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Try some food from somewhere other than the grill this holiday

Burgers and dogs and steaks, ho - hum. With Memorial Day just around the corner, you want to impress your friends with a good time and great food, but can anyone get excited over the same old smoked meat and grilled corn? While the answer may be a resounding no, there’s still hope for your party, thanks to Jennifer Vogel, the owner of The Learning Kitchen in West Chester.

“These three recipes are different, easy to make and are perfect for a summer time grill out or pot luck supper,” said Vogel.

If these recipes whet your appetite for wanting to learn more, Vogel will soon host cooking classes the school’s new location, at 7659 Cox Lane. After the move, she will resume classes around June 13. For more information, go to

Grilled and Loaded Twice-Baked Potato Skins

Serves 12

6 small russet potatoes, scrubbed

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Melted butter as needed

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup shredded Jack Cheese

Sour cream, for topping

Chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast directly on the rack for 40-60 minutes, or until tender. Roast bacon on a sheet tray for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking the potatoes. Once potatoes are cooled, slice in half and gently scoop out 2/3 of the middle of the potato halves. Use a fork or potato ricer to puree the potato flesh. Season with salt and pepper and mix with half the cheese. Crumble the bacon. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat. Brush potato skins with melted butter and place potatoes on grill and cook until crisp, about 4 to 4 1/2 minutes on each side and remove from grill. Fill each potato with some of the mixture, then top each with the remaining cheese. Put back on the grill over low heat and close the lid, allowing the cheese to melt. Top potato skins with sour cream, crumbled bacon and chives for garnish.

Rice Salad with Curry and Vegetables

Serves 12

¼ cup raisins

Lime juice to taste

Pinch sugar, salt and pepper to taste

3 cups white rice

Unsalted butter

2 cups diced zucchini

¼ cup onion, small dice

1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded if desired

1 tsp ginger paste

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tsp curry powder

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Combine raisins, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. 6 cups water just to boil in a pot and add salt so that the water takes like the sea, then add the rice. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. If you have difficulty coking rice without burning it in the pot, boil it like you would pasta – in boiling salted water until tender, then drain. Hold with a bit of olive oil or butter. Melt butter or olive oil in a large saute pan (do this in two batches to prevent overcrowding if the pan isn’t large enough) over medium high heat. Once melted, add the onion, zucchini and jalapeno and season with salt. Cook until softened. Add ginger paste, garlic and curry powder and cook and stir for about 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning. Allow to cool a bit, then stir in the raisin mixture. Toss with the rice, cilantro and season to taste before serving.

Italian Sausage with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 12

About 6 links of quality Italian Sausage (your local butcher is best), cut into 1” thick rounds

For the sauce:

Serves 12

½ cup roasted red peppers, drained

Juice of 1 lime

½ cup sour cream

Kosher salt and black pepper

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp Siracha

Chopped fresh cilantro to taste

For the sauce: Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cilantro. Heat grill over medium high heat. Once hot, add the sausage slices directly to the grill and cook about 4 minutes per side, turning once. Serve with toothpicks and the Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

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