Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits! Say whaaat? Somebody needs to tell me what that word means. Umami. Evidently it is the taste bud beyond the famous four: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Oh yeah, taste buds we’ve been familiar with since we first began to put food in our mouths. This “umami” envelopes earthy, meaty, and savory. Examples of foods that reflect this are soy sauce, tomatoes, cheeses, anchovies, and cured pork products. Chorizo falls into the latter category, you probably concluded. Sooo, are we good?

UMAMI BOMB CHORIZO GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grits, uncooked

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 chorizo sausage links, casing removed

1 tablespoon red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon green pepper, diced

1 tablespoon red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, crumbled

1 hard-boiled egg

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Set aside. Remove the casing of the chorizo. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Add chorizo. Sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the meat with a fork as it cooks. Add red pepper, green pepper, red onion, and corn. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, transfer cheesy grits to a shallow dish. Add chorizo and sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a hard-boiled egg. Garnish with cayenne pepper, to taste.

Tortilla Roll-Ups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Tortilla Roll-ups! Bite-size portions have a way of making a pinwheel platter into an appetizing celebration. The variations are endless, mostly depending on what you have on hand or the cravings that come knocking at your door. Make ahead recipes are popular, and convenient, as time-saving options when schedules become a bit blurry. Kids smile and giggle knowing this in one time eating with your fingers is allowed without scolding or frowns from the adults in the room. Think school lunchbox treats, picnic basket munchies, game day favorites, or holiday gatherings. Anything goes!

TORTILLA ROLL-UPS

Ingredients:

2 flour tortillas

4 tablespoons thousand island salad dressing, prepared

2 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

4 slices deli-sliced honey ham

2 slices provolone cheese

2-3 radishes, sliced thin

Instructions:

Lay out the flour tortillas in a work space. Spread each tortilla with thousand island salad dressing. Next, place the lettuce leaves over the mixture. Layer the ham and cheese slices evenly for easier rolling. Finally, divide the thinly sliced radishes between them. Starting at one end, slowly roll the tortilla as tight as possible. Hint: you can tie them with baker’s twine to keep them snug. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight, before slicing into 1/2” pinwheels. Enjoy!

Sea Salt-Rubbed Baked Potato

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Sea Salt-Rubbed Baked Potato! When my sister-in-law worked in a fine dining restaurant years ago, she shared with me an amazing secret for perfectly seasoned baked potatoes. “Wash the skins, then butter them up before sprinkling with sea salt,” she instructed. The skins become as tasty as a savory cracker. I thanked her and with enthusiasm have been making them that way ever since. It’s pretty much fool-proof. There’s no need for extra butter or salt since they are baked into the skin. She went on to share another tidbit of information with me. “Leftover baked potatoes prepared this way become the best shredded hash browns.” Bonus!

SEA SALT-RUBBED BAKED POTATOES

2 russet potatoes, washed and pierced

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon sea salt

Dollop of sour cream

Green onions, for garnish

Sprinkling of crushed oregano

Instructions;

Preheat oven to 350°. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Pierce the top with a paring knife. Holding the potato in one hand, apply softened butter all over the outer skin. Then sprinkle with sea salt. Place the potatoes on a stone, or directly on the oven rack, in the preheated oven. Be sure the pierce mark is facing up. Bake one hour, or until tender. To serve, split the potato open on a plate. Dollop with a generous spoonful of sour cream. Garnish with green onions and sprinkle with crushed oregano.

Radish Corn Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Radish Corn Salad. Serve up a delightful bowl of sunshine with this gloriously colorful side salad that is sure to be a hit. What’s in there, you wonder. Look and see. Fresh kernel corn shucked off the cob, garden fresh radishes sliced as thin as a close shave, and jalapeño peppers to add a nice touch of spice. It’s as mouthwatering in appearance as well as in aroma. The unbelievably fresh lime infused olive oil gives it a burst of citrus that only growers can describe. Partner it with a squeeze of lime juice for a punch that targets the taste buds. But just a little. No bruising involved.

RADISH CORN SALAD

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, equal to 2 ears of corn

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon jalapeño, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lime olive oil

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon tajin seasoning

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine fresh corn kernels, thinly sliced radishes, and chopped jalapeños. Gently toss. Drizzle with lime olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle tajin seasoning over all. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve chilled.

Quinoa Cheese Melt

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Quinoa Cheese Melt! Few things can take the place of the classic grilled cheese sandwich, in my opinion. Yet, in a world of imagination, anything goes. As long as the bread is crispy with a satisfying crunch, be inventive. Think about multigrain, brioche, sourdough, bagel, or baguette. Once that decision is made, take a look at the cheese options: cheddar, American, gouda, provolone, gruyère, or Swiss. Sometimes a mixture is the perfect choice. Layering extras can be just as mind boggling. Do you choose bacon or beef? Lettuce or sprouts? Tomatoes or onions? I can see your eyes darting in several different directions casting a puzzled look on your face. So the next time someone asks, “Should we have grilled cheese?”, simply throw your arms up in the air and say, “Sure! It’s easy for you to say!”

QUINOA CHEESE MELT

Ingredients:

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread

2-3 tablespoons butter

4 slices American cheese

2 slices thick applewood smoked bacon, cooked

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Instructions:

Preheat skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of quinoa multigrain bread. Place butter side down onto skillet bottom. Add four slices American cheese, stacked two high, to cover surface of bread. Arrange cooked bacon over all. Butter a second slice of quinoa multigrain bread on one side. Place butter side up on top of sandwich. Grill until lightly browned, then flip over. Continue grilling until cheese is melted. Remove to a plate. Stuff with sliced tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts. Cut in half. Serve immediately.

Papaya Banana Boat

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Papaya Banana Boat! When my son and daughter-in-law visited us in Kauai, I wanted to treat them to a special island breakfast. It was a perfect portion for them after greeting the sunrise sipping on macadamia nut coffee. Ripe papaya has such a naturally sweet flavor. It practically melts in your mouth with its creamy, butter-like texture. If you like cantaloupe, I promise you this: Papaya will take you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. You may even hear the magical sounds of a ukulele strumming in the background.

PAPAYA BANANA BOAT

Ingredients:

1 ripe papaya, cut in half with seeds removed

1 banana, sliced

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

2 dollops Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons granola

Drizzle of agave nectar

Instructions:

Split the papaya between two plates. Fill half the cavity with sliced bananas. Sprinkle cinnamon over banana slices. Fill the other half of the papaya with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle granola over top of yogurt. Drizzle entire papaya boat with agave nectar.

Oatmeal Options

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Oatmeal Options! Some people tell me if they eat breakfast, they end up nibbling and snacking all day long. These same people tell me when they skip breakfast, they keep their diet in check. Who’s correct? Is it mind over matter? Studies show that skipping meals can be a trigger for migraines. Others show metabolism irregularities associated with hair loss and, ironically, unexpectedly weight gain can result from unstable choices. Now I don’t know about all that. I do know that maintaining a routine seems to reap optimum results for me. I’ve read that eating oatmeal regularly seems to prevent obesity and weight gain. Could it be due to the feeling of “sticking to your ribs”, so to speak? Makes sense to me.

OATMEAL OPTIONS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole grain oats

1 cup skim milk

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic reduction

1 tablespoon pecans, chopped

Fresh thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine whole grain oats, skim milk, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir well. Microwave on High 1 1/2-2 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle on brown sugar. Drizzle with balsamic reduction sauce. Add chopped pecans. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.