TIP OF THE WEEK

The culinary experts at Stella Cheese provide simple tips for creating an impressive cheeseboard:

Choose cheese wisely: Select three to five varieties of cheese for your board. This provides nice variation without overwhelming guests with too many options.

Get the right amounts: Typically 4-6 ounces of cheese per person is a good estimate, but increase or decrease that amount based on time of day and other foods being served.

Add accompaniments and garnishes: For a festive take on your cheeseboard, add quintessential holiday-themed foods such as cranberry jam, roasted chestnuts, fresh figs and even pumpkin butter.

Consider proper preparation: Set cheese out about an hour before serving as this time allows cheese to adjust to room temperature which maximizes flavors.

EASY RECIPE

Chicken & Wild Rice Strudels

For a warm winter meal, try this Taste of Home recipe.

- 1 package (8.8 ounces) ready-to-serve long grain and wild rice

- 1 1/2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

- 12 sheets phyllo dough (14x9-inch size)

- 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Brush one sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter. Layer with five additional sheets, brushing each layer. (Keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel.) Spoon half of the rice mixture down the center of the phyllo dough to within 1 in. of ends. Fold up short sides to enclose filling. Roll up tightly, starting with a long side. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan, seam side down. Brush with butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

EATING SAFE

Salt helps keep your food safe

Each year, foodborne illnesses sicken close to 50 million Americans. A lot of these illnesses are caused by simple things like restaurant employees’ failure to properly wash hands, cooking surfaces and fruits and vegetables.

Salt is a very effective anti-bacterial in food. In fact, it is the oldest known food preserver.

Salt preservation works by influencing the amount of water that all microorganisms require to survive and grow. The use of salt in controlling water means that microbiological safety can be achieved with reduced heat, acidity and other preservatives. This results in a product of improved taste and nutritional quality.

Food safety is an ongoing challenge for an enormous and complex food system, and although challenges continually arise, exercising caution and attention in food purchasing, storage and preparation will minimize the risks. Remember to not only eat healthy but to also eat safely.

PANTRY PESTS

Tips to keep pests out of your pantry

Keep your pantry pest-free with these tips from the National Pest Management Association.

- Store things properly. Plastic containers with secure lids are affordable and invaluable when it comes to protecting your pantry goods from pests. Look for plastic or glass solutions instead of other materials and always try the lid before you buy.

- Make it a total kitchen effort. Your work to protect the cleanliness of your pantry will be more successful if you are vigilant about your entire kitchen. This means routinely emptying trash receptacles, clearing crumbs from countertops, scrubbing the floors and running the dishwasher.

- Inspect your packages closely. You can protect yourself from rolling out the red carpet for these pests by closely inspecting your food packages before tossing them in your cart. Avoid purchasing any package that shows a hint of damage.

- Brandpoint