TIP OF THE WEEK

Food is a central part to any holiday celebration, but after having the same recipe for the fifth or sixth time, even beloved dishes can feel bland and boring. This year, spice up traditional fare with a few unique twists guaranteed to have guests raving.

Mushrooms give earthy appeal to stuffing
The golden turkey or glazed ham is the star of the show at most holiday meals, leaving the meager stuffing beside it looking downright sad. It’s the stuffing’s time to shine when your give it a hearty upgrade with mushrooms. Simply chop your favorite mushroom variety like porcini, shiitake or cremini and add to your favorite recipe for a rich earthy flavor that is incredible satisfying.

Jalapenos infuse heat into sweet cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce is a holiday essential, yet it’s the side dish that gets ignored the most. This year spice up your cranberry sauce with spicy jalapenos and watch it disappear fast. Simply seed and mince one to three jalapenos and add when boiling cranberries. The sweet heat is delectable on meats or as a relish to complement appetizers.

Cheese is the ideal topping for rolls
The lonely bread basket gets a holiday upgrade when you sprinkle tasty cheese to the top crust of baking bread. Hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago and fontina are good options. Grab your favorite shredded variety of Stella cheese when grocery shopping and you’ll be set for this incredibly simple, yet superbly savory addition to your rolls. Visit www.StellaCheese.com for more cooking inspiration using richly-flavored Italian-style cheeses.

Nuts add rich crunch to green bean casserole
Green bean casserole is a holiday staple that is often topped with fried onions. This year think bigger with rich, delectable flavors. Start by making your traditional recipe, but update the topping by using chopped walnuts with crumbled corn bread for a tasty crunch that will garner rave reviews from guests.

Tangy romano cheese enhances asparagus
Sautéed asparagus is a colorful addition to any holiday meal. Give the dish an elegant upgrade by sprinkling cooked asparagus with tangy Stella Romano cheese. The sharp, salty cheese mingles with the pungent flavors of the asparagus for a side dish that is as tasty as it is eye-catching. This dish is great with turkey, ham, duck or beef.

Turmeric brings out savory notes in vegetables
As one of today’s most talked about spices, a quick dash of turmeric is perfect for adding a little pizazz to classic side dishes. For example, the warm, peppery flavor of turmeric brings out the savory notes of roasted vegetables. It’s also a fantastic addition when sprinkled on braised greens like kale or collards.

Gorgonzola adds zip to creamy potatoes
Starches are a must for any holiday meal, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with basic mashed. Instantly upgrade your favorite spuds when you add flavorful Stella gorgonzola. The robust flavor of gorgonzola pairs perfectly with white or sweet potatoes. Mash directly into potatoes for a rich, creamy dish or sprinkle on top for a tasty topping.
— Brandpoint

EASY RECIPE: Quickie goat cheese and pecan bites

Ingredients:

1 pound soft goat cheese

2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

1/2 cup toasted Fisher Pecan Halves, chopped

Zest from two lemons

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Break up and mix the goat cheese with the black pepper in a medium bowl. Divide into 24 pieces of about 2 teaspoons each and roll into balls.

Combine the pecans, lemon zest and parsley in a medium bowl until well blended. Roll the goat cheese balls in the pecan mixture. Arrange on a serving platter. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Take them out 15 minutes before serving so they soften a little and drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired.

— Brandpoint

NUMBER TO KNOW
165: Nothing hurts the holiday spirit like foodborne illness so the USDA has set the minimum temperature for safely cooking turkey at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
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FOOD QUIZ

At Christmas time, the Belgian tradition is to bake cougnou, a bread shaped like:

A. cane
B. baby
C. reindeer
D. wreath

Answer at bottom of column.

WORD TO THE WISE

tortière: A meat pie made with finely chopped pork, veal or beef. It is a traditional French Canadian dish that is served at Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

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THE DISH ON…

‘Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love”
by Preeti Simran Sethi

Sethi, an award-winning journalist, explores the history and cultural importance of our most beloved foods, paying homage to the ingredients that give us daily pleasure, but also providing a wake-up call to the homogenization that is threatening the diversity of our food supply. Through interviews with scientists, farmers, chefs, vintners, beer brewers, coffee roasters and others she reveals the multiple and interconnected reasons for this loss of food diversity, and its consequences for our health, traditions and culture.

— HarperOne

FOOD QUIZ ANSWER
B. baby, the sweet bread in the form of the infant Jesus and given to children on Christmas Day

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