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Red velvet bites

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This bite-sized version of red velvet cake will allow your guests to sample all the desserts at your next holiday spread. You can count on these to be a crowd-pleaser.

Start to finish: 3 hours (1 hour active)
Servings: 40 bites

Ingredients
• 3 cups sugar
• 3 cups flour
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
• 4 large eggs
• 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
• 1-1/4 cups warm water
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• 2 tablespoons red food dye
• 4.5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
• 2 cups icing sugar
• 28 ounces white chocolate
• 1/4 cup red decorative sugar

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 7 by 11-inch baking dish. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, use a whisk or hand beater to mix the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, warm water, vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, vinegar, and food dye. Blend until the mixture is uniform.
3. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and the rest of the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the icing sugar by blending at low speed until the mixture has a smooth, even texture. Set aside.
5. Once the cake has completely cooled, place it in a large bowl and use your hands to crumble it until it has the consistency of wet sand. Add about a 1/2 cup of the cream cheese icing to the cake at a time and mix well. The final texture should allow you to form balls that keep their shape.
6. With your hands, form 40 cake balls and squish them slightly to create a disc shape. Place the balls on a baking sheet, and put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
7. In the meantime, melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or water bath. Let the chocolate cool slightly while ensuring it remains a liquid. Using a fork, dip each cake ball into the chocolate, so they’re completely coated. Place the balls on a baking sheet and immediately sprinkle the decorative sugar. Put the balls in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.



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Food

6 tips for making homemade dumplings

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If you love dumplings and want to try your hand at making them at home, here are six tips to ensure everything goes according to plan.

1. Keep the dough warm. Whether you use homemade or store-bought dough, make sure you let it warm up to room temperature so that it’s easier to handle.

2. Cover the dough. Raw dumpling dough is susceptible to drying out. Consequently, it’s a good idea to cover the dumpling wrappers with a slightly damp towel to keep them moist and pliable.

3. Don’t overfill the dumplings. Each dumpling only needs about a teaspoon of filling. If you overfill your dumplings, they might burst open when cooked.


4. Seal the dumplings with water. Regardless of the folding technique you use, lightly wet your fingers and moisten the areas where you fold the dough so that the seams stick together.

5. Take your time when folding. Start with simple shapes and make sure to give yourself enough time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it perfect on the first try. How they taste is more important than how they look.

6. Freeze the dumplings separately. If you want to freeze your dumplings to enjoy them later, spread them out on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about two hours before transferring them to an airtight container or bag to prevent them from sticking together.

Visit your local Asian food store or the international aisle of your regular supermarket to pick up everything you need.

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Walmart stocks up on this odd item before a storm

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Storm’s coming. We must run to the grocery store and stock up like it is the end of the world. Water. Bread. Pop-Tarts.

Pop-Tarts? Oh, yeah. Pop-Tarts are big during storms, particularly strawberry Pop-Tarts.

Walmart discovered early on that when a storm threatens, the sale of Pop-Tarts increases seven times the normal sales rate.

According to Reader’s Digest, Walmart studied shopping data after Hurricane Charley in 2003 to see if they could predict what shoppers would need in hurricanes.



At that time, Walmart marketers were shocked to find that strawberry Pop-Tarts were in demand. Then, ahead of Hurricane Frances in 2004, they filled shelves with the pastry. It sold out.

Exactly why Pop-Tarts are so popular in a storm probably relates to the fact that it’s shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration. The pastries are individually wrapped, so the remaining treats don’t get stale.

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Food

Pressure cookers vs. slow cookers

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Are you looking for a small cooking appliance that can help simplify making meals? If so, here’s what you should know about pressure cookers and slow cookers.

Pressure cookers
These devices dramatically reduce cooking times using steam under high pressure. All you have to do is put all the ingredients into the pot and let the pressure cooker do the rest. In addition, some models are equipped with sautéing and steam functions.

When you’re pressed for time, pressure cookers can be used to prepare stews, soups, pasta dishes, and even cakes. However, their size is limited, making them unsuitable when cooking for large groups. In addition, you have to be mindful about adding the correct amount of liquid to ensure even cooking.

Slow cookers
These appliances come in a variety of sizes and can be used to make large meals. They’re easy to use and cook food slowly and evenly over several hours. Consequently, you can wake up or come home from work to a freshly cooked meal.


Slow cookers can be used to make stews, ribs, sauces, chicken, bread, and more. However, the food will need to be prepared beforehand.

To purchase your new cooking appliance, visit a kitchen supply store in your area.

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Food

Blueberry buckle: A quick and easy anytime cake

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This sweet, tender cake comes together in minutes and can be eaten for dessert, as a breakfast coffee cake, or even a sweet snack. Fresh blueberries are perfect, but you can also use frozen berries — just bake for a few extra minutes to make sure the cake is done all the way through. The streusel topping adds some satisfying texture and contrast to the fluffy cake and soft blueberries.

For the cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest, more if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, plus about a tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

For the topping:
5 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the whole milk to the butter mixture until just combined. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour until evenly coated before gently stirring the berries into the batter. Spread the batter into a greased 8×8 pan.


To make the topping, combine all ingredients and mash with a fork (using a sharp knife can also help) until it has a crumbly texture. Sprinkle the crumble over the batter in the pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean from the center of the cake.

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Tomato overflow? Can them for a taste of summer all year

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You’ll need a canning pot and rack, jar lifter tool, canning jars and lids, a large bowl for an ice bath, clean cloths or a new roll of paper towels, lemon juice, salt, kettle of boiling water.
Estimate about 3 large tomatoes per quart jar.

Blanch and skin tomatoes
Boil water in a large pot. Add a few tomatoes at a time and let them boil for a minute. Remove tomatoes. Place immediately a bowl of ice water. When cool, skins slide off.

Sterilize the jars and lids
Boil water in the canning pot. Put jars in canning rack. Boil empty jars for 10 minutes. Remove jars (empty of water). Allow to dry. Now, boil lids for 10 minutes.

Stuff the sterilized jars
Put two tablespoons of lemon juice from a bottle (not the fruit) in each jar. Pinch of salt. Cram tomatoes into jars. Cover tomatoes with boiling water from the teapot. Leave a half-inch headspace at the top. Wipe edges of jars clean, place lids and rims on the jars. Put jars in canning rack.


Boil the full jars
Put the rack of jars in boiling kettle. Make sure cans are underwater and tops are covered by one inch of water. Boil for 45 minutes. Add boiling water as needed to keep jars covered with water.

Rest jars
Remove jars. Set aside to dry and cool for 12 to 24 hours. You may hear popping noises as seals form.

Test lids
Do not turn the rim. After resting and cooling, press down in the middle of each lid. When sealed, there will be no give in the center. If unsealed, the lid will spring up. This jar is not safe for storage.

Store in a cool, dark place.

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Food

Tomato and watermelon salad

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Are you looking for a refreshing appetizer to serve on a hot day? If so, this sweet and juicy salad is sure to delight your taste buds.

Start to finish: 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 4 small Italian tomatoes, quartered
• 2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
• 1 cup red onion, minced
• 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
• 1 cup arugula
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
• 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Juice of one lemon
• 1/2 cup cream of balsamic
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions


• In a large mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, watermelon, red onion, feta, arugula, and mint. Divide the salad equally among 4 bowls.

• Drizzle each salad with a quarter of the olive oil, lemon juice, and cream of balsamic. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

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