Displaying articles for: December 2011
I’ve been walking with the same group of friends three mornings each week for a few years now. Last week, our conversation turned toward the New Year and the health resolutions we were planning. Here’s what my friends Anna, Beth and Therese are committing to in 2012.
Beth: Beth wants to keep better tabs on her eating and exercise habits, so she is starting a food and activity journal. She’ll use it to figure out where she can make improvements and keep her accountable for the choices she does make.
Anna: To say that Anna is not much of a vegetable eater is a bit of an understatement, but she’s committed to changing that. Last month, Anna began eating a snack of baby carrots every day. She’s now ready to expand her veggie horizons by trying a new vegetable every two weeks with a goal of working up to the recommended 2 ½ cups she needs every day for good health.
Therese: Therese worked hard to lose 11 pounds this summer and she wants to maintain that weight loss. Therese attributes a good part of her weight loss to increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables she eats, the "half your plate" idea, and she’s sticking to that model to help her stay at her new weight.
I’ll post me and my family’s health resolutions in my next blog. How about you? What are your health resolutions for 2012?
We’ll be hosting a small all family get-together for New Year’s Eve. Similar to the last couple of years, we’ll keep it low-key and ring in the New Year with the east coast given the young age of the kids. One change up we’re making for this year’s party is that we’re hosting a potluck of heavy appetizers rather than a complete dinner. Safeway’s Snack Artist line has some great options for the “kids” (Breaded Mozzarella Sticks, Popcorn Chicken, Taquitos) and there are some sophisticated options for the adults from Safeway SELECT (Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon Bites, Three Cheese Arancini, Maryland Style Mini Crab Cakes, and Spanakopita to name a few), yum! What are your plans for New Year’s?
As a celebrity party planner for the past twenty years, I have a long list of stylist secrets, tips and tricks - helping to elevate your celebrations, making your holidays easier, more affordable, and with more time to spend with your guests at the party.
My favorite New Year’s Eve “Champagne and Sweets” party works well for any budget.
You can start after dinner at 8 or 9 pm, so you don't need to create an entire formal dinner menu, instead just a “cookie bar” with a few room temperature desserts that make a huge "wow" first impression as guests arrive.
Fill each debi lilly design™ Illusion vase with a single flavor of Safeway SELECT cookies. You don’t need to bake everything from scratch for a party menu…I always say.
A stylist tip: Create a limited color palette - like blonde/vanilla in this case - so all of the elements work together to make a big visual impact. And of course, the desserts taste as great as they look!
Then tie bows on champagne flutes with a debi lilly design™ Double-faced Satin Ribbon in Taupe. For the kids, fill petite glasses with Safeway Select sparkling apple cider.
Last, decorate the bar with debi lilly design™ Unscented Candles in varying heights and scatter white rose petals around them. How easy is that?
Find more great tips on our Holiday Microsite.
Do you call it a yam or a sweet potato? When is it a yam and when is it a sweet potato? Yams and sweet potatoes are terms used interchangeably in the United States, but yams in America are actually sweet potatoes that have a moist texture and an orange flesh. The US Department of Agriculture now requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato." Confused? Yams are members of the lily family and originated in West Africa/Asia, while sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family and originated in Tropical America. In addition, sweet potatoes are the roots of the plant, but yams are rhizomes with creeping stems that grow under the surface of the soil. Choose a yam at the store the way you would any potato - avoid blemishes if you can, but they can also be cut away before you cut them to cook. They do bruise easily, so handle them with some care. Once you have the yams home, store them in a cool, dry place. They complement almost all meats and fish, are great in stews, soups and salads, or baked in breads, pies, custards and cakes. They go naturally with other flavoring like garlic, sage, rosemary, allspice, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon. Enjoy!
Along with our traditional Christmas morning pumpkin scones, I always serve a festive fruit salad. I vary the fruits I use from year to year, but often come back to this favorite combination. It’s perfectly festive for a holiday breakfast or brunch.
The in-season winter fruits in this salad, pineapple, oranges, grapefruits, kiwis and pomegranate seeds, are at their peak flavor this time of year. They’re also loaded with nutrition, as you’ll see on the green SimpleNutrition tags throughout our produce aisle. All are good sources of vitamin C and many contribute fiber, too. Bright green kiwi fruit also adds potassium, while pineapple has the enzyme bromelain. Early research suggests that bromelain may help keep joints healthy. Ruby-red pomegranate seeds add a festive touch, as well as antioxidants. Another bonus to buying fruits (and veggies) in season? They can protect your pocketbook because in-season produce is usually less expensive than out-of-season options.
Enjoy this delicious salad at your next winter celebration!
4 seedless oranges, peeled with white pith removed, cut into half-slices
3 pink grapefruits, peeled with white pith and seeds removed, cut into half-slices
1 pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into bite-size chunks
4 kiwis, peeled, cut into bite-size chunks
Seeds from one pomegranate
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
Combine fruit in bowl and toss together; refrigerate. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and zest, honey and mint leaves. Drizzle fruit with dressing right before serving and toss again. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: Calories: 155; Fat: 0.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g); Protein: 2 g; Carbohydrates: 40 g; Fiber: 5 g; Sodium: <5 mg.
What are your favorite holiday breakfast foods?
My family will be visiting for Christmas, a tradition that we all really look forward to. Typically, the main dish for our Christmas feast is lamb, but this year we’re going to roast a turkey as there were some favorite foods that were missed over Thanksgiving (Brussels Sprouts w/ Walnuts for me and turkey for my mom & sisters). Our 2 Hour Turkey recipe makes it so easy that I’m surprised we don’t do this more often throughout the year! Check out the Holiday site for detailed instructions. What are you serving for your holiday meal?
Cranberries are such a staple to delicious holiday feasts. Did you know that they’re not actually grown in water? They grow on vines in beds called bogs or marshes, layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. When selecting fresh cranberries, check them out through the plastic bag and make sure they are that deep red color and don’t have any withered fruits or debris. Cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for one month and in the freezer for one year. They need to be rinsed thoroughly. Discard any berries that are soft, shriveled or discolored. Cook cranberries only until they pop. They will become mushy and bitter if you cook them any longer. Although the traditional sweetener is sugar, there's no reason why you can't use honey or brown sugar. Check out safeway.com for some delicious cranberry recipes.
I was doing my weekly shopping last week and it dawned on me that the holiday dinner was at my house this year, which of course brought up the age old question, “What’s for dinner?” As I shopped in the meat department I noticed a beautiful rack of pork with the bones neatly poking out at the ends and thought “this is perfect.” A rack of pork!
I immediately went up to the meat clerk and ordered two 8 pound roasts which is enough meat for 14-16 people. The general rule is 1 pound per person for bone in cuts and half a pound for boneless cuts. I am only having 13 people but wanted some for leftovers.
The day of Christmas, I’ll take the rack of pork out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before placing in the oven (bringing up the temperature helps with even cooking). I’ll chop up two bunches of thyme along with 4 garlic cloves and mix them together with a ¼ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Right before rubbing onto the roast I will add 3 tbsp Ranchers Reserve Roast Rub (available in Safeway’s meat department) to make a paste. I will coat the entire rack of pork with the paste and let it rest for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Then, just place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Total cooking time for an 8 pound Rack of Pork is around 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours, but use a thermometer to be sure. Baste multiple times during cooking to get even browning. Let stand 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
Whether it’s by plane, train or automobile, getting over the meadow and through the woods to Grandmother’s house for the holidays requires some nourishment en route. If you’re like me, you want travel snacks to have some substance and be nutritious, particularly because there’ll be plenty of cookies, candy and everything else once you get to Grandma’s. Fortunately, finding nutritious options is easy at our stores - just look for the green SImpleNutrition tag that highlights better-for-you choices throughout the aisles. Here are a few favorites that I’m toting along in a cooler on our upcoming car trip:
Granted, bringing a variety of snacks along on your trip is much easier when you travel by car. Don’t forget ice packs in the cooler to keep foods safe, along with napkins and utensils. If you’re traveling by plane for the holidays, check out my previous blog post on airplane travel snacks for more munchable ideas.
What foods do you bring along for snacks when you travel?
For Christmas we like to give a small gift to say “thank you” to those who help us care for our family - sitters, after-school care givers and teachers. The last couple of years we’ve opted for gift cards with a handmade, personalized note from each of the girls. This Christmas I was inspired by the small O Organics rosemary plants we have in our stores. They looked like miniature Christmas trees to me so we placed a couple small value gift cards on the “tree” like ornaments, tucked in a candy cane, and tied the bag with a red ribbon for a festive presentation. They turned out pretty cute and I love that the “holder” is useful as well!
Daily Deals are back! Now through the 24th, great prices on items that help with holiday meals and entertaining – baking, beverage, and meat items – take a look!
We are right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas time. There is shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, attending parties, and hosting parties. It feels like time is spinning pretty fast and before you know it, we’ll be singing “Auld Lang Syne” and thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to be more ‘green’, consider foliage plants. Our Floral Department has a vast assortment of foliage; different sizes, types, and textures - the best ‘green’ for your home right now. Did you know that certain foliage plants have been proven to remove toxins from the air? Foliage plants are also very effective in removing indoor air pollutants. Among the many foliage plants that benefit your health for inside your home are types like Pothos, Palm, Ferns, Bromeliads and of course, Aloe Vera. Many varieties are adaptable to growing conditions, indoor or outdoor. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, branch out and reach for a foliage plant. Start your green resolutions early!
Winter Fruit Salad:
Cut and cube each fruit and mix together. Add a dollop of the marmalade for some extra citrus flavor. Mix in almonds and enjoy!
There’s nothing quite like walking through the door after a long day to the delicious smells of a ready-made dinner, especially during the busy holiday season! This slow cooker pot roast recipe is one that my mom gave me years ago. Chuck roast is a budget-friendly but less tender cut, so it requires a moist heat cooking method to tenderize the meat and develop its flavor, making it a perfect choice for the slow cooker.
2 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast, trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon oil
8 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large onion, cut into wedges
¾ cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup cold water
¼ cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Add oil to a large skillet and heat on medium-high. Add roast and brown on all sides; drain off fat. Place vegetables in bottom of cooker; place meat on top. In small bowl, combine broth, Worcestershire sauce and basil; pour over meat. Cover cooker with lid and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high heat for 5 to 6 hours. Remove meat and vegetables from cooker and place on platter, reserving juice in cooker; cover meat and vegetables with foil to keep warm. Measure 1 ½ cups juice from cooker, adding water if needed to equal that amount, and pour into a saucepan. In small bowl, mix together cold water and flour; stir into saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, then cook 1 minute more. Season gravy to taste and pour over meat and vegetables to serve. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: Calories: 400; Fat: 17 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g); Protein: 38 g; Carbohydrates: 24 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sodium: 200 mg.
Our glasses, plastic ware, flatware, and dishwasher have developed a persistent white residue from the minerals in our local water. We’ve tried in vain to scrub it off and had resigned ourselves to the fact that everything would be cloudy until they all broke and had to be replaced. Then one evening I had one of those random conversations with an out of town friend and learned that she had had the same problem and there was a simple fix! Run the items through the rinse cycle of the dishwasher with a bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack. We did this and it really worked! Our glasses were particularly bad so we ran them through twice. Clear glasses just in time for our holiday get-togethers – hurray!
This is a great recipe for a cold winter’s night in! I’ve made this several times. It’s wonderful fresh or warmed up as leftovers.
Pairs well with any red wine and some crusty sourdough bread made fresh in our bakery.
1 wedge Rembrandt Gouda-cubed
1 piece Red Apple Naturally Smoked all Natural Gouda- cubed
1 cup Lucerne milk
1 cup Merlot
4 cups vegetable broth
8-oz Safeway bacon cooked and chopped
1 roasted chipotle pepper
3 cans Safeway white beans
2 medium red potatoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp Safeway Select Olive Oil
Sauté olive oil and onions until soft
Add vegetable broth, wine, chipotle pepper
Add potatoes and bring to a boil, continue to simmer until tender
Add milk, beans, bacon, cumin and bring close to boiling
Add gouda cheese, stir until melted
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer for two hours prior to serving
Add another slice of Gouda cheese to soup when serving
Like it or not, winter has arrived. Here is a great stew to cook on a chilly night. Full of vegetables, it’s sure to fill your tummy and warm you up with its hearty flavor. Enjoy!
One simple idea for entertaining this season is a Champagne & Sweets Open House! If you’re not up for the full blown holiday party, with heavy hors d'oeuvres, drinks and dips, why not invite some friends over for a simple, elegant after-dinner treat! Turn on some Burl Ives, bring out your pedestal dessert platters and champagne flutes, and have some fun.
First things first – choose your color theme! From the flowers, to serving platters, to napkins, ribbon and decorations, pick one festive color to spruce up you clear, white or silver dishes serving dishes!
Next, pick your favorite champagnes or dessert wines! I like to have a variety available. Put out the flutes and let your guests serve themselves at their own pace.
Next, pick fun cookies, candy and desserts that you love! My favorite desserts are the ones that you can find already prepared at Safeway Bakery! If you’re up to it, you can even make fun finger desserts such as fruit skewers! Enjoy your holiday season!
Must-Have Bite Size Desserts available at Safeway!
Caramel Apples – Keep chilled, slice into wedges for your serving trays
Brownie Bites – Top with whip cream and a decadent raspberry!
Cream Puffs – Dip in chocolate for an extra special touch!
Red Velvet Cupcakes or Mini Cupcakes
Fruit Skewers Recipe:
Cut larger fruit into bite size chunks, assemble skewers and drizzle with honey.
With the holiday season officially underway, getting dinner on the table can seem even more of a challenge than usual. When time is extra tight, try these quick fix tips to speed up prep time and have dinner ready in a flash.
Do you have any quick fix tips to add?
One of my favorite appetizers growing up was Spanakopita. My mom would make this for just about every holiday. Sometimes they were flat and cut into squares, but if it was a “fancier” get together she’d spend more time folding the triangles. My YiaYia actually used to make her own phyllo dough (much thicker)! When I moved west I taught myself how to make this dish but I dreaded working with the phyllo. Now, thanks to Safeway SELECT there’s no more dread – they’ve done the work for me! Sold in the freezer section, these triangles are a sophisticated appetizer to put out for guests. The phyllo is a crisp golden brown and the filling is a nice balance of spinach and cheese. Give them a try and let me know what you think!