We Need A Wine Advent Calendar This Year (Photo)

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By Cooking Panda

Advent calendars are a lot of fun.

There’s just something about them that brings back that sense of childlike wonder, as you open up a new square every day and find a little present. Maybe you’ll get a mediocre piece of chocolate, maybe a tiny useless trinket. Whatever it is, the fun of getting a mysterious gift is always exciting, even if you have a lousy calendar.

But as adults, holidays can be a bit more stressful. You might have kids, you might have relatives coming over for Christmas. Or you might just be wondering how you’ll make it through December when you have gifts to buy and bills to pay. Hey, it happens.

That’s exactly why all holiday decorations should somehow involve booze.

Fortunately for all of us, Aldi has our backs and will be releasing a wine advent calendar for the 2017 holiday season. And we should all be very grateful for such a wonderful gift.

The discount grocery chain’s new product will include 24 mini bottles of wine, which add up to a little more than six full-sized bottles’ worth of red, white, rose and sparkling wines for the 24 days of advent, reports Refinery29. For $67, it isn’t too terrible of a price.

The calendar will include bottles from brands that include JP Chenet and Calvet, notes The Sun. Most of the wine will be French, although there will be some Spanish and Italian sparkling ones.

Sadly, it seems that Aldi is only releasing the boozy calendar in the U.K. this year, but I’m hoping that it is a smash hit and soon makes its way over to the U.S. by next year’s holiday season.

The revolutionary calendar will come out on Nov. 1, so make sure you’re ready! If you’re going to be in the U.K. at that time, you’ll want to run to your local Aldi and pick one up ASAP.

Sources: The Sun, Refinery29 / Featured Image: PX Here / Embedded Image: Aldi via The Sun

Tags: Aldi, Aldi advent calendar, Christmas, wine advent, wine calendar
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Watch This Tiny Woman Eat 4,307 Calories Of KFC At Once (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

It’s always surprising to see how much food a tiny person can actually put away, especially in the world of competitive eaters. Japan’s Yuka Kinoshita can personally eat an entire KFC Christmas Pack in one sitting, but don’t take it from me. You can see for yourself in the video below.

Let’s just take a second to understand what goes into the KFC Christmas Pack, shall we? Yuka begins her video by reading off the list of what’s included in her family meal for one: 5 KFC original chicken pieces, 4 chicken tenders, 10 nuggets, 2 orders of barbecue chicken nuggets and 3 medium orders of the Colonel’s coleslaw. To top it all off, Yuka also bought a premium roast chicken. As Yuka states in the video, the Japanese celebrate Christmas by eating KFC, so it’s probably safe to assume that the amount of chicken consumed here is somewhat festive in nature.

According to Metro News, the 31-year-old competitive eater makes a living from eating large quantities of food in front of the camera. As you watch her down all 4,307 of those calories, you’ll notice she enjoys eating all of the food just about as much as we enjoy watching her do it. I have to admit, I’m a bit envious, since I’d love to be able to enjoy that much food at once, and I’d be especially happy if I could remain that small while doing so.

You’ll also notice that the video’s title contains the word “Mukbang.” This mean’s “social eating,” and it’s how competitive eating began in South Korea. Clearly, it caught on and grew big enough for food-lovers like Yuka to make a living off of eating on-screen. Social eating was first meant for audiences who don’t love eating alone, so they could watch a video in which someone is eating with them. That way, no one has to feel lonely while enjoying a good meal. How cute!

Anyway, take a look at the video to watch Yuka chow down, and be sure to have some chicken handy, because you’ll absolutely grow hungry.

Sources: Metro News, Yuka Kinoshita/YouTube / Photo Credit: Yuka Kinoshita/YouTube

Tags: Christmas, competitive eating, japan, KFC
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Christmas Tree Rice Krispies

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By Cooking Panda

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Dunkin’ Donuts Debuts Super Cute Christmas Treats

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By Cooking Panda

Dunkin’ Donuts has come out with two very cute new donuts for the holiday season. One is a white reindeer head, and the other is a brown snowman. Wait, what?

Brand Eating reports that Dunkin’ Donuts in Korea has come out with a white reindeer and a brown snowman donut, which is sort of backwards from what we’d expect, right? There’s a story behind it, however. The white reindeer is just a Rudolph (it does have a red nose) on a snowy day, while the brown snowman is a snowman dipped in chocolate. I’m not sure if I’m convinced by this explanation, but they’re still as cute as can be.

The reindeer donut has a strawberry filling, while the chocolate-dipped snowman features a Bavarian cream filling. Although these donuts are only available in Korea thus far, they sound delicious, and look adorable. You’ve got to appreciate a festive donut!

Don’t be too sad that we don’t get them in the States. We do get a few seasonal items, after all. As per a Dunkin’ Donuts press release, we do get to partake in the yum-factor that is a Creme Brulee Macchiato. We also get a Candy Cane Crunch Donut and — my personal favorite — the Boston Kreme Croissant Donut.

“The holiday season represents one of our favorite times as on-the-go people look to our festive beverages and treats to keep on running throughout the busy weeks ahead,” says one Dunkin’ spokesperson. “With our new Creme Brulee coffees, Candy Cane Crunch Donut and Boston Kreme Croissant Donut, we look forward to creating daily moments of joy and bringing smiles to our guests as they celebrate this wonderful time of the year.” See? It’s not all bad.

The Candy Cane Crunch Donut has vanilla flavored buttercream filling, topped with white icing and crushed candy cane pieces; the Boston Kreme Croissant Donut is a glazed croissant donut filled with Bavarian cream and topped with a drizzle of chocolate icing. The Creme Brulee Macchiato is just as it sounds: the taste of creme brulee and caramelized sugar in drink form. Who says we don’t get good stuff in the States?

Sources: Brand Eating, Dunkin' Donuts / Photo Credit: Dunkin' Donuts Korea/Instagram

Tags: Christmas, donuts, Dunkin' Donuts, seasonal
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Burger King Is Swapping Your Unwanted Gifts For Whoppers

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By Cooking Panda

Burger King has come up with a creative idea for relieving you of your unwanted Christmas gifts this year. Now, you can exchange that (unintentionally) ugly sweater for a Whopper, with Burger King’s Whopper Exchange campaign!

What else were you going to do with it, anyway? Thrillist reports that the exchange will take place in a few specific locations around the globe on Dec. 26. More specifically, locations in Miami, London and Brazil will be participating.

The point of this campaign isn’t convenience (since most of us don’t live in those areas). Rather, it’s about making good use of these gifts. They will be donated to charities, which is better than spending a day in the exchange line or searching for gift receipts. Do something more valuable with these items!

According to a Burger King press release, the hours this offer will be available in Miami are from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call your Burger King to double check the hours if you’re living in London or Brazil.

The thought behind this campaign is admirable, to say the least. “At Burger King Restaurants, we are always looking for ways to surprise our fans, no matter if they were good or naughty,” says spokesman Fernando Machado. “The Whopper Exchange will offer our guests the chance to get a flame-grilled gift in exchange for an unwanted one. Because this holiday season, we want everyone to receive something they will love.”

As awesome as this is, what about those of us who don’t live in those areas? Burger King has at least given us a good idea for what we could be doing with our unwanted gifts. Just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean someone else won’t, after all. We also get another chance to get something from the King. The first 100 fans to post a picture of their unwanted gift on Twitter with the hashtag #WhopperExchange will receive a surprise from BK.

Then again, that would mean publicly posting a picture of a gift you don’t like … for your family and friends to see. I guess if you choose this route, you can’t make a secret of not liking your gift!

Sources: Thrillist, Burger King Press Release / Photo Credit: McKinley Hill/Facebook

Tags: Burger King, Christmas, Gifts, Whopper, Whopper Exchange
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QUIZ: Would You Rather – Holiday Dessert Edition

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By Cooking Panda

Photo Credit: Flickr

Tags: Christmas, dessert, holiday, Quiz, would you rather
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The Ultimate Holiday Shopping List for a Trader Joe’s Lover

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By Cooking Panda

Giving is great and all, but it’s common knowledge that festive foods put the “Wonder” in “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The holidays are nigh, everyone. The chilled wind dances with a rare cheer, smiling cheeks are rosy with merriment and out wafts from chimneys the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 

Trader Joe’s does not underestimate the power of snack, food and drink to make any holiday party the most joyful night of the season. Below, find the ultimate shopping list for the most excellent of gleeful gatherings — TJ’s style.

Fuel For The Day

Gingerbread Oat Bars

It’s ideal to think that holiday cheer lies aplenty within us all, but throwing a soiree is no easy task for a host. As you rush through the house, whipping cream and hanging lights, take a moment to savor a gingerbread oat bar. The ginger-rich gluten-free treats will satiate you with almond butter, flax seed and oat flour. They’re just 140 calories a pop, so your soon-to-transpire feasting is still well deserved.

Drinks

Michael Buble is blasting, lights are twinkling and guests are pouring in. Now it’s time for libations. 

Chocolate Peppermint Almond Beverage

Serve this to dairy-sensitive partygoers chilled, warmed or even blended with ice and banana for a beverage nearly as fluffy as the fallen snow. 

Egg Nog

Fill friends’ cups with the holiday season’s dreamiest drink, and add a splash of rum when no one is looking. TJ’s nog even comes in a light version with 40 percent fewer calories.

Ginger Brew

Use this brew for Moscow Mules that will make even the truest ginger junkies grin.

Winter Wassail

This sweet punch sings notes of black currant, apple and lemon and whispers hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and orange peel — to name a few. TJ’s suggests serving it warm in a great big mug with a cinnamon stick garnish, or steaming after a simmer session with red wine on the stovetop. 

Small Bites

Your guests each have one hand busy with a drink. Now bequeath unto them other offerings from appetizer trays. Think cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres. They’re the types of bites you might see at the grandest yuletide ball, but all you need do is buy, heat and plate. Now that’s a party.

Fromage Pave

A unique ultrafiltration process renders this cheese a rich and buttery triple-creme delight. Be fair and warn guests that they may faint from elation after the daintiest taste.

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Admittedly, this could count as a dessert. But it’s wintertime, so let’s classify it as a necessary prerequisite to an elaborate feast. How does it work? Standard cheese ingredients get cozy with a mix of lemon and sugar, the curd is baked at low temperatures and the final cooled treat resembles a lemon cheesecake. 

Salami Trio

Cheese looks gorgeous on crackers and baguette, but looks aren’t everything; it could feel lonely without company. Consider cheese’s feelings and give it the gift of friendship — better known as salami. This trio comes in fennel, chorizo and herbes de Provence varieties.

Pistachio & Pomegranate Crisps

These crunchy crisps will make the perfect cheese-mobile. Studded with appropriately red and green pomegranate and pistachio bits, the crackers will transport guests to better days.

Nuts & Fruits & Honey

Despite its uncanny resemblance to tableside decor, this is not a gorgeous lava lamp made of food. Rather, it is a beautifully edible marriage of nuts, dried figs, coconut, seeds, honey and bee pollen. Stick a spoon into it and lay it on the cheese platter, or save a jar for your best foodie friend’s stocking.

Roasted Onion & Garlic Jam

Trader Joe’s attests that this savory jam — the product of slowly simmered garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar and herbs — pairs flawlessly with the aforementioned fromage pave, but keep it around as an addition for the main dishes, too.

Cocktail Stirrers

Fancy-fy any cocktail in no time with stirrers stacked with all of the following goodies: gherkin pickles (gherkin … that’s fun to say), baby onions, green chili peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and olives. You can also add them to the appetizer trays for a briny contrast.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Now it’s time for something a little hotter. Like these, for example: delightful pigs in a blanket for the sophisticated palate. Each bite combines the soft and sweet chewiness of Medjool dates, the creamy tang of California goat cheese and the salty crispiness of apple-smoked bacon. 

Mini Brie en Croute

They’ve experienced flavor jubilee from the previous bundle of bliss, and now your guests will be yearning for more. Have them give these a try. They’re bites of smooth brie melted in a puff-pastry blanket. Dip them in your sweet or savory jams for added taste.

 

Activity

Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit

Drinks are flowing, snacks are bountiful and conversations are chipper. Give your guests a break from standing while keeping their hands busy and spirits high — with an ugly sweater cookie kit, of course. Without the fuss of gingerbread construction, the kit packs 10 sugar-cookie sweaters, vests and TJ’s signature Hawaiian shirts. And for decorating purposes, there is icing and a heap of sprinkles.

 

Big Bites

Your guests will have had so much fun at this point, they’re sure to be skeptical that the main course could eclipse the previous events. Fret not; TJ’s products assure this part of the evening will be the opposite of a bore. Serve these tasty temptations with something green for good measure.

Fondue

Fondue is like the breadbasket — but much, much better. Scatter the dining table with bowls of baguette and brioche bites, plus sticks for spearing, and your guests will be dippin’ ’til they drop. 

Tamales

If you’re from the southwest, these might bring back fond memories of the holidays at home (and induce sweet tears of nostalgia). A celebratory staple, these delicate tamales come filled with chicken and green chile, pork and red sauce, and vegetarian cheese and green salsa. They’ll be a welcome addition to the spread. 

Bacon Wrapped Porchetta Pork Roast

(No judgment if you had to Google “porchetta.”) This here hearty hunk o’ meat is a pork shoulder rubbed with garlic, sage, oregano, rosemary and a hint of lemon. It’s wrapped in bacon and packaged so it’s ready to be popped into your oven. No need to spray the dining room with fragrance — TJ’s says the roasting porchetta will fill your home with aromas of bacon and porky goodness.

Stuffed Lobsters

These Canadian crustaceans are stuffed with more lobster and crab, mayonnaise, celery, bell pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Give each guest a sizeable piece of the lobster, and you can call the meal a holiday surf ‘n’ turf. 

 

Dessert

With hearts full and bellies nearly there, it’s time for dessert. Have your guests clear the table, gather ’round the fireplace for a goodhearted gift exchange, and succumb to a proper sugar coma.

Gingerbread Sticks

These cookie sticks have the flavor of gingerbread plus the convenience of dip-ability. Hold them like biscotti and have them take a swim in a frothy bath of egg nog. You shan’t regret it.

Macarons des Fetes

TJ’s iconic macarons are back for the most festive time of the year, this time in chocolate peppermint, chocolate raspberry, four-spice caramel, pear cinnamon, gingerbread and cappuccino flavors. Since they’re French, now would be a great time to pop open the champagne. Treat yourself.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Have you ever imagined bathing in cake? No? Okay. But if you were to dream of such a thing, it would likely involve this cake. It’s made with lots of butter, sugar and chopped dates, and it oozes with hot toffee sauce — add ice cream or whipped cream, if you’re into that contrasting-temperatures thing, which we are.

Jingle Jangle Ice Cream

This ultra-sweet ice cream is abound with the jingliest and jangliest. You know, like chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, red candy gems and Joe-Joe’s cookies. It’s best eaten with a ladle for maximum jingle distribution in each bite. 

Peppermint Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream

For those who like their ice cream chunky, but not jangly, this is the answer. It’s a swirl of Joe-Joe’s-laden peppermint ice cream and fudge-ribboned vanilla ice cream. Those who say ice cream shouldn’t be eaten in cold weather just haven’t tried this one yet.

 

Party Favors

Salty Honey Toffee Milk Chocolate Covered Crackers

Perhaps you expected the last word in that title to be “cookies,” or even “potato chips.” Crackers, really? But that’s just the thing. The crunchy cracker provides a blank canvas for the flavors of milk chocolate, diced honey toffee and almonds — and an also delightfully unexpected dusting of ground coffee — to shine. Embrace the unusual. Be great.

Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Bar

Your guests will arrive hungry and leave happy — and extra happy if you give them this dark chocolate bar with caramel filling and crumbs of gingerbread cookies.

Chili Chocolate Collection

The package comes with a key detailing each piece’s level of spiciness. Get the low down on your friends’ heat tolerance, then hit ’em with a sweet and smoky treat for the road. 

Crunchy Truffle Trio

Each velvety chocolate ball is coated with fine flakes of speculoos cookies, caramelized coconut or caramelized pecan. They’re truffles, people, and they’re not to be trifled with. 

RECOVERY

You’ve done it, you convivial host! After an ample night’s rest, wake up to the last two treasures from your shopping cart, and take the rest of the day for yourself. 

Festively Flavored Coffee Cups

After a long night, what’s your poison? Chocolate mint? Maybe wintry blend? French vanilla, perhaps? You’ll find it here.

Gelato Filled Panettone

OK, this could be overkill for a quiet breakfast alone. Whether you indulge solo or keep it in the freezer for when Mom comes to town, this is a traditional Italian cake filled with Italian-style ice cream, wearing a hat of chocolate chips. It’s just begging to be tried at Christmas brunch.

Happy Holidays, happy shopping, all happy everything!

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr (Edited by Cooking Panda)

Tags: Christmas, festive, Groceries, holiday, Party, TJ's, Trader Joe's
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This Wine Advent Calendar Is A Holiday Miracle

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By Cooking Panda

As somebody who did not grow up in a household that observed Christmas, I admit that of all of the traditions that go along with the holiday — the big tree, the entire leave-out-cookies-for-Santa-Claus thing, and all of the songs — I was most intrigued with advent calendars as a kid.

Is that weird? When I was younger, the idea of opening up little boxes in a calendar every day of the month, only to be rewarded with a little surprise gift or treat was such a magical premise to me. However, so often our favorite childhood memories and traditions don’t translate to adulthood.

Not so with this new advent calendar, however — this wine advent calendar. Suddenly, I really wish I celebrated Christmas again.

@savvysouthernbelle has us wishing it was #friyay and not #tuesday ?? #getvinebox

A photo posted by VINEBOX (@getvinebox) on

VINEBOX has revealed what is probably the most amazing twist on a childhood classic we have seen in a long time — a new wine-by-the-glass advent calendar, and it is exactly what it sounds like.

Basically, the idea is that if you order a holiday VINEBOX (or, as the company puts it, the “Twelve Nights of Wine limited-edition holiday special”), you receive a set of four boxes, each with three high-quality, hand-selected (by an expert sommelier, no less!) red or white wine selections.

Um, yes please.

Don't forget the wine for tomorrow! ???? #happythanksgiving

A photo posted by VINEBOX (@getvinebox) on

Each box also comes with tasting notes that have pairing recommendations on them, wine wit, and a whole lot of happiness, if you ask me.

“The world’s first wine-by-the-glass advent calendar. Gone are the letdowns of clawing through a tiny door for a small square of chocolate. With VINEBOX you can countdown to the holidays in style (and with 12 glasses of wine). Each box is hand numbered and curated by our expert sommeliers. No peeking! Each glass is worth the surprise,” reads the product description on VINEBOX’s website.

“Go ahead, pinch yourself. It’s real. But it won’t be here for long.”

If you want to go ahead and grab yourself (or a very special loved one) a box, head over to the website here. The boxes go for $129 normally, but you can get 15 percent off for Cyber Monday.

Source: VINEBOX / Photo Credit: VINEBOX/Instagram

Tags: advent, Christmas, holiday gift, sommelier, vinebox, wine
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Woman Celebrates Christmas By Crafting With Bacon (Photos)

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By Cooking Panda

Glitter and popsicle sticks are fun and all, but nothing embodies the true spirit of Christmas crafting like pigs in a blanket, according to one creative bacon lover.

When London food fan Sian Pearson and cousin Ellie were given the sole responsibility of making pigs in a blanket for Christmas dinner back in 2012, a revolutionary idea was born. To heck with throwing the little bacon-wrapped sausages on a plate and calling it a day, they thought. Something much more innovative was in store.

So they made a centerpiece out of the appetizer, Metro reports.

Above is a shot of the inaugural centerpiece: a pork-heavy nativity scene featuring baby Jesus lying in a Yorkshire pudding manger, three wise men wearing foil crowns, animals and a bacon stable expertly held together with toothpicks.

With the scene proving to be such a hit, why stop there? Pearson has since made a new pigs-in-blankets piece each year, like this one in 2013.

The work of art depicts Santa and reindeer charging their present-stocked sleigh through a shimmery night.

The bacon was extra prominent in 2014, when Pearson made a larger than life bacon tree and bacon family sitting down to a Christmas feast.

Things got more intricate the next year with a look at the North Pole, where bacon elves wore tomato hats and assembled toys under Santa’s watchful eye. The scene sat atop a dish of fluffy mashed potatoes for a wintry effect.

While Christmas is her specialty, Pearson’s creations aren’t limited to wintertime festivities. Her meaty works are so popular that friends have requested she make them for their parties, one of which resulted in this tropical beach party scene.

Each piece takes about four hours to make, including the time it takes to cook the bacon and sausage. She said it’s all about the details, which don’t come together quickly. 

“They’re incredibly fiddly and a structural challenge,” she told Metro.

What’s in store for 2016’s creation? Pearson said that’s to be confirmed, but it’s sure to be as elaborate as ever.

Source: Metro / Photo Credit: Thad Zajdowicz/Flickr
 

Tags: bacon, Christmas, Craft, food art, pigs in a blanket
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Mom Feels Something Taped To Package Of Diapers In Grocery Store, Makes Unexpected Find (Photos)

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By Cooking Panda

A Washington woman says she was left in tears after finding a sticky note on a package of diapers.

Aman Da Elle went shopping at a Tacoma Safeway grocery store to buy diapers for her child on Dec. 24. As she brought the diapers up to the register to pay, she noticed something unusual on the outside of the package.

“I had to make an emergency diaper run at Safeway on 12th St in Tacoma on Christmas Eve,” Aman said in a Facebook post. “As I walked to the register, I felt what I thought was a coupon taped onto the plastic, turned over the package in my hand, and found this note.”

The note left on the package read, “From one parent to another. Merry Christmas!”

Underneath the sticky note was a $20 bill taped to the packaging, left by the generous stranger to cover the cost of the diapers.

Aman, surprised by the random act of kindness, posted on her local news station’s Facebook page to share the heartwarming story.

“[If] the person who did this for me sees my message, I just want you to know it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Aman wrote in a comment on the post. “I was feeling overwhelmed and overlooked and you made me feel so special and I’ll always be so grateful for it. Merry Christmas!”

Aman let the store manager know what happened,and he said that she was the fifth person to share the same story, Mad World News reports.

Tags: anonymous gift, Christmas, Diapers, parents, Random Act Of Kindness
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