(Family Features) Along with the delicious food, gift giving and cheer of the holiday season, getting together with friends and family is also cherished. Whether it’s a cozy weekend dinner with friends or time for festive merrymaking, you can enhance any gathering with unique small plates and appetizers.
Make the season special with California grapes, which are abundant into January, as an ingredient in your favorite dishes or by decorating with them for colorful pops of red, green and black. If time is of the essence, they also offer an easy, fresh, healthy snack or side dish that adds color and flavor to your table.
As a versatile ingredient that adds taste and visual appeal, grapes can help you create memorable appetizers that will surprise and delight friends and family. For easy and delightful hors d’oeuvres, turn to Tricolor Grape Pizza with Goat Cheese and Thyme or Smoked Chicken and Grape Bruschetta, each offering simple yet flavorful ways to please a crowd.
Send guests home with Easy Grape Compote, or give it as a fun host or hostess gift for friends and family, so they can enjoy a little taste of the holidays even after all the excitement winds down.
Find more tasty appetizers, meals, desserts and more at grapesfromcalifornia.com.
Tricolor Grape Pizza with Goat Cheese and Thyme
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups halved green, red and black California grapes
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Position rack in bottom of oven and place inverted baking sheet on top of rack; heat oven to 500 F.
- On lightly floured surface, press pizza dough into 10-inch round circle and cover with towel while preparing toppings.
- Sprinkle large baking sheet lightly with flour. Stretch pizza dough into oval, about 14-by-10 inches, and place on sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with grapes, thyme and walnuts. Place baking sheet on top of sheet already in oven and bake until crust is bubbling and golden, 8-10 minutes.
- Remove pizza from oven. Sprinkle with goat cheese and Parmesan. Season with pepper, to taste. Transfer pizza to board, cut into pieces and serve warm.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 350 calories; 10 g protein; 47 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat (36% calories from fat); 2.5 g saturated fat (6% calories from saturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 580 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
Smoked Chicken and Grape Bruschetta
Yield: 24 pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 French bread baguette
- 8 ounces smoked chicken breast (1 3/4 cups), shredded or cut into bite-size strips
- 1 1/2 cups red, green or black seedless California grapes, halved
- 12 ounces fontina, port salute or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon chives, snipped
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat broiler to 550 F.
- In small bowl, combine garlic, olive oil and salt. Set aside. Slice baguette on bias into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush baguette slices with garlic-oil and place on cookie sheet. Toast in broiler about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from broiler.
- On each bread slice, place about 1 tablespoon chicken breast and three grape halves then top with 2 tablespoons grated cheese.
- Place cookie sheet about 8 inches away from broiler and broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Place on serving platter and sprinkle with snipped chives and pepper.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 125 calories; 7 g protein; 9 g fat (68% calories from fat); 3 g carbohydrates; 24 mg cholesterol; less than 1 g fiber; 154 mg sodium.
Easy Grape Compote
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus cooling
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 4 cups black or red California grapes
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 strips fresh lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon high-quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
- In bowl of food processor, finely chop grapes and sugar using one-second pulses. Transfer to deep, medium skillet or wide saucepan; stir in lemon peel, salt and water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cover pan with lid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 18 minutes until fruit is tender.
- In small bowl, stir lemon juice and cornstarch then stir into grape mixture with butter; simmer 6 minutes, or until desired consistency. Stir in vinegar, if desired. Serve warm or cool.
- Cooled jam can be stored in covered glass jar in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 160 calories; 0 g protein; 41 g carbohydrates; 0 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
Festive, Fruitful Decor
Naturally beautiful, fresh grapes make for an easy, classic way to decorate for the holidays. Consider these ways to enhance your home and table:
- Drape bunches of red, green and black grapes in decorative bowls and alternate with candles for dazzling centerpieces.
- Fill a flower vase with grapes and water for color and texture to complement and support the flowers in the arrangement.
- Bedazzle your ham or turkey platter with small bunches of grapes and fresh herbs.
- Accent a perfectly cooked steak with grape rosemary skewers for a colorful, fragrant sidekick.
- Adorn dessert plates and trays with sugar-frosted grapes to add a special sparkle.
(Family Features) Plant-forward eating should be easy and delicious – and it can be. Rather than follow strict rules, simply add plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and grains to more meals throughout the day.
Walnuts, for example, are a kitchen multi-tasker with uses well beyond baked goods. In fact, walnuts can be used as a simple, whole-food meat alternative. One ounce of walnuts contains important nutrients including 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 2.5 grams of essential omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.
Try walnuts as an alternative to meat in recipes like Walnut Meatless Meatballs or Pizza with Plant-Based Walnut Crumble, and find more plant-forward recipes at walnuts.org/plantrecipes.
Walnut Meatless Meatballs
Total time: 42 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup California Walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 375 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In small skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Transfer to food processor with walnuts, rice, roasted red peppers, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, parsley and egg. Pulse until combined but not mushy.
- Form into eight equal balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Cook 12 minutes, or until firm to touch. Serve with sauce of choice.
Pizza with Plant-Based Walnut Crumble
Total time: 38 minutes
Walnut Sausage Crumble:
- 1 cup California Walnuts
- 1/2 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Walnut Sausage Pizza:
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 6 tablespoons pizza sauce
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
- Walnut Sausage Crumble, divided
- 6 tablespoons pesto
- 1/4 cup sliced small tomatoes
- fresh basil leaves
- shaved Parmesan cheese
- To make Walnut Sausage Crumble: In food processor, pulse walnuts, cannellini beans, coconut aminos, olive oil, fennel seeds, seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and salt to sausage like consistency.
- To make Walnut Sausage Pizza: Preheat oven to 500 F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four pieces and roll out into thin ovals; place on baking sheets.
- Spread two dough pieces with equal amounts pizza sauce, 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese and half of Walnut Sausage Crumble.
- Spread remaining dough pieces with pesto, remaining cheese, remaining Walnut Sausage Crumble and tomatoes.
- Bake 8 minutes, or until pizza edges are golden brown. Garnish with basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.
Source: California Walnuts
(Family Features) While everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal, eating the same dishes over and over again can turn the meal that fuels the rest of your day into a lackluster one at best. From pancakes and waffles to eggs on toast, even these tried-and-true classics can wear out their welcome on your kitchen table.
Mixing up your meals – and adding in breakfast favorites such as bacon – is the perfect way to make any dish better, no matter what time of day you choose to put breakfast on the table.
Full of flavor, Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon is hand-trimmed, slow smoked and available in several varieties, so any meal from brunch to dinner can delight your taste buds.
Switch things up with a quick and easy breakfast pizza, or put a new twist on a traditional breakfast sandwich by replacing the standard biscuit or muffin that holds it all together with a doughnut – both recipes are sure to be a hit for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner.
For more ideas to put breakfast-inspired meals on the table all day long, bacon lovers can visit farmlandbaconclub.com to find original videos, contests, giveaways and extreme bacon recipes.
Bacon Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich
- 4 slices Farmland Hickory Smoked Thick Cut Bacon
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 cups baby spinach (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 eggs
- 4 glazed doughnuts
- 4 slices real cheddar cheese
- Fry bacon for 10 minutes, until outside is crispy and brown.
- In large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and saute spinach until wilted. Set aside.
- In another large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until melted. Carefully crack eggs into skillet and fry until yolk is done.
- Assemble sandwiches as follows: doughnut bottom, spinach, egg, slice of cheese, bacon, doughnut top.
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza
Makes 1 pizza
- 1 package (16 ounces) Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon
- 1 can (10 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust dough
- 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers, partially thawed
- 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat oven to 425° F.
- Cook bacon according to package directions; drain.
- Press crust into lightly greased 14-inch pizza pan, forming 1/2-inch rim. Bake 5 minutes.
- Arrange potatoes, bacon and green pepper over crust. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over pizza.
- Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown and eggs are set.
Source: Farmland Foods
(Family Features) From office potlucks and cocktail parties to family dinners and beyond, the mealtime celebrations during the holidays are endless. Whether you're serving as a host or bringing your signature dish to a get-together, these tips can help you own the holiday season without breaking a sweat:
- Stick with fewer, easy-to-find, high-quality ingredients.
- Look for products that help you cut down on time but don't skimp on flavor, like Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork, which is pre-seasoned and comes in a variety of cuts and flavors.
- Sprinkle and decorate finished dishes with fresh, seasonal herbs for a festive touch.
To help get you inspired in the kitchen, try this recipe for Fresh Pork and Kalamata Flatbreads for a savory appetizer made with less than 10 ingredients, or Fresh Pork with Sweet Balsamic-Red Wine Reduction for a decadent main course you can have ready in just 30 minutes.
For more quick and easy holiday recipe ideas, visit SmithfieldRealFlavorRealFast.com.
Fresh Pork with Sweet Balsamic-Red Wine Reduction
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 Smithfield Applewood Smoked Bacon Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Cut pork loin filet into 3/4-to-1-inch thick chops.
- In large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
- Cook half the pork chops 4-5 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 150° F. Remove pork chops from skillet and place on rimmed serving platter; cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining olive oil and pork chops.
- In same skillet, combine wine, vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; cook 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened, or until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup.
- Serve pork chops drizzled with wine reduction and sprinkled with rosemary.
Fresh Pork and Kalamata Flatbreads
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 1 Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Cracked Black Pepper Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 can (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust dough
- 3/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives, drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- Cut pork tenderloin into 3/4-inch cubes.
- Heat oven to 400° F. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Stir-fry pork 8-10 minutes, or until well browned.
- Unroll pizza dough and press onto greased sheet pan, about 18-by-13 inches; cut into six rectangles.
- Drain tomatoes, reserving oil. Brush tops of flatbreads with sun-dried tomato oil, reserving about 1 tablespoon. Top with pork, drained tomatoes, olives and rosemary, pressing into dough lightly with fingertips.
- Bake 18-21 minutes until edges are golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Drizzle remaining sun-dried tomato olive oil evenly over flatbreads; let stand on baking sheet 2 minutes before serving.