(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Sliders used to be just mini burgers that were appetizers at trendy cafes. Now they've taken center stage as full-fledged entrees that encompass all kinds of proteins on lots of fun foundations, like the Caesar salad bites on rye crackers, curry shrimp on unpeeled cucumber slices topped with tiny pita triangles, and mini muffin fruit pies that follow. Their smaller stature automatically makes them more economical than big, bloated platters of food.
Fun fare like this proves innovative food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty "home cooking" and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become gourmets, since there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong mixtures, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows."Since these are all variations of sliders, serve a few each to every diner:Slippery Slider Lime Cocktails
Cut limes in half and completely remove pulp, leaving a shell as thick-skinned as possible. Combine lime juice and pit-free pulp with no-sugar-added cranberry juice and no-sugar-added lemonade. Pour the beverage into the lime shells for serving.Hail to Caesar Salad Sliders
Serve bites of store-bought or homemade crouton-less Caesar salad atop a rye cracker "crouton" topped with an extra grating of Parmesan cheese and grindings of black pepper.Mix It Up with Mushrooms
Remove stems from fresh button mushrooms. Fill with a mixture of finely chopped red bell pepper, red onions and scallions combined with store-bought or homemade reduced-fat vinaigrette. Wrap in thawed puff pastry and heat, according to package directions, until golden and crispy.Little Shrimp with Big Flavor
Combine drained can of cooked baby shrimp with low-fat mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, finely chopped yellow onion, chopped chives and curry powder and serve atop unpeeled cucumber slices topped with a tiny triangle cut from toasted whole-wheat pita bread.Dig This Dreamy Dessert
Purchase or prepare your favorite flavor of mini muffin. Cut in half and dab with a dollop of store-bought or homemade fruit pie filling, and top with whipped cream and chopped pecans.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
There are steps that can make deep-frying a lighter technique rather than a heavier one. This is an excellent tip from Chef Amanda Cohen in her new Dirt Candy: A Cookbook - Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant
: "Food that's deep-fried properly barely touches the oil. Air is trapped between the batter shell and the food, and the food is cooked by steaming as its water content evaporates. The bubbles you see in the oil are the steam escaping the batter shell. You want to [very carefully with a utensil] pull your food out right before the bubbles stop. Once they stop, your food is going to start drying out."
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.