Easy Al Fresco Entertaining
(Family Features) Warmer weather is often welcome for a variety of reasons, but there’s something nearly irresistible about enjoying a meal outdoors. Whether you plan to gather on the patio or pack a picnic for the park, dining al fresco is an easy way to turn a meal into a full-fledged event.
Begin your meal with chicken sandwiches crafted on the grill and a seasonal pasta salad on the side then finish it with a glass of white wine and a dessert made for al fresco entertaining – cheesecake topped with fresh berries and mint.
For more al fresco recipes and entertaining tips, visit Culinary.net.
Serve a Sensational Side
This pretty side dish is made for sharing. Made with fiber-rich, whole-wheat pasta, colorful plum tomatoes and balanced out by the crisp, bright flavors of balsamic vinegar and fresh basil, this pasta salad is perfect for outdoor events and gatherings. Find more good-for-you recipes at AICR.org.
Pasta Salad with Tomatoes
Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research
- 8 ounces whole-wheat small pasta (fusilli or farfalle), cooked according to directions
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, divided
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar (optional)
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 4 plum or Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 slice whole-wheat or multigrain bread
- In bowl, cover and chill pasta.
- In large mixing bowl, combine vinegar, 2 tablespoons basil, sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper, 2 tablespoons oil and half of minced garlic. Whisk to combine well. Add pasta, bell pepper and tomatoes, and toss gently until well coated.
- In food processor or blender, pulse bread to produce coarse crumbs. In medium skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Stir in breadcrumbs and garlic. Saute 1 1/2-2 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Top pasta with garlic crumbs and remaining basil.
Pair Like a Pro
When it comes to pairing wine with food, even experts agree that desserts can pose a challenge. A wide variety of flavor combinations can make it hard to find the perfect selection to serve with your sweet treat. While there’s no exact science to wine pairing, these simple tips can help you make your selection.
A good rule: the lighter the dessert, the lighter the wine. Avoid heavy reds for a sweeter dessert and instead pair with a crisp white like Chardonnay, such as Joseph Carr from Sonoma, California.
Citrusy Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon flavors can sometimes be polarizing, but complementing this dessert with an equally citrusy wine can work wonders. Try pairing with a food-friendly pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc.
Rich Chocolate Cake
Red wine with chocolate seems like a no-brainer, but not all red wines are created equal. For a richer delicacy like this devil’s food cake, try something like Villa Pozzi Nero D’avola, a more fruit-forward, easy-drinking red varietal.
For more tips and wine selections, visit winefix.com.
New York-Style Honey Cheesecake
Recipe courtesy of the National Honey Board
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 eggs
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- fresh berries, for garnish
- fresh mint, for garnish
- To make crust: In small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter until well blended. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and sides of greased 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- To make filling: In electric mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, honey and flour. Beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in cream, lemon zest and vanilla.
- Pour cream cheese mixture over crust; bake 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 200 F and bake 1 hour and 30 minutes longer, or until center no longer looks wet or shiny.
- With oven off and door ajar, let cheesecake cool 1 hour in oven. Remove cheesecake to rack to cool completely.
- Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with fruit and fresh mint. Pair with chardonnay like Joseph Carr.
Go for Grilled Chicken
Few things go better with warm weather than firing up the grill and enjoying a meal in the fresh air. These chicken sandwiches, which are topped with Brie, pesto, fresh tomato and arugula on sourdough bread and toasted on the grill, are just the excuse you need to get outside and enjoy the weather with family and friends. Find more patio-perfect recipes at chickenroost.com.
Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Pesto, Brie and Arugula
Recipe courtesy of the National Chicken Council
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound thin-cut chicken cutlets
- 1/4 cup basil pesto, divided
- 1 large tomato
- 8 slices crusty sourdough bread
- 4 ounces Brie, thinly sliced
- 1 cup packed baby arugula
- Heat grill to high.
- Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; pour into plastic zipper bag. Add chicken, seal and marinate at least 30 minutes.
- Grill chicken 2-3 minutes, turn and grill another 2-3 minutes, or until chicken registers internal temperature of 160 F. Remove and reserve.
- Spread each piece of bread with 1/2 tablespoon pesto. Slice tomato into eight slices.
- Place chicken on four bread slices. Top with Brie slices, arugula and two tomato slices. Top with remaining bread slices, pesto side toward tomato.
- Brush outside of each sandwich with about 1/2 tablespoon of remaining olive oil. Place on grill, reduce heat to medium and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until bread is nicely toasted and cheese is melted.
- Remove from heat, cut each sandwich in half and serve.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (pasta salad)
Photo courtesy of 275847/Shutterstock.com (cheesecake)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (grilled chicken sandwich)
Fuel the Day
Boost every moment with versatile peanut butter
(Family Features) Whether you’re a fitness junkie, busy parent, sleep-deprived student or diehard sweet tooth, peanut butter is an ingredient that sticks for all of life’s moments. With a healthy boost of protein and energy, peanut butter is perfect as an on-the-go snack, fuel for a workout, a reliable family meal or a decadent dessert.
There’s no shortage of delicious ways to pack peanut butter into diverse dishes throughout the day:
- Add peanut butter to your favorite fruit smoothie for a nutty new flavor.
- Encourage children to experiment with the essential spread and go beyond PB and J by replacing fruit for the jelly or stirring peanut butter or peanut butter powder into their yogurt.
- A simple peanut butter and honey sandwich makes a great on-the-go snack you can throw in your gym bag or tuck away in a drawer at work.
- Add peanut butter to a sauce or salad dressing for an extra zip of flavor and protein.
Find more creative ways to enjoy peanut butter with these winning recipes from Southern Peanut Growers’ annual PB My Way recipe contest, and explore additional dishes that celebrate this versatile ingredient at peanutbutterlovers.com.
Veggie Sammies with Peanut Butter Satay Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Ben M., San Francisco, California
- 4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 French baguette rolls (6 inches each)
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- 1/2 cup white onion
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- In small bowl, combine peanut butter, lime juice, water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha. Mix well.
- Spread sauce on both sides of bread then layer with cucumber, onion and bell pepper. Top with cabbage and cilantro leaves.
Graceland Mini Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Linda D., Coconut Creek, Florida
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Filling:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- To make batter: In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In small bowl, mash bananas and add sour cream. Mix well and set aside.
- Using electric hand mixer, beat butter, oil and sugar until incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add half the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into batter. Add rest of dry ingredients until combined.
- Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans. Bake 18-20 minutes and let cool.
- After cooling about 30-45 minutes, use paring knife to cut small circle in middle of top of cupcakes and remove plug, creating a well about halfway down cupcake. Add peanut butter to piping bag and fill each hole. Set aside.
- In medium bowl, dredge both sides of bacon slices in brown sugar. Place on foil-lined baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and place on plate to cool. Once cool, chop bacon and set aside.
- To make frosting: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until well-combined.
- Add frosting to piping bag. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with candied bacon pieces.
Peanut Apple Chicken Curry
Recipe courtesy of Jess A., Berkeley, California
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups apple juice
- 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- cooked rice (optional)
- To make sauce: In medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, curry powder and scallions. Saute 1 minute.
- Add peanut butter, vinegar, apple juice, coconut milk, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and stir fry about 2-3 minutes until onions start to become opaque.
- Add chicken and apples, and stir until chicken is cooked completely. Add peanut sauce and cook until heated evenly, about 2-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm over rice, if desired.
Source: Peanut Growers
Garlicky Beef Kabobs
- 1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 2 pounds beef sirloin
- In small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, rosemary, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour to blend flavors.
- Trim meat if needed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Transfer to large bowl.
- Spoon half of mustard mixture over beef; toss gently to coat. Place in zipper plastic bag and marinate for least an hour in the refrigerator.
- On 10-inch skewers, thread meat, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces.
- Preheat grill.
- Reduce heat to medium (on a gas grill). Place meat skewers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill 8 to 10 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness, turning once and brushing with remaining mustard mixture halfway through grilling.
30 minutes, plus marinade time
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
By Shana Beattie
SOURCE: United Soybean Board
Effortless Easter Ham
Sweet Southern Slow-Cooker Ham
Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes
(Family Features) This year, make your Easter ham effortless by ditching the oven and using your slow cooker instead. While most people think about slow cooking for staples like chili and stew, it’s also perfect for center-of-the-plate feasts — like an Easter ham.
Using the slow cooker, you can minimize both prep time and cleanup time, leaving plenty of room in the day for church, hunting eggs and enjoying time with your loved ones.
Ham is a tradition for many families this time of year, and because it pairs well with a multitude of ingredients, you can create a unique dish every time.
For a fresh spin on the classic ham, try this Sweet Southern Slow-Cooker Ham recipe from the National Pork Board. Apple cider and bourbon (or vanilla extract, if you prefer) combine to create a rich flavor complemented by the sweetness of brown sugar.
Round out your Easter menu by pairing your ham with classic sides such as oven-roasted carrots, asparagus wrapped in bacon and mashed sweet potatoes.
You can also use leftover ham for flavor-packed recipes like Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes, which are ideal for a family-style brunch.
To get inspired by more ham and Easter meal ideas, visit PorkBeinspired.com or Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired.
Easter Ham Pin-spiration Sweepstakes
Enter the National Pork Board’s Easter Ham Pin-spiration Sweepstakes at PorkBeinspired.com/EasterHam for the chance to win an Easter gift basket with everything you need for this year’s celebration.
Sweet Southern Slow-Cooker Ham
- 1 bone-in fully cooked ham, about 5 1/2 pounds
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup Kentucky bourbon
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- Place ham in large slow cooker. Whisk cider with brown sugar, bourbon, honey and mustard. Slowly pour over ham. Scatter thyme sprigs into slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, or until very tender. Remove ham to rest on cutting board. Pass remaining cooking liquid through fine mesh sieve into saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly reduced. Carve ham into serving pieces. Brush ham pieces with cooking liquid before arranging on platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
4 to 8 hours
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
For a non-alcoholic alternative, replace the bourbon with 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes
- 3 cups ham, shredded and warmed
- 1 3/4 cups 2% milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
- Pour milk, butter, eggs and salt in blender. Mix until well combined. Add flour. Mix for 15 to 20 seconds or until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat well with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan, swirl to fully cover bottom of pan. Cook for 1 minute or until crepe begins to curl around edges. Carefully flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until set. Transfer to plate. Repeat with additional cooking spray and remaining batter. Layer cooked crepes between pieces of wax paper to prevent sticking.
- Lay a crepe on clean work surface. Arrange few slices of apple on quarter of crepe; top with shredded ham. Fold crepe in half to cover filling and fold in half again to create triangular shape. Repeat with remaining crepes, apple and ham. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and hold in warm oven until ready to serve, or up to 30 minutes.
- For cheese sauce, melt butter in saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in flour until well coated. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until pale and smooth. Whisk in milk, a splash at a time, until smooth; stir in mustard, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheese, a small handful at a time, until melted and smooth.
- Place filled crepes on each plate. Spoon cheese sauce over each crepe and sprinkle with chives.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
All the elements of the recipe can be prepared a day in advance and gently warmed before assembling.
SOURCE: National Pork Board