St. Patrick’s Day: Fun Facts About Leprechauns

leprechaunIt’s finally March — the snow hasn’t melted yet but, luckily, we still have St. Patrick’s Day to distract us until the sun starts to shine. It’s a holiday with religious roots but it’s also adopted quirky symbols to help celebrate the day — particularly leprechauns. They’re mythical creatures with peculiar behaviors. Here are 5 fun facts about leprechauns.

Cobblers What you may know about leprechauns is that they’re cobblers (not the kind of cobblers you eat!) — they make shoes by trade. This is why you can track them by the sound of their tiny hammers — they’re always tapping away to put together shoes. What you may not know is that they make shoes because they are unstoppable dancers and they wear out their shoes so quickly making shoes themselves was the obvious solution to being shoeless. They’re also very good musicians — they have a talent for tickling the strings of a celtic harp, blowing a tin whistle or playing a fiddle.

leprechaunCousins Leprechauns are not known to be charming — they’re moody little creatures, but it’s nothing compared to their cousins, the lurichauns. Lurichauns are similar in stature, but instead of making shoes, they make trouble. They’re heavy drinkers and hideout in wine cellars — if a wine cellar owner has a lurichuan in his cellar, he can expect many messes and misfortune.

Granting Wishes According to legend, leprechauns squirrel away they’re boot bucks scattered across the Irish countryside or in little pots at the end of rainbows. It is believed that if a human catches a leprechaun he’ll get the leprechaun’s pot of gold or three wishes in exchange for the leprechaun’s freedom — but leprechauns are tricksters and they almost always outsmart their captors. In fact, leprechauns are where the term “Luck of the Irish “ comes from. Folklore holds the story of an Irishman caught a leprechaun who granted him three wishes. For the first two wished, he asked to be the richest man on a tropical island. When he arrived, the island was deserted and he had to use his remaining wish to get back to Ireland. Seems there’s nothing lucky about the luck of the Irish. 

Lady Leprechauns There are no female leprechauns. There are two possible explanations for this: 1) Leprechauns are part of the fairy kingdom. When a child is born as a girl, it is considered a fairy; boys are leprechauns. 2) According to The History of Fairies by Carolyn White, they are possibly the male offspring of fairies considered to be repulsive.leprechaun

Protected by Law According to IrishCentral.com leprechauns are considered endangered species and is now protected under the European Habitats Directive. Leprechauns are one of the draws to the community tourists who contribute to the economy. Since 2011, the law has shielded the flora, fauna and heritage of the leprechauns from those who might monkey with their habitat.

Whether leprechauns exist or not is important on St. Patrick’s Day, but celebrating the mystical tricksters is part of the fun of March. Set a trap, come up with your three wishes and prepare to be outsmarted!

 

National Corn Chip Day: Our Favorite Corn Chip Recipe to Serve at Your Big Game Party

Chicken-Casserole January 29 is National Corn Chip Day! We’re also just days away from the NFL’s biggest game when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. So, while we’re celebrating the corn chip, we thought we’d also give you some ideas for your Big Game Party!

We love the crunch and salty goodness of a corn chip — it’s an amazing way to add a little texture to a casserole for a tasty game day snack. Here’s our favorite corn chip recipe to serve at your Big Game party:

Chicken-CasseroleCheesy, Crunchy Chicken Casserole

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2-10.5 oz cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1-10.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 2 chicken breasts cooked and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1-12oz bag of corn chips
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (you can be generous with the cheese)

(if you like it spicy, you can add 1-4 oz can diced green chilis)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until they are slightly soft and a little translucent. Add cream of chicken soup, diced tomatoes and chicken. Mix well and heat until the mixture is just bubbling.

Chicken-Casserole

Prepare a medium casserole dish (11”x7”) with cooking spray. Make a layer of corn chips on the bottom of the dish. Spoon the chicken mixture over the layer of chips followed by a layer of cheese. Continue layering until you run out of ingredients. There should be three layers with cheese on top.

Chicken-Casserole

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly. Let cool on a cooling rack. This recipe makes 4 cups.

Once you starting eating this dish, you won’t be able to stop — and neither will your game day guests! However, if you can’t eat it all by the time your favorite team is celebrating its victory, it makes great leftovers. This casserole is even better the next day or even two days later.

We have more ideas for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest page for more inspiration to get your party started!

Chicken-Casserole

Seattle vs. New England: Regional Food for the Big Game

fish-and-chipsSunday, February 1, 2015, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots go head-to-head on the gridiron for football’s championship title. While the players will be battling it out on the ball field, fans and foodies will be duking it out at the dinner table! The Big Game has created a true culinary face-off between two cities and two coasts — but whichever dishes you want to serve at your Big Game party, you’ll be the big winner! Here’s what you have to work with for regional food for the Big Game:

Fish and chips: Both Seattle and Boston boast of some of the best fish and chips in the nation. They both use cod and they’re both served with coleslaw.

Oysters: Seattle and Boston name oysters as hometown favorites. Who has the best should only be determined by experts.

Hot dogs: Seattle makes the hot dog its own by adding cream cheese and grilled onions to it — it was the brainchild of a bagel purveyor who wanted to please late night crowds during the grunge boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s..

Boston hot dog lovers are on the purist side. What makes up Boston’s Fenway Frank (named for the home of the Red Sox) are sauerkraut and mustard. It’s been a Boston fan favorite since the early 1900s.

crabcakesCrab Cakes: Seattle and Boston crab cakes recipes are both derived from Maryland, but Seattle has bragging rights with its Dungeness crabs.

Side dishes: Boston has Boston baked beans. They were a staple for the Pilgrims when they settled in Massachusetts. Settlers didn’t do any work on Sundays to observe the Sabbath — which included cooking meals. To get around this rule, they would cook the beans overnight (molasses being the key ingredient) on Saturdays so they’d have a hot meal to eat on Sunday.

Though it’s not something you can get everywhere in Seattle and they don’t have a rich history (just rich flavor), the garlic fries at Safeco Field are among Seattle’s iconic foods, so we’re pitting them against Boston’s beans. Both the beans and the fries can be made at home with comparable prep times.

Dessert: Boston has an obvious signature dessert: Boston cream pie. A french pastry chef at the Parker House Hotel is credited with coming up with this dessert in 1856. It’s not really a pie — it’s more of a pudding cake (yellow cake, custard filling, chocolate ganache icing) — but it’s celebrated as a Boston favorite and became the official dessert of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1996.99668421

Seattle doesn’t have a signature dessert like Boston does, but it does have a famous dessert that can easily be replicated at your Big Game party (and it would make a pretty spectacular end to the game if the Seahawks win): The Lunar Orbiter. Basically, it’s an ice cream sundae served in a bowl atop a bowl filled with dry ice. Before taking a bite, water is poured on to the dry ice to make cloud-like vapors as you eat your sweet treat. They served it at the restaurant that tops the Space Needle for decades, but it’s been replaced by bread pudding, cheesecake parfait and seasonal cobblers.

Of course this list doesn’t include all of each city’s best food (we left off coffee, salmon and clam chowder), but there’s enough on your list to make a pretty amazing spread if you want your Big Game party to outshine the actual game. Even if the team you’re rooting isn’t favored to win, your food will be more than enough for a great party.

Artichoke Dip for the Big Game

artichoke-dipThe Big Game is almost here! While we all might be football fans, most of us won’t be in Phoenix to watch it in person — we’ll be at home or at a friend’s house for a party to watch every touchdown, field goal and commercial. It promises to be a great time — but you have to have the right food!

According to the National Restaurant Association, the most popular food for watching the Big Game is dips (spreads and salsa fall into that category). We’ve gone through all our recipes and came up with a favorite that’s both delicious and easy to make (nearly fool-proof!) with minimal ingredients. Our hot Artichoke Dip got the most votes and today we’re sharing it with you. Here’s how to make artichoke dip for the Big Game.

Artichoke Dip

  • 3 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 ½ cup grated parmesan three-cheese-blend (pecorino and asiago are the other two cheeses, but you can probably get away with just parmesan)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced (you can add garlic if you really like garlic)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Place the artichoke hearts in a large mixing bowl. Break the hearts up with your hands so they’re in scoop-size pieces. Add mayonnaise, garlic and cheese. Mix everything together really well.

artichoke-dip

Place the mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve warm with tortilla chips or sliced bread. Makes 4 cups.

This dip is easy to make at the last minute so you can spend more time on games, entertainment and making sure all your guests are taken care of. Not only is it easy to make — it’s delicious! You won’t want to wait until the Big Game to serve it!

We have loads more ideas to make your Big Game party perfect — check out our Pinterest board for tricks and tips to put your party together.

artichoke-dip

Five-Minute Fudge for the Big Game

five-minute-fudgeFood, fun and football! We’re getting ready for football’s biggest game! It’s our favorite reason for a mid-winter celebration. For our Big Game party, people come for the football and stay for the food. Because there will be a lot of people to feed we want what we serve to be delicious and easy to put together. While wings and nachos are must-haves at Big Game parties, you need a little something sweet to break up all the salty snacks. We thought most of your entertaining energy should go to dips and spreads, so we’re sharing our easiest sweet treat to satisfy sugar cravings during the Big Game: Five-Minute Fudge! Here’s how you make it:

five-minute-fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

 

Line an 8×8 casserole dish or cake pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.

Top it with the condensed milk.

five-minute-fudgePut the bowl in the microwave on high for one minute. Stir the chocolate and condensed milk until it’s well-combined.

If the chocolate isn’t completely melted, put it in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir until it’s smooth.

Stir in the vanilla followed by the nuts. Spread the fudge into the aluminum foil-lined dish.

Place in the freezer for an hour or until it’s hard. Remove the foil with the fudge from the pan.

On a cutting board, flip the fudge over so the foil is on top.

Remove the foil.

five-minute-fudgeCut the fudge into one-inch squares. Serve at room temperature. Makes 49 one-inch pieces of fudge.

This fudge takes so little time to make, you’ll be able to concentrate on cheering for your team. In fact, this fudge is so easy to make, it’ll be your new favorite go to treat for parties even after the Big Game!

We have more ideas on what to do for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest board for inspiration to make your Big Game party awesome!

five-minute-fudge

Last Minute Holiday Checklist

Holiday-ChecklistOnly a few days left until Christmas! Are you ready? Here’s a quick, last minute holiday checklist to help you out.

Eats and Treats 

  • Make your grocery list no later than December 21. Include items for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner. Remember the grocery store is going to be packed between now and Christmas morning, so include staples like milk, fruit, bread, and anything your family needs to eat daily.
  • Go grocery shopping no later than December 22. This will give you some room for errors — you’ll still have a day or so to get anything you forgot to put on your list.
  • Start dinner prep on December 23. Christmas Eve will be hectic enough without having to think about every detail of Christmas dinner. Cutting up vegetables and peeling potatoes ahead of time will save you from stress on Christmas day.
  • Bake your desserts on Christmas Eve. You won’t have oven space on Christmas Day to do all the cooking and baking.

send-a-giftGifts and Stockings

  • Wrap the gifts for your family no later than December 21. Pull everything out of hiding and cloak your presents in glitter and ribbons to dazzle your kids before their favorite day. Remember to be clever enough with the wrapping that they can’t sneak a peek at what you bought.
  • Test stuffing. Make sure you have enough goodies to fill out the stockings by December 22. If you don’t have enough trinkets to make the stockings swell like Santa’s belly, you’ll have time to buy a few more souvenirs.

Cozy-Cuddler-Lighted-PillowKids 

  • Keep the kids busy. Plan a few crafts for the little ones — they’ll need activities while school is out and you won’t have time to entertain them. If your kids are old enough, involve them in the holiday preparation.

Cleanup 

  • If you haven’t done a thorough house-cleaning yet, it’s too late, but it’s not the end of the world. A quick wipe-down of the bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting should be easy enough to complete alongside your other tasks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

You may not be ready yet, but you will be! Just remember to prioritize and check tasks off your list as you go. Happy holidays!

7 Tips to Get Through the Holidays without Overeating

holiday-foodWe’re full of cheer from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, but with all the parties and holiday dinners, we’re also full of food. From the office party to a friend’s cocktail party, it’s hard not to overindulge on rich desserts and caloric hors d’oeuvres and, by January, we’ve overextended our bellies. We don’t have to eat everything during the holidays — here are 7 tips to get through the holidays without overeating.

Create a Game Plan Plan your meals around your parties according to your party. If you’re the type of person who eats even if you’re full, eat smaller meals that will keep your metabolism going and eat at the party. If you don’t eat a lot when you’re full, try eating a filling healthy meal before you go to the party so you don’t feel a need to eat heavy foods.

Take it Slow When you get your party plate, pause between every action. Take a bite, chew it and pause. Drink a glass of water and pause before you start eating something new. Before you fill your plate again, pause. This will keep your brain and your stomach at the same pace. You’ll notice that you’re full before you eat everything at the party.

holiday-foodBe Picky When you get to the party, don’t eat just anything that’s on the buffet table. Pick out only the things you really want to try and skip all the things you might want to try. Treat yourself because it’s the holidays but don’t eat something just because it’s there.

Hydrate Drink plenty of water throughout the party. It will help you feel full and, with a full stomach, you may not want to eat as much.

Socialize If you’re at a party where you don’t know many people or you’re at a party with a large group, grab someone and start a conversation. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd, but it’s hard not to overeat to keep yourself busy. When you’re talking to someone, you’re likely not going to put something in your mouth while you’re telling a story.

Holiday-FoodFill Up on the Good Stuff Just like eating those bread sticks at restaurants and getting too full for the meal, you can fill your plate with fruits and veggies before you get to the saucy, cheesie, starchy appetizers. The more you fill your stomach with healthy food, the less room you’ll have for the fatty food.

Cut Yourself Some Slack Allow yourself some indulgences… with limits. For instance, if there are 15 desserts on the buffet, don’t tell yourself no, just declare a number of desserts you allow yourself to eat and stop when you hit that number. Or limit yourself to one trip to the buffet table.

Although the holidays are packed with fun fare for two solid months, they’re not as bad as you might think. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, on average, Americans don’t gain a significant amount of weight during the holidays — we just feel like we do. But what you feel is what counts the most and if that means curbing your appetite during the holidays, it’s not a bad idea to restrict your holiday indulgences.

 

7 Holiday Cocktail Party Essentials

From now until January our schedules are sparkling with holiday activities — between the big dinners and gift shopping, it’s our duty to throw a holiday cocktail party. Anyone can throw a great cocktail party, but here are 7 Holiday Cocktail Party Essentials to make your party memorable.

LED-Plate

Add glitz to your holiday table with an LED Charger Plate. The elegant metallic plate has 16 gleaming LED lights decorating the rim. Set a centerpiece, wrapped treats or nuts on this plate to brighten your snack table!

Buffet Caddy frees up space on the serving table by keeping all of your dinnerware in one spot. The top section organizes your flatware in 4 round baskets, the center section holds napkins, and the bottom section keeps dinner plates easily accessible. The metal frame has a scrolled design and durable balled feet to keep the caddy in place on any surface.

Party-ServerMultifunction Server with Lid is a 6-in-1 hosting essential! The clear server looks like a cake stand with a dome cover, but the cover can be turned over and set in the stand for use as a bowl. The center section also serves as a dip bowl. From snacks to salads, appetizers and desserts, this versatile server makes hosting a holiday party simple with elegance.

These Humorous Wine Accents display witty sayings that get the holiday cocktail party conversation started! The Set of 3 Bottle Stoppers look great on your favorite bottles of wine and provide a laugh each time your guests go for a drink.

Wine-Bottle-CharmThe Get Jingly Wine Bottle Jewelry turns any wine bottle into a part of your holiday decor! The charm loop — with 9 red and green bells — fits over the neck of the bottle for a little twinkle and a lot of jingle! A silvertone plaque is inscribed with a jolly message for the festive season.

Buffet Iced Serving Collection takes the work out of hosting a cocktail party! You don’t have to worry about keeping the cold food cold  — each piece has a tray at the bottom for holding ice! Serve dip or sauce in the stainless steel Dip Bowl, which nests inside its plastic ice holder. The plastic 8-Pc. Serving Bowl Set can be used for anything from a veggie snacks to salad. 4 Servers clip to the side of the bowl to hold garnishes. The Egg & Appetizer Tray has a stainless steel insert that holds 24 deviled egg halves over ice. The plastic tray can also be used alone as a 4-section serving platter for appetizers.

Cocktail-Party-essentials7The Holiday Wine Bottle & Glass Holder is an adorable way to dress up a bottle of wine for your cocktail party! A finely detailed, cheerful face tops a spiral body that fits around a standard wine bottle while two arms hold your wine glasses.

We’re all bubbly with cheer for the holidays, but there’s no reason we can’t add a few more accents to our cocktail party — no one ever complained about having too much joy! Shop LTD Commodities for more entertaining and holiday gift ideas to make your holidays brighter!

Cranberry-Apple Fritters

Cranberry-Apple FrittersWe’re making fritters here at LTD! In case you don’t know what a fritter is, it’s delicious. It’s basically little bits of food battered and fried to make a sort of biscuit (savory) or donut (sweet) — either way, it’s irresistible! Our favorite at LTD is the apple fritter, but since we’re knee-deep in the holidays, we’re sharing our recipe for cranberry-apple fritters. They’re fairly easy to make — and worth the time and effort to make a festive breakfast treat. Here is how to make cranberry-apple fritters at home:

Cranberry-Apple FrittersCranberry-Apple Fritters

  • 1 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB melted butter
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • vegetable oil for frying (amount depends on the size of the pan you are using, but make sure you have a few cups)

Cranberry-Apple FrittersGlaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • splash vanilla
  • 2 TB milk

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersInstructions:

For the Batter:

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients with a fork. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg and add the remaining ingredients except the apples and cranberries.

Add the dry mixture to MiniTool Mac best-data-recovery.com Recovery includes four data recovery modules – Undelete Recovery, Damaged Partition Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery and Digital Media Recovery. the wet mixture and stir together until everything is just combined. Do not over-mix — it should be lumpy. Fold in diced apples and cranberries.

In a heavy bottomed pot or a deep skillet, heat about two inches of oil over medium heat to about 350℉. To test if it’s ready, drop a pinch of the batter in the oil. If it spits and spatters, it’s ready.

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersFor the Glaze:

While you’re waiting for the oil to heat, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to make the glaze. Set aside.

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersTo Par Bake:

To make the fritters the way you might find them at a donut shop, you par bake them — if you don’t, you’re limited to making a lumpy donut hole. Par baking them lets you make them big and flat. To do this, pre-heat your oven to 350℉. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about ¼ cup of the batter and plop it on the cookie sheet — this makes six piles of batter on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

The fritters should be baked just enough that you can slide a spatula underneath them and lower them in the hot oil — one at a time.  Fry for one minute on each side until they’re golden brown. Scoop them out with the spatula or slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined platter to drain for a minute. 

Place your hot fritters on a cooling rack (with a pan or parchment paper underneath to catch oil or glaze). Spoon the glaze over the fritters. This recipe makes just enough glaze for this method, but you can double the amount of ingredients for the glaze if you want to dip the fritters in the glaze.

Apple fritters are delightful, but cranberry-apple fritters are divine and December is a perfect time celebrate this as a dessert or a rich breakfast. Happy holidays!

 Cranberry-Apple Fritters

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

It is finally time to get down to some serious holiday shopping. This magical time of year is all about children, and that shows in the variety of toys, clothing, and other delights waiting for you at LTD Commodities. Here are our Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Your little girl will feel like she's caring for a real baby with a La Newborn Real Life 14" Doll Set or Outfits.

Your little girl will feel like she’s caring for a real baby with a La Newborn® Real Life 14″ Doll Set or Outfits.

Add adventure and excitement to their pretend covert operations with the Military Walkie-Talkie Command Center.

Add adventure and excitement to their pretend covert operations with the Military Walkie-Talkie Command Center.

Jelly Belly® Gift Boxes include 10 or 40 different flavors of the world-famous, delicious candy.

Jelly Belly® Gift Boxes include 10 or 40 different flavors of the world-famous, delicious candy.

Your child can save the day with a Rush & Rescue Remote Control Vehicle!

Your child can save the day with a Rush & Rescue™ Remote Control Vehicle!