Ingredient: Dijon mustard

All Seasons, Beef, Fall, Latin America, Main, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Beef Tamale Pie

Serve with a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette-

Although tamale pie has its origins in the United States, most likely California, many American Hispanics prepare this ultimate comfort food. Not to be confused with Mexican tamales, tamale pie is a baked casserole of ground beef, cornmeal, tomatoes, olives and cheese. I simplified the original recipe, which calls for preparing cornmeal and pouring it into the bottom of a pie dish and again topping the beef mixture with more cornmeal, by substituting a corn muffin mix. A simple side salad completes this family-friendly meal.

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Pan Sauteed Salmon with Dijon Mustard-Tarragon Sauce

Serve with rosemary-scented yellow squash and tomatoes and white rice-

I love to invite friends over for lunch and have them test a recipe with me; it’s a great way to spend time and catch up, as well as have other taste buds besides family give the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to a new culinary idea. My good friend, Megan W., gave this easy preparation seafood dish a “thumbs up” and I gave spending time with her “two thumbs up”.

All Seasons, American, Beef, Fall, Gluten free, Main, Soups, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Beef and Cheddar Cheese Chowder

Served with green salad with maple dressing-

I threw together this soup one day when my oldest daughter was feeling run down. She loves Whole Foods Market’s version but declared my version just as good. It’s so simple to make and adding chopped spinach to an energizing protein-rich base balances hormones and boosts immunity.

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Black Eyed Pea Salad with Sweet Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette

Serve with brown rice and summer’s stewed tomatoes and corn-

One of my favorite bean dishes is Hoppin’ John, a comforting stew of rice, tomatoes and black eyed peas. It is one of the best dishes to eat in the south on January 1st as black eyed peas signify good luck for the coming year. Well, as the weather starts to warm up I want to prepare beans in a way that are cooling not warming. This is my take on a southern black eyed pea salad which is usually tossed in Italian vinaigrette. I think you’ll find the caramelized sweet onion dressing elevates it to a whole new level and paired with an equally southern side, stewed tomatoes (with a couple surprise ingredients), y’all be talkin’ with a drawl by the last bite.

American, Bbq/Grilling, Fall, Gluten free, Low Sodium, Main, Paleo / Primal, Paleo/Primal, Salads, Seafood, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer

Grilled Salmon Salad

Serve with watermelon slices, French bread-

This was a surprise hit, considering my family does not prefer salmon. My oldest declared that “this doesn’t even taste like salmon” as she went back for seconds. It is truly a keep-the-heat-out-of-the-kitchen recipe as the salmon is grilled and tossed with fresh, crisp ingredients. Cool watermelon slices and a loaf of good quality bread round out a new way to eat salmon in the summer.

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Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

Serve with tomato and Corn Salad-

I am always tinkering with recreating a true Maryland-style crab cake and I finally found a healthy version that brings back memories of growing up in the greater Philadelphia area with access to Chesapeake Bay classics like crab cakes.

The distinct difference between most crab cakes and a Maryland-style one is the Old Bay seasoning, a staple in most Maryland households. I have lightened up the coastal seafood delicacy by broiling rather than pan frying in oil. I did not miss the original fried version and rather preferred this lighter one. My crab cake recipe got two thumbs up from my southern-raised husband who spent many a childhood summers on the Chesapeake and my daughter who does not typically like seafood.

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Tuna Nicoise Salad

Serve with whole grain bread-

I love spring for the warmer weather and spring blossoms, and I am so ready for lighter food, such as salads. Tuna Nicoise is more a meal than a salad, but it is the perfect spring dinner, needing nothing more than a great loaf of fresh bread.

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Slow Cooker Drunken Beans (Frijoles Borrachos)

I adapted for the slow cooker a bean dish from Ivy Stark’s Dos Caminos Mexican Street Food cookbook (if you like Mexican street food this is a beautiful cookbook filled with both traditional recipes and twists on Mexican food at its best). Her version called for bacon but I have kept it vegetarian; the bacon can always be added as a condiment.

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Herbed Grilled Chicken with White BBQ Sauce

Serve with grilled summer squash and tangy potato salad-

Once the temperatures stay in the 80s in Florida (which for us is May), this is one of my all time favorite hot weather meals. It is my go-to menu for summer backyard entertaining where all that is needed are chilled watermelon slices for the kids and perhaps ice cream cookie sandwiches as a cool sweet finale.