(Family Features) The to-do list for holiday hosts seems to be a never-ending one, starting with planning, guest lists and preparation then ending with goodbyes and cleanup. The hours of work that go into a festive get-together are almost always worth it in the end, and family members surely appreciate the hospitality – especially when it comes to food.
When hosting for the holidays, it can be a challenge to accommodate all of your guests’ favorite tastes while factoring in dietary preferences and restrictions. Building out a balanced menu, like other parts of hosting, starts with devising a thought-out plan.
To help accomplish this task without cooking up personal dishes for everybody in the house, consider these simple tips:
- Request that guests RSVP. Assuming you have a basic understanding of which friends and family members adhere to special diets, knowing exactly who is coming can be a major help before heading to the store.
- Think back to past festivities. Try to remember which dishes were hits at last year’s party, and which ones were hardly touched. Maybe the appetizers that disappeared in a flash will be good ideas to repeat this year.
- Create dishes that fit (almost) everyone. While you can’t control guests’ flavor preferences, it is possible to whip up snack trays, main courses, desserts and more that fit a multitude of dietary restrictions. For example, these Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts feature Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers for a gluten-free, non-GMO, low-sugar, tasty crunch. Because they’re made with wholesome ingredients, these simple snacks are crafted to fit nearly every healthy lifestyle. Plus, if multiple family members adhere to vegetarian lifestyles, you can simply omit the bacon.
- Add “warning” labels. Despite your best efforts, it can be nearly impossible to create foods every single person can enjoy. If you make a dish containing a common allergen, such as peanuts, simply place a card next to the bowl, tray, plate or pan that informs guests of the ingredients included.
For other recipes, coupons, tips and nutritional information, visit crunchmaster.com.
Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
- 24 Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, Sea Salt flavor
- 24 small slices Brie cheese
- 1/4 cup prepared cranberry sauce
- 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Heat broiler to high and position rack in center of oven. Arrange crackers in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet.
- Top each cracker with slice of Brie, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and sprinkle of bacon. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Tip: For vegetarian option, substitute chopped hickory-smoked almonds or pecans for bacon.
Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 13 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein.
(Family Features) The ultimate kid-friendly snack comes as a package deal – simple, delicious, nutritious and fun. One option that readily meets those demands are apples, pears and oranges perfectly sized for small hands, mouths and appetites.
While Lil Snappers’ smaller sizes allow fresh fruits to easily fit into bento boxes and brown bags for a wholesome lunchbox companion that leaves little waste, a dash of creativity also transforms these fruits into a favorite snacktime star – from crunchy critters to sweet treats.
Available in three-pound pouches and found in the fresh produce aisle, Lil Snappers come seasonally in a wide array of fruit varieties, including organics, grown by a sixth-generation family farming operation, Stemilt Growers. Options range from popular apples such as Gala, Pink Lady and Granny Smith, to delicious Bartlett pears, Bosc pears and more.
Try out these recipes for pint-sized snackers, and find quick and easy recipe ideas at lilsnappers.com.
- 1 Lil Snappers apple
- 1 mini marshmallow
- Cut apple in half lengthwise and remove stem. Remove core from one apple half.
- Slice apple half without core into 8 wedges to serve as critter’s legs.
- Set aside second apple half, which will serve as critter’s body.
- Take two legs and make simple zig-zag cuts into flesh to create “claw-like” shape.
- On a plate, arrange critter’s legs, fanning them out, then place claws in front of legs and reserved apple half on top for the head.
- Cut mini marshmallow in half. Gooey side of each will easily stick to critter’s head to serve as eyes.
- 1 Lil Snappers pear
- 1 slice orange rind
- 1 marshmallow
- 1 grape
- 2 toothpicks
- Cut pear in half lengthwise. On plate, lay pear cut-side down. Using peeler, slice 3 inches of rind from orange. Trim sides to result in long, thin rectangle. Coil length of rind around finger and hold to set shape.
- Cut one slice from end of marshmallow then cut that round in half to create two half-moon shapes. Gooey edge of each half-moon will stick to top of pear half to serve as critter’s ears.
- Break toothpick in half and place picks in location for critter’s eyes, leaving about 1/4 inch sticking out from fruit.
- Slice ends off of one grape and place domes over toothpicks to serve as eyes.
- Using toothpick, make hole in back end of critter to place tail. Stick end of coiled orange rind into hole using toothpick to wedge rind into fruit. Reshape coil, as needed.
Note: Remember to remove toothpicks before nibbling.
Source: Stemilt Growers
Study finds drinking more milk growing up is associated with increased height at 17
(Family Features) Drinking real dairy milk is especially important for growing kids, and new research suggests regularly drinking more milk throughout childhood is associated with an increase in teenage height, according to a new study in “The Journal of Nutrition.”1
Researchers followed more than 700 kids from the time they were born, analyzing their height and diet from ages 2-17, and found each additional glass of milk kids drank per day throughout childhood increased their height at age 17 by around 0.39 centimeters. That means the more milk kids drank regularly growing up, the taller they were. Water and other beverages, including 100 percent juice and sugar-sweetened beverages, didn’t have the same effect.
These findings add to a growing body of research that suggests regularly drinking milk during the growing years is associated with greater height in the teen years, while regularly skipping milk or drinking non-dairy milk alternatives, like almond or soy milk, is linked to shorter height.2, 3, 4
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend two cups of milk and milk products each day for kids ages 2-3, two and a half cups each day for kids 4-8 and three cups each day for kids 9-18. While it’s hard for kids to get nutrients they need to grow strong without milk in their diets, eighty-five percent of Americans fall short of these daily recommendations, which includes most children over 3 years old.5, 6
Serving an eight-ounce glass of milk alongside meals or snacks is an easy way to give kids nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, and get them closer to these recommendations. Try pairing these homemade cereal bars from Jamielyn Nye, author of iheartnaptime.net, with a cold glass of milk for an easy after-school snack, and find more kid-approved recipes at pourmoremilk.com.
Homemade Cereal Bars
Recipe courtesy of Jamielyn Nye, author of iheartnaptime.net, on behalf of Milk Life
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 1/2 cups dry cereal
- Line 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium size sauce pan, combine peanut butter and honey and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Add in dry cereal and stir until completely coated then press into lined pan. Use piece of parchment paper to press firmly down on bars.
- Refrigerate bars 1 hour, or until ready to serve.
- Serve with eight-ounce glass of milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 180 calories; 4 1/2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 10 g protein; 26 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 160 mg sodium; 306 mg calcium (30% of daily value). Nutrition figures include an eight-ounce glass of fat free milk.
1Marshall TA, Curtis AM, Cavanaugh JE, Warren JJ, Levy SM. Higher longitudinal milk intakes are associated with increased height in a birth cohort followed for 17 years. The Journal of Nutrition. 2018;148(7):1144-1149.
2Wiley AS. Does milk make children grow? Releationships between milk consumption and height in NHANES 1999-2002. American Journal of Human Biology. 2005;17(4):425-441.
3Rockell JEP, Williams SM, Taylor RW, Grant AM, Jones IE, Goulding A. Two-year changes in bone and body composition in young children with a history of prolonged milk avoidance. Osteoporosis International. 2005;16(9):1016-1023.
4 Morency M, Birken CS, Lebovic G, Chen Y, L’Abbé M, Lee GJ, Maguire JL and the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Association between noncow milk beverage consumption and childhood height. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;106(2):597-602.
5 Krebs-Smith SM, Guenther PM, Subar AF, Kirkpatrick SI, Dodd KW. Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140:1832-1838.
6 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. 8th Edition, 2015.
(Family Features) If you’re trying to boost the nutrition of your meals and snacks, look no further than your refrigerator. Dairy products provide a powerful nutrition package that can help you meet your nutrient needs and achieve better health.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirm dairy’s important place in the diet with a recommendation that people ages 9 and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day. With nine essential nutrients, milk, cheese and yogurt deliver a unique nutrition package superior to milk alternatives, such as almond or rice beverages, which are often fortified or fall short on these important nutrients.
During the hot summer months, when you don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen, dairy products offer ease and convenience, as many are ready to use in recipes or round out a meal or snack. For a quick, easy and healthy snack this summer, put a fresh take on traditional pizza with this recipe that uses crescent rolls topped with cheeses and fresh seasonal veggies. Or turn up the heat on a classic beef burrito by adding warm pepper jack cheese and black beans.
Visit MidwestDairy.com to pledge Dairy 3 for Me, find additional recipes and learn more about how to unleash the power of dairy nutrition.
Summer Pizza Snack
Recipe courtesy of Cindy Heins, Heins Family Farms
Total time: 22 minutes
- 1 tube (8 ounces) crescent rolls
- 1 tub (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
- Heat oven to 375° F. In 9-by-13-inch baking pan, spread out crescent roll dough. Seal seams together to form one large rectangle across bottom of pan. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on rack.
- In small bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Spread evenly over entire cooled crust. Top with mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, broccoli and cucumber. Cut into 12 squares and serve.
Beef Burrito with Pepper Jack Cheese and Black Beans
Total time: 9 minutes
- 1/2 pound ground beef sirloin
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup chunky salsa, divided
- 2 cups cooked brown or white rice
- 6 whole-wheat tortillas (9 inches each)
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (11 ounces) corn kernels, drained
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- sliced green onion, including green tops
- In medium, nonstick skillet, brown ground beef and garlic over medium heat (break beef mixture up into smaller chunks with spatula). Drain fat and stir in 1/2 cup salsa; set aside.
- Spread 1/3 cup rice on center of tortilla, leaving 1/2-inch border. Scatter about 2 tablespoons beans and 1 1/2 tablespoons corn over rice. Spread 1/3 cup beef mixture and 1/4 cup cheese over corn. Top with 2 teaspoons salsa and a few slices green onion. Fold in two opposite edges of tortilla 1 inch each and roll up. Place seam-side down on microwave-safe dish.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place burritos in microwave oven and heat 1 minute, or until heated through. Serve with remaining salsa.
Source: Midwest Dairy Association
(Family Features) The holiday season is filled with family food traditions, from stuffing and pumpkin pie, to festive cakes and frosted sugar cookies. This year, wow your family, guests and friends with a fun, crunchy twist on the great tastes of holiday favorites.
No one can replace grandma’s classic pie recipe, but have a little fun and surprise your family and friends. With creative takes on traditional dishes, Chex® Party Mix will help you wow your guests with familiar flavors and aromas, served up in a playful way that’s sure to impress.
It’s easy to re-create the taste of each of these treats in a quick, delicious party mix. Visit www.ChexPartyMix.com for more than 150 party mix recipes that can be made in the microwave in just 15 minutes.
Peppermint and Chocolate Chex® Mix
Featuring melted white chocolate, crushed candy canes and a dark chocolate drizzle, it’s easy to add holiday cheer with this festive mix.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Start to Finish: 15 Minutes
Makes: 16 servings (1/2 cup each)
- 3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
- 3 cups Chocolate Chex® cereal
- 1 bag (12 ounces) white vanilla baking chips (2 cups)
- 1/2 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy canes (16 miniature, unwrapped)
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- Mix cereals in large microwavable bowl. Line cookie sheet with foil or waxed paper.
- In microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High about 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips can be stirred smooth. Stir in half the crushed peppermint candy.
- Pour over cereal; toss to evenly coat. Spread mixture in single layer on cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle with remaining candy.
- Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave on High 50 to 60 seconds or until chips can be stirred smooth; drizzle over top. Let stand in refrigerator until set, about 5 minutes. Gently break into clusters. Store in airtight container.
Chex® Pumpkin Pie Crunch
This recipe is great served in your favorite colorful pie plate. Set the pie plate out on the table with the other dishes, and put a scooper out so guests can help themselves. For party favors, leave small bags next to the pie plate and ask guests to take a bag home for an extra treat later.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Start to Finish: 15 Minutes
Makes: 16 servings (1/2 cup each)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups Cinnamon Chex® cereal
- 2 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
- 2 cups Honey Nut Chex® cereal
- 8 ounces pecans
- In small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In large microwavable bowl, mix all cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.
- Microwave uncovered on High 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute. Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight container. Note: Make mix up to two weeks ahead and store in airtight container.
Cottage cheese gets hip with today’s recipes
(Family Features) Classics never go out of style — whether presented simply or dressed up with trendy new touches. Cottage cheese has been a favorite for generations, but innovative serving ideas give new appeal to this trusty favorite.
Cool and refreshing cottage cheese is an easy “right now” quick meal or snack for on-the-go people. It’s naturally high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates and is a favorite among active, nutrition-conscious adults, providing women with the calcium they need. And, parents can feel good about it as an easy, healthy snack for kids. The creamy satisfying flavor of cottage cheese is great paired with pineapple or apple wedges, or mixed with applesauce and a shake of cinnamon.
The introduction of cottage cheese from Daisy Brand, the nation’s best selling sour cream brand, is an exciting new addition to the dairy case. Fresh and wholesome, this new cottage cheese contains only natural ingredients with no preservatives or additives.
Versatile cottage cheese is perfect for a quick snack, healthy meal or satisfying dessert:
—Break into breakfast: Serve cottage cheese alongside fresh fruit, mixed with yogurt or topped with cereal. Its creamy consistency is perfect stirred into eggs, pancakes, omelets or quiche.
—Satisfy snack attacks: Enjoy cottage cheese with fresh fruit, raw veggies or crackers.
—Mute the munchies with a thin spread of peanut butter on crackers topped with creamy cottage cheese.
—Savor smart lunch choices: Combine cottage cheese with fresh vegetables or fruit for a healthful, satisfying lunch.
—Make mid-day hearty and delicious by mixing cottage cheese into flaked tuna.
—Feature family-pleasing dinners: Count on cottage cheese to round out a salad or as a side dish, or use as a central ingredient in quiches or pasta dishes such as lasagna and ravioli.
—Dig into sweet endings: Scene-stealing desserts with cottage cheese include cheesecake, blintzes, turnovers and more.
Delight your palate with a cool, satisfying classic. Discover surprising, innovative ways to enjoy fresh and delicious cottage cheese by visiting www.daisybrand.com. Recipe ideas for quick snacks, simple meals and flavorful entertaining will help you put this all-natural, low-carb source of protein and calcium on your table for healthy family meals.
Berry Breakfast Parfaits
- 2 cups (16 ounces) Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese
- 2 cups mixed fresh berries such as sliced strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
- 1 cup granola
- 4 tablespoons sliced or chopped almonds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla*
- 3/4 teaspoon Splenda®*
- Refrigerate fruit mixture 2 hours before assembling. In four serving dishes layer 1/4 cup of cottage cheese, 1/8 cup of granola, and 1/4 cup of mixed berries. Repeat layers in each glass. Top each parfait with 1 tablespoon of almonds.
*For a sweeter taste, try adding 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 teaspoon of Splenda to fruit and stir.
Pita Pesto Pizza Snackers
- 2 pieces pita bread
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1 cup (8 ounces) Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic bread seasoning (or garlic powder)
- 2 tablespoons chopped Roma tomatoes
- Chopped fresh basil, to taste
- 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Toast pita bread until crispy and firm, about 1 minute in a toaster oven.
- Spread pesto on each pita bread, lightly covering entire surface.
- Combine cottage cheese with garlic bread seasoning and spread evenly over each pita.
- Top with chopped tomato and fresh basil.
- If desired, sprinkle each pita with Parmesan.
- Slice each pita into 4 wedges and serve immediately.
Apple-Cinnamon Pancake Stackers
- 1 medium apple, Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored and cubed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons Splenda® or other low calorie sweetener
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons lite maple syrup
- 1 cup (8 ounces) Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese
- 6 3 1/2-inch whole wheat pancakes, frozen
- 2 fresh mint sprigs
- Combine apple, cinnamon and sweetener. In small pan, heat oil and sauté apple mixture over medium heat 2 minutes. Add maple syrup and cook additional minute.
- Fold mixture into cottage cheese, being careful not to over mix.
- Heat pancakes per package instructions.
- To serve, place 1 hot pancake on plate and layer cottage cheese mixture between pancakes evenly, 3 pancakes per serving. Top with cottage cheese mixture, a drizzle of maple syrup and a fresh mint sprig.
Source: Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese
(Family Features) Kick off your holiday parties in style with flavorful appetizers every guest will enjoy.
Whether you’re a seasoned holiday host or a first-timer, throwing a holiday party can be a bit overwhelming. But with the proper tools, such as a great sampling of easy-to-make appetizers and delicious beverage pairings, you and your guests will get in the festive mood in no time.
When planning your appetizer fare, go with casual selections that require little to no clean-up. Finger foods, like this recipe for Sweet Slice® Ham Sliders, require just a few savory, mouth-watering ingredients and minimal time in the kitchen. Or, take some inspiration from the menus of Italian restaurants and wine bars and create an old world-inspired charcuterie board composed of Boar’s Head Brand® artisan meats and cheeses. Here are a few tips to create your own:
- Delight and prime guests’ palates: Use one to two ounces of cheese and three slices of meat per person. This will give your guests a mix of salty and savory items to delight their palates but not overwhelm them before the main course.
- Arm independent snackers: Don’t fully pre-cut your cheese choices. To give guests the most interaction with the delicacies, slice a few pieces and then pair a knife with each selection.
- Choose the cheese: The cheese selection should also be diverse and include a minimum of a fresh, semi-soft, firm and hard cheese. Try Boar’s Head Asiago Vecchio Cheese, Picante Sharp Provolone Cheese and Aged Gouda. For more tasty ideas, visit www.boarshead.com.
- Match your meat: You’ll want to display a variety of charcuterie including cured, smoked and preserved meats. Boar’s Head Bianco D’Oro® Italian Dry Salame,
Italian Dry Sausage and Prosciutto Di Parma® are robust and delicious.
- Add the finishing touches: Recreate the artisan culinary experience by placing meats and cheeses on a wood platter or cutting board. Accessorize by adding fruits, nuts, olives, grapes and honey for dipping. Be sure to offer textural contrasts with dippers, such as whole grain crackers, crusted breads, breadsticks and crostini.
- Cheers to your success: Pair a great wine or beer with your choice of meat and cheese. For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon goes great with a dry salami, while dark beers pair perfectly with aged Gouda.
So, get your party started right with a delicious assortment of appetizers and just relax. As long as the drinks and delicious foods are flowing, the good times will as well.
Sweet Slice® Ham Sliders
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 8 appetizer size rolls
- 1/2 cup apple butter
- 4 slices Sweet Slice Boneless Smoked Ham, sliced thick
- 4 slices Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella Cheese, sliced thick
- Slice rolls and spread with apple butter. Cut ham and cheese slices in half to fit on roll. Add one slice each of ham and cheese to roll. Arrange on dish and serve.
- 2 firm ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup red grapes (about 16)
- 1/2 cup green grapes (about 16)
- 8 10-inch wooden skewers
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the banana into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place in small bowl and toss gently with the orange juice.
- Skewer fruit, alternating two grapes for each piece of banana, and place fruit skewers onto lined tray.
- Place chocolate in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well, and microwave another 10 seconds if necessary to melt chocolate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate onto fruit skewers.
- Place the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once frozen, skewers may be transferred to a sealable plastic bag where they will keep in the freezer for up to a week. Allow to soften at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.
These delightful frozen treats are healthy, too.
Makes 4 servings