Add Mexican Flair to Game Day Favorites

Game Day Favorites(Family Features) Football season, for many people, is just as much about the food as it is about the football action. No matter who is playing and if you are at a tailgate or living room watch party, only one thing is for sure: football and flavors go hand-in-hand.

When you’re huddling up to figure out how to score a touchdown with your game day spread, consider taking your snacks to the next level by adding an authentic Mexican flair. Opt for traditional Mexican ingredients like chorizo, queso fresco or cotija in meals and snacks that are already football mainstays, including nachos, tacos and quesadillas, and consider all the possibilities that incorporating these flavorful ingredients can add to other classic dishes like sliders and potato skins.

Ideal for tailgate season, Cacique, one of the country’s top Mexican food brands, offers Mexican-Style Queso Dips – made with real queso fresco and available in Queso Blanco, Southwestern, Jalapeño and Chipotle flavors – and Fully Cooked Chorizos – made with authentically seasoned premium pork shoulder and available in classic, Chorizo with Bacon & Potato, Chorizo with Eggs and Chorizo with Queso varieties – to help fans easily add Mexican flavor to indulgent game day favorites. Both use high-quality ingredients and are microwavable, so they taste authentic and can be ready in minutes so no one misses any of the big plays or touchdowns.

Consider these twists you can add to your favorite game time snacks:

* Loaded Avocados: Give avocados the potato skin treatment by loading them up with delicious toppings like chorizo, queso fresco and crema – just don’t eat the skin.

* Cheese Fries: Drizzle queso dip over French fries or top with crumbles of flavorful Cacique Chorizo and Cotija in a recipe like these Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Chorizo and Cotija.
* Robust Sliders: Skip regular beef patties and spoon the rich seasoning and punch of flavor that chorizo brings to your favorite slider rolls then top with your favorite cheese and salsa.

* Mac and Cheese: For a new take on mac and cheese, toss cooked macaroni noodles with your favorite Cacique Queso Dip and top with crushed tortilla chips in a recipe like this Southwestern Mac and Queso.

Discover more ways to incorporate Mexican flair into your game day spread at

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Chorizo and Cotija

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wide sticks
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 package Cacique Fully Cooked Chorizo
1 cup Cacique Cotija, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 400 F and lightly grease large, rimmed baking sheet.

In large bowl, toss sweet potato sticks with olive oil.

Lay fries in single layer on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake 15-18 minutes, shaking pan several times, until tender and lightly browned.

When fries are almost done baking, microwave chorizo 3-4 minutes.

To serve, place golden brown fries on serving platter and spoon chorizo over top. Sprinkle with cotija and fresh cilantro.

Southwestern Mac and Queso

1 package Cacique Queso Dip
1 box macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup Cacique Queso Fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup tortilla chips, crushed

Microwave queso dip 2-3 minutes; stir. Pour over cooked macaroni and toss until thoroughly coated.

Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco and crushed tortilla chips over macaroni before serving.
Source: Cacique

Tasteful, On-Trend Asian-Inspired Summer Entertaining

(Family Features) Summer is the ideal time to get out the grill and enjoy creating a tasteful meal while entertaining your family and friends. Although some people choose to whomp up classic recipes, you can light up things up by capitalising of the seasonal ingredients and popular culinary trends, such as choosing genuine, Asian-inspired recipes.

With so many Americans choosing to eat more ethnical foods, it is discernible that worldwide flavors continue to be on the ascension. While Asian flavors are not new, they continue to pique consumers’ curiosity. Integrating on-trend, plant-based products and ingredients that introduce Asian flavors assist in creating bright and harmonious dishes for all your eating social occasions both indoors and in the backyard this summer.

 Asian Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Consider these tips to guarantee your summertime gatherings are the ones to remember.

Make the best of Seasonal Ingredients
Summer allows for a diverseness of fresh flavors to integrate into meals, whether you are firing up a classic family recipe or some thing new. Seasonal tastes like tomatoes, peaches, corn, blueberries, avocados or other sun-ripened fruits/vegetables can help showcase the assortment of the summer harvest.

Opt for Simple, Flavorful Swaps
From sides to salads and sandwiches, many summer dishes are served with creamy condiments. Yet, simple, accessible swaps can provide the same rich flavors using fewer, cleaner ingredients. One time-tested example is rice vinegar, which can be an alternate to mayonnaise and creamy dressings. To help bring up the flavors of your summertime dishes with minimum calories, consider an option like the NAKANO lineup of eight delightful rice vinegars, which are made with real rice and finest ingredients, creating a clean flavor that’s smoother and mellow compared to other vinegars. Featuring easy-to-read labels with no more than seven ingredients, it has no added preservatives, no artificial flavors and no high-fructose corn syrup or monosodium glutamate. These rice vinegars are sold in 8 delicious forms, including the new Toasted Sesame Rice Vinegar.

Serve On-Trend Asian Dishes
Asian flavors and ingredients continue to be more and more popular owed to delicious flavor profiles mixed with vibrant colors and presentation on the plate. When warmer weather calls for lighter meals, go for an option that blends popular culinary trends and audacious tastes like those commonly found in Asian cooking to make scream your crowd. Even most unsophisticated of cooks can whip up this Asian Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing, featuring tofu, nutritious vegetables and a sweet-yet-tangy dressing – a combining to leave your guests enthusiastic about your next meeting.

For more recipe inspiration and tips for creating fresh summer flavors, visit

Asian Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Tofu Marinade:
2 tablespoons NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar or NAKANO Roasted Garlic Rice Vinegar
1/4 cup tamari (Japanese soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili paste
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 blocks extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
nonstick cooking spray
wooden skewers, soaked in water

Buddha Bowl:
2 cups fresh, shredded carrot
2 cups broccoli, cooked and cut into small florets
3 cups brown rice, cooked
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Lemon-Tahini Dressing:
1 tablespoon NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar or NAKANO Organic Natural Rice Vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari (Japanese soy sauce)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice

To make Tofu Marinade: In small bowl, whisk rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, chili paste and diced garlic. Add tofu to bowl and place in refrigerator 10-20 minutes to allow tofu to marinate.

Before lighting grill, spray with nonstick cooking spray then heat grill to medium-high heat. Remove tofu from marinade and thread on skewers. Grill each skewer 10 minutes, turning midway, or to desired doneness.

To make Buddha Bowl: In six bowls, evenly combine carrots, broccoli, baked tofu, brown rice and sesame seeds.

To make Lemon-Tahini Dressing: In medium bowl, whisk rice vinegar, tahini, sesame oil, tamari, maple syrup, garlic, ginger and lemon juice until combined. Top each bowl with dressing, as desired.

Substitutions: Tofu can be substituted with 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken or top sirloin steak.
Source: NAKANO

A Classic Staple for Family Meals

(Family Features) each day seems to bring a new food trend, and though it can be inviting to go all-in on the latest craze to hit the shelves, there are lots of time-tested foods that still deserve a place in our tables. One of those is real, heart-healthy dairy milk.

real milk

If you are thinking of passing over real milk in favor of one of the non-dairy milk alternatives, like oat, almond or coconut milk, it is all important to know they are not a one-to-one swap. In point of fact, while they might have similar packaging, genuine milk and non-dairy alternatives differ in various key areas including nutrition, ingredients, added sugars and taste.

Beginning with nutrition, few non-dairy alternatives can match the full nutrient package found in real milk, which naturally contains high-quality protein, calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Real milk is as well a great food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium in the American diet – 3 of the nutrients the current Dietary Guidelines say people most often lack – and it is hard to get adequate important nutrients without it, according to research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and The FASEB Journal.

Real milk is as well simple, with a short ingredient list of just milk, vitamin A and vitamin D and no added sugar. Some non-dairy milk alternatives have 10 or more ingredients, including added sugar, salt, stabilisers and emulsifiers.

On top of being a fresh, nutritious drink, milk plays a key role in wholesome, classic recipes to share with family and friends. From this Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese to a classic alfredo, real milk not only boosts nutrition, it also adds dimension, emphasises flavor and serves as a creamy base to many of your favorite dishes.

For more recipe inspiration, visit

Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Servings: 4

12 ounces small pasta noodles, like elbows or shells
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
1 glass milk (8 ounces) paired with each serving

Add pasta to pot of boiling, salted water; boil until tender then drain and rinse with cold water. Toss pasta with olive oil and set aside.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in flour. Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk until smooth and creamy. Stir in garlic powder.

Stir in cheese until totally melted and fully integrated. Add remaining milk to thin. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in cooked pasta, garnish with pepper and chopped parsley, if desired, and serve with glass of real milk.

Nutritional information per serving: 660 calories; 36 g fat; 21 g saturated fat; 105 mg cholesterol; 33 g protein; 51 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 540 mg sodium; 905 mg calcium. Nutrition figures include 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk.

Source: MilkPEP

Uncomplicated, Friendly-Family Solutions

(Family Features) During the hustle and flurry of an occupied school week, beguiling after-school activities, homework, dinner meals and next day lunch preparation can be draining. Discovering a way to simplify evenings while running a more efficient kitchen routine can make life more pleasing for parents and kids alike.

Consider these ways to make family meals work overtime for you.

chicken recipe

Plan for leftovers. One easy way to make the most of your time in the evening is to make dinners that serve double function – selecting recipes that shine when leftovers are re-invented for lunch the following day, like an all-time classic: chicken fingers. Making chicken fingers at home is not only healthier than regular restaurant offerings, but leftovers can be utilised in a recipe like this Chicken Tender Smart Pocket, ideal for packing in your kid’s lunchbox.

Use kid-friendly, better-for-you ingredients. It is no secret it can be difficult to serve smart choices your kids will really reach for over and over again. Fix a simple toppings bar with a favorite protein, chopped crunchy vegetables and simple sauces alongside fun, homemade foods like stuff-able Toufayan Smart Pockets. For sale in Original, 100% Whole Wheat, Everything and Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat assortments, they are easy to hold, fun to stuff and only 80 calories each.

Concentrate on family favorites. When you are busy preparing a meal the whole family loves, your time spent in the kitchen may not feel so much like a drain on the evening. Throw it back to childhood with these Sloppy Joe Smart Pockets, an easier-to-eat version with the timeless taste of seasoned beef.

Discover more family meal solutions at

Chicken Tender Smart Pocket
Servings: 1

3 breaded chicken tenders
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Toufayan Smart Pocket, any variety
2 pieces curly lettuce, washed and dried
2 thinly sliced tomatoes
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Bake chicken tenders according to package instructions.

Spread mayonnaise evenly on insides of pita bread pocket.

Layer lettuce then tomatoes and place chicken tenders evenly across pita bread pocket. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately.

Sloppy Joe Smart Pockets

Sloppy Joe Smart Pockets
Servings: 4

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 cup water
4 Toufayan Smart Pockets, any variety

In large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, celery, onion, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper, breaking up beef until browned and no longer pink, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Add tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and water; mix well.

Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 15-20 minutes until sauce thickens and flavors meld.

Remove from heat; taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Divide evenly among pita bread pockets and serve.

Source: Toufayan

Simplify Back-To-School Dinners With Nutritious Meal Plans

(Family Features) Back-to-school season can be littered between after-school activities, week­end sports and evening homework – in addition to cooking dinner every night. Developing a master meal plan with fast, uncomplicated and nourishing meals is an easy way to take control of your family’s agitated schedule. Begin by stockpiling the pantry with essential constituents that maximise the nutriment and savour of your family favorite meals.

For example, American Pecans are a nutri­tious ingredient to have on-hand – among the highest in “good” monounsaturated fats and packed with plant protein, fiber and essential minerals – and “The Original Supernut” is versatile enough for breakfast, lunchboxes, dinners and on-the-go snacking. Adding one bag to your weekly grocery list provides a canvas for exploring new dishes that are both nutritious and delicious.

In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1 1/2 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving (28 grams) of pecans contains 18 grams of unsaturated fat and only 2 grams of saturated fat.

Updating your dinner repertoire doesn’t have to be complicated. Fuss-free recipes such as Pizza with Pecan-Herb Topping, Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Pork Chops can be ready in less than an hour and put a fresh twist on classic favorites to please parents and kids alike.

Discover more back-to-school meal-plan­ning recipe inspiration and cooking tips at

Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Pork Chops

Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Pork Chops
Cook time: 22 minutes

1 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional, to taste
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon water
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 medium boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat

Heat air fryer to 400 F.

In medium bowl, mix pecans, arrow­root starch, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.

In separate bowl, whisk egg, 1 tea­spoon Dijon mustard, water and garlic.

Cover pork chops in egg mixture then transfer to bowl with pecan mixture to coat all sides. Repeat with remaining pork chops. Place three pork chops in air fryer basket.

Cook pork chops 6 minutes, flip, then cook additional 6 minutes. Set aside on plate.

Repeat with remaining pork chops.

Serve hot with Dijon mustard, if desired.

Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Cook time: 35 minutes

2 cups raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
1 1/2-2 pounds chicken breast tenders or chicken strips
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
pepper, to taste

Buttermilk Ranch Dip:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 425 F.

In food processor, pulse pecans until fine as breadcrumbs. In shallow bowl, mix pecans with panko, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.

In separate shallow bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. In third shallow bowl, add flour.

Lightly season chicken tenders with salt and pepper, to taste. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dip in eggs, flour then pecan mixture. Be sure to press pecan mixture into chicken to be sure it is completely coated. Set chicken on baking sheet lined with cooling rack or parchment paper. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Place chicken on center rack and bake 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

To make Buttermilk Ranch Dip: In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, dried dill and salt until smooth.

Serve pecan-crusted chicken tenders warm paired with Buttermilk Ranch Dip.

Pizza with Pecan-Herb Topping

Pizza with Pecan-Herb Topping
Cook time: 40 minutes

1 store-bought pizza dough
1 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1/2 cup jarred pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion

Heat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly flour clean surface. Using rolling pin, roll out pizza dough to 1/8-inch thick and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently pierce dough with fork to prevent air pockets. Bake crust 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden in color.

In food processor, pulse pecans, parsley and garlic powder until mixture becomes coarse crumbs. Transfer to bowl and stir in Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (if desired), salt and pepper. Set aside.

Using spoon, evenly spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese, red pepper slices and onion slices. Sprinkle 1/3 cup pecan mixture evenly over pizza.

Transfer pizza to oven and bake 10-15 minutes, or until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Serve with remaining pecan-herb mixture.

Notes: If dough instructions differ from recipe, use package instructions. Additional topping options include: pepperoni, olives, ham, bacon and roasted veggies. Leftover pecan-herb topping can be used for pasta and salads.
Source: American Pecan Council