Bon Appétit: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

The Gilmer Free Press


Servings: Makes 24


  Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  2 1/4t cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 17 whole graham crackers)
  2 tablespoons sugar
  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted


  3 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
  1 cup sugar
  3 large eggs
  1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche*
  2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
  3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
  Fleur de sel



Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.


Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.


Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.

Cut cheesecake lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 strips, forming 24 bars. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.

Playing With Food May Help Preschoolers Become Less Picky Eaters

The Gilmer Free Press

Parents who have tried in vain to teach their preschoolers table manners may have a new reason to give up the fight. Playing with food may actually help kids overcome a fear of new flavors and eat a more varied diet, a small study suggests.

Researchers in the U.K. asked a group of kids to search for buried toys in mashed potatoes and jelly and found that the children who were comfortable getting their hands dirty at the table were less likely have a condition known as food neophobia, a fear of tasting new things.

“Although this is just an association, the implication is that getting children to play with messy substances may help their food acceptance,“ lead study author Helen Coulthard, a psychology researcher at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K., said by email.

It’s fairly normal for young children to go through a period when they are wary of unfamiliar foods or refuse to consume more than a handful of different items, though most kids outgrow this during elementary school. It isn’t necessarily harmful as long as the children maintain a healthy weight for their height, pediatricians say.

But, because previous research has linked food neophobia to limited fruit and vegetable consumption, Coulthard and colleagues wanted to see if they could establish a link between touching food and tasting unfamiliar dishes.

They asked a group of 70 children ages two to five to play with mushy, slimy food while their parents observed, watching to see if kids would happily use their hands to search for a toy soldier buried at the bottom of a bowl of mashed potatoes or jelly. Children who wouldn’t use their hands were offered a spoon.

Parents and researchers each rated how happy the kids were to get their hands dirty on a scale of one to five, with a higher number indicating more enjoyment. Children could get a total score as high as 20, a tally of the scores from researchers and parents for play with both the mashed potatoes and the jelly.

To understand what children typically ate, the researchers questioned parents about how reluctant kids were to try new foods and also asked how many portions of fruits and vegetables they and their children ate each day, excluding juices, dried fruit and purees.

Children ate more fruits and vegetables when their parents did, the study found.

Researchers also gave parents a questionnaire to assess children’s so-called tactile sensitivity, quizzing them about things like whether kids disliked going barefoot in the sand and grass or avoided getting messy.

The study found that kids who liked playing with their food were less likely to have neophobia or tactile sensitivity.

The good news for parents is that many picky eaters can be taught to enjoy playing with food, Coulthard said.

Food art is a good place to start, she said. Parents can use food to make pictures or shapes on the plate, without pressuring kids to touch or taste anything, and then gradually encourage the children to make their own art and let them sample the results when they’re ready, she said. Offering as much variety as possible from a young age also helps children experience lots of textures and flavors, which may minimize their fear of unfamiliar foods.

“Parents might think less about pressuring or forcing their children to eat fruits and vegetables, and more about ways to foster fun, curiosity, and exploration,“ Myles Faith, a nutrition researcher at Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said by email.

“They might consider activities where children are ‘food detectives,‘ tasting and rating new foods, or even being food critics,“ said Faith, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Gardening or even crafts with fruits and vegetables is a practical activity. Caregivers might think less to pressure and more to pleasure, as controlling feeding can backfire.“

SOURCE: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online April 29, 2015.

Bon Appétit: Thai Grilled Chicken Wings

The Gilmer Free Press


Servings: 4

Dipping Sauce

  6 dried chiles
  ⅓ cup fish sauce
  1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  2 teaspoons sugar

Wings and Assembly

  ½ cup oyster sauce
  ½ cup Thai thin soy sauce
  2 tablespoons sugar
  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated


Dipping Sauce

Grind chiles in spice mill to a fine powder. Mix chile powder, fish sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl to dissolve sugar. Adjust with more sugar or lime juice if needed.

Wings and Assembly

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Combine oyster and soy sauces, sugar, oil, and pepper in a large bowl. Add wings; toss to coat. Let sit 20–30 minutes (if allowed to marinate longer, they’ll be too salty). Thread 2 flat pieces onto each skewer on a diagonal, spacing about ½“ apart. Grill along with drumettes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

How Much Should You Give As A Wedding Gift?

The Gilmer Free Press

When you go to as many weddings as Stephanie Wong does, you need to come up with some guidelines for gift-giving. During the past two years, Wong, 32, who works in marketing for a book publisher in San Francisco, has been to about a half-dozen weddings. She expects to attend three more this year.

The amount Wong spends is all about her relationship to the people getting married, how fancy the wedding is going to be and whether she brings a date.

At a recent wedding of a close friend where she did a reading and went alone, Wong gave the couple $300. At another wedding in her social circle, she skipped the reception and gave $75.

As the wedding season gets into full swing, guests from coast to coast are confronted with the same question: How much should you spend and how should you give it?


Wedding experts agree on a couple of things: the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more you are expected to give, and do not give more than you can afford just because of the expectations.

Defying the “cost-of-the-meal” school of gift-giving, where guests give a gift roughly equivalent to what it cost to host them, Kristen Maxwell Cooper, deputy editor of the wedding-focused website, says location and cost of the reception should not be the burden of the guest.

She offers these guidelines to wedding-goers wherever they might be: A distant relative or co-worker should give $75-$100; a friend or relative, $100-$125; a closer relative, up to $150.

If you are wealthy, are you expected to inflate the gift? No, Cooper says. “If they do, it’s because they’re just generous people.“

Meghan Ely, who has been in the wedding industry for a dozen years, says it is reasonable to give on the lower end if you had to spend a lot to get there.

And, she and Cooper agree, buying items off a registry, where there is one, is a good idea.

“These days, couples are statistically older and more established in their lives so when they register, they are truly asking for things that they need,“ Ely says. “It really takes the guesswork out of it for the guests.“

That’s about how it worked out for Melinda Parrish, a 30-year-old model from Washington, D.C. who got married last year in Annapolis, Maryland. Her guests spent an average of $115 off her registry, and most of her friends gave $50-$100. Some who had financial obstacles made gifts or framed photos. One made a charitable donation in their name.

Most of all, she was surprised that about 40 of the 200 guests who attended gave nothing.


Some experts note a trend of couples registering for various elements of their honeymoon, including a night at a hotel, a dinner or an evening of drinks.

It’s a request that runs afoul of some, including Peggy Newfield, founder of the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, who recently attended a wedding where the bride and groom solicited unusual presents. “You could check whether you wanted your gift to cover champagne on the plane or in their suite at the hotel, their limo service, dinner in the evening, or whatever,“ she says.

Her way of responding to the request: “We sent just a congratulation card. There is no etiquette today that defines how crass our society has become.“

Cash has even taken a more modern twist - you can send a monetary gift with your credit card. Websites like facilitate the process (for a 5% cut of each gift).

The 4,000 gifts given in Tendr’s just-completed first year in business averaged $125 nationwide, the company says. Connecticut wedding-goers were the most generous, with an average cash gift of $230.

~~  Lauren Young, Beth Pinsker and Andrew Hay ~~

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