Honey Dijon Baked Chicken

If you have used Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade as a marinade for chicken you won’t be surprised at how tasty their Honey Dijon Vinaigrette works as a marinade too. This new Gazebo Room product lives up to their signature Greek salad dressing. I was inspired to use this dressing as a marinade because I enjoy the taste of honey and mustard. I don’t usually tell on myself but I must say the flavors were so good on the chicken that I wanted to take my time and pick every morsel of meat off the bone. Of course, I added other seasonings to the chicken but the flavors from the dressing were prominent.

I tried this recipe while my youngest son was home from college. He declared he was trying to eat healthier and didn’t want to eat red meat. Since he was game I was game for giving up pork chops and ribs for a while. This meant I had to add even more chicken and fish to our diets. No one would miss the steaks we ate a few times a year. Now my biggest problem was coming up with even more ways to prepare chicken so it would not be boring. T is not a fan of baked chicken but I had run out of ideas for my usual chicken recipe rotation. So, I took the chance of marinating chicken legs in the Gazebo Room dressing then baking them. Hence, my Honey Dijon Baked Chicken recipe. I figured the Honey Dijon Vinaigrette would kick the flavors up a notch and he would not notice the chicken was baked. I was right! T never mentioned or grumbled that we were having baked chicken. All I heard was the smacking of lips and saw naked chicken bones on his plate.

Chalk one up for Gazebo Room and chalk one up for me!

Honey Dijon Baked Chicken


6 – 8 chicken legs and thighs

½ cup Gazebo Room Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

½ stick butter

½ medium onion sliced thin

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ poultry seasoning

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees when ready to bake.

Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle seasonings over chicken. Pour dressing over chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken into a plastic bag then place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Remove from bag and add single layer to a baking dish. Melt butter and pour over chicken. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour until chicken is browned and cooked all the way through.

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Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl

The “new” craze right now is creating recipes and putting the dish in bowls. At first, I wasn’t really into the bowl idea but it didn’t take long for me to realize I kinda liked the idea. Placing breakfast, lunch or dinner in a bowl helped to cut down on the amount of food we actually ate. I put less in a bowl compared to  how much I put on a plate.

One of my first bowl adventures was my Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. Not to brag too much but that recipe was a big hit with hubby. Now, he has another favorite. My Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl. This recipe was a little spicy with various textures and flavors that complimented each other. Although there are several components to the recipe, I think it is a very simple dish. Shredded spicy taco flavored chicken, crispy yellow rice, seasoned black beans and a mix of avocado and tomatoes. The hardest thing about this recipe is the wait time. Yeah, this one isn’t quick to make only because the chicken has to bake. While the chicken bakes about an hour all of the other pieces can easily be pulled together.

Even I couldn’t complain about having chicken again. Plus, I didn’t take the easy way out and make wingettes. Instead, I opted for chicken legs because they are meaty and you don’t have to take a long time to clean them like chicken thighs. Granted, I think chicken thigh meat is sweeter than chicken leg meat but it takes work to get thighs ready for cooking. Maybe the next time I make a Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl I’ll build in extra time and try it with chicken thighs. Whichever chicken part you choose (legs vs. thighs), I am confident you will enjoy my Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl. Healthy, Easy and Delicious!

Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl


6 – 8 chicken legs washed

2 plum tomatoes diced

2 scallions diced

2 slices bacon diced

1 can black beans rinsed

1 avocado diced

1 pkg hot and spicy taco seasoning

½ stick butter melted

1 ½ cup water

1 ½ cup chicken broth

1 ½ cups white rice

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cilantro

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp Chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chicken in a large bowl. Season with 1 tbsp salt, black pepper, Chile powder and all but 1 tsp hot and spicy taco seasoning. Add melted butter and mix until chicken is well coated. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray then place chicken in one layer in the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes then pull meat off the bone into chunks. Place chicken in a medium size skillet with ¼ chicken stock and remaining taco seasoning. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes.

While chicken is cooking prepare the following:


Rinse rice with cold water to remove some of the starch. Place in a microwaveable casserole dish with a pinch salt, turmeric, water and chicken broth. Place in microwave uncovered for 21 minutes until cooked. Remove from microwave and fluff up rice with a fork. Let cool for about 10 – 15 minutes. While rice is cooling cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp over medium high heat. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Reduce heat to medium high and add rice and scallions to the bacon grease breaking up any clumps of rice. Let rice crisp up for about 3 minutes then stir and flip to crisp up the other side. Cook for an additional 3 minutes then toss in bacon and mix in thoroughly. Cook another 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Prepare Tomato and Avocado:

Place diced tomatoes and avocado in a medium sized bowl. Season with a little salt, ground black pepper, parsley and lemon juice. Gently toss with a spoon. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Black Beans:

Place black beans in a small pot and add a little chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, cilantro and onion powder. Cook over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Bowl Setup:

Place crispy yellow rice in the bottom of an individual bowl. Add chicken to one side of the bowl then add the black beans along with tomato and avocado mix. Enjoy!

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Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin

Eating with your eyes is just as important as tasting with your tongue. I know I have mentioned this in the past but it is worth mentioning again. If you are going to prepare a dish for family, friends or yourself, you want it to look appealing. Combining different colors is an easy way to create visual beauty with food. This recipe is a nice blend of green, red and orange. Layering the vegetables in a circular pattern also made this a very attractive dish.

Gratins originated in French cuisine and has been adopted in many other culinary cuisines. I wasn’t sure exactly what gratin was until I saw one made on a cooking show. On this particular show the chef made potato au gratin which was gorgeous because of the crispy brown topping. Turns out a gratin is considered the technique of topping a dish with breadcrumbs or grated cheese then browning it.

While most of the gratin recipes I have seen are made with sliced white potatoes I wanted to think outside the box and combine potatoes with other vegetables. Plus, I wanted to make the dish pop with color. Hence, my Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin. A ring of beauty and a delightful dish.

Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin


2 plum or vine ripe tomatoes sliced

1 large zucchini sliced

1 large sweet potato peeled and sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat bottom of a large iron skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add minced garlic and spread around the skillet. Alternate slices of zucchini, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes in a circular pattern around the iron skillet. Place red onion slices over the other veggies then season with salt, ground black pepper and thyme. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Move to top rack and back for 20 – 25 minutes more. Test potatoes with a knife to make sure they are cooked and soft.


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Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops

Recently, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail. New bottles of Gazebo Room Salad Dressing and Marinade. I immediately started thinking about the kinds of recipes I could create that incorporated the dressings. I didn’t want to just use them as a dressing on top of one of my regular salads. I wanted something new and exciting!

Bingo! I finally decided to make an Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. I topped the Asian bowl with Gazebo Room Asian Vinaigrette Salad Dressing and Marinade. Yes, that is a mouthful to say and a delicious mouthful to taste. If you like tangy salad dressings, I think you will like this Asian dressing. I just would not put a lot of this dressing on a salad. A little goes a long way with this dressing because it is so flavorful.

Now back to my Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. In my mind, this is a very simple dish to make and the Asian bowl is both colorful and nutritious. I kept it simple by combining just a few veggies, thin lo mein noodles and of course the lamb chops. I have to admit I developed this recipe based on the lamb chops. As I usually do on the weekends, I was perusing the meat aisle looking for something other than chicken. Remember, I have nothing against chicken. We just eat it often so I try to break up the week with another meat if possible so that we don’t grow feathers. I spied a lone package of lollipop lamb chops among the packages of bigger lamb chops and grabbed them before anyone else could. It is rare for me to find these little jewels so I was quite happy with this trip to the grocery store.

When I pulled the recipe together I wasn’t totally convinced hubby would be on board since I had never prepared a “bowl”. I wasn’t even sure he had heard of an Asian bowl but he surprised me and said “Sure, go for it”, which meant he was on board. Hubby did come into the kitchen a couple of times to see what I was doing and guided me on how he wanted me to “create” his bowl. Yeah, let’s just call him my assistant on this recipe. Anyway, we both enjoyed the final product. Hubby really enjoyed it because he ate the whole thing. Normally, he leaves a little food on his plate but not this time. All I saw were two chopsticks and lamb chop bones sitting at the bottom of his bowl. That is what I call a successful dish!

Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops


2 Roma tomatoes diced

2 scallions sliced

2 bunches romaine lettuce shredded or small Napa cabbage shredded

1 package (6 – 8) lollipop lamb chops

1 package thin lo mein noodles

1 small can water chestnuts drained

1 cup snow peas

1 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup crispy rice noodles

¼ cup Gazebo Room Asian Vinaigrette Salad Dressing and Marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper


Season lamb chops with Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper and paprika. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Brown lamb chops on both sides approximately 3 – 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.

Add snow peas, carrots and scallions to frying pan and saute until slightly softened but still has some crispness. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Build Salad:

Place lettuce in the bottom of the bowl. Arrange veggies around the bowl. Add lo mein noodles, water chestnuts and diced tomatoes. Place three lamb chops on one side of the bowl. Drizzle with dressing then sprinkle with rice noodles.



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Coq Au Vin

My first experience of tasting French food was on a business trip to Massachusetts. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember the escargot one of my co-workers ordered and insisted I try. It was garlicky and a little rubbery but totally delicious. It was my first and last attempt at eating snails and although I enjoyed the taste, I did not like the texture. At this point, I could not tell you if that is the way snails are suppose to be when you cook them or if my experience was an exception. Like I said, the flavors were good but the snail did not make my mouth happy.

Fortunately, that experience did not turn me against French food. My next experience was much, much better. There are not many ways you can mess up a chicken so I ordered Coq Au Win at a nice little bistro hubby and I happened upon on one of our vacations. Now, we all know chicken can get a bit boring when you have it over and over again. Fried, baked, boiled. Ugh! Chicken can be so much more than fried, baked or boiled. Chicken can be dressed up as a stew with amazing flavors combined with mushrooms, onions and carrots. Yes, carrots. Coq Au Vin traditionally has potatoes instead of carrots. However, I chose to add carrots because I wanted to serve my Coq Au Vin with mashed potatoes. The gravy from the stew drizzled over the mashed potatoes was a delectable combination.

One more thing I changed in my recipe was the use of white wine instead of red wine. I like white wine better than red wine so I figured why not substitute the two wines. Some may say it’s not really Coq Au Vin if you don’t use red wine but don’t listen to them. Remember, make every recipe your own.


4 chicken thighs bone-in (remove excess fat)

4 large carrots peeled and sliced thick

3 slices bacon

2 green onions sliced

2 pkgs sliced cremini mushrooms

½ white onion thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup white wine or red wine

2 tsp butter

2 tsp flour

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Season chicken with salt and pepper then set aside.

In a large oven proof skillet or dutch oven, fry 3 slices of bacon over medium high heat until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon and leave drippings in the skillet. Add chicken to the skillet and brown on both sides. Place chicken on a plate and set aside.

Lower heat to medium then add mushrooms and white onions. Saute until slightly browned for approximately 7 – 10 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in flour and butter and cook for 1 minute. Again, stirring frequently. Add wine and stir to mix. Bring to a low boil and scrap brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add thyme and a little more salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in broth then add carrots and chicken back to the pan along with drippings. Simmer for another 3 minutes. Cover skillet and place in oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Baste after 20 minutes. Enjoy with mashed potatoes, rice or wide noodles.

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Cherries and Shortbread Biscuits

Lately I have been fixated with the idea of making desserts using cherry pie filling. One of those desserts is Cherries and Shortbread Biscuits. I have fallen in “like” with the little shortbread biscuits I found at Trader Joe’s. I was looking for lady fingers but found these cute little biscuits. I am not a big bread eater but I can eat any kind of shortbread cookie, cake or biscuit.

Combining the shortbread biscuits and cherry pie filling came to me as I was thinking of the many desserts my mom makes. She is a wonderful baker and inspires me to improve my baking chops. As a kid, my favorite pie was cherry. I preferred cherry pies on my birthday instead of cake even if it was chocolate cake. If my choice for dessert is between pie and cake, I will choose pie every time unless the pie is mincemeat. Ugh! I will save that thought for another post.

Cherries and Shortbread Biscuits is my take on cherry pie. It is probably one of the easiest desserts I have every made because all you need are cherry pie filling, shortbread biscuits and a whipped topping. Consider this a versatile recipe. You can substitute peach filling, apple pie filling or macerated fruit. Be creative and try whatever makes you feel good. But at least try Cherries and Shortbread Biscuits. It definitely made me feel good.



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Louisiana Style Soup

During the summer months I often have a taste for gumbo or jambalaya but those dishes can be a little heavy. So, to compensate and satisfy my taste buds, I will make a Louisiana Style Soup in warmer weather. This soup is much lighter than gumbo or jambalaya but it has similar flavors.

Creole food is the soul food of the south mid-west. Creole cooking is a blend of French, Spanish, Caribbean, West African, Portuguese and several other country cuisines. While Cajun dishes originate from a style of cooking by French speaking Acadians that were exiled to Louisiana. (a partial history lesson). Many people think there is no difference between Creole and Cajun foods but there really is a difference. The biggest difference is that Creole cuisines use tomatoes in most dishes while Cajun cuisines do not. Another difference is how each prepares a roux or thickening for dishes like jambalaya. A Creole roux is made with butter and flour while a Cajun roux is made with oil and flour. It may not sound like a big difference but it is when you are talking about flavors.

One more interesting tidbit about Creole vs. Cajun dishes is that Creole cooking is considered “city” food while Cajun cooking is considered “country” food. Hmmm… that may explain why hubby really likes Creole cooking while I enjoy Cajun foods. He is more of a city boy who loves tomatoes while I am a country girl at heart who just loves food.

Louisiana Style Soup


1 pkg spicy ground sausage

1 cup frozen okra

1 cup frozen baby lima beans

1 cup corn cut off the cob or frozen corn

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 scallions diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 small green pepper diced

1 small white onion diced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground ginger

Brown spicy ground sausage in a large pot over medium heat. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Add butter to the pan along with green pepper, celery and onion. Season with salt and black pepper then saute for a few minutes until vegetables soften.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot along with sausage. Stir to blend then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with rice or top with garlic croutons.

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Prawns and Avocado

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, my hubby and I enjoyed a delicious lunch appetizer called Prawns and Avocado. I was hesitant to order the dish at first because I sometimes have a reaction to shrimp but I decided to give it a try. Boy was I glad I did. The appetizer was so refreshing.

The dices of avocado were fresh and the prawns were soft and sweet. I have to admit it was difficult sharing the appetizer with hubby after I took the first bite. Fortunately for hubby, I love him dearly so I did share two pieces. After we both looked at the empty plate we agreed I should try replicating the appetizer once we got back home. I wasn’t able to get the exact recipe from the chef so I recreated Prawns and Avocado from a photo I took with my phone. Yes, it looked so appetizing and tasted so good I took a picture before we gobbled them all up.

My version of Prawns and Avocado is not quite like the wonderful dish we enjoyed in Puerto Rico but it is pretty darn close. There definitely is a difference between the shrimp I get at the local market but the flavor is similar.

Remembering how the appetizer was described on the menu helped me keep the recipe simple. Prawns (shrimp), avocado, red onion, lime juice and cilantro was all I needed to make this tasty treat pop!

Ahhh…. the memories.

Prawns and Avocado


½ avocado diced

½ lb medium cooked shrimp cut in half

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp fresh cilantro chopped

1 tbsp red onion diced small

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

3 dashes hot sauce

1 baguette or ciabatta bread sliced

Place shrimp in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and hot sauce. Stir to mix. Set aside.

Place avocado in a medium sized bowl along with lemon juice and a pinch of season salt. Mash the avocado until smooth but leave a few chunky pieces. Spread avocado over bread slices. Top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

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Lobster Pasta

Sweet, sweet lobster meat! I have yet to meet anyone that has tried lobster and does not fall in love with it. Unless you are allergic to shellfish, I think that once you try lobster you are hooked. Whether you dip it in melted butter and lemon juice or create a Lobster Pasta I know you will enjoy a meal made with lobster.

Okay, I can hear the rumblings already about how expensive lobster can be. That is true. Lobsters can be expensive which is why I am always on the look out for lobster tail sales. Most of the meat is in the tail anyway so who needs the whole lobster. I would only buy a whole lobster if it were on sale and if I wanted to make a flavorful seafood stock with the shell. Lobster tails, of course, can still be pricey depending on the size but much less expensive than a whole lobster. If you find lobster tails on sale, pick up a few and freeze what you don’t need to use for a recipe. They really do freeze well.

Now back to my Lobster Pasta. I started out thinking about making a lobster pasta salad but got side tracked and landed on making Lobster Pasta. Maybe because I have seen so many Olive Garden commercials lately showing creamy pasta dishes with splashes of seafood. Or, it could be the fact that my family loves pasta and it is the easiest way for me to get them to try out new recipes. Since they love seafood and they love pasta I just put the two together.

I probably shouldn’t tell this story but I don’t think hubby will know. When hubby and I first got married I thought I would make a special lobster anniversary dinner. I found a couple of nice sized whole lobsters on sale at the fishmonger and although I had never cooked a live lobster I was game to try. I wasn’t sure if they would make noise like crabs do when you put them in hot water but since they had little rubber bands on the claws I figured they wouldn’t be too wild in the pot. I was able to cook the lobster without any trouble and made a beautiful salad, another side dish and a lemon butter dipping sauce. I placed the whole lobster on a plate with the rest of the meal to create a delightful presentation to hubby. Because it was our anniversary I decided to take dinner to hubby with a big smile on face. As soon as he saw the lobster on the plate he had a little freakout. The beady eyes, the long antenna and big head was too much for him. Hubby said there was no way he could eat the lobster looking at all of that. So, I had to take the lobster into the kitchen and broke it down to a tail and two claws. Needless to say, this is another reason why I only buy lobster tails and not whole lobsters. I don’t want to freak out hubby!

Lobster Pasta


4 cooked lobster tails sliced

2 plum tomatoes cut into cubes

1 box vermicelli pasta

4 cups water

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup seafood stock or chicken stock

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp sour cream

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp chopped parsley

juice of ½ lemon

Prepare pasta according to package. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 tsp of salt. Add broccoli florets to boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove broccoli from boiling water and plunge into ice cold water (okay to add ice to the water) for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large no-stick skillet and add flour. Whisk until smooth then add stock. Continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add sour cream and whisk until blended. Add pasta, lobster, broccoli and remaining ingredients. Gently toss until lobster and broccoli are well incorporated with the pasta. Service with crusty garlic bread.

Salmon Patties

Back in the days when I was living with my parents we ate a lot of fish. Mostly, it was fish we caught during the year because my folks loved to fish on their days off. During the summer, when I was out of school, we would drive down state or over the state line to one of their favorite fishing holes. Perch, trout, catfish and something my mom called butter fish were usually the catch of the day. My parents loved to go deep sea fishing which required taking a chartered boat out for the day. I was too chicken to go on the boat so I would stay home and hope they caught a few flounder that day.

Thinking about those days and eating lots of fish reminded me that one of my favorite meals was salmon croquettes. At least that is what my mom called them. Not quite like chicken croquettes but more like a crab cake made with salmon. The salmon was delicious although I thought it was weird eating soft fish bones. Yeah, my mom used canned salmon like most folks back then. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against canned salmon. I made my first Salmon Patties (as I call them) using canned salmon. I never thought about using fresh cooked salmon for my mom’s version of salmon croquettes.

As I have developed my cooking chops and expanded my creativity, I decided fresh salmon was better than canned salmon. Of course, if I am in the mood for Salmon Patties and fresh salmon fillets are not available, bring on the canned salmon. Yup, I still keep a can in my pantry.

Remember, fresh is always best! However, whether you use fresh or canned salmon I can almost guarantee you will enjoy this very simple but flavorful dish.

Salmon Patties


3 baked salmon fillets

5 dashes hot sauce

1 egg

1 scallion diced

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp half and half

½ tsp brown mustard

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp old bay seasoning

Lightly beat egg with half and half then set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Place salmon in a large bowl and flake with a fork. Add bread crumbs, scallions, seasonings and egg mixture. Mix together well then form into patties. Place no more than 4 patties in the skillet to prefer crowding. Brown on both sides until golden then remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Serve with Seafood Sauce shown below.

Seafood Sauce:

3 tbsp sour cream

2 tbsp fresh hot salsa

¼ tsp dried dill

¼ tsp Adobo

¼ old bay seasoning

pinch seasoned salt

pinch of black pepper

Mix well. Chill for at least 30 minutes.






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