Mealtime Crab Cocottes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Mealtime Crab Cocottes! Seafood can be my obsession and I’m not afraid to be a glutton of it, especially if I’m visiting a locale that is a coastal destination. In my defense, how can anyone resist signs and billboards openly declaring “Best Seafood in Town!”? But eventually one returns home to a land-locked State where seafood is as scarce as hen’s teeth. So when the cravings continue, I head over to the local supermarket in search of a packaged substitute. Maybe it’s the succulent crabmeat or perhaps it’s the French butter, but I have to admit this recipe isn’t half bad.

MEALTIME CRAB COCOTTES

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat

8 ounces imitation crabmeat, flaked

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1-2 tablespoons French butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat bottoms and edges of two ramekins with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, seafood seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Gently fold in lump crabmeat, imitation flaked crabmeat, and diced pimento. Divide crabmeat mixture evenly between ramekins. Top with Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle paprika over all. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with artisan bread and side salad.

Unstuffed Green Pepper Bake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Unstuffed Green Pepper Bake! If you love the taste of stuffed green peppers, but really hate the extra steps of preparation, look no further. This “unstuffed” version can be served in individual casserole dishes or a family-style pan, thus eliminating the need for hollowed-out green peppers. Still yummy, still Spanish-flavor, still way back generational goodness like your grandma used to make. Be good to yourself when the week gets crazy busy. Make a batch of “unstuffed” green peppers and sit back with a glass of wine while the oven does all the work. You’re worth it.

UNSTUFFED GREEN PEPPER BAKE

Ingredients:

2 green peppers, coarsely chopped

24-ounce jar traditional pasta sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

2 cups rotisserie chicken or turkey, shredded

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 1/2 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook chopped green peppers in the microwave-safe dish for 2 minutes on High setting. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine pasta sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Mix well. Fold in shredded meat, brown rice, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Add green peppers. Transfer filling into prepared casserole dish(es). Top with remaining cheese. In a small bowl coat panko crumbs with olive oil. Mix well. Spoon crumbs over cheese. Baked 25 minutes or until heated through.

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia! I never thought of tilapia as an interesting choice of fish until I mixed things up with a Santa Fe style coating. The robust crunch of tortilla chips is a surprising prelude to the tender moist fish inside. It had me wishing I prepared seconds for the hubs and me. If you’re looking for a meatless meal, give it a whirl. Who knows, you may find yourself adding tilapia to the weekly menu.

TORTILLA CRUSTED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Santa Fe style tortilla strips, crushed

1 tablespoon natural cornmeal

1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes

2 tilapia fish fillets

1 egg, room temperature

Fresh cilantro, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Whisk egg in a shallow dish. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed tortilla strips, natural cornmeal, panko bread crumbs, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well with a fork. Working one at a time, dip a tilapia fillet into the beaten egg. Flip over to coat both sides. Press fillet onto the crumb mixture; turn over and repeat. For an extra crispy crust repeat process. Carefully transfer crusted fish fillet to the baking sheet. Continue with second fillet. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden and crunchy. Serve with fresh cilantro.

Hungry Man Potato Skins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Hungry Man Potato Skins! Shrug off that old myth about ditching potato skins because they’re high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition. My grandma used to say “if you’re gonna eat the skin, you may as well eat a handful of dirt!”. Thank goodness times have changed and we’ve learned that the skin of the potato is loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber. When baking instead of frying, the nutritional value gets kicked up a notch. Now that you’re on a roll, go ahead and add toppings like fresh broccoli, bacon, and cheese. Whaaat? Hear me out. By choosing small russet potatoes, the calories are drastically reduced. One piece of bacon is divided over four skins, just enough for flavor. And reduced-fat cheddar cheese is a good choice, one you’ll barely notice in taste. When it’s all said and done, two potato skins are about 200 calories. Not bad.

HUNGRY MAN POTATO SKINS

Ingredients:

2 small russet potatoes, washed and patted dry

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 strip thick bacon, precooked

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup panko crumbs

Ranch dressing, for dipping sauce

Green onion, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Pierce each potato for steam to escape during baking. Lightly spray potatoes with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about one hour. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place broccoli florets into a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with droplets of water, and microwave on High for one minute. Set aside. If you need to cook bacon, place one strip of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel. Microwave on High for two minutes. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. For potato skins, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh leaving a shell 1/4” thick. Reserve potato flesh for another use. Brush around the rim of potato shells with olive oil. Place skins upright on a baking sheet. Broil in oven on High for one minute. Remove to fill. In a bowl, combine broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, and bacon crumbles. Divide broccoli mixture evenly between potato shells. In a small pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add panko crumbs, stirring often until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle over loaded potato skins. Return to oven and bake at 400° until cheese is bubbly and topping is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing garnished with green onion snips.

Zucchini Onion Chips

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Zucchini Onion Chips! We all know how versatile a meal can be once you add zucchini to the menu. But have you ever thought about an appetizer using a can of those classic crispy fried onions? It’s definitely a game-changer. Hear me out. Forget the holiday green bean casserole for a minute as you dip a fork into the can to nibble on these crunchies before tossing them onto a garden salad. Who can resist a sampling of that unique onion flavor? Not me. Now send everyone out of the house so you can work your magic. When they return, their mouths will begin to drool at the aromas from the kitchen. I’m guessing no one will suspect you disguised heart-healthy zucchini wrapped up in a delicious onion crust.

ZUCCHINI ONION CHIPS

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds

Coarse salt

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup crispy fried onion rings, crumbled

Ranch dressing, for dipping

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place a single layer of zucchini rounds on top. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover with another layer of paper towels. Press down. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to draw out excess moisture. In a wide skillet, add vegetable oil to be 1/4” deep. Warm oil over medium-high heat. In a shallow dish, combine flour, breadcrumbs, and crumbled onion rings. Mix well. Dredge one zucchini round in beaten egg and then breadcrumb mixture, coating completely. Place in the skillet; repeat until skillet is full. Do not allow zucchini rounds to touch each other. Cook 2 minutes per side until crispy and golden brown. Transfer zucchini chips to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Serve immediately with ranch dressing for dipping.

Vineyard Pork Tenderloins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Vineyard Pork Tenderloin! Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines. Despite its complex flavors of woodsy cherry and forest-path raspberry, it leans toward a drier side without making your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth. That being said, it’s often challenging to figure out what food pairings work well with it. Obviously, pasta dishes provide a natural choice. But have you thought about grilled steak, roasted chicken, or pork tenderloin? Pause a moment; take a deep breath. Now transport yourself to a sun-soaked villa along a pebbled path to a harvest table overlooking acres of rolling hills bursting with ripe grape clusters. Taste and sip. Eventually you’re going to take a seat and linger over dinner. Read on.

VINEYARD PORK TENDERLOIN

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 medium pork tenderloins, boneless

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a wire rack with nonstick oil. Place rack onto a baking sheet. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until golden brown. Transfer crumbs to a shallow dish. Set aside to cool. To prepare pork tenderloins, place one piece in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, flatten the meat to 1/4” thickness. Place the pork loin aside and repeat with second piece. Pat dry on paper towels. In a shallow dish, whisk together mayonnaise, egg, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well. To the panko breadcrumbs, add parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, and garlic powder. Mix well. Dip each pork tenderloin in the egg mixture. Dredge completely in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to stick. Repeat for extra crispy crust. Place tenderloins on wire rack. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tenderloins are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Toasted Cheese Ravioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Toasted Cheese Ravioli! Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Take a walk on the wild side by turning dumpling-style pasta dough into a flavorful, tart, and cheesy appetizer. Panko breadcrumbs provide a crunchier coating that taste more like a fried shell when baked. This is due to the fact that panko breadcrumbs are made from crustless bread, thereby making them have an airier texture. The results are amazing.

TOASTED CHEESE RAVIOLI

Ingredients:

8-ounces fresh cheese ravioli, found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Marinara sauce, for dipping

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a wire rack with nonstick oil. Place rack on a baking sheet. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk together egg and milk until fully incorporated. In another shallow dish, combine panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Mix well. Working one at a time, dip ravioli in egg mixture. Allow excess to drip off before generously coating both sides with breadcrumb mixture. Place ravioli on prepared wired rack. Leave spaces between ravioli to allow even browning. Spray tops of ravioli with nonstick oil. Bake 10 minutes until ravioli is golden brown. Turn ravioli over and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.

Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing! With the holiday season on the horizon, here’s a tasty side dish that is sure to please. If you have the time, I suggest substituting homemade breadcrumbs (which is about one loaf of day-old bread) for the stuffing mix. I split the difference and added homemade croutons on top of the casserole.

LEEKS AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces shiitake wild

mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

6 ounce box chicken stuffing

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a covered casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the wild mushrooms and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Using the same pan, add one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté leeks and celery until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth, butter, and parsley flakes. Bring to a boil. Stir in contents of stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Fold in wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Stir until well combined. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes; remove lid and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Dang Good Mac & Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Dang Good Mac & Cheese! I just cranked up this all-time favorite dish a notch, maybe two. Cheddar cheesy? It’s in there. Mozzarella madness? Oh, yeah. Palatable parmesan? Absolutely. Sooo, what’s the big deal, you wonder. Well…I kinda switched out the macaroni pasta noodles for gnocchi’s pillow-like tender dumplings that swaddle themselves in a blanket of creamy cheese sauce. Hold on. Then I topped it all with a buttery crunch topping of panko and Italian bread crumbs. Mmmwah! Life doesn’t get any better that this.

DANG GOOD MAC & CHEESE

Ingredients:

1-pound package gnocchi

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup milk, warmed

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup panko and Italian bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook the gnocchi, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Whisk together cornstarch and chicken broth in a measuring cup until completely dissolved. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic. Sauté 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly to make a light brown roux. Add warm milk, stirring until smooth as the mixture reaches a low boil. Remove pan from heat; stir in mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses until melted and smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Combine panko and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the cheesy gnocchi. Bake 15 minutes to brown the topping. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.