Appetizer Recipes to Get You Ready for Grilling Season

Appetizer Recipes to Get You Ready for Grilling Season

As soon as the days get longer and warmer, our appetites turn to summery fresh fare, afternoon barbecues, and refreshing, fruity cocktails worthy of sipping by the pool. These recipes below are as appetizing to the eye as they are to the tummy and will tantalize your guests when you bring them out on an iced food server, so they stay crisp and delicious even on a hot summer day. Easy, Fast Caprese on a Stick There’s almost nothing so herbaceous and simple as a Caprese salad, the traditional Italian dish of fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. In this version, using short bamboo fruit picks, and miniature mozzarella balls, called bocconcini (it means “little mouthfuls”), your guests enjoy an easy eat and go treat that perks up the palate. Fresh basil leaves 1-pint ripe cherry tomatoes 8-ounce container of bocconcini mozzarella Extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt Strip your basil leaves from the stems. Dip them in ice-cold water in a stainless steel or glass bowl to wash. Drain and dry them completely on paper towels. Fold each basil leaf in half or a quarter, so it fits easily onto the end of the fruit pick. Slide on a single cherry tomato and then one bocconcini. Repeat until you’ve used all the cheese. Drizzle olive oil generously over the top, add a few flakes of kosher salt to taste and arrange on your iced food server. Everyone Loves Charcuterie This is where you can have some fun. Visit a local specialty butcher or the meat counter at the supermarket. Get 1/4 to 1/2 pound of thinly sliced salamis, cured meats like prosciutto,...
Keep It Simple: Use Multipurpose Kitchenware to Find Peace at Home

Keep It Simple: Use Multipurpose Kitchenware to Find Peace at Home

If you’re looking to simplify your life, the kitchen is a logical place to start. It’s the hub of your home, and you spend time there at least a few times a day. Whether you’re just starting out or have accumulated years of holiday gifts for your kitchen, reducing clutter often equates to finding a few key tools that fit your kitchen. The biggest space suck in your kitchen is often the pile of spoons, spatulas, turners and graters, plus the unique dishes it takes to serve up a perfect meal. Each one has a specific purpose, and that’s the problem. If you want to open up your storage and find what you need quickly, you need cooking and serving tools that tackle more than one job. Here are three types of kitchenware that solve such issues, plus some of the clutter you can let go of and donate to a local charity. Multifunctional Cooking Tools: The Swiss Army Knives of Cooking The easiest way to cut clutter in your kitchen drawers? Find single tools that take on many jobs. A seven-in-one tool, for example, can replace your can opener, bottle opener, garlic press and more. Imagine the room you can save when you clean out tools you use only occasionally and replace them with one tool you grab every day. Sometimes, the tools you use transcend a phase in the mealtime process. Take condiment holders, for instance. Sure, you can use them to hold fixins at your barbecue, but they handle so much more than that. Before you even start grilling, use each compartment to separate the dry rubs, sauces and a small container...
Delicious Dips and Healthy Chips: Tips for Low-Calorie Snacking

Delicious Dips and Healthy Chips: Tips for Low-Calorie Snacking

Many people in the U.S. are revamping the way they eat. As more and more shift their diets to lighter, low-fat proteins mingled with complex carbohydrates, mid-morning or late afternoon snack time is not only inevitable, it’s advisable. You should, in fact, be fairly hungry every three to five hours when you’re eating right. So, those hunger pangs that visit you around 2 or 3 p.m. every day are completely healthy. Turning your snack time into something colorful and creative will encourage you to keep your lunches light and your metabolism firing. A Primer on Healthy Snacking The key to any snack is one that it’s high in good things and low in bad things. Good things include protein, fiber and whole grains. Bad things consist of too much saturated or hydrogenated fats, refined sugar, and excessive sodium. Usually, the choices are obvious, but it’s best to avoid processed foods, salty fried snacks (sadly, this still includes potato chips), cookies, and sweetened soft drinks. Prepare a Stash of Healthy Chips The more you give yourself healthy, fresh alternatives, the less you’ll turn to the dark side of convenience stores and vending machines at work. Eating light at lunch, like a half sandwich with a small salad, is a lot more appealing if you know that there is a delicious and savory snack waiting for you in the fridge. You can store healthy chip substitutes and dips in the kitchen at work or home to have ready for your mid-afternoon cravings. Because anything fried is high in calories, embrace anything that’s baked and non-sweetened. Whole wheat or whole grain crackers and baked chips are fast and...
5 Steps to the Perfect Salad

5 Steps to the Perfect Salad

If your menu doesn’t include salads regularly, you’re missing out on a quick, easy way to incorporate fiber and nutrients in your diet. Salad offers endless flavor combinations, but it’s a deceptively tricky dish to get just right with minimum effort. Follow these five steps to fool-proof your routine and enjoy the perfect salad every time. Choose the Right Ingredients Because “salad” encompasses so many combinations of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, proteins and pasta, picking out the right ingredients can be daunting. You might feel tempted to just grab a pre-packaged bag from the produce aisle and call it a day — and that’s okay sometimes. But the best salads are the ones you customize to fit your exact cravings and palate. Lettuce is an easy base, for example, and varieties such as romaine pack tons of fiber and folate, plus vitamins A, K and C. To avoid boredom, try substituting spinach, arugula or red leaf lettuce. For a peppery flavor, try watercress leaves. Once you have a foundation, look for ingredients that balance the tastes you’re hankering for. Opt for fiber-filled sugar snap peas, carrots or red and yellow bell peppers for sweetness and add cranberries, grapefruit or kale for sourness and bitterness. Nuts and seeds also make delicious enhancements and add not only distinct flavors but textural interest as well. Remember, some foods interact with others to alter how they taste, like strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Have fun experimenting. Prep for Salad Success Once you get your fresh ingredients home, it’s time to wash and dry them. Even if you buy organic fruits, veggies and nuts, you need...