RECIPES:
Wonton Soup Warm Cranberry Wassail Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Posole-Green Chili  Peanut Stew

Avocado, Egg and Ham Breakfast Wrap

Green Pepper Jelly

Savor the Flavors And Traditions of Chinese New Year

(NAPSI)-A joyous celebration that can be shared by families everywhere is the 15-day festival known as Chinese New Year.

This special time of year, starting on February 14, 2010, marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar Year with symbolic new beginnings. This year (4708 by the Chinese calendar) it's especially exciting as we bring in the Year of the Tiger. If you were born in a tiger year, now is the time to make the most of your talents. Be prepared for things to happen quickly this year and get ready to seize those opportunities before they fly by!

Traditionally, the two-week festival is ushered in with a lavish feast, complete with bold flavors and bright colors. As each day of the festival progresses, people honor many of the important things in life--from ancestors and children to health and longevity. The color red represents good luck and the sparkle of gold symbolizes prosperity. On the 15th day, the Lantern Festival welcomes the first full moon of the New Year and marks the end of the celebrations.

Foods of the Festival

Throughout the festival, families and friends enjoy everyday foods as they take on special meanings. For instance, noodles encourage longevity and sweet rice dumplings represent family unity, completeness, happiness and the promise that the family will "stick" together.

Kikkoman has created "The Complete Guide to Celebrating Chinese New Year" to help you make the most of the season. The free online guide, available at www.kikkomanusa.com, gives you all the information you need to join in the fun, by sharing the rich traditions and authentic flavors of this dynamic festival.

The guide explains what goes on during each day of the 15-day celebration, covers all the Chinese cooking techniques and gives you a bounty of recipes to enjoy and share-from appetizers and small plates to entrées your family is sure to love.

Here is one of Kikkoman's favorite recipes to get you in the mood for cooking, celebrating and shouting "Gung Hay Fat Choy!" It means "Wishing You Happiness and Prosperity," and that's exactly what Kikkoman wishes for you this season.

Wonton Soup

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound lean ground pork
  • 2 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions and tops
  • 4 teaspoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce, divided
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • ½ pound bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions and tops
  • ½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Makes 6 servings

Directions:

Combine pork, shrimp, minced green onions, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, cornstarch and ginger in medium bowl; mix well. Arrange several wonton wrappers on clean surface; cover remaining wrappers to prevent drying out. Place 1 teaspoon pork mixture in center of each wrapper. Fold wrapper over filling to form a triangle. Gently fold center point down and moisten left corner with water. Twist and overlap opposite corner over moistened corner; press firmly to seal. Repeat with remaining pork mixture and wrappers. Bring 4 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add wontons. Simmer 3 minutes; remove with slotted spoon. Discard water; pour broth and sherry into same saucepan. Cut bok choy crosswise into ½-inch slices, separating stems from leaves. Add stems to broth mixture; bring to boil. Add wontons; simmer 1 minute. Add bok choy leaves and chopped green onions; simmer 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Check out Kikkoman's new cooking videos at www.kikkomanusa.com. Be sure to watch the technique video for preparing wontons.

Keep an eye out for red envelopes attached to Kikkoman Soy Sauce bottles this Chinese New Year. Inside each are a secret pin number and lucky hexagon coin. Beginning February 1 through April 30, you can enter your pin at kikkomanusa.com for a chance to win Kikkoman prizes!

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Throw A 2010 Winter Olympic Theme Party To Add Even More Excitement To The Games

(NAPSI)-Remember the thrill of watching your favorite speed skater go for the gold? The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games are right around the corner. Don't miss the action and start planning your Olympic Games theme parties now, whether you want to celebrate the opening ceremony or your favorite event with friends and family.

Create a fun, themed Canadian party in honor of the host city. Whipping up some cranberry- infused recipes is a great way: There are more than 60 cranberry farms right in Vancouver's backyard, making the region the heart of Canada's cranberry country. A Cranberry Wassail is an easy, affordable way to spice up your party and warm up your guests.

Celebrate the colors of Canada by incorporating red and white into your party decor. Red napkins will pop on a white table- cloth. Set off your table with an awe-inspiring centerpiece made with red and white roses (Vancouver's official flower). Mini Canadian flags can also serve as fun hostess gifts.

For more tips and ideas for hosting your next party, visit www.oceanspray.com. On the site you'll find party-planning basics, fresh new recipes and cranberry-inspired crafts to help get you started.

Warm Cranberry Wassail

Ingredients:

  • 1 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 2½ cups apple juice
  • ¼ cup sugar, optional
  • 3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Orange slices, garnish
  • Whole cloves, garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Place in a heat-proof punch bowl. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves.

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Sweet Potatoes Update A Comfy Classic

(NAPSI)-For 200 years and more, a one-dish meal of seasoned beef and mashed potatoes has been known as cottage pie. Like any classic, it's ready for an update-and a sweet-potato topper does the job.

Think about breaking through a golden crust into sweet-potato creaminess, and then into a succulent layer of seasoned beef. Comfort foods with such qualities are often problematical on the nutrition front. But this clever twist on a popular pie is not just hearty and delicious, it's downright wholesome.

Sweet potatoes provide many nutrients, including fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. And for those on diabetic diets, there's good news: Preliminary research suggests that sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar and lower insulin resistance. Visit www.ncsweetpotatoes.com for more information.

Most of the nation's sweet potatoes are cultivated in North Carolina's fertile fields and are available year-round. Given this fact, it's appropriate that our prize-winning cottage pie recipe comes from Ashley Bonnema, whose Ashley's Kitchen blog is described as "Southern tradition meets genuine Midwestern values."

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds North Carolina sweet potatoes (about 2 large)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (1 large clove)
  • 1 pound ground beef, 90% lean
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme or teaspoon dried thyme or herbes de Provence, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 6- to 8-cup shallow baking dish. Pierce sweet potato skins; microwave until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes; cool. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Add beef; cook and stir until it just begins to brown. Stir in tomato sauce, Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon of the thyme and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Transfer to baking dish; spread evenly. Scoop sweet potato from skins into medium bowl; add butter, milk, remaining ½ teaspoon thyme and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. With electric beater, beat until smooth; spread over meat in baking dish. Bake until bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Yield: 4 to 6 portions

Per serving: 386 calories, 34 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 15 g fat. Diabetic exchanges: 1.26 starch, 1.75 vegetable, 3.45 lean meat, 1.79 fat.

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Healthful Eating Made Easier

(NAPSI)-When you're looking for an economical, easy and enjoyable food that's both weight-wise and heart-healthy, look to peanuts-especially USA-grown peanuts. Protein-packed peanuts fuel you up without weighing you down or leaving you unsatisfied.

Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces of nuts, such as peanuts, every day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, peanuts are a good source of plant-based protein, and plant-based diets are considered a good way to shed unwanted pounds, keep certain types of cancer at bay and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

What's more, peanut flour is gluten free and can be used as a thickener for soups, in a variety of breads and pastries and as a creative and flavorful coating for meat and fish.

One marvelous meal you can make with peanuts is this:

Posole-Green Chili  Peanut Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15½ ounces) golden hominy
  • 1 can (14.5 to 15.75 ounces) fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 11/2 cups)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies*
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 can (10¾ ounces) low-fat, low-sodium cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Drain hominy and combine with broth, water, onion, garlic, chilies, cumin and chili powder in large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Add peanuts and mushroom soup and stir until evenly mixed. Return to boil and simmer 5 minutes longer. Garnishes: parsley sprigs, dashes of chili powder or paprika and extra peanuts.

*For a milder stew, use ½ can (4-ounce size) green chilies.

Nutrition per serving: 280 calories; 9g protein; 35g carbohydrate; 12g fat (5g monounsaturated; 2g saturated); 2mg cholesterol; 6g fiber; 740mg sodium.

Peanuts and peanut butter are versatile and fit into almost any eating plan. Whether you are trying to eat gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or heart-healthy meals or just maintain healthy eating habits, peanuts can be part of your diet and add great flavor to your favorite recipes.

More recipes, tips and information are at www.nationalpeanutboard.org.

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New Power Breakfast: It's A Wrap

(NAPSI)-For jump-starting the day, nothing beats a well-rounded breakfast to rev you up, mentally and physically. An empty-calorie, sugary breakfast cereal just won't do the trick--there's sure to be an energy crash halfway through the morning. For bonus points, a good breakfast helps curb prelunch cravings that can wreck any diet.

The right food combination makes all the difference; far better to spend a few minutes preparing a delicious, nutrient-packed wrap filled with scrambled eggs, avocado, ham and cheddar.

A hearty breakfast that includes avocados not only fuels morning activities but supplies valuable fiber, cholesterol-lowering "good fats" and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Grown in Mexico for centuries and perfected over generations, avocados from Mexico are in season now and deliver unbeatable, rich-tasting flavor that makes good food better.

An appetizing breakfast wrap is an ideal handheld item that allows for multitasking in a typical busy morning schedule either at home or on the road. Make the full recipe for everyone in the house…or downsize it just for yourself.

With a great option like this, there's no need to hit the snooze button!

For more avocado recipes and nutrition information, visit www.avocadosfrommexico.com.

Avocado, Egg and Ham Breakfast Wrap

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas, warmed*
  • 4 slices ham (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup salsa

Directions:

In bowl, beat eggs with salt and pepper. In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter; add eggs; cook and stir until set. On each tortilla, place one slice each of ham and cheese; top with eggs, avocado slices and salsa, dividing evenly. Roll up and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 portions

*To warm tortillas: Place on plate; cover with dampened paper towel. Microwave on high until warm, about 1 minute. Discard paper towel; wrap tortillas in napkin to keep warm.

Per serving: 542 calories, 27g protein, 34g carbohydrates, 33g fat, 4g fiber

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Spicing Up Cold-Weather Gatherings

(NAPSI)-When temperatures drop, you can add some heat to your get-togethers by serving up spicy green pepper jelly. The zesty treat can be spread across sour cream corn bread, dolloped on cheddar cheese biscuits or spooned on top of cream cheese and gourmet crackers. The key is to find taste combinations with enough bite to satisfy guests but that are light enough to not interfere with a meal.

The recipe below is made with fruit pectin to help create a delicious jelly that captures the freshness of green and jalapeño peppers. You can find fruit pectin in original and liquid varieties, sugar and no-sugar-needed varieties and a no-cook freezer variety from the Ball® brand. Try using the products to preserve fresh fruits year-round.

Green Pepper Jelly

Ingredients:
  • 7 sweet green peppers
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar, 5% acidity, divided
  • 1½ cups apple juice
  • 1 box (1¾ ounces) Ball® Original Fruit Pectin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups sugar
  • Green food coloring (optional)

Yield: about 6 half-pint jars

Directions:

Stem, seed and cut green and jalapeño peppers into ½-inch pieces. Puree half the peppers and ¾ cup vinegar in a food processor or blender. Repeat with remaining peppers and vinegar. Combine puree and apple juice in a large bowl; cover bowl and refrigerate overnight. Strain pureed mixture through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheese cloth. Measure 4 cups strained juice.

Combine 4 cups juice, pectin and salt in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return mixture to a rolling boil.

Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops green food coloring, if desired. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

As a final tip, try preparing the jelly in Ball® 4-ounce jars to give to your guests as take-home party favors.

For more recipes, tips and comments, visit FreshPreserving.com.

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