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Starbucks touts Christmas drink for a limited time

Starbucks is getting into the Christmas spirit with a festive drink just in time for the holidays.

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The chain is offering Christmas Tree Frappuccinos while supplies last, Travel+Leisure reported.

The sweet, minty drinks resemble a Christmas tree with all the trimmings, with green whipped cream and sugar-laden ornaments. The drink has a peppermint and mocha cream base, while the whipped cream is mixed with matcha powder, Travel+Leisure reported.

The drink also contains a caramel drizzle, candied cranberries that serve as ornaments and a strawberry to “top” the tree.

Melania Trump, Karen Pence stop at Whataburger, treat press to french fries

First lady Melania Trump, along with second lady Karen Pence, traveled to Texas on Wednesday to visit with first responders and check on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And if there’s anything politicians (or in this case, politicians’ spouses) love to do when they’re on a visit, it’s make a stop at a purveyor of local cuisine. Trump and Pence flew through Corpus Christi, which means Whataburger.

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According to social media reports (including tweets from reporters along for the trip, as well as a White House official), the first and second lady stopped by the venerable Texas burger chain and walked out with at least some of those famous fries. The rest of their order is unknown (so far), but the tweets about the pit stop are quite a journey.

Reporters in the press pool said the first and second lady treated them to fries.

Officials in Texas approved. The orange and the white, as ever, proved to be a unifying force.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Trump and Pence stopped at the Whataburger at 602 Padre Island Drive. 

Stuffing vs dressing: Is there really a difference?

Almost everyone agrees that the traditional mix of spices, bread and other ingredients that's served at Thanksgiving is delicious.

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But when it comes to what to call this yummy dish, people are divided. Is it stuffing, dressing or something else entirely? And does the way it's prepared make a difference in what it's called?

Below, liftestyle experts from Martha Stewart to writers at Southern Living weigh in and take sides in the stuffing vs. dressing debate:

Lifestyle expert Martha Stewart says that although she can't remember anyone in her family actually stuffing the bird, she still calls it stuffing and argues there's no real difference between stuffing and dressing. Of course, she also describes its consistency as somewhere between a pudding and a custard, so Martha may not be the best source for this debate after all.

Southern Living says the difference between stuffing and dressing may come down to whether you say "y'all." Using Google Correlate, the site looked at the which states search for dressing recipes vs. stuffing and found that they don't overlap. If you're in the South, you're very likely to look for dressing recipes. Northern states are the biggest searchers for stuffing recipes. Needless to say, Southern Living declares itself as firmly on Team Dressing.

Reader's digest notes that the National Turkey Federation says the terms are used interchangeably.

Food Network mentions the traditional view of stuffing being cooked inside the bird and notes that both dressing and stuffing have the same ingredients. In a nod to regional differences, the author of the article, who's from Michigan, says that her family's table always had several selections of what they called stuffing, although none were stuffed inside the bird.

In a Food & Wine article, Michelle Darrisaw remembers having cornbread dressing at her family's table and says that boxed Stove Top stuffing is definitely dressing. When she went to college in Atlanta, she learned that some people -- her peers from northern, northeastern or West Coast states -- used the term stuffing. To further muddy the water, all her friends from Pennsylvania call it "filling."

Butterball even commissioned an infographic on the matter that shows the difference doesn’t necessarily come down to region.

RELATED: 6 easy side dishes anyone can make for Thanksgiving Day

The verdict

Ultimately, if you're a purist, you may insist that dressing is cooked outside the bird and stuffing is cooked inside of it. If you're a Southerner, you probably call it dressing, no matter how it's prepared. And if you're from outside the South, you'll probably enjoy a serving of stuffing this Thanksgiving.

The following recipes show how to make the dish, cooked inside and outside the bird:

Cornbread Dressing

From: Food Network

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 large Vidalia or Spanish onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • 6 cups cubed (1-inch pieces) store-bought or homemade cornbread (about 1 pound)
  • 1/3 cup fresh sage leaves (about 12) with stems removed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter; add the onions and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring often, until light golden-brown, about 6 to 8 minutes, and remove from the pan to a small plate. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the water, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet and allowing the water to simmer just a couple of minutes to infuse the onion flavor. Remove from the heat.

3. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl.

4. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat and let it bubble until the milk solids to start to turn golden. Add the sage leaves and briefly fry until they begin to crisp, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove sage and put on top of cornbread to drain and crisp. Remove the butter from the heat.

5. Add the eggs and cooked onions to the cornbread and pour the browned butter over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the onion infused water, a tablespoon at a time, gently folding, until cornbread is evenly moistened but not soggy.

6. Pour the dressing into a 9- by 11-inch baking dish and bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and the dressing is set in the middle -- about 30 minutes.

Roast Turkey with Wild Rice, Sausage and Apple Stuffing

From: Food Network

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cooking apple, such as a Golden Delicious, Gravenstein or Rome, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • Pinch ground mace or nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound fresh Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley  

Turkey

  • 1 (8 to 10 pound) turkey, fresh or thawed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Stuffing

1. Combine the wild rice, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and just bursting, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and remove other racks. Preheat to 325 degrees.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, apple, celery, garlic, thyme, mace, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in sausage and cook about 5 minutes more. 4. Stir the cooked wild rice, pecans and parsley into the vegetable mixture. (This can be made the day before.)

Turkey

1. Remove turkey parts from neck and breast cavities and reserve for other uses, if desired. Dry bird well with paper towels, inside and out. Melt the butter together with the poultry seasoning. Salt and pepper inside the cavity. Loosely add the stuffing to the cavity, set the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, breast-side up, and brush generously with the seasoned butter, then season with salt and pepper. Tent the top of the bird with foil.

2. Roast the turkey for about 2 hours undisturbed. Remove and discard the foil. Baste with the remaining butter. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, about 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove turkey from oven and tent with foil for 15 minutes before carving.

Starbucks’ Zombie Frappuccino gets mixed reviews

Reviews have been mixed over Starbucks’ Zombie Frappuccino Halloween specialty drink. Starbucks lovers weighed in on social media Thursday to give their opinions about the drink, which will be available through Tuesday.

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The drink is a mix of a tarty-tasting apple -- the bottom of the drink has a green apple appearance -- with a red swirl of  dark mocha dripping over the top of it. The top half of the drink takes on a purplish hue after being mixed.

It does not have the creamy taste of the regular Starbucks caramel frappuccino drink, and social media users were not shy about giving their opinions.

Some posters took a more serious tone: 

And others were just having some fun:

As with most novelty Starbucks drinks, the concoction’s success varies. Whether other consumers will be spooked about trying the drink remains to be seen.

‘McVegan’ burger makes debut in Finland

McDonald’s introduced its “McVegan” burger on Wednesday, but vegan lovers will have to travel a long way to find it for now.

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The fast-food giant said its newest menu item will only be available at one restaurant — Tampere, Finland — and for a limited time, Elite Daily reported. The burger will be available through Oct. 21, Fox News reported.

The burger consists of mustard, pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato and a soy-based patty on a sesame seed bun. Food & Wine reported the McDonald's Finland also serves vegan fries, but that's just because their fry recipe is vegan by default (McDonald's fries in the U.S. are made with a hydrolyzed milk, and therefore not technically vegan), Fox News reported.

A McDonald’s spokesman told Today that the company was not planning to offer the burger anywhere else — for now.

BYU is allowing Coca-Cola, caffeinated soda on campus and everyone is freaking out

On Thursday morning, Brigham Young University announced the university will offer caffeinated soft drinks – including Coca-Cola – on campus and fans couldn’t contain their excitement.

The BYU Twitter account posted the news along with a Q&A with BYU director of dining services Dean Wright on the decision to bring caffeinated soft drinks on the Provo, Utah, campus for the first time since the mid-1950s.

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BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and requires students to adhere to a strict honor code in line with the church’s beliefs. The honor code enforces a mandated dress code, personal grooming standards as well as abstinence from premarital sex, drugs and alcohol.

BYU is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the United States.

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How to lose weight: Take a break from your diet for 2 weeks, study suggests

Diets are a great way to cut down on calories. But if you’re hoping to shed the pounds, taking a two-week break from your regimen could help you lose even more weight, according to a new study.

>> On AJC.com: Why this diet praised by Jennifer Aniston could work for you

Researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia recently conducted an experiment, which was published in the International Journal of Obesity, to determine ways to improve weight loss success based on eating patterns.

To do so, they assessed 51 obese men over a four-month period, breaking them off into two groups. Those in the first one were asked to follow a diet, which cut one-third of their calories, for all four months. Those in the second group were required to go on the same diet only for two weeks, taking a break from it for the next two weeks. They repeated the cycle eight times.

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After analyzing the data, they found that those who took breaks lost 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t. Those who deviated from the plan also shed more fat.

Six months after the study, both groups regained weight. However, those who took breaks were about 18 pounds lighter than those who followed the diet continuously. 

>> On AJC.com: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Why is that?

Researchers believe dieting can alter the body’s biological process, which can lead to slower weight loss or even weight gain. 

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ – making weight loss harder to achieve,” co-author Nuala Byrne said in a statement. “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.”

Although the researchers’ method proved to be more successful than nonstop dieting, they noted that it wasn’t more effective than other popular diets. But it could provide another weight loss alternative. 

>> On AJC.com: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

“It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach,” Byrne said. “While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.”

These are the most hated foods in each state

Many states are known for producing edible staples -- Georgia is known as the Peach State, Idaho is known for its potatoes, and people traveling to Illinois expect to indulge in some of the nation’s best deep dish pizza.

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But there’s one delicacy locals despise the most in each state, according to a new report. And some of the findings might surprise you. 

Hater, a dating app that matches people based on the things they hate, pulled data from its hundreds of thousands of users to round up the cuisine that every state dislikes the most, compared to the rest of the world.

They found that Georgians can’t stand tuna salad, Floridians don’t like licorice, and people from Nevada don’t deal with La Croix, the popular sparkling water drink. Also according to the results, Oklahomans prefer to stay away from veggie burgers, North Carolina residents don’t favor cottage cheese, and you won’t catch many Pennsylvanians sipping on chai lattes.

 

Possibly surprising? Californians aren’t fans of Chick-fil-A.

Then there were some findings that were more in line with the state’s traditional specialties. 

Texans, known for their grilled and barbecued meats, do not like steak cooked well done, and people from Washington, which is the world center for coffee, stay away from k-cups. 

Others were a bit more specific. Residents in Maryland avoid the corner piece of a brownie, Louisianans roll their eyes at cookies with raisins, and Massachusetts residents don’t like mayonnaise on fries. 

Curious about the other locations? Take a look at the map of findings below. 

Couple fulfills goal of visiting every Cracker Barrel in America

Ray Yoder celebrated his 81st birthday at a Cracker Barrel with his wife, Wilma, on Monday, but the couple had something even bigger to celebrate. The Goshen, Indiana, couple visited all 645 Cracker Barrels in America.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Couple's quest to visit every Cracker Barrel in America nears end

“Travel was in our blood and we’ve always liked it,” Ray said. “And, of course, the best place to eat was at Cracker Barrel. It took the boredom out of the highway to eat there because it was so much like home — we could order what we liked, and they always had what we liked.”

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The employees at the Tualatin, Oregon, Cracker Barrel helped make the visit special by giving customized aprons and forming a “clap tunnel” for the pair, cheering them on when they arrived. Cracker Barrel also gave the Yoders an all-expenses-paid trip to the Oregon location.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Cracker Barrel even made a video to commemorate the achievement:

>> Watch the video here

The Cheesecake Factory releases boxed mixes for at-home baking 

Craving cheesecake but don’t feel like going out to a restaurant? 

Thanks to The Cheesecake Factory’s new at-home mixes, you can enjoy the taste of the restaurant’s signature desserts from the comfort of your own kitchen. 

The company released a series of boxed options, including cupcakes, cookies and cheesecake.

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The cheesecake mixes include three recipe flavors -- classicstrawberry and salted caramel -- each with a bake time of less than one hour.

Descriptions on the official Cheesecake Factory website show the boxes contain everything needed for the sweet treat except refrigerated items such as milk, eggs, cream cheese and butter. 

Cheesecake Factory’s boxed cookie mix comes in two flavors: snickerdoodle and chocolate chip. The company is also selling chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with frosting for what it promises is a “fantastical food experience that is absolutely certain to satisfy.”

According to Pop Sugar, the cheesecake mixes can be found at retailers like Publix and Walmart for as little as $3.

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