Quick Kale, Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits are one of my favorite southern duos. This dish is often prepared with heavy cream and can take some time to make with slow cooking grits. I created this lighter, quick-cooking version, which is ideal for evenings when you want a delicious homemade meal in less than 15 minutes. Fast meals like this one free up time to enjoy beautiful spring evenings. Cheers to spending less time in the kitchen, while still making delicious and nutritious meals.

Ingredients:
½ cup quick cooking grits
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons half and half

Directions:

  1. Prepare grits according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant. Add kale and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until wilted. Add bell pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Push kale and pepper mixture to the edges of the skillet, creating an empty space in the middle. Add shrimp to the center of the skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice. When shrimp becomes pink on the bottom, flip and continue cooking until both sides are pink and shrimp is cooked through. Stir vegetables and shrimp together to combine.
  4. When grits are done cooking, remove from heat and add grated parmesan cheese and half and half. Stir until cheese is melted and grits are thick and creamy. Add grits to dinner plates and top with shrimp and kale mixture.

Servings: 2

Grilled Tilapia and Field Pea Succotash

Growing up in the south, black-eyed peas were a staple in our house and they will always be one of my favorite vegetables. This dish brings back childhood memories of family potlucks with tables full of farm-fresh vegetables for supper and homemade pies for dessert. We might have had fried catfish with our field peas back then, but I’ve lighted things up with grilled tilapia. This succotash also pairs well with scallops, shrimp or any white fish of choice.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas or field peas, drained
1 cup frozen corn
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
4 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Directions:
  

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and bell pepper and continue cooking a few more minutes until tender.
  2. Add peas, corn, salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, and reduce heat to low to keep succotash warm while grilling tilapia.
  3. Season tilapia fillets with lemon pepper seasoning and brush with remaining olive oil. Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill fish for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until fish flakes with a fork. Serve fish over succotash.

Servings: 4

Turkey Taco Soup

This soup is perfect for those chilly spring days when you want a fun and festive meal. The weather may not be warm enough to grill fajitas, but you can serve up a pitcher of margaritas and invite your friends over for a bowl of my Turkey Taco Soup. Don’t let the long ingredient list make you think this recipe is hard to make. It’s super simple, but instead of using a ranch seasoning packet that’s high in sodium, you create the flavor with ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. Turkey and black beans are great lean protein choices for this dish. If you have farm-fresh canned tomatoes or summer corn stored in your freezer, this is a great use for those gems!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
6 ounces tomato paste
6 cups water
shredded cheddar cheese
light sour cream
scallions, sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
  2. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a spatula. Add bell pepper and jalapeños and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato paste and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese, sour cream and scallions as toppings.

Servings: 6

GRILLED HAWAIIAN BITES WITH TANGY MUSTARD AND CREAMY BBQ SAUCES

Grilling intensifies the delicious flavor of pineapple, adding an extra burst of caramelized sweetness. The deli ham and grilled bell pepper complement the sweet fruit, turning this appetizer into a sweet and salty snack on a stick. This is a great appetizer for game day, especially if you’re a Green Bay Packer fan and want to add a little green and gold to your plate. Leftovers make a wonderful salad topping, just add lettuce and your favorite dressing.

Ingredients:
1 medium pineapple
4 medium or 3 large bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
toothpicks
4 tablespoons mayonnaise, divided
4 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt, divided
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce

Directions:

  1. Trim and core pineapple, and slice into four large sections. Remove stem and seeds from the bell peppers and cut each into two halves. On a large platter, brush both sides of pineapple and bell pepper with olive oil.
  2. Heat a gas grill or prepare a charcoal grill to medium heat. Place pineapple and pepper on the grill and cook for four to five minutes per side, until produce is tender with lightly browned grill marks. Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to touch.
  3. Lay ham flat on a cutting board and cut into 1 inch strips. Starting at one end, roll each piece into a tight roll. Cut pineapple and pepper into bite-size pieces.
  4. Prepare tangy mustard sauce by combining 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, yogurt and dijon mustard in a small bowl and stirring until well combined. Similarly, combine and stir the remaining mayonnaise and yogurt with the BBQ sauce to create the creamy BBQ sauce.
  5. Thread toothpicks with bell pepper, ham and pineapple. Serve with two dipping sauces.

Bell Pepper Nachos

This low-carb take on nachos is a perfect way to use your late season bell peppers and tomatoes. Leave out the chicken and add another type of bean, like pinto, for a vegetarian version. I love to serve this delicious and nutritious meal on game days. Cheer on your team with this healthy dish and hopefully you can celebrate a win.

Ingredients:

4 large bell peppers

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 (15 ounce) can, no-salt-added black beans

2 tomatoes, diced

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 avocado, cubed

Sour cream for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil on high heat. Slice bell peppers into thin strips and place them in a baking dish. Broil for 5 minutes, flipping halfway through the cook time.
  2. Combine chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken in a medium bowl and add seasoning mix. Drain and rinse beans, and add them to the bowl of chicken, stirring to combine.
  3. Remove bell peppers from the oven and top with chicken and beans, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Broil for about 4 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
  4. Remove nachos from the oven, top with avocado and serve with dollops of sour cream.

Servings: 4

Grilled Thai Chicken Pizza

If you’ve followed my blog for a while or had dinner at my house, you’ll know that grilled pizza is one of my favorite ways to make this popular pie. This technique takes homemade pizza to the next level, giving you a restaurant-quality meal at home. The thin and crispy grilled crust is similar to a flatbread and cooks so quickly it’s a great meal for busy nights or laid back evenings, giving you more time to relax after enjoying your delicious meal and company.

Pizzas are great for entertaining, and you can offer a variety of toppings or a build-your-own pizza station with individual sized crusts. Pair the pizza with your favorite vino and enjoy an adult version of a pizza party.

Ingredients:
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, halved and divided
3 to 4 dashes of sriracha hot chili sauce
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
2 cups napa cabbage or green cabbage, shredded
1 small bell pepper (any color), diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 homemade or store bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
½ cup shredded carrots
shredded mozzarella cheese, desired amount

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, juice from ½ of lime and sriracha hot chili sauce. Process until smooth and creamy. In a small bowl, toss chicken in 3 tablespoons of peanut sauce until evenly coated. Reserve the remaining sauce.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, bell pepper, cilantro, sesame oil and juice from ½ of lime. Toss until combined and cabbage salad is evenly coated. Set salad aside until pizza is ready.
  3. Roll or stretch (I alternate rolling and stretching) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining ⅓ cup peanut sauce, spreading evenly. Add chicken, carrots, cheese and cabbage mixture.
  7. 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 and serve.

Servings: 4

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps are a creative way to enjoy fresh lettuces and they are also fun to make, eat and serve. I love dishes that you can dive in and assemble at the table as you share a meal with family or friends. This one is super fast and easy to make and a light meal to enjoy with a hot cup of asian tea.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 head green leaf lettuce, leaves separated

Optional Ingredients:
Handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Peanuts, chopped
Brown rice, prepared

Directions:

  1. Add canola and sesame oils in a wok or large skillet and heat to medium-high temperature. Add garlic and cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Add chicken and break up with a spatula until it starts to brown.
  2. Add carrots and bell pepper to wok or skillet and cook stirring frequently until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. In a small mason jar, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, siracha and ginger. Shake until evenly combined and pour sauce over chicken and vegetables. Stir to evenly coat and cook for another minute or two.
  4. Place chicken and vegetables on a serving platter along with lettuce leaves and sprinkle with peanuts and basil if using. Assemble wraps at the table and serve with brown rice if desired.

Servings: 4