Easter Side Dishes

www.cobornsblog.com - Family, Friends & Food with Jayne
Jayne

Wow Spring is here and so is Easter!

I know most of us are planning our Easter dinner already which most likely means the traditional ham as well as all the favorite side dishes that our family and friends love. Once in a while, it’s nice to mix things up and try some new recipes too! Continue reading “Easter Side Dishes”

A Day in the Life of a Dietitian During the Holidays

Amy

Yes, we’re real people too. I promise I’m not the girl walking into my parent’s house for Thanksgiving carrying kale and carrot sticks. I love this time of year because it brings together my three most favorite things in the world: Family + Friends & Food. Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Dietitian During the Holidays”

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Ashley M. www.cobornsblog.com
Ashley M.

I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner! Even though I try to get my shopping done early, there always seems to be a need for last minute gift ideas. Running out to the store isn’t always an option, so here’s a couple gift ideas that I was able to make with things around the house.

Continue reading “Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas”

New Year's Eve Traditions

New Year's Eve Traditions

 

www.cobornsblog.com - Fun with Family with Rebecca
Rebecca

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and no matter what part of the world you’re in, it’s a time of year that spins a little magic. People around the globe embrace many traditions, focus on good luck in the year ahead, and often enjoy one last night of celebrating holiday festivities before starting new resolutions.

At Coborn’s, we have guests and employees from around the world who grace our stores each week. In appreciation for the array of cultural richness among us, below you’ll find some New Year’s Eve food traditions from different countries. If you pay attention, you may notice that there are three overarching themes to many New Year’s foods: gold, round things, and pork. Gold symbolized wealth and good fortune. Rings symbolize the year coming full circle. And in many countries, pigs symbolize progress because they never walk backward.  Who knew?

Rice Pudding with a Surprise

Rice Pudding with a Surprise

As a child, one of my favorite New Year’s traditions came from my dad’s side of the family. His mom was Finnish and on New Year’s Day, she always served warm rice pudding with an almond hidden in the dish. The person who found the almond would certainly enjoy good luck in the New Year. I was about five or six when I first found it and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Sauerkraut

When I married into my husband’s family (99% Polish heritage), I had never heard of sauerkraut as a New Year’s Day dish to bring forth good luck in the year ahead. I later learned that Germans traditionally eat sauerkraut on New Year’s Eve to ensure wealth and good fortune in the New Year. This is a tradition I gladly embraced. Yum! Pickled herring is also a favorite in Poland.

Twelve Grapes

12 Grapes

A friend of mine from college grew up in Spain and she shared her tradition of gobbling grapes. When the ball drops at midnight, party-goers in Spain quickly gobble a dozen grapes for good luck. Each grape represents a month, so if one is particularly sweet, the correlating month will be wonderful. If, say, the third grape is sour, your March may be unlucky. At my friend’s New Year’s Eve parties, she pokes the grapes onto a bamboo skewer and then uses this like a giant stir stick in each guest’s champagne flute. It’s a lovely presentation – until it’s time to gobble. The revelers try to get all the grapes into their mouth at once. It’s literally a mouthful and then some!

Soba Noodle Soup

In Japan, party-goers enjoy soba noodle soup on New Year’s Day. The long buckwheat noodles are known to symbolize longevity. Here’s a delicious recipe I tried from the Coborn’s website.

Soba Noodle Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-6
 
Ingredients
  • 6 to 8 Cups water
  • 6 to 8 Dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 Oz. Package Dried Soba Noodles
  • 1 Carrot, scrubbed and cut into matchsticks
  • 3 Scallions, white and pale green parts only, cut thinly or on the diagonal
  • ½ Lb. Firm Tofu, cut into 1-1/2-inch dice
  • 3 T. Shoyu
  • 3 T. Mirin
  • 1 T. Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. Sesame Oil
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 6 to 8 cups water (depending on how thick you want your soup) to boiling. Place the shiitakes in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let steep for 2 hours or as long as overnight.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions,* but undercook them slightly, as they will be reheated in the broth. Drain and rinse well. Set aside.
  3. Steam the carrots until they are brightly colored and just tender. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  4. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Place the liquid in a soup pot. Remove and discard the stems from the mushrooms. Chop the mushroom caps and add to the saucepan.
  5. To the mixture add the scallions (reserving 1 tablespoon), tofu, shoyu, mirin, ginger, and garlic. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked noodles and steamed carrots to the saucepan. Simmer a few more minutes, until the noodles and carrots are heated through. Remove from the heat and add the sesame oil. Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with the reserved scallions.

 

Cotechino con Lenticchie

For those looking for a little more substance, perhaps the Italian dish Cotechino con Lenticchie will be satisfying. It features lentils that look like miniature gold coins and pork sausage medallions that are supposed to guarantee good luck. The dish stands for prosperity and good fortune in the New Year. You can find the recipe here.

Cotechino with Lentils
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Cotechino Sausage
  • 1 1/1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Cloves
  • ¾ Lb. Dried Lentils
  • 3½ Oz. Canned Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Broth
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the lentils, then soak them in a bowl full of cold water for 12 hours. If you prefer, you can used jarred lentils.
  2. Using the tip of a skewer or a fork, poke holes in the cotechino. Place it in a pot of cold, unsalted water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook over low heat for 2 hours.
  3. In the meantime, peel and dice the onion. Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, bay leaf and cloves. Once the onion is translucent, but not yet brown, add the lentils, drained of their soaking water and rinsed. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato. Mix well and cover with broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but aren’t falling apart. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once done cooking, remove the cotechino and cut off any kitchen twine. Cut into ½ to 1 inch slices. Remove the casing and serve with the lentils. If you like, you can grind extra pepper on top.
Notes
When you cook lentils, remember to salt them at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

 

St. Basil’s Bread 

The Greeks have a delicious tradition of savoring St. Basil’s Bread, which is also called Vassilópita, on New Year’s Day. It’s a sweet bread that tastes sort of like a Brioche; what makes it really special is that the baker drops a gold coin inside. The person who finds the coin will be blessed for the New Year. The bread was originally baked as an act of charity by St. Basil, who generously helped the poor in a sneaky way. He had the church ladies bake the bread with coins inside so he could feed the hungry and surprise them with money without damaging their pride. The recipe is below.

St. Basil's Bread
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup Warm Milk
  • 1 (.25 ounce) Package Active Dry Yeast
  • ½ Cup Bread Flour
  • 6 Cups Bread Flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ Cup White Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¾ Cup Butter, melted
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Almonds, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup milk, yeast and ½ cup flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  2. Place 6 cups flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add contents of small bowl, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ¾ cup melted butter, 3 eggs and 2 cups milk. Mix thoroughly to make a thick dough.
  3. Scoop the dough into a lightly greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Brush dough with melted butter, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  5. When dough has risen, insert a clean silver coin into the loaf. Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 40 minutes.

 

Alcoholic Beverages

Regardless of the country you’re in when the clock strikes midnight, there will likely be some revelers enjoying some sort of alcoholic drink. Here in the US, it’s common to celebrate with some sparkling wine. At my house, we grownups partake in the German mulled wine called Feuerzangenbowle. The kids enjoy mulled cider (sans spirits, of course). In Japan, they sip a cup of sake.

Mulled Wine
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Bottles Red Wine
  • 2 Cups Orange Juice
  • 1 Orange, sliced into four thick slices
  • 50 Cloves (or so) 4-5 Cinnamon Sticks
Instructions
  1. Combine the wine and juice in a pot and simmer over low heat.
  2. Poke the cloves into the white part of the orange slices on both the top and bottom side.
  3. Add the orange slices and cinnamon sticks to the wine.
  4. After mulled wine is hot (not boiling), remove the pot from the stove and place it on a trivet in an open area.
  5. Atop the pot, balance a metal “stand” for setting the sugar cone onto (metal cooling rack works, so does a pair of metal shish kebab skewers).
  6. Carefully place the sugar cone onto the stand.
  7. With a ladle, slowly pour the Bacardi 151 over the sugar cone until it is fully covered.
  8. Then light the cone and enjoy the blue flames that dance from the cone.
  9. As the sugar and rum melt, they caramelize and drip into the wine, adding to the already amazing mulled wine flavor.

 

No matter where you are or which traditions you adopt as you ring in the New Year, I offer you this toast: To good health, good friends, and good cheer. Happy New Year!

 

Rebecca
Coborn’s, Inc. Communications Manager

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www.cobornsblog.com - Fun with Family with Rebecca

 

 

Last Minute Homemade Christmas Gifts

Last Minute Homemade Christmas Gifts www.cobornsblog.com

 

Ashley Maurer www.cobornsblog.com
Ashley Maurer

 

 

Last Minute Homemade Christmas Gifts

With Christmas right around the corner, it is officially time to stop procrastinating. Let’s face it, those gifts aren’t going to buy themselves! There always seems to be a last minute party to attend or an extra person coming to spend the day with the family that you weren’t planning on. Not to worry though! I’ve got a few last minute ideas that will make those last minute plans feel like they had been planned all along. The best thing is that you can get most, if not all of the things you need at your local Coborn’s!

 

Snowman Chocolate Bars www.cobornsblog.com
Snowman Chocolate Bars
This is my personal favorite and a good craft to make with the kids. I picked up some extra large candy bars and a couple pairs of gloves from Coborn’s. I used plain computer paper to wrap them in, pulled the open glove over one end of the wrapped chocolate bar and tie some ribbon around it to tighten the top together. Then use crayons to draw the snowman features on. Add one more ribbon to make the scarf and that’s all there is to it. It’s quick, easy and fun to make. Plus they make great stocking stuffers or would even be cute as place settings for the kids’ table!

Snowman Hot Chocolate www.cobornsblog.com
Snowman Hot Chocolate
Who doesn’t love hot chocolate on those cold winter nights? Make hot chocolate even more fun by building a snowman to give it in. This is a great project to make with the kids and I love being able to reuse baby food jars to make it. You can mix and match jar sizes too! Don’t have any baby food jars laying around? A quick visit to Coborn’s can solve that. That’s what I had to do. Don’t worry, I didn’t waste the food, my sweet niece ate it up for me!

Make sure to peel the labels off, wash and sanitize the jars. Paint the lids black and use paint to make the face and buttons of the snowman on the outside of the jars. Use hot glue to hold the jars together in a stack. Fill each of the jars, one with mini marshmallows, one with hot chocolate (or cappuccino mix works too) put peppermint candies in the last one. I had scrap fabric laying around that I used to make the scarfs but you could use ribbon for that too. Simply adorable!

Candy Whisk www.cobornsblog.com
Candy Whisk
Making a candy filled whisk is very fast and easy. Plus it can be made for less than $10! Buy the candy and whisk, fill the whisk with candy. It’s really that simple. Click here for a free printable tag to add to it as well.

Pot Holder Bouquet www.cobornsblog.com
Pot Holder Bouquet
This is also a super easy gift to put together. All it takes is one trip to your local Coborn’s store and you can get everything you need. Spend some time going through the kitchen aisle and mix and match to your liking. Grab a pot holder and make sure all the utensils you picked out will fit inside. When you get home you can add some tissue paper, bows or ribbons to top it off. This works great to give as a hostess gift for those last minute Holiday parties.

Giving homemade gifts can be fun, personalized and meaningful. These were just a few of my favorite gift ideas. If you want to see some more crafty creations check out Lynell’s blog for more fun ideas you can make yourself.

Happy Holidays!
Ashley Maurer
Coborn’s Inc. Graphic Designer
Homemade Made Easy