Dine In:  More Favorite Family Meals

Dine In: More Favorite Family Meals

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FCS Dine In Day December 3

Is your busy, busy life making it difficult to spend time eating a meal at home with your family?  Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together.  Maybe these favorite family meals from some of our readers will give you some inspiration.

Italian Night

My mother’s chicken cacciatore. She’s Italian and a great cook. She makes it with boneless chicken breasts, rice, sliced peppers, onions, tomatoes, and of course, garlic. It is so good and probably healthy. But maybe not, since I eat way too much of it. Friends and family come together on “Italian Night” to enjoy this and other Italian specialties. Molto delicioso.   Rick W.

My favorite meal was always when my mom made homemade spaghetti sauce for pasta. Wow, that’s good stuff. When I brought my girlfriend home, it became one of her favorite meals too. Thanks mom!   Alex H.

Father and son set the dinner table

Father and son set the dinner table. Photo Source: Wendy Meredith

Home Away from Home Meal

My favorite family meal was pork chops, broccoli, mashed potatoes, rolls and sweet tea, because my son, (my first born), cooked his first meal in his first home away from home at the age of 21 and invited our family to dinner. He was always the one out of five children who liked to have everyone in the family sit at the dining room table together and enjoy a meal as often as possible. Our lives consisted of football, cheerleading, church events, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, school events, jobs, etc. Our family of seven was a very busy family and always running here and there, but somehow due to the persistency of our son, we managed to have one or two meals a week together as a family. I was a very happy and proud mom when I received the invite to have dinner that night. The food was delicious, but the fellowship during “My Favorite Family Meal” was something I will remember and cherish forever.   Wendy M.

Let Them Eat Cake or Bread

Celebrations were very special in my family. Every year on my birthday, my grandmother would always cook my favorite food and bake my favorite cake (Red Velvet – Yum). When I was young I always thought it was about the food. But it was about so much more; we learned about manners and etiquette, and family coming together to share old traditions and make new ones. Whenever I see a red velvet cake or smell one baking, it brings back happy memories. I’m transformed back to when I was a 10 year old girl.   Dorothy L.

Growing up on a farm in Michigan, I’ve got a lot of good memories involving food! From making butter in a churn, to picking blackberries in the woods for Mom to make pie, to getting ripe tomatoes from the garden for a tasty bacon and tomato sandwich and many more.  I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up knowing exactly where our food comes from!

A favorite and happy memory is Mom making bread on cold days, letting the loaves rise by the heat registers, then baking it in the oven. The whole house smelled like delicious bread. Once it was done, Mom would cut it while it was still warm and give us thick slices with warm, melting butter on it!   Cheryl V.

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.

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FCS Dine In Day

 

 

 

Dine In:  Thanksgiving Favorites

Dine In: Thanksgiving Favorites

FCS Ine In Day December 3 Banner

FCS Dine In Day December 3

What’s your favorite family meal? Is it an event like a picnic or Super Bowl Party? Is it reoccurring like Wednesday night church dinner? Maybe it’s an annual meal like Thanksgiving. Check out some of these special Thanksgiving meals, then think about a favorite meal for your family to share on Dine In Day.

What about Sweet Potatoes?

I think my favorite holiday meal story is from about 10 years ago when our oldest daughter was away at college.  She asked me what we were going to have for Thanksgiving Dinner and as I went through the list she said, “what about sweet potatoes?” to which I answered “but you don’t like sweet potatoes”.  Then she said, “No, I don’t, but I they’re supposed to be on the table at Thanksgiving”!

It’s such a tiny thing, but it touched my heart because it meant she had fond memories and that our family holiday dinners meant something to her!  PS – now she loves sweet potatoes and serves them to her family all the time!   Susan H.

My “Found” Family

Favorite Fall Things: pumpkins, scarecrow, leaves, flowers, and multi-colored corn

Favorite Fall Things
Photo Source:: Angela Hinkle

My favorite family meal of the year is on Thanksgiving, with my “found” family in Bradenton. Especially now that I live in Tallahassee, taking the trip down there to spend a few days with my best friend and her crazy family is definitely a highlight. It’s even more special now since I don’t get to see her every day anymore.  Plus? Turkey and deviled eggs! Yummy.   Sam K.

Memory We Will Always Cherish

My favorite meal happened 6 years ago during Thanksgiving. It was the first year that I hosted my own Thanksgiving dinner and my husband and I invited everyone we knew- family, friends, coworkers. We had 30 people share their holiday with us and we had so much fun. It was a lot of work and a lot of cooking, but it was so special to us. That day we were able to honor the ones we loved by hosting them and sharing that experience. One day, we will do that again. But for now, it’s a great memory that we will always cherish.   Christina W.

Imagining Warm and Cozy

One of my most memorable meals was Thanksgiving when I was in the 11th grade. My family decided to go camping in our pop-up camper for the weekend at a nice campground in central Florida. In keeping with the season, a cold front passed through that weekend, dropping the temperature significantly. Our little camper did not have a heater, so we shivered in our bunks and scurried to the central bathhouse, passing motor homes and travel trailers with condensation on the windows, imagining how warm and cozy their occupants must be. Despite the frigid temperatures, we enjoyed a campground-wide Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings in the community room. We made fond memories of the weekend, which we still laugh about, and are thankful for a warm house and the comforts and conveniences of home to enjoy the holiday and everyday meals with family and friends.   Judy C.

 

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.  Maybe you can tell us about your favorite family meal or be inspired to make new ones – for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

 

A is for Apple

A is for Apple

Bowl of apples
Photo source: bing

October is National Apple Month. “A” is for Apple.  We have all heard this childhood saying as well as other apple idioms.

The Fall season has arrived and along with cooler weather, shorter days, and autumn leaves comes the bounty of Fall………apples.

In Autumn, apples fill farmers market and grocery store bins with seasonal shades of red, green, yellow, and russet.  Popular varieties of apples grown in the United States include Mcintosh, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Crispin, Honeycrisp, Granny Smiths, and Golden Delicious.

Nutrition

A large raw apple contains about 95 calories.  Apples provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Apples are low in calories and high in antioxidants.

Selection

Each apple variety has its own distinctive flavor and texture.  When purchasing apples choose a variety suitable for your intended use.  Best apples for eating cooking baking  The surface of the apple should be smooth, firm, unbroken, and free from bruises.

Preparation

Apples are delicious eaten raw.  Simply rinse, cut into quarters and remove core from each section and slice.  Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to peel apples for cooking.  To core apples for cooking push an apple corer through center of fruit from top to bottom, pull out core and stem.  Coat peeled or sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent darkening.  A bag of medium sized apples yields about 3 cups diced fruit or 2 ½ cups sliced fruit.

Cooking with Apples

Apples are the most versatile of all fruits.  They are suitable for a variety of cooking techniques and can be used in a variety of recipes.  Apples can be baked, grilled, poached, and even sautéed.  Add diced apples to salads or dried and added to granola cereal.  Sauté to accompany meat dishes and add to pancakes or waffle batter.  For desserts, pair apples with a variety of cheeses.

Storage

Apples ripen faster at room temperature than in the refrigerator.  Store apples in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to help retain moisture.

Celebrate the bounty of Fall with apples at their peak of flavor.

 

What is an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker?

What is an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker?

Instant Pot settings display. Photo source: Wendy Meredith

An Instant Pot Pressure Cooker is a small electronic multi-cooker appliance that can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, warmer, and more. It is often referred to as an Instant Pot.  It is currently the hottest trend in home cooking.

An Instant Pot Cooker can prepare just about any type of food you can imagine. Poultry, beef, and pork recipes, soups, stews, bread, and even desserts.

Considering today’s fast paced lifestyle the Instant Pot is a time saving kitchen helper. Spend a few minutes preparing the recipe ingredients, program the Instant Pot and relax.  The Instant Pot cooking method takes the stress out of long cooking times and of meal preparation.

Instant Pot cookers are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and functions. The function of an Instant Pot is based on the model purchased.  Many brands are available.  Basic functions present in most models consist of slow cooker, pressure canner, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sauté or browner, and warmer.

When purchasing a multi-cooker consider the usage and quantity of food to be prepared. A 3-quart cooker is just the right size for single servings.  Family sizes are available as  6-quart (4-6 servings) or 8 -quart (6-8 servings).

The benefits of an Instant Pot cooker are numerous. No need for constant or frequent stirring, no worry about overcooking or burning, saves energy based on quick cooking times required for recipes and less small kitchen appliances needed for preparation.

Traditionally beef stew and less tender cuts of meat take hours of cooking to render tender.  The Instant Pot Cooker dishes up these delicious dishes in under an hour.

 

Corned Beef Cabbage*

2 pounds corned beef

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

3 bay leaves

8 peppercorns

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

8 medium red or white potatoes

8 cups coarsely sliced cabbage

 

Place beef in cooker. Add stock, water, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar in cooker.  Cook for 90 on meat/stew setting.  Remove corned beef.  Add vegetables; cook on high pressure for 4-5 minutes.

*Follow directions listed on Instant Pot instruction manual for programming cooker.

 

Instant Pot cooking is easy, economical and quick.

Recipe adapted from Cooks’ Essentials.

 

 

Building a Healthy Taco Using Local Produce

Building a Healthy Taco Using Local Produce

Tacos are a traditional Mexican dish with a mixture of various fillings on a flat bread tortilla. Having recently visited the Yucatan Peninsula and consumed tacos on a daily basis, it became evident that even in Mexico, different regions make their tacos with local available produce, meats, beans and rice. The American version can consist of anything from local produce like zucchini, squash and corn as well as the traditional tomatoes, cheese and lettuce.

Try this taco recipe for a slant on local flavor and taste. My goal is to build a taco that is tasty, local and provides creativity in the ingredients. We will use some of the traditional elements but stick with me as we explore various toppings to make your taco healthy and fresh.

Select your Tortilla

Building a Healthy Taco Using Local Produce. Photo Credit: Pamela Allen

Tortillas are varied in size, color and grain. For a healthy option select the smaller size that are made from whole grains. My favorite is a corn blended tortilla in the six inch circle.

Start with a Protein

The filling can be made from ground turkey, chicken, pork, fish or hamburger. For a vegetarian option try tofu crumbles, black beans or refried vegetarian beans. Brown the meat using your favorite Mexican spice like chili powder, garlic, cumin, white pepper and onion powder.

Pick your Filling

Local vegetables this time of year that will add flavor and color can be used as a filling. Try spiral cut squash using yellow squash or zucchini. Cook in a small amount of olive oil to tenderize. You will want to keep them crunchy so don’t overcook them. Also, shave off fresh corn and add it to your filling or mix it in with your protein.

Pick your toppings

Diced tomatoes make a great topping and add color and flavor. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also a favorite. Other toppings could include diced avocado or sliced hot peppers like jalapeno, bell or other peppers that grow well in our area. Traditional toppings include various types of shredded cheese and sour cream.

Don’t forget the Fresh Herbs

Cilantro grows very well in this area as well as chives, onions and parsley. Fresh herbs add a splash of color and flavor.

Finishing touches

Try the homemade salsa recipe for a side dish with chips or for a topping to pep up the flavor or your healthy taco.

 

Fresh Salsa

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (diced into small pieces)

1/2 red onion diced

Peppers of your choice – jalapeno (hot) or bell pepper (milder)

Juice of one lime

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

May add some spices like chili powder or cumin for flavor.

Prepare all the ingredients and mix in a bowl. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Grill It Up!

Grill It Up!

Grill Out Safely This Summer

Perhaps it’s the gentle climate with temperatures conducive to outdoor cooking for much of the year. Or it might be that an outdoor get-together with family, friends, and good food is a great way to celebrate the summer. Whatever the reasons, outdoor cookery is firmly established as a tradition in the South.

Outdoor cookery has given rise to many unique and flavor-filled recipes for foods that can be prepared on even the simplest grill. If long days of summer have you longing to fire up the grill, the following tips, delicious recipes, and helpful grilling charts will help make your outdoor cooking experience easy, safe, and rewarding.

Grilling
Photo Credit: Dorothy Lee

Safety is an important consideration when operating a grill. Improper use can cause a fire or explosion. Keep the area around a lighted grill clear of combustible materials, and never use a grill in an enclosed area such as a sheltered patio or a garage. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that may catch fire. The cooking grids should be cleaned after every cookout. The last thing you want to do is cause someone to become ill due to improper cleaning or unsafe food preparation practices.

Wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before starting to prepare any foods and wash your hands again if you do anything else—change a diaper, pet an animal, or blow your nose, for example. Cover any cuts or sores on your hands with a bandage or use plastic gloves. If you sneeze or cough while preparing foods, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and turn your face away, or cough into your sleeve. Always wash your hands afterwards.

Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature. Most food-borne illness-causing bacteria cannot grow well at temperatures below 40°F or above 140°F. Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Never leave foods out at room temperature.

Keep everything that touches food clean. Bacteria can hitch rides around your kitchen on all sorts of things—plates and cutting boards, dirty utensils, dish rags and sponges, unwashed hands.

Never chop fresh vegetables or salad ingredients on a cutting board that was used for raw meat without properly cleaning it first. If possible, keep a separate cutting board just for the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and fish.

Wash cutting boards thoroughly with hot soapy water, and then sanitize with a solution of household bleach and water.

The most popular meat for outdoor grilling is beef, particularly ground beef. If ground beef burgers are to be the feature of your next cookout select freshly ground meat that has fat content of about 15%. Form the meat into loose patties. Cook hamburger patties to an internal temperature of 160°F.

Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices from coming into contact with other foods during preparation, especially foods that will not be cooked. Wash all utensils and your hands with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat.

Marinate meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator in a covered, non-metal container. Throw away any leftover marinade.

Grill food to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to assure correct doneness of the food being grilled.

Safe minimum internal temperatures:

  • Poultry (whole, ground, and breasts): 165°F
  • Hamburgers, beef: 160°F
  • Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts & chops):
    • Medium rare: 145°F
    • Medium: 160°F.
  • All cuts of pork:   145°F.

Hold meat at 140°F until served. Use a clean platter for transferring cooked meat from grill to serving table.

Summer is the time for getting together with friends and family and cooking outdoors. Make your outdoor grilling experience safe and enjoyable.

Safe Food Handling Fact Sheet, USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Series, https://www.foodsafety.gov/

 

When we think of foods to prepare outdoors we almost immediately think meat.  However, grilled vegetables and grilled fruits make a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats.

Corn on the Cob Kabob

  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 4 fresh ears sweet corn, husked, silks removed, and cut crosswise into 4 pieces each
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

On each of eight 12-inch wooden skewers, alternately thread 2 onion wedges and 2 pieces of corn, leaving about ¼ inch between each vegetable. Lightly coat vegetables with nonstick spray.

For a charcoal grill, grill kabobs on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 15 to 18 minutes or until vegetables are tender and brown, turning occasionally to brown evenly. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place kabobs on grill rack over heat. Cover, grill as above.)

In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano. Brush over vegetables. Makes 4 servings.

Cinnamon-Grilled Peaches

  • 4 large ripe freestone peaches
  • Eight 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Peach or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Rinse the peaches and blot them dry with paper towels. Cut each peach in half and discard the pit. Then, cut each peach into quarters. Using a pointed chopstick or metal skewer, make a starter hole in the center of each peach quarter, working from the pit side to the skin side. Skewer 2 peach quarters on each cinnamon stick, placing a mint left between the 2 quarters.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the glaze boil until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Prepare and preheat the grill to high. Brush and oil the grate. Next, place the skewered peaches on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, basting with the rum and butter glaze.  Spoon any remaining glaze over the grilled peaches and serve at once.  Peach or vanilla ice cream make a great accompaniment.