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Tips for a Tasty Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you're hosting Thanksgiving at your house and are expecting vegetarian guests this year, don't worry about preparing one large meat eating meal, and another separate vegetarian meal. Most vegetarians do not require a 'meat equivalent' at Thanksgiving. Yes, traditionally Thanksgiving has largely about the food. But more importantly it's about family, togetherness, happiness and peace.

Veggieducken on the table
Veggieducken close up, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by The Sporkful, on Flickr

And if this is your first Thanksgiving after transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, try some of these ideas to incorporate healthy food preparation into your meal that your vegetarian guests, and you as host, will be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

Bake some stuffing outside of the turkey.

Make a small portion of vegetarian gravy.

Keep cooking utensils separate to prevent "cross-contamination" between meat foods and vegetarian foods.

When recipes are adaptable, use substitutions like vegetarian broth, soy margarine (the formulations without whey are suitable for vegans), soy milk, and kosher marshmallows which are made without gelatin.

Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats for frying, and vegetable shortening like Crisco for pie crust.

Read ingredients lists carefully on pre-packaged foods, being aware of terms like gelatin, whey, and "natural flavors" that can be animal-derived.

Prepare plenty of vegetable and fruit side dishes, but leave them plain. - Offer plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and non-gelatin desserts, which are suitable without modification for most vegetarians.

Thanksgiving, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by Dylan T. Moore, on Flickr

Invite your vegetarian Thanksgiving guest to prepare a "Tofurky" or vegetarian 'turkey equivalent' entrée to share with you the rest of your guests, or if you're hosting Thanksgiving, prepare a small one. Your meat-eating guests might just be curious enough to want to try it!

Thanksgiving, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by gabriel amadeus, on Flickr

Ask your vegetarian guest for help, tips, or recipes that would complement their vegetarian choice. You may find that your guest offers to help out in the kitchen or bring a dish from home. Please don't take a dish from home as an insult to your cooking; take it as a desire to share traditions at Thanksgiving. Even meat-eating homes can benefit from a healthy, nutrient-dense vegetarian recipe idea any time of the year!

Most importantly - make TONS of new, delicious (not overly cooked) vegetables that are perfectly in season like squashes, sweet potatoes, and green beans, etc.

Bleeding Cupcakes Recipe

From the kitchen of Martin James ~ Copenhagen, Denmark

I have served them warm over the past few years, using a dark chocolate cupcake with a warm fudge sauce frosting and when people bit into the warm cupcakes the filling literally oozed out of the cupcake and looked like blood. It was really really disgusting. Of course, everyone loved it and the cupcakes tasted marvelous. This bleeding cupcake recipe works equally well with any flavor of homemade or boxed cupcake mix. The filling recipe doubles and halves easily, so if you are using a non-standard cake recipe, make sure to adjust your recipe. Chocolate chips, shredded chocolate, or butterscotch chips can be used instead of the white chocolate chunks.


bleeding cupcake recipe, delicious recipe

1 egg
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Red food coloring or frosting tint
6 ounce white chocolate chunks
1 recipe homemade or boxed cake batter

Preheat the oven to the specified temperature in your cupcake recipe. Line muffin tins with foil or paper liners.

Mix together the filling before mixing together the batter. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Beat in the softened cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the coloring until the desired color is reached. Make the color several shades darker than the desired end result as the color will lighten as it bakes. Fold in the white chocolate chunks. Prepare the cupcake batter. Fill the cups 2/3 full with the cake batter. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the filling in the center of each cupcake. Bake, cool, and frost as directed in the cupcake recipe.

Cooking Cajun Food

Cooking in the heart of Cajun country is an art form. There really is very little science to this particular form of cooking that includes a lot more than mere lagniappe from the pantry or the spice cabinet. Cajun cooking is something that has often been imitated around the country and around the world but can very rarely be accurately duplicated.

One of the fascinating things about Cajun cooking is the fact that there are very few exact recipes. Most, if not all authentic Cajun cooking is done to taste rather than measurements. Even more amazing is that from day to day one person can make the same dish over and over and it is quite likely to taste a little bit different each and every time it is made. The major reason for this is that in addition to being an art form in and of itself, Cajun food is often made even more delicious or mysterious simply by the mood of the one doing the cooking.

Cajun fish, cajun food, cooking cajun
Chunks of Salmon & Large King Prawns cooked in Cajun Spices on a bed of Fresh Mixed Leaves at The Old Post Office in Haigh, Barnsley

(Photo by thefoodplace.co.uk on Flickr)



I'm sure that many of you have watched as Emeril Lagasse makes some special concoction and exclaims "Bam!" there is a good bit of that when it comes to Cajun cooking. Something that goes far beyond the ingredients in the recipe and somewhere into the heart and the soul of the cook in question. There is a reason that many southern cooked dishes are referred to as soul food and you should not for one second forget that New Orleans is in the heart of the Deep South.

The most difficult thing, perhaps when it comes to preparing good Cajun dishes outside of the New Orleans region is finding the right ingredients. It is nearly impossible to find the fresh seasonings and spices that are essential to most Cajun cuisine outside the heart of the old south. Not only that, but fresh crawfish and andouille sausage are a little difficult to come by during the heart of a Michigan winter.

If you are determined to learn to make Cajun food of your own, you must first find the ingredients. Specialty food shops or those that will special order might be your best bet. There are some grocers that will carry a limited stock of Cajun seasonings on their international food aisles. Keep in mind that these sources are extremely limited. Once you have the ingredients, it's time to let a little jazz blare from your speakers in order to set the mood. Most of the best Cajun dishes require a substantial amount of time for simmering and this should be considered. Cajun food is not to be rushed-much like the citizens of the Big Easy. The food will be ready in time and as the one cooking the food you must learn to accept that about Cajun food. It has a way of letting you know when it is ready that is almost mythical until you've experienced it for yourself.

Cooking Cajun food will try your patience, try your talents, and in some cases zap your energy, as it tends to be an emotional process for many. On the other end however, Cajun food is some of the richest and most delicious food on the planet. Mastering the ability to cook this wonderful food will make you a slave to its flavor for many years to come.

Love Age Wine

Do you love wine? I love wine, especially red wine. I like the complexity of the substance. If you open a bottle of wine now, it probably will taste fine but here's cool thing about wine, if you open a bottle of the same wine many years from now, and that same wine becomes completely something else. The rough edges in the wine's flavor will have smoothed out and the overall taste of the wine will be more pleasant, mellow and balanced.

Age wine does taste better. The many components of a wine will over time, mellow out and bring a a wonderful balance to its flavor because the acids lessens and fruit flavor come out more.

what are green wines infographic wine.com
Presented By Wine.com, Purveyors of fine green Wine

Cherries Are The Pick Of The Season

In the summer, life is a bowl of cherries. The long, warm days have produce sections brimming with big, juicy, sweet cherries. To promote the nutritional benefits of fresh produce, there's the Pick of the Season, a public health initiative spotlighting seasonal fruit and vegetables, with recipes this quarter for cherries, a produce selection that travels from the great Northwest right to you.

Besides the great taste, cherries are also low in calories-only 90 calories for 1 cup-and contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol. However, they pack in some great nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber and potassium. So whether they're Bing or Rainier, this beautiful fruit is a crowd pleaser. Delicious in a recipe or by the handful, for dessert or a midday snack, you can enjoy cherries all season long and beyond.

Cherries,  juicy cherries, seasonal fruit, cherry smoothie recipe, yogurt, delicious cherry

There are so many ways to add cherries to your favorite recipes, like in cherry-stuffed grilled chicken, cherry and hazelnut salad, cherry clafouti and this cherry smoothie:

Cherry Smoothie

1 cup light vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup pitted fresh or frozen sweet cherries
1/2 cup drained canned mandarin orange sections (canned in juice, no sugar added)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender; blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass; serve immediately. POINTS® value per serving: 4; 239 calories, 0g fat, 3g fiber.

Recipes like this one reflect the food values inherent in the Weight Watchers philosophy-that eating should be satisfying, as well as healthy.

Cooking Tips For Vegetables

People have the opportunity to enjoy a large assortment of vegetables, which come in delightful colors and pleasing shapes. Some people like vegetables so much that they decorate their homes with their images on all sorts of home decorating modes. The foremost cooking advices for vegetables are that they should be eaten as often as possible because vegetables do a body good as far a nutritional value.

Some of the more popular vegetable choices are tomatoes, carrots, shallots, eggplant and cauliflower, and also include an abundant assortment of beans and squashes that people enjoy immensely because they are easy to prepare. Some vegetables come ready to cook straight from the garden where they are grown. Corn on the cob is a favorite vegetable that everyone in the family can enjoy.

People that live in the country, on farms, estates, and home far off the beaten travel path of the busy cities that surround them, routinely maintain gardens in their back yards and window sills to keep them in stock of precious vegetables they might not have otherwise. Some cooking advices for vegetables have said that distance plays a big factor on how much people want vegetables in their diet, and with this type of pre-planning and planting, they are assured of a wide variety of vegetables throughout the year.

cooking tips, vegetable tips, vegetables, cooking vegetables

When listening to the cooking advices for vegetables, people enjoy hearing about the history of a particular type of vegetable before they try to prepare it. Some of these advices are long winded, because the preparation process can be very complicated. Some tales are folk stories about country people who started the tradition of home-canning vegetables to preserve their flavor and afford them the opportunity to eat them in the Winter season when snow was on the ground.

Today, home canning is a big sales market where many devices have been manufactured to accommodate the large quantities that are prepared in large industrial complexes that make jellies and preserves, and a variety of canned vegetables that are too numerous to mention. The home canning cooking advices for vegetables canned in the home say homes keep it simple and only need water, mason jars and lids and jar rings and tongs to perform the home canning process.


Tomatoes are a very popular vegetable that people might buy several days a week if they are dieting. People that live in apartments love growing tomatoes in small pots, and in locations where land space is available, tomatoes are typically one of the first items to be planted. They require only water and good earth to grow, and plant food can be purchased to increase the size and quantity of what is planted.

Children love eating watermelons during the Summer months, and these vegetables can vary in size and flavor from year to year. To grow good watermelons, cooking advices for vegetables such as the watermelon say that they need direct sunlight and lots of water to grow on the vine throughout the day and night.

Gourmet Gift Baskets for Loved Ones

I love giving gourmet gift baskets to my friends and loved ones. I usually get mine at www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com.

Giving gifts, whether food, homemade or bought from store are truly appreciated. That is one of the reasons why I love giving gifts on special occasions and sometimes, during "just because" moments. I sometimes make decorative boxes and shapes for my gift baskets when I have enough time to do it myself, but if I my schedule is a little tight, I go ahead buy beautiful gourmet gift baskets online.

Most members of the family love to cook and bake every gathering. I usually give dozen of cookies or delicious cup cakes and box them with a beautiful bow. That is, if I have the time to do it. If not, I just easily browse gourmet gift baskets online and luckily, www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com has a lot of superior quality gift baskets to choose from and backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I don't have to worry about the arrangement and the content because their gourmet gift baskets are artfully arranged with exquisite full-sized treats and gifts. I usually shop by categories or per occasion and sometimes, by recepient because it is hard to select which one to give. Most friends and relatives who received some of my gifts were delighted.

How about you? Do you enjoy giving or receiving gourmet gift baskets?

Chinese Recipe Tips

Chinese recipes usually call for very specific ingredients and ways to cook everything. There are many tips you can use to save time and money and still have a top notch meal or add ingredients to make a good meal great. You can cut corners on rice, kinds of oil, even the kind of meats you use. Many people take the meat out of a recipe and call it vegetarian. A delicious alternative to regular cooking oil is sesame oil. Just a few drops mixed with your normal oil or used by itself, sesame oil makes any dish have a very unique flavor.

Chinese Food Shrimp Broccoli 12-6-08 6
Photo by stevendepolo, on flickr

Shrimp cooked in vegetable oil tastes like greasy shrimp but shrimp cooked in sesame oil taste like a Chinese treat. Sesame oil has a strong and unique flavor that many people automatically associate with Chinese food. It is higher in fat so if you are on a diet, it might not be a good choice.

Rice is common in all kinds of Chinese recipes. If you make a lot of Chinese food, you can cook a lot more rice than you know you will use. You can freeze this excess rice and use it later on for fried rice. This will save you the trouble of cooking a whole new batch and it tastes just as good. Don t be afraid to change recipes. If you have a great recipe for chicken, try using crab or shrimp next time or changing some vegetables around. You might have just created your own unique recipe! This can be a lot of fun and the more familiar with Chinese recipes you get, the better your creations will be.

A SOFT DRINK A DAY

This guest post from Doris Dillon

This morning, I was checking my e-mail using my rochester clear internet and went to grab a Diet Doctor Pepper out of the fridge. If you have never had a Diet Doctor Pepper, you should. It tastes just like a regular Dr. Pepper to me and is much more crisp than a Diet Coke in my opinion. I try to limit myself to one soft drink a day, just because I know that if I start drinking more, I won’t be able to stop. Unfortunately, when I went to grab one out of the fridge when I was packing my lunch, I realized that we were completely out. Yesterday, I know that I had four in the fridge. When my husband woke up and started getting ready for work, I asked him about them, not expecting that he was going to start smirking. It turns out that he drank three Dr. Peppers yesterday. We had run out and he didn’t bother to tell me. Drinking that many Dr. Pepperscan’t be good for you!

Granola Recipes

Most people agree that granola is good for you and that it tastes great. The problem though is that they become tired of eating it plain, in cereal or in yogurt. They want something more appealing and that isn’t too hard to do. There are certainly plenty of delicious granola recipes out there to choose from. Some come on the packages of granola but most can be found online. Not only that, you can save money buy making various types of granola recipes on your own instead of already packaged.

Granola bar
Photo by Paulius Peciura, on Flickr

Granola bars are very popular and you can choose to make your own instead of buying them at the store. This is a great opportunity to add what you want to them. For example I love the peanut butter granola bars but most of them just don’t have enough of the peanut butter taste in them. I can make my own and I add more peanut butter than the recipe calls for. As a result I get a delicious tasting snack that I enjoy my way instead of how the manufacturer thinks I should enjoy it.

Trail mix is a very healthy snack and one you can make on your own. You can mix the granola with what you like and leave out what you don’t. Some people buy trail mix at the store and then pick out all the coconuts and complain there isn’t enough raisins. If you make it yourself you will be able to add what you want and leave out the other ingredients that you aren’t going to eat anyway. You can store it in Ziploc bags so it will stay fresh until you consume all of it.

Regardless of the granola recipe that you choose to make, it is important to use quality ingredients. You should always have old fashioned oats to work with. Don’t use oats that will cook in just a few minutes or you will have a gooey mess to content with. They also won’t get that crunchy taste that you desire from granola. You also need to let the granola bake slowly at a low temperature. If you try to do it at too high of a heat the inside of the granola will stay soggy.

Glitter only helps on Valentine's Day


Guest post written by Emily Lawson

I have quite the little craft station in my home. I've always loved making things, although I'm not as ambitious as I used to be when I was younger. I have a job and kids to take care of now instead of just sitting around and crafting all the time. So I thought that I would do something special for my daughters and make them some nice little valentines with all of my craft supplies to really fit their personalities.

I looked online to get some ideas about what I should do with their valentines and while I was doing that I saw information on debt counseling options. I bookmarked it to come back later to so my husband could see it too because we're in a tough financial spot and really need to actually do something about it.

I made one of them with a unicorn that of course had a sparkly horn! Hannah is obsessed with unicorns. While I made the other one with a soccer ball on it for Alyssa. She loves soccer almost as much as she loves glitter!

Making Italian Food With Pasta


For many Italian food lovers and aspiring Italian food chefs, the first dish to be attempted from home is typically a pasta dish. Pasta is known as an Italian food that is easy to make. However, homemade Italian food dishes with pasta often end up falling flat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing pasta at home.

First of all, your attempt at Italian food will only be as good as the pasta you use to make it with. When shopping for your pasta make sure you are buying a good brand that uses only quality ingredients. For instance, if buying dried pasta you should only buy brands that use just semolina flour. Any other type of dried pasta will taste like counterfeit Italian food. A good quality pasta will have a rough surface. The texture of the pasta will determine if it will be able to hold onto the sauce that it is served with. Smooth pasta is an instant indicator that you are dealing with an inferior brand. It is also important that the pasta be dense and heavy for its size.

If the pasta is too light it will fall apart when it is cooked. You want to make sure to avoid the mass produced and cheap pasta; otherwise your Italian food will not be satisfying. When shopping for fresh pasta you want to make sure that you pay attention to the expiration date, unlike dried pasta, fresh pasta does not have a long shelf life. Take a look at the pasta and if it looks cheap then it is. If it looks to have a good quality color and texture and is heavy, then that is the pasta that will give you the best tasting Italian food. The best bet when shopping for pasta is to see if there is a bakery that specializes in Italian food. Many such bakeries make pasta fresh daily and the quality will far out do anything that you will find at the store. The best way to get authentic Italian food is to get it from Italians.

Once you have bought your pasta you are halfway to enjoying good Italian food. The most important thing to remember when cooking pasta is to not overcook it. Mushy pasta is never good. For good tasting Italian food you want the pasta to be tender, yet firm to the teeth. Fresh pasta will take less time to cook than dried pasta. You want to make sure and use a large pot with an abundance of water. Bring the water to a boil and then liberally add salt. If you don't salt the water then the pasta will taste bland compared to the sauce it is served with. After you've salted the water it is time to add the pasta. If you have plenty of water that is brought to a vigorous boil before adding the pasta then you shouldn't have problems with the pasta sticking and it should cook evenly. Good Italian food sauce makes use of the water that was used to boil the pasta, so make sure to save a cup of it to add to the sauce. Also, don't ever rinse the pasta after you've cooked it, otherwise you will be stripping away the flavor of your Italian food.

Hopefully these tips will help you make better Italian food. If you haven't tried preparing Italian food yourself then give it a try starting with the most fundamental Italian food, pasta.