I've started adding avocados to my shopping list every week, buying them when they're still firm, then letting them ripen in my kitchen windowsill. Getting two or three each week lets me have them ripe and ready for several meals. When I have too many ripe ones, I make guacamole. They're just so good for you, with lots of heart-healthy fats and vitamins.

Well, wouldn’t you know. Right when things get easy, we find out they’re bad for us. I’m talking about packaged salad mixes. It’s so simple to grab a bag at the store, come home, open and pour it into a bowl. Now, according to this month’s Consumer Reports, tests show that bacteria, including, fecal contamination, was found in packaged leafy greens. Well yuck. But never fear. The FDA is requesting the U.S. Senate act immediately to “pass pending FDA food safety reform legislation that requires the agency to set performance standards as well as develop safety standards for the growing or processing of fresh produce,” according to a news release.

Here’s a delicious alternative to cake or pie from Nestles. Paired with a smooth chocolate sauce, these crisp but delicate sponge cakes offer an elegant end to your meal.

Most people in America eat seven dinners per week. And while a few of those may be in restaurants, at least a couple are at home. But trying to come up with creative meals every week can be a chore. Many times its the same old thing. Whatever’s easiest.

Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes to fix when my family comes into town or another large gathering. But, my recipe is also one of the most calorie-laden in my file of recipes. So I was really happy to get this recipe via e-mail revealing the winner of CorningWare’s Simply Lite Bakeware Contest calling for original, light, low-fat recipes. The winner, Richard Swanson of Waterford, Conn., said he tested this recipe out on his co-workers, only telling them that it was reduced-fat lasagna. When it was cooled for 10 minutes, it cut into perfect portions.

After scolding such well-known cooks and cookbook authors as Julia Child and Paula Deen for contributing to the bad health of America, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine turned around and hailed five others in its Five Worst/Best Cookbooks of the Decade report. (See January 27th’s blog if you missed the worst.)

When all other fruit is tasteless, winter brings us the best citrus fruit around. I’ve been amazed at the grapefruit I’ve been getting. The best I’ve had is from Walmart — $3 a bag containing six really big grapefruit. And I plan to save one for making this dish. It sounds excellent.

I’ve been searching for good, store-bought croutons for the past 20 or so years with no luck.

This will be our family’s first Christmas without my mother, and I know it will be a sad one in many ways, but a happy one knowing she’s in a better place.

I’m always tempted to buy every “As Seen on TV” product I see on TV. The actors make everything look so true to form and simple. Like the Perfect Brownie Pan set. Would it really work? Only one way to find out: get one. So I did. I love brownies. In fact, I will readily admit that if I could come back in my next life as one who would never gain weight no matter what I eat, I’d stick to a diet of brownies and diet cokes. I know. Don’t say it. Why bother with the diet part?

The Scovie Awards are the equivalent of the Oscar Awards for makers of all things hot and spicy. So, it was great news when Suck Creek Sauces, originators of the Original Suck Creek Hot Wing Sauce, took home second place in the wing sauce category. The local company put its sauce up against more than 600 others which were tasted and voted on by a panel of the country’s leading culinary experts with fiery palates. Now, a Scovie banner hangs proudly in Suck Creek Sauce’s office. Great for owners John Lunn and Dave Dockery. And even better for us since we can get it locally at Greenlife. Check out the Web site — — for recipes. Or, if you want someone else to do the cooking, Market Street Tavern at Miller Plaza uses it on their wings, and the newly opened Five 8 Burrito on Highway 58 across from Central High School makes some killer burritos using the wing sauce, too.

Times Free Press Publisher and Editor Tom Griscom stopped by my desk last week with an interesting list of equivalent measures.

Red Lobster’s been on the seafood scene for decades, and it seems many of its restaurants have seen better days.

Make sure you look through today’s paper for the Holiday Cooking section.

I’m an early-morning riser, usually getting up between 4 and 5 a.m. to have a couple of cups of coffee before getting ready for the day.

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