Friday, October 31, 2008

Talking turkey, already

Creating a delicious centerpiece for the holiday festivities should not be a monumental task that takes away time spent with friends and family. “Great food is simple to prepare,” says cookbook author and New York Times “The Minimalist” columnist Mark Bittman.

“Plan your holiday so you can enjoy it—keep it simple to keep it fun. Delicious can be easy.”

Bittman and ChefsChoice team up this holiday season to share basic turkey preparation and carving tips and a simple rub recipe for a tasty turkey worthy of holiday fanfare:

Bittman’s Jerk Seasoning Turkey Rub

(Makes ¼ cup for 10-12 lb. turkey)
1 tbsp. all spice berries or powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh ginger or 2 tsp. ground ginger

If using fresh allspice berries, nutmeg pieces, peppercorns and thyme, blend in spice or coffee grinder then add the rest of ingredients. Otherwise mix all and rub evenly over bird and under skin of breast.

Make sure the turkey is thoroughly defrosted before starting. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place bird in large roasting pan on a V-shaped or flat rack. Brush the turkey with tablespoon of butter or olive oil. “The key to a great tasting turkey is to add fat, it will look and taste better,” says Bittman. Before adding rub, lift the breast skin up and rub oil or butter directly on meat, then rub entire bird with your fat of choice. Repeat process with Bittman’s rub. Pour in one cup of stock or water in roasting pan.

Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil (remove foil after about one hour of roasting time remains). Roast, basting with additional butter or oil every 30 minutes and add stock or water as needed to keep bird moist. When there is one hour of cooking time to go (internal temperature of turkey will be about 125ºF), remove foil and turn oven heat up to 400 ºF for the remaining cooking time.

When the bird is done—an instant-read thermometer should read at least 165 ºF when inserted in mid-thigh. Remove the bird to a platter and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Carving Steps: “Carving the bird properly is an important step to your holiday centerpiece.” says Bittman. Two common mistakes people make after carving their turkey are not waiting long enough for the bird to rest after it comes out of the oven (if you slice too soon, most of the juices will run out and meat will dry) and improperly carving by using a dull knife or the wrong technique. Try these steps to serve up a tasty and elegantly carved turkey:
Step 1: Be sure to use a good, sharp knife. Sharp knives are not only safer, they will help you smoothly cut thin, even slices without shredding the meat.
Step 2: After the turkey is cooked (meat thermometer should read 165-180oF when inserted in the thickest part of the turkey) cool the bird for 15 minutes. Cooling makes the meat firmer and easier to slice. Remove and set aside the turkey legs and the last joint of each wing. Make a long, deep (to the bone) horizontal “base cut” into the breast just above the wing.

Step 3: Slice down vertically through the breast until you meet the original base cut. This will release perfect, even slices.

Now you’re ready to serve your delicious and properly carved turkey. Happy holidays and feasting!

Did someone say 'Thanksgiving?'

The arrival of November surely hearkens the arrival of Turkey season. McCormick passes along these tips to get us in the mood for the season:

Based on the most requested and top ranked recipes by home cooks, McCormick has identified the five most cherished holiday recipes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup dried cranberries
6 tablespoons butter, cut up, divided
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon
each of the cinnamon and ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat
well. Spoon into 13x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cranberries. Dot with 2
tablespoons of the butter. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix flour, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon each of the
cinnamon and ginger in medium bowl. Cut in remaining 4 tablespoons butter with a fork until
coarse crumbs form. Stir in pecans. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir gently.
Sprinkle evenly with pecan topping.

3. Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes longer or until sweet potatoes are tender and topping is
lightly browned.

Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Information:
Per one serving: 439 Calories, Sodium 257mg, Fat 19g, Carbohydrates 63 g, Cholesterol 23mg, Fiber 6g, Protein 4g

Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Cream Frosting

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 bottle (1 ounce) Red Food Color
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Sift flour, cocoa
powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5
minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color
and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not
overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10
minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

4. For the Frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light
and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake with

Test Kitchen Tip: Substitute a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan for the 9-inch cake
pans. Bake about 50 minutes. Or, substitute a greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan; bake
about 40 minutes.

Makes 16 servings.
Nutritional Information:
Per One Serving: 520 Calories, Sodium 334mg, Fat 24g, Carbohydrates 70g, Cholesterol 117mg, Fiber 1g, Protein 6g

Pecan Cookie Balls

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes per batch

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until
light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt; beat until well blended. Stir
in flour and pecans.

2. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheets. Immediately roll hot cookies in remaining 2
cups sugar. Place sugared cookies on wire racks to cool. When cool, roll again in sugar.
Makes 4 dozen servings.
Nutritional Information:
Per One Serving: 214 Calories, Sodium 95mg, Fat 15g, Carbohydrates 20g, Cholesterol 22mg,
Fiber 1g, Protein 2g

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons water
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking
spray. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; set aside.

2. Beat butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well mixed. Stir in molasses
and water just until blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

3. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup
sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup of the icing; refrigerate remaining
icing. Spoon dollops (about 1 teaspoon each) of the reserved icing over batter in pan. With
knife or spatula, swirl icing through batter to marbleize.

4. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes.
Lift out of pan using foil. Cool completely on wire rack. Invert and peel off foil. Spread
refrigerated icing over bars. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 27 servings.

Nutritional Information:
Per One Serving: 131 Calories, Sodium 117mg, Fat 7g, Carbohydrates 16g, Cholesterol 28mg,
Fiber 0g, Protein 1g

They represent America’s love of classic holiday dishes that have a modern flavor twist. These recipes and many more are part of the holiday highlights available at the newly redesigned

Close to 70 percent of holiday cooks stick to the tried and true when planning celebration menus (McCormick Holiday Survey, Market Facts). “The holidays are really a time for family favorites and traditions. So, we have gathered our most popular recipes to help make this year’s holiday meals memorable,” said Laurie Harrsen, Director of Consumer Communications at McCormick. “We also know home cooks are looking for new ideas – they just want to add something special to those classics by giving them a little flavor twist.”

From the Thanksgiving family feast to cookie exchange parties, holiday cooks can feel good about serving flavorful favorites from the McCormick kitchens. For a variation on the typical sweet potato side dish, try Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch, which has an added touch of ginger. Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Cream Frosting makes a beautiful centerpiece for any holiday dessert table.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Star-Spangled Chicken

None of the candidates channeled Herbert Hoover's "a car in every garage and two chickens in every pot" slogan, but we've decided to call out all the stops in these uncertain economic times.

The sages of American literature and popular journalism, The Old Farmer's Almanac, have tossed along their take on chicken with gusto.

The recipe for this delectable dish is featured below and in The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook, along with 400 other mouthwatering recipes.

Grilled Star-Spangled Chicken With Fireworks Salsa

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits, well drained
1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile purée or powder, to taste
1 small red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon melted jalapeño jelly, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh cilantro leaves

For salsa: Halve the peppers and remove the stems, seeds, and large ribs. Set aside half of each color. Dice the remaining pepper halves and place them in a nonreactive bowl with the remaining salsa ingredients. Stir well. Allow the salsa to meld at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.

Cut the remaining pepper halves into julienne strips and small star shapes for garnish; dice the trimmings and add to the salsa.

6 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

For chicken: Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Place the chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic bag. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl to make a marinade and pour it over the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat the grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small bowl. Coat the grill rack with vegetable cooking spray and place it 4 to 6 inches from medium-hot coals or flame. Arrange the chicken on the grill and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, basting with the marinade and turning occasionally. The chicken is cooked through when the juices are no longer pink and the internal temperature reads 180 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

Place a dollop of salsa on each serving plate and put a chicken beast half in the center. Garnish with the pepper stars and stripes. Makes 6 servings.

Grape Expectations, again

One of the most innovative sources for recipes continues to be the California Table Grape Commission. Several years ago, they sent a recipe that combined grapes and salmon .... Oy, it is to weep for such lush perfection.

They've struck gold again with their fall and holiday recommendations:

Three recipes with authentic culinary pedigrees featuring grapes can make fall and holiday entertaining fun and easy. One is a terrific aperitif for a cocktail party, an intimate dinner or a gathering of the book club. Two is an easy entrée with a delicate treatment of sole. Three is a James Beard original.

One: California Grape Cocktail – Taste is what matters in the 21st century revival of the cocktail and the cocktail party. Many modern mixologists use fresh juices of all kinds to create multi-layered drinks that can rival any Jazz-age 20th century predecessors. In this sugar-rimmed aperitif, that cocktail workhorse vodka infuses the fresh grape and lemon juice base with a measure of zip, while the champagne top-off gives the drink a bubbly finish.

Two: Sole Véronique – Here's an entrée to send cooks back to their food history books with pleasure. None other than the famous chef Auguste Escoffier created this time-honored soul-mating of poached sole and green grapes in a classic velouté sauce. It's a simple preparation that still has the power to "wow."

Three: Grapes with Brown Sugar and Sour Cream – The legacy of the famed James Beard is featured in this simple dessert. One of his favorites, Beard often served this lovely finale when other more complicated dishes preceded.

These recipes showcase the trend towards reviving the elegant and sophisticated menus of the past, while still maintaining our insistence on the best, freshest ingredients. That grapes – a fruit always associated with sumptuous dining -- are components in each one should be no surprise.

California Grape Cocktail

2 cups green, red, or black seedless California grapes
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
2 to 4 ounces vodka
2 ounces champagne
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
Blend all but one grape with the lemon juice. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Measure 2 parts juice to 1 part vodka into a small pitcher or measuring cup. Divide the juice and vodka mixture evenly between the glasses and top off with a splash of champagne. Serve immediately.
Optional Sugar-Rimmed Glass: Spread the sugar onto a small plate. Slice the reserved grape in half and use it to moisten the rims of two martini glasses. Dip the rims in the sugar and shake off any excess. Fill glass with drink mixture and enjoy.
Makes 2 drinks.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 333; Protein 1 g; Carbohydrate 56 g; Fat <>

Grapes Suzette

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup green, red, and black seedless California grapes, sliced
8 sweet crepes (recipe follows)
1/4 cup Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Cognac (optional)
Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan. Stir in the sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and sliced grapes. Cook on medium-high until bubbly. Reduce the heat to low. Working quickly, place a crepe into the sauce and fold into a fan shape. Lift the crepe from the pan and arrange on a warm serving dish or platter. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the Cointreau, being careful to avoid lighting the liquor on fire unless that is a desired effect. Stir to blend and spoon the warm grape sauce over the prepared crepes. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.

Sweet Crepes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, yolk, milk, and brandy. Gradually blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to cook the crepes, the batter will have thickened slightly from resting. Add water to the batter 1 tablespoon at a time until it has thinned to the consistency of heavy whipping cream.
Heat a nonstick skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with the oil and swirl in a scant ¼ cup of the crepe batter to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until the very edges of the crepe are lightly brown. Flip with a flexible spatula and brown the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter. Use crepes immediately or cover and keep chilled for up to 24 hours.
Makes 8 to 10 crepes.
Nutritional analysis per serving (without optional liqueur): Calories 483; Protein 9.7 g; Carbohydrate 63 g; Fat 21 g; 39% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 199 mg; Sodium 139 mg; Potassium 301 mg; Fiber 1.4 g.

Sole Véronique
6 large or 12 small fresh sole fillets (about 11/2 pounds)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small onion slice
2 to 3 slices fresh lemon
Sprig of thyme
5 to 6 peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup green seedless California grapes
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a glass or ceramic ovenproof baking dish.
Fold the fillets in half, skin side in. Place the fillets in the prepared dish with the wine, onion, lemon slices, thyme, and peppercorns. Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake for 10 to 12 minutes for small fillets and 16 to 18 minutes larger fillets, or until the fish is just cooked through. Carefully lift the fish from the pan and place on a warm serving dish. Strain any cooking liquids and reserve. Discard the solids. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until the roux is bubbly and golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the strained cooking liquids. Stir well. Return the pan to the heat, add the half-and-half, and simmer the sauce for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with the salt and white pepper. Add the grapes and lemon zest. Spoon sauce over the sole and serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 188; Protein 22.5 g; Carbohydrate 7 g; Fat 5.5 g; 27% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 70 mg; Sodium 298 mg; Potassium 516 mg; Fiber .5 g.

Grapes with Brown Sugar and Sour Cream

4 1/2 cups green, red or black seedless California grapes, halved
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups sour cream

Divide and arrange 3/4 cup of halved grapes in each of six dessert dishes. Sprinkle each with brown sugar and top with 1/3 cup sour cream. Chill until ready to serve.
Makes 6 servings.

Note: A slightly fancier version of this is sometimes called Grapes Romanov. Arrange halved grapes in individual heatproof serving dishes, but top first with sour cream and then brown sugar. Chill for at least 1 hour so that the brown sugar melts into the sour cream, then caramelize or “brûlée” the sugar with a small torch or by placing the dishes under a preheated broiler until the sugar is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 301; Protein 3 g; Carbohydrate 38 g; Fat 17 g; 48% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 34 mg; Sodium 49 mg; Potassium 380 mg; Fiber 1.2 g.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blues, Barbecue and Decatur

From the northern end of Alabama, Decatur sends an invite for blues, barbecue and whatnot:

Decatur's Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Artspresents a special event BLUES & BBQ starring Michelle Malone on Thursday,Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in celebration of its 25th Anniversary Season.

The event features the music of Michelle Malone with opening act Blue MotherTupelo and a Pre-Party ticketed-event of barbeque, a beer tasting and a redzinfandel wine tasting in the Princess Theatre Deco Lounge from 6 p.m.until 7 p.m. Michelle Malone has earned critical acclaim as a bluesartist and is currently a resident of Decatur, Alabama. Proceeds from theconcert and party benefit the annual operations of the Princess Theatre.The program is made possible by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association,Townhouse Galleries, Trish Land Floral Creations & Event Design, ValleyBudweiser, and bb perrins SPORTS GRILLE. Michelle Malone, nicknamed "Moanin' Malone" by blues guitarist Albert King,channels the greats of Blues and Americana.

Mix Bonnie Raitt's best vocalsand slide licks with the catchy pop appeal of Sheryl Crow and you'll getclose to Michelle's sound. The Atlanta native is popular on the live musicscene there and across the southeast. Thesinger/songwriter/rock'n'roller/folk'n'blues/guitarist recently toured withthe Indigo Girls and often shares the stage with them, leading some to callher "the third Indigo Girl." Besides a recent appearance on the Grammy ballot, Michelle's many awardsinclude four-time best album (Atlanta magazine), two-time best acousticguitarist (Creative Loafing, IAC), and five-time female vocalist of the year(Creative Loafing). She's written, recorded and toured with Kristen Hall(Sugarland), Indigo Girls, John Mayer and Shawn Mullins, and performed witha range of top names - including Marsha Ball, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne,Shawn Colvin, Little Feat, Albert King, Chris Whitley, Johnny Winter and ZZTop. Michelle's recent albums include the acclaimed Sugarfoot, Stompin'Ground and Hello Out There. ROLLING STONE calls Michelle Malone "...raucousand jubilant...somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne comesMichelle Malone alternating between soulful ballads and rowdy, riffyblasters."

Blue Mother Tupelo, the husband-and-wife team of Micol and Ricky Davis,blends N'Awlins-style blues with Appalachian acoustic grit, Southern rockand rootsy rock.

The Blues & BBQ Pre-Party offers an hour of great southern barbecue from bbperrins SPORTS GRILLE paired with a beer tasting of the newest beers fromValley Budweiser and some Red Zin wines perfectly paired for barbeque.Advance reservations are required for the Party and the cost is $35 perperson for both the Party and concert. Reserved tickets for both the concert ($15) and the party/concert package($35) are available at the Princess Theatre box office or online For more information, call 256-340-1778 or visit theWeb sites at: <>

And this, from Chik fil A

Chick-fil-A, the nation’s second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain, today announced it has eliminated artificial trans fat from its entire menu. Chick-fil-A is among the first national quick-service restaurant chains to offer a complete menu – from entrées down to condiments – with zero grams of trans fat.

Chick-fil-A’s core menu items have been free of trans fat since their respective introductions, dating as far back as the chain’s first restaurant opening 41 years ago. The chain’s signature entrees, Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, Chick-fil-A Nuggets and Chick-fil-A Chick‑n-Strips, are pressure cooked in 100-percent refined peanut oil (naturally trans fat free). However, Chick-fil-A has spent the last two years working to remove trans fat from the few remaining products, including its popular Waffle Potato Fries, dessert items and, most recently, its breakfast biscuits. The chain is depleting its current biscuit recipe supply and anticipates its restaurants nationwide will be serving the trans fat-free recipe by the end of October.

“Our customers trust us to provide them with products that are created using only the freshest ingredients and most nutritious cooking methods possible, and we take that seriously,” said Chick-fil-A Dietitian Jodie Worrell. “While most of our menu was already free of trans fat, we have been working hard to eliminate trans fat from our fries, breakfast and dessert offerings. We were diligent in working with our supply partners to develop trans fat-free products that mirrored the taste of the original products.”

Worrell has led the efforts in transforming the chain’s remaining products to have zero grams of trans fat. The company also has been diligent to ensure that all of its sauces and condiments are free of trans fat. The only item left on the menu to have a small amount of trans fat is the Chick-fil-A Cheesecake, which has only 0.5 grams of naturally occurring trans fat (and zero grams of artificial trans fat).

According to Dr. Lisa Hark, family nutrition expert, television host, best-selling author of “Nutrition for Life” and mother, “Removing trans fats from all Chick-fil-A menu items is a huge step which can save lives and help reduce health care costs.”

“While we are proud that we successfully removed trans fat from our lunch and dinner menus, we are especially proud of our accomplishments within our breakfast lineup,” said Woody Faulk, vice president of brand development and director of Chick-fil-A’s menu strategy. “Breakfast has proven to be an extremely competitive daypart for the quick-service industry in recent years, and we are confident the diversity of our menu and the fact we have removed trans fat from our breakfast items without sacrificing taste will continue to help position Chick‑fil-A as a leader in the breakfast category.”

“We are also honored that others in the industry have taken note of our efforts to offer customers a broader menu with healthier choices, especially within our Kid’s Meal offerings,” Faulk added, noting Men’s Health magazine editors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding recently recognized Chick-fil-A in their new book, “Eat This, Not That for Kids,” as being ‘America’s Healthiest Restaurant for Kids.’ “We have been intentional about offering a variety of healthier options for children over the past several years. We now offer a fruit cup as side option as part of our Kid’s Meals, and children also have a variety of beverage choices, including milk, apple juice, or freshly squeezed lemonade. Offering a menu with zero grams of trans fat is a strong complement to our nutritional efforts for children.”

Super fast salsa

Del Monte passes along this tailgater's delight:

Black Bean Salsa

1 tomato diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 (1 lb, 13 oz.) can black beans, well drained
1 (11oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 tsp salt, add more to taste
ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the black beans, corn, cilantro, green pepper, onion and tomato. Mix together. Add vegetable oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well so that everything is evenly coated. Refrigerate and let sit for at least 2 hours before serving. For best flavor, let sit over night.
Serve with scoop-style tortilla chips.

Grapefruit recipe contest: $5,000 prize

Home cooks, caterers, chefs, dietitians and others are invited to compete for cash in the first-ever Rio Star Grapefruit Recipe Challenge sponsored by grapefruit producers from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Taste of the South magazine is the exclusive media partner for the contest.

“The goal of the challenge is to increase awareness of a very special variety of grapefruit, the Rio Star, available in supermarkets from mid-October through May. We are challenging inventive cooks in the U.S. and Canada to submit nutritious, delicious and original Rio Star grapefruit recipe creations,” said Eleisha Ensign, executive director of TexaSweet Citrus Marketing, Inc. based in Mission, Texas.

Contest entry forms, rules and frequently asked questions may be found online at The contest begins October 15 and ends February 15, 2009. Winners will be notified no later than April 1, 2009.

There are three recipe categories in the contest – salad, main course and dessert – and two divisions – home cooks and professionals. Cash prizes of $500 each will be awarded for the best recipe in each category and division. A grand-prize winner from each division will be awarded an additional $1,000. Total prize money of $5,000 is allocated for the contest.

Texas grown citrus is recognized worldwide and is extensively distributed in holiday gift baskets and sold in retail outlets during the fall, winter, and early spring each year. Rio Star grapefruit is recognized for its deep red colored flesh and sweet taste. Information about Texas citrus is available at or

Recipe entry forms and rules may be requested by writing to Texas Rio Star Grapefruit Challenge, 901 Business Park Drive, Ste. 100, Mission, Texas 78572. Please include a self-addressed-stamped envelope.

Crow-ing over a partnership at Whole Foods

From the press room today:

Whole Foods Market, the world's leading retailer in natural and organic foods, has teamed up with pop music icon and environmental activist Sheryl Crow to create a special edition of Whole Foods Market’s signature reusable shopping bag, A Better Bag. Launching in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide on Oct. 15, this exclusive design was created in support of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Simple Steps program to encourage shoppers to embrace simple steps in their everyday lives to reduce consumption and consider the environment.

“I am a big believer in doing what you can, even if it’s something as small as reducing the amount of plastic we each use daily that ends up in landfills, whether it is plastic bags, water bottles or product packaging. I’m so happy to be working with Whole Foods Market on this project,” said Sheryl Crow.

The design of the new A Better Bag, which will be out in plenty of time for the holiday season, features a charcoal sketch of a tree with words written by Crow specifically for this project woven into the artwork.

This limited edition bag, which features a collection of beautiful earth tones, is made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and will be available from Oct. 15 through the holiday season. Each bag represents approximately four 20-ounce plastic bottles. The Company is offering two sizes for the first time: large (14 x 15.5 x 8) and small (9.5 x 12 x 7.5) which retail for an unbeatable 99 cents and 79 cents, respectively.

“On their own, our A Better Bags have been tremendously popular with shoppers,” said Whole Foods Market’s Nona Evans. “Working alongside someone as talented and passionate as Sheryl Crow to create this special edition not only sends a strong message about the environment to the world, but it’s also sure to make it easy to make a difference this holiday season. It’s also a powerful way to give a gift that gives back as the bags make great holiday gift bags.”

As part of the Company’s continued efforts to consider the environment and keep shoppers informed on environmental issues, Whole Foods Market and Sheryl Crow are using this campaign to help raise awareness for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and its Simple Steps program. Whole Foods Market has made a donation to the NRDC in support of their initiative and each bag carries the website encouraging shoppers to learn more about how they can get involved.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In braise of the chicken

Yes, it seems chicken ideas come in waves (or should that be flocks?) , but here are some that use a cooking method many Americans don't employ as much as the old days, when every kitchen had a cast iron Dutch oven.

I speak of the braise.

A long, slow cooking method that tenderizes meats by gently breaking down their fibers, braising is the perfect preparation for fall dishes. (Heat that kitchen up. You might as well make the heating bill and cooking bill join forces.)

Dark chicken meat like drumsticks, thighs and leg quarters (which are super-cheap compared to the boneless breast craze) braise particularly well, as their extra fat allows for the development of rich flavors.
Braising is an easy technique to learn, as it involves simply browning the meat on the top of the stove, and then simmering it over low heat while tightly covered. A small amount of liquid like wine, chicken stock or orange juice is added to the pan to provide the needed moisture.

From the National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, here are two new braised chicken recipes that make delicious autumn meals. The finished dishes are so succulent that the meats practically melt in the mouth. Serve over rice or pasta or with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful juices.

Orange and Green Olive Braised Chicken infuses chicken drumsticks with the flavors of orange juice and tangy green olives. Start by coating the chicken in a flour mixture and browning on top of the stove. When ready to braise in the oven, add strips of orange peel, garlic cloves, chicken stock, orange juice, bay leaves, saffron and sliced olives. Cook, covered, over low heat for about an hour and serve.

Orange and Green Olive Braised Chicken

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs (about 2.5 pounds)
½ cup flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 TBLS olive oil
1 orange
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup orange juice
3 cups chicken stock
3 dried bay leaves
¼ cup pitted green olives
½ tsp saffron
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In gallon size plastic bag with zipper top, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs, seal bag, and toss to completely coat with flour mixture.

In large, oven-proof sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium high heat. Remove chicken from bag, shake off excess flour and place in pan, skin side down. Cook chicken over medium high heat until golden brown, turning once, about 5 minutes per side.

While chicken is cooking, peel long strips of zest from the orange with vegetable peeler. When chicken is browned, add whole peeled garlic cloves to pan, placing around chicken. Reduce heat to medium and cook one minute. Add orange juice and bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, again bring to a boil and cook another 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, olives, saffron and orange zest peel to the pan. Cover and place pan in oven.

Cook chicken until fork can be easily inserted into chicken, about 50 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and place on serving platter. Place pan back on stove and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaves and remaining garlic pieces; spoon sauce over chicken, top with parsley and serve.

Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
640 calories; 40 g fat; 9 g saturated fat; 24 g carbohydrate; 44 g protein

Chicken Braised with Pumpkin, White Beans and Spinach is a tasty recipe that focuses on some of the favorite foods of fall. Start by cooking bacon strips in the pan to be used to braise the chicken, and then brown the thighs and drumsticks in the remaining drippings. Add garlic, shallots and wine to the pan, and boil. Add chicken stock, pumpkin puree, white beans and sage, and braise in the oven for about 40 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan, boil the remaining sauce to thicken, add the spinach and serve.

Chicken Braised with Pumpkin, White Beans and Spinach

Serves 4

4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs (about 2.5 pounds of chicken, total)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 slices bacon
2 TBLS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
2 TBLS chopped fresh sage
1 can white beans (15.5 ounce size)
8 cups spinach

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. In large sauté pan with tight-fitting lid, sauté bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside. Add olive oil to pan and warm. Add chicken, skin side down. Cook chicken, turning, until skin is nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side. Add garlic and shallots to pan and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Pour wine in pan and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Boil for 2 minutes until wine is slightly reduced. Add chicken stock, pumpkin puree and sage; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 40 minutes.

Add beans to pan, cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate and reserve. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Add spinach to sauce and stir. Return chicken to pot, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until heated through. Spinach should be wilted but still bright green. Stir in bacon pieces and serve.

Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
600 calories; 31 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 22 g carbohydrate; 51 g protein