Vodka Sauce Shrimp Fettuccine

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Vodka Sauce Shrimp Fettuccine! Here’s something a little different for you to try instead of the usual fettuccine alfredo. Now, wait a sec to hear me out. Don’t get me wrong. I love alfredo sauce as much as the next one, but sometimes you gotta think about limiting calories and fat just to squeeze into that favorite outfit. Marinara sauces might be just the answer you’re looking for on “Pasta Night”. You won’t sacrifice taste because there’s still butter, light cream, and vodka. Some alcohol does evaporate as it is simmering, but only about 15%. (However, it will completely burn off if the sauce cooks for long periods of time.) Because vodka is somewhat tasteless, it basically enhances all the other flavors of the dish without overpowering it. Try it, you may like it.

VODKA SAUCE SHRIMP FETTUCCINE

Ingredients:

6 ounces fettuccine pasta

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

15-ounce Italian tomatoes, crushed

2 tablespoons vodka

3 tablespoons light cream

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 pound precooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large pan, add sea salt to 2 quarts boiling water. Cook pasta 10 minutes. Drain, cover, and set aside. For the vodka sauce, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Lower heat to medium. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook one minute longer. Add the crushed tomatoes to the onions. Stir in vodka, light cream, and lemon zest. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the precooked shrimp, simmering 5 minutes longer. Gently fold the fettuccine noodles into the vodka sauce. Heat through. Divide portions into pasta bowls. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Filet Mignon, Medium-Rare

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Filet Mignon, Medium-Rare! Chocolate isn’t the only thing that should melt in your mouth. A really nice fine-grained cut of filet mignon, that is small, tender, and very lean, can have the same effect. You won’t need a knife if you cook it correctly. In other words, it’s fork tender. The hubs thinks it’s a sin to use a marinade, dry rub, or steak seasoning because he appreciates the true taste. I’d have to agree.

FILET MIGNON, MEDIUM-RARE

Ingredients:

2 9-ounce filet mignon steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 pats of sea salt butter

Instructions:

Allow steaks to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Lightly brush olive oil on the clean grill grates before preheating to 450°. Right before placing steaks on the grill, season them with sea salt and pepper. Close the lid and sear for 5 minutes. Open the grill lid and flip the filets over. Close the lid and sear 5 minutes longer. Transfer steaks to a platter to rest. Tent with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. This allows the juices to flow back into the meat, making it tender and juicy. The center of the filet mignon should read 125°. Before serving, top each filet mignon with a pat of sea salt butter.

Drawn Butter Fish Favorite

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Drawn Butter Fish Favorite! Keeping it simple with a fresh catch is probably my favorite way of serving fish. Now that I’ve connected with a local fisherman, it practically feels like a luxury to plan evening meals. The marinade couldn’t get any easier; a couple of key ingredients do the trick. After all, the star attraction is the warm melted butter. You’ve heard me rave about the French sea salt butter we order once a year. It is ah-mazing. Serve dinner with fresh veggies from the produce bin and you’ll be smiling all through the meal.

DRAWN BUTTER FISH FAVORITE

Ingredients:

1 pound Almaco Jack fish fillets

1-2 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sea salt butter

Juice of one Lemon

Instructions:

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry. In a shallow dish, combine garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, and minced garlic. Brush both sides of the fish fillets with marinade. Place fillets in the shallow dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. To cook, warm butter in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets, cover, and cook for 4 minutes without turning. Flip and cook 4 minutes longer or until fish is crispy. Transfer fillets to a plate, drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Spoon drawn butter over all. Serve immediately.

Zesty Butter-Baked Crackers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Zesty Butter-Baked Crackers! When you are looking for a crunchy snack and really have no interest in leaving the house, fancy crackers satisfy. More than likely, you have all the ingredients on hand. I think you’ll be surprised. In a few minutes, the kitchen will draw curiosity-seekers who put down their electronic devices to see what smells so good. Then go one step further, serve them with a slather of cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and baby shrimp. It can transform these buttery snacks into a culinary appetizer your family will remember. Better make more and hide them in the freezer.

ZESTY BUTTER-BAKED CRACKERS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 sleeve saltine crackers

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly mist a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, warm butter on Low setting for 20 seconds. Add olive oil, onion powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, and dill weed. Stir to mix thoroughly. Take one cracker at a time, dip into the butter mixture to coat both sides, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all crackers and butter are used. Arrange the crackers in a single layer by rows. Bake 10 minutes; turn over and bake 10 minutes longer. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Yukon Gold Potato Medley

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Yukon Gold Potato Medley! For my friends who like their veggies, and prefer a meatless diet, here’s a quick way to combine potatoes, carrots, and onions into a very filling meal. It has herbs to enhance flavor, and delicious butter to combat hunger pangs. Plus, butter makes everything taste drool-worthy. Amirite? Did I ever tell you, every time I refill the butter dish, if there is even a sliver of butter in the wrapper, I swipe it across my finger and slip it into my mouth? True confessions. After all, I import the butter from France, so I’m not going to waste one dab.

YUKON GOLD POTATO MEDLEY

Ingredients:

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on and quartered

16-ounce jar Pearl onions, drained

1 pound baby carrots, whole

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Combine potatoes, pearl onions, and baby carrots in a 4-quart pan. Cover with vegetable broth. Add sea salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander. Warm butter in the pan over medium heat. Add turmeric, Italian herbs, black pepper, and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly. Return the potato medley to the pan. Mix well to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh celery leaves.

Xcellent Celery Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Xcellent Celery Soup! The best intentions go out the window when you realize you have more celery in the refrigerator than you can possibly eat, even on a health-kick. Plus, I’m no longer feeding a family of four. The reality is, as I’ve aged, my appetite has waned and I no longer require three solid meals a day. Can anyone else relate? Thank goodness I like homemade soup, especially if it has potatoes in it. This slightly modified version adds celery to the pot. And since I make potato salad with celery, I didn’t think this was too much of a stretch. Perhaps you will agree.

XCELLENT CELERY SOUP

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 large russet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

3-4 celery ribs, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 tablespoons light cream

Garlic Croutons, for garnish

Celery Leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

In a 4-quart pan over medium-high heat, combine water, chicken bouillon, and butter. Add potato chunks, chopped celery, and yellow onion. Bring to a boil. Stir; reduce heat to low and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 20 minutes. Sprinkle in celery seed and light cream. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse to purée, leaving enough to make the soup chunky. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with garlic croutons and celery leaves.

Raspberry Pistachio Brie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Raspberry Pistachio Brie! If you need a reason to make an appetizer, read on. It works beautifully as Brie for brunch, a romantic “date night” for two, or a festive dessert while sipping on espresso. Think about it. The cheese itself is so creamy, with a slight robust flavor. The skin can be chewy. Either you like it or you don’t. The raspberry jam has a remarkable sweetness that pairs well with the nuttiness of pistachios. Everyone wins.

RASPBERRY PISTACHIO BRIE

Ingredients:

8-ounce wheel of Brie cheese

1 tablespoon sea salt butter, softened

1/4 cup raspberry jam

1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap the Brie wheel. Lightly score the top so the skin can absorb the ingredients. Transfer the wheel to an ovenproof dish. Spread the sea salt butter over the top of the cheese. Layer with dollops of raspberry jam. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and gooey. Remove baked Brie from the oven. Serve warm with slices of lightly buttered baguette toast.

PB, Bacon & Jam Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: PB, Bacon & Jam Burger! Let the debate begin over peanut butter on a hamburger or an American cheese slice…because you can’t have both. Bacon gets to stay since everyone loves bacon. Amirite?! Peanut butter’s nutty taste actually compliments the beef patty. And it’s salty enough to take the place of cheese. The strawberry jam, with a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes, tickles the taste buds at the back of your throat making it an insanely good experience. I’m kind of a snob now that I’ve tasted brioche buns. Their buttery flavor, and the fact that they keep everything contained, is worth the cost difference. Are we good? Then carry on without regrets.

PB, BACON & JAM BURGER

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy variety

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

4 tablespoons strawberry jam

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

8 slices bacon, cooked until crispy

4 lettuce leaves

4 brioche hamburger buns

Instructions:

Combine ground beef, sea salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Divide meat into four equal portions. Flatten into hamburger patties. Set aside. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the natural peanut butter with sriracha sauce. Stir until smooth. Grill burgers for 4 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. To build-the-burger, layer two strips of bacon on the bottom bun. Place the hot hamburger patty over the bacon. Immediately spread the peanut butter mixture on top. It will begin to soften and melt. Drop a dollop of strawberry jam on top. Sprinkle red pepper flakes into the jam, if desired. Finish with a lettuce and the top of the brioche bun. Serve immediately.

Lemon Butter Chilean Sea Bass

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Lemon Butter Chilean Sea Bass! Anyone, besides me, a fan of butter on seafood? Lobster. Crab Legs. Chilean Sea Bass. Shrimp. Scallops. You name it…if the seafood is slightly sweet, mild in flavor, moist and tender, or flaky yet firm, I practically kick everything else to the curb in favor of rich and decadent seafood. Now that I live in Florida, I can stretch my palate a bit with fresh seafood harvested or caught off the coastline. Not only does it support local fishermen, it also puts me in touch with seafood retail markets that thrive on this economy. And, yes, I’m spoiled. Some of the vendors even come directly to my community on a weekly basis. I see more fish in my future.

LEMON BUTTER CHILEAN SEA BASS

Ingredients:

2 8-ounce Chilean Sea Bass fillets

1/4 cup salted butter

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon parsley flakes

Juice of fresh 1/2 lemon

Instructions:

Preheat gas grill to 400°. Form a piece of aluminum foil into a baking sheet to accommodate the fillets. Be sure to raise the sides to contain the buttery juices. Spray foil with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a microwave-safe dish, warm the salted butter. Add garlic powder, parsley flakes, and lemon juice. Gently whisk. Wash Chilean sea bass fillets; pat dry with a paper towel. Before placing the fillets on the foil, brush both sides with melted lemon butter. Save the extra butter mixture for serving. Grill the Chilean Sea Bass for 5-6 minutes with the lid closed to maintain the internal temperature. Turn the grilled sea bass and repeat cooking time 5-6 minutes longer for even grilling. Brush with remaining butter mixture. Serve immediately.