4th of July in our hometown, Seward, NE, is a HUGE deal! Our little community of about 6,000 residents becomes a small city of 40,000 – 50,000, each year, when we celebrate Independence Day. We have the proud designation of Nebraska’s 4th of July City and when we throw a party…well, let’s just say, you […]
4th of July in our hometown, Seward, NE, is a HUGE deal! Our little community of about 6,000 residents becomes a small city of 40,000 – 50,000, each year, when we celebrate Independence Day. We have the proud designation of Nebraska’s 4th of July City and when we throw a party…well, let’s just say, you know you’ve been celebrating! :) Activities and fun begin early in the morning, with the anvil firing, and continue long after dark, culminating in a spectacular fireworks show. The courthouse square is the center of most of the day’s events and nobody wants to miss any of them. Games, shows, craft fair/farmer’s market, parade, shopping, a three-block food court, contests, car show, an air show, and so much more, pack the agendas of every Seward resident. Traffic on the two state highways that cut through our town, literally comes to a stand-still with all the pedestrian traffic; and you know what…it’s okay. It’s the 4th of July! And it’s about family and friends, fun and festivities…oh… and food. It’s about lots and lots of food!
Even with all the activity downtown, it’s fair to assume that many of us will have company or be hosting guests in our home, at some point throughout the twenty-four hours that is the 4th of July. The food for this special day celebrates all the best tastes of summer and will likely involve fresh garden produce, grilling, more salads than you can count and trays and trays of finger food. Oh and homemade ice cream. That’s sort of a rule. :)
For me, having the best for my guests, and still having time to enjoy all the day has to offer, means I want recipes that will WOW! their tastebuds, but be quick and simple to prepare. My delicious BLT Poppers recipe delivers on each of those requirements. You’re going to love it! I developed this recipe for Kraft as a member of their Kraft Tastemakers team and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family. Pop one of these scrumptious little appetizers into your mouth and close your eyes. You will literally taste one of summer’s flavor icons — a delicious BLT sandwich with fresh tomatoes and lettuce from the garden.
To create the appetizer crusts, all you have to do is mix Kraft Cheddar Jack and Bacon Fresh Take packets with melted butter. Press them into mini muffin tins and bake. Talk about simple. David loves how these crusts mimic the texture of toasted bread on a BLT; and I have to tell you, the flavor is absolutely spectacular!
As soon as the crusts are out of the oven and cooling, pop a baking sheet with four strips of Oscar Mayer bacon, into the oven. Pre-cutting the bacon into the bite-sized pieces I needed for the appetizers saved so much time!
This is a good time to mince up the romaine lettuce and grape tomatoes, too. Then all that’s left is quickly assembling your fabulous BLT Popper appetizers.
Pipe the filling into the cooled crusts with a pastry bag or a zip-top bag that has the corner snipped off. Center one bacon piece in the middle of each popper and then garnish with the minced lettuce and tomatoes.
I think this recipe is a smart idea for packing maximum flavor in a single bite and I can’t wait to include them in our 4th of July appetizer line-up for our favorite guests! They’re beautiful to look at and delicious to eat! What are your favorite finger foods to serve on the 4th of July? How do you keep things quick and easy in the kitchen over the holidays? I’m excited to hear what you’ll be cooking!
Get the complete recipe and instructions for BLT Poppers in the recipe section at Kraft.
With several members of our family experiencing problems digesting dairy, it has posed a problem finding alternatives to the foods they have loved and taken for granted. You really don’t realize how much dairy you consume until you try to give it up. Sometimes, we simply don’t find replacements that satisfy, and then the disappointment […]
With several members of our family experiencing problems digesting dairy, it has posed a problem finding alternatives to the foods they have loved and taken for granted. You really don’t realize how much dairy you consume until you try to give it up. Sometimes, we simply don’t find replacements that satisfy, and then the disappointment and discouragement sets in, or they suffer through, just eating what they think tastes good. The taste and texture can be so different in some alternatives that it simply isn’t palatable. The other issue is that these products are often so much more expensive than the food we’ve been accustomed to. We have happily had the opportunity to test some products that have offered us some tasty options and are easier to find and afford. They are available in many health food stores and the through the Whole Foods chain.
Follow Your Heart produces the familiar brand name, VEGENAISE, and a couple others that may not be quite as familiar, but are just as good, VEGAN GOURMET CHEESE ALTERNATIVES and FOLLOW YOUR HEART SALAD DRESSINGS. Our family was able to try the new Soy-Free Vegenaise, Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch Salad Dressing, Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese Alternative and Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese Alternative. I am excited about and pleased with all of them.
Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese has a softer texture than the dairy Mozzarella you may be used to, but the flavor is very good. When melted, the Vegan Gourmet Cheese does not get the stringy, pull-it-for-a-mile consistency that you will expect from mozzarella, but it does melt, more like creamy liquid at first and then sets up a little bit.
The Cream Cheese Alternative is delicious and though I detected that it seems to taste slightly saltier than dairy cream cheese, I have used it with fruit, as a spread on crackers and on bagels with jam. It’s really yummy and I didn’t notice any difference in the texture of the Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese when compared to the texture of dairy cream cheese. It can be used in cheesecakes (which I haven’t tried, but am definitely going to), frostings and all kinds of dessert recipes.
The true test of any products at our house are whether or not my husband and kids will eat them. No matter how healthy I hope they will try to be, if they don’t like a food, they simply will NOT allow it to cross their lips. I get no back-up on this one, because David loves food and he won’t waste his time eating something he doesn’t enjoy. He’ll just go get the food he loves. He also has a tendency to decide before he has even tasted something, that he won’t like it, so occasionally…not that often really…maybe only like once in a blue moon…really, it’s hardly ever… I just don’t tell him what he’s eating. The psychological rejection of something new is bypassed and voila! He likes it. And THAT’S when I tell him. :) So, this next test was absolutely critical. The two products I expected the most resistance about were the Ranch Dressing and the Vegenaise (mayonnaise).
I’m not sure how your kids are about Ranch Dressing, but mine…well let’s just say, “They’re militant.” They eat it on EVERYTHING — veggies, french fries, salads, tacos, etc. They even dip cheesies, tacos and chicken strips in it. If it’s dippable, my kids and grandkids have probably put it in Ranch Dressing. To say they are particular about its taste is a gross understatement. They definitely know what they like. While my older kids said that they could taste a difference, they never actually stepped away and stopped eating the Vegan Ranch Dressing. The younger kids dug in and never came up for air until all three sliced cucumbers, they were dipping, had been devoured.
Now, for the toughest test of all – my “I’m sure I won’t like it” husband. I decided to make one of his favorite ham sandwiches for lunch and test out the Vegenaise without actually sharing with him that I was using it. (I know it will seem like a ridiculous paradox to those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, that I would use vegan mayonnaise on meat. I totally get that it must seem weird to you. OUR issue is not with meat, though. At our house, lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are what I’m trying to avoid.)
SANDWICH MAKING TIP: If your family loves sandwiches made with thin sliced deli meat, but your budget cringes a little at the cost, plus you’re trying to help everyone eat in moderation and get healthy, I have a great tip for “stre-e-e-e-tching the meat a little further and fooling their eyes into thinking they are eating a lot more meat than they are. If you loosely roll deli meat slices into “tubes” before laying them on your sandwich, the rolls will “stand up” higher in the sandwich, making it seem thicker and letting your family’s eyes convince their stomachs that they are eating more than they are.
I added fresh tomato slices, lettuce and sweet red bell pepper to the sandwich, which was made on Oatmeal Bread. I even served him a few of his favorite potato chips, so he felt like he was really splurging for this special lunch. He made quick work of the sandwich, oooohhing and aaaahhing over how good it tasted. I’ll have to let him in on the secret, I suppose. … Maybe, later. ;)
I would have no problem substituting Vegenaise in recipes where I would normally use mayonnaise. Texturally, and taste-wise, we found little difference. I haven’t personally baked with it, yet, but this recipe for Vegan and Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cupcakes leads me to believe I will have no difficulty. Yum!
To learn more about Follow Your Heart and their products, I want to encourage you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. It will be a great way to keep up on the latest news and learn more about all the different products they make. I know I am definitely going to be checking out the info on their thick and creamy salad dressings and their horseradish sauce, for David.
Don’t forget to use the Rafflecopter Form, below, to enter this generous giveaway to win the Vegan Made Easy Gift Set pictured in this post. Click DO IT and FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS written there, for the Mandatory Entry, then click Enter and that’s it. You can take advantage of the optional, additional entries that open, after that. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a Vegan Made Easy Kit, to test the products in my own kitchen and collect information for this review. No monetary compensation was received. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. Busy-at-home is administering the giveaway and selecting a winner at random, using random.org. Follow Your Heart is supplying and shipping the prize to the winner.
If you’re like me, you recently received some tasty, new mayonnaise samples from Kraft. We received the Chipotle and the Garlic & Herb samples. We realized right away, that a sandwich-sized taste of these delicious new spreads was not going to be enough and I headed right out to purchase the full-size bottles. I knew […]
If you’re like me, you recently received some tasty, new mayonnaise samples from Kraft. We received the Chipotle and the Garlic & Herb samples. We realized right away, that a sandwich-sized taste of these delicious new spreads was not going to be enough and I headed right out to purchase the full-size bottles. I knew I was going to try them with grilled chicken the moment that I tasted them.
Kraft Chipotle or Garlic & Herb Grilled Chicken
What I did was so simple you won’t believe it’s real! I used a pastry brush to brush the tops and bottoms of boneless, skinless chicken breasts with either the Kraft Chipotle Mayonnaise or the Kraft Garlic and Herb Mayonnaise. I laid the chicken on a cookie sheet to “marinate” at room temperature for about fifteen minutes.
Then I put the chicken breasts onto a pre-heated grill and maintained the temperature at about 350°. I didn’t use any other seasonings and I grilled them on one side until nicely browned, turned them and cooked on the other side until the juices ran clear.
The color was beautiful and the flavor was amazing! David’s favorite was the Chipotle flavored chicken and the kids and I voted the Garlic & Herb into a close first place! Both were simple and delicious and with some tasty sweet potato oven fries and steamed broccoli, it was a quick meal that tasted like I spent much more time than I had in preparing it. I was pleasantly surprised at how deeply flavorful the chicken had become with only 15 minutes to marinate.
I’m excited at the prospect of being able to flash freeze the chicken breasts, once their brushed with the new Kraft Mayonnaise varieties and allowing them to marinate in the freezer for future quick suppers, too. You know I love make-ahead freezer meals for time and money savings. This easy entree would be perfect!
Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Our side dish was just as simple. Peel and slice two large sweet potatoes into wedges. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 425° until they are fork tender, and crisp on the outside. They will brown fairly deeply, but they aren’t burnt. It’s just the caramelization of the natural sugars. They were unbelievably yummy!
What’s your favorite short-cut dinner? Share and help us all to make the best use of our time and resources!