What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Xenial Spinach Dip! Take a trip down Memory Lane with this hip 1970s all-star party staple. “I called it!”, shouted my best friend when asked to bring an appetizer to share. Maybe it was the presentation of carrying an artisan bread bowl into the room, or perhaps it was the “healthy” alternative to potato chips and onion dip, or it could have been the standing ovation it got from everyone who tasted it. Think about it….how fun is that to tear off a piece of crusty bread and slather it in creamy spinach mingled with a spicy crunch of water chestnuts. “I called it!”
XENIAL SPINACH DIP
1 pound artisan bread bowl
1 pint Greek yogurt
3 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
10 ounces mayonnaise
8 ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 package Swiss vegetable dry soup mix
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped
In a medium bowl, mix Greek yogurt, Neufchâtel cheese, and mayonnaise. Chill one hour. Add water chestnuts, package of Swiss vegetable dry soup mix, and uncooked spinach. Mix well. Chill one hour longer. Hollow out center of bread bowl. Fill with spinach dip. Serve with raw vegetables.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Manicotti Pasta Bowl! Comfort food. We all have our favorites. Some include melted cheese, rich chocolate, home made soups, or peanut butter sandwiches. And then there’s pasta; guardian of the energy boost. Not only is pasta a healthy option, it satisfies by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Being affordable, versatile, and nutritious make it even more enjoyable. And a little pasta goes a long way. We all know that. Sure, pasta is a carb…but in a good way. It partners well with low fat protein and veggies. Go, Team Pasta!
MANICOTTI PASTA BOWL
6 manicotti shells
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, chunky
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Drain shells; rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Remove from heat. Drain liquid. Add sea salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Pour prepared spaghetti sauce over meat. Mix well. Spoon 1/3 of meat mixture into the bottom of two single-serving casserole dishes. Add softened creamed cheese and mozzarella cheese to the remaining meat mixture. Stuff each shell with filling. Arrange three filled manicotti shells in a row over sauce. Repeat in second casserole dish. Spread remaining filling over the tops of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; serve in casserole dish. Garnish with fresh basil.
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? Sunshine Eats: Jumping Chicken Noodle Bowl! I love it when I can go to the kitchen and use ingredients I already have on hand. The “make ahead” Vietnamese Dipping Sauce* (nuoc cham) is a multi-purpose staple that livens up Asian cuisine nicely. By making supper a noodle bowl with prepackaged veggies and spicy chicken, the blend of flavors quickly satisfy hunger pangs while providing comfort at the same time.
JUMPING CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL
8 ounces boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup soybean sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch broccoli florets, cooked and drained
1 cup blend of shredded cabbage and carrots
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup cashew pieces
1 cup Vietnamese Dipping Sauce*
Heat a skillet over medium temperature. Add olive oil and chicken strips, single layer. Cook 3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Reduce heat to low. Add soybean sauce and red pepper flakes. Cook 10 minutes longer until meat is tender and liquid is absorbed. Arrange chicken strips, rice noodles, broccoli florets, and cabbage-carrot blend in a shallow bowl. Top with chopped green onions and cashew pieces. Cover with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce*, to taste. Serve immediately.
*Make your own Vietnamese Dipping Sauce by clicking on the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Winterfest Walking Tacos! Here’s the perfect “Grab and Go” snack when you’re heading out the door. This time of year towns all over the world celebrate the holiday season with dazzling displays of outdoor Christmas lights. From Santa’s Workshop to high-tech Winter Wonderlands, the animation never stops. Pile the kids on board and have a tailgate party in your car, truck, or SUV. Keep it simple by using plastic picnic tumblers for easy handling. Enjoy a tasty snack while embracing the spirit of the holidays.
WINTERFEST WALKING TACOS
1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
15-ounce can chili beans
10-ounce can tomato bits and sauce
2 cups shredded romaine
1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
10-ounce bag of corn chips, slightly crushed
1/3 cup salsa
Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Stir over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain. Add taco seasoning packet, chili beans, tomato bits and sauce. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Before serving, assemble corn chips in the bottom of each cup followed by beef mixture and toppings of choice. Eat with a fork.