Watermelon, Tomato and Burrata Cheese

When I think of summer, watermelon and tomatoes immediately come to mind. They are two of my favorite seasonal foods and they compliment each other nicely in this appetizer with creamy and decadent burrata cheese. The outer layer of this cheese is fresh mozzarella, and when you slice it in half you will discover a luscious, creamy center made of mozzarella soaked in cream. It is the perfect cheese to pair with this summertime appetizer. This is a great last-minute dish for entertaining guests or taking to a potluck. Cheers to fresh and easy dishes for lazy summer days!

Ingredients:
1 (4 ounce) ball of burrata cheese
½ small seedless watermelon, sliced and cubed
1 pound yellow cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Place burrata cheese in the center of a large serving platter. Arrange watermelon and cherry tomatoes around the cheese.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut a slit in the center of the cheese to allow the fresh cream to flow. Serve immediately.

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
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup leftover ham, diced
¼ cup ricotta cheese
½ 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 1 teaspoon 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 2 teaspoons 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.

Servings: 4 ~ Serving size: 2 slices

 

Grilled Tilapia and Field Pea Succotash

Growing up in the south, field 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 my Grilled Tilapia and Field Pea Succotash recipe.

This meal is so simple to prepare and makes a fast weeknight meal that’s worthy of company if you prepare your field peas the day before. 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 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups cooked 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 red bell pepper and continue cooking a few more minutes until pepper is 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 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

Sweet and Spicy Fruit Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from a strawberry jalapeño jam, which is my new food obsession. The combination of sweet strawberries with a slight peppery heat is a perfect pairing that will delight your taste buds. I added a little citrus to my new favorite duo for a unique take on fruit salad that’s tangy, sweet and spicy all in one bite.

This is a wonderful use for spring strawberries and makes a simple but unique side dish or dessert. Pair it with grilled fish or chicken and fresh asparagus for a fast and delicious homemade meal, or liven up your next potluck with this sweet and spicy treat.

Ingredients:
1 pound strawberries
1 grapefruit
1 navel orange
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons candied jalapeno pepper slices, diced

Directions:
1. Remove stems from strawberries and cut into quarters.
2. Peel and roughly chop grapefruit and orange, removing any seeds.
3. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, grapefruit and orange and drizzle with honey. Add candied jalapeño pepper and gently toss to combine.

Note: You can use hot and sweet jalapeño slices in place of the candied jalapeño peppers or pickled jalapeños plus an extra 1 tablespoon of honey.

Grilled Thai Chicken Pizza

Say hello to spring with grilled pizza! This technique takes homemade pizza pie 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.

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
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 homemade or store bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

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 and cheese.
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, top with cabbage salad, slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Servings: 4 ~ Serving size: 2 slices

Open-Faced Turkey Burgers

There is something about eating a burger with a knife and a fork that makes it seem more classy than something you would order at a burger dive. And who can resist the freshly made bread these turkey burgers sit on. This recipe will elevate your next backyard cookout.

The secret to creating open-faced burgers is topping them with delicious ingredients. And you don’t have to worry about cramming all those ingredients under another slice of bread. Get creative and try piling on your favorite seasonal vegetables, like grilled zucchini and asparagus.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound ground turkey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices fresh bread, preferably homemade or from a local bakery
4 slices smoked gouda cheese
2 cups arugula, tightly packed

Directions:
1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter 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. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar and set aside.
3. Form turkey into patties and season with salt and pepper. Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Grill burgers until turkey is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. During the last three minutes of cooking, top each burger with a slice of cheese and allow to melt while burgers continue cooking.
4. Grill bread slices for about a minute per side, until light brown grill marks appear. Spread each slice with balsamic mayonnaise. Top with turkey burgers and equal amounts of caramelized onion and arugula.

Servings: 4 ~ Serving size: 1 burger

Pulled Pork Potato Skins

One of my favorite BBQ restaurants in Memphis serves a dish called the Idaho Pig, which is a giant baked potato stuffed with pulled pork and a lot of cheese and barbecue sauce. It is one of my favorite indulgences and the inspiration for this lighter version that is just as satisfying. These potato skins are a crowd pleaser and perfect appetizer or meal for the big game.

I love barbecue sauce, but most bottled sauces are high in sodium. This recipe uses only two servings of sauce for the entire recipe, keeping the sodium down while still delivering a sweet and tangy punch that will make you feel like you are hanging out in your favorite BBQ joint.

Ingredients:
8 small potatoes
2 cups pulled pork (from Slow Cooker Drunken Pork)
¼ cup barbecue sauce
½ cup yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
16 hot and sweet jalapeño pepper slices
Optional: light sour cream for serving

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 pulled pork with barbecue sauce and stir to evenly coat. Add equal amount of pork to potato halves and top with two types of cheddar cheese and 1 jalapeño pepper slice.
4. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until cheese has melted. Serve immediately with light sour cream if desired.

Note: You can reserve the potato that you scoop out and add to mashed potatoes or potato soup for another meal.

Servings: 4 to 8 ~ Serving size: 4 for a meal and 2 for an appetizer

Slow Cooker Drunken Pork

I will always be partial to Memphis-style barbecue sauces with their perfect sweet and tangy combination. However, I do appreciate a good vinegar-based sauce from North Carolina and white sauce from Alabama. This recipe is perfect for entertaining a crowd that may have strong opinions about which state has the best sauce. Simply serve a variety of warm sauces along with your pork and let your guests decide.

Ingredients:
2½ to 3 pound pork butt
1 can or bottle of craft beer, such as IPA
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Optional: Barbecue sauce, heated

Directions:
1. Place pork, beer, garlic cloves, salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat is tender and starts to fall apart.
2. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle. Using two forks, shred the pork and discard any bone or large pieces of fat.
3. Serve shredded pork plain or toss with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Note: This recipe is also very adaptable for different meals throughout the week. It makes a great lean protein topping for salads and baked potatoes.

Servings: 5 to 6 ~ Serving size: varies depending on cut of meat