$1 sandwiches at Jimmy John’s!

Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shops is celebrating the grand opening of the Madison location. The grand opening event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1896 Main St., includes sandwiches for $1! Grab your spare change and head on over. The limit is one per person and good for in-store purchase only.

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Retirement community in Ridgeland to host fundraiser for CARA

Chateau Ridgeland, an independent retirement community, will host a Santa Pets & Pictures event to benefit Community Animal Rescue and Adoption (CARA). From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Santa will be available to take pictures with pets for a $5 donation. Chateau Ridgeland will also be accepting pet toy and treat donations and homemade doggie treats will be available for sale. All donated items and proceeds go to CARA.

It’s free to attend, and holiday cookies and hot cocoa will be provided. Contact Chateau Ridgeland (located at 745 S. Pear Orchard Rd.) for more information at (601) 956-1331 or visit http://www.chateauridgeland.com.

Clinton High tailgate

I can’t say if I ever attended a high school tailgate. At my alma mater, Cleveland Heights High School, I never attended a tailgate. In fact, I don’t remember us having any while I was a student. What I always looked forward to was attending games just to hear our great marching band and dance (in the stands, of course) during halftime. It wasn’t until college in Atlanta where I realized the importance of tailgating events. Food, copious amounts of beverages (alcoholic and non), people for miles it seemed, and hanging out with friends.

When I was assigned to cover the tailgate at Clinton High School yesterday, I was kind of excited! I parked in the visitor lot where only five cars sat because it was less than two hours until kickoff and over 100 Arrows fans were in process of tailgating. As I walked around, so many people offered food! I had to get my reporting out of the way before I enjoyed a little home-cooking. Here are some of the best parts of the tailgate in this photo gallery. Enjoy.

Clarion-Ledger article with video: http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013308240006

Is new kitchen equipment helping lower obesity rates?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in Mississippi are going down, some good news my colleague LaReeca Rucker shared today on her Mississippi Style Blog. Obesity rates declined between 2008 and 2011 in 19 of 43 states and territories studied, including Mississippi.

What I believe is helping decrease those rates is improving the access low-income families have to healthier food options like community gardens, farmers markets and co-ops. Another example is various school districts using grant funds to replace kitchen equipment with appliances that prepare healthier meals for students. The Clinton and Hinds County school districts come to mind.

Last academic year, the Clinton district added new kitchen equipment to schools, including the new Northside and Eastside elementary schools that were featured on the Rachael Ray cooking contest episode featuring First Lady Michelle Obama. During the episode, cafeteria cooks whipped up steamed veggies, hummus and other light, healthy fare.

In Hinds County, Utica and Carver elementary schools are serving healthy, popular meals thanks to a Nutrition Integrity 2012-13 grant from the Mississippi Department of Education. The schools removed existing deep fat fryers and replaced them with state-of-the-art oven steamers that cook foods with less fat. The baked and steamed foods are crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, and school nutrition directors say the children enjoy them just as much.

This initiative only influences more physical education activities like walking clubs or fitness challenges, and I’ve seen these programs at schools all over the Jackson metro area. You know the saying that this generation will have a lower life expectancy than its parents? This news could change your outlook.

303 Jefferson unofficially opens this Saturday

My column in yesterday’s Hinds Ledger nondaily featured a new restaurant opening this weekend in Clinton, 303 Jefferson. The columns aren’t posted online unfortunately, but I want to share some photos so you can see how the place looks. The restaurant, at 303 Jefferson Street in Olde Towne, will serve hot Blue Plate lunches and dinners (this August) at reasonable prices.

From co-owner, restaurateur Raymond Jackson on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “Hey everybody! Thank you for all the great feed back and compliments and patiently work ing with us as we solve the few issues we have.
We cannot officially open until we have our Health Inspection from the State Health Department. We are taking the next couple of days to do some regrouping but on Saturday (June 29) we will be doing BBQ and Burgers and Grilled Chicken as an ‘unofficial open day’
Our Scheduled official open date is set for July 8th but we will be doing lunch on 1st, 2nd,and 3rd before the holiday weekend.
I pray for a safe and happy Fourth of July for everyone and hope to see you all real soon. 
Again thank each of you for all your support and encouragement.
Raymond Jackson”

I can’t wait to have lunch at 303 Jefferson the next time I’m in Clinton! “Like” the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/303jefferson and follow on Twitter at @303Jefferson.

My third Thanksgiving in Mississippi.

Go ahead and salivate…yes, you like it!

I’m learning to accept the fact that I no longer celebrate Thanksgiving at home in Cleveland, Ohio, with parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and many cousins. Last year me and my husband James spent Thanksgiving with a new friend and her family in her Madison home. I had met Ashlee Lucas a month before my wedding day at the Gail Pittman store in Ridgeland and had a great conversation after I interviewed her for a story on “‘Twas a Night with Gail Pittman.” She invited us to her home for Thanksgiving dinner and I felt so blessed and honored. James and I enjoyed all of the food and watched football games, so we didn’t cook our own meal that time. 

This year, we wanted to do something different and cook our own dinner. We didn’t receive any invitations from our few friends and church family, so we got some groceries to make the fabulous meal you see on the right. On Thanksgiving day, James started the collard greens in our new Crock Pot and I slept in (extra beauty rest is a MUST). Smelling the sweet savor of the greens, I arose, thanked God for a new day and joined him in the living room. We didn’t have breakfast, so I snacked on some kettle corn with honey peanut butter. After a quick trip to Walmart, it was time to cook! But, James didn’t allow me to help with the cooking. All I could do was the jalapeno cornbread. So I pouted for five minutes and put on “Sleepy Hollow” featuring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. (Because I LOVE Johnny Depp, James gave me “Sleepy Hollow,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 4,” and “Sweeny Todd” as a wedding anniversary present!) Two or so hours later, I made the cornbread and we feasted! Then came the food coma. We woke up, went on a walk to Friendship Park so we could shed the first meal. The weather was perfect, as the cool breeze chilled my ears and arms. The colorful leaves crunched under our feet as we walked around the trail. Then it was time for dinner and some football. All the while we discussed what we’re thankful for. Obviously, we’re thankful for each other and our marriage plus the immense blessings from God. We talked to our families back home and relaxed the rest of the evening–Michael Jackson Bad25 documentary by Spike Lee was EXCELLENT! And I was in NO mood for washing dishes (they’re waiting for me when I get off work :-/). 

Despite being by ourselves this year for the first time, I wouldn’t have had Thanksgiving any other way. I was with my best friend who can cook his tail off, in our cozy apartment with heat, cable TV and good movies, and  red velvet cupcakes. To top it off, we drooled over my mother-in-law’s awesome food pictures on her Facebook page. We are enjoying these kinds of child-less moments as long as we can because my baby fever is at an all-time high. I’m so glad Thanksgiving was well spent, don’t you agree?

Clinton students become “Top Chefs” in recipe contest

Clinton Alderman Tony Hisaw (right) and Carolyn Hisaw

Last month, the Clinton Public School District’s Child Nutrition department accepted submissions in the “Taste of CPSD” recipe contest. Students at all grade levels were eligible to win the “Top Chef” designation at their school. Recipes had to be healthy entrees that came from a range of ages and grades. A school committee reviewed the recipes and chose finalists. A panel of judges then selected the winners. 

The top recipes from each school will be featured on the school menu on Wednesday, Oct. 17 as part of National School Lunch Week. Parents are invited to eat with their children at school during that week. Each of the recipes will be prepared using low-fat cooking methods and without excessive butter or salt, said Child Nutrition Supervisor Keba Laird. We all should give these tasty dishes a try!

Winning students and their recipes include:

Chicken Rollups submitted by Bryce Henry, Clinton Park Elementary School. Grade: Kindergarten

Ingredients

2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls

2 cans reduced fat cream of chicken soup

2 cans of water

4 chicken breasts, cooked & chopped (or 2 large cans of chicken)

Paprika to taste (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Separate crescent rolls into triangles. Spoon cooked chicken onto the long end of each, rolling up toward the point of the triangle. Place seam side down in dish. In separate bowl, mix soup with water, and pour over roll-ups. Sprinkle with a light dusting of paprika over casserole (optional). Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza submitted by Katie Tracy, Northside Elementary School. Grade: 2

Ingredients

1 pound whole wheat pizza dough or prepared dough (enough to make two small pizzas or one large)

1 cup shredded skim or low-fat mozzarella cheese

2 grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled (unseasoned)

1/2 cup + 4 Tbsp barbecue sauce

Preparation

Child Nutrition Supervisor Keba Laird (on right)

1.     Preheat oven as directed for pizza dough recipe.

2.     Prepare pizza dough as directed to make two small pizzas (or one large pizza).

3.     Cut grilled chicken into small chunks, about ¼” square.

4.     Toss chicken lightly in 4 Tbsp barbecue sauce and set aside.

5.     Spread remaining barbecue sauce on pizza dough. Top dough evenly with grilled chicken, then with shredded cheese.

6.     Bake pizza as directed for pizza dough recipe.

Makes 4-6 servings

Mexicali Soup submitted by Emily Ouellette, Eastside Elementary School. Grade: 5

Ingredients

2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth

¼ c. minced onion

1 can 97% fat free cream of chicken soup

1 cup skim milk

1 4oz. can diced green chilis

2 c. cooked and chopped chicken breast

1 can whole kernel corn, no salt added (drained)

1 tsp. cumin

Toppings: light sour cream, skim or low-fat cheddar cheese

Preparation

Add all ingredients to large sauce pan , stir to combine and cook on medium heat. Once the soup has started to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve and top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and cheddar cheese.   This tastes especially good with cornbread.

Ground Beef, Corn & Tomato Pie submitted by Kayla Byrd, Lovett Elementary School. Grade: 6

Ingredients

6 tablespoons of butter substitute

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 pound extra lean ground beef

2 cups canned tomatoes, no salt added

2 cups whole kernel corn, no salt added

5 tablespoons flour

½ tablespoon brown sugar

¼ tablespoon chili powder

2¾ teaspoon salt

¼ tablespoon paprika

14 small biscuits, canned

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter substitute (i.e. Smart Balance) in a cast iron skillet. Saute one clove of sliced garlic. Stir in 1 pound of lean hamburger meat and brown. Add 2 cups of canned tomatoes and 2 cups of whole kernel corn. In another pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter substitute. Stir in 5 tablespoons of flour, add this to the other pan, stir in and cook to a boil. Season the mix with: ½ tablespoon brown sugar, ¼ tablespoon chili powder, 2¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ tablespoon paprika. Place in a greased oven-proof dish. Top with biscuits. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is done.

Chinese Hamburger Casserole submitted by Lance Johnson, Clinton Junior High School. Grade: 8

Ingredients

1 pound extra lean ground beef

Foreground, clockwise from bottom, Judges CPSD student Naia Baskin, CPSD parent Carla Baskin, Clarion-Ledger copy editor Shanderia Posey, Clinton Park Elementary teacher Brittany Pickle and a rep from the Mississippi Department of Education

¾ t. salt

1 large onion, chopped

1 (10 ½ oz) can fat-free cream of mushroom soup

1 (10 ½ oz) can fat-free cream of chicken soup

1½ cups warm water

¾ cup uncooked brown rice

2 T. low sodium soy sauce

¼ t. black pepper

1 (3 oz) can chow mein noodles

Preparation

Brown ground beef and onion with salt until crumbly.  Add soups.  Add water.  Stir in rice, pepper, and soy sauce.  Pour into 1 ½- quart casserole dish (sprayed with PAM).  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove cover, stir, and continue baking for 35 minutes longer.  Cover mixture with chow mein noodles and bake another 15 minutes.

Mexican Casserole submitted by Jessica Williams, Clinton High School. Grade: 12

Ingredients

Celebrity judge Ruth Cummins of The Clarion-Ledger, CPSD Child Nutrition Director Regina Ducksworth and The Economist reporter Charlotte Howard

2 lb very lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 Tbsp garlic, minced

8 oz mild taco sauce

10 oz mild enchilada sauce

2 cups plain yogurt

4 oz. green chilies, diced

12 tostado (flat taco) shells

3 cups low-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated

10 oz mild salsa

2 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

Preparation

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.

2.     Brown meat, onion, green pepper and garlic. Drain off fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add taco and enchilada sauce.

3.     Heat yogurt and chilies in a separate saucepan. Add to meat mixture. Blend well.

4.     In a 9×12 casserole dish, line bottom with 6 layers tostado shells, broken in quarters. Add half of meat mixture, cover with cheese. Top with salsa and repeat tostado, meat and cheese.

5.     Bake for 35 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Note: The theme of National School Lunch Week is “School Lunch — What’s Cooking?” Lunch menus are posted online at www.clintonpublicschools.com. Student meals are $2.25 and adult meals are $3. During National School Lunch Week, students, parents and staff can look forward to healthy Southern cuisine like Fiesta Chili, Barbecue Chicken Sliders and Beef Tamale Pie, along with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. The “School Lunch — What’s Cooking?” campaign is sponsored by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association and the Milk Processors Education Program to highlight all the components of well balanced school meals. For more information about healthy school meals, visit www.TrayTalk.org. Photos and content from Clinton Public School District.