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    • Healthy Holiday Baking Swaps

      27 October 2021

      (Family Features) Many holiday hosts tend to pull out their most treasured family recipes when entertaining loved ones. After all, taste is the most important aspect of most holiday spreads, particularly when it comes to favorite baked goods and desserts.

      Put a better-for-you twist on your baked classics this holiday season by swapping out less healthy cooking fats like butter, canola oil and vegetable oil with an option like Pompeian Light Taste Olive Oil. Ideal for baking desserts like this Lemon Cake or Sugar Cookies with Orange Glaze, as well as frying, this light tasting olive oil provides a healthier take on your holiday recipes without impacting the taste you and your guests love. This olive oil is high-quality and authentic, backed by a brand that has been perfecting the craft of olive oil since 1906.

      Find more better-for-you holiday recipe inspiration at

      Lemon Cake
      Prep time: 10 minutes
      Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
      Servings: 30

      1 1/3 cups Pompeian Light Taste Olive Oil, plus additional for oiling pan
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      1 cup sugar
      3/4 cup brown sugar
      1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
      1 1/4 cups whole milk
      3 large eggs
      1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus additional for garnish (optional)
      1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
      1/4 cup limoncello
      powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)
      dried sweetened lemon rings, for garnish (optional)

      Heat oven to 350 F. Oil 8-by-12-by-2-inch pan with olive oil and line bottom with parchment paper.

      In a bowl, whisk flour, sugars, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk 1 1/3 cups olive oil, milk, eggs, lemon zest, juice and limoncello. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.

      Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes until the top is golden and the cake tester comes out clean. Transfer cake to rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

      Run knife around edge of pan, invert cake onto rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

      Sprinkle it with powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon rings right before serving, if desired.

      Sugar Cookies with Orange Glaze
      Prep time: 15 minutes
      Cook time: 10 minutes
      Servings: 36

      2 cups all-purpose flour
      1 cup cake sugar
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup Pompeian Light Taste Olive Oil
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1/2 teaspoon almond extract
      2-3 tablespoons unsweetened milk of choice

      1 cup powdered sugar, plus additional if needed, for thickening
      2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
      1/8 teaspoon salt
      orange slices or blood orange slices, for topping
      sugar, for topping

      To make cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease the baking sheet.

      In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.

      Add olive oil, vanilla extract and almond extract. Stir until crumbly dough forms.

      Add 2 tablespoons milk; stir until soft dough ball forms, adding more milk if needed.

      Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Using a jar lid or other circular object, cut out cookies; place on a baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used.

      Bake for 8-10 minutes; do not overbake. Set aside to cool.

      To make glaze: In a small bowl, stir powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and salt until thick glaze forms. Add more juice, if needed, to thin out glaze or add more powdered sugar to thicken.

      When cookies are cooled, glaze them. Top with orange slices or blood orange slices and a pinch of sugar.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Parties to Plan: Themes You Can Choose From

      27 October 2021

      One of the joys of owning your own home is getting to host parties with your friends and family. But you don't have to limit the fun to simply birthday parties. There are plenty of occasions to bring people together and enjoy a special day. 

      Kentucky Derby: This takes place the first Saturday of every May and is a wonderful event to create a party around. Considered "the fastest two minutes in sports," the day will be much more than just watching an exciting race. Have people dress up the way they would at Churchill Downs, which means plenty of bow ties, fancy dresses and elegant hats. Serve up the Mint Juleps and offer traditional Southern fare for food. Have every guest choose a horse in the race and offer prizes for those whose horses finish in the top three. Or better yet, have everyone throw in $10 (or some other figure) to a pot and let one person walk away a big winner, just like they do in Kentucky.

      The Oscars: This is a great night to gather up your friends, dress in fancy clothes, and cheer on your favorite movies from the past year. You can play on the movie theme by having people dress as their favorite movie characters, decorating with movie memorabilia and posters. For a little more fun, have a red carpet at the entryway for people walking in, and buy a large Hollywood backdrop for taking pictures. Hold a contest to see who can pick the most winners and have a fun prize for the champion—movie-themed of course.

      Super Bowl: You don't have to be a football fan to enjoy a Super Bowl party. Considering this is often the most-watched television event of the year, it only makes sense to watch with your friends. Food doesn't need to be anything glamorous—barbeque, nachos and other typical bar-type food are big hits, and beer is usually the drink of choice. Run a contest where everyone puts their name in a box so they have scores to root for to win money. This way it doesn't matter if their team is in the game or not, they have something to root for regardless.

      Murder Mystery: About a decade ago, Murder Mystery Dinner Theater was all the rage, and now those fun nights are finding their way into homes with themed murder mystery parties. You can buy a board game or find rules for a game online, but they generally involve inviting a group of guests and giving each instructions on how their character should act at the party. Since it's themed, people will have to wear a costume to go along with their character and then during the party they will get more details on what their character should be doing, all the time trying to decipher who the murderer is. It's a great game to see a new side of your friends come out.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Reasons to Buy a Greenhouse

      27 October 2021

      Gardening can be an excellent way to relax, connect with nature, and grow food for your family and flowers to decorate your home and share with others. Unfortunately, seasonal temperature changes, unpredictable weather and other issues can make growing plants outdoors a challenge. With a greenhouse, you can avoid these problems.

      Grow What You Want, When You Want
      Most plants only grow well under specific conditions and therefore can only be raised outdoors at certain times of the year. A greenhouse can allow you to control the temperature and amount of humidity so your vegetables, flowers and herbs will have the optimal growing conditions in any season.

      Too much or too little rain, temperature fluctuations and unexpected frost can ruin crops you’ve worked on raising for months. With a greenhouse, you won’t need to worry about any of that. Your plants will be protected from extreme weather in a carefully controlled environment with consistent conditions.

      Protect Your Plants From Outdoor Hazards
      Insects can invade an outdoor garden and destroy plants, and wild animals can eat vegetables and flowers before you have a chance to pick them. Pets (either yours or someone else’s) can run through a garden and trample plants. With a greenhouse, your plants will be shielded from all these hazards so they can reach their full potential.

      Save Money
      If you grow vegetables in a greenhouse, you may save a lot on groceries. Supermarket prices fluctuate based on the season and growing conditions, but with a greenhouse you can have the vegetables of your choice any time you want at a fraction of the cost.

      Improve Your Health
      Gardening is a great form of exercise. In addition, working outdoors and being surrounded by nature can help you manage stress. Tending to your plants can give you something to look forward to each day, as well as the satisfaction of watching your plants grow and then having the opportunity to enjoy them and share your bounty with others.

      How to Choose a Greenhouse
      Greenhouses are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and you can choose the design and number of doors that best suit your plans and needs. Figure out which types of plants you’d like to grow and approximately how much space you want to devote to each, as well as how much space you’ll need for seeds and gardening tools. Then consider the size and layout of your yard, as well as which part gets the most sunlight, to choose a greenhouse that matches your needs and the amount of space available.

      Is Greenhouse Gardening Right for You?
      Gardening can be beneficial to your physical and mental health, but unpredictable weather and other challenges can make raising plants outdoors difficult. A greenhouse can allow you to carefully control the environment so you can raise the plants you want in any season. If you’ve been frustrated by outdoor growing, explore the benefits of raising plants in a greenhouse.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A Sweet Coffee Treat

      26 October 2021

      ( Do you know that moment when something sweet hits your taste buds and a smile instantly spreads across your face? It’s almost magic to some. To others it’s just simply bliss. This holiday season, try something that’s simple yet sophisticated for an easy way to ensure smiles all around.

      Try an Easy Tiramisu Dip because whether you’re relaxing at home, having a small get-together with friends or joining your annual family gathering virtually, this dip is sure to spread culinary cheer.

      The recipe starts with “easy,” and it holds true to its name. With a short list of ingredients and only a handful of instructions, this is something you can whip up (literally) in just a few moments. Also, using minimal tools in the kitchen is always a plus for at-home chefs. The only appliance needed to make this recipe is a mixer.

      The outcome is fluffy, rich and sweet with a hint of espresso. It’s not overpowering, however, so little ones or non-coffee lovers can still enjoy this delicious dip.

      This is also a unique dessert because it can be served cool or chilled. If you are planning to take a sweet treat to a party this holiday season, this is nearly perfect. No oven time needed and simple to serve to kids and adults alike.

      Serve with ladyfingers or fruit to bring that sweetness to a whole new level, and it’s topped with a final sprinkle of cocoa powder to give it that extra appeal. You do eat with your eyes first after all.

      Give this one a try and see the faces of your loved ones light up with joy this season. This creamy, tasty dip is sure to impress.

      For more easy dessert recipes, visit

      Easy Tiramisu Dip
      Servings: 4

      1 cup heavy whipping cream
      1 tablespoon espresso powder
      4 ounces cream cheese, softened
      8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
      1/2 cup powdered sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      2 teaspoons cocoa powder
      wafers or fruit, for dipping

      In a medium bowl, whisk heavy whipping cream and espresso powder until blended.

      In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add Mascarpone cheese and beat until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract; beat mixture. Add espresso mixture; beat until soft peaks form.

      Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

      Spoon mixture into serving bowl. Sprinkle it with cocoa powder. Serve with wafers or fruit.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Staging Your Home for Autumn

      26 October 2021

      If you have a home for sale, it's time to make your place fit the season. Autumn staging can help sell your home before the holiday season, and it's also an opportunity to present your house in the best way possible. Here are some ideas as to how to make your home enticing to potential buyers.

      Enhance your curb appeal. Just because spring and summer are gone doesn't mean you can't enhance your home's exterior with colorful plants. Mums, sumac, pansies and goldenrods are just a few choices. Pumpkins are another nice decorating touch that will put people in the fall mood. But don't go overboard and make your yard look like a pumpkin patch. Stage for fall, not Halloween.

      Let the air in. It's a great time of year to open your windows and let crisp air fill your home. It will make your home smell fresh and clean, while also making it comfortable. But make sure rooms don't get uncomfortably cold, especially as temperatures drop in the late afternoon.

      Snack it up. Have fall foods like apples, pumpkin treats and apple cider available for visitors. Buy them from local farms to give potential buyers an idea of the special foods they can enjoy if they move into your neighborhood.

      Set a cozy scene. Decorate your living room with pillows and blankets so that guests can imagine themselves enjoying quiet, warm evenings in your house on those chilly nights. If you have a fireplace, light it on cold days to really warm the room up and set a mood.

      Set the scene with candles. Scented candles, such as pumpkin, apple and cranberry look beautiful and bring the smells of autumn to visitors' noises. Autumn potpourri is another great decorative option that can make your place smell wonderful. You can also buy potpourri, or look for websites and videos that demonstrate how to make your own.

      Let the light in. During the daytime, open up blinds and curtains so that rooms are bright. Turn on lights in rooms that don't get as much natural light, and throughout the house later in the day as the sun goes down.

      The right buyer could be visiting at any time, be sure you set the perfect autumn scene to let them know your home is the one for them.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.