Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Creative Takes on PB&J Help Peanut Butter Lovers 'Feed America'

/PRNewswire/ -- While more than 50 percent of peanut butter connoisseurs admit their favorite sandwich is the classic PB&J, an adventurous 14 percent say their favorite combo is one unique to them. Those one-of-a-kind recipes are what Southern Peanut Growers sought in its recent "PB&J My Way" contest. Peanut butter lovers nationwide were called upon to reinvent the traditional sandwich, drawing hundreds of entries that also were purposefully created to support the nation's leading hunger relief organization, Feeding America.

Pledging to match one jar of peanut butter per recipe submission, SPG beat its goal. The organization will donate 3,000 jars of peanut butter to Feeding America's nationwide network of food banks this fall.

"Not only did this contest inspire imagination among peanut butter lovers," said Leslie Wagner, executive director, Southern Peanut Growers, "it also gave participants a unique opportunity to make a difference by providing nutritious food to the people who need it most."

SPG narrowed the recipe entries down to the top ten creative sandwiches. Rules were simple: include peanut butter, and offer a fresh perspective on the traditional treat. Below are SPG's top three picks:

The Bangkok Peanut Butter Sandwich, submitted by Michael C. California

Recipe Excerpt: A mouth-watering spin on Thai fare. Aside from peanut butter, star ingredients include Serrano pepper, soy sauce, coconut and mint leaves. The spread is layered over sliced bread and topped with cucumber slices and a hint of orange marmalade.

Peanut Butter, Strawberries and Basil Sandwich, submitted by Merry G. California

Recipe Excerpt: Simple to prepare yet rich in flavor. Peanut butter-covered baguette slices are topped with freshly sliced strawberries. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh, chopped basil.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich, submitted by Dyan C. Virginia

Recipe Excerpt: A refreshing, sweet frozen treat. Two dark chocolate cookies are smothered with peanut butter and vanilla ice cream to resemble a moon pie. Roll crushed peanuts, toasted coconut, jimmies and/or chocolate chips along the edges for added deliciousness.

SPG awarded a one-year supply of peanut butter (one case) to each of the 10 winners. Complete recipes are featured at www.peanutbutterlovers.com.

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Gluten Free Choices on the Rise

Having a family member who has recently gone gluten free for health reasons has had me keeping an eye out for edible foods as I shop. There are some really bad selections sitting on the shelf according to Megan! She still hasn't found a waffle worth biting into, and some of the choices are not only bad but exceptionally tiny in portion for the price. The other day she bought a box of gluten free chocolate bars. She pulled out the first packet, which was "normal" sized and the little bit of a bar inside slid from end to end. Truly two-bites for the price of three regular bars! It was awful and ended up in the trash anyway.

Gluten free does not mean low in calories or fat. If you're dieting and think gluten-free might be the ticket, be sure to check labels. It may be good for dieters though. If you can only afford to buy half the food you used to and you can only handle two bites instead of half a carton, weight loss is inevitable!

There are some fantastic products making their way to our grocery shelves though. Sunday I had a Betty Crocker Gluten Free brownie that was excellent. I had to slap my hand to keep from gobbling them all up. There's a Bisquick gluten free variety, too. The box is smaller than the regular and the cost is higher, but given the company I'd bet it's a viable option for making those waffles Megan has been craving.

Here are a few places in Georgia that I've found that offer a fairly wide selection of gluten free products:

- The Dekalb Farmers Market - seems like I saw something every time I turned around while shopping there yesterday
- Kroger - especially if the store is one of those that has a large 'health food' section. Be sure to look on the regular shelves, too as that's where I found the Bisquick mix and some other items.
- Wal-Mart - surprised at that one? Our super Wal-Mart in Peachtree City has a fairly large area devoted to gluten-free products plus they have 'name brand' items on the shelves with regular items. I'm not sure if it's area specific or across the board at all Wal-Marts though. The Peachtree City Wal-Mart is one of their test stores, or so I've been told.
- Harry's Market - the one downtown recently had a special gluten-free tasting event. Wish we could have gone! 

I'm sure there are other stores that stock a lot of gluten free. If you have a favorite, let us know and we'll update the list with your comments. Of course, as always, you're going to find a lot of gluten-free in local health food stores. I'd bet that Publix would have a lot, too. I shopped there last night but was on the run and didn't pay much attention.

Check your local restaurants, too. Most of us would expect to find gluten-free choices at most of the Buckhead / Midtown restaurants. If you go on-line you'll find that many of the chain restaurants also have a gluten free listing of items. Megan's favorite place lately is Ruby Tuesdays. Be sure to ask wherever you go, which I know you will if you're gluten free... Even some of the non-chain smaller venues in the most unlikely places are now starting to carry gluten free items, which tells me that "gluten free" is our next low-carb diet, sugar-free diet, type fad that will soon become the norm.

Have a favorite product? Let us know and we'll share the brand and where to buy it. We won't share the brands of items that you don't like, we try to be nice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Secure Your Tickets for Taste of Brookhaven Today!

September 18, 2010 at Oglethorpe University

6:00-10:00 p.m.
Conant Performing Arts Center on the campus of Oglethorpe University
4484 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA

Taste of Brookhaven tickets are now on sale, $40 per ticket, online sales only!
Buy online today at www.xorbia.com.
Reserve your table for six for $350 by calling The Brookhaven Arts Alliance at :404-266-3426

Advertise Your Business

Do you have a business, product or service you would like to promote? Why not make a donation to the Taste of Brookhaven Silent Auction and/or buy an ad in the event brochure? The deadline for either of these wonderful opportunities is September 5th. For more information please contact us at 404.266.3426. We look forward to hearing from you!

Volunteers Needed!

Brookhaven Needs YOU! Volunteers are needed for set-up, decorations, auction set-up and break down on Friday (17th) and Saturday (18th). Please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Christy Murray for more details: christy4thebaa@hotmail.com or the BAA office at 404-266-3426.

Volunteer Wine Pool

Would you like the chance to win a case or two of wine? The volunteer wine pool is back! Bring a bottle of red and white wine and we will drop your name in a hat to win!

Upcoming Planning Meeting

Bring a friend and join us for the final Taste of Bookhaven planning meeting:

Monday, September 13, 2010
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Location: GSU Brookhaven campus

Serve up spuds for a healthy meal in minutes

(ARA) - Cheryl Koompin knows a thing or two about getting dinner on the table for her family after a long day of work. She and her husband raised two boys while maintaining the family's potato farm in American Falls, Idaho. That meant years of early mornings, long days in the field and making sure dinner, homework and chores were taken care of in the evening.

Today, Koompin is the United States Potato Board's (USPB) chairman of the board. She is using this expertise and leading the U.S. potato industry in their efforts to educate consumers, specifically moms, that potatoes are a nutritious, delicious and quick mealtime solution.

"I understand first-hand the challenges of getting a healthy meal on the table in minutes," says Koompin. "I hope some of the potato tricks and tips I learned over the years can help other moms speed up dinnertime prep. Plus, kids love potatoes and moms can feel good about serving them."

One medium (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, sodium or cholesterol, and more potassium than a banana. Pound for pound, potatoes are also still one of the least expensive items in the produce department. One serving - a medium potato - will set you back only about 25 cents.

Nutritious, affordable and delicious, but are potatoes convenient for today's time-strapped mom trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry? Yes.

You can speed up your spuds in a number of ways, including using your microwave for perfect baked, roasted and mashed potatoes. Potatoes are also one of the best vegetables for slow cookers, one of the most popular cooking appliances today, because you can prepare a dish the night before or in the morning and have dinner ready when the family gets home. The starch in the potato absorbs water and swells during the cooking process, resulting in tender, fluffy potatoes that require no monitoring while cooking.

The USPB's new recipe for Quick & Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken and Potatoes calls for bone-in, skinless chicken breasts, fresh-from-the-farmers'-market ingredients like red potatoes, baby carrots, pearl onions and button mushrooms, and simple seasonings like Herbs de Provence (dried herbs found in the spice section of most grocery stores) and fresh thyme.

Quick & Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken and Potatoes

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: Can range from four hours to eight hours, depending on temperature set on slow cooker

4 small (2 pounds) bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence (or combination of dried thyme, fennel, basil and savory)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes
3/4 cup frozen, thawed pearl onions
1 cup small baby carrots
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces small baby bella or white mushrooms
Chopped fresh thyme (optional)

Combine the Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and pepper on a dinner plate. Spoon flour on to second dinner plate. Coat each chicken breast in the herb mixture; then dredge well in flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is golden brown on both sides (approximately three to four minutes per side). Cook chicken in two batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan.

Place chicken in a large slow cooker and add remaining ingredients except fresh thyme. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low for eight hours. Sprinkle with fresh thyme before serving, if desired.

Makes six servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 430, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 100mg, Sodium: 400mg, Potassium: 771mg, Carbohydrates: 43g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 45g, Vitamin A: 90 percent, Vitamin C: 60 percent, Calcium: 4 percent, Iron: 20 percent

Visit www.potatogoodness.com to see three additional flavor variations to the Slow Cooker Chicken & Potatoes recipe. You'll also find videos and a host of potato recipes.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shane's Rib Shack Presents "The Ultimate BBQ Side Contest Cook-off Challenge"

3 Finalists to Square Off in Front of a Panel of Celebrity Judges on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shane’s Rib Shack, a Petrus Brands Company, is proud to announce the “Ultimate BBQ Side Contest Finalists Cook-Off Challenge” on Tuesday, August 31st from 11am - Noon at the Shane’s Rib Shack location located on 3155 Cobb Parkway in Atlanta, Georgia! The three finalists will go head to head and prepare their dishes for a panel of celebrity judges. The Judges Panel winner will receive a Big Green Egg grill (valued at approximately $1200), BBQ grilling supplies and their winning recipe featured on the Original Shack’s menu for a limited time this fall!

Shaniacs from across the nation posted their favorite side recipe dishes on Facebook during the month of July. On August 10th, Shane announced the top three finalists via video message on Facebook:

1. Gidget Gardone, Atlanta, GA, Dirty Country Taters
2. Mary Souto, McDonough, GA, Redneck Caviar
3. Niki Miraglia, Atlanta, GA, Barbequed Potato Salad

A panel of celebrity judges, including Dave Archer, former Atlanta Falcons Quarterback and Color Analyst for The Falcons Radio Network, Dennis Scott, former NBA Star (Orlando Magic) and current Radio Analyst for the Atlanta Hawks, and Shane Thompson, Commissioner of BBQ and Founder of Shane’s Rib Shack, will be on hand to view the preparation of each side recipe, taste test each item and determine the Judges Panel Contest Winner.

Fans also had a chance to vote on Facebook for their favorite recipe they’d like to see on the menu. Mary Souto from McDonough, GA won the Fan’s Choice Poll with her Redneck Caviar recipe! As the Fan’s Choice Winner, Mary Souto won a Big Green Egg Grill & BBQ supplies from Shane’s.

“We had over 130 fantastic entries for the Shane’s side recipe contest and we couldn’t be more excited about the three finalists! Any of the top three recipes will make a great feature on the Original Shack’s menu this fall! We’re inviting everyone to attend the cook-off on August 31st when our finalists square off in a good old fashioned BBQ showdown!”

Please visit Shane’s Rib Shack’s Facebook page for additional “Ultimate BBQ Side Contest Finalists Cook-Off Challenge” information.

For the true Shane’s Rib Shack lovers, Shane offers customers the opportunity to “Become a Shaniac” where members will receive a welcome gift just for joining - plus an exclusive birthday offer, as well as monthly news and rewards from Shane’s. In addition, BBQ lovers can become a fan on Shane’s Rib Shack’s Facebook page and follow on Twitter to keep up with Shane, the Commissioner of BBQ. As the Commissioner of BBQ, Shane will share his BBQ expertise, continue his ongoing community involvement and seek customer input on anything from menu items to “Shaniac” madness.

Shane’s Rib Shack currently has locations throughout the state of Georgia, including metro Atlanta, Athens, Brunswick, Hinesville, St. Simons Island, Statesboro, McDonough and Savannah. Additionally, Shane’s has restaurants in the following states: Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona, Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky and New York. For a complete list of locations and franchise information, please log onto www.shanesribshack.com <http://www.shanesribshack.com> .
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FDA Releases Guidance on Federal Menu Labeling Requirements

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released two documents that outline steps to help chain restaurants comply with new federal nutrition labeling requirements.

"One of the most important things we can do when it comes to the nation's health is to provide simple basic information to the American people so they can make choices that are best for them and their family," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. "The menu labeling program will help Americans get the facts about food choices that are available to them in restaurants and vending machines so they know what is in the food and can make healthier selections."

Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, set new federal requirements for nutrition labeling for foods sold at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Establishments with 20 or more locations may be affected.

The documents released by the FDA today include:

-- A draft guidance document describing implementation of certain
provisions of the federal law. For certain restaurants and similar
retail food establishments, these statutory provisions include posting
the number of calories for standard menu items on menus and menu
boards, providing additional nutrition information in writing, and
posting clearly on menus and menu boards that such information is
available upon request. These establishments also must post calorie
information for self-serve items and foods on display.
-- A final guidance document for industry regarding the effect of the new
federal nutrition labeling requirements on state and local laws.

The draft guidance states that the FDA realizes that industry may need additional information and time to comply with the new provisions, and that the agency expects to refrain from enforcement action for a time period that will be provided in the guidance once it is finalized. The agency is interested in comments from the public on the appropriate length of this time period.

Today's actions are the latest in a series of steps toward FDA's implementation of the menu labeling provisions in the new law. On July 7, 2010, the FDA opened a docket for the public to submit comments on how the agency could best apply these provisions. On July 21, 2010, the FDA issued a notice explaining how restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machine operators that are not subject to the new federal nutrition labeling requirements can elect to be subject to the federal requirements.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Adding Carbs Can Help You Lose Weight

(NAPSI)-If your love of carbohydrates has been a stumbling block in every attempt you've ever made to diet, a new book by Ellen Kunes, editor in chief of Health magazine, and Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, senior food and nutrition editor at Health magazine, may be just what the doctor ordered.

"Health The CarbLovers Diet" takes the very natural love of carbohydrates and uses it to your advantage.

Instead of feeling guilty about loving pasta and bread, the diet shows you how to eat carbs and get thin.

Recent studies have shown that eating the right carbs is the best way to get and stay slim. The multicenter study concluded that the slimmest people ate the most carbs in the form of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and the chubbiest people ate the fewest whole grain carbs.

The diet plan in this book works by increasing your total intake of carbs and upping the percentage of a type of carb called resistant starch (RS). Research shows that this starch can help shrink fat cells, making you feel fuller and stoking your metabolism.

As the recipes in the book demonstrate, this can be a very tasty and satisfying diet.

The black beans in the following dish should be every dieter's best friend. They provide plenty of resistant starch with plenty of appetite-suppressing protein. To save time, use prewashed lettuce and preshredded carrots.


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas

6 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup salsa

1. Microwave beans on high for 2 minutes or until heated through.

2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tortillas, one at a time; cook 1 minute on each side.

3. Divide beans evenly among tortillas. Top with even amounts of cheese, lettuce, carrots and salsa.

Calories 380; Fat 8 g (sat 5 g, mono 0.5 g, poly 1 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Protein 18 g; Carbohydrate 67 g; Sugars 6 g; Fiber 17 g; RS (Resistant Starch) 4.7 g; Sodium 780 mg

This book is published by Oxmoor House and is available where books are sold.

For more information, visit CarbLovers.com.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Urgent Nationwide Egg Recall

/PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Fast Facts:
-- The current recall of eggs in their shells, or "shell eggs," is part
of an ongoing and intensive investigation by local, state, and federal
officials into the cause of recent cases of Salmonella Enteritidis.
-- This recall affects shell eggs produced by Wright County Egg of Galt,
Iowa. The eggs are packaged under different brand names and
distributed nationwide.
-- The shell eggs may contain Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and may cause
serious illness.
-- Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young
children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune
-- Consumers should throw away the product or return the product to the
store. for a full refund.

What is the Problem?

An outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) that has sickened hundreds of people across the country has led to a recall of shell eggs.

What is Being Done about the Problem?

Working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health partners, the FDA reviewed epidemiologic and environmental investigation documents and identified 3 best-case clusters of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses. Tracebacks revealed Wright County Egg in Iowa as the common shell egg supplier in these clusters.

On August 13, Wright County Egg voluntarily conducted a nationwide recall of shell eggs on 3 of its 5 farms. Further epidemiologic and traceback information led to Wright County Egg expanding its recall on August 18 to cover all 5 farms and 380 million eggs (according to company figures).

The Agency has activated its emergency operations command center with scientists, investigators, epidemiologists, and communication experts. In addition, the FDA deployed an initial team of 10 investigators to Wright County Egg in Iowa to inspect the farms and determine the source of the contamination. More investigators are being deployed to help on-site, looking to find the source of the contamination. Investigators are performing environmental assessments of farm conditions and practices including pest and rodent controls, biosecurity plans, environmental monitoring, sanitary controls, and feed sources.

The FDA is initiating effectiveness checks of the recall, conducting checks at retail stores, wholesalers and distributors to make sure the recalled shell eggs are being removed from the market.

The FDA is in ongoing communications with Wright County Egg to ensure that appropriate preventive measures are put in place to reduce the risk of recurrence.

What are the Symptoms of Illness?

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Who is at Risk?

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

What do Consumers Need to Do?

Don't eat recalled eggs. Consumers who have recalled eggs should discard them or return them to their retailer for a refund. Individuals who think they might have become ill from eating recalled eggs should consult their health care providers. If consumers are unsure about the source of their eggs, they are urged not to eat them and to discard them immediately.

What Does the Product Look Like?

Shell eggs under the August 13, 2010 recall are packaged under the brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps. Shell eggs are packed in 6-egg cartons, 12-egg cartons, 18-egg cartons, and loose eggs with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946.

Recalled shell eggs affected by the expanded recall are packaged under the brand names: Albertsons, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast. Eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg, 12-egg, and18-egg cartons, and loose eggs for institutional use and repackaging) with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 229 and plant numbers 1720 and 1942.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton or printed on the case label. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1720 223.

Where is it Distributed?

The recall affects eggs shipped since May 16, 2010 were sent to food wholesalers, distribution centers and foodservice companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Does FDA have the authority to inspect egg farms?

In the past, FDA has inspected egg farms under its broad authorities applicable to all food, focusing on farms linked to recalls. The egg rule, which just went into effect for large farms on July 9, 2010, provides specific requirements applicable to egg producers that will greatly facilitate compliance.

Generally, USDA is responsible for egg safety at what are called breaker plants or egg products processing facilities. In these facilities eggs are broken and pasteurized. FDA is responsible for shell egg safety and egg products once they leave the breaking facility.

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The Heat Is On for Church's Chicken

/PRNewswire/ -- Church's Chicken is calling for all video songwriter wannabes to create a song, grab a camera and sing about its new Spicier Spicy Chicken. All entrants will compete for a chance to win the grand prize of $3,000 and a year's supply of Church's Chicken.

Customer demand for Spicier Spicy Chicken resulted in the new product making its debut in all Church's Chicken restaurants across the country two weeks ago.

The inspiration for the contest is Jedidiah Brown, the YouTube phenomenon who made a home video and sang a song in his own words about Church's Chicken. His video has had close to a million views since it was posted last May. "All of us at Church's loved Jedidiah's video so much that we enlisted him to write another one and make a video that we could use as an example for interested video song creators who are thinking about entering Church's Spicier Spicy Chicken Song Contest," said Bonnie Warschauer, Church's Vice President of Communications. "Jedidiah is a talented young man and loyal fan of our Original chicken and now our new Spicier Spicy Chicken. His new video is going to make a whole lot of people hungry for our chicken and the desire to not only watch his video over and over again, but create one of their own."

If the success of Jedidiah's video on YouTube is any indication, all those who enter Church's video song contest can anticipate their video being seen by tens of thousands of viewers. And that's an added reward Church's Chicken is pleased to be able to provide.

Additional prizes include $1,500 for second place and $500 for the video song coming in at third place. The first two hundred participants who submit an eligible video song will receive a coupon for a free two-piece Church's Spicier Spicy Chicken & Biscuit.

The contest is easy to enter and promises to be fun and competitive for all:

-- Visit www.spicierspicychickensong.com to read the detailed rules and
requirements for the contest
-- Create and upload your video song
-- The gallery on the site will feature all videos that meet the
requirements listed in the rules and will be available to view, share
and rate between August 19 and September 19.
-- September 21 will be the day the top five finalists will be revealed
and public voting begins.
-- October 1, the winner of Church's Spicier Spicy Chicken Song Contest
will be announced.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to host a family reunion potluck

(ARA) - A family reunion can be one of your extended family's most memorable shared experiences, providing new family stories and deepening bonds for years to come. If you are in the coordinator's seat, it can also be a daunting amount of work.

With advice from the experts on planning, delegation and -- the centerpiece of any family gathering -- food and drink, it can be easier. Here are some tips to help make your reunion a family affair to remember -- fondly.

21st century planning aids

While you should still plan to use snail mail and phone for invitations and follow-up, especially for family members who aren't online, the Internet provides a wealth of resources to make planning a family reunion easier and more interactive. Edith Wagner, founder and editor of Reunions magazine, recommends taking advantage of online tools. "Reunion websites can keep everyone posted with dates, photos, updates and more. These are a great way to get everyone excited and anticipating the big day, as well as to organize folks to help with planning," says Wagner. Many sites are free. A few options to check out are familyreunion.com, familydetails.com, and myevent.com.

Food: delegate, delegate, delegate

Potlucks are a wonderful and cost-effective way to engage guests, divide the work load and make your reunion a true bonding experience. Organize the potluck menu by category (appetizers, main courses, sides and desserts) and delegate preparation, encouraging guests to make recipes from popular family recipes where possible.

The website Epicurious.com offers a complete guide to hosting a family reunion including potluck planning and even allows you to create an online recipe box for sharing recipes with family and friends. Sample potluck tips include outlining a menu and assigning guests specific dishes and quantities; instead of asking for an appetizer, be specific: ask for 20 deviled eggs, for example. This prevents multiple people from bringing the same item or having too little or too much food.

Also, be sure to ask family members on special or restricted diets to prepare items they can eat. Take the event space into consideration, letting people know in advance if they will have access to a stove top or oven so they can plan accordingly.


How do you choose wines that pair with a wide variety of cuisines? John Concannon, fourth generation vintner, recommends medium to full-bodied, food-friendly wines like Concannon's Glen Ellen Petite Sirah.

"This is an elegant wine with aromas and flavors of black cherry and plum and a hint of spice with a smooth, silky finish," Concannon says. "It pairs well with beef, lamb, game, sausages or your favorite stew. The Ellen Rowe Concannon house pictured on the wine label honors my grandmother, who always welcomed family, friends and guests."

For large special occasion gatherings, magnums are a wise option -- the large format bottle makes a great centerpiece on the potluck table and serves about 10 glasses per bottle, about twice as much as a standard wine bottle.

You can hold a family reunion on almost any budget, but with a little extra help, you could create a truly memorable occasion that brings families together and appeals to all ages. The Concannon family is offering a $20,000 prize to help one lucky winner celebrate the people who matter most to all of us: family. Get more information and enter online for the family reunion of your dreams at www.concannonvineyard.com.

If you're looking for something to add to the potluck, Heartland Lamb Stew is a great option for pleasing a large group. Paired with Concannon's Glen Ellen Petite Sirah, it makes an elegant main dish at a reunion.

Heartland Lamb Stew
Recipe credit: The American Lamb Board
Serves 8


1 to 1-1/2 pounds American lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 medium onions, quartered
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes and juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 small bay leaf, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups water
2-3 tablespoons Glen Ellen Petite Sirah
6 medium potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, cut in thick slices
6 medium turnips, quartered
1 package (10 ounces) frozen green beans


Preheat oven to 350F. In ovenproof pan with cover, brown lamb cubes in oil. Drain drippings. In small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over lamb; mix well. Stir in onion, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, cloves, wine and water. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and turnips. Bake,covered, another 30 minutes. Add beans and bake 30 minutes longer, or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Popularity of Southern Cookbooks Soars as Love for the Culture and Cuisine of the Deep South Grows

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Food Network personalities like Paula Deen and shows such as Bravo’s “Top Chef” have headlined an explosion in the popularity of cooking shows on television in recent years – and are a big part of the reason that mainstream audiences across the country have come to find out what hip foodies and southerners themselves have known for years – that the culture and food below the Mason Dixon Line leaves most folks, well ... just plumb tickled to death.

“The South has traditionally been one of America’s most underappreciated regions—particularly for food. Whether it’s aloofness or some sort of assumed superiority, people outside the South have ignored its culture and cuisine for a long time”

As a direct result, the popularity of southern cookbooks continues to soar.

“The South has traditionally been one of America’s most underappreciated regions—particularly for food. Whether it’s aloofness or some sort of assumed superiority, people outside the South have ignored its culture and cuisine for a long time,” says Joel Miller, Vice President of Acquisitions and Publisher at Thomas Nelson. “But, that’s turning. Southern eats are finally getting the attention they deserve.”

Among the titles expected to be top sellers in the genre this fall? Second Helpings from Paula Deen’s first cousin, Johnnie Gabriel; Bless Your Heart – Saving the World, One Covered Dish at a Time by Patsy Caldwell; and My Southern Food – A Celebration of the Flavors of the South, from songwriter and country music morning show producer Devon O’Day.

Second Helpings:
Johnnie Gabriel, serves up another generous helping of classic Southern recipes from her seven-time Best of Atlanta Award-winning restaurant and bakery in this follow up to her phenomenally successful debut, Cooking in the South.

Bless Your Heart: A celebration of the uniquely loving way that southerners show they care – with food. Includes more than 200 recipes served throughout the south at family reunions, wakes, church potlucks, tailgate parties and more.

My Southern Food: Country music songwriter Devon O’Day takes readers on a mouthwatering journey with photographs, stories and over 200 recipes. Chapters include: Sunday Dinner and Other Family Gatherings, Breakfast in the South, Cooking for Company and Summer Celebrations.

Simply Suppers: Memphis’ Jennifer Chandler cooks up recipes for every occasion, from casual weeknight dinners to elegant gatherings, and all the potluck suppers in between. Comfort foods, done simply.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Great dishes for a carefree, casual feast

(ARA) - Casual, laid back dining with family and friends is definitely a must for outdoor gatherings and what's more relaxed than a utensil-free feast? Think beyond burgers, and serve up some party favorites that work well without a fork and knife. Great tasting finger foods, like bruschetta, dips and quesadillas, can make backyard bashes easy, fun and flavorful.

Here are some other ways to make sure your backyard bash is the talk of the neighborhood.

* Shake it up - You can shake up the flavor of any dish with a spice blend like OLD BAY Seasoning. Try it on main dishes, sides and salads for a bold, unexpected twist.

* Bite size - Since there are no knives needed, think about making smaller versions of the typical recipe. For instance, sliders are a big hit for both parents and kids and you can add all types of fun toppings and flavors.

* It's a wrap - One way to make the tired old sandwich into a hit for the party is to turn it into a wrap. You can cut them into slices and serve them as small pinwheels that guests can munch on without a mess.

Here are three tasty dishes to try at your next "fork free" party:

Zesty Shrimp Bruschetta


1 pound cooked shrimp, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 egg white
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 loaf French bread
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons mayonnaise


Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the shrimp, tomato, green onion, olive oil, egg white, Old Bay Seasoning and garlic powder in a medium bowl until blended.

Slice the bread into 24 (1/2-inch thick) slices. Place on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread lightly with mayo, then spoon the shrimp mixture evenly over the bread slices. Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.

Party Dip (with a zip)


1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Assorted cut-up fresh vegetables, crackers and/or chips


In a medium bowl, blend sour cream, mayo, green onions and Old Bay Seasoning, then cover.

Refrigerate the dip for at least 1 hour, and then serve with crunchy, fresh crudités, assorted crackers and/or chips.

Southwestern Shrimp Quesadillas


2 tablespoons oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon Old Bay 30 Percent Less Sodium Seasoning
6 flour tortillas (8-inch)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 avocado, sliced
sour cream


Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add shrimp, peppers, green onions and Old Bay Seasoning. Cook and stir four to five minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Place three tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread them with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, then top with a second tortilla. Bake for five minutes or just until the cheese melts. Cut each quesadilla into four wedges and serve with avocado slices and sour cream.

You can find more fun, utensil-free party recipes at www.oldbay.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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