Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño Poppers

Everyone seems to love jalapeño poppers and they are quick to put together.  I grilled these peppers, but you can also roast them in the oven.  You can make them the day before which is always handy for saving time if you are having a party.  I always wear rubber gloves when I am working with jalapeños because they burn my hands and I inevitably touch my eye and it is really painful!  Take jalapeño peppers and cut them length wise and devein and seed them and place them on a baking tray or plate.  The stuffing mixture is made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, green onion, and lime juice, and crispy bacon which really makes it delicious!  Bake them in the oven or grill them on the grill until the brown and bubbling and serve.  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes

Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes

I am still savoring every inch of summer I can and want to continue grilling everything!  I hate saying goodbye to summer.  This dinner is full of flavors like oregano, thyme, garlic and lemon and is really quick to put together.  I always have frozen shrimp in the freezer as well as a jar of artichoke hearts.  I combine olive oil, herbs and garlic in a bowl and add onion, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and artichoke hearts and toss.  I have a grill basket that I get super hot and put the vegetable mix in and then add a little more olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and toss the shrimp in the oil.  I like to cook the onion and pepper until lightly browned before I add the shrimp and cherry tomatoes because they don’t take as long to cook and there is nothing worse than rubbery shrimp.  I grill half a lemon to squeeze over the finished dish and toss with some lemon zest and tear some fresh oregano over the whole platter.  You can also roast this whole dish on a baking tray if you don’t want to bbq.  Click here for the recipe….

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Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

My nephew requested a chocolate cake with raspberry frosting for his birthday.  I don’t know if he was thinking it through about the fresh raspberries turning the buttercream frosting pink, but he is a real man who also eats quiche and didn’t mind!  The chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites.  It uses oil and buttermilk instead of butter and is a really moist cake full of flavor with the addition of coffee, melted bittersweet chocolate and coco powder.  I used fresh raspberries and put them through a fine strainer to remove the seeds and added the puree to the buttercream frosting and it has a nice, fresh, raspberry taste.  I also spread a layer of raspberry jam in the center along with a layer of raspberry buttercream to drive the raspberry taste throughout the cake.  To give the cake a chocolate boost, I made a chocolate ganache and poured it in the center of the cake after I piped the decorations around the top and decorated with fresh raspberries.  If I had some fresh mint, I would have place some leaves next to the raspberries for a little more pop of color. The combination of chocolate and raspberries is delicious!  Click here for the recipe….

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Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers with Sundried Tomatoes with a Sundried Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Aioli

Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers with Sundried Tomatoes  

with Sundried Tomato, Basil, Garlic Aioli

These chickpea burgers have a lot of flavor and are vegan.  The recipe makes 8 so I formed them into patties and froze the leftovers so I could have a quick dinner on a night I didn’t feel like cooking.  I used my food processor, and minced chickpeas, oatmeal, spinach, garlic, onions, lemon, tomato paste and sundried tomatoes.  Ground flax seeds mixed with water replaces the egg, but you could use an egg instead to bind the mixture together if you don’t need it to be vegan.  I sautéed the patties in a skillet and while they were cooking, made a quick aioli to put on the bun with basil, sundried tomatoes, garlic and mayonnaise.  This really adds a lot of flavor to the burger.  I garnished the burger with romaine lettuce, sliced onion, sliced tomato and some avocado so it was a filling dinner!  It was a 3 napkin dinner and messy, but really good.  I buy the sundried tomatoes in olive oil at Trader Joe’s, as well as their frozen basil that is frozen in teaspoon sized portions which quickly thaw and can be added to a myriad of dishes in the freezer section.  It’s a great way to keep fresh basil on hand at all times even in the winter.  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Chimichurri Sauce and Chipotle-Cilantro Aioli

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Chimichurri Sauce and Chipotle-Cilantro Aioli

I love to grill potatoes and sweet potatoes in the summer and start them out the same way by microwaving them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cook them most of the way through, and then grill them.  It’s a great side dish.  What makes these sweet potatoes really good are the two sauces that you drizzle over the potatoes before you serve them.  There are a lot of versions of chimichurri sauce, but for me, it’s a combination of whatever fresh herbs I have in my outdoor pots – parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, or cilantro.  I combine them in a mini food processor with some garlic, red wine vinegar, capers, a dash of honey and some olive oil and process it until it is loose enough to drizzle.  I made a chipotle aioli with some frozen chipotle I had from a leftover can that I freeze in a little container, and added some mayonnaise and fresh cilantro to make the sauce.  They have some really good pre-made sriracha mayonnaise or chipolte mayonnaise that you could also use to make it easy to put together.  The sweet potatoes are delicious grilled on their own without the sauces, but it really makes a great side dish with the combination of the two sauces.  You could also roast the sweet potatoes if you don’t want to grill them on the bbq. Click here for recipe….

 

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Quinoa Tacos

Quinoa Tacos

If you are looking for a delicious vegetarian alternative to beef tacos, this is a great recipe.  It uses quinoa and the traditional Mexican spices like chili powder, cumin and a little oregano.  While you are cooking the quinoa, sauté and onion and garlic and add the cooked quinoa and some salsa to make the base.  I heated tortillas and garnished the tacos with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, fresh cilantro, and some sour cream and served it alongside a salad with a cumin-lime vinaigrette.  You could add cooked beans to the filling as well.   Click here for recipe….

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Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Tarragon and Dill

Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Fresh Tarragon and Dill

Everyone always seems to love good old fashioned Deviled Eggs when they are brought out at a party.  They are so easy to make, but quite a few details go into making them really good ~ starting first with the cooking of them.  There are so many “no fail” ways I have seen to cook hard boiled eggs, but my method is the one my mom taught me and it is to place eggs in a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of cold water and bring them to boil.  Reduce the heat to low for 12-13 minutes and immediately drain and plunge the eggs in cold water and keep changing the cold water to avoid the dreaded grey ring around the yellow yolk.  It doesn’t sound so good to say, but using older eggs is better for hard boiling because they are easier to peel.  The eggs I bought must have been very fresh and a lot of them tore and were very hard to peel which was so disappointing and I didn’t have perfect eggs for the party.  If you are finding them hard to peel, gently crack the shell all around and let them sit in cold water to help loosen the shell and ease with the peeling process.  Always keep them refrigerated after they have cooked.  You can make the filling the day before and it’s best to fill the eggs just before you serve them so they don’t get a crust on top.  To make the filling I passed them through my food mill so they were very smooth and mixed the yolks with mayonnaise, finely diced shallot, bay shrimp, Dijon mustard, fresh tarragon, dill pickles, fresh dill, and lemon zest and juice and garnished them with bay shrimp and fresh herbs.  It’s important to taste the filling for the right amount of acid, salt and pepper.   I like to put the filling in a piping bag (or plastic bag) and fill them quickly and easily right before serving them.  A good rule of thumb is about 1.5 eggs  a person.  They always seem to disappear quickly at a party.  If you have leftovers, you can make egg salad sandwiches.  Click here for the recipe….

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Chicken Shawarma Burger with Tahini-Lemon Sauce

Chicken Shawarma Burger

I love this burger!  It’s a take on the traditional Lebanese chicken shawarma which also can be beef, or lamb that is grilled on a vertical skewer rotisserie and then sliced off to put in a pita wrap.  For this version, you can take equal amounts of chicken breasts and thighs and put them in the food processor to grind them, or just buy already ground chicken.  The spices are what make this burger so interesting.  You make a paste with olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, turmeric and fresh garlic and drizzle it over the chicken, gently mix and then form into patties.  I grilled them, but you could also sauté them in a skillet with a little olive oil.  The tahini-lemon sauce is simple to put together with tahini paste (a ground sesame seed paste), lemon zest and juice, and fresh garlic and it really adds to the exotic flavors of the burger.  I added a little arugula dressed simply with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and if I had a tomato and pickled onions, would have probably put a nice thick slice on the burger as well.  You could put the burger in a wrap or pita bread, but it was also good on a hamburger bun.  Click here for recipe….

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Spot Prawns with Garlic Butter

Spot Prawns with Garlic Butter

One of the best things about living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, is having nice friends who bring you live spot prawn caught minutes earlier and simply cooking them quickly in butter and garlic.  I think the taste is better than lobster and it was a wonderful treat to get these prawns.  I cooked these in a skillet on the bbq so I wouldn’t smell up the house with cooked seafood.  Get the butter very hot before adding the prawns, garlic, salt and pepper and quickly sauté them for a few minutes until the shells are a bright pink.  They really don’t need anything else! Click here for the recipe….

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Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Lime Aioli

Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Lime Aioli

 

These black bean burgers are a great vegetarian or vegan option and the burgers are packed with a lot of flavor like cumin, oregano, jalapenos, red pepper, garlic, fresh cilantro, and chili powder.  What really makes these delicious is the cilantro-lime aioli that has a lot of flavor.  I used a vegan mayonnaise, but you could use any mayonnaise.  I made the mixture in the food processor and ground the oatmeal to a flour consistency and reserved it in a small bowl, and then minced the onions, jalapeno, red pepper and garlic in the processor and then sauteed them along with the spices.  I put most of the black beans in the processor and added the cooked onion mixture and added cilantro and oat flour and quickly mixed in by hand the remaining whole black beans and corn.  You can sauté the burgers in a skillet with oil or bake them on a silpat lined baking sheet.  They freeze really well if you want to make a double batch.  I garnished the burgers with the delicious cilantro-lime aioli, pickled red onions, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado.  Click here for the recipe….

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