Top Thanksgiving food safety tips

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 5:59 PM

Does Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, so make it memorable for the right reasons. Thanksgiving food safety guidelines include tips on proper storage, food preparation and temperature recommendations and will prevent your guests from ending up with food poisoning.

Follow these Thanksgiving food safety tips from the United States Department of Agriculture from the first trip to the grocery store to the final serving of leftovers. 

Buying a turkey: If you are going to serve a fresh turkey, buy it no more than two days before Thanksgiving. Keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it, on a tray that can catch any juices that may leak.

Thawing the turkey: The USDA recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, but you'll need plenty of time since refrigerator thawing requires 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. You can also resort to the microwave, following the manual's instructions very carefully, or the cold water method, which takes 30 minutes per pound.

"Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter," the CDC warns. "A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature.”

Be sure to remove the giblets after thawing and before cooking, and to cook the thawed turkey immediately if you defrost it using the microwave.

Cooking a turkey: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food you’re preparing to prevent infection or illness spread. But don't wash the turkey! That only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods and use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to handle raw turkey.

Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, using a food thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.

Practice safe stuffing: Even if a stuffed bird is a family tradition, the safest way to avoid food poisoning is to cook stuffing outside of the turkey in a separate casserole dish, where you can make sure it is cooked to a temperature of 165°F at its center (use a meat thermometer to check.)

If you choose to stuff your turkey, noted the USDA, you can still prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but you should keep wet and dry ingredients separate and chill the wet ones. Add the wet ingredients to the dry right before filling the turkey cavities and cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to assure the center of the stuffing cooks to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
 
The right way to handle Thanksgiving leftovers

For many foodies, Thanksgiving leftovers are the best part of the meal. They'll make gourmet renditions like crispy mashed potato and stuffing patties. But even if you just microwave green bean casserole and put together turkey sandwiches, the proper handling of leftovers is an important part of Thanksgiving food safety.

"Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that grow in cooked foods left at room temperature," the CDC notes. "It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. Symptoms can include vomiting and abdominal cramps within six to 24 hours after eating."

To prevent food poisoning from leftovers, follow this advice from the USDA :

  • Get leftovers into a refrigerator within two hours to keep bacteria from growing on the food.
  • Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers so they'll cool faster and spend less time at the unsafe temperatures between 40 °F to 140 °F.
  • Never store stuffing inside a leftover turkey; store meat and stuffing separately.
  • Don't eat leftovers that have been in the refrigerator more than three or four days. Consider Tuesday as the toss date. Freeze leftover turkey up to four months, the USDA recommends.
  • Discard turkey, stuffing or gravy that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, or more than an hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
  • Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.


For more information about food safety (in English and Spanish), call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. It's available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

 

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Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 8:18 AM

Valentine’s Day Deals 2018

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.

Hooters

If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

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List ranks best U.S. cities to get married

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 5:16 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:21 AM

A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Looking for a place to get married? A new study claims that there is a premiere wedding destination in our own backyard.

According to WalletHub, Orlando ranks as the top city for weddings in the United States, and Atlanta is right behind at third. The study looked at factors such as the average cost of a wedding, the number of wedding chapels, churches and bridal shops in an area and the area with the most attractions.

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WalletHub said its methodology involved comparing 15 U.S. cities in cost, activities and attractions and facilities and services.

Las Vegas lost its top spot in 2018, with Orlando now number one, and Sin City coming in at number 2.

Take a look at the rankings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Atlanta
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Miami
  6. San Diego
  7. San Francisco
  8. Chicago
  9. New York
  10. Portland, Oregon

Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, made the list at 11th, 19th, 23rd and 28th, respectively.

Other cities on the list include Spokane, Washington, 54th; Pittsburgh 35th, Seattle 12th, Tulsa, Oklahoma, No. 46th, and Memphis, Tennessee, 51st.

The full list ranking 182 cities can be found at WalletHub.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this story.

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Valentine’s Day takes on special meaning for parents of hospitalized babies

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:02 AM

NICU Babies Warming Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.

When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.

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Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.

In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.

Related: Valentine's Day: List ranks some of the nation's best places to celebrate

The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.

“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.

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The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.
   

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Valentine’s Day: List ranks some of nation’s best places to spend the holiday

Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 2:35 PM

The History Of Valentine’s Day

Some cities are better choices than others if you’ve got a special someone in your life this Valentine’s Day, according to one list.

Personal finance website WalletHub has a new ranking of  the top 10 best cities in the country’s 100 most-populated cities to spend Valentine’s Day.

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To come up with the list, analysts studied the cities across four factors: budget, activities, gift accessibility and weather forecast.

Scores for the key dimensions were then calculated based on 20 relevant metrics such as average movie ticket price, the price of a three-course meal for two, restaurants, jewelry stores and florists per capita, walkability and temperature variations.

Atlanta came in at No. 18 on the list and scored high in the activities and gift accessibility dimensions. Las Vegas topped Atlanta at No. 3.

Seattle came in eighth; Honolulu, Hawaii, ninth; Orlando, Florida, fourth; and San Diego came in second..

Cities in which you may not want to spend Valentine's Day, according to the site, are Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Newark, New Jersey; and Miami, Florida. They were all in the lower half of the 100-item list.

The best place in the nation to spend the holiday, according to WalletHub, is San Francisco, California. And the worst is Hialeah, Florida.

Here are the top 10 best places to spend Valentine’s Day in America, according to WalletHub:
  1. San Francisco, California
  2. San Diego, California
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. New York City
  7. Portland, Oregon
  8. Seattle, Washington
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii
  10. Los Angeles, California
  11. For more on the study, visit WalletHub.
 

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