Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter T

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Tomato Feta Egg Au Gratin! I’m all for trying new things, so when I saw this recipe featured at Williams-Sonoma, I knew it had to be good. The fact that I already had all the ingredients on hand was sheer bliss. I confess, I may have tweaked the original by adding a buttery crouton topping, but that’s just me. You may do without. As everything warms together in the oven, the aroma arising is staggering. How much longer? There’s something about serving individual casseroles that make a dish eloquent, wouldn’t you agree?
TOMATO FETA EGG AU GRATIN
Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes and juice

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup light cream

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4-8 eggs

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 slices bread, torn into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, marjoram, and oregano; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes. Stir in mustard, red pepper flakes, and light cream. Season with sea salt and pepper. Divide tomato mixture evenly among 4 small au gratin dishes. Carefully crack 1 or 2 eggs into each cocotte and use a spoon to gently swirl egg white into tomato mixture, without breaking yolk. Season yolks lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the bread crumbs in the melted butter until completely absorbed. Divide among the 4 casseroles. Bake until egg is cooked to your liking, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with feta cheese and parsley. Serve. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter S

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Surf ‘n Turf Lettuce Cups! This is one of those freezer meals that you can throw together in a flash. Precooked frozen shrimp and leftover sirloin tip roast are the main attractions. By adding spices, fresh herbs, and a special dipping sauce, this hearty meal knocks it out of the park! The whole idea behind the lettuce cup is keeping it simple. You deserve all the praise!
SURF ‘N TURF LETTUCE CUPS
Ingredients:

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, precooked and thawed 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning 

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 pound sirloin tip roast, shredded

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Blend

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1/2 cup French Fried Onions

Boston Lettuce leaves
For Dipping Sauce:

6-8 dried peppers, sliced

1/4 teaspoon fried garlic

1 wedge of lime

1/2 teaspoon honey

2-4 tablespoons Golden Mountain Sauce

2-4 tablespoons fish sauce 

Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Instructions:

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Remove tails and discard. Dab shrimp with paper towels. In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add roast beef to same skillet using pan drippings. Season with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend and Golden Mountain sauce. Stir. Reduce to simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed. Return shrimp to pan and gently combine with beef. Wash Boston Lettuce; separate leaves, being careful not to tear. Arrange lettuce in a bowl. Fill lettuce cups with shrimp and beef mixture. Garnish with French Fried Onions. Serve with Dipping Sauce, which can also be used as a dressing. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter R

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Rum Raisin Cookies! Before you turn the page, let me clarify…you can choose to omit the rum in this recipe and substitute with water and opt for rum extract instead. Either way, if you’re a raisin-lover, this version puts the “plump” in raisin to make them moist and chewy. In the time it takes to preheat the oven and assemble the remaining ingredients, the raisins are ready to use. Trust me, everyone will thank you!
RUM RAISIN COOKIES
Ingredients:

2 cups raisins

1 cup dark rum 

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup almonds, chopped
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside; do not drain. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly before folding in the raisins and chopped almonds. Drop with a tablespoon 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cool on wired rack. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter Q

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Quattro Formaggio Ravioli! Four different cheeses in one dish make me think I died and went to Heaven. Or at the very least, I did something right. Let me share with you a little secret. It doesn’t matter that you use store-bought ravioli because it’s the cheese sauce you practically slurp with a spoon!
QUATTRO FORMAGGIO RAVIOLI
Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Bleu cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded 

1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup butter

1 cup light cream

4 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

Fresh Basil

1 cup marinara sauce

Stuffed Ravioli, any variety
Instructions:

Combine Bleu, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add light cream and bring to boil. Slowly add Neufchâtel cream cheese in chunks, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add remaining cheeses, stirring constantly until smooth. While stirring return to boil for one minute. Add herbs de Provence. Reduce to simmer. Warm marinara sauce in another pan or microwave-safe dish. Cook ravioli as directed on package. Drain ravioli and divide into portions. Spoon cheese sauce and marinara sauce over cooked ravioli. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with garlic bread drizzled with olive oil. 

Dining Outside the Home: Sevens Restaurant and Steakhouse in Clear Lake, Iowa!

Dining Outside the Home: Sevens Restaurant and Steakhouse in Clear Lake, Iowa! In a town that became famous over a tragic event—a plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson in 1959—everyone pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and dedicated a monument to these great musicians. Still known as the town where “The Day the Music Died”, Main Street has been revitalized and cultivated as a hub for tourism, art, and music transforming it into an appealing and popular vacation destination. Sevens Restaurant and Steakhouse is a full menu eatery that offers one more reason to stop by. A few steps from one of the biggest lakes in northern Iowa, Sevens makes summer-at-the-lake a memorable and delicious experience. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter P

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Philly Cheesesteak Bolillo! While at the local bakery, I couldn’t help but choose these nicely shaped oval bolillo rolls. Their lack of crunchy outer crust, like the baguette, made them more appealing for the cheese-laden spicy shredded beef I planned as a main course. Don’t you just love it when you get extra servings from another day’s roast sirloin? The opportunities are endless. This time around the onions, green peppers, red peppers, and mozzarella cheese all team together for that infamous cheesesteak sandwich to die for. Add a slice of tomato and a couple sweet gherkin pickles to punch up the taste buds. Any takers?
PHILLY CHEESESTEAK BOLILLO 
Ingredients:

1 pound roast sirloin, cooked and shredded 

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped 

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vinegar

1-2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 teaspoon fennel

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 bolillo sub rolls, halved

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, add shredded sirloin beef, green pepper, onion, and red pepper. Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and whole grain mustard. Stir well. Pour over meat and vegetables. Add seasoned salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low; simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed and meat is tender, approximately 20 minutes. Preheat oven to Broil. Cut bolillo subs in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers to make a well. Butter the faces generously. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil on high until the tops are golden, 2-3 minutes. Spoon meat mixture onto each half. Divide cheese over all. Return to broiler to melt the cheese. Watch carefully. Remove from oven and match the sandwich sides together to form a sandwich. 

Dining Outside the Home: Cazador Mexican Restaurant in Ankeny, Iowa!

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Dining Outside the Home: Cazador Mexican Restaurant in Ankeny, Iowa! Where do you go when the outside temp is rising to 100° with a heat index even higher? You head straight to a Mexican cantina where the margaritas are golden and the hospitality is family-friendly. In a place where there is standing room only, the staff bustles to and fro keeping the cafe-style corn chips and spicy rich salsa spot on until the main course arrives. It may be located in middle America, but the menu is authentic south-of the-border when it comes to authentic Mexican food. And we should know. We’ve stopped here faithfully on our trips up north for the past five years. Cazador rates an all-star rating, in my opinion. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter O

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie! In a world of “super-size” portions, this one is really worth defending, especially on hot, summer days. The oven is on for less than half an hour with results that leave your home smelling like a bakery. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make several batches of cookies. By baking all the dough in an iron skillet, the end result will still yield enough for a crowd. Cut the giant cookie into pie-size portions with a scoop of ice cream on top or divide it into squares for finger-food munching. 
OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP SKILLET COOKIE
Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 cup oatmeal 

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Topping:

1/4 cup chocolate and peanut butter chips, mixed

1/8 teaspoon sea salt crystals
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 10″ iron skillet. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Continue beating until creamy. In another bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk until blended. Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients until flour is incorporated. Add oatmeal to dough. Blend well. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spread cookie dough into the greased skillet. Top with mixed blend of chocolate and peanut butter chips. Sprinkle with sea salt crystals. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.