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Week of December 26, 2010

All the gifts have been opened. The debris has been removed from under the tree. Dinner was served and devoured. The kids are happily playing with their new toys. Yes, Christmas is really over. Now it's time to get ready for the next big event - New Year's Eve!

Superstitions run high when it comes to good luck and many think certain foods that are eaten on New Year's Day are thought to bring good fortunes.

Drum roll, please. . . They are:

1. Greens including cabbage and collards (south), kale and chard. Why? Their green leaves look like paper money and are a simple symbol of good economic fortune.

2. Pork. Since pigs root forward, pork is considered symbolic of progress and prosperity.

3. Legumes - because they resemble coins. Legumes such as black-eyed peas and lentils are popular New Year’s Day dishes. Since they swell when cooked, they’re also believed to represent increased wealth and abundance. Hoppin’ John, a hearty black-eyed peas and rice (which also swelss when cooked) mixture, is a favorite Southern New Year’s Day dish.

4. Fish. Many cultures eat fish on New Year’s Day. Some believe forward swimming schools of fish symbolize progress and abundance, while others believe their shiny silver scales represent wealth and prosperity.

5. Noodles. Many Asian cultures, especially the Chinese and Japanese, believe long noodles symbolize longevity.

8. Ring-shaped foods. Round foods, such as cakes, donuts and cookies are symbolic of the year coming full circle.

So is there anything you should not eat? Lobsters, which move backward, and chickens, which scratch backward, are forerunners of setbacks and bad luck.

Week of December 19, 2010

If you do not like the same old canned cranberry sauces, you might want to try our delicious Cranberry Relish.

Makes 4 to 5 cups

6 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup full-bodied red wine (such as pinot noir) or cranberry juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel

Wash and drain the cranberries, removing any spoiled berries or foreign objects.

In a wide stainless steel skillet, combine wine, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for 1 minute. Add the cranberries and bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until skins pop*, stirring occasionally. Stir in the orange peel.

Cool completely; remove cinnamon. If desired, smash berries slightly with the back of a spoon for a thicker relish. Spoon into decorative jars. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 4 to 5 cups.

*COOKS NOTE: For a softer, smoother cranberry sauce, prepare as directed, except boil gently for 20 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: Servings Per Recipe 4 to 5 cups Calories 94, Sodium 33g, Carbohydrate 22g, Total Sugar 18g, Fiber 2g

Week of December 12, 2010

Holiday Gifts

Holiday food gifts are so thoughtful. They tell someone that you care enough to make something special just for them.

Below are a few wonderful spice blends that are sure to please:

Barbecu Rub

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons hot smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fine-ground white pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk together all the ingredients and place in jar.

This rub will keep for six months, as long as the jar is tightly sealed.

Taco Seasoning Mix
This is a favorite of mine - great taste - low sodium

1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne (increase for more heat)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Blend well and store in an airtight container. Use 2 tablespoons for each store bought packet called for in a recipe or use to taste.

Creole Seasoning Blend

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Italian Seasoning Blend

4 tablespoons dried parsley, crushed
4 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon ground thyme or 1 teaspoon marjoram
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Blend thoroughly. Use in shaker on table or store extra in tightly covered glass bottle.

Week of December 5, 2010

Holiday Entertaining

Cranberry Salad Appetizers
Serves 8

4 teaspoons finely chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 green apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
8 large leaves endive
print a shopping list for this recipe

Heat a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Toast pecans and celery seed, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, juice and vinegar in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add pecans, celery seed, cabbage, apple and cranberries; toss well to coat. Place 2 tablespoons salad on each endive leaf.


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