(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 www.LoveYourRaisins.com.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F and spray 12 cupcake tins with nonstick cooking
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.
five more sheets, sprinkling 3 tablespoons cheese in under the last layer; press
firmly to keep cheese in dough. Assemble 2 more stacks. Cut each stack in half crosswise
to make 6 pieces; then, cut each piece lengthwise into 6 strips for a total of 36
strips. Center and press 3 strips into each tin, letting the dough extend over the
top by about 1/2-inch. Divide and spoon fruit mixture in centers.
Bake for 10 minutes,
until lightly browned; then, 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.