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Gift Guide Tri-County News Supplement • Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nancy Mogenson rang a handbell during the recent St. Peter’s UCC Christmas concert in Kiel. Mike Mathes photo

Another look at holiday fun in local area

Santa Claus waved from his seat near the Kiel Municipal Band toward the end of the band’s recent concert at Kiel City Hall. Children line up to talk with Santa and get a candy cane while the band finishes its final numbers. Mark Sherry photo

Youngsters dressed warm for Kiel’s Sleigh Bell Run.

Youngsters Zander and Jada of New Holstein enjoy being silly while posing in the elves cut-out at New Holstein’s Country Christmas event. Faye Burg photo

Mike Mathes photo

Members of the choir from St. Mary Catholic Church in Marytown performed along with other choirs at New Holstein’s Country Christmas event. Faye Burg photo


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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

Share sweetness of new cookie exchange ‘Tis officially the holiday season, and what better way to get in the spirit than sharing sweet treats with family and friends. This year we invite you to wow your loved ones by putting a twist on the traditional cookie exchange. Featuring delicious, no-bake treats and a gifting station for your guests, there certainly will be cause for celebration. Here are some ideas for a new kind of cookie exchange:

Prepare a holiday playlist There is no better way to get everyone in the holiday spirit than to prepare a playlist with all of the season’s hits and some new surprises. To make the most unique mix, research if your favorite musician has ever put out a holiday album. Or, search your music library or favorite streaming service for keywords like “holiday,” “winter,” and “December”— you might discover the next new classic. And if you’re short on time, hundreds of pre-curated lists are at your fingertips on most streaming platforms. Deck the halls While the seasonal tunes will set the mood, take the opportunity to pull out all the stops and decorate your home for the season. A wreath on the door, bright lights lining the halls and seasonal flowers at each cookie station will get your guests in the holiday spirit. Consider the cookies your canvas Impress your guests without spending hours in the kitchen, or even turning on the oven, by making simple and delicious, no-bake KARO Corn Syrup Scotcheroos. These ooey-gooey rice cereal treats are packed with peanut butter and chocolate flavors and can be dressed up for the holidays to be the prettiest in the bunch. To entertain the whole family and occupy younger guests, transform your cookie exchange into a full-fledged art project. Start with the simple recipe below, then build a toppings bar using festive bowls and dishes filled with holiday-colored candies—from coated chocolates and gum drops to peppermint wheels and candy canes. There is no greater joy than giving Embrace the giving season by spreading the joy with sweet treats that warm the heart and satisfy the tummy. In advance of your exchange, stock your pantry with a little extra to ensure your guests can share their creations.

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Cookie stations with a variety of cookies at each station is a different twist on how to do the classic cookie exchange.

To make gifting easy and fun for your guests, stage a gifting station with clear plastic bags, festive ribbons and scissors for curling. You’ve not only entertained your friends, you’ve also helped them check off their gift giving lists—and their neighbors, colleagues and babysitters are sure to appreciate it, too. To kick off your perfect, but certainly not average cookie exchange, start with a classic Chocolate Scotcheroos recipe made with KARO: Ingredients: 1 cup KARO Light Corn Syrup 1 cup sugar

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at least 45 minutes, or until firm. Cut into bars. Recipe Note: Almond butter may be substituted for the peanut butter. Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Cool time: 45 minutes Yield: 24 bars If you are looking to take your cookies to the next level, make Festive Scotcheroos with peppermint or color them green and shape them into Christmas Trees. Visit karosyrup.com for these variations—and more—on this classic recipe.

Getting house ready for holiday guests When the holidays arrive, you can prepare a scrumptious feast, present ideal gifts that are perfectly wrapped and decorate the house like something off a magazine cover. On the other hand, your mother-inlaw is still going to focus on the stained upholstery in the family room, the tacky

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

DIY projects. Renting means you always have access to the items you need, and when your project is done, cleanup is as easy as returning the items to your local rental store. To find a rental store near you, visit rentalHQ.com. First, focus your efforts on high-traffic rooms where guests will spend the most time. For example, tackle improvements in the kitchen, living room and guest

continued from page 2 bath, but skip projects in less trafficked areas like your master bedroom. Next, pick projects that are fast, easy and low cost, but will have high impact. You have undoubtedly heard it before, but it is worth saying again—paint, paint, paint. Repainting a room is one of the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective ways to make it look better. Most rooms can easily be painted in a day or less,

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even if you are going all-out and doing the ceiling and trim as well as the walls. Score bonus points by using a rented texture sprayer to add a unique, professional look to walls. In kitchens and bathrooms, replace dated or worn faucets. Install a new showerhead in the bathroom, and add a new shower curtain. A new light fixture in the dining room can brighten the space

and enhance the festive atmosphere. Rent a steam cleaner to freshen up tile floors, carpet and upholstery. Score bonus points with your scent-sensitive in-laws for using a cleaning method that is hypoallergenic and chemical-free. Some projects may take a little more effort, such as removing that tired dining room wallpaper or ‘80s-style wallpaper border in the powder room.

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At left, volunteer and New Holstein Historical Society Board of Directors member Carol Wordell poses with one of the decorated Christmas trees currently on display at the Timm House. At right, Vicky Ramminger, a volunteer at the Timm House, stands near one of the Christmas trees decorated and placed throughout the home for visitors to enjoy. The Timm House will be open for tours one final weekend this season, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18. Hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. Special tours may be arranged for non-weekend days by calling 948-7748. Admission to “Frosty at the Timm House” is $5 per person ages 13 and older, $2.50 for children ages 6 to 12, and children under age 5 are free. A special selection of New Holstein afghans also will be available for purchase at $20 each. Faye Burg photos

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Parochial programs planned Chilton Area Catholic School will present a Christmas program at the Engler Center for the Performing Arts inside Chilton High School on Thursday, Dec. 15. Two performances will be given that day, one at 1 p.m. and the second one at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Erin LaFond will direct the Nativity Program.

Most “smartphone” users are already doing this, but look at your phone as a tool to help you finish up your holiday shopping.

behind this year, and replace them with more time for holiday fun. n Get in the holiday spirit with song. Why not use your favorite music app for a little seasonal merriment this year? Whether you import an established holiday playlist of tried-and-true classics or create one of your own, the right holiday mix can get you into the spirit of the season and turn your holiday to-do list into holiday to-done. To learn more about how Straight Talk Wireless can help you make the most of this holiday season, visit get.straighttalk. com/holiday. (At 2G speeds, the functionality of some data applications, such as streaming audio or video may be affected. Please refer always to the latest Terms and Conditions of Service at StraightTalk.com. Also, savings statements are based on a comparison of the average cost of the $45 Straight Talk Service Plan plus average sales tax and fees and the average total monthly cost on an individual two-year service contract plan with unlimited talk, text and comparable high speed data on the top two carriers. Plan costs include all taxes, fees and overage charges.)

Also, the Divine Savior School (Kiel) Christmas program is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19 starting at 6 p.m. at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kiel. Again, all are invited to attend.

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The holidays have always been the elf’s time to shine. Decorating, wrapping, toy making—it is for what traditional holiday helpers spend all year prepping. But in a world of online shopping, on-the-go recipe planning and streaming carols, a smartphone and wireless plan actually does the holidays better. Two-thirds of Americans say their cellular data plan works overtime during the holidays, according to research from Straight Talk Wireless, with nearly half of Americans saying they simply could not make it through the busy holiday season without their smartphone. As you start to tackle your holiday to-do list, do not go it alone. Use your smartphone to make these four holiday tasks a whole lot merrier. n Make your list and check it twice. Party planning, shopping lists, holiday calendars—tasks of the holiday season used to require a whole library of materials to record everything; however, with your smartphone, you can catalog holiday to-dos in one simple spot. That way, whenever you need it, your next holiday task is just a click away. n Be the ultimate holiday gifter. In many cases, the hardest part of shopping for loved ones is actually deciding what you are going to get them while sticking to your budget. This is especially true for people who seem to have everything, or those known to be very picky. But have no fear—your smartphone can turn you into a gifting genius by giving you endless hours of online browsing while helping you find the best prices. In fact, 41 percent of Americans say they will buy up to 10 gifts on their smartphones during the holiday season. n Put your phone plan on the nice list. Switching to a more affordable cellular plan this year can help you spread more holiday cheer. Straight Talk Wireless offers consumers access to the best phones on the best networks at half the cost. For just $45 per month you get unlimited talk, text and data with the first 5GB at high speeds (then 2G). And now you can double your data for only $10 more with Straight Talk Wireless’ 10GB plan, with the first 10GB of data at high speeds (then 2G)—all for $55. And switching is easy because you can keep your phone, network and number with Straight Talk’s Bring Your Own Phone program (BYOP). Best of all, there are no contracts, credit checks or mystery fees. Leave your old smartphone hassles

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Family entertainment: Holiday tips for parents Surprisingly, more than 62 percent of parents play video games with their children at least once a week, according to a recent study from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Many parents say picking up a controller and jumping into a game lets them reminisce about their own childhood while also providing a fun opportunity to connect and socialize with their kids For those of us who have been out of the game for a bit, here are some tips for finding the perfect gift for the whole family. With so many devices vying for your attention, it can be difficult to know which entertainment system will offer your family the best value for the long term. The PlayStation 4 system is much more than just a gaming device. It offers plenty of entertainment options for the whole family. With a PlayStation Network account, you can get access to stream favorites like Christmas with the Kranks and Jumanji, or queue up your go-to holiday playlist while you and the kids bake gingerbread treats. Like your smartphone, game consoles connect to many of your favorite apps including WatchESPN, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and Spotify, so you will never have to worry about finding something everyone can enjoy. And if you want to experience the latest trend with the teenagers in your house, you can add PlayStation VR, the new virtual reality system that transports you out of your living room and into a virtual game world, to your list. But how do you know which game is right for you and your family? Similar

Over 60 percent of parents play video games with their children at least once per week.

to movies and TV shows, video games are rated by an independent organization—the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)—to help you make informed choices about the content your family plays. An “E” rating signifies a game is generally suitable for all ages. Whether you are looking for a space adventure like Ratchet & Clank, a sports game like MLB The Show 16, an artsy experience like Bound, or a slapstick LEGO adventure based on familiar franchises like LEGO Star Wars: The Force

Awakens, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers and the LEGO Harry Potter Collection, there are many worlds waiting for you and your family to explore. Additional information about video game ratings can be found at ESRB.org. So for those of you purchasing a video game console for the first time this holiday season, keep an eye out for bundles that include the console along with a game and/or accessories. Bundles give you the most bang for your buck, and many of your favorite retailers—includ-

ing Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target and Wal-Mart—offer steep discounts during the holiday season. One of the hottest items you can buy this holiday is the recently released, slimmer, more energy efficient PlayStation 4 bundled with a copy of one of the highest rated games of the year, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. In fact, according to Adobe Digital Insights, the PlayStation 4 was the top selling electronics product on Cyber Monday.

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Holiday entertaining tips for space, budget minded The holidays are all about spending time with friends and family, but with the average size of an apartment in the U.S. 8 percent smaller than 10 years ago, many lack a comfortable space of their own to host a party. The good news is this—you don’t need ample budget or space to entertain. With some simple tips and inspiration, you can host a holiday gathering that truly embodies the season and creates lasting memories for family and friends. To create a gathering space for a group of particularly space-challenged New Yorkers and inspire everyone to savor this holiday season, Marie Callender’s is bringing New Yorkers The Dining Room by Marie Callender’s—three unique dining rooms they can reserve to host holiday parties as if they are in the comfort of their own home. These unique dining rooms were co-created with a different partner, including Jennie Garth, Stacy London and Daphne Oz, in partnership with celebrity event planner Platinum Events. While you may not be able to dine in The Dining Room by Marie Callender’s, you can draw inspiration from the space and create your own unique entertaining experience at home with these tips. n Make your dining area feel special. However big your dining space is, keeping it simple and special touches will make the space feel elevated. Start with your serving pieces—using real (nonpaper or plastic) plates, silverware and glasses will bring a polish to your meal. Then, keep it simple with the décor and

serving presentation. If your guests are eating in the living room, try setting up the food buffet-style in the kitchen to allow more space for your favorite holiday decorations in the living room. n Create great food without a caterer. Skipping a caterer saves money but not time, so create a menu of low-preparation recipes and lean on high-quality, alreadyprepared foods, like Marie Callender’s frozen meals, pot pies and desserts. You can serve already-prepared dishes alone, or simplify a recipe by using an alreadyprepared dish. n Decorate smart. Every holiday party sees guests gather in one or two rooms. Whether it is the kitchen, living room or the dining room, spend your decorating time and money in this space instead of the entire house. Adorning the areas where your guests choose to celebrate will keep everyone in the spirit of the season while controlling your costs as well. n Establish and embrace the budget. When it comes to hosting a holiday party, let the budget be your guide. Plan your festivities down to the last cheese square and account for everything in your overall budget. n Don’t go it alone. You don’t have to plan your entire party alone. A progressive dinner is a great way to save money and time. One person hosts one or two courses, so, if your apartment is small, offer to host cocktails and leave the big, sit-down meal for someone with more space. Together you will manage expenses and create a truly memorable party.

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Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9-5:30; Fri. 9-6; Sat. 9-4; Sun. 10-3 ‘til Christmas

*Excludes candy, fresh flowers and fresh greenery. Member FDIC


10 Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

Easy ideas for feeding unexpected holiday guests

T

FAMILY FEATURES

he holiday season brings friends and family from far and wide, and that often means you’ll be rolling out the welcome mat to guests who drop by unexpectedly. Whether you encounter a surprise visit or wellintentioned plans get shifted in the hustle and bustle of the season, make-ahead dishes will let you go with the flow and have fuss-free snacks and meals on hand, ready to serve your loved ones no matter when they arrive. Ease your mind one step further and ensure each recipe comes out perfectly by using the right equipment during preparation. For example, Anolon Gourmet Cookware is designed for superior performance, lasting durability that stands up to rigorous kitchen use and easy maintenance. With sturdy ergonomic handles for lifting and leverage, the equipment is both comfortable to hold and aesthetically pleasing. Explore more pots, pans and cookware options from Anolon Gourmet Cookware at anolon.com to make it easy to welcome unexpected guests this holiday season.

Brown Butter Pecan Cinnamon Bars

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware Anolon Vesta 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish 10 ounces unsalted butter, softened 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar 1/2 cup sugar 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted Heat oven to 350 F. Grease baking pan. In medium pot over medium-low to medium heat, heat butter until golden brown, stirring frequently and making sure to scrape bottom of pan. Remove from heat and pour into bowl when golden brown to stop more coloring. Set aside. Whisk together sugars, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk in butter in steady stream. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and pecans. Stir until evenly blended. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook or bars will be dry. Let cool to room temperature then cut into pieces.

Sausage, Cheddar and Sourdough Strata

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware Large Anolon Advanced Umber Skillet 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced butter Anolon Vesta 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish 1 sourdough baguette (12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch slices 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 8 large eggs 2 cups milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Heat skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, 7-8 minutes, breaking into smaller pieces with wooden spoon. Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon. Add oil to skillet; stir in onion, garlic, thyme and basil: cook 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-6 minutes; remove from heat. Butter baking dish. Place single layer of bread on bottom; top evenly with onion mixture and sprinkle with sausage and cheese. Top with remaining bread slices. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well combined. Slowly pour mixture over top layer of bread. Cover with plastic wrap and place heavy objects (e.g., canned food) on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight. Heat oven to 350 F. Remove baking dish from refrigerator and uncover. Bake until strata is puffed and browned, and eggs are set, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

Pumpkin and Macadamia Soup

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware 3.5-Quart Anolon Advanced Umber Saucepan 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/3 cup roughly chopped raw macadamia nuts 1 small white onion, chopped 1 tablespoon grated ginger 2 cups diced squash or pumpkin 1 apple, peeled and chopped 3 cups chicken stock roasted macadamia nuts, for garnish In heavy-based, large saucepan, heat oil; add raw macadamias, onion and ginger, and saute over medium heat 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Add squash and apple, and cook 1-2 minutes longer then pour over stock. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until squash is soft. Tip off some liquid and reserve then puree remainder using immersion blender, or in blender until smooth and creamy. Add reserved liquid to bring to desired consistency. Reheat and serve in bowls sprinkled with roasted macadamias.


Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

11

10 smart swaps to bake, cook healthier Creamy sauces, cookies, casseroles and cakes—as temperatures drop, it is natural to crave favorite comfort foods. The trouble is, it is easy to overindulge on rich dishes and decadent desserts, especially if you are hosting a gathering of friends and family. How can you enjoy amazing foods while bumping up the health quotient? “Remember, when you’re cooking or baking, you’re in control. With a few smart ingredient substitutions and food swaps, you and your guests can enjoy favorite dishes and get more vitamins and nutrients,” Lyssie Lakatos said. Lyssie and Tammy Lakatos Shames, both registered dietitians, are known as “The Nutrition Twins.” Together, they share their favorite strategies for cooking healthier, including clever ingredient swaps you won’t even detect in the finished dish. Eggs: When baking, eggs are a common ingredient, but not all eggs are created equal. Opt for Eggland’s Best eggs, locally sourced eggs that come from hens fed an all-vegetarian diet consisting of healthy grains, canola oil, and supplements like alfalfa and vitamin E. As a result, they have 10 times more vitamin E, five times more vitamin D, three times more vitamin B12, two times more omega-3s, 38 percent more lutein and 25 percent less saturated fat compared to ordinary eggs. Sour cream: Swap full-fat sour cream for plain Greek yogurt in recipes, dips, sauces and garnishes. Plain Greek yogurt tastes surprisingly similar to sour cream but offers higher levels of protein. Butter in cooking: Cooking smart means choosing healthier fats and using them in moderation. Instead of butter, try olive oil. While one tablespoon of butter has about seven grams of saturated fat, olive oil only has two grams of saturated fat. Butter in baking: Oil can cause baked goods to get soggy, so a better butter alternative is applesauce or pumpkin puree for half of the called-for amount. The addition of applesauce or pumpkin puree reduces the fat content while keeping baked goods moist and delicious. Bacon: Bacon adds flavor to any dish, but a ton of fat. To get the flavor-boost of bacon without the excess fat, try using Canadian bacon, lean prosciutto or turkey bacon. Whether beside scrambled eggs for breakfast or crumbled into a casserole, these tasty alternatives will satisfy. Salt: Use less salt and add herbs to recipes to get succulent flavor. Whether

fresh or dried, herbs satisfy the palate and add beauty of any dish. Have fun mixing and matching herbs to customize a recipe perfectly to your taste. Sugar: All those amazing glazes and desserts require sugar, but you need not rely solely on refined white sugar. For baked goods, lessen sugar and add vanilla or cinnamon to intensify sweetness. For glazes, try alternatives like maple syrup or fruit purees. Breading: Classic comfort foods often require breading. For a healthy alternative to traditional white bread crumbs, try whole-grain bread crumbs, rolled oats or crushed bran cereal (or a mixture of them all.) Flour: Rather than using entirely allpurpose refined white flour for recipes, try swapping half the amount with whole-wheat flour. You will still get the desired consistency out of baked goods, but you will be eating more whole grains. Lettuce: Iceberg lettuce is a popular option for salads and recipes, but to get more important vitamins (and more flavor), use arugula, collard greens, spinach, kale or watercress instead. Insider tip: try buying a bag of mixed greens to enjoy a variety of nutrient-dense alternatives. Want to start your day out with an indulgent, satisfying breakfast that features some of these smart cooking ideas? This recipe serves as a great breakfast and has vitamin-packed Eggland’s Best Eggs, sweet potatoes and turkey bacon. For more recipes visit www.egglandsbest.com. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Ingredients: 2 Eggland’s Best eggs (large) 2 sweet potatoes 2 strips turkey bacon 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 F. Wash and scrub your sweet potatoes. Place on a baking sheet, pierce each potato a few times with a fork, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. When sweet potatoes are finished, slice them in half lengthwise and let them cool. Scoop a bit of “meat” out from the sweet potatoes to make room for the filling. In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, place two strips of turkey bacon. Cook until bacon begins to brown and crisp up.

Using turkey bacon in this Stuffed Sweet Potato recipe is a healthier cooking option without reducing any of the great taste of the dish.

Place a napkin on top of a small plate. When bacon is finished, place onto napkin to let grease soak out. Rinse the skillet and place back on the burner over medium heat. Place eggs in skillet and cook on medium-low for just a few minutes—about 3 minutes. Be sure not to overcook these eggs as they will continue cooking after removed from heat, and will be placed into the oven later on.

Break eggs into four equal parts. Place each into the hollow parts of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Break bacon apart with your hands into small pieces. Sprinkle over the eggs. Sprinkle cheese over top. Set your oven to broil on high. Place potatoes in the oven and broil for three minutes or until cheese is melted.

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Tri-County news • Last Minute Gift Guide • Thursday, December 15, 2016

Game on!

5 reasons why gaming will be better than ever in ‘17 With a forecasted value of $82 billion for 2017, video games are hotter than ever. With new technologies, classic characters and interactive worlds that become more lifelike every day, there is plenty to be excited about when it comes to video games in the new year. So whether you are just getting into the hobby or you are a veteran gamer looking to level up, here are the top five things to look for in video gaming in 2017. n The growth of virtual reality. Virtual reality uses technology to create a completely artificial world for gamers to play in and while most people have heard of virtual reality gaming before, opportunities to experience it will increase in 2017. Existing technology will only continue to grow and develop in the next year, providing gamers with more options. In 2016, most virtual reality systems for PC were quite expensive. Moving into the holiday season and 2017, consumers can own a virtual realityready PC for under $500. n Improved desktop options. On the tail of virtual reality’s popularity, Microsoft and their partners are unveiling several new Windows 10 personal computers up to the task. The ASUS ROG 752VL will carry updated specs in 2017, and it is already virtual reality ready. The same can be said for the CyberPowerPC Syber M Series, which offers the perfect balance between price and performance.

Finally, for gamers on the go, the Razer Blade Signature Edition Gaming Laptop lets you take your favorite games with you wherever you are headed in style. n The revival of augmented reality. While virtual reality seeks to create an entire artificial world digitally, augmented reality brings pieces of digital creation into the real world. The year 2016 was dominated by people traversing parks and paths playing with the power of augmented reality on their phones. While that particular craze has died down, other companies have taken notice. Expect more augmented reality options to appear in 2017 with new missions and popular characters joining the action. All of it will focus on helping people bring their favorite games into the real world through innovative new technology on PCs and mobile devices. n Increased gaming flexibility. The new year will mark more ways to game on your own terms. Microsoft’s Xbox App allows you to edit and share epic gaming moments with your Xbox Live friends and Xbox Play Anywhere makes it possible to purchase any digital game and play it on your Xbox One or your Windows 10 PC. Best of all, there are no messy file transfers because all your saves, game add-ons, and achievements automatically come with you so you will not miss a step. n Return of classic characters. A great game is often defined by its heroes and

2017 promises to be another great year for video gamers. some of the most popular characters in gaming will make new appearances in 2017. Gamers will have the opportunity to start a new investigation as Blake Langermann in Outlast 2, go to war as a heroic Spartan in Halo Wars 2, or join the kids of South Park in South Park The Fractured But Whole. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have a great time with some old friends. The year 2017 is a great year to be a gamer. The games are better than ever

and new technology is making for a streamlined experience where you can game when you want, where you want. So do not delay, pick up your controller and play today because the 2017 games will be here soon, and you do not have time to hit the pause button. To learn more about Xbox games and Windows 10 devices, visit your nearest Microsoft Store, microsoftstore.com, or a partner retailer.

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Last Minute Gift Guide 2016