6 Ways to Play with Your Food, from Mac and Cheese Pops to S'mores Bars

It's time to let loose in the kitchen. Instead of sticking to strict recipes and living by the cookbook, take a day to play with your food.
By: Alyse Whitney

It's time to let loose in the kitchen. Instead of sticking to strict recipes and living by the cookbook, take a day to play with your food. No, we're not talking about having a food fight  It Takes Two style, but rather experimenting with fun shapes, sizes and topping bars for your next party.

Whether it's making your mac and cheese into pops or assembling a taco-and-margarita bar for a Mexican fiesta, there are plenty of ways to get playful. Bonus: Once the prep work is done, your guests do all the work making their own creative concoctions.

Skewer Your Corn

BT-0412 Grilled Corn Skewers with Chipotle Cilantro Butter

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Everything's better on a stick, and sticks make corn on the cob easier (and less messy) to eat. Try Bobby Flay's Grilled Corn Skewers with Chipotle-Lime Butter, or mix things up with an assortment of butters and toppings like Cotija and Parmesan cheese for a DIY corn on the cob bar.

Build a Better Taco Bar

Kelsey Nixon's Shredded Pork and Pineapple Tacos for Cooking Channel's Kelsey's Essentials

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Alice Gao, 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Any of our top taco recipes could be used at a  taco bar party. Just assemble bowls of grilled or braised meat, fresh vegetables, beans and rice, cheese,  guacamole, salsa and sour cream, and ta-da! The fiesta can begin. We're partial to Kelsey Nixon's Shredded Pork and Pineapple Tacos, which you can make in a slow cooker ahead of time and keep warm throughout the party.

Assemble Burgers with Toppings Galore

Just like with tacos, burgers can get the topping treatment with as low-brow or gourmet ingredients as you want. Tyler Florence's Burger Bar has crispy rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and herbed horseradish mayonnaise. Just grill up burgers and put out your toppings before letting your guests loose at the bar.

Make Your Favorite Foods Bite-Size

Photo by: EDDY CHEN

EDDY CHEN

Again, food on a stick is the best, and kids and adults alike will love  Mac and Cheese Pops. You don't have to stop at this cheesy goodness, though — try giving the Popsicle treatment to  Chicken and Waffles on a StickPecan Pipe Pops, Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops and much more.

Bring All of the Fruit to Your Margarita Bar

This DIY bar lets your guests choose their own fruity adventure. Start with a basic margarita recipe and then blend up some purees like peach, raspberry and strawberry to mix and match. You can do them frozen too; use this recipe for a Frozen Mango Margarita and add any kind of frozen fruit your guests desire.

Give Everyone S'more Options

This is the time to go wild with ingredients. Instead of just graham crackers, grab some cookies for your s'mores bar and set up an array of treats to stuff inside with marshmallows and chocolate. Prepare for sugar highs (and sugar crashes) after serving, but these are well worth it. Check out the video from Good to Know below to see how to make it all happen.

Tia Mowry takes play time and food to new 6-foot-7-inch heights when Metta World Peace stops by on the next episode of  Tia Mowry at Home. Tune in to see how she and the pro basketball player make cooking fun on Wednesday, May 27 at 9pm ET.

Keep Reading

Next Up

6 Sweet Ways to Booze Up Your Watermelon

Get watermelon cocktail recipes and ideas for watermelon margaritas, martinis, Jell-O shots and more on Cooking Channel.

6 Gourmet Camping Foods to Make Your "Glamping" Trip Deliciously Fabulous

To help inspire your next glamorous weekend retreat, we've come up with some gourmet twists on camp food, from bacon, beer and cheddar-infused skillet corn bread to fish baked in foil (sorry, hot dogs) to classy s'mores in jars.

The Food-Focused Bride: Wine and Cheese Bridal Shower

Wine and cheese shower themes can be easily replicated at any venue or at home (and helps avoid embarrassing shower games).

The Food-Focused Bride: The Making of a Cheese Table

With a few cheeses in mind, my fiance and I went to their New York City location in Chelsea Market where the team put together a selection of some of their favorite cheeses - and mine - so we could come up with six options to serve.

3 DIY Party Activities to Entertain the Kids While the Grownups Play Poker

Get Cooking Channel's fun backyard DIY games and party ideas for kids from Good to Know hosts Dan Pashman and Laurie March.

On TV

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here