(Family Features) Coming up with fresh ideas every day to keep kids’ lunches exciting is no small task. When the goal is an empty lunchbox and a full, happy tummy, the winning combination is a blend of nutrition and flavor.
Step up your game this school year with these ideas for a better lunchbox:
Get creative. Foods that look can good taste good, too. Transform sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutters or make tiny heart- or star-shaped, bite-size pieces of cheese for a fun finger food. Another fun idea: thread sliced and bite-sized vegetables on a wooden stick for a no-cook kabob. For a sweet variation, use fruit instead and sprinkle with coconut for extra flavor.
Skip the packaging. Little fingers can struggle to open pre-packaged foods, so instead opt for fresh ingredients that fit into a bento-style box. Not only can kids see what tasty treats await and dig straight into their meals, less packaging means less processing, which is good for their health and the environment.
Keep it simple. Opt for delicious, flavorful foods that deliver nutrients kids need and the taste they want without any extras. An option like Hidden Valley Simply Ranch makes for a rich and creamy complement to carrot sticks, cucumber and other lunchbox staples. With no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors this ranch is perfect for encouraging kids to eat the veggies you pack. Look for Classic Ranch or for a special twist, try flavors such as Cucumber Basil or Chili Lime.
Rely on the familiar. Refueling during the day is important to keep kids focused and able to mentally and physically tackle the rest of the school day. Avoid trying out new foods at lunchtime and save experimenting with new flavors for meals at home.
Go for variety. Representing multiple foods groups isn’t only a good way to deliver good nutrition, the variety in colors and textures can make the meal more interesting and encourage kids to eat more. Include savory meats, crunchy crackers, veggies and sweet fruits.
Add a treat. Whether it’s a favorite fruit or yogurt, a single piece of candy or even a simple note that says “I love you and I’m proud of you,” find a way to add something sweet to every lunch and bring a smile to your child’s daily routine.
Look for more kid-friendly meals at hiddenvalley.com.
Portable Veggie Kabobs with Tangy Veggie Dip
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 6-8 wooden skewers
- Hidden Valley Simply Ranch
- Gently thread cucumber slices, broccoli, carrot slices and cherry tomatoes on skewers, placing 2-3 pieces of each veggie on each skewer to make a rainbow of colors.
- Serve ranch dressing with veggies for dipping.
Tip: Add cheese cubes for protein on kabobs, if desired.
Photo courtesy of Mick Jones
Source: Hidden Valley
(Family Features) Burgers and dogs may be typical game day grub, but a lineup that never changes can get tiresome a few weeks into the season. Infuse new energy and homemade favorites into your game day menu so you can enjoy great games and good eats for a winning combination.
Explore new flavors. Add variety by building your meal around a different main dish, like ribs or pulled pork instead of burgers. Or invite guests to get in on the action and offer a DIY pizza or taco bar with a wide range of toppings for the ultimate custom plate. Then adapt your side dishes to fit the theme, like adding a barbecue spice seasoning to your party mix, for example, or offering a chipotle-style dip for veggies and chips.
Add an unexpected twist. If you prefer a more traditional menu, there’s no reason to abandon all your favorite game day fare. Instead, reimagine a popular dish with a special or unexpected ingredient. For example, this recipe features a homemade pizza topped with creamy ranch dressing. An option like Litehouse Homestyle Ranch has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup and is gluten free. The dressing is a versatile addition to your game day spread since you can use it to top off everything from pizza and fries to tacos, burgers and more. For easy serving, look for the 20-ounce squeeze bottle, or opt for a glass jar or dip tub, whichever your recipe requires.
Don’t forget dessert. A good game requires lots of savory, hearty foods, but by the fourth quarter, you’re likely to start craving sweet victory and a sweet treat to go along with the win. Easy individual desserts are a great bet, that way you can grab a quick bite and get back to the screen before you miss any action. Think along the lines of finger foods like marshmallow cereal bars, brownies and cookies to offer a little something for everyone.
Find more ideas for your game day gathering at LitehouseFoods.com.
Homemade Pizza Recipe
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1 ball pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 jar pizza sauce
- pepperoni (optional)
- sausage (optional)
- ham or Canadian bacon (optional)
- black olives (optional)
- mushrooms (optional)
- peppers (optional)
- 1 package (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, shredded
- 1 squeeze bottle (20 ounces) Litehouse Homestyle Ranch dressing
- Heat oven to 425° F.
- Prepare dough by pressing it onto a pizza pan or pizza stone. Spread pizza sauce over crust and top with pepperoni, sausage, ham or Canadian bacon, black olives, mushrooms and peppers, if desired. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top of pizza. Bake 20-30 minutes.
- Top with ranch dressing before serving.
Note: Toppings can be substituted as desired.
Source: Litehouse Foods
(Family Features) The big game is almost here: two teams, a room full of fans and a spread of fan-favorite foods to keep everybody going. Whether everyone's at your place or you're heading somewhere else to watch the game, you want to make sure the place is stocked with flavorful snacks that will wow the crowd.
This year, step up your game with clutch recipes loaded with bold flavor and plenty of heat.
One of the most popular party favorites is buffalo chicken dip. It is a must-have because it's creamy, cheesy and loaded with great-tasting buffalo flavor. Serve it up with fresh-cut celery or bell peppers, baby carrots, crackers and pita bread, and you'll add some kick to your sporty celebration. Plus, this recipe provides a way to include those traditional football flavors without the mess of hot wings.
A kick can make or break a game, and the right sauce can make or break your recipe. Not only is Frank's RedHot a game-day staple, it was the key ingredient in the first-ever buffalo wings back in 1964. It's an essential ingredient for any big game food lineup, so make sure you've got plenty on-hand.
Once you've got the dip prepared for kickoff, it's time to turn to something a little more unexpected. Round out your game-day lineup with an amazing flavor combination they won't see coming - something sweet, tangy and savory that brings just the right amount of heat: Sweet Chili Meatballs.
Bite-sized meatballs made with ginger, fresh cilantro, green onions and sweet chili sauce are baked before getting doused in even more sweet chili sauce, making them an irresistibly tasty addition to any game day spread. If the game heads into overtime, no need to worry because these meatballs will stay warm in the slow cooker all game long.
If you're looking for more big game tips and recipes to dazzle the crowd, check out franksredhot.com/recipes.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 package cream cheese (8 ounces), softened
- 1/2 cup Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Buffalo Wings Sauce
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese or other shredded cheese
- green onions, chopped (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In shallow, 1-quart baking dish, combine all ingredients.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Stir.
- Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers and/or vegetables.
Sweet Chili Meatballs
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or ground beef
- 1/3 cup Japanese panko crumbs or bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces Frank's RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, divided
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Mix ground meat, panko crumbs, cilantro, green onion, ginger, egg, salt and 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce. Form into one-inch meatballs.
- Place meatballs on lightly greased baking sheets.
- Bake 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Put meatballs in slow cooker on warm.
- With slow cooker on low to keep meatballs warm, pour remaining sweet chili sauce over meatballs. Gently stir to coat.
Source: Frank’s RedHot
(Family Features) Just like your favorite sports team, hosting a winning big-game party or tailgate takes planning, preparation and teamwork. To make your festivities fun-filled, remember these entertaining tips that are sure to score big with your fans.
Scatter the refreshments. Help direct movement and traffic flow by setting up food stations. Using different rooms or areas helps prevent congestion and encourages guests to mingle. Try placing finger foods and other appetizers in a couple of locations, beverages in another area and desserts in yet another space.
Embrace variety. Take into account taste preferences and dietary needs, and have an assortment of food and drinks available. Offer spicy options along with less seasoned dishes, both indulgent and better-for-you treats, plus an array of beverages for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
Build your roster. If your party is a potluck, encourage guests to sign up for dishes so you don’t end up with multiple versions of the same thing. Create a discussion group online, or simply ask guests to indicate what they’ll bring along with their RSVP.
Don’t forget the dips. Wings are a tailgating staple, and dips are a great way to complement those zesty flavors or cool the heat, but you may find yourself in a team rivalry when it comes to the preferred dip at the game day bash: ranch or bleu cheese dressing? Both pair well with a range of wing flavors, so these dips are sure to be crowd pleasers. The delicious combination of fresh herb and vegetable flavors make Litehouse Homestyle Ranch a perfect party choice, and Litehouse Chunky Bleu Cheese features fresh buttermilk, homemade mayonnaise and a blend of spices as the backdrop for award-winning artisan blue cheese chunks that will make your fellow sports fans cheer for more.
Expand on tradition. Tailgating is a time-honored tradition, and the food lineup is often based on familiar fare. Along with those fan favorites, don’t be afraid to put some new flavors into play, such as these Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings that add a tangy ethnic flair to traditional wings.
Find more game day recipes at LitehouseFoods.com.
Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 20 chicken wings
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Litehouse Instantly Fresh Garlic
- 3 tablespoons water, divided
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- sliced green onions, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- celery sticks (optional)
- Litehouse Homestyle Ranch and Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- In large bag, combine flour and salt. Add chicken wings and shake to coat. Discard any leftover flour.
- Line baking sheet with foil and spray with pan spray of your choice. Place wings in single layer on baking sheet.
- Bake wings 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through.
- In sauce pan over medium heat, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, 2 tablespoons water and brown sugar. Whisk together remaining water and cornstarch, and pour into sauce. Bring to boil then simmer until thickened.
- When wings are done, toss with sauce, garnish with green onion and sesame seeds, and serve with celery sticks, ranch and bleu cheese dressing.
Source: Litehouse, Inc.
(Family Features) Whether you want to step up your hosting game or just plan to contribute to the game day spread, it’s easy to create the perfect plan with an array of premium food, without the premium price tags.
Simplify party prep and cleanup: Paper towels, plastic cutlery and game day-themed plates and napkins can make post-party cleanup a breeze, not to mention festive. Save time on party prep by picking up everything you need at one location. You can find these paper goods and all the ingredients for a tasty spread, including fresh produce, meats, dips, chips and snacks, at a grocery store like ALDI. There are plenty of options to fit nearly every lifestyle and budget.
Make it buffet style: Let your guests serve themselves on game day. Buffets showcase a wide variety of dips, chips and snacks and are an affordable, fun option to please all your guests. This party trick also makes it easy to grab a quick bite between plays or during commercial breaks.
Go after unusual suspects: Elevate traditional dips, hummus, guacamole and salsa with different dipping options. Crostini, crispbread, gluten-free crackers and unexpected veggies like rainbow carrots, sugar snap peas and asparagus would add dimension to your menu and put a spin on your favorite game day snacks.
Get out of the kitchen: Just because you’re hosting should not mean you don’t get to enjoy yourself. Avoid spending hours in the kitchen with this crowd-pleasing Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe. Mix the ingredients in a slow cooker, turn it on high and then you’re ready to kick off the party.
Find more ideas and recipes for game day at ALDI.com.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Recipe courtesy of Chef Leigh An, ALDI Test Kitchen
- 2 pounds Kirkwood Never Any! Chicken Breasts
- 1 cup Burman's Hot Sauce
- 1/2 cup Tuscan Garden Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 8 ounces Happy Farms Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon sea salt from Stonemill Sea Salt Grinder
- 2 teaspoons pepper from Stonemill Peppercorn Grinder
- 1 cup Happy Farms Colby Jack Shredded Cheese
- In slow cooker, combine chicken, hot sauce, ranch, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Turn slow cooker to high and cook 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- Shred chicken. Add cheese to slow cooker and stir. Turn slow cooker to warm and enjoy with tortilla chips, baguettes or crunchy veggies.
Tip: For easy shredding, place cooked chicken breasts in stand mixer with paddle attachment and turn on low until shredded.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(Family Features) From patio potlucks to backyard barbecues, summer is the ultimate time to kick back and enjoy delicious food with your favorite people. If you’re looking to add big flavor to your warm-weather menu, get inspired by these recipes from celebrity chef Jose Garces.
For a taste of Southern cooking, pair Classic Cheddar Pierogies with a buttermilk ranch sauce in Garces’s Chicken-Fried Pierogies. Also enjoy a delicious twist on an Asian favorite by serving up Garces’s Szechuan-Style Pierogies featuring savory Garlic & Parmesan Pierogies, one of 16 different varieties from Mrs. T’s Pierogies, which are the perfect canvas for your favorite ingredients and spices.
For more recipe inspiration, visit MrsTsPierogies.com.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jose Garces
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground dried sage
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 box (16 ounces) Mrs. T’s Classic Cheddar Pierogies
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups flour dredge (recipe below)
- canola oil
- large kosher pickles, cut into round slices
- ranch dressing
- To make flour dredge: In large mixing bowl, mix all flour dredge ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- To make pierogies: Bring large pot of water to boil. Place pierogies in boiling water until no longer frozen in center, about 2 minutes. Remove pierogies from water and cool in refrigerator 10 minutes.
- Place buttermilk, eggs and flour dredge in three separate bowls. One at a time, dip pierogies in buttermilk then in eggs and finally in flour dredge. Once all pierogies are dredged, fry in deep fryer at 350 F in canola oil, approximately 3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat flour dredge process with pickle slices and fry 3 minutes.
- To serve, place fried pierogies and pickles on serving plate. Serve with ranch.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jose Garces
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, vegetable oil, divided
- 3 Arbol chilies
- 1/4 cup Szechuan chili sauce
- 4 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons, fresh minced ginger, divided
- 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, garlic, minced (about 5 cloves), divided
- 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1/2 cup black bean garlic sauce
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion (white parts only)
- 1 cup ground pork
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 box (16 ounces) Mrs. T’s Garlic & Parmesan Pierogies
- 1 tablespoon peeled edamame
- 2 tablespoons firm tofu, diced
- 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- Place 1/2 cup oil and chilies in saucepan. Cook over low heat 2 minutes, or until chilies turn brown. Remove chilies from oil and discard oil.
- Add Szechuan sauce to saucepan; cook 3 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons ginger, 2 tablespoons minced garlic and ground peppercorns; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add black bean sauce and cook another 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Reserve.
- In saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining ginger, remaining garlic and scallions; cook 1 minute. Add pork and cook 5 minutes, breaking up with wooden spoon. Add soy sauce and combine. Reserve.
- In saute pan, melt butter and remaining vegetable oil. Add pierogies and sear lightly, about 7 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Reserve.
- In large saute pan, combine Szechuan sauce, ground pork mixture, seared pierogies, edamame and tofu. Cook over medium-high heat until combined, about 2 minutes. Garnish with bean sprouts.
Source: Mrs. T's Pierogies
(Family Features) The days are getting longer and hotter and you’re itching to head outside to kick off grilling season. After a few weeks of eating the same boring burgers and hot dogs, you’re looking for something a little more exciting (and so are your guests). These recipes can help take your grilling skills to the next level and make your next party something to brag about.
When people come over for Buffalo chicken, they expect authentic flavor, so give the people what they want by making Buffalo chicken sandwiches with Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce. Frank’s RedHot was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo wings recipe in 1964.
For maximum flavor, each Buffalo chicken sandwich gets a quarter of the bottle of sauce to bring in just the right blend of flavor and heat. Take it to the next level by marinating the chicken in the sauce for at least 30 minutes so it can absorb the unmistakable Buffalo flavor that will send any party into overdrive. Add the tangy blue cheese and cool, crisp lettuce and tomato and you’ve got the perfect bite for a hot summer day.
Now that you’ve proved your grilling chops to most of the party crew, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Every party’s got a few tough critics, so it’s key to make something impressive and delicious that appeals to a different palate. Enter: Sweet Chili Ribs.
Start with two full racks of pork spareribs then load them up with Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, garlic and ginger, making sure to spread that mixture all over the ribs. Grill them low and slow for 2 hours then pour another half-bottle of sauce over top for good measure and grill for another hour. After your guests have a chance to taste these sweet and tangy, fall-off-the-bone ribs, they’ll talk about them all summer long.
For more grilling tips and recipes, visit franksredhot.com/recipes.
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (if thick, cut horizontally into two even pieces)
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing
- 4 hard rolls, split
- 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
- lettuce leaves (optional)
- tomato slices (optional)
- red onion rings (optional)
- Marinate chicken in 6 ounces Buffalo wings sauce for 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours.
- Mix remainder of Buffalo wings sauce and dressing together. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Grill chicken 12 minutes, turning once, or until no longer pink in center.
- Place 2 tablespoons of mixed sauce on each roll half. Place chicken on top of roll half and top with 1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles.
- Add lettuce, tomato and onion rings, if desired. Top with second roll half. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
Sweet Chili Ribs
- 2 full racks pork spareribs, trimmed (about 6 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, divided
- Heat grill to 250° F and prepare for indirect cooking.
- Spread ribs with ginger and garlic. Place ribs on rib rack or in foil pan. Cook on covered grill 2 hours.
- Spread 6 ounces sweet chili sauce evenly over ribs then cook another hour, until tender.
- Baste ribs with remaining sweet chili sauce during last 15 minutes of cooking. If desired, at end of cooking time grill ribs over direct heat to char slightly.
Source: Frank's Red Hot