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Archive for the ‘Monthly Features’ Category

Keep Your Produce Safeimages

September 2009

National Food Safety Education Month is a great time to reinforce proper food-handling techniques at home. With fruits and vegetables playing such a big role in healthful eating, it is important to practice proper buying, storing and preparation techniques to ensure the safety of your food. Most health risks that are linked to produce can be eliminated with proper food preparation like thorough cleaning. Below are more tips from the American Dietetic Association on safely shopping for, storing and preparing your fresh produce.

Buyingimages_5

            If you go to a farmers’ market, go early to avoid produce that has been sitting out all day long.

            Buy most produce in season when possible.

            If you are not satisfied with the store’s selection, ask the produce manager if there is more available.

            Buy loose produce rather than packaged. You have more control over what you select.

            Don’t purchase produce with mold, bruises or cuts.

            Buy only the amount of produce that you will use within a week.

            Buy only pasteurized juices.

Storingimages_4

            Promptly store produce that needs refrigeration. Fresh, whole produce such as bananas and potatoes don’t need refrigeration.

            Refrigerate fresh produce within two hours of peeling or cutting. Throw away leftover cut produce that is left at room temperature for more than two hours.

            Discard cooked vegetables after three to four days.

Preparingimages

            Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.

            Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.

            Use two separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination. Use one for raw meats and the other for fruits and vegetables. Color-coded cutting boards can help you remember which is which.

            Cook raw sprouts (alfalfa, clover, etc.). Cooking them significantly reduces the risk of illness.

For more information on how to practice proper food safety procedures in your home, visit the American Dietetic Association’s Home Food Safety Web site at www.homefoodsafety.org/.

Source: The American Dietetic Association

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Here is this month’s nutrition feature straight from the American Dietetic Association…

When Packing the School Lunches, Don’t Forget Breakfast

Providing your children with a nutritious lunch each day is an important way to make sure they are getting the nutrients their growing bodies need, but don’t forget the importance of providing them a healthy breakfast.

Why do kids need breakfast? Among other reasons, a well-nourished child is ready to learn. Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches in the morning, which means fewer trips to the school nurse. Their overall test scores are better, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. Children who eat breakfast are also less likely to be overweight and more likely to get enough calcium, too.

Start your child’s day in a healthful nutritious direction with a balanced breakfast that incorporates foods from the milk, grains, fruit and meat and beans groups.

Quick and easy breakfast ideas include:

  • Cheese slices served on whole-grain toast
  • Iron-fortified cereal and milk with banana slices
  • Peanut butter spread on whole-grain toast or waffle or rolled inside a whole-wheat tortilla
  • Fruit such as bananas, strawberries or raisins and milk on instant oatmeal
  • Apple and cheese slices between whole-wheat or graham crackers
  • Lean ham on a toasted whole-wheat English muffin

Make these tasty, easy breakfasts even healthier by enjoying with a glass of low-fat milk or juice.

If eating breakfast at home simply isn’t an option for your child, find out if school breakfast is available. Or pack them a healthy breakfast-to-go that they can eat on the bus or when they get to school. You will not only be encouraging your children to eat nutritiously, but fueling their growing bodies and minds for success.

Source: The American Dietetic Association

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It’s almost Valentines Day, and if you want to skip the usual flowers, chocolates and dinner out at some over-packed, fancy restaurant, we have the perfect plan for you.  Zoe and I have put together a Breakfast/Brunch and a Lunch/Dinner menu that will no doubt wow your sweetheart and make for a much more personal, romantic day.  Use these menus as is or mix and match some of the items with other favorites on our site.  Check out the menu HERE or in the Monthly Feature Article Above.

Questions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you!  Just e-mail us at ezhomecooking@gmail.com or leave us a comment here.

xoxo,

Erin and Zoe

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images_10Since many of us are in the middle of a cold and snowy winter, (unless we live in Hawaii, like some of our readers), Erin and I thought it would be fun to highlight Comfort Food as our feature for the month of January. I think that everyone will agree that no matter where you live and what time of the year it is, everyone loves comfort food and craves it when you are sad, not feeling well, stressed out, etc. When I think of comfort food, I think of cheesy pasta, cookies, ice cream, soup, and the list could go on and on and on.

Here is a little bit of history that I found quite interesting on Comfort Food, taken from Wikipedia:

images1Comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. Many people turn to comfort food for familiarity, emotional security, or as a special reward. The reasons a dish becomes a comfort food are diverse but often include pleasant associations of childhood. Small children often seem to latch on to a specific food or drink (in a way similar to a security blanket) and will repeatedly request it in high stress situations. Adults eat comfort food for a sense of continuity.

The term “comfort food” was added to the Webster’s Dictionary in 1972.

It was also interesting to me to see what different countries and cultures considered to be comfort food:

The top US comfort foods are right in line with the comfort foods that I had listed as mine- macaroni & cheese, twice-images_4mashed potato, applesauce, peanut butter, and ice cream. What do Canadians consider comfort food? Poutine, which is French fries with cheese curds and gravy and beaver tails, which is the Canadian equivalent of fried dough. Canada also names tourtière, which is a type of meat pie, and mashed potatoes as popular comfort foods. In Japan, miso soupramenonigiri, and Japanese curry rank as the top comfort foods. In the Philippines, home-cooked meals are what Filipinos deem to be comfort food. Street food that is considered comfort food is balutisawmanimais, and of course, ice cream. The United Kingdom refers to comfort food as “nursery food.” Popular “nursery foods” in the UK are boiled eggs and soldiers (buttered pieces of toast cut into strips and dipped into egg yolk). Also, stews and “bangers and mash,” (sausages and mashed potatoes), and rich steamed puddings are the top comfort foods in the UK.

Here are 7 Comfort Food Recipes from E & Z to help you get through the winter, a hard day at work, or whatever is bringing you down!

Clam Chowderimages

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

Penne with Broccoli and Ricotta

Jennifer’s Potato Cheddar Soup

Mom’s Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Aunt Barbara’s Recession-Friendly Meat Dishimages_8

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Tell us- what’s your favorite comfort food?

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Growing up I was always jealous of Zoe.  Santa was always good to me and my sister (no matter how naughty we might have been that year) but she got to celebrate both Hanukkah AND Christmas, which, when you are a kid, just doesn’t seem fair.  One thing we did always have in common however were the Christmas cookies our moms’ made each year – a shared tradition which, in the end, is way more important than gifts.  So in honor of our very favorite time of year (because who doesn’t love being surrounded by family and friends, seemingly never-ending amounts of good food, picking out the perfect tree and decorating it, wrapping presents and all the rest), and in keeping with the giving spirit of the season, we share with you our moms very best (in our opinion) Christmas cookie recipes.

 

Christmas Shortbread Cookies:  Baking these with my grandmother from a very young age is one of my fondest memories (albeit because she always let me eat a whole lot of the dough), and they are a favorite of mine to bake with children because they are so easy and colorful.  Just be careful when transporting them as they are quite delicate.  (This recipe was originally Zoe’s grandmothers and has been passed down through the S&B ranks through the years).

 

Prep time: 15 minutes (once butter is softened)
Chill time:  Overnight (or at least six hours if you are in a hurry)
Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Bake time: 12 minutes or until golden brown
Makes: About 24 cookies
Oven temp: 350 

Ingredients:

·         ½ lb. Butter softened

·         7 Tbsp. Brown sugar

·         1 tsp. Vanilla

·         2 cups Flour

·         Red & Green candied cherries

 

Instructions: Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream ½ lb. butter with 7 Tbsp. brown sugar.  Add vanilla and flour.  Divide into two equal balls and roll each ball into a roll about 1 ½-2 inches thick.  Wrap each roll in wax paper and refrigerate over night.  Remove from wax paper and cut into slices about ¼ inch thick and place each slice on a cookie sheet.  Slice candied cherries in half and press half of a cherry onto the center of each piece of cookie dough.  Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden.

 

Gingersnaps:  I make these year round because, lets face it, they are just amazing (and everyone is always asking for them); but there is nothing more appropriate around Christmas time than gingerbread.  Bite-sized, soft , rolled in sugar goodness, these cookies are sure not to disappoint…and will most definitely suffice if you just don’t have time for a whole gingerbread house!  (This particular recipe is from my mom’s Better Homes and Garden cook book that is upwards of 20 years old…mine has a slightly different version that I have concluded is just not as tasty.)

 

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 11 minutes

Makes: About 5 dozen cookies

Oven temp: 375

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup shortening (regular, unflavored crisco)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (to roll dough in)

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, sugar, the egg and molasses together.  Add the cloves, cinnamon, ginger, salt, soda and then flour slowly until everything is mixed thoroughly.  Use a teaspoon to spoon out small balls of dough about an inch in diameter (if dough is a little soft you can refrigerate it for a half hour or so until it firms up a bit).  Roll dough in your palms until round and then roll in white sugar and place on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12 minutes or until they begin to crack on the top.  I always under cook these just a bit because I whole heartedly believe that cookies should always be soft!

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