Friday, February 27, 2015

Antioxidants & Superfoods To Boost Your Immune System With An “Eggplant Parmesan” Recipe

So, here we are into the last days of February! Didn’t this month go by really fast? Most of the country is in an arctic freeze this past week again. Snow, wind, and temps in the teens with below zero in many places. Whether you are searching for ways to boost your immune system, or recovering from a cold or flu, doctors often recommend healthy lifestyle changes. Prevention and management of symptoms can be helped through the foods that we eat. Experts say a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, can help you ward off infections and help your body heal faster. They call these foods “Super Foods” due to the fact that they contain immune-boosting antioxidants. 

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect, and repair cells from damage. Fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections. Where do you find these antioxidants? Well, some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin-C, and vitamin-E. You will find them in colorful fruits and vegetables-especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the best benefits of these foods eat them raw or lightly steamed, don’t overcook or boil them.

Beta-carotene include: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnips, collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Vitamin-C include: berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Vitamin-E include: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds. 

Other foods that are called “Super Foods” and are rich in antioxidants include: prunes, apples, raisins, all berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant, and beans.

Vitamins are not the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost your immunity include: Zinc: found in oysters, red meat, poultry, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products. Also there is Selenium: which is found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, breads, and other grain products.

If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But be cautious about taking individual immune supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants as with most anything, moderation is the key. Getting too much of Vitamins A and E for example are stored in the body and eliminate slowly. Getting too much can be toxic. Remember, if you don’t have good nutrition, get plenty of rest and exercise you are missing a key weapons against colds and flu. Hands washed? Yes, Flu shot? Yes, eating an immunity-boosting diet? Yes!!!!!

*******Remember; always check with your doctor before taking any supplements or vitamins, just to make sure that the doctor approves of what you are taking.

My recipe this week is “Eggplant Parmesan” This recipe is one of my mom’s recipes and it is a total immune-boosting meal. Remember, eggplants are one of the “Super Foods” that have antioxidants included in it. Besides, it is delicious and very tasty. Made with the freshest ingredients and of course “Love.” As you take a bite of this wonderful dish, the cheese oozes and the eggplant with tomatoes are an awesome combination! Extremely flavorful and very satisfying. You would never know that you are eating something that was good for you. Enjoy, Mangia!

Eggplant Parmesan

1 eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup of canola, vegetable, or peanut oil
1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano grated cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups of plain bread crumbs with about 2 tablespoons of flour added
4 cups or more of your favorite Marinara sauce (click on this and it will bring you to my mom’s sauce recipe)

Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. Place slices in a colander and place a dish underneath the colander to capture liquid that will sweat out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Now dredge eggplant slices in egg and then in breadcrumb/flour mixture. After egg and breading them place one layer of eggplant in the oil and brown each side. When browned place on paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, using additional oil if necessary. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, evenly spread Marinara sauce on bottom of dish, and then arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of sauce. Top the eggplant with some of the mozzarella cheese and grated cheese. Repeat process until all the eggplant and cheese is layered. Pour remaining sauce on top of layers and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino Romano grated cheese or more mozzarella. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in your preheated oven, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Till Next Time…………………….

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“Sour Cream Raisin Coffee Cake” To Celebrate My Dad's Birthday!

Welcome to “Wordless Tuesday!” Where I have a fabulous and delicious recipe waiting for you to try ….. 

Last Sunday we celebrated my dad’s 88th birthday. Even though his real birthday was February 9th, all of us couldn’t get together for dinner because of everyone’s schedule and the snowy, cold weather. But everyone braved the cold and made sure that we made time for this family gathering. My dad loves my “Sour Cream Raisin Coffee Cake,” so I surprised him and made this for his birthday. 

My dad & mom summer of "2014"
This cake is simple, only takes about 30 minutes, and is so moist plus has a marvelous flavor. So today for this Wordless Tuesday I am sharing this cake recipe with everyone. If you make this delicious tasty cake, I guarantee that you will want to make this all the time. It goes very nicely with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Enjoy! 

                                          “Sour Cream Raisin Coffee Cake”
3 Large Eggs   
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of Vegetable oil
3 cups of all purpose sifted flour                     
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tarter
1 cup of dairy sour cream
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of sugar for top of cake before baking

Directions:   Oven Temp: 350°F 
In a bowl beat the eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the oil. Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream. Add the raisins. Pour into greased and floured pan (9 x 12 x 2) pan. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of sugar over top of batter in pan. Bake: for 30 minutes or so depending on if cake tester comes out clean.

Serves: 12 or more depending on how you cut it. Cutting it on a diagonal makes it look like a diamond shape. I didn't have a chance to cut it in a diagonal shape, my family just started to cut it in pieces, as they love this cake!

Till Next Time………

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

“Love Your Pet Day” Celebrate With A “Pupcake Recipe” & “Homemade Cat Treats”

            “Until one has loved an animal, part of one’s soul remains unawakened”
                                                          By Anatole France

Most of the homes in the world have at least one or more pets. It may be a cat, dog, fish, or even a rabbit. In many rural areas, pets may include chickens, pigs, ducks, or even a horse. Pets give us valuable friendship and love. Our pet’s continual presence is the owner’s solid companionship. In return pets need love and care.

So with this being said today, February 20th is, “Love Your Pet Day” which is observed worldwide. The purpose of this day is to remind all pet owners to show their pet, appreciation and a day dedicated for their love. This special day gives us a perfect excuse to focus their time to their pets needs. They give us unconditional love and many health benefits which include stress relief and lower blood pressure.

In return for the pets loyalty this day may be spent giving gifts, such as a biscuit or treat, saloons for grooming, bathing them, a long walk, and playing with them, would be a wonderful way to celebrate the day. Make sure your pet has the proper vaccinations or a check up at your local veterinarian, which is very important, not only for your pet’s health but for your family as well. Also remember especially now that winter and the sub freezing temperatures are upon us, so please keep your pet inside and protected from the cold.

For those of my readers, who have no pets, it is a perfect time to adopt a pet from a shelter or if that is not possible may be you can help these rescued pets by making a donation to animal shelters or the ASPCA association. I know that would be so appreciated for some of these animals. Try to spread awareness of lost animals and abused pets.  Don’t forget these special days:
National Cat Day” is October 29th, 2015
National Dog Day” is August 26th 2015
St. Francis Day-”Blessings Of All Animals” October 4th 2015.

"Puffy" 1977

I remember when I was a young child, my family did not have any pets. As the years went on, we had fish in a tank, and I remember my brothers having small turtles. When I was about 15 or so I recall I had found a small kitten behind our local grocery store. I took it home and asked my mom if we could keep her. First she said no, but we could keep her till we found a home for her. As the days went into months and then years we keep her, and named her Puffy. So you can say that was my first experience with a fur baby. She was white and black and my whole family loved her very much. She became ill at some point and the veterinarian said that she had to be put to sleep. Well you can imagine how that felt. So one day when my brothers were in school, my mom and I drove to the ASPCA and they put Puffy down. It was so devastating for my whole family, and we never forgot our first kitten Puffy.
As the years went by, we lived in a rural area in upstate NY, and had many animals cats, dogs, and fish. Among the many pets we had there were two that were very special to me, my cat called Angel Kitty, and Gizmo, the dog. Beautiful, loving, and extremely rewarding to have had these fur babies in our lives. Gizmo was my husband’s dog and she was so sweet and loving. My cat Angel Kitty was also very sweet, loving, and understood every word I would tell him, but like most cats he was very independent. Just like humans and all the other animals’ time and illness takes over. Gizmo became ill and my Angel Kitty also became ill with cancer, so they both are in pet heaven now. It is so hard to have lost many pets in my life. The years that we had them were years of love, happiness, comfort, and also the most rewarding years in this short life that we all live. Being a religious person, I do believe that someday I will be reunited with all of my pets I have had in my lifetime.
"Angel Kitty"
Humans shouldn’t eat processed junk food all of the time, so why should your dog or cat? Show your pet some love by whipping up one of these surprisingly simple and healthy treats. This recipe for your dog is courtesy of Paris Permenter and John Bigley, authors of the book, The Healthy Hound Cookbook” 


Pupcake Recipe

1 cup all-purpose (unbleached) flour
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Pumpkin Purée (not pie filling)
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tbs (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray or grease a large cupcake tin. In a large bowl, combine all cupcake ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Divide mixture into cupcake tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: (optional)
4 oz cream cheese, softened nearly to room temperature
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)

In a large bowl, add yogurt and flour to cream cheese, mixing until smooth. Frost cupcakes as desired. For peanut butter-obsessed dogs, add two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter to frosting.

Recipe yields: 4 large treats for dogs 65 lbs & up, or cut into pieces for smaller dogs.



Homemade cat treats with coconut oil, coconut flour, egg, gelatin and tuna will be a big hit with the felines in your life! These homemade treats contain coconut oil and other healthy ingredients that cats love. They are simple to make and store really well in the fridge. Author: Wellness Mama 

                                                    “Homemade Cat Treats” 

2 medium size sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 egg 
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup gelatin powder
1 can (drained) tuna or sardines

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Use a fork to mash everything together until evenly mixed and until all large pieces of fish and sweet potato are mashed up. Add a little extra coconut flour if needed to get the dough resembling roughly the consistency of play dough. Roll into 1 inch balls and mash down with a fork to form little "cookies." Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for several months.

Till Next Time………………………………..

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Buon Carnevale a tutti!! Italian "Cenci" Cookies & “Frittelle” Doughnuts For Carnevale!

It’s Carnevale time !!! Being an Italian American, Carnevale is celebrated much like Mardri Gras, but with an Italian flare to it. Carnevale which means in Italian “goodbye to meat” is celebrated before the beginning of Lent. It is the last chance to party-hardy before the days of abstinence. Traditionally during Lent, people refrained from eating, meat, dairy, fats, and sugars. So to dispose of these types of foods and drinks they involved the whole community to consume this food many years ago. You could say a giant party thus became Carnevale.

The Lenten season officially starts on February 18, (this year) Ash Wednesday and continues till Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the faithful, as they await the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. This is done by prayer, penance, and giving up certain types of luxuries for this season. A favorite food or drink for example; chocolate or soft drinks may be what someone would give up for Lent.

I remember when I was a young girl my parents always made sure that we would give up something that was important and special to us. I remember the one thing that I would give up every year which was chocolate. As you, my readers know, I love chocolate and this was extremely hard for me. Then on Easter Sunday we would get a basket filled with goodies like a chocolate bunny and I was able to enjoy my chocolate fix once again.

Carnevale is a festival traditionally held by Christians, but many cities and regions worldwide celebrate with large events leading up to Ash Wednesday. In fact the last day of Carnival is called "Mardi Gras" in New Orleans and precedes Ash Wednesday. This day also is called by other names as “Shove Tuesday,” or “Fat Tuesday.” Most Christians celebrate Shrove Tuesday - in particular Methodists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. It is not a traditional part of the Baptist church. For Christians it is a time to reflect, confess and ready one's spirit for the forty days of repentance that is Lent. That's where the term "shrove" comes from. "To shrive" is to hear confessions. Thus, Shrove Tuesday is a day of feasting as well as penance. In England, it is also called “Pancake Tuesday” because of the traditional pancake meal that occurs on that day.

There are many places that these festivals take place. To name a few famous ones which are held in the cities of Venice, Viareggio, Ivrea, Acireale, Milan, Verona, and Putignano, in Italy. They have a variety of celebrations which include floats, parades, stilt walkers, throwing confetti, and masquerade balls. Masks are worn to allow people of the lower class to be mixed and undetected with the aristocrats.  

The traditional colors of the masks are purple, green, and gold. These colors capture the essence of the Holy Trinity. In the Christian faith it is related also to the Three Kings of the Orient. The colors represent purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The Carnival is a colorful, joyful party during which tasty and rich dishes are traditionally prepared. Loved by young and old, it is celebrated with masks that create a humorous and playful atmosphere. Like any self-respecting party, Carnival is also an excellent opportunity to share something special like the recipes. 

Today I have two sweet desserts for Carnevale! The first one is called “Cenci” in Italian which means “rags/ribbons.” When I was young I remember my grandmother “Nanni” used to make this type of Italian cookie. Instead of long strips she would take up the two ends and make a knot in the middle before frying them. They would look like bow ties or bows but how sweet and yummy they were especially with some powdered sugar or honey on them. Delizioso!

3 eggs
3 Tablespoons of sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt   
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour   
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of unsalted softened butter
Oil for deep frying
Confectioner’s sugar or honey

In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and salt until frothy. Stir in vanilla or almond extract. Sift flour with baking powder and gradually add to batter. Add butter and mix well. Turn out on a floured surface: knead for at least 10 minutes. Divide dough into half; then roll each as thin as possible (noodle thickness) Cut into 5” x 1” strips with a knife or scalloped pastry wheel. Preheat oil to about 375°F; then fry strips until golden brown about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle honey on top. Cookies are best served the same day.

My second recipe is called Italian Fritters or Frittelle. “Frittelle” are Venetian fried doughnuts served during Carnivale. Yummy for sure!! 

Total Time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 12 servings

1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar
Granulated sugar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, and butter. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°F. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, five or six at a time, into oil. Fry until browned, about 1-2 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Roll warm doughnut holes in confectioners' sugar or granulated sugar.

Till Next Time………..

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

“Almond French Toast Hearts” & A “Strawberry Bellini” For "Valentine's Day"

                              “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind”
                                                         By W. Shakespeare

Welcome readers…Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! Take your loved one by the hand, and enjoy this day of “Love.” Here are some interesting facts about this day; Valentine greetings were very popular as far back in history as the middle Ages. Written Valentine greetings did not appear until after the 1400s. The oldest known Valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in England. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and wrote a poem for his wife. It is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a Valentine note to Catherine of Valois. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange a small token of affection or handwritten notes. In the 1900s printed cards replaced hand written notes due to the progress in printing technology. 

I thought it would be fun to know some facts about the flowers that our loved ones give us.. Do you know what the colors of flowers mean? Well, snuggle up with your loved one and see how well you did on what the colors actually mean.

The rose, undoubtedly the most popular flower in the world, speaks of love and has been the traditional choice of sweethearts during every century. Precisely how it came to be the universal symbol of love and beauty is unclear. However, the rose was a sacred flower of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, and the color red is associated with strong emotions. The rose is symbolic of both peace and war...both love and forgiveness. The letters of "rose" when rearranged, form the word "Eros"...God of Love. In terms of the sentiments expressed by the different colors of the rose, the commonly accepted meanings are:

Coral -- Desire
Lavender -- Enchantment & Uniqueness
Pink (Pale) -- Grace, Joy & Happiness
Pink (Dark) -- Thankfulness, Friendship & Admiration
Red -- Love, Respect & Courage
Deep Red -- Beauty & Passion
White -- Innocence, Purity, Secrecy, Silence, Humility, True Love
Yellow -- Joy, Friendship, Jealousy, Hope & Freedom
Black -- Farewell
Red/White -- Unity or Engagement
Yellow/Orange -- Passionate Thoughts
Rosebud -- Beauty, Youth & a Heart Innocent of Love
Red Rosebud -- Purity & Loveliness
White Rosebud -- Girlhood
Single Red Rose in Full Bloom -- "I Love You"
One Dozen Red Roses -- "I Love You"
Tea Roses -- "I'll Remember Always"

Another flower particularly associated with Valentine's Day is the violet, which has a special connotation since legend states that violets grew outside the window of the jail where Saint Valentine was imprisoned. In the language of flowers, the violet is symbolic of faithfulness while a violet stone...the also considered lucky for sweethearts. 

mom & dad wedding  (1951)
You can fill your home with romance and love. A day where indulgence and passion is in the air. You may receive flowers, chocolates in a heart shaped box, or gifts to express your feelings towards that special someone, like jewelry. Some find romance on this day when couples become engaged. My dad proposed to my mom on Valentine's Day in 1949 and they married in 1951. This December it will be “64” years of blissful marriage for them. My parents told me the story on how they got engaged….. The year was 1949, Chinatown, New York City in a Chinese restaurant, on Valentines Day. My mom and dad had a favorite Chinese restaurant that was located upstairs from a store. They would frequently meet each other after work. This was the day that my dad was going to surprise my mom with “the ring.” He tried to be ingenious and he put the ring in my mom’s tea cup when she went to the powder room. Just before he poured the tea, my mom said, “What is in this cup?” And low and behold she saw the ring and that is how it all began. So the moral of the story is always look in the cup before you have some tea!

I hope that you enjoyed some fun facts and you have a wonderful “Happy Valentine’s Day” with your loved ones. Here is a recipe for a delicious breakfast which you may want to make for your special Valentine. A perfect way to start your Valentine’s Day. My recipe is called, “Almond French Toast Hearts.” An easy, romantic, and healthy dish. You can use the Almond Butter or some pure maple syrup, or even a dusting of powdered sugar. No matter what you put on them, they are a decadent way to celebrate your Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart. My recipe is a favorite, why not add some strawberries or fresh fruit and enjoy with your favorite person! “Happy Valentine’s Day“!!!! Baci e amore!

“Almond French Toast Hearts”

Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Yield: 5-6 servings 

10-12 (1 inch) slices of bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the almond butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Cut bread slices into heart shapes. You can use a large, almost 4 inch heart, cookie cutter or cut your own heart shape with kitchen shears. Use trimmings for another purpose. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and 1 tsp almond extract. In large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Dip both sides of each bread heart into the egg mixture and place on the hot skillet. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

For the almond butter: in a small bowl, blend together the 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar, and 1/2 tsp almond extract.

Serve cooked French Toast with the almond butter along with a sprinkling of powdered and fresh raspberries or strawberry slices. Drizzle with pure maple syrup.


The Bellini is a famous champagne cocktail created by Giuseppe Cipriani, proprietor of Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. Cipriani named his drink after Giovanni Bellini, his favorite Italian painter. The Bellini has become one of the most famous and popular of all wine cocktails or champagne cocktails, and usually is served as a Peach Bellini. This Strawberry Bellini is a twist on the original. Delizioso! Cin Cin!

Strawberry Bellini

1 bottle of your favorite Champagne or Prosecco
1 cup Simple Syrup (or less if you don't like it sweet)
1 small bag of frozen Strawberries
To garnish: use fresh strawberries on the side of your glass or Chocolate covered ones, in a small bowl adds another texture/and flavor.

Take out your blender, and add the frozen strawberries. Then, add the simple syrup. Remember, simple syrup is just equal parts water to sugar and boiled till the sugar is dissolved. So, in this case 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar, dissolved. Next, add about a half cup of the champagne to the blender. Puree for about 30 seconds until the mixture is well blended. Take out your champagne glasses, and pour the puree to about 1/2 the way. Then, add champagne to the remaining half. Stir. It really is a pretty drink, and very simple to make. Enjoy!!

(Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time………………..

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“Apple Orchard Meatloaf” & “Apricot-Glazed Sweet Potatoes” For A Winter's Night Meal

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

“What Will We Eat Tonight?” Well, if that is your question, you’ll find a good answer here. So, come with me and lets look at my two recipes that I hope will be a winter favorite. My first recipe is called “Apple Orchard Meatloaf,”an all American favorite that has a few irresistible flavor twists. Then as you round off your menu, I am serving along as a side a scrumptious dish called, “Apricot-Glazed Sweet Potatoes.” Meatloaf and sweet potatoes, a tasty party in your mouth! 

The “Apple Orchard Meatloaf,” recipe I am sharing is from “A Winter Cook Book.” This cookbook was sent to me in the mail. It does not have any name or product on cover or pages. But have used many of the recipes in the past. Yummy!

Apple Orchard Meatloaf

Serves: 4-6
Time: 1 hour cooking time

Mushroom Gravy
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain)
1 package (1 oz) dry onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard - divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
12 ounces jar of mushroom or beef gravy
Shallow roasting pan

Heat oven to 350
°F degrees. In large bowl place beef, pork, applesauce, egg, bread crumbs, onion soup mix, salt, pepper and 2 tbsp. mustard. Mix well to thoroughly combine ingredients. (Clean hands do this job the best)  In shallow roasting pan, pat meat mixture evenly into loaf approx 8 x 4 x 2 inches. Bake for 30 min. In small bowl, stir together remaining tbsp. of mustard with brown sugar. Spread evenly on top of meatloaf. Bake for another 30 min, until meatloaf is nicely browned and fully cooked. Carefully remove meatloaf  to cutting board while making gravy. Pour pan drippings into saucepan and skim fat from the top of drippings. Stir in gravy and heat, stirring until hot. Slice meatloaf and serve with gravy. Remember, if you have leftovers, you can have cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day…


Apricot-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

I usually serve this as a side dish with pork or a meatloaf. As the wonderful aroma wafts through the house, I'm always asked, "Is dinner ready yet?" So don't be surprised if your gang comes to the table extra-hungry.

Sweet Potato
Prep: 15 min.
Bake: 20 min.
Yield: 8 servings

3 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut up
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup hot water
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Place sweet potatoes in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish and set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon; stir in apricot jam, water and orange peel. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in butter and walnuts or pecans. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Enjoy!

Till Next Time………

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

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Roasted Chicken & Potatoes with Rosemary” To Celebrate Charles Dickens "203" Birthday!

As a young girl, the library was my best friend. When I would enter the library, the first thing that would give me comfort was the aroma of the books. Yes, I could just smell the paper and the type that was attached to each story. I would browse up and down the rows of books on the shelves and loved escaping to the past of a classic novel. After many hours of enjoyment looking all around, I would have an armload of books to borrow. As I gave my library card to the Librarian and as she checked out my books, I couldn’t wait till I got home to start reading. When I walked out of the library for that day, I would feel sad. I realized that I had a whole array of stories to read and many characters that would eventually become my friends which consoled me. I always loved books and my mom does as well. Maybe this is why I have the adoration of the “Word” and love to write my own fictional stories.

Of all the fiction I enjoyed growing up, no author captured my soul than Charles Dickens. He is one of my very favorite authors of Victorian English literature besides Jane Austen. His novels stir compassion for the overworked and underpaid. The first story that I read of Charles Dickens was “A Tale Of Two Cities.” This was in High School and these words from the book have never left my mind, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Saturday is the 203rd Birthday of Charles Dickens. He is much loved for his contributions of epic stories and vivid characters which have become unforgettable classics in literature. The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and many more…. 

His own story is one of rags to riches. Having lived through lean times, Dickens equated food and drink with abundance, a feeling made evident in nearly every story he wrote. He was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. He was the 2nd of eight children born to John and Elizabeth Dickens. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay-office. Charles spent most of his time outside and reading books. His memories of his childhood and his near photographic memory of people and events added to his writing later in life. His private education was brief and came to an abrupt end due to financial difficulties of his family. His father John lived beyond his means and was imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison in 1824. At 12 years old, Charles was then sent to live with a family friend Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town. To pay for his board and help out his family, Dickens began to work 10 hour days at a boot-blacking factory.

Charles’s father, John, inherited some money from his grandmother that died, paid off all his debts and was released from the Marshalsea prison. Charles then worked at a law office. Having learned shorthand which he taught himself, he left the law office and became a freelance reporter. In 1833 Dickens first story, “A Dinner at Popular Walk,” was published in a periodical magazine. His first novel “The Pickwick Papers,” was published in March of 1836, which began his literary career. Often the characters in his novels were based on people and places he knew. On April 2, 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth. They had 10 children, but separated from his wife in 1858, many years later. 

Catherine Dickens (Charles wife)
In 1842, Dickens made his first trip to the United States and Canada. He visited President John Tyler at the White House in his support for the abolition of slavery. He spent a month in New York City, giving lectures, raising support for copyright laws. As the years went by he continued to write his classic novels, spoke at lectures, and became involved in Philanthropy. Charles also furthered his interest in the paranormal becoming one of the early members of “The Ghost Club.”

Between 1868 and 1869, Dickens gave a series of “farewell readings” in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until he collapsed on April 22, 1869, showing symptoms of a mild stroke. After further readings were cancelled, he began work on his final novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” On May 2, 1870 he made his last public appearance at a banquet in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

On June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at home, after a full day’s work on Edwin Drood. The next day on June 9th, he died never having regained consciousness. He was laid to rest in the “Poet’s Corner” of Westminster Abbey. An epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: “To the memory of Charles Dickens, who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathizer with the poor, the suffering, and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.” Charles Dickens last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times were alleged to have been: “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”

Dickens loved Christmas evidenced by his many holiday-themed stories. His daughter, Mamie, remembered their family holiday celebrations with great affection. He loved Christmas for its deep meaning as well as for its joys. Christmas in the Dickens home was described as an elaborate celebration. He favored goose, plum pudding, cheeses, and loved to engage in family games with dancing. His drink of choice was a mulled wine or a citrus punch with port.

In the 1800s food was prepared exactly as it is today, by baking, broiling, frying, and steaming. Until around the middle of the 1800s cooking was done over an open fire. The use of cast-iron stoves was rapidly spreading by the end of the nineteenth century. Technological innovations transformed the nature of food production as the population grew. The invention of the railways immensely improved the quality of produce in the cities. Milk was transported by rail and kept fresh with the aid of a mechanical cooler. The spread of the railways also brought international trade across European markets. The Victorian kitchens were also transformed with the addition of new ovens and nifty gadgets such as: graters, pastry cutters, pie molds, and muffin tins.

So, in honor of Charles Dickens Birthday, my recipe this week is “Roasted Chicken & Potatoes with Rosemary.” I think he would have loved this dish. (seeing I can‘t get a hold of a goose) Enjoy and don‘t forget to read a few of Dickens novels, you will be hooked I‘m sure!  

Roasted Chicken & Potatoes with Rosemary”

Roasted chicken and potatoes are seasoned with aromatic rosemary, paprika and minced garlic. You can add healthy veggies or a salad to enhance your meal.

Serves: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon course black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes , cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix oil and seasonings in large bowl. Add chicken and potatoes; toss to coat well. Arrange chicken and potatoes in single layer on foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Roast 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender, turning potatoes occasionally.

Till Next Time………………….

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