Category: Cooking

329. 12 Days of Recipes, Day 8: Best Cookie Exchange Recipes

 With cold, wet weather and the season’s first measurable snowfall expected today, here’s a fun indoor activity you can do alone or with your kids.  Forget about the fire, why not just heat up by the oven as you try your hand at some of my favorite holiday cookie recipes?  These are great for a cookie exchange, as gifts for neighbors or just for enjoying at home with your family.  And they’re the highlight today for Day 8 of our 12 Days of Recipes series here at 365Barrington.com.

For us, we have a little different criteria for the best cookie exchange recipes.  The cookies have to look festive.  They have to be easy enough to crank out six dozen in about 2 hours. The recipe has to be basic enough to triple with ease.  And, of course, we want to skip all fussy ingredients.

Candy-Dipped Chocolate Cutout Cookies
We think any basic cookie, such as oatmeal, sugar or chocolate cutout cookie dipped in melted white chocolate and then crushed candy cane pieces is a holiday best.  White chocolate and candy cane pieces are a perfect mouthful of holiday flavor, and with any good cookie base, they are a true crowd pleaser. Below is a recipe that does this with chocolate cutout cookies.  You can do something similar with crushed pistachios, m&m pieces or sprinkles in place of the candy canes……

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323. 12 Days of Recipes, Day 6: Mashed Potato Bar

 Here’s a great way to bring something unique to your holiday buffet or table.  A mashed potato bar can be loads of fun and it’s our featured item for Day 6 of our 12 Days of Recipes here at 365Barrington.com.

I recently helped throw a baby shower for my cousin who craved mashed potatoes throughout her pregnancy. We decided the mashed potato bar was the way to go for the menu, and it was a huge hit.

Favorite toppings were the French’s Fried Onions and Sundried Tomatoes.  Another idea I’ve seen at weddings is to serve both the scoops of mashed potato and the toppings in martini glasses.
Following is a list of other items we used or you could try. Just make a heaping amount of mashed potatoes, and place all toppings in serving bowls with spoons……

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270. Barrington EATS: Perk Up Your Pork Chops

 My company’s mission is to help anyone and everyone achieve more healthy cooking at home, with less stress time and money spent. At the simplest level, I get asked often for meal ideas you can just pop into the oven, with little prep time. There are so many, and they are not pre-packaged processed or ready-made foods. Trust me, with a little thinking ahead, this can be done with fresh ingredients right from your cabinets and refrigerator.  Pork chops are one of those things that make a great pop-in-the-oven dinner.

Some people fear baking pork chops because they tend to be dry. And they are if you don’t add other ingredients. But following are three simple ways to perfectly top pork chops for tasty tender results, each with just a few minutes prepping time……

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266. Barrington EATS: Lunch Lessons on “Tasty Tuesday”

 Have you heard about Tasty Tuesday? Wondering what’s going on that tastes so good? It’s the latest initiative in Barrington School District 220’s effort to better educate our students on healthy eating.  They’re turning lunchtime into a teaching opportunity by having fun with featured foods.
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Sodexho Food Service and our school PTOs are working to introduce one new healthy food to our students each month.
On the first Tuesday of the month, elementary school students will have an opportunity to sample a fruit or vegetable during lunch. Then, the same food item will be offered intermittently in the lunch menu for the remainder of the month. 
The district is also getting students involved on the middle and high school levels, where they’ll offer the fruit or veggie of the month and display posters about “Tasty Tuesday” in the cafeterias.  And, for early childhood students, a healthy snack of fruits or veggies will be offered twice a week.
The goal of the program is to provide elementary age students with increased opportunities to sample fruits and vegetables.  Why?  Because research shows that it takes five to twenty tastes before children begin to like a new food.
The district is also encouraging families to get involved by including the same fruit or vegetable in your menus at home throughout the month to increase opportunities for further taste testing.
October’s Tasty Tuesday food is Sweet Potatoes. You likely know that many studies point to the sweet potato as the number one healthiest vegetable.
One medium sweet potato contains only 130 calories, 2 grams of protein, less than one gram of fat, is low in sodium, contains a full day’s supply of vitamin C and provides 700% of the US RDA for Vitamin A. The antioxidants in the sweet potato may help to prevent heart disease and cancer, bolster the immune system and even slow aging by promoting good vision and healthy skin. Talk about a super food!

Below is one of my favorite, unique ways to use sweet potatoes, in the Sweet Potato Salad recipe from my 30 Spectacular Salads cookbook……

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