Snap out of rut with summertime twists on traditional recipes

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By Melanie Knight

Your summer dinners are starting to drag. Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. It’s easy to get into a rut preparing the same meals over and over again.But it’s just as easy to snap out of it and start a culinary revolution by twisting something old into something new. Just put a spin on your favorite recipes by doing the summertime twist.An updated version of the tried and true All-American cheeseburger and Baked Sweet Potato Fries will keep your Labor Day cookout guests on their toes. Switch it up by serving broccoli salad instead of coleslaw and a Cherry Sunset in place of lemonade. Top the meal with individual Mini-Peach cobbler served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.Now that you’ve got a new set of kitchen tricks to try, it’s time to twist the rest of the summer away.

Inside-Out Bacon CheeseburgersIngredients8 slices bacon, fried and crumbledExtra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling1 1/3 pounds ground beef1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and black pepper1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded4 hamburger bunsSliced tomatoes and lettuceMayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles (optional)Directions– Preheat grill to high.– In a medium pan, brown bacon over medium high heat and drain on paper towel lined plate. Crumble when cool to touch. Divide bacon and cheese into 4 equal parts. – Combine ground beef with Worcestershire and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Divide meat into 4 equal parts. Take 1/4 of the meat in your hand and make a well in the center of it. Pile in 1/4 of cheese and bacon, then carefully form the burger around the cheese and bacon filling. Make sure the fillings are completely covered with meat. When all four patties are formed, drizzle burgers with oil and place on hot grill.– Cook for 2 minutes on each side over high heat, reduce heat to medium low and cook burgers for 7 to 8 minutes longer, turning occasionally. Do not press down on burgers as they cook. Transfer burgers to a plate and let them rest 5 minutes before serving.– Assemble burgers, buns and your choice of condiments. As you bite into the burgers, you will find the cheesy-bacon surprise at the center. Makes 4 servings.

– Recipe by Rachel Ray (www.foodnetwork.com)

Baked Sweet Potato FriesIngredients2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for tossing5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch long slices, then 1/4- inch strips1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper1/2 teaspoon paprikaDirections– Preheat oven to 450 degrees.– Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd.– Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Makes 3-5 servings.

– Recipe by Paula Deen (www.foodnetwork.com)

Broccoli SaladIngredients1 large bunch broccoli florets (cut off florets before smooth stalk begins)8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled or 1/2 cup bacon bits1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts1/2 cup chopped onionsOptional:1 cup raisins1/2 cup shredded cheese1/2 cup sesame seeds1 cup chopped tomatoesDressing:

1/4-1/2 cup sugar (to taste)1/2 cup mayonnaise2 tablespoons vinegarDirections

– Mix together broccoli florets, bacon, nuts, onions and any optional ingredients. – Mix together dressing. Pour on top and stir to combine. Makes 4-6 servings.

– Recipe by Frankie Pate

Mini-Peach CobblersIngredients

1 box yellow cake mix1-14 ounce can sliced peaches in juice1/2 cup orange juice (can substitute apple juice)Cinnamon for sprinklingNonstick cooking sprayDirections– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.– Spray 12-unit cupcake/muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. – Open can of peaches and reserve juice. Mix peach juice, orange juice and cake mix by hand in large bowl until mixed. Fill muffin cups half full with batter (discard excess). Divide peach slices between 12 muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon. Push slices into muffin cups, covering with batter. – Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve each cobbler with 2 scoops vanilla ice cream (optional).

– Recipe by Melanie Knight, inspired by Roy Cross

Cherry SunsetIngredients16 maraschino cherries and juice4 cups lemonade2 cup orange juiceMaraschino cherries, lemon slices and orange slices (for garnish)Directions– Place four cherries in the bottom of each glass. Pour in 1/2 cup orange juice, then 1 cup lemonade. – For garnish, slice cherries in half, then cut a slit from the center to the side so it can sit on the side of the glass. Cut the same slit in the lemon and orange and slices. Place cherry on the side of the glass, so the slit straddles the glass edge and follow it with the sliced lemon and orange. Makes 4 servings.

– Recipe by Melanie Knight