Swing into summer with a basketful of delicious picnic fare ready to share in minutes
(Family Features) Good friends, great food, and the best season for outdoor entertaining add up to one thing — a glorious picnic season. If you’re just warming up to the idea of planning a picnic at the park or a backyard potluck, it’s the prime time to prepare and make your plans.
First set the date with your best mates. Then grab the gingham tablecloth and break out the picnic basket. What to serve? Start simple with a menu that’s casual, delicious, and easy to make and take, especially if you’re off to the perfect picnic destination.
Choose light, flavorful pasta salads that combine summertime flavors, such as creamy ranch and Dijon mustard, or chicken with marinated artichoke hearts. Be prepared to pass the deviled eggs more than once. Bring along fresh fruit for a refreshing dessert. And, try a cool lemonade that combines two favorite summertime flavors — watermelon and kiwi. All that’s left is to savor every moment and every bite!
Picnic Season’s Top Tips
Consider these hints for summer gatherings:
- An “eggs-cellent” way to tote deviled eggs: sandwich two halves with filling sides together, wrap well with plastic wrap, and place in a chilled, insulated box.
- When the ants begin their march, reach for a natural deterrent — vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar to have at the ready.
- Cooking for a crowd? Streamline your menu by choosing convenience products, such as boxed salad mixes that only require a few on-hand ingredients. Reach for prewashed, precut veggies. And, sprinkle a bit of flavor onto grilled potatoes and salads by adding a tasty topper, such as Bac~Os (an easy option that is less messy than frying bacon).
- Got sunscreen? Make sure it’s in your pack.
For more great summertime recipes and tips, visit www.bettycrocker.com.
Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad
Makes: 6 servings
- 1 box Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad ranch and bacon pasta salad mix
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 medium green onions, chopped
- 1 medium stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
- 1 hard-cooked egg, sliced
- Empty pasta into 3-quart (or larger) saucepan 2/3 full of boiling water. Gently boil uncovered 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water. Shake to drain well.
- In large bowl, stir together seasoning mix, mayonnaise, mustard, onions and celery. Add pasta and chopped eggs and stir until evenly coated. Garnish with egg slices and paprika.
- Store in refrigerator.
Chicken and Artichoke Pasta Salad
Makes: 6 servings
- 1 box Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad classic pasta salad mix
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup cubed, cooked chicken
- 1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Empty pasta into 3-quart (or larger) saucepan 2/3 full of boiling water. Gently boil uncovered 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water. Shake to drain well.
- In large bowl, stir together seasoning mix, cold water, and oil. Stir in pasta, chicken, artichokes, olives, and cheese. Store in refrigerator.
Watermelon Lemonade With Kiwifruit Splash
Makes: 6 1-cup servings
- 2 kiwifruit, peeled and cut into fourths
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
- 1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
- 2 cups water
- Place kiwifruit and sugar in blender; cover and blend on medium just until smooth. Pour into another container; freeze 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
- Place watermelon in blender; cover and blend on medium until smooth. Place frozen lemonade concentrate and water in large pitcher. Add watermelon mixture; mix well.
- Pour watermelon lemonade into glasses. Spoon a dollop of frozen kiwifruit mixture on top. Serve immediately.
Poppy Seed Salad
Makes: 6 servings
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 1 cup strawberries, halved
- 1 cup cubed pineapple
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup cubed watermelon
- In large bowl, mix honey, limeade concentrate, and poppy seeds.
- Carefully toss in fruits.
Devilishly Good Eggs
Makes: 6 servings
- 6 hard-cooked eggs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
- 2 tablespoons Betty Crocker Bac~Os bacon-flavored bits or chips
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Cut eggs lengthwise in half. In small bowl, slip out yolks and mash with fork.
- Stir in remaining ingredients except egg white halves.
- Fill egg white halves with egg yolk mixture, heaping it lightly.
Source: Suddenly Salad
(Family Features) In the warm summer months, nothing beats spending time together creating fun snacks that promote healthy eating and a little creativity.
The summer boasts a wealth of fresh fruit to draw inspiration from — especially everyone’s favorite — watermelon. Its cool, juicy flavor speaks to your senses. Plus, it’s packed with key vitamins and minerals, so it’s a snack you can feel good about serving to your family.
Fabulously Fresh Ideas
Kick off this fun-in-the-sun season and make memories with fresh ideas that get the whole family involved. Create a splash at your next barbeque or summer party with this adorable Mermaid Tail. Fashioned from watermelon rinds, your family will love to help you create this masterpiece as well as devour it. Need to perk up lunch? Your family will love mixing and matching their own flavor combinations with Watermelon Sandwich Wraps. These healthy, edible creations are sure to bring about many smiles.
You can find more sweet summertime recipes and ideas at www.watermelon.org.
Wacky Watermelon Facts
—The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred in Egypt some 5,000 years ago.
—Watermelon is the most consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
—Early explorers used watermelons as canteens to store liquids.
—To date, the world’s heaviest watermelon was recorded in 2005 and weighed in at 268.8 pounds.
—Watermelon is made up of 92 percent water.
- Cutting board
- 1 large oblong seeded or seedless watermelon
- Kitchen knife and paring knife
- Large bowl and spoon or scoop
- Green dry erase marker
- Channel knife
- Dowels and toothpicks
- Optional decorations (found at any craft store): Edible turquoise shimmer powder/disco dust, mermaid cookie cutters, light blue or turquoise fabric or mermaid decorations.
- Wash watermelon under cool running water and pat dry.
- On cutting board, place watermelon on its side and cut off 4 inches from one end of watermelon to provide a sturdy base. Cut remaining watermelon in half lengthwise.
- Hollow out both halves of the watermelon with spoon or scoop, reserving watermelon pieces to dice up for serving or cutting out mermaid shapes.
- Use dry erase marker to trace mermaid tail freehand lengthwise across one entire half. With knife of your choice, carefully trim away to form the outline of mermaid tail. Use the channel knife to form scales and details.
- For added detail, brush on edible turquoise shimmer powder/disco dust (purchased at cake decorating store or craft store).
- Use pencil-sized dowels to secure the mermaid tail to top of base. Decorate with watermelon cubes or mermaid watermelon cutouts and serve.
Tip: If using the mermaid watermelon cutouts as topper for cupcakes, as shown, add watermelon cutout with toothpick or small dowel first and then ice around it.
Source: Watermelon Board
Makes about 12 servings
- 1-1/4 cups (16 ounces) roasted salted pistachios
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- Leaf green icing color
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon imitation clear vanilla
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen whole strawberries, thawed, pureed and strained (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
- No-taste red icing color
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
- In food processor, pulse pistachios until coarsely ground. Add coconut, sugar, butter and icing color; pulse until well combined. Press into bottom and 3/4 up side of 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate while making filling.
- In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add heavy cream and beat until combined.
- In small saucepan, bring strawberry juice just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over top and whisk vigorously to dissolve completely, about 3 minutes. Pour into cream cheese mixture. Add icing color and beat until well combined. Beat in 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips. Pour into chilled crust. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Simply add watermelon to see resolution results
(Family Features) The start of a new year is the perfect time for new beginnings, including a fresh start on eating healthy. The trick to making this year’s resolution stick is introducing smart eating habits so tasty and easy that your eating plan becomes more a way of life than a short-lived commitment. One easy way to achieve that habit is by adding watermelon to your daily diet, giving your body a low-calorie option to curb an appetite for unhealthy snacks.
Set reasonable goals. A deprivation diet is destined to fail because eventually your body will rebel. Instead, aim for well-rounded meals with moderate portions. If weight loss is your ultimate goal, know that losing two pounds a week is generally considered the maximum.
Satisfy your sweet tooth. Everyone, even the most dedicated health food fans, experience cravings from time to time. Most experts agree that it’s OK to answer your sweet tooth – in moderation of course. Before you take the plunge, think ab
out whether there are other options that could be a good substitute. For example, instead of a sugary candy bar, consider a naturally sweet slice of watermelon for a cholesterol-free, fat-free way to satisfy cravings at only 80 calories per 2-cup serving. Watermelon contains fiber and water, and packs a wealth of health benefits, in
cluding strong levels of vitamins A, C and B6.
Stay well hydrated. During the cooler winter months, it’s easy to let water consumption slide because you’re not feeling the heat and thirst you do in warmer weather. However, the dry winter air can also be hard on your body, so it’s important to keep that water flowing year-around. Most adults should aim for eight glasses of water each day, but you can also boost your water intake with foods that have a high water content, such as watermelon, which is 92 percent water and contains protein and fiber so you are satisfied on fewer calories while boosting your overall hydration.
Make Water Mouthwatering
A simple infusion of flavor gives water an instant upgrade, whether you’re looking to add some variety to your daily water consumption or you’re hosting an event and want to offer guests a unique and nutritious beverage. Use your favorite herbs and fruits to create one-of-a-kind combinations that provide refreshing rehydration. Try these pairings:
- Watermelon with basil, mint or lime
- Strawberry with lime and basil
- Cucumber and rosemary
- Mixed berries and mint
- Pineapple with coconut
Find more inspiration for health-conscious habits in the new year at watermelon.org.
Island Fruit Salad
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/2 lime (1 tablespoon), juiced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
- 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
- 1 orange, sectioned and halved
- 2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
- 2 teaspoons flaked, sweetened coconut
- In small bowl, combine water and coconut sugar; microwave 20 seconds. Stir to completely dissolve sugar. Let cool. Once cool, add lime juice and rum extract.
- In medium bowl, add kiwi, orange and watermelon. Pour rum juice over top and thoroughly toss. Let sit 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Divide fruit salad into two bowls and sprinkle with coconut.
Watermelon Protein Bites
Recipe courtesy of Anya Shinall of Anya’s Eats
- 1 cup pitted dates, soaked
- purified water
- 1 1/2 cups sprouted watermelon seeds, divided, plus additional for garnish
- 1 tablespoon coconut butter
- 1 cup fresh watermelon, chopped
- 1/8-1/4 cup roughly chopped beets (optional)
- Chop dates in half.
- Place dates in bowl of purified water and soak 1-2 hours.
- Remove dates from water bowl and place them into food processor.
- Pulse a few times then add 1 cup watermelon seeds, coconut butter and watermelon.
- Add chopped beets, if using.
- Blend until well combined, scraping sides of food processor as you go.
- Add remaining watermelon seeds and pulse, leaving some seeds chunky.
- For smoother texture, continue to blend.
- Remove mixture from food processor, place in small bowl and cover, allowing to cool in refrigerator 30 minutes.
- Remove mixture from fridge. With fingertips slightly wet, roll mixture into balls and place on a plate.
- Once done rolling, add watermelon seeds to top.
- Place watermelon bites in freezer 1-2 hours, or until frozen.
Steel-Cut Oats with Watermelon
- 1 cup 1 percent milk, plus additional (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 3/4 cup diced seedless watermelon
- 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries or cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- In medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup milk and water to gentle boil. Pour in oats. Stir; return to gentle boil then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes.
- While oats are cooking, in small bowl, combine watermelon, dried fruit, nuts and maple syrup.
- Portion out oats and top with watermelon mixture. Add additional milk, if desired.
- 1 container (8 ounces) lemon nonfat yogurt
- 2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
- 1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
Frozen Smoothie Pops
- Strawberry Shake
- Small paper cups
- Popsicle sticks
- In blender or food processor, process yogurt, watermelon, strawberries and banana until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.
Frozen Smoothie Pop
- Pour prepared Watermelon Strawberry Shake into small paper cups.
- Freeze, inserting popsicle sticks or plastic spoons when mixture is partially frozen. Or, pour Watermelon Strawberry Shake into ice cream machine.
- Set and enjoy.
(Family Features) Americans thirsting for more energy can refresh their hydration habits by thinking outside the water glass. Some foods - including flavorful, water-rich produce like watermelon - can help hydrate the body as well.
"Sliced, cubed or blended, or even simply juiced, watermelon is a delicious way to increase fluid intake and boost energy," said Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietician and author of several nutrition and wellness books. "Watermelon is 92 percent water, and the perfect ingredient for salads, salsas, smoothies and more."
With a distinctively sweet, refreshing taste, it may be hard to think of watermelon as a nutritious, low-calorie hydration boost. But actually, beyond its high water content, watermelon is loaded with vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium, fiber and phytonutrients, such as lycopene.
Tips for picking the perfect watermelon
Choosing a good whole watermelon at the store may seem like a challenge, because the thick rind hides the vibrant fruit inside. But actually, making a good pick is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
- Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
- Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size; most of the weight is water.
- Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Once you've got your watermelon home, there are dozens of ways to enjoy it, including a wide range of cold, refreshing beverages. One easy way to up your water intake with watermelon is this simple one-ingredient recipe for watermelon juice:
Just cut a seedless watermelon into one-inch chunks with a sharp knife and place in blender. Blend watermelon well until juice is smooth. If you prefer, you can strain the juice to remove the pulp.
For a little extra flavor, try combining watermelon juice with other fruity flavors, as in this Agua Fresca, which blends that natural sweetness of watermelon with lime, a small amount of sugar and water.
Find more ideas to help you sip your way to hydration with mouthwatering inspiration at www.watermelon.org.
- 1 cup finely chopped watermelon
- 7 cups coarsely chopped watermelon
- 6 cups watermelon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large lime, juiced
- 1 serving water (if needed)
- Watermelon wedges
- Mint leaves
- Combine all ingredients, including slices of juiced lime, in large serving pitcher.
- Garnish with watermelon wedges and mint.