Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving — Plan, Prep, and Enjoy the Day

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, making it easy to lose sight of what’s important. Whether this is your first year hosting and you’re frozen with indecision, or you regularly get put on the spot and want to find an easier way to get things done, it’s possible to enjoy your day with some careful preparation and planning. 

Two to Three Weeks Before Thanksgiving

  • Make Your Plan

Before you do anything else, make sure you know when your big event will take place. Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November. If you haven’t done so yet, think about how you will serve your meal and where guests will sit. This will drive some of your other decisions.

  • Create a Menu

When creating your Thanksgiving menu, choose dishes that are known and simple. This isn’t the time to experiment. There’s nothing more stressful than promising your guests Turducken and having no idea how to fix it. 

  • Shopping Trip #1

From your menu, you can create a grocery list. Many items can be purchased well in advance so you can focus on the perishables later in the process. This includes your turkey. To ensure you buy a large enough bird and have enough for leftovers, allow for about one pound of turkey per guest. 

One Week Before Thanksgiving

  • Arrange the Decor

Don’t wait until the day before your meal to think about decorations and table settings. Taking care of these items a week (or several days) in advance will take some of the stress off of your holiday. 

  • Shopping Trip #2

Your second shipping trip should go much quicker because you are only focusing on perishable items and anything you might have missed on the first trip. This is the day you’ll want to pick up things like milk, eggs, cheese, and vegetables. 

Thanksgiving Week

  • Take a Careful Inventory

As the holiday approaches, ensure you have everything you need for cooking and serving. Do you have enough serving dishes and utensils? A turkey thermometer? Stores won’t be open on Thanksgiving day to grab these items. 

  • Begin Cooking Well in Advance

If you can, begin cooking up to five days in advance. You can freeze things like casseroles, gravy bases, and veggies for several days after cooking. Advanced meal prep will make the main event go much more smoothly. 

  • Clean the Kitchen

Clean your kitchen as you go. If you allow pots and pans to pile up, it will become overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Thanksgiving Day

  • Start Your Day Early

The early bird gets the worm when it comes to hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving. There’s a lot to get done, especially if you plan on serving a meal in the afternoon. 

  • Roast the Perfect Turkey

Research Thanksgiving turkey recipes well in advance so you have a game plan for the big day. This will ensure you know the right cooking time for your bird as well as how to prepare and serve it properly. 

  • Keep Food Warm

Calculate how much time other dishes will take to cook and strategically keep everything warm so you won’t serve cold food. For example, you can use a slow cooker to keep rice or mashed potatoes warm and even store food in your microwave (it’s insulated). 

  • Consider Serving Buffet Style

You know what will work best with your guests. For many, it’s less stressful to set out all the delicious items and have guests serve themselves buffet style. 

  • Have Leftover Containers Handy

You will surely want leftovers, and your guests will appreciate being able to take something home after the meal. You can speed up this process and reduce waste by having some leftover containers at the ready. 

  • Remember to Enjoy the Day

The most important thing is to remember to spend some quality time. If you’re stressed and running around in the kitchen constantly, this will be a challenge. When you need help, ask for it. And don’t be afraid to laugh at your mistakes. Those will make some of the best holiday stories for years to come!

Get Your Thanksgiving Ingredients at Nick’s of Clinton

Now that you know how to host a stress-free Thanksgiving, you can begin planning and prepping for the big day. Nick’s of Clinton wants to help. Our full-service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. We also offer a wide variety of fresh ingredients and even some ready-made items. 

Whether you have a list prepared and know exactly what you need or would like some suggestions, let us know how we can offer assistance. We take pride in delivering high-quality products at affordable prices. Give us a call at (301) 843-2825 or stop by our store today. 

How to Pack a Valentine’s Day Lunch Your Kids Will Love

The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on — and it’s a holiday that your kids can enjoy just as much as the adults. Fortunately, you can help make it special for your young ones by shaking up how you do school lunches. Here are several ideas to help you pack a Valentine’s Day lunch your kids will love. 

1. Mini Shape Cutters

Use mini shape cutters to create some fun, edible snacks for your kids. These come in heart, letter, arrow, and other shapes that you can use on things like cheese, bread, fruit, salami, and a ton of other food items. For example, you can use the letter cutters to make “XOXO” or “LOVE” cheese snacks. You can even spell out your child’s name. 

2. Cupcake Liners and Baking Cups

Use cupcake liners or heart-shaped baking cups as dividers to create extra sections in your child’s bento lunch box and to add some Valentine’s Day color. These are a great way to separate different food items, which also works well if you plan to pack your child’s lunches well in advance. There are many options for these liners and cups, but you can certainly find holiday-themed ones as the date gets closer. 

3. Heart-Shaped Food

You can turn just about any food into a heart to make it fun for your kids. Heart-shaped pizzas are a fun choice for Valentine’s Day. You can also cut their favorite sandwich into the shape of a heart. Other options include cutting fruit, like apple slices, pineapple, strawberries, and melons into heart-shaped pieces. 

4. Chocolate Covered-Fruit

Even if you don’t normally send chocolate in your child’s lunch, you might make an exception every now and then for holidays like Valentine’s Day. You can add a healthy spin to the gesture by creating some chocolate-covered fruit snacks. And it’s amazingly easy to do. Just choose the type of chocolate and fruit you want as well as any toppings like nuts or coconut. 

5. Valentine’s Fruit Kabobs

In staying with the fruit theme, you can put together some fun and colorful Valentine’s fruit kabobs for your kids. Get an assortment of blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple pieces, and grapes. You can pre-cut the fruit pieces into heart shapes or stars. Then, create festive rainbow fruit skewers. 

6. Healthy Banana Pops

Another healthy snack/dessert you can make for your kids in the Valentine’s Day spirit is frozen banana pops. These are delicious banana halves on a stick dipped in Greek vanilla yogurt and rolled in sprinkles. You’ll want to package this snack in a cool bag so the yogurt doesn’t melt. 

7. Homemade Fortune Cookies

What could be more fun and personal for your child than getting to crack open some homemade fortune cookies on Valentine’s day? You can spend some time thinking of funny or inspirational messages to put on the “fortunes.” Then follow the recipe and send them off with your child’s lunch. You can even add a bit of red food coloring to the cookie dough to turn the cookies pink. 

8. Include Color Accents

Anything red or pink can add a dash of color to your child’s special Valentine’s Day lunch. This might involve placing some bright napkins in their lunch box or including things like heart-shaped cutouts, a placemat, or some berries. 

9. Grilled Cheese Hearts and Tomato Soup

If your child is a bit older or you live in a colder climate, you might want to send them a cup (or thermos) of warm soup and a sandwich for lunch. You can dolly it up for Valentine’s Day by choosing tomato soup because it’s red. And then top it off with a heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwich

10. Old Fashioned Love Notes

Finally, your kids have probably spent some time filling out those cute Valentine’s cards for their friends and classmates. They’d probably like nothing more than to receive a nice Valentine from you. Take the time to include a handwritten, printed, or fun note with your child’s lunch to add some extra Valentine’s love to their day. 

Do Your School Lunch Shopping at Nick’s of Clinton

When you’re preparing these fun and delicious lunches for your kids, you want the highest-quality and most affordable ingredients. For over 50 years, Nick’s of Clinton has been providing a full-service experience to customers with its superior quality products and top-level customer service. Nick’s offers one-stop shopping for all your grocery needs, including a full-service meat and deli department and Nick’s signature line of products. Stop by or give us a call today at (301) 843-4825 with any questions.

Deep Frying Your Turkey

If you’ve always roasted your Thanksgiving turkey, you’ve done what most do with those huge birds. There’s nothing wrong with following tradition, and the results are probably pretty tasty. 

But a new trend has emerged that involves deep frying turkeys. It produces even better results than you could imagine. But the practice isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, some people are injured each year trying to get to the finish line, so understanding the process is critical. Here are some instructions for deep frying your turkey, along with a few Dos and Don’ts. 

Choosing Your Turkey for the Deep Fryer

It can only be so big if you plan to cook your turkey this way. A standard 30-quart deep fryer can only handle up to a 14-pound turkey. If your bird is larger than this, you’ll need to remove the thighs and legs from the body and fry them separately. As a side note, you should be able to feed around ten people with a 14-pound turkey. 

To Marinade or Not Marinade a Deep Fried Turkey?

When deep frying a turkey, moisture will not be your friend. So any marinade will spit at you when it comes into contact with hot oil. But you can season your turkey with a dry rub the day before so that it absorbs the flavors of your seasoning. It’s a good idea to leave the bird uncovered in the refrigerator so the skin dries up slightly. This will make it crispier when deep fried. 

Deep Frying Your Turkey – Dos and Don’ts to Get It Done Safely

Deep fried turkeys cook much faster than oven-roasted ones. It only takes about 3 to 4 minutes per pound to deep fry a turkey versus about 20 minutes per pound to roast one. Here are some Dos and Don’ts to get the best results and stay safe. 

DO Understand the Basics of Deep Frying a Turkey

If you haven’t done this before, take your time to become familiar with these instructions:

  • Choose a fryer that is appropriate for deep frying turkeys.
  • Completely thaw your turkey, remove the giblets, and separate the legs. 
  • Wear safety gear like a thick apron and heavy-duty oven mitts. Have your tools and a fire extinguisher nearby. 
  • Choose a high-heat oil, filling the fryer to the proper line. 
  • Start the flame at low and then increase it once the oil is added. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. 
  • Turn off the flame before lowering the turkey into the oil using the provided basket or hook. Restart the flame and place the thermometer back in the oil. 
  • Set your timer based on the size of your turkey. 
  • Once the time expires, check the turkey’s temperature using a meat thermometer. 
  • Rest the turkey on paper towels for about 20 minutes before it is sliced and served. 

DON’T Shortcut Your Preparation and Safety Measures

The directions for frying a turkey might seem simple enough. But a lot can go wrong when you’re dealing with hot oil. Before you get ready to drop a turkey into some hot oil, get to know your turkey fryer. 

If it’s new, read the instructions for set up and use. Inspect all the legs and fittings for safety. Finally, make sure you have all the tools you need within easy reach. This includes having a fire extinguisher handy. 

DO Understand the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Deep Frying

Believe it or not, you can deep fry a turkey indoors with the proper setup. But you need to pay extra attention to ventilation and safety. Some indoor fryers only use air and no oil. But most of those can accommodate smaller birds. You can’t and shouldn’t use an outdoor fryer indoors. It’s too dangerous. Whichever option you choose, your results will be amazing as long as you follow the directions. 

DON’T Use Guesswork When It Comes to Your Oil

Choosing the right type and amount of oil is vital to your success when frying a turkey. Most recipes call for using either peanut or canola oil. Peanut oil is generally better as a high-heat oil that has a neutral taste. 

You also want to use enough oil to cover your turkey but not so much that it overflows the fryer. A simple way to measure correctly is to put the unthawed turkey in the pot and cover it with water. Then remove the turkey and mark the pot where the water settles. That’s your oil fill point. 

Visit Nick’s of Clinton to Pick Up Your Thanksgiving Ingredients Today

Thanksgiving can be an elaborate meal with the main course, all the sides, drinks, and dessert. But you can get everything you need to assemble a delicious feast at Nick’s of Clinton. We take pride in offering the highest quality products and the most affordable prices. 

If you need help choosing your turkey, visit Nick’s meat counter, which is the centerpiece of our store. You can find us at 3953 St. Charles Parkway or give us a call today at (301) 843-4825. 

New Year’s Resolutions – Keeping Up With Your Diet in the New Year

New Year’s Resolutions – Keeping Up With Your Diet in the New Year

If you’re like many Americans, resolving to eat healthily made your list of 2022 resolutions. But as you power through the new year, eating healthy can be challenging when faced with budget concerns, a growing family, a heavy workload, or various other priorities. At Nick’s of Clinton, we are here to help you meet your New Year’s resolution to keep up with your diet throughout 2022. Here are some tips for keeping up with your diet in the New Year.

Know the Basics of a Healthy Diet 

The first thing you should familiarize yourself with when working to improve your diet is knowing what constitutes a good diet. While how food will impact you depends on many things, including your tolerance for certain foods, any underlying health conditions, and your exercise level, most experts agree about the following: 

  • Most nutritionists agree that vegetables are integral to a healthy diet, and some even advocate for a fully plant-based diet or believe that a significant portion of a person’s calories should come from vegetables. Vegetables are important because they contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for health.
  • While some people have trouble digesting grains or have an inflammatory reaction, for others, grains can be a great source of nutrients. Choose whole grains whenever possible. White flour, for example, is virtually devoid of nutrients as it’s made only from the endosperm. 
  • When it comes to protein, it is very important to get enough protein daily for optimal health. Most experts recommend that lean protein sources are best, and that oily fish is one of the best sources of protein out there. Some experts also say that eating red meat in moderation is good for you, as red meat has vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that your body needs. If you are a vegetarian, there are numerous sources of non-animal protein available. 
  • While many people who are dieting think that fat should be avoided altogether, the real culprit when it comes to weight gain and poor health is sugar. Fat is actually essential to providing energy and supporting cell function, but some fats are better than others.

By eating a combination of the above and avoiding high-sugar foods or foods with lots of additives, you’ll be taking the first steps towards a better diet. 

Prepare Your Own Food or Choose Consciously Prepared Food 

Another thing to consider when keeping up with your diet is whether you’re making your own food or buying pre-packaged or pre-made food. Nine out of 10 times, making your own food from scratch using fresh ingredients will be better for you. Not only is food more nutritious when it’s prepared fresh, but it also is much less likely to have additives, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients that can be bad for health. If you are buying prepared food, choose prepared foods that are made fresh and that aren’t pre-packaged or boxed. 

Don’t Forget About Other Elements of Good Health 

While a healthy diet is arguably one of the most important parts of maintaining good health, it isn’t the only one. It’s important that you support your health in other ways too, such as by exercising and prioritizing self-care and stress management. When you are feeling healthy in other areas of your life, this may motivate you to continue eating healthy and it may also lead to faster results. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, find a friend or family member who can serve as an accountability buddy—you can pursue good health as a team.

Get Support in Your Journey to Eat Healthy at Nick’s of Clinton 

At Nick’s of Clinton, we have the produce, meat, dairy, and other foods that you’re looking for. If you’re ready to take up healthy shopping and eating, we have everything you need to be supported along the journey. Not only do we have a full-service meat counter and deli, but we also have numerous delicious and healthy prepared food options for those days when you don’t have time to cook.

To learn more about Nick’s of Clinton, call us at (301) 843-4825 or email us today. We look forward to seeing you!

Accidents in the Kitchen – Be Careful While Cooking Your Holiday Meal

The holidays are meant to be a time when loved ones come together to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Unfortunately, accidents in kitchens also spike during the holiday season. Families might spend more time than usual prepping, baking, and cooking. From personal safety to food safety, there is a lot to consider, so be prepared and avoid serious mishaps this holiday season with these simple tips.

Understanding Kitchen Safety Hazards

To avoid accidents in the kitchen, it’s important to understand the various dangers that exist in the kitchen. Here are some kitchen hazards that are common causes of holiday accidents.

Kitchen Knives

  • Always handle kitchen knives with caution.
  • When chopping a round object, cut one side carefully and then place the flat side down on a block so that the item is stable for additional chopping.
  • Keep your knives sharpened so you can avoid straining while using them.
  • To prevent blade contact, place one hand on the knife handle and the other on top of the knife.

Small Kitchen Appliances

  • Read the directions carefully for your small kitchen appliances.
  • Avoid overfilling any appliance, like a crockpot or coffee maker.
  • Make sure small appliances are on a flat, heat-safe surface.

Hot Dishes

  • Use tongs to handle hot items, staying mindful of water or oil splashing.
  • Avoid leaving items unattended while cooking on a stovetop. Use oven mitts to remove a hot lid when checking a dish.
  • Avoid overfilling a pot when boiling water. Make sure you have a clear path to the sink (no children or pets in the room) when you dump boiling water.
  • When removing a pan or dish from the oven, use oven-safe mittens and make sure you hold the dish well away from your body.

Kitchen Fires

  • Never use water on a grease fire. Instead, use baking soda or smother the flames with a pot cover.
  • For stove, oven, or microwave fires, shut off the appliance and unplug it if possible.
  • Use a fire extinguisher for electrical fires – not water.
  • As a safety precaution, call the fire department after you’ve experienced a kitchen fire.

Practice Appropriate Food Safety

In addition to accidents related to sharp objects, heat, and appliances, there are many safety issues surrounding food preparation. If food isn’t stored or prepared correctly, you and your loved ones could experience food poisoning. Here are some helpful tips to follow:

Storing Food Properly

  • Depending on the temperature of your kitchen or home, it’s important to refrigerate food within one to two hours of the meal.
  • Your freezer temperature should be below zero, and your refrigerator should be kept at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After wrapping securing, store meat on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to lower the chances of juices dripping on other items.

Smart Food Shopping

  • Avoid purchasing any food that is past its expiration date.
  • Don’t buy damaged or dented boxes or cans of food.
  • Avoid purchasing meat in a leaking or torn package.
  • Purchase your perishable foods last.

Washing Your Hands

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you begin preparing your holiday meal.
  • As your hands come into contact with various surfaces and food throughout the day, wash them again to avoid spreading bacteria.

Thawing Meat Correctly

  • Plan in advance to thaw meat in the refrigerator.
  • If thawing meat in cold water, allow 30 minutes for every pound and cook immediately after thawing.
  • Place meat in a pan or bowl so that it doesn’t drip on other meat as it thaws.

Safe Cooking With Oils

  • Avoid splashing and minor burns by heating your oil slowly.
  • Add food to hot oil slowly to avoid splashing.
  • If you smell food burning, turn the heat off and wait several minutes for the oil to cool.
  • Let oily pots and pans cool completely before cleaning them to avoid burns.

Avoiding Food Cross-Contamination

  • Use clean and separate cutting boards for every type of food. Always use plastic cutting boards for meat.
  • Use a sanitizing solution to clean all surfaces after cutting raw fish or meat.
  • Never return cooked fish or meat to the same plate you used to transport or store the items raw.

Use Only Use the Best Ingredients

When it comes to food safety, the ingredients you use are important. At Nick’s of Clinton, we carry high-quality products and can help complete your holiday shopping in no time. Whether you are looking for the freshest meats, need to cater part of your meal, or want to complement it with the right beer, wine, or spirits, find out how we can help. Give us a call at (301) 843-4825 or visit our Waldorf, MD location today.