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Recipes for the Big Game – Plus Free Printable!

As the biggest playoff game of the football season approaches, it’s time to start planning a party. But not just any party. A party that takes place primarily in front of a TV.  Yikes! What’s a hostess to do?

The first thing to remember about hosting a game-day party is to make sure there’s plenty of seating for everyone. Decorations are optional. Beverages are important. But food, well that’s what this post is all about.

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1 Individual 7-Layer Dip Cups via Spend With Pennies
2 Crab Cake Sliders via Jessica Burns
3 BBQ Crockpot Meatballs via Sweet C’s Designs
4 Stuffed Mushrooms via Beans
5 Crock Pot Asian BBQ Chicken Wings via Stephanie Cooks
6 Stout Cupcakes via All Parenting

If truth be told, half the fun of watching “the big game” is the feast. You can do it up in grand fashion (think catered affair) or in a low-key way (think chips and dips). But what we wanted to share with you today are ways to make your spread colorful, interesting, and delicious, too!

The secret tip for hosting the perfect big-game party is to make all your food available in individual, easy-to-pick-up portions. No cutting. No scooping. No slicing. No dicing. To help make your menu planning easier, our editors have assembled some of their favorite recipes to share with you today. Included is a nice variety of choices, from fairly traditional to crockpot/slow cooker friendly and even vegetarian. As for the fun cupcake dessert, add your own cute flag by clicking here for a free printable. Then just cut out each entire two-sided flag, fold on the dotted line, wrap around a toothpick, and either glue or tape together.

Choose which dishes work best for your crowd—and may your favorite team win!

 

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12 Favorite Autumn Recipes (plus 2 free recipe cards!)

Now that the air is turning chillier, leaves are turning color, and autumn is officially here, it’s time to finally start shifting our menus to new recipes. No more light salads, chilled soups, and berry sorbets. Instead, we’re invited to turn our focus to comfort foods, heartier fares, and more substantial desserts using today’s fresh, seasonal ingredients: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beets, winter squash, kale, parsnips, chestnuts, apples, pears, cranberries, and more.

For a nice variety of recipes incorporating some of these fall-weather fruits and vegetables, take a look at the delicious dishes we’ve gathered for you below. (Click on each photo caption for the recipe.) Then be sure to print out the two recipe cards (one for Cream of Broccoli Soup and one for a delicious Pumpkin Roll) we created exclusively for our Blue Mountain friends from our editors’ family favorites. (To print out the recipe card, simple click on “Cream of Broccoli Soup” and/or “Pumpkin Roll” in the above sentence.) Happy eating!

BREAKFAST

 Breakfast 1
Pumpkin Waffles

Breakfast 2
Pear Vanilla Dutch Baby Pancake

Breakfast 3
Apple Cinnamon Crepes

LUNCH

Lunch 1
Butternut Squash Soup

Lunch 2
Pan-Grilled Flatbread with Autumn Vegetables

Lunch 3
Whole Wheat Chicken Pot Pie with Kale

DINNER

Dinner 2
Pot Roast with Potatoes & Root Vegetables

Dinner 1
Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa

Dinner 3
Halibut with Roasted Beets & Beet Green

DESSERT

Dessert 1
Danish Pastry Apple Bars

Dessert 2
Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

Dessert 3 
Gluten-Free Chestnut & Chocolate Cake

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Fun Food Holidays (with FREE recipe card!)

07012014_Fondue_BLOG_BMA                There are few things in life that are forever immortalized as being incredibly sweet and utterly irresistible. Among them are babies, puppies…and desserts. Yes, decadent, luscious, oh-so-delicious and wonderful desserts that bring joy and happiness to everyone’s lips.

It just so happens that July is chock-full of fun and fascinating dessert-related holidays. Why not take a moment to look at the list below and celebrate the only way that makes the most perfect sense: by baking a special treat or making a frozen delight! (For your convenience, we’ve included a link to each and every mouth-watering recipe.)

And to kick off what happens to be today’s featured holiday—Chocolate Day—the folks at Blue Mountain are sharing our very own personal favorite recipe for Chocolate Fondue that you’re sure to love. Just download the fondue recipe card designed exclusively for you, print, and enjoy! (To print the recipe card, simply click “fondue” in the above sentence!)

July 7 – National Strawberry Sundae Day
Strawberry:: Lemon and Vanilla Ice Cream Parfait

July 8 – National Chocolate with Almonds Day
July 8

July 9 – National Sugar Cookie Day
July 9

July 11 – National Blueberry Muffin Day
July 11

July 12 – Pecan Pie Day
July 12

July 15 – Tapioca Pudding Day
July 17

July 19 – National Raspberry Cake Day
July 19

July 21 – National Ice Cream Day
July 21

July 27 – National Crème Brulee Day
July 27

July 30 – National Cheesecake Day
July 30

July 31 – National Cotton Candy Day
July 31

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day (FREE downloadable recipe!)

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It’s the day to don green clothing, get ye’ eyes smilin’, and put a bit of a jig in your step!

It doesn’t matter if you’re Irish for the day or Irish all the way—Saint Patrick’s Day
is the day for song, lilting laughter, and spending time with family and friends.
For a wee bit o’ fun, we thought you might enjoy discovering how our Blue Mountain family likes to celebrate this festive day. From favorite foods to timeless traditions,
here’s how our “resident leprechauns” celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green!

“I’ll get together with a group of friends and cook some traditional St. Pat food               like corned beef and cabbage, or colcannon sometimes. The best part is we’ll make     black and tans and use the spoon to actually separate the 2 ingredients, preferably    Harp and Murphy’s.” –Tom Page; Art Director

I always spend St. Patrick’s Day with my family and friends.  All the men wear kilts,    we drink green beer, and we all go watch the parade.” –Jess Buse; Designer

I don’t make food, but I do eat it. The green I wear is the green frosting on my lips     from eating green cookies. I’ll listen to lots of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, and I always like to see the parade.” –Matt Friske; Designer

“We always go to my brother-in-law’s house and then walk over to the Irish bars, enjoy some Guinness and some Irish music, and then walk back for a corned beef and cabbage dinner made in the crock pot. What I’ve loved about St. Pat’s in recent years is that the weather has been so nice. It’s like the first taste of spring; something to look forward to.” –Kristin Thorne; Manager

“Even though we’re Italian, we like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each year in the same manner we would any special holiday: with food, of course! In honor of the Irish, we always make the same special annual dinner: corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage. And then for dessert, we have home-baked Irish soda bread that I think is the best I’ve tasted anywhere!” –Maria Isabella; Editor

“I’ll definitely play some Irish music, including Tommy Sands, and also The McNulty Family’s ‘O’Hara from Tara, McNamara from Mayo,’ which my father would play every St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll also be on the phone a good bit with calls to my family. Wherever we are, we always raise a pint to my father, who has been gone from us now much too long. (Just like the Irish to end with a twinkle and tear in ye’ eye!)”                                           –Liza McNamara; Sr. Editor

B’gosh ‘n Begorrah!  As the luck of the Irish would have it, Maria agreed to share her     Irish Soda Bread recipe with us!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe from BlueMountain.com

Warm up the oven and join us in baking this tasty treat for St. Paddy’s Day.  Either click the image above to download your very own recipe card or CLICK HERE!

Sláinte!

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IT’S NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY! (7.23)

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Whet Your Wienie Appetite and Celebrate Hot Dog Day!

Now that you’ve gotten some nice naptime in from yesterday’s National Hammock Day, you’re probably famished. So, satisfy your appetite and start celebrating all over again, for July 23 is National Hot Dog Day!  It’s estimated that Americans eat roughly 20 billion hot dogs a year. That’s a lot of wienies!

Beef up your hot dog history and tantalize your taste buds with these mouth-watering recipes and suggestions for some hot dog dining!

A Little Hot Dog History

Although the origin of the hot dog is as widespread as there are toppings to put on it, some believe the frankfurter got its start from some enterprising butchers in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany and Vienna, Austria. Many migrated to America, bringing their delicacies with them.

In 1904, Bavarian proprietor Anton Feuchtwanger started running out of the gloves he gave customers to handle the hot sausage he sold. He reportedly procured the services of his brother-in-law baker who concocted soft rolls long enough to fit the meat, and the hot dog bun was born.

As for how “hot dog” got its name, it’s believed that New York cartoonist Tad Dorgan coined the term after watching vendors advertise their “dachshund sausages” by hollering to bystanders nearby. Uncertain of how to spell “dachshund” while sketching the scene, Dorgan substituted the words “hot dog” and the phrase stuck.

To Grill, or Not to Grill

Whether you’re tying on your grilling apron to cook up some hot dogs or heading to the ballpark to catch a game—and that stadium mustard!—there’s nothing like sinking your teeth into one of America’s favorite foods! If you do plan on firing up the grill to cook your own, or roasting it on a stick over an open flame, here are some finger-licking recipes to liven up any frankfurter:

Finger-Licking Frankfurter Recipes

            Chicago-Style Hot Dog:
            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicago-style-hot-dog/detail.aspx
            Detroit-Style Coney Dog:
            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/detroit-style-coney-dogs/detail.aspx
            Corn Dogs:
            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/corn-dogs/detail.aspx
            Sloppy Dogs:
            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sloppy-dogs/detail.aspx
            Pretzel Dogs:
            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pretzel-dogs/detail.aspx

If you plan to pass on the grill and could use a tip on how to find some hot dog hot spots near you, here are a few sites to point you in the right direction:

Happy Hot Dog Hot Spots

And when you’re just plain dog tired and don’t want to fix your own franks, here’s a list of places that serve up some of the best plain to absolute gourmet dogs around!

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IT’S NATIONAL ICED TEA DAY!

Summer Is Almost Here!

messagepart-2Even though the official start of summer is still a few days away, don’t be surprised if you’re already craving a cool, refreshing glass of iced tea–after all, it’s National Iced Tea Day! If any beverage should have its own holiday, iced tea is not only one of the tastiest choices but it’s one of the healthiest as well.

So, How Did Iced Tea Come To Be? 

In 1904, English tea plantation owner Richard Blechynden set up a booth to sell hot tea at the St. Louis World Fair. However, it was an extremely hot day and fair visitors wanted something cold. So Blechnyden simply poured the tea over ice and it was an immediate hit!

Health Benefits

Since ancient times, tea has had a wide range of medicinal uses, and modern research gives merit to its benefits. Tea is commonly used to alleviate cold symptoms and, usually with honey, provide instant relief for a sore throat. For stressful situations, certain teas can be very relaxing and even help you drift off to sleep. Tea is also believed to help avoid heart disease. And green tea may even reduce the risk of breast cancer. This is because one glass of tea can contain as many antioxidants as fruits and veggies such as strawberries and spinach!

While even some bottled iced teas can be surprisingly super-powered, brewing your own is the best way to get the maximum health benefits.

Home Brewed

So let’s say you want the best of both worlds—a healthy tea and a great tasting drink. A tea brewed hot and then chilled would logically be your best choice, since hot water releases more of the tea’s antioxidants. But overnight fridge tea has proven to be comparably healthy, so can’t go wrong with either technique.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Iced-Tea
http://www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_Iced_Tea
http://www.food.com/recipe/sun-tea-110885


Talk about Variety!

While basic black or herbal teas are still popular, often sweetened with sugar, lemon or mint, tea connoisseurs are constantly coming up new and creative concoctions. Even if you’re not a fan of the classic brew, flavors such as peach or raspberry, mango pineapple or Blackberry Mojito Iced Green Tea, make it possible for everyone to enjoy National Iced Tea Day in their own special way.  And with the countless recipes and products now available, you can easily enjoy new Iced Tea flavors all summer long!

http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/how-to-make-iced-tea
http://www.teaforte.com/store/tea-over-ice/
http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Drinks/Tea-Drinks/Iced-Tea/Top.aspx
 

Tea for Beginners to Tea Connoisseurs

The following website has a great selection of teas, brewing pots, tins, and gift ideas and is filled with information for the novice at tea to the connoisseur. Also includes some great information on iced tea as well!

http://www.teavana.com/
http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/cool-off-with-iced-tea
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EASTER CRAFTS & RECIPES

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Photo Credit: http://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/crafts/pretty-easter-crafts-for-adults/#page=2

An Easy Easter Centerpiece

Want to add a touch of springtime and Easter whimsy to your family table this year? It’s easy to do with simple craft ideas designed to bring out the smiles at your house. Here are a couple of ways to add some yummy treats and fashionable colors to your Easter celebration, as featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website.

You can create your own sweet tree of edible and non-edible butterflies and flowers. All you need is a nicely shaped tree branch with numerous twigs, perhaps in its natural glory, or spray-painted in springtime green or white. You’ll also need blank card stock and some Easter cookie cutters.

  • Pop your branch into a basket or pretty pastel bucket that has some florist foam in it to hold the branch up nicely and then spread some Easter grass around it.
  • Next, pick out your favorite cookie cutters, trace those butterflies and flowers onto a good card stock and have fun coloring or painting them with glitz, sparkle, and your own unique designs. Of course you can always use rubber stamps or stencils for your designs if you’d prefer. If you like a simpler look, just use pastel colored card stock and leave the shapes design-free.
  • Tie a few of your finished shapes to your branch with invisible jewelry cord or narrow thread or yarn.
  • Save some room on your tree to add the real cookies in the same Easter shapes! Just bake your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or use the one below), using the same butterfly and flower cookie cutter shapes as above. (Don’t forget to add a small hole to the top of each cookie before baking for hanging.) Decorate the cookies, hang them on your tree and you’ll have an impressive and tasty Easter centerpiece.

Another Version

Simply place your beautiful branch in florist foam in a nice ceramic vase, and embellish with brightly wrapped candy or eggs. You can then attach some silk flower buds to the tree branch with a glue gun as well. Other suggestions for decorating the branch include hanging wrapped chocolate bunnies, pink and yellow peeps or little bundles of pastel jelly beans or candy-coated chocolates. Your guests will enjoy them all and you’re sure to create an Easter to remember.  This delightful centerpiece can even serve as a gift for your host for Easter dinner or for bringing to the Easter party at school to help make everything prettier and more fun.

For more ideas for decorative trees and other Easter crafts, check some of these websites.

http://pinterest.com/cindyodom1/spring-and-easter-crafts-and-recipes/

http://pinterest.com/livinglocurto/easter-crafts-recipes/

http://www.livinglocurto.com/2012/04/napkins/

http://vintagepaperparade.blogspot.ca/2012/03/special-guest-matthew-mead.html

Any holiday is about sharing special moments with those you love and you’re sure to bring extra joy to your family and friends with great ideas like these. You can add even more  the to the season by sharing wonderful Easter greetings from bluemountain.com with everyone on your list. Design and sentiment choices range from the most beautiful religious ecards to the most whimsical “you’re some-bunny special” styles!

03182013_easterSugar Cookie Recipe

1 1/2 c butter, softened
5 c all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Nest, stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Roll out dough on floured surface until approx. 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. (You can dip cookie cutter in flour between cuttings to keep dough from sticking to cutter.)

Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on wire racks.
(Makes approx 5 doz cookies)

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HAPPY PURIM! February 23-24

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Origins of Purim

Purim is a festive celebration of the triumph of good over evil! It’s the story of the young and beautiful Queen Esther who had not shared her Jewish heritage with her husband, the King, before this story unfolded.

Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai and she had been chosen to marry the King. When Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, one of the King’s chief officials, Haman was furious. Discovering that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman sought to take revenge on him and all the Jews who lived in the kingdom. The word Purim comes from “Pur” (lot/fate) and so the Pur was cast and Haman planned to kill all the Jews.

Mordecai appealed to Esther to speak to the King on the people’s behalf. She and her people prayed and fasted for three full days as she considered the best way to approach the King.  Even though she was his wife, she could not see him unless he called her into his presence. The penalty for stepping over that boundary was death.

Esther’s courage ultimately saved her people and so Purim is a time of great celebration. You can read more of the story in the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

Purim Traditions                                                   Purim_Cookies

During Purim, a special dessert, Hamantashen, or Haman’s Ears, is made (recipe links below) and baskets of food are shared with friends and neighbors. Since the Jewish people were always on the move, it was traditional to give foods that could be consumed fairly quickly. Today, gift baskets and other gifts are also given to charitable organizations.

Sometimes little plays are acted out as one person portrays the villain, Haman, and others portray Esther or her uncle Mordecai. Songs are sung and sometimes even disguises are worn. The disguises serve as a reminder that Queen Esther had not revealed her true identity to the King until she was called upon to save her people.

Purim is a joyful celebration of feasting and drinking and a reminder that even when “lots” have been cast, a hero may yet come along to change the outcome.

http://jwa.org/blog/oznei-haman
http://reuvera.hubpages.com/hub/Jewish-Holiday-Purim-and-why-it-is-special–also-the-recipe-of-Purim-cookies–hamentashes–Hamans-ears
http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/1365/jewish/Recipes.htm
 

To send your best wishes for Purim or to share the above Purim ecard, please click here.

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Healthy Comfort Foods

What do you think of when someone mentions “comfort food?” Mac and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Grilled cheese and tomato soup? Fried chicken? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that the consumption of comfort food by men is often triggered by  positive emotions, while it is often negative ones that trigger it in women—especially college-aged women. Studies indicate that these foods may be eaten to relieve negative psychological effects or to increase positive ones for women. But for both men and women, comfort foods are usually those that pique an emotional response in us—specific dishes that bring back fond memories, usually of our childhoods or specific cultures.

As good as comfort foods may be for our psyches, however, they’re usually not great for our hearts as they’re often high in calories and saturated fats. But there are ways to still enjoy these taste-tempting meals without the guilt. We’ve listed a number of websites here that offer great recipes for comfort food that have had modern makeovers to limit the fat and calories and still keep the great flavors we love. They include other nutritional information as well including diabetic exchanges.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Let us know in the comments section below!

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_comfort_food_recipes

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Healthy-Cooking-Magazine/Healthy-Comfort-Food-Recipes

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/healthy/nutritiousdishes/comfortfood

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/healthy-comfort-food#slide-1

 

 

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What To Do With Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is a week away which means you might still be searching for good recipes for stuffing, cranberry relish, or some other traditional or, non-traditional dish. But we’re thinking ahead to what to do with the leftovers everyone will inevitably have in  the days that follow this great holiday feast!

How to Store Leftovers: One of the most important things is to store leftovers quickly so that they’re safe to serve again. A good rule of thumb is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold while serving, but if you can’t do that, start putting your perishable leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of serving.

Turkey should never be stored with stuffing in it. The turkey should be removed from the bone and placed in shallow containers or plastic bags. Storing should be done in smaller batches, as larger ones take much longer to cool and keep the heat trapped in…not a good thing. Best not to stack containers in the refrigerator until they’ve completely cooled down. Storing foods in their serving dishes takes up a lot of space, so placing these leftovers in smaller containers is also a good idea…and safer. 

How Long Can You Store Leftovers? In the refrigerator, leftovers re usually good for four days and should be reheated to 165 degrees F. before serving. Soups and sauces should be brought to a full boil when reheating. Of course frozen leftovers can be kept much longer, but start to lose their flavor after a couple months. Just remember to let the food cool down in the refrigerator before storing in the freezer. You should always mark the contents of the containers as well and date them for future reference.

So What About Eating Those Leftovers? Well, there’s no end to all the great recipes available for turning those leftovers into mouth-watering meals and we’re adding a few links here to get you there! In the meantime, here’s a few quick and easy ideas to get you started:

  1. Add leftover stuffing to clean mushroom caps, sprinkle with grated parmesan or your favorite herb and saute until caps are tender and golden.
  2. Make Grilled Turkey Reubens by adding several slices turkey and 1/2 c drained sauerkraut (both warmed in microwave) to 2 slices rye bread, 2 slices of swiss cheese and 2 T of Thousand Island Dressing. Brush bread with butter and grill in skillet over medium-low heat, a few minutes on each side. Enjoy!
  3. Eggs in Purgatory will help you use up those leftover mashed potatoes. Just shape them into patties, coat with a little flour, saute in skillet w/olive oil (about 2 minutes
    per side), then place on top of 1/4 c warmed marinara sauce on a small plate. Top with a cooked sunny-side-up egg and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little grated Parmesan…delicious!
http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Holidays-and-Events/Thanksgiving/Thanksgiving-Leftovers/Main.aspx
http://www.marthastewart.com/275078/recipes-for-thanksgiving-leftovers/@center/276949/everything-thanksgiving#345353
 http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving-leftovers/package/index.html?xp=thx

 

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