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September 29th, 2015

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September 22nd, 2015

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(l-r) Max Kothari, CEO, Express Kitchens and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

(l-r) Max Kothari, CEO, Express Kitchens and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

 

Express Kitchens, recently named by Fortune Magazine for the Inner City 100, a list of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in the United States, continues its planned growth with the opening of a new location on 399 Boston Avenue in Bridgeport.
“We’re thrilled to have Express Kitchens opening a store in our state’s largest city,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “It’s a great company that will help us continue making our city a better place to live, work, and raise a family. And, this is yet another example of companies wanting to invest and grow jobs in Bridgeport. Our city is getting better every day, and even more so with the arrival of Express Kitchens.”
The new location is now open, and follows the purchase of a 120,000-square-foot production and warehouse facility in Hartford that will service Express Kitchens’ 8 retail locations across Connecticut and western Massachusetts.
Express Kitchens offers easy and affordable cabinets and countertops. Providing free 3D design services along with almost limitless cabinet styles, customization features and accessories, Express Kitchens has grown rapidly during its twelve years in operation to become one of Connecticut’s largest kitchen retailers.
To find out more about Express Kitchens, its products, and its job opportunities, go to http://www.expresskitchen.net

September 15th, 2015

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tas_dinner

When it comes to weekday dinners during the school year, keep it simple, creative and fun. Don’t rely on meals that require a long cook time or have a ton of ingredients that need prepping that night. Cooking in bulk on the weekends and planning out meals for the week can be a lifesaver when everyone is busy. (For more tips like this, see Page 4E.) Consider Meatless (or Meatloaf, as it was in my house growing up) Mondays or Taco Tuesdays, theme nights that make planning a no-brainer and offer the family something consistent to expect each week.

In our talks with nutritionists and parents for this issue, one of the most recommended ways to get dinner on the table was the make-it-yourself bar. The thinking here is twofold: It’s less work for the person preparing dinner, and it offers something for everyone. You start with a base, then let each family member add what they want from a station of toppings. Consider making it a rule that everyone has to take one topping from each food group: a protein, three veggies, etc. But, you know, a fun rule. Here are three theme night ideas.

 

 

Monday Rice Bowls

 

What you need: 3-4 cups rice, a mix of brown and white

Small bowls of the following: chopped green onion, halved peanuts or almonds

Medium bowls of the following: diced onion, diced red pepper, sauteed mushrooms, peas, shredded carrots, meat (like cubed chicken breast or shredded pork)

Garnish: Sriracha, mint, basil, quartered limes

 

 

Taco Tuesdays

This is a popular option for a reason. It’s easy to get a full meal out of a loaded taco — and a healthy one, too. Fill the loading station with beans and lots of veggies, and consider putting out a big bowl of lettuce so people can make taco salads instead if they want.

What you need: Flour or corn tortillas, a mix of hard and soft

Small bowls of the following: shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, avocado

Medium bowls of the following: diced tomatoes, diced onions, corn, black beans, refried pinto beans, meat (like ground turkey or shredded chicken breast)

Garnish: hot sauce, quartered limes, cilantro

 

 

Friday Night Pizza Party

What you need: Fresh pizza dough

Small bowls of the following: thinly sliced garlic, Parmesan cheese, pepperoni

Medium bowls of the following: marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes, diced onions, red or yellow pepper strips, chopped broccoli

Garnish: Italian seasoning, garlic powder, crushed red pepper

September 11th, 2015

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breakfast

It’s  essential  to  send  kids  to  school  with  something  in  their  stomachs,  even  if  it’s  just  a  piece  of  toast.  Skipping breakfast  can  harm  children’s  developing  brains  and  bodies,  making  it  harder  for  them  to  focus  in  class.  Karla Dumas,  a  dietitian  with  the  Humane  Society,  says  it’s  important  for  kids  to  get  their  metabolisms  going  in  the morning  even  if  they’re  not  hungry.  She  often  prepares  smoothies  for  her  11-­year-­old  stepdaughter  as  a  way  to  get something  in  her  system  —  she,  like  most  young  ones,  isn’t  hungry  enough  to  eat  a  full  breakfast  first  thing.  Smoothies  and  other  to-­go  foods  are  a  good  way  to  get  at  this  problem.  Here  are  five  ideas  for  fast,  easy  weekday breakfasts.  These  meals  are  good  for  school-­bound  kids  —  and  their  busy  parents,  too.

Egg  burrito
We  like  these  for  their  freezer  factor.  Make  five  on  Sunday  and  pop  them  in  the  freezer,  then  reheat  each  morning and  wrap  in  aluminum  foil  for  a  filling  to-­go  breakfast.  To  make  five  burritos:  Crack  8  to  10  eggs  into  a  bowl, add  some  salt  and  pepper  to  taste  and  whisk  well.  Cook  eggs  in  a  nonstick  skillet  until  scrambled;;  turn  the burner  off  just  before  they’re  done  so  they  don’t  overcook  —  remember,  these  will  be  reheated.  Divide  eggs  among five  flour  tortillas.  Season  with  more  salt  and  pepper,  then  top  with  shredded  cheddar  cheese.  Roll  tortillas to  form  burritos  and  freeze  in  a  large  zip-­top  bag  for  up  to  5  days.  The  morning  of,  take  a  burrito  out,  wrap  it  in  a wet  paper  towel  and  cook  it  in  the  microwave  for  1  minute.

Parfait
Yogurt  parfaits  are  full  of  protein  that  will  keep  kids  full  throughout  the  morning.  Consider  buying  a  large  tub  of yogurt  instead  of  single  servings  and  make  enough  parfaits  for  the  week.  For  the  yogurt,  stick  with  something relatively  plain  (like  vanilla)  and  be  on  the  lookout  for  sugar  substitutes  and  other  additives  in  nonfat  or  low-­fat varieties.  For  kids,  a  little  bit  of  fat  is  fine.  Try  using  Greek  yogurt  for  its  rich  texture  and  flavor.  To  make:  Spoon 1⁄2  cup  yogurt  into  a  mug,  mason  jar  or  even  a  plastic  cup.  Top  with  1⁄3  cup  grapes,  blueberries  or raspberries  (or  a  combination  of  all  three)  and  a  pinch  of  cinnamon.  This  can  be  done  3  or  4  days  before  the parfaits  are  eaten.  The  morning  of,  spoon  2  tablespoons  of  any  kind  of  nut  and  2  tablespoons  of  granola  on  top —  these  ingredients  will  get  soggy  if  added  before.  (To  make  a  quick  granola  at  home,  simply  mix  2  cups  oatmeal with  2  tablespoons  each  brown  sugar,  olive  oil  and  maple  syrup,  then  cook  mixture  on  a  sheet  pan  in  a  250-­ degree  oven  for  about  an  hour  until  slightly  toasted  and  fragrant.)

Overnight  oatmeal
This  oatmeal  absorbs  liquid  in  the  fridge  overnight,  so  all  you  need  to  do  in  the  morning  is  add  toppings.  To  appeal  to  kids,  we’re  making  those  toppings  reminiscent  of  peanut  butter and  jelly.  To  make:  In  a  mason  jar  or  other  glass  container  with  a  lid,  mix  1⁄2  cup  rolled  oats  with  1⁄2  cup  milk  (regular,  soy  or  almond).  Stir  in  1  tablespoon  peanut  butter  and  pop in  the  fridge;;  let  sit  overnight.  In  the  morning,  give  the  whole  thing  a  good  stir,  then  top  with  1  teaspoon  jam  or  jelly  and  1  teaspoon  diced  walnuts  or  almonds.

Smoothie
Smoothies  are  ideal  for  people  who  don’t  feel  like  eating  breakfast.  To  really  speed  things  up,  throw  all  of  your  smoothie  ingredients  in  a  bag  in  the  freezer  the  night  before.  In  the morning,  simply  dump  the  bag  in  a  blender,  add  liquid  and  mix.  To  make:  Here’s  a  recipe  for  a  peach-­strawberry-­banana  variety.  To  a  blender,  add  1  whole  frozen  banana,  1⁄3  cup fresh  or  frozen  strawberries,  1⁄3  cup  fresh  or  frozen  peaches,  1⁄3  cup  yogurt,  and  a  couple  of  splashes  of  water  or  orange  juice,  then  blend  until  smooth.  (Optional:  Add  a scoop  of  vanilla  protein  powder.)  You  shouldn’t  need  ice  if  you’re  using  frozen  fruit;;  if  you’re  not,  add  1  cup  of  ice  before  blending.

Toast
We’re  topping  this  toast  with  all  kinds  of  goodies  to  make  sure  it  keeps  your  munchkins  full  for  a  few  hours.  To  make:  Toast  two  pieces  of  whole  wheat  or  whole-­grain  bread. Slather  each  piece  with  1  tablespoon  peanut  butter,  then  top  with  banana  slices.  (Use  1  whole  banana  per  two  slices.)  Add  a  handful  of  raisins  to  each  slice,  then  drizzle  the  whole thing  with  some  honey.  Serve  with  plenty  of  napkins.

September 8th, 2015

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