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  • A Brief History of Mardi Gras and the King Cake

    This article first appeared in the February/March 2023 issue of EDM. By Michele D. Baker The modern American Mardi Gras season (Carnival) officially begins on Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, the Twelfth Night of Christmas. Coming from a Greek verb that means “to show,” Epiphany pays tribute to the Catholic belief that Jesus first showed himself to the three wise men and to the larger world on this day. The festivities last from Epiphany until Lent, with “Fat Tuesday” (Mardi Gras, in French) being the last day of revelry and decadence before the more sober period of Lent begins. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday from February 3 to March 9, as the date is set according to when Easter falls each year. It’s always the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which lasts 46 days until the celebration of Easter. This year, Mardi Gras is February 21. One of the most enduring traditions during Carnival is feasting on “king cake,” again named because of the Biblical story of the three wise kings who brought gifts to Baby Jesus. A ring-shaped blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll, it is frequently packed with fruit and decadent cream cheese fillings. The history of the colors on a king cake is also deep and intriguing. Most king cakes are traditionally decorated with the royal color purple, which signifies justice; green for growth; and gold, representing prosperity and wealth. These colors resemble a jeweled crown, and in fact, the traditional Spanish version of this cake is called Roscón de Reyes (crown of the king). In the past, such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each cake. Today, a tiny plastic baby is the most used item, though chocolate babies or other edibles are sometimes used instead. At a Mardi Gras party, the king cake is sliced and served fresh. Each reveler looks to see if their piece of king cake contains the baby. If so, that person is declared “king for a day” and bound by historical Mardi Gras custom to host the next party, thus sparking an unending round of food and fun. Laissez les bon temps rouler! Betty Crocker’s King Cake This recipe has a lot of steps, but don’t worry… it’s not as hard as it seems, and freshly baked king cake is hard to beat. The brioche style dough is beautiful to work with and offers up a moist, buttery cake. Ingredients for the cake: 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) Rapid Rise yeast 1 cup milk 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces Directions: Mix 2-1/2 cups flour and yeast in mixing bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, on low for about 30 seconds. Heat milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, and milk is between 120°F to 130°F. With mixer on low, pour in liquids and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off paddle and switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining 1 cup flour a little at a time, adding more (or less) flour as needed to make a soft dough. Add the softened butter, a piece at a time, kneading until each piece of butter is absorbed. Knead for 8 minutes on low. The dough should completely clear the sides of the bowl. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more flour is needed. If the dough seems too dry, spritz with water from a spray bottle a couple of times, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more water is needed. Every 2 minutes, stop the machine, scrape the dough off the hook, and then continue kneading. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand to be sure it’s smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. For the Cinnamon Filling: 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 cup chopped pecans (optional) While the dough is chilling, make cinnamon filling. In small bowl, combine the brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Combine butter with cinnamon mixture (and pecans, if using) and mix well. Roll the chilled dough into a 10” x 20” rectangle. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20” again. Shape into a circle/oval and press the edges together. ALTERNATE METHOD: Roll the dough into a 10" x 20" rectangle and spread the filling evenly over the surface. From a long side, roll into a 20" jelly roll with filling swirl. Shape into a circle/oval and press the ends together. Transfer the ring to a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the cake until it is golden brown, 20-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on baking sheet and then place it on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing. To hide the baby in the cake, make a small slit in the bottom of the cake and push the miniature plastic baby in after the cake has cooled. Icing: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 Tablespoon milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth (add additional milk if mixture is too thick, or powdered sugar if too thin). Spoon icing over top of the cake. Immediately sprinkle on colored sugars, alternating between the three colors: dark green, purple and yellow or gold.

  • Art, Wine and Wheels Returns to Ridgeland in May

    Three of Ridgeland’s signature events return for Art, Wine and Wheels weekend May 5-7, 2023. The Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival, The MIND Center Santé South Food and Wine Festival, and the Natchez Trace Century Ride come together for a celebration of Ridgeland’s live music, outdoor, and dining offerings. The weekend begins and ends at Renaissance at Colony Park, where Visit Ridgeland will host a Kickoff Party on Friday, May 5. The Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival first opens its booths from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. The evening concludes with a free concert from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The Natchez Trace Century Ride rolls on Saturday, May 6 from Old Trace Park in Ridgeland. Mississippi’s premier cycling event welcomes riders off all ages and availabilities, offering various ride distances along the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway. Registration for the ride is open at bikesignup.com and includes complimentary entrance into a Friday evening VIP Social. The Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival continues Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7. Todd Perkins has been announced as the featured artist for the annual event, a juried art festival that includes fiber, glass, painting, photography, wood, and more by some of America’s most talented artists. The pet-friendly festival footprint features live music performances, food trucks, a Children’s Corner and Artist in Action demonstration. Mississippi’s largest wine and food event, The MIND Center Santé South Food and Wine Festival, returns the evening of Saturday, May 6. Learn more about this culinary showcase for a good cause and purchase tickets at santesouth.org.

  • How to Build a Healthy Smoothie

    By Ms. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension Service Smoothies can be a tasty and healthy on-the-go option. You want to make sure they are nutrient-rich without too many calories or added sugar. Check out my tips for building a smoothie that will fuel you for hours. Pick a base: I like to start with frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables. By adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you are adding more vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Research shows that people who eat more dietary fiber may lower their risk of chronic health conditions. Add protein: Protein takes a smoothie from okay to great! Some great protein options include Greek yogurt, nut butter, cottage cheese, and silken tofu. Nuts and seeds -- like chia, ground flaxseed, or hempseeds -- are also a protein-filled addition. Protein makes you feel full, helps balance blood sugars, and can minimize cravings. Add liquid: Rethink adding juice to your smoothie. Try low-fat milk, steeped green tea, plant-based milk, water, or ice. By eliminating juice, you can save on calories and added sugars. Add flavor: Try vanilla or almond extracts and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger, and other herbs to give your smoothie a boost of flavor and nutrition. Bonus tip: You can get a dose of healthy fats by adding a drizzle of olive, flax, or avocado oils. You can also try adding a sliver or two of avocado. It will provide creaminess along with healthy fats. Smoothies done right are a great option to add more nutrients to your day. For more helpful tips like these and healthy recipe options, visit extension.msstate.edu and join our MSU Nutrition and Wellness FB group.

  • Save the Date for Ridgeland’s Township Jazz Festival

    The 16th Annual Township Jazz Festival returns to Ridgeland Saturday, April 1, 2023. The Russell Malone Quartet will fill the streets of Township at Colony Park with the swinging sounds of jazz, weaving in elements of blues, gospel, and R&B in Malone’s signature style. Malone is an accomplished performer who has been a member of Harry Connick, Jr.’s big band, worked with Diana Krall, and has appeared with a bevy of name artists including Branford Marsalis, Benny Green, Terell Stafford, and Ray Brown, in addition to releasing his own solo albums. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy this free, family-friendly event. The Township at Colony Park is proud host of this popular springtime festival. Make it a weekend and book your stay at Mississippi’s first AC by Marriott. Begin your getaway at the AC Lounge, which has become a hangout for locals and visitors alike. Featuring a rotating lineup of signature cocktails and small plates made with local spirits and ingredients, the AC Lounge is walking distance from all nearby shopping and dining offerings. Speaking of exploring, wander the roads to find your new favorite shoes at Arco Avenue or bring home a tasty souvenir from J. Olive Company. Get your space ready for spring at Boxwood garden shoppe, and indulge after a full day with your choice of cuisine at Anjou Restaurant, Sombra Mexican Kitchen, Soulshine Pizza or Wasabi Sushi and Grill. Stay tuned to www.townshipjazzfestival.com for a full lineup to be released soon. We’ll see you in Ridgeland! See more exciting events at the VisitRidgeland.com.

  • Get Wined and Dined at The Santé South Food and Wine Festival

    Mississippi’s largest wine and food event, The MIND Center Santé South Food and Wine Festival, presented by Trustmark, returns to Ridgeland Saturday, May 6th! At its new location of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, the event’s larger footprint will feature more vendors than ever. Attendees can sample wines from around the world paired with food from the state’s top restaurants. Santé South affords a rare opportunity for guests to speak directly with boutique winemakers and vote on a new Taste of the South competition. This culinary showcase for a good cause benefits Alzheimer’s disease research and clinical care. Founded by Norm Rush of Beaumad & Associates, the annual event benefits the Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia (MIND) Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and has helped to raise over $1 million to advance the delivery of Alzheimer’s care and support services, educational programming, and research in Mississippi. The MIND Center uses pioneering research, state-of-the -art brain imaging and powerful genetic technologies to discover the causes and fine new methods of treatment and prevention for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, which affect over 6 million Americans. Tickets are available for purchase online, by phone at (601) 292-7121, or in person at the Ardenland box office in Jackson. The ticket price includes entrance to the festival where guests can sample more over 120 exceptional wines and fine food samplings from many of Mississippi’s top restaurants as well as take home a signature festival wine glass. For more great events, sights, things to do, and places to eat, browse VisitRidgeland.com.

  • From the Bookshelf: “Celebrate With Babs”

    Get it on Amazon here: “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” by Barbara Costello By Paige White If you’ve been on Tiktok or Instagram in the last couple years, then you might recognize Barbara Costello, better known as “Babs” to her followers. Babs is known for sharing recipes that have been in her repertoire for years, as well as helpful kitchen and hosting tips. In her cookbook, “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions,” she shares recipes and tips for hosting all kinds of holidays and events throughout the year. From New Year’s Day to a summer barbecue, Babs covers it all. “Celebrate with Babs” opens with tips to make hosting and party planning less stressful – how to prepare, create the invite list, set the table, plan the menu, prep the food. A lot of work goes into hosting and curating the perfect menu for each occasion, and Babs’s tips should hopefully alleviate some stress that comes along with hosting. Once you know how to tackle the party, the book is divided into sections by holiday, and each section provides a carefully curated menu for celebrations throughout the year, starting with New Year’s Day. Kick off the new year with recipes like Cheddar Pecan Cheeseball, Good Luck Salad, Virginia au Gratin Potatoes, Oven-Barbecued Brisket, Four-Layer Delight, and Bloody Mary’s. Recipes also include notes on how to prepare dishes ahead of time and tips on how to elevate each dish, like shredding your own cheese rather than using pre-shredded. After New Year’s Day, one of the biggest food holidays of the year is next – Super Bowl Sunday. Indulge in dishes like Hot Corn Dip, Buffalo Wings, Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Sausage Bisquick Bites, and Texas Sheet Cake. If you want to avoid the crowded restaurants and have a nice meal at home for Valentine’s Day, opt for Babs’s Valentine’s dinner menu that includes Greek Salad, Lebanese Pilaf, Slow-Cooked French Onion Soup, Marinated Lamb Chops, Pots de Crème, and Prosecco with Strawberry Puree. Sizzling With Love: Decadent Valentine's Day Dinner at Home for Two, by Lisa Bynum Next up: St. Patrick’s Day. Many people might not think to host for St. Paddy’s, but with Babs’s help, now you can, with thoroughly Celtic dishes such as classic Irish Soda Bread and Irish Coffee, as well as Whiskey-Glazed Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Cupcakes, and Baked Reuben Casserole. After St. Paddy’s Day, it’s time to host Easter lunch. Recipes include Strawberry Salad, Apricot-Bourbon Glazed Ham, Roasted Leg of Lamb, Curried Rice, Easter Bread, Carrot Cake, and Champagne Punch. Mother’s Day follows soon after with recipes like Mixed Green Salad, French Toast Overnight Casserole, Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Italian Cream Cake, and Elderflower Mimosas – everything that mom will love. Once Mother’s Day is in the rear view, summer is in full swing, and that means summer cookouts. Babs’s Summer Barbecue menu includes all the classics – Broccoli Salad, Summer Fruit Salad, Corn Salad, Ranch Baked Beans, Flank Steak, Lemon Barbecue Chicken, Pecan Pie, and Southern Slushies. When summer comes to end, the celebrations keep going, and Oktoberfest is next up. Host your friends and family to an exciting Oktoberfest celebration with dishes like Beer Cheese Dip, Brats, Pickled Carrots and Daikon, German Roasted Potato Salad, German Cheesecake, and, of course, Soft Pretzels. If a Halloween party is more your speed, recipes for Halloween include Chili, Corn Pudding, Baked Caramel Corn, Taffy Apple Salad, Peanut Butter Bars, Pumpkin Loaf, and Mulled Apple Cider. After Halloween, it’s time to roll out the red carpet for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving menu is extensive with dishes like Cranberry Fluff, Green Bean Casserole, Buttermilk Biscuits, Sweet Potato Balls, Traditional Roasted Turkey, Warm Pumpkin Pudding, and several more. Not long after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are also a great time to showcase your hosting skills. On Christmas Eve, Babs’s family celebrates with seafood dishes like Hot Crabmeat Dip, Scallop Chowder, Linguine with White Clam Sauce, and Seafood Pasta. For dessert, try sweet treats like Peppermint Bark, Chocolate Shortbread Bars, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Pecan Tassies, and Brown-Eyed Susans. For Christmas Day breakfast, choose from recipes like Overnight Monkey Bread or Overnight Breakfast Casserole, Biscotti de Natale, and Gingerbread lattes. No matter what event or holiday you host this year, “Celebrate with Babs” has you covered. She even includes a Birthday Cake section so that you can create a delicious, homemade birthday treat for yourself or loved ones. Find “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” at major book retailers. For more content from Babs, follow @brunchwithbabs on Tiktok and Instagram. New Year’s Good Luck Salad (Kale & Spinach Salad with Black Eyed Peas) 1 bunch curly kale, ribbing discarded, cut into thick ribbons 8 ounces baby spinach leaves 1 small red onion, thinly sliced and chopped 1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, diced 3/4 cup cooked or canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled 2 Tablespoons chopped chives for garnish (optional) In a large serving bowl, combine kale, spinach, onion, bell pepper, black-eyed peas, and crumbled bacon. For the dressing: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 1 Tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until emulsified. Toss salad with desired amount of dressing and top with chives (if using) and serve.

  • Gems in JXN: Pizza

    Whether you need a whole pizza or just a slice, the capital city is full of awesome pizza places. Here are some favorites from Visit Jackson!

  • Food Factor: Creamy Hamburger Potato Soup

    By Ms. Natasha Haynes, MSU Extension Service Creamy Hamburger Potato Soup is full of cheesy goodness. It’s the perfect soup to warm you up with a hearty amount of protein to keep you full and satisfied! Creamy Hamburger Potato Soup Ingredients: 1 pound lean ground beef 1 cup yellow onion, diced 6 cups russet potatoes, diced 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon Cajun creole seasoning 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1 cup skim milk 1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded 1/2 cup green onion Brown ground beef and yellow onion in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Remove from pan and reserve for later. Add diced potatoes to the pot with salt, pepper, and Cajun creole seasoning. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken broth to pot, bring to a boil, and cook potatoes until soft. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until they reach your desired consistency. Add cooked ground beef, milk, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup of green onion. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Serve garnished with remaining cheddar cheese and green onion. Thanks to Texas A & M Agrilife Extension for this recipe! Note: Kosher salt is often used for cooking. It has large, coarse grains and is made without common additives such as iodine. But if you don’t have kosher salt, it’s fine to use whatever type of salt you have on hand. Follow The Food Factor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter And if you like our recipes and videos, we’d love for you to share them with your friends! It really helps!

  • Crumbl Cookies in Madison Certified as Test Store

    Adapted from Jan. 5, 2023 article in Madison County Journal by John Lee Crumbl Cookies in Madison recently became a certified testing store, and residents can now sample new and experimental cookie flavors every week. The store in Colony Crossing (Suite 120) prides itself on a weekly rotation of new menu items in their famous pink boxes of gourmet cookies. As the Crumbl Cookies’ corporate research and development team develops new and exciting cookie flavors, they are tested in various markets across the country. As the Madison Crumbl Cookies location recently became an official testing store to receive feedback on these experimental cookie creations, it is now part of this network of testing locations. Jen Norton, general manager at the Madison Crumbl Cookies, is excited about the store becoming a testing location. “I am hoping this will bring in new and returning customers each Wednesday, as that is the day the new testing flavor will be available,” Norton said. “Just like our weekly flavors, the testing flavor will change each week.” This now means people in Madison can get a sneak peek at these new flavors and provide their opinions using the Taste Testing Program every week. To be a tester for all the new flavors, all you have to do is come into the store each Wednesday and ask to purchase the current testing cookie. You will then be given a QR code to scan that will lead to the cookie survey, which Norton says is a simple and quick way to provide your thoughts on the flavor. While Crumbl cannot provide these new testing flavors publicly, Norton said she can promise these new cookies will be absolutely delicious. Norton said she loves working for Crumbl Cookies and that it is her dream job. “There is nowhere I would rather work,” Norton said. “The crew culture and community involvement are my favorite parts. The cookies are delicious, and our weekly lineup offers a variety of flavors, so we will have something for everyone.” Norton also appreciates the philanthropic nature of the job. “We are actively involved with many schools in Madison County, as well as some nonprofit organizations,” she said. “We are always looking for more ways to be involved and give back.” For more information about Crumbl cookies in Madison and the Taste Testing Program, call the store at 601-401-0316, and download the Crumbl app to explore new flavors. You may also buy delicious Crumbl Cookies at locations in Gulfport, D'Iberville, Hattiesburg, Flowood, and Olive Branch.

  • 7 Creative Ways to Use a Bundt Pan

    Adapted from 14 Creative Ways To Utilize Your Bundt Pan (thedailymeal.com) Bundt pans are highly specialized pans that typically make round cakes with holes in the middle. They can be fancy, with intricate designs on top or straightforward domed shapes. While they can create a beautiful cake, this distinctive shape may feel one note and restrictive. It’s hard to justify keeping a pan with only one use in your kitchen, especially if you are pressed for space. Bundt pans also tend to take up a large amount of cabinet space because of their unique shape. If you are hesitating to buy a bundt pan or considering getting rid of yours, we encourage you to wait and read this before moving on. With a bit of creativity, there are plenty of other ways to use a bundt pan. Here are a few: 1. Create an Ice Ring for the Punch Bowl There are plenty of awesome ice cube trays out there. However, these tend to make small pieces of ice which melt quickly. This can create multiple issues in any drink, but in a delicious bowl of festive punch, not only will chilling with small ice cubes be less effective at cooling (leading to a tepid punch), but the melted ice will also water it down. Fill your bundt pan with hot water, which Science Line reports freezes faster and results in clearer ice. Place on a level surface in the coldest part of the freezer and a few hours later, turn out a beautiful – and long lasting! – ice ring into the punch bowl. BONUS: edible flowers or pieces of fruit in the ice ring add pizazz. 2. Use It to Bake Bread Cake is not the only thing that can be baked in a bundt pan! Pull-apart bread uses dough that has been formed into balls or strips and then placed into a pan together and baked. Doing this lets all the pieces bake together initially, while also allowing them to be pulled off individually. This type of bread works great as a party appetizer. It can also go by the name Monkey Bread or Bubble Bread due to the look of the dough balls. Another great bread for the bundt is a Sandwich ring. Simply choose your favorite bread recipe, prep the pan according to directions, and bake up your own ring of sandwich bread. Once your loaf has cooked and cooled, turn the bread out onto a cutting board, and cut the bread in half through the middle like a giant bagel. Then stuff your sandwich ring full of whatever your heart desires. 3. Make a Bundt Dinner We all love single-pan meals. The ease and simplicity of making and serving are undeniable. That is why we are here to tell you the next stage of evolution in your pan meals is using a bundt pan. Why make meals in a bundt? First and foremost, they look fantastic. Second, they take an already easy meal and make them more accessible. Third, bundt shape things are super easy to cut. The hole in the middle means that instead of trying to cut perfect squares to get the right-sized pieces, you can simply cut as much as you want. Each piece can be a different size, and you will not be left with wonky cuts. Some great recipes that adapt easily to the bundt pan format are lasagna, breakfast bake, any casseroles, meatloaf, and cornbread or other stuffing... The opportunities are endless. Whether you are making these for yourself or a party, break out the bundt pan for an easy meal bake. 4. Go Back in Time to Jell-O Molds Unleash your inner 1950s with a fancy Jell-O mold to impress your friends! Your bundt pan doesn’t just make fancy baked desserts, it can be used during hot months to make chilled gelatin-based desserts. Intricate bundt pans create really elaborate designs that look great with bits of suspended fruit like mandarin orange pieces, pineapple tidbits, or mini marshmallows. Your bundt pan is also an ice cream mold. Pack the ice cream into the pan, making sure that it’s tight and fills all the crevices. You can even get fancy and use multiple flavors (and colors) of ice cream, a cake layer, cookie crumbs, chocolate chips, or chopped nuts. Place the whole thing in coldest part of the freezer. Before serving, allow to sit 5 minutes before turning out your beautiful ice cream sculpture onto a plate. A third treat that can benefit from the bundt is the humble Rice Krispie bar. These delicious favorites require few ingredients, but a simple rectangle can be a bit boring, so bring out the bundt pan and turn this no-bake dessert up to 11! Prep your bundt pan the way you would a regular pan, by greasing it with oil or butter. When your Rice Krispie mixture is ready, pour it in the pan and gently pat down with a buttered spoon. 5. Use it to Cut Corn Honestly, this next one is going to be a trick you want to save: your bundt pan is the corn cutter you did not know you already had! There are two ways to do this: First, similar to the Angel Food pan shown in this viral TikTok, if you have a bundt pan with a wide center hole, you can place your cob right in the middle and press it down through the hole. This will remove all of the corn kernels and catch them in the surrounding basin, saving time and effort and preventing (most of) the stray kernels from shooting across the kitchen or ending up on the floor. If the center of your bundt is not big enough for the ear of corn, place the large part of the ear over the center hole and hold it carefully at the top with one hand. Use a knife to cut off the kernels in a downward motion. The kernels will still be caught by the basin of your bundt. 6. Make a S’mores Caddy S’mores are one of the great summertime treats, and making them by the fire will bring everyone together for some fun and relaxation. Finding the perfect caddy to transport the goodies, especially in the dark on the way out to the grill or fire pit, can be a chore. The bundt pan fixes all of this. The high sides make it perfect for storing plenty of chocolate bars, graham crackers and marshmallows without the risk of spillage, and the hole in the middle serves as a convenient place to store the skewers for the mashmallows at fireside. 7. Bundt Pans Take on Garden Duty One of the best ways to repurpose a bundt pan is to use it in your kitchen as a planter. Simply fill the bundt with nutrient-rich soil, add in a slow-release fertilizer, and choose your plants. We recommend kitchen herbs with similar light and nutrient requirements. Do Not Disturb Gardening, for example, suggests plants such as sage, thyme, and oregano. This will give you fresh herbs to use in your kitchen year-round, while also providing a unique and beautiful planter. Bundt pans also make great molds for birdseed wreaths, a variation on the typical square suet block. They are straightforward to make, and you can add seeds and goodies and find plenty of detailed instructions online with recipes. When the ingredients are combined, they can be pressed into a mold, such as a bundt pan. Once it hardens, you have a beautiful birdseed wreath to attract birds. The wreath can be held onto either a post or a branch with some simple string and will add a decorative note to any yard.

  • Yazoo Yaupon – Mississippi Grown Tea is a Healthier Alternative

    by Susan Marquez It is by sheer serendipity that Yazoo Yaupon is a product that is sweeping the nation. “I didn’t come here to produce tea,” laughs Oliver Luckett. The son of the late Bill Luckett, who ran for governor and became mayor of Clarksdale, Oliver has lived a life of travel and adventure. With residences in Los Angeles and Reykjavik, Iceland, Oliver returned to the Delta in 2020 when his father Bill was sick with cancer. That’s where the serendipity comes in. Serendipity Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. The day family friend, Andrew Verbs, founder of Pacha Soaps and a professional ethnobotanist, visited the Luckett home, he unwittingly opened the doors to a new product. “Andrew disappeared on the ten-acre property and came back inside with a handful of leaves and said he was going to make my dad some tea. We had always been told not to eat the berries from the poisonous holly tree, but Andrew said, ‘Oliver, I’m going to tell you the secret of the Yaupon.’” Yaupon Holly, not Black Tea Tea made from the Yaupon Holly is delicious, naturally sweet and because it has no tannic acids, it cannot be over-steeped the way traditional black tea can. Luckett explains that it contains caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, and the combination of the three active ingredients makes it better for human consumption when compared to regular tea. “Not only are the physical health benefits of Yaupon better, but the carbon footprint is dramatically better than typical tea that is grown in places like Asia or India.” Most exciting of all, Yaupon is an indigenous plant. “It has been grown in Mississippi for thousands of years, used by native Americans for ceremonies,” explains Luckett. “They would steep it to its highest concentrated form in a spiritual/cleansing ritual.” Benefiting the Delta Luckett and his husband, Scott Guinn, wanted to do something that would benefit the Delta region, and the Yaupon tea idea basically dropped into their laps. After doing their research, the duo launched Yazoo Yaupon. The packaging is bright and colorful, reminiscent of 1960’s Peter Max pop art. Tea flavors are just as colorful, with natural spices, herbs, fruit, and rose petals added to create Delta Magic Tea, Delta Rising Tea, Delta Orange Tea, Delta Chai Tea, and seasonal offerings like Delta Christmas Tea. Yazoo Yaupon has been very well received. Oliver has offered the tea five times on QVC, and it has sold out every time. There is a high demand for the product, with internet sales shipped throughout the United States and beyond. The tea can be ordered from the Yazoo Yaupon website, as well as from Amazon and Walmart.com. It is also sold in retail outlets including Beans & Leaves in Southaven, and Beacon Supply in Jackson. “It really does make the most delicious iced tea you’ve ever had,” says Luckett. “Scott is an excellent mixologist, and has come up with some interesting drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.” In it for the Long Haul Luckett and Guinn are in it for the long haul. “We started a 1.5 million tree program, partnering with Yaupon Brothers, large scale growers out of Florida,” says Luckett. “We have already planted the first 1,500 trees in Clarksdale.” They have partnered with entities including Crossroads Economic Development Group, Mississippi Development Authority, and Mississippi Regional Authority. A new 38,000 square foot agricultural facility, named the Rainbow Connection in honor of Jim Henson, is under construction. “It’s a magical place, designed to inspire others.” The timing of the tea couldn’t have been better. “I think the resurgence we are seeing with Yaupon has a lot to do with this post pandemic era we now live in,” Luckett finishes. “People are all looking back to their roots – literally, in our case – and searching for a healthier alternative to everyday consumed or absorbed products. The history of Yaupon is truly fascinating and as you can tell, I went down the wormhole immediately!” Drink recipes using Yazoo Yaupon teas, created by Scott Guinn Peaches and Oats 1 cup hot brewed Delta Peach tea Oat Creamer (amount to your taste) lemon zest shavings small spoon of honey lemon slice Magic Spritz 1 cup hot brewed Delta Magic tea (let cool to room temp) small squeeze of lemon small squeeze lime splash of soda water Mix ingredients and add to Collins glass of ice Delta Chai Latte In a separate cup, froth with a milk frother: Oat Creamer (amount to your taste) small dash of vanilla extract sprinkle of cinnamon Pour into 1 cup hot brewed Delta Chai Delta Iced Tea Place 4 bags of any Yazoo Yaupon Tea in a half gallon Mason jar. Fill with hot water to halfway line. Cover and let steep 30 minutes. Fill up with room temperature water. Screw lid on tight, shake, and put into fridge for at least 1-2 hours. Serve over ice and garnish as desired.

  • Tico's Steakhouse: A Valentine's Day Institution in Jackson

    by Susan Marquez This article was originally published in the Feb./March 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI For over thirty years, Tico Hoffman has served steaks, seafood, and other dishes at his steak house on County Line Road in Ridgeland. Tico’s Steak House opened in April 1989 and is still as popular today as ever. It’s a celebration restaurant – the kind of place you choose for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day. But it’s also a middle-of-the-week restaurant for those nights when you don’t want to cook, but you really want to sit down for a good meal. Sometimes you need to treat yourself, and you should. You deserve it. Tico’s is a comfortable place to give yourself permission to enjoy one of life’s pleasures. Tico is a former player on the amateur golf circuit. Always with a smile on his face, the affable restauranteur works the room, greeting customers and making sure they are enjoying their meals. His easygoing demeanor makes everyone feel at home. “I learned this business by working in it,” he says. After college he went to work for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Baton Rouge. He transferred to the Ridgeland location of Ruth’s Chris at Northpark Mall. “I was there for ten years when I decided that I could do something on my own.” Tico opened his restaurant in a former fish house on County Line Road in Ridgeland. “Originally, there was a putt-putt golf course on this site,” he says. The building started as a fish house, and then it was a couple of other things, including a barbeque place called Natchez Landing. “There used to be another building in front of it, but it was torn down years ago.” The building has a lodge-like feel to it. The rustic wood walls are covered in golf and other sports memorabilia. There are a few private rooms off the main dining area. The overall vibe is laid back and comfortable. While it was slow at the start, once people learned about the high-quality steaks served at Tico’s, they started coming, then they came back time and time again. “We work hard to keep our quality up. We get our meat out of Chicago,” says Hoffman. “We hand cut everything except the Porterhouse steaks.” Always tender and juicy, Tico’s regulars say the steaks are consistently good. Steaks are cooked to order, and a variety of toppings can be added if desired. While steak is the main event at Tico’s, not everyone cares to eat beef. “We always have a couple of seafood specials each night, and the seafood is always great,” he says. “We also have veal, lamb, and pork chops, as well as chicken.” And fresh Maine lobster is flown in regularly as well. "Some people’s diets change, and we have a little something for everyone," he says. "One of the things we have done over the years is to begin offering a smaller filet in addition to our 12 to 14-ounce filet. The smaller eight-ounce filet is very popular.” Hoffman’s son, Jack, is now helping run the restaurant. One of the menu items, Jack’s Fried Crab Claws, is named after him. Other appetizers include shrimp cocktail, shrimp remoulade, stuffed mushrooms, marinated crab claws, homemade onion rings and fried cheese sticks. A different soup of the day is offered daily. All salads are locally farmed, and the dressings are made in-house. In addition to the daily fish specials, fried shrimp and shrimp scampi are menu staples. Sides offered are sweet potato, baked potato, hand cut fried, skillet potatoes with onions, potatoes au gratin, broiled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, creamed spinach, asparagus au gratin or grilled asparagus. If you have room for it, ask your waitress about desserts. Tico’s offers a full bar with generous sized cocktails, and a curated wine list. The steak house is a popular spot for legislators and lobbyists when the Legislature is in session, so reservations are always a good idea.

  • Sizzling With Love: A Decadent Valentine's Day Dinner for Two

    by Lisa Bynum Article originally posted in the Feb/March 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI This year, impress your special someone with a decadent and romantic dinner in! Pull out the white linen tablecloth and the fancy napkins. Use the Sunday china, the expensive wine glasses from the hutch in the dining room, and Grandma’s antique candlesticks. A centerpiece of fragrant red roses and greenery in a low bowl will allow you to see your partner across the table. Start by toasting the occasion with a sparkling sunset-hued Strawberry Champagne Cocktail. Then, knock their socks off with an elegant surf and turf entrée of Steak Oscar. Finally, show them just how sweet you think they really are with a slice of Red Velvet Cake topped with cream cheese icing. It’s sure to be a romantic (and delicious) night you’ll never forget! Strawberry Champagne Cocktail 1 pound fresh or thawed frozen strawberries, roughly chopped 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2" piece of peeled, fresh ginger 1 cup water 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 bottle (750ml) semi-dry champagne, sparkling wine, or 24 fluid ounces of ginger ale Prep the cocktails: In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, ginger and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are broken down and softened, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard the ginger. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as you can. Add the lemon juice and allow the mixture to come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator to chill. Just before serving, add about 1 ounce each of the strawberry syrup to a champagne flute. Slowly fill each glass partially with the champagne. Once the champagne has stopped fizzing, continue to fill each glass to the top. Steak Oscar 1 Tablespoon cooking oil 2 (4 oz. each) beef tenderloin filets or cut of your choice Kosher salt and ground pepper For the steaks: Preheat broiler. Position an oven rack about six inches from the element. Heat oil in a large, oven safe skillet over medium high heat. Season both sides of the filets with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, carefully add the filets. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until seared. Place the skillet under the broiler and finish in the oven until the meat reaches your desired internal temperature – 120 to 125 degrees F for rare, 130 to 135 degrees F for medium rare, 140 to 145 degrees F for medium, 150 to 155 degrees F for medium well, and 160 degrees F for well done. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the filets to plate. Allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes while preparing the topping. For the crabmeat topping: 1 Tablespoon butter 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper 1 clove garlic, minced 2 Tablespoons sliced green onions 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 3 Tablespoons heavy cream 4 oz. lump crab meat picked of shells and cartilage 1/8 teaspoon paprika 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt to taste Chopped fresh parsley, optional Prepare the topping: Using the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and cook for 2-4 minutes until slightly tender. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté for one minute. Add the flour, stirring to combine. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Pour in the heavy cream, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the cream has reduced and thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Add the crabmeat, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the crab; cook until heated through. Season with salt. Top each steak with a heaping tablespoon of the crabmeat topping. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Dessert for your decadent dinner for two is a rich, creamy Red Velvet Cake. While it's excellent fresh, you can also make it the day before and store in the refrigerator. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving. Red Velvet Cake 1 cup shortening, softened 1-1/4 cups of white granulated sugar 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder 1 cup buttermilk 2 ounces red food coloring 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar 4 cups cream cheese icing (recipe below) For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cream the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Sift the cake flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a separate mixing bowl. With the mixer running on low, add one third of the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and continue to mix. Continue to alternate with 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the remainder of the buttermilk, ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Add the red food coloring and beat on medium until the food coloring is thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixer off. In a large nonreactive dish or measuring cup, dissolve the baking soda with the vinegar. This will fizz for a moment. Once the fizzing stops, gently fold the soda and vinegar mixture into the cake batter. Pour the batter into two greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake layers to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing them. Allow the layers to cool completely before frosting. For the cream cheese icing: 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Prep the icing: In a large mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese and butter until smooth using an electric mixer at medium speed. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add one cup of sifted powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture. Once the powdered sugar is combined, add another cup of sifted powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the powdered sugar is mixed in. Add the vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spread or pipe the cream cheese icing over a cooled dessert.

  • Gems in JXN: Valentine's Day Treats

    Treat your sweetie to a sweet treat this V-Day. Here's where you can grab chocolates and candies for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day!

  • Fabulous Foodie Finds for Football Fans

    As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, you'll need these amazing foodie finds for your watch parties and tail gating! The top three snacks for watching football are pizza, guacamole, and chicken wings, so be sure to check out our recipes for BLT Guacamole and Comeback Chicken Dip! Cordless, Rechargeable Portable Blender, $69.95 Winner of the 2021 Red Dot Design Award, this personal blender mixes, chops, and purees a single serving. Ideal for protein shakes or smoothies, the stainless-steel blades power through any ingredient in seconds. Portable design is perfect for camping or tailgating. Available from Hammacher Schlemmer. The Italian Countertop Pizza Oven, $149.95 Designed by an Italian company that specializes in gourmet kitchenware, the powerful 1,200-watt heating element works in concert with a built-in baking stone to generate up to 750°F for a perfect crust and caramelized toppings. Available at Hammacher Schlemmer. Ultimate Snackin’ Box, $69.99 Ten different snacks: Bourbon Pecans, Bourbon Street Mix, Hunkey Dorey Popcorn Mix, Rum Cordials, Salted Roasted Cashews, Dried Apricots, Dark Chocolate Turbinado Sea Salt Almonds, Honey Roasted Peanuts, Salted Roasted Pistachios (in shell), and Honey Mustard Pretzel Pieces. Nuts.com. Monogrammed Glencairn Whisky Glasses, $74.95 Scotch is a refined spirit that takes a special palate to appreciate all the notes and aromas, and this personalized Glencairn glass is crafted to enrich your palate by pushing all those subtle flavors to the forefront with its distinctive design. Each glass in this set of four is 4.5” tall and engraved with a name and initial. Home Wet Bar. Authentic NFL Stadium Seat Cufflinks, $200 A stylish link to football’s past, each pair is made of materials salvaged from the seats of famous football stadiums and is shaped like the aerial view of that stadium. Officially licensed by the NFL and comes with a certificate of authenticity. Uncommongoods.com

  • Mississippi Comeback Chicken Dip

    The Super Bowl is almost here, and James Beard Award nominated chef Cole Ellis of Delta Meat Market has the perfect appetizer for the big game: Mississippi Comeback Chicken Dip. This is sure to be a crowd favorite! Ingredients: 1 rotisserie chicken 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese 1 cup Comeback Sauce 1 stick melted butter Box of chicken flavored crackers Method: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove and discard the skin and bones of the chicken and then shred the meat. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer whip cream cheese. Reduce speed and add 1 batch of comeback sauce till well combined (recipe below). With a spatula, fold in shredded chicken and transfer to a 9"x9" casserole dish and spread. Crush up crackers and white cheddar in a food processor. Stir in butter and top the chicken mixture with crumbs. Bake for 25 - 30 min until bubbly and golden brown. Comeback Sauce 1-1/2 cups Duke’s Mayo 1/4 cup whole grain mustard 1⁄4 cup chili sauce 1⁄4 cup dill pickle juice 1⁄4 cup ketchup 2 Tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons Crystal hot sauce 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder 1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder Salt and pepper to taste Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. (Like this? Try other recipes from chef Cole Ellis here.)

  • Till We Eat Again: "Cruising and Camels: A (Day After) Valentine Anniversary Story"

    By Jay Reed There are some folks who think Valentine’s Day is the penultimate day to wed, given that Cupid and his cronies are particularly active in that season, floating around in diapers shooting arrows of amore and such. The other extreme would be declaring that a wedding held on February 14 is a bit cheesy, for the very same reasons, even though neither party would ever forget the day and the added bonus (or curse) of combining Valentine’s and anniversary gifts, like the poor children born on Christmas. We met in the middle and got married the day after Valentine’s Day. Best of both worlds. Our First Anniversary Our first anniversary really kicked off the romantic dinner memories. We were in Helen, Georgia at a bed and breakfast, and asked the host where we might have a special dinner. He knew a fine dining place, called and made a reservation for us, but warned us it was a bit unorthodox. Once seated, we were given menus without prices: new to us, but no big deal. It was our anniversary. Then a big dog walked up to visit, and even sat at our feet for a while during dinner. It was a true mom and pop (and pup) place. Thankfully we’d come in knowing all these things were headed our way, and the food was incredible. We embraced the crazy and made a memory. Our Tenth Anniversary We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary while living in Yemen. I have zero memory of what we had for dinner on the exact day, but we definitely had lots of food adventures while living there. Camel was available at the market: all we needed were a crockpot and some barbecue sauce. Sheep and goat meat were very popular, too, especially at weddings. Of course you can get those here in the U.S., too, (I have goat in my freezer as I write this) but you have to know where to look. The Big 2-5 This past year we celebrated our 25th anniversary, and we went big. My wife has always wanted to do an Alaskan cruise. I’m a southern gospel music geek, and a few years ago I discovered that Bill Gaither and his crew of Homecoming singers did an Alaskan cruise. Win-win! So we hopped on a boat to Alaska with Bill and 3,000 friends. The music was great, but this isn’t a music story, so let’s get to the eating. There’s a lot of talk out there about cruise food, mostly about volume. And that’s true. You can eat as much as you want and nobody blinks an eye, until you take the whale watching excursion and discover all the binoculars are pointed at you. Breakfast and lunch on this boat were essentially a dozen different buffet-like lines that would send anyone into a culinary tailspin. We survived, though, and live to eat another day. My favorite part, however, was the dinner. There was a menu with several choices, and if you chose only one thing from each section (appetizer, entree, dessert) this would not be a meal where you’d overeat. But if you got something you didn’t like? Order something else. Want the duck breast and the vegetarian option? Request both. I’ll have an appetizer and a salad, thank you very much. What kind of ice cream do you have tonight? Lovely, I’ll have that right next to my slice of opera cake (whatever that is). And even more eating... All the eating on this trip wasn’t on the boat, though. Alaska had some fun eats of its own. In Sitka we had a food tour scheduled which ended up being cancelled. But me being me, I had studied the itinerary beforehand and was able to recreate it almost in its entirety. So that day we enjoyed pelmeni (Russian dumplings), reindeer sausage, and fish tacos, and had a very interesting visit to the Alaska Pure Sea Salt Company. In Juneau, we had king crab legs, spruce tip ice cream, and more fish tacos. Today I have a six-flavor box of sea salt that I use regularly, and a little jar of spruce tip jelly in the fridge. (Who decided a spruce tree might taste good? Thanks to whoever you are!) Yes, over the years we’ve had some food adventures…Not everyone would agree that eating crockpot camel, with your bare hands no less, is romantic. Or sharing a priceless meal in a fine dining restaurant with a big Labrador. Even munching on a reindeer dog, washed down with a spruce tip soda. But those are our memories, my wife’s and mine, and we’ll take them every time.

  • 5 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

    By Mrs. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension Service With food prices on the rise, my grocery bill has increased significantly. Healthy eating is a priority for me, but I want to make sure I stay within budget at the store. Here are some of my favorite budget-friendly tips. Buy in-season and frozen produce. Local produce that’s in season is generally less expensive. Frozen options give you the advantage of only taking out what you plan to use, which can save money in the longrun. Shop your kitchen before you head to the grocery store. If you are like me, you may find foods hidden in there that you don’t need to purchase until a later trip. By taking a quick inventory of what you already have, you can avoid buying things you don’t need. Once you’ve figured out what you have on hand, make a list and plan to stay on track. Don’t shop when you are hungry. If you shop when you are hungry, you may be more likely to buy things with your eyes and belly -- not the items you actually need. Buy in bulk. Especially staple items such as rice, dried or canned beans, canned tomatoes, pasta, and other items that have a long shelf life. These food staples are typically inexpensive and can make a variety of meals. Cook more at home. You spend less on food when preparing meals in your kitchen, and you get to control the ingredients for flavor and nutrition. Don’t break the bank trying to eat healthier. Use these tips to help you eat nutritiously on a budget and check our budget-friendly recipes. For more helpful tips like these and healthy recipe options, visit extension.msstate.edu and join our MSU Nutrition and Wellness FB group.

  • Understanding the Different Types of Onions

    By Ms. Mary Michaela Parker, MSU Extension Service Have you ever visited the grocery store to buy onions for a recipe, only to realize you don’t know which type of onion to buy? We’ve all been there! Not all onions are the same, and certain recipes benefit from using a specific onion variety. Yellow onions – Yellow onions are a go-to onion. They are versatile and can be used in many dishes. If you don’t know what type of onion to use, yellow onions are a safe option. They are great when used in soups, stews, sauces, and roasts. Red onions – Also known as purple onions, red onions have a very sharp and pungent flavor. These onions are best eaten raw. If you’re making salads, sandwiches, burgers, or guacamole, you should include a red onion. They’re also perfect for pickling and grilling! White onions – The crunchiest of them all, white onions have a sharp, mild flavor. They are commonly used in Mexican and stir-fry dishes. They’re put to best use when used in fresh salsa and guacamole. Sweet onions – Just as the name suggests, sweet onions have a very sweet taste. The sweetness of the onion is perfect when roasted with other vegetables. They’re also particularly great for onion rings! Pro tip: Onions are notorious for making people tear up when cutting them. A chilled onion reduces the chance of tears, so stick the onion in the fridge before cutting! Our friends at Penn State Extension have a great article on how to preserve onions by freezing and drying them. If you want to learn how to caramelize onions, check out this Food Factor video!

  • Five Spots to Beat the Winter Blues in Jackson

    Beat the winter blues with a trip to these tropical-inspired spots in Jackson!

  • Food Factor: Sweet n Savory Skillet

    by Ms. Natasha Haynes, MSU Extension Service This Sweet ‘n’ Savory Skillet recipe blends the savory flavor of the sausage together with sweet apples for a satisfying meal that is pleasing to the taste buds. And there’s a bonus: It only takes one pan to make this dish. Let’s face it -- no one wants to scrub dishes after a meal, especially during the week. If you can’t find chicken sausage, use your favorite precooked turkey, pork, or beef sausage. Pears are another firm fruit to use in this recipe. Be creative! Crew review: We all like the original version of this recipe. But when we make this at home, we all agreed we’d add some onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato to the skillet. Sweet ‘n’ Savory Skillet Ingredients: - Nonstick cooking spray - 1 red apple, cored and diced - 1 green apple, cored and diced - 1 package pre-cooked chicken sausage links Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Over medium heat, add apples and sausage. Cook until apples are soft and sausage is hot. Serves 6. Thanks to Alabama Cooperative Extension for this recipe! Follow The Food Factor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And if you like our recipes and videos, we’d love for you to share them with your friends! It really helps!

  • From Mississippi to Beyond: Modern Southern Cuisine with a Spin

    By Kathy K. Martin | Photography credits: The Sipp When Chef Cameron Bryant describes his food at The Sipp on South Lamar in Oxford he says, “It’s The Sipp’s food with my accent.” He offers this same advice to his sous chefs at The Sipp and YūGō Oxford, “Create the food that represents the restaurant, but put your own spin on it.” This has been Bryant’s evolving philosophy for his cuisine since he began cooking in his hometown of Kosciusko, and after that in Colorado, New York, and Italy. While growing up in Kosciusko, he learned how to cook a hamburger as he worked as a bus boy at the Rib Alley. He also experienced the power of food alongside his family, especially his two grandmothers. “I learned so much around the dinner table and just the communal aspect that food brings to our lives.” He began college at Ole Miss, but then moved to Winter Park, Colorado to work at a ski resort and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. One day he met the owners of a local taco shop and planned to apply for a server job when they offered him a job as the cook. His time there was the catalyst for his career path to cooking as a professional chef. He claims that even reading "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" by Anthony Bourdain (available on Amazon here) didn’t deter him from his goal. After returning to Oxford in 2006 to complete his degree in hospitality management, he grew even more passionate about food as he began to work at well-known local eateries such as Old Venice Pizza and the former L&M’s Kitchen. His fondness for creating Italian dishes grew too, so he embarked on his next step – culinary school in New York with further training in Italy. “It was a lot of fun, and I was very fortunate to be accepted into the program,” he says of his time at the French Culinary Institute. His training included three months of classes in New York and three months of classes in Italy, followed by an unpaid internship at a two-star Michelin restaurant in Alba, Italy. His first job after returning to the U.S. was in Brooklyn at the Diner and Marlow & Sons restaurants. “I’d call it modern American food, very hyper seasonal with their own butcher shop and bakery.” However, the pull of home was strong. With his sister and nieces living in French Camp and his parents growing older, he decided to move back home. “Instead of just pursuing my career, I decided I could pursue my career and my family at the same time here in Mississippi.” He worked at the Ravine and then helped set up the menu for the (now-closed) Green Roof Lounge, both in Oxford. Before long he was approached by A.J. and Claire Kiamie, third-generation owners of Kiamie Package Store, to launch their vision for a wine, whiskey, and tapas bar called The Sipp. Bryant describes their planning stage of the restaurant as many nights of hanging out and taste-testing recipe ideas until one in the morning. “I probably made about 40 or 50 Mae Helens during that time,” he jokes in reference to the menu item, which features Texas toast, beef patties, cheese, grilled onions, and chipotle-basil aioli with fries. Bryant can tell you all about this modern interpretation of a simple burger, which is named for the legendary employee of Oxford’s historic Kiamie Bowling Lanes, lost to a fire in 2010. Opening in 2019, The Sipp’s menu feature small plates to taste and large plates to share, such as General Homie’s cauliflower wings, Latin-spiced meatballs, beef empanadas, and other nibbles that pair well with a glass of wine or bourbon. The bar list is more than quadruple the size of the food menu, featuring over 50 wines and 100 whiskeys. Bryant’s newest chef assignment is YūGō Oxford, a modern fusion restaurant on the town square, which features dim sum and signature plates of stir fry and fried rice dishes. The restaurants are very different, yet also similar in vibe and décor, like two halves of the same coin, Bryant explains. “I just put my accent on the food that belongs at that restaurant.” This is one of chef Cameron Bryant’s favorite recipes from The Sipp. It is based on a timeless technique of marinating roasted vegetables in vinegar to preserve their flavors and freshness. Herb Roasted Mushrooms You’ll need: 6 cups button mushrooms, cut in half 1 tablespoon dry thyme 1 tablespoon dry tarragon 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 cup olive oil 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup aged sherry vinegar Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms with oil, dry herbs, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pour into deep baking dish and roast in the oven for approximately 20–25 minutes or until the mushroom water has evaporated. Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch. Stir in vinegar. Pack into a lidded container and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Serve with crostini, aioli, and shaved sharp cheese, on steak, or tossed into a salad

  • King Cakes Galore! 5 Places to Get King Cakes in Mississippi

    Updated Jan. 24, 2023 It's King Cake season! If you aren't making a trip down to the Big Easy anytime soon but still want to devour the seasonal sweet treat, here are 5 places where you can get great King Cakes across the Magnolia State. Quality Bakery - King Cakes in lots of flavors (apple, Bavarian, blueberry, cherry, cream cheese, pecan praline, raspberry, strawberry), plus King Cake Cinnamon Rolls and butter cookies decorated like King Cakes! (1623 25th Ave., Gulfport) Tallahatchie Gourmet - More King Cakes are on the way, so stop by their Oxford location (on the Square) and pick up a delicious cake. (1221 Van Buren, Oxford) Jody's Bakery - This place has it all: cakes, cookies, bread... even frozen casseroles to take home for dinner. Make sure you pre-order your King Cake; when they're gone, they're gone! (6058 Hwy. 49 South, Hattiesburg) Sugar Magnolia Takery - Made-from-scratch King Cakes are available to order online with free 2-day shipping to your door! Our cakes are made fresh daily and packaged with Mardi Gras beads, baby and doubloons. Available through Fat Tuesday. (5417 Hwy. 25 (Lakeland Drive), Flowood) Broad Street Bakery - Baked with buttery brioche and filled with real cream cheese and almond cream, Broad Street’s popular Original Almond Cream Cheese King Cakes are a true indulgence. Available thru February 21. (Also try savory Crawfish King Cakes!) (Banner Hall, 4465 I-55, Suite #101, Jackson) Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  • Hal & Mal's Under New Ownership

    The iconic Hal & Mal’s restaurant and bar in Jackson is now under new ownership. The transition is an investment in the preservation of the Hal & Mal’s legacy. Damien Cavicchi and Mary Sanders Ferriss Cavicchi took the reins of the establishment in early November, with continued involvement and dedication from previous own Malcolm White. For 37 years, Hal & Mal’s has been a staple of downtown Jackson, serving up tasty local eats along with live music and events. The new owners will bring their own new visions to the table and will also keep the traditions of Hal & Mal’s alive. The Cavicchis also recently acquired Campbell’s Bakery in Fondren.

  • Upscale Ramen Restaurant to Open at Silo Square

    Silo Square in Southaven is home to several new restaurants and shops, and a ramen restaurant is set to join the crowd. Kyuramen is an upscale ramen restaurant that will serve ramen, rice and ramen burgers, and dessert and bubble teas. Kyruamen will be the first of its kind in Southaevn and is set to open sometime this winter. For updates on an opening date, follow their Facebook page at facebook.com/kyruamensouthaven.

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