Tuesday, May 29, 2012
These intimate or large gatherings not only have the ability to connect us with friends and family, but also with the familiar foods brought to the table. But... do you know about where your food comes from? I have to admit that other than naming the grocery store a few blocks away, I wouldn't be able to list many more locations than that.
Fortunately for me, this season ConAgra Foods wants families to have fun learning more about where their food comes from. Whether it's the fresh veggies in your backyard garden or everyday foods in your pantry like Hunt's, Egg Beaters and Chef Boyardee, there's a lot that I was able to learn. Just take a look at the informative infographic below!
After finding out about where our foods came from, it was time to head to Ready, Set, Eat for a whole list of recipes, tips, shortcuts, coupons and more to plan for our upcoming ConAgra Backyard Bash. I love that this site lets you customize exactly what you're looking for in order to cook for your next meal.
Choose from ingredients to include, how much prep and total time you have, or even if the items needed for a particular recipe are on sale if you insert your zip code and select your local store. I really like that feature, as it can not only help in planning meals but can save you money at the same time!
For our Bash, I was excited to try three new recipes with our family and friends: Taco-roni from Chef Boyardee, Peach-Blueberry Bread Pudding from Egg Beaters, and Bruschetta Chicken Grill from Hunts. Yum!
2 cans (15 oz each) Chef Boyardee Beefaroni Pasta
1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 can (15 oz each) Rosarita Premium Whole Black Beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup broken yellow tortilla chips
Place Beefaroni, drained tomatoes, beans, corn and cumin in large saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and broken chips just before serving.
We changed this recipe only slightly by adding in fresh tomatoes and omitting the cumin to be sure that the kids would eat it, but otherwise it was a hit!
Peach-Blueberry Bread Pudding
PAM Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
5 cups day-old French bread (1-inch cubes)
1 can (15.25 oz each) sliced peaches in heavy syrup, drained, cut in bite-size pieces
2/3 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries (Do not thaw)
2 cups fat free milk
1 cup Egg Beaters Original (1 cup = 8 oz)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Reddi-wip Fat Free Dairy Whipped Topping, optional
Preheat oven 350°F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add bread cubes, peaches and blueberries; toss lightly. Beat milk, Egg Beaters, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg with wire whisk until well blended; pour evenly over bread mixture. Bake 1 hour, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Cut into 9 squares to serve. Top each serving with Reddi-wip, if desired.
I don't think that my kids had ever tried bread pudding before, so they were hesitant for the first few bites but then loved it! We used a frozen fruit mix instead of only blueberries, so the results were even more fruity and delicious!
Bruschetta Chicken Grill
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing, divided
1/4 cup Hunt's Tomato Paste, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (5 oz each)
1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 thick slices Italian bread
Stir together 1/4 cup dressing and 2 tablespoons tomato paste in small dish. Pour over chicken in small glass dish; cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Meanwhile, stir together drained tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup dressing, remaining 2 tablespoons tomato paste, onions, basil and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Grill chicken 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink in centers (165°F), turning once. Just before chicken is done, grill bread 2 minutes on each side or until toasted. To serve, place bread on serving plates; top with chicken and tomato mixture.
This was the recipe that we customized the most, as we left out the green onions and decided to serve the bruschetta in a more traditional route (just over small pieces of toasted bread) due to the number of vegetarians attending our party. However, that didn't stop it from being delicious!
Once we had our food going and our guests happily eating, it was time to move on to the next steps of our party. First up, planting our thyme and tomato seeds so that in the future we would truly have food that came from our own yard.
As we prepared our cans, all of the kids loved talking about the tiny seeds and how they would grow into food that we would then get to eat. Whether it was getting to "play" in the dirt or the excitement over the actual knowledge of how food is grown, we had a great time getting each can planted and ready to sprout.
After our planting was completed, we moved on to our next aspect of talking about the future: a time capsule. As each party attendee had brought something meaningful to them to be included, we took a moment to share the items (and why they had been chosen) and placed them into the box.
Unfortunately, a downpour of rain (and some hail!) put a sudden stop to our Backyard Bash as well as the possibility of burying our time capsule. However, that just means that we will wait until our tomato and thyme seeds get a little bigger, at which time we will bury the time capsule and mark the placement with the plants themselves.
In the meantime, we'll just hang onto our treasured collection of items!
Then, five years from now, we'll dig up our capsule and see just how drastically things have changed... hopefully the future will find us happy, healthy and spending just as much time with our family, friends and good food from ConAgra!
I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of ConAgra and received products to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.