Archive for January, 2009

It’s not a party without the quac

Almost every Super Bowl party has guacamole on the menu and with avocados on sale for $1 each, it’s a perfect time to serve this great appetizer.

After a few days of being cooped up in the house because of the snow and ice, you might want to slip on out to the grocery store today. It usually takes some planning because avocados are almost never ready to eat when you buy them.
Here are some tips from the California Avocado Commission on choosing the best avocados.

  • Ripe avocados should be soft, not squishy and you should be able to easily remove the little stem. Fully ripe avocados can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
  • Avocados that haven’t fully ripened will lack great flavor.  So if you’ve got to make guacamoles in a hurry, keep avocados in a paper bag at room temperature in a dark place. And if you’ve only got a couple days, add an apple to the bag to speed up the ripening.

Here’s how to cut up an avocado
Cut vertically around the entire avocado, then twist the two halves apart. Whack the pit (but watch the fingers) with a heavy chef’s knife, then twist the pit out and discard. Use a butter knife to dice the avocado halves still in the peel, then scoop out the cubes.
What’s the best way to mash avocados?
Mash up avocados with a fork for chunky guacamole, or squash with a potato masher for a smoother dip.
What is in classic guacamole?
Classic guacamole is just avocados, lime juice, and salt. But you can add a lot of different things to jazz it up. Add garlic, chiles, seeded tomatoes, onions, cumin, and cilantro.

  • Roll your limes on the counter to get the most juice out. If you’re stuck with dry limes, try microwaving for about 10-15 seconds.
  • To minimize your chile heat, discard the seeds and ribs before dicing and adding; for extra heat, leave them in.
  • Soak chopped red onions in cold water for 10 minutes to beef up the crispness and lessen the bite.
  • Toast cumin in a skillet over medium-high heat till fragrant to boost its flavor.
  • Keep cilantro stems-down in a glass of water in the fridge; it’ll keep for about a week that way.

How to prevent browning
Nothing, not even an avocado pit, keeps guacamole green for too long once it’s made, so make your guacamole right before serving.  The acid in lemon and lime juice helps it stay green, as does a layer of plastic wrap placed directly on the surface.

How to keep a leftover half of an avocado fresh

Rub the cut edge of the unused half with lemon juice and keep the pit in. Then wrap it tightly and put it in the refrigerator. It should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Can I freeze avocados?
While freezing can affect the texture of the avocado, the California Avocado Board says you can store pureed avocado in the freezer for four to five months. Peel, seed and puree the avocado, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice for every two avocados.
How to select fresh avocados
The best way to tell if a California avocado is ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.
Color alone may not tell the whole story. The Hass avocado will turn dark green or black as it ripens, but other varieties retain their light-green skin even when ripe.
If you plan to serve the fruit in a few days, stock up on hard, unripened fruit.
Avoid fruit with dark blemishes on the skin or over soft fruit.
Ripening an avocado
To ripen an  avocado, place the fruit in a plain brown paper bag and store at room temperature 65-75 degrees until ready to eat (usually two to five days).
Including an apple or banana in the bag accelerates the process because these fruits give off ethylene gas, a ripening agent.
Soft ripe fruit can be refrigerated until it is eaten, but not for more than two or three days.
The California Avocado Commission does not recommend using a microwave to accelerate the ripening process.

Say yes to dessert!

Here’s a great excuse to eat dessert this weekend.
Eight Lexington restaurants are participating in Dine United Week by committing to make a donation to United Way of the Bluegrass for every dessert they sell through Sunday.
The restaurants are Azur, 3070 ­Lakecrest Circle, Suite 550; Dudley’s, 380 South Mill Street; Giuseppe’s, 4456 Nicholasville Road; Jonathan at Gratz Park, 120 West Second Street; Malone’s, 3347 Tates Creek Road, 3735 Palomar Centre Drive and 1920 ­Pleasant Ridge Road; Rossi’s, 1060 Chinoe Road, No. 104; Saul Good, 3801 Mall Road; and The Summit, 1097 Duval Street.
To learn more about Dine United or the United Way, visit www.uwbg.org.

Make some super Super Bowl plans
■ Jonathan at Gratz Park, which normally is closed on Super Bowl Sunday, for a private event, will be open for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Chef/owner Jonathan Lundy will offer a few specials along with the regular menu. The restaurant is at 120 West Second Street. Call (859) 252-4949 or go to www.jagp.info.
■ A popular Pittsburgh sandwich will be on the menu at Winchell’s Restaurant on Super Bowl Sunday. The chefs are ­serving their version of the famous ­Primanti ­Brothers sandwich, which, according to www.primantibrothers.com, is made with grilled Italian bread, ham, provolone cheese, coleslaw, tomato, a handful of warm French fries, and mayonnaise. Other menu items include the Roethlis-burger, served with Heinz sauce and named for Pittsburgh ­Steelers ­quarterback; and Anquan Boldin spicy Cardinal wings, named for the Arizona Cardinals receiver; carne asada tacos; and chili con queso.
Winchell’s is at 348 Southland Drive. Call (859) 278-9424 or go to www.winchellsrestaurant.com.
■ T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants have ­created two specialty drinks in honor of the ­Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, the teams playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Arizona lemonade and Pittsburgh Punch will be served at the restaurants on Saturday, the night before the big game.
In Lexington, Friday’s can be found at 144 Rojay Drive and 1916 Pavilion Way. For more locations, visit www.tgifridays.com.
■ If you’d like a party tray to serve at your Super Bowl gathering, pick one up at J.D. Legends, 315 North Second Street, Nicholasville. The restaurant is offering fried green tomatoes, wings, potato skins, mozzarella sticks, and chicken tenders. ­Legends will be open until 7 p.m. Sunday. Call (859) 881-5665.

H’Artful of Fun picks its winners
The Living Arts and Science Center gives awards to restaurants and caterers who make outstanding desserts for its ­annual H’Artful of Fun fund-raiser. Here are the winners of this year’s event on Jan. 24.
Most artful table presentation: Seasons ­Catering’s yellow submarine and double decker bus ice sculpture.
Most artful palate: Valentine’s ice cream.
Most artful dessert: Banana cake Foster from Catering by Donna Potter.
Most artful cake: Tinker’s Cake Shop’s Beatles-themed dark chocolate champagne cake.
People’s Choice awards: Lundy’s ­strawberry shortcake, best non-chocolate dessert; Sugar Forest, best chocolate ­dessert; and a la lucie’s graham cracker, honey and chocolate dessert, best reason to skip dinner.

Everyday food and wine
Three Suns Bistro, 298 East Brannon Road in Brannon Crossing, is having a wine pairing dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The theme is weekday dinner, everyday wines with everyday foods. The menu includes broccoli and Cheddar soup with ­Coppola chardonnay, beef brisket with Dynamite ­cabernet sauvignon, and triple chocolate cake. The cost is $25. Call (859) 245-0048.

More places to do brunch
■ Cleveland’s at the Woodford Inn in Versailles now is open for Sunday brunch. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chefs Ouita Michel and Jared Richardson will prepare the menu that includes Stone Cross Farm ham steak, biscuits and sausage gravy, pork chops, quiches of the day, and a big-plate breakfast. Cleveland’s is at 140 Park Street. Call (859) 879-6062. The restaurant is open daily serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.
■ Summit Restaurant, 1097 Duval Street, now is open for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Menu items include eggs ­Benedict, omelets, roast chicken, grilled salmon, burgers, bacon and eggs. The ­dinner menu is available after 3 p.m.
Chris Nelson, owner of Chrisman Mill Winery, will host a Kentucky Proud wine dinner at Summit on Feb. 7. Five wines will be paired with five courses, along with a blackberry wine served with dessert. The cost is $59. Call (859) 271-1400.

Rolling out Barrel House’s vodka

Barrel House Distilling Co. of ­Lexington and The Thoroughbred Shop are ­introducing Pure Blue vodka from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday. You can meet the ­owners of Barrel House and get your bottles signed. The Thoroughbred Shop is at 2005 ­Versailles Road. Call (859) 254-0358.

P.F. Chang’s celebrates a new year
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro at Fayette Mall is debuting new dishes for Chinese New Year. The newest additions are traditional egg rolls, mahi-mahi, sesame chicken and Cantonese style duck. Call (859) 271-1165 or go to www.pfchangs.com.

Use local products to jazz up Super Bowl party

Celebrate the Super Bowl with dishes that use Kentucky made products.
Here are some recipes from Bourbon Barrel Foods that will jazz up your party. You can find more recipes at
www.bourbonbarrelfoods.com.

Bourbon Barrel Foods was founded by Matt Jamie in 2006 who wanted to create high quality
gourmet sauces and seasonings that reflect the rich heritage of Kentucky’s bourbon country. He also wanted to use ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. His first product was Bourbon Barrel aged Worcestershire sauce, followed by bourbon smoked sea salt, bourbon smoked paprika, bourbon smoked peppercorns, aged soy sauce, and sweet sorghums.

Barbeque shrimp

Barbeque shrimp

Barbeque Shrimp
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound  large shrimp, 10-15 count, peeled and de-veined
½ teaspoon bourbon smoked sea salt
½ teaspoon bourbon smoked pepper
1 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped country ham
½ cup Bluegrass Brewing Company Altbier
¼ cup aged Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces butter
Heat skillet and coat pan with olive oil.  Season the shrimp with spices and sauté with tomato and ham.  Remove shrimp from pan when they begin to lose their translucency.  Add the Altbier beer; reduce by half and stir in the Worcestershire.  Put shrimp back into skillet and cook until done, about 1 minute.  Stir in butter until melted and sauce has thickened.  Add big pinch of parsley and remove from heat.  Adjust taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with toasted baguettes.

Bispm cjo;o

Bison chili

Bourbon Barrel bison chili

2 pounds of ground bison
1/2 cup Bourbon Barrel aged Worcestershire sauce
1 sweet onion, diced finely
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1/2 tablespoon bourbon smoked sea salt
2/3 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilies
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each of clove, white pepper, turmeric
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce

Brown meat in heavy stock pot.  Add aged Worcestershire sauce.  Stir in onions and spices.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Super Bowl recipes from the players

 Peppery glazed chicken wings from Anthony Zello, chef at The Bigelow Grille in Pittsburgh.

Peppery glazed chicken wings from Anthony Zello, chef at The Bigelow Grille in Pittsburgh.

If you’re planning a Super Bowl party on Sunday, serve these recipes from the players themselves.
Here are recipes from Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward  and Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The recipes appear in  The Sunday Night Football Cookbook. Proceeds from the cookbook benefit Taste of the NFL, a nonprofit benefiting hunger-relief organizations and local food banks.

Larry Fitzgerald’s Yankee pot roast

4 to 6 small carrots, peeled
4 to 6 very small new Yukon gold or red potatoes
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 garlic clove, crushed
One 2-to 3-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup red wine
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper
Put the carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic in a 4-to 6-quart slow cooker.
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the beef. Cook until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil for 1 minute, then pour the wine over the beef in the slow cooker and add the broth. Tuck the bay leaf onto the liquid, and dot the liquid around the beef with the tomato paste. Cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for about 3 hours, until the vegetables and meat are tender.
Remove the meat to a carving board and cut or pull it into large chunks. Arrange on a platter with the vegetables. Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper and spoon some of it over the meat and vegetables. Serve immediately, with small bowls of coarse salt and black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Hines Ward’s Korean-style braised short ribs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Four 3-to 4-inch beef short rib pieces with bones (about 3 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger, chopped
¼ cup rice wine (mirin)
½ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 small apple, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups hot cooked white rice
Chopped scallions
Sesame seeds

In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear the ribs, turning, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a large plate.
Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the fat in the pan, reduce the heat, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the rice wine and cook until almost evaporated, stirring. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and apple and stir to dissolve the sugar. Return the ribs to the pan and add water to cover. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, turning occasionally to keep the meat fully covered, until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.
Remove the ribs from the braising liquid, pat try with paper towels, and place on a wire rack above a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Strain the braising liquid and return half of the liquid to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by about half and slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush the short ribs with the sesame oil. Roast until browned and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest for a couple of minutes. Spoon the rice into shallow serving bowls, place the ribs on top, and drizzle with a small amount of the sauce. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

A Super Bowl party is not complete without chicken wings. This recipe is from Anthony Zello, who is chef at The Bigelow Grille in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Zello’s peppery glazed chicken wings with garlic chips


Garlic chips:

½ cup grapeseed oil

15 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

Salt

Chicken wings:

4 pounds chicken wings

½ cup sesame oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cider vinegar

1½ cups sugar

3 tablespoons cracked black pepper

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Make the Garlic Chips: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and fry until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Make the Chicken Wings: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, combine the oil and minced garlic. Add the chicken wings and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken wings on the baking sheet in one layer and bake, turning once, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, 1 cup water, the cracked pepper, crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken wings to a large bowl and toss with the glaze.

Divide the wings among 4 serving plates. Garnish with the garlic chips and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Here’s another recipe for chicken wings. This recipe is from Eatchicken.com.

Orange hoisin spiced chicken wings
3 pounds chicken wings (about 12 – 14), room temperature
Spice mix:
2 tablespoons five spice powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Orange hoisin sauce:
1 bottle (8 ounces) hoisin sauce
½ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons  orange zest
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cups canola oil, for frying

In a gallon-size plastic bag with zip top closure, combine all ingredients for spice mix. Seal and shake well to blend.
Make Orange Hoisin Sauce by combining in small saucepan over medium-high heat hoisin sauce, orange juice concentrate, sesame seed oil, rice vinegar and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for five minute. Remove from heat; stir in zest and cilantro. Cover and set aside.
In a deep saucepan or stockpot, add oil and heat to 350 F. While oil is heating, add chicken wings to plastic bag with spice mixture. Shake until all wings are coated. Remove wings from bag, place in pot and fry, in batches, for 6 – 8 minutes, or until skin is crispy.
Remove wings from oil and place on paper towels to drain. After final batch of wings is cooked, place wings in large mixing bowl. Pour Orange Hoisin Sauce over wings; toss well to coat.
Makes 4 servings.

Free celebration ushers in Year of the Ox

The Kentucky Chinese American ­Association will observe Chinese New Year on Saturday at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center.

The free event, from 6 to 9 p.m., will focus on Chinese culture and celebrate the Year of the Ox. A marketplace will be open from 6 to 7:30 p.m., featuring Chinese art, calligraphy and costumes. Blessing Hands Inc. will auction Chinese paintings and calligraphy scrolls that were donated by professional Chinese artists and students from Yangshuo, China. Money raised by the sale will be used to sponsor Chinese students who are in need. For a look at some of the art, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/blessingsponsors/CharityAuctionProfessionalPaintings#needs. Call Yingjuan Rogers at (859) 494-6631 or go to www.kyacap.org.

The event also will feature a variety of Chinese performing arts, including acrobats, opera and flutes, in the Concert Hall from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Chinese buffet for a new year

Panda Cuisine, 2358 Nicholasville Road, will serve a Chinese New Year buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $13.95. Call (859) 299-9798 or go to www.pandaky.com.

They’ll be the judges

Pastry expert Derek Spendlove will be one of the judges at the 19th annual H’Artful of Fun on ­Saturday. Spendlove, chairman of the baking and pastry arts program at the National Center for Hospitality Studies of Sullivan University in Louisville, will join John Schweder, chef/owner of Toast of Kentucky, and Vanessa Haden, owner of The Wedding Cake and 2008 American Culinary Federation Southeast Regional Pastry Chef of the Year. Judges will select winners for most artful table presentation, most ­artful dessert, most artful palate and most artful cake.

The dessert party will be 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Big Ass Fans’ new research facility, 2201 ­Jaggie Fox Way. Tickets are $50 in ­advance, $75 at the door. Call (859) 252-5222 or go to www.lasclex.org. Tickets also are available at any Fifth Third Bank in Lexington or at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

Ramsey’s reopens after fire
Ramsey’s Diner, 496 East High Street, has reopened after a ­“significant kitchen fire” closed the restaurant for almost a week. “Come celebrate our reopening,” owner Rob Ramsey said.
Call (859) 259-2708 or go to www.ramseysdiners.com.

Farmers still go to market

Lexington Farmers Market is open Saturdays at Victorian Square, 401 West Main Street. Farmers who will be at the market ­Saturday are Roland McIntosh of Paw Paw Plantation, Bob Early of Three Toads Farm, Susan Miller of ­Bluegrass Chevre and Carla Garey of Garey Farms. The market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the atrium.

Wishing you’ll stop by
On Wednesday, Panera Bread will introduce a line of coffee and raise money to support the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Kentucky. Panera will offer samples of coffee and breakfast items throughout the day. Customers are asked to donate $1 for a cup of coffee; the money will go to ­Operation Dough-Nation Community ­Breadbox. All donations, up to $250 per café, will be matched by Panera and given to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Kentucky. Go to www.panerabread.com.

For a limited time

O’Charley’s Restaurant is ­offering a “Made For You” limited-time-only menu through March 22. The menu features three new dishes: chili cheese southwestern twisted chips, Southern fried chicken tacos and grilled meatloaf dinner. Go to www.ocharleys.com.

Brunch coming to Furlongs
Furlongs, 735 East Main Street, will serve Sunday brunch ­beginning Feb. 1. Brunch hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the menu will feature Cajun omelet, salmon Florentine and bananas Foster pancakes.
Furlong’s will celebrate Mardi Gras Louisiana-style from Feb. 18 to 24. Crawfish boils are planned Feb. 20, 21 and 24. Call (859) 266-9000 or go to www.furlongs.com.

Seafood stew on menu at Inaugural luncheon

Design Cuisine of Arlington, Va. will serve seafood stew at Presiden-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural luncheon in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. Here’s the recipe from Pepperidge Farm.


Seafood stew

6 (1-pound) Maine lobsters
20 medium-size sea scallops
36 large shrimp, peeled, cleaned and tail removed, about 2 pounds
10 (1-ounce) pieces of black cod
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced leek
1/2 cup finely diced peeled Idaho potato
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper or black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup dry vermouth (optional)
10 (5-inch) puff-pastry rounds
10 (3 1/2-inch) terrines or ramekins, or serving dish of your choice

Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil; poach lobsters, then shrimp, then black cod and last scallops. After seafood is cooked, remove from water; reserve water and bring to boil.

Cook all vegetables in liquid that was used for the seafood; remove vegetables when tender. Allow the liquid to continue to boil until only 1 quart of liquid remains. This will be the base for the sauce.

Bring seafood liquid back to a boil and add the vermouth and heavy cream and reduce by half, season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste. You have reached your desired thickness when the sauce will cover the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool.

Cut lobster, shrimp and scallops into bite-sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fold seafood and vegetables into cool sauce, being careful not to mix too much as this will break up the seafood. Scoop mixture into terrines or ovenproof baking dish of your choice.

Cover terrines with puff-pastry rounds, brush them with egg wash and bake them until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. You can cook this 2-3 hours ahead of time and keep warm at 150 degrees. Makes 10 servings.

The best knife is a sharp knife

Kuhn Rikon mini pro knife sharpener

Kuhn Rikon mini pro knife sharpener

The best knife to have in your kitchen drawer is a sharp knife.
Kuhn Rikon has designed and engineered a new knife sharpener that will bring your old knives back to life.

The Mini Pro Knife Sharpener is compact and light and sharpens knives easily in just a few seconds. It’s designed for use with any non-serrated steel blade. The sharpening stone pops out when the gate at the end is flipped open. The open gate serves as a hand guard for safety while the sharpener is in use.

It’s available in translucent black, red and blue; costs $20, and comes with a 5-year warranty. It is sold at specialty and online retailers including www.factorydirect2you.com.

H’Artful of Fun to be Jan. 24

Last year Tinker’s Cake Shop won two awards --- Judges Award for Most Artful Dessert and the People’s Choice Award for Best Chocolate Dessert.

This cake was created by Martine's for last year's H'Artful of Fun.

The Living Arts & Science Center’s 19th annual H’Artful of Fun celebrates the center’s 40 years of creativity with homage to John Lennon and the Beatles.
The party will be from 7 to 11 a.m. Jan. 24 at Big Ass Fans’ new research facility, 2201 Jaggie Fox Way. Tickets are $50 in advance, $75 at the door. Call (859) 252-5222 or go to www.LASCLEX.org. Tickets also are available at any Fifth Third Bank location in Lexington, or at Joseph Beth Booksellers.
Participating restaurants and caterers include Jonathan’s at Gratz Park, Portofino, Summit, Martine’s, DaRae and Friends, Holly Hill Inn, and Wallace Station. Eight Days a Week, a Beatles tribute band, will entertain. Auction items include an original work of art, jewelry and trips.

Farmers offer Valentine package
Three farmers’ market vendors are teaming up to create a Valentine package for your sweetheart.
The gift package includes lilies from Three Toads Farm in Winchester; a box of six truffles, date nut bread, and a strawberry/chocolate tart for two from Viburnum Valley, and heart-shaped Bluegrass Chevre from Susan Miller. Items are presented in a fruit crate and can be picked up at the Lexington Farmers Market at Victorian Square on Feb. 14. Cost is $80. Call (859) 312-1157 or go to www.vvfconfections.com.

Cooking class at Varden’s in Paris
Varden’s in Paris, is having a cooking class at 6 p.m. Saturday. Steve Walton will teach a class on soups and stews including basic chicken broth, slow cooker burgoo, leek soup, beer potato soup, and sausage and shrimp soup. Cost is $20 a person, or $30 for two. Call (859) 987-4700 or go to www.vardens.com.

Beef Cook-Off searching for a winner
California wine country will be the site of the 28th National Beef Cook-Off in September. This year’s competition features three new recipe categories for home cooks.
Categories, featuring a “Sonoma-Style” theme, are:
■ Live well with fast and convenient grilled beef recipes. (Healthy and easy dishes for busy families.)
■ Teens cooking with beef. (Teen’s favorite family beef recipe that they prepare themselves at home.)
■ Lean beef in nutrient-rich one-dish meals. (Home cooks pair lean beef cuts with other nutrient-rich ingredients.)
Fifteen home cook finalists will be selected to compete for prizes totaling $70,000 on Sept. 23. One grand prize winner will receive $25,000, three category winners will each receive $10,000 and three runner-up winners will each receive $5,000 in cash prizes.
You can enter the cook-off online at www.beefcookoff.org or by postal mail to: National Beef Cook-Off Entries, ANCW, P.O. Box 3881, Englewood, Colo. 80155 by March 31. Mailed entries must be postmarked no later than March 31, and received on or before midnight April 7.

Interactive online game for children
The National Mango Board has an interactive online game that teaches children about mangos and the countries from which they originate. The new Jango geography game takes children on a journey through the Amazon, across oceans and up lush mountains as each activity imparts a bit of mango-inspired culture.
They’ll encounter Salvador the snake in Brazil, Peru Pete, Gail the Galapagos turtle; Haiti Hal, and Miguel the monkey. To play the Jango geography game visit www.mango.org/geography.

Free McGriddles on Wednesday

McDonald’s restaurants of Central and Southeastern Kentucky are giving away free sausage McGriddles every Wednesday in January. Stop in from 7 to 10 a.m. to receive a sample size breakfast sandwich.