Four Simple Ways to Recreate Your Favorite Stadium Foods at Home

July 07, 2016 Gameday Tips

Play Ball! We’re well into baseball season, and we’re all watching our favorite teams progress towards hitting .500 -- or for some of us, just waiting for the All-Star Break. Is your favorite team on TV, or you can’t make it to the stadium? You can recreate the ballpark experience right in your own backyard. It’s easy!

Ballpark Nachos: A slow cooker takes these chicken nachos to a new, easy level: combine cooked chicken, black beans, tomatoes, and other delicious ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, and you’ll have a great topping for tortilla chips. Add some cheese, if you like, or just enjoy it as is.

Hot Dogs: What’s a ball game without a hot dog? While mustard, relish and onions are classic, we have a fun twist: cheddar, bacon and chili beans make for a chili dog with a twist. This is great for the backyard: Grill the hot dogs, toast the buns, and allow your family to assemble their own.

Burgers: Burgers are another ballpark staple. While beef burgers are classic, black bean burgers are a great alternative that can please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. They don’t need to be the boring frozen ones, either -- you can make them fresh in minutes. Feel free to play around with the spices in the mix: cumin is great, but so is Montreal steak seasoning, chipotle powder, or Italian seasoning! You can really make these your own. Don’t forget your favorite toppings: lettuce, onion, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce: so many options to make a delicious burger for baseball season.

Buffalo Wings: Wings are a classic game day dish, and for baseball season, grilling them is easier (and honestly, more delicious) than the deep fried version. Marinating and then grilling adds a ton of flavor, and we love fresh, easy-to-make blue cheese dressing to cool off the hot wings. Try this wing recipe here. I am sure it will become a favorite all year long!

You don’t have to go to the ballpark to get your favorite game foods. Just set up your grill, invite some friends over, and enjoy the ballpark in your backyard with these recipes.

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

View all articles by this author

Where's The Beef? It's on The Grill!

My approach to summer entertaining is simple – good food made with the best possible ingredients, inviting friends and family to share a meal, and keeping it casual, pretty much sums up how we roll.

Grilling weather is here, and if you’re anything like our family, burgers, ribs, steaks and chicken will be on the menu. While we love experimenting with new spins on classic side dishes, sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing that you can serve a bowl of baked beans that everyone loves.

For ultimate burgers that are overstuffed with goodness, this stuffed burger recipe is easy to prepare ahead of time, and takes very little time on the grill. Serve them with original baked beans, and your menu is set!

Planning the perfect steak dinner involves the right cut of meat and the right marinade. The best steaks for home grilling are nature's perfectly marbled beef ribeye steaks, or bone-in ribeye steaks. Buy a thicker cut and carve it for your family and friends.

Use a canola and olive oil blend to coat the steak before seasoning it, usually an 80/20 blend. Lightly coat the steak, which will allow the surface temperature to get seared fast, ensuring a juicier final product, as well as charring the meat’s surfaces. Remember, a little flame is your friend; a lot of flame will burn the outside of the meat.

For tender steak, once you have achieved the desired temperature, remove the steak and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing it. At this time, throw the veggies on the grill, while the meat is resting. Vegetables char and cook quickly, and are delicious served as a side dish with steak.

A good marinade makes a great steak. Marinate the meat overnight, and the next day, cook the steak to perfection and serve with a delicious potato salad, with fresh corn, blue cheese, and bacon.

Whether you're after a simple salad to accompany your meal, or a side dish of baked beans to wow your taste buds, don’t forget that beef is delicious and a real crowd-pleaser for a summer meal!

Meet Sandy Coughlin

View all articles by this author

Homemade Hummus 4 Ways

If you’re like me, and sometimes lack the time or creativity for a last-minute appetizer or weeknight snack, look no further! Hummus is perfect and extremely easy to make, healthy, and incredibly delicious. When you customize different flavors of hummus with fresh ingredients, it’s even better!

You need only two things for this standard hummus: a pouch of hummus mix and a can of beans. Drain and rinse your beans, add them to your high speed blender or food processer and mix in the hummus pouch. It is that quick and easy! Even a recipe this simple provides room for creativity, so I like to play with different flavors of hummus mix and varieties of beans, to make a dish that's uniquely for the occasion.

Being a party planner, I’m always looking for recipes to make, recipes that allow me to customize an already pre-made food, to get the combination of quick and fresh! Adding in different types of beans and fresh ingredients creates the tastiest appetizer to bring to the party!

The perfect blend is simple ingredients like tahini, olive oil, and spices. In this quick recipe , just add beans and pesto to your food processor and you will have an easy and delicious hummus in no time. Want to make it even more colorful and flavorful, add sundered tomatoes--loved by all, served with rice crackers.

For a Mexican bash, this Southwestern recipe has a kick! Just open a can of black beans and kick it up a notch with fresh jalapeños or green chilies, with a dab of sour cream to create a bold southwestern flavor. Don’t forget the cilantro and tortilla chips!

Instead of regular hummus, for a pizza party, we love the rich flavors of this red pepper hummus. With Smoked Paprika, the perfect mix of olive oil, tahini, roasted red bell peppers, and savory spices, this is sure to be a favorite!

For hot summer nights, you can customize hummus in flavorful ways by adding simple ingredients, such as blue cheese, to a classic recipe. Follow the steps in this recipe, and you will have a delicious twist cheese lovers will adore. It’s perfect to serve with pita chips and a giant Caesar salad.

The next time you're craving a quick bite or you’re hosting a party, think hummus — it’s perfect for weeknight snack attacks, summer parties, picnics, or outdoor weekend gatherings.

Meet Sandy Coughlin

View all articles by this author

New Twist on Taco Tuesday

When dinner is the question, tacos are always the right answer. On Tuesdays, and every other night, tacos are a favorite of each person at my table. The kids love the mash up of creamy, crunchy, cheesy. My heat-seeking husband likes an excuse to play with spice and flavor. Picky-eaters of every age appreciate being able to stuff them themselves. And I relish the fact that my whole family is filling their plates with layers of protein and colorful veggies, too.

The key to maintaining the “always cool” status of tacos, however, is to mix them up. By playing with the key elements of a classic taco, I make sure our family avoids a taco rut. In fact, here are four of my favorite ideas to turn up the taco love:

Super Simple Tacos As if tacos could be any easier to make, this recipe takes the concept to a whole new level of uncomplicated. It’s the one I look to for after-school snacks and particularly busy nights when my kids might need to serve themselves dinner. I make sure all of the ingredients are prepped in advance and I trust the kiddos to assemble their tacos with no problem at all. They can even microwave them, eliminating any need for the stovetop. The hearty bean mixture fills bellies for the next couple hours of homework and soccer practice.

The Ultimate Taco As a mom, there are very few nights when you go to bed feeling like you really nailed the day. When you manage to (health-mindedly) combine two fan favorites into one homerun of a dinner, however, you are nothing less than a hero.

Let me introduce you to my favorite super power: Taco Pizza. This baby starts with store-bought pizza dough, takes just about 25 minutes to make, and it happens to be amazingly tasty! All I do is prebake the dough, smear with bacon-kissed beans, sprinkle with seasoned ground beef, and top with everybody’s favorite taco fixings. I slice up this brilliant pizza and then, I sit back in my seat and let the praise normally reserved for superhero’s wash right over my super self.

Go-Tacos This recipe is known as the “Walking Taco” but you better believe I am usually in a full sprint when I offer it up. They are my go-to grub when my family will be spending the whole night jumping in and out of the car. Often, I’ll even double or triple the ingredients and set up a spread in the trunk of my car for the entire soccer team to build after a big game. *Try adding shredded cheese and sour cream to really make it a crowd pleaser!

Healthy Tacos “Healthy” is how I identify these Southwest Hummus Tacos, to the rest of my family, they’re the “smashed black bean tacos”. Either way, they’re protein-packed and really delicious. They start with a homemade hummus and end, like most taco recipes, with a slew of toppings. I switch up the toppings seasonally, however. Canned corn, tomato, and fresh cilantro are delicious year round, but in the spring I like to finish with thinly sliced radish or peas, grilled corn cut from the cob in summer, and roasted butternut squash in the fall and winter.

For kids and grownups alike, tacos are a sure thing – surely simple to make, surely easy to “sell”, and surely wonderful to eat. With a couple clever twists and a collection of out-of-the-shell recipes, tacos can be in regular rotation too. Take the classic beyond Tuesday for dinnertime success every day of the week.

Ideas for an Entire Meal on the Grill

October 13, 2016 Grilling, Seasonal Tips

True confession: I love to grill. Everything from toast to turkey, I love to grill. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I love to grill. Even in wintry weather, when I can make tracks through the snow, I love to grill.

There’s just nothing better than the crispy char that comes from an open flame – except for maybe the entire season of summer when I can grill every day if I please. And I do. When the sun is shining, I plan week after week of menus cooked entirely on the grill, in fact.

For family suppers and weekend entertaining too, here are my favorite meals that are grilled from start to finish:

Classic Celebration In celebration of everything from stellar spelling tests to baby announcements, this is the grilled steak with vegetables dinner I share with the people I love the most.

I take care to select a juicy cut of beef, a market basket full of colorful peppers, onions, mushrooms, and squash, and a couple cans of my favorite baked beans, and bring the grill to a high heat. Generously seasoned the beef with salt and pepper, I sear the steaks and rotate as they cook for professional grill marks. All the while, the veggies roast right on the grates and a cast-iron crock warms the beans simmering inside. To complete the steakhouse celebration experience, I give the meat several minutes to rest, off the grill, before I slice and dress the plates.

Burger Night Burgers sound good to me and the rest of my crew nearly every night. During grilling season, especially, though, I really try to mix up Burger Night. I’ve always got the fixings for a spread of healthy burgers in the pantry. In minutes, I can pull together these protein-packed patties – and shhh! – sometimes I even sneak in some extra veggies too. They finish quickly on the grill and go deliciously with charred corn-on-the-cob.

The Belly Filler At the end of a crazy week of work, school, sports, and more sports, a hearty, healthy chicken dinner is just what the doctor (and my family) ordered. The glaze makes it full of flavor and super juicy when I go to grill it. Then, I throw something gorgeous and green, like asparagus, onto the grill, and a crock of beans, and we’ve got all we need to fill our bellies and recharge our batteries for the rest of the night.

Side Spread For entertaining especially, one of my favorite menus to serve hot off the grill is one of several side dishes. The expanse of a grill top makes the perfect perch for lots of different recipes and it’s a fun, unexpected way to eat – almost like summertime tapas. I always have some watermelon wedges and pineapple rings on the grates, alongside the elements of a great bean salad tossed in a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette. I build the rest of the menu from there. Toasted bread or focaccia is always a treat, as are small sausages, or skewers of shrimp. The possibilities are endless, really.

I could be enticed to grill out any day of the year. But when the sun shines into the night and the sprinkler’s dancing around the backyard, you better believe I’ll be stationed at the grill. For full-fledged events and family suppers too, there are no better – easier, more delicious – meals than the ones that are served right off the grill.

Kid-Friendly Hummus Snacks

As a parent, there are all sorts of things you have to learn “on the job”, all sorts of things no one tells you in advance (and you probably wouldn’t believe anyway). I have been shocked by the look of crayons melted in the washer and dryer, horrified by the number of peas that really do fit inside a baby’s nose, and I am well educated on the importance of snacks.

From church to soccer games, and most definitely after school, snacks are everything. They are, at different times, distractions, motivation, and strategic holdovers until the next meal. As a mom of four kids, I keep an arsenal of snacks handy for any occasion. In fact, here are some of my kiddos’ favorite snacks and the perfect time to eat them:

At-the-ready My kids always know to look in the fridge for quick and easy items they can use to help build their own healthy, hummus snack. This recipe calls for minimal prep on my end to set them up for assembly success. Using a tube of canned crescent-roll dough and a mini-muffin tin, I bake the cups to a golden brown, let them cool completely, and freeze. When the kids are looking for them, I pull them out to thaw quickly on the counter while they reach for the hummus and pre-chopped crudité. Filling the cups is not only delicious and fun, it’s an excellent exercise of a kid’s creative muscle.

Back-to-reality You know the weekends that are jam-packed with birthday parties, babysitters, pizza, chips, and nap-less afternoons? The ones that leave you wiped out worse than you were on the Friday before? It’s on the Mondays that follow those weekends when I really need something like these fast, fresh and portable hummus rolls-ups! Super fresh and stuffed with protein, and just filling enough to hold over ‘til dinnertime, roll-ups are the perfect kids snack to reset and refresh. Plus, they are beautifully pop-able, in a way that makes kids feel like the party continues.

Fan Favorite Every parent’s got a go-to recipe that is guaranteed to keep everyone happy. These light appetizers of hummus bruschetta with tomatoes is so easy and delicious that it saves me from having to negotiate my way through snack time. (“No, we’re not having chocolate right now. You neeeeed some veggies today.”) I line up thinly sliced baguette toasts, a bowl of homemade hummus, another of fresh basil-kissed tomatoes, and put the kids to work spooning, topping, gobbling up their snacks.

Heavy Snack/Dinner Like heavy happy-hour apps that become a grown-up’s dinner, this flatbread recipe can very easily translate into supper for my kids. I call these Pita “pizzas” and with a generous smear of hummus and a smattering of artichokes, olives, tomatoes, and crumbled feta they become the ideal answer when snack time starts to toe the line of dinnertime. Sometimes I let the kids assemble them themselves, but I always make extras to flesh out the meal; often, a flatbread spread will save me from having to fire up the stovetop for a full-fledged dinner.

Every darn day, with intense on-the-job training, I am learning something new about being a parent. For the time being, though, I can say with confidence that I’ve nailed the kid snack piece. Low-crunch snacks for reading group, barely-sticky snacks for picnics, hearty snacks for late afternoon – with real-world experience and a box full of brilliant (hummus) recipes, I’ve got kid-friendly snack time down to a science. Now, about the peas up the nose…

Go Beyond Dip: Quick, Savory Meals Featuring Hummus

October 13, 2016 Quick & Easy

I love hummus and pita chips, or carrot sticks, or celery.  It’s so easy to put out for a dip—and it’s healthy, too!  Did you know that hummus is also a great way to make a meal? Just combine garbanzo beans with a host of flavors to make something delicious with a Mediterranean flair.  Here are a few ways for you to try hummus as a spread, and not just a dip!

Do you ever think of hummus for breakfast?  A simple black bean hummus with scrambled eggs, salsa and cheese makes a great, portable breakfast.  You can make these delicious pockets of Southwest goodness on a Sunday to eat all week.  Just wrap them in aluminum foil and heat up in the oven, then top with salsa.  In more of a hurry? Wrap in waxed paper and microwave.

Hummus is great as a base for flatbread.  In our Mediterranean Flatbread recipe, red pepper hummus is combined with olives, tomatoes, artichokes, feta and chicken to make an easy dinner or appetizer.  While the recipe calls for black olives, I love to grab olives from the olive bar at the grocery, like Kalamata or even feta-stuffed, for some variety.  A quick drizzle of Greek vinaigrette is a nice accompaniment, as well.

Hummus takes this chicken salad to the next level!  A deli rotisserie chicken makes this dish easy for weeknights, too.  Just take the meat off of the chicken and chop it up, then stuff pitas with chicken mixed with hummus, sour cream and powdered Ranch.  It’s easy, flavorful, and packs a protein punch.  Celery adds crunch, but you could also use cucumbers or chopped carrots.  This is great for lunchboxes, too—just put the chicken salad in a container with the pita on the side to stuff at lunchtime.

Try making hummus with black beans, and you’ll have a great base for Southwest Hummus tacos.  Just top black bean hummus with the traditional taco toppings: lettuce, tomato, corn, and Mexican-style cheese to create delicious soft tacos.  You could also turn this into a quesadilla by heating two flat tortillas, filled with the black bean hummus and a little extra cheese until melted and then top with the corn, lettuce and tomato.  Delicious!

Add more hummus to your repertoire—and not just as a dip for parties.  Hummus can be a part of your easy workweek meals, as well as on the weekends!

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

View all articles by this author

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Dessert Ideas: A Day Worth of Meatless Meals

October 13, 2016 Dietary Considerations

Sometimes, we just need to take a break from meat. Whether it’s for religious reasons, money-saving, or even just because we want something light and flavorful, it’s a lot easier to create vegetarian meals when you have beans as a backbone.  In fact, you can go through an entire day without a touch of meat—but with a lot of flavor.

Breakfast: There’s nothing easier than a breakfast burrito, and you can easily make a batch of these to put in the fridge for the week and reheat in the oven (or even in the microwave).  You can vary this by switching black beans for pinto, different types of salsa (a pineapple or mango salsa would be a delicious change of pace!) or even using tomato, spinach or another flavor of tortilla.  They’re versatile, filling, and nutritious.

Lunch: A salad that can be easily toted to work (and made ahead) is one of the easiest way to embrace a meat-free meal.  The cucumber with citrus tastes better the longer it sets.  The fresh flavors mingle in the citrus vinaigrette.  While the recipe calls for lemon, you could easily use lime, orange or grapefruit juice instead, and you could vary the fresh herbs as well: use fresh tarragon with grapefruit, cilantro with lime, or basil with orange.   

Dinner:  A substantial, hearty dinner is just what you need after a long day of work or school.  You don’t need meat to do that. Try these meat-free burgers using Portobello mushrooms which are easy to grill in just a few minutes.  Vary up the ingredients to please your family:  cheddar, American or mozzarella cheese are delicious, and look for herbed mustards to compliment the smoky portabellas.  And, of course, serve with vegetarian baked beans on the side.

Dessert: Sweets can involve beans, too! In these brownie bites, the beans provide a fudgy texture and protein without adding a ton of calories.  They’re sweet, chocolaty and satisfying and could be popped into a lunch box or just grabbed off the counter for dessert.

Meatless doesn’t mean complicated—it can be easy and delicious, with a few tweaks, some creativity, and of course, beans!

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

View all articles by this author