Winter Squash Wonder Pie

winter-squash-pieStill have some winter squash from the garden in your cold storage? Make good use of it in this delicious winter squash wonder pie. The kids won’t even realize they’re eating a vegetable!


Winter Squash Wonder Pie

Total preparation/baking time: 90 minutes (425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 45 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups banana squash*               
  • 1 cup sugar or baking sucralose                
  • 6 Tbsp. maple syrup                                     
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
  • Directions

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Prepare squash by washing, cutting and removing seeds. Cut the flesh into large cubes. Place the squash into a pot, adding enough water to cover the cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.

Measure the squash, scraping flesh from the shell and squeezing out extra moisture, and place it into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients with the evaporated milk going in last. (If both cans of evaporated milk won’t fit, add one can, and blend until well mixed, move the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the last can of milk.)

Make your own crust, or purchase one from the store. To prevent spills in the oven, place your pie crusts on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. The squash mixture is quite runny, so place the pie tins on the rack, and then pour the mixture into the tins. Carefully push the rack back into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, baking for another 45 minutes. To check for doneness, pat the top of the pie with a butter knife. The pies are ready when the tops are mostly firm. Remove from the oven, letting them cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with whipped topping, and enjoy!

*One regular-sized banana squash will make anywhere from 4-6 pies. Premeasure the extra squash for future pies. It will keep for about 6 months.


This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Original recipe contributed by Debbie Clayburn, Bridgeland, Duchesne County 2016




Family Favorite // Turkey Pot Pie

turkey-pot-pie
Did you save some turkey from your holiday dinners? Pull it out of the freezer and try it in this hearty pot pie your family is sure to love.


Turkey Pot Pie

  • 1 recipe pie crust dough
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, light and dark, diced or shredded (or both!)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth (more if needed!)
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Frozen peas (optional)
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by melting the butter in a skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are translucent (a couple of minutes).

Add turkey to the mixture and stir. Slowly add flour, mixing it into the mixture. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

Mix in the broth, and then add a splash of wine, if desired. Add the cream, mixing well. At this point, you may stir in the peas, if desired.

Bring to a slow boil and allow the mixture to cook and thicken for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper, and fresh or dried thyme, to taste. Do one final taste at the end, just to make sure that it tastes wonderful!  

Next, pour the mixture into a deep-dish crust. Then, roll out crust, making it about 1 inch larger than the top of the pan you’re using. Place the dough on top of the pot pie mixture, and press the crust into the sides of the dish. Cut vents in the top of the crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allowing time to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Tech Tip

Recipe Gallery is a wonderful tool for organizing your favorite recipes! This app is a mobile recipe book, where you can do anything from adding recipes that are in your grandmother’s cookbook, to posting screenshots of recipes found online. With a simple click of a button you can even print off recipes, share them as a PDF through email, and so much more! The app also connects through different devices. Forgot your iPad at home? No worries, the recipes are on your phone, too! 


This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman




What’s App with That? 7 Apps to Help You Save Money and Eat Better

What's App.jpg
Have you used a food, grocery or coupon app? We’ve got the lowdown on of some of the top apps in these categories to help you decide whether or not they are worth a download.


Grocery and Coupons

FavadoThis app is pretty awesome. You start off by entering your zip code or allowing location access so that the app can search for stores near you. From there, you pick stores of your choice. You can either view the ads for those stores, or better yet, compare the prices for the stores you picked. For instance: I chose Smith’s, Winco, and Costco. I could compare their ads in their entirety, or search for a specific item like broccoli. Smith’s broccoli was $0.79 per pound, while WinCo broccoli was $0.98. By doing this with all my grocery list items I could see where to get the most bang for my buck. You can also add the items you searched for or saw in coupons to a list by store.

Walmart– This app has a great feature: Savings Catcher. You can scan your Walmart receipt and the app will search prices of competitors in the area for advertised deals on the items you purchased. If a lower advertised price is found, Walmart give you the difference on an eGift card. This app also lists the weekly ad and current prices in store. You can order non-grocery items from this app and pick them up at the store, and refill prescriptions from this app. To order groceries, use the Walmart Grocery app, where you are able to select non-perishable foods to be delivered to your front door or complete all of your shopping and have it hand delivered to your car in the parking lot.

*Note: other stores also have their own apps to help with grocery shopping lists, couponing, etc. Smith’s grocery store app allows you to add coupons directly to your Fresh Values card, which eliminates the hassle of cutting and turning in paper coupons. Target’s Cartwheel app allows you to scan items in the store to see if there is a coupon or sale in addition to weekly ad prices. Check to see if the stores at which you typically shop have apps, and then see what they have to offer.

Grocery IQ or Grocery Pal – The best feature on these apps is that you can scan a barcode or use a voice search to find coupons. When you scan a barcode or search for an item, coupons from stores around you will pop up, then you can add the coupons and items you want to your list. This could be handy if you are in a store and want to quickly check prices elsewhere.  You can also view the weekly ads for stores in your area.

Nutrition Tracking

MyNetDiary –  This easy-to-use app is a classic nutrition tracker. You enter your personal information and select if you want to gain, lose or maintain weight. The app then tells you how many calories you should eat each day to achieve your goal. It tracks the amount of the fat, carbs and protein in the foods you enter, and calculates your allowed amount remaining in each category for the day. Perhaps the best part is that you can enter in your own recipes. With many other nutrition trackers, there are preset meals to choose from. With this app, you can select the ingredients that actually made up your lunch for the day, and it will calculate the nutritional information. You can also log exercise, water intake and add personal notes in the app. Using an activity monitor like a Fitbit, you can also track your steps and how many calories burned in the app.

Nutrition Education

Eat and Move -0- Matic – This is a great nutrition education app for families and children, produced by the National 4-H Council. Its designed to be like a game and is geared toward children. Your children may not find it the most exciting game to play on their own, but it is a good educational app for you to go through with your children. The app teaches how food and exercise work together. For example, it would take 27 minutes of jumping rope to burn the calories contained in an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk.  It has dozens of food and exercise selections to choose from and lists the calories for each food. This is great for helping parents understand how much physical activity their children should be doing for the food they are eating, and it can teach children that they need to exercise to stay healthy and balance what they eat with physical activity.

Recipes and Cooking

Cooking Matters – This app’s focus is healthy, affordable and delicious meals. While it doesn’t have as many recipes as Pinterest, the recipes this app does have are healthy, simple and look very appealing. Many of the recipes use few ingredients. It also lists the serving size of each recipe and has a nice conversion feature to tell you how many ounces are in a pound or how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, etc.

Do you use any of these apps? Are there any you love that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!


This article was written by Sarah Hepworth Warner, Food Sense nutrition program intern, Utah County, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County




Vanilla and Its Uses During the Holidays

vanilla-and-it's-uses-during-the-holidays

Enhance the flavor of your favorite recipes with aromatic vanilla beans.


Vanilla flavoring is a desirable sweet flavor that is used in many recipes from cookies and candies to drinks. Vanilla comes as an extract, powder and paste. These forms of vanilla come from beans that are grown on an orchid plant. Growers pollinate the long pods and ferment them for about 6 months before harvesting. This laborious process results in the flavoring becoming one of the most expensive. To cook with vanilla beans, you simply split open the pod and scrape out the pulpy seeds inside.  Each pod will have tiny seeds that have a strong vanilla aroma.

An imitation vanilla extract is made from synthetic flavorings with alcohol and may not be quite as desirable as an authentic vanilla flavor.

Vanilla beans take on the flavor and aroma from where they are grown. The most common types of beans are grown primarily in Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti. The Madagascar bean (also known as a bourbon bean) is very thin and very rich in sweetness. The thick skin covers many small seeds that provide a strong vanilla aroma. This accounts for about 80 percent of most vanilla extract. The Mexican bean is not as thin or sweet as the Madagascar bean. This bean has an earthy aroma and is more mellow in flavor. The Tahiti bean is plumper in size, darker in color and the least sweet of the beans. The perfect vanilla bean is 5 to 7 inches long and should feel moist and supple (not dry and brittle) when rolled between your fingers.

Fresh vanilla beans can be used in cooking as well as in making vanilla extract. One 2-inch piece of vanilla bean = 1 tsp. extract. Vanilla beans are made into an extract which is aged from 2 to 6 months and contains a minimum of 35 percent alcohol.

Vanilla beans will dry out and become brittle if left out in the air, so wrap them in foil, seal them in a zip-top bag and store them in a cool, dark area. They’ll last this way for at least several months.

Enjoy the flavor and aroma of the fresh vanilla bean!

Vanilla Bean Custard
2 cups milk
2 vanilla bean pods
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch

Bring milk to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the vanilla beans from the bean pod (split the pod and scrape them out with the tip of a knife).

In a bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, yolks and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly add about half of the milk to the egg mixture and then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan containing the rest of the milk. Don’t heat the eggs too quickly or you will  have scrambled eggs in your custard.

Place the pan over medium heat and whisk well, making sure you get in the corners of the pan, until it comes to a boil and thickens. Cool, cover and store in the fridge.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension professor, 435-534-2692, Carolyn.washburn@usu.edu




Ask an Expert // Five Tips for Safe Holiday Eggnog

safe-eggnogHolidays are a fun but hectic time. By amending your eggnog recipes for safety, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.


Since the early 1800s, eggnog has been considered a social Christmas drink that adds to the festivities of the season. To many, it brings back fond memories of Christmases by the firelight, real Christmas trees and the grandest of holiday meals.

Although your traditional eggnog recipe may be a family favorite, if the recipe includes raw eggs, it is recommended that you alter it. Eating raw eggs can not only be dangerous, but deadly, since they may contain the bacterium salmonella, which can cause food-borne illness. Anyone can fall victim to food-borne illnesses, but some people are at a higher risk, including infants, young children, pregnant women, older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as HIV, liver disease, diabetes or cancer.

Be aware that refrigerated eggs with clean shells that don’t have cracks can still be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. To safely make holiday eggnog, use one of the following substitutions:

1.) In place of raw eggs, use an equivalent amount of pasteurized (frozen or refrigerated) egg product that has never been opened. Because of the risk of bacterial contamination after opening, any leftover egg product should be used only in cooked products.

2.) Use cooked eggs in your eggnog recipe. Combine raw eggs with half of the milk and sugar in a 4-quart double boiler. Cook and stir over medium heat, approximately 10-15 minutes, until the mixture coats a metal spoon and the temperature reaches 160 F. Continue preparing your recipe as directed.

3.) If a recipe calls for folding raw, beaten egg whites into the eggnog, use pasteurized eggs. It has not been proven that raw egg whites are free of salmonella bacteria.

4.) Use commercially prepared eggnog, which contains pasteurized eggs and does not need to be cooked.

5.) Try the safe recipe below:

Holiday Eggnog Recipe

5 cups skim milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup pasteurized, refrigerated egg product
or 1 cup pasteurized frozen egg product (thawed in the refrigerator)
or 4 eggs

12-ounce can evaporated skim milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon rum extract (optional)

1 pint low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt, softened

Ground nutmeg to taste

  1. In a 4-quart double boiler, combine milk, sugar and egg product (or eggs).
    2.  Cook and stir over medium heat, approximately 10-15 minutes, until the mixture coats a metal spoon and the temperature reaches 160 F. Remove from heat.
    3.  Stir in the evaporated skim milk, vanilla extract and rum extract (if desired). Cover and chill 4-24 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. To serve, place softened frozen yogurt in a punch bowl. Gradually whisk in chilled eggnog mixture until smooth. Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste.

NOTE: If using eggs, follow recipe steps 1, 2, 3 and 4. If using pasteurized egg product, follow steps 1, 3 and 4 only.

Adding alcohol will inhibit bacterial growth, but it cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria. Once alcohol is diluted, it no longer effectively kills bacteria. You will still need to use pasteurized eggs. Keep in mind that simmering eggnog over heat will remove the alcohol.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension professor, 435-534-2692, Carolyn.washburn@usu.edu




A Fruitcake for Christmas

fruitcakeHave you ever received fruitcake as a gift? When a research firm polled some 1,000 adults about what they did with fruitcake, 38 percent said they gave it away, 28 percent actually ate it, 13 percent used it as a doorstop, 9 percent scattered it for the birds, 4 percent threw it out, and 8 percent couldn’t remember.*  Which category will you fall into this season?


Sun-ripened raisins, plump, juicy cherries, delicious pineapple, home-grown pecans, walnuts and almonds, a little tang of lemon and orange peel added, blended into a rich pound-cake batter and baked to a golden brown. This could be your traditional Christmas fruitcake. This moist Christmas cake is a festive favorite full of tasty bits of fruits and nuts, the ratio of which is fairly high, with just enough cake batter to hold it all together. This naturally results in a very dense, moist cake, no doubt giving rise to the “heavy” jokes. Fruitcakes range from light to dark, are made with and without alcohol and are delicately spiced.

Fruitcake dates back to the early Roman years, and you may hear jokes about them being 125 years old. I’ve been asked what the shelf life of fruitcake is. No one has come up with an exact amount of time, and each recipe is different. These cakes contain high amounts of sugar, which means that water activity will be low, keeping mold from growing and making the cake last a long time. The spices and fruit in the cake also contain antioxidants, which will help extend the shelf life of the fruitcake. The alcohol content in the cake may have only a small effect on the shelf life, as most of the alcohol is lost during the baking time, and the rest is lost over a long storage time. The recommended shelf life is usually a few months, with additional life added by storing it in the freezer. You may also want to keep it in the refrigerator for easier slicing.

Fruitcake is also an excellent choice to send in the mail. It does not spoil and is solid enough to maintain its shape and form. Now you know why your distant relatives choose to send you one each Christmas.

Most of your traditional Christmas fruitcakes are started in October allowing for the softening of dried fruits and the blending of flavors. These cakes are usually prepared with a syrup mixture, then the fruits and alcohol are added. However, many fruitcakes are non-alcoholic and much simpler to make.

Several old legends of the fruitcake have been passed on for centuries. From England it was told that a single woman could put a slice of fruitcake under her pillow to dream of the man she would marry. Crusaders carried fruitcake on their journeys because of its ability to withstand long trips and months of storage. In Egypt, the fruitcake was considered an essential food for a mummy to take into the afterlife, always being placed inside the tomb.

So, if you were lucky enough to receive a fancy fruitcake confection this holiday season, get ready to open up the tin, box or wrapper and enjoy. The fruit and fiber make it a more nutritious food than some holiday treats. 

Holiday Fruitcake

From McCall’s Cooking School

2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, quartered
2 cups light or dark raisins
1/2 cup brandy
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups butter or regular margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 eggs
1/2 cup brandy

In large bowl combine walnuts, cherries and raisins with 1/2 cup brandy. Allow to stand overnight at room temperature. Sift flour with baking powder and nutmeg. In a large electric mixer bowl, beat butter/margarine, sugar and vanilla at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. Batter will become thick and fluffy and lighter in color. At low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth. Add cherry/raisin/nut mixture to batter and mix well with wooden spoon.

Heat oven to 350 F and grease pan of your choice and flour well. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in bundt pan or 1 hour 10 minutes in tube pan. As an alternative, use 5-inch diameter by 2-inch- high souffle dishes and bake for about 45 minutes. Cake is done when long skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Use small spatula to loosen cake around inside. Invert on wire rack and cool.  Soak cheesecloth in 1/2 cup brandy, stretch on large piece of heavy-duty foil, place cake in center and wrap with cheesecloth. Wrap foil tightly around cake. Store in refrigerator several days to several weeks. To serve, slice thinly and let warm to room temperature.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, retired Utah State University Extension professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.

*Russell Baker, The New York Times




Quick and Easy Holiday Recipes

quick-and-easy-holiday-recipesDon’t let holiday party planning stress you out: try these quick and easy make-ahead recipes for your next holiday gathering, and enjoy this wonderful time of the year.


As the holidays become a fast approaching reality, the feeling of panic can quickly take over the sparkle…Will I be able to get everything done in time? Will it be just the way I want it? Can I make entertaining extra special without spending too much time or money on the details? Are there things we can do to entertain and prepare for the holidays without making ourselves crazy in the process?  

I cater on the weekends and in my spare time, I have come across some simple ways to make the holidays extra special. What can I do to have homemade rolls, a lovely platter of savory bites that can be taken to the next party or maybe a simple dessert that will appeal to even the pickiest foodie? Just by having a few simple ingredients on hand you can make the holidays sparkle.  Try out some of these tips and recipes to make your holidays merry and bright.

Chris’s Make Ahead Refrigerator Dinner Rolls

Homemade dinner rolls make any holiday meal extra special. With just a few inexpensive key ingredients, your house will smell like you have been baking all day and your guests will feel extra special when you are pulling these rolls out of your oven right before the event. Try these easy, foolproof dinner rolls for your next gathering.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for pan and brushing
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for shaping dough

Directions

  1. Pour warm water into a large bowl or stand mixer bowl; sprinkle with yeast, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add sugar, butter, eggs, and salt; whisk to combine. Change out whisk attachment to a dough hook. Add flour; mix until incorporated and a sticky dough forms. Move dough to a buttered bowl.  Brush top of dough with butter; cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface. With floured hands, roll dough into a thick log. Cut into 18 equal pieces (halve log, cut each half in thirds, then cut each piece into thirds again).
  4. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter. One at a time, flatten each piece of dough, then fold edges toward the center, pressing to secure, until a smooth ball forms. Place dough balls in prepared baking pan, smooth side up (you should have 3 rows of 6). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate (at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.), OR you can cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap; brush rolls with butter. Bake until golden and rolls sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Pull rolls apart, and serve warm.

Green Onion Cheese Ball

For that special get together, sometimes it is fun to have an easy-to-make alternative to the traditional holiday sweet treat. Here is a simple recipe that, for next to nothing, can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and will look like you spent hours preparing it. Even if you do not like onion, you will be amazed at the flavor. This cheese ball is mild enough that you get just a hint of onion along with the other seasonings. This could be the next neighborhood favorite.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 8 oz pkgs. cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix (I prefer Lipton)
  • 6 green onions finely diced (Whole onion – white and green parts)
  • Chopped nuts

Directions

Mix first three ingredients thoroughly, shape into a ball, and roll in chopped nuts.

If desired, use this recipe to make two or three small cheese balls out of one batch for a great addition to a cheese and cracker platter for a smaller group. As another option, shape the cream cheese mixture into a teardrop so it looks like a festive Christmas pine cone when sliced or whole almonds are added in a layered pattern, starting at the point and working back. Then place sprigs of green onions, rosemary, or parsley at the round end.

Easy Sugar Cookies

These quick and easy recipes will give your holiday the sparkle and shine that shows you care, with a minimum of effort allowing you to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.

Ingredients

  • White cake mix (dry)
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine (melted)
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour all ingredients into mixing bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until everything is incorporated and looks like moist crumbles. Press into the shape of a disk. Roll out and cut shapes with cookie cutter or scoop dough into balls. Place on cookie sheet, and bake for about 7-10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Place cookies on cooling rack, let cookies cool. Ice cookies according to preference.


This article was written by Chris Jensen, Piute County Extension Educator.




Winter Bucket List

winter-bucket-list-graphic

What’s on your list of must-do winter activities? Get some inspiration from our winter bucket list. 


Each season has its own excitement and beauty to enjoy. Here is a list of fun things to do this winter to get you started. These are great for family, friends or date nights!

Outdoors

  • Go sledding.
  • Build a snowman.
  • Drive or walk around to see local Christmas lights at night, visit Holiday Lights at Thanksgiving Point November 21 to December 31 (closed Sundays) or Ogden’s Christmas Village (Saturday after Thanksgiving through January 1).
  • Go caroling.
  • Go for a sleigh ride.
  • Have a fun and safe snowball fight.
  • Try cross country skiing or snowshoeing at such places as  Soldier Hollow, Millcreek, Donut Falls, or a place near you!
  • Go tubing at Soldier Hollow.
  • Go skiing or snowboarding. Local resorts include Alta, Brighton, Deer Valley, Snowbird and more.
  • Visit the Macy’s 2016 Holiday-themed Candy Window Display at City Creek Center November 17 to January 1.
  • Go window shopping at the Shops at Riverwoods in Provo.  Enjoy shopping, lights, music, entertainment and outdoor firepits to warm you up. From 6 to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays in November and December. The lighting of Riverwoods is November 18 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Entertainment

  • Go ice skating. The Gallivan Center rink’s opening day is November 13 at 6 p.m.
  • Plan a weekend away at the Snowbird Cliff Lodge and Spa.
  • Visit the Festival of Trees located at the Sandy South Towne Expo Center from November 30 to December 3  from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Have a Candlelight Christmas at This is the Place Heritage Park December 9-23, Monday through Saturday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Spend Christmas at the Grand America Hotel. They host Santa and Mrs. Claus with photo opportunities.  A great buffet is provided to complete the experience. There are select days throughout December with seating between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visit their website to make a reservation.
  • Take a stroll through the Annual Holiday Window display at the Grand America Hotel from November 22 to December 31.
  • Go see the Hogle Zoo lights December 1 to 31 from 5:30 to 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the day.  Closed Christmas Day.
  • Attend the Messiah sing-in with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall on Saturday, November 26, and Sunday, the 27, at 7:30 p.m.   
  • Attend the Nutcracker with Ballet West at the Capitol Theatre on December 2 to 26, times vary.
  • Visit the lights at Temple Square. They are first lit the day after Thanksgiving and stay on through December 31. Free concerts and performances daily at six venues November 25 to December 23.
  • Eve Winter Fest December 29 to 31. Salt Lake City’s three-day celebration with concerts, DJs, grown-up drinks and engaging activities for kids and families. Discover everything that downtown has to offer with one all-access pass. 
  • Watch sporting events  – cheer for your favorite basketball, wrestling, ice hockey or gymnastics teams.
  • Attend a local play.
  • Visit a museum, local landmarks and local art galleries.

Home

  • Play a favorite board game or try a new one.
  • Make warm hot cider or cocoa and watch a holiday movie.
  • Build a fort with all the blankets and pillows you can find in the house.
  • Snuggle up to a fire or a sofa and read a holiday classic with someone.
  • Put together a giant puzzle.
  • Have a gingerbread house construction party where everyone brings their old candy, boxes, glue guns, crackers and more. This is fun for the little ones up to the hard-core construction engineer designers.
  • Make indoor s’mores in the oven. Lay the crackers on a cookie sheet, and then place your desired chocolate on the cracker along with marshmallows. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for  3 to 5 minutes until the marshmallows and chocolate are soft and gooey.  
  • Plan a progressive dinner with your friends when January gets boring. Pick your favorite theme and have everyone prepare a different course.
  • Host a murder mystery dinner.
  • Have a cookie exchange party where everyone brings their favorite cookies to trade, then everyone has a variety to take home.

Books

  • Winter themed books for youth:
    • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
    • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
    • The Winter Room by Gary Paulsen
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
    • Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
    • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
    • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
    • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
  • Christmas-themed books for all:
    • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
    • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
    • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
    • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
    • Little Women by Louisa May Alcot

Crafts

  • Make a memory book with pictures taken throughout the year.
  • Make snow paint to paint the snow and add some color to winter.
  • Make someone you love a homemade gift for the season.
  • Create homemade ornaments with your children or friends.
  • Cut out paper snowflakes and decorate the house.
  • Make a holiday wreath for the season.
  • Make your own Valentine’s Day cards and decorations.

Food

Here are some foods to warm you up during those cold winter days.


This article was written by Marilyn Albertson, Utah State University Extension Associate Professor, Salt Lake County, and Kirsten Lamplugh, Utah State University Extension Intern, Salt Lake County




Calcium // Look Beyond the Milk Jug

calcium-graphic

Need more calcium in your diet? You don’t have to get it from a glass of milk— try our Green Eggs and Ham for a calcium boost!


 

A favorite Dr. Seuss story, “I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham,” has a great ending with Sam I Am deciding that he does like green eggs and ham.  You may also find that green eggs and ham can be a great addition to your health.

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body is an important component to daily health.  Although it is an essential mineral for our bodies, the majority of Americans do not take in enough calcium for their body’s daily use. Calcium is a key factor in maintaining good health. It is essential for building and maintaining bones and teeth, for keeping a regular heart beat and reduced blood pressure, for the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction and the maintenance of cell membranes. New research shows that calcium can protect against colon cancer. Adequate calcium intake may reduce your overall risk of colon cancer and suppress the growth of polyps that can lead to cancer.

Most Americans realize that calcium builds strong bones and helps in keeping them strong later in life to prevent osteoporosis.  Yet most Americans only consume half of the daily amount of calcium they need from their diet.

Calcium is excreted every day through sweat and body waste.  To prevent bones from taking calcium from the blood and body, replenish your body daily with foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.  Such foods high in calcium are dairy products, kale, almonds, sardines and canned salmon with bones, oranges, broccoli and sweet potatoes.  If you do not get enough calcium from the foods you eat, change your diet or take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Your body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Vitamin D comes from the ultraviolent sun rays and from fortified foods such as eggs, liver, oysters and fish.

The best ways to increase calcium are with increased dairy products (3-4 servings a day), additional dark green vegetables and foods with added calcium.  

As we age, our metabolism and ability to absorb nutrients decreases. It is critical that we increase the amount of calcium we intake daily.  Women over 50 and men over 65 need to consume 1,200-1,500 milligrams of calcium daily. Additional Vitamin D is also needed for absorption of calcium since many people do not get enough sun and skin no longer absorbs the vitamin D as it did in younger years.

Calcium intake is a global concern – especially in countries that do eat many dairy products.  New research being conducted by USDA Children’s Center is adding calcium to carrots and other veggies.  Watch for calcium-boosted carrots in the grocery store.

Now you can see how important it is to begin to like our “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Green Eggs and Ham

3 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup 2% reduced-fat cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 cup spinach leaves, loosely packed
12 thin slices ham

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tins.
2. Combine eggs, flour, butter, cottage cheese, cheddar and hot sauce in a food processor or blender. Process until well blended. Add spinach and pulse briefly. Do not over-process; green flecks should be visible.
3. Line muffin tins with ham slices, pressing down with fingertips. Pour about 1/3 cup egg mixture into each tin.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves 8-12 people                      I 


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.




Using Herbs and Spices // Keep the Flavor, Lose the Calories

Herbs and Spices.jpg

Charlemagne, Emperor of Rome, known for his good health, said, “An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.” Try these tips for using herbs as a healthy and flavorful alternative to fats, sugar and salt.


 

If you are trying to find ways to lower the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in your diet, you may find that herbs and spices are a good solution.

Using Herbs to Reduce Fat, Sugar and Salt

Fat, sugar and salt all add flavor to the foods we eat and enjoy.  They also add calories and cholesterol.  We can add flavor to many foods and decrease the fat, sugar and salt by using herbs and spices in many recipes.

One tablespoon of fat can equal 100 calories. A great substitute is to purchase fat-free salad dressing, margarine, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese, then add flavorings of your choice with herbs such as thyme, rosemary or tarragon.  You will be surprised at the great flavor they provide without adding calories.

Herbs and spices can also reduce the amount of sugar you may need in foods.  Ginger, whether fresh or dried, is an excellent sweetener.  Keep a little ginger root in your freezer and grate off the desired amount when cooking.  Carrots, sweet potatoes and other foods combined with a little ginger root are sweet and tasty.

Herbs and spices can complement nearly all cooking.  Using them will help reduce the amount of salt your recipe may need.  You will find that you can flavor with the herb, then leave out some of the salt.

Experiment with spices and herbs in your sauces, vegetables, drinks or desserts.  Keep in mind that the amount you use and when you add it to your ingredients will depend on if you are using fresh or dried herbs.  If using fresh herbs, you will add three times the amount of dried.  Dried herbs are added at the beginning of cooking, and fresh herbs are added at the end of the cooking time.  Store fresh herbs in the refrigerator and dried herbs in the cupboard out of direct sunlight.  If you add a little too much seasoning when cooking, throw in a piece of potato and let it absorb the extra flavor.  Remove before serving.

These herbs are some that I wouldn’t want to be without.  They add flavor to many foods:

  • Basil is absolutely essential for Italian cooking. I can’t imagine a summer without fresh pesto.
  • Chives are prized for both their extensive cooking applications and their gorgeous silhouette in the garden.
  • Cilantro is used liberally in Latin American cooking, and its cool flavor is one of my year-round favorites. I love pomegranate and cilantro salsa.
  • Tall dill plants waving in the breeze are a welcome sight in any garden. The seeds and herb are used in all sorts of vegetable recipes and bottled pickles.
  • Although mint has the tendency to take over wherever it is planted, the aromatic herb adds pizzazz to summertime lemonade, smoothies and is refreshing in teas and many recipes.
  • Oregano is another Italian food staple, and it’s also wonderful in egg recipes such as omelets.
  • Don’t just use the little sprigs of parsley as plate garnish: toss it into salads, soups and vegetable recipes.
  • Rosemary grows wonderfully in St. George.  On the patio, it is sheltered from the winter cold and the summer heat. Once your taste buds have experienced fresh rosemary, they will go on strike if you serve the dried variety.
  • Thyme, growing in a garden, has an enticing aroma. It’s also a favorite in fish recipes.

Try growing your favorite herbs in the yard, garden boxes, flower pots or even in the house.  They add beauty, flavor, aroma and are a wonderful conversation piece.

Minted Cucumber Salad

  • 4 cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 orange rind, grated
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar substitute

Toss cucumbers in bowl with mint, rind and parsley.  Whisk oil, vinegar and sugar substitute.  Pour over cucumbers and chill for 4 hours.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.