(Family Features) The cold chill of winter may have you feeling trapped indoors with nothing to do and nowhere to go, but fun activities fit for the whole family can add excitement and chase away those wintertime blues. Paired with an appetizing snack, at-home crafting provides a relaxing way to keep your mind and body moving.
Warming up with family-friendly activities starts with a versatile (and delicious) option like watermelon, which can be your sweet superstar all year long. As a centerpiece for evenings at home or gatherings and get-togethers, its versatility creates zero food waste with endless creative uses in the kitchen, from rind-smile snowmen to handheld snacks.
When this year’s first snowfall offers a canvas for creativity and entertainment, gather your loved ones to make this Watermelon Snowman. Fresh-cut and personal-sized watermelons are the predominant options in wintertime, and they’re perfect for putting together this festive work of art. All you’ll need is a collection of kitchen knives, an ice cream scoop, melon ballers, skewers, some decorative “clothing” and blueberries for a fruit salad served right out of the snowman.
While you’re hard at work, ease your appetite with a quick and easy snack like Watermelon Glazed Meatballs. Start with a homemade watermelon puree mixed with barbecue sauce then saute frozen meatballs and top with the sweet glaze for a perfect wintertime treat. Along with delicious taste, watermelon is also a nutritious hydration source, which is just as important in winter as during warmer months, and provides an excellent source of vitamin C with 25% of the daily recommended value in each 2-cup serving to support immunity.
These tasty morsels also make for a simple, shareable appetizer while hosting throughout the season. Just lay them out on a serving tray and pop toothpicks into each meatball so guests can grab and go while mingling.
To find more family-friendly crafts and sweet snack ideas, visit Watermelon.org.
- Kitchen knives
- 1 round seedless watermelon
- 2 personal-sized watermelons, one larger than other
- ice cream scoop or large spoon
- melon baller
- mini melon baller or paring knife
- large wooden skewers
- y-shaped sticks
- Using knife, cut 1/4-inch slice off bottom of round seedless watermelon and both personal watermelons to provide stable bases. Use smallest melon for head, second largest for torso and largest for lower body. Set aside smallest watermelon.
- Cut tops off large and medium watermelons to create bowls. Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop out flesh.
- Using melon baller, scoop eyes out of smallest watermelon. Invert melon balls and reinsert.
- Using mini melon baller or paring knife, scoop out holes for nose and mouth. Carve one piece of watermelon into triangle for nose and fill mouth holes with blueberries.
- On platter, using large wooden skewers, connect all three watermelons.
- Insert y-shaped sticks in middle watermelon for arms.
- Fill bottom sections with fruit salad of melon balls and blueberries. Decorate with scarf and hat.
Watermelon Glazed Meatballs
- 1 fresh watermelon
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 24-36 frozen prepared mini meatballs
- 1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
- 1 cup watermelon puree
- To make watermelon puree: Remove seeds from watermelon and cut into large chunks. In blender, process until smooth.
- In large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat or electric skillet set to 325 F, heat oil.
- Saute mini meatballs until browned and hot. Reduce heat to low.
- Mix barbecue sauce and watermelon puree. Pour over meatballs and simmer 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
Sweet and Savory Ways to Shake Up Holiday Celebrations
(Family Features) ’Tis the season for sweet and savory favorites – from the mouthwatering desserts you crave each year to starters and snacks that hold over hungry guests. Elevate your holiday entertaining with the right combination of appetizers, main courses, sides, sweets and beyond that start with the same seasonal staple: pecans.
As a versatile nut that can be used throughout the holidays, pecans have you covered so you can cook and enjoy a myriad of dishes, add festive flair to decor, or provide a nutritious snack in the midst of season-long indulgences. This year, pick up an extra bag of pecans to create nutritious, delicious dishes to enjoy on-the-go or serve to guests.
To help celebrate the holiday season, the American Pecan Promotion Board introduced a digital Pe-Calendar to highlight the many ways pecans can be enjoyed in and beyond a traditional pie. From Dec. 7-18, the interactive calendar will unveil tasty recipes for pecan fans to enjoy, along with fun games that can enter you in to win exciting prizes each day. From delicious Baked Brie with Pecans and Cranberry Orange Chutney to nutritious Pecan Snack Mix with Cranberries and Chocolate, along with prizes, the calendar provides an ultimate way to shell-ebrate with the must-have holiday nut.
To sign up for daily email reminders to open a new door for chances to win nutty prizes, or to find additional holiday recipes, visit EatPecans.com.
Baked Brie with Pecans and Cranberry Orange Chutney
Recipe courtesy of the American Pecan Promotion Board
Cook time: 24 minutes
- 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish, divided
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 orange, zest and juice only
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme, plus additional for garnish, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 1 round brie (13.4 ounces)
- 1/2 cup roasted pecan pieces
- toasted bread
- apple slices
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cranberries (reserving some for garnish), 1/2 cup maple syrup and water to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and mixture thickens, 8-10 minutes.
- Remove cranberry mixture from heat and stir in orange zest, orange juice, 1 teaspoon thyme, rosemary and bourbon, if desired.
- Place brie on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes, or until inside of cheese softens while outside remains intact.
- Transfer brie to serving platter and top with chutney and toasted pecans. Drizzle remaining maple syrup over brie and garnish with remaining fresh thyme and reserved cranberries. Serve with crackers, toasted bread and apple slices.
Pecan Snack Mix with Cranberries and Chocolate
Recipe courtesy of Jess Larson and the American Pecan Promotion Board
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes, plus 10 minutes cooling time
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup rice squares cereal (wheat or cinnamon)
- 1/2 cup pretzels
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- In large, microwave-safe bowl, add pecans, rice squares cereal and pretzels. In small, microwave-safe bowl, add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and nutmeg. Microwave butter mixture 1-2 minutes until melted then pour over dry mix. Toss well to combine.
- Microwave snack mix in 45-second intervals, about 4-5 intervals total, until mix is fragrant, golden and toasty.
- Cool mix completely then stir in cranberries and dark chocolate chips.
The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese Casserole: A Delicious Twist on a Classic Comfort Dish
Indulge in the ultimate macaroni and cheese casserole recipe with healthy alternatives and a variety of cheese options
Macaroni and cheese casserole is a timeless favorite that brings us warmth and comfort. This article will guide you through creating the best macaroni and cheese casserole while offering alternative ideas, including healthy recipes and suggestions for the best cheese varieties to elevate your dish. Get ready to indulge in a cheesy, creamy, and unforgettable experience!
- 1 pound (450g) elbow macaroni
- 4 cups (960ml) whole milk
- 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (200g) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (100g) shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup (100g) shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for a spicy kick)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup (100g) breadcrumbs (optional, for a crispy topping)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a 9×13-inch (23x33cm) baking dish.
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for about 2 minutes to make a roux.
- Gradually pour in the milk while whisking constantly to create a smooth sauce. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, usually about 5-7 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the mustard powder, cayenne pepper (if desired), salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Pour the macaroni and cheese mixture into the greased baking dish. If desired, sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top for a crispy topping.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the casserole is bubbly.
- Healthy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole:
- Replace regular elbow macaroni with whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
- Use low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk instead of whole milk.
- Opt for reduced-fat cheese varieties or experiment with a combination of part-skim mozzarella and sharp cheddar.
- Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Casserole:
- Add sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or roasted garlic to the cheese sauce for extra depth of flavor.
- Incorporate cooked bacon, diced ham, or shredded rotisserie chicken for a protein-packed twist.
- Experiment with different cheese combinations, such as smoked Gouda, fontina, or blue cheese.
Choosing the Best Cheese:
- Sharp cheddar: Offers a rich and tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with macaroni.
- Gruyere: Adds a nutty and slightly sweet taste, creating a creamy and smooth texture.
- Parmesan: Provides a savory and salty note that enhances the overall depth of flavor.
With this recipe, you’ll be able to create a mouthwatering macaroni and cheese casserole that’s sure to please. Whether you’re looking for a healthy alternative or want to explore gourmet variations, the possibilities are endless. Don’t forget to experiment with different cheese combinations to find your personal favorite. Enjoy the cheesy goodness and savor every bite of this ultimate comfort dish!
Check out Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole: https://www.spendwithpennies.com/creamy-macaroni-and-cheese-casserole/
Crunchy Delights: Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips in the Air Fryer
Make crispy homemade tortilla chips in the air fryer—a quick and easy recipe for irresistible snacks!
If you’re a fan of crispy, flavorful snacks, then homemade corn tortilla chips made in the air fryer are a must-try! With just a handful of ingredients and a few simple steps, you can enjoy the irresistible taste of freshly made tortilla chips right in the comfort of your own kitchen. Let’s dive into this easy and delicious recipe!
- Corn tortillas (preferably 6-inch size)
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Salt (to taste)
- Optional toppings: chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, or any of your favorite seasonings
- Preheat the Air Fryer:
Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C). This will ensure your tortilla chips cook evenly and become beautifully crisp.
- Cut the Tortillas:
Stack the corn tortillas together and cut them into triangular or rectangular shapes, depending on your preference. You can cut multiple tortillas at once to save time.
- Prepare the Tortilla Chips:
Place the cut tortilla pieces in a mixing bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil or lightly coat them with cooking spray. Toss the tortillas gently to evenly distribute the oil. This step helps the chips turn golden and crispy.
- Season the Chips (Optional):
If you want to add some extra flavor, sprinkle your favorite seasonings like salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, or garlic powder over the oiled tortilla chips. Toss them again to ensure even distribution.
- Air Fry the Tortilla Chips:
Arrange the seasoned tortilla chips in a single layer in the air fryer basket. If needed, you may need to cook them in batches to avoid overcrowding. Air fry for about 6-8 minutes, or until the chips become golden brown and crispy. Remember to flip or shake the basket halfway through cooking for even browning.
- Cool and Serve:
Once the chips are cooked to perfection, transfer them to a cooling rack or paper towel-lined plate to cool down and remove excess oil. As they cool, they will become even crunchier. Serve the freshly made tortilla chips with your favorite dips, salsa, guacamole, or enjoy them on their own!
- Experiment with different seasonings to create a variety of flavors.
- Keep an eye on the chips while cooking, as cooking times may vary depending on the air fryer model and tortilla thickness.
- Store any leftover tortilla chips in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Making homemade corn tortilla chips in the air fryer is a fantastic way to enjoy a healthier version of this classic snack. With their irresistible crunch and customizable seasonings, these chips are perfect for parties, movie nights, or anytime you’re craving a satisfying treat. So grab your air fryer and indulge in the delectable goodness of these homemade tortilla chips that are sure to impress your taste buds!
Take a look at these recipe suggestions. https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_homemade_tortilla_chips/
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