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Recipe for King Ranch Chicken Casserole

To me, good casseroles taste good, are easy to assemble, and don’t require dirtying more than 2 pots. And that’s if you’re not paying attention. That said, sometimes you don’t know if you’re about to make a good dish, especially if it’s new. But then there are the classics. The ones that have been around for generations, like this recipe for King Ranch chicken casserole.

Many people believe that King Ranch chicken casserole has been around for at least 80 years. Since it’s prepared with both condensed chicken and condensed mushroom soups, this seems a likely time frame. That’s because Campbell’s introduced condensed mushroom soup in 1934, while condensed chicken soup came out in 1947. And both types of condensed soups feature in King Ranch chicken casserole.

casserole dish with layers of tortillas and mixture of food

Others believe the recipe originated at King Ranch, the largest ranch in the world. Although the owners deny this allegation, because they’ve focused on beef, not poultry. Therefore, nobody really knows the exact beginning of this timeless southern casserole.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole Ingredients:

layer of shredded chicken on a casserole dish
  • 1 1/2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • **22 corn tortillas
  • 10.5 oz can each of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup
  • 1 c each of diced onions and diced bell pepper
  • 10 oz of Rotel
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 c shredded Mexican blend cheese

King Ranch Chicken Casserole Instructions:

layer of cheese in casserole dish
  • Spray 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Next, line the dish with a layer of corn tortillas.
  • Then saute┬┤ onions and green peppers in butter over medium heat. When soft, add soups and chili powder. Stir till well combined.
  • Pour layer of soup mixture over tortillas, then layer with shredded chicken, and then layer with shredded cheese. Repeat layers. When done, pour over all the Rotel.
  • Then bake one hour in 350┬░ oven.
King Ranch chicken casserole with tortillas and tomatoes

**I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, who’s been making King Ranch chicken casserole for at least 40 years. And her recipe calls for a 2-3 lb fryer chicken, but I don’t like having to deal with that mess. I find it’s much easier working with chicken breasts. In addition, most of the classic recipes call for only a dozen corn tortillas, which makes me think I distribute my layers sparingly.

Also, I boil my chicken, which makes shredding so much simpler. However you can buy a roasted chicken and shred that instead. It’s really up to you and what’s easier. Furthermore, you can add more heat to spice things up. And then there are newer varieties of the recipe which call for chips instead of tortillas. But the idea is still the same: a comfort food that’s easy to make.

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What are Pasture Raised Eggs

It used to be you only had brown and white eggs to choose from. But now grocery stores offer cage-free, free-range, and even pasture raised eggs. Maybe you think they’re all the same? I mean, they all come from the same place, right? Well, I’m going to explain the differences, in particular, of pasture raised eggs and the others.

What are Caged Eggs

white chicken in cage
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Caged eggs come from hens that are basically housed in battery cages. This is the most common method for industrial egg production. So ~85% of US eggs are from caged hens. And that means the birds are stuck in cages for their egg-laying lives in roughly 67 square inches. Also, they’re fed a corn or soy diet.

In my own opinion, I understand why the industrial egg producer keeps their hens in this situation. Since they’re dual-purpose birds, when the hens are no longer laying eggs, (at the industrial level ~ 2-3 years old), they’ll slaughter them, package the meat, and sell to a specialty grocery store. Because a 3 year old hen, that’s gotten plenty of exercise, is a tough old bird in terms of food. So, the less space they have to move in, the better they’ll taste when those farmers cash in on those hens for the last time. Thus, it’s more economical for the farmer to keep their egg-producing hens confined this way.

yellow heavy equipment on landfill
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

However, some industrial egg producing farmers send the hens to a landfill or make them into pet food. I wouldn’t do any of those options, because my birds are like my pets. But I’m also not a commercial egg producer.

What are Cage-Free Eggs

As of March 2021, about 29% of eggs sold in US grocery stores were from cage-free hens. In addition, these hens have a little more space, than caged hens, with a little less than one-square foot each. Furthermore, they’re living in barns, and like their counterparts, they don’t have access to the outdoors. And they also have a diet consisting of corn or soy.

What are Free-Range Eggs

hen chickens through chain link fence
Photo by Will Kirk on Pexels.com

According to the National Chicken Council, (yes, apparently there’s a chicken council), less than 1% of chickens are considered free-range in the US. Additionally, these hens have more room than either caged and cage-free hens with 2 square feet each. And they have access to the outdoors. Although there’s not really a consistent standard on how long the birds get to be outdoors or what the space is like. Also, they too are fed a diet of corn or soy.

What are Pasture Raised Eggs

pasture raised chickens outside

Pasture raised eggs first got their start in 2007 by Matt O’Hayer from Texas. However they didn’t get any steam until cage-free and free-range had already gotten attention. With that being said, there’s not a standard for pasture raised eggs either. But, according to the USDA, pasture raised eggs are laid by hens with more access to the outdoors, and their diet is supplemented with bugs and wild plants.

Although, the best method to determine if the eggs you’re buying are pasture-raised is other labels, such as: Certified Humane Raised and Handled + Pasture Raised, or American Humane Certified and Pasture Raised. If your eggs have either of these labels, then the hens who laid the eggs have access to the outdoors, with 108 square feet per hen. And each hen eats a combination of a balanced feed and whatever they get from foraging: grass, worms, and insects. In addition, they can roam all day and return when it’s time for bed.

Which is More Expensive

dollar sign
Digital Art of a Dollar Sign, courtesy of Sarah Smith

As you can well imagine, the most expensive option is going to be the one that is the most humane for the birds. I already mentioned that the most economical way for the farmer was the battery caged method; and that’s because the farmers are sucking every last penny out of those chickens that they can get.

Which is the Healthiest

2 different chicken egg yolks in a white bowl

According to The Egg Nutrition Center, there’s little nutritional difference between all 4 types of eggs. Although, there have been studies showing differences in mineral content based on the type of housing a particular egg was laid in. And Mother Earth News has verified the superiority of true pasture raised eggs to traditional eggs sold in grocery stores several times.

Furthermore, I covered a post on egg facts not too long ago, confirming that hens with access to pastures, grass, and bugs lay richer eggs. And richer eggs just taste better.

What’s Better for the Birds

red and black rooster on green grass
Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

Obviously allowing chickens all day access to the outdoors is the best policy for the chickens. It’s what they do in nature; it’s what they did before we captured and tamed them for our own use. They can communicate with each other, stretch, roost, forage, and just be birds when they’re truly in a pasture setting. But in the other 3 settings they don’t really get to be the way nature intended; they’re the way we intended, which isn’t the same thing at all.

What’s Better for the Environment

green grass field and river
Photo by Barnabas Davoti on Pexels.com

Since we’re considering every option, people and birds, I wanted to include the environment. Because any type of industrial food production has an impact on the environment, which then trickles down to us. However, the only thing I could find on that was based on feed. And that really applies to all of the egg-producing systems. Apparently any type of egg production leaves behind a pretty steep carbon footprint due to the embedded emissions in concentrate feed.

Therefore, if industrial chicken or egg farmers could find an alternative feed for their birds, that doesn’t produce as many greenhouse gases, then it would be better for the environment. Of course the feed should also consist of a balanced diet for the birds.

In Conclusion

There are 4 types of eggs to choose from at the grocery store. Since labels can be confusing, you need to know how to read them. Caged eggs make up the vast majority on grocery store shelves. While cage-free hens are in somewhat better living conditions, they still represent a small percentage. Even though free-range and pasture raised have access to the outdoors, there still isn’t a standard for commercial egg producers.

green leaves and organic word
Photo by Fuzzy Rescue on Pexels.com

However, if you’re interested in animal welfare, then look for those kinds of labels. But if you see labels for organic, that has nothing to do with the bird’s welfare; it just means the bird was fed a vegetarian diet, free from antibiotics and pesticides.

If you have neighbors with backyard birds, know they treat their birds well, and you have the means, buy some eggs from them. That way you’ll be supporting your very local community and get to enjoy the benefits of farm fresh eggs, which are true pasture raised eggs.

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How to Decorate Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, it’s typical to see chocolate covered strawberries in grocery and on online stores. However ordering, or buying pre-made, doesn’t make much economic sense when you only get 6-12 strawberries for a whopping $30-40. In addition, 2 lbs of fresh strawberries costs less than $8, and the other ingredients are simple to get. Thus, it’s just as easy to make your own. So I’m going to show you how to decorate chocolate covered strawberries instead.

fresh strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are great to eat any season. And there are a lot of benefits to eating them, such as their fiber content. Also, eating strawberries can lower the bad cholesterol in our bodies. Additionally, eating them could even prevent cancer cell growth.

Then there’s the chocolate combined with the strawberries. And there are different textures involved too. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But sometimes it does. And chocolate and strawberries are definitely meant to be together.

Ingredients for Decorating Chocolate Covered Strawberries

metal muffin tin filled with a variety of toppings
  • 1 lb strawberries; Driscoll’s have the best
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz white or vanilla melting wafers
  • 1/4 c each of toppings, such as: sprinkles, decorating sugar, coconut, chopped nuts, and/or chocolate curls

Instructions for Chocolate Covered Strawberries

  • First, line a jellyroll pan with wax paper
  • Next, wash the strawberries; and carefully pat each one dry with a paper towel
  • Put each topping in a separate shallow bowl

Melting Chocolate Chips and Wafers

melted chocolate and melted vanilla in 2 white bowls
  • Place the vanilla wafers in a microwave-safe bowl
  • And microwave on medium power for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how cold it is in your house; the colder it is, the more cooking time you’ll need
  • Stir the melting wafers
  • Continue this until the wafers start to melt; then drop the cooking time to 30 secs
  • Stir in 1 tsp of olive oil to thin out the vanilla, if it’s a thick mixture
  • Next, melt the chocolate chips in a similar manner to the wafers: on medium power for 30 seconds to a minute; however, do not add any olive oil when you’re done

We’re almost done! My main concern during the last part was the chocolate and vanilla hardening before covering all of the strawberries. So my youngest helped me out, and it made it much easier. Also, I laid everything out like an assembly line. Therefore, if you have pre-teens, have them help. You both will enjoy it. Likewise, set everything up as an assembly line: strawberries, chocolate, toppings, and finally, the jellyroll pan.

How to Decorate Chocolate Covered Strawberries

3 decorated chocolate covered strawberries on a white plate
  • Take one strawberry by the leaves and dip it into the melted chocolate or vanilla.
  • Swirl until evenly coated.
  • Then dip chocolate coated strawberry into the topping of your choice.
  • Next, place decorated, chocolate covered strawberry onto jellyroll pan.
  • And repeat until all of the strawberries are decorated.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  • Ideally, these are best served the day you make them and at room temperature. They can be made a day ahead, however condensation will form, which isn’t good. Read this for tips on how to store chocolate covered strawberries in the refrigerator.

I hope you guys have a great Valentine’s Day! And thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, please like, post a comment, share, and don’t forget to follow!

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Easy White Chicken Chili

My parents were both realtors when I was growing up in Dallas. And each year the Collin County Association of Realtors had a chili cook-off in the spring, which my parents participated in. But most of the entries, if not all of them, were classic chili. However, now that I cook, I know there are so many more choices out there. Although, the first time I made this easy white chicken chili was just a couple of years ago.

I think the main difference with this and classic chili is obviously one is white, while the other is red. But the other main difference is in this recipe, the meat, or chicken, has to be pre-cooked. And you can cook it pretty much any way you want to; including buying a roasted chicken and shredding the meat.

Ingredients for Easy White Chicken Chili:

teal plate of shredded chicken
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp each red pepper sauce and salt
  • 11 oz white shoepeg or whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can each (15 or 16oz) great northern beans and butter or lima beans, drained
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 fresh diced tomato
  • chopped green onion
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • sour cream or Greek non-fat plain yogurt

Instructions for White Chili:

pot of white chicken chili
  • First, heat olive oil in 4 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Then cook onion and garlic in oil. And stir intermittently, until onions are cooked through.
  • Next, add the rest of the ingredients, aside from the chicken. Stir and heat to boiling.
  • Then reduce heat, and simmer uncovered ~ 20 minutes.
  • After that, stir in the chicken, still simmering until hot.

At this point the white chicken chili is finished. However, no chili is complete without toppings. Thus, add some shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onions, fresh diced tomatoes, and sour cream.

Similarly with my Cincinnati-style chili, I found this originally in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 9th edition, which was printed in 2000. And again there isn’t a link online, but if you’re interested, you could probably find it at Etsy, Ebay, or something similar.

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Cincinnati-Style Chili

It’s been cold and windy the past few days. Perfect weather for Cincinnati-style chili. Although, chili is great to eat in summer too, due to the availability of garden fresh vegetables.

And there are so many ways to make it. White, crockpot, BBQ, and classic are just a few of the options. But there are even Paleo and vegetarian versions. Furthermore, each recipe varies in the length of time to cook, from 30 minutes to several hours.

ground beef cooking in electric pressure cooker

Which brings me to the different methods of cooking chili: Instant Pot, pressure cooker, stove-top, and slow cooker. Though, there are possibly even ways to cook it in the oven.

Although, most of my cooking history, I’ve made chili on the stove. Until recently. You see, our neighbors gifted us with an electric pressure cooker. But my husband was the only one to try it out, and he loved it immensely. So, after watching and tasting his results, I made this Cincinnati-style chili in the electric pressure cooker to save time.

Ingredients for Cincinnati-Style Chili:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans whole tomatoes, pulsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
  • 2 (15 or 16 oz) cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ~ 10 oz angel hair pasta
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
Chili with various ingredients in electric pressure cooker

Putting it All Together:

  • Put the olive oil in the pressure cooker; then add the garlic, onion, and beef, and turn the pressure cooker on saute and beef, cooking until beef is brown; stirring occasionally.
  • Next, stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the pasta. And cover and lock the pressure cooker, pushing button for pressure, still on beef; and it will cook for ~30 mins.
  • When the chili is finished, cook the angel hair pasta according to the package instructions; drain when cooked to al dente.
  • And spoon ~ 3/4 cup chili over ~ 1 cup noodles. Top with shredded Mexican blend cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, fresh chopped tomatoes, etc.

Cooking this in the electric pressure cooker cut my cooking time in half. So, if you’re short on time, that’s a definite plus. Also, originally I got this recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook the 9th edition, printed in 2000. But I couldn’t find a link to it online.

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Chicken Casserole

This chicken casserole recipe originally was tuna casserole. But since my family isn’t too big on the idea of canned tuna with noodles, I changed it one day when I didn’t have any tuna. And the tuna casserole recipe I have came from my Great Aunt Jo on my mom’s side of the family.

I remember eating the original casserole for the first time in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was when I was a kid, and we were swimming in summer-time. Furthermore, I think my mom told us we were going to have tuna casserole. And we all thought, ‘Uugh, yuck.’ However, we were in for a delicious surprise.

penne pasta, red onion in black pot with spoon on stove

Though you guys know I love to change recipes. The original calls for 10 oz can of albacore tuna; and to cook the noodles until they’re tender only, not fully cooked. Although, if you don’t cook them fully, then when the casserole comes out of the oven, a lot of the noodles, if not most of them, will be rock hard. Unless you know the trick to cooking them. Trust me, I’ve made this enough times to know. This is why I’ve added the water, so that the noodles have some way to cook prior to going in the oven.

Ingredients for Chicken Casserole:

  • 1 lb ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 14 1/2 oz can tomatoes, pulsed in food processor with the juices
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 oz can of mushrooms or 8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 12.5 oz can of chicken
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 14-35 oz of water
chicken, penne pasta, tomatoes in clear rectangular casserole dish

Instructions for Chicken Casserole:

  • First, preheat oven to 375 degrees; and spray a 9X12 inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Next, cook the pasta with chopped onion in olive oil until pasta is golden. Then add the remaining ingredients, except chicken and cheese. And bring to a boil. When adding the water, do so 14 oz or less at a time, and stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Cook until noodles are al dente. Remove pot from heat and add canned chicken; stir into the noodles. Then transfer to a casserole dish. And top with the shredded cheese. Stir and bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

I could only find one recipe that appeared similar to the one from my aunt, with the spices and tomatoes. Though there are others with tomatoes. But mostly when you look up tuna casserole, you’ll find recipes with mushroom soup, condensed mushroom soup, etc. So people associate tuna casserole more with a white sauce rather than a red tomato sauce.

penne pasta, chicken, tomatoes on white plate

And there are probably about as many chicken casserole recipes around as there are people. Chicken is extremely diverse, as are casseroles.

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Homemade Gyros Recipe

I was living in Dallas when I first tasted gyros; this was a long time ago, so I don’t remember where. Likely the place is no longer there anyway. But when my daughter, Hannah, worked for a pizza place a few years ago, that also served gyros, I tried my hand at them. Scroll down to find the homemade gyros recipe that I continue to use today.

Some people mispronounce the word, making the hard ‘g’ sound. Rather the g is silent, more like a ‘yu’. ‘Yeeroh’ is really how it’s pronounced. And gyros originate in Greece. Gyro in Thessaloniki means to turn. While in Athens the generic word is ‘souvlaki’, and ‘souvla’ is a skewer. So both terms are correct, because a gyro is shaved meat on a rotating skewer, served in a pita.

ground meat with spices in metal bowl

Ingredients for Homemade Gyros:

  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • one onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 lb each of ground mild Italian sausage and ground beef
  • one green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • one tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 tsp each of dried oregano, ground cumin, dried marjoram, dried thyme, and ground dried rosemary, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 pita bread rounds or 12 naan flatbreads
  • tzatziki sauce
sliced green bell peppers and sliced red onions cooking in square pan

Instructions for Homemade Gyros:

  • Heat butter or oil in large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add ground Italian sausage and ground beef. With a spoon, break apart the meat into smaller pieces.
  • While the meat is cooking, add 1 tbsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp each of the dried spices and herbs. And continue breaking up the pieces of meat till there is no pink remaining. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer the meat to a bowl; cover and set aside. In the same pan, add a little more butter or oil for your vegetables. And keep the heat on medium.
  • Then add onion, bell pepper, remaining garlic, and the rest of 1 tsp of dried spices and herbs. Stir till well combined. Next, cover until the vegetables soften.
  • Toast the pita rounds or naan flatbread in the oven for ~ 2-3 mins on each side.
  • And spread tzatziki sauce on the bread, fill with the meat and vegetables; and top with diced tomatoes.

This is not a traditional gyro recipe. Because traditional gyro recipes sort of congeal the ground meats together before cooking them on a rotating skewer. And then the cooked, congealed meat is sliced. Also, there are instructions out there for that kind of recipe, if you’re interested. However, it takes some time to get the meat to congeal. And I don’t have that kind of patience. Sometimes I do, but it wasn’t important for me to have the congealed, and then, sliced meat.

Most meats, like beef, pork, chicken, and lamb go into gyros. Additionally, the spices and herbs I listed for this recipe seem to be common. Though, other recipes might have added or left off one item. So when I started making homemade gyros, I kept the meat ground up, just added the spices, and everything else. Then served them in flatbread. And this is definitely a family favorite. Although, the gyro isn’t complete without the tzatziki sauce.

white sauce with spoon in metal bowl

Ingredients for Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 1/2 European cucumber, finely grated
  • salt
  • 1 c Greek plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, mashed with 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mint
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions for Tzatziki Sauce:

  • Toss the finely grated cucumber with a generous amount of salt. Next, leave in a colander in the sink to wilt for ~ 15-20 minutes. Then rinse and drain on paper towels.
  • With a whisk, mix together the yogurt, garlic, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Then stir in the cucumbers. And adjust the seasonings if needed, and serve.

Here’s a link to the original sauce recipe. You’ll notice I’ve cut the recipe in half, because it makes too much sauce. But even with it cut in half, there still remains a lot of sauce leftover.

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Cooking with Duck Eggs

Maybe you’ve watched cooking shows or seen recipes that specifically called for duck eggs. Or perhaps you’ve seen them in your grocery store or at a specialty market. And if you live on acreage, no doubt you’ve heard ducks quacking in your neighborhood. Furthermore, if you’ve ever been given these prized objects, you might already be familiar with cooking with duck eggs.

However, if you’ve never tried duck or duck eggs, you don’t know what you’re missing. The meat is delicious, and so are the eggs. Though there’s more to it than that. There are a lot of benefits to cooking with duck eggs, primarily for baking.

Cooking with Duck Eggs

flour and eggs scattered on table before bread baking
Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

Here are some more benefits to cooking with duck eggs:

Due to the first three items on the list, duck eggs are usually sought after by chefs. The protein in duck eggs, particularly in the whites, tends to make fluffier and creamier custards and cream fillings. But also breads, cakes, and quick breads are better as well.

  • duck yolks are bigger than chicken egg yolks
  • ducks continue to lay even during hot and cold temperatures
Mallard duck on her nest
This is our Mallard, Aizawa, hidden in her nest.

This is important because chickens will have a down time during their molt. But they also won’t lay if the temperatures are on either extreme, too hot or too cold.

  • and the last benefit is that some people have discovered that if they’re allergic to chicken eggs, they can eat duck eggs just fine

But if you just want to have eggs, you can do that too. Boil them, fry them, or scramble them, you can cook duck eggs the same as chicken eggs. However, if you’re baking with them and the sizes are different than chicken eggs, figure 2 duck eggs for 3 chicken eggs.

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What to Eat on New Year’s Eve

A week ago we were either cooking our Christmas meals, or traveling to visit family and friends. Or maybe even a combination of the two. And now that it’s New Year’s, we’re back in the kitchen for one last big meal of the year. Perhaps you need some ideas on what to eat on New Year’s Eve or Day? If so, keep reading, and I’ll go over some regional and global ideas. But I’ll also cover the reasons why we eat the food we eat on New Year’s.

2 cans of blackeye peas
Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni on Pexels.com

Most, if not all, of us know that it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas for New Year’s Eve or Day. That is if you live in the South. But are you familiar with the reason why? First, eating black-eyed peas can be dated back to 6th Century Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah, their new year, for prosperity. Second, it is thought that Sephardic Jews moved to the Southern U.S. during the 18th Century, and they probably had slaves. Particularly black cooks who learned their cooking traditions.

sunlit fragment of map with land and water
Photo by Nothing Ahead on Pexels.com

However, eating black-eyed peas with rice is African in origin. And they continue to be a staple in Africa today. In addition, there are legends claiming that eating black-eyed peas dates to the Civil War. But as to the truth of why we started eating them on New Year’s? We’ll probably never really know. Some say it began with the Emancipation Proclamation, which commenced January 1, 1863.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in the Southern United States:

roasted belly close up food
Photo by Desativado on Pexels.com

A typical southern New Year’s Eve meal includes some kind of greens: collard greens, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money. And cornbread is served to symbolize gold. Black-eyed peas are said to represent pennies by some. And then there is the pork; hog jowls is served like bacon to ensure health, prosperity, and progress. So you have health, wealth, and prosperity.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in the Northern United States:

jar of sauerkraut on a counter

While the Southern United States prefers Hoppin’ John, the Northern United States eats Gwumpkies, cabbage, and/or sauerkraut balls. The cabbage and variety also represents paper money and has ties to Eastern Europe. Additionally, Americans in the north eat herring, probably at the stroke of midnight like people in Poland, to ensure prosperity and bounty. Furthermore, the Northern U.S. serves roast pork to bring good luck; since it comes from the idea of the pig moving his snout around in a forward motion, not backwards.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Spain:

red black and green grapes in round blue and white floral ceramic bowl
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

According to CNN, Spain rings in the New Year with twelve grapes. At the stroke of midnight, people living in Spain eat one grape for each toll on the clock, signifiying one month each of good luck for the year.

What to Eat on New Year’s in Mexico:

sign party
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

Tamales are served, sold, and eaten in Mexico for New Year’s. Even though they’re usually important at most festive occasions, New Year’s is even more special for this food. And though there is no mystical or good luck associated with tamales, they tend to represent family and tradition.

What to Eat on New Year’s in the Netherlands:

person mixing dough
Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

On New Year’s Eve the Netherlands has powdered sugar, doughnut-like balls with currants or raisins. And they look similar to doughnut holes, including being fried like doughnuts. These were first eaten by Germanic tribes, and thought to be used as an offering to appease the Germanic goddess Perchta and her evil spirits.

Austria and Germany:

What to Eat on New Year’s in Austria and Germany

sleeping suckling pig next to its mother
Photo by Osvaldo Castillo on Pexels.com

Both Austria and Germany celebrate New Year’s Eve with spiced red wine punch, suckling pig, and marzipan pigs that are translated as good luck pigs. Bakers will be familiar with marzipan; it’s made out of almonds and sugar, so it’s a confection of sorts, much like candy.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Japan:

3 mochi ice cream rice cakes on a wooden tray
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Soba noodles are consumed at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Japan, to ring in the new year. The noodles represent longevity and prosperity. But another tradition involves family and friends spending the day before New Year’s making mochi rice cakes. The guests take turns making small buns that are later eaten as dessert.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Italy:

package of Sun-Maid raisins on a counter

Lentils are served in Italy for New Year’s, because they are round like coins, symbolizing fortune. However, there are other foods to eat, like raisins, representing good luck, and grapes, which symbolize wisdom and frugality.

What to Eat on New Year’s in Turkey:

pomegranate on a counter

Pomegranates are eaten on New Year’s traditionally in Turkey for 2 reasons. One, because the seeds are round, which once again represent coins, and therefore, wealth. And two, the color red symbolizes fertility.

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, but as you can see, a lot of the themes are repeated. Pork, grapes, raisins, cabbage, peas, greens, and round bread. You get the idea. So what are you going to make this year? I hope I gave you some ideas. And that you were entertained as well. Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, whatever you do.

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Easy Cannoli Recipe

Making Sicilian dishes on Christmas Eve is a family tradition on my mom’s side of the family: Pizzas, cannolis, cream puffs, cookies. You name it, we had it. But what my mom is used to making is not the same thing that I make. Her cannoli recipe is a little more complicated and involves the stove. That’s because my great grandma didn’t like the easy cannoli recipe that’s out there. However, below is what I typically make for my own family.

white batter in clear plastic bowl

Ingredients for Easy Cannoli Recipe:

  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c Truvia or 1/2 c regular sugar; adjust if needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz of miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ~ 15-18 cannoli shells

Instructions for Easy Cannolis:

  • Drain the ricotta.
  • Then, by hand, mix with sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  • Next, fold in chocolate chips.
  • And fill the cannoli shells.

Put your remaining mini chocolate chips in a shallow bowl and dip the ends of your cannolis into the bowl of chocolate chips.

3 cannolis with chocolate chips on the ends on a white plate

This fills ~ 15-18 cannolis. Also, you can make your own cannoli shells. But I don’t; I never have. Though, at some point I may have to, because finding shells was an issue. Consequently I ordered them for $49. Although I did get 70 of them. Thus, I can make them again.

Furthermore, I never found a recipe similar to my mom’s when searching the web. The only thing that came close was one on the box of cannoli shells I ordered. And I would’ve included the one from my mom’s if she could’ve found hers. It tastes more liken a custard than the ricotta cheese filling in most cannolis. Very similar to cream puffs.

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