Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Xavier Grilled Steak! Just when you thought a juicy New York Strip steak couldn’t get any better, here you go. Grilled to taste, smothered in gooey Swiss cheese and crowned with fresh asparagus spears is a meal-in-one guaranteed to make anyone feel like royalty. For those who love onions, take it one step further. Sprinkle crispy French-fried onions over all before serving. Looks good, doesn’t it? Try not to stare. 
XAVIER GRILLED STEAK
Ingredients: 

2 New York Strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed

4 slices Swiss cheese 

1/4 cup French-fried onions
Instructions:

Rub both sides of the New York Strip steak with olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a shallow dish. Marinate steak for 45 minutes in the refrigerator, turning once. Remove from refrigerator to allow meat to come to room temperature, approximately 15 minutes. Preheat outdoor grill. Cook steaks over medium heat 4-5 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the steaks over and grill 3 minutes longer for medium-rare, 5 minutes longer for medium, or 8 minutes longer for medium-well. Meanwhile to steam asparagus spears, bring water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Place asparagus spears into the steamer basket. Cover and steam approximately 3-5 minutes until asparagus turns bright green, but is still tender. Remove from steamer. When steaks are cooked to perfection, place them on a platter to rest so the juices are absorbed. (This is the secret to juicy steak.) While the meat is resting, place two slices of Swiss cheese on each. Divide asparagus spears between them. Tent with foil. Let rest 5-7 minutes. Top with crispy French-fried onions before serving. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter W

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Watermelon Salsa! Want a conversation-starter? The next time you’re in a group, pose the simple question: “Do you eat watermelon WITH or WITHOUT a sprinkling of salt?” Then stand clear and let the debate begin. Some insist that a pinch of salt awakens the taste buds. Others believe it interferes with the natural sweetness. Me? I gotta tell you, I kinda prefer the whole sweet & salty thing. Like mixing buttered movie popcorn with kettle corn. But that’s another story. 
WATERMELON SALSA
Ingredients:

1/4 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into chunks

1 ripe peach, peeled, pit removed, and cut into chunks

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 

1-2 jalapeño peppers, stem removed, finely diced

Juice of 1 fresh lime

Raspberry Chipotle seasoned salt (optional)
Instructions:

Combine watermelon, peach, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers. Gently toss all ingredients together. Squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Chill one hour. Before serving add a sprinkling of raspberry chipotle seasoned salt or have the shaker available as an option. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter V

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Vodka Jello Shots! As a child of the ’60s, one of my favorite desserts was fruit-flavored gelatin. Sometimes it would have sliced bananas, strawberries, carrots, or fruit cocktail mixed in. The recipe was pretty simple. Add water and stir. Nowadays, substituting part of the water for a popular distilled spirit turns a childhood dessert into a slurpable cocktail. Drink responsibly. 
VODKA JELLO SHOTS
Ingredients:

3-ounce package orange gelatin 

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup iced water

1/2 cup vodka

Fresh mint leaves
Instructions:

Empty contents of orange gelatin packet into a large bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and vodka. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate four hours or until set. Garnish with fresh mint before serving. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: USA Happy Snack! Did I ever tell you I spent my childhood surrounded by apple trees? It’s one of my favorite memories, growing up in the Midwest. If I was in a feisty mood, I’d nibble on sour green apples. Forget that my impatience may have caused a tart pursing of the lips and a slight ache in the stomach. As the apples ripened, I’d pluck the prettiest one off the tree, rub it against my knee for a mirrored sheen, and admire its beauty. Sometimes I’d twist the stem until it broke, reciting my ABCs. Whatever letter I was on when the stem splintered away became the name of my next boyfriend. But not if it matched my brothers’ names. That didn’t count. Here’s to all-American healthy food wrapped up in a little nostalgia. 
USA HAPPY SNACK 
Ingredients:

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 slices smoked Virginia ham

4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thick

Fresh mint
Instructions:

Brush the sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut the ham slices in half. Take one apple slice and place it on top of a piece of cheddar cheese. Wrap them with one piece of ham, seam side down. Tuck a sprig of fresh mint into the snack. Enjoy!

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter T

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Thai Peanut Sauce! Known as a popular condiment for skewered meat or seafood in East Asian cuisine, peanut dipping sauce gets all the attention. Homemade Pad Thai is one example. After all, it’s no secret anyone can get addicted to peanut butter. Think about it. We add spicy chili peppers for heat, exotic curry for an earthy taste, coconut milk for authenticity. And depending on the day, there is no substitute for peanut butter and chocolate. Just saying. 
THAI PEANUT SAUCE
Ingredients:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

3/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened 

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
Instructions:

In a food processor, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, kosher salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar. Store in the refrigerator. 
*Serving Suggestion: Skewered Shrimp with orange wedges and cilantro. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter S

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Sipping Sangria! The weather is great, the weekend is here. Get ready to party. Psst. Wine lovers lean in. This crowd-pleasing punch can be thrown together beforehand since the flavor gets better with time. Choose your favorite dry red wine. No worries. It’ll sweeten up from the chopped fruit, juices, and agave nectar. Hold the fizziness until just before serving. The colors are not only festive but invigorating. Then sit back, cool off, and sip away. 
SIPPING SANGRIA 
Ingredients:

5 cups dry red wine

1/2 cup apricot brandy

1/2 cup orange liqueur 

1 1/2 cups blood orange juice

1/4 cup grenadine 

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 cups sparkling water or carbonated beverage

1 lime, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 orange, sliced

1 apple, cut in wedges

Grapes for garnish
Instructions:

In a large pitcher, combine dry red wine, apricot brandy, orange liqueur, blood orange juice, grenadine, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice, and fresh lime juice. Stir well. Add lime, lemon, orange slices and apple wedges. Refrigerate for one hour. Before serving, add sparkling water. Stir. Fill stemmed glasses with ice, add sangria, and garnish with fruit.