(Family Features) Heading outdoors for a fresh, homemade meal is an alluring activity when warm weather and sunshine provide a perfect opportunity for dining on the patio. Or, if some time away from the house is calling your name, packing a lunch and taking off for the park can be an ideal getaway without getting too far from home.
Next time the sun’s rays call your name, invite friends and family for a delicious picnic loaded with warm-weather flavors. Just lay out your favorite blanket on the grass or don an outdoor table with a classic checkered tablecloth then share recipes that make al fresco meals truly memorable.
No picnic is complete without sandwiches loaded with all your favorite toppings, and these Picnic-wiches with Greek Artichoke Beet Salad provide the freshness that outdoor meals are made of. This recipe starts with a homemade relish loaded with Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Beets, artichoke hearts, olives and green onions that complements the winning combination of turkey, feta and ciabatta.
Pair your party tray of sandwiches with a perfect partner like Bean, Tortellini and Pesto Salad made with READ Bean Salad for a complete spread that’ll leave you waiting for the next opportunity to take mealtime outdoors. With just a handful of ingredients and customizable with your desired stir-ins like tomatoes, peppers and green onions, it’s ready in next to no time.
Picnic-wiches with Greek Artichoke Beet Salad
- 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Sliced Pickled Beets
- 1 jar (about 6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or ripe olives, sliced
- 3 tablespoons sliced green onions
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
- 6 romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 pound thinly sliced deli turkey
- 6 ciabatta or sandwich rolls, sliced horizontally
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Drain beets and artichoke hearts, reserving 1/4 cup liquid from each. Coarsely chop beets and artichoke hearts. In medium bowl, combine beets, artichokes, olives and green onions; set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk reserved beet and artichoke liquids. Pour over beet mixture; toss gently to coat. Season with black pepper, to taste, if desired.
- Layer lettuce and turkey on bottom halves of rolls. Top with relish, as desired; feta cheese; and pine nuts. Top with remaining halves of rolls. Wrap tightly; chill up to 4 hours. Serve with remaining relish.
Bean, Tortellini and Pesto Salad
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad
- 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini
- grape tomatoes (optional)
- halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
- chopped bell pepper (optional)
- thinly sliced green onions (optional)
- Drain bean salad, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. In bowl, combine reserved liquid, pesto and salt, if desired; set aside.
- Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Add pesto dressing; toss to coat. Add grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper and green onion, as desired. Toss with bean salad.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
(Family Features) How many times have you heard someone say they’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day? Stress in the kitchen can easily arise for a variety of reasons, especially when you’re strapped for time and have a never-ending to-do list.
As a survivor of Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef competition, Caitlin Meade – a top 4 finalist on season 8 – understands the pressure all too well. To decrease the stress and make your hosting experience more enjoyable, consider putting these tips from Chef Meade into practice.
Prep Before You Begin
Practice the “mise en place” method – a French term alluding to having everything in place before cooking. Measure ingredients, chop vegetables and prepare utensils to create a steady workflow.
Plan in Advance – Like a Chef
Prep the main dish the night before, have easy appetizers assembled ahead of guests’ arrival and outsource sides to family and friends.
Save Money by Getting Spicy
Before it’s time to cook, pre-make spices. Since many store-bought blends can be overpriced, this is a way to save both time and money while personalizing your own flavors.
Save Table Wine for Drinking & Use Cooking Wine
A secret ingredient and important pantry staple for Chef Meade, cooking wine is perfect for when she needs to make a pan sauce or add flavor. It’s even saved her from having to open a nice bottle of table wine, as most recipes call for less than a cup. An option like Holland House Cooking Wines delivers consistent, bold flavor while standing up to high temperatures. Available in Sherry, Marsala, Red and White, there are plenty of flavor-boosting options that will have your friends and family wondering what your secret ingredient is.
Create Your Own Stock
Many recipes call for chicken stock. One way to save money and time at the store is to create your own. Save any leftover poultry carcasses, wing tips, neck and bones. Add onion peels, celery tips, carrot tops and other vegetable scraps in the freezer. When you’re ready to make a batch, fill a large pot with the leftovers, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer 1-2 hours for stock that can last up to one year.
For more stress-free holiday recipes, visit hollandhouseflavors.com.
Spinach Feta and Artichoke Dip
Recipe courtesy of Cate Meade
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package (12 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid drained
- 2 cans (14 ounces each) whole artichokes, drained and chopped
- 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- 1 1/4 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus additional for garnish
- 1 1/4 cups low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup Holland House White Cooking Wine
- 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Garnishes (optional): feta cheese, roasted red peppers
- Grease 6-8-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
- In slow cooker, mix garlic, spinach, artichokes, water chestnuts, mozzarella, feta, yogurt and red pepper flakes.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer cooking wine 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese and turn off heat.
- Transfer cream cheese and wine mixture to slow cooker; add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine ingredients.
- Cook on low for two hours.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with feta and roasted red peppers, if desired.
White Hominy Chicken Chili
Recipe courtesy of Cate Meade
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 packet of white chili seasoning
- 1 cup Holland House White Cooking Wine
- 1 jar (16 ounces) chunky salsa verde
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 1 can (16 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large poblano or green pepper, diced
- 1 bag (10 ounces) frozen fire-roasted corn
- 1 can (29 ounces) white hominy, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal (optional)
Toppings recommendations: Lime wedges, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, jalapenos
- Turn slow cooker on low; add oil, onions and chicken. Distribute chili seasoning evenly over chicken and onions.
- Add cooking wine, salsa verde and chicken stock.
- Cover and cook 3 hours.
- Remove chicken and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes before shredding.
- Add beans, peppers, corn and hominy to slow cooker. For thicker consistency, add cornmeal, if desired. Cook on high 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Add shredded chicken back to slow cooker and serve with lime wedges, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips and jalapenos, if desired.
Source: Holland House
(Family Features) Planning health-conscious New Year’s resolutions typically includes cutting back on unhealthy foods during meals from breakfast to dinner. However, it’s also important to cut out sugary, calorie-laden snacks that can counteract all your hard work throughout the rest of the day.
Rather than skipping snacks entirely, it’s possible to instead incorporate nutritious options that pack protein to help you recharge without going overboard on calories, sodium and sugars. Opt for quick bites like Baked White Bean and Artichoke Dip paired with light, crunchy, low-sugar crackers to get the fuel you need between meals.
This snack idea can be especially filling yet nutritious when you dip with an option like gluten-free, non-GMO Crunchmaster Protein Snack Crackers, made with wholesome ingredients crafted to fit healthy, active lifestyles. With five grams of plant-based protein per serving, the cholesterol-free crackers can aid in providing energy without unnecessary sugars.
As you take steps to incorporate a healthier lifestyle in the New Year, be sure to take into account healthy activities along with nutritious eating habits from the first meal of the day to the last, and each snack in-between.
For more nutritious snacking ideas and recipes, visit crunchmaster.com.
Baked White Bean and Artichoke Dip with Crackers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 can (15 ounces) organic white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (14 fluid ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 package (3.54 ounces) Crunchmaster Protein Snack Crackers in Roasted Garlic flavor
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- In food processor, puree beans, artichokes, olive oil, 1 tablespoon chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne until smooth. Scrape into 4-cup baking dish and smooth over top.
- Bake 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve with crackers.
Tip: Substitute parsley or mint for chives, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories; 10 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 580 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 7 g protein.
(Family Features) While the main course is in the oven and guests mingle in anticipation this holiday season, tide them over with simple appetizers the whole crowd will enjoy.
That sometimes tall task may be easier said than done depending on the size of your get-together, but you can make it less daunting with quick starters that incorporate dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt, which can serve as helpful on-hand ingredients that also provide flavor and nutritional value. Since dairy foods are readily available in many family kitchens, they are ideal for creating recipes for last-minute noshes and nibbles, especially perfect for holiday entertaining.
For quick snacks to help keep appetites at bay, try these Antipasti Holiday Skewers that have something for everyone with bits of pasta, cubed cheese, pepperoni and veggies. Or for a warmer dish perfect for a snowy holiday, this Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip can help chase away the chill.
Other easy ways to give the gift of dairy during the holidays by incorporating it into tasty dishes include:
- Starting the day with egg casserole or a quiche made with milk and cheese.
- Sprinkling shredded cheese on steamed vegetables, casseroles or pasta dishes.
- Replacing mayo with plain Greek yogurt in tuna or chicken salads.
- Creating warm, comforting soups using milk.
Find more dairy-inspired recipes perfect for holiday entertaining at midwestdairy.com.
Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach frozen, thawed and drained
- 8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 cup shredded, low-moisture, part-skim Mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons red pepper, chopped
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Combine artichoke hearts, spinach, yogurt, cheese, onion and garlic; mix well.
- Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
- Sprinkle with red peppers.
Nutritional information per serving: 179 calories; 12 g total fat; 18 mg cholesterol; 383 mg sodium; 227 mg potassium; 7 g carbohydrates; 11 g protein.
Antipasti Holiday Skewers
Prep time: 45 minutes
Yield: 16 skewers
- 1 package (9 ounces) cheese-filled tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled
- 1/2 cup fat-free Italian dressing
- 1 block (8 ounces) reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cubed
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 32 pieces turkey pepperoni
- 3 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 16 wooden skewers, 9-10 inches each
- In large bowl, marinate tortellini in Italian dressing 30 minutes in refrigerator.
- To assemble skewers, start with two pieces tortellini, one cheese cube, two spinach leaves, one pepperoni slice (folded in fourths), one tomato and repeat. Each skewer will have total of four pieces tortellini, two cheese cubes, four spinach leaves, two pepperoni slices and two tomatoes.
- Repeat until skewers are complete. Refrigerate until serving.
Nutritional information per serving: 81 calories; 2 g fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 191 mg sodium; 113 mg potassium; 8 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein.
Source: Midwest Dairy
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
Feel free to double or triple this recipe.
- 1 12-ounce jar marinated artichoke heart quarters
- 9 slices bacon, cut in half
- Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain artichoke heart quarters, reserving liquid.
- Wrap each artichoke heart quarter with a half-slice bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
- Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with reserved liquid from artichokes. Roast 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.
Makes: 18 pieces