SCALLOP-SHRIMP-BACON KABOBS

Summer is coming, and that means the outdoor grill is coming into its own again. And since I prefer working the grill when it isn’t blazingly hot outside…kabobs for dinner! What makes them so tasty is the bacon, though I did use it sparingly so it wouldn’t overpower the seafood. A winner!

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp minced cilantro

8 slices turkey bacon, halved horizontally

32 medium-sized shrimp

16 large scallops

1 lemon, sliced into 8 wedges

1 lime, sliced into 8 wedges

8 skewers (I used bamboo)

1) Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat

2) In small bowl, mix olive oil, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cilantro; set aside

3) Wrap 16 shrimp (reserving 16) in bacon halves;

4) Assemble 8 kabobs on skewers as follows: lemon slice, bacon-wrapped shrimp, scallop, naked shrimp, bacon-wrapped shrimp, scallop, naked shrimp, lime slice; brush tops of kabobs with half the chili-cilantro oil

5) Place kabobs on grill, chili-cilantro oil side down; cook 5-7 minutes; brush tops of kabobs with remaining chili-cilantro oil and turn; grill 5-7 minutes until shrimp and scallops are just cooked through; serve with a nice salad

Serves: 4

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CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADA NACHOS

This is my version of a tasty recipe found at: She Cooks, He Eats blog. The enchilada sauce is what caught my eye–a unique addition to nachos. After a bit of recipe tweaking, we had a fabulous appetizer for a meal. Would I change anything the next go around? Possibly more enchilada sauce–good!

8 cups tortilla chips

2-13 oz cans chicken breast, drained

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, grated

3 green onions, sliced thin

1-10 oz can enchilada sauce

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) Put chicken breast in medium-sized bowl; add salt, pepper, and oregano; toss to combine; set aside

3) In large casserole dish, arrange two layers, using half the following ingredients for each layer: tortilla chips, chicken, black beans, cheese, green onions

4) Pour enchilada sauce over top and bake 10 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven

5) Top nachos with tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro; serve it up!

Serves: 4-6

CHINESE HOT AND SOUR SOUP

Junior’s favorite soup is P.F. Chang’s Hot and Sour and, goodness knows, I’ve tried to duplicate it. Though I haven’t yet succeeded, years ago I hit on a version that made Junior name this recipe his second favorite soup. Though it should serve 6-8 dinner-sized portions, in our house of four it’s often wiped out in one sitting. An added bonus is that it’s pretty easy to make.

8 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp chili sauce (or 1 tbsp if you want to tone down the “hot”)

1 tbsp sesame seed oil

1/2 tbsp ground white pepper

1 can bamboo shoots, drained and coarsely chopped

1-1/2 cups bean sprouts (I prefer fresh, but when not available, canned is pretty good)

6 oz mushrooms, chopped

2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1-16 oz pkg firm tofu, drained and cubed

4 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

2 eggs, beaten

3 green onions, sliced thin

1-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add: broth, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, sesame seed oil, and white pepper; stir to combine and bring to a boil

2) Lower heat to medium and add: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken, and tofu; cook 10 minutes

3) Stir in cornstarch dissolved in water; cook 10 minutes

4) While gently stirring soup in a circular motion, slowly pour in beaten egg; cook 5 minutes

5) Scatter green onions and red pepper flakes over soup; remove from heat, serve, and slurp!

Serves: 6-8 dinner-sized portions

CREAM CHEESE BLACK BEAN DIP

This dip has been a favorite in our home for years, so the recipe card bears the marks of having been consulted often. The dip can be made with or without black beans, but the added texture of those little guys is worth one more time around with the can opener. Enjoy!

1-8 oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese, softened

8 oz sour cream

8 oz salsa (I use medium heat)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 tbsp diced jalapenos

3 tbsp taco seasoning

1 can reduced fat refried beans

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Tortilla chips (Tostitos “Hint of Lime” is our chip of choice)

Optional toppings: sour cream, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, parsley or cilantro, sliced jalapenos

1) To large, microwave-safe bowl, add: cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, cheese, jalapenos, and taco seasoning; stir well to combine; add refried beans and black beans; stir well

2) Microwave dip on high 5-7 minutes until heated through (pause and stir every couple of minutes); remove from microwave, add your favorite toppings, and serve with tortilla chips

Serves: 4-6 as dinner

Serves: 12-16 as appetizer

GLAZED LEMON-RASPBERRY CREPES

Last year I came across a recipe for lemon-filled crepes from Wolfgang Puck, did my usual tweaking to suit my family’s tastes, and landed on this amazing dish. Though it easily qualifies as a dessert, in my opinion, the cottage cheese filling is justification for serving it for dinner–which I did. And not one complaint from my guys. Imagine that 🙂

CREPES & FILLING:

12 store-bought crepes (or you can make your own)

1 egg

4 tbsp sugar

1-3/4 cup reduced-fat small-curd cottage cheese

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon zest

1-1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

GLAZE:

1 egg

2 tbsp sugar

1 cup whipping cream

1 tbs lemon juice

TOPPING:

1 cup assorted berries (I used frozen)

1/2 cup berry preserves thinned with 1/4 cup water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil a 9×13 baking pan

2) FILLING: To blender, add: egg, sugar,  cottage cheese, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla; blend on medium speed 1 minute or until smooth

3) Divide filling between crepes and roll up; place crepes seam side down in baking pan

4) GLAZE: To blender, add: egg, sugar, whipping cream, lemon juice; blend on medium speed 30 seconds until well combined; pour over crepes

5) TOPPING: Scatter berries over crepes; drizzle thinned preserves over crepes

6) Bake in oven 25-30 minutes; serve and watch ’em lick the plates!

Serves: 4

MAMMOTH CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

There’s no ladylike way to eat these quesadillas. They’re just too thick and chock full of good stuff. But they’re worth the mess. All gone! All thumbs up–duh 🙂

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2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1-14.5 oz black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

1 lb ground chicken

1/4 cup mild jalapeños (I used Mezzetta brand “Tamed”)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

12 small (6″) flour tortillas

spray olive oil

2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1) Preheat broiler

2) To a large skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp) and heat over medium-high; add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes; add black beans and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes longer; transfer to a plate

3) To same skillet, add 1 tbsp reserved olive oil and heat over medium-high; add ground chicken, jalapeños, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring often, 5-7 minutes until cooked through; remove from heat

4) Place tortillas in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and spray with spray olive oil; broil 1-2 minutes until golden and just crispy and remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees

5) Assemble each of 4 quesadillas as follows, dividing ingredients equally between them : flour tortilla, chicken mixture, flour tortilla, vegetable-black bean mixture, cheese, flour tortilla; place quesadillas on baking sheet, return to oven, and cook 5-8 minutes until warmed through and cheese melts; remove from oven and cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges; serve with dollops of sour cream

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions; 8 appetizer-sized portions

LAYERED SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Senior adores sweet potatoes…and cranberry sauce…and marshmallows. Layer them in one baking dish, sprinkle with butter-oat crumble topping and pecans, and you have an easy, unbelievably tasty side dish.

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6 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1-14 oz can whole cranberry sauce

2 cups marshmallow cream (I used Jet-puffed brand)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup pecan halves

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly butter 8×8″ baking dish

2) In medium-sized bowl, mix butter, oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until well combined and crumbly; refrigerate

3) In baking dish, layer casserole as follows: 2 cups sweet potatoes (reserving 4 cups), cranberry sauce, 2 cups sweet potatoes (reserving 2 cups), marshmallow cream, and remaining 2 cups sweet potatoes; bake in oven 20 minutes

4) Crumble butter-oat mixture over casserole and bake additional 15-20 minutes until casserole is bubbly and crumble topping is golden brown; scatter Craisins and pecans over top and cook additional 5 minutes; serve

Servings: 8-10