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Grilling with Gina: Chicken sandwiches with a twist

Gina Ferwerda gets us ready for grilling season with a recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches and so much more

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to the summer season. This year the forecast is cooperating to take your cooking outdoors and fire up the grill. 

Gina Ferwerda shares three recipes from her "Meals from the Mitten" cookbook that are sure to get you excited for the season.

Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches 
(Serves 8)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños (fresh or pickled)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
House seasoning (salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion & smoked paprika)
8 slices deli ham or turkey
8 slices cheese (Swiss, cheddar, or pepper-jack)
8 hamburger buns

Optional Toppings
Tomato slices
Pickle slices
Red onion slices


  1. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, jalapeños and shredded cheese. (Or you can buy the jalapeño cream cheese at the store and add some shredded cheddar to that.)
  2. Heat a grill to medium-high.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with house seasoning. Grill chicken over medium-high heat for approximately 5-6 minutes each side (or until thoroughly cooked). Add 1 tablespoon of the mixed Jalapeño Cheddar Mixture to each chicken thigh along with the meat and cheese slices during the last few minutes of grilling. Lightly grill the cut sides of the buns. Add some cream cheese mixture to the cut sides of the buns after removing from the grill.
  4. To assemble, top each bun bottom with a cheesy chicken patty. Garnish with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles, and onions, if desired. Attach the bun tops with a large skewer and serve warm.

Summer Supreme Pasta Salad

1 pound cavatappi pasta (or any pasta)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 cup diced radishes
1/2 chopped banana peppers
1 1/2 cups Italian dressing
1/4 cup salad supreme seasoning


  1. Add pasta to boiling, salted water and cook according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, add pasta, veggies, dressing and seasoning. Fold all ingredients together. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled.

Garlic Butter Asparagus & Shrimp Skewers 

1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)
3 minced garlic cloves
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deviened, tails on
1 pound fresh Michigan asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper


  1. Mix melted butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill weed and lemon pepper seasoning together.
  2. Thread the shrimp and asparagus onto skewers. Brush the garlic butter sauce over the shrimp and asparagus. Season with some salt and pepper. 
  3. Grill on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, flipping frequently. 
  4. Brush extra garlic butter on while grilling. 
  5. Remove from heat and serve with wasabi aioli.

NOTE: If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Wasabi Aioli

1/2 cup mayo
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Mix all ingredients together and keep refrigerated until ready to use.



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