What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Open-Faced Sammie! The popularity of open-faced sandwiches has been brewing since the 15th century, when it was typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper. Although the layers have changed, butter or cheese remain the favorites as spreads, plus any combination of meat and vegetables. This is where your personal palate comes in. Or, perhaps whatever you have on hand in the refrigerator. Gardens abound with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. But don’t limit yourself there. I find avocados to be perfectly satisfying, especially with a crispy slab of applewood smoked bacon. Like I said, the choice is yours. One thing is for certain, it’s definitely easier to eat an open faced sandwich with a fork and knife.
2 slices pumpernickel rye bread, artisan-style
1 tablespoon sea salt butter
3 slices Swiss cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tomatillo, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Toast artisan pumpernickel rye bread. Butter with sea salt. Place 1 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of toast. Microwave on High 15 seconds to melt cheese. Layer with 1 1/2 slices crisp bacon. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped tomatillo. Spread over each sandwich. Place two tomato slices over avocado mixture. Spoon chopped hard-boiled egg pieces over tomatoes. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Makes two open-face sandwiches.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Poke Tuna Bowl! Allow me to introduce you to the rice cooker. In a mere 10 minutes, sweet Asian rice is transformed into a steamy sticky rice that can be eaten with your fingers. Simply scoop it into a ball, dip it in your favorite sauce, and nibble away. It’s that good. And gluten-free. Join the craze of poke bowls by adding ahi tuna and avocado chunks. Basically, you can dress it up to match your taste buds. It’s healthy, it’s colorful, and most of all, it’s Yumolicious!
POKE TUNA BOWL
2 ahi tuna steaks, skinless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons furikake seasoning
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup sweet rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
To prepare ahi steaks, combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning and toasted sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. To prepare rice, combine water, sweet rice, and olive oil in a rice cooker. Secure lid with knob set to Pressure. Set timer for 10 minutes and press Start. Meanwhile, cut ahi tuna into 1/4” thick slices. Chop avocado into chunks. When rice is finished, turn lever to Steam on rice cooker; wait until steam is released and then carefully remove lid. Scoop sticky rice into bowls. Add sliced ahi tuna and avocado chunks. Serve with dipping sauce.*
*For homemade Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, follow the link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Avocado Breakfast Toast! Nothing looks more appealing in the morning than an open face breakfast sandwich, in my opinion. Avocado and salmon step things up a notch when paired with a nice yolk-drenched piece of artisan toast. I love French butter, but if you choose to omit slathering the toast with it, I’ll understand. My husband and I don’t mind a little taste sensuality in the morning. You choose.
AVOCADO BREAKFAST TOAST
2 slices artisan bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
1 avocado; halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs, cooked over easy or poached
1/2 cup grilled salmon, flaked
1 teaspoon capers
Pinch Herbes de Provence
Fresh thyme for garnish
Take the chopped avocado and mash it until chunky. Fold in the lemon juice and garlic powder. Set aside. Toast bread as desired. Spread with sea salt butter and keep warm. Cook the eggs over easy so the yolks are still runny. Place one piece of buttered toast on a plate. Spoon a thick layer of avocado over toast. Next divide flaked salmon between the two servings. Sprinkle with capers. Place one egg on top. Garnish with Herbes de Provence and fresh tarragon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Taqueria Guacamole! Everyone eats out, that’s a fact. It gives us pleasure. Besides, it takes less energy than planning, shopping, and cooking at the end of the day. But have you ever had a taste for one of the vacay restaurant specials and wish you could make it yourself? Well, I do it all the time. That’s why I recreated a popular cantina menu item that takes guacamole to the next level.
2 ripe avocados; halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 green tomato, chopped
1 red tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 roasted red chili pepper, diced
Cilantro to garnish
In a medium mixing bowl, mash avocado chunks with a fork until thick and smooth. Sprinkle in lime juice, garlic powder, and sea salt. Fold in green tomato chunks and red tomato chunks. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with chopped red onion, jalapeño slices, and diced red chilies. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Buffalo Chicken Crostini! Take a spicy hot dip, add the buttery texture of avocado, and finish it with the cooling sensation of natural yogurt. Now smile. You’ve just bitten into an appetizer-turned-meal after an exhausting day you’ll soon leave behind. This is how we treat ourselves right. You’re welcome.
BUFFALO CHICKEN CROSTINI
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup ranch dressing
1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning mix
3/4 cup red hot sauce
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
3/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 avocado, pitted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1-2 green onions, snipped
1 baguette loaf, sliced and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat Neufchâtel cheese, goat cheese, ranch dressing, ranch dry seasoning, and red hot sauce. Fold in chopped chicken. Spread mixture into a prepared casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle extra-sharp cheddar cheese over top. Bake 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, using a mini chopper, combine avocado, garlic powder, sea salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until mixture is combined but still chunky. Set aside. To assemble crostini, spread creamed avocado over toasted baguette slices. Add a scoop of Buffalo Chicken dip. Dollop with Greek yogurt. Garnish with onion snips.
Dining Outside the Home: El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia! You know you’ve hit the jackpot when it’s BOGO on a Saturday night. That translates to buy one margarita, get one free, no matter what brand of tequila you choose. A nice Mexican tequila that is 100% pure de agave goes down smooth and perfect. The cocktail was crisp and citrusy from a squeeze of fresh lime, rather than green and sugar-laden. Perhaps that’s their secret. Being in the mood for a salad did not disappoint. The Grilled Shrimp Salad was, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had. There must have been at least a dozen perfectly-seasoned grilled shrimp served in a crispy flour tortilla shell. Refried beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, cheese and sour cream turned this simple salad into a meal-in-a-bowl. Our waitress, Jasmin, was very accommodating in meeting our needs. Great food is a must, but customer service makes it memorable.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Sunshine Eats: Cobb Salad! Some days the dinner option is as plain as the nose on my face. Leftover rotisserie chicken becomes the star attraction. Using seven of your favorite ingredients, which you probably already have on hand, this time-saving classic is the perfect solution to that mundane question, “What’s for dinner?” Go easy on yourself and build a Cobb Salad on a platter for show-stopping presentation.
Bag of Spring Mix Salad Greens
3 cups chicken, precooked and shredded
3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
6 slices bacon, crispy and crumbled
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup Bleu cheese crumbles
Salad Dressings of choice
Choose individual salad plates or a serving platter. Arrange salad greens as the base. Working from the left side of the plate to the right, arrange shredded chicken from top to bottom. Next arrange chopped egg, crumbled bacon, diced avocado, and tomato halves, ending with Bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle with salad dressing of choice and serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Avocado Egg Bake! Everyone already eats eggs and avocados, right? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must confess, this really is delicious! Forget hum-drum. I mean, just look at the colors! What surprised me the most was not that the eggs cooked thoroughly in the avocado shell, but that the avocado did not turn an unpleasant shade of brown. Seriously. Top it off with onion snips and prosciutto crumbles for love at first bite.
AVOCADO EGG BAKE
1 avocado, halved and pit removed
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch cracked black pepper
1 pinch garlic powder
1 slice prosciutto
1 green onion, snipped
1 pinch parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 425°. Place oven rack in the middle setting. Arrange avocado halves in a small baking dish to keep them upright. Crack each egg into a custard cup. Gently spoon one egg yolk into the center of each avocado half. Transfer as much of the egg white as possible without overflowing. Discard excess. Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Bake 15 minutes until eggs are set. Meanwhile, microwave prosciutto on High setting until crispy for 45-60 seconds. Crumble and set aside. Remove avocados from oven. Sprinkle with prosciutto crumbles, onion snips, and parsley flakes.
Experience the Holidays: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail! One bite, one little taste, will leave you wondering how you didn’t know about this version of an old classic. So what’s the difference, you ask. Actually, quite a bit. But I’m not gonna lie to you. If you’ve been following my blog, you can often see there’s a method to my madness. One recipe can be a critical ingredient to another dish. Like today. Recently I featured Jalisco Pico de Gallo. I’m gonna tell you it is a key ingredient in my Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, slightly tweaked. On the upside, it makes preparation a snap. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
MEXICAN SHRIMP COCKTAIL
1 1/2 cups Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
1/2 cup Clamato Tomato Cocktail**
1/2 cup ketchup
1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked but chilled
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a bowl, combine Jalisco Pico de Gallo, Clamato Tomato Cocktail, and ketchup. Mix well. Take at least half the shrimp, discard tails, and cut into chunks. Add the shrimp chunks to the sauce mixture. The remaining whole shrimp will be used for dipping. Gently fold in avocado chunks. To serve, divide shrimp cocktail into parfait glasses. Arrange whole shrimp on the edge of the glass. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
*Follow the link for recipe.
**I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.