Thanksgiving 2014 Turkey
Even though turkey day just passed, lots of people make turkey for Christmas, too. America’s first big bird is relatively easy to make once you get it into the oven. But turkey can tend to be a little dry. Especially the white meat, which constitutes the bulk of the bird’s yield.
There are lots of tricks for keeping the meat moist, like brining and deep-frying. Both of those methods return a juicy result but are time-consuming or require special equipment and knowledge. If you’d like to roast a deliciously moist bird without the time or equipment investment, try these tips for an easier route to buttery birds.
Butter Up The Breasts. Some recipes call for brushing the breasts with melted butter or soaking cheesecloth in butter and laying it across the breasts for the duration of the roasting process. The trouble with these methods is that the butter bakes off the skin pretty quickly so the added fat, which is intended to moisten the meat, runs right off the breasts and ends up in the pan juices. I’ve found more merit in gently sliding several tabs of butter under the skin and directly onto the breast meat. It melts more slowly and bakes into the meat, keeping it moist.
Baste the Bird. Even with the added butter it takes some time for an average turkey to emit enough juices to give the bird a thorough basting. I use store-bought turkey or chicken broth for basting during the first couple of hours. After that time there’s always sufficient juice in the pan to give the bird, and any exposed stuffing, a good moistening. Frequent and thorough basting keep the breast meat juicy, so I make sure to saturate the turkey every 20 minutes using my turkey baster.
Give Him Shelter. Tenting the turkey allows the skin to turn a beautiful and crisp brown without drying the meat. I make a foil tent high enough so it rests above the bird without touching the breasts. I securely press the two sides down onto the roasting pan and leave the top and bottom open so air can circulate. I usually remove the foil during the last 30-60 minutes of roasting. I let the coloration and the touch of the skin guide my timing. If it needs more crisping, I remove the foil sooner.
Time Your Turkey. Following the package directions on temperature and timing is the best way to keep from overcooking and drying out your turkey. If you don’t feel confident that you’ll know for sure when the bird is done, buy one with a built-in pop-up timer. Or buy a timer you can insert into the bird. You’ll find them in the seasonal aisle with the turkey basters and trussing kits.
Starry Night Sweets
Looking for a quick, easy, and not-too-sweet treat? One the kids can get their hands on, too?
Grab your star-shaped cookie cutters and get out your cookie sheet. You and the kids can make these wafer-thin desserts in 5 minutes.Here's what else you'll need:
Here's what you do:
- 1 package of Wonton Wrappers (usually found in the supermarket produce case near the bean sprouts)
- A Cutting Board
- Cooking Spray
- 1 Tbs Butter, melted
- A Pastry Brush
- Some Powdered Sugar
- Some "Gold Sugar" Cupcake Gems Sprinkles
- Some Shredded Coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees;
- Cut through stacks of 5 wonton wrappers with each of your various sized cookie cutter stars;
- Separate the star-shaped wrappers;
- Lightly coat your cookie sheet with cooking spray;
- Set the stars onto the cookie sheet and brush their tops with a little butter;
- Sprinkle some stars with the powdered sugar, some with the gold sugar, and some with the shredded coconut;
- Place in oven and bake about 3 minutes, watching carefully, and removing them as they puff and the edges turn golden brown;
- Serve on a blue or a holiday plate.
Enjoy a star-filled night even when the skies are overcast!
My Kind of Black and Tan
If you like a robust brew chances are you’re a lager fan. If you haven’t tried one and are of legal drinking age, ‘tis the season! December 10th is National Lager Day, and many beer manufacturers have made it easy for you to celebrate the day with their special Christmas and winter brews. My favorite is always Harp, which the Guinness brand includes in its Irish Beer 18-packs along with their famous stout and Smithwick’s Ale. The package is perfect for making and enjoying a good black and tan
as pictured here.
Lagers are fermented at low temperatures, and the pale variety is the most commercially available type of beer. Bock (which can really knock your socks off,) and pilsners are types of lagers. The Gothic word “ligrs” is the base for the word lager, and means “place of lying down,” which is especially apropos for the high-alcohol-content bock beer served during lent in many German towns and cities.
I prefer lager to ale because ales tend to be fruitier, where lagers are crisper and taste cleaner. And when I use beer in cooking, like when I soak some brats or make a good beer and cheddar soup, lager works best because it doesn’t have that fruity flavor.
Samuel Adams makes a Winter Lager that is tastier than most mass-produced ones, and is widely available even in most supermarkets. Fat Tire’s American Amber Red Lager can make for a “hoppy” Christmas, too. Connoisseurs may be more interested in some of the lesser-known brands that get good reviews like Massachusetts based Fisherman’s Winter Lager, Michigan’s Kuhnhenn Winter Wonder Lager, or California’s Moylan’s White Christmas Lager.
Sometimes you just want to chill with a brew, but if you’d like to pair your lager with a meal, here are a few suggested dishes:
French Dip Sandwiches
Rib Eye Steak
Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Find recipes for all of these dishes, and many more, in Easy Weekly Meals
touchscreen cookbooks, starting at $5.99. They are all quick and easy to make and delicious, too.
If you’d like to use beer in a recipe, try the Drunken Salmon Recipe in Easy Weekly Meals for College Students
, or make my easy Cheddar and Lager Soup, below. Hoppy Holidays Cheddar and Lager Soup Ingredients
· 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· 1 Sweet Onion, chopped
· 48 oz Lager (12 bottles)
· 20 oz Chicken Stock
· 2 Tbs Butter
· 2 Tbs Flour
· 16 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese Preparation
· Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they become soft and sticky, and turn tan around the edges.
· Add lager and broth to Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Then pour onion and liquid into a heatproof mixing bowl and set aside.
· Melt butter until it foams in Dutch oven and whisk flour into it. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking continually to form a roux.
· Gradually add lager and chicken stock to roux, whisking continually to prevent lumps from forming.
· Add onions and bring to a boil while continuing to stir, and then immediately reduce heat to simmer. Continue to stir over heat for about 5 minutes, allowing liquid to thicken.
· Gradually fold in shredded cheese.
· Once the cheese has melted and the soup has reached your desired thickness, serve it hot with crusty bread and a crunchy salad.
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Whichever way you choose to use your lager, have a happy and satisfying National Lager Day, the Easy way.
Black and Tan Photo Courtesy of Aleheads.com
Irish Beer Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
Edible Christmas Tree From EWM Complete Christmas Cooking
Put a Cotton Candy Machine Under the Tree
What do grapes and Christmas have to do with cotton candy? The circus is not in town, and mid-December seems an odd time to celebrate cotton candy, but National Cotton Candy Day is December 7th, and an investigation of the treat reveals that some cotton candy items would make good Christmas gifts, stocking stuffers, or holiday fare.
The sweet has its origins in 15th century Italy, where its precursor, spun sugar, was made from melted sugar strands that were shaped into decorative forms. Since sugar was an expensive luxury in those days these creations tended to treat the elite.
But that changed in the early 20th century. Spun sugar as we know it was first called Fairy Floss. An 1899 patent for the first electric cotton candy machine was awarded to William Morrison and John C. Wharton. The machine melted sugar and spun it through small holes using centrifugal force. I love it when science advances flavor! The product was popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Its inventors sold almost 69,000 boxes of it there. Their gross earnings from those sales amounted to about $400,000.00 in today’s dollars.
Ringling Brothers used Thomas Patton’s product. He obtained his own patent in 1900 for the process of making spun sugar. The name was changed to Cotton Candy in the 1920’s and it has been associated with the circus ever since. But when the circus is not in town packaged cotton candy can be found in some specialty candy shops and online
. Red colored ones would make fun additons to kids’ holiday parties or gift bags.
Cotton Candy Flavored Lip Gloss
If you can’t find the real deal, you may want to consider making your own fresh cotton candy. Waring makes a reliable machine that sells for about $50.00. Target
sells several brands, too, which start around $30.00 that could make a nice family gift from Santa.
But if you just like the taste of cotton candy and you aren’t tied to a particular delivery of it, all kinds of fun foods come in a cotton candy flavor.
Both Coldstone Creamery and Baskin Robbins sell a Cotton Candy ice cream. Put a gift certificate to one or both of these stores in your kids’ stockings. Or top a holiday cake using one of the many ice cream brands with a cotton candy flavor available in your supermarket freezer case.
Gigi’s Cupcakes sells a cotton candy one. If you don’t have a Gigi’s nearby you can make your own at home easily enough and serve them for a tasty holiday treat. Try icing them with green, white, and red frosting to add a seasonal touch. Both Duncan Hines and William Sonoma make a cotton candy cupcake mix. And Betty Crocker sells a cotton candy cookie mix. Even Yoplait sells a cotton candy flavored yogurt.
Why stop with food? The flavor isn’t limited to edible products. Bath & Body Works
sells a cotton candy lipgloss which makes a nice stocking stuffer for tween and teen girls.
Future cotton candy flavored products include Magic Milk Straws
, which has one slated for a 2014 release, and even seedless grapes
have a cotton candy flavored varietal in the works, so next year you can make your Easy Weekly Meals Edible Christmas Tree
, from our Complete Christmas Cooking Book, taste like cotton candy, or perhaps toast your Christmas guests with a cotton candy flavored wine.
Food Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
Cotton Candy Machine Courtesy of Target.com
Lipgloss Photo Courtesy of Bath and Body Works
5 Easy Pieces Includes a Palm Peeler by ChefN
What do short order cooks and moms have in common? Both need to get delicious food on the table in a hurry. And some moms take individual orders from each family member to make sure everyone is happy. That’s okay for some people and I never minded doing that for breakfast or lunch. But dinnertime can be dicey as so many of us need to work healthy meals into busy schedules. Especially during holiday time. I took my mother’s advice early on and made a “no-exceptions” rule for dinners. We all ate the same meal. My kids had to expand their culinary horizons or be hungry. They usually gave in and ate those yucky green beans or mushrooms. But it also made my life easier and made it possible for me to serve a healthy meal and get the kids to their activities on time. Rich Gravy Made With Fat Separator
Along the way I’ve found some fun kitchen tools that have shortened my prep time. I call them my 5 Easy Pieces. I’ve also learned some time saving techniques to help get the food on the table. Let’s start with the tools. These five make my life easier.
A fat separator does just what it says. It separates the fat from the good meat juices and makes turning cooking liquids into sauces and gravies easy. Fat separators look like measuring cups with long snouts. The cook pours used braising liquids, juices from roasted meats, or even marinades into the cup and the fat almost immediately rises to the top. The long, angled snout keeps the fat in the cup as the cook pours the liquid out. When using this tool with marinades that have held meat or fish, it’s important to cook the resulting liquid to kill any harmful bacteria. Find them at Target, in the supermarket aisle with the cooking tools, or at any cooking products store. EWM Eastern Cabbage Vegetables Sliced With Mandoline
Seed, Peel, and Slice an Avocado in 30 Seconds
quickly slices foods into uniform sizes. It can be used to julienne vegetables or cut them into thin, chip-worthy slices, and can even crinkle cut veggies. The chef runs a firm vegetable or fruit along an inclined plane into a blade. The plane is adjustable, and the blades can be changed for different thicknesses and shapes. Fantes makes sturdy mandolines.
Get a grip! with a palm peeler
. I used to hate peeling vegetables. The process seemed endless and the vegetables always slipped out of my hands or the blades slipped off of the vegetables and nicked my hands. Especially potatoes, and the smaller the potato, the more slippery both it and the peeler seemed. A palm peeler calms down the process. The plastic device fits into the palm of your hand and is secured there by a ring on the backside that fits over your ring finger. The construction stabilizes the scraping and peeling process, which speeds it up and makes it safer than using traditional peelers. ChefN
makes one that sells for about $7.00.
Like spatulas, spoonulas
come in lots of sizes to fit many purposes. They are a hybrid of a spoon and a spatula essentially giving you flexible spoons. Spoonulas’ bendability make scraping batter bowls and pan corners easier. Find them at cooking stores, T J Maxx, and Target.
I use kitchen shears
so often they almost made my 5-Iron List
of the 15 tools you need to make any dish. They are not essential, but sure make food prep easier. I bought a Cutco brand pair since I have been cornered into several Cutco presentations made by eager college students earning tuition. A kitchen shears is a heavy-duty pair of scissors for food. I highly recommend spending the money on a substantial one because the stronger the shears, the more you can do with them. In the Cutco demo, the kids actually cut the rim off a penny. I haven’t yet had the need to perform that task, but I have found my shears to be handy for disjointing chicken and they can even cut through bones. A good kitchen shears will also perform delicate tasks. I like to snip scallions and herbs like chives and rosemary that can be tedious to chop.
5 Easy Procedures Christmas Tree Quesadillas From Complete Christmas Cooking
Sometimes I don’t bother with my chopping and slicing gadgets because I’ve got my good chef’s knife out and I know lots of quick techniques. For those who want to stick to the 5-Iron list and its companion additions
, or are happy using a chef’s knife to perform chopping, mincing, and slicing tasks, check my website
for the quickest ways to: seed, peel, and slice an Avocado; core and slice a bell pepper; core an apple; chop an onion; peel, seed, and cut a cucumber, and more.
Any or all of these items make great hostess gifts or stocking stuffers for the chefs in your life, too. And if you need some quick and easy one-dish Christmas season meals for before, during, and after Christmas, pick up a copy of Complete Christmas Cooking
for only $3.99.
Enjoy your speedy cooking this month and all year long!
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
Study Group Spaghetti For Finals Week
It’s the week before finals. The pressure is on. Papers are due and exams are scheduled. But holiday events call out like siren’s songs. So much to do. So little time. And still, we have to eat.
This time of year can find us looking for holiday recipes for classroom parties, Christmas events and dinners. Parents of minor children balance school-related responsibilities and events. College kids are cramming for finals. Empty nesters with vibrant lives and those who have slowed their pace a bit have full dance cards for the season. Serving balanced meals can be challenging during December.
Make it easy to eat well without missing out on decking the halls, caroling, studying, and gathering with friends and loved ones to share the holiday spirit. Use one-dish meals like chili, stroganoff, goulash, pastas, and stir fries that are quick to make and fill all of your nutritional needs. And be sure to make double portions to reheat later in the week. If you take time to make some spaghetti and meatballs, tweak the leftover noodles into a frittata and the meatballs into taco meat later in the week.
When you’re short on recipes and time, find the answer in the palm of your hands. Whether you’re a college student, young adult or responsible for family meals, you can access an entire finals week of 5-minute meals or a month full of quick and easy meals for busy times in Easy Weekly Meals cookbooks. And our Christmas book covers all Christmas holiday occasions.
Check out these two companion recipes from Easy Weekly Meals for College Students
It’s just two of the seven 5-minute meals
featured in that week’s menu plan. Quick Burger with Avocado Ingredients
· 1.5 lbs Ground Chuck
· Salt* and Ground Black Pepper to taste
· 4 tsp Garlic Powder
· 2 tsp Onion Powder
· 1 tsp Ground Thyme
· 2 tsp Ground Oregano
· 1 tsp Ground Rosemary
· 4 Hamburger Buns
· ½ small Sweet Onion, sliced into thin rings
· Condiments you like (ketchup, mustard, mayo)
· 2 Avocados, peeled, seeded, and sliced into crescent-shaped wedges Preparation
· Divide meat into 6 equal parts. Form each of these into a very flat patty, no more than ½” thick.
· Sprinkle all 6 patties with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, and rosemary.
· Heat pan over medium heat. Add patties when hot.
· Cook for about 5 minutes, until the browning of the meat creeps up the sides and only the tops are red.
· Flip burgers, and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. When blood breaks on the top and the juices run clear, burgers are done.
· Remove final 2 patties with chili powder and cumin to storage in the refrigerator for use later in the week.
· Place 4 of the burgers onto buns and top with onion slices and condiments.
· Serve with avocado slices.
· Refrigerate remaining 2 burgers for use in Study Group Spaghetti later in the week. Study Group Spaghetti with Simple Salad Ingredients
· 1 lb Thin Spaghetti Noodles
· 8 C Water
· 16 oz store-bought jar Spaghetti Sauce of your choice
· 2 leftover Hamburgers, crumbled
· 1 head Romaine Lettuce, chopped
· 1 vine-ripened Tomato, cored and cut into 8 wedges
· 2 Scallions, chopped
· Salad Dressing of choice
· 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· 4 oz Parmesan Cheese, shredded
· 4 Ciabatta Rolls (optional) Preparation
· Fill Dutch oven with water. Place it over high heat and bring water to a boil.
· Break spaghetti noodles in half and stir into boiling water with pasta rake. Reduce heat to medium and cook noodles 8-10 minutes, until al dente.
· While noodles cook, pour spaghetti sauce into mixing bowl. Stir in crumbled meat and heat in microwave until warmed through.
· Combine lettuce, tomato and scallion in salad bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss with tongs to coat.
· Strain cooked noodles into colander. Pour them into large serving bowl. Pour oil over pasta and work through noodles with pasta rake.
· Pour meat sauce over pasta and work through noodles with pasta rake.
· Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pasta and serve hot with salad (and rolls).
If you like these recipes, and would like to have an entire year full of them in the palm of your hand, download the Easy Weekly Meals touchscreen cookbook
that best fits your lifestyle. You’ll have your weekly grocery lists, menu plans and recipes in your phone or tablet for easy access anywhere you go.
Good luck on your finals to all of the students out there, and eat well the easy way all through the Christmas season.
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
Box of Old Photos
Scratching my head didn’t help me to remember what lay inside in the dusty, corrugated box, two feet deep, wide, and tall. It was dark with age and taking up too much space on my closet shelf. But based upon its look it must have been inherited from a storage area in my childhood home.
I pulled the box toward me. It was heavy. And I could tell by the solid nature of its construction, it was old. Made to last like a white 1950 Frigidaire. One more yank freed it from the shelf, but the box and I thudded to the ground. My bones were rattled by the impact, but the box remained intact like the cold-war era relic it surely was.
The smell of old book pages filled the air when the box flaps were pulled apart. I looked down and found my past. Family and ancestral faces printed on thick paper in black and white, sepia, and even tin-tone were strewn about the container. On top of the heap my mom smiled up at me. She stood on the church steps in her wedding suit with my dad’s arms happily circling her waist.
I started picking through the pictures, resurrecting memories along with the photos.
Some brought a smile to my lips and others a tear to my eye. I looked at seemingly endless baptisms, Easter bonnets, journeys I’d made as a child, and others I’d not yet been born to take. Each picture I pulled from the box took me to a familiar spot. I could almost feel the cool water of my cousins’ swimming pool and Lake Delavan’s sand between my toes. My brother Bill beamed from his spot upon the iconic ivy-covered, red brick wall back-stopping Wrigley Field’s home plate. A smiling young Ernie Banks stood behind him, one hand on Bill's shoulder. I could almost hear "Mr. Cub" say, “Let’s play two today!”
I laid that one aside and suddenly, there she was! Her lips were pursed in a poker face, but the hint of an upward curl twitched at the corners of her mouth. My Nana Walsh held her cards close to her chest as she looked at the camera. A large print of the Bleeding Heart in its gilded frame hung conspicuously on the small living room’s main wall and mismatched, post-war furnishings were pushed aside to accommodate card tables set up for the day’s amusement. And all of a sudden I was there too, sitting in the black and white memory of an early 1960’s Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving dinner was the biggest and best meal of my year. The house teamed with relatives and yummy aromas. Adults visited over highballs and martinis while cigarette smoke made white swirls in the air. Nana’s biscuits were in the oven, the turkey rested on the cutting board, and my mom stirred the thickening gravy. Meanwhile, we wrapped up our game of hearts. In my 7-year old innocence I proudly laid down the king of spades. Nana clapped her hands and pronounced, “Here comes the black beauty!” as she played the 13-point queen. I took the trick and lost the pot. But I didn’t have time to pout because we were summoned ten steps over to the dining room for our feast.
The table overflowed with food. Relishes, olives, carrot and celery sticks, and pickled pearl onions (ew!) were peppered among the main dishes. Mashed potatoes, candied yams, turkey stuffing, and hot buttered biscuits threatened to jump the confinement of their bowls. Cranberry sauce and Jell-O filled with mandarin oranges and tiny marshmallows brought pops of color to the table. And at its center sat the pièce résistance: a platter of sliced turkey and a boat filled with thick and rich giblet gravy made from a broth that had simmered on the stovetop all day.
We filled my mom’s good china plates, passing the dishes family style, and waited for my dad to give his annual blessing. And then the big moment came when we raised our glasses full of Cold Duck
—mine a cordial glass with a one-sip capacity—and toasted the chef.
Nana’s homemade pies made a grand finale. Always pumpkin with fresh whipped cream, and baked apple bearing a lattice work crust topped by a fancy, dough-made “W.” The adults took theirs with coffee.
The table was cleared, and the women and girls hand-washed and dried the dishes. That gender assignment would be overthrown in the following decade, but was completed without a thought in those days. And then the stories began. We learned of our heritage, of how each morning my prim and proper grandmother rode horses bareback to their assigned spots before the carts of her father’s pre-trucking cartage business on Chicago’s west side. And about how that father escaped prison and a sentence to death by firing squad for working toward Irish independence in County Cork on the old sod.
Age determined whether one sipped crème de menthe or soda. Bowls of mixed nuts disappeared as metal nutcrackers snapped their shells open. And then small groups of sated relatives found hats and coats and headed home bringing an end to the simple pleasures conversation and community contribute to a holiday.
What are your fondest Thanksgiving memories? Be sure to pass them down to the younger members of your family, and make sure to remember all of the little things. The smallest details can so often have lasting impact.
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
When you celebrate your day of thanks on Thursday, what things will you give thanks for? Loved ones, happy times, and the roof over my head are obvious ones for me. But since food is always on my mind I started thinking about food organizations I’ve encountered throughout this year that deserve thanks, too. Here are five food organizations that I’m thankful for. Da Via
One of my job perqs is getting invited to restaurant and food store openings. Since I love to try new flavors and food combinations, I am truly thankful for these opportunities. My favorite restaurant opening this year was our local Da Via’s
. It’s a fast, casual eatery carrying Italian street food that is customized for you and prepared before your eyes as you walk through their line making your selections. Along with a variety of Pasta Bowls and Tossed Salads, Da Via’s specialty is the Piada, a flatbread stuffed with market fresh ingredients and homemade sauces that has been prepared since the time of Romans. Everything I’ve eaten there is tasty, and based upon that fact alone I would patronize their restaurant when I’m in the area.
But what I liked best about it, and the reason I’ll drive out of my way to eat at Da Via, is that they planned their opening in collaboration with a charitable organization. Its representatives were front and center, and their cause is a good one: helping food insecure families with young children to eat enough nutritious food. Cooking Matters
That’s my motto, and the name of a wonderful charitable organization that empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. With the help of volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, course participants learn how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families. Since 1993, Cooking Matters has grown to serve more than 11,000 families each year across the country, helping them learn how to eat better on a budget. They don’t feed the community—they teach the community to feed itself.
I met my local Cooking Matters representatives at the Da Via opening and was so touched by our conversation that I just had to write about them. Talking about the people she’s had the opportunity to educate, Karen Kierath told me, “It’s not about what they know, it’s about what they’re willing to take from us and we’re grateful for whatever they can or will take.” Her partner in this endeavor, Marcia Rafig, said, “We get to see those ah-ha moments.”
Would you like to see an ah-ha moment? I guarantee it will make your year. Contact your local Cooking Matters
office to feel the joy of cooking that truly matters. Moo Cluck Moo
If you’ve heard of Detroit-area Moo Cluck Moo you’re probably wondering why I would be thankful for a fast-food restaurant specializing in burgers, fries, and breaded chicken—all the sinful pleasures I harp about avoiding. One reason is that I openly admit
to occasionally treating myself to things I know I shouldn’t eat. Another is that they do carry “skinny” versions of their offerings. But the main reason Moo Cluck Moo makes my list is that they sync with my old-fashioned belief from what I call “the Golden Years of Human Resource Management” that paying workers a livable wage is not only the right thing to do on a societal level, it’s the right thing to do on a business level. Making people feel that you care makes them care about you and the success of your business. I’m clucking loudly about a fast-food restaurant that pays its workers $15/hour.
And if that isn’t enough to put you in their cheering section, Moo Cluck Moo
is donating a portion of their proceeds to the American Diabetes Association during the month of November. Simply 7
Snack foods with healthy ingredients can be hard to find. So I was thrilled to learn about Simply 7 Snacks. The company makes products that meet these seven healthy criteria:
· 0 Grams of Trans Fat and No Cholesterol
· No Artificial Colors or Flavors
· No Additives or Preservatives
· Gluten Free Ingredients
· All Natural Recipes
· Simple Ingredients, and
The snack chips come in many flavors including varieties of pomegranate, hummus, and lentil. They are healthy, and they taste good! You can find them
in time to serve for Thanksgiving nibbles at many local supermarkets and specialty food stores. Costco
How do I love Costco? Let me count the ways. They carry high quality, delicious food products so I can find the perfect items there to meet just about any culinary need. I graze on free samples while I shop, and their stores are staffed with employees who like to help customers! That in itself is a refreshing change from my all-too-often experience of feeling that I am putting retail shop employees out by asking them to sell me something.
On another level I love Costco because they do all of the things I learned were important and sound business practices way back in my masters degree program. They pay their employees well. They train their employees to provide good customer service. They give back to the community. They provide health benefits
to both full and part-time staff, stock purchase plans, and a 401K that matches 50 cents on the dollar. And it shows! I’ve seen the same employees and customers there over the several years Costco stores have been in my local area. Their people are happy and friendly, and they make me happy to shop there, too. Well played, Costco.
Thanks to my five favorite food organizations for making my food experiences pleasant in 2013. And thank you to my readers for taking the time to read my posts
and make a comment now and then.
Photo Courtesy of rakratchada torsap / Free Digital Photos
Nutty Chicken and Rice Curry
Cashews are classy. They are rich in flavor and texture. They make a wonderful stand-alone snack, bring elegance to mixed nuts, and add a healthy protein and delicious nutty flavor to savory dishes. Vegetarian Pistachio Chili
Some supermarkets and specialty food stores sell cashew butter, which they grind fresh to order. It makes a wonderful alternative spread to peanut and almond butters. And lots of restaurants add cashews to salads for a regal touch.
If their great taste isn’t enough, cashews are loaded with nutrition, too. Most of their fat content is oleic acid, which is the same type found in olive oil and considered to be heart-healthy since it is monounsaturated. These nuts are rich in antioxidant copper, which boosts energy and protects bones and blood vessels. Some studies show that regular consumption of cashews may even reduce the risk of gallstones and lower the possibility of weight gain.
As you may have guessed, I’m writing about cashews because November 22nd is National Cashew Day. When “boning up” on my subject by creating and eating some dishes containing these nuts, I learned that they are seeds from the bottom of the cashew apple, which comes from cashew trees native to Brazil. They must be shelled, because their shells carry a toxic resin. This explained why I’d never found them in the bags of mixed, uncracked nuts I like to put out on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I love to eat cashews in crisp and crunchy green salads with some mango vinaigrette dressing. But I also use the nuts in a few savory dishes like the Pistachio Chili recipe I shared in a previous post, (find it here
,) and a roast chicken dish with some dried fruits, almonds, and cashews that will appear in a future article.
For a few years I’ve toyed around with a yummy recipe I call Nutty Chicken and Rice Curry. Cashews and a few interesting spices make it a stand out dish for National Cashew Day, and can be reheated for use later in the week. You can receive this recipe here
Enjoy cashews any “nutty” way you choose on National Cashew Day.
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals
Get Ready For 2nd Annual Cupcake Games
"Rudolph, Gold Rush, and Rose" in Most Gorgeous Category
The second annual Cupcake Games
is scheduled for Thanksgiving evening, November 28th. We've begun our shopping here at Easy Weekly Meals, and are amassing an arsenal of cake and frosting flavors, and loads of different types of cake decorations for the event. Cupcake shapes will be varied, using minis, fill-ables, crimped-sided, and plain. The materials have all the makings for some beautiful, creative, and delicious cupcakes!
Competition categories include:
- Most Beautiful
- Most Creative
- Most Delicious
- Most Ingenious
And prizes will be awarded to the winner of each category.
As they did last year, contest participants will rush to claim their desired ingredients after the opening bell rings, and will have 1 hour to complete as many cupcake entries as they choose. When the closing bell rings the panel of judges will select one winning cupcake in each category.
Let the Games Begin on November 28th, and to this year's entrants we say: May your chosen ingredients be ever in your favor!
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals