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6 Great Gifts for Home Cooks

Many people enjoy preparing homecooked meals for their loved ones. Whether it’s a large family gathering during the holiday season or a weeknight meal for their immediate families, men, women and even children who like to cook enjoy the satisfied looks on their loved ones’ faces after sharing a delicious meal.

Come the holiday season, gift givers can put the same satisfied look on the faces of the home cooks in their lives by offering a variety of gifts that can make mealtime easier and/or more enjoyable.

1. Electric corkscrew: Nothing complements a good meal quite like an appropriately paired bottle of wine. Cooks who are too busy in the kitchen to utilize traditional corkscrews, which can be time-consuming and messy, might enjoy an electric corkscrew. Such corkscrews quickly remove corks from wine bottles, requiring little effort on the part of already busy cooks.

2. Cookbook: People who understand the joy of cooking often love to experiment in the kitchen. Cookbooks can be an ideal gift for such cooks. Choose a book that provides recipes from their favorite styles of cuisine, such as Italian or Indian food. Or find a book that offers an array of recipes that allows them to explore various types of cuisine.

3. Cookware: Even the best cookware can only take so much usage, and chances are home cooks’ pantries can afford an upgrade or two. Gift givers should keep in mind that many home cooks have strong preferences regarding their cookware, so it might be wise to give a gift card or ask a loved one which type of cookware he or she prefers. Of course, a covert inspection of a loved one’s pantry might provide the insight gift givers need as well.

4. Rolling pin: For the person who loves to bake, a rolling pin might make a better gift than noncooks may appreciate. Rolling pins are necessary to prepare many baked goods, and a customizable rolling pin can flatten dough to the exact millimeter, helping bake-happy home cooks prepare the perfect plate of cookies.

5. Cooking class: Cooking classes can make the ideal gift for novice home cooks who are just beginning to explore their love of cooking. But advanced classes can help more seasoned cooks perfect their craft as they learn to prepare more complex dishes.

6. Wine aerator: Much like electric corkscrews can make opening bottles of wine much easier, wine aerators can help aerate red wine more quickly than decanters, which can take up to two hours to fully aerate wine. Aerators oxidate red wine, softening its flavors and bringing out the aromas that can make a great bottle of wine that much more enjoyable.

Home cooks often enjoy preparing fresh meals for their loved ones. The holiday season presents a perfect opportunity to find gifts that make cooking that much more enjoyable for loved ones who can’t wait to whip up the next homecooked meal for family and friends.

Homemade Hummus With Truly Unique Taste

Hummus provides a delicious and healthy alternative to less nutritional dips. Versatile and available in various flavors, hummus can be whipped up at home for those who prefer to make their own dips. The following recipe for “Garbanzo-Carrot Hummus with Grilled Yogurt Flatbread” from James Campbell Caruso’s “España: Explore the Flavors of Spain” (Gibbs Smith) includes some Moroccan flavors that give this easy-to-prepare recipe a truly unique taste.

Garbanzo-Carrot Hummus with Grilled Yogurt Flatbread (Makes 2 cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, drained
4 teaspoons chopped cilantro plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
21/2 teaspoons ground cumin
11/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chile flakes
2 teaspoons Moroccan Spice Blend (see below)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 batch Yogurt Flatbread (see below)

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots with 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the carrots to drain and cool in a colander.

Combine carrots and remaining ingredients, except for Yogurt Flatbread, in the work bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with fresh, hot Yogurt Flatbread cut in wedges.

Moroccan Spice Blend (Makes about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

In a small resealable glass or plastic container, combine all of the ingredients.

Yogurt Flatbread (Serves 4)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
21/2 cups plain yogurt
Olive oil

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yogurt and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Cover the work bowl and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium. Scrape the dough from the work bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a long log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and use a rolling pin or tortilla press to flatten it into a 1/4-inch-thick tortilla shape. Brush each “tortilla” lightly with olive oil. Grill each for about 40 seconds then turn and cook another 40 seconds.

How to Help Identify and Stop Cyberbullying

Today’s students have many new things to contend with as they navigate the school year. As a greater number of schools transition to providing lessons, homework and tests on digital devices, students spend much more time online. This connectivity can have many positive results. However, the same availability also opens up students of all ages to various dangers.

One of these dangers is a more invasive form of bullying called “cyberbullying.” The global organization DoSomething.org says nearly half of kids have been bullied online, with one in four saying it has happened more than once.

Cyberbullying has grown as access to computers and devices that offer an online connection has grown. Bullying is now just as likely to occur online as it is on the playground. Cyberbullies may bully classmates through email, social media, instant messaging, and other social applications. Since cyberbullying tends to target emotions and mental well-being, and reaches beyond the school campus into a student’s home, its impact can be even more serious.

According to the Megan Meier Foundation, which campaigns against bullying, peer victimization during adolescence is associated with higher rates of depression, suicide ideation and suicide attempts. In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, according to data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cyberbullying occurs in many different forms. Here are some types of cyberbullying educators and parents can look for if they suspect their students or children are being bullied.

  • Flaming: This is a type of bullying that occurs in an online forum or group conversation. It’s achieved by sending angry or insulting messages directly to the person. Flaming is similar to harassment, but harassment usually involves privately sent messages.
  • Outing: This type of bullying is a sharing of personal and private information about a person publicly. When information has been disseminated throughout the internet, one has been “outed.”
  • Fraping: Fraping occurs when someone logs into another’s social media account and impersonates him or her. This could be a child or an adult impersonating the person and posting inappropriate content in his or her name. Sometimes this type of bullying is also called “posing” or “catfishing.”
  • Masquerading: Masquerading occurs when bullies create fake profiles so they can harass someone anonymously. The bully is likely someone the person being targeted knows well.
  • Exclusion: Sometimes direct targeting is not necessary. Students can be bullied simply by being deliberately left out, such as not being invited to parties or encouraged to participate online conversations.

Securing privacy online is one way to prevent cyberbullying attacks. Students also can be selective about who they share personal information with or whose social media friendships they accept. Thinking before posting and paying attention to language and tone can help curb cyberbullying as well. Students should stick together and report instances of cyberbullying if it becomes an issue.

Homemade Pie Crust Made Easy + Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe

Pot pie makes for a delicious meal, especially when home cooks go the extra mile and prepare homemade pie crust. Some may be intimidated by the idea of making their own pie crusts, but the following recipe for “Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie with Whole-Wheat Crust” from Michelle Dudash’s “Clean Eating for Busy Families” (Fair Winds) simplifies that process, ensuring a fun and easy time cooking and, ultimately, a delicious meal.

Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie with Whole-Wheat Crust (Serves 6)

For the crust:

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup corn oil
1/3 cup orange juice

For the filling:

1 carton condensed cream of chicken soup (organic preferred)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
11/4 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (or frozen sliced carrots, thawed)
1 cup leeks, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise, using white and pale green parts only
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons dried herbes de
Provence (or 1/2 teaspoon each thyme, rosemary and basil)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the crust: Combine flours and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in oil and orange juice and stir until moistened. Press dough to flatten and chill.
To make the filling: Blend soup and 1/2 cup of milk in a large bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger ball between 2 large sheets of waxed paper until it is 1/8-inch-thick or until it fits in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper. Turn dough over and carefully place in the pie pan, removing remaining piece of waxed paper. Press out any bubbles and patch holes with scraps of dough. Pour filling into the prepared pan. Roll remaining dough and lay it on top. Cut any excess dough hanging from the edges and crimp the crust between your thumb and forefinger to seal. Cut a heart into the center to allow steam to escape.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until center of crust becomes golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pie’s center reaches 165 F, covering browned edges only with foil about halfway through cooking. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

The Best Ways to Cheer on Favorite Sports Teams

Autumn weather calls to mind sipping warm cider and raking leaves. But for sports fans, fall is all about sports.

American football, field hockey, ice hockey, and basketball are just a few of the sports that make autumn an exciting time for sports fans.

Even the most ardent fan may have room for improvement when it comes to supporting his or her team. Here are a few ideas to make cheering for a favorite team even more enjoyable.

Attend a game

Fans who never get to see their team play in person may miss out on a unique experience. The atmosphere and energy of sitting in a stadium or arena cannot compete with a television simulcast. Ardent fans can resolve to attend a game in person this season. Enroll in employee entertainment clubs to receive discounts on sports tickets among other types of entertainment.

Host a game watch

Build camaraderie with fellow fans by hosting a game watch. A routine sports night is a great way to get together with friends and family members. Gather a group at your house each week to watch a favorite team battle it out on the big screen. Or get together with fellow fans in the community at a sports bar or restaurant, combining a night out on the town with your passion for sports.

Get the kids involved

Spread the love of fandom to a new generation. Schools and youth organizations can encourage children to support local scholastic teams. Organize field trips to sporting events to involve as many students as possible.

Fall sports are heating up, and fans can do their part to support their favorite teams in various ways.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkins are readily available in fall, when people carve jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins for Halloween or serve up pumpkin pie after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. But people who are unsatisfied with plain old pumpkin pie can add something new to their repertoire this fall by cooking up the following recipe for “Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust,” courtesy of Lori Longbotham’s “Luscious Creamy Desserts” (Chronicle Books).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust (Serves 8 to 10)

Crust

11/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Filling

11/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
11/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup créme fraîche, homemade (see below) or store-bought, or sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8- or 81/2-inch springform pan.
2. To make the crust: Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425 F.
3. To make the filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large deep bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the pumpkin purée, créme fraîche and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Pour the filling into the shell.
4. Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F and continue baking for 1 hour.
5. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 21/2 hours. Then transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 10 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 2 days.
6. To serve, run a knife around the side of the cheesecake and remove the side of the pan. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife dipped into hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Créme Fraîche (Makes about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup créme fraîche or sour cream with live cultures

Pour the cream into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and spoon in the créme fraîche. Let sit on the counter, with the lid slightly ajar, until the mixture thickens, from 4 to 24 hours, depending on the weather. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use.

5 Ways to Get Acquainted With a New Neighborhood

Across the country, people are packing boxes, hiring trucks and moving short and long distances. The U.S. Census Bureau says that around 12 percent of the population moves each year. According to a survey by DuProprio, a Quebec-based real estate advice site, 28 percent of Canadians feel the need to move every five years. Surprisingly, DuProprio also found that 14 percent of owners wish they could move every year.

The main reasons people move are expansion of the family, a career change, retirement, empty nest situations, or when moving is more practical than large-scale home renovations. While some people stick close to previous home locations, a 2015 American Community Survey found approximately 16.9 million people moved to a different county in 2015.

Whether a move is across county lines or overseas, it can take some time to acclimate to a new neighborhood. These tips can help anyone get acquainted with their new surroundings and make friends in the process.

1. Host a housewarming party. Get to know immediate neighbors by hosting a party. After some unpacking is done, host a simple get-together for people who live nearby. Ask if neighbors can help out by bringing chairs. Offer light refreshments and some type of activities for children. The event doesn’t have to be extensive, just long enough to engage in some conversation and introduce yourself.

2. Walk and drive around. Scout out the area by driving around and making note of shopping centers, parks and places of interest. Schedule times when you will get out of the car and walk around on foot, which makes it easier to take everything in. Use a website like Walkscore.com to find places within walking distance of your new home. Bring the dog along. Dogs can be great ice breakers with new neighbors.

3. Check out community blotters. Community events may be posted in print and distributed through a local newspaper and also on municipal websites. Find out where the locals go on weekends or during the week. Communities may take pride in certain activities. It’s easier to get a feel for the neighborhood by spending time with the locals.

4. Become active in the community. Find a volunteer organization or join a local house of worship. Check with the local chamber of commerce for ways to get involved or clubs to join. Like-minded people can make living in a new locale more enjoyable.

5. Dine out once a week. If budget allows, try a new neighborhood eating establishment each week to get a lay of the land. You’ll identify hot spots and hidden gems and will also be able to mingle with the community. An app such as Open Table can help you find places to eat nearby.

Give Boring Lunches a Big Boost

Lunch might not be the most exciting meal of the day, and conventional wisdom might not suggest it’s the most important meal. But that does not mean lunch has to be boring.

For those who tend to lean on sandwiches for their midday meals, straying from the sandwich norm can provide some variety and flavor. The following recipe for “Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps” from Vicki Liley’s “Asian Wraps & Rolls” (Periplus) can make for a unique lunch for the whole family or even serve as an easily prepared dinner.

Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps (Makes 6 wraps)

1/3 cup plain tandoori paste
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
12 chicken tenderloin fillets or 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
2 carrots, peeled
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, halved and seeded
6 pieces naan
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Leaves from 6 fresh mint sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

In a small bowl, combine tandoori paste, 2 tablespoons yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Put chicken in a baking dish. Pour tandoori mixture over and stir until chicken is coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Light a fire in a charcoal grill or heat a grill pan. Brush grill or pan lightly with oil. Cook chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut each tenderloin into 2 long strips (if using chicken breast fillets, slice each fillet into 4 long strips).

Using a vegetable peeler, cut carrot and cucumber into thin ribbons. To heat naan, follow instructions on packet. In a small bowl, stir 1/2 cup yogurt, garlic and chopped mint together.

Place naan on a work surface. Divide chicken, cucumber, carrot, and mint leaves among naan. Drizzle with yogurt mixture. Wrap the naan around filling and serve immediately.

Want healthier kids? Get a pet

If youngsters have been eyeing fuzzy kittens or boisterous puppies at nearby shelters or pet stores, parents may want to give in to those cries for a family pet. Pets are added responsibilities, but the health benefits associated with pet ownership may be well worth the investment of time and effort.

Caring for a pet is sometimes viewed as a childhood rite of passage, but there’s much more to the experience than just learning responsibility. Experts say a child’s emotional, cognitive, physical, and social development can be enhanced through interaction with a family pet. Studies continue, but the effects of family pets on children was heavily researched by developmental psychologist Gail F. Melson in 2003. Melson looked at literature on child-animal relationships and found that children who had pets were better able to understand biology and children who could turn to pets for unconditional emotional support were less anxious and withdrawn than their peers without family pets to turn to.

Data from a small study conducted by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University reported that adolescents who had animal experience were more likely to see themselves as important contributors to communities and more likely to take on leadership roles.

Pets also can help children develop into well-rounded individuals. Playing with a pet requires children to engage in physical activity and can help stimulate motor skills. An English study conducted in 2010 and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that children from dog-owning families spent more time in light or moderate to vigorous physical activity and recorded higher levels of activity counts per minute than kids whose families did not own a dog.

Pets may help with allergies and respiratory ailments as well. A 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics discovered that children who have early contact with cats and dogs have fewer respiratory infections and ear infections and need shorter courses of antibiotics than children who have not had contact with pets.

A study from Dennis Ownby, MD, a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, found that having multiple pets decreases a child’s risk of developing certain allergies. He found that the children who were exposed to two or more dogs or cats as babies were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as kids who had no pets in the home.

Pets also may foster social interactions, which can benefit children who are shy. Inviting others over to meet pets can help children make friends and find others with similar interests. Children may also confide in pets and develop their self-esteem.

Studies have indicated that the type of pet a family has, whether it’s horses, dogs, snakes, etc., does not matter, as all companion animals have the potential to benefit children.

Green Tomatoes Not Just for the Frying Pan

Perhaps in part due to the popular 1991 film “Fried Green Tomatoes,” many people are familiar with the Southern United States side dish of the same name. But as proven by the following recipe for “Grilled Green Tomato ‘Sandwiches’ with Herbed Cream Cheese” from Karen Adler and Judith Fertig’s “The Gardener & The Grill” (Running Press), green tomatoes can be even more delicious when grilled than they are when fried.

Grilled Green Tomato “Sandwiches” with Herbed Cream Cheese (Serves 6)

Herbed Cream Cheese

1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes (about 11/2 pounds), sliced 3/4-inch thick (to make 12 slices)

Olive oil, for brushing

2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt (see below) or kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Place a well-oiled perforated grill rack over direct heat.

In a bowl, blend the cream cheese, garlic, basil, and chives together until smooth. Set aside.

Brush the tomato slices with olive oil on both sides and season with seasoning salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking sheet and bring out to the grill with the bowl of Herbed Cream Cheese and a knife for spreading.

Grill all of the tomatoes on one side for about 3 minutes with the lid open, then flip and grill on the other side for 3 minutes more, or until the tomatoes have good grill marks.

Remove the tomato slices from the grill and allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet. Spread Herbed Cream Cheese on half of the slices, top with a second slice and set the sandwiches on a platter. Serve the sandwiches hot, with oozing cream cheese filling.

Variation: Grill all of the tomato slices as above and top each grilled tomato with a dollop of the cream cheese and serve open-faced.

Seasoning Salt (Makes 11/4 cups)

1 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to blend. This keeps for several months in the pantry.