(Family Features) Holiday festivities with immediate family members or just a few friends rather than larger gatherings may feel different than normal, but you can make the most of the situation with these tips to add intimacy and special meaning to celebratory moments:
- Use special dishes, glassware and linens to convey the tone of the celebration. Go ahead and use your best dishes or enhance your everyday plates with the use of cloth napkins or a festive tablecloth. Bring out the fancy glasses to savor every sip.
- Arrange visually appealing, individual mini-snack platters for each person. Combine grapes with a special cheese, crackers, olives and nuts for an easy way to curb appetites before the main course.
- Set a festive table with a simple but creative centerpiece. For instance, you can combine candles, flowers and draped bunches of colorful grapes. Place votive candles on mirrors for added shimmer and sparkle. Tie a gold or silver wire ribbon bow around the napkins at each place setting. Handwritten place cards with guests’ names can add a surprising and special touch.
- Stay healthy to enjoy the holidays. Choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables that help support the immune system. Maintain your exercise schedule as much as possible and ensure you are getting enough sleep.
- Opt for homemade over processed foods for signature dishes then reinforce with prepared items to fill out the menu, if needed. Let your guests bring part of the meal or something to contribute to the festivities.
Adding a sweet touch to the menu can help keep guests coming back for more. For example, fresh California grapes are available into January and are perfect for the holiday season. Enjoy them as a fresh, healthy snack or side dish, or as an ingredient to add taste and visual appeal to recipes to make the season feel special.
Start the meal with a simple but beautiful salad such as Grape and Spinach Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing, where the grapes provide festive color and pleasing texture. Pair your chosen entree with Warm Farro Salad with Grapes and Delicata Squash for a hearty side dish that can also be served on its own. Finally, cap off the celebration with homemade Grape and Apple Sheet Pan Pie.
Visit grapesfromcalifornia.com/recipe to find more holiday-worthy dishes from appetizers and entrees to sides, snacks and desserts.
Create the Perfect Appetizer Plate
Delight your guests with individual appetizer plates this season by considering color, texture and presentation. Remember, this is the prelude to the meal, so small portions are perfectly fine. Consider this starter list:
- Fresh grapes
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Salami slices
- Spinach or other dips
- Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)
- Roasted red peppers
- Pita triangles
- Thin breadsticks
- Jam or honey
Grape and Spinach Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 8 cups fresh baby spinach, washed
- 4 1/2 cups California grapes
- 1 1/4 cups mandarin orange segments, drained if using canned
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 3/4 cup bottled light balsamic vinegar and oil dressing
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons raspberry jam
- 3/4 cup crunchy chow mein noodles
- In large salad bowl, combine spinach with grapes, oranges and onion.
- Whisk together dressing, orange juice and jam. Pour over salad and toss until greens are coated with dressing. Divide among eight plates and top with crunchy noodles.
Grape and Apple Sheet Pan Pie
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup ice water, plus additional if needed
- 3 pounds Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 9 cups)
- 4 cups black California grapes
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all- purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- demerara sugar, for garnish
- To make dough: In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and toss with flour mixture. Smash each butter cube flat then use fork to stir in cold water. Knead lightly until dough comes together in ball. Transfer to floured work surface and use well-floured rolling pin to roll into 10-by-15-inch sheet. Fold each short side into middle and close like a book. Fold once more to make thick block and cut in half. Wrap each piece in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- To make filling: In large bowl, combine apples, grapes, sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt; set aside.
- To assemble pie: Heat oven to 375 F.
- Roll one half of dough out to 18-by-13-inch rectangle. Transfer to 10-by-15-inch heavy baking sheet; place in refrigerator to chill while rolling out top sheet. Roll out remaining dough to 18-by-13-inch rectangle and use pastry cutter to cut into 1 1/2-inch wide strips.
- Transfer filling into chilled pastry and spread evenly. Lay dough strips on top of filling in lattice pattern and crimp sides together. Mix egg with water and brush top of pie. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake until filling is bubbling, and crust is nicely browned, about 45-50 minutes.
Warm Farro Salad with Grapes and Delicata Squash
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3 pounds delicata squash, cut lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups farro
- 2 cups water
- 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups halved California grapes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Heat oven to 425 F.
- On sheet pan, toss squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cayenne pepper. Spread into single layer and roast 10-15 minutes, or until bottoms are browned. Turn squash and roast 10-15 minutes, or until browned and tender.
- While squash is cooking, combine farro, water and remaining salt. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until farro is tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain leftover water and transfer to large bowl. Add squash, remaining olive oil, remaining pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, grapes and parsley; toss.
Note: Acorn or butternut squash may be substituted for delicata squash.
When snack time comes calling, turning to an easy option that’s ready to go in your refrigerator is perfect for life’s busy moments.
These Mini Fruit Cups require just a handful of common ingredients and can be refrigerated until cravings strike for something sweet.
Find more snack ideas at Culinary.net.
Watch video to see how to make this recipe!
Mini Fruit Cups
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 24 prebaked mini tart crusts
- assorted fruit, for garnish (optional)
- In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract; continue mixing until blended.
- Spoon cream cheese mixture into prebaked mini tart crusts. Top with assorted fruit, as desired.
- Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
(Family Features) Packing and prepping wholesome lunches doesn't have to be a chore. You can kick health into high gear this school year with new ideas to make creative, nutrient-rich meals.
Fit to satisfy various dietary restrictions, the Power Your Lunchbox program offers kid-friendly options and allergy-sensitive selections. The program, which is dedicated to helping families make healthier lunches during the school year, features more than 80 registered dietitian-approved, family-tested meal ideas with produce as a focal point.
Consider skipping the typical sandwich, chips and apple. Instead, it only takes a few minutes to embark on a creative approach to lunch. Get the kids involved by having them use small cookie cutters to make fresh fruits and vegetables into fun shapes. Try complementing the produce with wraps or soups to add extra excitement to typical lunchbox fare.
Regardless if your child is a picky eater or is on the more adventurous side, bento box lunches such as Chinese Mandarin Pasta Salad Bento Box and Turkey Taco Salad Bento Box can prove to be satisfying, power-packed meals.
For more lunchbox inspiration, visit poweryourlunchbox.com.
Chinese Mandarin Pasta Salad Bento Box
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 16 ounces rotini pasta
- 6 mini sweet peppers, sliced
- 3 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
- 1/2 cup sesame ginger dressing
- 1/4 cup chow mein noodles
- 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup steamed edamame
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- In large bowl, mix pasta, peppers, oranges, green onions, spinach, carrots and dressing. Toss to coat well. Top with chow mein noodles.
- Place in lunchbox with kiwi and edamame.
Turkey Taco Salad Bento Box
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup cooked turkey meat, seasoned with taco seasoning
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheese
- 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons guacamole
- 1 ounce tortilla chips
- Assemble taco salad with lettuce, taco meat, cheese and tomatoes.
- Place in lunchbox with guacamole and chips.
Source: Produce for Kids
(Family Features) Summertime entertaining should be easy and fun. And it can be - with some simple solutions and fresh recipes.
Start with Simple Recipes
- For this tropical dessert pizza, make the cookie crust the day before. Mix the filling and store it in an airtight plastic container, then cut up fruit and store in individual resealable plastic bags. Be creative and substitute your family's favorite fruits. Kids will have fun arranging the sliced fruit on this yummy dessert pizza!
- Three ingredients plus three minutes equals one tasty marinade. Let the kids help pour the ingredients into a resealable plastic bag to flavor juicy pork tenderloins with a subtly sweet, spicy marinade.
- The combination of crisp watermelon, juicy tomatoes and fresh basil with balsamic vinegar creates a fantastic and refreshing light salad. Just cut up ingredients and store in separate plastic containers, then toss together right before the party to keep the flavors fresh.
- For picnics on damp ground, placing an inexpensive plastic tablecloth under a blanket helps keep dampness from reaching picnickers - and keeps your blanket cleaner, too.
- Wash, chop, measure and prepare your ingredients 1 to 2 days before an event or party. They can be stored in resealable plastic bags or airtight containers in the refrigerator to make putting together recipes much easier the day of the party.
- Save plastic grocery bags to send guests home with leftovers. Placing an empty plastic grocery bag in a picnic basket is also a great solution for collecting trash after a picnic in the park - it doesn't take up much room and will act as a waterproof barrier to prevent spills.
- Create a dipping station for barbeque and grill sauces using reusable plastic storage containers with lids. Guests can spoon sauces onto their plates; when the party is over, simply place the lids back on the sauces and store in the refrigerator. They come in all different shapes and sizes and even fun colors.
- Use resealable plastic bags for marinades. Put meat in the bags with marinade and refrigerate overnight. It helps save space in the refrigerator and clean up is easy. This also works for coating and breading.
For more tips on ways to make summer entertaining a breeze, visit www.PlasticsMakeitPossible.com.
Tropical Fruit Dessert Pizza
Makes 12 servings
- 1 18-ounce roll refrigerated ready-to-slice sugar cookie dough
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 8-ounce package fat-free cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
- 1 cup fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 1 26-ounce jar mango slices, drained, or 2 fresh mangoes, sliced
- 1 16-ounce can pineapple slices, drained, or 1 fresh pineapple, sliced
- 1 11-ounce can mandarin orange segments, drained
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice
- 2 tablespoons coconut, toasted, optional
- Preheat oven 350°F.
- Press cookie dough into a 12 to 14-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 12 minutes, cool completely.
- In medium mixing bowl, blend together sugar, cream cheese, coconut extract until well mixed. Stir in orange rind and whipped topping, mixing until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of cooled crust.
- Arrange mango slices around edge of iced pizza. Then, arrange pineapple slices around edge. Next, arrange mandarin orange slices in another ring to fill center of pizza.
- In small saucepan or in microwave, heat apricot preserves and orange liqueur just until melted. Spoon glaze over fruit. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Refrigerate until serving.
Terrific Tidbit: Go ahead and grate more orange rind than you'll need for the recipe - you can grate a whole orange or lemon and freeze the rind in a plastic freezer bag until needed.
Watermelon and Tomato Salad
Makes 10 (1/2-cup) servings
- 4 cups scooped out watermelon balls or chunks
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 1/3 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese, optional
- In bowl, combine watermelon, onion, tomatoes and basil. Whisk together oil and vinegar and toss with salad. Season to taste. Refrigerate until serving.
3-Ingredient Marinade for Pork Tenderloin
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 2 1-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of excess fat
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup roasted garlic seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven 350°F.
- In bowl, combine all ingredients except tenderloins. Place meat in dish or large resealable plastic bag, pour marinade over meat. If time permits, refrigerate overnight, turning meat several times.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the tenderloin registers 160°F. Slice tenderloin, serve.
Quick Tip: Tenderloins come two to a package. If one will be enough for you to serve, halve recipe, freeze other tenderloin in freezable plastic bag.
Source: American Chemistry Council
(Family Features) Dozens of streaming video providers are making it easier than ever to watch the TV programming you want when you want it, and exclusive programming released an entire season at a time is transforming the way Americans watch TV. The flip side of this convenience is a surge in binge-watching, which can have some negative side effects, including binge eating.
When your favorite show is available back-to-back, it’s easy to let substantial blocks of time get away as you watch “just one more” episode to follow the twists and turns of the plot. In fact, according to a recent survey by Dole, the average binge-watching session clocks in around 5 hours. The same survey found that more than two-thirds of people prefer healthy snacks to fuel their marathon viewing.
Treating yourself to an occasional binge session may give your brain a well-earned break, and it’s easy to do many forms of exercise in front of the screen. The trick to keeping your binge-watching session in check and getting rid of the guilt is to exercise good habits when you head to the kitchen.
- Opt for snacks that include valuable vitamins and minerals.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients such as high quality, ready-to-eat Dole Jarred Fruit so you can create quick and easy snacks with a serving of fruit in between episodes or during a commercial break.
- Look for quick solutions that help trim prep time and skip the cutting, peeling and mess.
- Avoid waste or spoilage with convenient, re-sealable lids that let you use what you need for a single serving and save the rest for later.
- Get creative to satisfy cravings. Instead of reaching for cookies or cake, dip fruit in melted chocolate and pop it in the freezer. Let it sit while you watch a few episodes of your favorite show and then enjoy.
Find more quick and easy snacks that can be made during a commercial break at dolesunshine.com.
- Pre-made flatbread crust
- Broccoli rabe
- Cooked and chopped turkey bacon
- Dole Jarred Mandarin Oranges
- Cover flatbread with chopped broccoli rabe, turkey bacon and oranges.
- Low-fat yogurt
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- In cup or jar, alternate layering yogurt, granola and chopped peaches. Top with mint and serve immediately.
Brightened Up Caprese Salad
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- Fresh basil
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Balsamic glaze
- Arrange alternate slices of mozzarella and peaches. Sprinkle fresh basil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
- Whole-wheat bread
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Slice avocado in half, remove pit and scoop out avocado into bowl. Smash until desired consistency.
- Toast bread, layer with avocado and top with peaches. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
1-2-3 Chicken Wrap
- Whole-wheat tortilla
- Dole Jarred Mandarin Oranges
- Cooked chicken, chopped
- Yogurt-based dressing of choice
- Lay tortilla flat and add spinach, oranges and chicken. Top with dressing. Fold, cut and serve.
Substitution: Preferred greens can be added in place of or in addition to spinach
Tropical Fruit Salsa
- Dole Jarred Tropical Fruit
- 1 white onion
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 lime, juiced
- Tortilla chips
- Chop 2 cups fruit, dice onion, chop cilantro and seed and mince jalapeno.
- Combine ingredients and stir in lime juice. Serve alongside tortilla chips.
Source: Dole Jarred Fruit