Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The lean protein that can help save you from the holiday spread in 2010

(ARA) - If feasting on holiday spreads has left your waistline experiencing some spreading of its own, you may feel more committed than ever to keeping that New Year's resolution to live a healthier lifestyle. And you're probably looking for ways to make it as easy as possible.

You're not alone in wanting to do something for your health. More than half of Los Angeleans - generally perceived to be some of the healthiest people in America - want to lose between 10 and 50 pounds in 2010, according to a recent survey by Kelton Research, conducted on behalf of Jennie-O Turkey Store. Making changes that are good for your health seems to be on everyone's mind.

The turn of a new year is a great time to make some good-for-you changes like exercising more, getting better sleep and managing stress. It's actually simple - although not always easy - to keep your positive resolutions. Here's some practical advice:

When it comes to exercise, be sure to set realistic goals for yourself and remember that even the smallest incremental step is an improvement. For example, don't require yourself to begin jogging five miles every morning right away, especially if you've been pretty sedentary until now. Instead, start out with simple steps like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the far end of the lot, and spending at least 10 minutes of your lunch hour taking a brisk walk instead of surfing the Internet.

Commit to getting better sleep by giving up just one half hour of television a night. Instead of staying up for late shows, hit the sack 30 minutes earlier and you'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel in a short time. Realize that managing stress is also an important part of your overall health goals. Explore techniques that have proven to work for others - from yoga to running to reading - and find what's right for you. Engage in some stress-relieving activity every day, even if it's something as simple as walking your dog or playing with the cat.

But without improving your diet as well, any resolution to improve your health will fall short of success. When it comes to eating better, replacing higher fat meats like beef with lean protein like turkey is an easy, flavorful way to improve your diet without making yourself feel deprived. "Ground turkey is especially versatile and, with a few simple tweaks, can replace higher fat ground beef in virtually any recipe," notes Devin Alexander, host of Discovery Health's program "Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander," and author of "The Biggest Loser Cookbook." "Turkey is a lean protein that easily replaces beef to create fulfilling, full flavor dishes. Adding turkey to your diet can help you reduce fat without feeling like you're giving anything up. You can still have that burger with all the fixins - just make it a turkey burger!"

For those watching what they eat, turkey is a satisfying, lighter dish. In fact, 40 percent of those polled in the Kelton survey say turkey is a lean meat that has helped them with their weight-loss efforts. Advantages of cooking with ground turkey include:

* Turkey is naturally leaner than beef while still packing in the protein.
* The delicate flavor of turkey will not overpower any dish you use it in.
* Turkey can be a more satisfying alternative than non-meat protein substitutes like tofu.
* In many cases, turkey products cost less than other proteins.

Jennie-O Turkey Store has partnered with Chef Alexander to share special, signature recipes that help you create lean, healthy meals that are full of flavor. These nutritious recipes are part of Jennie-O Turkey Store's "30 Days/30 Ways" program, which offers hundreds of recipes with turkey that will help improve your diet.

Here is a sample of one of the "30 Days/30 Ways" turkey recipes you'll find on

Turkey Enchilada Soup


Olive oil spray
1 package (20 ounces) Jennie-O extra lean ground turkey breast
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon salt-free Mexican or Southwest seasoning
1-1/4 cups uncooked instant brown rice
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (no more than 100 mg sodium per cup)
2 cups mild red enchilada sauce
14-1/2 ounce can, no salt-added, diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chipotle queso (all-natural, if possible; salsa con queso will work as a second option)
1-1/2 cups rinsed and drained, 50 percent less-sodium black beans
6 lime wedges, divided
6 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
24 baked tortilla chips, divided

Place a large nonstick soup pot over medium-high heat. Lightly mist the pot with olive oil spray and add the turkey, onion and garlic. Sprinkle the Mexican seasoning over the turkey mixture, then cook the mixture, breaking the turkey into large chunks as it cooks, until no longer pink, about five to seven minutes. Add the rice, broth, enchilada sauce, and tomatoes. Turn the heat to high, cover the soup and bring it to a boil. When the soup reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer it for 20 minutes, or until the rice is completely cooked.

Stir in the cheese sauce. Continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered, or until the soup begins to thicken slightly. Stir in the black beans and continue cooking until they are just warmed through.

Divide the soup among six serving bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Squeeze the juice of one lime wedge over each bowl, then top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of the cilantro. Using your hands, break four chips over each bowl of soup. Serve immediately.

Makes six 2-cup servings. Each serving has 340 calories, 31 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, trace amounts of saturated fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 787 mg sodium.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Be party smart - simple rules to avoid calories

(ARA) - With the abundance of parties this time of year - from the holidays to Mardi Gras - it can be easy to over-indulge and see the result in your waistline. Even so, it's possible to enjoy party favorites with the right approach.

Mitzi Dulan, registered dietician, author and nutritionist for NFL and Major League Baseball teams, offers a party game plan everyone can follow that emphasizes moderation, avoiding hunger extremes and eating real foods like avocado, shrimp and all-natural honey.

"Some people think they cannot enjoy the food at parties and maintain their figure," Dulan says. "This isn't true. I encourage people to eat the foods they love, but do so in moderation. It is easy to over-eat at parties, which is why I created this guide to avoid extra calories."

Mitzi Dulan's party game plan includes obeying five simple rules:

1. Portions, portions, portions: The No. 1 rule of the party game plan is one of the easiest steps, yet most often violated. Eat foods in smaller amounts. It's when you go back for seconds and thirds that the pounds accumulate. The first bites are always the tastiest anyway.

2. Avoid the chemistry test: Xanthan Gum. Sodium Alginate. Erythorbic Acid. What may seem like questions on an annoying high school science quiz are actual ingredients found in party dips, marinades and appetizers. Stick to foods with short ingredient lists like chicken, vegetables and cheese.

3. Drink in moderation: Alcoholic beverages are full of empty calories. If you drink, stick to light beers and avoid sugary beverages like margaritas.

4. Bring an appetizer: Hosts and hostesses will not mind - some may even find it helpful - if you bring your own appetizer. This will ensure there are smart alternatives at the party. Dulan has designed several recipes with this idea in mind including Honey Guacamole and Honey Glazed Shrimp.

5. Steer clear of extremes: Don't come to a party ravenous or leave stuffed; stay somewhere in the middle. Have a snack or appetizer before the party, like a Chicken Lettuce Wrap, to curb hunger. At the party, stop eating before you feel full or sick. Eat until satisfied, regardless of how much food is left on your plate.

The following recipes, created by Dulan for the National Honey Board, are all designed with the party game plan in mind. For more recipes, visit

Honey Guacamole
Makes eight servings

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Sea salt
Mash avocados. Stir in lemon juice, honey and cilantro. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately with multigrain tortilla chips.

Nutrition facts: 80 calories, one gram of protein, six grams of carbohydrates, seven grams of fat.

Honey Glazed Shrimp
Makes eight servings

2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

Mix together soy sauce, honey and lemon juice in a small bowl. Brush shrimp with half of the glaze and set aside remaining glaze. Grill shrimp over medium-high heat for about three minutes on each side or until pink. Remove from grill and baste with remaining glaze.

Nutrition facts: 168 calories, 23 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of fat.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Makes 12 servings

1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup sliced almonds
12 leaves of Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry. Add 2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet over medium heat, then sautee the chicken until cooked thoroughly, about seven to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and honey until thoroughly mixed. Add chicken, carrots and almonds. To serve, allow guests to scoop chicken mixture onto a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito.

Nutrition facts: 120 calories, 16 grams of protein, five grams of carbohydrates, four grams of fat.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Healthy Cooking Made Easy

(NAPSI)-Eating healthy doesn't have to be bland or boring.

To add fun and nutrition to your plate, just brush up on some simple French such as "en papillote," a method of cooking where food is wrapped in a packet made from parchment paper. Because you're cooking right on the parchment paper, there is no need to add any extra grease. En papillote allows food to steam in its own juices, capturing flavor and nutrients. Plus, cleanup is a breeze.

Surprisingly simple, en papillote is an easy way to keep fish from drying out and vegetables perfectly cooked. What's more, you can serve the parchment packets right out of the oven for an elegant and aromatic table presentation.

Try this easy, delicious salmon recipe and visit for more recipes and step-by-step instructions for en papillote cooking.

Salmon en Papillote

Serves 4

Reynolds Parchment Paper

1 tsp. tarragon leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

½ tsp. seasoned salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 pound fresh asparagus

4 salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each)

4 lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix tarragon, garlic, lemon peel, seasoned salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Tear off four 15-inch sheets of Reynolds Parchment Paper. Fold each sheet in half and crease it in the center. Unfold.

Place ¼ of asparagus evenly on ½ of each sheet near crease. Place salmon fillet on top of asparagus. Spread each fillet with ¼ of herb mixture. Top each fillet with a lemon slice. Drizzle ¼ tsp. olive oil over fish, if desired, for more intense flavor.

Fold over other half of sheet to enclose ingredients. Starting at top corner, make small overlapping folds down entire length of packet to seal edges together. Twist the last fold several times to make a tight seal. Repeat to make 4 packets. Place parchment packets on a large cookie sheet.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Place packets on plates. Carefully cut an X in top of each packet to allow steam to escape. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Clementines from Spain, Winter's Sweetest Citrus, Arrive in Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Juicy. Easy to peel. Bursting with flavor. Clementines from Spain, winter's seasonal delight and popular fruit snack, have hit the grocery aisles of Atlanta, and local favorite Chef Hector Santiago is sharing the sweetness! Available during their peak season of December through February, these juicy gems play a starring role on the menu of one of Atlanta's most popular restaurants. To celebrate the Clementines from Spain season, Chef Santiago has developed signature dishes that serve up these tasty treats, adding a burst of citrus to his Spanish-influenced cuisine.

The world's best clementines originate in Spain. Known for their superior quality and their trademark sun-kissed sweet, juicy taste, Clementines from Spain are a delicious delight looked forward to and enjoyed by adults, children and chefs, each year. Spain is also the world's largest producer and exporter of this citrus fruit, exporting an average of 579 million tons to the United States each year.

Refreshingly sweet and easy to peel, Clementines from Spain make a great on-the-go snack during this busy time of year. They are nutrient-packed, offering a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium and contain only about 50 calories each. Packaged in charming five-pound crates, they are also a welcome holiday gift for family and friends.

But they're for more than just snacking. Professional chefs and home cooks alike know that they can add a twist of citrus freshness and flavor to their holiday meals and menus by incorporating this season's star ingredient.

Local Atlanta Chef Hector Santiago, owner of Pura Vida, eagerly awaits this time of year when Clementines from Spain - one of his favorite seasonal ingredients - become available. Chef Santiago is an expert when it comes to understanding the freshest flavors and ingredients from Spain. Chef Santiago recently debuted new signature menu items at Pura Vida that capture the season's finest ingredient. "I look forward to this time of year when Clementines from Spain start arriving," says Santiago. "They are a very versatile ingredient, and their crisp citrus essence adds the perfect zesty lift. I use the juice, the zest or even the whole fruit in everything from salads and soups to main dishes and of course, desserts."

Chef Hector Santiago offers the following recipe ideas for home cooks looking to add a citrus note of flair and flavor to their dishes and holiday menus:

-- Clementines from Spain Chipotle Roasted Chicken - An easy recipe to do
at home, this entree plays on the sweet-spicy flavor combinations that
Chef Santiago loves to work with. The Clementines from Spain have the
perfect tenderness and sweet-tart balance that allows for the entire
fruit to be eaten in this dish.
-- Clementines from Spain-Pumpkin Seed Bread - This bread is based on a
classic orange bread but features Clementines from Spain and adds
pumpkin seeds. It is great as a breakfast or brunch bread or with
afternoon tea.

And, at a time when nutritional fresh produce is in demand and the number of people visiting food banks is on the rise, the Trade Commission of Spain is sharing the sweetness of the season and donating crates of Clementines from Spain to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

For the full seasonal recipes featuring Clementines from Spain from Chef Santiago's kitchen at Pura Vida, visit A new "Chef's Corner" section on the site features these recipes along with other Spanish-inspired culinary creations from notable chefs, along with tips and nutrition information.

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Stay Healthy With Brown Rice

(NAPSI)-The next time you're looking for a healthy and affordable ingredient, think rice. Brown rice, more specifically, is a versatile and inexpensive anchor for any meal and provides numerous health advantages to go along with its more flavorful qualities.

In general, all kinds of rice are complex carbohydrates free of trans-fat, sodium and gluten. In addition, brown rice is a 100 percent whole-grain product. Research has shown diets rich in whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. Brown rice also contains plenty of fiber, an important nutritional source and good tool for dieters. Foods rich with fiber are more filling and may decrease the likelihood of overeating.

Health benefits aside, brown rice boasts a variety that is convenient and tastes great. With its nutty flavor and satisfying texture, natural brown rice provides whole-grain goodness any time of the day. Products such as Success Brown Rice let you get the nutritional value of brown rice in 10 minutes, one-fourth the time of the long-cooking variety. It is the original no-measure, no-mess boil-in-bag rice. That feature also eliminates any potential cooking mistakes and it can even stay in the water up to 30 minutes after it cooks and still be excellent.

For those who want to make even more of brown rice, here are a few "stir-in" suggestions:

• Citrus Rice--To hot, cooked brown rice, add grated orange, lemon or lime zest for a fresh lively taste.

• Coconut Rice--While cooking brown rice, substitute light coconut milk for one cup of water. After the rice is done, stir in fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.

• Slightly Mexican--To hot, cooked brown rice, add diced tomatoes, green onions, Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro. Alternatively, instead of tomatoes, try your favorite salsa.

• Portobello Mushroom Rice--To hot, cooked brown rice, add sautéed chopped portobello mushrooms and toasted chopped pecans. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

You can find more tips, nutritional information and brown rice recipes at or (800) 226-9522.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All about broth

(ARA) - Cooler weather, warm coats and the approaching holidays - it's the season when heartier, warmth-building fare arrives on American dinner tables. And heartier fare cries out for the rich flavorful versatility of broth!

Whether you're looking to enhance your holiday fare or simply seeking hearty cuisine to carry your family through the winter months, broth can be your best friend in the kitchen.

"Weeknight family meal or a weekend soiree, the secret to an easy, fantastic meal isn't in the sauce, it's in the pantry - and it's broth," says Chef Michael Chiarello, the culinary genius behind Bottega restaurant in the Napa Valley and an Emmy-winning TV chef who appears on Food Network and Bravo.

Chiarello has teamed with Progresso to create a series of videos on how to use broth to enhance your cooking. "I am a big advocate for using broth to ramp up the flavor and depth of your dishes, but it can't be just any broth. It has to have great flavor," says Chiarello. "Progresso is my choice for rich flavor - the kind of flavor that will take any dish from average to amazing."

Here are some of Chef Chiarello's top tips for how you can use broth to turn ordinary dishes into extraordinary ones:

1. Just baste it.

Who hasn't watched the turkey slowly dry out while waiting for enough natural jus to collect in the bottom of the pan for a reasonable run at basting? Don't wait for the juices to cook out of the meat, begin basting right away with broth. "It's impossible to over-baste," Chiarello says. "Baste chicken, turkey, pork or beef with broth as it roasts and your main dish will come out juicy and delicious every time."

2. New life for leftovers

Refrigerators can steal moisture from the most succulent meal. Before you reheat last night's pasta or casserole, drizzle a little broth over it to rehydrate and add flavor.

3. When you're out of wine

If a pan sauce calls for wine and your pantry happens to be "dry" that day - or you prefer to cook without it - you can easily replace wine with broth. It's the perfect substitute, imparting rich flavor without the cost of wine.

4. Stuffing that won't stop

Stuffing can be just so-so. Using broth to moisten the bread crumbs pushes your stuffing over the edge when you're making your favorite stuffing recipe.

5. Mashed potatoes to the max

Replace milk and butter with broth to boost the flavor of your mashed potatoes - and reduce the calorie count. Cook potatoes in broth, save the broth when you strain the potatoes and add it back in when mashing until you achieve the perfect consistency.

6. Perfect pasta

Cook pasta risotto in chicken broth for a delectable treat. The broth has all the benefits of water as a cooking medium, plus it adds the great flavor of chicken broth to your pasta.

Broth adds flavor and depth to any recipe so it's a great base for soups. Here are two of Chef Chiarello's favorite recipes that rely on broth:

Very green broccoli soup

Prep time: 50 minutes
Start to finish: 50 minutes

Soup ingredients

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
Gray salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
5 cups Progresso chicken broth (from two 32-ounce cartons)
2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup whipping cream or buttermilk (if using buttermilk, use 1 teaspoon lemon peel)
Freshly ground pepper

Gremolata ingredients

1/4 cup Progresso panko crispy bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted


Cut broccoli florets from stems. Peel tough outer skin from stems; trim off fibrous ends. Cut stems into 1/2-inch pieces.

In four-quart Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Stir in onion and celery; season with salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together gremolata ingredients; set aside.
Stir thyme, broccoli stems and broth into soup. Heat to boiling. Cook uncovered over medium heat about three minutes. Stir in broccoli florets; cook about seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is very tender. Stir in spinach and lemon peel (spinach will wilt).

In blender, cover and puree soup in small batches. (At this point, soup can be covered and refrigerated up to one day or frozen up to one month.) Return soup to Dutch oven; reheat over medium-low heat. Stir in cream; season to taste with additional salt and the pepper.

Ladle soup into warm individual soup bowls. Sprinkle one tablespoon gremolata onto each serving. Pass remaining gremolata at table.

Serves eight.

Spinach Arancini
Prep time: Ninety minutes
Start to finish: Three hours

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Progresso reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton), heated
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 24 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Progresso Italian style panko crispy bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable oil for frying

Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. In three-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook about one minute, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook and stir five minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in rice and wine; cook five to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. Add one cup broth; cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed. Add remaining one cup broth; cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed.

Season with pepper. Stir in spinach, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Spread onto cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 90 minutes or until firm. (Mixture can be refrigerated overnight.) On cookie sheet, shape rice mixture into 12-by-8 inch rectangle. Cut into six rows by four rows to make 24 squares. Place one mozzarella cheese cube in center of each square; shape rice around cheese cubes to make balls.

Place flour and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In another bowl, beat egg and water until blended. Coat each ball with flour, then dip into egg mixture and coat with bread crumbs. Place coated balls on unlined cookie sheet; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Line platter or shallow pan with paper towels. In four-quart Dutch oven, heat about two inches of vegetable oil to 350 F. Fry eight balls at a time three to four minutes, turning once, until golden brown. With slotted spoon, remove balls from Dutch oven to towel-lined platter to drain. Serve hot.

For more great broth recipes, a copy of a new recipe book, tips and videos, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baking No-Knead Artisan Bread At Home

(NAPSI)-Artisan bread that is handcrafted in small batches has become a popular purchase at farmer's markets, bakeries and specialty stores.

While a traditional store-bought loaf might have 20 ingredients, bakery artisan bread will start with only the basics, then be customized with the addition of fresh and simple, flavorful ingredients such as cheese, olive oil or herbs. These delicious, crusty loaves can be enjoyed every day, but their distinctive flavor and appearance can also add a special touch when entertaining.

It's easier than you might imagine to make fresh and authentic artisan bread at home. Specialty bread mixes can help you re-create the delicious flavor and distinctive crust of artisan bread but with much less work. For example, Krusteaz Supreme bread mixes, which come in several delectable flavors, don't even require kneading. And you can store the unbaked dough in the refrigerator for up to three days until you have time for rising.

At you can find a step-by-step instructional video that shows you how to make artisan bread, complete with its delicious crust, in five easy steps. The site also offers tips on how to customize your basic bread recipe with simple additions or toppings. For example, you can flavor bread by simply topping with kosher salt or adding chopped herbs to the dough before baking.

Create Your Own

Use Krusteaz's White, Sourdough and Italian Herb mixes to create these specialty breads:

• Rosemary Parmesan Bread: Add ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese to the dry mix; sprinkle finely chopped rosemary on top of the loaf before baking.

• Sun-Dried Tomato Bread: Mix in two tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the dry mix and then bake as directed.

• Decorating the bread can also make it distinctive. Cutting a pretty pattern into the crust is an easy way to impress company, and easy-to-follow directions can be found on the site.

Bread Baking Tips

• To make sure bread rises, be sure to add yeast as directed and measure the temperature of the water used.

• If dough looks uneven or bumpy, simply add water a tablespoon at a time until dough forms into a smooth round ball.

• For a crunchy crust, make sure to remove the bread from the pan to cool.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pears And Cheese: A Tempting Duo

(NAPSI)-Get-togethers large and small can be enhanced in a delicious way when you serve cheese and pears together as an appetizer, dessert or side dish. Pears and cheese have a natural affinity, as the flavor, aroma and characteristics of each enhance the other.

To make a successful match, the secret is to understand the "personality" of your pear. Each pear variety has its own distinct flavor and texture, so you should begin by picking the pears you want to spotlight. Use these suggestions or create your own delectable combinations and let your taste buds be your guide.

• The green Anjou pear is refreshingly sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus. Try it with a soft, mild goat cheese or Brie that won't overpower the mild Anjou flavor.

• Bartlett is a very juicy pear that is exceptionally aromatic with a smooth texture. Try Bartlett pears with a rich mascarpone cheese or with Gouda.

• Partner earthy and honey-sweet Bosc pear slices with aged white cheddar that has a bold, nutty flavor and a pleasant, grainy texture. The spicy-sweet Bosc pear flavor contrasts nicely with the cheese's tangy finish.

• Wow your guests with juicy Comice pears and a strong blue cheese like Stilton. Comice is a sweet dessert pear with a custard-like texture that contrasts nicely with a salty, slightly grainy cheese like Stilton.

• Forelle pears are small with a mild, sweet flavor and a crisp texture even when fully ripe. Port Salut is a semisoft cheese with mild, nutty flavor and a creamy texture--a perfect complement to the pear's juicy flavor and crisp texture.

• Red pears are a thing of beauty, especially when paired with buttery Brie. Red Bartlett is a variety with floral aromas and a supple sweetness and works well with Brie's creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor.

• Fontina cheese paired with bite-size Seckel pears makes for pleasing flavors on the palate. Seckel is a very sweet and juicy pear when ripe. Fontina is a semi-soft cheese with a slightly pungent aroma and a creamy texture.

Find more pairings, recipes and information, including how to tell when a pear is ripe, at

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Adding A Fashionable Touch To At-Home Celebrations

(NAPSI)-Style-savvy hosts are always looking for ways to create chic celebrations for family and friends. This season it's all about bringing the hottest fashion trends and runway looks into your party-planning process. According to celebrity stylist and entertaining expert Robert Verdi, this season is all about the color purple, using layers of accessories, combining a mix of high-end and affordable items, and customizing your look to make sure your own style shines through. Below, Robert and Ecco Domani Wines of Italy share the top five tips for hosting an unforgettable fete.

1. First impressions are crucial when people enter your home, and just like in fashion, making a memorable statement goes a long way! Create a warm and welcoming environment for guests by illuminating your entryway--just place a collection of candles around the space to create a festive but intimate vibe.

2. Just as you would with your wardrobe, take inspiration from one signature piece and build your party around it. For example, pick a signature wine for the evening that not only tastes great but looks great on your table and make it the centerpiece of your chic gathering. Ecco Domani just introduced a Pinot Noir with vibrant blueberry and blackberry aromas that can serve as the perfect accessory for stylish get-togethers. The sleek black, purple and silver bottle will add a fashion-forward accent to your decor.

3. Chic and easy touches add a personal dimension of style to your tabletop without breaking your budget. For example, think outside the box when creating place cards--show your flair for fashion by placing brooches from your favorite local vintage shop on each plate with your guest's name attached. Or, if you want to add a splash of color to your table, try draping a vibrant purple scarf over plain linen for added interest.

4. From the hottest shows on TV to the trendiest looks on the runway, '60s style is back in a big way! Put your own spin on that stylish era by treating guests to a modern version of the classic cocktail party punch bowl. Or try mixing and matching inexpensive glassware to create a statement by using unique vessels that match your theme and add character. A set of mason jars or a collection of handblown artisan glassware will give your guests a unique style from which to sip.

5. To ensure an unforgettable evening, send your guests home in style with a fashionable gift bag. Fill a purple-colored tote with a collection of small candles, a vibrant printed silk scarf and a bottle of the new 2008 Pinot Noir.

For more entertaining and recipe ideas, visit

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't Skip A Beat With The “I Heart” Mango Tart

(NAPSI)-When cooking up a romantic dinner for two, reach for the fruit that is revered as a symbol of love in some countries-the luscious mango. With its intense fruity flavor and aroma, the mango is a perfect partner to help you celebrate with your special someone.

For a sweet yet sultry end to your meal, try Ingrid Hoffmann's "I Heart" Mango Tart, which shines with a flaky crust, fresh mango and a crumbly cinnamon and coconut topping. The tropical flavors will transport you to a paradise for your senses and create a memorable evening for two.

Need more reasons to keep mangos near and dear to your heart? Not only do versatile mangos bring an essence of the tropics to an array of dishes and beverages, but they are available year-round and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of fiber, making them a healthy way to tempt the taste buds anytime of year.

"I Heart" Mango Tart

Makes 6 Servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes

6 frozen 3-inch individual tart shells

3 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and diced

½ cup sugar, divided

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and place tart shells on sheet.

To make the topping: Combine the flour, coconut, cinnamon and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl. Add butter, squeezing mixture together to form a loose ball, then break into small pieces and sprinkle evenly over each tart. Bake until filling is bubbly and topping is golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.

To make the filling: Combine the mangos, ¼ cup sugar, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl; spoon into the tart shells.

Serve with whipped cream and diced mango.

To see a video of Ingrid Hoffmann preparing her "I Heart" Mango Tart, visit For more recipes and instructions on how to select and cut a mango, visit

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Entertaining Made Simple And Delicious With California Avocados

(NAPSI)-Hosting a get-together is a great way to enjoy the warm days of summer with friends and family. When it comes to your menu, be sure to take advantage of the seasonal fruits and vegetables available during the summer--they can add a great fresh flair to your meals.

California avocados are just one of the many fruits that are in season and available now. This locally grown fruit is a perfect addition for relaxed summer meals, as it can add a creamy texture and delectable flavor to a variety of dishes such as grilled meats, salads and sandwiches.

While well-known for their exceptional flavor, California avocados have a nutrient punch. Naturally sodium and cholesterol free, one-fifth of a medium avocado, or about one ounce, has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 beneficial nutrients to the diet. So you can feel good about incorporating this fruit into your meals.

For a simple and fresh summer dish, try this recipe for Couscous with California Avocado, Mango and Shrimp. For other recipes that feature fresh California avocados, visit the California Avocado Commission Web site at

Couscous with California Avocado, Mango and Shrimp

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 48 minutes


24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 Tbsp. seafood grill seasoning

Olive oil, optional

2 cups water

1 (10-oz.) box plain couscous

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

2 ripe, fresh California avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes*

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal

1 cup cooked edamame (shelled soybeans)

2 cups Mango-Lime Dressing (see make-ahead recipe below)


1. Toss shrimp with seasoning. Barbecue or sauté in olive oil for about 3 minutes, turning over once. Remove to plate; set aside.

2. In a 2-quart pan, bring water to a boil. Stir in couscous, oil and salt. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In a bowl, combine avocado and lemon juice; set aside.

4. Remove lid from pan and fluff couscous; cool. Pour couscous into a large mixing bowl. Add avocado, mango, onions and edamame.

5. Pour dressing over salad, as needed. Toss to coat.

6. Serve onto plates and top with cooked shrimp.

Mango-Lime Dressing


1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes

½ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. ground white pepper

¼ tsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh mint leaves

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro leaves


1. In a food processor, add mango, juice, oil, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and cumin. Purée, using the pulse button; set aside.

2. Mix mint and cilantro into dressing immediately before using.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 270; Total Fat 16 g (Sat 2 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 2 g, Mono 11 g); Cholesterol 30 mg; Sodium 560 mg; Total Carbohydrates 25 g; Dietary Fiber 5 g; Protein 9 g

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.

California avocados are just one of the many fruits that are in season and available now.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spicing Up Cold-Weather Gatherings

(NAPSI)-When temperatures drop, you can add some heat to your get-togethers by serving up spicy green pepper jelly. The zesty treat can be spread across sour cream corn bread, dolloped on cheddar cheese biscuits or spooned on top of cream cheese and gourmet crackers. The key is to find taste combinations with enough bite to satisfy guests but that are light enough to not interfere with a meal.

The recipe below is made with fruit pectin to help create a delicious jelly that captures the freshness of green and jalapeño peppers. You can find fruit pectin in original and liquid varieties, sugar and no-sugar-needed varieties and a no-cook freezer variety from the Ball® brand. Try using the products to preserve fresh fruits year-round.

Green Pepper Jelly

Yield: about 6 half-pint jars

7 sweet green peppers

1 jalapeño pepper

1½ cups cider vinegar, 5% acidity, divided

1½ cups apple juice

1 box (13/4 ounces) Ball® Original Fruit Pectin

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups sugar

Green food coloring (optional)

Stem, seed and cut green and jalapeño peppers into ½-inch pieces. Puree half the peppers and ¾ cup vinegar in a food processor or blender. Repeat with remaining peppers and vinegar. Combine puree and apple juice in a large bowl; cover bowl and refrigerate overnight. Strain pureed mixture through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheese cloth. Measure 4 cups strained juice.

Combine 4 cups juice, pectin and salt in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return mixture to a rolling boil.

Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops green food coloring, if desired. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

As a final tip, try preparing the jelly in Ball® 4-ounce jars to give to your guests as take-home party favors.

For more recipes, tips and comments, visit

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

History You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

(NAPSI)-In 1902, America was a rapidly growing and changing nation. It was a time of invention, industrial innovation and accelerated immigration, blending cultures and cuisines. It was also a time when many favorite all--American foods-such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, animal crackers and banana splits--first became popular.

That year also marked the very first time light and dark corn syrups became available in tins. Karo Corn Syrup, founded that year, quickly became a favorite ingredient in desserts, breads, sweet rolls, sauces and fillings.

The syrup, now considered as American as apple pie, is an essential ingredient in a Stars and Stripes Cheesecake or a delicious Cran-Blueberry Pie:

Stars and Stripes Cheesecake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Chill Time: 1 hour

Yield: 15 servings

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

2 tablespoons sugar


3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature

⅓ cup sugar

2 tablespoons Argo or Kingsford's Corn Starch

1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup

3 eggs

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 pound strawberries, halved (about 3 cups)

1 cup heavy or whipping cream, whipped; or whipped topping

Preheat oven to 325ºF. To prepare graham cracker crust: Combine crumbs, butter and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Press into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

To prepare cheesecake: Beat cream cheese, sugar and corn starch in a large bowl with mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in corn syrup, eggs and lemon juice until blended and smooth.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or just until set.

Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled. Arrange blueberries (about 30 to 40) in rows in upper left corner of cheesecake to form a rectangle, spacing rows about ½ inch apart (to leave room for whipped cream).

Arrange halved strawberries on top of remaining portion of cheesecake also in rows about ¾ inch apart, like a flag. Place whipped cream in a plastic bag and snip off the corner of the bag.

Use the bag to pipe whipped cream between the rows of blueberries and strawberries, completing the flag design. Keep refrigerated.

Cran-Blueberry Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes

Yield: 1 pie (8 servings)

1 package (12 ounces) frozen blueberries (about 2½ cups)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

¾ cup sugar

½ cup Karo Light Corn Syrup

¼ cup Argo or Kingsford's Corn Starch

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts


¼ cup powdered sugar

1 to 1½ teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine blueberries, cranberries, sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until cranberry skins begin to pop.

Assemble pie by placing one crust in pie plate. Pour in filling. Top with remaining crust. Flute edges and cut slits in top crust to vent. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Prepare Glaze: Stir powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. Spread over hot crust. Cool pie on wire rack. (Let pie cool completely before cutting, or filling will be runny.)

You will find more recipes and tips at, or call (866) 430-KARO (5276).

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Simple One-Dish Meals Provide Delicious Comfort

(NAPSI)-Recent studies have shown that U.S. consumers have responded to the faltering economy by altering their dining habits, including preparing more meals at home. However, with time at a premium, Americans are turning to the ease and comfort of one-dish meals, such as hearty soups, stews and pasta.

One-dish meals offer busy home cooks the benefits of a traditional meal but require less time for ingredient shopping and food preparation. One-dish meals also offer recipe flexibility. For example, prep time can be shortened by substituting precooked sausage for raw, or using canned or frozen vegetables instead of fresh. The end result will still be a satisfying and nourishing dish the entire family will enjoy.

"Americans are embracing a new style of comfort food with recipes that are hearty and full of wholesome ingredients," said Jones Dairy Farm President Philip Jones, who is also a professionally trained chef. "One-dish meals have widespread appeal because they're easy, fresh-from-scratch dishes that taste like you spent hours in the kitchen."

This modern Italian pasta dish is gluten-free but can also be prepared with whole-wheat spaghetti.

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Sausage

Makes 4 servings

8 ounces brown rice gluten-free spaghetti

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained

½ cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon chopped capers

2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 2 minced anchovy fillets

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 (7 oz.) package Jones All Natural Golden Brown Sausage Links/Patties, sliced or cubed

1 cup (4 oz.) diced fresh mozzarella cheese or quartered ciliegine mozzarella balls

¼ cup julienned fresh basil leaves

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovy paste and pepper flakes; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in sausage; simmer 5 minutes. Drain spaghetti; transfer to 4 shallow bowls. Stir fresh mozzarella cheese into sausage mixture; serve over spaghetti and top with basil.

More delicious one-dish meal recipes are available by visiting

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Buffalo Chex® Mix: Fan Favorite in 2009

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Creative cooks competed against each other in the search to find the next 15-minute Chex® Party Mix family favorite recipe, and enthusiasts across the country have chosen! From Knoxville, Tenn., Monica Flatford’s Buffalo Chex Mix has won the hearts—and tastebuds—of Chex Party Mix fans.

Inspired by her husband's and son’s love for buffalo hot wings, Flatford perfected the winning combination of Chex cereals, spice, celery, and ranch dressing. As a nod to the entire Flatford family, she was sure to add her daughter’s much-loved fish-shaped crackers into the mix.

Thousands of consumers submitted their original 15-minute recipe earlier this year and an expert panel of judges narrowed down the recipes to five flavorful finalists. The public voted online to determine the winner, ultimately crowning Flatford’s Buffalo Chex Mix as America’s Favorite. Flatford received a grand prize of $5,000 cash, a $1,000 grocery gift card and an all-expense paid trip for two to the Betty Crocker® Kitchens for a holiday Mix & Mingle event with Katie Lee, best-selling cookbook author.

“It took quite a few trials, but in the end I knew I had a winner when my family couldn’t stop eating my Buffalo Chex Mix. I’ve made countless batches since—from game-day snacks for players and fans, to Monday night football at home… it is the perfect recipe for any snacking occasion,” says Flatford.

Buffalo Chex® Mix
Prep Time: 15 Minutes

4 cups Rice Chex® cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
2 cups Parmesan-flavored tiny fish-shaped crackers
2 cups pretzel twists
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 teaspoons celery seed

1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, crackers and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in hot sauce and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

2. Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Of the five crunchy snacks competing against each other, this football fan favorite scored big by receiving more votes than the contenders: Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch, Chexicago Party Mix, Deviled Chex Mix and Lemon Rosemary Chex Mix. From sweet to spicy, there is a 15-minute recipe to fit any snacking occasion during the holiday—and football—season. All five finalist recipes are available at

“Chex Party Mix has been a favorite party snack for more than 50 years and creative cooks demonstrated how versatile Chex cereals are when mixing up a snack for hungry friends and fans. Monica’s Buffalo Chex Mix scored big by providing an unexpected twist on the classic snack, wowing the crowd with her creativity,” said Joe Driscoll, marketing manager, Chex cereals.

Since 1955, the Original Chex Party Mix has been a party tradition—especially during the holiday season. The delicious snack is easier-than-ever to prepare with 15-minute recipes that utilize the fast-cooking technology of the microwave. Whether you’re looking for something sweet, salty or a little in between, there is a great-tasting recipe to fit any snacking style, including a gluten-free diet. For recipe ideas, visit

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Save money while hosting smashing family gatherings

(ARA) - Whether it's Christmas, New Year's, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, chances are you plan to host at least one family gathering this holiday season. Which means it's time for you to think of some creative ways to keep expenses down, but still have excellent food and festivities.

Here are some tips to save you time and money on your holiday planning:

* Entertain at home rather than eating out. Walmart has great deals on all the fixings you need to create fabulous holiday meals for eight people for as low as $30.

* Stock up on non perishable items ahead of the party - when sales happen. Beverages, dried and canned goods and even produce can be stored to help spread the cost out and get you the best prices. Blanch and freeze fresh vegetables so all you'll have to do is grab the freezer bag and toss in the veggies while cooking your favorite dishes.

* Plan your meals and your shopping list in advance using your grocery circular. For example, if you're serving bacon for breakfast, hang on to four strips to add in to Creamed Corn Gratin for dinner (recipe below). Or if you fix mashed potatoes for one dinner as a side dish, use the leftovers for a shepherd's pie to serve on a different night.

* Disposables may make life easier and allow you to spend more time with friends and family rather than clean-up in the kitchen. You can spice up the table decorations with paper plates and napkins featuring holiday prints, or mix and match different patterns for cups so everyone can remember which cup is theirs. However, if you have a large family gathering, the cost of using disposables might add up quickly, so consider using the dishes in your cupboard instead, and make sure you have plenty of dish detergent or dish washer soap on hand to tackle the pile.

* Look for simple-to-prepare recipes that don't require a lot of time in the kitchen, so you can spend more time visiting with your guests. A good meal doesn't have to be super fancy to be a success.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian has created great holiday recipes for Walmart so you can enjoy flavorful and wholesome meals for your holiday gathering and stay on budget. Here are two recipes to make for your next gathering:

Creamed Corn Gratin

4 strips bacon, chopped
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cans creamed corn
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter (for greasing)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

In a large saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon pieces from the pan and in the remaining bacon fat, cook onions slowly over low heat until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add back the bacon, and the thyme and cook another minute or two to release flavors. Add creamed corn and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat broiler to high. Place the corn mixture in a buttered gratin dish. Top with parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown and bubbly, about two minutes.

Warm Cinnamon Caramel Sauce

3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

In a medium heavy saucepan, mix water and sugar and then place on medium high heat. Allow to boil (without stirring; only swirl pan if needed) until the mixture turns a pale golden brown, approximately seven minutes. Watch this closely, sugar burns quickly. Remove the mixture from heat, add butter and cream and stir vigorously (mixture will bubble). Return to heat and bring to boil and then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Allow to cool a few minutes before drizzling over pumpkin roll cake, pie, or vanilla ice cream.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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