Ingredient: olive oil, divided

Appetizer, Bbq/Grilling, Beef, Fall, Main, Middle Eastern, Pizzas, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer

Beef Kefta Flatbread Pizza

Serve with Tomato-Cucumber Salad-

I was flipping through a Cooking Light magazine and came across Beef Kefta Patties with Cucumber Salad. Kefta? A quick internet search yielded my answer: Kefta is the Lebanese/Syrian dialect for Kofta- a Middle Eastern, South Asian and Balkan meatball or meatloaf, although it is also referred to as kefka in Morocco. In the Middle East Kefta is ground beef or lamb, typically mixed with cumin, paprika, minced onion, coriander and parsley. Cinnamon, hot ground pepper, and mint leaves are optional.

The recipe below shows traditional quantities of these spices and herbs. I have, however, sautéed the kefta mixture in favor of forming into kebobs and made it as the base for a flatbread pizza. In honor of its Lebanese roots, serve it with a cooling cucumber-tomato salad.

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Manhattan Clam Chowder

Serve with garlic-lemon Swiss chard saute and artisan bread-

If you love tomato-based soups you’ll want to give this clam chowder a try; and it’s as authentic in taste as it comes. Nothing like the thick, creamy New England version but just as delicious in its own way. I’ve paired it with one of cool season’s hearty greens, Swiss chard. It’s bitter component is a nice complement to the sweet clams.

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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”.

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Seafood Potatoes

Serve with a summer vegetable and basil salad-

My good friend, Liz H., grew up in Charleston, SC and shared this recipe with me that she’s been enjoying since childhood. I had never heard of Seafood Potatoes before, clearly a southern-thing, but they sure sounded delicious. These are really good and the recipe turned out to be super easy to prepare, always a bonus.

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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.

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Veggie Burgers

My friend and fellow tester, Sable D., requested a recipe for veggie burgers as she and her husband eat the processed frozen ones quite often. I wanted to create an easy, freezable version that she could prepare using whatever vegetable and beans were in her house. Mission accomplished!

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Philly Chicken Cheese Steak Cups

Serve with carrots and celery with yogurt or ranch dip-

My hometown of Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Philly cheese steak- an Ambrosia roll stuffed with wafer-thin slices of roast beef, caramelized onions and green peppers, and oozing with provolone (or Cheese Whiz if you are eating at Pat’s Steak) cheese. This chicken version honors the classic, but makes it a bit healthier with chicken breast meat housed in lettuce cups. Guilt-free version when I am homesick!

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Pan Seared Pork Chops

Serve with parsley new potatoes, lemony sugar snap peas-

I spend most days cooking up different grains, meats, and vegetables in interesting ways, but it takes a simple meal like this to remind me that sometimes simplicity is best. This is easy to whip up on a busy weekday, but elegant enough to make for company on a spring evening. Make sure to buy the best quality chops you can afford.