Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes might be the perfect summer meal. They are easy to prepare, cool, refreshing, and healthy … yet, quite filling. Variations on this recipe can be made with crab meat or chopped shrimp. Seasoning can be changed by substituting tarragon for the dill.

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Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 2 – 4

20 pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
1/4 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup tuna, drained
1 Tbsp dried dill weed
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large tomatoes, cored with flesh and seed scooped out to form a cup

In a medium bowl, combine olives, red onion, red pepper, eggs, tuna, dill and mayonnaise, mix gently. Season with pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to combine.

To serve: Fill the tomato “cups” with tuna salad. Serve along with a tossed salad and fresh fruit.

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A Couple of Great Appetizer Dips

Mushroom-Onion Toasts and Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip are simple vegetarian dips that are perfect starters for a Father’s Day barbecue.

Mushroom-Onion Toasts features a rich mushroom spread on seasoned toasts. As an option consider adding some grated parmesan cheese just before serving. Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip is a great appetizer dip that features the combined flavors of smoky caramelized onions, fresh thyme and a hint of sherry vinegar. Once you master this dip you will never again buy grocery store onion dip.

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Mushroom-Onion Toasts
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing toasts
French bread, sliced on a bias
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb. baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp chopped curly parsley
1 tsp dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375F.

On a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet place the bread slices. Brush both sides of each lightly with oil. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 8 minutes or until firm and crisp. Immediately after removing the toasts from the oven season with salt and paprika. Place the toast on a rack to cool.

In a large cast-iron skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the onions and garlic from the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are well browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until it is evaporated, 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and thyme. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place mushroom mixture and half of the onion-garlic mixture in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Scrape out to a bowl and stir in the remainder of the onion and garlic. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve by spreading over toasts.

Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 large sweet onions, quartered, skin left on
4 large shallots, halved, skin left on
6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler. Set top rack 3 to 4 inches below the heating element. On a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet place the onion quarters and shallot halves and brush all sides with oil. Place 4 thyme sprigs on the baking sheet with the onions. Broil until the skins are charred and the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes.

Change oven setting to bake at 300F. Bake the onions and shallots for another 45 minutes until they are soft and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once the onions and shallots have cooled completely, remove the skins and coarsely chop about 1/2 cup of the flesh and reserve any remaining for another use. In a food processor, combine the chopped onion and shallots, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, leaves of the remaining 2 thyme sprigs, and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve with your favorite salty cracker, chip or pretzel.

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Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage

Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage is a breakfast, lunch or brunch dish with Israeli roots that also draws from Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. The dish can be made vegetarian by substituting tofu, zucchini or spinach for the sausage or try a seafood version with sautéed shrimp or crawfish.

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Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 2

1 (8 oz.) smoked turkey sausage, sliced on bias 1/4-inch-thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 okra pods, cut in half lengthwise (if using frozen thaw to room temperature)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup edamame beans (if using frozen thaw to room temperature)
2 large eggs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp green onions thinly sliced
Hot sauce (preferably Sriracha)
Whole wheat pita bread

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage slices on both sides and set them aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add oil as necessary and saute the okra pods for 5 minutes or until tender and browned in spots. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, until blistered. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic clove, cook until tender and the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, a few dashes of hot sauce, edamame, and okra. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Crack the eggs into the skillet. Place pieces of sausage in the sauce around the eggs. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 4 minutes until eggs are set but the yolks are still runny.

Sprinkle the Shakshuka with green onions. Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil. Serve along with warm pita bread and hot sauce.

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Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas

Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas is an incredibly easy recipe for tender, flavorful shredded beef for tacos, burritos or tostadas. My son, Nolan, gave me this recipe and I only tweaked it a little — I couldn’t help myself.

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Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas
(Nolan Kelly, 2016)

Serves 4

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. skirt steak
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, chopped
2 large jalapeños, seeded, vein removed, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 limes, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 mango, diced
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the steaks as flat as possible in the slow-cooker. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook covered on low for 3 to 4 hours turning once halfway through. At that time re-season with salt and pepper. After the initial cooking period add all of the remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low for 5 hours longer.

Remove and allow to cool a bit before shredding the beef. Serve with your favorite toppings and garnishes including some of the cooked vegetables, mango and beans.

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Sweet and Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Shrimp has a little kick from the sweet chile sauce that is used to glazed the shrimp as they grill.

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Sweet and Spicy Grilled Shrimp
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs large (16-20) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
2 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
2 Tbsp sweet and sour sauce
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp dried cilantro leaves
1/4 cup shrimp stock
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing

In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring the sauce ingredients to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and reduce by half, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Skewer the shrimp using parallel skewers to keep the butterflied shrimp flat during grilling. Brush both sides of the shrimp with oil.

Heat grill for medium direct cooking. Cook the shrimp for 4 minutes. Turn the skewers over and brush the grilled side with the sweet-spicy sauce. Grill for another 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp back over and brush the remaining side with sauce. Grill for 1 more minute. Remove and serve hot along with grilled vegetables and your favorite starch.

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