(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Anyone who grew up on treats like date nut bread and cream cheese - or even English muffin "pizzas" from the toaster oven - knows how comforting they can be. What's even more heartening is how easy it is to replicate the cozy experiences, even when you don't have all of the ingredients on hand. A flavor fest is just that. It's about memories of the essences of classic flavor combinations that just may become dishes your kidlets will crave as well.
Below are some dishes I make in a flash that often even feature improvements over the originals. The date nut dazzler, for instance, is even tastier with the pecans I always have in the house rather than the plainer walnuts featured in most traditional recipes. All ingredients are to taste.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
- DATE NUT DAZZLER
Spread whole-wheat crackers with cream cheese and top with ground cinnamon, chopped dates, and chopped pecans.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
- PIZZA PEP-ME-UPS
Paint store-bought thawed puff pastry dough with pizza or pasta sauce, fill with cooked pepperoni slices, shredded mozzarella cheese, finely diced green bell pepper, mushroom and red onion, fold closed and cook according to puff pastry package instructions.
- INSIDE-OUT CHILI DOGS
When it's finished cooking, to homemade or canned chili, carefully add sliced cooked hot dogs, ketchup and mustard. Serve with torn pieces of toasted hot dog buns for dipping.
- FROZEN WAFFLE FEST
Stir pure maple syrup and orange marmalade or strawberry jam into peanut butter and spread on top of warm toasted freezer waffles.
- EVEN MORE CREAMY CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP
In a microwave-safe container for 20 seconds, or until melted, heat together cheddar, pepperjack and Swiss cheeses. Swirl into cooked servings of homemade or canned cream of tomato soup and top with garlic-flavored packaged croutons.
- HAPPY HOT CHOCOLATE
Into a cup of heated hot chocolate, stir strawberry pancake syrup, pure vanilla extract, a dash of cayenne pepper, and top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon.
- BREAD PUDDING PIZZAZZ
Rip chunks of egg bread or challah and mix gently into homemade or store-bought vanilla pudding to which you have stirred in ground allspice and cloves.
- APPLESAUCE APPLE PIE
Into no-sugar-added applesauce, stir chopped walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. Top with broken sugar cookie pieces and heat in microwave for 30 seconds, or until warm.
A slow cooker is often the home of rich, creamy comfort food meals full of calories. Gina Homolka, creator of the popular Skinnytaste series of books, proves that doesn't always have to be the case. In "Skinnytaste Fast and Slow
", she fills diners up and not out with thoughtful lowered-fat recipes full of simmered-in flavor. Because of her expertise with this type of recipe creation, Homolka comes up with lots of varied innovations, such as chicken and dumplings, cauliflower "fried" rice, Korean-style beef tacos and flourless chocolate brownies.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.