(Family Features) Despite a holiday season that’s practically guaranteed to feel different than any other, one constant will remain for many: enjoying the tastes of favorite foods and beverages while cozied up at home. Enhance the holiday spirit and complement the meal at your table with adult beverages that call for seasonal flavors to add to the festive vibe.
Whether you prefer your drinks with a fruity twist and plenty of mix-ins or would rather opt for a simpler combination, the options are vast. Many traditional holiday drinks require a small handful of ingredients that blend, mix or shake together to create a wintry flavor that’s worth the wait.
Regardless of personal preferences, one ingredient you can rely on when creating an at-home concoction is a mixer like those from Zevia, which are naturally sweetened with stevia and include no artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives. These non-alcoholic, zero-sugar, zero-calorie mixers for cocktails (or mocktails) are available in three different flavors: Lemon Lime with Bitters, Tonic and Ginger Beer to provide a simple yet delicious complement to the ingredients of your choosing.
For a fruit-flavored solution, this Cranberry Smash Moscow Mule offers a sweet spin on the classic cocktail. Break out your favorite copper mug and let the cranberries and cinnamon sticks add festive flair to your fusion of vodka and ginger beer.
Alternately, if the sour notes of a margarita better fit your style, go for a holiday twist with this Winter White Margarita by blending in coconut milk and garnishing with cranberries and rosemary sprigs. By rimming your glasses with granulated stevia, you can add a sweet touch to each gulp.
To find more holiday cocktail ideas, visit Zevia.com/recipes/cocktails.
Cranberry Smash Moscow Mule
- 1 cup cranberries, plus additional for garnish (optional), divided
- 3/4-1 cup water, divided
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1-2 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
- 4 ounces Zevia Ginger Beer Mixer
- rosemary, for garnish (optional)
- lime slices, for garnish (optional)
- cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)
- In saucepan, boil cranberries in 1/2 cup water until they burst.
- Use fork to smash cranberries. Boil 3-4 minutes. Keep mixture moist by adding water 1/4 cup at a time.
- Let mixture cool to room temperature.
- In copper mug, combine vodka, lime juice, ginger beer and smashed cranberries over ice.
- Garnish with additional cranberries, rosemary, lime slices and cinnamon sticks, if desired.
Winter White Margarita
- 12 ounces coconut milk
- 12 ounces silver tequila
- 1 tablespoon orange extract
- 2 1/2 cups ice
- 1 1/2 cans Zevia Lemon Lime with Bitters
- granulated stevia, for garnish (optional)
- cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
- In blender, blend coconut milk, tequila, orange extract, ice and bitters until smooth.
- Rim six glasses with granulated stevia.
- Divide mixture among glasses and garnish each with cranberries and rosemary, if desired.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
(Family Features) According to the “Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior,” studies have proven that eating meals together as a family can improve communication and relationships, which is especially important during times of uncertainty and life’s more difficult moments. Great-tasting foods like pork and pulses can be combined to bring families together with quality nutrition, which helps bodies survive and thrive.
Pulses are the nutritionally dense, edible seeds of legumes including dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Together with pork, this pairing provides critical nutrients to support weight management and immune function, along with plenty of protein – providing all nine essential amino acids – fiber, B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, selenium and folate.
As part of the Powerful Pairings initiative, launched by the National Pork Board and USA Pulses in an effort to promote pairing whole foods to bring taste, balance and nutrition to the center of the plate, these recipes for Green Chili Jack Smash Burgers, Cuban Black Beans and Pork Chops with Smashed Yellow Peas and Black-Eyed Pea Gravy encourage a nutritious way to enjoy fresh taste.
Find more information, resources and recipes at powerfulpairings.com.
Green Chili Jack Smash Burgers
Recipe courtesy of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 tablespoons red onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and finely minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
- 4 slices Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and sliced thin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Charred Green Chili Mayo:
- 1 can (3 ounces) diced green chilies
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 green onions, gently rubbed under cold running water and finely sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, gently rubbed under cold running water and chopped
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 head lettuce, gently rubbed under cold running water
- In large bowl, mix ground pork, onion, garlic and chili powders. Add black-eyed peas and salt; mix well. Form into four loosely packed balls and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- To make Caramelized Onions: In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Add onions, water and salt; cook, stirring, until onions soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make Charred Green Chili Mayo: Place green chilies in hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning, until chilies begin to soften and turn black. Remove from heat and place in small bowl. Add mayonnaise, garlic and lime juice; whisk to blend. Add green onions and cilantro; stir well and refrigerate.
- To make burgers: Warm cast iron or nonstick griddle pan over medium-high heat. Place pork balls on hot skillet; flatten with heavy metal spatula. Season with salt, to taste. Cook approximately 3 minutes; flip and cook 2-3 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145 F.
- Lightly toast buns. Place each burger on toasted bun with slice of cheese, Caramelized Onions, Charred Green Chili Mayo, avocado and lettuce.
Pork Chops with Smashed Yellow Peas and Black-Eyed Pea Gravy
Recipe courtesy of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 2 cups yellow split peas, cooked and drained
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, softened butter, divided
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
- 4 pork chops
- pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, gently rubbed under cold running water and diced
- 1 can black-eyed peas with juice
- 1/8 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- In medium bowl, use fork or potato masher to mash peas. Stir in 1/4 cup butter, cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Season pork chops with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- In large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add pork chops to pan and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, or until they reach internal temperature of 145 F. Remove pork chops from pan; keep warm.
- In same pan, add remaining butter, onion and black-eyed peas. Cook 2-3 minutes until warm throughout, scraping pan. Add flour and season with salt and pepper, to taste. While stirring, slowly add milk.
- Serve mashed peas topped with pork chops and black-eyed pea gravy.
Cuban Black Beans
Recipe courtesy of Carolina Molea on behalf of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 1 quart water
- 1 green bell pepper, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and diced, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
- 1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices bacon, diced
- 1/2 Spanish onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Fill large pot with water. Add 1/2 diced green pepper, two garlic cloves, beans and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- In skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add bacon; cook, turning, until bacon starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add remaining green pepper and onion; cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
- Chop remaining garlic cloves. Add to skillet with oregano, cumin and black pepper. Stir 1 minute. Pour in vinegar, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon.
- When beans are cooked, discard bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup beans to blender; blend to make paste. Return blended beans to large pot. Add bacon mixture and sugar. Stir well; bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat, simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes, skimming foam from top.
Source: National Family Meals Month
(Family Features) If you’re juggling a new set of responsibilities right now, you’re not alone. Those busy mornings may still pose challenges even if your commute no longer exists.
Making breakfast in advance can give you a few extra minutes to move your body, center your mind or simply hit the snooze button one more time and still put a delicious, nutritious breakfast on the table. Aim to use ingredients with a mix of protein, fiber and good fats to keep you full and energized for whatever the day has in store.
Take morning meal prep off your plate for days at a time by making a batch of No-Bake Walnut, Cocoa and Cherry Bars or Savory Walnut Egg Cups, which can be made with mostly pantry staples or frozen ingredients to help limit trips to the grocery store.
Find more make-ahead recipes for any meal of the day at walnuts.org/meal-prep.
Savory Walnut Egg Cups
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 9 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon stone ground Dijon mustard
- 1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup extra sharp shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat oven to 350° F and generously spray 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In bowl of food processor, pulse oats until fine and flour-like. Add walnuts and pulse until blended with oat flour. Pulse in olive oil, salt and water until mixture comes together.
- Spoon walnut-oat crust mixture evenly (about 1 1/4 tablespoons each) into each muffin cup and press into bottom and partially up sides. Bake 25 minutes until crust begins to brown. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.
- In large bowl, whisk eggs, garlic powder, oregano and mustard until well combined. Stir in spinach, bell pepper and cheese.
- Fill each muffin cup evenly with egg-veggie mixture and bake 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Cool slightly on wire rack before removing egg cups by carefully inserting sharp knife between crust and muffin pan.
No-Bake Walnut, Cocoa and Cherry Bars
Total time:15 minutes
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup (about 12) pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 cup shelled walnuts
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In large food processor bowl, combine oats, dates, walnuts, cherries, cocoa powder and salt. Process 1-2 minutes, or until mixture resembles crumbly dough.
- Turn mixture onto wax paper and shape evenly into 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
- Chill at least 1 hour and cut into nine bars.
Source: California Walnuts
(Family Features) There’s no time like a hot summer picnic to let your patriotic spirit show. These all-American snacks featuring a classic favorite fruit – watermelon – are the perfect solution for nearly any summertime celebration.
Watermelon is a patriotic picnic staple for countless reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a beloved treat that many people associate with memories from childhood. However, nostalgia isn’t the only reason adults are just as likely to gravitate toward watermelon at a summer event. Its sweet, cool and refreshing flavor also makes it a favorite for all ages.
From a practical standpoint, watermelon is also quite portable, versatile and easy to serve, and with a composition of 92% water, it’s a simple way to sneak in some extra hydration on a hot day. Another benefit is its value; watermelon is one of the best values in the produce section among fruit, and just one watermelon can feed up to three dozen people.
Serving watermelon at a party can be as simple as slicing wedges, or you can prepare a dish such as:
- A fruit basket, with the rind serving as a colorful bowl to hold the watermelon and other fresh fruits.
- A charcuterie board with a selection of fruit, cheese and protein for simple snacking.
- Creamy parfaits, perfect for a summery brunch or alternative to more traditional desserts.
- A creatively colorful and patriotic “cake” that makes for a tasty centerpiece on the dessert table.
Find more ideas for incorporating watermelon into your summer festivities at watermelon.org.
Easy Summer Thirst Quencher
A simple fruit-infused water can give your summer event an instant upgrade in no time at all. Add extra dimension and complexity to the flavor by adding some of your favorite herbs like basil and mint.
- 2 cups watermelon balls or cubes
- 1 cup other fruit, such as berries
- herbs, such as basil or mint
- Place watermelon, fruit and herbs in pitcher and cover with water. For best flavor, allow to chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
Red, White and Blue Watermelon Parfait
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 container (6 ounces) Greek yogurt (vanilla, lemon or coconut)
- 1 cup watermelon, plus three pieces diced watermelon
- whipped cream, for serving
- In pint canning jar, layer blueberries, yogurt and 1 cup watermelon. Top with whipped cream and garnish with three diced watermelon pieces.
Note: To make ahead or make thicker, drain Greek yogurt on paper towels to absorb some liquid.
Patriotic Fruit Salad
- 1 watermelon
- Slice 1/4 inch off bottom of watermelon, lengthwise, to create stable base.
- Use pencil to draw zig-zag lines for basket opening. Using paring knife, make cuts through rind.
- Carefully remove top section, pull out large chunks of flesh and cut them into 3-by-3-inch squares.
- Trim 3/4-inch thick slices off squares to use for cutting out stars with 1 1/2-3-inch, star-shaped cookie cutters.
- Use ice cream scoop to remove flesh from inside basket and cut scoops into quarters for fruit salad. Place in bottom of basket. Add honeydew and blueberries; stir to combine.
- Cut out white stripes from honeydew.
- Garnish top of fruit salad with watermelon stars, honeydew stripes and blueberries.
Patriotic Charcuterie Board
- 1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 10 strawberries (dipped in white chocolate, if desired)
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted, salted cashews
- 2 ounces cured meats like prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, salami, soppressata, sausage or pepperoni
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and sliced
- lemon juice
- fresh basil leaves
- On large board or platter, arrange watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, cashews, meat and apples. Drizzle fruit with lemon juice. Garnish with basil leaves before serving.
Flag Kebab Cake
- 1 pint fresh, washed blackberries
- 12 wooden skewers
- 1 seedless watermelon, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (white part only)
- dips, such as yogurt, chocolate, caramel or marshmallow (optional)
- Thread five blackberries on each of five skewers, followed by alternating watermelon and cake cubes.
- On remaining skewers, alternate watermelon and cake so first and last cubes are watermelon. Place skewers on platter; fruit and cake will create stars and stripes when lined properly.
- Serve with dips, if desired.