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A Better Birthday Bash

Chocolate amandine on a white backgroundNo birthday party is complete without a birthday cake… or is it? Put a unique twist on your celebration by switching out the typical sheet cake for something a little more festive.

When it comes to choosing an alternative, nearly any dessert will do. The key to making it feel like a party-worthy treat is all in the presentation. Clever names and decor can make any everyday dessert extra special. For example, if your theme is zoo safari, serve desserts iced in animal pattern stripes and spots.

So set your theme and borrow one of these ideas to get your party planning creativity flowing:

Radical rice treats: Prepare everyone’s favorite crispy squares as usual, or mix in peanut butter, nuts or flavored chips for an extra touch of flavor. Frost the tops and sides of each bar and top with sprinkles or decorative icing for mini-cakes for everyone, or dip just one end in a colored frosting and stack in staggered piles for a pretty display.

Cake pops: A trendy alternative to traditional cake, these bite-sized pops are fun on a stick

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5 Tips for Easy Family Weeknight Meals

2fMost families aspire to spend more time together around the dinner table, but between work and after-school activities, it’s hard to find the time.

If you’re finding it tough to get your family to the table each night, here are a few simple tips:
Keep the meals simple by choosing recipes with one star ingredient and easy preparation – like a pork tenderloin. Fresh pork cuts can be easily sliced into medallions or cubes to cook faster, while still maintaining juicy, delicious flavor, so you can have a dinner that’s ready in less than 10 minutes.

While waiting for dinner to finish cooking, slice and chop any ingredients that can be stored to cut down on some of the prep work for the next night’s meal.

Get the whole family involved and assign each member a task, such as setting the table or assembling a crisp green salad.

To save on time, choose meats that have done some of the work for you, such as Smithfield’s Seasoned Pork line. Slow-marinated in a variety of delicious seasonings, they’re perfect for any night of the week, and will

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A Fresh, Savory Side

3fSometimes the most memorable, flavorful dishes are those that start with a few ingredients you already have on hand.

For home chefs and foodies alike, it is easy to create flavorful meals in a flash with a well-stocked pantry, including tried-and-true staples like extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and an array of seasonings. With these kitchen essentials, you can create a delicious side dish to complement any entrée – from fish, beef to chicken – or even vegetarian options.  Stocking up at your local Safeway with these pantry essentials will ensure you’re ready for delicious meals with your friends and family.
Add new flavors to meals

Did you know that different types of olive oils should be used to complement specific types of recipes? The Pompeian Varietals Collection, a premium line of mono-varietal extra virgin olive oils celebrating the unique taste profiles of single olive varieties, allow you to find the perfect, complementary oil and flavor profile for all of your dishes, from delicate seafood to juicy red meats. Varieties include:

Arbequina: A mild-bodied extra virgin olive oil with a round taste of

Papaya and Orange Fruits to Cherish in winters

Have Papaya in your diet: Papaya is a low calorie fruit. It contains least amount of cholesterol. This fruit has many other benefits to look for.

  • Papaya is digestible easily. It has very soft flesh which is full of fibres. As a result, this keeps the bowel movements clear and digestion system normal and reduces constipation problems.
  • Pregnant women can have papaya in their regular diets. This is because there will be no digestion problems at all if you consume papaya regularly.
  • High amount of Vitamin C is present in this fruit. This enhances the immunity in the body and also helps in reducing any kind of inflammation in a human body.
  • Fresh papaya has good amount of calcium and potassium. This is also a very good thing. It keeps the body fluid flow normal, and at the same time, keeps the blood pressure and heart rate under control.
  • It has Vitamin A and flavonoids that facilitate to maintain the good vision and also thwart the early signs of ageing.
  • The seeds of this fruit are also very beneficial. It is used to cure stomach aches.

Oranges are for good: Orange, the most loved fruit in the entire

Blended Bliss

Looking for a healthy, convenient and delicious breakfast boost, afternoon refuel or sweet treat? If so, break out the blender and whip up a delicious and nutritious smoothie.

Made with fruits and vegetables, smoothies provide important nutrients that our bodies need. When prepared with chocolate milk, they can also be an excellent source of protein — and a tasty treat for kids and adults alike.

“Chocolate milk is a delicious and nutritious base for smoothies because it not only contains protein and minerals, it also provides calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for bone health,” said registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield. “Plus, combining a nutrient-rich option such as TruMoo Chocolate milk with fruits and vegetables like bananas, berries and kale is a great way to get kids to consume the nourishment they need, all in an enjoyable treat.”

Made with fresh white milk — sourced from your local dairy — pure cocoa and just enough natural sugar to make it taste great, TruMoo Chocolate milk is delicious whether it’s a smoothie base or enjoyed on its own. And with no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial growth hormones, you can feel great about serving it to your family.

If you’re not sure what

A Tart Tasty Way to Snack

With about 90 percent of Americans snacking daily, snacks now account for as much as 25 percent of many Americans’ daily calories. Indeed, the snack category is growing, with the biggest gains in better-for-you options that blend taste and nutrition.

“The secret to smart snacking is to choose a bite that contains a combo of protein and fiber, a power pair that will help you feel full longer. And of course, you can’t forget about flavor – it has to taste good, too. That’s why tart cherries are such a great pick; they offer great taste coupled with nutrition,” says Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, and the Today show’s nutrition expert.

Bauer suggests these simple snack-time strategies:

Don’t get caught in a snack attack. If you start searching for food after you’re already hungry, you’re more likely to make choices that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Plan and pre-package munchies in the morning or keep wholesome single-serve snacks on-hand so you’re prepared when hunger strikes.

Go for nutrient-dense noshes. The right snacks with the right nutrients can help keep hunger in check until your next meal. Dried fruits, like anthocyanin-packed tart cherries, and nuts, including protein-rich almonds, team up to create a

Cocktails Shaken Not Stirred

Tis the season for entertaining, and festive cocktails are in fashion for gatherings large and small. This season, shake things up a bit. Trade in the punch bowl for a cocktail shaker and serve up some easy, fun and delicious egg-based cocktails for guests.

But, if you’re asking if raw eggs are safe to use, the answer is “yes as long as you’re using pasteurized eggs.” Safest Choice Eggs are pasteurized in their shells using a warm water bath which eliminates the risk of salmonella. A red circle “P” stamped on the eggs lets you know they are safe.
Simple, sensational cocktails

Eggnog is a must-have for the season, and most everyone agrees that homemade tastes best. So start with the basics to make a perfect Shaken Eggnog Cocktail. A whole egg, cream, brandy or bourbon, some simple syrup and you’re on your way to cocktail bliss. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and it’s time for a toast with this creamy, slightly spicy take on eggnog.

As a nod to another seasonal favorite, the cranberry, a Cranberry Fizz is just what the mixologist ordered. It’s an ethereal combination of orange liqueur, vodka and cranberry juice, accented with hints of lime and bitters. Add

Easy Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Gathering friends and family over a delicious meal is often a highlight of the holiday season. As you start to plan your menu for the big day, remember to consider which wines you’ll offer as perfect pairings for your favorite dishes.

Whether you’re preparing a traditional feast or planning to fill the table with new harvest-inspired recipes, food writers and wine connoisseurs agree – chardonnay and pinot noir are the ultimate Thanksgiving wines.

Versatile chardonnay
One of the primary reasons chardonnay is at the top of a Thanksgiving wine list is the flexibility inherent in America’s most popular white wine grape. Chardonnay flavor profiles can range from fruit-forward with bright acidity to big, rich and opulent. In either case, it’s the right white for the job.

If you prefer white meat and lighter fare, choose a lively chardonnay with notes of citrus, like the La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. With aromas of lemon drop, yellow apple and subtle toasted oak, this wine pairs beautifully with breast meat and balances dishes like creamy potatoes or roasted carrots.

lf darker meat is your preference, consider a richer style with a lush texture and spicy notes  that can hold up to the more intense flavors of the

Trending Mediterranean

Just what is all the excitement about the Mediterranean diet? Simply put, it’s based on the healthy cooking and eating styles of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Experts say it can help reduce the risk of diseases, such as cardiovascular, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

It’s not difficult to do. Basically, it’s based on predominantly plant-based foods. A few simple techniques can get you on your way to embracing the Mediterranean diet. Focus on several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Add whole grains, beans and nuts to meals. Use olive oil in place of butter. Hold back on the salt; try seasoning foods with herbs and spices instead. Choose fish and poultry more often, and cut back on red meat consumption.

Here’s an example. Un-Beetable Citrus Couscous Medley is a quick, great-tasting side dish that showcases many of these choices. First, the couscous. Make sure the package says whole wheat couscous. Sauté the onions in olive oil instead of butter. Replace part of the water with vitamin C-rich orange juice to add more flavor and nutrients to the couscous. Enhance the antioxidant level with golden raisins and red pickled beets. Aunt Nellie’s beets are picked at the peak of ripeness

A Bold Take on Seasonal Classics

Push your taste buds’ boundaries as the holiday season approaches with bold flavors and new spins on classic seasonal favorites, including savory pork recipes.

As host of the Food Network’s “Chopped,”Ted Allen knows a thing or two about experimenting with different flavors in seasonal dishes, making heartburn an occupational hazard in his line of work. That’s why Allen has teamed up with the PEPCID® brand and its Tastemakers program to enable foodies in their pursuit of great tastes.
Ribs with Homemade Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce


4 1/2 pounds pork ribs
Salt and pepper
1 package (6 ounces) fresh raspberries
3 chipotle peppers from a can of chipotles in adobo more if you like things extra spicy
2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce from the peppers
1 tablespoon tomato paste from a tube
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons water or more if your sauce is extra thick


Heat oven to 400°F.
Place ribs on roasting pan and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook for 20 minutes.
Flip ribs and cook for 20 more minutes.
While ribs are cooking, combine remaining ingredients in blender and pulse on high.

Easy Treats for the 4th of July

Everyone will be bringing something to the 4th of July picnic, but you can bring the grand finale. Each of these tasty sweet treats captures the flair of the 4th without the fuss. In just a little time, you can add patriotic color and fun flavor to classics like cupcakes, ice cream cones and cookies.

Dipped Ice Cream Cones: Add color and crunch to your cones with a dip in red, white or blue melted Candy Melts candy and a variety of patriotic sprinkles. The Cone Cakes baking rack holds the cones for drying and serving.

Red, White and Blue Swirled Cupcakes: Everyone loves picnic treats they can grab and eat, and these July 4th cupcakes also bring pyrotechnics to the plate. Each is topped with an explosive three-color swirl of icing, easily created with the Color Swirl Three-Color Coupler.

S’mores Crispy Cereal Treats: These crunchy cereal bars pack the flavor of traditional s’mores while being much neater to eat. The marshmallow, cereal and candy mixture is laced with warm cinnamon graham and creamy vanilla custard flavors using Treatology Flavor concentrates.

Creamy Coconut Cookie Flag: Give the day a flag-waving finish with red, white and blue royal iced cookies that hold up to the

A Fresh Catch

Enjoy the fun of al fresco entertaining with the enticing flavors of the sea. Hosting an outdoor gathering is the perfect opportunity to venture outside of normal grilled fare. Low in fat and sodium, and high in heart-healthy omega-3s, Alaska seafood takes on a whole new appeal when prepared over an open flame. Grilling Alaska seafood is easy with simple preparations that let the flavor of quality seafood stand front and center.

Serve a smarter entree option
Families who want to feel good about what they eat can feel confident when they serve Alaska sockeye salmon, a versatile protein that is sustainably harvested. From one of the most bountiful fishing regions in the world, Alaska salmon have never been listed as endangered or threatened. In fact, sustainable seafood practices are so essential to Alaska, it’s written into the state’s constitution.

As a flavor-packed source of omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein and other nutrients, such as selenium, phosphorus and potassium, wild Alaska sockeye salmon makes a great mealtime addition. At only 220 calories per 3.5-ounce serving, it’s a delicious, low-calorie entree.

Alaska Sockeye Salmon with Herbs and Garlic


1 1/2 pounds Alaska sockeye salmon, fresh or thawed
Cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Fire Up the Grill All Year Round

Grilling is no longer just for summer. Spice up your  grilling repertoire year-round with a Smokehouse Burger with Peppered Bacon and Cheddar that’s sure to please a crowd.

Grilling Tips
Here’s a list of items to consider when preparing for your grilling get-together:

Quick Fix – Using store-bought hummus or salsa, stir in some Tabasco Original Red Sauce to enhance the flavor and add an extra kick for a tasty side.

Meat Mix-Up – Use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef when making burgers for an unexpected change of taste and texture.

Made-Over Margaritas – Combine frozen strawberries, tequila, lime juice, sugar, Tabasco Original Red Sauce and ice for a refreshing strawberry margarita.

For more grilling recipes, visit www.Tabasco.com.

Smokehouse Burger with Peppered Bacon and Cheddar


8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/2 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco Original Red Sauce
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
4 hamburger rolls


Preheat oven to 400° F.
Place bacon slices on rack positioned over baking pan and brush generously with Tabasco Chipotle Sauce. Bake for 8 minutes, flip, baste again, and bake until crisp about 8 more minutes.
Combine beef, salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties and grill or

Serve a Satisfying Soup

Chilly outside? Nothing warms like a steaming bowl of soup. If thoughts of a cozy and comforting pot of soup make you hungry, here is a recipe that’s short on time, but long on flavor and satisfaction.

Forget about a tedious ingredient list and lots of simmering time. Italian-Style Greens & Beans Soup is a shortcut that you will turn to again and again. This hearty, rustic bean soup with homemade from-scratch flavor can be on the table in about 20 minutes. The secret is a can of READ Greens and Beans with Sausage, a seasoned combination of white kidney beans, collard greens, tomatoes and sausage. It makes a delicious, easy side dish but is also a great kick-start to a mouth-watering pot of soup. Just add broth and a few simple ingredients, give it a quick simmer, and stir in a healthy handful of kale or spinach. Then, sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese just before serving and soup’s on.

This soup can be a quick supper for the family or the main dish for casual entertaining. If you’re feeding a crowd, that’s no problem, as the recipe can easily be doubled. Accompaniments can be as simple as

A Well Stocked Pantry

When it comes to mealtime, a well-stocked pantry can be the difference between culinary success and a dinner dud. Too often we contemplate what to make for dinner, only to realize that we don’t have the right ingredients on hand or the food in the fridge has spoiled. But with a pantry full of canned foods, a delicious and easy, homemade meal is just minutes away.

It’s no secret that canned foods are convenient, but did you know that cans are also one of the best ways to get food from the farm to your family’s table? Canned fruits and vegetables are picked and packed when they’re at their peak of ripeness and nutrition, sealing in their freshness and flavor, so you can feel confident about serving them anytime.

Less waste, more meals

And if you find that you’re often throwing away fresh food, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, most Americans throw away spoiled fresh fruits and vegetables two times a week on average, wasting a staggering 15 to 20 percent of fresh produce each year. By keeping your pantry stocked with essential canned ingredients, you know the food you purchase won’t go to waste, saving you money and helping

Build a Better Sandwich

Returning to a school or work routine is bittersweet. Schedules and agendas don’t have to be boring, though, when your lunch routine is anything but. Run-of-the-mill PB&J and turkey and cheese standbys are making way for a new hero: gourmet sandwich creations that inspire envy.

Craveable ingredients, like savory green olives, peppery salami and smoky roasted tomatoes can be lunch staples with these delicious recipes. Skip those weekday blues and mix up your lunch with a layer of excitement.

Makes Great Meal Any Way You Stack It

Weekday lunch breakers rejoice – the sandwich is making a comeback. Kick-start your lunch routine with these easy tips and craveable recipes that are sure to inspire lunch envy:

Prep the Week: Create a shopping list based on your week’s menu, and prep your ingredients in advance so creating a delicious sandwich is easy. Have a little fun and experiment. Bet you didn’t know that if you put two pieces of bread in the same slot of the toaster, the outside of the bread gets crispy and the inside stays soft and pillowy.

Spread the Love: Spice things up with a Smoked Bacon Ranch or Spicy Chipotle Pepper Hidden Valley Sandwich Spread & Dip – it’s a simple

Peanut Butter Perfection

From classic recipes passed down through generations to new creations you wouldn’t expect to find on grandma’s table, there’s no shortage of ways to pack peanut butter into deliciously diverse dishes. Celebrate your enduring love for this sticky staple with these winning entries from Southern Peanut Growers’ annual “PB My Way” recipe contest showcasing PB lovers’ all-time favorite peanut butter dishes.
Nutty Monkey Granola
Christine Yang, Garnerville, New York


2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons ground flax
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 banana
1 egg white
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chocolate chips


Heat oven to 375°F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine first 8 ingredients in large mixing bowl.
Use blender to combine banana, egg white and peanut butter until smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until incorporated. Pour mixture in even layer on baking pan.
Bake until crisp (about 20–30 minutes), removing from oven and stirring every 10 minutes to allow granola to brown evenly and break up into smaller pieces. When granola is golden and crisp,

Culinary Creations by and for Families

Encouraging kids to get creative in the kitchen is a fun way to make great memories, meals and moments together. And for more than 10 years, Jif® has inspired parents to creatively collaborate with their kids in the Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest(tm) for the chance to win a $25,000 college fund. Last year’s top entries ranged from a sweet and spicy sandwich to satisfying snacks and dreamy desserts. Inspire your family with these delicious recipes or check out www.jif.com for even more creative options.

Our most recent champ, 9-year-old Jacob C. from North Carolina, impressed the judges with his savory Mexican-inspired sandwich using Jif Chocolate Flavored Hazelnut Spread.

Get Cooking! This year, your family can be a part of the excitement as Jif launched the 12th Annual Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest on August 20, 2013. Parents can submit their kid’s creative sandwich recipes using at least two tablespoons of any Jif product (except Jif To Go®). Visit www.jif.com for Official Rules and more information. The Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. between six and 12 years of age by November 8, 2013. Void where prohibited.

Peanut Butter Pear-ot

New Spin on a Classic Sandwich

The classic grilled cheese sandwich has been an American favorite for generations. It’s hard to resist toasted, buttery bread and melted cheese. The best way to upgrade a grilled cheese and prevent flavor fatigue is to experiment with new cheeses, spreads and sandwich fillers.

Give your taste buds something new with these tips:

  • Use fresh ingredients – Whether it’s tomato, avocado or hearty bread slices, fresh is best. Roman Meal whole grain bread is baked fresh, locally by bakeries across the country. This ensures the freshest loaves are delivered to your grocery store.
  • Try new flavors – Choose a less common cheese, like Gruyere or Gouda. Or layer an unconventional spread, like fresh cranberry sauce, onto slices of bread before cooking.
  • Boost nutritional value with healthy ingredient swaps – Use fresh produce, like apples or spinach, to add nutrients to your sandwich. Maximize fiber intake by cooking with whole grain bread instead of white bread.

This recipe for Turkey & Brie Grilled Cheese is perfect for an al fresco lunch or a light and healthy dinner. Serve with locally-sourced vegetables, hummus and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade.

Turkey & Brie Grilled Cheese

  • 4 slices Roman Meal bread
  • Nonstick

Add Seafood to Your Familys Diet

The easiest way to get the family together for a meal is with a delicious, homemade dish with tasty ingredients, such as protein-packed shrimp.

There are many scrumptious reasons for including shrimp into your family’s diet. In fact, the American Heart Association and other experts recommend eating seafood at least twice a week, and the FDA just announced this year that pregnant women should consume between 8-12 ounces of seafood a week. It’s easy to work towards this dietary goal by introducing Gulf shrimp into your diet. This versatile protein is easy to prepare; has a wonderfully salty and fresh flavor from the nutrient-rich environment in which it is caught; and is also widely available fresh and frozen at your local grocery.

Better-for-you benefits

Flavorful Gulf shrimp contains high-quality protein and a variety of essential nutrients, such as vitamins B-6 and B-12. Plus, it’s a natural source of vitamin D, low in saturated fat and offers healthy omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Simple substitutions

Add flair and flavor to your family’s meal routine (and keep the kids happy) with these easy meal ideas that incorporate Gulf shrimp:

  • Breakfast: Dice it up and add to omelets with