Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Giving Thanks Sometimes Means Giving Back! - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Being in business for 88 years requires dedicated ownership, great employees, a wonderful product, a little bit of luck, and the support of the community. Indeed, Prisco’s Family Market has been blessed with all of these ingredients. Particularly at this time of year with the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, it’s good to take a break from the business of the season to pause and reflect on the roots of our success.

Our parents and grandparents before them instilled in all of us the importance of being involved in our community and staying close to our customers. This year as in the past, November and December are packed with projects where we will happily donate our time and treasure to our local community. We decided to step it up a notch this year and make a point of showing our sincere appreciation to the wonderful customers who support us week in and week out by driving past the giant corporate box stores and mega chains to shop at our store and support our independently owned family business. Please check this week’s ad and learn about our Thanksgiving Customer Appreciation Grocery Giveaway.

As for the community where we live and work, it has certainly sustained us over the years, and it is with a great deal of gratitude and humility that we acknowledge the fact we couldn’t have done it without you, our friends and neighbors! It has been and continues to be a wonderful relationship. But any lasting relationship is always a two way street; you support us, and we support you. Prisco’s Family Market has given back to Auroraland in a number of ways:


* Our charitable gift card program is a great way for churches, schools, and other not-for-profits to raise funds. We sell the organization Prisco’s gift cards at a very generous 5% discount which then can be resold to its members at face value. Many thousands of dollars have been raised by a number of organizations in this way.

* We also aid organizations in their fundraising efforts by donating beautiful custom made gift baskets for silent auctions and so forth.

* Prisco’s became a founding member of the Holiday Food Drive to aid the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry which is now in its 7th year. We sell premade bags of food to our customers and then send the bags to the Pantry for distribution to the needy in our community. Prisco’s subsidizes the cost of each bag. This is a terrific joint Prisco’s/Community project.

* We also run a Christmas Food Drive in conjunction with our friend and colleague Jerry Pigatti and his associates. Last year 350+ food boxes with the ingredients for a complete turkey dinner were distributed through our network of local churches and schools, all at no charge to the recipients. This drive is in its 21st year.

* Prisco’s donates unsellable produce, bakery, meat, and deli items twice per week to the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry to insure that no one in the community goes hungry and good food is not wasted. We recently accepted the Pantry’s Distinguished Service Award.


As you can see, giving back to the community is a priority with us here at Prisco’s.

From Our Family to Yours …… Happy Thanksgiving

Rob Prisco


Pomegranates: An ancient fruit, but the new Superfood- Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of modern day Iran. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health and fertility for ages. However, while it has always been an important part of the Middle Eastern diet, until recently pomegranates were nothing more than a seasonal novelty in the U.S...

Generally speaking, the fruit is not as attractive to Americans as it is to folks in the Mid-East, Europe and the Far East, primarily because of its somewhat inconvenient abundance of seeds; preparing a pomegranate for consumption takes time and a bit of skill. However, now that medical studies have begun shedding some light on the health benefits of the pomegranate, thereby revealing it for the superfood it is, the fruit is finally gaining in popularity.

How to select

* For eating or juicing, select pomegranates by weight, not by color.
* The outside of a ripe pomegranate can vary from pink to a deep ruby red.
* The heavier pomegranates are, the more juice they contain.

The potent pomegranate

The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. Pomegranate juice may help stop plaque formation in the blood vessels (an anti-atherogenic effect), and it also appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells and increase cancer cell death in lab testing, according to research from UCLA.

A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries. Pomegranates are also loaded with vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron!

How to open a pomegranate

Step. 1 Cut
With a sharp paring knife, cut off the top about a half inch below the crown.


Step. 2 Score
Once the top has been removed, four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by the white membrane will be visible. With the knife’s point, score the skin along each section.



Step. 3 Open
Using both hands, carefully pull the pomegranate apart in a bowl of water, breaking it into smaller sections.


Step. 4 Loosen
Under water, loosen the arils and allow them to sink to the bottom of the bowl; the membrane will float to the top.


Step. 5 Scoop
Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top of the water.



Step. 6 Strain
Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer.



Some great pomegranate recipes

Now that you are acquainted with the health benefits of the pomegranate and know how to extract the edible portion of the fruit, here are some delicious recipes for you to enjoy.

Chicken Enchiladas with Cream Sauce and Pomegranate

Pomegranate and Papaya Salad with Ginger Dressing

Pomegranate Jeweled Spinach Salad

Spicy Pomegranate Relish

Pomegranate-Marinated Rack Of Lamb

Pomegranate-Honey Roasted Game Hens


Let’s Talk Turkey!- Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Without a doubt the month of November is the busiest that our meat department gets every year, followed closely by December. It is so gratifying to realize that thousands of our customers come year after year to our store and order their fresh turkey and Christmas roasts. On behalf of the Prisco Family and our employees we would like to say “Thank you” for your ongoing support and we want to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

That being said, I’d like to devote my Shout Out to passing on some helpful advice and perhaps answer questions about how to best prepare and enjoy the center of your holiday meal… The turkey.

Let me begin by going over the top 10 reasons why you should always purchase an all-natural Ho-Ka fresh, non-basted turkey from Prisco’s Family Market.

  1. These are locally grown turkeys raised on the Kaufmann Farm in Waterman, IL.

  2. The Kaufman Farm is a green farm. In addition to raising turkeys, the farm rotates crops of corn, soy beans and wheat. Turkey litter is the only fertilizer used on the corn which is grown to feed the turkeys. Turkeys range on freshly harvested wheat fields, which were no-till drilled into last year's soybean field.

  3. Ho-Ka turkeys are raised in a slower, gentler fashion in order to assure that each bird attains maximum tenderness, a denser meatiness and a richer favor.

  4. Ho-Ka turkeys are fed a balanced diet of animal protein and natural grain.

  5. Ho-Ka turkeys are younger and therefore more tender, dressed at 16 to 19 weeks.

  6. Our Ho-Ka turkeys are 100% natural with minimal processing and absolutely no additives.

  7. Prior to Thanksgiving they are raised free range on freshly harvested wheat fields

  8. Our Ho-Ka turkeys are comparable to or better tasting than those sold online or in specialty stores at more than twice the price per lb.

  9. Our fresh (never frozen) Ho-Ka turkeys retail for just $2.99 lb.

    ..... And the top reason to buy your fresh Ho-Ka turkey from Prisco’s Family Market is .....

  10. YOU ALWAYS GET IT EXACTLY YOUR WAY. Simply call us at (630) 264-9401. Tell us what size bird or birds you want, what extras you would like included, and when you want to pick it up. It’s that simple. All you need do then is invite the quests and write your shopping list for the fresh produce, deli trays, pies and wine and beer to get when you stop to pick up your delicious, fresh Ho-Ka Turkey.

What if you have questions?

Is this the first time you’ve cooked a turkey dinner? Perhaps not the first but it’s been a while and you don’t want to disappoint a house full of Thanksgiving quests? Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place. We have all your turkey questions answered and several you haven’t even thought of yet. Here are some examples of questions we get asked most often.

  1. Question: Can you really tell the difference between a fresh Ho-Ka turkey and the less expensive frozen alternative?

    Answer: Some people can’t but the vast majority can and that’s why hundreds of local area families return to Prisco’s every year to order their fresh turkey and holiday roasts.

  2. Question: Is there a difference in taste between the various brands of turkeys that you carry?

    Answer: While individual customers show a particular preference for one band over another our taste experts say it’s difficult to taste any clear difference because we carry only Grade “A” natural birds. We like to steer people who aren’t pre-set on a particular brand toward the locally grown, all natural fresh Ho-Ka brand because they offer the best opportunity to match the bird size with your particular needs.

  3. Question: Do you only sell fresh turkeys? What if I’d prefer a frozen turkey?

    Answer: No problem at all, we carry two of the most popular frozen turkeys in the market, Grade “A” Nobest and Butterball.

  4. Question: What size turkey should I order?

    Answer: To have plenty for everyone, figure one pound per average adult and about ½ a pound for seniors and children. This is one meal, however, where everyone wants some leftovers, so after counting heads and pounds add on five or six pounds for delicious leftovers and turkey sandwiches.

  5. Question: Do I need to get a hen?

    Answer: This is something that you may have heard from grandma or perhaps even Mom. Years ago when turkeys were raised totally free range the Toms (males) ran a lot, fought with each other and got lean and a bit tough. A Tom turkey was something to be avoided if possible. That’s not the case any longer: All the turkeys are raised humanely and are well cared for to assure that no matter the sex of the bird, you are getting a delicious natural meal.

  6. Question: Will my turkey keep fresh in my refrigerator?

    Answer: Yes it should keep fresh for a week if properly refrigerated. Just keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.


  1. Question: What can I do to avoid hurt feelings when four kids want the two drum sticks?

    Answer: Easier than you may think. When you order your turkey ask for two extra turkey legs…no problem. Some customers who have an abundance of white meat lovers order an extra turkey breast rather than trying to fit two full turkeys in the oven.

  2. Question: What is the proper temperature for a roasted turkey?

    Answer: The white meat should be 160-165 degrees F. and the dark meat 170-175 degrees F. Most of the fresh turkeys come with a popup timer. The Ho-Ka and Butterball do not. Pop up timers are available for sale in the store. The frozen turkeys do come with timers. Of course the surest method is to use an instant read thermometer.

  3. Question: I have a small family and nobody likes dark meat. What do you suggest?

    Answer: Buy one of our exceptional boneless or bone-in breasts. Our meat cutters make them right here at the store in a variety of sizes. We are one of the few stores that offers a complete range of fresh turkey parts including breasts, drumsticks, thighs, wings, backs and necks for stock, and giblets. (Boy if they thought that they didn’t like dark meat wait till they try some turkey giblets.)

  4. Question: I’ve heard brining can make a turkey moister. What does that involve?

    Answer: Brining your turkey is a good way to add moisture and seasoning throughout the bird. It is generally worth the effort. The most basic way to brine a turkey (see The Joy of Cooking) is to add two pounds of salt to two gallons of water in a suitable container and, in a cool spot, submerge your turkey for 4-6 hours. At roasting time, remove from the solution, pat dry and cook according to instructions. Many times people like to add their own touches to the brining solution such as apple cider, or various spice combinations. Brining kits are available in the store.


Margaret’s 5 step process to carving a turkey

I’d like to close out this little epistle on turkeys by sharing my sure fire best way to carve your turkey

Take the turkey from the oven, place on a cutting board and remove the stuffing. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes before beginning.

  1. With a sharp carving knife, remove the legs by placing the knife in the seam where the thigh meets the breast. Slice through the meat slowly, pushing down on the leg until you reach the ball joint (where the thigh bone meets the pelvis). With the tip of the knife, cut through the joint, releasing the whole leg. Grasp the drumstick in one hand and with the knife, find the drumstick/thigh joint and separate the drumstick from the thigh. Repeat for the other side.

  2. Next grasp the wing and probe with the knife tip to find the joint where the wing attaches to the breast. Cut through the joint and remove the wing. Repeat for the other wing.

  3. You now have the whole breast with back portion attached. At this point the breast meat can be sliced “as is” or the breast meat can be removed from the carcass in halves and then placed on the cutting board for slicing.

  4. To remove the breast meat from the bone, score the breast down the middle along the keel (or breast bone) with the tip of the knife. Once the seam has been created insert the blade lengthwise and “scoop” along the breast bone. The breast half should literally fall away from the bone at this point. Repeat for the other half.

  5. You now have a disjointed turkey. The meat can now be sliced as you wish. The drumsticks, thighs, and wings can be served as-is, or the meat can be sliced off and the bones discarded. Slice the breast meat against the grain.


Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Margaret Prisco


The great fall harvest- Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This week at Prisco’s we are celebrating the Great Fall Harvest. Just head west of our store a few miles and once you cross Orchard Ave. the city melts away and is replaced by beautiful, open fields where local farmers are busy taking in their crops of corn and soy beans. Weather conditions this spring and summer made this one of the best crops we have seen in many years, and whenever we traveled along Prairie Street heading toward Sugar Grove this summer we were struck with a sense of awe at the tall, healthy crops on either side of the road.

When we think of fall, besides the beautiful changing of the leaves, the thought that next comes to mind are the fresh apples waiting to be picked and enjoyed. This is a great time to visit our store if you are an apple lover because we are featuring five of our most popular varieties of apples, all at a common and very affordable price of 99₵ lb.

Sure, they make great lunch box add-ins and after school snacks eaten raw, but we don’t want to forget some of the most loved foods that can be had using apples for cooking.



Fresh home made applesauce
Sure, you can buy applesauce in a jar and we sell lots every week at our store, but does anything in a jar come close to the taste of your own homemade apple sauce? Don’t fret, it’s a very simple recipe the kids or grandkids would love to help make. (A sure fire way to get them to eat it as well.)

Another apple favorite that is most definitely considered a stick-to-your-ribs comfort food has to be German Apple Pancakes. Once you start making this recipe in any kitchen the whole house smells of sweet cinnamon and sugar and you are guaranteed to get a long list of volunteers to help get breakfast cooked and on the table.

Of course, we would not be doing justice to fall harvest celebrations if we didn’t mention the one food that is synonymous with homemade American baking… Apple Pie


Tags :  apples recipes
"Everything that's old is new, and everything that's new is old."- Tuesday, October 28, 2014

- Stephanie Mills – American R&B singer

This clever saying coined by Stephanie Mills is the cornerstone of what I wanted to Shout Out about today. I’m known at Prisco’s as the craft beer and hard cider guru, two subsets of the adult beverage category that are growing leaps and bounds annually and two topics that I love talking about. However, there is another adult beverage that is very new to almost everyone I speak to about it but ironically, it is believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. I’m referring to mead, also known as "honey wine" which dates back thousands of years before Jesus Christ performed his miracle of changing water to wine at the wedding feast of Canna.

Made from fermented honey and water, sometimes with added yeast, mead is produced using countless styles and variations—from dry to sweet and anything in between, including sparkling. This is done by tinkering with the ingredient proportions and the fermentation process. Just as a wine’s notes are dependent on the terroir of its grapes (how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine), the flavor of a mead changes based on the flowers that honeybees use to pollinate.

A little about the history of mead

The earliest evidence of mead production dates back to 9000 BC from pottery vessels in northern China. Historically, mead was something of a global beverage: it was consumed by Greek gods on Mt. Olympus, by the Vikings, and by African bushmen. In fact, mead was consumed before men knew how to harness the mead making process; mead fermented naturally on its own when a beehive combined with rainwater and yeast in the air. The great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that the invention of mead marks a critical passage in human evolution, the transition "from nature to culture," as he put it.

The term ‘honeymoon’ can be traced to the medieval tradition of drinking this honey wine for a full cycle of the moon after marriage. Mead was thought to be an aphrodisiac, and if it was consumed by newlyweds, offspring would hopefully soon follow. A bride’s father would often include enough mead in her dowry to last for a month.

Throughout the ages, across the globe, mead has been celebrated as a source of health and happiness, of strength and inspiration, the preferred drink of poets and scholars, warriors and kings. Though mead faded from prominence after the Middle Ages, many European monasteries continued to make it, most famously the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of England. Craft mead is now poised to make a comeback, although it hasn’t yet been commercialized on a large scale. There are at least 165 meaderies in the U.S., according to the American Mead Makers’ Association (AMMA). Why is mead so alluring now? It possesses a mysterious, ancient aura, and it’s also not widely available in bars, making it more of an exclusive drink for those in the know.

So just what is mead?

There’s a lot of confusion about what this stuff actually is. Is it a wine? Is it a beer? Sort of. Not really. Yes and no. The most basic mead recipe contains just three simple ingredients: honey, water and yeast. We usually think of wine as fermented juice, with no water added, so in that sense mead resembles beer. But beer is made with grain, which must be malted and mashed and lautered (separating the sweet wort from the mash) and sparged (rinsing the grain of residualsugrs) — a complex process which has nothing to do with making mead. In the end we might have to conclude that mead is its own sweet thing. Technically, mead is classified as wine by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcohol sales and labelling in the US. This means that mead has to be labelled as "honey wine", which doesn't help combat people's perception of the drink as being as cloyingly sweet.

Don’t be thrown off by the word honey. Mead is not necessarily sweet, there is a great proliferation of not only dry meads but also meads flavored with fruits, herbs, and spicy peppers.

But what about taste?

OK, so it’s not nearly as important to know what mead is as to know how it tastes.

It’s true that mead tends to be on the sweet side, but just how sweet is a matter of preference and choice. As with any other wine, you can ferment mead until it is bone dry. But chemically speaking, the sugars in honey are very simple. If you ferment them away entirely, you risk losing all the flavor. The challenge for the mead maker is to find the right balance, the sweet spot, if you will, to preserve the delicate, mellow character of the honey, without being too sweet.

What if I don’t like sweet wine?

If you’re curious about mead, I would ask that you set aside your feelings about sweet versus dry and let the mead be mead. Let yourself be open to the possibilities. You might be surprised at what you find.

Start by pouring a small amount of a mead that sparks your interest. Swirl your glass and take in the aroma with your nose. What do you smell? Flowers? Fruit? Fresh herbs? Or perhaps something you can’t identify, but some earthy rich scent. Now let the taste buds explore as you take a small sip and let it roll around in your mouth over and under the tongue. How does it feel in your mouth? Thin, full, smooth, rich? How does it taste? Buttery, acidic? How would you describe the aftertaste? Warm, lingering, vaguely lemony?

What has led to mead’s recent surge in popularity?

Ironically, most people credit the credit with the resurgence of the mead business with the very popular craft beer movement "I was a home brewer, and at first I liked mead because I had never had it," says Brad Dahlhofer of B Nektar meadery in Detroit, Michigan. "Every home brewer has the same dream of, 'Hey what if I could sell this? Wouldn't that be great?'" says Dahlhofer.

After he spent months making batch after batch of mead, perfecting his recipe, he realized that mead was "kind of an untouched category", and that no-one, at least back in 2008, was really doing it commercially. So when he and his wife, Kerri, were both laid off of their jobs in Detroit's car industry during the recession, they decided to take the plunge. Today, B Nektar is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, US meadery, shipping 1,100 cases a week across the country.

Brad and his fellow mead enthusiasts, however feel that things are just getting started in the craft mead industry. Twenty five years ago, craft beer garnered a mere 1% of the total beer market but today it’s over 8%.

Mead can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – chilled, iced, at room temperature, or warmed. These variations change the flavor, mouth feel, and personality of the mead. Meads can easily substitute for and surpass your favorite red or white wine and they pair well with fish, meats, vegetarian meals, cheeses, and desserts. Bottom line I think mead has a distinct and interesting taste which I find most enjoyable. It’s delicious! But don’t take my word for it. Try some for yourself!

Hope you enjoy – check out our wide selection of featured meads in today’s online ad.


- Andy

How to Prepare an Artichoke- Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Artichokes take a little effort when it comes to preparation and cooking but yield a mild, nutty flavor that compliments a variety of foods. Artichokes are used for main dishes, side-dishes, appetizers, and as an ingredient in dips and sauces. With just a little preparation, fresh artichokes can be easy to cook -- just follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Decide if you need to cook just one artichoke or multiple artichokes at a time. Either way, you can cook artichokes in advance and store them in your refrigerator for several days before using them.
  2. Next, take your fresh artichoke and rinse it well under cold water. If you have one handy, we  even suggest using a soft kitchen brush and giving the 'choke a quick scrub down. This helps remove the natural, light film an artichoke produces while growing; the film has a generally unpleasant, bitter flavor.
  3. “Top and tail” the artichoke with your knife: With a sharp, serrated kitchen knife, cut about one inch from the top of the artichoke. Then, trim the stem about one half inch, or remove the stem completely if you need it to “sit up” on a plate for stuffing or filling. Remember, the artichoke stem is a continuation of the Heart, so don’t cut it off unless you need to. Many cooks also like to rub the cut portion of the artichoke with the juice of a fresh lemon to prevent it from browning. (This step is optional).
  4. Lastly, don’t be afraid to spread open the petals slightly to allow any seasoning you may use to fall in between the artichoke's petals for flavor.

Now your artichoke is ready to cook!


If you’ve always loved artichokes for their flavor, you’ll love them even more for their nutritional value. A large artichoke contains a mere 60 calories! In addition, artichokes are a great source of vitamin c, potassium, magnesium, and fiber, too -- but more excitably, artichokes have become recognized as one of the nutritional "super foods" because they are also a great source of powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. In fact, recent research shows cooked artichokes are the best source of antioxidants among all fresh vegetables. As if that weren't enough, research has also shown that cooking increases the total antioxidant content, with steaming and microwaving being the best methods.


Prisco's offers cooking classes- Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you’ve ever attended one of our locally famous cooking classes at Prisco Family Markets you know what a delicious learning experience our local cooking expert and teacher Phyllis Kramer has in store for you. If you have never before attended a class … what are you waiting for?

This year’s fall sessions have had to be a bit compacted for good reason. For the entire month of October, Phyllis has been in Europe (mostly Tuscany Italy) visiting wonderful cooking schools, chefs and restaurants. When she arrives back home she will be loaded with all sorts of exciting news that is certain to rock our food world and as always Prisco’s customers are invited to get a front row seat at any of her lively and interactive cooking classes.

All about spices

This is a must do class for anyone who is serious about expanding their cooking and baking horizons. If you are like most home chefs you have a basic understanding of about a dozen common spices. Truth is these basic spices are just a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of spices, blends and herbs now available at Prisco’s Family Market. Recently we introduced an exciting new line of 100% organic spices and early indications are that customers love this new offering. Please take advantage of Phyllis’ years of cooking and teaching experience and see a new world of taste open up to you by attending our spice class.

Annual Cocktail Party

Shortly after the cooking class and just a bit prior to Thanksgiving, Phyllis will once again be hosting our very popular pre-holiday cocktail party. This evening of fun, food and drink is always a sell out so don’t hesitate. Call this week and make your reservations because you don’t want to hear from you friends and neighbors all the fun that you missed out on.

For complete details on both upcoming food classes click here.

Hope to see you in class!


- Georgette Prisco

Winter squash – more than just a table decoration.- Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Part of any fall decoration, it seems, are pumpkins and various gourds and squash varieties.  Unfortunately, for many of us who enjoy the delicious seasonal taste of winter squash as well as the appearance, it is something we don’t get to enjoy very often. This is primarily because most of us only know how to properly prepare these autumn beauties in a couple ways, and our palates require more variety.

Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, but all have hard outer rinds that surround sweet, often orange flesh.  Winter squash arrive late in the growing season; they have a long shelf life, so they've long been a staple in winter and spring, when other vegetables are harder to come by. Unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked. They're usually baked or steamed, and occasionally puréed.

This week, let’s focus on just three varieties of winter squash in order to help take away some of the mystery of these vegetables.

Acorn squash
These are popular because of their small size--one squash can be cut in half and baked to make two generous servings. The biggest drawback to this variety is that the rind is quite hard and therefore difficult to cut. Select acorn squash with as much green on the rind as possible. We've found some helpful tips on how to prepare acorn squash on

Acorn Squash Cooking Tips

* You'll need to remove the fibers and seeds from the center of the acorn squash before steaming, broiling, or baking.\

* Save the acorn squash seeds to toast for snacking just as you would pumpkin seeds.

* A sturdy knife to slice acorn squash in half is a necessity. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the skin in a few spots, place it  in a microwave oven and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for another few minutes before carving.

* When halving, cut through the stem end to the point rather than across the diameter.

* To prevent halves from rocking on the baking tray, cut a small slice off the bottom to flatten it.

* The ribbed shape of the acorn squash makes peeling it virtually impossible, but wonderful for stuffing with a wide variety of fillings. It is most often served cooked in its shell. If you need the pulp only, you will need to cook it first and then scoop the pulp from the skin. It is done when the flesh is very tender, usually about one hour baking time at 400 degrees F. for halved squash. Timing depends on the size of the squash, but it's difficult to over-bake.

* Avoid boiling acorn squash. Boiling damages both the flavor and the texture.

* To quickly microwave acorn squash, cut two whole squash in half, cover and cook for 13 minutes on high. Do not add water.

* Acorn squash can also be cooked whole. Pierce the skin in several places. Place on a baking sheet in 350-degree F. oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Squeeze the squash to test for doneness. When it yields to gentle pressure, it's done. You can then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and serve or cool and use the cooked innards.

* The deeper the yellowish orange color of the flesh, the sweeter it is. If you end up with a stringy squash, you can beat the pulp with an electric mixer on high speed for ten seconds and then switch to low speed for sixty seconds. The strings should wrap around the beaters for easy removal.

Butternut Squash
This variety is very popular because it's so easy to use. It's small enough to serve a normal family without leftovers, and the rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler. As an added bonus, the flavor is sweet, moist, and pleasantly nutty.

If possible, buy long-neck butternut fruit as it contains more meat and less hollow cavity and seeds. Cut the stem end and slice the whole fruit into two equal halves. Remove central net-like structure and set aside seeds, then cut into desired sizes. In general, wedges/small cubes are used in cooking. Almost all the parts of the butternut squash plant--fruit, leaves, flowers, and seeds--are edible.

Here are some serving tips:

* Like in pumpkin, butternut has a beautiful nutty flavor and mildly sweet taste. Fresh raw butternut cubes may add a special tang to vegetable salads.

* It is favored in both savory as well as sweet dishes. It can be used in a variety of delicious recipes either baked, stuffed, or stew-fried. However, steam cooking is best for preserving the maximum number of nutrients.

* Like in pumpkin, it can also be used in the preparations of casseroles, pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli, bread, muffins, etc.

* Roasted and tossed butternut squash seeds can be used as snacks.

Spaghetti Squash
Though much larger than summer squash, a spaghetti squash is an oblong, slightly rounded squash with a skin similar to that of a summer squash. You can cook spaghetti squash in a number of ways, including boiling, baking, steaming...even barbecuing!
When spaghetti squash is cooked, the inner flesh comes off the rind and separates into strands which closely resemble pasta. Though they taste like squash, these "noodles" can be served as a low-calorie, nutrient-rich substitute for pasta.
Some people are on diets that require them to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates. Given this restriction, these individuals often find spaghetti squash to be a very good substitute for a pasta.

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."- Tuesday, October 14, 2014

- Luis Bunuel

We’ve got some exciting news to share.   We recently added a large number of delicious varieties of cheese, many of them difficult to find locally. Some of these cheeses are made by local artisans and many are imported from countries like France, Greece, Spain, Great Britain, and elsewhere.

As you know, we have always been your source for the finest quality of commercial cheese offered by Boar’s Head, Shullsburg and others.   These cheeses are ideal as complements to a sandwich or as ingredients on a pizza or in a pasta dish or quiche.   This new cheese offering, on the other hand, is in an entirely different category.   These cheeses are meant to stand on their own and are often complemented with a fine wine or craft beer.   They make delicious side dish offerings when paired with certain meats or special cuisines.   They are enjoyed as appetizers or desserts and are often served as a special treat to guests, or something you can indulge in yourself.

What is Artisan Cheese?

Cheese produced by artisans is cheese that is made in small batches with the cheese maker's very own hands. The cheese is given plenty of care and attention, unlike mass-produced cheese that comes from pushing a series of buttons on large machines.   Artisans don't use artificial ingredients, flavor additives or preservatives -- just expertise, experience, and heart.   They work on farms and small creameries, not massive production plants and automated factories.   It is original, authentic cheese, and we are very proud to bring it to you.

 The Cheese Basics

Understanding the difference between cheese that is "artisan" and cheese that is "mass-produced" is only one way to increase your knowledge of cheese.   Here are three more components to understanding cheese:

We begin by categorizing fine cheese into six categories:

  • Blue cheese - This classic cheese marbled with bluish-green veins that develop after the cheese is pierced and air is allowed to enter, its ranges in texture from crumbly (Stilton, Roquefort) to creamy (Gorgonzola).
  • Fresh - A mild, delicate and pleasantly tangy flavor. Because it is unaged, it has no rind or surface mold.
  • Bloomy Rind - Small cheeses with velvety, edible rinds ranging from downy white to golden-red in color.
  • Washed Rind - With their orange to red, shiny, damp exteriors and powerful aroma, these rinds are washed repeatedly with brine, wine, beer, brandy or cider as they age to encourage the flavor producing surface ripening.
  • Semi hard - Aged for several months. They generally have thick, gray rinds, and may be finished with a wax rub to cut moisture loss.
  • Hard - These large cheeses are made with cooked curds, pressed firmly into forms, and aged for several months or years. They can have a solid, slightly crumbly texture, or a very dense, flaky, granular consistency.

In a future Shout Out”, I’ll go into greater detail about each variety.

Beyond the basic cheese variety the other important factors that contribute to the popularity and taste of the cheese are the type of milk(s) used and the region where it was produced.   Lots more to come on those subjects as well.

For now, let me just invite you to visit our specialty, premium cheese shop across from the deli, and on weekends be certain to try samples of the wide range of cheeses being featured.   If you are a cheese novice, no problem. Ask questions and try everything until you hone in on your favorites.   If you are a cheese aficionado, welcome; and please share your comments and requests for anything special that you have a taste for.   If you have a preferred cheese that we don’t carry, whisper in our ear and we will do our best to add it to our offering.

Till next time,



Tags :  cheese artisan
Prisco’s Italian Heritage, Part 2- Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How it still impacts us in 2014

Today we, members of the third and fourth generations of the Prisco family of Aurora, seek to emulate those who have gone before us by giving back wherever possible. Our two holiday food drives in November and December have provided those in need in our community with tens of thousands of dollars of food for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Our charitable gift card program is one of the most generous in the area and gives local schools and churches a way to raise much needed funds. We also partner with many local service clubs and organizations by helping in their fund raising efforts. Prisco’s continues to reflect and promote those values of honesty, hard work, and treating people fairly as our forbearers did. It’s the only way to do business.

Those of you who are as old as I am recall Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet of PBS fame. Smith was particularly fond of Italian cooking and liked to say that Italian cuisine was the second best cuisine in the world after Chinese with French being a distant fourth or fifth (take that Julia Child). Anyway as one of our good bakery suppliers says, “Everyone loves a little Italian”, and that pretty much sums it up. Long after the Italian club has closed and the Italian community has succumbed to intermarriage and the automobile, the love of Italian cuisine in this country is stronger than ever.

Here at Prisco’s we take our own family recipes and traditions and turn them into great products for you to enjoy. Grandma’s homemade Italian sausage made from lean all natural pork and spices (never any preservatives or artificial anything) is one of the top selling items in the entire store. Just last week, a retired couple came in who lived over 25 miles away to get our meatloaf/meatball mix (my father’s recipe of ground chuck, pork, and veal). They happily informed me that the meatballs and sauce they were going to produce would be traveling the country as they made the rounds to visit all of their children. Our homemade lasagna recipe is Grandma’s (my aunts and mother still can’t figure out how I got it from her) as is our pasta fagioli. Italian beef, pasta salads, tomato salads, potato salad, cannoli; the list goes on and on. Our produce and grocery departments are also chock full of additional Italian favorites. This is what you our wonderful customers ask for and this is what we strive to produce.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a whole freezer full of great pasta treats including ravioli, tortellini, tortellacci, and more. Sophia Loren once said, “Everything you see I owe to pasta.” At Prisco’s, everything you see we owe to our Italian Heritage.

- Rob Prisco