Red Hot Food Trends: Summer Fun Comes to the Table

(ARA) – Other seasons have their charm, but summer is all about fun – there’s just no other time of year that puts so many smiles on people’s faces. Whether you’re getting together for a picnic or throwing a backyard bash, enjoying the season has a lot to do with food – and your food should be just as much fun as summer itself is.

Summer’s top 10 red hot food trends put the emphasis on festive flavors, creative takes on nostalgic treats and making the most of the season’s ingredients. The food experts at Betty Crocker identified the trends and created 10 new recipes that will bring a little extra excitement to your summer get-togethers.

1. Cheeky Tiki: Originally inspired by South Pacific culture, the fun, over-the-top Tiki trend is back in a big way. Tiki drinks like Mai Tais, concocted with rum, are best known for fruity flavors and whimsical garnishes. Try out the trend with Mai Tai Tiki Pops, a grown-up treat that turns the tropical flavors of the classic drink into a fruity ice pop.

2. New takes on cupcakes: Dessert lovers everywhere are inventing new and interesting twists on this classic confection – even looking to retro refrigerator – or “icebox” – desserts for inspiration. Lemon-Ginger Icebox Cookie Cupcakes are actually made with cookies – but they’re stacked between layers of whipped cream and then chilled, which makes the cookies’ texture become cake-like.

3. Spice it up. The new rage in cooking is updating classic foods with new, bold flavor combinations and unexpected cooking techniques. Nowhere is this trend hotter than in re-imagining heritage dishes with ethnic flavor. Take Fresh Sriracha Refrigerator Pickles – they’re a new twist to classic refrigerator pickles with a hot, Thai-inspired sauce that spices up your garden bounty.

4. Move over, meat: If you think meat lovers are having all the fun, think again. Vegetarian eating is gaining popularity. More and more people are seeking meatless options that don’t skimp on flavor. Try out a larger-than-life Monster Veggie Burger that is loaded with fresh vegetables and tasty chickpeas. It moves veggies from side show to center stage.

5. Easy. Freezy. Fun: What would summer be without frozen ice cream treats? This year, let the ice cream truck drive on by and make your own Fruity Fro-Yo Fun Bars. This novelty-inspired dessert has only four ingredients and a few simple steps, so it’s easy to make with the kids. With their fun colors and playful appearance, these treats will tempt both kids and adults to take a bite.

6. Thrillin’ grillin’: Grillmasters everywhere are taking lessons from the tableside preparation trend, using the grill to bring excitement and flavor to unexpected dishes like Grillside Guacamole. Fresh avocados, sweet onions and other tasty veggies take on flavor from grilling, while a sprinkling of Mexican Cotija cheese gives this dish an even more delicious twist.

7. Kid food grows up. The foods that you loved best as a kid always inspire special memories – and none of those are more memorable than the foods of summer. Adding a grown-up twist makes them even better than you remember, like upscale mac and cheese, cocktail-inspired malts or beer snow cones, which are made from granita-style beer “snow” with a drizzle of fruity simple syrup.

8. Pie lovin’: There’s big love for pie right now – 2011 has been declared the “Year of the Pie” and creative interpretations are popping up everywhere. Mini S’mores Hand Pies take everything you love about s’mores – crunchy graham crackers, melty chocolate, ooey-gooey marshmallows  – and put it into a handheld pie pocket that delivers a perfect taste of summer.

9. Backyard green grocer: More people than ever are discovering the delights of “shopping” in their own backyard gardens – or the local farmers market – to create flavorful summer dishes full of their favorite veggies. Green Garden Fries, made from fresh garden veggies, are oven fried and served with a lemony Greek yogurt dipping sauce.

10. Switch up the ‘wich. Sandwiches are the ultimate comfort food, from old favorites like PB&J and grilled cheese to new obsessions like Korean tacos. Greek Grilled Cheese Tacos are one take on this trend. This fun Mediterranean-inspired dish reinvents the familiar grilled cheese sandwich in taco form, with grilled Greek haloumi cheese, fresh veggies and herbs stuffed in a flour tortilla.

Find these summer recipes and more at

Mai Tai Tiki Pops

Prep time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 11 hours, 20 minutes

Coconut Colada Layer
1 container (6 ounces) Yoplait Original 99 percent Fat Free pina colada or key lime pie yogurt
1/4 cup canned coconut milk, well stirred (not cream of coconut)
1 teaspoon dark rum

Mango Mai Tai Layer
1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted and cubed (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup mango nectar, chilled
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons light rum
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 teaspoon amaretto liqueur

1. In small bowl, beat coconut colada layer ingredients with whisk until smooth. Divide mixture among six 5-ounce paper cups. Cover with foil; insert craft stick (flat wooden stick with round ends) through foil into center of pop. Freeze two to three hours or until frozen.

2. Meanwhile, in blender, place mango mai tai layer ingredients. Cover; blend on medium speed about 45 seconds, stopping frequently to scrape sides, until smooth. Cover and refrigerate while waiting for first layer to freeze.

3. When first layer is frozen, remove foil from pops. Pour mango mixture over frozen layer. Return foil to pops to help support sticks. Freeze about eight hours or until frozen before serving. Store remaining pops covered in freezer.

Makes 6 tiki pops.

Lemon-Ginger Icebox Cookie Cupcakes

Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Start to finish: 12 hours, 40 minutes

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 ounces) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, egg and lemon peel until soft dough forms. Stir in crystallized ginger. Divide dough in half. On waxed paper, shape each half into 8-inch-long roll. Wrap in waxed paper. Freeze about one hour or refrigerate about three hours until firm enough to slice.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut each roll into 32 (1/8-inch-thick) slices. Rotate roll while cutting to prevent flattening. On ungreased cookie sheets, place slices 1 inch apart. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Cool one minute; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

3. In chilled deep small bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. On tray, place 16 cookies right sides up. Spread 1 tablespoon whipped cream on top of each cookie, then top with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making four layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream. Place each cookie cupcake in a decorative cupcake liners. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least eight hours. Garnish with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, if desired.

Makes 16 cookie stacks.

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