(Family Features) Backyard barbecues and family picnics are plentiful during the summer months, so chances are good you’ll host (or attend) at least one event this season. While you’ll likely feast on a bevy of hamburgers, hot dogs and summer salads, a menu filled with fresh, delicious sides makes for a meal worth celebrating.
There’s certainly more than one way to create a menu for a casual backyard picnic, so it’s easy to plan dishes that everyone can enjoy. When organizing your menu, be sure to consider your guests and prepare a selection of side dishes that are both age-appropriate and satisfy a wide range of cravings. Here are some creative ways to put a twist on classic side dishes to make your meal memorable:
Pasta medley. When you’re serving a group with kids, a simple pasta salad is a must-have side that even picky eaters will enjoy. Simply prepare your favorite noodles (fun shapes like spirals or bowties if you’re thinking kid-friendly) then add an array of ingredients like cubed cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes and broccoli florets with some extra-virgin olive oil. For a more grown-up flavor, combine feta cheese and bits of fresh basil with a drizzle of Bolthouse Farms Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing for an extra kick of flavor.
Naturally sweet treats. Many traditional sweet dishes are simply impractical for a hot summer day. As an alternative, something lighter can help satisfy a sweet tooth without the bulk of a heavy cake or pie. Try a mixed berry bowl with all your favorite seasonal fruits like fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. It’s a cheerful presentation and an option all ages can enjoy. Add a few sprigs of mint for garnish for a little festive fun.
Crisp coleslaw salad. A refreshing salad is almost always a crowd-pleaser. Instead of a traditional tossed garden salad, try adding some crunch with a zesty coleslaw salad. This recipe uses all chopped vegetables, allowing you to help reduce food waste by choosing veggies that are not the most beautiful on the shelf, but still taste delicious. Try using an option like Bolthouse Farms Coleslaw dressing to make these veggies and coleslaw even more delicious by giving you the classic, tangy, creamy and sweet coleslaw taste you love with less fat and fewer calories than other refrigerated brands. Just pour, mix in with cabbage and enjoy. Another tip: balance your crunchy veggies with some sweetness, like bits of apple, pear, persimmon or nectarine, for a truly flavorful salad.
Look in the refrigerated area of the produce section to pick up any of the Bolthouse Farms dressing varieties or visit Bolthouse.com to learn more.
“Ugly” Summer Coleslaw Salad
Recipe courtesy of Two Purple Figs
- 1/2 head white cabbage (about 4 cups)
- 2 scallions
- 1 carrot
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 1/2 bottle Bolthouse Farms® Coleslaw dressing
- 1 cup pomegranate arils (optional)
- Using shredder disc in food processor, shred cabbage, scallions, carrot, apple and pear. Add dressing and pulse until smooth.
- Sprinkle with pomegranate arils, if desired, and serve.
Content courtesy of Bolthouse Farms®.
Source: Bolthouse Farms
Serve up some spice with fun party dishes
(Family Features) Make your next fiesta one to remember with colorful decor, festive touches and, perhaps most importantly, unique and mouthwatering recipes that bring guests back for seconds.
To achieve the ideal flavors of a fiesta done right, try bringing something new to the table with recipes like these party-pleasing Tortilla Pizzas for a special main dish, crunchy and refreshing Coleslaw with Green Chile Dressing on the side and, for a decadently unique dessert, Jalapeno Brownies.
These party-perfect recipes can help you take flavors to new heights while adding a kick of spice when you incorporate quality ingredients like Rio Luna Organic Peppers. The peppers are cultivated by a company with more than three decades of experience. They manage the whole pepper process from annual seed selection to grower partnerships, cultivation and packing.
Available in four spicy varieties – Diced Jalapenos, Nacho Sliced Jalapenos, Diced Green Chiles and Large Chopped Green Chiles – you can add a pop of peppers to your next celebration. Because the peppers are organic certified, non-GMO, fat free, cholesterol free, low calorie and kosher, you’ll be able to pack an extra punch of spice without serving up unnecessary ingredients.
Tantalizing Toppings For Tasty Tacos
When it comes to supplying fiesta foods that fit almost anyone’s taste, tacos are a go-to party favorite. That is because it can be fun for party-goers to customize their own tacos while making food prep easier and less hands-on for hosts who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
However, trying to list all the possible taco-topping options can be an overwhelming task for many hosts. Along with your choice of taco filling, consider these toppings when building the perfect taco bar at your next fiesta:
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Beans (black, pinto or refried)
- Shredded lettuce
- Rio Luna Organic Peppers
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chopped onions
- Diced avocado or guacamole
- Sliced black olives
- Lime wedges
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 4 flour tortillas (8 inches)
- 1 can (15 ounces) refried black beans
- 4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can (4 ounces) Rio Luna Organic Nacho Sliced Jalapenos, drained
- 1 1/3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- chipotle-ranch dressing (optional)
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Bake tortillas directly on oven rack 2 minutes. Cool. Spread 1/4 cup beans onto each tortilla. Top evenly with tomatoes, jalapenos and cheese.
- Bake 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro just before serving.
Tip: For added flavor, drizzle pizzas with chipotle-ranch dressing.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 can (4 ounces) Rio Luna Organic Diced Jalapenos, pureed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup, plus 3 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar (optional)
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In medium bowl, whisk oil, sugar, eggs, jalapenos and vanilla until blended.
- In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture. Mix just until combined. Pour into greased 8-by-8-inch baking pan.
- Bake 15-20 minutes, or until brownies pull away from sides of pan easily. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Tip: Dust with powdered sugar before serving for added flavor and enhanced presentation.
Coleslaw with Green Chile Dressing
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup Rio Luna Organic Diced Green Chiles, drained
- 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onions
- 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus additional, to taste
- In medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, chiles, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, Sriracha and agave nectar until well blended.
- In large bowl, combine napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, onions, salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise mixture; toss until well coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, to taste.
Tip: Coleslaw can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated up to 1 day. Toss before serving.
Source: Rio Luna
(Family Features) A dazzling fireworks display may be the grand finale for your celebration, but you can make your mouthwatering menu a close second with these ideas to light up your Fourth of July. From bold burgers to crisp salads and sweet sides, give your guests plenty of reason to feel festive all day long. And don’t forget to add a little indulgence for all ages with a DIY dessert bar.
Find more recipes perfect for the Fourth of July at culinary.net.
Serve Up a Sundae Bar
The only thing better than a dish of cold ice cream on a hot summer day is the chance to make it all your own. Let guests create their own dishes of deliciousness with a DIY sundae bar. Start with a healthy supply of cups, spoons and towels to mop up inevitable drips then fill the bar with irresistible options like these:
- A sampling of ice creams, like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry
- Fresh sliced fruit
- Crushed candies and cookies
- Sauces (chocolate, caramel and something fruity, too)
- Assorted nuts
- Crunchy favorites like crumbled cones or salty pretzels
- Coconut (raw and toasted)
- Whipped cream
A Bold Take on an American Classic
When it comes to feeding family and friends on the Fourth of July, nothing pleases guests more than fan-favorite American bites fresh off the grill. Cheeseburgers are a tried-and-true classic for summer grilling season. Give your burger recipe a bold, sweet kick this Fourth of July with honey barbecue sauce and the finishing touch of delicious, smooth-melting Borden Cheese. Find more summer recipes to transform mealtime into memorable family time at bordencheese.com.
Bold Honey Barbecue Burger
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons steak seasoning
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1/2 stick melted butter
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 slices Borden Cheese American Singles
- 8 slices thick bacon, cooked until crispy
- 8 frozen onion rings
- 4 slices tomato
- fresh lettuce
- Combine ground beef, green onions, garlic powder and cayenne pepper; form into four patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with steak seasoning. Cover and chill. (Patties can be made several hours in advance.)
- Brush buns with melted butter; set aside. In small bowl, mix barbecue sauce with honey; set aside.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill burgers to internal temperature of 160° F, about 4-6 minutes per side. Two minutes before burgers are finished, grill buns, butter-side down, until golden brown. Place cheese slices on burgers to melt.
- Serve each burger on buttered bun topped with two slices bacon, two onion rings, honey barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato.
A Tropical Summer Twist
If you find yourself hosting a last-minute barbecue without time to plan an extensive menu, don’t panic. Simply add a twist to traditional summer staples, like mixing one bag of cabbage with one jar of coleslaw dressing for a classic coleslaw side dish or incorporating coleslaw into your main course. This spin on a classic barbecue meal, Grilled Hawaiian Chicken and Tropical Coleslaw, can take your entertaining to the next level. For more recipes, visit litehousefoods.com.
Grilled Hawaiian Chicken and Tropical Coleslaw
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus additional for brushing grill
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons Litehouse Instantly Fresh Garlic
- 1 tablespoon Litehouse Instantly Fresh Ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 large red onion, diced into 1 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 large green peppers, diced into 1 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 cups fresh cubed pineapple
- 1 package (14 ounces) coleslaw mix
- 1 cup diced red pepper
- 1 cup diced pineapple
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup Litehouse Coleslaw dressing
- In mixing bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Stir in pepper and season with salt, if desired.
- Place chicken in gallon-sized re-sealable bag. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade in refrigerator then pour remaining marinade over chicken. Seal bag and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Soak 10 wooden skewer sticks in water 1 hour.
- While chicken marinates, prepare coleslaw. In medium bowl, toss together coleslaw mix, red pepper, pineapple, almonds and coleslaw dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Heat grill to 400° F.
- Drizzle remaining olive oil over red onion, bell pepper and pineapple; toss. Season red onion and bell pepper with salt and pepper then thread red onion, bell pepper, pineapple and chicken onto skewers until all chicken is used.
- Brush grill grates with olive oil then place skewers on grill. Grill 5 minutes then brush along tops with 1/4 cup marinade. Rotate to opposite side and brush remaining marinade on opposite side; grill about 4 minutes, or until chicken registers 165° F in center on instant read thermometer.
Serve skewers warm with coleslaw.
A Honey of a Side
No summer picnic or grilling spread is complete without an array of mouthwatering sides. When planning your menu, go for variety with dishes ranging from rich and savory to light and refreshing. If you want to mix things up a bit, look for ways to dress up timeless favorites, like this take on baked beans that gets its sweetness from honey instead of sugar. Find more ways to sweeten up your celebration at honey.com.
Honey Baked Beans
Recipe courtesy of the National Honey Board
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 4 1/2 cups cooked navy beans (or 3 cans, 15 ounces each)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Saute bacon and onion until onion is tender; combine with remaining ingredients in shallow 2-quart, oven-safe baking dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 45 minutes longer.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (berry sundaes)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (baked beans)
Source: Family Features
(Family Features) - We all seem to thrive on competition these days. Any channel surfer can find reality shows in which folks are trying to be the next survivor on a deserted island, rock star, celebrity chef or TV design guru. But nothing can beat the real life drama in your own backyard when brats vie for "top brat" awards.
First of all, choose the brat that consumers found to be the tastiest of all grillable meats in a recent taste test. Served hot and plump off the grill, alone on a bun or tortilla, this brat's robust flavor is more than delicious all by itself. But when you're in the mood to play with your food, top your brat with a favorite condiment, relish, salsa or slaw.
Top that juicy grilled brat with pickles and onions, mustard or ketchup. Go German with sauerkraut, Southern with a tangy barbecue topping, or even Hawaiian with pineapple and papaya. As long as you grill your brat so that it's plump and juicy, the topping you choose is only going to add style points. So, top that!
Check out johnsonville.com for great recipes and more!
Are You a Grillin' Guru?
You can be, by following Johnsonville's Tips for Grilling Success.
- Use a clean grill. Repeated grilling causes excessive residue buildup on the grill rack and hull. An occasional cleaning will help to reduce flare-ups. Besides, your grill is a special gathering place for friends and family. Got to keep up appearances.
- It's OK to pre-cook. Know that it's OK to pre-cook brats. One may simmer the links in a pan of broth, or a beer and onion blend, for 8 to10 minutes prior to placing them on the grill (it's okay to dump the beer when you're done ... really, it is).
- Cook slow, on low heat, keeping grill covered. If you're using a charcoal grill, spread out the gray/white, hot coals in a single layer. Your charcoal grill is perfect for brats if you can hold your palm near the grill for 5 to 6 seconds before it gets uncomfortable. On a gas grill, start the flame at a medium setting, and when the sausage juices start to flow, reduce heat to low. A lid on the grill helps to minimize the flame, too.
- Avoid high flames! First, move the brats to safety. Raging blazes cause injury to sausage and your neighbors probably won't enjoy the sirens. Keep a spray-bottle filled with water handy to douse small flames while grilling. A garden hose would be overkill.
- Turn the brats every five minutes or so. Use tongs, never a fork ... EVER! A fork can puncture a link and release that great taste and savory flavor. Tongs keep the links intact, and make 'em easier to turn.
Know when your brats are done cooking, which is:
- about 25 to 30 minutes using the above guidelines.
- when they're golden-brown and look appetizing, not charred to a crisp. "Burning" is not "grilling"!
- when a meat thermometer probe inserted into the link reads 160°F. (Of course, a Master Griller would never be seen doing this.)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) dark beer
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup stone ground mustard
- In skillet, melt butter.
- Add garlic and sauté over low heat until tender. Add pepper and beer; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and gradually add cheese; stirring until melted. Continue to cook and stir until mixture is reduced by 1/3.
- Remove from heat. Add mustard; stir until blended. Pour into storage container. Refrigerate until ready to serve as a condiment to grilled brats.
Yield: 2 cups.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Grilling suggestion: Blend 1 cup Gorgonzola mustard with 1/3 cup dark beer. Use as brushing or basting sauce for brat kabobs, whole brats or vegetables when grilling.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup prepared coleslaw dressing
- 1 package (16 ounces) cabbage slaw
- In skillet, heat oil. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent and slightly brown. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
- In small bowl, combine onion mixture with barbecue sauce and coleslaw dressing. Pour over cabbage slaw and toss lightly to coat.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve as topping with grilled brats.
Yield about 5 cups
- 1/2 cup cider or rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup diced papaya
- 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
- 1/2 cup diced mango
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained
- 1/2 cup diced sweet red roasted peppers, drained
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 spices
- In small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat, add garlic and pepper flakes; continue to simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.
- In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour vinegar mixture over fruit; toss lightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve as condiment to grilled brats.
Yield 3 cups