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Archive for October 7, 2011

FOOD HOLIDAY: Send Sweets To Celebrate Sweetest Day, October 15th

Some people are snarky and call them “Hallmark Holidays,” but occasions such as Administrative Professionals Day (the Wednesday of the last full week of April), Grandparents Day (the first Sunday after Labor Day) and National Nurses Day (May 6th) do more than sell cards. They provide an opportunity to thank someone. If the thanks comes with a card and a small gift, it supports the economy and makes someone happy.

Sweetest Day, October 15th, was founded in 1921 by a Cleveland confectioner and philanthropist in order to do something nice for the neglected. More than 20,000 boxes of candy were distributed to orphans, newsboys, the aged and the poor. The tradition expanded to the entire Great Lakes region, with the third Saturday in October as the official date.

Over time, Sweetest Day became a celebration with loved ones, friends and colleagues: a day to make someone happy anywhere in the country.

You’ll definitely make someone happy with one of our sweet treat recommendations: outstanding products selected by THE NIBBLE editors as the best in their category. There are delicious sugar-free sweets as well.

Take a look at our best-tasting gift recommendations.


Whether it’s for Sweetest Day or National
Boss Day, a treat like our favorite toffee—available in regular and sugar-free, and certified kosher—will make anyone sweeter. Photo courtesy Enstrom’s.


The day after Sweetest Day: NATIONAL BOSS DAY is October 16th. So when you look at the gifts, think of your boss. Whether or not or she is the sweetest, it’s an opportunity to say “thanks.”


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COOKING VIDEO: Halloween Spooky Food (Would You Believe Quesadillas?)


Spooky quesadillas? Sure, and they’re easy-to-make Halloween food—a light dinner for trick-or-treaters or for anyone staying at home who wants some Halloween fun (adults: enjoy them with a pumpkin ale).

Watch the video below to see how the Food Network’s Sandra Lee turns a quesadilla into a “spookadilla,” using tomato-basil tortillas. (Look for tomato-flavored tortillas from The Tortilla Factory or Tumaro’s Tortillas, two of our favorite brands. Their tortillas have flavor in addition to color.)

Sandra demonstrates two options: A jack o’ lantern face cut into a tortilla and a face added with vegetables. What she leaves off, in our humble opinion, is the “blood”: the salsa or tomato sauce that makes a basic pumpkin face spookier.

We like the veggie decorations as a creative, make-your-own spooky food activity (not to mention, it hopefully gets people to eat their veggies). Sandra uses quartered tomato slices for the eyes, sliced pimento-stuffed olives for the nose and sliced mushrooms for the teeth. (Feel free to add your own selections.) Put the sliced veggies in bowls—on a turntable, perhaps?—and let the revelers create.

To spice things up on Halloween, try Cabot Habanero Cheddar. An easy substitute: mix crushed red pepper flakes or minced jalapeño into shredded cheese.

Shredded Cheese Vs. Shredding Block Cheese

You’ll often read that grating your own cheese is a cost saver. Yes, but you may be saving just a penny per ounce.

At, for example, Kraft shredded cheeses are $4.49 per eight-ounce package, or $.56/ounce. Kraft Cracker Barrel Cheese varieties are $5.49 per 10-ounce block, or or $.55/ounce.

The real reason to grate your own is a broader choice of cheeses. We love the whole variety of Cabot flavored Cheddar cheeses: Garlic & Herb, Horseradish, Hot Buffalo Wing, Hot Habanero, Smoky Bacon, Tomato Basil and Tuscan. The company also makes reduced-fat Cheddars: 50% Cheddar, 50% Jalapeño, 50% Pepper Jack, 75% Cheddar and 75% Habanero, all so good that you’d never guess they were reduced-fat.

To easily grate cheese, we use this OXO Good Grips box grater. It has a detachable container that catches, measures, and stores (with a snap-on lid) the grated cheese.

To those who read ingredient lists: Shredded cheese typically contains anti-caking agents—calcium carbonate, microcrystalline cellulose or potato starch, for example—which prevent the shreds from sticking together. These are natural ingredients, unlike chemical preservatives that some consumers seek to avoid.

On to the spookadillas!




Jack o’ Lanterns were not originally pumpkins. To keep away spirits and ghosts on Samhain, people placed candles in their windows, using hollowed-out turnips and other vegetables as the holder.

Get spooked: more Halloween trivia.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Basil-Infused Olive Oil

Of all the infused and flavored olive oils, basil olive oil is the best seller in the U.S.

We love all infused olive oils, but can find ways to use versatile basil oil every day.

Ways To Use Basil Olive Oil

  • Eggs. Cook eggs in basil olive oil. It’s an easy way to liven up eggs with fresh herb flavor.
  • Caprese Salad. Amp up the fresh basil flavor on a Caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala with fresh basil and olive oil) by using basil oil instead of plain olive oil. Try it in this Caprese pasta salad recipe.
  • Pesto Sauce. Make a large batch of pesto sauce. Freeze in ice cube trays for later use. After the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a heavy duty plastic freezer bag or a plastic container.
  • Pasta Sauce. Use it as a simple pasta topping, just as you would plain olive oil. Drizzle over pasta and toss.
  • Baked Potatoes. Instead of butter, drizzle basil olive oil into baked potatoes and add some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Bread Dipper. Make an easy bread dipper to serve with slices of warm, crusty baguette or crudités.
  • Fruit Salad. Drizzle over fruit salad. Add a chiffonade of fresh basil.
  • Vinaigrette. Mix with your favorite vinegar.
  • Pizza. Drizzle on a pizza before serving.

    Basil olive oil is a versatile condiment.
    Photo courtesy


  • Meat & Fish. Add to marinades; rub onto meat and fish before grilling.
  • Hor’s d’Oeuvre & Snacks. Brush onto toasted baguette slices and top with ricotta cheese. Garnish with some color: half a grape tomato or a strip of roasted pepper, for example.
  • Fresh Basil Substitute. If you find yourself without fresh basil for a recipe, add a bit of basil olive oil.
    What Is Infused Olive Oil?

    Infused olive oil is extra virgin olive oil into which a flavoring has been infused—a fruit (citrus, for example), herb (basil, oregano, rosemary) or spice (garlic). When an oil is infused, the flavoring is crushed and added to the vat of fresh-pressed olive oil, or it is crushed along with the olives. It is the superior technique for producing flavored oil.

    You can also find “flavored” olive oil, a less expensive preparation. Instead of using fresh fruit, herbs and spices, an alcohol-based flavor extract or essence is stirred into the pressed olive oil. It can taste good or it can taste artificial, depending on the producer.
    Some delicious products, like Sonoma Farm Infused Olive Oil, use essence because it enables them to bottle smaller batches and send a fresher product when retailers order. Calivirgin, on the other hand, crushes fresh basil leaves together with the olives.
    Check out Calivirgin’s recipes using basil olive oil.

    Infuse your own basil olive oil with this easy recipe.


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