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Whenever the holidays are upon us, and we are often reminded to donate to help other people who are in need. Food pantries and community service agencies plead for donations, and stores set up boxes for food, toys, and coats. If you’ve ever donated to any of these well-deserving campaigns, you probably feel good for doing it. But does the good feeling last? Do you ever wonder how you could continue to help those in need throughout the year? Here are some ideas to extend your help when the holidays are over.

  1. Consider setting up a monthly donation through your bank to your favorite community service organization. For as little as $10 each month, you can make an impact that adds up over time. Ask your relatives and close friends to do the same.
  1. Set aside a few non-perishable food, hygiene products, and household items each time you visit the grocery store. At the end of the month, take them to your local food pantry.
  1. Volunteer a few hours each month at a location that serves free meals to the hungry. These organizations need more than just food servers. Often, they’ll need people to coordinate supplies, make phone calls, kitchen clean up, and food preparation. You may even find that there is a need to deliver meals to people who are unable to go to the meal sites.
  1. Spend a few hours each month at a nursing home. Lonely residents enjoy when someone can read to them, play card games or board games with them, have meaningful conversations, or, simply sit and listen to their stories and thoughts.
  1. If you are handy with a needle and thread, make clothing items. Sometimes, hospitals need items for newborns. Schools may have a need for mittens and hats during the winter.
  1. Redirect small gifts. If you are given food gift sets, cocoa, or other items that would make another person’s day easier, re-gift the unopened item. Be mindful of the gift giver.
  1. Teach someone new skills. This could include teaching a child to cook, helping someone learn English, or helping a new mother to care for her child if she needs help. Set up free classes if you want to create a more organized event.
  1. Pay for something for the person in line behind you. From coffee to groceries, the act of kindness is sure to make someone smile. You can also visit your local department store and pay for someone’s layaway items.
  1. If you can, donate some of your sick days at work to someone in need. Some business organizations have sick leave banks that employees can tap when they have exhausted their leave during a long-term illness.
  1. If you have a special skill or ability, donate it to a service organization. Whether you know how to build a wheelchair ramp, design a website, or take photos, there are myriad ways that you can help others with your talents.
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Late night baking resulted in this delicious coffee cake for tomorrow's breakfast (and a few nibbles tonight).
Ingredients:

1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Home Cook's Pantry Tahitian Vanilla Sugar
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla, and milk. In another bowl, blend together granulated sugar, Tahitian Vanilla Sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine egg mixture with flour mixture. Pour half the batter into a lightly greased bundt pan.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half on top of the batter. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. Drizzle with melted butter and bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.
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Friday night dinner was a simple dish of Mexican-style eggs. Not quite as elaborate as huevos rancheros, but still delicious. I layered some crisp diced potatoes that were fried with bell peppers, onions, and scallions. Then, a layer of pinto beans and fresh homemade salsa. To add crunch and kick, I layered on crisp strips of bacon that were fried with a dash of our sweet Habanero Honey Rub. It's all crowned with 2 over-medium eggs, another dash of spicy rub, and cheddar cheese. It was a feast!

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This lovely loaf of apple bread just came out of the oven. Tender apples lend moisture and sweetness to this soft crumbed bread. The crust is slightly crispy, and it’s delicious with a pat of sweet cream butter. I used 1 red delicious and 1 Fuji apple for this recipe.

Combine in a bowl:
In another bowl, whisk:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup half and half
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and then fold in 2 cups apple, peeled, diced small. Bake in a 9” greased/floured loaf pan at 350F for 45-50 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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For a quick and easy meal, try a sheet pan recipe! I threw together a satisfying sheet pan meal for dinner. Chicken tenders tossed in our Sweet Sixteen Spicy Chicken and Rib Rub (yes, made with 16 spices!) and panko.

The red potatoes were parboiled and seasoned with olive oil and our Garlic Fixation Blend. I threw in a couple of small garlic heads and baked it all at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Delicious!

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Be in control of what goes into your French Onion Dip – make your own!

Combine 1 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup real mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of our French Onion Dip Spice Blend, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire. Ready in minutes with no additives or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

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Make these delicious chocolate waffles for a late night treat or breakfast. Add a spicy kick with our Mexican hot chocolate mix!

Makes 6

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Xocolatl Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 oz. chocolate chips

Whisk together ingredients and ladle onto your hot waffle iron as per manufacturer's directions.

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Pi Day will be here before you know it…

March 14 is Pi Day, a celebration marked for the mathematical constant pi, and it’s a perfect excuse to eat pie. Pie in its many forms, pizza, quiche, tarts, fruit-filled, and even deep dish can be a satisfying main dish, side, or dessert. View some suggested recipe ideas below and stock up on our pie spices so you’re prepared for 3.14!

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Our popular Everything Bagel blend mimics the crunchy, satisfying topping on bagels. Sprinkle a little on your homemade bagels, toast, cereal, trail mix, and salads. It’s delectable on avocado toast, popcorn, in dips, burgers, and biscuits. It pairs well with many types of cheeses, even cottage cheese, and on eggs, flatbread and poultry. Try it on hummus, salmon, nachos, and popovers.

It is suspected that in the 1980s, Queens bagel shop owner David Gussin allegedly invented it when he had a stroke of inspiration while sweeping seeds from the day's bake out of his oven. What a clever use of leftovers! It will never be known for sure if this is how this crunchy blend developed into what we know it as today.

Our blend is made with black pepper, caraway seeds, garlic, onion, garlic salt, nigella seeds, poppy seeds, and two types of sesame seeds. Made fresh when you order, our blend is also customizable. If there’s an ingredient you want more or less of, we can accommodate your preferences.  Try some today!

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