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!

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!

 

 

4 Ways to Handle Pets During Thanksgiving

Dog-and-CatThanksgiving is for family and friends — and, of course, our pets are part of the family, but with all the people and food, we forget holidays get a little tricky with our animals. Here are a 4 ways to handle pets during Thanksgiving.

Guests vs. Pets When you invite people into your home, you’re also inviting their difficulties. Make sure to tell your guests ahead of time that you have pets so you can address any issues:

Avoiding Allergies If you have a guest who has an allergy to your dog or cat, putting your pet in the next room may not be enough to prevent an allergic reaction. To be polite and cautious consider giving your pets a bath before the big holiday or take them to be groomed. Also, be sure to give your house a good cleaning as well as change your air filters — dander and pet hair land in places we don’t think about and, as pet owners, we don’t really notice. As an extra measure of precaution, stock the medicine cabinet with over-the-counter allergy medication.

petcaveAnimal Animosity As pet owners we can’t imagine why someone doesn’t like dogs or cats — especially your sweet Snowball or friendly Fido — but not everyone wants a furry friend, least of all at the Thanksgiving table. If you have guests who don’t like animals, set up a special room for your dog or cat. Make it cozy with a bed, toys and food and water. This makes guests comfortable as well as your pets.

Dinner Denial With a mountain of food on the table, there’s no place your dog or cat wants to be more than under the table waiting for feast fallout. As much as you would like to give your pet a morsel of holiday goodness, try to refrain — especially if it’s raw. Raw turkey is infamous for carrying salmonella — we know it can make humans very sick, but it can land pets in the emergency room, too. Other foods we think are harmless can cause illness in your pet as well. Food like bread dough can cause an upset stomach and chocolate may result in a trip to the vet. Don’t take any chances with your pets on Thanksgiving. If you feel like they’re being left out of the festivities, get them special treats made for pets.

dog-and-catFeast Fatigue Old friends and family are familiar to you, but new faces may cause excitement for your pet. Before the guests arrive, take your dogs on a walk to get out all of the energy before the dinner madness starts. If your pets get tired out before your hosting duties begin, they’ll be less likely to disrupt dinner or add to the holiday commotion.

We’re with our pets morning, noon and night, so it’s easy to forget they need special attention when guests arrive. Between the holiday shopping and the party preparations, take a little time out to think about your pets for the holiday.

3 Books to Spice Things Up for Cook Something Bold Day

bold-foodWhen you are trying to cook something delicious and healthy every day, it is easy to find yourself in a flavor rut. Cook Something Bold Day marks November 8 as a day to shake things up with zesty ingredients like garlic, hot peppers and saffron. Get started on your culinary journey with these 3 books to spice things up for Cook Something Bold Day.

choppedThe Chopped Cookbook Sometimes cooking something new can be intimidating because it requires exotic ingredients. The Chopped Cookbook shows you ways to unleash the hidden flavors in the food already in your refrigerator and pantry. Transform leftovers into chilled peanut chicken noodle salad. Shake up your taste buds with eggs fried in hot sauce, or a try an American staple with new Louisiana soul with Cajun-spiced burgers. Since this book focuses on common ingredients, you may be able to get cooking without an extra trip to the store.

diners-drive-ins-and-divesDiners, Drive-Ins and Dives On his hit Food Network show, Guy Fieri travels America looking for the most unusual and bold flavors. Bring a bit of his “Flavortown” to your home with the nearly 70 recipes in the all-new Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives cookbook. In addition to fun behind-the-scenes stories from the show, it has lively dishes like braised brisket spiced with coffee and ancho chili powder, green chili stew, and more.

pioneer-womanThe Pioneer Woman Cooks Ree Drummond’s irresistible recipes and wit has made her an Internet superstar and best-selling author. Her up-to-date versions of country favorites include a lot of spicy and savory fare. The Pioneer Woman Cooks features entrees like spicy pulled pork and white chicken enchiladas. If you are just looking for a side or snack, try grilled corn guacamole to add zest to chips.

When you’re trying new recipes, don’t be afraid to add your own spices. Remember that you know how things are supposed to taste and just about every flavor can be adjusted with salt or sugar. Experimenting and being bold is half what makes cooking fun!

National Peanut Butter Month: How to Make Buckeyes

BuckeyesNovember is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month — and it is certainly loved. You can find peanut butter in just about any edible form — cookies, cupcakes, chicken chili, Thai noodles –but since LTD Commodities is in the Midwest, our favorite way to serve peanut butter is as a buckeyes.

BuckeyesIf you don’t know what a buckeye is, it’s a tree. It’s native to the Midwest, but Ohio adopted it as its state tree and The Ohio State University claims it as its mascot (but we don’t have any collegiate allegiances at LTD Commodities). We refer to its seeds as buckeyes — which are very similar to chestnuts, but they’re highly toxic. Buckeye Balls — which are made with peanut butter and chocolate to look like buckeye seeds — are, however, certainly edible and absolutely addictive.

Here’s how to make Buckeyes:buckeye-blanket

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate chips (60% cacao or more)

In a bowl fitted with a stand mixer and paddle attachment or using a hand-mixer , beat together the butter, peanut butter and vanilla on low speed. When the mixture is smooth, start adding the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Scoop out about 1¼ TB of the mixture and form a ball with your hands. Set it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Buckeyes

Melt the chocolate using a water bath: on high heat bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Reduce the heat to low and keep the water simmering. Place a kitchen towel over the pan and place a heat-proof bowl on top of the towel. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl to melt. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Buckeyes

Using a toothpick, spear a chilled peanut butter ball and dip it in the melted chocolate leaving a little bit of the peanut butter exposed — this is what makes them look like buckeyes. Return the peanut butter ball (now covered in chocolate) to the cookie sheet and repeat the process with the remaining peanut butter balls. Refrigerate for 15 or 20 minutes.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. This recipe makes about 25 peanut butter balls but it can be doubled, tripled or even cut in half.  Buckeyes also travel well for parties and they can be made ahead and frozen.

You don’t have to be from the Ohio or even the Midwest to enjoy a buckeye ball. They’re easy to make, perfect for the holidays and delicious — even a Michigan Wolverine would enjoy a good buckeye ball.

Sandwich Day: 4 Sandwich Ideas for Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey-Sandwich

November 3rd is National Sandwich Day — it is a day to honor one of America’s favorite meals. Everyone loves a good sandwich, but since it’s also November, we thought we’d give you a few sandwich ideas for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Here are 4 fun turkey sandwiches to get you excited about Thanksgiving.

For leftover Thanksgiving turkey, your slow cooker will be your best friend. Our Gooseberry Patch Slow-Cooker cookbooks have a few ideas you can adapt to make your leftovers exciting.

Turkey French Dip

  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 whole peppercorns
  • 16 slices of Provolone cheese (or mild white cheese of your choice)
  • 8 French rolls, split

Place the sliced onion on the bottom of the slow-cooker. Add turkey followed by rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, bay leaf, peppercorns, and chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for one hour. Discard the bay leaf. Using tongs, place the turkey and onions on the rolls. Top the turkey with cheese. Use the leftover broth for dipping. southern-barbecue

Southern Barbecue

  • 1 ½ lbs roasted turkey, shredded
  • 1 18 oz bottle of barbecue sauce
  • 2 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB hot pepper sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 8 hamburger buns, split

Place all of the ingredients in the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for one hour. Serve on buns with or without cole slaw.midwest-turkey-sandwich

Midwest Turkey Sandwich 

  • 3 lbs roasted turkey, shredded
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (can be substituted with cream of celery or chicken soup)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 24 sandwich buns
  • Pickle slices

Place the turkey in the slow cooker. Top with cream of mushroom soup. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Spoon turkey on to buns and garnish with pickle slices.

EZ Pocket Turkey Sandwich

Ingredients:ez-pocket

  • 2 cans refrigerator biscuit dough
  • Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Leftover Thanksgiving sides

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out one can refrigerator biscuit dough together to fit and fit into EZ Pocket pans.  Fill the pockets with turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and gravy — or whatever leftovers you want to add. Roll out second can of dough and top the filling. Seal the edges of the dough with the crimper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

At LTD Commodities, we’re excited about Sandwich Day, but we’re more excited about the holidays!  Whether you need kitchen gadgets to put together the perfect Thanksgiving dinner or you’re looking for Christmas gifts, we have everything you need at the best prices.

 

Deviled Egg Day: How to Make Basic Deviled Eggs

Deviled_EggsNovember 2nd is the day we set aside to honor the deviled egg — that delightful finger food we see during holiday parties and potlucks. According to history.com they’ve been gracing tables as far back as the first century and recipes for them have been appearing in cookbooks since the 13th centruy with a version claimed by just about every culture. People continue to try to reinvent the deviled egg, but if you’ve never made deviled eggs, you might want to start with a standard American recipe. Here is how to make basic deviled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • (Paprika for serving)

Deviled_EggsDirections:

Place your eggs in a sauce pan. Fill it with water until the eggs are just covered. Over high heat, bring the water to rolling boil. Turn off the and cover the pan. Let it sit for about nine minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan using a slotted spoon. Gently crack each egg and place them in a bowl of ice water. Let them sit until they’ve cooled completely — at least a half-hour. If you follow these directions, your yolks will be perfectly yellow (no green!) and the shells should peel off nicely without leaving any craters in the whites.

Deviled_EggsCut the eggs in half, lengthwise. Remove the yolks by popping them out of the white the way you would pop a piece of gum out of a blister pack. Place the yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mash together and stir (vigorously) until it’s smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Taste the yolks.  If it needs salt, add a pinch and mix well. If it’s too salty, you can adjust the flavor by adding a ¼ teaspoon of granulated sugar.

Deviled_EggsPlace the yolk mixture in a plastic bag. Squeeze out all the air, seal and snip the end with kitchen shears. You will use this to neatly put the yolks back into the egg. With your strong hand, squeeze the top and use your weak hand to guide the bag. Squeeze about 1 TB of yolk mixture into each egg half with a swirl motion. Sprinkle paprika on top. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the eggs, but they should be consumed within 24 hours.

If you’re looking for an easy make-ahead appetizer for your holiday party or you need to bring something to serve for Thanksgiving, this is a no-fail recipe — it’s hard to mess up for even the worst cooks! Happy Deviled Egg Day!

Deviled_Eggs

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

latte2October starts next week and with October comes an influx of pumpkin flavored everything. It’s something people are obsessed with – particularly the pumpkin spice latte that coffee shops re-introduce to the public every fall for a limited run. One man went so far with his obsession, he made it his mission to put pumpkin spice syrup on everything: pizza, bacon, yogurt, curry. Pumpkin spice is good, but we’ll stick with the coffee idea! Here is a recipe for DIY pumpkin spice latte:

When people refer to pumpkin spice, what they really mean is pumpkin PIE spice. Pumpkin pie spice is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of spices mixed together (you can buy it premixed) to add to pumpkin and other ingredients to make our Thanksgiving pumpkin pies:pumpkindishes

  • 4 parts ground cinnamon
  • 4 parts ground nutmeg
  • 4 parts ground ginger
  • 3 parts ground allspice

A homemade pumpkin spice latte is straightforward:

  • 2 cups milk (whole milk works best)
  • 2 TB pumpkin puree
  • 2 TB granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup espresso
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • Pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling

latte1Directions: In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, bring the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to a simmer, whisking slowly to combine the ingredients evenly and so the milk doesn’t burn. For frothy milk, transfer the milk to a blender, add the espresso and vanilla and carefully blend on medium-high speed (do not close the lid all the way, the heat from the milk will cause the lid to pop off when you blend). If whipped cream is enough froth for you, stir the espresso and vanilla into the sauce pan and whisk well. Divide between two mugs, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

The homemade pumpkin spice latte goes well with homemade apple muffins. If you can’t get enough pumpkin, the latte also goes well with pumpkin rolls, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin pie. Enjoy your lattes!pumpkins