What Is Lebanon Bologna?

Central Pennsylvania is a region that is known for its selection of traditional Dutch foods, which are popular all over the country for their rustic and wholesome flavors. One popular Pennsylvania Dutch dish is Lebanon bologna, a classic type of sausage that has been around since the 19th century. We'll break down what this tasty treat is, how it's made, and how you can use it in your recipes.

What Is Lebanon Bologna?

Lebanon bologna sandwich

Lebanon bologna is a type of smoked, fermented, and cured meat that originated in the Pennsylvania Dutch community of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania in the 19th century. The sausage has a similar texture and appearance to salami, although it has a darker, reddish pink color.

Also, there is another variety called sweet Lebanon bologna that has a sweet and tangy flavor. Lebanon bologna has a strong tangy and smoky flavor that sets it apart from other types of cured meats. The tanginess of the meat comes from the fermentation process that the meat undergoes before it's smoked. In addition to the tangy flavor, Lebanon bologna is also very smoky because it is smoked with hardwood, which imparts a stronger smokiness.

Lebanon Bologna Ingredients

Lebanon bologna is made from beef, salt, sugar, spices, and other ingredients to start the fermentation and curing process. Additionally, sweet Lebanon bologna has a different flavor profile from the original kind because although it's made with many of the same ingredients, there are different spices involved. Much of the flavor of the sausage comes instead from the smoking and curing process.

Lebanon Bologna Brands

The recipe for Lebanon bologna was developed in Central Pennsylvania, and the region remains the main producer of the sausage, with several brands producing traditional-style Lebanon bologna using recipes that were passed down through the generations. Here are some of the top producers of Lebanon bologna:

  • Seltzer's Lebanon Bologna: Making Lebanon bologna using traditional methods since the 19th century, Seltzer's is the original and largest producer of Lebanon bologna in the U.S. The company still uses the original recipe that has existed for generations, resulting in a classic flavor that customers prefer.
  • Kunzler: Most famous for their hot dogs, Kunzler also has a selection of delicious Lebanon bologna and sweet Lebanon bologna. Additionally, the company is located in nearby Lancaster County rather than Lebanon, but they still use the same traditional smoking methods to impart the classic flavors.
  • Weaver's: One of the oldest producers of Lebanon bologna, Weaver's has been in production for over 100 years. The company specializes in traditional smoking and cooking methods, and they're famous for their selection of Lebanon bologna and sweet Lebanon bologna.

Lebanon Bologna Recipes

sliced Lebanon bologna on a plate with crackers and dip

Lebanon bologna is typically served cold, and it's an excellent addition to your charcuterie boards. But, there are many ways that you can serve up this delicious, smoky sausage. Here are a few recipes that you can incorporate Lebanon bologna into:

  • Deli sandwiches: sliced Lebanon bologna sandwiches
  • Charcuterie: cubed sweet Lebanon bologna and other smoked meats paired with several cheeses
  • Hors d'oeuvres: Crackers and cheese with Lebanon bologna
  • Quiches: Lebanon bologna, bell pepper, and onion quiche
  • Salads: Cobb salad with Lebanon bologna
  • Wraps: Lebanon bologna, lettuce, and tomato wraps

With a smoky and tangy flavor, Lebanon bologna has a unique taste that is fun to try. So, if you're looking for an interesting dish to add to your charcuterie boards or deli menu that most of your customers may have never tried before, Lebanon bologna is the perfect choice.

Posted in: Recipes | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Richard Traylor

Classic Holiday Drinks

With sleigh bells ringing and snowfall glistening, it’s time to cozy up with a warm mug or cool cup filled with classic holiday flavors. Winter is time to indulge in your favorite cold weather beverages infused with hints of chocolate, peppermint, cinnamon, and gingerbread. These classic holiday drinks make a crowd-pleasing addition to any coffee shop, cafe, or intimate gathering of friends. Find essential supplies to make any of the drinks below at up to 20% off with our selection of holiday beverage supplies.

Hot Chocolate Recipes

Any list of holiday drinks can’t start without hot chocolate, everyone’s cold-weather favorite. This decadent drink begins with steamed milk and melted chocolate to create a creamy, indulgent base for any number of additional flavors or toppings. Keep it simple, or add a hint of Christmas to your cup with these fresh takes on an old classic.

Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Add your hot cocoa mix into the hot water until the mix has completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in peppermint bark sauce, vanilla extract, and salt.
  3. Rim the mug or glass with peppermint rimming sugar and garnish with whipped cream and candy topping.

Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 2 oz. white chocolate
  • 1 oz. Monin white chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: whipped cream and caramel sauce

Instructions:

  1. Heat milk and half and half in a sauce pan, microwave, or steamer.
  2. Slowly whisk in chocolate until it has melted completely.
  3. Stir in syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Hot Winter Drink Recipes

Hot drinks are a popular choice during cold weather months for obvious reasons. If you’re looking to change up the usual coffee order, try some of these wintery classics instead.

Creamy Irish Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. hot coffee
  • 1 oz. Monin irish cream syrup
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • Optional: whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Instructions:

  1. Brew coffee using preferred method.
  2. Slowly stir in syrup and half and half.
  3. Pour into an Irish coffee mug and garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Gingerbread Latte

Gingerbread Latte

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 cup steamed milk
  • 1 oz. Monin gingerbread syrup
  • 1 oz. vanilla syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Optional: whipped cream, sprinkle of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Stir syrups into espresso until thoroughly combined.
  2. Slowly stir espresso mixture into steamed milk.
  3. Add spices and pour into a hot paper cup.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkle the top with cinnamon.

Cold Winter Drink Recipes

Cold weather doesn’t mean customers and guests won’t be yearning for a refreshingly sweet cool drink this winter. Incorporate these delicious, fruit-filled drinks into your beverage lineup for a wintery spin on classic cold drinks.

Cranberry Apple Cider Punch

Cranberry Apple Cider Punch

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 oz. Monin cranberry syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Optional: orange slices, cranberries, diced apple

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir well to combine.
  2. Incorporate optional fresh fruit and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Frozen White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Combine milk, chocolate powder, and ice in a blender.
  2. Begin blending on low speed, and increase speed as needed until ice is sufficiently blended.
  3. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Whether customers are looking to warm up or cool down this winter, we’ve got the perfect selection of drinks to supplement your year-round beverage menu. Remind customers and guests to indulge in their favorite flavors this winter including warm chocolate, spicy gingerbread, and cranberry. Stick with the classics, or spruce up your seasonal menu with these crowd-pleasing options.

Posted in: Holidays | Coffee & Tea | By Rachel Jenkins

Fast Casual Dining Trends

Whether you’re looking to start a new business or give your restaurant a trendy makeover in 2019, consider operating as a fast casual kitchen. Filling the gap between fine dining restaurants and quick burger joints, fast casual is a category packed with potential. The market is filled with an endless amount of flavors, fusions, and cultural inspiration to fit the taste of any consumer. Discover below this year’s trends in fast casual dining to keep customers happy and potentially expand your target market.

What is a Fast Casual Restaurant?

customer at restaurant counter signs tablet with finger

A fast casual restaurant combines the sit-down service of fine dining with the convenience and quickness of fast food establishments.

Typically, fast casual restaurants boast healthier options and menu items prepared with fresher ingredients than fast food. Customers may still order at a kiosk or counter, but food is often brought out to their table where they’re encouraged to relax and enjoy eating in a comfortable dining area. Additionally, fast casual restaurants may include more customizable options than fast food places.

Popular fast casual restaurants include:

  • Panera Bread
  • Chipotle
  • Au Bon Pain
  • Noodles & Company
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Boston Market

Benefits of Operating a Fast Casual Restaurant

Making the distinction between fast casual and fast food or fine dining can provide a number of benefits for your business. Below are a few ways operating a fast casual restaurant can be beneficial:

  • “Fast food” is often associated with unhealthy options, making "fast casual" a more appealing choice for many
  • Fast casual kitchens can charge more per menu item than fast food restaurants because of the additional quality of service and fresher ingredients
  • Most fast food restaurants are operated by franchises, whereas fast casual places offer both franchising opportunities and independent operations
  • Having customers pay when they order offers quick service for customers in a rush
  • Fast casual restaurants can usually accommodate larger parties better than fine dining establishments

Trends in Fast Casual Dining

While popular fast casual chains may remain timeless, there are a few ways in which your business can stay on top of customers' current wants and needs. Consider taking advantage of some or all of the trends below in your fast casual kitchen.

Protein Alternatives

An increasing number of customers are looking to create environmentally conscious and ethical decisions when it comes to their food choices. This means alternative diets such as veganism and vegetarianism are making their way into mainstream menus.

Substitutions and accommodations for non-meat eaters will become a thing of the past, as entire menus are being crafted around the use of protein alternatives and plant-centric entrees. In conjunction with this push, companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are producing protein alternatives that mimic the look, taste, and texture of real meat.

Fermented Foods and Probiotics

Foods that are good for your gut make their way into 2019’s top trends for fast casual restaurants. This includes fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, yogurt, and tempeh. These foods, along with locally made kombucha, offer consumers the health benefits they desire packed into minimally processed, wholesome products.

Eating In-House vs. Ordering Take-Out

While there will be no downturn in delivery, fast casual restaurants may find a surprising uptick in customers choosing to stay and eat in the dining area. That’s because more and more restaurants are placing an emphasis on the dining experience, which in turn provides customers with more social satisfaction than eating at home.

Offering Incentives and Coupons

As millennials and Generation Z emerge as large consumer groups in the foodservice industry, they’ll be looking for incentives and coupons to use at restaurants. This makes offering these types of deals a top trend for fast casual restaurants in 2019. Because members of these generations are prone to making financially conscious decisions, they’re more likely to pick a fast casual restaurant that provides deals and discounts over one that does not.

Foods in Bowls

There’s something cozy about eating out of a bowl, which is why food in bowls is on our list of top trends for 2019. While the concept isn’t new, fast casual restaurants will be using bowls to create hearty, filling dishes in unique ways. These include buddah bowls, ramen bowls, poke bowls, and smoothie bowls. In fact, bowl-centered restaurants are likely to pop up this year with entire menus dedicated to poke bowls or ramen bowls.

Moving Away from Single Use Disposables

We saw the impact Starbucks had on the foodservice industry with their 2018 decision to stop using plastic straws as well as some cities banning the use of Styrofoam, so it should come as no surprise that others in the foodservice industry are looking to reduce their use of single use disposables as well. Environmentally friendly alternatives are popping up in fast casual restaurants, such as bamboo take-out containers and utensils. Expect to see the use of plastics and polystyrene decline in the near future.

Multiple-Senses Stimulation

closeup of an iphone taking pictures of a colorful plate of food

Making your food “Instagrammable” is not a new concept for foodservice, but it may come as a surprise to see that video is quickly becoming the medium of choice over photography. Social media postings including Facebook videos, Facebook and Instagram live feeds, Instagram stories, and Snapchat videos are proving consumers are interested in content that moves and makes sound. For fast casual restaurants, this means creating food that intrigues other senses besides how it tastes and looks.

Consumers want food that moves, makes a sound (such as crunching or popping), or even changes color. This could include offering glitter beer or wine, melting ball desserts, color-changing cocktails, or moving squid.

Fair Trade and Food Transparency

restaurant worker assembles sub

Increasingly, consumers want to know where their food is coming from and the ethical impact it has on the environment and labor around the world. In 2019, fast casual restaurants can expect consumers to demand food transparency on their menus. This includes where the food was sourced from, calorie counts, and allergen warnings. Products deemed “fair trade” have been bought from producers at a fair price, often in developing countries. Common fair trade food items include bananas, honey, coffee, and tea.


Fast casual restaurants are in the enticing position to create unique flavors and offer fresher or more exotic ingredients than fast food kitchens. Taking advantage of this year’s top fast casual food trends can help your business stand out in a crowd. Pair your fresh and exciting menu options with any of the above suggestions to help grow your customer base and turn curious consumers into weekly regulars.

Posted in: Foodservice Trends | By Rachel Jenkins

Everything You Need to Know About Instant Flour

Have you ever come across the term “instant flour” in a recipe and hoped whatever was in your pantry would suffice? While you may have heard of a few all-purpose flour alternatives, instant flour can be a bit of a mystery to many. Keep reading below to learn what makes this flour “instant” and a few suitable alternatives to use in a pinch.

What Is Instant Flour?

woman's hands shaping pie crust dough

Instant flour is pregelatinized low-protein flour designed to mix and melt smoothly into recipes. The pregelatinization process essentially precooks the instant flour by steaming and heating it before drying. This process, along with being ground into an extra-fine, powdery consistency, allows the flour to melt into gravies and sauces without lumping or clumping.

What Is Wondra Flour?

Wondra flour is a brand of instant flour produced by Gold Medal. While Wondra is branded, consumers often use the terms “Wondra” and “instant” interchangeably. Wondra flour consists of a combination of wheat flour, malted barley flour, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

Uses for Instant Flour

Instant flour is primarily used in recipes that need thickening or desire a silky smooth consistency. Here are a few common uses for instant flour:

  • Gravy
  • To thicken sauces
  • Crepes
  • Pie crusts
  • Batter used for frying foods

Can You Use Instant Flour as a Substitute for All-Purpose Flour?

No, instant flour cannot be used in recipes that call for regular or all-purpose flour. Instant flour has a lower protein level, which means the gluten makeup will not have the same structural properties. Only use instant flour in recipes that specifically call for it.

Wondra Flour Substitute

ladling pancake batter into a pan

In a pinch, you can create a Wondra or instant flour substitute by combining 2 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of corn starch. Mix the ingredients together and sift through twice to aerate and loosen the flour. Use it right away, or store the mixture in a cool, dark place for future use.

Types of Low-Protein Flour

While it’s recommended you use instant flour when the recipe calls for it, here are a few other low-protein flours you could substitute in when necessary:

  • Cake flour
  • Pastry flour
  • Self-rising flour

Instant flour can be a useful addition to your pantry, especially when it comes to making flaky pie crusts, silky soups, and hearty gravies. Its pregelatinized construction allows this special flour to melt away over heat, which keeps unsightly clumps out of your recipes.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips | Bakeries | By Rachel Jenkins
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