Saturday, May 15, 2010
Make summer super with potluck-perfect recipes
(ARA) - From block parties to backyard barbecues, summer is when people get together and enjoy the delectable tastes of the season. The classic American potluck is always a favorite gathering, especially when friends, family and neighbors bring out their best dishes for everyone to enjoy.
The perfect recipes for summer parties are ones that are quick and easy - providing maximum flavor for minimum time spent in the kitchen. When it comes to cooking for a crowd, go with something that will reliably get rave reviews, while keeping in mind whom you're cooking for. If it's a crowd with a more sophisticated palate, you can try something a little more adventurous. If it is a group with notoriously picky kids, go a little more mild with kid-pleasing classics. If it's a big enough crowd, you might even want to try both.
It's always a great idea to take a healthful approach to whatever you bring to the table. Whether you're bringing a main course, a side, or a dessert, there are plenty of healthy recipes to choose from. Wherever you can, opt for ingredients like fresh vegetables and fresh or dried fruit. Raisins, in particular, are a wise choice to add flavor and good nutrition to all kinds of dishes. They are fat- and cholesterol-free, and contain antioxidants and fiber - good-for-you qualities that can healthfully enhance any dish.
Try incorporating plump California raisins into a more exotic dish like couscous salad along with fennel, garbanzo beans and chopped fresh cilantro for a subtly sweet-and-savory combination. Or, add them as an extra pop of sweetness to miniature apple tartlets - a party-perfect version of classic American apple pie. To get more ideas and inspirations for delicious raisin recipes, visit http://www.loveyourraisins.com/.
All-American Raisin Apple Tartlets
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes total
2 tablespoons heart-healthy buttery spread
4 medium green apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup California raisins
18 sheets phyllo dough
Butter flavor cooking spray
9 tablespoons shredded low-fat sharp Cheddar
Preheat oven to 375 F and spray 12 cupcake tins with nonstick cooking spray. Melt buttery spread in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in apples and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for a minute more; add raisins and set aside.
Meanwhile, lay one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board; keep remaining covered with a damp towel to prevent drying. Spray sheet with cooking spray. Repeat with five more sheets, sprinkling 3 tablespoons cheese in under the last layer; press firmly to keep cheese in dough. Repeat twice more to make three rectangles. Cut each in half crosswise, then cut each piece into six strips. Press three strips into each tin letting the dough fold over the top by about 1/2 inch. Fill with equal amounts of fruit. Bake for 10 minutes; tent loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Makes 12 small desserts.
California Raisin Couscous with Vegetables
1 box couscous, plain
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pint red pear or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 heads fennel, bulb only, small dice
1 English or hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded and small dice
1/2 red onion, peeled, small dice
1 cup California golden raisins
2 bunches Italian flat leaf parsley, picked and chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, picked and chopped
Juice of 4 lemons
Salt and pepper
Place one box of couscous in a large bowl or shallow rectangle pan. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over couscous along with salt and pepper. Then pour boiling water over couscous to cover. Mix with fork; cover with plastic wrap and set aside for five minutes. Remove plastic and fluff couscous with a fork to avoid lumps and let cool. Once cool, add remainder of ingredients and toss well. Reheat to serve.
Note: Make sure all ingredients are ready before making couscous. For variety, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top just before serving.Makes eight side dish servings.
Courtesy of ARAcontent