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Chick-fil-A giving free food to cow-costumed customers on Cow Appreciation Day

You’ll just need a little more cowbell – or at least a cow suit – to snag some free Chick-fil-A on Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

For the 13th year, Chick-fil-A will hold its Cow Appreciation Day event at its more than 2,100 stores nationwide. From opening until 7 p.m. Tuesday, adult customers who dress in cow attire – from “head-to-hoof,” according to the restaurant’s website – will be given a free Chick-fil-A entree, such as the Egg White Grill, Smokehouse BBQ Bacon sandwich, Original Sandwich and more. Children clad in their best moo costume will receive a free kids meal.

It’s the restaurant’s largest single-day customer appreciation event, and it celebrates Chick-fil-A’s popular “Eat Mor Chikin” Cows, which appear on billboards across the country.

“Every year we are amazed at the number of customers who participate in Cow Appreciation Day,” Jon Bridges, Chick-fil-A’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Last year, more than 1.6 million free entrees were given to customers on Cow Appreciation Day. Just as in past years, Chick-fil-A encourages those who participate to share photos on social media using #CowAppreciationDay. There’s also a Cow Appreciation Day Snapchat filter, so snap, tweet or Instagram post till the cows come home.

Chipotle testing queso offering

According to Eater, Chipotle is unveiling its only public-facing test kitchen in New York on Monday, called Chipotle NEXT Kitchen. On deck: a classic margarita and virgin strawberry variety, a salad with avocado citrus dressing and queso.

>> Read more trending news

That’s right. Queso, which the Mexican fast casual chain just previously said would not appear on its menu anytime soon due to the artificial ingredients needed to make the liquid gold suitable for a service line. That cheesy dip is the most requested item that’s not on Chipotle’s menu, Eater New York reported. In a Chipotle internal memo quoted by Eater, the restaurant’s CEO, Steve Ells, told employees Monday that the lack of queso has lead to lost business.

>> Related: Here's why Chipotle doesn't sell queso

To be clear: This does not mean that queso is headed to your local Chipotle, as it’s currently only available at the test kitchen. However, if you’ve held your queso dreams close to your burrito-eating heart, it’s certainly cause for optimism.

Birthday cake-inspired ‘celebration cheesecake’ coming to The Cheesecake Factory

A new cheesecake flavor is coming to The Cheesecake Factory for National Cheesecake Day.

Food & Wine reported that the restaurant chain is bringing a birthday cake-inspired cheesecake to its already lengthy menu of 30 flavors of cheesecake.

According to a Thursday news release, the treat -- a which has layers of the eatery’s original cheesecake and chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layers of mousse and a cream cheese frosting, is part called “Celebration Cheesecake.”

>> Read more trending news

The sprinkled slices are part of the chain’s celebration of National Cheesecake Day, which is July 30. In addition, from July 30 to 31, customers can get half price cheesecake slices.

“National Cheesecake Day has become an annual tradition at The Cheesecake Factory, and we look forward to it all year,” David Overton, The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated CEO said in the news release.

The Cheesecake Factory will also donate 25 cents to hunger relief organization Feeding America for every slice purchased from July 30 through August.

The half-price cheesecake offer applies to all 193 restaurants, but is only good for one slice per guest each day.

Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day with crispy tenders

Making fried chicken from scratch is a mission, even on National Fried Chicken Day (July 6). The brining, the marinating, the breading, the frying, the fretting about overcooking or undercooking the bone-in chicken parts – it requires patience, not to mention serious skill.

To which I say there’s no shame in finding delicious shortcuts. Ditch the bone-in bird; go for the tenderloins, those narrow fillets that cook in a flash. 

>> Read more trending news

Here’s a terrific recipe from Southern food writer Rebecca Lang’s “Fried Chicken” cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2015). Serve these crispy tenders with your favorite dipping sauce or, if you’re feeling slightly industrious, whip up Lang’s honey mustard and “Comeback” sauces. 

RECIPE

Recipes adapted from “Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic” by Rebecca Lang (Ten Speed, 2015). 

Rebecca Lang’s Camden’s Favorite Chicken Fingers  

Serves: 4-6 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1⁄2 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs 

2 teaspoons salt 

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

2 cups buttermilk 

Pure olive oil, for frying 

1 3⁄4 pounds chicken tenderloins (about 18 tenderloins) 

Honey Mustard (see recipe), for serving 

Comeback Sauce (see recipe), for serving 

  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Pour the buttermilk into another bowl. 
  • In a large heavy skillet, heat 1⁄2 inch of olive oil over medium heat to 325 degrees. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. 
  • Working with half of the chicken tenderloins at a time, dip them in the buttermilk and dredge in the flour mixture. Stir the flour mixture often to keep the bread crumbs from settling to the bottom of the bowl. 
  • Carefully place the tenderloins in the hot oil. Fry, turning often, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Maintain an oil temperature of 315 to 325 degrees. 
  • Drain the pieces on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken. 
  • Serve the chicken fingers with honey mustard and sauce.

Homemade Honey Mustard 

Makes: 1 cup 

1⁄2 cup yellow mustard 

1⁄2 cup honey 

1 teaspoon lemon zest 

1⁄4 teaspoon paprika 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, lemon zest and paprika. 
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Comeback Sauce 

Makes: 1 1/4 cups 

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise 

1⁄4 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz 

2 tablespoons ketchup 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 1⁄2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 

1⁄4 teaspoon paprika 

1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1⁄8 teaspoon onion powder 

1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

ABC reaches settlement in 'pink slime' meat products case

Remember the controversy and resulting multibillion-dollar libel and defamation lawsuit over Lean Finely Textured Beef being dubbed “pink slime” by ABC News?

An undisclosed settlement has been reached, the parties said Wednesday. The South Dakota-based manufacturer of the meat product, Beef Products Inc. sued after ABC referred to the product as “pink slime” hundreds of times in news reports in 2012.

Beef Products Inc. and the Roth family issued this statement about the settlement of the case against ABC and reporter Jim Avila:

>> Read more trending news

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila. While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012. Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: It is beef, and it is safe, wholesome and nutritious.”

“This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family,” the statement read.

In a statement Wednesday morning, ABC said: “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of ‘lean finely textured beef.’ Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”

The settlement follows a trial that began on June 5. If BPI had won, it could have received a verdict of as much as $5.9 billion, according to published reports.

After the news reports, consumers were turned off by the term. At the time of the broadcasts, the product consisting of beef trimmings treated with ammonia was being used in 70 percent of ground beef. Demand fell, and BPI had to close three plants and lay off 700 workers.

Click here to read more about the meat product.

Some call Costco’s new burger ‘Shake Shack copycat’

Some Costco locations are serving up a new burger -- and it’s causing chatter beyond the food court. 

>> Read more trending news

Observations of the new burger have circulated for weeks, and it’s making headlines because food critics are comparing it to a Shake Shack burger.

Shake Shack, a popular chain that hasn’t made it to the northwest U.S., builds its burger with all-natural Angus beef, a “Chicago-style” potato bun, the Shack's sauce, which is made up of mayo, dijon mustard and dill pickle brine.

>> Related: Dick's Drive-In makes ‘25 Best Cheeseburgers' national list

“The final product looks nearly identical to Shack's beloved burger, though the ingredients are slightly different,” wrote Delish.com's Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo, who simply called it a “Shake Shack copycat.”

Ingredients in the 1/3 pound Costco burger are reported to be an organic beef patty, topped with romaine lettuce, and smoke Thousand Island dressing.

>> Related: This essay about Costco got a high school senior into 5 Ivy League schools

When the Seattle Times checked in with Costco Corporate about Seattle as a test market, it wouldn’t confirm the cheeseburger. But a reporter found one for sale at the Costco location in SoDo, costing a modest $4.99 and not-so-modest 1,140 calories.

According to Eater, the burger is in a localized testing phase.

U.S. suspends Brazilian beef imports over safety concerns

All imports of fresh beef from Brazil have been halted because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Thursday.

The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.

The action comes three months after a major scandal erupted in Brazil over allegedly corrupt inspectors at slaughter and processing facilities. Brazilian officials said then that meat companies paid inspectors to overlook violations and certify tainted or rotten meat or not make inspections at all.

>> Read more trending news

However, before the crackdown, rotten meat was distributed in Brazil and exported to Europe.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products.

That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world. Since the implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness. Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

>> Read the full news release here

The U.S. is not a major importer of beef from Brazil because the U.S. produces more beef and veal than Brazil does. This year, U.S. beef and veal production are expected to grow 5 percent to more than 12 million tons, reaching a nine-year high, according to USDA reports.

In 2016, the U.S. exported $6.3 billion in beef and beef products globally. The major importers of beef to the U.S. are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, with Brazil ranking fifth.

In May, Brazil re-opened its doors to U.S. fresh beef exports after a 13-year hiatus, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported.

In 2003, Brazil closed its market fresh beef imports from the U.S. over concerns about bone spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Farmers Union applauded the decision to suspend the importation of Brazilian beef and said it has long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil.

“Since the 2015 repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line. This incident underscores the importance of COOL to protect American beef producers and consumers alike,” NFU officials said in a statement.

Monday, several cattle-ranching groups sued the USDA in Spokane, asking that it overturn its decision to not require country-of-origin labeling on meat imports. Without the labeling, imported meat can be sold as a U.S. product.

Oreo to unveil candy canes for Christmas

It is still six months until Christmas, but Oreo cookies could be part of your holiday tree decorations.

>> Read more trending news

The cookie maker is unveiling candy canes for Christmas, Country Living reported.

The Candy Hunting Instagram account revealed that Oreo Cookies & Creme Candy Canes will be available in time for Christmas. However, Nabisco, the parent company for Oreo, has not confirmed the product’s release.

Candy Hunting conceded in its post that “I highly doubt these will taste like Oreos, but hey, why not brand everything with Oreo to boost sales?”

Burger King introduces Lucky Charms milkshake to menu

Burger King is adding another unique creation to its fast food menu.

Fortune reported that the burger chain introduced the Lucky Charms milkshake on Monday.

>> Read more trending news

The limited-edition drink will have crushed pieces of Lucky Charms oat cereal, its famous marshmallows and vanilla soft serve. It will also include sweet syrup.

Related: 10,000 marshmallow-only Lucky Charms boxes up for grabs in giveaway

“Our guests can’t get enough of our cereal shakes, so we’ve extended the platform to include the Lucky Charms Shake,” Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America, said in a news release. “The mashup of our velvety vanilla-flavored soft serve and one of America's classic breakfast cereals is something we think our guests are going to love.”

The treat will sell for $2.99 at participating locations. Burger King previously introduced a Froot Loops shake to its menu.

Chick-fil-A introduces new gluten-free bun

In response to customer requests, Chick-fil-A announced the addition of a new gluten-free bun option to its menu, making it one of the first fast food restaurants to offer the item.

>> Read more trending news 

The 150-calorie bun, made with premium ingredients like quinoa and amaranth and lightly sweetened with molasses and raisins, is now available in restaurants nationwide, according to a company news release.

>> Related: Chick-fil-A adds new sandwich, lemonade to summer menu

It comes individually packaged and can be ordered with any Chick-fil-A sandwich for an additional $1.15.

The company tested the option in three U.S. cities in 2016 and found the bun to be the most commonly ordered item with the grilled chicken sandwich and grilled chicken deluxe sandwich.

“Our hope is that the gluten-free bun addition opens up options for gluten-sensitive customers to enjoy more of our menu, Leslie Neslage, senior consultant of menu development at Chick-fil-A, said.

Gluten-free items are most commonly consumed by people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, as if it were a poison.

Click here to read more information on the gluten-free bun and other gluten-free options at Chick-fil-A.

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