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With locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, we at Sparkle Markets are no strangers to bitter and unrelenting winters. Between losing power and water, to getting stuck inside for days at a time, winter emergencies can be cause for serious concern! Before the next storm arrives, make sure to stock up on the right groceries and brush up on your food safety.

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Step 1: Stock Your Non-Perishables

One of the most common results of a winter storm is loss of power aka no working fridge, freezer or (electric) stove. That means perishable foods like meat and milk are less than ideal to have stocked. Instead, fill your shelves with plenty of non-perishable items. Think of things like canned fruits and veggies, jerky, dry cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna and chicken, crackers and instant potatoes. Make sure to also have plenty of bottled water and fruit juices, in case your local water is contaminated or shut off. Try to avoid foods that will make you thirsty (again, in case of no water) and don’t forget about any special groceries your family might need, i.e. baby food, gluten-free products or comfort food. How many non-perishable items should you have stocked? Ready.gov recommends storing at least a three-day supply of food for emergency situations.

 

Step 2: Stay Safe & Sanitary

You’ve traveled to your local Sparkle Market, stocked your pantry and the storm has hit. Now what? Stay safe and keep things sanitary! Loss of electricity means that most food stored in your fridge and freezer won’t be safe to eat. Frozen food can still be eaten if it’s “refrigerator cold,” and can be re-frozen if it still has ice crystals. Any perishable food (meats especially) that sits at room temperature for 2+ hours should be thrown out. To conserve cold air, try to keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The average unopened fridge will keep food cold for about four hours after being shut off. Keep food in covered containers to avoid bacteria and clean your utensils using bottled water.

 

Step 3: Get Creative with Cooking

A winter emergency doesn’t have to mean eating bowls of cereal for the next three days! Experiment with alternative cooking sources like a candle warmer, fondue pot or fireplace. Or, create meals that don’t require an oven or stove at all! If you have fresh strawberries or bananas that are about to go bad, make PB & J On a Stick. For a boost of energy, make Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites. And this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is another great snack that uses only canned nonperishable items. For more creative recipes, visit our Great Groceries Recipe Archive.

 

Don’t be unprepared when a winter weather emergency hits! Whether you lose power or get snowed in, it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place. Head to your local Sparkle Market to grab all the nonperishables you’ll need to survive the next Snowmageddon.

 

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We’ve been experiencing freezing temps and snow here in the Valley with Winter Storm Harper and the polar vortex. And whether it’s from shoveling your driveway or trying to heat up your cold car, you can probably relate to this chilly winter. To warm up your day, and in honor of National Homemade Soup Day, we’ve gathered some of the finest Italian soup recipes.

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The Classics

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You can’t think of Italian soup without picturing homemade Italian Wedding Soup. This flavorful soup will fill you up with healthy vegetables, meatballs and orzo pasta. Make sure to top off this cup of soup with some shredded Parmesan to bring all the flavors together. Another Italian classic is minestrone! With humble beginnings, this soup was originally made with just leftovers, making it cheap and simple to create. Today, minestrone is a family favorite and is served at most restaurants. For your next dinner, try our Homemade Minestrone recipe.

 

Pasta and Soup Combo

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What’s more Italian than pasta in your soup? Embrace your inner Italian by adding tortellini to your soup. This Gia Russa Tuscan Tortellini Soup recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner that everyone will enjoy. With sweet Italian sausage, fresh baby spinach and Gia Russa Cheese Tortellini, everyone will be asking for your recipe! If you love this one, then take it up a notch with our recipe Gia Russa Creamy Tortellini Soup. This soup is a perfect mixture of creaminess and flavor and is best served with some warm baguettes. Finally, you can’t have Italian pasta without lasagna! This Vegetarian Lasagna Soup is perfect for Meatless Mondays or your vegetarian friends and family. Made with fresh mushrooms and zucchini, you’ll experience a whole new meaning to lasagna. Its rich flavor and heartiness will win over anyone – even meat eaters!

 

Hearty Soups

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The following tasty soup recipes aren’t for the faint of heart- unless you can handle their bold flavors and hearty ingredients. Pair our recipe for Chicken Meatball Soup with a hearty sammy, like this Italian Grilled Cheese. Crafted with mozzarella, marinara sauce and fresh basil, this tasty combo will have you saying, ‘Mama Mia’! For another hearty soup, try this Italian Chili recipe. Made with Italian sausage, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms and pepperoni, this soup might as well be dubbed “Little Italy” and is sure to raise some eyebrows with its unique Italian twist.

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Don’t be the Soup Nazis during this winter season. Instead, spread the love of homemade Italian soup! And make sure to visit your local Sparkle Market to grab all the Italian soup ingredients you’ll need to make the most heartwarming and delizioso dinner ever!

 

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.

 

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.

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Hey Batter Batter

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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!