Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“Roasted Broccoli & Olives” Plus “Fillet of Sole Piccata”

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Today I have two mouthwatering recipes which I know you will love…….. Enjoy!  

This recipe is both tender and crunchy. The Broccoli comes alive with the sharpness of the olives and garlic, plus the freshness of the lemon. This “Roasted Broccoli and Olive” dish goes deliciously well with the “Fillet of Sole Piccata” (recipe follows)

“Roasted Broccoli and Olives”

Prep: 15 minutes
Roast: 20-25 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

6 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 1/4 pounds broccoli, washed, drained and patted dry
1/2 cup mixed unpitted olives
1/2 fresh lemon or more

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a 15x10x1 baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl combine garlic and 1/2 tsp. of the kosher salt. Using the back of a spoon, muddle garlic and salt until garlic begins to release its oil; set aside. Trim broccoli stems; cut stalks lengthwise into halves and/or quarters. Place in prepared baking pan. Pour garlic oil and olives over; toss well. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, tossing occasionally, until tender but al dente. Transfer to a serving dish. To serve, drizzle with additional olive oil. Squeeze lemon juice over.

Recipe adapted from “Better Homes and Gardens”


“Fillet of Sole Piccata”

This recipe will work with any small flat fish fillet, example flounder, fluke or sole.

1 pound skinless fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour for dredging
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

(ex: Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
2 Tbsp real lemon juice
1/4 cup small capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Rinse the fish in cold water and pat them dry. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper. Then place the flour mixture in a long shallow bowl or dish. Dredge the fillets in the flour so that both sides are lightly coated. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stick-free sauté pan. When the oil is hot (add a little pinch of flour to the oil, and if it sizzle immediately, you're ready), work in batches and place the fish fillets in the pan in one layer and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan if needed. Once browned on both sides, remove the fish fillets from the pan, set them on a paper towel-lined plate (or keep them warm in a 200°F oven) Add the white wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine boil furiously for a minute or two, until greatly reduced, and then add the lemon juice and capers. Boil another minute. Turn off the heat. Add 1 Tbsp of butter to the pan, swirling it constantly. When it melts, repeat the process with the other tablespoon of butter. Stir in half of the parsley and pour it over the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining parsley. Serve at once with the roasted broccoli and a baked potato would be nice! Enjoy! 

Recipe adapted from “Simply Recipes”

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

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

“Baked Cauliflower with Anchovies” For "National Fruits & Veggies Month"

 How many fruits and vegetables does your family eat a day? Do you think they are eating enough? September is "National Fruits & Veggies Month"and unfortunately the majority of Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of contracting certain diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers. However, it can be difficult for many Americans to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables because they might not be easily accessible, available, or affordable. Children eat more fruits and vegetables at some schools where they have a variety of choices, such as those provided in a self-serve salad bar. 

Here are some ways to increase your fruit and vegetable intake! Have a piece of fruit or a glass of juice at breakfast daily. Stock up on dried, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. Grab an apple, orange, banana, pear, or other piece of portable fruit to eat on the go. Snack on raw veggies like baby carrots, pepper strips, broccoli, and celery. Pick up ready-made salads from the produce shelf for a quick salad anytime. Pile spinach leaves, tomatoes, peppers, and onions on your pizza. Add strawberries, blueberries, bananas, to your oatmeal, pancakes, or toast. Stash bags of dried fruit in your car and at your desk for a convenient snack. Stir fresh or frozen vegetables into your pasta, noodles, or omelet. Whip up smoothies made from fresh or frozen berries, ice, and yogurt. 

*****Note: I have a new widget on the right side of my blog, called Seasonal Foods. It shows the month that we are in and the foods that are in season for that month. This is a perfect tool to use to buy fresh and in season fruits and veggies. Plus it is fun!..Don‘t forget to support your local farmer‘s market for your in season produce.

Make Colorful Food Choices:

Include Blue/Purple foods to help maintain: a lower risk of some cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging. Get blue/purple every day with foods such as: blackberries, blueberries, black currants, dried plums, elderberries, purple figs, purple grapes, plums, raisins, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, eggplant, and potatoes (purple-fleshed).

Include Green fruits and vegetables to lower your risk of some cancers, vision health, and strong bones and teeth. Go green every day with some of these: avocados, green apples, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, limes, green pears, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, Broccoli- Rabe, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, green beans, green cabbage, celery, cucumbers, endive, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, green onion, okra, peas, green pepper, sugar snap peas, spinach, watercress, and zucchini.

White/tan, and brown fruits and vegetables to get all the health benefits by including foods such as: bananas, brown pears, dates, white nectarines, white peaches, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, artichoke, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, turnips, white corn.

Yellow/orange fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, they include: yellow apples. apricots, cantaloupe, yellow figs, grapefruit, golden kiwifruit, lemon, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, yellow pears, persimmons, pineapples, tangerines, yellow watermelon, yellow beets, butternut squash, carrots, yellow peppers, yellow potatoes, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow winter squash.

Include a variety of Red fruits and vegetables to help maintain: a healthy heart, memory function, and urinary tract health. These include: red apples, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, pink/red grapefruit, red pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, radishes, radicchio, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes.

Lastly the good news is, communities, health professionals, businesses, and families can work together to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables. Make a difference: Spread the word about tips for healthy eating and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

This recipe is one that my mom has made many times and it is outstanding! This recipe is so yummy especially when you bake it and the spaghetti gets crispy. You don’t even taste the anchovies, they melt and it gives the dish a wonderful aroma and flavor. Enjoy! 

"Baked Cauliflower with Anchovies” 
1 large cauliflower- washed and cut in florets
3 medium onions (sliced)
3 cans of anchovies                                                            
Salt and Black Pepper
1 lb. of spaghetti
Vegetable oil to sauté
Pecorino Romano grated cheese

Boil water and cook your spaghetti. Drain and leave on the side. After washing and cutting cauliflower put in large pot with water and par-boil until tender. In another large pot put a thin layer of oil on bottom. Put in onions and sauté, then add anchovies and mix with the onions. When cauliflower is cooked and drained (save some water) put in with onions and anchovies. Add some liquid from cauliflower cooking water, (not too much) not quite covering the cauliflower. Stir together carefully. In baking pan spoon some cauliflower mixture into pan. Place 1/2 of pasta on top of cauliflower. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Then arrange another layer of cauliflower mixture and then spaghetti, grated cheese on top again. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350 F. should be lightly browned and crispy. You can serve with a big tossed salad and according to your taste add extra grated cheese on top.  Abbondanza!!

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate” Cake & Hershey’s “Classic Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” The first full day of autumn! Today I have two mouthwatering recipes which I know you will love…….. Enjoy!  

Who can resist the aroma of fresh baked cakes and cookies wafting through the house? Whichever you choose to bake, you’re sure to please family and friends with these true classics from Hershey’s kitchen. Beautiful to look at and even better to eat as today is “National Chocolate Day!” 

1. Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate” Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
“Perfectly Chocolate” cake frosting (recipe follows)

Photo courtesy of "Hersey's Classic Recipe Book"
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "Perfectly Chocolate" frosting.   Yield: 12 servings

"Perfectly Chocolate” Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Other Variations:
One Pan Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Three Layer Cake: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Bundt Cake: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

Cupcakes: Line muffin cups with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


2. Hershey’s “Classic Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies”

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by teaspoons onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yield: about 5 dozen cookies.

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

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

September Is National Honey Month, “Baked Apples With Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey”

“That buzzing noise means something. Now, the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you are.. a bee! And the only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it!” Pooh Bear himself said this quote and it was from, “Winnie The Pooh and The Honey Tree.” Yes, honey is a sweet and gooey fluid produced by honey bees, and derived from the nectar of flowers. According to the US National Honey Board, “honey is a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance…this includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners.”

You must be wondering why I am talking about bees, honey, and Winnie the Pooh? That is because September is “National Honey Month,”which is why beekeepers and honey lovers are celebrating! Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans began hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt and Rome, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, plus many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian people used honey for embalming their dead. The art of beekeeping in ancient China appears to be untraceable and was used not only for culinary purposes, but also for practical health uses. In 2010, China, Turkey, and the United States were the top producers of honey.

Did you know that honey is not all the same? Honey is available in many varieties! When bees visit mostly one kind of flower as they gather nectar, the honey they produce has a unique taste, aroma, and color from that particular flower. Other honeys are delicious blends of floral sources such as clover and wildflowers. There is raw honey, which contains enzymes that help digestion, several vitamins, and antioxidants.

This brings me to the medicinal uses of honey. For at least 2,700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical applications. Only recently honey has been found to have antibacterial properties and an antimicrobial agent for treating a variety of ailments. Did you know that honey is used in the treatment of diabetic ulcers? Honey also prevents dressings from sticking to healing wounds. I bet that you didn’t know that honey combined with lemon is often taken orally by laryngitis sufferers, in order to soothe them? But as we all know the main uses of honey is in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, beer, and tea. 

My recipe this week is in honor of “National Honey Month,” a baked apple recipe with dried figs, raisins, nuts, and of course honey. As the weather is getting cooler and the first day of fall is right around the corner, this recipe is a perfect warm and scrumptious dessert to serve for your family. Apple season is getting into full swing, so this is a delicious way to use those crisp, juicy apples. We know that baked apples are a favorite in America, but it is also a favorite in northern Italy. Half of the Italian crop of apples comes from the Alto Adige and Trentino regions. This comfort dessert is not too hard and it makes your taste buds dance. So enjoy and have some “Honey”!

“Baked Apples With Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey”

4 large Delicious or Cortland apples
5 dried figs (I use Mission / Kalamata Figs)
4 dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, in small cubes
1/2 cup of orange juice or apple juice

Put the figs in a bowl and pour hot water over them which will allow them to soften up; let them stand for about 30 minutes. Drain the softened figs, cut off the stems and discard. Now cut figs into small pieces and place them in a bowl with the apricots, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. Stir in the honey and coat well. This is your filling for the apples. Preheat oven to 350°. Next core apples and peel just the tops  approximately 1 inch deep, this is so the apples don’t explode and it makes a better presentation on your plate or bowl. Divide and stuff the mixture in the cored apples. Dot the apples with the butter and place them in a baking dish. Pour the orange or apple juice in the bottom of the dish. Now bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples are just soft enough but not collapsed. If filling begins to blacken, cover the apples with foil and continue cooking. Serve warm with some of the pan juices or a dollop of whipped cream. “Yummy in my tummy,” Winnie the Pooh would say!!!

Till Next Time…………..

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

“Fresh, No Bake Blueberry Pie” For "Wordless Tuesday"

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have a mouthwatering recipe which I know you have been waiting to try…….. Enjoy!

As we are in the last full week of summer, blueberries will be soon out of season. This may be your last chance to enjoy the fresh taste of these very nutritious little berries. Check with your Farmers Market to see if they still have any left. You will be pleasantly surprised as to the sweet and tartness of this easy and awesome pie. You will feel like you are on a cloud as you taste a slice of this light and heavenly pie. Enjoy!

                                          "Fresh, No Bake Blueberry Pie”


1   9- inch Keebler Graham Ready Crust Pie shell or (reduced fat)
2 large Bananas
1 (13.5 oz) jar of Polaner Sugar Free Apricot Preserves
1-2 Pints of fresh Blueberries
1 container Cool Whip Whipped Topping or (Lite/Fat Free)

This pie is so delicious and easy, it actually takes about 10 minutes to assemble. Start by cleaning the blueberries, wash and pull off stems and ones that are not good. Put in a bowl and set aside. Now take the Graham Ready Crust Pie shell and take off the cover, as well as pull up the sides of the aluminum a little bit. Take the two bananas and peel, clean, and cut into small rounds. Arrange bananas on bottom of graham cracker crust, in rounds. Put the 1 jar of Polaner Sugar Free Apricot Preserves in the bowl with the blueberries, and stir gently not to break down the berries. After all is mixed together now gently place the blueberries on top of bananas in the pie shell crust. Spread to the ends of the pie crust. Lastly, add the softened Cool Whip Whipped Topping to the pie and cover. (Plastic cover that comes with the crust) Now refrigerate till you are ready to use at least an hour. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea for a dessert to remember. 

NOTE: If you have any left, you must use up the pie within 1 to 2 days tops, or it will go bad.





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

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

“Italian Wine Dunking Cookies” To Celebrate "The Purple Foot Festival"

Some of my readers maybe too young to remember an iconic TV show called “I Love Lucy.” In 1956 one of Lucille Ball’s episodes was called, “Lucy’s Italian Movie” or better known as “The Grape-Stomping” episode. On the route to Italy, an Italian producer offers Lucy a role in a film called “Bitter Grapes.” So she decides to take a job in a vineyard to absorb a “little color.” This was one of the funniest story lines ever and one that will live on forever.

Did you know that you can re-create this Grape-Stomping episode by attending the Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, New York? The Casa Larga Vineyards is New York’s premier wine producer and has won many awards for their highly regarded production of table wines. On Sunday September 14, 2014 the Casa Larga Vineyards will be host to “The Purple Foot Festival.” This is a way to celebrate and kick off harvest time at the Casa Larga plus take into account the owners (Colarutolo) family’s Italian heritage.

Casa Larga  is best known for the authentic old world grape stomping that earned it the name of the “Purple Foot.” Grape stomping is done only at certain times of the year, when the grape harvest is in full swing. This event gives you the opportunity to experience and learn traditional grape stomping methods. Their process is taking grapes and put them in wine barrels that are cut in half which then are pressed by machines. “Back in the day,” in Gaeta, Italy, the grapes were pressed by women because they had gentler feet. The idea for this event was thought up 18 years ago and it is fun to watch people’s expressions when they step in the barrel.

But the “Purple Foot Festival” offers much more than foot-staining grape stomping. Guests can take their purple feet around the vineyard on hayrides or attend and Italian dance class. There are activities for those under 21, including a children’s area with a maze, a magician, crafts, live music, and many vendors with irresistible goodies. Adults will enjoy beer tasting, Casa Larga’s wine tasting, hard cider samples, winery tours, and seminars on food paring with wines which can be purchased at their vineyards. Fairport is located in Monroe County, New York and is 9 miles east of Rochester. It is also known as the “Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal” and was named in Money Magazine’s “Best Place to Live.” So, if you find yourself up in that part of New York State, have some fun, turn your feet purple, and visit Casa Larga Vineyards. If you are not on the East Coast in New York, you should check where you live, I am sure being harvest time, they may have a "Purple Foot Festival" your local vineyards. Have fun...

My recipe this week is called, “Italian Wine Dunking Cookies,” “Biscottini al Vino,” or “Ciambelle.” This recipe is adapted from “Ciao Italia.” When these cookies are baking you can smell the wonderful scents of the wine and I’m sure it brings back memories of long ago. These cookies are made for dunking in wine or with coffee. They are not soft and keep well in an airtight container. My great-grandmother Sofia had a recipe for wine dunking cookies but that recipe was not written down and sadly my great-grandmother is no longer with us to ask. But this delicious, hard cookie is a keeper, and tastes just like my great-grandmother’s years ago. 

Italian Wine Dunking Cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of red wine such as (light) Vin Santo or Corvo Red
4 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, mixed together for egg wash

In an electric mixer on medium speed, blend together the sugar, vegetable oil, and wine. Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add them to the sugar mixture and blend together at medium speed until a soft dough forms. The dough should not be sticky, but soft and smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, the dough is very easy to work with. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll them with the palm of your hand to form a 4-inch rope that is 1/2-inch thick. Bring the ends together and pinch them tightly, forming a circle that looks like a miniature bagel. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on un-greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash. 

Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are golden brown. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.    Yield: 6 dozen--depending on how big or small you make them.

Till Next Time………

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

“Lemon, Pepper, and Rosemary Rubbed Chicken” & “Roasted Root Veggies”

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

Lemon, Pepper, and Rosemary Rubbed Chicken

Lemon and pepper are a classic combination. In this recipe, crushed whole peppercorns and coriander seeds add an appealing crunch, and rosemary gives this dish a lovely fragrance.

Serves: 4    Total Time: 45 min      Prep Time: 10 min

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, needles removed and chopped
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 small chicken legs split (4 thighs, 4 drumsticks)

Heat oven to 425° F. Using a heavy-bottomed saucepan, or a mortar & pestle, crush the peppercorns and coriander seeds; place in a small bowl. Add the lemon zest, Rosemary, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and toss to combine. Stir in the butter and oil. Place the chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet and rub with the lemon-rosemary mixture. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes. 


Roasted Root Veggies

2 large sweet potatoes (or yams), sliced in medium-sized wedge-style
6-8 carrots, quartered (lengthwise)
2 large white onions sliced
8-10 baby red potatoes, sliced in halves or bite-sizes
approx. 3 Tbsp. olive oil to toss
Fresh Basil (handful)
Fresh Rosemary (handful)

Cut all veggies about the same size so they can roast at the same time. Use a covered pan; toss vegetables with olive oil, sprinkles of basil and rosemary. Bake for 45 minutes at 350° F covered, uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes to get that “roasted flavor.” 


Till Next Time……………………………….........

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

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Cheese Pizza" To Celebrate "National Cheese Pizza Day!"

As far as history has been recorded, bread has been a basic part of the world’s eating habits and a traditional companion with meals. There are various assortments of breads which include different textures, flavors, and toppings. The most popular bread type by far is the Pizza Pie. Come with me as we explore and celebrate “National Cheese Pizza Day!” Every September 5th we celebrate this day by eating cheese pizza. That's right today is the day to go to your favorite pizza parlor and order a really large cheese pizza. Better yet, drag out the pizza stone and cutter, because today is the day to make your own homemade pizza dough and honor National Cheese Pizza Day the homemade way. It’s party time, invite all your friends and have the biggest cheese pizza block party you've ever had! You can't get any better than that!

Everyone in the world knows that a Cheese Pizza is a pizza with lots of cheese! This world-popular dish of Italian origin, made with an oven-baked, flat, generally round bread that is often covered with tomatoes or a tomato-based sauce and mozzarella cheese. Other cheese varieties are added according to region, culture, or personal preference. To understand the fascination of this awesome dish we call Pizza, we need to understand about the dough or crust first.

A pizza's crust can be made using almost any dough or bread recipe. White flour is commonly used for a soft crust that won't crumble, which is usually considered desirable. Whole wheat flour can be used to make a firmer crust. Cake flour can be useful if a crumbly crust is desired. Other common ingredients in crusts include Olive oil (usually extra virgin), active dry yeast, sugar, and salt. What type of crust to use is matter of taste. There are several types of pizza crust that are constructed differently and have (sometimes) wildly different textures, though the taste remains fairly consistent. The most common styles are Neapolitan, thin, New York-style, deep dish, Sicilian, and pan pizza crust. There are many different techniques for preparing dough, most largely dependent on the type of crust you've decided to make. Because pizza crusts almost always contain yeast they must be allowed to rise at least once, though some recipes recommend improving the flavor and texture of the dough by allowing the crust to rise 2 separate times.

The next part of the pizza is the tomato sauce. A simple sauce consists of tomato paste, basil, and oregano. Using tomato puree will give a runny sauce that must be spread thinly to prevent the cheese and toppings from sliding off. Diced, dried, or crushed tomatoes may be added for extra flavor and texture. Onions, peppers, garlic, and sugar are often used as well. Spices are more flavorful when ground right before use. Pizza with cheese baked onto it, without any sauce at all, is sometimes called a white pizza.

Now we come to the cheese, which is my favorite. The basic pizza cheese is mozzarella. (My personal favorite) Feta is often used in combination with a spinach topping. Cheddar can be used for a more southwestern taste. Ricotta cheese is used for White Pizza. (No red sauce) Commercial pizzerias almost always use a blend of various cheeses, the most common of which are mozzarella, parmesan, and romano.

Toppings go on top of the cheese and they are very popular with today’s pizza. Put plenty of topping near the edges to protect the cheese from burning there. A pizza without toppings will cook much faster than one with toppings. Anchovies, oil-coated broccoli, black olives, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, precooked and drained sausage, bacon, hamburger, salami, or tomatoes, and finally precooked chicken or ham.

Last but not least, pizzas are typically baked directly on special surfaces for short periods at temperatures in excess of 500° F (260° C). Coal and brick ovens are preferred for baking pizza because of their even heat and superior heat-retention. Some pizzerias prefer to use a wire-mesh pan though, as working with pizza peels can be difficult for some. Home bakers can attempt to duplicate the effects of a brick oven by using a baking stone (also called a pizza stone), a slab of porous stone that evenly heats the pizza, helping it develop a better crust. Baking/pizza stones become "seasoned" after frequent use, a characteristic that is said to improve the flavor of crusts baked on them.

Whatever role pizza plays in a meal, the delightful aromas fill a home and it stirs all the senses. I remember when my grandmother (whom we called Nanni) would come over for a visit; she would make us a pizza with onions, oil, grated cheese, and the freshest herbs she could find. No tomato sauce and no mozzarella cheese. Instead of a round pizza pan, she would make the pizza in a flat sheet pan. Her crust was always soft and thick something like a Sicilian pizza would be. It was always fun making pizza with her as she would always tell a few stories about her Italian roots as we were eating. This recipe is very similar to my grandmothers. I hope that you enjoy your pizza; it really makes the house fragrant. It is what I would call, “real comfort food.”

Cheese Pizza

Ingredients for dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water (110° -115° F)
3 1/2 to 3- 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Pizza toppings:
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Some extra virgin olive oil
Pecorino Romano grated cheese
Plus what ever topping you like…

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Allow the yeast to proof until it is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, salt and sugar. Mix the dough with your hands or use a mixer with a dough hook. Add the remaining flour as needed to make dough that holds together. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, just to get the gluten moving. Grease a bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Turn the dough a few times in the bowl so the oil coats the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Then punch down the dough and knead it for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Use the dough to make one large pizza or divide it in half to make 2 small ones. Now that your dough is made you can make your pizza with any ingredients you wish. Make a ridge around the outside of the dough. Just make sure the ingredients are fresh and you will have a mouth watering pizza that you can’t wait to eat. . If you need a marinara sauce for your pizza, please check out my post for my “Mama’s Marinara Tomato Sauce recipe. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the crust becomes light browned and the cheese is melted. Mangia!

Till Next Time………………………….

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“Peppers, Onions, & Eggs Sandwich" With A “Peach & Mint Iced Tea” For "Wordless Tuesday"

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

My recipe this week is my mother’s, “Peppers, Onions, and Eggs Sandwich.” I remember when I was young, my mom used to make this sandwich for us when we would go to the beach or have picnics. It really is a one meal sandwich. You have your peppers, eggs, onions, and it was all encased in crispy Italian bread or a roll. This is a great sandwich as you can eat it hot or room temp. What makes this sandwich irresistible is that when you take a bite of the peppers with onions it gives a sweet taste to the eggs. It’s also very juicy, which the Italian bread or roll soaks up some of the juices but if I were you, I would make sure you have a napkin and a fork to pick up every last piece. September is beginning but the weather feels like July, so I thought that you would need a refreshing drink a “Peach and Mint Iced Tea” So, this one hits the spot and it will cool you down! 

“Peppers, Onions, and Eggs Sandwich

Serves: 4

4 green peppers, washed, seeded, & sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs, beaten in a bowl
1/4 cup of olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf of Italian or French bread (rolls or ciabatta can be used as well)


Heat a large skillet over medium heat then, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of pan. Now, add peppers and onions, stirring while regulating the heat so the onions will not burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened and the onions are caramelized. Then add the beaten eggs and continue stirring until the eggs are cooked and set. Next, salt and pepper to taste. Make sure all are combined. (just like scrambled eggs) Now slice the bread or rolls lengthwise without cutting all the way through. Next, fill the rolls or bread with the cooked mixture. You can wrap a cooled sandwich in wax paper and put it in your picnic basket.

*****Optional: You can sprinkle some grated Pecorino Romano Cheese on top of mixture or even put a slice of American or Provolone cheese in the sandwich. (if you eat it while it is hot, the cheese melts) You can also use red or yellow peppers if you prefer. 

“Peach and Mint Iced Tea”

Yield: Makes 8 servings

8 cups boiling water
8 tea bags
4 ripe peaches cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch fresh mint sprigs
Sugar, to taste (if desired)

Pour the water into a heat-resistant pitcher. Add the tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bags and allow the tea to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Add the peaches, mint, and sugar (if using). Strain, if desired. Pour over ice.


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

                          In Celebration of the Italian Spirit Michéal Castaldo Plans,
                      Free Art Exhibit in Conjunction with His Concert, Sept. 21, 2014

Tamar Russell Brown, exhibit coordinator, shown here with two of framed original art entries that will be on display at SOPAC on September 21 in conjunction with A Musical Celebration of the Italian Spirit—A Feast for the Ears, Eyes, and Soul, Michéal Castaldo’s première performance at SOPAC

August 30, 2014 -Celebrated musical artist Michéal Castaldo has organized a special showcase of art that exalts the glories of Italy and her people. The exhibit of original artwork—created by 15 professional artists—will be on display in the Grand Lobby of the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) in South Orange, New Jersey, on September 21, 2014.

Artists selected to participate in the art exhibit will include renowed Italian artists Andrea Viviani, Claudia Giraudo, Dorianno Tosarelli, Giuseppe Bianco, Lido Bettarini, Pillino, Rubens Fogacci, and Salvatore Magazzini, all represented by the Just Art Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island; Italian artist Yleni Mino of New York, New York; American artists Colette Shumate Smith, David Smith and Luann Hume of Leominster, Massachusetts; Greek artist Iphie Burg of Fitchburg, Massachusetts; German artist Ilse Buchert Nesbitt of The Third and Elm Press in Newport, Rhode Island; and American editorial photographer Simao Ago of Newark, New Jersey.

The framed artwork on display will be part of a Silent Auction benefiting La Dolce Vita Foundation http://www.ladolcevitafoundation.org/ a nonprofit organization founded by Michéal Castaldo to grant severely ill children, teens, or adults with the ultimate “Joy Ride” in a classic, exotic, two-seat convertible roadster designed for Driving the Blues Away™.

The Art Exhibit is open to the public from noon to 8:30 pm. Admission to the exhibit is free. The Silent Auction winners will be announced at 8:30 pm.

The art exhibit is being held in conjunction with A Musical Celebration of the Italian Spirit—A Feast for the Ears, Eyes, and Soul, Michéal Castaldo’s première performance at SOPAC, which is sponsored by Investors Bank and produced by Majestic Castle Music, of New York City. There will be two distinctly different shows, a 2 p.m. matinee, and a 6:30 p.m. evening performance. Each show runs 90 minutes, with a 15 minute intermission.

Professional dancers from the Rocha Dance Theater will perform vibrant routines to compliment the songs performed by Castaldo, and The John J. Cali School of Music Strings will accompany Castaldo. Stunning visuals of beautiful Italian landscapes will appear on a large projection screen above the stage throughout each show.

Tickets to the Italian Cultural Event may be purchased at http://www.sopacnow.org/450/MichaelCastaldo where ticket prices range from $37 to $57. For more information, please call SOPAC at 973-313-ARTS(2787).

For questions and further details regarding the art exhibit, contact the exhibit coordinator, Tamar Russell Brown, at 718-974-3328 or tamar@sitkacreations.com

Contact Person:
Charlotte Jayne
Administrative Assistant
Phone: 631-256-6515

Till next time……Ciao! 

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