Some recipes to kick off a beautiful spring

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring has definitely sprung in the weather, flowers, trees and food. Fresh asparagus is wonderful right now and strawberries coming from California and south Texas are pretty good now. So get out your spring recipe file and start cooking all of those favorite dishes to kick off this beautiful spring.

All of the recipes today are from Jodi Thompson, an avid recipe collector and frequent Recipe Swap contributor. The shrimp cocktail sounds so different, and I will be trying the asparagus and shrimp salad right away.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 cups tomato and clam juice cocktail

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

1/4 cup prepared horseradish

Salt to taste

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Stir garlic, red onion and cilantro. Mix in tomato and clam juice cocktail, ketchup, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and horseradish. Season with salt. Gently stir in avocado. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Serve in one large bowl or ladle into individual bowls. Try serving with tortilla chips. Serves 6.

Fresh Asparagus Salad with Shrimp

1 pound asparagus, woody stem ends removed

1/2 pound pink salad shrimp, cooked, shelled

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced (1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons, depending on how much you like fresh garlic)

1 tablespoon lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the asparagus to a bowl to cool. Add the shrimp to the pot of boiling water. If they are precooked, remove after 30 seconds, this is just to warm them. If the shrimp are uncooked, boil them for 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the shrimp and add them to a large bowl. Slice the asparagus spears thinly on the diagonal until you get close to the tip. Cut the asparagus tips off in one piece. (They look prettier that way.) Put the asparagus in the bowl with the shrimp. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if desired, to taste. Yield: Serves 4.

Amazing Ziti

1 pound 95 percent-lean ground beef

2 cups shredded carrot

2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup

2 1/2 cups water

8 ounces dried ziti pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, cook ground beef and shredded carrot over medium heat until meat is brown. Drain off fat. Stir tomato soup, the water, uncooked ziti, dried basil (if using), onion powder and garlic powder into meat mixture in Dutch oven.

Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook about 25 minutes or until ziti is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh basil (if using) and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese.

Chow Mein Chicken Casserole

This casserole is an easy way to use up left over chicken and is inexpensive to make.

1 cup cooked or canned chicken

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can chicken with rice soup

5 ounces chow mein noodles

Cut up chicken into bite-size pieces. Add remainder of ingredients, reserving some noodles for the top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, approximately 30 minutes.

Chicken Salad Bake

4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

2 celery ribs, thinly sliced

1 small green or sweet red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, halved

1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup Miracle Whip Light

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine Miracle Whip Light, garlic powder and pepper; stir into chicken mixture. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Toss bread crumbs with butter; sprinkle over chicken mixture. Top with cheese. Bake 7 to 10 minutes longer or until heated through and top is lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings.

Very Cherry Brownie Crisp

1 (15.5 ounce) package chocolate chunk brownie mix

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, if desired

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 (21-ounce) cans cherry pie filling

1 quart vanilla ice cream

1 (12.25 ounce) jar hot fudge spoonable ice cream topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine brownie mix, oats and walnuts in large bowl; mix well. Add butter; stir until mix is moistened, mixture will be dry. Spoon pie filling evenly into ungreased 8- or 9-inch square (2 quart) glass baking dish. Sprinkle brownie mixture over pie filling. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Cool 45 minutes.

Spoon crisp into bowls to serve. Top each serving with ice cream; drizzle with hot fudge topping.

Lighter Peach Bowl Pizza

This is a crispy crumbly shortbread crust, covered in a layer of fluffy, sugary cream cheese and topped with juicy fresh peaches making it a fantastic dessert.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons cold butter

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup reduced-fat whipped topping

4 medium peaches, peeled and diced, or frozen, thawed peaches may be used

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto an ungreased 12-inch pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and extract until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Arrange the peaches on top. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 slices.

Have a great weekend, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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