Can’t-Miss Recipe Ideas for NFL Playoff Parties

The NFL playoffs are already underway. Every weekend until the big showdown on February 5th will be set aside in many households for football. Chances are that you’ll either be throwing your own NFL playoff party this month or attending a neighbor’s football party. If you’re throwing your own party, you’re going to need a wide variety of recipe ideas. And if you’re showing up to the party, you can surprise your host with delicious homemade snacks. Take a look at a few of our favorite recipe ideas we’ve assembled from around the web.

 Can't-Miss Recipe Ideas for Your NFL Playoff Party

The Best Buffalo Wings

Fried chicken wings usually can’t be beat, but this recipe for baked buffalo wings is up to the challenge. Not only are you getting the classic taste traditional football fans will love, you’re also crafting a healthier version by baking the wings in the oven and prepping ingredients at home rather than frying ’em or getting take-out.

The Greatest Guacamole

Guacamole is the ultimate party dip for a reason. Many people don’t really care for avocados, but they can’t pass up a delicious bowl of guacamole with a bowl of their favorite chips. Courtesy of, this is an easy guacamole recipe with some unique twists and easy-to-multiply numbers to make bigger servings.

Delicious Dip Recipes

Chips are the first thing many people buy for their NFL parties because they’re simple crowd-pleasers, but you can take any chip to the next level with delicious dip recipes. Skim through this great list for ideas about spinach dips, salsa creations, hummus, as well as a few brand new dip ideas in this interesting recipe list.

Homemade Pizza Recipes

If you’re up to the challenge of trying to make a homemade pizza that competes with the many pizza places vying for your business this time of year, you’re in luck. This Pinterest board has a variety of options you can try, from healthier flatbread options to taco pizzas to delicious ideas you won’t find at your local pizza place.

Get everything you need to cook and serve great party snacks with supplies from The Lakeside Collection. Here are a few of our kitchen and dining favorites with a fun NFL theme that will be perfect for your party…

NFL Magnetic Chip Clips12 Piece NFL Food Storage SetsNFL Ceramic Gameday Platters

Christmas Brunch Recipe Ideas We Can’t Wait to Try

There’s more to look forward to on Christmas morning than opening presents. Today (like most mornings) we’re thinking about breakfast food, contemplating late-morning meal possibilities that combine the holiday feel we love with our favorite breakfast treats. Here are the Christmas brunch ideas we’re currently craving.

Christmas Brunch Recipes - Christmas Pancakes

Christmas Pancakes

Pancakes are the perfect breakfast food and will definitely hit the spot on Christmas morning. And there are so many creative ways to make your pancakes festive with simple shapes and easy food accents. Make the kids smile when you serve them up some snowman pancakes with a bacon scarf, stack them high to create a Christmas tree or use toppings to create festive holiday characters with this inspiring list of pancake ideas.

Gingerbread Waffles

If you have a waffle maker handy, let it do most of the work. All you have to do is get the batter ready and get your toppings lined up. It’ll save you time whipping up the batter the night before. Just heat up the waffle iron and start pumping out delicious portions for the entire family. Just like pancakes, waffles will make everyone happy on Christmas morning, especially if you mix up your classic recipe–try out these gingerbread waffles.

Christmas Brunch Ideas - Glazed Holiday Ham

Breakfast Ideas for Leftover Ham

Many of us enjoy a glazed holiday ham on Christmas Eve. Meaning leftovers. Meaning ham at-the-ready for a variety of uses on Christmas morning. With recipes like this ham and cheese breakfast casserole, it’s easy to use those leftovers to prep a hearty meal for the next morning. You’ll be glad you prepped your Christmas morning meal the night before when all you have to do is get up, pop the casserole in the oven and sit back.

Baked Croissant Casserole

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious about your breakfast casserole, mix it up with this croissant breakfast bake. It’s also a great alternative in case your plans for plenty of leftover holiday ham didn’t pan out like you thought they might. The buttery mini croissants, melty cheese and eggs will entice any late-riser out of bed.

Christmas Brunch Recipes - Cinnamon Rolls

Specialty Cinnamon Rolls

Slow-cookers are perfect for Christmas morning because they simplify the cooking process and allow you to enjoy your holiday with the family while your meal cooks. But slow-cookers are not just for hearty casseroles or quinoa. They can also be used for classic breakfast treats like gooey, sugary cinnamon rolls. Check out a simple recipe from Creme de la Crumb to make slow-cooker cinnamon rolls a reality on Christmas morning.

Quick Tips on Buying and Grilling Shrimp

Shrimp is known as the easiest and least intimidating seafood to cook. But when you’re buying fresh shrimp from the supermarket or local fishmonger instead of the freezer aisle, there are some key things you need to know to make sure you’re getting the very best quality seafood. Even after you get your shrimp home, there are storage and prepping procedures you should consider before finally throwing your shrimp onto the grill. Shrimp can cook pretty quick, so we’re giving you some even quicker facts and useful tips on grilling shrimp.


  • Though there are more than 300 different species of shrimp around the world, you’ll probably only be able to find a few kinds at your local store. The good news: some of the best shrimp in the world comes off our own shores on the Gulf of Mexico, meaning you can eat fresh in any state.
  • The shelf life is pretty short, so shrimp behind the supermarket glass isn’t your best bet when looking to buy fresh. Some of the best shrimp is sold in frozen blocks. You’ll have to peel and take out the veins. Another great option is individual quick frozen shrimp. It’s easier to thaw and prep.
  • It’s sold by the pound, so if you’ve got less than 30 shrimp per pound, they should be big to jumbo or even colossal size. Tinier shrimp should score you more than 50. Colossal shrimp or larger sizes have a “U” before the number, which stands for “Under.” Ex: U8 is Under 8 shrimp per pound.
  • Black spotting that is sometimes seen on shrimp that aren’t fresh is called melanosis. It doesn’t mean the shrimp isn’t edible, but it’s a good idea to try to avoid the shrimp with spots to make sure you’re getting the freshest flavor. Shrimp should also be firm. Don’t buy shrimp if it’s falling apart.


  • Defrost before grilling. Do this in the fridge or with a bucket of cold water. Cold, not warm. Warm water might thaw shrimp faster but it will also force it to lose good moisture and density that will mess with the flavor. Looking for extra flavor? Try brining. Boil water with a mix of salt and sugar. Add it to the cold contents already in the fridge for a couple hours before grilling. Remember to rinse it off.
  • Peel or not. It’s your preference. Peeling is better for throwing your shrimp on kabobs, but leaving the shell can help protect delicious shrimp meat from the grill. The exterior of the shrimp is best when it’s a little pink, and you know the inside is done when it’s white. Don’t walk away from the grill. Shrimp usually cooks quickly depending on how hot your grill is running. Cook time: 4-7 minutes.

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

As the week winds down, we are looking forward to relaxing a little at home. After several nights of quick meals, it is time to work in the kitchen to create something special. If cooking is not your thing, keep snacks close at hand on the counter and in the living room so you can grab something sweet in a hurry. Remember, everyone loves something gourmet to nibble on, even your pet! Here is the Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

The varied sizes of the Set of 4 Lasagna Baking Pans are perfect for any event from a large dinner with guests to a cozy meal for two.

The varied sizes of the Set of 4 Lasagna Baking Pans are perfect for any event from a large dinner with guests to a cozy meal for two.

Jolly Chef Kitchen Collection is a fun and upbeat way to give your home color.

Jolly Chef Kitchen Collection is a fun and upbeat way to give your home color.

Make brand name candy bars that are just as delicious as the real thing with this Copy Cat Candy Bars Cookbook.

Make brand name candy bars that are just as delicious as the real thing with this Copy Cat Candy Bars Cookbook.

3-Way Candy Dispenser keeps your favorite snacks close and easily accessible.

3-Way Candy Dispenser keeps your favorite snacks close and easily accessible.

Your pet deserves to dine in style, and this Pet Food Cabinet with Bowls lets him do that without costing you a fortune.

Your pet deserves to dine in style, and this Pet Food Cabinet with Bowls lets him do that without costing you a fortune.






5 Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Oatmeal

oatmealWhen it’s cold and no one wants to get out of bed, plain old cereal with milk isn’t going to be the thing that gets them up. The surefire breakfast for a blustery and cold winter morning is heaping bowl of creamy, slow-cooked oats. While going for oats au naturale is always a nice standby, there are lots of great things you can add to them to switch it up once in a while.

Here are a few incredibly tasty and soul-warming suggestions for making your oatmeal really sing!

1. Add lots of fruit

Yes, including blueberries and chopped apples in oatmeal is a classic way to go, but think about incorporating different varieties of fruit in your breakfast. Fruits like gooseberries, stewed rhubarb, and Asian pear can add some real complexity to the overall taste. Add it just after dishing up and fold it into the oats so that it’s slightly warm.

2. Include crystallized ginger

Crystallized ginger is ginger root that’s been peeled, sliced, and candied. The sugar in crystallized ginger mutes the normally biting flavor of ginger, making it great to use as an ingredient in sweet foods like quick breads and cake. Of course, it’s also very suitable for oatmeal! Just chop it up into strips and sprinkle. If you do use this ingredient, cut down on any additional sugar that you’d normally add, since it’s plenty sweet.

3. Use toasted nuts

Add a complex, roasty flavor to your oatmeal by toasting up a handful of walnuts, pecans, or almonds (or all of them!). Either pan-toast them or stick them in your oven to cook at about 200˚F until they brown. You can chop them up or add them whole. Nuts are a great source of good fats and protein and will make you feel fuller after eating.

4. Stir in homemade simple syrups

Your options are literally infinite when it comes to infusing your own simple syrups! While they’re great for mixing into cocktails, their day-to-day culinary uses should not be overlooked. Dissolve equal parts sugar and water in a pot set over a low flame and add something fun to the mix: things like jalapenos, dried lavender buds, mint, thyme, or orange peel would work really well. Substitute a tablespoon or so of syrup for your usual dollop of brown sugar, and the aroma will infuse throughout the oatmeal, giving it a beautiful scent and flavor.

5. Go savory

This might sound a little too out-of-the-box for you, but stay with me here. Savory oatmeal is an echo of rice congee, a dish that’s a breakfast staple throughout Asia. Take a cue from that iconic dish by cooking your oats with some star anise and then adding minced green onion, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Top it off with a fried egg and you’ve got a seriously rib-sticking breakfast!

Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets.

3 Amazing Holiday Potluck Ideas

The holiday season is practically synonymous with the traditional potluck. Nobody wants to be the third consecutive guest to arrive with yet another 7-layer dip, so what should you actually bring along? If you’re running low on time and creativity, don’t worry – these holiday potluck ideas are sure to win the party over.

The trick to mastering the potluck is to think outside the box – with so much food being served, as a general rule of thumb, lighter is better. With that being said, here are some amazing seasonal salads that are a breeze to prepare.

Orange and Pomegranate Salad w/ Buttermilk Dressing


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Combining seasonal flavors like bright citrus and rich pomegranate, these fruits pair beautifully with a creamy buttermilk dressing. Although simple by nature, this salad is loaded with flavor.

Start by preparing the dressing. Here’s what you’ll need,

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon shallot (minced)
1/2 teaspoon minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Grab a mixing bowl and start whisking the zest, juice, mustard, vinegar, buttermilk and olive oil together. As it starts to blend together, add in the shallots, rosemary and sea salt.

Finally, prepare the greens. Here’s what you’ll need,

1 large offering of spinach
3 oranges
1 large pomegranate
1/2 thinly sliced shallot
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
A dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Delicately peel your oranges making sure to preserve the citrusy flesh. Chop these slices about ½”. Next, pour your fresh dressing over the spinach and gently use your hands to ensure the greens receive an even coat.

Finish off this holiday salad with strategically placed orange slices and drizzling the lush pomegranate seeds throughout the greens, leaving room for the shallots. Top it off with the fresh rosemary, sea salt and pepper and you’re set to go. Delicious!

Ginger Spiced Pecans


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Perfect for the holiday season, ginger spice pecans make an easy offering for the holiday potluck – something your company will find every bit delicious as they do accessible. If you’re dish is really pressed for time, these sautéed pecan halves are a happy compromise.

Grab yourself a nonstick frying pan and these other ingredients,

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch salt

Begin by melting butter within your nonstick pan over medium heat. As it melts, add in the pecan halves and allow them to cook, making sure to stir them. You’ll want these to brown, which, depending on your stove, shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

Using a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, ginger and salt. After a quick mix here, add these ingredients to the cooking pecans making sure you continue to stir. Avoid cooking this all together for too long as the sugar will eventually melt away from the pecans.

Finally, allow the baked pecans to sit out and cool on a cookie sheet setup with wax paper. This should allow the coat to properly adhere to the skin. Transfer your pecans in a bowl and you’re ready to go.

Butternut Squash Risotto


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If you’ve been tasked to bring along something a bit heavier and you’re comfortable in the kitchen, there’s nothing quite like a great risotto. The butternut squash adds a terrific seasonal twist to a proven potluck favorite.

Here’s what this recipe calls for,

2 cups of butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Begin by placing your squash within a steamer over a saucepan. Add some water and cover the squash, bringing it to boil over medium-high heat. You’ll want to steam the squash till tender, generally around 10 – 15 minutes. Afterward, drain the water and mash the tenderized squash in a separate bowl.

Place your butter in the saucepan and melt it over the same heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, making sure to stir until the onion softens – you don’t want to burn it. When beginning to cook, add the rice. Cook this mixture until the rice starts to glisten and the onion edges start to brown, generally an additional 5 minutes.

Carefully pour your white wine in, constantly stirring the mixture until it has completely evaporated. Stir in your freshly mashed squash and add 1/3 of the chicken stock. Reduce the heat and cook until the rice absorbs the chicken stock, typically around 5 -7 minutes.

Add the remaining chicken stock and continue to stir. Repeat the previous process, allowing the rice to soak and add your remaining chicken stock. The risotto should appear creamy before you add the Parmesan cheese and other seasonings.

Happy holidays to you and your potluck company!

This article was written and prepared by Tyler Thursby, a self-proclaimed foodie and contributing author for Crooked Manners

7 Healthy Substitutions for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy-thanksgivingThanksgiving dinner celebrates friends, family and the abundance you share, but it can take a toll on your waistline. You can indulge in great taste without overindulging in fat, sugar and salt with a few simple switches. These changes add plenty of flavor to your Thanksgiving feast while taking away some of what you don’t need on your plate.

1. Swap your candied yams with marshmallows for roasted sweet potatoes
Canned yams in heavy syrup taste more like dessert than a side dish, but the natural sweetness of oven-roasted sweet potatoes still in their skins is a perfect foil for the savory delights on your table. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and fiber, so they’re a healthful choice when they aren’t swimming in syrup. They’re also easier on the chef than the usual yams. Just prick the skins with a fork, wrap them loosely in foil to prevent leaking, and pop them in the oven with the turkey for an hour and a half or so. Serve them split and sprinkled with cinnamon for a deliciously healthy Thanksgiving dish.

2. Go nutty with your stuffing
Adding pecans, walnuts or almonds to a stuffing mix that’s mostly carbohydrates improves its nutritional profile. Nuts are high in calories, but they pack plenty of healthy fats and protein into a small package. By replacing some of the empty calories in stuffing with nuts, you add nutrition and flavor. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your stuffing lowers calories and adds nutritional value too, so consider cranberries, raisins, celery and diced apples your allies when making a stuffing.

3. Make the most of stock
Chicken stock has rich flavor and few calories, so it’s an excellent choice for lightening a dish without taking away its taste. Use stock instead of milk or cream to moisten your mashed potatoes. Cook brown rice in stock with shallots, mushrooms and herbs for a flavorful side that’s full of nutritional benefits. Choose unsalted stock for cooking and salt the dish to taste as it cooks to avoid too much sodium in the food.

4. Skip the canned cranberry sauce for a homemade cranberry relish
Cranberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, but when they’re turned into jelly and canned, they lose some of those micro-nutrients. It takes a little longer to start with fresh cranberries than it does to open a can, but it’s well worth the extra time. Most recipes call for sugar because cranberries are quite tart on their own, but even a sweet recipe will have less sugar than the jellied version you get from the can. Add a bit of lemon or orange zest to make the dish your own.

5. Switch green bean casseroles made with processed foods for a fresh green bean almondine
You’ll still get the flavor and crunch that make green beans a classic Thanksgiving side dish without the heavy doses of sodium and fat that come with the traditional casserole. Toast slivered almonds in a little butter until they’re golden, then remove them from the pan and add the beans with some olive oil. Add a clove of finely minced garlic and cook the beans to the desired tenderness. Stir the almonds back into the pan and serve a dish that has just enough butter to taste luxurious without the fat of the regular side.

6. Go with whole-grain breads instead of white rolls
Making this switch gives you more fiber and flavor, but getting everyone to accept the more pronounced texture of whole-grain baked goods could take some persuasion. Instead of trying to conceal the texture, highlight it and make it a feature with nuts and seeds that add crunch. Serve rolls with whipped honey butter or herb butter instead of margarine to eliminate trans-fats and add great taste.

7. Give desserts a makeover
Pie is a staple for Thanksgiving desserts, but you can get much of the flavor without the fat and carbs in the crust when you make a fruit crumble instead. Slice your apples, pears or other fruits as usual; then, top it with a combination of oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour before baking. If pumpkin pie is your favorite, make a pumpkin mousse and serve it in individual cups topped with chopped pecans for crunch.

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Exciting Fall Pumpkin Recipe Ideas

Fall-PumpkinAs this especially steamy summer segues into fall, we’re beginning to turn our heads toward the seasonal tastes that we know and love. Goodbye watermelon and iced tea, hello mulled cider and pumpkin! It’s easy to bring out the old standards, like pumpkin pie and those unbelievably good pumpkin spice lattes, but maybe it’s time for a change. If you’re looking to really make the most out of this season’s pumpkin harvest, read on to find out my favorite ways to use that most versatile of squashes.

Pumpkin Curry
This squash makes a fabulous vegetable backup dancer to the proteins in Thai or Indian curries. It’s easy to adapt your standby curry recipe to fit it, too! All you need to do is sauté about two pounds of chopped raw pumpkin with your curry spices and paste, then simmer it with coconut milk and vegetable stock until the pumpkin becomes tender. The flesh of squash will absorb the curry spices; you’ll love how its sweetness compliments the warm spiciness of your curry paste.

Pumpkin Hummus
Believe it or not, pumpkin goes fabulously with chickpeas. If you’re looking for a quick hors d’oeuvres for a fall-themed party, this recipe takes about 30 seconds to make. Simply combine a whole can of unseasoned pumpkin puree and a dash of pumpkin pie spice with a 32 oz. container of pre-made hummus. Of course, you can and should add a few dashes of cayenne pepper to it if you’re a heat fiend. The resulting creamy concoction tastes like a pleasant fireside chat feels. This dish is nicely complemented by a bowl of multigrain pita chips.

Pumpkin Granola
Preheat your oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix half a can of pumpkin puree, ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ⅓ cup of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a couple hefty dashes of pumpkin pie spice until everything becomes well-distributed. Mix in your granola fixings — that could include coconut, oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, whatever! Spread your granola mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for about a half hour, stirring intermittently. Once this mix cools off, it’ll harden up and become the most pumpkin-y breakfast cereal you’ve ever had! (I also like to put a palmful of this granola on top of vanilla ice cream.)

Pickled Pumpkin
This is a recipe idea that I got from my Anglo-Saxon friends, who would regale me with stories about their Old World grannies who tended to pickle everything in sight. Though I wouldn’t leap to have a taste of their fermented pigs’ feet or rutabagas, pickled pumpkin actually tastes much better than it sounds. It’s actually incredibly easy to make, especially if you can get your hands on some pre-chopped pumpkin flesh. All you need to do is put together the pickling liquid. I like to make it equal parts white sugar and white vinegar, with a handful of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves to add some fall spiciness. Boil the liquid to dissolve the sugar and pour it over the pumpkin, which should be in a heatproof bowl. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, then pour the whole mixture into a pot, but without the whole spices. Boil the pumpkin until it becomes transparent, then let the mixture cool. Transfer the pumpkin and pickling liquid into small mason jars — they make great gifts!

Pumpkin Lasagna
Now this is my all-time favorite pumpkin recipe, especially since it doesn’t require the kind of hacking and chopping that pumpkins generally require. The recipe that I use again and again comes from Food and Wine magazine — you can find the complete rundown here. Basically, instead of meat and tomatoes, you use Swiss chard, heavy cream, sage, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree to hold this lasagna together. The salty richness of Parmesan cheese makes a great counterpoint to the slightly bitter greens and sweet pumpkin. Frankly, I prefer this variation over normal lasagna!

Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets. 

Brown Bagging It

Across the country students are heading back to school.  With summer coming to a close, parents and students are preparing to adjust to a whole new routine and schedule.  Between planning for soccer practice and flute lessons, parents/students need to also get into the routine of packing lunches.  Here are some ideas for parents who pack lunches for their little ones.  By simply cutting sandwiches differently or arranging fruits in a cute way, toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy a little love from home in their cafeteria at school.  These concepts and recipes are from

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Sweet (and Healthy) Summer Snacks

Today we are featuring some delicious and healthy recipes that will cool you down this first weekend in August.  The below ideas are especially great alternatives to sugary popsicles and ice cream.  These recipes are by Mary Saph Tanaka, MD, MS originally posted on

Cool Cucumber Con Chili Limon

– 1 English cucumber

– ½ lemon

– 1-2 tsp. chili powder

– 1 tsp. salt

Cut the cucumber into 1/8 inch slices. Squeeze lemon over the cucumber slices, and then sprinkle with salt and chili powder.

Apricot Yogurt Bites

– 4 ripe apricots

– ½ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

– ¼ cup fresh blueberries (or dried fruit – blueberries, cranberries or cherries)

Slice each apricot in half, removing the seed from the middle. Place apricot halves on a plate with the pit side facing up. Spoon about 1 TBS of yogurt into the pitted area of the apricot half and repeat until all apricot halves are full. Lastly, top the yogurt with one blueberry (or whichever berry you choose) and serve.