(BPT) - As the days start to get shorter - and the evenings busier - families are always on the lookout for quick and easy go-to meals that will please even the pickiest eaters. A few tricks and time-saving recipes instantly reinvent family favorites and will receive rave reviews at the dinner table.
With the California grape season still going strong, make the burst of red, green or black grapes your juicy secret for happy fall meals. Honey-Balsamic Chicken with California grapes is sure to earn an A-plus from your crowd. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is a school-year standby, and chances are the other ingredients - honey, spices and balsamic vinegar - are already stocked in your pantry. Add halved red and green grapes, and that's all it takes to turn ho-hum chicken into a new and comforting family favorite.
Another option: skip the take-out pizza and take the family on a flavor trip with trendy Italian Sausage Flatbread and California grapes. The combination of sausage and grapes is an Italian culinary tradition and pairs deliciously with sprinkles of chard and feta cheese. By using whole-grain flatbread and turkey sausage in this recipe, you can sneak in better nutrition without your family even noticing.
Why not turn it into a family affair by enlisting the kids' help in assembling the ingredients on the flatbread? Making dinner together is fun, and research shows that kids who help with meal prep tend to have healthier diets.
Here's a nifty trick to easily halve grapes in these and other recipes: Place a handful of grapes on a dinner plate (the plate should have a raised bottom, not be completely flat). Gently place another dinner plate (bottom side down) on top of the grapes. Using a serrated knife, slice between the plates and voila! You have perfectly halved grapes.
Try these great recipes and watch them bring smiles of satisfaction to your family. For more grape ideas, go to GrapesfromCalifornia.com, facebook.com/GrapesfromCalifornia, twitter.com/GrapesfromCA or pinterest.com/GrapesfromCA.
Honey-Balsamic Chicken with California Grapes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
To taste freshly ground black pepper
3 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cups red seedless California grapes, halved
1 cup green seedless California grapes, halved
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet with the shallots. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring and turning the chicken occasionally, until it and the shallots are nicely browned.
Add the grapes, vinegar, honey, and garlic and bring them to a boil; cook and stir for five minutes more. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the top with rosemary. Serves four.
Nutritional analysis per serving (without sides): Calories 261; Protein 28 g; Carbohydrate 19 g; Fat 8 g (Sat. Fat 1g); 28 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 68 mg; Sodium 314 mg; Potassium 486 mg; Fiber 1 g.
Serving suggestion: Serve over a brown rice blend or polenta with lightly steamed chard or kale.
Italian Sausage Flatbread with California Grapes
2 hot Italian turkey sausage links, casing removed
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 whole grain flatbreads
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Swiss chard
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 cup red and green seedless California grapes, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cook the sausage over medium-low heat in a nonstick skillet until cooked through. Stir in the Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes.
Gently brush each flatbread with the oil. Layer the flatbread with the sausage, chard, feta and grapes. Bake for 15 minutes. Slice each flatbread into eight even pieces. Serves four.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 273; Protein 13 g; Carbohydrate 14 g; Fat 20 g (Sat. Fat 8g); 63 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 47 mg; Sodium 699 mg; Potassium 175 mg; Fiber 4 g.