Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Maryland-Style Crab Cakes! When my step-daughter, Brandi, gifted me with a copy of one of her favorite seafood cookbooks, I knew exactly what dish I was going to make first. After all, the cookbook is based on a popular Hilton Head Island restaurant that has become her family’s traditional spot whenever they visit. Because Florida has an abundance of connections for fresh seafood, vendors are able to get premium, wild-caught crab meat to sell to their customers. Farmers Markets, as well as fish companies specialize in pre-made crab cakes. One taste and I thought, why compete with the best? So, I use two or three resources for incredible tasting Maryland crab cakes. Supporting local businesses builds strong communities and helps everyone thrive. For dinner in a snap, read on.

MARYLAND-STYLE CRAB CAKES

Ingredients:

6 pre-made Maryland crab cakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup spicy Bloody Mary mix

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Lemon slices, for garnish

Parsley flakes, for garnish

Instructions:

To make the gazpacho sauce, warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add red onion and minced garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer gazpacho to a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. To bake the crab cakes, preheat oven to 425°. Place crab cakes on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Bake 12 minutes, flip, and bake 3 minutes longer until golden brown. To serve, ladle the slightly chilled gazpacho onto a plate; center a crab cake on top. Arrange lemon slices. Sprinkle with parsley flakes.

Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad! When you need a boost from the usual lunch menu, treat yourself to an outstanding salad that feels gourmet-worthy. As a shrimp-lover, I already had ideas about serving this to my husband. In my opinion, the bigger the shrimp you can find, the better. Because I saw for myself the seafood deli offered humongous jumbo shrimp (yeah, I know), I couldn’t resist getting a pound to take home. Here’s the secret: oftentimes the market gets specific seafood brought in frozen. Frozen shrimp is usually same-day fresh. They thaw it for the customers and sell it individually or by the pound. I asked the seafood specialist if I could buy a frozen quantity from him. He was more than happy to oblige. Now you know.

LETTUCE CUP SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked and tails removed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 stalk celery, sliced

2-3 lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

Red onion, finely sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Gently fold in the precooked shrimp and celery slices. Place a lettuce leaf onto a plate. Scoop shrimp salad on top. Garnish with red onion. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve.

Kidney Bean Chili Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Kidney Bean Chili Pizza! If you like the spiciness of chili and can’t resist a slice of gooey cheese pizza, prepare yourself for an endorphin rush like no other. Happiness is contagious and I guarantee you, chili pizza will put you in a good mood. Now let me be clear, the pizza itself is not “make you sweat hot”, which is why I listed the hot pepper rings and sriracha as garnishes to taste. To each his own. I probably overdo the spiciness compared to my husband. Just remember, if it’s too spicy, drink milk. It soothes the body much better than soda, beer, or water.

KIDNEY BEAN CHILI PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 envelope original chili seasoning mix

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

15-ounce kidney beans, with juice

12-inch prepared pizza crust

1/4 cup red onions, sliced

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Hot pepper rings, for garnish

Sliced green olives, for garnish

Sriracha Sauce, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef. Drain fat. Stir in chili seasoning mix, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spoon chili evenly onto crust. Layer with sliced red onions. Cover all with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is crispy. Top with hot pepper rings and green olives. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Serve immediately.

Jarcuterie Jumbles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Jarcuterie Jumbles! How’s this for a “Wow!” factor? Instead of preparing an entire platter full of goodies, create a personal jarcuterie allowing mobility for every party guest to mingle. By assembling jars containing fresh fruits, crudités, whole olives, cubed cheese, sea salt crackers, cured meats, and pretzel sticks, people can nibble at their leisure. Choose jars you may already have on hand to keep it interesting. I went one step further and made cheese ball minis rolled in Everything But Bagel seasoning. The results were worth the advanced planning. Simply keep the jars chilled until you wish to serve them. Place baskets of extra crackers and pretzels for those who crave more. Leftover jarcuteries can be refrigerated for the next day. Guests may simply attach the lid and take it with them or leave them behind for you to recycle for your next gathering.

JARCUTERIE JUMBLES

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2-3 tablespoons Everything But Bagel seasoning

8 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed

8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed

8 ounces hard salami, sliced thin

3 ounces whole manzanilla olives

6 ounces red raspberries, fresh

6 ounces blackberries, fresh

1 stalk celery, fresh

16 ounces green seedless grapes, fresh

8 ounces pretzel rods

5 ounces sea salt pita crackers

Party Picks, for assembly

Assorted Jars, sterilized

Celery Sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

To prepare mini cheese balls, take a teaspoon of softened cream cheese, roll into a ball. Set aside. Repeat until the block of cream cheese is used. Sprinkle Everything But Bagel seasoning onto a sheet of waxed paper. Roll each mini cheese ball in the seasoning. Transfer to a plate. When finished, refrigerate to chill. Meanwhile, fill the base of each jar with green grapes. Skewer cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, hard salami, and olive as preferred. Skewer red raspberry, green grape, and blackberry together. Arrange skewers, pretzel rod, and celery stick into the jar. Finish with a fresh sprig of celery leaves. Refrigerate jars until ready to serve. Cover with plastic wrap.

Italian Sheet Pan Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Italian Sheet Pan Tilapia! What’s for dinner? You gotta love a one-pan meal. It not only makes preparation and clean-up a breeze, it typically turns into a healthy option as well. Choose seafood, meat, or veggies and then customize the flavor with tangy spices, fresh herbs, and natural oils. Things honestly could not get any easier. You can even take things one step further and divide the pan to accommodate a spicier version on one end and something a little more bland on the other. No matter how you split things up, watch them disappear.

ITALIAN SHEET PAN TILAPIA

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and halved

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic powder, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning mix. Reserve 2 tablespoons and set aside. Place asparagus in a single layer on the left side of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Place Roma tomatoes in a single layer down the middle of the baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Arrange tilapia fillets in a single layer on the right side of the baking sheet. Drizzle with butter mixture. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately with reserved butter mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Haricot Vert Hot Off The Grill

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Haricot Vert Hot Off the Grill! I’m not trying to go all fancy shmancy with you. I just like the French language and use some terminology whenever I can. Cooking seems to be the logical place to do that. I bet you do, too. Ever hear the words aioli, béchamel sauce, baguette, charcuterie, julienne, pâté, roux, or soufflé? I’m sure you can come up with a few words yourself. We live in that kind of a world. Check out any list of restaurants in your area and you’ll see what I mean. Well, that being said, “haricot vert” translates into “green beans”. And this recipe may transport you to a place you’ve never been.

HARICOT VERT HOT OFF THE GRILL

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic herb seasoning

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup French fried onions, for garnish

Instructions:

Place a grill pan on the grill. Close the lid and preheat to 400°. Rinse the fresh green beans and pat dry. Trim the ends off the green beans and discard. In a large bowl, toss the green beans and olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic herb seasoning and sea salt. Gently toss. Using grill tongs, transfer the green beans to the grill pan. Close the grill cover and cook for 3 minutes. Open the lid, and toss the green beans. Cook 1-2 minutes longer. They should blister and slightly char. Transfer green beans to a serving dish and garnish with French fried onions before serving.