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Your Holiday Meal Wrecks Your 'Food Clock' and More News

Your Holiday Meal Wrecks Your 'Food Clock' and More News

In today's Media Mix, 7-Eleven making changes, plus a McDonald's in a 1795 mansion

Arthur Bovino

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Excess Eating Affects Inner Clock: Looks like our gluttonous holiday feasts (and constant sweets) might actually change our bodies' clocks, where eating at the "wrong" time of day could be a cause of obesity. Oops. [Science Daily]

Historic 1795 Mansion of McDonald's: And here is a McDonald's set to open in New Hyde Park, N.Y., in a historic 1795 mansion known as the Denton House. [Foodbeast]

Oregano, the Organic Antibiotic? Chicken farm Bell & Evans have been feeding their chickens a mixture of oregano oil and cinnamon, swearing it wards of diseases. [NY Times]

7-Eleven Revamp: The convenience store is still continuing it's healthy shift (having introduced Slurpee Lite in the past) by phasing in healthy food options for specific markets. [NY Times]

Advice for Holiday Cooks

This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be altered to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For ideas and recommendations on modifications you can make to make your holiday gathering safer, visit the CDC website.

Whether you're an experienced cook or preparing to host your first holiday gathering, a little food safety advice can go a long way in promoting a healthy and happy holiday dinner.

Avoid Under and Overcooking

Cooking meat to proper internal temperatures ensures the safety of your holiday meal as well as the taste. To make sure your holiday turkey, ham or other dishes are safe and delicious, use a food thermometer to check for doneness.

Watch the Clock

Many holiday meals are buffet or potluck-style. After you set your spread, be sure to set your timer. After two hours, harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly, putting you and your guests at risk of food poisoning. Keep your holiday smorgasbord safe by promptly refrigerating foods below 40°F within two hours. Or, consider keeping a fresh set of food in the fridge and swapping it out at the two-hour mark.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

Many people cook stuffing inside their holiday turkey but some don't know the proper temperature to which it should be cooked. A whole turkey should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Check the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, innermost part of the thigh and innermost part of the wing with a thermometer to ensure it's been fully cooked.

Consider cooking the stuffing separately from the bird for uniform doneness and to reduce the risk of undercooked food. If you do choose to cook the turkey and stuffing together, make sure the stuffing also reaches 165°F.

Savoring Leftovers

Eating leftovers from a holiday meal is sometimes as traditional as the meal itself. Whether you reheat leftovers at home or pack a "leftover lunch" to take to work or school, take steps to help keep food safe and delicious.

Always reheat leftover foods to an internal temperature of 165°F and make sure food is not left out of refrigeration for more than two hours. Pack perishable lunch foods in an insulated bag and add an ice pack to make sure foods stay properly chilled.

Festive Twist

A festive holiday drink may not be complete without a colorful garnish of lime or orange. But do you remember to wash fruit before adding it to your drink? Wash ready-to eat fruits such as pears and plums and don't forget to wash fruits with skin such as limes, oranges and lemons as well. This will help to eliminate harmful bacteria that can spread during peeling or cutting.

Follow our Kitchen Safety Checklist to ensure your kitchen is ready with the tools and resources you need before the big event.

Holiday Cooking – Make the Meal Safely Before You Serve

It’s holiday cooking season and time to plan your meals. Whether you’re cooking plans include mastering family recipes or tackling new ones, the Florida Department of Health reminds you to keep your food safety skills sharp this season.

Most illnesses that erupt after eating are caused by bacteria, germs, that have found their way into a meal. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA), bacteria can double within 20 to 30 minutes—that means one bacteria turns into two, then two become four, leading eventually to millions of cells in a few hours. There are lot of opportunities for bacteria to grow and multiply in a kitchen that’s less than safe: unclean surfaces and hands, undercooked food and spoiled food are the big culprits.

It takes a little extra time to cook safely and it’s worth the effort. Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, causes nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea—symptoms can be mild or very serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people get sick every year from foodborne illness: on average, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

So keep your holidays merry and bright! The Department recommends the following to reduce your chances of foodborne illness.

Thawing should be part of your cooking plan. Thaw food in a refrigerator that’s set at 40 degrees or below—this is the safest way to thaw frozen food. A large frozen turkey needs at least 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight to thaw safely. Even small amounts of frozen food like a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts need 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator. Learn more, visit the USDA’s “The Bi g Thaw” page.

Clean before and after cooking. Wash your hands, kitchen utensils and surfaces before and after preparing food—especially after working with meat, poultry, eggs or seafood. Hot soapy water is all you need to keep countertops and cooking areas clean.

While you’re preparing: separate–don’t cross contaminate. Keep raw meats, poultry, eggs and seafood, and their juices, away from other foods. A cutting board used for meats should not be used for other foods like vegetables, fruits, herbs and cheeses.

Cook to the right temperature. Many recipes call for specific internal cooking temperatures. It’s hard to judge temperature by look or touch. Using a reliable food thermometer will help make your kitchen a safety zone and it can improve your cooking. For pre-made foods, always follow label directions.

Watch the clock and refrigerate. Refrigerate or freeze within two hours all foods that can spoil quickly. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees or below, and your freezer is set at 0 degrees.

Reheating leftovers. Sometimes the best meal is the one waiting for you in the fridge or freezer. Leftovers, including frozen leftovers that have been safely thawed, should be heated to 165 degrees. And don’t guess—use your handy food thermometer .

We all need reminders—especially during the holidays. Download our food safet y sheet .


There are several items Second Harvest Foodbank says they need for donations. They include non-perishable food items, like soup, cereal, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and peanut butter. They also need non-food items that are supplied to pantries, including diapers, toiletries, soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, and sanitary napkins and tampons.

If you can’t make it out to the drive-thru food drive, you can still make a monetary donate online, by clicking here.

Your Holiday Meal Wrecks Your 'Food Clock' and More News - Recipes

Posted on November 12th, 2020 by Dr. Francis Collins

Credit: Getty Images

With the holiday season fast approaching and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surging in most parts of the country, millions of Americans—including me and my family—will break with tradition this year to celebrate in ways that we hope will help to keep us all safe and healthy. Granted, this may present some difficult emotional and logistical challenges, but I’m confident that the American can-do spirit will rise to meet those challenges.

I also recognize that this will be hard for many of us. Celebrating holidays alone or with your immediate household members can sound rather dreary. After all, who wants to roast and carve a turkey for just a few people? But, if you look at it another way, the pandemic does offer opportunities to make this holiday a season to remember in new and different ways. Here are a couple of ideas that you may want to consider:

Send Gifts. Although COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways, sending cards or gifts remains a relatively easy way to let loved ones know that you’re thinking of them. Who wouldn’t want to receive some home-baked goodies, a basket of fresh fruit, or a festive wreath? If you enjoy knitting, candle making, or other ways of crafting gifts for the holidays, now’s the time to start planning for Thanksgiving through the New Year.

Make Videos. When I’m visiting family, there is often music involved—with guitar, piano, and maybe some singing. But, this year, I’ll have to be content with video recording a few songs and sending them to others by text or email. Come to think of it, the kids and the grandkids might enjoy these songs just as much—or even more—if they can watch them at a time and place that works best for them. (On the other hand, some of them might roll their eyes and decide not to open that video file!) If you don’t play a guitar or like to sing, you can still make your own holiday-themed videos. Maybe share a dance routine, a demonstration of athletic skill, or even some stand-up comedy. The key is to have fun and let your imagination run free.

Share a Meal Remotely. Most of our end-of-the-year holidays involve the family sitting around a table overflowing with delicious food. With all of the videoconferencing platforms now available, it is easy to set aside a block of time to share a meal and good conversation remotely with friends and family members, whether they live nearby or across the country. Rather than one cook slaving over a hot stove or a certain person monopolizing the dinner table conversation, everyone gets a chance to cook and share their stories via their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You can compare your culinary creations, swap recipes, and try to remember to leave room for dessert. If you have a tradition of playing games or giving thanks for your many blessings, you can still do many of these activities remotely.

Take an After-Dinner Walk. Due to the physical demands and psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been difficult for many of us to stay physically active. The key is making exercise a daily priority, and the holidays are no different. After your holiday meal, go on a virtual group walk through your respective neighborhoods to work off the food. Thanks to your smartphone’s camera, you can share your time outdoors and all of the interesting sights along the way. (Yes, the new playground in the local park looks fantastic, and the neighbors really did just paint their house purple!)

Stay Safe. If you plan to go ahead and join a holiday gathering in person, it’s important to remain vigilant, even when interacting with dear friends and loved ones. The greatest risk for spread of COVID-19 right now is these family gatherings. Remember there are risks associated with travel and with interacting with people who’ve not been tested for the coronavirus prior to the event, especially if they reside in a COVID hot spot—which is almost everywhere these days. Try to keep any family gatherings brief and relatively small, about five people or less. If the weather permits, hold the get-together outdoors.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, both now and over the holidays, please follow these 3 W’s:

Wear a mask when you are out in public and when you are indoors with people who are not part of your immediate household. The only exception is while eating or drinking!
Watch your distance, staying at least 6 feet away from people who are not part of your immediate household.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

Making all of these adjustments is a lot to consider when you’re trying to have a good time and there are children and older adults in the mix. That’s why I and my wife Diane decided the best plan for us this holiday season is to stay home in Maryland and forgo our traditional trips to family in Michigan and North Carolina. Not only did we want to reduce the risk of possibly contracting COVID-19 from—or transmitting it to—our faraway loved ones, we want to do everything we can to protect our local friends and co-workers from the coronavirus.

While this holiday season is likely to be memorable in ways that we never could have imagined, I’m confident that, thanks to the rapid advances being made by medical research, we ultimately will get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so we can once again give everyone we love a big hug in person. Until then, please stay safe. Wishing each of you a wonderful and healthful holiday season, starting with a Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Set a Formal Table

Build beautiful place settings with these smart moves and easy tricks for remembering the right way to do it.

Related To:

Everything in Its Place

It's not about being fussy, stiff or old-fashioned &mdash setting a table properly is all about making your guests feel at ease. Make sure they have everything they need without having to ask by keeping these table-setting etiquette tips in mind. It&rsquos subtle insurance that your dinner will go flawlessly.

Start With the Tablecloth and Plates

Think of the tablelcloth as your canvas for the table. &ldquoIf you have a nice, wood table you don&rsquot need one, but a tablecloth adds a formal look,&rdquo says Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette. &ldquoPosition it so the tablecloth is draping equally all the way around the table, but avoid having the tablecloth resting on someone&rsquos legs. They could accidently grab it by mistake thinking it&rsquos their napkin.

While chargers offer a decorative element, they also help to protect your table from heat or condensation if you&rsquore not using a tablecloth. Your charger should be placed an inch to an inch-and-a-half (or the length from the knuckle to the tip of your thumb) from the edge of the table.

&ldquoStart with a charger on the bottom, then add your dinner plate (10 inches), salad plate (8 inches) and a soup bowl. Only include pieces if you&rsquore serving a food that requires them. No soup? Skip the bowl,&rdquo says Eddie Ross, style director for the home décor site The Mine.

Forks Go On the Left

&ldquoForks always go on the left and you&rsquoll have a salad fork and dinner fork," Meier says. "Here's an easy way to remember this: the word fork has four letters and so does the word left."

Place Knives and Spoons on the Right

&ldquoKnive (for both salad and dinner) belong on the right with the blade facing toward the plate," says Meier. "A knife facing outward used to be taken as a sign of aggression towards the person sitting next to you. Knife has five letters and so does the word right. Spoons (if needed) go on the right as well &mdash the word spoon has five letters too!"

There are two types of soup spoons. First there's one that is short, stout and with a very deep round bowl. That is for cream-based soups or stews with large pieces in it. A "normal-sized" soup spoon is for clear broth-based soups. Not serving soup? Skip the spoons!

Keep Things Straight

Silverware should never be tucked under the plate or charger and should always be equally spaced. The bottom of each utensil should be in a straight line, so if you placed a ruler underneath they would all be touching the top of the ruler.

Now for the Napkin

The size of your table can determine where you place your napkin. &ldquoThe napkin should be folded and can be placed to the left of the forks or on top of your plate. Technically it&rsquos not impolite to put the forks on top of the napkin, but it does make it a little inconvenient for guests to have to move the silverware,&rdquo Meier says.

&ldquoYou never want to put a napkin in a glass because it will mess up the creases from the fold and guests could knock the glass over while removing it," she says. The creases in a napkin (like you&rsquod get with rectangular fold) help to keep the napkin on a guests' laps while they&rsquore dining!

Get the Glasses

Unless you&rsquore going uber-fancy and have a different wine for each course, you can get away with using an all-purpose wine glass.

&ldquoStart with the water glass &mdash it will go directly above the dinner knife," Ross says. "It&rsquos almost like the knife is pointing at where to start your glassware."

&ldquoYou don&rsquot want it to be in a straight line the glasses should gradually arc downward," he says. "So your all-purpose wine glass could come next or you could do a white and red glass in the order of what will be paired with its respective course.&rdquo Curious about cocktails? Most people bring those to the table so you don&rsquot need to include a separate glass for them.

Also, you should always wait until everyone is seated to pour the water. Meier explains that pouring it too early creates condensation on the glass and the water can get warm during the wait.

Don't Forget the Bread Plate

The bread plate and butter knife should go on the left hand side. "Always remember that bread doesn&rsquot count as a course. You should have a separate knife for the butter placed on the top of the bread plate, blade down, the ends touching 11 o'clock and 1 o&rsquoclock,&rdquo says Meier.

A Handy Trick

Here's another clever way to remember some place-setting locations: Holding your hands in front of you, touch the tips of your pointer fingers and thumbs together. They&rsquoll form a "b" and "d". The bread plate ("b") always goes on the left and the drinks ("d") belong on the right.

What About Dessert?

Think about dessert as a reset. At that point everything else should be off the table, especially the salt and pepper shakers.

&ldquoYou should have a clean plate when comes time for dessert, but you can place dessert forks and spoons on the table at the beginning of the meal or bring them out with dessert,&rdquo says Meier. "They&rsquod go above the plate, with the fork facing right and the spoon facing left. It is important to offer both a spoon and fork (if your dessert could be eaten with either) and let guests decide which one to use.&rdquo

All the Extras

Serving meals family-style has become really popular if you&rsquore going to let people help themselves, make sure the serveware has a dish placed underneath to catch any drips or juices.

&ldquoI like to set my serveware on my set table so I can see how much breathing room I have,&rdquo says Ross. &ldquoI vary the size and height of the serveware and I always keep my flower arrangements small enough so people can see over them and they&rsquore not blocking conversations.&rdquo

Keep the size of your table in mind too. For every four to five people you have at dinner, add another set of salt and pepper shakers, bottles of wine, and pitchers of water so people aren&rsquot waiting for it to come all the way back around the table.

Neighbor Posts

Santa Cruz, CA | Local Question | 1d

Does everyone have power?, my lights went out, but they just came back on. and then we have to wonder what's going to happen when they shut down power with rolling blackouts. Hummm

Santa Cruz, CA | Local Post | 3d

Hey Santa Cruz, looking for a fuss-free dinner this week?! I just posted my recipe for a sheet pan salmon with a super quick 4-ingredient honey mustard sauce and crispy roasted potatoes. Minimal prep and cooks in 30 minutes. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

P.S. I'd love to see you share your favorite easy dinner recipes &mdash or whatever recipes &mdash for our Reader Recipes of the Week feature!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Santa Cruz, CA | Neighbor Post | 5d

Santa Cruz, CA | Neighbor Post | 6d

Heard it faintly in Morgan Hill walking on the Blu Ridge Trail, also saw a very strange "spark" falling from the sky like a sparkler that slowly burnt out as it got closer to the ground. We believed it was a particle from a meteor coming down.

Santa Cruz, CA | Local Post | May 10

Hi Santa Cruz! This week I'm sharing my new favorite salad recipe: a chicken breast chopped salad that's anything but basic. It's got a 3-ingredient vinaigrette with bits of sharp parmesan, sweet dates, mint, creamy cashews (or your fave nuts) and more.

I've been eating this at least once a week lately. It's so refreshing and nourishing, perfect for the spring and summer months!

Get the recipe at the link below, and scroll to the bottom to share your recipes with neighbors on Patch &mdash this week, we're collecting your fave chicken or salad recipes!

Santa Cruz, CA | Neighbor Post | May 8

Howdy, Cowboy Bar & Grill is hiring multiple positions. Full & Part time available. Drop me an email at [email protected] or drop by at 5447 Highway 9 Felton, 95018. Thanks, Jim

Santa Cruz, CA | Neighbor Post | May 8

Santa Cruz Online - Local government and non-government meetings the week of May 9 - 15

Chico, CA | Neighbor Post | May 7

Come up to Tehama County, we are seeking vendors for the re-launch of the Corning Certified Thursday Farmers' Market!

Opening Day is Thursday, June 10 through August 26, 5 - 7:30PM at Northside Park, (pool) on Tehama St between 6th and West Sts. in Downtown Corning.

We are invigorating the Market with a good variety of farmers, growers, producers, food purveyors and artisans.

The Market's sponsor, the Corning Chamber of Commerce, invites you to apply to participate here is the link to the application:

Upon acceptance of your vendor application, you will then be asked to complete a "Participation Agreement" to [email protected]

The City of Corning is requiring EVERY vendor have a business license:

Other permits may be needed, depending upon your items for sale.

Please "like" the "Corning's Thursday Farmers Market" Facebook page, so you receive all the latest updates, notice of participating vendors, and the weekly entertainment schedule!

🥕We are also happy to announce the Market will be accepting EBT AND WIC this season.🥦

See you at the Corning Certified Farmers&rsquo Market on Thursday evenings this summer!

Santa Cruz, CA | Local News Tip | May 6

Integrated State-of-the-Art Health and Housing Coming to Live Oak

Central California Alliance for Health invests $6M in first mixed-use development of its kind in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz, CA. (May 5, 2021)&mdashSanta Cruz Community Health (SCCH), Dientes Community Dental Care, and MidPen Housing collectively received a $6,075,000 investment from the Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance) to support the construction of a 20,000-square-foot medical clinic, an 11-chair dental clinic, 57 units of affordable housing, and a family-friendly public plaza in the heart of Live Oak. The new health and housing campus will provide healthcare for up to 10,000 patients, along with affordable supportive housing for 157 people.

This major commitment from the Alliance, the largest collective contribution to the project to date, demonstrates the Alliance&rsquos ongoing commitment to increasing access to health services and housing for children, families, and seniors, regardless of income. The grants provide $2,650,000 to SCCH, $2,900,000 to Dientes, and $625,000 to MidPen over five years for the construction of the new campus.

The Need for Care is Great

In a community where up to 26 percent of Live Oak School District students are homeless, thousands of adults do not have a doctor, and 78 percent of adults on Medi-Cal do not have a dentist, this vibrant 3.6-acre health and housing complex in Live Oak will address the goals of increasing access to healthcare and growing affordable housing.

&ldquoPrevention and early intervention in dental care are often overlooked and are core to the vision of Dientes,&rdquo said Dientes CEO Laura Marcus. &ldquoThe project would never have gotten off the ground without the Alliance and many others in our community who are stepping up to make this dream a reality.&rdquo

SCCH CEO Leslie Conner continues, &ldquoSanta Cruz Community Health has been strongly aligned with the Alliance since it first launched some 25 years ago. Their investment today points to our overlapping missions to improve access to quality care for those who need it most. We are deeply grateful for their partnership.&rdquo

The investment from the Alliance is in line with their overall vision of healthy people, healthy communities. The Alliance&rsquos CEO Stephanie Sonnenshine explains, &ldquoAccess to treatment, regular preventative care, and stable housing is key to achieving and maintaining positive health outcomes, so this community-based healthcare and housing solution at 1500 Capitola Road will be an important step towards improving the well-being of our most vulnerable Santa Cruz residents.&rdquo

Capital Campaign is Ongoing

The 1500 Capitola Road campus integrates the strengths and services of its three owners:

&bull SCCH has been serving the medical and mental health needs of underserved Santa Cruz County residents since 1980, with a special focus on families.
&bull Dientes has a nearly 30-year track record of providing affordable, high-quality and comprehensive dental care through three existing clinics and a 30+ location outreach program.
&bull MidPen Housing owns and manages 13 affordable housing communities throughout Santa Cruz County, serving families, senior, and special needs populations and providing on-site resident services tailored to the unique needs of each population.

MidPen Housing Chief Real Estate Development Officer Jan Lindenthal comments, &ldquoThe Alliance has been an exceptional partner in helping MidPen achieve our mission of expanding affordable housing opportunities in Santa Cruz County. Thanks to their support residents of Santa Cruz County will have the access to health care and affordable housing they need to live happy and healthy lives and achieve their dreams for the future.&rdquo

The construction of the campus will be in two phases. Dientes and Santa Cruz Community Health will break ground on their clinics this month and open in 2022. MidPen will break ground on the housing component in 2022 and open in 2023.

Seriously, Though, How Do You Scale Down a Recipe?

Above the sticky wedges of pecan pie, the slabs of turkey breast, the boatloads of gravy and the candied yams, it’s familiarity that I look forward to during the holidays. The same aunts and uncles show up year after year — some reliably late, others inconveniently early. The green bean casserole arrives with my mother’s friends, the couple whose names I still can’t remember after 20-plus years celebrating the holiday with them. Our rabbi brings a bottle of his homemade limoncello, my grandmother makes a just-barely-edible pot of gravy, and around 4 p.m. I begin to carve two enormous turkeys, one lightly browned in the oven, the other a hair too dark from the heat of the grill.

Things are very different this year, but I refuse to call off the holidays entirely. There will be no forgotten salads, no precariously balanced pie, and no need for two roast turkeys — I know. Instead, I’ll be slicing and dicing and cutting up recipes to feed just three or four instead of a party of 50. Some recipes lend themselves to scaling. Cutting down on candied yams, for instance, is just a matter of buying fewer sweet potatoes and using a smaller pot, less sugar, fewer sticks of butter. But sometimes, changing the yield of a recipe can be deceptively complicated it’s actually a somewhat challenging (but not impossible!) exercise in kitchen intuition, proper research, and keeping your eye out for red flags.

I don’t think my fragile psyche can handle the disappointment of a tough-as-hell pan of cornbread for one, so I called up a few friends who are in the business of making recipes work.

To start, look at the ingredient list

Before you start hacking up measurements by twos or fours, you should really give your favorite recipes a good read. Sasha Marx, senior culinary editor at Serious Eats, recommends you begin by taking a look at the listed measurements.

“The first thing I like to do is look at the ingredient list,” he says. “You often come across sticking points, like if the recipe calls for three eggs and you want to halve the recipe. Getting one and a half eggs can be a little tricky.” The same goes for ingredients you’re unlikely to use up later. Often, recipe developers will design their dishes to use the common store-bought amount of an ingredient, like one can of pumpkin puree, or a full bag of frozen cranberries. Halving a can of this or a bag of that is certainly easier than dividing an egg in half, but you’ll be stuck with half a bag of frozen cranberries until next year. Sometimes it’s easier to just cook a full recipe and freeze the leftovers for easy use later. Let’s be honest: You are never, ever going to use that quarter can of condensed milk.

Consider the cooking equipment

Once you’ve confirmed the ingredient list can be easily modified, take a few minutes to read through the instructions and take note of the equipment that’s called for. Ben Mims, a cooking columnist at the Los Angeles Times, says that even with a neatly halved recipe, cooks should pay attention to the size of their pans, pots, and baking dishes.

“As you reduce the quantity of ingredients that you’re cooking, you will need to factor in and reduce the size of the cooking vessel, and you may need to reduce cooking time,” Mims says. “To me, it’s always a matter of making sure the proportions stay in check. And a lot of recipes are developed specifically to work as-is.” Mims points out that if you make half the amount of cranberry sauce in the medium or large pot a recipe might call for, it’s likely the liquid that’s supposed to cover and cook the cranberries won’t submerge the fruit. The solution? Eyeball and change the size of the cooking vessel accordingly. These small adjustments can have a major effect on the outcome of a dish.

When it comes to baked dishes whose ingredients can easily be adjusted, Mims sees no problem with scaling down. “Most of those side dishes are going to be made in 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. So just cut the recipe in half and make it in an 8-inch pan, which literally everybody has.”

Cooking times may start to change when you adjust volume. There’s no perfect formula to follow, so to feel more confident as you make these changes, seek out recipes that include good sensory cues. “Look for ones that have well-stated visual cues rather than just timing cues,” Marx says. If a recipe says to cook squash until it’s golden brown and begins to smell sweet, you can trust your nose and eyes no matter how much squash you’re cooking.

Look at small-batch recipes for additional clues

Maybe scaling down a recipe seems like more trouble than it’s worth, and you prefer to follow recipes precisely as they’re written. In that case, the internet is your best friend: You can find all sorts of recipe roundups, menus, and suggestions for intimate gatherings to feed fewer people.

But even if you still want to make Nana’s stuffing, the one that serves 15, small-yield recipes can act as a guide. “If you don’t feel comfortable cutting down your favorite recipes, find other resources that’ve done this work already,” Mims suggests. “See how they treat a green bean casserole, see how they treat yeast rolls. Look at the proportions of your favorite family recipe in comparison to those, and then see if it makes sense to modify your recipe. If you can make similar changes, go for it, and if not, just make the one that you found online.” This kind of adaptation requires a fair deal of confidence in the kitchen, and probably isn’t as simple as scaling all the ingredients down. But if you’re committed to a recipe and unsure of how to scale down, it can be helpful to compare it to others on the internet to get a sense for the proper cooking time, baking vessel, and signs of doneness.

Plan for (and embrace) leftovers

Scaling downs recipes shouldn’t mean eliminating leftovers altogether. I could eat leftovers forever, so instead of quartering recipes, I’ll be halving some, and leaving others exactly as they are. “Really think about the week after the big meal, as far as leftovers go,” says Marx. “Plan out what you like to eat. Get creative with cross-utilization.” If you live for turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sandwiches, plan to enjoy the fruits of your labor for a few extra meals. In this year of endless cooking and total exhaustion, you might even want to consider freezing some holiday classics so you can thaw your festive spirit in a few months.

But be realistic with yourself, and if you’re just not a leftovers lover, take that into account as you plan your menu and the quantities of each dish.

Finally, a note about baking

There are a lot of factors that determine how well a recipe will reduce. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid messing with most baking recipes, unless you’re a pro. You’ve probably heard the somewhat tired (and very annoying to most professional bakers) saying that “cooking is an art, baking is a science.” It’s an oversimplification, but the refrain contains a bit of truth. Baking does demand you pay attention to oven temperature, the volume of a baking dish, and the amount of time something will take to bake. As soon as you change any of these variables, your recipe might start to get a little wonky. This will make reducing, say, a pumpkin pie recipe more trouble than it’s probably worth. You’d have to make half the crust, decide on a smaller baking dish, adjust the amount of filling, and then take a guess at how long it will take for the pie to bake, and for the filling to set.

Some sweets, like a crumble or a cobbler, are more forgiving than pie or cake, and can be easily reduced by scaling ingredients and choosing a smaller baking dish. Other desserts, baked in ramekins and other small dishes, are also a great choice. “A crumble or cobbler has a pretty steadfast fruit-to-sugar ratio,” says Marx. “And if you are concerned with making individual desserts, then look at ones that are already served individually: Custards like panna cotta, creme brulee, that family of desserts that are already served in individual ramekins — those can easily be scaled.”

If you’ve gotten to this point and are still, for some mysterious reason, trying to find a way to make less pie, the internet is home to plenty of recipes for tartlets and hand pies.

That said, I’ve never met someone who’s devastated to have leftover pie and cookies. Really, these are some of the best leftovers to have, and they’ll be devoured many days before they would’ve gone bad. With this in mind, I recommend just… baking and eating the whole damn pie. You might have to settle on just one pie, instead of an entire spread, but there’s no good reason to spend an evening trying to cut a pecan pie recipe in half. Now that your whole, beautiful pie is in the oven, it’s time to plan the rest of the (tiny) feast.

And if you hate how this sounds, just cook the full meal

If the thought of turning your ordinarily enormous holiday feast into a set of dishes that fit on a coffee table makes you miserable, you could scrap the idea of scaling down and spend the days leading up to the holidays making a seriously enormous meal. That’s what Mims plans to do. “If you are feeding half the people you normally feed, take that other half of the food, package it up, and give it to your neighbor or your friend,” he says. “Especially if you’re someone who has the means to afford and pay for all the food, you can gift it.” If splurging on a big feast this year isn’t an option, Mims suggests pooling resources with a couple friends. “You all buy the groceries, maybe one person cooks, and then you split it up with everybody.”

He’ll be cooking some of his greatest hits in aluminum baking dishes this year, so that once they’re done, he can hop in the car and drive the food to friends’ houses. “Scaling recipes, which some people might be great at, is just not for me,” he says. “This year, I’m approaching the holidays with the idea to feed my community, feed family and friends, the people who can’t or don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. And then you have this feeling of sharing, of spreading the wealth a little bit.”

Photo credits: Woman cutting turkey, General Photographic Agency/Stringer/Getty

Real Talk: How To Cope When Your Holiday’s Not So Happy

Tis the season to be jolly – but what if it doesn’t feel like there’s much to celebrate this year?

For a lot of people, the winter holidays are the best time of the entire year. But for some of us, whether it’s a parents’ divorce or a death in the family, it can be really difficult to celebrate when things aren’t going right at home.

I’ve been there. When I was 15 years old, my brother, Jim, was killed in a car accident. And in the moment that the police officers told my family the devastating news, everything changed. It wasn’t just seeing his empty seat at the dinner table, or finding his stocking in our Christmas decorations it was also how the tragedy affected my parents and my other siblings. Even though the five of us were home together, our house suddenly felt so empty, I felt so broken, and I just wished my family could go back to how we once were.

It can be difficult to watch super happy holiday-themed movies or shows, and It can be even harder to see friends from school post photos of their seemingly perfect families or lavish presents on social media. Here are four things that have helped me find hope during the holidays, and maybe they can help you, too.

1) Do what makes you happy.

You can’t always be everyone else’s cheerleader, especially when you need to be cheered up yourself. So whether it’s baking cookies or watching funny YouTube videos, take 30 minutes each day to do something that makes you smile.

2) Practice gratitude.

Grab a paper and pen or open up your Notes app and make a list of things you’re grateful for. It can be anything from the chicken parmesan your BFF’s mom makes, to the bed you sleep in, to your favorite band. Anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed with sadness, re-read the list.

3) Give back.

You might be unable to fix things going on in your family, but it’s an amazing feeling to help others in need. You can organize a toy drive at school, volunteer and serve meals to those less fortunate, or even go through your closet and donate items that you no longer wear to the Salvation Army. Click here to find volunteer opportunities in your area, and talk to a parent or guardian about ones you want to get involved with.

4) Remember that you’re awesome.

You’re so special, incredible, and beautiful – and it’s not because of the clothes you’re wearing or the number of likes you have on Instagram. It’s because you are you, and there is no one else like you in the entire world. The troubles you’re going through right now might seem overwhelming and hopeless, but they’ll make you stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of the brighter days once they come along. Like Dolly Parton once said, “To get to the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.” So stay strong, stay beautiful and don’t stop believing. I promise, things will get better – and brighter than Rudolph’s red nose!

Lemony Cacio e Pepe Potatoes

These roasted carrots have everything you’d want in a recipe. Fresh produce, a spicy-sweet sauce. Some crunch from both nuts and fruit. It feels festive for the holidays, or just extra special during your regular weeknight meal.

Toss carrots with fresh winter oranges, garlic, fennel seeds, and maple syrup, blended with lots of harissa, a spiced North African chili pepper paste. Roast everything together to be rewarded with a perfectly caramelized carrot.

Fun fact! In Latin, pomegranate means “apple with many seeds.” Appropriate, due to the fact that the seeds—aka arils—are the only edible part of this fruit.

While the pomegranate’s sweet yet tart flavors complement both savory and sweet dishes alike, even we can admit this winter fruit can be a bit intimidating. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Watch now for one of the easiest ways to remove all of those pesky arils.

Watch and learn as chef-in-residence Bobby Flay makes magic out of radicchio. The somewhat bitter leaves complement spiced chicken thighs perfectly, plus they’re sturdy enough to hold all of the fixings: Pickled peppers and a date and cashew relish, plus a much needed squeeze of lime. Try it as a holiday appetizer and you’ll wow the crowd—no matter the size.