Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Celebrate July 4th With A "Hershey's Chocolate Cake,” “Classic Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies," & A “Chocolate Strawberry Martini” Plus "Tip Tuesday"

Welcome, we are all invited to a Birthday Party! Next weekend will be the July 4th which is the 240 year of our nations birth! Wishing you, my readers a Happy 4th of July! It’s a Birthday party so we have to celebrate! We're so grateful to live in this country and to celebrate the birth of our Nation. Most of us celebrate with family, picnics, BBQ’s, parades, and showing a great emphasis on the American tradition of Freedom. The most common symbol of Independence Day is the American flag, but other symbols include the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor and Macy’s fireworks display viewed all over the United States. I have to mention “thank you” to the servicemen, women, and animals who have been fighting for our freedom and keeping our country safe. These are the people that our founding fathers would have called our heroes! 

Independence Day, is the anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence. How it all began was in 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days later on July 4, 1776. John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams on how the day should be celebrated. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States.

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, & Ben Franklin
Interestingly trivia: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and Presidents of the United States, died on the same day, July 4, 1826 - exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Fireworks have been used by Americans for July 4th since the nation's very beginning. The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China, where they were invented. The fireworks were used to accompany many festivities. It is a part of the culture of China and had its origin there; eventually it spread to other cultures and societies. The first recorded display in England celebrated the wedding of Henry VII in 1487. Shakespeare mentions them several times in his plays. As I recall when I was young, my dad would always buy a few packages of sparklers. When it got dark out, he would light them and watch us as we swirled them around in the sky. This was a lot of fun and it made us feel like we were part of the celebration.

Fireworks come in so many different shapes, colors, and sizes such as stars, rotating circles, fish, and even 3D shapes. They are sometimes programmed to music as in Disney World where the fireworks are fired off to music with colors. Fireworks are used in celebrations of theme parks, Olympics, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, and Political events. States such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Delaware ban all consumer fireworks completely. Only legal professional authorities can be approved to operate firework displays. Please be responsible and do not use fireworks unless a professional person is on hand. Please be sure that your pets are safe as well. They do not like the noise and tend to hide.  

Tips On Baking A No Fail Cake:

Why A Cake Fails:
Has A Hump:   
The oven was overly hot when baking started
Too much flour used

Dark Bottom:
Pan too deep or large, keeps top from browning
Dark pans absorb more heat, place on higher oven rack (same with Pyrex)
Pan was warped which caused uneven browning

Has Deep Cracks:   
Temperature too high
Too much: flour or baking powder

Has Fallen:
Temperature too low
Peeked while baking
Removed from oven early
Too much: shortening or sugar or baking powder
Not enough flour

Coarse Texture:   
Temperature not high enough
Batter over mixed
Too much baking powder or flour

It’s Running-Over:   
Pan not large enough
Too much baking powder or sugar

Temperature not high enough  

It’s Tough:   
Temperature too hot
Not enough shortening or sugar
Too much flour

It’s Doughy:   
Temperature too low
Left in pan too long after removing from oven

Light In Color:   
Temperature too low
Another pan too close while baking

Browned Edges:
Oven too full
Tin touching another one or oven wall

Not Large Enough:   
Temperature too high
Not enough baking powder
Over mixed batter
Oversized pan   

Here we are at the beginning of July and the summer is really heating up. However you celebrate, remember to incorporate your holiday traditions with your family and no matter where you are, take time to be thankful for our freedom. I’m sure like most people, you are preparing your menus for the July 4th, celebration. That means grilling meats, cold salads, baked beans, corn on the cob, fruits of all kinds, etc. Now we have to put out the desserts, cookies, cupcakes, and pies, just to name a few. Just like any birthday party, the cake is always the most important part of your celebration. A birthday party with no tasty birthday cake will not make that event complete. 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, but it is time to have a slice of this very outstanding cake!

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate” Cake

Yield: 12 servings 

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)

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 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. 

"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.

No one can resist a Chocolate Chip Cookie, so this second recipe is a chocoholic’s dream…can’t just have one……..

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 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 ungreased 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.

My third recipe is an alcoholic cocktail that you will not want to miss…. we have to have a drink to toast  “America’s Birthday”…so what better way then with this very cool and refreshing drink. This elegant drink of Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur combines luscious chocolate flavor with the seductive flavor of strawberries to create a delicious smooth cocktail.

Chocolate Strawberry Martini

2  oz. Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur
2  oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
2  oz. strawberry nectar
1  oz. milk or cream
2  piece(s) strawberry for garish
Glass: Martini Glass

How to mix together: In a shaker with ice, add Godiva Chocolate, Smirnoff Vodka, strawberry nectar & milk. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry. Makes 2 servings.

“Please Drink Responsibly”

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

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An “Italian Muffuletta Sandwich” To Celebrate The Summer Season!

Welcome to the Summer! The summer solstice season is the day that most people in the USA were waiting for! Summer time! The timing of the solstice depends on when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. We notice that the sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. The summer solstice (which was yesterday) is the day with the most sunlight during the whole year, (17 hrs) which is why they call this day the longest day of the year.

Did you know? Traditionally, this summer solstice period fell between the planting and harvesting of crops, leaving people who worked the land time to relax. This is why June became the traditional month for weddings. The first (or only) full moon in June is called the 'honey moon' because many believed it was the best time to take honey from beehives.

How will you celebrate the summer season this year? Let’s see, I have some ideas and tips…

The first thing that comes to mind is the beach. Everyone loves the water and especially in the summer heat. A nice cool swim and relaxing on the sand is a fun way to spend a summer day. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, bring plenty of sunscreen and a bottle of water. 

Planting and gardening are also a great way to spend a day in the summer. But remember to use gardening gloves and a big wide brimmed hat. If you are mowing the lawn, do it early in the morning or late evening so the sun and the heat is not that bad. Don’t forget to drink water…always hydrate!

Another idea maybe a camping trip. Plan a camp-out and enjoy the great outdoors whether in a tent or in a cabin in the woods. But don’t forget the natural insect repellent that may come in handy especially with the mosquitoes.

Are you planning a trip to Italy or another country this summer? If you plan on a trip abroad, do make sure you have your passport up to date and that you do some research on the city or country where you are going. Sometimes you can get good deals as to a hotels or airfares.

One of my favorite ideas is to plan a family cook-out. There is nothing as tasty as grilled food with family and friends on a summer evening. I always use Citronella candles to ward off the bugs, plus it adds to the ambiance of the night.

As the temperatures rise and lazy days develop. A great way to relax is with a good book to read. Whether you are at the beach, on your porch, or inside if it is raining, one of the best ways to enjoy a summer day is to read up on some gardening tips, natural health, a romance, or that mystery you wanted to see if you can figure out. One of my favorite authors and friend is, Adriana Trigiani. Her books are always a delight to read and are so delicious that you will not be able to put them down. Among her many books, “The Shoemakers Wife,” “Queen of the Big Time, ”and of course “The Valentine” series. 

Her latest book is called “All The Stars In Heaven.” A romance that took place years ago with the screen stars of that day like Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable. A definite must read. Please go to Adriana’s website and see all of her other books she has written to perfection. Adriana made her fist movie which is based on the “Big Stone Gap” series, called “Big Stone Gap.” Funny, intriguing, romantic, and just a wonderful story that you will want to watch it over and over again with your family.   

Another great read is from my friend that has just written her first book, plus she is a crossover classical singer that is awesome. She is the fabulous Romina Arena! Her book is called, “Where Did They Film That? Italy: Famous Film Scenes and Their Italian Locations” (Amazon.com) If you are planning a trip to Italy this is the book for you. This visitor guide will provide a wide array of tips, information, and travel details, that I highly suggest you read. Romina Arena is an award-winning Italian recording artist who has performed before President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and many other world figures. Arena has sold over four million records worldwide and has received many major honors, including a Global Citizenship Award from the United Nations in recognition of her humanitarian support for the children of Haiti. I suggest you not forget your glasses if you need them to read as this is a delightful book and you will not want to miss any part of it.

Lastly, watch the night sky! Go outside after dark and explore the night’s sky from your own backyard. See if you can spot the Big /Little Dipper, the moon, the North Star, or maybe a comet. A good pair of binoculars would help you count the stars.

Now, I would love to hear from you about how you plan to celebrate the summer season? What are your ideas? Going on a trip, a cruise, the beach, or just staying at home. You can comment below and I will post them all on next week’s blog. 

This recipe that I have for you this week is one of my all time favorites. It is "The Italian Muffuletta Sandwich" so simple and easy but it is the best on a hot summers day or night, just enough to cool you off. This recipe is made using the Mudduletta bread filled with meats and cheese. It truly is a great comfort food that people of all ages love. So now let me explain what this sandwich is all about… 

The Muffuletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana using the same bread. A Muffuletta is a large, round, and somewhat flattened loaf with a sturdy texture, around 10 inches across. It is described as being somewhat similar to the focaccia texture. However is different from focaccia, in that it is a very light bread, the outside is crispy, but the inside is soft. It also has no additional seasonings baked into it, aside from the sesame seeds. The bread is more like French bread, but slightly heavier. A traditional-style Muffuletta sandwich consists of a loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated to soften the provolone. Quarter, half, and full-sized Muffulettas are sold. The signature olive salad consists of olives diced with the celery, cauliflower, and carrots found in a jar of giardiniera, seasoned with oregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours. A traditional Muffuletta is usually served cold, but many vendors will toast it. 

Italian Muffuletta Sandwich

Multiple layers of thinly sliced meat and cheese with a chopped olive mixture make up a typical Muffuletta. The simplified version of the filling sandwich uses Italian Fontina Cheese and Prosciutto.

**** NOTE: (All these ingredients can be modified to your own preference)

Makes: 6 main dish sandwiches
Prep: 20 mins
Chill: 2 hrs

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
12 slices crusty sourdough bread or Muffuletta Bread
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
6 ounces thinly sliced Italian Fontina or provolone cheese
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, or mortadella
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
5 Pepperoncini salad peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

In screw-top jar combine olive oil, vinegar, oregano, mustard, and crushed red pepper. Cover; shake well. Set aside. On six of the bread slices layer tomatoes, cheese, prosciutto, basil, and pepperoncini salad peppers. Shake oil mixture. Drizzle oil mixture over top of peppers. Shake oil mixture. Drizzle oil mixture over peppers. Top with remaining six bread slices. Wrap tightly. Place sandwich on a cutting board or tray. Place a shallow baking pan on top of sandwich. Chill up to 2 hours before serving. 

Till Next Time………………………………..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Celebrate "Father's Day" With “Sausage, Peppers, Onions & Summer Squash”

Today is "Father's Day!" So I would love to wish all of my followers who are dads, grandfathers or Godfathers, a very Happy and Blessed Father’s Day! This day is when we remember and give thanks for our fathers, both living and deceased. Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers, paternal relationships, and the impact of fathers in our society. Many countries celebrate this special day on the third Sunday of June, but it is also celebrated widely on other days.  Mostly Roman Catholic households in Italy celebrate Father’s Day on March 19, which is St. Joseph’s Feast Day. This day is celebrated to honor Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ, a fatherly symbol of love, compassion, kindness, generosity, and acceptance. This is a day when families show their gratitude to their fathers with favors, gifts, and family gatherings.
(My Dad singing at one of the plays)

The question is therefore, what does Father's Day mean to you? Father’s Day in my family is a day to say thank you to my dad for all his hard work and love that he has given to us through the years. As I grew up in Queens, New York in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s there was nothing more important to my dad than his family. But, there is something that came to a close second and that is sports of all kinds. His favorite is  Baseball and Bowling. I can remember many a days when the radio or TV had a game playing. Every once in a while you would hear a scream coming from the living room and you knew that his favorite team the Mets just got a home run! Now I don’t follow any sports but my brothers did and when my son came along my dad began teaching him all about sports.

(Paul my son with my father)
When my dad worked in New York City, he belonged to a Bowling team with his brother. Every year he received a trophy which we would add to the many on the shelf. When my son was little he helped coach the baseball team that my son had joined. One of his loves is singing. When my dad was young he and his brother sang in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera. (Better know as the Met) At our church he used to join all the plays and preformed his singing ability. I have to say he did a great job, just like Broadway. My dad has a lot of compassion, love, and strength. He is sensitive and will do anything he can for you. I always admired his dedication to his family and his faith in God. He can be funny, warm, honest, fair, organized, and shares his wisdom with others. One of his commitments is to St. Thomas More RC Church where he is a member of the choir and is also the president of “The Young At Heart Senior Club.” My dad has a passion for puzzles, music, sports, reading, food, and most of all spending time with his family. 

(My dad is the third from the right, second row at Church choir)
My recipe I would love to share with you is a wonderful dish called “Sausage & Peppers, with Onions & Summer Squash.” This recipe is one of my dad’s favorite meals. This can be eaten as a dinner meal, for lunch, and even to take on picnics as the summer is approaching. This dish is very simple and easy. All the flavors blend together and the onions as they caramelize give the peppers a sweet taste. Wine would be a good beverage to have along side your dish. You can also pair a Red or White wine which will work very well with pork. You should try to aim for lighter reds like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Chianti, or softer reds like a Merlot. Chardonnay is a good choice for a "porky" white. So with that being said, let us toast to my dad, “Happy Father’s Day” or in Italian we say, “Festa del Papa" Love your daughter Dottie xxxx

Sausage & Peppers, with Onions & Summer Squash

2 green peppers, seeded & cut into 1" strips
2 yellow peppers, seeded & cut into 1" strips
1 red pepper, seeded & cut into 1" strips
2 onions, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 yellow summer squash cut in rounds
1/4 cup of olive oil or as needed
2 tablespoons of Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 to 2 lbs of Italian style pork sausage-with or without fennel seeds (the amount of sausage depends on how many people that are eating)

To achieve optimum results, pierce or stick each link of sausage two or three times with a fork, so they will cook through. Now grill your sausages over a moderate flame for about 25 minutes, rotating them often with tongs, or until the internal temperature reaches 175°F. Peppers, onions, and summer squash are the perfect garnish for sausages. Add olive oil, oregano, salt and black pepper to the veggies and stir to coat evenly. Use a stainless steel grid to grill the veggies over a medium-high flame, or put veggies in aluminum foil. Use tongs to stir the peppers, onions, and squash as they cook through, and browned. A little bit of color on the sausages and the veggies will make this dish more desirable and will enhance the flavor. Your vegetables should be still firm, and no traces of pink should remain in the sausage. Serve hot, with bread or a tossed salad.

Till Next Time…………..

Copyright  ©  2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Celebrate Flag Day With “Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes” & "Strawberry Champagne Slushy" On This "Tip Tuesday"

Welcome to my blog…come on in, I have a refreshing Strawberry Champagne Slushy cocktail  for you to try. The week of June 14 is designated as "National Flag Week” and June 14th is "Flag Day!" This day honors the American flag, encourages citizens to fly the flag, and study its traditions. The “Pledge Of Allegiance,” in the United States is an expression of allegiance to the Flag of the United States and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Colonel George Balch in 1887, later revised by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. 

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Fourth of July is traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag was very American. The First Official United States Flag had 13-Stars and became the Official United States Flag on June14th, 1777. This was a result of the congressional action that took place on that date. Much evidence exists pointing to Congressman Francis Hopkinson as the person responsible for its design. The only President to serve under this flag was George Washington (1789-1797). This Flag was to last for a period of 18 years.

Each STAR represented a Colony of which there were thirteen, united nearly one year earlier by the Declaration of Independence. The thirteen Colonies are listed below with the date that each ratified the Constitution and became a State.

Betsy Ross House, PA
(1st) Delaware December 7th, 1787
(2nd) Pennsylvania December 12th, 1787
(3rd) New Jersey December18th, 1787
(4th) Georgia January 2nd, 1788
(5th) Connecticut January 9th, 1788
(6th) Massachusetts February 6th, 1788
(7th) Maryland April 28th, 1788
(8th) South Carolina May 23rd, 1788
(9th) New Hampshire June 21st, 1788
(10th) Virginia June 25th, 1788
(11th) New York July 25th, 1788
(12th) North Carolina November 21st, 1789
(13th) Rhode Island May 29th, 1790

Tip Tuesday

There is definitely “Flag Etiquette,” standards of respect towards the flag. The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. 

They are as follows:

  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman, and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
  • The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
***Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.

  • Raising and Lowering the Flag: The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.
  • The Salute: To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart.
  • The Flag in Mourning is placed at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset. The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order. When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.

Now that we learned about The Flag, it is time to share 2 special Flag themed recipes. So “easy peasy” as my blogger friend Louise from “Months Of Edible Celebrations,” says. A very decorative and delicious dessert for your Flag Day or July 4th. “Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes” and a “Strawberry Champagne Slushy

“Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes”

1 white cake mix, prepared as per instructions (as cupcakes)
1 Cup of water to boil
1-3oz box red Jello (Strawberry or Cherry)
Whipped cream

Bake cupcakes as directed on the box of white cake mix. Let cupcakes cool. Poke several small holes in the cupcakes using a small stick, fork, or chopstick.

Boil 1 cup of water. Add a 3 oz Cherry or Strawberry gelatin packet to boiling water. Stir it until it dissolves. Pour or spoon the gelatin into the cupcake holes. Chill the cupcakes in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 

“Frost” with whipped cream topping and add blueberries. Take off the cupcake wrapper and you’ve got one festive little cupcake. Doesn’t it look like a flag?

Refreshing and delicious, and nothing sounds more attractive than frozen cocktails when it's over 90 degrees! 

Strawberry Champagne Slushy

What you need for 2 Slushy drinks:
1 cup (roughly) Frozen Strawberries
1 cup Champagne

All you have to do is combine the champagne and the strawberries in the blender until they reach Slushy consistency! Add a cut strawberry to the rim of the champagne for garnish. Yummy! Nice and refreshing and tasty too!


Please Drink Responsibly


Till Next Time…..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" Plus “Honey Ginger BBQ Shrimp” & “Honey Ginger BBQ Corn”

Welcome to “Tip Tuesday” on my blog…come on in and have some cold lemonade. Now as the days get warmer and we are approaching the beginning of summer no one wants to eat inside. Some of us have the option to go outside in the back yard or go to a picnic area and do like most people enjoy a BBQ. There are so many ways to BBQ a steak, chicken, ribs, hamburgers, sausage, hot dogs, veggies, and of course fish. I love shrimp on the grill and they are so simple to cook. They cook fast so dinner can be ready in a short while. Of all the ways to prepare shrimp, I think the grill delivers the best flavor. You can save time by buying already shelled and de-veined shrimp, but sometimes the shell on the shrimp are better quality. That is depending on where you live and what's in your market, you may not have much choice. Freshness trumps all, so don't hesitate to use your nose in deciding which shrimp to buy or ask your fishmonger.

Most shrimp are sold frozen and marketed based on their categorization of presentation, grading, color, and uniformity. Shrimp have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and low levels of mercury. As with other seafood, shrimp is high in calcium, iodine, and protein but low in food energy. Shrimp consumption, however, is considered healthy for the circulatory system because the lack of significant levels of saturated fat in shrimp means that the high cholesterol content in shrimp actually improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. 

Shrimp Fun Facts:
  • Shrimp are crustaceans found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water.
  • One billion pounds of shrimp are eaten every year by Americans.
  • Over five billion pounds of shrimp are produced every single year.
  • April 29th is National Shrimp Scampi Day & May 9th is National Shrimp Day.
  • A shrimp can average about 6 inches while the longest ever found was at 16 inches.
  • Some shrimp can live as long as six and a half years, while some only live about a year or so.
  • There are 16 different stages of life are found in shrimp from egg to full adult.
  • There are over 128 species of shrimp.
  • Every shrimp is actually born a male and then become females as they mature. The average shrimp has 10 legs.
  • The name for raw, uncooked shrimp is “green”.
  • Shrimp that has been broiled or sautéed, usually in butter and garlic are called “scampi”.

Today I have two recipes to share, one is called, “Honey Ginger BBQ Shrimp” and “Honey Ginger BBQ Corn,” which you use a appealing and tasty “Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce” recipe. Gooey and so mouth-watering that you will want to make this one all the time!

Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce

Yield: Makes 1 1/4 cups 
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients for sauce only:
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
1 teaspoon salt

Stir together all sauce ingredients in a 2 to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. (Stir frequently toward end of cooking to prevent sticking.)

Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated once cooled. Reheat before proceeding.

****Notes: Corn can be shucked 2 hours ahead. If grilling both the corn and the Grilled Shrimp with Honey-Ginger Barbecue Sauce grill the corn first, then keep it warm on a tray loosely covered with foil. If you are using charcoal, you don't want more than about 1 layer of charcoal for the corn because more will cause it to burn before it cooks through. When the corn is done, add more charcoal to grill the shrimp.

If making the shrimp and the corn, double the recipe for the sauce and cook it until it is reduced to 2 1/2 cups.

Honey Ginger BBQ Shrimp

Yield: 8 servings

4 pounds jumbo (21-25 per pound) or extra-large (26-30 per pound) shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail and adjoining shell segment intact, and de-veined (See Notes)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce (recipe above)

"Honey Ginger BBQ Shrimp"
****Special equipment: 18 to 24 (12-inch) wooden skewers (depending on size of shrimp used), soaked in water for 30 minutes.

For the Shrimp: If necessary, pat shrimp dry, then thread about 6 shrimp (through top and tail, leaving shrimp curled), onto each skewer, without leaving space between shrimp. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high for gas.)  Meanwhile, brush shrimp with vegetable oil and sprinkle evenly with salt. Lightly oil grill rack. Grill shrimp, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, 2 minutes. Brush shrimp with some sauce from the saucepan, then turn. Brush shrimp with additional sauce then grill until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with reserved sauce.

****Notes: In terms of shrimp size, go by the count per pound versus the descriptive terms such as jumbo and extra-large. If the count is not displayed, ask. Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated once cooled. Reheat before proceeding. Shrimp can be threaded onto skewers and refrigerated on a tray, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 2 hours before grilling.

It's hard to imagine anything better than freshly picked ears of corn roasting to golden-brown goodness on the grill. One taste of this Honey Ginger Barbecue Sauce and you'll be wondering why you ever stuck to plain old butter. This sweet and tangy sauce transforms the season's corn into a standout, favorite.

Honey Ginger BBQ Corn

Yield: 8 servings

1 1/4 cups warm Honey Ginger Barbecue Sauce
16 ears of corn, shucked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt

"Honey Ginger BBQ Corn"
Prepare Honey-Ginger Barbecue Sauce and divide equally into two bowls. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high for gas). Drizzle corn with oil on a large rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle evenly with salt. Lightly rub oil and salt into corn. Oil grill rack, then grill corn (covered only if using gas), turning frequently, until lightly browned and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Move corn to different positions on grill if hot spots are present. Brush corn with some of prepared sauce and grill, turning, until sauce is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with reserved sauce. 


Buying Shrimp:
It's preferable to buy shrimp frozen, most are sold in five-pound blocks, as fresh is rare and thawed shrimp gives neither the flavor of fresh nor the flexibility of frozen. The shelf life of thawed shrimp is only a couple of days, whereas shrimp stored in the freezer retain their quality for several weeks. Shrimp should have no black spots or melanosis on their shell, which indicates breakdown of the meat has begun. Likewise, avoid shrimp with yellowing shells or those that feel gritty as either may indicate the use of sodium bisulfite, a bleaching agent sometimes used to remove melanosis. Shrimp should smell of saltwater only and, when thawed, should be firm and fill the shell fully.

Few rules govern the sale of shrimp and size classifications are subjective and relative. Learn to judge shrimp as retailers do, by the number of shrimp it takes to make a pound. Shrimp from 15 or 20-30 per pound usually give the best combination of flavor, ease, and value. 

Of the 300 hundred species of shrimp worldwide, 6 are most commonly found in our markets:
  • Gulf White: Certainly the most expensive, and frequently the best. Good flavor, firm texture, usually grayish white in color. Similar in appearance to the less desirable Gulf brown shrimp, so select carefully – ask to see the box, which might be of help. Note: Mark feels these are the best, especially when fresh, but aren't easy to find.
  • Ecuadorian or Mexican White: Similar to Gulf whites, these may be wild (most Mexicans) or farm-raised (all Ecuadorian). More Ecuadorian shrimp is imported to the United States than any other.
  • Black Tiger: Widely farmed shrimp from Asia. May be dark gray with black stripes and red feelers or bluish with yellow feelers; pink when cooked. Can be quite flavorful and firm, but inconsistent. 
  • Gulf Pink: High quality, wild or farm-raised. Shell is usually redder that that of whites, but may be light brown. 
  • Gulf Brown: Wild shrimp most likely to taste of iodine, reddish brown, can be easily confused with whites or pinks. 
  • Chinese White: Asian farm-raised with grayish white color, soft, sometimes watery texture, mild flavor. Usually relatively inexpensive. 
  • Rock Shrimp: From the mid-Atlantic, southern states, and Gulf of Mexico. Good-tasting but very hard to peel, usually sold peeled and frequently cooked.

Cooking Shrimp:
Defrost shrimp in the refrigerator or in cold water. Do not defrost in a warm place or microwave, moisture, nutrients, and weight will be lost. Shrimp cook in as little as 3 minutes; when they're pink, they're done. If you over cook them they become like rubber. Remove the shell before cooking if the shrimp will be served in hot liquid. Leave the shell on if poaching shrimp for later use, or if grilling as the shell protects the meat. The shell has good flavor which will be imparted to the shrimp if left on during cooking.

Till Next Time…..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved