(Family Features) When holiday gatherings turn into all-day events, having meals ready from morning to night becomes an important part of seasonal hosting. Starting with breakfast through the main course followed by a savory dessert, a full day of celebration calls for a variety of dishes.
To help keep your crowd fueled for a wide range of activities, consider these recipes for Hot Cocoa Pancakes to get your morning started, Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash to pair with a holiday ham and Black Forest Cake to end the festivities on a high note.
Find more holiday recipe inspiration at Culinary.net.
Begin the Holiday with a Family Breakfast
With so many activities scheduled and places to be during the holidays, starting the morning with a filling breakfast can help set your family on the path to enjoyable moments with loved ones.
These Hot Cocoa Pancakes require little time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend with the family before hitting the road or working on decorations for seasonal gatherings. Made with Aunt Jemima pancake mix, containing no artificial coloring or flavors, this recipe makes it simple to put breakfast on the table quickly while still achieving a meal full of flavor.
Visit auntjemima.com for more family-friendly recipes.
Hot Cocoa Pancakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes per pancake
Yield: 12 pancakes (3 per serving)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup 2% or non-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups Aunt Jemima Original Complete or Buttermilk Complete Pancake & Waffle Mix
- 1/4 cup water
- marshmallow spread (optional)
- chocolate syrup (optional)
- Aunt Jemima Syrup (optional)
- Heat skillet over medium-low heat or electric griddle to 375 F.
- In microwave-safe bowl, mix cocoa powder, sugar, milk and vanilla until well combined. Heat in microwave 30 seconds, or until warm. Stir again to ensure mixture is combined.
- Combine cocoa mixture, pancake mix and water. Stir until large lumps disappear (do not beat or overmix). If batter is too thick, add additional 1-2 tablespoons water.
- Pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter onto lightly greased skillet or griddle. Cook 90 seconds, or until bubbles appear on surface. Turn and cook additional 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Top pancakes with marshmallow spread and drizzle chocolate syrup, or top with syrup.
Almost every holiday meal calls for side dishes to complement the main course, and as one of the most versatile base ingredients available, potatoes often provide home chefs with a multitude of options.
Served mashed, fried, scalloped, sliced, diced, boiled, roasted or just about any style in-between, potatoes are ideal for matching with the centerpiece of your family meal. These Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash call for Wisconsin yellow-flesh potatoes to achieve a dense, creamy texture with their just-buttered appearance.
Find more dishes for your holiday gatherings at eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.
Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 pound (3 medium) Wisconsin yellow-flesh potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 8-10 fresh (2-3-inch) sage leaves, stacked and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1/2 cup 1% milk
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In 3-quart saucepan, cover potatoes and squash with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.
- Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, 12-15 minutes.
- In small saucepan over medium heat, mix 2 tablespoons butter and sage. Tilting pan and watching closely, cook about 3 minutes, until butter foams and begins to brown; keep warm.
- Thoroughly drain potatoes and squash, return to pan and shake 1-2 minutes over low heat. Using hand masher, roughly mash to create chunky mixture.
- Over low heat, gently mix in remaining butter and milk.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Spoon into serving bowl and drizzle with brown butter and sage.
Serve Up a Savory Sweet
No holiday gathering is complete without dessert, and you can take your sweets to the next level with this rich, creamy Black Forest Cake recipe.
Tart cherries and whipped cream are combined with Domino Golden Sugar - a less processed option which is made from pure cane sugar and works cup-for-cup just like white sugar, but with a golden color and distinct hint of molasses flavor - for a contrasting profile to put a spin on a seasonal classic.
Find more holiday dessert ideas at dominosugar.com.
Black Forest Cake
- 1/2 cup Domino Golden Sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water or unsweetened cherry juice
- 2 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart (Montmorency) cherries
- 2 tablespoons cherry brandy (optional)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups Domino Golden Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Stabilized Whipped Cream:
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Domino Golden Sugar
- chocolate curls or shavings, for garnish (optional)
- To make cherry filling: In medium saucepot, whisk sugar and cornstarch with water or juice then bring to boil over medium heat. Stir in cherries and cherry brandy, if desired, and boil 2-3 minutes, stirring, until sauce is thick and translucent. Drain cherries from sauce and set both aside.
- To make cake layers: Heat oven to 350 F.
- Line bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour bottoms and sides.
- In medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture and buttermilk.
- Pour batter evenly among cake pans and bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool and remove layers from pans.
- To make stabilized whipped cream: In small pan or microwaveable bowl, combine gelatin and cold water; allow gelatin to bloom. Heat until gelatin melts and dissolves; set aside.
- In chilled bowl, whip cream with chilled beaters until soft peaks form. Add sugar and gelatin; beat until stiff.
- Prick tops of two bottom layers with fork and brush cherry filling over layers. Sandwich bottom layers with a 1/4-inch-thick spread of stabilized whipped cream. Sandwich second and top layer with same whipped cream. Spread remaining whipped cream over top layer and sides.
- Garnish with shaved chocolate, if desired, and decorate with any remaining whipped cream.
(Family Features) While Father's Day is for honoring dads, it's also a great opportunity to honor the men who have been father figures to us - stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, even friends who have played that role in our lives.
This year, take some extra time to tell those men how much they've meant to you. A card or letter, a phone call or a face to face conversation - you'll give them a Father's Day gift they'll never forget.
To show them your appreciation, have them over for a special dinner. Grill up some chicken and top it with this Cilantro Cream Sauce. Serve with some southwestern-inspired rice and follow it all up with these Double Chocolate Warm Pudding Cakes for a homey dessert.
For more Father's Day dinner and dessert ideas, visit VeryBestBaking.com.
Cilantro Cream Sauce over Chicken
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and kept warm
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons granulated chicken flavor bouillon
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Ground black pepper to taste
- PLACE cilantro, evaporated milk, water and bouillon in blender; cover. Blend until smooth.
- MELT butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in cilantro mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Season to taste with pepper.
- POUR sauce over chicken breasts.
Nutrition Information per serving: 330 calories; 120 calories from fat; 14g total fat; 8g saturated fat; 130mg cholesterol; 380mg sodium; 9g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 6g sugars; 40g protein; 10% Vitamin A; 20% Calcium
Double Chocolate Warm Pudding Cakes
Makes 8 servings
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup Nestlé Toll House Baking Cocoa, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk, divided
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
- Lowfat whipped topping or ice cream (optional)
- PREHEAT the oven to 350° F. Spray 8-inch-square baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- COMBINE flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup evaporated milk, oil and vanilla extract; whisk until just blended. Spread batter into prepared baking pan.
- COMBINE remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa in small bowl. Microwave remaining 1 cup evaporated milk and 2 tablespoons water in small, uncovered microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute. With wire whisk, stir in sugar-cocoa mixture into milk mixture until blended. Gently pour over chocolate batter in pan.
- BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes (25 to 30 minutes if using glass dish) or until cake layer forms on top and edges are bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes. Spoon into serving dishes, spooning chocolate sauce over cake. Top with whipped topping.
TIP: Individual servings can be reheated in microwave for 10 seconds.
Nutrition Information per serving: 250 calories; 25 calories from fat; 3g total fat; 1g saturated fat; 5mg cholesterol; 220mg sodium; 45g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 32g sugars; 5g protein; 15% Calcium
(Family Features) A commitment to eating better-for-you foods and living a healthier lifestyle in the new year doesn’t need to break the bank.
To help achieve a more nutritious routine without blowing your budget, consider a one-stop shop like ALDI for high-quality, affordable ingredients to incorporate into better-for-you recipes. Plus, it carries the foods and ingredients to fit nearly any dietary lifestyle and budget – including a wide variety of options for plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free diets.
Start the year with a clean slate and make practical, better-for-you eating goals with these recipes for main courses, sides, desserts and kid-friendly meals and snacks. Find more nutritious eating solutions and recipes at ALDI.us.
Harvest Breakfast Skillet – This hearty meal can be enjoyed any time of day. Combining fresh vegetables, eggs and sweet potatoes with diced quinoa crunch veggie burgers, this skillet puts a new spin on breakfast for dinner.
Crunchy Fish Bites – For a kid-friendly dish adults can enjoy as well, these crunchy fish bites feature breaded tilapia with a flavorful mustard-yogurt sauce that can win over nearly any crowd – including picky eaters.
Cauliflower-Quinoa Pizza – With the right ingredients, even pizza can help you attain your health goals in the new year. To create a healthier pizza option the whole family can enjoy, swap out the standard crust for a cauliflower-based version to cut down on carbs without sacrificing flavor.
Fresh Avocado Pasta – This pasta requires just four ingredients along with an easy-to-make, creamy sauce perfect for the entire family to enjoy. Avocado lends a colorful hue to this kid-friendly main course.
Oven-Baked Zucchini Fries – Skip the fried snacks and go for this better-for-you version of breaded veggies. A simple breading and just 15 minutes in the oven put a crunchy, guilt-free, crispy side dish on the table.
Soft-Baked Granola Cups – Topped with a dollop of strawberry yogurt and fresh berries, these granola cups are ideal for breakfast or as an after-school snack. They’re perfect to make ahead of time – just store the premade cups in an airtight container and add toppings before serving. Fun tip: Let your child decorate his or her own cups.
Cocoa Mocha Oatmeal Cookies – A mocha drizzle makes these oatmeal cookies stand out among healthier dessert options. After 15 minutes in the oven, you’re left with a delightful treat that doesn’t send your diet down the drain.
Chocolate Mug Cake – A better-for-you dessert, these miniature cakes made in mugs can be on the table in just 3 1/2 minutes. Simply combine a short list of ingredients, mix in your microwave-safe mug and pop it in the microwave for a quick, chocolaty snack.
5 ways to add more nutrients to your lifestyle
(Family Features) A nutritious diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. While it’s OK to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make sure you’re providing your body with appropriate nourishment.
There are many ways to help you add more of the essential nutrients you need into everyday meals, including these nutritious ideas from CocoaVia.
Sneak in More Fruits and Vegetables.
You can bulk up the nutritional value of nearly any meal by incorporating fruits or vegetables directly into your recipes. Pureeing veggies is a good way to disguise textures or flavors you might typically avoid. For example, celery is a natural flavor enhancer for many types of broth soup. Adding finely pureed celery to the stock will add the flavor without the crunchy bits. You can also slip vegetables like spinach or carrots into smoothies, and depending on the base and fruit, you may never even taste them. Fresh, canned or frozen, fruit can give a boost of nutrition to dishes like oatmeal or pudding. You can also use purees (think applesauce) as a low-fat substitute for eggs and oil in baked goods like cake.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a wealth of essential vitamins and nutrients, but you may be surprised that their frozen counterparts do the same. Frozen foods are often perceived as less nutritious, but they can contain just as many nutrients as fresh produce. In fact, since freezing often involves picking the food at its peak and then quickly freezing it, freezing can actually help retain vitamins more efficiently than refrigeration or canning; frozen vegetables can actually hold on to nutrients longer than fresh produce and are a great alternative when seasonal fruits and vegetables are unavailable. In many cases, frozen veggies also make it easy to experiment with better-for-you meals because the cleaning and prep work is already done. You can try adding them to soups, stir-fries, casseroles and even pasta dishes.
If you’ve historically shied away from cooked vegetables, you may find that proper preparation is the secret ingredient. Not only does overcooking veggies deplete their flavor, in most cases it also diminishes their nutritional value. Cook veggies lightly and quickly using methods like stir-frying or steaming to help retain water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C.
You may think of dishes covered in rich gravy or sauce as unhealthy, and in some cases, you would be right. However, it’s actually quite possible to create saucy dishes that taste terrific. Both tomato sauce and pesto add nutrients and can top pretty much anything, from pastas to grilled chicken. Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a bright plant pigment known as a carotenoid that has been linked to a range of health benefits. Pesto is traditionally made with healthy pine nuts and basil, but you can also get creative and prepare this light sauce alternative with options such as arugula, spinach and heart-healthy walnuts or pecans.
Consider Cocoa Flavanols.
Another option to consider adding to your diet is cocoa flavanols. These plant-based phytonutrients are found naturally in cocoa, and research supports that these flavanols work within your body to help maintain healthy blood flow. While chocolate, including dark chocolate and natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder, can be sources of cocoa flavanols, they are often not a reliable source of cocoa flavanols. The way cocoa is handled matters in the retention of these phytonutrients. However, one easy way to add cocoa flavanols to your routine is by incorporating a daily cocoa extract supplement, such as CocoaVia, which contains the highest concentration available in a cocoa extract supplement today. The supplement can be added to the food or beverage of your choice, like a Chocolate-Chai Smoothie or coffee. Visit CocoaVia.com for more information about cocoa flavanols and ideas for adding them to your diet.
The Truth About Chocolate
While there are many misconceptions about chocolate, especially when it comes to its health benefits, these facts from the experts at CocoaVia set the record straight on some of the most common chocolate myths.
- Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain cocoa flavanols, phytonutrients which numerous scientific studies have demonstrated have a positive impact on health. However, cocoa flavanols are not antioxidants. While not antioxidants, cocoa flavanols have been shown to have positive effects on health that are linked to their ability to support the health and function of your blood vessels.
- Chocolate is good for your heart.
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet, but it is not a health food. Even if chocolate is high in cocoa flavanols, the calories, fat and sugar leave it best-suited as an occasional indulgence.
- Chocolate containing 70 percent cacao or greater is good for you.
The percentage of cacao is not a reliable indicator of a product's cocoa flavanol content. Unfortunately, there is also no way of knowing exactly how many cocoa flavanols are in a conventional chocolate product because traditional cocoa processing, which includes fermenting, drying and roasting of beans, destroys many of the flavanols naturally present in the cocoa bean.
- Chocolate is high in caffeine.
Chocolate does contain caffeine, but an average 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains less than half the amount of caffeine found in an average cup of black tea. The amount of caffeine in chocolate is in proportion to the percentage of cacao in the product, meaning milk chocolate contains less caffeine than semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
Makes: 1 smoothie
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 chai-flavored tea bag
- 1/2 cup fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ice cubes
- 1 packet CocoaVia Unsweetened Dark Chocolate (or Sweetened Dark Chocolate) supplement
- In measuring cup with pour spout, pour boiling water over tea bag. Let steep 5 minutes; remove tea bag.
- Pour milk and tea into blender; add honey, a handful of ice and cocoa extract supplement. Cover and blend until smooth.
Nutritional information per serving: 130 calories; 1 g total fat; 50 mg sodium; 27 g carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 24 g sugar; 5 g protein; 375 mg cocoa flavanols.
Content courtesy of CocoaVia
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man and woman in kitchen)
Source: Cocoa Via