Chocolate Covered Strawberry Dip

Grab a graham cracker and enjoy my dessert dip made with seasonal strawberries, melted chocolate and neufchâtel cream cheese. Whether you’re serving it at a get-together or snacking at home, you’ll have a tasty treat with delicious fresh berries ready in less than 10 minutes.

Ingredients:
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces neufchâtel cream cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, divided
Graham crackers for serving

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade add cream cheese and powdered sugar. Puree until smooth.
  3. Remove stems and hulls from strawberries. Slice ⅔ of strawberries and finely chop ⅓ of the pint. Add the sliced strawberries and melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and puree until smooth.
  4. Place mixture in a serving bowl and top with finely chopped strawberries. Serve with graham crackers.

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Pizza

This pizza tastes like buffalo wings and cheese pizza had a baby. When it is game day and you can’t decide which of your favorite appetizers to serve, just combine them into one delicious pizza. My grilled pizza tastes more like a flatbread with a thin crispy crust and it is really quick to make. You’ll have a meal on the table in less than 20 minutes, leaving you more time to cheer on your favorite team.

Round out your meal with cauliflower buffalo bites. Just make extra sauce, coat the cauliflower and roast in your oven until tender. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dip or ranch dressing.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 medium chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons corneal
1 homemade or store bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
2 celery sticks, trimmed and thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Add butter and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, whisk in the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, honey, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to simmer and stir occasionally until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat, add chicken to the saucepan and stir to coat.
  2. Sprinkle cornmeal over a large cutting board or flat working surface. Use a rolling pin to roll or your hands stretch (I do a combination) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal-free side.
  3. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with chicken and buffalo sauce. Add cheeses and top with celery slices.
  4. Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Servings: 4

Strawberry Salad with Baked Brie and Champagne Vinaigrette

You can skip the cheese plate and go straight for the salad, because these leafy greens are served with creamy and decadent baked Brie with a sweet and nutty bourbon glaze. This salad is elegant enough to delight your dinner guests, but quick and simple to prepare. Add grilled shrimp or chicken to turn this side salad into a main dish.

Baked Brie Ingredients:
9.5 ounces Brie
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients:
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Salad Ingredients:
1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place brie in a Brie baker or small baking dish. In a small bowl, combine pecans and brown sugar. Spread pecan and sugar mixture on top of cheese and drizzle with bourbon. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. In a mason jar or small container with a tight-fitting lid, combine strawberry jam, champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. With lid securely tightened, shake vinaigrette until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Serve lettuce and strawberries on salad plates and top with a wedge of baked Brie. Drizzle with strawberry champagne vinaigrette and serve.

Servings: 4

Fish Tacos with Purple Cabbage and Avocado Cream

With bright purple cabbage, one look at this dish is like sunshine on a rainy day. Filled with tender and flaky fish, crunchy cabbage and avocado cream, one bite of these tacos will have you reminiscing of ocean- or lake-front dining. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by pairing these tacos with black beans, chips and salsa, and margaritas.

Ingredients:
4 cups purple cabbage, shredded
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
The juice of 2 limes, divided
salt
1 small avocado, pit removed
1 cup plain, light Greek yogurt
1 ½ pounds white fish like cod, haddock or halibut
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
12 flour or corn tortillas
⅓ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, cilantro, half of the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Stir until evenly coated and set aside.
  2. With a spoon, scoop inside of avocado from the outer shell and place in a food processor. Add yogurt and a pinch salt, and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Brush fish with olive oil and season with chipotle pepper, black pepper and pinch of salt. Grill fish until opaque, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and flake into large chunks with a fork. Drizzle fish with remaining lime juice.
  4. Place tortillas on the grill for about 30 seconds on each side, until light grill marks appear. Remove from grill and place an equal amount of fish in each tortilla. Top with cabbage, avocado cream and cojita cheese.

Servings: 6

Grilled Pineapple, Ham and Arugula Pizza

This pizza is the perfect use for leftover ham, and if you smoke your ham it is even better. The combination of salty ham with caramelized pineapple from the grill and spicy arugula is a new take on this Hawaiian classic. Grilling the thin pizza dough creates a crispy crust that is similar to a flatbread.

This is a great pizza to serve family or friends on a spring or summer patio night. For a real island experience while entertaining, welcome guests with an Aloha and a Mai Tai.

Ingredients:
½ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into 2 large pieces
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 cup leftover ham, diced
¼ cup ricotta cheese
⅔ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups arugula

Directions:

  1. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  2. Brush pineapple with half of the olive oil on all sides. Grill directly over burner or charcoal until light brown grill marks appear, about 4 or 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and dice after pineapple is cool enough to handle.
  3. Roll or stretch (I do a combination) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  4. Place crust on the grill over indirect heat (a pizza peel comes handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust.
  5. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining olive oil, spreading evenly. Add ham and pineapple in an even layer. Add dollops of ricotta and sprinkle shredded mozzarella.
  6. Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until mozzarella cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, top with arugula, slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam

Sautéed kale is not just for side dishes. Give it a try as a sandwich base and you will forget all about lunch meat. This Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam is a hearty vegetarian sandwich with seasonal farm-fresh favorites. It is comfort food that packs a nutritious punch and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:
2 sub sandwich loaves (5 to 6 inches each), cut from a whole-wheat baguette
1 medium bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 slices white cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat a panini maker to medium-high. Slice sandwich loaves in half and set aside.
  2. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and cook or another minute, tossing to evenly coat.
  3. Layer apple slices, kale and cheddar cheese on the bottom bread slices. Spread strawberry jam on the top bread slices. Stack together and place sandwiches in the panini maker, closing the top. Grill until the bread is crusty and golden and cheese has melted. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: If you do not have a panini maker, use a grill pan or skillet and flip the sandwich to grill both sides. Placing a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich will give you the panini effect.

Servings: 2

Grilled Pizza with Asparagus, Brie and Caramelized Onions

Nothing says spring like fresh asparagus, and warmer days inspire me to fire up the grill. With sweet caramelized onions, earthy asparagus and creamy brie, this is a unique take on a vegetarian pizza that celebrates the season. Make this meal a quick one to prepare on a busy night by caramelizing the onions and roasting the asparagus the night before. You’ll have a homemade pizza on the table in around 15 minutes.

Caramelized Onion Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sugar

Pizza Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 3 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces brie, sliced

Directions:

  1. To make the caramelized onions. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet, over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add onion slices and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring occasionally, let the onions cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over asparagus and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness, until slightly tender.
  3. Roll or stretch (I do a combination) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  4. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel comes handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil, spreading evenly. Add mozzarella cheese and top with roasted asparagus, caramelized onions and brie.
  5. Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until mozzarella cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, slice into wedges and serve.

Servings: 4

Cauliflower and Mushroom Tacos

Make it a Meatless Monday with these hardy vegetarian tacos, stuffed with mildly spiced cauliflower and mushrooms and topped with sweet bell pepper sauce. This mostly hands-free meal is perfect for a busy week night, because you get 20 extra minutes to relax while dinner is roasting. Round out this meal with a side of pinto or black beans and Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. This is also a great make-ahead meal, especially if you are entertaining. Reheat the vegetables, make a pitcher of margaritas and you are ready to host book club.

Taco Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 soft flour tortillas

Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce:
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), seeded and cut in half
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt

Optional Taco Toppings:
grated smoked cheddar cheese
avocado slices
chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic to the tray. Season with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, salt and pepper, and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
  2. Place bell peppers on a baking tray, cut side down and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly charred. Place peppers in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Add cayenne pepper and salt, and pulse to chop until slightly smooth with fine chunks of pepper.
  3. Serve cauliflower and mushroom filling in tortillas and top with roasted sweet pepper sauce and optional taco toppings if desired.

Servings: 4

Bacon and Apple Peanut Butter Dip

The inspiration for this dish came from Old Bourbon County Kitchen, a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky that serves a honey bourbon and sugar glazed bacon appetizer with peanut butter. My version is lighter, but still captures the wonderful combination of bacon and peanut butter. I know it sounds a little odd, but once you have tasted it you will forget all about peanut butter’s famous sidekick—jelly. Peanut butter and bacon is the new duo in town.

This appetizer is a perfect pairing with your favorite Kentucky bourbon. It brings out the whiskey’s sweet notes of vanilla, caramel and honey. Cheers to good bourbon, an appetizer your friends will love and adventurous food combinations.

Ingredients:
1 pound center cut bacon, cooked
1 large apple, sliced
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon skim milk

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food process, combine peanut butter, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla and milk. Blend or process until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately with bacon and apple slices or refrigerating until ready to serve.

Seafood and Bean Stew with Pesto

Fish, shrimp, beans and pesto make the most delectable combination in this heavenly bowl of soup that will have you reaching for leftovers. Go ahead, it is comfort food with a conscience packed with three types of lean protein and juicy tomatoes. When basil is in season and my CSA box is full of this aromatic green goodness, I make batches of pesto and freeze tablespoon-size portions using mini-muffin tins. I store them in a freezer-safe container and enjoy during winter months in recipes like this. Don’t have fresh pesto on hand? Store-bought pesto will also work well and taste delicious in this dish.

Ingredients:
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces any firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into bite-size cubes
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added cannellini beans
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pesto

Directions:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove pancetta with a slotted spatula and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Add onion to the stock pot and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth to the stock pot and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and add the fish and seafood to the soup. Cover and simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Remove lid and add beans, pancetta, salt, pepper and pesto to the soup, stirring to combine. Cook for two to three additional minutes and serve.

Servings: 4