers and also to my father whom I am so proud to be his daughter. I love you dad, this is for you!  <3

 Added Extra Photos: 

Letter my dad sent to his mother as they toured
 Dad and myself at one of St. Kevin's plays

St Kevin's plays. He played the Ring Master (no date)

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

I want to say thank you to all who helped me in the research:

Thank you to my dad for sharing all of his Memorabilia,
The Grace Moore Memorial page on Face book,
The Hollywood Sopranos, on Face book,

The Metropolitan Opera 
The Grace Moore website
“So This Is Love” movie about Grace Moore’s
Life with the debut of Kathryn Grayson, 

Friday, June 13, 2014

“Italian Sausage With Peppers & Onions” For Friday The 13th "Good Luck"

Today is Friday the 13th — the unluckiest day on the calendar. Be careful, don’t take any chances, or walk under a ladder, watch out, it’s a black cat---oh no, and for God’s sake stay away from men in hockey masks. 

In Italy the number 13 is a lucky number. Superstition has played a role for many centuries; it dates back to a least 1700 BC. The number’s association with Friday didn’t take hold until the 20th century. In 1907, an eccentric Boston stockbroker Thomas Lawson published a book called “Friday the Thirteenth.” The book sold nearly 28,000 copies in the first week. In 1916 the book was turned into a feature-length silent film. Then in 1980, Paramount Pictures released a movie called “Friday the 13th” This horror, slasher movie centers on Jason, born on Friday the 13th who murders summer campers. So, try not to go to camp on Friday the 13th....
You have been warned!!

Omens reveal many things and are all around us. They can be quite beneficial especially in warning us of possible dangerous situations ahead of time. The technique is knowing how to interpret them. The kitchen is one place in which many omens and superstitions manifest. This is an example of one of them, if a fork accidentally falls onto the floor, a woman will soon knock on your door, which indicates the arrival of a gentleman. (In some parts of the world, the fork means a man, and the spoon means a woman.) Another one is that money will soon come your way if any of these things occur: bubbles appear in a cup of coffee, you accidentally knock over a sugar bowl, rice forms a ring around the edge of a pot, or tea leaves float to the top of the cup. If you spill salt that means a quarrel. This may be avoided by throwing a pinch over the left shoulder. If pepper is spilled on the table or floor, prepare to be in an argument. If you dream of eating ham. Then you will lose something that means a lot to you. If you dream of eating honey that foretells that you will have wealth and love.

Growing up in an Italian American household, many of these rituals and beliefs were practiced by family members. Generations of Italian Americans were superstitions and took to heart these traditions. The fact that these superstitions are still with us is a testament to just how strong forces of good luck, prosperity, and good fortune are even with us in today’s world. The following are some commonly known Italian American rituals and superstitions. There are many more to numerous to mention, but this may give you an example of some of them.

The Evil Eye (Malocchio): The evil eye is caused by jealousy and envy. By coveting somebody’s possessions or more importantly admiring another family’s children. You can test this curse, by dropping olive oil in a plate of water. If the oil formed one large drop in the middle of the plate it was a sure sign of the Evil Eye. To break this curse, chanting of the right prayers that only women were allowed to know, over the oil, and it would break up into tiny droplets and spread out. Now the curse was broken.

The Devil’s Horn (Corno): These twisted red coral; gold or silver amulets are often worn as necklaces by men to ward off curses on their “manliness” very similar to a Mojo. Most men who wear one will say it represents one of the horns of the devil. The hand gesture that implies the Evil Eye is extending only the pinkie and index finger like a pair of horns and pointing it down. When the gesture is made pointing upward, it is an insult to somebody, meaning their husband or wife is unfaithful.  

Blessing or Exorcising a New House: Esorcismo di S Benedetto - Some Southern Italians (Sicilians) immigrating to new lands as they moved into their first new home, would practice the necessary rituals to rid the new place of any spirits that may have been left by the previous owners. Before moving in to their new home, they would take a broom and sweep away the evil spirits, followed by sprinkling of salt in the corners of the house to purify it. Holy water that was blessed by a priest was also used to exorcise any evil spirits. I remember my grandmother telling me when you visit someone in their new home you bring a loaf of bread (not to go hungry), salt (to season their life), and last but not least sugar (to add sweetness to their family).

One person’s superstition is another person’s religion, way of life, or cultural identity. It is all about perspective. No matter how strange the omens or superstitions may seem to others who don’t practice or understand them, it can bring cultures and people together. Different cultures will pass down their traditions from generations to generations, and it just continues, and continues. That is just the way it is.

Today, I would love to share this simple but tasty authentic Italian meal called “Italian Sausage With Peppers & Onions.” All the flavors blend together and the onions as they caramelize give the peppers a sweet taste. A simple easy recipe that may just ward off Friday the 13th evil spells.

“Italian Sausage With Peppers & Onions”

2 large green peppers, cored, seeded & cut into 1 inch strips or chunks
2 large yellow peppers, cored, seeded & cut into 1 inch strips or chunks
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded & cut into 1 inch strips or chunks
2 large yellow onions, cut into 1 inch wedges
1/4 cup of olive oil or as needed
2 tablespoons of Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 to 2 lbs of Italian style pork sausage
(the amount of sausage depends on how many people that are eating)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the vegetables in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Make sure vegetables are in a single layer so they will all cook and brown evenly. Now pierce or stick each link of sausage two or three times with a fork, so they will cook through. Place sausage in between the peppers and onions. Bake till sausage and vegetables are cooked and browned. Bake uncovered about 45 minutes depending upon your oven. Your vegetables should be still firm, and no traces of pink should remain in the sausage. Serve hot, with a crusty Italian bread or a tossed salad.

****Just a quick note, to please come back on Sunday. It is Father’s Day and I have a special post about my father. He used to sing with the “Boy’s Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera”and my story is in reference to his years there. Don’t miss it, you will be amazed…. Thank you…

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

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

“Sofia’s Peas & Pasta” Plus “Fresh Fruit Salad”

Benvenuti, Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where there is just a mouth watering recipe which I know you have been waiting to try……..Today I have two recipes....

Great-grandmother Sofia Puzelli 1898
My recipe this week is one that my great-grandmother Sofia passed down and eventually was taught to me. It is a simple but yet very tasty dish in Italy, where my mother’s family originated from. She came from Catanzaro which is in Calabria. She married my great-grandfather Giovanni and they had 8 children, while living in Brooklyn. She passed on in 1956 and I was about 3 years old. I never knew her, but I feel she is my muse and is right next to me giving me inspiration.



Sofia’s Peas & Pasta


3/4 pound of Ditali, Shells or your favorite small pasta

16 oz frozen peas
2 med onions sliced
Garlic 1 clove sliced
Oil olive, coat pan
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to taste or to top dish


In a large pot bring salted water to a rapid boil. Cook pasta according to directions until the pasta is al dente. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a pot and add sliced garlic. Now add onions when garlic is softened and color is light. Sauté onions till soft and translucent. Next add peas, plus a small amount of pasta water to coat peas. Add salt and pepper, cook until tender. By this time pasta should be cooked, drain and add to peas with onions. Mix well and add grated cheese to top your dish. Serve immediately.

Yields: 4-6


“Fresh Fruit Salad”

For a cool refreshing dessert, you can cut up some fruit that is in season now and have a bowl of "Fresh Fruit Salad." Mix and cut up your fruit grapes, melons, apples, oranges, and of course berries of any kind. If you want you can also put a dab of whipped cream on top to add a special treat to your fruit salad. A great way to end a marvelous meal!

Till Next Time……………………………….....

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

“Insalata Caprese” A Symphony Of Flavors For "National Dairy Month"

In Italy, food is culture. It is part of the history of the country as well as the Italian lifestyle. Italy is a place with sophisticated taste. One of the most famous types of food in Italy is fresh Italian cheeses. There is nothing like an authentic savory Italian cheese, paired with some sweet juicy fruit, and a glass of Chianti wine. If you try Italian cheeses just once, I promise that you will fall in love forever.

Some of my readers will remember that in a past story, I talked about my Dad and when he owned his Italian Deli in Astoria, NY. When I was young I would go to the deli on weekends and help my father. Remember, I was young maybe about 12 or so. It was always fun to help stock some of the shelves and whatever I could do to help out at my young age. My grandfather was also part owner and I enjoyed going to the “store” to be with him as well. My grandfather Julius, (my dad’s father) was a very gentle and loving man. He always tried to make you laugh and was a very handsome. My grandfather sported a small thin pencil like mustache and his dark hair was slicked back. He was quiet but if you asked him a question about sports he was your man. My grandpa would always listen to his transistor radio with earplugs in his ears not to disturb anyone, and was never without a newspaper. He worked behind the counter and never really used the cash register. My grandfather would add up all the items as he wrote them on a paper bag, (no plastic bags, only paper at that time) and would come up with the exact figure. My dad was also a math wiz, and would amaze me when he did the total amount of the customers order, sometimes there might be about 15-20 items or more. They both would just use their heads, no calculator just great math skills. I always envied them. 
Myself and my grandfather

As you walk in my dad’s store, you couldn’t help smell the aromas of all the Italian cheeses hanging from the ceiling. Big round ones, long ones and small ones were all hanging on hooks with ropes next to the salami’s and prosciutto. It was a sight to see! As you looked all around some of the cheeses were opened in the window cases so you can see the inside of the tasty savory cheeses. As you can see, I grew up with these cheeses and I am very proud to have been in a family that enjoys this culture and celebrates its tradition.

The month of June is “National Dairy Month,” so let’s travel to Italy and explore the many types of truly authentic Italian Cheeses that are indispensable for adding delicious flavors to the many dishes of the Italian culture. There are about 300 types of Italian cheeses. Some are hard, some are semi-soft and then there are just the soft types, so I would love to share with you 5 of the most popular Italian cheeses that are used today.         

Mozzarella: is traditionally made from Buffalo milk in southern Italy (Campania region) and has a taste that is mild and delicate. It is now made world wide from cow’s milk. Its texture is soft and chewy. Mozzarella is the key ingredient in Italian pizza and lasagna can also be fried in a stick shape which is a popular appetizer in restaurants.

Ricotta: is a traditional, creamy mild whey cheese made from cow’s or sheep’s milk. It is white and wet, moist but not sticky. Ricotta should be firm, but not solid. It is primarily used in lasagna, can be used as a white pizza and is widely used in many other Italian specialty dishes.

Mascarpone: is a soft, white, fresh, vegetarian, cream cheese made in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. In fact, it really is not considered a cheese at all, but rather the result of a culture being added to the cream skimmed off the milk, used in the production of Parmesan. It has a mild flavor and it is used as a substitute for whipped cream. Mascarpone is easy to spread and can be added to famous Italian desserts, sometimes accompanied by cognac. Mascarpone is the secret of a good Tiramisu recipe.

Parmesan: is named after the town of Parma in Northern Italy. Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano one of the world’s most popular and widely enjoyed cheeses, also known as the King of undisputed cheeses. It is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow’s skimmed milk. It is generally aged for 2-3 years. It has a sharp, salty, and full flavor. It comes in the shape of a drum with a sticky hard, yellow rind. The aroma is sweet and fruity, and it is ivory or pale yellow in color. Parmigiano Reggiano is primarily a grating cheese used as toppings for soups, pasta dishes, salads, and chicken. This cheese is sold in chunks or wedges and then can be grated or shaved.
Pecorino: is the name given to all Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk. Pecora in Italian means sheep and it is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses. Pecorino Romano is the name given to cheeses from the Rome area, Pecorino Sardo is from Sardinia, Pecorino Siciliano is from Sicily. Also known as Locatelli which is the brand name of Pecorino Romano. It is a traditional creamery, hard, drum cheese made from sheep’s milk. The smooth hard rind is pale straw to dark brown in color. The interior color is white to pale yellow. It takes 8 to 12 months to mature, during which time it develops its characteristic flavor which is salty, with a fruity tang that becomes steadily more robust. Pecorino is a very tasty product and it is used in recipes like baked ravioli, grated or shaved on sauces and pasta dishes.

As I mentioned above, these cheeses can be paired with a wonderful Chianti wine. Chianti Classico (Riserva) are best when accompanied by food, with a tomato base such as spaghetti, meatballs, chicken cacciatore and even Osso Bucco. They have become much more popular and available in wine stores and restaurants. Chianti has an aroma of cherries and plums and some even say violets. The best wines have a slight spiciness and even a touch of saltiness. If you haven’t tried Chianti for a while or never have had the pleasure of trying, please go to your favorite wine store and taste this complex, Italian red wine. Find a place for Chianti at your table and you’ll be glad that you did. So enjoy your chesses with your bottle of Chianti wine and as we say in Italian,
“Gustare il formaggio e il vino.” (enjoy your cheese and wine)

This weekend’s recipe celebrates a lovely refreshing dish made with Mozzarella Cheese, called:

Insalata Caprese” (salad in the style of Capri)

1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2-3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Fresh basil leaves (about 10)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of drained capers (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a circular design around the side of a serving plate, alternate fresh mozzarella slices on a large platter with sliced tomatoes, overlapping for effect. Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle capers over the top if using them. Just before serving drizzle on top with quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Can be served with crusty Italian bread and an array of other appetizers.

***Note: Insalata Caprese should never be allowed to sit in oil for any length of time and become soggy, and no vinegar of any kind goes on true Insalata Caprese!

Till next time……..

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