Take The Stress Out Of Backyard Entertaining

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Warm weather provides the perfect excuse to gather all your loved ones together for good food and fun. And while people relish the idea of catching up with family and friends, planning and preparing for these festivities may be daunting, as well as time-consuming. A few tips, however, can help make sure you aren’t tied to your kitchen — and help turn your traditional recipes into fabulous fare.

Plan early

Consider the location, timing, guest list, budget and any other factors relevant to your gathering. These details will help you shape a menu that doesn’t break your back or the bank. And remember that simple entertaining can be just as fun — if not more — than fine dining.

Keep the menu simple

Delicious and memorable don’t have to mean complicated and expensive. Choose recipes that are simple to prepare, require only a few ingredients and are suited to outdoor dining. And remember, less is more when it comes to the number of dishes you serve.

Line up help

Enlist your family and friends to help with grocery shopping, prep work, cooking and, most importantly, cleanup. By dividing the tasks, you won’t feel overwhelmed or overburdened. And, you will have plenty of time to mingle with guests.

Wow ’em with great food

Shake up your standard fare by incorporating the savory flavors of quality cheeses. Versatile and nutritious, cheese can add zest to your favorite standbys. And with the broad array of appetizing flavors available, such as Gouda, Provolone and Pepper Jack, the possibilities are endless.

For more information or to check out some cheesy recipes, visit www.FriendsOfElsie.com.

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Family Features photo

Texas BBQ Chopped Salad

Texas BBQ Chopped Salad

Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 3 minutes; total time: 18 minutes

2 cups (16 ounces) prepared barbecue shredded chicken

1 package (12 ounces) chopped iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing

1 package (8 ounces) Borden 2% Sharp Cheddar Chunk Cheese, divided (or similar)

1/2 cup sliced black olives

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

Place barbecue chicken in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (100 percent power) for 3 minutes.

Arrange chopped iceberg lettuce on platter.

Layer warm chicken over salad. Drizzle ranch dressing over chicken. Top with cheese, black olives and tomatoes.

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Family Features photo

Super Easy Twice-Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Chives

Super Easy Twice-Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Chives

Servings: 8; cook time: 20 minutes

4 Russet potatoes (10 to 12 ounces), scrubbed and pierced with a fork

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

8 slices Borden Smoked Cheddar Natural Slices, torn into pieces (or similar)

1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes in microwave on high (100 percent power) until tender, about 9 to 10 minutes per side.

Cut potatoes in half; scoop cooked potato flesh into mixing bowl, leaving 1/4-inch thick “potato boat.”

Add milk, butter, four slices of smoked cheddar and chives in mixing bowl; mix well with potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon mixture into “potato boats.” Cut remaining four smoked cheddar slices into strips; place over tops of potatoes.

Place potatoes on sheet pan. Bake until potatoes are heated through and skins are crisp, about 20 minutes.

Source: Borden Cheese

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