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Archive for November, 2011

THANKSGIVING: Save Time With Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix

Which of the five flavors of Pepperidge Farm
stuffing will we use in our final recipe? Tune
in next week. Photo courtesy Pepperidge


We have a friend who bakes cornbread from scratch the day before Thanksgiving, just to make her signature cornbread stuffing.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, our Mom—a great cook by anyone’s account—always starts with a base of packaged Pepperidge Farm Stuffing.

Not only are Pepperidge Farm stuffings delicious to her ever-so-picky palate, but they also save time—which nobody has to spare when preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

(In addition to turkey, stuffing and homemade gravy, Mom whips up two different types of cranberry sauce, both white and sweet potato dishes, two green vegetable dishes, hot biscuits, a green salad, a relish tray, fresh fruit salad and two different pies. If I’ve forgotten something, Mom, chime in.)

In our youth, there was only one style of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing: herb-seasoned cubes of bread. Today, busy cooks have five choices: Herb Seasoned, Herb Seasoned Cubed, Cornbread, Country Cubed and Sage and Onion cubed.


This Year, It’s Pepperidge Farm For Us

After years of making stuffing from every type of bread we came across—one year, we spent a fortune on brioche—we’re excited to return to our roots. We’ve accepted a challenge from Pepperidge Farm to create an original stuffing recipe based on one of their stuffing mixes.

The biggest challenge for us is where to begin—we’d like to make all five flavors.

And we just may do so, since in exchange for our recipe, Pepperidge Farm will reimburse us for ingredients and time. And of course, we get to eat all the stuffing!

  • Watch. Stay tuned for our recipe as well as our recommendations on how to use leftover stuffing.
  • Share. If you have favorite stuffing add-ins or other shortcuts that save time in the preparation and serving of holiday meals, let us know. We’ll post them next week.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Cocktails For Thanksgiving

    Last week we provided the recipe for a Tipsy Turkey pumpkin cocktail, followed by Thanksgiving-appropriate liqueurs.

    But if your family and friends really enjoy creative cocktailing, here’s a more comprehensive Thanksgiving cocktail menu:

    The Martini Group

  • Cinnamon Cider Martini & Chai Creme Martini
  • Cranberry Martini
  • Ginger Martini
  • Pomegranate Martini

    The Mojito Group

  • Beet Mojito
  • Cranberry Mojito
    The Warm Drink Group

  • Hot Buttered Rum
  • Mulled Wine, Cider & Glogg
  • Orange & Anise Mulled Wine

    Spiced cider and rum (make that spiced rum!) is one of almost 30 delicious Thanksgiving-appropriate cocktails you can serve. Photo courtesy National Honey Board.


    More Favorites

  • Cranberry Tequila Cocktail
  • Ginger Joy Cocktail
  • Ginger Vodka Cocktails (made with ginger-infused vodka)
  • Pumpkin Divine Cocktail
  • Pomegranate Sangria
  • Spiced Apple Cider With Rum (or virgin)
  • Spice Night Rum Cocktail With Apple Cider & Maple Syrup
    What to do next?

    Put together a cocktail menu of three specials to serve on Turkey Day.



    PRODUCT: Blue Chip Cookies In 20 Different Flavors

    Comfort food: peanut butter cookies and a
    glass of milk. Photo by River Soma | THE


    From Loveland, Ohio, we received a gift of Blue Chip Cookies from Chief Cookie Officer Donna Drury.

    The company’s phone number, 1.800.888.YUMM, lives up to its promise.

    The all-natural cookies are available in some 20 different flavors, including Almond Toffee, with or without chocolate chips; Black & White, a chocolate chip cookie with both dark and white chocolate chips; Blue Chip Joy, made with almonds, coconut and semisweet chocolate chips; Peanut Butter Surprise, with dark chocolate chips; Triple Chocolate, a combination of milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolates; and White Chocolate Macadamia.

    You’ll find all the classics, too, from oatmeal and plain PB to snickerdoodle.

    If you know someone in need of a treat or need to send a thank you to your Thanksgiving hosts, a cheerful blue and yellow tin of Blue Chip Cookies will be most appreciated.


    The company ships anywhere in the world from If you’re in need of business gifts, there’s a selection that is sure to please.

    Want To Sell Cookies?

    This year, the company established a Gourmet Cookie Licensing Program to partner with retailers to sell fresh-baked Blue Chip cookies. Check the company website for more information.

    Trivia: Loveland is a suburb of Cincinnati, the “Blue Chip City.” Cincinnati got the name because it’s home to the headquarters of numerous “blue chip” corporations. The cookies can hold their own in the “blue chip” category.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Salad Recipe, The Natural Way

    When most people search for “spicy salad,” they’re looking for something to which chile heat has been added—like Thai beef salad or spicy cucumber salad.

    Building on yesterday’s tip, mustard greens, you can create a spicy salad with no chiles or other “outside heat” whatsoever.

    Just use the spiciest salad ingredients: arugula, mustard greens, radishes and red onions. Even with a plain or a lime vinaigrette* dressing, your salad will be spicy.

    You can spice it up even more with:

  • A Colman’s mustard vinaigrette (recipe below).
  • Sliced or diced fresh jalapeños (or other chiles—remove the white ribs and seeds unless you like super-hot food).
  • Crushed (dried) jalapeño (you can buy it online if you can’t find it locally).
  • Round out the hot flavors with some fresh parsley and “cool” cucumber slices or matchsticks.

    A spicy salad: no chiles required! Photo
    courtesy the Fat Radish restaurant | NYC.

    If you’ve got family members who don’t like salad but love their heat, see if this changes their tune.

    The bright red radishes and emerald green leaves also make for a nice holiday-themed side dish.



  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard
  • Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

    1. WHISK together the vinegar and mustard. Add the oil and whisk until fully combined. Taste and add salt and pepper.

    2. ALLOW the flavors to blend for 15 minutes or longer. Whisk again before serving. Pour over salad, toss and serve.
    Find more of our favorite salad recipes.
    *Substitute fresh-squeezed lime juice for the vinegar in a 1:3 proportion with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Or, split the acid 50% lime juice, 50% wine vinegar, and zest the lime into the emulsion (best to zest before you squeeze the juice).



    EVENT: Favorite Finds At The 2011 New York Chocolate Show

    Antidote Chocolate combines raw and
    roasted cacao beans in high-percentage-
    cacao, flavored chocolate bars. Photo
    courtesy Antidote Chocolate.


    Every November, the Chocolate Show wends its way to New York. Begun in Paris, its current tour includes that city along with Lille, Lyon and Marseille in France; plus Bologna, Cairo and Shanghai. Each show presents a different roster of local and international exhibitors (see

    We came, we saw, we conquered lots of chocolate. Here are our five favorites from the show, in alphabetical order by company:

    1. Antidote Chocolate of Ecuador. This newcomer has a concept we hadn’t seen before: a combination of raw and roasted cacao beans in high percentages of cacao (77%, 84% and 100%). The bars are beautifully flavored with flowers, fruits, herbs, nuts and spices. The goal: a more nutritious chocolate bar, due to the raw cacao and the high cacao percentages. Website.

    2. Chocolate For The Spirit of Shelbyville, Indiana. The Mayan Spirit Bar, made in 72% bittersweet chocolate or 38% milk chocolate, has a Mesoamerican kick of chipotle, other chiles (a secret blend!) and cinnamon. Most “Aztec” chocolate bars don’t get the seasonings right—or at least, they’re not right enough for us. Here we’ve found sizzling perfection. Website.


    3. Co Co. Sala of Washington, D.C. Their Salt And Pink Pepper Bar is excellent white chocolate with Maldon salt and pink peppercorns. If you think you don’t like white chocolate, try this! Coffee lovers must also try the Espresso Bar—milk chocolate with ground espresso nibs—an expression that is more elegant than most other espresso bean bars. Website.

    4. West End Confection Co. of Morganville, NJ. Most chocolate-covered pretzels are dipped in such cloyingly sweet chocolate that we can’t take a second bite. Although this confectioner’s line looks like a kids’ chocolate paradise, the chocolate-dipped and decorated pretzels can also be enjoyed by adults with discerning palates. Website.

    5. Bernachon of Lyon, France. The final kudos goes to one of the world’s legendary chocolatiers, Bernachon. Founded by Maurice Bernachon in 1953, the business was taken to the next level by his son Jean-Jacques. Jean-Jacques Bernachon was the first chocolatier to discover the superiority of single origin beans over cacao blends, and to use it in his chocolates. It earned him the title, “dean of microbatch chocolate bars.” The company is a bean-to-bar manufacturer as well, which means they purchase raw cacao beans, roast them and make their own chocolate. The chocolates are sold only at the Lyon store and at the À l’Etoile d’Or chocolate shop in Paris.* The chocolate, silky and elegant, is lightly sweetened—in a great way. That’s what you achieve when you’re the dean. Website.

    *À l’Etoile d’Or, 30, rue Fontaine, 75009 Paris. Métro stop Blanche or Pigalle. Telephone: 01 48 74 59 55. Open daily, except Sunday, and occasionally closed Monday. Alas, what has been called the greatest candy store in Paris is a small shop that has no website.

    Find all of our favorite chocolate in our Gourmet Chocolate Section and The Nibble Gourmet Market.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Mustard Greens

    Nutrition experts want you to eat more cruciferous vegetables: two to three times per week, with a serving size of at least 1-1/2 cups. If you eat two cups daily, so much the better. The vegetables are not only healthy, but they’re also very filling and low in calories.

    The cruciferous group includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi, turnip and wasabi, a type of horseradish. Mizuna (a variety of mustard green) and tatsoi have become “designer greens” in salads at America’s finest restaurants.

    Pungent and peppery, mustard greens present a lighter form of the flavor of prepared mustard (which is made from the seeds of the plant). If you like mustard and haven’t yet had mustard greens, you’re in for a delightful surprise.

    Mustard greens, like all vegetables, are cultivated in different varieties. The supermarket variety is emerald green in color, but specialty varieties can be found in farmers markets in shades of dark red and deep purple.


    Raw mustard greens. Photo by Badagnani |


    Depending on the variety, the leaves can be rumpled or flat, with frilled, lacy or scalloped edges. You can store the fresh leaves in the fridge for four or five days. Wrap them in a paper towel and seal them in a plastic bag from which you’ve pressed out the air.

    How To Cook Mustard Greens

  • Sautéed mustard greens. A quick sauté with garlic is easy to prepare. In a skillet, heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil (diet version: substitute broth, indulgent version: use bacon fat). When bubbles begin to form, add mustard greens and optional sliced onions and thinly sliced garlic. Cover and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar or sesame oil to finish. Toss with a lemon vinaigrette: 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 medium clove pressed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Top with toasted walnut halves, croutons, crumbled bacon or other favorites.
  • Salads. Add raw to green salads, and raw or cooked to pasta salads.
  • Pizza. Make a pizza with cooked mustard greens, tomatoes, pine nuts or walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
  • Stir frys.
    You’ll find many other recipes, and can have fun creating your own.

    Health Benefits Of Mustard Greens

    Cruciferous veggies are rich in calcium, fiber, vitamins A, C, B6 and folic acid. They offer an impressive list of health benefits:

  • Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to help reduce free radicals in the body, which may help prevent cancer.
  • Studies suggest that B vitamins can help prevent cardiovascular disease and memory loss.
  • Since folate helps with the production of serotonin, it may be a mood booster.
  • The fiber helps with weight loss and maintenance (it keeps you feeling full and helps control hunger), can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and helps to counter high blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream after meals.
    Mustard Greens Trivia

    The cruciferous group takes its name from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” The four-petal flowers in this group grow in the shape of the cross.

    Mustard greens originated in the Himalaya region of India, and have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Reminiscent of some Western African greens, mustard greens, along with turnip greens, became prominent in the cuisine of the American South in antebellum times.

    Find more of our favorite vegetables and recipes in our Vegetables Section.



    PRODUCT: Planters Tailgate Nut Mix, A Spicy, Cruncy Treat

    A terrific-tasting nut mix with a sizzle of
    chipotle. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Chipotle almonds and peanuts, corn nuts and pretzels: We couldn’t resist nibbling through an entire large container of Planters Tailgate Nut Mix—tossing some of it on salads and polenta.

    Our mix of choice is one of a series of seven limited-edition nut mixes that includes honey-smoked Tailgate Almonds (another favorite), Pumpkin Spice Almonds (very nice for Thanksgiving nibbling and garnishing) and Winter Spiced Nuts (our can was a bit underspiced; we’d like more cinnamon and clove).

    There’s also Holiday Nut Crunch, with peanuts, chocolate-covered peanuts, raisins, chocolate candy pieces (like M&Ms), almonds, cashews and dried cranberries. Alas, we couldn’t track that one down locally, so we’ll have to order it from Amazon.

    Two other sweet mixes are Brittle Nut Medley and Crème Brulee Almonds. The former didn’t have enough nut brittle to interest us; the latter was too sugary (but O.K. to sprinkle on ice cream).


    We’re off to load up on Tailgate Nut Mix and Tailgate Almonds. We don’t tailgate, but we do go out of our way to pick up delicious, healthy snacks.

    The USDA recommends an ounce of nuts daily as a heart-healthy snack. The nuts on the approval list include almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

    These particular nuts are recommended because they contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. Seeds such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may offer the same heart-healthy benefits.

    Note that walnuts and flax seeds have a significantly higher amount of heart-healthy alpha linolenic acid compared to other nuts and seeds. This plant-derived omega 3 fatty acid is similar to that found in salmon, which many studies show lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels.

    So nibble away, guilt-free.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Seasonal Alcoholic Drinks Over Thanksgiving Weekend

    After Thanksgiving dinner, or at other times over the long weekend, you may want to sit back and relax with a glass of liqueur.

    Serve a seasonal flavor. Earlier this week we wrote about Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice liqueur. Here are some other options:

  • Apple schnapps, such as 99 Apples (not DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker, unless you want to pucker)
  • Cinnamon liqueur, such as After Shock
  • Ginger liqueur, such as Domaine de Canton and The King’s Ginger
  • Hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
  • Pear liqueur or Poire Williams eau de vie (fruit brandy)—it’s made from the Williams pear, which is why Poire William is an incorrect spelling (in the U.S. it’s known as the Bartlett pear)
  • Pomegranate liqueur, such as Pama
  • Pumpkin liqueur, such as Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice liqueur—or you can make your own pumpkin liqueur (see below)
  • Walnut liqueur, such as Nocello
    A bottle of any of these also makes a nice house gift.


    The King’s Ginger was formulated for King Edward VII. But you can enjoy the ginger flavor for Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy The King’s Ginger.


    If you have cordial glasses (also called liqueur glasses and schnapps glasses), it’s a good time to use them.

    We actually prefer brandy snifters, which narrow at the top to keep in the aromas. Whiskey tasting glasses do the same thing.

    You can make your own pumpkin liqueur. All you need is fresh pumpkin, a bottle of 100-proof vodka, sugar, lemon and pumpkin pie spice.

    Start now: The liqueur needs to distill in a jar for one to two weeks.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The 24 Beers Of Christmas

    Off to a good start: the beer advent
    calendar. Photo courtesy of Kalea GmbH.


    Brewers of America: You have been bested by Austria’s Kalea Brewery.

    Maybe your beer is better, but where’s your craft beer Advent calendar? The clever folks at Kalea, in Strasbourg, have one.

    Or at least, they’ve packaged 24 items in a box for the 24 days of advent. The lucky recipient enjoys 10 Austrian beers, 10 international beers and four beer accessories.

    This calendar is perfect as a party gift, early Christmas gift or corporate gift with a company logo printed on the box. We can’t imagine a beer drinker who wouldn’t be tickled gold and amber by this gift.

    If you want to create your own beer Advent calendar, start now to gather your 24 different beers: The calendar commences on December 1st. Use this as an opportunity to try 24 beers that you haven’t had before.


    The one thing Kalea did not do was create a classic Advent calendar with windows that open for the “reveal” of the day (details below).

    Yes, it is possible to create an Advent calendar that does just that. Here’s how one clever fellow did it.

    What Is An Advent Calendar?

    Last month, 246,000 people asked the question of Google. Here’s the scoop:

    The Advent calendar dates to the beginning of the 19th century. A tradition begun by Lutherans in Germany, the first known Advent calendar dates to 1851. Its purpose: to count down the 24 days of December until Christmas.

    Most Advent calendars begin on December 1, regardless of when Advent is celebrated in any particular year (it’s the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, which can range from November 27th to December 3rd).

    Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming.” It’s a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, on Christmas Day.

    Some Advent calendars are strictly religious in nature; others are secular. Some involve affixing colored pictures to a piece of cardboard. Children’s versions have pieces of candy affixed to cardboard.

    Early versions were handmade. The first printed Advent calendar was published in 1908, and the now-familiar versions followed, with windows that opened out of the cardboard.

    Today, most Advent calendars are made for children: large and festive rectangles of printed cardboard with a different window to be opened on each of the 24 days. The windows reveal a holiday-themed image, inspiration, etc. The more elaborate versions have a small gift behind each window: a charm, a toy, a piece of candy.

    Thanks, but we’d rather have the beer.

    Pick your Advent calendar assortment from these different types of beer.



    GADGET: A Better Tea Bag Caddy

    We see a lot of kitchen gadgets that should never have seen the light of day.

    Nobody needs them, and worse, they don’t work.

    Here’s one that’s very clever, useful and makes up for the last 10 gadgets we couldn’t even give away:

    The Tea Bag Buddy from The Container Store.

    This silicone tea cup lid helps in four ways:

  • It holds the tea bag while it steeps, so you don’t have to fish it out.
  • After the tea has steeped, you lift the lid and squeeze the silicone to remove the excess liquid from the bag. No utensil needed.
  • It traps the heat in the cup while brewing, and afterwards, between sips.
  • It gives you a place to put the used tea bag.

    A great tea bag caddy! Photo courtesy
    The Container Store.


    Available in green or white, Tea Bag Buddy is microwave- and dishwasher-safe. At $4.95 it’s a great stocking stuffer or tea party or shower favor. From

    For a bigger gift, package Tea Bag Buddy with some top quality tea bags.

    The Organic Mint Melange from Mighty Leaf Tea is herbal (caffeine-free) and absolutely delicious plain—no sweetener or milk required.

    Discover everything you need to know about tea in our Tea Section.



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