Tending bar

Tending bar
Got a crowd coming over for drinks? TableCraft's Bar Caddy Set gives hosts a professionally styled container with four compartments to hold cocktail garnishes. Even better: The garnishes can be prepared ahead of time and stored safely in the refrigerator; a hinged plastic lid protects the contents. The stainless-steel caddy is 12 inches long and 6 inches wide, and the plastic compartments are removable, making cleanup a breeze. Tongs are included. The Bar Caddy is $25 at Bed Bath & amp; Beyond stores or by mail -- bedbathandbeyond.com or (800)-462-3966.
Tamales 1-2-3
Tamales are a time-consuming enterprise (and completely worth it, of course) but the "express" version from Melissa's pleased us on many counts. The tamale kit includes 12 ready-to-use corn husks, corn masa mix and very clear directions. Home cooks need to add butter and choice of filling (shredded beef or refried beans, for instance). The tamales still require an hour's cooking time, but we were very pleased with the results. Each kit costs $4 in the produce section at select grocers; by mail, two kits are $12 -- (800) 588-0151 or melissas.com.
Warming up
It may be cold outside, but here's a Louisiana Shrimp Piquant recipe from Wild American Shrimp Inc. that will warm you.
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 3-quart saucepan. Saute a minced onion and 3 minced celery ribs until tender. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, a 14 1/2 -ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juice and 1/2 cup tomato sauce.
Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Add thin slices from 1 large lemon, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined, and salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste. Cook just until shrimp turns pink. Sprinkle with minced green onions and parsley. Makes 4 servings.
Wild American Shrimp Inc. represents the seafood industry in eight Southern states. For more information, visit www.wildamericanshrimp.com.
Per serving: 253 calories; 22 grams protein; 12 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 18 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 168 milligrams cholesterol; 535 milligrams sodium.
Sharp ideas
If that cheese in your refrigerator looks to be turning a little green, don't worry. You may be able to salvage it.
If mold forms on a hard cheese, such as a cheddar, cut or scrape it off. To prevent further mold from developing, remove the cheese from its wrapper, wipe it off with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then tightly wrap in a fresh, clean, clear plastic, says Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Hard cheeses can last in the refrigerator for a year or more.
However, if mold forms on soft or fresh cheese, or spreads throughout a firm cheese, discard it, the co-op says.

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