Entertain Your Guests With These Summertime Snack Trays

People often do a bit more entertaining in the warmer months, so if you're planning on having a few friends over to enjoy the summer weather, you'll want to set out light, tasty snacks for them to enjoy. Here are just a few creative ideas for summertime snack trays that everyone will love.

  • A variety of skewers. Stick a few tasty combinations of small skewers to give your guests a handheld snack. Try adding mozzarella, tomato and basil, or add a variety of summertime fruits to another. If you want to get creative, you can even add cake bites for a sweet treat.
  • A fruit platter with dips. While many people think of vegetables when they think of dips, fruits are a bit more refreshing in the summertime. Make your own yogurt dip, add a bowl of peanut butter or even add melted chocolate for a fondue-style snack.
  • Make a multi-layer taco dip. Layer ground beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato in a large bowl, and serve the dip with crunchy tortilla chips.
  • Dress up your popcorn. Think popcorn is only reserved for movie nights? Think again! Add a zest of lemon, a bit of parsley and some fresh sea salt to your popcorn to give it a gourmet flavor that's anything but ordinary.

Easy Appetizers: 15 Summer Party Picks [Food.com]

How to Shake (or Stir!) the Perfect Cocktail

If you think you need to venture to the bar to find a unique, tasty cocktail, think again. You can easily mix up your own creative cocktails and mocktails in the comfort of your own home. The most important part of a great drink is how long the flavor lingers in your mouth. You want to intrigue your taste buds and mind after the sip goes down. These tips are sure to leave a unique, lasting flavor on your tongue.

  • Choose a good quality base liquor or flavor of your cocktail.
  • Use a generous amount of the base spirit.
  • Mix in a tart or sweet ingredient such as lime juice, simple syrup, or liqueur. Remember to keep it simple and balanced, as this will make the flavors last in your mouth.
  • Add a few drops of bitters or a hydrosol, such as rosewater, to add aromatics to your drink.
  • A cocktail that contains delicate flavors or ingredients should be stirred. Be sure to shake any cocktail containing juice or egg whites.
  • To avoid diluting your drink, use larger ice cubes that will melt at a slower pace. In your glass, the ice should be visible about the alcohol line.
  • Take some time to make your cocktail look presentable. A simple lemon twist can add a touch of elegance to your drink.

From A Genius Mixologist: The Only Ratio You Need For Perfect Cocktails [Fast Company]
How to make cocktails: follow these 10 golden rules [The Guardian]
How to Make Perfect Cocktails [Williams-Sonoma Taste]

Sate Your Craving for Chocolate With These Molten Lava Cake Recipes

Molten lava cakes are the ideal dessert for a dinner party or other social gathering because their individual sizes give each person a little cake of their own to enjoy. When you cut into these warm, moist desserts an explosion of hot chocolate sauce spills out, which gives the cakes their fun name. If your mouth is already watering, try one of these molten lava cake recipes for dinner tonight.

Molten Chocolate Cakes [Food and Wine]
Food and Wine’s gourmet spin on the dessert classic brings an air of sophistication to the usual molten lava cake. Bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter provide a rich, complex taste, and the thick chocolate inside is just the icing – or, rather, the lava – on the cake.

Molten Chocolate Cake [Pioneer Woman]
This recipe from the Pioneer Woman is just as indulgent as her other recipes, and the addition of an extra egg yolk ensures that the inside is even more runny than most lava cakes. Serve them with homemade whipped cream for an extra special treat.

Red Velvet Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes [Half Baked Harvest]
This recipe not only uses a red velvet cake exterior, but a chocolate ganache center as well. If that doesn’t already sound decadent enough, a coconut whipped cream topping should do the trick.

What’s in Season? Your Handy Guide to Autumn Fruits and Veggies

The autumn season is known for its bountiful harvests of sturdy root vegetables and tart fruits, which provide a welcome change after months of summer produce. If you’re already planning the next few months of fall recipes, this handy guide will show you which fruits and vegetables are in season.

  • Apples. Perhaps the most popular autumn fruit, apples can be used in pies, tarts, ciders, and even as a healthy handheld snack while on the go.
  • Broccoli. Although broccoli grows year-round in most climates, it becomes sweeter and less bitter when harvested in the fall.
  • Brussels sprouts. This hearty vegetable can be prepared a variety of different ways and is becoming increasingly popular in the gourmet food world.
  • Root vegetables. Carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and other root vegetables are common during the autumn season and can be used in soups or roasted in the oven.
  • Cranberries. Although cranberries usually take center stage during the wintertime, they’re harvested throughout New England during the fall.
  • Figs. These sweet, chewy fruits have a second season later in the fall.
  • Garlic. If you prefer to use fresh garlic in recipes as opposed to dried or canned, the fall is the best time to purchase it.
  • Artichokes. Top your salads or pizzas with flavorful artichokes, which produce a smaller second crop in the fall.

Fall Fruits and Vegetables [About Food]
The Best Fruits and Veggies to Eat This Fall [Greatist]
What’s In Season? Fall [More Matters]

Two Great Websites for Fall Recipes

With so many festive fall activities on your calendar, you'll need some warm and filling recipes to entertain your guests and keep your family healthy. These creative websites are full of both unique and classic cold weather foods that you can easily make at home.

All Recipes’ Fall Seasonal Cooking
Popular cooking website All Recipes organizes many of its dishes based on season, and its Fall Seasonal Cooking section will surely become a go-to tool when the weather gets chilly. With recipes such as Autumn Pork Roast and Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, you’ll never run out of meal ideas with the help of All Recipes.

Food & Wine’s Fall Flavors
Blending the classy, tasteful feel of Food & Wine magazine with the convenience of a cooking website, this site has created a page devoted to the magazine’s best fall foods. Browse sections like Warming Drinks and Fiery Foods for Cold Weather to find hearty, elegant meals that are sure to excite your tastebuds.

Fresh Rosemary Steals the Show in These Mouthwatering Recipes

Though rosemary is just a simple herb, it often becomes the major flavor in the dishes that it seasons. If you love the taste of pine-like rosemary and want to find more recipes that incorporate it, things like salts, meats, and vegetables are all perfect pairings. Check out these recipes that really let the rosemary shine!

Rosemary Chicken with Zucchini [Real Simple]
Chicken is one of the very best foods to season with fresh rosemary. This recipe creates a fast and easy dinner in just one simple step because it involves seasoning the vegetables, chicken, and potatoes beforehand and freezing them for up to three months until you're ready to cook.

Rosemary Sea Salt [Martha Stewart]
Martha Stewart’s rosemary sea salt enables you to sprinkle fresh rosemary onto just about any dish that needs a boost of flavor. All it takes is one box of kosher salt and two bunches of fresh rosemary to create a long-lasting supply of this savory seasoning.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes [Food Network]
When it comes to herbs, why mess with a recipe that works? These roasted potatoes are one of the most commonly used rosemary recipes, but that’s because it just takes so perfect. Simply toss some small red potatoes in olive oil, salt, rosemary, and a few other common seasonings to create a versatile side dish that’s great with any meal.

Make Mouthwatering Meatloaf 4 Different Ways

Ever since you were a child, meatloaf has always been a dinner staple that united the whole family. There are a variety of new and improved ways to prepare this classic dish, but they still maintain the same hearty taste that you’ve always loved. Here are some of the best meatloaf recipes, just in time for dinner tonight.

Easy Meatloaf [Allrecipes]
When you don’t have much time between your daily tasks and your family’s dinner, this easy meatloaf recipe is a great option. With just nine common ingredients, you can create a nutritious meal with a rich tomato flavor.

My Favorite Meatloaf [Pioneer Woman]
The Pioneer Woman’s favorite meatloaf recipe is wrapped in crispy bacon, adding a smoky, salty flavor that meat-lovers will adore.

Home-Sweet-Home Meatloaf [Hunts]
If you want the traditional taste of meatloaf with a bit of added flavor, this delicious recipe is infused with brown sugar and sweet onion that perfectly complements to heartiness of the ground sirloin beef.

Layered Creamed-Spinach Meatloaf [Delish]
This recipe offers a gourmet twist on meatloaf, perfect for a holiday or other special occasion. Chopped spinach, zesty spices, and Romano cheese form a decadent layer in between the meat, giving the simple dish a bit of complexity.

How to Select Only the Freshest Veggies in the Produce Aisle

Fresh vegetables have a shorter lifespan than their frozen counterparts, so you likely want to make them last as long as possible when you purchase them. Use these expert tips to help you maintain a healthy diet and maximize the lifespan of your produce.

  1. Choose firm veggies. Vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, and onions should be firm, even colored, and free of bruises or other signs of damage. Be sure to pick these vegetables up in your hands and feel for consistent texture all the way around.
  2. Know your leafy greens. Green vegetables like spinach, kale, and lettuce should be crisp and brightly colored, with no visible signs of wilting or rot. You can also give these leafy vegetables a good whiff before buying to make sure that they don’t smell moldy.
  3. Inspect your root vegetables. The best potatoes, carrots, garlic, and other root vegetables may be a bit trickier to identify, but these simple tips can help: Look for cracking along the surface of the vegetable (an indicator that it's too dry), and be sure to avoid root veggies that smell rotten or moldy.
  4. Know your farmers' market veggies. If you regularly buy your produce at a supermarket, keep in mind that these types of stores use different techniques to make veggies look perfect. While farmers' market vegetables may not look as pretty, they’re still just as tasty.

How to Select Fresh, Ripe Produce [Lifehacker]
How to Pick Fruits & Veggies [Good Housekeeping]
Raw Produce: Selecting and Serving it Safely [FDA]
Choosing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables [Family Circle]

How to Prevent Cross-Contamination in the Kitchen

Cross-contamination in the kitchen occurs when you use the same tools and cutting boards to prepare things like raw meat or eggs that you use to prepare fresh produce or cooked foods, contaminating the food you eat with the bacteria from these raw items. To avoid cross-contamination, follow these safety tips.

  1. It starts at the grocery store. Although cross-contamination is usually thought of in the kitchen, it can also happen before you even get your foods home. When shopping at the grocery store, be sure to package raw meats tightly in plastic and put them in a separate bag from other groceries. Also make sure that your carton of eggs doesn’t contain any broken eggs that could leak on other foods.
  2. Use separate cutting boards. One of the most important ways to prevent food poisoning from cross-contamination is by using different cutting boards for meat and other items. Properly label each board, and never cut fresh vegetables, fruits, or breads on the cutting board that you use for meat or eggs. Also, clean your meat cutting board thoroughly and replace it often.
  3. Cook safely. When cooking, never use the same tools to flip raw chicken that you use to stir-fry vegetables, as this can spread bacteria from the raw meat. Throw away any marinades that meat was once soaking in, and always serve cooked foods on a clean, new plate.

Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know [FDA]
Separate To Keep Food Safe [Home Food Safety]
Cutting Board Safety [Home Food Safety]

What’s In Season? Your Guide to Spring Produce

Spring is a bountiful time of the year when it comes to fresh produce, but it always helps to know exactly what’s in season. If you want to purchase only the freshest, most flavorful fruits and veggies and ensure that they last as long as possible in your fridge, use these helpful tips for understanding spring produce.

  1. Artichokes. Whether you use them on pizzas or add them to your salads, artichokes are a great way to add flavor and nutrients to your meals. Their main harvest takes place during the springtime, so look for artichokes with close, compact leaves and clean-cut stems.
  2. Asparagus. This popular veggie is found in a number of high-end restaurants, but you can easily prepare it at home if you purchase it fresh in the springtime. The thickness doesn’t necessarily indicate tenderness, so don’t overlook thinner or thicker spears at your grocery store.
  3. Carrots. While carrots are commonly found in grocery stores year-round, they taste best during the spring season. Only purchase bundles that are firm to the touch for maximum freshness.
  4. Leafy greens. Nutrient-rich veggies like chard, kale, and other cooking greens tend to turn bitter during hot summer months, so purchase them in the spring for the best taste.
  5. Fennel. If you’ve never cooked with fennel, experiment with this green (a relative of celery) when it comes into season during the warmer springtime.
  6. Grapefruit. Create a nutritious breakfast by adding grapefruit, which starts to become plump and juicy in January.

Spring Produce: Your Guide to Picking the Best [Greatist]
What’s in Season? Spring [Fruits and Veggies More Matters]
Fresh Spring Fruits and Vegetables [About Food]

Pin It on Pinterest