Archive | June, 2016


 Pull-apart bread or monkey bread is a fantastic backyard bbq starter that’s the easiest make ahead dish ever.  You can prep it early in the day, pop it on the grill right before guests arrive and by the time drinks are served, you’re the hostess hero when this delicious loaf is served. I lightened the traditional ultra-cheesy version by using high flavor ingredients and lower fat feta and part skim mozzarella.



1 12 oz loaf                                             whole wheat Italian-style bread

¼ C                                                                pine nuts, toasted and cooled

2 T                                                                 capers, drained and rinsed

2 cloves                                                     garlic, minced

¼ C                                                                basil, chopped

1/3 C                                                           high quality extra virgin olive oil

1/2 C                                                           sundried tomatoes, chopped

¼ ea                                                              red onion, thinly sliced

1 C                                                                Kalamata olives, pitted and minced

1/2 C ea                                                    shredded part skim mozzarella & crumbled feta cheese

2-3 lrg handfuls                                   baby spinach, microwaved, chopped and well wrung out


Preheat grill to medium high heat on one side of grill and cool side on the other.  You may also use your oven preheated to 375. Place 2 sheets of aluminum foil on a disposable aluminum pan in an “X”, leaving a few inches overhang on all sides.  Using a serrated bread knife, cut the loaf of bread in 1” vertical slices.  Take care not to cut all the way through the loaf.  Rotate the bread a quarter turn and cut 1” slices across the vertical slices, creating a crosshatch pattern.  Place cut loaf on the baking pan on the center of the foil “X”.  Set aside.

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.  Take care not to burn nuts.  They can go from lightly brown to burnt in seconds!  Set aside.

Mash capers, garlic, Kalamata olives and basil with a mortar and pestle until you have a somewhat smooth paste.  Slowly add olive oil and whisk until incorporated. Add chopped sun dried tomatoes, red onion, pine nuts, cheeses and cooked baby spinach.

Spoon the mixture into the cut portions of the bread.  Take care to push the filling down into the bread openings.  Gather the aluminum foil around the bread and wrap loosely.

Place in the grill and close lid. Reduce grill temp to medium and bake for 30 minutes.  Fold back the foil and continue baking 7-10 minutes longer until top is golden and cheese is melted and browned.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.


 tabbouleh best

What could be easier than combining a few ingredients in a bowl, covering and refrigerating it?  This dish practically makes itself! It’s a perfect dinner to make on a hot summer day.  There’s little clean-up & all the work is done the night before so you can get a nutritious dinner can be on the table minutes after a long work day.



1 C                                         medium grain bulgur wheat

 ¾ C                                       tomato juice                                          

¼  C                                        low sodium vegetable stock

1 ea                                       fresh lemon juice

2 T                                          olive oil

Generous pinch of salt & cayenne pepper

¼ C                                         red onion, minced

½ C                                        Italian parsley, minced

1 basket                             grape tomatoes, halved

½ ea                                      red bell pepper, chopped

1 T ea                                   fresh mint and dill, mint

¼ #                                         Haloumi cheese, grilled * or substitute crumbled feta


In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients.  Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.  Add all remaining ingredients  (except grilled haloumi) combine gently.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  To serve, remove tabbouleh from refrigerator and mix gently.  Heat outdoor grill or grill pan to medium high.  Place ½” thick slices of Haloumi on grill and brown on each side.  Cut into cubes and toss with salad.  Serve over grilled chicken breast if desired.

Serves 4-6


  It’s summer and nothing says summer like a barbecue! If you are looking for an unusual “top dog”, this recipe won’t disappoint. It combines the health benefits of lean turkey and heart healthy avocado in the iconic southern California style dog.  For those of you wrinkling your nose at the idea of a healthy hot dog….this recipe has bacon too.  What’s not to love about that?



6 pcs                                    regular cut bacon

6 ea                                      turkey dogs

6 ea                                      high quality hot dog buns (top split) with poppy seeds

1 ea                                      avocado, mashed with 1t lime juice

½ C                                       no-fat or reduced fat mayonnaise

3T                                           cilantro, minced

1 ea                                      lime juice

1/2  C                                 pineapple, diced

¼                                            red bell pepper, minced

2 t                                         red onion, minced

Pinch                                   cayenne pepper

1 t                                         brown sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prepare pineapple relish:  Combine diced pineapple, red bell pepper, red onion, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Prepare cilantro mayo: Whisk cilantro, mayo and lime juice together.  Set aside.

Prepare turkey dogs:   Place 3 layers of paper towels on a microwave safe plate and arrange bacon on top in a single layer.  Cover with 3 more layers of paper toweling.  Microwave on high power until fat renders but bacon is still soft and pliable. 3-6 minutes depending on strength of microwave.  Carefully spiral-wrap each turkey dog with a piece of bacon.  I have not found it necessary to secure bacon with a toothpick but you may want to.  Set aside while grill heats.

Heat grill to medium low.

When the grill is hot, place dogs on grill and let them cook, repositioning as needed to avoid flare ups and prevent burning.  Because the bacon is partially cooked and much of the fat has been rendered flare ups should be minimal.  When the bacon and turkey dogs are cooked through remove from heat.  Grill buns just until heated and lightly toasted.  Serve bacon wrapped dogs in buns with avocado mash, pineapple relish and cilantro mayo.


Serves 6