Weekly Food for Thought with items on how to use a smoker, “Fabulicious! Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook” by Teresa Giudice and Heather MacLean and more.

If you're looking for a way to take your barbecue experience to another level, adding a smoker to your arsenal can help you bring more flavor to your meat.


"Smoking is a great method for adding flavor to ribs, wings or a pork roast," said Masterbuilt CEO and cookbook author John McLemore. "It's also as simple as preparing your meat, placing it in the smoker and letting it cook while you spend time with your guests on the patio. Once it's done, your meat is ready to serve."


McLemore offers the following tips for those who are looking to try their hand at smoking:


* Before you cook anything in your new smoker, season it by filling it with a handful of wood chips and setting it to its highest temperature with the air vents open. Let it run for about two hours, adding wood chips twice during the process.


* You can use multiple types of wood chips to add different flavors: mesquite, hickory, apple or even pecan. Repeat the process of seasoning your smoker with each new flavor.


* If your meat reaches your desired temperature before you are ready to serve, simply wrap it in aluminum foil and reduce the smoker temperature until mealtime.


* Overloading the smoker with food may cause uneven cooking and extend cooking time. It's best to allow enough space for proper heat circulation.


* If you're smoking wet ribs, apply barbecue sauce about an hour before you are finished cooking and wrap with aluminum foil. If you prefer a dry rub, apply the seasoning before placing the meat in the smoker.


For more smoking tips and recipes, visit dadgumthatsgood.com.


-- ARA


Tip of the Week: Baking lighter brownies


To make lighter brownies, let the chocolate mixture cool completely before adding it to the eggs and sugar. Brownies are cooked if the edges look hard, the surface has a glossy appearance and the top has slightly cracked. Remember, the toothpick method works on “cakey” brownies but not “fudgy” brownies.


-- Foodies.com


Easy recipe: Chicken Enchiladas




1 (10 ¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 (4-ounce) can green chiles, drained

2 cups cooked and shredded chicken

1 cup sour cream

4 ounces taco seasoning (half of 8-ounce packet)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

6 to 8 flour tortillas, 6 to 8 inches each

1/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix 3/4 can of soup with chiles, chicken, sour cream, taco seasoning and mozzarella. Divide the mixture between the tortillas and roll up. Mix rest of soup and milk, and pour evenly over top. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over all. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Can be frozen and cooked at a later time. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


-- State Journal-Register/ Brenda Dutcher, Springfield, Ill.


Did You Know?


When buying fruit juice, always read the label and be sure it has been pasteurized or treated to kill harmful bacteria.


-- FoodSafety.gov


Would You Buy It? Arby’s Outside-In Cinnamon Bites


Details: They’re warm pocket pastries filled with cinnamon and cream cheese. Each three-piece order comes with a cup of white icing for dunking.


More information: www.arbys.com


Availability: At all Arby’s restaurants.


Comments: One of our testers was burned when she bit into the pastry and the hot filling plopped onto her arm. Another tester reported similar plopping. We thought the Cinnamon Bites looked attractive, but good flavor was lacking. “When you order them, expect to wait a few minutes while they fry up.” “I don’t taste any cinnamon.” “The icing helps hide the odd flavor of the filling.”


Would you buy it? No.


-- State Journal-Register


Food Quiz


This cake shares its name with a region of Germany. Its main ingredients are chocolate, whipped cream and cherries. What's its name?


A. Linzer torte


B. St. Honoré cake


C. Gingerbread cake


D. Black Forest cake


-- funtrivia.com


Answer is at bottom of column


Wise to the Word: Ice wine


A rich, flavorful dessert wine, which is made by picking frozen grapes on the vine, and then pressing them before they thaw. Because much of the water in the grapes is frozen, the resulting juice is concentrated — rich in flavor and high in sugar and acid. Ice wines are renowned in Germany, where they're called Eiswein  (pronounced ICE-vine).


-- epicurious.com


Number to Know


182: A cup of plain, cooked small pasta shells is 182 calories.


– calorieking.com


The Dish On …


“Fabulicious! Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook” by Teresa Giudice and Heather MacLean


From "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," Teresa Giudice has become a New York Times bestselling author. Her first book, "Skinny Italian," showcased the health benefits of Old World Italian cuisine. Now she returns with 60 more flavorful family recipes straight from Salerno with an emphasis on preparing, serving and eating meals with the ones you love. In this book, Teresa shares her simple, inexpensive and "fabulicious" dishes.


-- Running Press Book Publishers


From the Beer Nut’s Blog: Trader Joe’s Mission Street beer


I love good beer. And, even more, I love good beer that’s cheap. That’s why I love Trader Joe’s line of Mission Street beers; they are some of the best bargain beers you can get, and they’re all well brewed.


Mission Street is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, reportedly brewed by Firestone-Walker under contract. The Mission Street Brown Ale is a fantastic beer, just what I want from a brown ale. In six packs, they have an IPA, a pale ale and blonde ale.


I have a Mission Street Hefeweizen waiting for me at home later, and I can’t wait to see how good it is. It could be a bargain.


To read more from the Beer Nut, visit http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/.


Food Quiz Answer


D. Black Forest cake


GateHouse News Service