Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter P

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Pina Colada Pie! Sometimes it’s necessary to serve your guests a dessert low in sugar. This one is perfect because it boasts tropical flavor with enough fruity sweetness to satisfy that sugar craving which follows at the end of a meal. Please note you may substitute a sugar-free graham cracker crust for the homemade cookie crust. 
Ingredients for Homemade Cookie Crust:

2 cups Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies, crushed

1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix crushed shortbread cookies and melted butter. Press crumb mixture into a pie plate sprayed with nonstick oil. Bake 10 minutes. Cool before filling. 
Ingredients for Filling:

2 8-ounce blocks of Neufchâtel cheese

1 small box Sugar Free/Fat Free Lemon Jello

1 small box Sugar Free/Fat Free Vanilla Instant Pudding 

4-ounce of Lite Cool Whip

1 8-ounce can crushed Pineapple in Natural Juices, do not drain

1 teaspoon Coconut flavor

Soften Neufchâtel cheese and add other ingredients. Stir until well blended. Pour into pie crust and chill for several hours or overnight. 
*Garnish: Toast 1/2 cup flake coconut in 350° oven for 4 minutes. Watch! Set aside to cool. Fresh strawberries also make an appealing garnish. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter O

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Over-the-Border Spicy Chicken Ranch Soup! That’s a mouthful, to be sure. I start with my classic potato soup recipe and spice things up a bit. As you can imagine, one thing leads to another and within minutes, you’ve got a meal in a bowl. 

2 cups water

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 small onion, chopped

1 packet of dry Ranch seasoning mix

2 cups milk

1 cup pre-cooked grilled chicken strips, cut into cubes

1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, and green beans)

4 ounces Velvetta cheese, sliced

Instant potatoes to thicken, if needed

Parmesan cheese, shaved

In a 2-quart pan, add water, potatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, onion, and butter. Bring to boil and cook until tender. Do not drain. Stir in Ranch seasoning mix until blended. Add milk, chicken, vegetables, and cheese. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. To thicken, sprinkle instant potatoes into soup using a tablespoon at a time. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Nacho Macho Supreme! Get ready for the most amazing loaded nacho platter for those warm summer nights on the back porch. The music is playing, the conversation is flowing, and the margaritas are going down real slow. These are the nights that are made for us.  

1 large bag of corn tortilla chips, café style

1 pound ground Mexican chorizo 

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed

1/2 cup black beans, drained

1/4 cup sliced jalapeño peppers 

4 green onions, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup salsa

1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a pizza pan with nonstick oil. Lightly salt. Set aside. 

In a shallow skillet, cook chorizo, garlic, and cumin until meat is brown. Drain on paper towels. Assemble nachos by dividing into three or more layers to form a pyramid—chips, chorizo, corn, beans, jalapeños, green onion, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Watch! Serve with salsa, sour cream, and cilantro garnish. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter M

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Mango Medley! This is one of my all-time favorites when serving fish tacos. It’s fast and easy, not to mention soft and sweet. When the mango is at its peak in ripeness, the juice resembles a combination of peach and pineapple. I know, right! When mixed with Campari tomatoes (which have low acidity) plus fresh cilantro, it’s a perfect blend of flavors. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

2 ripe mangos, peeled and core seed removed

1-pound Campari tomatoes 

Fresh Cilantro to taste

Peel, pit, and cut up mangos. Place in a medium bowl. Slice tomatoes into quarter wedges. Add to mangos. Snip fresh cilantro over all. Toss gently. Refrigerate prior to serving for flavor enhancement. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Linguine Chicken Salami! Sometimes it’s just not possible for me to get to a restaurant for one of my favorite dishes. That’s when I prepare the dish at home. A good friend of mine shared tips on putting together a great Italian marinara sauce. It’s all about taste buds and choosing the quality of herbs. If you don’t have the extra time, simply choose a store-bought alternative until you can perfect the right combination for you. 

6-8 chicken fillets 

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced
28-ounce can peeled tomatoes in basil sauce

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon marjoram 

1/2 teaspoon basil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 pound Italian salami*

6-ounces of spinach linguini 

6-ounces of angel hair pasta

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

*Sliced pepperoni can be substituted for the Italian salami. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Pour lemon olive oil into a shallow skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken fillets seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Lower heat to medium. Sauté chicken until browned, about three minutes per side. Add sliced onions, cover, and cook on low setting until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes longer. Set aside. 

For sauce combine cut-up tomatoes with sauce, oregano, marjoram, basil, garlic cloves, sugar, sea salt, and cracked pepper. (At this time, I add the cooked onions to the sauce.)

Spoon 1/3 of sauce into a casserole dish. In single layer, arrange chicken fillets. Slice salami into strips, using kitchen shears, covering chicken. Pour remaining sauce over all. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake 10 minutes longer until cheese turns golden brown. 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Spoon pasta into single servings. Carefully place one fillet over pasta, making sure to add extra sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Kalua Pork Roast! This special blend of herbs is a tribute to warm, tropical summer nights. The term, “Kalua”, is Hawaiian for slow cooked. I have put this frozen roast in the oven and let flavors blend all day long for an exotic taste that will have your senses wondering if you’ve been transported to a private paradise. The extra meals provided are a bonus that will have others showering you with praise in the days following. 

4 pound boneless pork butt roast

1 tablespoon Red Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt*

1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning 

2 cups apple juice

2 cups apple cider vinegar 

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

1 bottle beer

Set oven to 275°. Place frozen pork roast in a covered roaster, fat side up. Pour apple juice and apple cider vinegar over roast. Next apply liquid smoke. Finish by sprinkling the Alaea sea salt and Mrs. Dash herb blend over the pork. Make sure the lid is on securely. You will begin to smell the heavenly aroma as it slowly cooks. Five hours later, check the roast, as the liquid will absorb. I discovered some roasters allow the liquid to evaporate a little sooner than I expected. I have found Le Creuset to be very reliable. If the roast needs more liquid, pour a bottle of beer over it. Keep it covered and slowly cook it at least another three hours. I have let it cook for ten hours total without a problem. It is so fork-tender you will be amazed. And the drippings can be used for gravy or barbecue sauce. 
*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. (I receive no recompense for promoting their product.)