Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

If you're like my household, Thanksgiving is far from over. From turkey and stuffing to gravy and green beans, Thanksgiving's dinner with all its fixings are still leftover in my refrigerator. If you're in need of some creative recipes to get through your remaining feast, food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies have you covered!

Too much turkey? Kraft suggests a tasty Turkey and Broccoli Casserole or Leftover Turkey Soup to get through what's left of your bird.

French's French Fried Onions are a key ingredient to a Thanksgiving favorite – green bean casserole. If you find yourself with leftovers, try some Crunchy Onion Mashed Potatoes or top your double-decker with this recipe for BBQ Turkey Sandwiches.

Campbell's offers ideas, too. Take that leftover turkey and start your morning with a Benedict-Style Turkey Sandwich. Or, end your day with a Quick Turkey Stir-Fry.

Too many potatoes from your Turkey Day? Don't let them go to waste! Use this recipe from Ore-Ida to create a Loaded Baked Potato Soup, or try Country Crock's Garlic Smashed Potato Cakes to use up your spuds. If it's sweet potatoes that are hanging around your fridge, test this Sweet Potato Bread recipe from Bruce's Yams.

Cranberries are a staple at Thanksgiving tables across the country, but when you find yourself with an extra can after the holiday, look to Ocean Spray for unique ways to incorporate the fruit into your next meal. Fruited Rice Pilaf, Red Ribbon Cranberry Coffee Cake, and Cranberry Chutney are just some ways to put the delicious side to good use.

Invite friends over and gobble up these proposed appetizers from Pillsbury. Try Mini Monte Cristos or Basil-Turkey Mini Focaccia Sandwiches for a small bite to eat after a large Thanksgiving meal.

Need more dinner ideas? These tips from Betty Crocker will help you put your turkey and sides to good use!

A week after Thanksgiving, how much of your banquet is still housed in your refrigerator or freezer? Share your inspired Turkey Day recipes and let's make the most of this year's leftovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pick Now, Pay Later

The busiest shopping day of the year is upon us! The day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," kicks off the holiday shopping season with major sales, deals, and steals. This year, stores are opening earlier than ever, with retailers like Best Buy unlocking their doors at midnight to get a jump on holiday transactions. Kohls, Macy's, Sears, and Target are also expected to open at 12 a.m. on Friday.

With holiday sales expected to rise this season to about $450 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, shoppers can count on discounts at stores open morning, noon, and night leading up to Christmas. In addition to extended hours to suit consumers' schedules, retailers are once again offering layaway to allow shoppers to reserve their purchases and make payments leading up to December 25. Here are just some of the holiday offers you can expect to see to make this year's shopping spree a little easier on your wallet:
  • Best Buy introduced layaway this holiday season, whether your purchase is for business, home, or school.
  • Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, has brought back layaway for the first time in five years, and is available for items purchased in the toys, electronics, and fine jewelry departments.
  • Sears will offer free holiday shipping when customers spend at least $99 on its website.
  • Kmart will offer free holiday shipping when customers spend at least $49 on its website.
  • Toys "R" Us is offering loyalty program members 10 percent back on purchases from October 30 to Christmas Eve.
Are you planning to take advantage of the return of layaway, as well as this season's best sales? Tell me how you plan to attack holiday spending this year while staying on budget, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leave a Peppermint Stick for Old St. Nick

Halloween is behind us and the holidays are just around the corner. Head into any grocery store, and you'll see the flavors of the season in full force. From peppermint to gingerbread, the quintessential tastes of Thanksgiving and Christmas are here. Check out these new products, around just for the holiday season.

Little Debbie Peppermint Swiss Rolls are the perfect Christmas treat. A twist on the snack cake's traditional chocolate cake roll, this pastry's crème filling adds a cool hint of peppermint.

Kellogg's doesn't let a holiday, season, or celebration go by without introducing a new Pop-Tart variety. This Christmas, the toaster pastry maker rolled out a limited edition Frosted Sugar Cookie selection, in addition to last year's popular Gingerbread treat.

Want to add a taste of the holidays to your hot cocoa or Rice Krispies treat? Try Kraft Jet-Puffed Gingerbread Mallows for a spiced up kick to your traditional holiday favorites.

Add new Country Crock Spreads to your Thanksgiving table. Available in Pumpkin Spice and Honey, the spreads are the perfect pairing for holiday breads, potatoes, baked goods, and more!

Running out of time to bake cookies for Santa? Look no further than Nestlé Toll House pre-made gingerbread cookie dough. Now available in tubes and tubs, you can make a family of gingerbread men, women, and kids in a fraction of the time.

Enjoy all your holiday cookies with a piping hot cup of coffee, and add the essence of the season with Coffee-mate's limited edition products, including Eggnog Latte, Gingerbread Latte, and Peppermint Mocha.

What are your favorite items to savor during the holiday season? Drop me a line and share your preferred Thanksgiving and/or Christmas indulgences!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Luck Be a Lady

If you're seeking fame and fortune, look no further than the retail outlets and food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies offering contests, challenges, and competitions to revitalize its brands, find new talent, and create original advertising campaigns.

All summer long, Hershey's hosted a photo contest encouraging families, friends, and groups of people to post photos of their summer s'mores moments. From cookouts and barbeques to reunions and picnics, the roasted graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow treat is a perfect way to celebrate summer. The "Say S'mores" contest allowed faithful fans to upload their pictures for a chance to win a camera, gift cards, s'more ingredients, tee shirts, and more. The contest ended September 21, but the memories captured on camera last a lifetime!

For those handy with a camera, but prefer filming live-action movies, break out the handheld camcorder and be on the lookout for contests like Frito-Lay's Fan Remix Video Contest. While the contest ended April 1, this fun challenge was no joke. Entrants had the chance to win items including Frito-Lay apparel and party packs.

Dancing not your thing? Tune up your pipes and belt out a song for one of the many jingle contests that have been popping up lately. Earlier this year, Libby's Canned Fruits & Vegetables teamed up with singer-songwriter Jewel for a jingle contest. Consumers were given the chance to re-make the company's iconic tune and win $10,000 in the process. Earlier this summer, Libby crowned Dan Bakst the contest winner for his creative video, which showcased Dan and his two friends popping out of Libby's Fruit and Vegetable cans singing, dancing, and playing a range of instruments.

Folgers had a similar idea when the Smuckers-owned brand launched its "Best Part of Waking Up" jingle contest, giving aspiring musicians an opportunity to add new life to the decades-old melody. In June, the coffee maker declared its winner, awarding the champion $25,000, a music mentoring session, and the chance to appear in a future Folgers Coffee commercial.

When Oreo unveiled its new line of Cakester snacks last year, Nabisco searched high and low for an individual or a group to breathe new life into its tried and true "ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie..." song. The result? A fantastic rendition from an a cappella quartet starring four women from San Diego.

A final jingle contest crept up not too long ago when Welch's Fruit Snacks asked musically minded consumers to submit their original tunes to its Jinglicious Jingle Contest. Through October 31, contestants could upload video of their jingle to the company's Facebook page for a chance to win the contest and earn an iPad and $1,000.

Of course, in the food and beverage CPG industry, what's a contest without eating, cooking, or baking with the ingredients we know and love? Perhaps the most recognized and most anticipated contest comes with the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off. With a $1 million grand prize, the stakes are high for this 60-year-old competition. Or, take on a different kind of baking with the annual Jell-O Mold Competition.

Another contest Americans wait for each year with bated breath comes on Independence Day with Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held annually at the original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island.

Feeling creative? Enter Baskin-Robbins Next Favorite Flavor Contest for the chance to win a year's worth of ice cream and have your creation sold in stores! And, be on the lookout in January 2012 to vote for the winner of the Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest, where five lucky kids will compete for a $25,000 college fund.

Those who are too shy to work on an entry on their own are encouraged to join forces with their local church for Pillsbury's latest contest to launch its line of microwavable Egg Scrambles and Grands! Biscuit Sandwiches. The "Do Something Big" contest encourages churches across the country to pick a meaningful need within their communities, mobilize to implement a solution, and submit videos documenting their efforts. The winning church will receive a concert by Grammy-winning gospel duo Mary Mary and a breakfast sponsored by Pillsbury Egg Scrambles and Grands! Biscuit Sandwiches.

I'm curious; have you ever entered any of these contests, and if so (and perhaps more importantly!), have you ever won? Leave a message and let me know what you've entered in the past and what you earned for your efforts!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PB...No J

Did you know that November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month? Since last year's tribute to the creamy and crunchy varieties of such brands like Jif and Skippy, much has changed in the PB category.

For starters, peanut butter has been dominating the news for the past few months. This summer's hot and dry weather, combined with farmers planting less peanuts for the upcoming crop, has led to a shortage of the legume. This has pushed peanut butter prices up for both manufacturers and consumers, making peanut butter one of the priciest items at the grocery store and in your pantry.

Despite this news, peanut butter makers have still been hard at work, creating new kinds of peanut butter for PB lovers across the globe. Skippy recently introduced a line of natural products, including Natural Super Chunk, Natural Creamy, and Natural Creamy with Honey. The 100 percent natural spreads contain no artificial colors or flavorings, and need no stirring.

Additionally, Planters, America's leading snack nut brand, added peanut butter to its line-up once again after a 30-year hiatus. The newly unveiled PB also presented a new animated character, Peanut Butter Doug, the dubious and adventurous stunt double of Mr. Peanut.

According to the National Peanut Board, the average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year. With peanut butter consumed in 90 percent of U.S. households, Americans combine to eat more than 1.5 billion pounds of peanuty goodness annually, and spend $800 million on peanut butter alone.

How will you love peanut butter this month? Share your favorite peanut butter recipe, craft, or whip up the most creative peanut butter and jelly sandwich you can imagine, and enjoy celebrating National Peanut Butter Lovers Month!