Fall Sports Fans Need Food Fast

IN THE KITCHEN

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School resumed in the Rim Country last week and that means the fall sports season will soon be upon us. In fact the first "fall" event is the Payson Monsoon 5K, Aug. 13, in which the Payson High School Cross Country team will compete -- along with their neighbors and visitors.

While traditional tailgating isn't something we see much of at Longhorn games, families and friends planning to come out and support the teams always need to get food fast in order to get to the contest on time. That could mean a quick meal at home or a picnic in the car.

How about some fast wraps, fruit salad and cookies for those get-it-on-the-table-and-get-out-the-door nights? To save time, prepare ingredients the night before when feasible and safe.

Mediterranean Salad Wrap

Prep time: 10 minutes for one wrap

1 large flat bread or burrito-sized flour tortilla

1 cup salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 medium cucumber, peeled, sliced and cut in half

2 tablespoons kalamata olives

1 pepperoncini, sliced

1 thin slice red onion

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing

For a picnic in the car, put a 12-inch sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and put bread/tortilla on top. If eating at home, eliminate use of wrap and work on paper plate.

Combine all ingredients, except cheese and dressing. Place on bread, then sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with dressing. Bring bottom two sides of bread/tortilla together to overlap on top.

If using plastic wrap, fold one end of plastic wrap up over bottom half of sandwich, fold sides of plastic wrap tightly around sandwich, overlapping in back to seal. Overwrap whole sandwich if packing in a lunch box, picnic basket or cooler.

Cobb Salad Wrap

Prep time: 10 minutes for one wrap

1 large flat bread or burrito-sized flour tortilla

2 large leaves curly leaf lettuce

1/4 cup cubed, cooked chicken

1/2 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing

Use same process as above if having a picnic in the car or toting food to the game. Otherwise, work on a paper plate for fast cleanup.

Put bread/tortilla on plate, arrange lettuce on bread. Arrange all ingredients, except dressing in rows on top of lettuce, then drizzle all with vinaigrette. Fold as above.

Al Fresco Garden Wrap

Prep time: 10 minutes for one wrap

1 large flat bread or burrito-sized flour tortilla

2 large leaves curly leaf lettuce

1/3 cup alfalfa sprouts

12 red, green and yellow bell pepper strips

1/4 cup julienne cut carrots

4 cucumber slices, halved

4 grape tomatoes, sliced

2 tablespoons balsamic herb vinaigrette

1 tablespoon feta cheese

Use same process as before if having a picnic in the car or toting food to the game. Otherwise, work on a paper plate for fast cleanup.

Put bread/tortilla on plate, arrange lettuce on bread. Top with sprouts and vegetables, then drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with feta cheese. Fold bread/tortilla as above.

A fruit salad made ahead of time is a refreshing, and healthy, accompaniment to any of the wraps above.

"Punt and Pass" Pasta Salad

Honey-Lime Dressing

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (juice of two limes)

2/3 cup pure clover honey

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Pasta Salad

3 cups quartered fresh strawberries (or one 20-ounce can pineapple chunks)

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

4 kiwi fruit, peeled and cubed

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges

6 cups cooked rotini pasta, chilled

To make dressing, whisk together lime juice, honey and poppy seeds, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Right before serving, combine remaining ingredients, add dressing, then stir gently to coat.

Fabulous Fruit Salad

3 oranges, peeled and sectioned

2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

1/3 cup pure clover honey

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

2 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Place orange and grapefruit sections in medium bowl, drain juice into a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Stir honey and poppy seeds into juice. Just before serving, add kiwi fruit and bananas to citrus, pour dressing onto fruit and stir gently to coat.

Finish off your fall sports season feast with some simple cookies.

Honey-Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup pure clover honey

1 cup peanut butter, your choice creamy or chunky

2/3 cup shortening

2 large eggs

3 1/2 cups baking mix

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Additional sugar for rolling

Beat together honey, peanut butter, shortening and eggs until smooth. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl, then add to peanut butter mixture and mix well.

Chill dough for at least an hour.

Shape dough into balls, approximately 1-inch in diameter, and roll in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet then flatten balls with bottom of glass coated with sugar.

A football or other shape can be pressed onto surface of cookie with a cookie cutter, applied with only enough pressure to make an indentation. Create "laces" on ball image with a knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes, cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool fully.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Honey-Pecan-Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

2 large eggs

1/2 cup pure clover honey

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted (see instructions at end of recipe directions)

4 to 5 dozen pecan halves (about one 16-ounce bag)

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until light. Add eggs, honey and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then add to creamed mixture, blending well.

Stir in oats and chopped pecans.

Using an ungreased cookie sheet, drop by teaspoonfuls, then place a pecan half on top of each cookie and press down slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to rack to cool.

Make 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

To toast pecans: place nuts in microwave-safe dish, microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once. Cool.

If a small batch of cookies is all that you want to make from either of these recipes, the dough can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Tips for outdoor food safety

Make a food thermometer your "must have" tool.

Keep meat and poultry in the refrigerator or in an insulated cooler with a cold source until ready to grill.

Always marinate foods in the refrigerator. Sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry should not be reused on cooked foods, unless boiled first.

Cook ground beef to 160 degrees; roasts and steaks to 145 for medium rare or 160 for medium. Cook chicken breasts to 170 degrees.

Don't cross-contaminate. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food without washing it first.

Start out safely by thoroughly washing hands before preparing, cooking and serving foods. If soap and water are not available at the picnic site, bring disposable towelettes or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean hands.

Always use ice or cold packs to pack your cooler once you fill it with food. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than one that is partially filled.

Don't eat perishable foods that have been left out of the cooler for more than an hour on a hot day (90 degrees or higher).

Grill hot dogs until hot and steamy.

Foods like cold fried chicken should go directly from the refrigerator into the cooler with a cold pack.

Use insulated containers for hot items like stews and chili. Pack them right before you leave and don't open them until serving time.

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