Balanced, Flavorful Meals for a Hectic Week
(Family Features) Weeknights: the time of the day when the sun goes down and you are left with only a limited amount of time to finish answering emails, helping the kids with their homework and, of course, getting everyone fed. Busy families know that getting nutritious and flavorful dinners on the table can be challenging when there is little-to-no time to think about what to serve, let alone prepare. So when it comes to dishing up quick, wholesome meals, maximizing efficiency with preparation is key.
Rather than serve your family the same go-to dish day-in and day-out, up the ante with a frozen prepared meal. Frozen foods are not only a fantastic resource for getting a delicious meal on the table in a pinch, but can help you meet the U.S. dietary guidelines for balanced nutrition, just by simply pairing your meal with a nutritious side dish. Balance Your Plate, an educational campaign created by Nestlé, helps consumers create a nutritiously balanced meal by pairing frozen prepared dishes with a side of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains or low-fat dairy.
When choosing the right frozen prepared entree for you and your family, look for frozen items that offer high-quality ingredients and preparation techniques that highlight flavor and simplicity. For example, Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Sauce is made with freshly prepared, hand-layered pasta, hand-seasoned sauce with vine-ripened tomatoes and topped with fresh mozzarella and aged parmesan. You can pair this with a refreshing Apple and Walnut Arugula Salad to achieve a nutritiously balanced, yet flavorful weeknight meal.
For more recipe inspiration and tips for building balanced meals while using frozen prepared meals, search “balance” at nestleusa.com.
Fresh Apple and Walnut Arugula Salad
(BPT) - What image does the word "grilling" bring to mind? Do you envision thick, juicy burgers or steaks? What about sauce-slathered chicken breasts sizzling over coals? Cooking out is one of the great joys of warm weather, but if you leave side dishes out of your grilling plans - or stick with cold sides like salads - you're missing out on some great flavors.
Side dishes give you a chance to really show off your grilling chops, savor the farm fresh flavors of summer harvests, and indulge in wholesome, organic fare. Here are six summer side dishes that go great on the grill:
1. Corn on the cob - If you've always wanted to try grilling vegetables but weren't sure which of your favorites would go well on the grill - take heart! Virtually any veggie can be prepared on a grill, but corn becomes a show-stopper when grilled. Remove the husks and silk and toss the cobs right on a preheated grill. Watch them careful and keep turning them to ensure they brown but don't burn. The heat from the grill causes the natural sugars in the corn to carmelize, and you'll end up with the sweetest sweet corn you ever tasted!
2. Fries - A trip to the grocery store or farmer's market for fresh produce may not fit in your schedule if you're grilling on the fly. There's good news - frozen options like Alexia Organic Oven Crinkles with Sea Salt deliver farm to flavor taste when prepared on the grill or in the oven. Made from Pacific Northwest russet potatoes, Alexia's organic fries are sprinkled with bright sea salt to bring out even more of the rich flavor that Mother Nature delivered. Make a tray out of aluminum foil, spread the Oven Crinkles in a single layer, and grill for about 20-25 minutes at 400-450 degrees F. Turn once or twice during the cooking process.
3. Tomatoes - If you've only grilled small tomatoes on a kabob, or never tried grilled tomatoes at all, this is your summer to discover grilling tomatoes couldn't be easier. Start with large, meaty tomatoes - a variety that's dense and has fewer seeds works best. Slice in half, brush with your favorite seasoned oil and place the halves cut-side down on the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. Top with your favorite cheese when done.
4. Kale - Grilling greens like kale helps all those wonderful nutrients and flavor stay in the vegetable and don't disappear into the cooking water - which is what can happen when you boil veggies on the stovetop. Grilling kale couldn't be easier. You can adapt virtually any of your favorite kale recipes to grilling by tossing the kale with the recipe seasonings and some oil. Arrange the seasoned leaves in a single layer on the grill and they'll cook to crispy splendor in just minutes.
5. Cheese - A slice of gooey melted cheese is the crowning glory atop your grilled burger, but cheese can also handle the grill on its own, and be a delicious, different side dish or appetizer. Many cheeses will work on the grill, and you can find recommendations for the best cheeses to cook on the grill with a simple online search. Slice your chosen cheese in thick pieces. Most grilling cheeses will need minimal seasoning and little or no oil. Generally, cheese takes just a minute or two to brown each side and allow the inside to melt.
6. Dinner rolls - Craving dinner rolls to go with that thick juicy steak, but in no mood to fire up the oven when it's 90 degrees outside? You can make frozen dinner rolls on the grill. Choose your favorite variety, such as Alexia Artisan French Rolls or Artisan Focaccia Rolls, set your gas grill to the temperature recommended on the package's directions, wrap the rolls in foil and place directly on the grill. Keep an eye on the rolls to ensure they don't burn as they can cook quickly on a grill.
Good for You Quick-Fix Dinners
(Family Features) Busy weeknights call for quick family meals, but with the right ingredients fast food can actually be good for you, too.
A meal that includes dairy is right in line with the recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend three servings of dairy foods every day. That’s because dairy foods such as cheese, milk and yogurt provide a unique package of nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin.
Individuals and families that want an extra reminder about the importance of integrating three servings of dairy into their daily diet can take the Dairy 3 for Me pledge as motivation. There are many delicious and creative ways to get your three servings of dairy every day, such as using plain Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise in your favorite recipes or substituting syrup on pancakes and waffles with flavored yogurt.
For more deliciously quick dinner recipes, and to take the Dairy 3 for Me pledge, visit MidwestDairy.com.
Hot and Sweet Grilled Cheese
Peach Jalapeno Jam
Beef Burrito with Pepper Jack Cheese and Black Beans
(Family Features) Now more than ever, food choices matter. People want healthy, environmentally friendly foods without sacrificing flavor. Substituting the traditional protein in your favorite dishes with seafood is one deliciously smart way to satisfy these demands.
Seafood offers numerous health benefits. In fact, because seafood is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and essential vitamins and minerals, but low in saturated fat and calories, several health organizations recommend two servings per week.
Changing up traditional meals to incorporate the goodness of seafood is easier than you may think. Just pick a non-seafood protein dish that you regularly enjoy and replace the protein with one of Alaska’s many species of seafood. For example, replace veal in veal parmesan with delicious Alaska cod or the chicken in chicken Marsala with flavorful Alaska salmon.
Find more easy, meatless recipes and inspiration at HYPERLINK "http://www.wildalaskaseafood.com/" wildalaskaseafood.com.
Smothered Cod or Pollock
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red onion
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 wild Alaska cod or pollock fillets (4-6 ounces each)
2 cups mashed potatoes, warmed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
In hot saute pan, cook olive oil, onions and garlic for 1 minute. Add both peppers and salt and pepper, and saute 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until flour turns light brown. Add chicken stock and stir until liquid smooths and starts to thicken. Add tomato and thyme.
Season fish with salt and pepper, to taste, and place into simmering sauce and cover. Cook 3-4 minutes, carefully turn, cover and continue to cook until done, 3-4 minutes.
To serve, place 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes on 4 serving plates. Carefully remove each piece of fish and place on top of mashed potatoes. Evenly divide sauce over each piece of fish. Garnish each plate with 1 sprig of fresh thyme.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
4 Alaska salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup Marsala wine
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons cold butter
4 fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, to taste. On plate, season flour with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge both sides of each salmon fillet in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Heat large saute pan and add olive oil then place each piece of salmon in pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes, turn fillets over and cook until almost done. Remove fillets from pan; hold aside. Off heat, add wine to pan, scraping bits off the bottom. Return pan to heat and add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for 1 minute. Add stock and thyme, and let liquid reduce by half. Return salmon fillets to pan. Cook, while basting fish, until fillets are heated through. Remove fish fillets to 4 serving plates. Return pan to heat, add cold butter and swirl until incorporated and sauce slightly thickens. Remove from heat and divide sauce evenly over salmon fillets. Garnish each plate with 1 thyme sprig, if desired.
Source: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
A New Star Ingredient
Versatile soy adds variety, boosts nutrition
(Family Features) Whether you’re looking to scale back on animal products or simply want to add some variety to your cooking repertoire, soy may be your solution. Soy is the only plant with protein comparable to meat, eggs and dairy, and it provides health benefits, including heart, muscle and bone strength. It is also the only protein recognized by the FDA for its role in reducing cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
If you’re uncertain how to cook with soy, you may be surprised by the diverse ways you can incorporate this nutrient-rich food into your meals and snacks. As these recipes show, it’s easy to cook with soy throughout the day, from fluffy breakfast pancakes to a fresh take on hummus or a delicious tofu dinner loaded with flavor.
In addition to the nutrition benefits and versatility, soy uses fewer natural resources, such as water and land, than any other protein source, so you can feel good about making it a star ingredient in your kitchen.
Surprising Uses for Soy
Tofu: extra-firm replaces meat protein in recipes such as grilled kabobs and sandwiches, or use soft or silken in place of mayonnaise and sour cream in creamy dishes, such as soups and dips.
Edamame: serve these green soybeans in the pod for an appetizer or add to dishes, such as chili or stir-fry, for protein-packed flavor and texture.
Soymilk: ideal for beverages such as smoothies and lattes, over cereal and in cooked dishes, such as puddings or custards.
Dairy alternatives: a wide range of dairy-free products are available, including soy-based “yogurt,” “cheese” and frozen desserts.
Soy crumbles: perfect for chili, spaghetti sauce and tacos, this “veggie ground” contains 75 percent less fat than ground beef.
Soy flour: improves taste and texture and elevates the nutrition profile when mixed with wheat flour.
Find more recipes and inspiring ideas for cooking with soy at soyfoods.org.
Lemon Blueberry Pancakes
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Grilled Balsamic Tofu with Cauliflower Cilantro Rice and Avocado
5 Simple Tips for Birthday Bash Success
(Family Features) Whether you’re planning a princess tea party or a superhero birthday bash, the secret to organizing a party your child will treasure is to keep your little one’s interests at the forefront.
If your child does well in smaller groups, keep the guest list small. Plan the menu around his or her favorite foods and look for little touches that celebrate the unique joy he or she brings to your family. Make your little one’s big day extra special with these simple tips that make childhood birthday parties manageable but magnificent:
Find more ideas for throwing a birthday bash to remember at HersheyBirthdays.com or visit select Walmart locations to find all your birthday party needs.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - Snacks, produce, drinks or sweets – if it is a seasonal offering, Americans are anxiously awaiting it. According to Nielsen, Americans spend about $374 billion annually on snack foods. For many of those snack lovers, items that are only available for a limited time are one of the major highlights of seasonal occasions and holidays, especially this time of year when, according to a recent Cheetos brand survey, 65 percent of Americans profess their love of seasonal Easter treats.
Whether your favorite holiday arrives in spring, summer, winter or fall, seasonal treats can sweeten your enjoyment of the season. No one wants to miss the coveted special flavors and offerings that appear on store shelves for short stints and are quickly cleared out by that clever “seasonal snack stockpiler” who is always one step ahead of you. So here’s your guide to the top treats to watch for this spring, and throughout the year.
It might still be too chilly to feel like spring in some areas of the country, but St. Patrick’s Day undoubtedly marks the start of the springtime snacking season. Milkshake lovers will kick things off with mint-green milkshakes, and quickly turn their attention to Easter candies and snacks.
Chocolate and marshmallow sweets are the traditional stars of Easter baskets across the country – for both the young, and the young at heart. It is no surprise that 71 percent of parents who celebrate Easter admit to sneaking snacks from their kids’ baskets, according to the Cheetos survey.
Of course, everyone is familiar with jelly beans, peanut butter eggs, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, but the majority of consumers say they desire more variety beyond just candy.
This year, there’s a new must-try alternative to satisfy the search for something beyond the candy animal monotony. Cheetos Sweetos, the cinnamon-sugar version of everyone’s favorite cheddar cheese snacks is reappearing in stores — and Easter baskets — this spring, but only for a limited time. Launched in 2015, Sweetos snacks are the perfect, and delicious, twist on Easter snacking.
Frozen treats are the highlight of summer, but not just the ice cream quarts you find year-round in the freezer cases at your local grocer. Summer means the ice cream truck will be rolling through neighborhood streets, sounding that familiar melodic “come and get it” tune and serving up frozen favorites that you just can’t find anywhere else — or at any other time of year.
You can’t go wrong with the missile-shaped, multi-colored ice pops that beckon from beside a myriad of fruit-flavored cream pops, or reliable favorites like ice cream sandwiches and chocolate-topped cones. And don’t forget snow cones — the refreshing shaved ice in perfect spheres mounted on a paper funnel and topped with your favorite sweet flavoring!
Of course everyone knows fall is pumpkin season — and you should take every chance to enjoy all things pumpkin-flavored this time of year, from coffee and ice cream to bread, cake and pie.
However, autumn also heralds state fair season across the country — and the arrival of a variety of innovative sweet treats that can only be enjoyed among the unique surroundings of fair rides, tickets and games. Funnel cakes are a state fair staple, and what could be better when the weather gets nippy than enjoying lightly sweetened, deep-fried dough dusted heavily with confectioner’s sugar? Depending on where you live in the country and which fair you attend, you can find over-the-top sweets and snacks such as deep-fried ice cream, fried candy bars and even pretzel-encrusted brownies deep-fried on a stick.
Of course, winter holidays are the pinnacle of seasonal snacking. From the final weeks of pumpkin season to the eggnog, candy canes and baked goods associated with holiday moments from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, winter serves up a buffet of food and snacks that are available at no other time of year.
Winter’s arrival means anticipated delicacies like gingerbread-flavored everything, bite-sized candy favorites that marry mint and chocolate in holiday shapes, and of course the much-maligned and equally beloved fruit cake all hit store shelves just in time to make the holiday party circuit!
Whatever your preference — savory, salty or sweet — make sure to enjoy these snacking staples throughout the year. But remember that seasonal treats come and go quickly, so be ready to grab a bag of Sweetos snacks, remember to listen for the ice cream truck’s playful tune, try your state’s delicacies and fill stockings with enough gingerbread cookies or mint-themed chocolate drops to last through the end of the year!
(BPT) - It's not always easy for parents to remember what it was like to be a kid. It's hard to understand why a bug can be so fascinating, or how toy trucks or dolls can entertain one for hours. But if there's one thing that can take you back to your childhood, it's food.
For example, imagine a grilled cheese sandwich - how the toasted, buttery bread dissolves on your tongue, while the ooze of the cheese cools in your mouth - everything about it has the unmistakable taste of childhood.
And just like you, the grilled cheese sandwich has grown up.
The grilled cheese is the type of sandwich that takes you from childhood to adulthood, and it's the type of recipe that matures as you do. Gone are the days of American cheese and floppy bread. There are so many twists on the grilled cheese that it's easy to indulge in the ooey-gooey goodness while still working in some healthier menu items like vegetables and more sophisticated flavor profiles for your grown-up palate.
The foundation of such a sandwich begins with the right kind of bread. Ideally, it should be thick sliced, have a soft texture and a rich flavor. Bread that meets these expectations can now be conveniently found in the grocery aisle with the new Sara Lee Artesano Bread, which has the distinct golden crust and creamy character found in bread made from scratch.
With two perfect slices of bread, a whole world of grilled cheese possibilities opens up.
To better illustrate what these sandwiches might look like, here are three tips to inspire your next grilled cheese adventure:
1. The veggie-centric grilled cheese. Leafy greens pair beautifully with an earthy, salty cheese like Gruyere. These veggie-based sandwiches are about to go mainstream this year, as showcased in the Farm-to-table Grilled Cheese that features arugula alongside a broken egg yolk, adding a veggie focus to an otherwise indulgent sandwich.
2. The Hawaiian grilled cheese. To really create a luau for your taste buds, combine a sweet, buttery cheese like Havarti with a tangy barbecued meat. Further tropical flavors of the Hawaiian Islands can be found in the barbecued-pork and pineapple magic of the Aloha Pork Grilled Cheese, which mixes sweetness and spice all in one.
3. The spicy and pickled grilled cheese. It's true, you can pickle almost anything. Onions, cabbage and other items are pure magic after the fermentation process, as showcased in the Zesty Grilled Cheese sandwich that utilizes red onion and spicy, artisan pickles. Pair this with a mild, creamy Fontina cheese to mellow out that added zing.
Some people might think eating a grilled-cheese sandwich is a nostalgic throw back to childhood. In some ways it is. But with the right kind of bread, the possibilities for a grilled cheese are truly endless. All it takes is a couple of buttered slices of Sara Lee Artesano Bread and a little imagination to turn your favorite childhood meal into a bold, culinary creation.
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