Monday, November 29, 2010

Have A Holiday Dessert Party With A Peppermint Twist

(NAPSI)-An easy way to entertain during the holidays is to have a dessert party. It’s great for the host because the time needed to make and serve dessert and beverages is much less than when a whole meal is planned. And guests almost always have time to make one last stop for something sweet, no matter what else is happening on a particular evening.

Here are a few hints to make your dessert party a little sweeter:

• Think red, white and pink instead of the usual red and green when coming up with decorations and recipes to serve family and friends. Tuck candy canes of various sizes in centerpieces and vases for an unexpected bit of fun.

• Save time and trouble for yourself by preparing the desserts ahead of time. That way, you too can enjoy the party and spend time with your guests.

• Serve the perfect holiday pair-frosty peppermint just tastes like the holidays and creamy chocolate is always popular. Combining the two can be even more delightful when you put out a pair of decadent desserts such as these made with Dreyer’s or Edy’s Slow Churned Peppermint Light Ice Cream. With half the fat and one-third fewer calories than regular ice cream, no one has to leave feeling like a bowl full of jelly.

Upside-Down Peppermint

Ice Cream Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix

½ can chocolate frosting

1 container Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Peppermint Light Ice Cream

Peppermint candies or candy canes

Make two 9-inch cakes according to the package directions; cool completely. Remove from pan and cut the rounded top off one of the cakes to make one even layer. Wrap and freeze the second cake for later use. Soften ice cream at room temperature for 5−10 minutes. Wash pans and dry completely. Line them with plastic wrap or parchment. Carefully spread the ice cream in the pan using the entire container. Freeze for one hour or until very firm. Remove from freezer and spread the frosting over the ice cream and put the trimmed cake over the frosting. Cover tightly and freeze overnight. To serve, let frozen cake sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Unwrap and invert cake onto serving dish. Remove plastic wrap or parchment from the ice cream. Sprinkle crumbled pieces of peppermint candies over top of cake. Serve slices with whipped cream and garnish with candy canes, if desired.

Peppermint Ice Cream


1 container Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Peppermint Light Ice Cream

Lollipop sticks

4 oz bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

4 oz white chocolate or white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Holiday sprinkles and candies

Place a plate or other flat surface lined with parchment paper in the freezer for 15 minutes. Make round scoops of ice cream and place on parchment. Put a lollipop stick in each scoop of ice cream and freeze for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. When you are ready to dip the lollipops, melt chocolate and 1 tablespoon shortening in a bowl in the microwave. Use 20-second intervals until smooth. (Should take 40−60 seconds and no longer. Do not scorch the chocolate.) Let sit while repeating the process to melt the white chocolate and 1 tablespoon of shortening in the microwave until smooth. Place different sprinkles in separate small bowls. Dip each lollipop halfway into the chocolate and dip into sprinkles. Immediately put back into freezer to set. Repeat with remaining ice cream. Freeze completely before serving.

For more holiday ice cream dessert ideas and recipes, visit

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Give homemade gifts from the kitchen this holiday season

(ARA) - Buttery chocolate cookie dough with chocolate chunks, nuts and marshmallows. Creamy caramels with apple cider and warm spices. These are just a taste of some of the irresistible sweets you could be gifting this holiday season.

Homemade holiday gifts deserve special presentations, but these finishing touches don't have to mean a lot of extra time or money. Break out the crafting supplies, hit up a vintage shop or venture online to gather an inspired collection of packaging materials. With a few simple tips, you can create a memorable presentation worthy of the sweet, buttery goodness inside.

* Create a candy cone. To package small, individually-wrapped candies such as Spiced Apple Caramels, find some festive paper at a craft or scrapbook store. Roll it into a cone and tape it shut at the seam. Add ribbon or other decorations and then fill the cone with candy.

* Think outside the cardboard box. Consider packaging your gifts in a simple wooden box with a festive bow tied around it. Visit your local craft store for interesting containers to help you break free of the typical cardboard variety.

* Take and bake. A ready-to-bake treat such as North Pole Cookie Dough is the perfect hostess gift. Consider presenting it in disposable pint-sized ice cream containers. You can find them online or simply ask for a few from your local ice cream shop. Just don't forget to add a festive tag with baking instructions.

* Be sure to label. Use festive gift tags with the name of your recipe so your lucky friends and family know what a special treat they're receiving. Custom complimentary gift tags can be found at

Visit to find more holiday cookie and candy recipes courtesy of America's Dairy Farmers. While there, sign up for the daily holiday cookie e-newsletter, "Better Baking with Butter," available to subscribers from Nov. 22 to Dec. 25.

Spiced Apple Caramels
Makes about 75 caramels

2 cups apple cider
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (If you cannot find apple pie spice, substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, cubed
Freshly ground cinnamon or course sea salt (optional)

Pour cider into small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 1/3 cup; approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Line 8-inch square pan with buttered parchment paper or aluminum foil. In small bowl, combine heavy cream, salt, apple pie spice, cinnamon and reduced cider; set aside.

In large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Insert candy thermometer and simmer until syrup reaches 234 degrees.

Remove from heat, remove thermometer and very slowly whisk in cream mixture (mixture will foam and may spatter). Add cubed butter and stir or whisk until cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return pan to heat, reinsert thermometer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 250 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour caramel into prepared pan; let mixture cool slightly, then sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon or sea salt, if desired. Cool completely at room temperature or refrigerate until set.

Once set, remove caramel from pan lifting out by parchment paper or foil. Cut caramel into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in small wax paper square, twisting at each end. Store caramels in airtight container in cool place or refrigerate up to two weeks.

North Pole Cookie Dough
Makes three "pints" of dough or two dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 cup roasted almonds or toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Place 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in microwave-safe dish. Microwave 30 seconds on high, stir and continue to microwave in 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set bowl aside and cool to room temperature.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and both sugars using electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add melted, cooled chocolate and vanilla, blend until fully incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture slowly; mixing until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chunks, nuts and mini marshmallows.

Fill pint containers with cookie dough and refrigerate up to four days or freeze up to one month. When giving as a gift, attach following baking instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, or using small cookie scoop, onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Flatten dough slightly using back of spoon. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly cracked but centers are still soft.

Remove from oven and cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Kick Your Thanksgiving Hangover Cold Turkey with a Little Help From Meehan's Public House Downtown

Kick your Thanksgiving hangover by celebrating the “after” holiday weekend at Meehan’s Public House Downtown. Meehan’s, Executive Chef, Jordan Wakefield has devised an exclusive “Holiday Hangover” menu available for three days beginning Friday, November 26th. The menu, which is sure to please even the most judicious taste buds, will feature delicious dishes and entrees including:

Fried Pickles
Crab & Artichoke Dip
"Hair of the Dog" Omelete
Scottish Bangers, Green Peppers, Vidalia Onions, Jalapenos,
Chantrelle Mushrooms & Grafton Cheddar
Chef's Full Proof Bicuits & Gravy
Two Buttermilk Biscuits Covered with Chef's Old Man's Sausage Gravy
Oscar's Pork Chilaquiles
House Smoked Kurabuta Pork, Stewed Tortillas, Queso, Avacado, Radish, Grilled Onions,
Tomato Filets, Sour Cream, Cilantro & Two Eggs, Any Style
Drunken Irish Nachos
Waffle Cut Fries, Black Beans, Corn, Lettuce, Pico, Avocado, Jalapenos, Lettuce,
& Guinness Stout Queso
The "Show Stopper"
Two Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders, "JDub's" Homemade Bacon & Sausage, Fried Egg,
House Smoked Pork Butt, Guinness Mustard ALL between Two Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!
"Sloppy Patty"
Painted Hills Ground Beef with Smithwicks BBQ Sauce & Toasted Challa Bun
Meehan's Burger
Wispride Cheddar, Applewood Bacon, Iceberg Lettuce, & Tomato on English Muffin
101 Meatloaf
Ground Bison, Ground Beef, Italian Sausage with Hericot Verts and Garlic Mashed Potato's

Smoked Beef Briskett Burrito
AnaheimChile Coleslaw, Georgia Cane BBQ Sauce & Poblano Queso
Traditional Irish Breakfast
Bangers, Irish Rashers, Sauteed Mushrooms & Onions, Tomato's, Black and White Pudding,
Soda Bread, Baked Beans, & 2 Eggs Any Style
Guinness Fish N' Chips
Guinness Battered Cod with French Fries, Tartar Sauce & ColeSlaw
5oz - $9 10oz - $14
And, that’s not all.

On Friday, November 26th Meehan’s Downtown will open its doors at 1:30 p.m. just in time for the highly anticipated Auburn vs. Alabama game which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Then at 7:00 p.m. hometown favorites, Atlanta Thrashers will hit the ice to take on the mighty Montreal Canadians. But, make sure to hang onto your Thrashers ticket stubs and jerseys. Meehan’s Downtown will offer 50% off every item on the Holiday Hangover menu as well as $5 Guinness (the true Hangover Helper) and $5 Absolut and Bacardi cocktails to anyone wearing a Thrashers jersey or donning their game day ticket stub.

And, if that’s still not enough, Meehan’s Downtown will give guests a one-time $10 meal credit to use on a return visit, before the end of the year, by simply dropping off a donated winter fleece or blanket at coat check. Only one $10 credit can be used at each return visit.

Partake in this year’s Thanksgiving festivities at Meehan’s Downtown by cheering on your favorite team as you enjoy mouth-watering bites from Meehan’s exclusive, three day Thanksgiving menu. Kick your holiday hangover by celebrating the holiday at one of the city’s best Irish pubs.

Meehan’s Public House Downtown is located at 180 Peachtree Street, Atlanta Georgia 30303 and will be open Wednesday, November 24th from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday, November 26th from 1:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., Saturday, November 27th from 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., and Sunday, November 28th from noon to midnight.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brunch: an elegant way to bring the family together for the holidays

(ARA) - Holiday meals are special times to bring the family together and entertain loved ones. While entertaining during the holidays is enjoyable, it requires meal planning and a lot of time in the kitchen - especially when hosting a large group. Serving brunch is a perfect way to create an elegant meal with ease. Adding slight touches to typical brunch dishes can turn a usual weekend occurrence into a special holiday meal.

For example, instead of omelets, make frittatas. Instead of bacon make praline bacon, or prepare latkes in place of breakfast potatoes. Little twists like these are creative ways to tell your guests that they are attending a special meal for a holiday occasion. "Entertaining holiday guests with brunch is a great way to prepare a meal that really impresses your guests, without spending all day in the kitchen," says celebrity chef Michael Symon. "And since there isn't a 'traditional' holiday brunch menu, you can be super creative." Preparation of these more unique dishes is easier than you may think.

The right equipment is crucial to a successful, stress-free brunch. The Calphalon Unison Nonstick Frittata Pans are an easy-to-use nonstick cookware set that can help execute that delectable Baked Polish Frittata. The two nonstick pans' handles interlock and clamp together so you can flip frittatas on the stovetop. The Calphalon Unison Frittata Pan is oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, for adding that crispy finish to egg dishes in the oven. And, it is also dishwasher-safe, so clean-up for your holiday brunch will be a breeze.

If you are cooking for a sizeable crowd, you may want to invest in a nonstick griddle that fits over two burners so you can prepare several dishes all at once. Look for a nonstick griddle with a removable rack so you have the option of roasting foods as well as making delicate dishes like eggs and pancakes. And if you're craving a menu with extra fun and distinction, consider a kabob grill pan that spans two burners and features removable skewers. A grilled feast of fruit and breakfast meat kabobs will certainly make an impression.

"Holiday visits and meals are awesome opportunities to build memories," Symon says. "And it's important to treat your guests well by serving dishes made with useful cookware for a holiday brunch they'll never forget."

To create Michael Symon's unique frittata, follow his recipe for baked Polish frittata:

Baked Polish Frittata

1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons rye flour
1 1/2 ounces milk
2/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked chopped spinach
2 red peppers, diced small
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Saute scallions and garlic in oil and place on the bottom of an oiled Calphalon Unison Frittata Pan. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, milk, sour cream, eggs, herbs, butter and seasoning. Add vegetables to the scallions and garlic in the frittata pan. Pour the egg mixture on top and cover with crumbled feta. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

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Safe Turkey Frying a Hot Topic as More Home Chefs Experiment with Southern Thanksgiving Tradition

/PRNewswire/ -- More people are interested in fried turkey than ever before, a scrumptious trend right before Thanksgiving. And with more people sampling the crunchy goodness that comes from the combination of hot oil and succulent poultry, there's an increased demand for preparing the holiday feast safely.

With the right turkey frying recipe, equipment and safety precautions, the only thing that should be ablaze at Thanksgiving are compliments for chefs.

A majority of consumers (58 percent) want a safer way to fry turkey, according to a 2010 survey by Masterbuilt, which makes cooking homemade meals easy by designing and building safe, versatile and quality fryers, smokers and grills. A Georgia family business run by CEO John McClemore, Masterbuilt offers the following turkey frying tips:

* Thaw: Turkeys must be safely thawed before they're fried. Partially frozen turkeys have ice right under the skin. Ice converts to water and then to steam. The means of escape is for the water to turn into a bubble in the hot oil. No ice? No problem.
* Watch pets and children: Monitor your turkey frying. Never leave hot oil unattended. While fried turkey cooks relatively quickly compared to roasting (3-5 minutes per pound, meaning a 12-pound turkey is done in about an hour), it needs to be watched to ensure the meal is the only thing that gets cooked.
* Equipment: Never use a propane unit inside a house, covered porch or garage to fry a turkey. Flames and enclosure spaces are a recipe for trouble and a call to 911. Indoor and countertop preparation is possible only with electric units designed for such use (like the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer by Masterbuilt, complete with CSA certification.) Check for safety features, like thermostats to prevent overheating, lids that close and rubber feet that keep fryers safely on countertops.
* Oil: Do not overfill your oil. Let used oil cool completely, overnight if necessary. Oil can be used up to five times before it should be disposed.

"Deep-fried turkeys create memorable family moments. The noise of the bubbling oil, the smell of the frying and the unique taste of the turkey signal a special celebration for families across the country. Traditions are important and so is safety," said McClemore, a chef himself who's authored "Dadgum That's Good," a cookbook of down home favorites. (More info:

Consumers feel positive about fried turkey and would welcome more opportunities to enjoy it, according to Masterbuilt's survey this year. Other survey results include:

* The most common reasons for not having fried a turkey are a lack of equipment (46 percent) and a lack of knowledge about how to fry a turkey (39 percent).
* Consumers who were aware of fried turkey also wished that they could have it more often; with 25 percent saying they would like to eat it at least once a month.
* 62 percent of those who are familiar with the taste of fried turkey agree vs. 16 percent of those who are unfamiliar with the taste of fried turkey.

Recipe: Cajun-Fried Turkey

1 10 to 12 pound fresh or frozen turkey
2 Gallons oil for frying
1 (16-ounce) bottle Butterball Buttery Creole Turkey Marinade
Butterball Cajun Turkey Seasoning to taste


Completely thaw turkey, if frozen. Preheat oil to 400º F. Remove giblets and neck; reserve for other uses. If present, remove and discard plastic leg holder and pop-up timer. Rinse turkey well with cold water; drain cavity. Dry turkey well with paper towels. Inject 1/2 cup marinade into each side of breast. Inject 1/4 cup marinade into each leg and thigh. Sprinkle turkey generously with Butterball Cajun Seasoning. Place turkey, breast side up, in basket. Slowly lower basket into hot oil; be cautious of splattering oil. Maintain oil temperature around

350° F. Fry turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound. Remove from oil to check doneness. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the meaty part of the thigh; it is done when it reads 180º F. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Let rest 15 minutes. Carefully carve with sharp knife.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Cool Food For Kids

(NAPSI)-With a growing obesity crisis in America, now is the time to help children understand more about healthy food choices, well-balanced meals, portion control and the benefits of increased physical activity. With most families constantly on the go, however, dining together at home, healthful eating and family exercise often go by the wayside.

Fortunately, you can find help in the frozen-food aisles of your local grocery store to easily bring your family together at mealtime. Whether it’s a complementary side dish or a complete ready-to-heat-and-eat meal, there are many great-tasting, nutritious options you can get from the freezer to the table in minutes—and all for a very good value.

Special deals on many popular frozen foods were found in October when the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) celebrates Cool Food for Kids. Try these Cool Tips from the NFRA to help develop healthful family lifestyles:

• Check serving sizes on the nutrition labels to keep your food portions at just the right amount.

• Frozen foods can make it easy to put a cool dinner together—try frozen vegetables, potatoes, chicken or fish.

• Get your family up and moving by planning fun activities after dinner.

Most importantly, get your day started off with a great breakfast, such as this one:

Morning Glory Egg Sandwich

2 frozen “everything” bagels, thawed and toasted

⅓ cup frozen chopped mixed peppers, thawed

1½ cups egg substitute

3 Tbsp fat-free milk

¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Coat skillet with cooking spray. Add peppers; cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Whisk egg substitute and milk together; pour into skillet with peppers, and stir occasionally while cooking, until eggs reach desired doneness. Stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon half mixture on each toasted bagel. Serve with “heat and serve” fully prepared turkey sausage and a calcium-rich orange juice, if desired. Serves 2.

For more recipes, tips and information on frozen foods, visit or Facebook at You can also find rules and details for entering a $7,500 Sweepstakes.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cold weather can't keep fruit off the menu with these fun, healthy tips

(ARA) - There's no debating the nutritional benefits and taste appeal of fresh fruit. But the arrival of winter can mean health-conscious families face a fruit dilemma. Do you pay high prices for imported or hothouse fruit that may not be as flavorful as fruit grown in season? Or do you forgo fruit - and its health benefits - until its back in season where you live?

Fortunately when the weather is cold and many fruits are out of season, there are plenty of alternatives - options that still deliver the great taste and nutritional benefits that make us love fruit. Apples, especially, are healthful and versatile. Whether you chomp a fresh apple, sip some apple juice or savor some apple sauce, consuming apples has been linked to a number of health benefits. According to Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, LDN top reasons to snack on apples include:

* Help prevent a decline in memory and brain function. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) have conducted a study showing the nutrients in apples are vital for communication between brain nerve cells.

* Ante up your antioxidants with apples. Leave the apple peel intact, this part is rich in antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which protect against cell damage.

* One of the healthiest fruit around. A volume of research has linked apples' unique combination of antioxidants to reduce one's risk for age-related cancers, heart disease and cognitive illnesses.

* Breathe easily. Apples and apple juice may have a protective effect against the development of childhood asthmas and wheezing symptoms to assist lung function in kids.

* Read the label. Stick to all natural ingredients; most applesauces are made with high-fructose corn syrup, which provides extra calories but little nutrition.

The fruit experts at Tree Top offer some helpful hints for keeping fruit in your diet throughout the winter:

For breakfast

* Frozen fruit makes a great topper for everything from morning pancakes to a bowl of frozen yogurt. Freezing preserves the freshness and nutritional value of fruit, and keeping a bag or two of frozen fruit on hand is a convenient way to keep fruit in your child's diet all year round.

* Indulge yourself like a child with a treat that packs a grown-up nutritional punch - smoothies. Blend low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh apples or other fruit. To really ramp up the nutritional value, toss in a handful of leafy greens - it won't detract from the taste, but it will add significant nutritional value.

For lunch

* Most kids love apples. Toss a cup of natural or naturally sweetened applesauce into your child's lunchbox, and you'll be giving them a healthy, fun snack. You can even mix it up with varieties that blend apples with raspberry or strawberry.

* Replace sugary soft drinks and soda pop with all-natural fruit juices. Just remember, fruit juices contain natural sugars found in fruits, so be sure to follow dietary guidelines for daily allowances.

For snack time

* For a punch of vitamin C and protein that's so much fun kids won't know it's good for them, mix apple sauce with peanut butter for a tasty dip for apples and other fruits and vegetables. Tree Top natural apple sauces in a variety of flavors are made from 100 percent USA apples and are a good source of vitamin C.

For dinner time

* When baking, consider substituting apple sauce for 3/4 of the oil or butter. The swap works in most baked goods, such as brownies, cakes and muffins. It's a great way to cut back on the fat and calories in your holiday baking this year.

* Saute vegetables in Tree Top's Apple Cider or Apple Berry Juice. It will add plenty of flavor but with significantly less calories and no fat.

* Cook with apples, apple sauce and apple juice to enhance flavor and reduce fat and calories.

Here are two recipes, winners of Tree Top's "America's Secret Ingredient" recipe contest, to try this holiday season or even as a breakfast or dinner option!

Apple toffee French toast with apple syrup

French toast ingredients:
8 cups French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tart apples, peeled, chopped
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Tree Top Apple Juice
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/2 cup English toffee bits
5 eggs

Apple syrup ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups Tree Top Apple Juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons butter

French toast directions:
Place half the bread cubes in a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan; top with apples. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars, Tree Top Apple Juice and one teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Stir in toffee bits. Spread over apples. Top with remaining bread cubes. In another large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended; pour over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve French toast with Apple Syrup. While baking French toast, prepare syrup.

Apple syrup directions:
In a medium-size saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, Tree Top Apple Juice and lemon juice and heat to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for one minute. Add butter. Serve over warm apple toffee French toast. For a thicker syrup simply reduce the amount of juice.

Poached gingered apple sea bass

4 (6-ounce) sea bass fillets (about 1 inch thick, cut in 2-inch chunks)
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
32 ounces chicken broth, low sodium
1/8 cup Tree Top Apple Juice Frozen Concentrate
2 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger root
1 serrano chili pepper, seeds and stems removed, finely chopped
1 package mini multicolored mini peppers (stems removed, cut in rings)
2 cups stringless sugar snap peas
1/2 cup chopped Pink Lady apple
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil
Pink finishing salt or salt of choice

Sprinkle both sides of fish with lemon pepper; set aside. In a high-walled 12-inch skillet, on high, bring to a boil broth, apple concentrate, ginger root and serrano pepper. Cover skillet, reduce heat to simmer, cook for five minutes. Meanwhile, slice peppers in 1/4-inch rings. Reserve 12 rings for garnish; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low and carefully place fish in broth. Spoon poaching liquid over fish; cover, cook on medium-low for four minutes. Uncover, add mini-peppers (except garnish peppers), sugar snap peas, apples and green onions. Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer five minutes or until fish is done. Fish is done when it flakes easily and is opaque in the center when tested with a fork. To serve, divide evenly among individual shallow soup bowls. Garnish with reserved pepper rings and sprinkle fresh basil. Sprinkle with finishing salt to taste. Serve immediately with a spoon and fork.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Olive Garden Announces 15th-Annual Pasta Tales Essay Contest

/PRNewswire/ -- Olive Garden is seeking to capture students' future aspirations and plans to achieve their goals as part of its 15th-annual Pasta Tales essay writing contest. This year, Olive Garden is asking students to: "Describe how furthering your education beyond high school will help make your dreams come true ." The contest grand prize is a three-day trip to New York City and a $2,500 savings bond.

Today through Friday, Jan., 21, 2011, Olive Garden's Pasta Tales contest will give students in first through 12th-grade in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to share their stories in essays of 50 to 250 words. Pasta Tales entry forms and complete rules are available on Olive Garden's website at and at local Olive Garden restaurants.

In addition to Olive Garden's Pasta Tales grand prize of a three-day trip to New York City including dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square and a $2,500 savings bond, winners will be named in each grade category and awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

Olive Garden's Pasta Tales entries must include the writer's first and last name, complete address, phone number with area code, grade, date of birth including year and a statement that the work is his or her own. Entries must be submitted either online or postmarked by Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 and sent to Pasta Tales, PMB 2000, 6278 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33308-1916.

Submissions will be judged based on creativity, adherence to theme, organization, grammar, punctuation and spelling by the Quill and Scroll Society of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Iowa, with winners selected by Olive Garden.

Olive Garden's Pasta Tales essay contest provides students in its local communities an outlet to creatively express the influences, experiences and stories that have shaped their lives. For more information about Olive Garden's Pasta Tales, contact Katie Lennon at (919) 376-1737 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 700 restaurants, more than 87,000 employees and $3.3 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a member of the Darden family of restaurants (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest company-owned and operated full-service restaurant company. For more information, visit Olive Garden's website at

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Pie To Make Cherry Lovers Go “Whoopie!”

(NAPSI)-While some believe that whoopie pies were first made in New England and others claim they originated as an Amish dessert, all agree that they are a delicious, all-American treat. Tradition has it that when children would find the treat in their lunch bag, they would yell “Whoopie!”

A whoopie pie actually resembles a sandwich. There are two soft cookies-usually chocolate-with a fluffy cream filling-often vanilla-in between.

Over time there have been variations, such as pumpkin or red velvet for the cookies. The fluffy cream center can vary as well. Here is a prize-winning twist that relies on Maraschino cherries for flavor and color.

Cherry Whoopie Pies

1 jar (10 oz.) Maraschino cherries

1 pkg. (18¼ oz.) red velvet cake mix

3 eggs

½ cup canola oil

1 tsp. almond extract


1 can (16 oz.) cream cheese frosting

1 carton (12 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 jar (10 oz.) Maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

Cut 22 cherries in half (save remaining cherries for another use). In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and extract; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Top each with a cherry half. Bake at 350° F for 8−10 minutes or until edges are set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, beat frosting and whipped topping until blended; fold in chopped cherries. Spread filling on the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 2 dozen.

To learn more, visit the National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation at

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why wait until the holidays? Start planning your annual cookie exchange

(ARA) - 'Tis the season for delicious treats and festive gatherings. The fun of baking, sharing recipes and getting together for holiday parties such as a cookie exchange are what make the season extra-special.

If you're looking for party ideas, tips and recipes, visit It's the ultimate online destination to find and share recipes, as well as learn hints and tips from Hershey's baking expert, Linda Stahl:

"We've created the ultimate resource for holiday hosts this year - an online community where holiday entertaining enthusiasts can swap recipes, share photos and connect about their holiday baking traditions."

Plan your party this season by visiting where tasty recipes feature holiday staple baking ingredients like Hershey's Kisses Brand Chocolates, Cocoa and Baking Chips. Visitors will also have an opportunity to apply to host one of 1,000 cookie exchanges. If selected, applicants will receive event party packs complete with the necessary ingredients to host the ultimate cookie exchange, including: baking products, recipe booklets to share with guests and a special hostess gift.

Stahl offers the following tips to host a cookie exchange:

* Provide each guest with a sample recipe in their invitation for ideas to help get them baking.

* Set up an e-mail list allowing guests to share what cookies they will bring, so duplicates aren't an issue. If your guests prefer a surprise, have them RSVP with both their attendance response and the cookie they plan to bring to the exchange.

* Once you know how many guests are coming, let party attendees know how many cookies to bring.

* Since cookies are at the center of your gathering, offer simple refreshments like hot cocoa or warm apple cider.

* Provide containers or ask guests to bring festively decorated tins to ensure cookies can be brought home easily without breaking.

Don't forget to visit to apply for your chance to host one of 1,000 sponsored cookie exchanges through Nov. 15.

Can't decide what holiday cookie you should make as the host? Try the Kisses Cocoa Cookies or the classic Peanut Butter Blossoms.

Kisses Cocoa Cookies

Makes 54 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 cup finely chopped pecans
About 54 Hershey's Kisses Brand Milk Chocolates
Powdered sugar

Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Stir together flour and cocoa; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Add pecans; beat until well blended. Refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Heat oven to 375 F. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Mold scant tablespoon of dough around each chocolate, covering completely. Shape into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool about 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar. Roll in powdered sugar again just before serving, if desired.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Makes 48 cookies

48 Hershey's Kisses Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Reese's Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375 F. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Creative Holiday Breads Are a Simple Update to Traditional Holiday Meals

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Holiday recipes have a way of transcending generations. Every year, relatives get together and anxiously await the aroma of their family’s own special take on stuffing, sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce. These recipes can lead to a bit of a cooking conundrum for creative chefs looking to bring something new and surprising to the table without disrupting family traditions.

“Breads are a great way to change up holiday meals. People have an emotional connection to family recipes, so you may not want to change any major meal items, but additional breads are always welcome at the table”

“Breads are a great way to change up holiday meals. People have an emotional connection to family recipes, so you may not want to change any major meal items, but additional breads are always welcome at the table,” said Diane McElroy, test kitchen manager for Fleischmann’s Yeast.

Cheesy Onion Rolls are a welcome update to the basic dinner roll – their appealing color will liven up any breadbasket. Looking to add some whole grains to your dinner table? 100% Whole Wheat Bread Sticks will do just that. These impressive looking twists are simple to make and fun to eat.

These recipes and more are available on For baking tips, call the helpful staff at the Fleischmann’s Yeast hotline: (800) 777-4959. Hotline hours are from 9am to 4pm, CST; questions may also be submitted online at


This recipe was entered in the DuQuoin State Fair (Illinois) and judged to be a winner.

Yield: 2 Dozen Rolls

Proof Time: 2 hours

Bake Time: 25 to 30 minutes

2 envelopes Fleischmann’s® Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm milk (100° to 110°F)
1/2 cup very soft butter
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
5-1/2 to 6 cups bread flour
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese blend
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup dried chives
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 tablespoons mayonnaise


Combine yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let stand 5 minutes to soften yeast. Add sugar, milk, butter, salt, eggs and 3 cups flour. Beat for 3 minutes with electric mixer until smooth; gradually add remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 6 to 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to coat. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down and turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Let rest about 5 minutes. Combine cheese, onions, chives, and garlic powder in a bowl. Divide dough in half and roll each part out to a 15 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and sprinkle with half of cheese mixture. Roll, starting at long side, and seal edges. Slice each roll into 12 slices and place (cut side up) in two well greased 13 x 9-inch baking pans (12 rolls per pan). Cover and let rise 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size.

Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Serve warm.


Yield: 16 long breadsticks or 32 short breadsticks

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Proof Time: 1 hours

Bake Time: 15 to 18 minutes

2-1/2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup non-fat dry milk
1 envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Mazola® Vegetable Plus! Oil
1 egg
1 egg white


Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, gluten, dry milk, yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl. Heat water, honey and oil to very warm (120 to 130°F). Add egg and water mixture to large bowl. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour by hand to make a moderately stiff dough.

Turn out on lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes.

Roll dough into 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut lengthwise into 16 strips. If shorter bread sticks are desired, cut each strip in half. Twist and place on greased baking pans. Note: strips can also be left flat or formed into bows, numbers, letters, knots or other decorative shapes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Brush over bread sticks. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, garlic salt or coarse salt, if desired. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from baking sheets immediately. Serve warm.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Grecian Gyro Introduces New Seasonal Mediterranean Veggie Wrap

Available for a Limited Time Beginning Monday, November 1st at the Hapeville, Tucker and Forest Park Locations

Vegetable lovers rejoice. Grecian Gyro has added a seasonal Mediterranean Veggie Wrap to its menu of affordable, authentic Greek favorites made with the finest and freshest ingredients. Available for a limited time only, the new wrap will be at all Grecian Gyro locations beginning Monday, November 1, 2010.

It may not be the same as a trip to Greece, but with each bite of Grecian Gyro’s delectable new Mediterranean Veggie Wrap you'll be transported there. Thinly sliced grilled onions, nestled with fresh zucchini and ripe eggplant provide a crisp crunch to each bite, while a layer of roasted red peppers and imported feta cheese give it a bit of extra zing. Drizzled with Nick's famous Grecian Sauce and wrapped in fluffy pita bread, Grecian Gyro’s new veggie packed wrap will make your taste buds a world traveler. The Mediterranean Veggie Wrap ($4.99) joins a selection of vegetarian-friendly menu items including spanakopita, dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices in lemon juice), hummus, Grecian salads, the traditional Veggie Wrap and more.

Open for 28 years, Grecian Gyro is an Atlanta-based, family-owned, authentic Greek eatery specializing in freshly made gyro wrap sandwiches topped with a secret, homemade sauce. With the first location opening in 1982 in Hapeville, Grecian Gyro now has three locations and is credited with serving “Atlanta’s Best Gyro.” The speed of service, uncompromising quality, freshest ingredients and affordable prices ($5-$10) make each location an ideal spot for a quick lunch or family dinner.

For more information on Grecian Gyro, please visit Grecian Gyro is located at 855 Virginia Ave, Hapeville, GA (404.762.1627); 3989 Lawrenceville Hwy, Tucker, GA (678.691.3988); and at 4542 Old Dixie Hwy, Suite 104 in Forest Park, GA (404.363.4000).

GaTable Note: I try to eat at Grecian Gyro as often as possible! I have family in Tucker and the little place they have on Lawrencevill Hwy is our fave food stop! As a vegetarian, love it that they have a great veggie-friendly menu... plus they have tons for the meat eaters. They're always friendly, and patient as we stand forever trying to make our choices! 

With Dunkin' Donuts, Support for the Troops is in the Bag: Purchase Two One-Pound Bags of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee, and Dunkin' Donuts Franchisees Donate Another to the USO

/PRNewswire/ -- With Veterans Day approaching, Dunkin' Donuts, America's all-day, every day stop for coffee and baked goods, and the USO have brewed up an easy and meaningful way to show support for United States troops. Beginning today and continuing through November 14, for every purchase of two one-pound bags of Dunkin' Donuts' packaged coffee from any participating restaurant or online at, Dunkin' Donuts franchisees will donate an additional one-pound bag to the USO. Over the two-week program, Dunkin' Donuts will donate up to 100,000 pounds of coffee, which will be delivered to USO centers that serve millions of troops and their families.

The Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation, whose mission is to serve the basic needs of our communities through food for the hungry, safety and children's health, today also announced an $82,500 grant to support the USO's mission to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to troops and their families.

The USO operates approximately 90 centers in the United States that provide programs and services for servicemen and women and their families. USO centers offer free Internet and e-mail access, prepaid international phone cards, entertainment and lounge areas, libraries, travel assistance, and will soon offer America's favorite coffee.

"Dunkin' Donuts has a long history of honoring America's servicemen and women, and we are proud to continue our tradition of supporting the troops through our new partnership with the USO," said John Costello, Chief Global Customer and Marketing Officer at Dunkin' Brands. "By donating a pound of Dunkin' Donuts coffee every time our guests purchase two pounds in our restaurants or online, we are making it easy for people to help keep our troops running, while joining us in celebrating the men and women who give selflessly to our country."

Dunkin' Donuts has donated more than 150,000 pounds of coffee to troops deployed overseas since May 2003. The company holds a monthly lottery to randomly select at least 50 United States military members to receive one case of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. During the holiday season, Dunkin' Brands corporate employees also send additional pounds of coffee to the troops.

"We greatly appreciate the commitment shown by Dunkin' Donuts and its franchisees to lift the spirits of troops and their families with a donation of their famous coffee," said Sloan Gibson, USO president. "With Veterans Day approaching, it's an excellent time to remember and support the sacrifices that our troops make for this country throughout the year."

For more information, visit To learn more about Dunkin' Donuts, follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (

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