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Sun, March 24

Fire up the grill for these picnic favorites

Since this is the time of year when we gather to honor those who have served and are serving our country, it is also the kickoff of the season to get out those grills and enjoy the outdoors. Here are some easy yet tasty dishes to use all season. Remember to observe food safety rules such as discarding used marinades, and have plenty of ice on hand to keep things cold.


Combine 1 can (20 oz.) canned pineapple slices undrained with 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. canola oil, 2 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder in shallow non-metallic dish.

Add 5 boneless chicken breast halves; turn to coat. Cover; marinate at least 15 minutes in refrigerator. Grill or broil both chicken and pineapple about 10 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink. Discard marinade. Five servings. Top each breast with pineapple as it is served (grill marks are a nice touch).


5 large baking potatoes (6-8 oz. each)

Cooking oil

1 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat or regular cheese such as cheddar or Monterey Jack

(6 oz.) 1/2 cup light dairy sour cream

1/4 - 1/3 cup milk

Dash each salt and pepper

These can be grilled and stuffed ahead of time, frozen, and reheated by adding 20 minutes to reheating time.

Scrub potatoes with brush; pat dry. Rub with oil. Half them lengthwise; wrap both halves of each potato loosely in heavy foil. Bake in 400-degree oven about 1 hour or until tender (or may grill directly over medium-hot coals about 45-50 minutes checking after 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Gently scoop out each potato half, leaving a 1/4 inch shell and spooning pulp into large mixing bowl. (You should have about 3 ½ to 4 cups pulp).

With electric mixer on low speed or masher, beat or mash pulp. Add 1 cup of cheese and sour cream; beat until smooth. If necessary, stir in enough milk to make desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon mashed potato mixture into potato shells. Place in greased 13 x 9 x 2 pan. MAY BE FROZEN AT THIS POINT.

If baking, do so uncovered at 425 for about 25 minutes or until light brown on top. May also cover pan with foil and grill directly over medium-hot coals about 25 minutes or until heated through.

If doing this, use metal pan and not glass. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. 10 side-dish servings.


A make-ahead Southwestern-style salad. The flavors blend while chilling. Make up to 24 hours ahead.

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

2/3 cup olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

3 cups cooked black

beans (or drain and rinse two (15 oz. cans) and reduce salt to tsp.)

1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

For dressing, whisk together lime juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper until well mixed.

In large bowl gently combine beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion and jalapeno. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover and chill for 24 hours. Six servings.

If using beans you cook yourself, drain, rinse, and cool before assembling salad.


(An alternative to grilling. Serve with the bean and corn salad.)

1 (3-4 pound) tri-tip

1 (11 oz. can) V-8

1 package dry onion soup mix

Trim all visible fat from tri-tip; wipe clean. Place in slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup over and around meat and top with V-8. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. You can shred and use as a beef dip sandwich on rolls and dip in juice.


Gotta have dessert, and fresh berries make these yummy.

Non-stick cooking spray

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut up and softened

1/2 cup each regular rolled oats and chopped pecans

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup each raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries

2 tsp. lemon juice

Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with double thickness of foil. Coat with cooking spray; set aside. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt. Using electric mixer, beat in 1 cup butter, 1 piece at a time until mixture is well combined, but it will look dry.

Transfer 1 1/4 cup of flour mixture to medium bowl. Evenly press remaining flour mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Stir oats, pecans and brown sugar into reserved flour mixture. Add 2 tbsp. butter; work mixture with fingers or use pastry blender until mixture is combined and starts to cling together; set aside.

In small bowl combine preserves, berries, lemon juice. Mash gently with fork until combined, but some berry pieces remain. Spread berry mixture evenly over hot crust. Sprinkle with flour mixture not pressing onto berry mixture. Bake in 375 oven for 22-25 minutes or until bubbly. Cool bars in pan on wire rack. Remove bars from pan by lifting up on foil. Cut into 32 bars.

Have a safe, happy, weekend.


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