(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