Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

WVU Tech Groups Engineer Gingerbread Feats

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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Kudos to the creative groups on campus at West Virginia University Institute of Technology for the awesome gingerbread houses they created for the school’s “Light Up Old Main” Christmas celebration this past weekend.

I made the trip down to Montgomery Friday night to help judge the competition and was impressed by the entries. My top two picks ended up sweeping all categories, so congrats to the winners listed and pictured below …

  • Most Creative: Women’s Softball
  • Most School Spirit: Women’s Softball
  • Most Holiday Spirit: Sydney S. & GK
  • Best Overall: Women’s Softball
  • People’s Choice: Sydney S. & GK

And special thanks to Ratliff Hall Resident Director Michael Sheldon for once again inviting me down to participate. The evening’s festivities also included a town Christmas parade followed by the “Light Up Old Main” ceremony on campus. Very nice evening!

Sydney S and GK House

Sydney S and GK House

Softball Team

Softball Team

 

Attention Veterans! Free Food This Friday at Applebee’s

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
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In what has become an annual tradition, Applebee’s will once again honor our nation’s veterans by offering them a free signature entree on Veterans Day.

Veterans can visit any Applebee’s location this Friday and enjoy their choice of free meals ranging from a seven-ounce house sirloin, bacon cheddar cheeseburger or three-cheese chicken penne to an oriental chicken salad, chicken tenders, lime chicken or double-crunch shrimp.

Veterans will need to provide proof of service, which includes an official U.S. military ID card, current leave and earnings statement, veterans organization card, a photograph in uniform or by simply wearing their uniform.

The national restaurant chain gave away more than 1 million free meals during last year’s event. For more information on the promotion, visit www.applebees.com.

T-Minus One Day and Counting … Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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 OK, we’re at T-minus one day and counting.

The menu is planned, the shopping is done and the big bird is thawing. There’s really not much left to worry about at this point. Except trying not to kill your guests.

Food poisoning is serious business and reported cases often spike around the holidays. Here’s what you can do to avoid spending your holiday laid up in bed – either yours or one at the hospital …

  1. Wash your hands often, especially in between handling foods that are dry and wet. 
  2. Before preparing food, carefully clean counters, cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water. Repeat cleaning in between recipes, especially if you have raw meat or leafy greens on the cutting board, both of which can carry salmonella.
  3. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  4. If you purchased a turkey fresh and not frozen, refrigerate it immediately. For a frozen turkey, allow lots of time for it to thaw – about 2 hours of thaw time per five pounds of turkey. Thaw a turkey a high walled pan placed in the refrigerator, and do not let the water touch any other food.
  5. It is safest not to stuff a turkey, but rather put herbs inside the cavity to season it. If you must stuff, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing which must reach 165° F. Stuffings with meat or shellfish (oyster) ingredients are risky. Always cook these on the stove top or in the oven, and not in the turkey.
  6. A significant risk of food poisoning comes from undercooking the turkey. You can’t tell it’s done by how it looks! While recipes give you hints about testing for “doneness,” such as a golden brown color or seeing juices run clear, these may not be accurate. The only way to make sure your bird is cooked sufficiently to be safe to eat is to measure the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It must reach 165 degrees F.
  7. It may not be in mom’s recipe, but bring gravy to a full boil before serving.
  8. Keep cold food like salads, Jell-O molds and salad dressing refrigerated until just before serving. Once dinner is over, refrigerate leftovers. If food has been sitting out for two hours or more, it may not be safe to eat.
  9. Use pasteurized eggs in homemade recipes.
  10. After eating, take the remaining meat off the bird and store in a shallow container in the refrigerator. Don’t put an entire carcass into the refrigerator — it won’t cool down quickly enough.

So how do you know if those cramps you’re feeling are innocent indigestion or something more sinister?

Food poisoning can cause fever, stomach pain, vomiting and/or diarrhea, often leading to dehydration. These signs usually appear within six, but up to 48, hours after eating or drinking a contaminated food or beverage. For the elderly, children, infants, pregnant woman and people suffering from compromised immune systems, food poisoning can be severe. When in doubt, get it checked out.

Maybe It’s Time You Just Picked Up the Phone …

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
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Still haven’t settled on a menu or picked up your turkey for Thanksgiving Day? You’re SERIOUSLY running out of time. Unless you thrive on stress, you may want to let someone else do your dirty work …

A few great local restaurants (Bridge Road Bistro, South Hills Market & Café) were offering pre-made holiday feasts you could order ahead of time, pick up Wednesday and take home to reheat on the big day. But those ships (i.e. deadlines) have sailed.

You may still have time to grab a Bob Evans carry-home Farmhouse Feast featuring a variety of almost-like-homemade holiday favorites. The hearty meal comes complete with your choice of a slow-roasted whole boneless turkey breast or sliced boneless ham, bread and celery dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, buttered sweet corn, green beans with ham, cranberry relish, rolls, a loaf of pumpkin bread and a pumpkin pie with whipped topping.

Call, stop by a restaurant or order at www.bobevans.com now through December, or while supplies last.

A few local hotels (including the Marriott and Embassy Suites downtown) are also serving Thanksgiving Day buffets. Just be sure to call ahead for more information and reservations.

Cross Wine Shopping Off Your Thanksgiving To-Do List

Sunday, November 21, 2010
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Although it’s a wee bit early to start any Thanksgiving cooking, you can go ahead and cross wine shopping off your list today.

Few things stress out hosts more than the pressure of pairing perfect wines to complement the food they’ll be serving. Lucky for them, a traditional Thanksgiving menu is so varied in flavors that a complex (or even a specific) wine is not really your best bet. There are several simple reds AND whites that should work out just fine.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • White: German Rieslings are usually crowd-pleasers because their sweetness appeals to those who don’t think they like wine, yet they are subtly nuanced enough to be appreciated by more experienced wine drinkers. I still prefer a creamy and buttery Chardonnay, but a sweet Riesling or light Pinot Grigio will usually please more of the masses.
  • Red: The Gamay grape goes well with turkey, so look for a nice Beaujolais from France. (It’s light and fruity enough to please most without offending any.) Beaujolais Nouveau is the most prevalent you’ll see, but splurge a few dollars more for a better cru Beaujolais, like Morgon and Fleurie.
  • Sparkling: A festive bubbly is fun, and the touch of sophistication it adds leaves no doubt that you’ve gathered for a special occasion. Champagne (France) is nice, but don’t overlook a less-expensive Prosecco (Italy) or Cava (Spain) either. In fact, you could try both for the cost of a single bottle of decent Champagne.
  • Worth a Splurge: When you have the urge to splurge on some fabulous fruit of the vine, a big red is always a great choice. Opus One is a popular choice, but will set you back about $200. You could buy four or five really nice bottles for that price, so I’d go that route instead. Just explain what type of wine you like and let a knowledgeable employee or friend point you in the right direction. As for a high-end bubbly, there’s pricey Dom Perignon and Cristal, or the more reasonable – but still highly regarded – Veuve Cliquot.
  • And for Dessert: Choosing a dessert wine can be tricky, but Ports are a perfect winter treat with bottles running the price gamut – from $15 to $100-plus. My pick is a richly decadent Sauterne, a fortified French dessert wine that tastes of fine brandy and butterscotch more that straight sugar. Delicious!

How to Cook Thanksgiving’s Guest of Honor – RIP.

Friday, November 19, 2010
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Yesterday we talked about buying your big Thanksgiving bird. Today, let’s discuss cooking that bad boy!

Here’s some advice from the venerable Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Recipes (and me) on how to roast it to earn raves:

  • Position your oven rack so the turkey sits in the lower third of the oven. If you’re cooking it in a bag – which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND – be sure you allow enough space above so the bag won’t touch the heating elements and burst as it inflates during cooking.
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. This low-roasting temperature results in a juicier bird.
  • Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity, drain any juices and rinse the bird thoroughly under cold water. Drain, blot it dry and set it aside to let it reach room temperature.
  • Stuff the turkey (if you wish) and then truss it: Take a 4- to 6-foot piece of cooking twine and tie the legs together at the ankles. Run the twine around the thighs and under the wings. Pull tightly and make a knot around the excess flesh where the turkey’s neck used to be. Trussing the turkey into a compact shape helps to ensure that it cooks evenly and makes it easier to carve.
  • Place the turkey on the oven rack in a pan deep enough to collect any juices that may run off during cooking. (You’ll want to save these to make awesome gravy later!)
  • Lightly brush the bird with melted butter or oil, then generously season with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs – either on the skin’s surface or, better yet, underneath it between skin and meat. (Just gently ply the skin away from the meet with your fingers, and slather your herbed butter mixture inside to better infuse the meat.) And don’t be stingy with the seasoning, either. Turkeys are big and their meat is dense, so they can withstand (and need) lots of flavorings.
  • Roast the turkey, basting with the pan drippings every 40 to 60 minutes. If you’re using a cooking bag, you don’t have to do this. Yet another reason to use the bag – less work, moister meat!
  • When the skin is golden brown, after approximately 1 to 2 hours, shield the breast with a tent of aluminum foil, shiny side out. To prevent over-browning.
  • Thirty minutes before the end of the roasting time, begin taking the turkey’s temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer in both the thigh and breast areas. Continue doing this in 15-minute increments until the thermometer reads at least 180 degrees in both areas.
  • Remove the bird, cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 30 minutes. This allows the juices to retreat back into the meat, making it easier to carve. (And tastier, to boot!)

Drinking for a Good Cause

Monday, November 15, 2010
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If you’re gonna drink this holiday season, you might as well do it for a cause …

Gallo Family Vineyards has joined up with Meals on Wheels of America to raise awareness for hunger relief by offering a way for people to help feed American seniors and families in need – all while celebrating with their own friends and loved ones.

Between now and the end of the year, Gallo Family Vineyards will donate $5 to Meals on Wheels for every Gallo wine cork sent in. The company’s goal is to raise $25,000 by Dec. 31. That’s 5,000 corks, so get to sippin’!!

Corks should be mailed to Corks to Fight Hunger Donation, P.O. Box 1154, Grand Rapids, MN 55745-1154. Visit www.everycorkcounts.com to learn more.

‘Tis the Season … for Eating!

Friday, November 12, 2010
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As I mentioned in this week’s column (http://charlestondailymail.com/foodandliving/TheFoodGuy/201011100361) the holidays are a great time for family gatherings, heartfelt gift-giving and, especially, overeating. With office parties and tailgates and potlucks – oh my! – even the most vigilant of calorie-counters can lose their way.

Fortunately, you can adopt a few easy habits to help limit the damage:

  • Eat a substantial snack before going to a dinner party. I know eating before eating may not sound like a sound diet strategy, but it’s the same advice behind the concept of not going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
  • Cut calories wherever possible. For example, replace regular cream cheese with the reduced-fat variety and you can shave more than 2,000 calories and 120 grams of fat from a typical cheesecake.
  • Give seconds a second thought. Wait 10 minutes before having a second helping. The delay can help keep you from eating too much before your stomach realizes it’s full.

So enjoy the holidays, just don’t ring in the new year with a Santa-sized midsection.

SOS … Save Our (Pumpkin) Seeds!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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The best thing to come out of carving jack-o-lanterns (besides the obvious smiles from delighted young-uns) is the mound of tasty pumpkin seeds you can harvest from the gourd’s innards. I know it’s a mess to salvage seeds amid all that goop, but you’ll be glad you put forth the effort.

To make the process go a little quicker, plop your pumpkin guts into a large pot and fill it with water. This helps separate seeds from pulp, making it easier to divide the two. Once you have your seeds rinsed and dried, you’re ready to turn them into a tasty snack. You have several options. Simply season with salt and toast in a hot oven until slightly browned. You can also toast as above, but sprinkle with brown sugar afterward for a sweet option.

Or try something a little different, like I did this weekend. I separated my seeds into two piles and experimented with savory flavors. I sautéed one batch in olive oil, salt and cumin, and the other in sesame oil with soy sauce and a little ginger. Then I toasted both in the oven as above. YUM.