Summer Fruit and Vegetable Salad

This salad tastes as splendid as a beautiful summer day feels, with sweet melon, refreshing cucumbers and juicy cherry tomatoes. Freshly chopped produce this time of year is delicious served uncooked and the combinations are endless. The addition of cantaloupe takes this salad from simple to spectacular. It is a great dish to pack for a picnic or enjoy at home along with grilled chicken on the patio.

Ingredients:
½ medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 medium cucumbers, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
basil, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine equal amounts of cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and red onion onto small salad plates.
  2. Top with feta cheese, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4

Summer Tomato and White Bean Pasta

My Pantry Pasta dish just got a summertime makeover with my new Sumer Tomato and White Bean Pasta recipe. It is still a quick meal for a busy night when you want a delicious homemade meal without spending a lengthy amount of time in the kitchen. Sweet summer tomatoes pair excellently with white beans in this hearty vegetarian pasta. Cheers to making meals that are both healthy and convenient.

Ingredients:
½ pound whole wheat or brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
¼ cup red or white wine
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes.
  3. In a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender, puree bean and tomato mixture to create a creamy sauce. Return to skillet and simmer for five more minutes.
  4. Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with basil and Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4

Barbecue Pork Potato Skins and Nachos

These appetizers with pulled pork are game day favorites in my hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and they are about as popular as Elvis around my old stomping grounds. For my take on this southern classic, I recommend a tangy and slightly sweet sauce. I keep my pantry well stocked with my favorite barbecue sauces so I am ready for any good sports event throughout the year or a summer get together. Using leftover pork that has been smoked and pulled the day before, makes this a quick recipe you can whip up during halftime or for a meal with friends.

Barbecue Pork Potato Skin Ingredients:
7 to 8 small Yukon gold potatoes
2 cups pulled pork
¼ cup barbecue sauce
½ cup yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
hot and sweet jalapeño pepper slices
Light sour cream for serving

Barbecue Pork Nacho Ingredients:
4 ounces tortilla chips
2 cups pulled pork
½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
¼ cup yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 extra small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
hot and sweet jalapeño pepper slices
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce potatoes a few times with a fork and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove potatoes, leaving oven on. Let potatoes cool enough to touch and cut each in half. Scoop out a small amount of potato, leaving a divot like space in the potato halves.
  3. In a small bowl, toss 2 cups of pulled pork with barbecue sauce and stir to evenly coat. Place potatoes on a baking dish and add equal amount of pork to potato halves and top with two types of cheddar cheese and 1 jalapeño pepper slice.
  4. On another baking dish, arrange tortilla chips across the pan and top with pork. Drizzle half of the barbecue sauce over the pork and chips and top with cheddar cheese, onion slices and jalapeño slices. Drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the nachos.
  5. Bake potatoes and nachos for 7 to 10 minutes, until cheese has melted. Top potatoes with sour cream and nachos with diced avocado before serving.

Blueberry & Lemon Dessert Pizza

Blueberries are as beautiful as they are delicious in my gluten-free dessert pizza. A sweet and tart cream cheese base makes a great compliment to the nutty almond crust. This is a great dessert to make for a summer party and it is delicious with any seasonal berries.

Ingredients:
1½ cups almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 lemon
1½ tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint blueberries
honey for drizzling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir almond flour, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Add canola oil and egg and mix with an electric mixer to combine well. Form into a ball of dough.
  2. Lightly grease a pizza pan and place ball of dough on top. With your hands, gently flatten the dough to form a small disc. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to form a thin round crust, about ¼ inch thick. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly brown.
  3. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Zest entire lemon and add to bowl. Add lemon juice and powdered sugar to the bowl . Mix together until smooth and creamy.
  4. Remove pizza crust from oven and top with cream cheese spread. You may need to dip your spreading knife in hot water occasionally to help evenly distribute across the crust. Top with blueberries and drizzle with desired amount of honey. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Cheese Curd Frittatas

Cheese curds are delicious nuggets of freshly made cheddar cheese that actually squeak in your mouth, when you eat them soon after they are produced. There are cheese factories throughout Wisconsin where you can find warm cheese curds made daily. All cheddar cheeses actually begin as curds before they are formed into blocks or wheels and aged.

After a recent Wisconsin visit, I brought home some cheese curds and decided to explore cooking with them. I paired these with broccoli and eggs for individual frittatas with gooey gobs of fresh cheese in each one. If you cannot find cheese curds, you can substitute cubed cheddar.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 bunch broccoli, trimmed and chopped
1 cups cheese curds
8 eggs
1 cup skim or low-fat milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté a couple of minutes, until it starts to soften. Add broccoli and sauté until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to the skillet to prevent sticking.
  3. Break large cheese curds into bite size pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir vegetables in with cheese curds and fill the muffin tin with an equal amount of the mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and cheese curds, filling each cup to the rim.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until frittata tops are lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: An ice cream scoop is a great tool to use for adding the frittata mixture to the muffin tins. Fill each cup with one scoop and avoid messy spills.

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.