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Simplify holiday hosting from start to finish

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(Family Features) Hosting a major holiday event is no small effort. It requires close attention to detail from planning, cooking and cleaning to entertaining guests on the big day. Fortunately, just like any good recipe, approaching your hosting duties one step at a time can allow you to create a magnificent final product.

This Thanksgiving, the experts at Finish are helping hosts everywhere get organized, from the initial planning all the way through clean up, with the Ultimate Thanksgiving Timer. Created in partnership with Gaby Dalkin of “What’s Gaby Cooking,” it’s a personalized hosting timeline designed to help hosts stay on track up to and throughout the big day.

“I’ve been hosting holiday gatherings for years and know from firsthand experience that even capable hosts struggle to time everything just right,” Dalkin said. “From planning your menu and designing your tablescape to accommodating dietary restrictions and even serving dessert, the Ultimate Thanksgiving Timer will support hosts every step of the way this year.”

Plan Your Guest List and Menu
Deciding how many guests you’ll be serving and what you plan to serve are two essential details that will guide the rest of your planning. When creating your guest list, be realistic about how many are likely to attend and plan your menu for a few extra people so you don’t run out of food. Your menu may also be influenced by how many guests you plan to host; a whole turkey is practical for a large group, but a turkey breast may be adequate for a more intimate gathering. Remember to send your invites at least three weeks ahead of the event so guests have plenty of time to respond and you can prepare your menu.

Start Grocery Shopping Early
The rush at the grocery store can be one of the most stressful parts of getting ready to host. Give yourself enough lead time by picking up pantry staples and beverages 1-2 weeks out so your kitchen is stocked for the big day. For perishables, get to the grocery store early in the day 1-2 days before hosting to beat the rush and avoid any last-minute grocery runs the morning of your gathering.

Maximize Prep Time
While it’s likely the majority of your work will come on the big day, you can work ahead to reduce some of the load. For example, you can wash and chop vegetables for stuffing and other side dishes and store them overnight to minimize prep time in the morning. You can also use the quiet of the night before to tackle tasks like setting the table and organizing your seating chart, restocking towels and replenishing other essentials in the guest bathroom.

Enlist Help with Cooking
The day of your event is the perfect time to pull extra hands into the kitchen. A simple but tasty recipe like this Ultimate Cheesy Herb Sourdough Stuffing from Dalkin is a sure crowd-pleaser to add to your table this year. Once you establish your cooking space and find your rhythm, you may even find sharing the preparations with a loved one is a great way to bond and create special memories.

Make Cleanup a Cinch
A few simple tricks can help you maintain a relatively clean workspace and keep up with all the dishes you need to prepare a lavish meal. First, be sure to clean up as you go. It may be tempting to throw all of your dirty utensils and empty mixing bowls in a pile in the sink to deal with later, but taking a few minutes to scrape dishes and load the dishwasher as you go can help prevent a messy mountain from forming. That also means you’ll be more likely to find a clean measuring cup or spoon when you move on to prepare the next dish.

Hosts have enough to worry about, so let your dishwasher do the hard work and pull in reinforcements to help clean up while you relax after a long day. Use a detergent that works in the toughest conditions, from burnt-on stains to old dishwashers and hard water, like Finish Ultimate. It’s the only dish detergent tab with CycleSync technology that releases the right ingredient at the right time to work with your dishwasher.

You can skip the rinse, even on tough stains like cranberry sauce and gravy, and save up to 20 gallons of water. Hosts are invited to put Finish Ultimate to the test and take the Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge; if it can’t tackle your burnt-on stains, the meal is on Finish via a rebate of up to $30.

For more hosting tips and tricks, visit UltimateThanksgivingExperience.com.

Ultimate Cheesy Herb Sourdough Stuffing

Recipe courtesy of “What’s Gaby Cooking” on behalf of Finish

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread with crust, cut into 1-inch cubes (roughly 8 cups)
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. On large, rimmed baking sheet, spread ripped or cubed bread. Bake until bread is dry, about 15 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.
  2. In heavy skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and celery; saute 5-6 minutes. Add green onions, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper; saute until celery is tender, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Generously grease large skillet or ceramic baking dish. Place bread cubes in large bowl. Add warm vegetable mixture; toss to combine.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and 3/4 cup broth. Add egg mixture to stuffing and toss to coat. Mix in Parmesan.
  5. Add 1/2-3/4 cup broth to stuffing if dry. Transfer to skillet or ceramic baking dish. Cover with buttered foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve in baking vessel or transfer to serving platter.


SOURCE:
Finish

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EDIBLES

Serve up a summertime spread

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(Family Features) Few things complement warm weather like a summer spread with everyone’s favorite foods. From fresh appetizers and classics like grilled hot dogs to skewered sides and sweet, sugary desserts, these summertime recipes are sure to bring friends, family and neighbors running to get in on the action.

To find more recipe ideas that bring the heat to summer cookouts, visit Culinary.net.

Up Your Grilling Game with Beloved Toppings

Hot dogs and brats are summer favorites for a reason: the delicious (and personalized) add-ons. Make sure your spread fits everyone’s taste buds with an assortment of tasty toppings like these:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Hot sauce
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Cole slaw
  • Jalapenos
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Guacamole
  • Nacho cheese
  • Shredded cheese

Start Summer Meals with a Bright, Fresh Salad

Bright colors and fresh flavor bring out the best in summer meals, starting with seasonal salads that look as though the ingredients were just picked from a garden.

Orange, grapefruit and avocado are perfect accompaniments in this Citrus Spring Mix Salad when paired with Fresh Express Spring Mix. This garden-fresh blend combines carefully selected tender baby butter and red and green leaf lettuces with baby greens including spinach, arugula and kale that are picked when the tiny leaves are perfect and whole.

With more than 100 varieties of fresh, healthy and convenient ready-to-eat salads, as well as an assortment of salad greens you can use to create your ideal summer dishes, the kits and lettuce blends are available in the refrigerated product department of your favorite grocery store.

Visit freshexpress.com to discover more than 300 fresh recipes and find availability near you.

Citrus Spring Mix Salad

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Salad:

  • 1 package (5 ounces) Fresh Express Spring Mix
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  1. To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk orange juice, orange zest, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. To make salad: In large bowl, toss spring mix with salad dressing. Divide salad evenly among two plates. Top with oranges, grapefruit, avocado and onion.

A Simple, Skewered Side

Keep your summer meals simple by leaning into versatile ingredients that can help you whip up a variety of side dishes.

These Grilled Red Potato Skewers display the delicious, nutritious, versatile qualities of Wisconsin Potatoes. With a multitude of varieties, they’re a favorite among world-class chefs, home cooks, large and small supermarkets and even the pickiest of eaters.

It can be love at first bite with these 100% gluten-free potatoes that can add a touch of nutrition to summer cookouts. They’re a good source of vitamin B6, high in vitamin C, rich in potassium and an excellent source of fiber.

Find more recipe ideas by visiting eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.

Grilled Red Potato Skewers

Recipe courtesy of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 2 medium russet or Yukon gold Wisconsin potatoes or 6 red Wisconsin potatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 smoked sausage rope
  • 4 skewers (12 inches each)
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  1. Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut potatoes in half. Cut zucchini and sausage same width as potatoes. Skewer potatoes, zucchini and sausage. Repeat for each skewer.
  2. Place skewers in dish and cover with Italian dressing. Marinate 5 minutes.
  3. Place skewers on grill and cook 5 minutes on each side, or until potatoes are done. Remove from grill and serve.

Cap the Night with a Brown Sugar Delight

Summer meals from small plates to grilled fare may be tasty, but don’t fill up entirely on the main course. Remember to save room for your favorite warm-weather sweets.

These Brown Sugar Meringues provide bursting summertime flavor in a little, handheld bite. They’re ideal for sharing with loved ones after a weekend barbecue or birthday celebration and, with just a few ingredients, they’re as easy to make as they are to enjoy.

To help bake this delicious dessert, you can trust Domino to deliver quality, consistency and results that only a century of experience can bring. Its Light Brown Sugar offers a buttery, caramel flavor, making it a perfect choice for sweets of all kinds.

Find more summery sweets at DominoSugar.com.

Brown Sugar Meringues

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, plus 1 hour rest time
Yield: 3 dozen meringues

  1. Preheat oven to 225 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Pour 1 inch of water into medium saucepan and heat it until simmering. In heat-proof bowl, mix egg whites, brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt. Put bowl on top of saucepan and warm mixture until it reaches 125 F. Stir continuously and make sure mixture does not touch water.
  3. Carefully remove from heat. Using electric mixer, beat mixture at high speed 8-10 minutes. Transfer meringue into piping bag fitted with star tip. Pipe 12 meringues per baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of meringues, if desired. Bake 1 hour. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest inside oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (hot dogs)


SOURCE:
Fresh Express

Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association

Domino Sugar

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EDIBLES

Bring joy to mealtimes by dining together: Benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle

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(Family Features) The renowned Mediterranean Diet, celebrated for its myriad benefits, has been rated as a top diet in the world for years. 

Recognizing the benefits of the foods included in the Mediterranean Diet, it’s important to broaden the understanding beyond its ingredients to embrace the elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which also contribute to these benefits. Essentially, it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how you enjoy it and with whom you share the experience.

Nutrition, physical activity, sleep and togetherness comprise this balanced way of living, with preparing, eating and enjoying food together being key elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of the Mediterranean lifestyle simply by inviting friends or family to gather around the table for a meal – like a family favorite pasta dish.

The benefits of gathering around the table are abundant, ranging from fostering stronger connections and communication among family members to enhancing overall well-being. In fact, first-of-its-kind research conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and supported by Barilla, the world’s leading pasta maker, demonstrates that people experience greater happiness when they share meals with others, highlighting the importance of togetherness.

Published in “Families, Systems, & Health,” the research shows a strong positive correlation between how often people gather around the table during mealtimes and enhanced connectedness, reduced depressive symptoms and an improvement in overall mood.

Semolina pasta is a staple for many people in the Mediterranean region, playing a significant role in culinary history and making it a favorite ingredient in dishes aligned with the Mediterranean lifestyle and gathering around the table. For example, these recipes for Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad and Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara are perfect for sharing, whether you’re hosting friends and neighbors or enjoying a meal with someone special.

A high-quality, minimally processed carbohydrate, semolina pasta is naturally low in sodium, a good source of fiber and contains a variety of micronutrients.

“Eating together is a joyful and important practice of the Mediterranean lifestyle that truly contributes to overall well-being,” said Michele Lefebvre, registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of nutrition and well-being at Barilla America. “As a traditional yet versatile food, pasta brings a sense of nostalgia to meals as people gather together around the table and connect in an impactful way.”

Visit barilla.com/recipes to discover more dishes that can help you follow the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 7

  • 1 box Barilla Protein+ Cellentanii pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, mixed color, halved
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 cups small mozzarella cheese balls, halved
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Drizzle pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on sheet tray to cool. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, remaining olive oil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add pasta and stir.

Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 box Barilla Linguine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.
  2. In bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and milk. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.
  3. In large skillet, heat olive oil and cook zucchini.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
  5. Mix pasta in pan with zucchini. Add egg yolk mixture and 2 tablespoons cooking water. Combine well.
  6. Add remaining cheese and mint; mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


SOURCE:
Barilla

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EDIBLES

Create a family-friendly grazing board

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(Family Features) A beautifully designed charcuterie board may feel more like a grown-up treat, but with the right ingredients, delicious grazing boards can provide fun and nutrition for the whole family.

No matter what you call it, charcuterie boards, grazing boards and snack platters are all basically the same thing. The boards make a trendy addition to an entertaining menu, but a platter or kid-friendly board can be equally pleasing.

What you serve on a grazing board is entirely up to you. Most include a selection of meats and cheeses, and many incorporate nuts, crackers, dips and jams. Some also incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables. Creating your own board means there really are no rules; you can add just about anything you want.

To build a successful board, keep these tips in mind:

Choose ingredients and elements that don’t require temperature control. The idea of a grazing board is that it sits out for a while. Avoid anything that needs refrigeration, heat or will lose its shape or flavor if it rests for an extended amount of time.

Select a surface large enough to hold a variety of food. It can be a simple cutting board or a cute platter. There’s no specific size requirement but err on the side of bigger; spacing out your goodies can be more attractive and less messy.

Use high-quality ingredients to ensure every bite is delicious and nutritious. While shopping, remember to look for the Produce for Kids and Healthy Family Project logos next to favorite items in the produce department, as adding these flavorful fruits and veggies to your cart can help make a difference in your community.

Build your board around a theme to add an extra element of fun. Use mini cookie cutters to make fun, kid-friendly shapes out of cheese and meats. Be mindful of colors; a rainbow platter is vibrant and appealing, and colorful fruits and veggies offer a strong mix of nutrients.

Remember it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Classic favorites are all you need. Even kid favorites like sections of mandarin oranges, carrot sticks and chocolate chips are fair game for a family-friendly board.

Find more ideas for creating family-friendly treats at healthyfamilyproject.com.

Taco Tuesday Board

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project’s “Come Graze With Us” e-cookbook

  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Queso
  • Hard and soft taco shells
  • Ground turkey, seasoned and browned
  • Lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped peppers
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  1. On grazing board or platter, arrange guacamole, salsa, queso, taco shells, ground turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, onions, peppers, sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.

Weekend Breakfast Grazing Board

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project’s “Come Graze With Us” e-cookbook

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked sausage links
  • Mini frozen waffles, toasted
  • Mini frozen pancakes, toasted
  • Mini muffins
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Syrup
  • Jelly
  1. On grazing board or platter, arrange eggs, sausage links, toasted waffles, toasted pancakes, muffins, yogurt, fruit, syrup and jelly.


SOURCE:
Healthy Family Project

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