The majority of holiday celebrations around the world involve indulging in delicious feasts; however, the foods we eat and the traditions we practice vary. In Italy, elaborate dishes are the center of everyday meals and are emphasized at Christmas! If you’re looking to expand your horizons this holiday season, use the following tips to host an Italian-inspired, multi-course meal that embraces age-old Italian customs and creates priceless (and delicious!) memories with friends and family.

The Christmas Eve meal is traditionally meatless – instead, Italians enjoy a diverse variety of fish, also known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Don’t let this seven-course feast intimidate you. Fill your menu with familiar, easy-to-prep dishes that take some heat off of the host. Shrimp Toasts and seafood spreads containing crab, salmon or salted cod are crowd-pleasing starters that are perfect for preparing in advance. For the main courses, pasta and stews symbolize iconic Italian classics. Shrimp Alfredo, seafood linguine with clams or mussels, cioppino and Bouillabaisse are all dishes that showcase succulent seafood beautifully. Maple-Walnut Crusted Salmon and Classic Lobster Rolls are additional impressive dishes that make a big statement in your seafood lineup.

Don’t forget dessert! Both light and fluffy, panettone and pandoro are two Christmas cakes that your guests won’t want to miss. Panettone is studded with raisins or candied fruits, and pandoro is a moist, bright yellow cake (traditionally star-shaped) that’s dusted with powdered sugar. Serve these sweet treats with sauces like caramel, chocolate or maple syrup.

To follow ancient Italian tradition, keep the table set after everyone is finished eating; it’s believed that the Madonna (Mary) and baby Jesus will come to taste the food. The Christmas season in Italy begins December 8th and ends January 6th – providing many opportunities to practice and experience these time-honored traditions.

How many times has this happened – you have a busy week, not sure you will be able to get everything done, and then – the weather slows you down (or stops you completely), or someone gets sick, and your whole plan is out the window? We can help you restore some of the balance to your week with grocery delivery or click and collect pick up! A few minutes shopping with us online could get back on track with your busy holiday season. And, if you are trying to stay focused on your giving and gifting, check out our meal ideas to make that cyber shopping even faster!

The weather outside may be frightful, but these meals are just delightful! Keep everyone happy at the table with tender Certified Angus Beef Braciole, substitute Botticelli Pasta Sauce for the tomatoes and spices in this recipe for Slow Cooked Beef and Mushroom Braciole, paired with a Fresh Express Salad Blend and Bakery Italian Bread to kick off the week. Leftovers, (if you have any), make a great lunch for work the next day. Keep the second loaf of bread and jar of sauce handy for an easy, cheesy dinner made with frozen PEDE Ravioli, made right here in Schenectady County by one of our home.grown. local partners.  The Botticelli Sauce and Bakery Italian Bread will get everyone to the table in a flash! In between, enjoy some NEW fresh stuffed fish – salmon, cod and haddock options mean something for everyone. Tender and quick cooking, each with a savory filling, paired with fresh asparagus or baby carrots is a seafood and produce power play. If you don’t have time to cook fresh, frozen is right there waiting – PICS Steambag Veggies, Green Giant Boxed Frozen Veggies, or Pict Sweet Farm Favorites. Double up servings of your favorite frozen produce for an easy way to eat more vegetables – only 1 in 10 of us get enough! Eating more seafood and produce are both smart moves – together they bring you closer to meeting nutrition recommendations for children and adults alike. 

Olives are adored in food culture. Their history is so extensive in the Mediterranean that to an Italian, it’s almost as if an olive tree is a treasure box and the olives are the gold inside. They come in a wide variety of colors, tastes, styles, and curing methods, making them one of the more versatile fruits. In the Mediterranean, olive trees are seen as a symbol of peace and victory, while bringing about feelings of harmony, vitality, and health. Olive trees were first grown before language was invented, and they are one of the oldest cultivated trees.

Olives come from all over the world, in an array of different varieties. They get their features from a number of different factors, including their environment and time of harvest. From green Italian Castelvetrano to the tangy Greek Calamata, these fruits are as complex as they are plentiful! There are hundreds or different types of olives around the world, each with their own unique characteristics, including, color, size, shape, and most importantly flavor. When it comes to color, the exact moment an olive is harvested makes the difference. Green olives are younger, while black olives are ripened. The maturity level of an olive affects its texture and taste.

Ultimately, it’s the curing style that gives each olive its distinct taste. You can cure the same olive two different ways and create two very distinct experiences. But what does it mean to be cured? Good question! Raw olives contain oleuropein a bitter compound, through the curing process, oleuropein is leaked out of the olive making them ripe and ready to eat. There are three different types of cures: Natural Brine Cure, Salt Cure and Lye Cure.

Natural Brine Cure: A natural process where ripened olives are fermented in salt water. This method takes multiple months to complete, but the result is a very tasty olive, and because of the results this technique is preferred among most olive experts.

Dry or Salt Cure: An intense method where olives are packed in salt to remove the bitterness and moisture, resulting in a dried-out, wrinkly fruit, with a deep and concentrated flavor. These olives are often packed in oil, giving them a plump and juicy bite.

Lye Cure: Lye, also known as caustic soda, is a curing agent used to speed up the curing process. Rather than months, Lye can complete the process in just a matter of days or weeks. The process is followed by a thorough rinsing. The downside of a Lye Cure is often a more dull olive.

With the tremendous amount of olive varieties available there is something for everyone! Try them for yourself and find your new favorite. We recommend starting your search with the wide range of olives available at your local store. And for some olive-spiration check out the recipes on our All About Olives Pinterest Board!

December picks up the pace for many – family and friend gatherings galore, shopping and shipping you swore you would do earlier this year, school shows and tree lighting and so much more! Wishing you could take something off your (to-do) list? If you are feeling the pinch of budget and crunch of less time, our family meal and snack ideas may be your first gift of the season!

We will keep you moving and get you to the table to share some high quality together time with everyone at your table. Holiday time is a fun time to share meals and hear about adventures of the day, explore the meaning of the season, consider what you are grateful for and how to share those thoughts with friends and family. The time you spend together is really the most precious gift of all, and what has the most lasting impact, especially on children and teens. These meal makers, like classic warm-you-up Pasta Fagioli soup with Italian Sausage , or the Chef’s Menu Stir Fry meals like Korean BBQ from our Meat Department are fast, fresh options. Find more Meal Makers and time savers that keep you close to the most important people in your life on our Family Meals page!

Hot sauce junkies, heat connoisseurs and spiciness fanatics: We’re comin’ in hot with our next monthly feature!

Each month we’re bringing you fresh stories on a different sauce brand, sharing some flavor insights, stories behind the brands and more. Travel with us on an adventure consisting of varying degrees of heat each month!

December’s Feature: Frank’s RedHot!

Frank’s RedHot was the secret ingredient in the original Buffalo wings created here in the Northeast, in Buffalo NY back in 1964. Packed with a premium blend of aged cayenne peppers that add a kick of heat and a whole lot of flavor, Frank’s elevates almost any food you can imagine.

The rich history of Frank’s dates back to 1918 when pepper farmer Adam Estilette partnered with Jacob Frank in New Iberia, Louisiana, to create a sauce perfectly spiced with the flavor of cayenne peppers. Two years later, the first bottle of Frank’s Red Hot emerged from Estilette’s pickling plant. Jacob Frank has since been inducted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame for his contributions to fiery foods.

We throw Frank’s RedHot onto just about anything you can think of: eggs, quesadillas, pulled pork and more. It won’t burn your taste buds off and is a great sauce for all types of heat lovers. The brand’s website  has lots of great recipes to fire up your hot sauce inspiration!

Turn up the heat with Frank’s this month, and tune in next month for our January Hot Sauce of the Month

Our December home.grown. Brewer of the Month: Brown’s Brewing Company

We love all things local, and one of our favorite sectors of local food is local beer. There are so many different brews, flavors, and styles, and so many stories to tell! That’s why we’ve embarked on an exciting home.grown. adventure: to bring you fresh craft beer stories each month from our Northeast region. Our region is home to some of the best craft breweries in the world, and we’re telling their stories to our craft beer fanatics here on our blog.

Up next: Brown’s Brewing Company!

This month we return to Brown’s Brewing Company. We stopped here on our epic craft brewery tour back in March and are revisiting to chat about some more tasty brews.

For many craft beer fans, dark beers such as Stouts, Porters, and Ambers are what draw a lot of passion and dedication. Dark beers have complexities that unfold across the palate, leaving an enticing flavor.  Brown’s Oatmeal Stout does this very well, and has been a flagship in the Brown’s taproom for nearly two decades because of its easy-drinking, full-bodied flavors. Oatmeal Stout is an engaging, dark, and bold ode to the classic English Stout. The brew earned Brown’s the prestigious gold medal at the World Beer Cup; but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to refine it into an approachable, easy-to-drink, rich, and silky smooth glass of deliciousness. For the ultimate experience, check out the Oatmeal Stout Spotify playlist.

Cherry Razz was born in Brown’s Troy Taproom in the mid 1990’s. It has gone through many iterations, but has always resonated with folks who are drawn to bold flavor. Tart and sassy just like its name, this Amber Ale features a generous amount of whole crushed cherries and raspberries balancing a sweet malt forward character and a slight hop zest. For a fervently dedicated fan base, this beer is an elegant tradition for many nights out. Easy to fall in love with, Cherry Razz is even easier to drink. Don’t forget to check out the Cherry Razz Spotify playlist.

Interested in trying some Brown’s brews?

Check out our in-store tasting schedule below to sample Brown’s craft beer, take home some custom home.grown. coasters and more.

Saturday 12/7, 11am – 2pm at our Clifton Shoppers World Market 32 Growler Station

Saturday 12/14, 11am – 2pm at our Market Bistro Growler Station

Saturday 12/21, 11am – 2pm at our Hudson Valley Plaza Troy Market 32

Saturday 12/28, 11am – 2pm at our Wilton Market 32 Growler Station

Interested in visiting the brewery?

Make the most of everything Brown’s Brewing Company has to offer! Visit https://brownsbrewing.com/ for taproom hours and menu, get info on brewery tours and more.

Brewery House Address: Troy Taproom – 417 River St, Troy NY | Walloomsac Taproom – 50 Factory Hill Rd, North Hoosick NY

The official start of the holiday season is upon us! It’s the best time of year for sharing and caring, especially through wonderful food. Some quick meal ideas will help you manage the week, while Thanksgiving Day hacks and helpers will lead you to success this year.

One of our favorite parts of Thanksgiving are the leftovers – find yummy recipes to rescue the leftovers and enjoy them just as much the second time around. On top of that, we’re offering up ideas to help you entertain your guests all day long. After all, Thanksgiving has been called the ultimate family meal, so we’re providing all the steps we can towards a grateful gathering.

Do you know why you love this holiday so much? Favorite foods, favorite people, and favorite way to spend time – in the company of those who are important to you. We know you have a lot to prepare this week, so meal and snack suggestions are fuss-free so you can stay fresh and focused! Check out:

• Fresh Pork Tenderloin roast with a side of salad and Bakery sweet potato pie!

• 10-Minute Microwave Magic – Seal and Cook Seafood/Fresh Veggie/Herb Butter Meal paired with PICS Ready Rice or Quinoa.

• Snack Savvy – Red grape, black and green grapes and Halo Clementines are grab and go!

• Signature Sip – Pomegranate Cranberry Poinsetta cocktail or mocktail for children and adults!  

• App Tactic – Variety apple slices (McIntosh, Granny Smith, and Honey Crisp?) as “crackers”, soft and hard cheese slices, and those tri-color grapes make a light and fresh start. Or, wow guests with this beautiful Cheese Board.

• Leftover Love – Pilgrim Sandwiches, Grilled Cheese Sliders, Rachel Ray Turkey and Stuffin’ Soup…YUM!

When it comes to a meal as big as Thanksgiving, leftovers are inevitable. Make sure you store them appropriately for the longest lasting freshness possible. Check out some of our tips on leftover storage below:

• Refrigerate or freeze leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 2 hours of serving

• Divide large quantities into smaller portions to chill more quickly

• Store leftover turkey in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and stuffing and gravy 1 –2 days

• Bring leftover gravy to a rolling boil before serving

• For longer storage, properly wrap and place in freezer and use within a month

 

There’s a lot to keep track of while preparing for Thanksgiving, especially if you’re hosting. Here’s a few helpful hacks to make your day go as smooth as possible.

• Prep-power – Get platters, special servers, tablecloths and napkins washed and ready the weekend before. Check your stock of aluminum foil, food storage containers with matching lids, wraps and baggies, and add them to your shopping list as needed.

• Collaborate – Is there a famous family pie maker? Have them show off their talents and get dessert off your prep list. Or, find some wonderful choices in the store!

• Designate – One family photographer to take the beauty shots for the meal and the table celebration picture and share later. Label a basket with a sign “Grateful to Spend Time with You” and invite guests to leave phones there during the meal.

It’s hard to think about food for the rest of the week when you’re so focused on Thanksgiving. That’s why we’ve come up a few easy meal solutions for you and your family when turkey is not the main dish. Try Fresh Pork Tenderloin with your favorite seasonings, served with a surprise side of Bakery Sweet Potato Pie and a Fresh Express Honey Pecan Salad Kit. Seafood is another great option, Seal and Cook Fresh Seafood, Veggie, and Herb Butter meal served with PICS Crescent Rolls. For a quick and easy meal, enjoy Fresh Prepared Heat and Eat Meal Options – Pasta, Chicken Breast, and more! For a savory snack, grab some Black, Red, or Green Grapes, or Halo Clementines.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Maureen Rowan Murphy, Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles

Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time can be a bit intimidating but it doesn’t need to be.  The source of most angst comes from the fear of cooking a turkey when in fact, it is amazingly easy! Let this guide give you the confidence you need and take the guesswork out of preparing a delicious turkey for your special holiday meal.

Buying a Turkey

Turkeys are available in all sizes, whole or parts, fresh or frozen. Choosing between fresh or frozen turkeys is simply a matter of preference. There is no significant difference in quality.

Store fresh turkey in the refrigerator up to the sell-by date on the label or place in freezer if you plan on using after that date. Fresh turkeys are chilled after packaging to approximately 26°F to assure optimum quality, safety and freshness. It will feel firm to the touch, and ice may be found in the cavity as a result of moisture in the turkey freezing at 26°F (water freezes at 32°F, while protein (meat) doesn’t freeze until 0°F). If there are ice crystals, simply place breast-side down in cold water and allow to stand for 30 minutes or until no longer present.

If you’re purchasing a frozen turkey, you can do so at any time, but be sure to allow enough time for it to thaw. Whole turkey can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely, but should be cooked within 1 year for best quality. 

Not sure what size turkey to purchase? Plan on approximately 1 lb. of turkey per person, which will allow for generous servings and leftovers. That being said, the larger the turkey, the greater the yield. A turkey larger than 16 lbs. will provide 2 servings/lb. i.e. a 20 lb. turkey will feed 40 people.

Thawing a Turkey

Thawing in the refrigerator is the preferred method of thawing. Estimate at least one day of thawing for every 4 lbs. of turkey. (You can insert a chart similar to the one you included in the email to me.) A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking.

Although refrigerator thawing is preferred, don’t worry if you forgot to take the turkey out in enough time to thaw. You may also thaw the turkey in cold water or in the microwave if necessary.

To thaw in cold water: Place the turkey breast-side down in its original wrapper in cold water to cover, and change the water changed every 30 minutes to keep the turkey surface cold. Minimum thawing time will be approximately 30 minutes per pound, and the turkey must be cooked immediately upon thawing.

To thaw in the microwave: Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave, recommended minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing. The turkey must be cooked immediately once it is thawed.

Roasting a Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in shallow roasting pan – do not add water. Brush with cooking oil, melted butter or margarine if desired. Loosely tent with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, allow for maximum heat circulation, keep the turkey moist and reduce oven splatters. You’ll want to remove the foil tent 20 – 30 minutes before roasting is finished to allow the turkey to brown.

Most turkeys today come with pop-up timers, and they are generally accurate. If your turkey doesn’t come with one, it is recommended that a meat thermometer be used as it is the safest way to ensure that the turkey is done. The thermometer should be inserted into the inner most part of the breast/thigh area without touching bone. The turkey is done when the thermometer reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. (Cooking to 165°F may give the appearance that meat at joint areas is undercooked, and although cooked, may be pink from the bone marrow. You may therefore choose to cook turkey to a higher internal temperature.) I like to use a meat thermometer even with a pop-up timer, not only for peace of mind so I know the turkey has reached 165°F, but also to check on how the turkey is progressing for timing of side dishes and serving.

Use this roasting chart only as a guide for cooking times.

TURKEY ROASTING CHART at 325°F

Weight (Pounds)                 Unstuffed (Hours)*             Stuffed (Hours)*

8 – 12                                     2 ¾ – 3                                   3 – 3 ½

12 – 14                                  3 – 3 ¾                                    3 ½ – 4

14 – 18                                  3 ¾ – 4 ¼                                4 – 4 ¼

18 – 20                                  4 ¼ – 4 ½                                4 ¼ – 4 ¾

20 – 24                                  4 ½ – 5                                    4 ¾ – 5 ¼

*Estimated cooking time

 Important Safety Tips to Remember

  • Don’t partially roast a stuffed turkey one day and complete roasting the next since interrupted cooking enhances possibility of bacterial growth.
  • Roasting turkey at temperatures below 325°F is not recommended, as temperature is not high enough to destroy bacteria and could be unsafe.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline actually recommends NOT stuffing the turkey. If it is stuffed, the stuffing may not reach the correct temperature of 165°F to kill bacteria even if the turkey itself reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Stuffing the turkey prolongs the cooking time and prohibits uniform cooking.

 Here are some basic rules to follow if you do plan on stuffing the turkey:

Prepare stuffing just before it goes into the turkey. Dry ingredients can be mixed together and chilled ahead of time. Mix perishable (butter or margarine, mushrooms, sausage, oysters, broth, cooked celery and onions) ingredients however, just prior to placing stuffing inside the turkey and putting the turkey in the preheated oven. Stuffing should be moist, rather than dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a wet environment

Stuff the cavity of the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey to allow the interior of the stuffing to reach the proper 165°F temperature in the center, and use a meat thermometer to ensure it has.

Remove the stuffing from the turkey as soon as it is completely cooled to prevent bacterial growth.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover turkey as well as any other holiday leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  If you don’t intend to eat by then, wrap the turkey well, place in the freezer, and use within 1 month for best eating pleasure.

Now that you’re ready to take on the Thanksgiving turkey, check out my Countdown to Thanksgiving to assist in planning, organizing and executing a Thanksgiving dinner sure to impress! Check it out here: https://bit.ly/2KMApJ0

Written by Maureen Rowan Murphy, Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles

Organizing and timing are key elements when it comes to preparing any meal, but especially a special dinner. This countdown is intended as a guide to make it easier to prepare a stress free, delicious Thanksgiving meal that you too can enjoy!!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

 

The weekend before:

• Shop for items that can be purchased ahead.

• Prepare and freeze anything that can be made in advance.

• Develop a food preparation schedule.

The day before Thanksgiving:

• Purchase fresh items like vegetables.

• Set table or set up serving areas and set out serving pieces/utensils.

• Set up beverage area.

• Measure out dry stuffing ingredients, cover and set aside to mix with perishable ingredients prior to stuffing or placing in a casserole dish.

Thanksgiving Day:

Early in the day

• Post a list of food and check off so nothing is forgotten.

• Remove turkey from the refrigerator, unwrap, remove giblets, and set aside if using. Place in a roasting pan and refrigerate until ready to rest.

• Pick up any prepared food. (Our stores are open until 3pm Thanksgiving day.)

4 to 6 hours before serving

• Peel and cut up potatoes and cover with cold water until ready to cook.

• Prepare stuffing,

2 hours before serving

• Cook giblets is using.

• Place condiments such as cranberry sauce, olives, carrots, celery and pickles.

• Add any finishing touches to make ahead recipes.

1 hour before serving

• Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest.

• Place stuffing in oven to bake if baking in a casserole dish as advised.

• Drain potatoes, add salt and fresh water. Cook, drain, and mash. Place in an ovenproof casserole and keep warm in oven.

• Make gravy.

15 minutes before serving

• Carve Turkey.

• Bake rolls according to package directions.

• Pour beverages.

• Place condiments on table.

• Add any finishing touches to side dishes.

• Light candles.

Tis the season! Each year November rolls around and we begin to prepare for the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and more: it’s a certainly a busy time. Recently a new holiday has emerged into the mix and seems to gain popularity every year. This holiday is now known as Friendsgiving!

Friendsgiving is a product of the millennial lifestyle. Breaking traditions and doing things differently is common among younger generations today, even in the celebration of holidays. Some may live and work away from their families and some may not have the time and means to travel for Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s simply more comfortable and more fun to celebrate with friends. Plus, these days the definitions of family are expanding and close friends are often turned into chosen family.

In many cases, Friendsgiving is celebrated not in place of Thanksgiving, but in line with it: Friends gather together the weekend before or after Thanksgiving with their favorite cuisine. This is something that has gone on for a long time, but somehow it’s become its own holiday, and the celebrations continue to grow larger.

The popular TV show “Friends,” has been given some credit for the emergence of Friendsgiving. People watched Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Ross celebrate Thanksgiving together each year, and decided they wanted to do the same. Yet, it can’t be confirmed that this is the exact origin of the holiday. In fact, Merriam-Webster points out that the term “Friendsgiving” can only be traced back to 2007, while “Friends” ended in 2004. Either way, the show portrays the perfect picture of what Friendsgiving is all about.

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Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, but we also love Friendsgiving. Is there anything better than hanging out with close friends while enjoying a delicious meal? Plus, if you happen to celebrate both Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving, you get to enjoy basically double the amount of incredible food. Hats off to you if you celebrate both!

If you haven’t celebrated Friendsgiving yet, we recommend giving it a go this month. We’re here to help you get everything you need! Visit your local store or find all your essentials at shop.pricechopper.com.