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Ever feel like you could just eat cheese for dinner? If so, you’ll love the seven-course meal we’ve concocted in celebration of National Cheese Lover’s Day (today!). This cheesy, yet classy meal will call for a cheese lover party with your friends and family. Brace your taste buds– we’re taking you from the Aperitivo (beginning of the meal) to the Dolce (dessert).

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Aperitivo

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Known to start the beginning of an Italian dinner, Aperitivo consists of bubbly drinks and a light snack. On National Cheese Lover’s Day, a perfect snack means crackers served with this delicious Honey Apricot Goat Cheese. You’ll set the bar high for your cheesy meal with this selection. Another grate choice (pun intended) are these Pear, Blackberry & Gorgonzola Cheese Bites. Although easy to prepare, this elegant treat will definitely impress your guests. If you’d feel cheddar with more of a casual appetizer then try this innovative recipe for Mac ‘n Cheese Bites or these kid-approved Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

 

Antipasti

Number two in our cheese dinner is the antipasti, and is considered the starter of a meal. Platters of meat and cheese (charcuterie boards) are very common. Pick a variety of textures and tastes for your cheese, such as soft & creamy – brie, burrata and camembert, crumbly – goat and feta cheese, firm – Parmigiano and Gouda. Don’t be afraid to try different varieties! Next pick out the meat, keep the number of cheese and meat variety equal. Some great options are mortadella, prosciutto or dry-cured salami. Feel free to add your favorite crackers or bread to your board, along with fruit like grapes or figs. For more ideas take a look at this article.

 

Primi

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Congratulations! You’ve made it to the first course – and it has hot food. The main component of this meal? Pasta! And do you know what that means on this fine cheese day? Mac ‘n cheese of course. This creative Tuna Mac & Cheese will have the extra bonus of protein that even the kids won’t notice. Or another way to add some protein is  with this recipe for Beef Macaroni and Cheese. And to spice-up our favorite dish, we have this simple One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese recipe. For all of those who love a true classic homemade mac ‘n cheese then try this ultimate Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe.

 

Secondi

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Finally, the main course is here and with some tasty options. This recipe for Cream Cheese Spinach Stuffed Chicken is a drool worthy, and healthier, option with some hidden veggies. And you can’t beat the melted combination of ham, cheese and chicken in this recipe for Ham and Cheese Chicken, it’s the best of both worlds. If you want to jazz-up your favorite grilled cheese sandwich, then experiment with this Turkey Bacon Avocado Grilled Cheese. You’ll feel like you’ve mastered everything there is to know about grilled cheese. Finally, it isn’t cheese lover’s day without an American classic like a Bacon Cheeseburger.

 

Contorni

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You’ll definitely need some great sides to go with your Secondi course, so take a look at these dishes for your Contorni course. What doesn’t say yum like Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese or Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Pasta? Keep up the cheesy appearances with this heavenly Pierogi and Cheese Casserole, made of mashed potatoes, cream cheese & cheddar cheese. Or for a more a relaxed yet delicious side, make these Chili and Cheese Fries.

 

Formaggi e Frutta

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At the end of the main meal, there’s a course entirely dedicated to cheese and fruit. Some amazing pairings of cheese and fruit include Pear & Brie, Apple & Cheddar, Strawberry & Ricotta and Raspberry & Cream Cheese. The strong flavor of the cheese is offset by the sweet flavors of the fruit, proving to be a great combination. Another great option for those 21+ is pairing wine with this platter! If you don’t use it as your Aperitivo course, try our recipe for Honey Apricot Goat Cheese.

 

Dolce

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We don’t know about you, but Dolce is definitely our favorite part of the meal. For dessert, we gathered our top cheesy recipes that will make the perfect ending for this seven-course meal. These incredible Toffee Cheesecake Bars will have you reaching for seconds and your guests asking for the recipe. To continue on the cheesecake train, try this rich Red Velvet Cheesecake– it’s super simple to make. And if you don’t want to miss out on the cheesecake, but want something a little smaller, then make these Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes.

 

Whether you prepare a full seven-course cheesy meal or just one of the recipes above, make sure to stop at your local Sparkle Market for everything you need to make your National Cheese Lover’s Day a happy one.

 

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Need a New Year resolution? An idea: Spend less time cooking and more time with family friends. And today, we’ve developed the perfect way for you to have more time and yet still have high-quality healthy food­— your slow cooker. Yes! Your slow cooker can provide delicious food with little effort. And so in honor of January being the season for resolutions and National Slow Cooking Month, we decided to share our favorite and easy-to-make slow cooker recipes.

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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Drum roll please…or should we say drumstick? Chicken is the star in many classic dishes and usually a crowd pleaser. So next time you host a part, try this recipe for Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sliders. The sliders’ spicy flavor and simple directions make this recipe a favorite for all. If you’re looking for a hearty meal that will keep you warm this winter season, try this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings or this one for Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff. Both are perfect if you’re fighting off a pesky cold or just don’t want to avoid the hassle of cooking. With 25 grams of protein in a single serving, chicken is a great healthy option that can help you get back on track with eating right. Try our go-to healthy recipes like Maple Dijon Chicken and Broccoli and Pulled Chicken Tacos. Also check out this recipe for Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, chicken’s cousin.

 

This Piggy Went to the (Sparkle) Market

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Next time you go to the market, pick up some pork for your slow cooker! High in protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, pork is a great option for a nutritious meal. Try this mouthwatering Slow Cooker Ribs recipe. The meat will fall off the bone after spending a day in the slow cooker.  Or if you’re looking to experiment with new cultural dishes, try this traditional Polish-German Kielbasa and Sauerkraut dish, or this savory Asian-Style Pulled Pork. For those of you that look to put a spin on classic dishes, try Slow Cooker Holiday Ham. It doesn’t have to be the holidays to enjoy this tasty dish with family and friends!

 

No Soup for You.

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Just kidding! Of course, you need to have the best soup recipes for those chilly winter days. Slow cooker soups like this Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup make cooking easy-peasy! Just place the chicken, vegetables and chicken broth in the slow cooker on low for about six hours and vwala— steamy hot soup that will chase away any cold. Or if you’re more of a chili fan, then try this Chicken Chili recipe. It’s a little lighter than your typical ground beef chili, but still packed with flavor. Another great dish is this recipe for Gia Russa Creamy Tortellini Soup complete with sweet Italian sausage, cheese tortellini and creamy Alfredo sauce.

 

Celebrate National Slow Cooking Month with us! And most importantly, spend less time cooking and more time with your loved ones this new year. But, don’t forget: visit your local Sparkle Market to grab all the quality ingredients you need to make these slow cooker recipes a success.

Feeling a little “under the weather” after ringing in the new year? We get it. And if you’re looking for a pick-me-up or two after all the celebrations, search no further than today’s blog post! Take a look at some of the best recipes for battling those post-New Year’s Eve feels, below.

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All Naturale    

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Although many people might swear by the healing effects of greasy or heavy food, fruits and veggies are also pretty effective in post-celebration recovery. For example, bananas are rich in potassium and can help replenish your body’s electrolytes. Try eating them in this recipe for Banana Bread Oatmeal. Not only will you get plenty of banana, but your body will also benefit from the oatmeal’s complex carbs (aka less fatigue and better blood sugar levels). Avocados are another beneficial fruit, packing lots of potassium and liver-healing compounds. Try them in our recipe for Turkey Bacon Avocado Grilled Cheese.

 

The Carb Cure  

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If light and healthy foods just aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to turn to some heavier alternatives. Although not necessarily “good” for you, carbs undoubtedly help restore the low blood sugar levels you’re probably experiencing. What’s heavy in carbs? Think: pasta, bread, potatoes. Try our recipe for Homemade Mac and Cheese or Chicken & Mushroom Tortellini Casserole. Both are loaded with carbs and flavor. Or, make Baked Parmesan Sweet Potatoes – packed with Vitamin A, magnesium and potassium.

 

Hair of the Dog   

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Although deemed basically ineffective by nutritionists, “hair of the dog” concoctions are still extremely popular. If you’re a proponent of this theory, try this recipe for a classic Bloody Mary. With plenty of spice, this drink is best when paired with things like olives, pickles, celery, etc. If you’re looking for some non-alcoholic alternatives, try coconut water or green tea. Coconut water contains lots of electrolytes (as much as traditional sports drinks) that will aid in re-hydration, while green tea is believed to decrease blood alcohol concentration.

 

Don’t struggle through today alone! Visit your local Sparkle Market (or ask someone to visit for you) and grab all the post-New Year’s ingredients you need to get back to tip-top shape.

Snow has covered the ground and shelves are sparkling with red and green sprinkles: it’s time to bake some holiday cookies! And this year, we’re traveling (much) further than the Sparkle Archive for recipes. Pack your apron and grab your recipe book, we’re circling the globe with cookie recipes from around the world.

Christmas homemade gingerbread cookies 

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But, before we start our journey, we want to share a few recipes curated locally, right from the Sparkle Great Groceries kitchen! One recipe that’s sure to be a hit at your next holiday party is our recipe for White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. These cookies are full of classic winter flavors, with a simple sugar cookie base, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Chocolate lover? Try our recipe for Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies, complete with cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate chips and mint baking chips. Baking tip: swap the regular mint flavors with peppermint to achieve a better holiday season flavor. Ready to explore other corners of the cookie world? Clean your mixing bowls and grab your molasses, we’re heading to Germany!

 

Oh (Ginger)Snap

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Home of Volkswagen and Oktoberfest, Germany is known for its rich heritage and widely-practiced traditions, and is also credited for the start of gingerbread houses! Constructing and decorating elaborate cookie houses became a favorite Christmas pastime in Germany as early as the 16th century, and the famous Grimm brothers only amplified the tradition with their iconic story of Hansel and Gretel. Nowadays, gingerbread is widely used to decorate and to eat. And if you’re a fan of the latter, we recommend you try our recipe for Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches. These cookies are rich in flavor (lots of molasses, ginger and cinnamon), and require little to no construction experience. Next stop on our cookie cruise? Think: pasta, pizza and pizzelles.

 

Mama Mia!

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Sweet and light, the Italian pizzelle is commonly found at holiday parties, not only in Italy, but also in the United States. Originally made in Southern Italy, pizzelles are one of the oldest cookies still consumed today, made by pressing dough into an iron to create its iconic snowflake pattern. But luckily with Sparkle, you won’t have to shop around for a pizzelle iron. Instead, you can grab a package of pre-made pizzelle cookies from your local Sparkle Market and try our recipe for Pizzelle Berry Delight. Or, stray from the pizzelle (but stick to Italian ingredients) and make Ricotta Cookies. Classic Italian ricotta cheese is the secret ingredient in this recipe, resulting in extra-light and fluffy cookies. Now it’s time to say ciao to Italy and bonjour to our next stop, France!

 

Bon Appétit

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From choux pastry to croquembouche, France is known for its many complex desserts and talented bakers. So, if you’re interested in bringing French cookies to the next holiday get-together, we recommend trying a simpler recipe first, like this one for Madeleines. They’re essentially little sponge cakes flavored with vanilla and sometimes orange zest, and go great with a warm cup of Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Want to try something a little more challenging? Make French Macarons (not to be confused with macaroons). Light and airy, macarons are tricky to master, but great for parties! They can be made with all different colors, and endless filling possibilities.

 

This holiday season, get inspired by countries around the world and try a new cookie recipe! And before you fire up the oven, make sure to visit your local Sparkle Market for all the quality baking ingredients you need to make your cookies a success.

 

Today might be known as Black Friday, but to anyone who attended or hosted a Thanksgiving meal yesterday, today also marks the start of a very long series of microwaved leftovers; turkey sandwiches for lunch, turkey and stuffing for dinner, pumpkin pie for dessert- you know the drill. This year, clear the fridge by using your leftovers in new, different and better recipes!

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Too Much Turkey   

soup.jpgIf you were sent home with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey this year, don’t force yourself to eat turkey sandwiches for the next six days. Instead, get creative! And luckily, you were left with one of the more versatile turkey day dishes, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. For your next dinner, chop it up and use it in a big batch of Turkey Wild Rice Soup. Or, reserve some for lunch and make Turkey Mango Quesadillas. With lots of fresh and fruity flavors you won’t even recognize your once gravy-laden dinner. Still have more turkey? Take a look at our Turkey 8 Ways blog post from last year for more repurposing ideas.

 

Potatoes Are No Longer Apeeling

pizza.jpgWhether you have a bowl of leftover sweet potatoes or savory mash, we have a few tricks up our aprons when it comes time to use them up. If you’re a fan of chai tea, try this recipe for Chai-Spiced Sweet Potato Pancakes. Full of warm spices and cooked to fluffy perfection, these pancakes are perfect for a post-Thanksgiving breakfast. Or, transform your mash from a side dish to the main course with this recipe for Loaded Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza. Top a pre-made pizza crust with your leftover mash, cheese, bacon and chives. Serve with a side of sour cream and kiss those cold, gloppy leftovers goodbye! And if you’re one of our more seasoned chef shoppers, try making Mashed Potato Gnocchi. For this recipe, you simply mix your mash with some flour and egg, cut into dumplings and cook.

 

Sick of Side Dishes  

waffles.jpgIf turkey and potatoes are just the tip of your leftovers iceberg, don’t panic. For those of you with extra stuffing, especially recipes that use sausage or bacon, make a Stuffing Frittata. Topped with lots of eggs, this recipe will hit the spot for breakfast. Another genius way to eat stuffing for breakfast is by making Leftover Stuffing Waffles. Just imagine: flavorful stuffing crisped to perfection and dunked in some leftover cranberry sauce…yum. Speaking of cranberry sauce, if you don’t use it for dipping, try incorporating it into this recipe for Appetizer Meatballs. Not sure what to do with your leftover cornbread? Use it in this recipe for Cowboy Casserole! Extra pro tip: swap the chicken in this recipe for turkey to use up two leftovers in one dish.

 

Drowning in Desserts

cookies.jpgIf you were left with extra canned pumpkin after whipping up this year’s desserts, use it to make Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies. It’s not your average pumpkin spice dessert, aka it won’t give you pumpkin pie PTSD from last night’s feast. Or try this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe only calls for four ingredients (your leftover pumpkin being one of them) and tastes delicious. You could also eat it for breakfast, using our recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crepes. More pumpkin recipes can be found in our Sparkle Recipe Archive– just search pumpkin!

 

There’s no reason to eat your Thanksgiving dinner 10 times over this year! Instead, transform your leftovers into brand new, equally-delicious dishes, using fresh ingredients from your local Sparkle Market!

Overtime wins, unbelievable Hail Mary passes and devastating losses; football season is well underway. And no matter the team you root for or the outcome of your game, one thing should always be present: the tailgating food. Today we share the (questionable) roots of tailgating and plenty of recipes sure to keep you happy, even when your team is not.

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The OG of Tailgating 

We’ll admit it, the history books are a little fuzzy when it comes to the start of the tailgating tradition. But, over time the story of tailgating has been narrowed down to three theories:

Theory 1: Tailgating was established at the first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton. It’s believed that spectators spent their pre-game ritual grilling sausages at the “tail end” of the horse.

Theory 2: In 1906, some Yale fans traveled by car while others traveled by train to a two o’clock game. The fans that rode in cars packed picnics, however the ones riding by train did not. When everyone arrived to the game, those eating their picnic spreads noticed that the others didn’t have food. So, they invited them to join in on the festivities, and the rest is tailgating history.

Theory 3: Green Bay Packers fans coined the term “tailgating” during the team’s first year in business in 1919. The fans would back their pickup trucks around the field and fold down their tailgates for seating.

 

App Szn

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Whether you’re throwing an outdoor tailgate or an indoor watch party, great appetizers are a must. Don’t have time to cook all day? Throw together this simple and fresh Black Bean Corn Salsa. Or whip up Cheesy Corn Dip. It’s full of flavor and only needs to bake for 30 minutes! For those of you brave enough to grill in chilly Ohio/PA weather, snag some USDA choice meat from your local Sparkle and take a look at our recipe for Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Burgers. If you opt to stay in the warm indoors, try our recipe for Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Bites instead! Miniature burger patties are baked in the oven, and stacked with crispy crown tots, cheese and bacon.

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At Great Groceries, there’s no shortage of great tailgating recipes. Here’s some more:

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Game Day Beer Chili

Pizza Bread

Jalapeno Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

 

First Down Desserts

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Throwing a tailgate without desserts is like hosting Thanksgiving without a turkey. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but you still shouldn’t forget about the desserts at your next party! If you’re ambitious and crafty, try a football-themed recipe like this one for a Cookies and Cream Cheese Ball. It’s shaped and decorated to look just like a football. Or, if you just want to make something simple, try our recipe for White Chocolate PB Chip Cookies. They’re easy to make and easy for your guests to grab before getting back to the game.

 

Before your next tailgate or football watch party, head to your local Sparkle Market and grab the ingredients you need to make the best apps and desserts for your guests.

With costume makeup smudged, pillow cases filled to the brim and exhaustion seeping in: it’s officially over. You’ve survived another year of trick-or-treating, and in just one short hour, your kids have managed to loot the neighborhood of (what seems like) every last candy bar. How will you ever get through the piles of candy on your dining room table? Don’t worry, we’ve laid out some ways & recipes to use it all up!

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Option 1: Eat it All   

Unless you enjoy stomachaches and cavities, eating all the Halloween candy is probably not your best option. But, you could take a page out of Jimmy Kimmel’s book and pretend to eat it all. For years, TV personality Jimmy Kimmel has challenged parents to hide their children’s proudly-acquired Halloween candy and confess to eating every last bite. The challenge has taken the YouTube world by storm, with some pretty hilarious reactions caught on camera. See for yourself.

 

Option 2: Use it in Baking   

WED_small-768x1024.jpgFor those of you that don’t have the heart to fool your little trick-or-treaters, opt for option 2: baking with candy. There’s plenty of cookie, brownie and cake recipes out there that call for some classic Halloween candy bars. Our oober-recent recipe for a Giant Halloween Cookie is a great example. It’s essentially a cookie cake topped with all sorts of classic candy. Have lots of Heath bars leftover? Use them in our recipe for Butterscotch Cookies! Just substitute the butterscotch chips for crushed Heath. (Our recipe for Toffee Cheesecake Bars is another great way to use leftover Heath bars). And to use up a whole slew of candy bars, try this recipe for Candy Bar Brownies.

 

Option 3: Dip Dip Hooray  

PBdip-1024x686.jpgIf baking isn’t your strong suit, then whipping up some candy bar dips might be an easier alternative. Try this recipe for Caramel Covered Candy Bar Dip. It’s filled with Snickers, Reese’s cups and topped with caramel (yep, extra sweet). Served with waffle cones, pretzels or apple slices, this dip is a great treat to bring to upcoming holiday parties. Or try this recipe for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip. It’s another great way to use up some extra Reese’s cups lying around.

 

Option 4: Candy + Fruit = Healthy Eating?   

snickers-carame-dip-resize-1.jpgOur math might be a little off… but these recipes definitely aren’t. And if you’ve never tried a dessert that combines fruit and candy, you’re 100% missing out. Sweet and healthy worlds collide to make recipes like Butterfinger Grape Salad. In this dessert, juicy grapes are mixed with tangy cream cheese and topped with crunchy Butterfinger pieces. Sounds fantastic, right? Another great recipe is this one for Snickers and Caramel Apple Dip. Tart apples and sweet caramel candy = tastebud nirvana.

 

This year, don’t let your Halloween candy recycle into Easter basket treasures. Instead, head to your local Sparkle Market and grab the ingredients you need to transform your candy surplus into decadent desserts.