Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tidbits: Safe Eggnog!

Did you know that safe eggnog begins with happy eggs (see photo above)?

Well, not really.  But if you are planning to make your world-famous homemade eggnog, you are probably going to want to make it safe for your guests and family. No sense ruining a nice party with a trip to the Emergency Room.

Here are commonly made statements about eggnog that I have heard over time, disguised as a quiz for  you, with my answers:

Yes or No: Putting lots of alcohol in the eggnog kills the salmonella or other bacteria that may be in the eggs. 
(No.) The bacteria may be happy, but they don’t go away.

Yes or No: Fresh and/or organic eggs are more safe than regular grocery eggs.  
(No.) Bacteria love protein, and that’s what an egg is made of.

Yes or No: Freezing eggnog, then thawing before serving kills bacteria. 
(No.)  The freezing just slows down the bacteria’s growth, but they are still there.

There are three ways to have safe eggnog (from a food safety perspective). 
  • First, you could buy ready-made eggnog. The word “pasteurized” on the label means the eggnog has been brought up to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to kill potential bacteria, then is quickly cooled. (Click the word pasteurized to learn more; the science majors can click here to learn even more.) 
  • Second, if making homemade eggnog, you could use a pasteurized egg product such as Egg Beaters, or check brands in your store that say “pasteurized”. 
  • Third, and a little more work, is making your own eggnog, but using the methods from the American Egg Board for “Classic Cooked Eggnog”.  See their recipe below: 

Classic Cooked Eggnog  from the American Egg Board 
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla

Step one: BEAT eggs, sugar and salt in large heavy saucepan until blended. STIR IN 2 cups milk.

Step two: COOK over low heat, stirring constantly but gently, until mixture is just thick enough to just coat a metal spoon with a thin film and temperature reaches 160°F, about 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. REMOVE from heat immediately.

Step three: STIR IN remaining 2 cups milk and vanilla. REFRIGERATE, covered, until thoroughly chilled (several hours or overnight).

Makes 12 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 94 calories, 4 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrate, 100 milligrams cholesterol, 122 milligrams sodium. 

Visit the American Egg Board’s Eggcyclopedia for A-to-Z information on eggs and cooking with eggs. It’s my go-to spot for any questions about eggs.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's For Dinner: Quick White Chicken Chili

There are many recipes for white chicken chili around, but I like this simple one that calls for ingredients I always keep on hand. It’s tasty enough for company, but we usually make a double batch for ourselves once the weather turns cold (leftovers are good, and half the batch goes in the freezer for a later meal).

RECIPE:  Quick White Chicken Chili

1 48-ounce jar of great northern beans, rinsed
2 14-ounce cans of reduced sodium chicken broth (or 1 can broth, 1 can water)
1 8-10 ounce jar of chunky salsa
1 12.5 ounce can of either white meat chicken or turkey, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

In a large Dutch oven, add the beans, chicken broth, salsa, chicken, cumin and garlic powder and stir.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors (it tastes even better the next day).

Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or crackers.  Makes about 10 cups.

Nutrition information per 1 cup:  192 calories, 16 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 227 milligrams sodium.
Cook’s notes:  
  • You can always use leftover chicken or turkey in the soup; measure about 1.5 to 2 cups or so of chicken chunks (or more if you want). 
  • You also could use fresh chicken breasts instead of the canned. Cut into chunks 2 large breast halves or 3 small halves. Sauté chicken in 1-2 teaspoons olive oil until chicken turns from pink to white. Add to soup.  (If using minced garlic, sauté it along with the chicken.) 
  • Choose a salsa that is one step hotter than you normally use, because the beans tone down the hotness, especially by day 2. 
  • The cumin is a must. If you are out of cumin, don’t make this recipe until you get some from the store. Seriously.