Vermicelli Pasta Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Vermicelli Pasta Salad! A little advance planning goes a long way whether you choose to make this a side dish or a main course. Plus, you get bonus points if it becomes your Midweek Meatless Meal. It’s easy, it’s versatile, and it’s made with fiber-filled veggies for extra crunch and flavor. Substitute ingredients to match your family’s personal cravings. On the go? Pack it in single serving jars for fuss-free options.

VERMICELLI PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound vermicelli

1 1/2 tablespoons Accent seasoning

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup green pepper, chopped

3/4 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups broccoli/carrot/red cabbage slaw

1 cup black olives, sliced

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions:

Cook vermicelli as directed on package. Rinse in cold water. Drain. Place in large bowl. Make a marinade of Accent seasoning, seasoned salt, lemon juice, and vegetable oil. Pour over vermicelli; mix well. Cover and marinate for two days, stirring once or twice. Add green pepper, onion, cut-up broccoli/carrot/cabbage slaw, black olives, poppy seeds, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Marinate overnight. Serve chilled.

Delicious Dill Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Delicious Dill Dip! “Remember to eat your veggies.” We’ve all ignored that inner voice that tends to remind us not to reach for a second cookie. So today we’re going to make eating vegetables FUN! This dip is so yummy, you can scoop it up with cucumber spears, celery sticks, baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, or cauliflower. But don’t stop there. The fresh dill even complements a toasted bagel, which you’ll see later on.

DELICIOUS DILL DIP

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon celery flakes

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill

Instructions:

Mix thoroughly yogurt and mayonnaise. Add sea salt, celery seed, onion powder, celery flakes, and chopped onion; blend well. Fold in fresh dill. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Corned Beef Brisket

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Corned Beef Brisket! Eating corned beef brisket isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore. However, it’s the best time to stock up when it’s popular and readily available at the nearby market. Go from the traditional favorite dinner one day to corned beef hash and eggs the next morning and Reuben sliders for a late night snack. Are you getting the idea? Be creative and tell me yours!

CORNED BEEF BRISKET

Ingredients:

3-pound corned beef brisket, boneless

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon bay leaves

1 cup ginger beer or water

1-pound baby carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, in a covered roaster. Sprinkle spices on top. Add 1 cup of ginger beer or water. Cover and roast for three hours. The guideline is one hour per pound. After 2 hours add carrots to roaster. Cover and cook for 1 hour. At that time, the contents should be fork tender. Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Remove carrots and place in a bowl. Add butter to coat. Sprinkle with paprika.

BOILED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

In a deep pan, add 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage quarters and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Turn cabbage with tongs. Simmer 5 minutes longer until tender. Drain well. Add butter to coat cabbage thoroughly.

PARSLEY BOILED POTATOES

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sections

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Place potatoes in 2 quart saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Add butter to coat. Garnish with parsley.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup! The crockpot is essential, in my opinion. Never mind the fact that a slow-cooker turns the entire house into a well-seasoned bistro. It’s the hands-free unattended cooking with astounding results that makes it a winner in my book. Throw everything together, let it simmer, and enjoy the meal to come. Leftovers are delicious and clean-up is a snap!

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients:

4-6 chicken fillet tenders

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

60-ounces chicken broth

23-ounce can of cream of chicken soup

3 stalks celery, cut-up

1/2 pound mini carrots, whole

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 cups home style noodles

1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

Sauté chicken tenders in a large skillet with olive oil, lemon pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and celery seed. Remove from heat. Pour the cream of chicken soup into the crockpot. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring until the two are well. blended. Transfer the sautéed chicken tenders from the skillet. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Stir gently. Add bay leaves. Heat on high setting for four hours. Remove lid and shred the chicken for a chunky consistency. Return to soup. Add noodles and butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer two hours longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Upright Pot Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Upright Pot Pie! Do you ever have those nights when you can’t decide what to cook for dinner? You look in the refrigerator and all you see are leftovers? Again? Well, I had made a beef pot roast earlier in the week, so all the ingredients were on hand to make individual servings of pot pies. Obviously, if you don’t have mashed potatoes and gravy on hand, you can improvise. Keep it upright by filling custard dishes with single servings and then top them off with crescent roll pastry sheets. It requires very little effort, but the taste is home cooking at its best.

UPRIGHT POT PIE

Ingredients:

2 cups beef pot roast, chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 cup brown gravy

1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Crescent rolls

1/2 cup baby carrots

1 cup mashed potatoes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat. Add beef and stir. Reduce heat and gradually add gravy and mixed vegetables. Spoon mixture in ungreased single serving custard cups. Transfer cups to a baking sheet, in case they bubble over while baking. Remove dough from tube. Do not separate into triangles. Place one square over each custard dish. Press lightly around edges. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve with mashed potatoes and baby carrots.

Jazzy Jerk Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Jazzy Jerk Sauce! Get fired up as you crank up the heat with this homemade habanero pepper sauce. Choose those festive little lantern-shaped peppers from the local market or nearby health food resource, don a pair of vinyl gloves, and fill your kitchen with aromas from the Caribbean Islands. As it cooks, let your imagination run wild for the condiment that sends the temperature rising!

JAZZY JERK SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

1 cup baby carrots, chopped

2 cups water

10-12 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add habanero peppers, orange juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*Serving suggestion: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies!

White Bean Hot Dish

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: White Bean Hot Dish! One of the secrets of being a seasoned cook is knowing when to use quality ingredients to your advantage. Especially when you’re short on time or just needing a mid-week break. I keep my pantry stocked with what I refer to as “staples”; standby products that produce excellent results. Then on the nights when we are on the go, I can turn to a delicious alternative while serving another food-lover’s favorite. Pat yourself on the back and make yourself a hero, too.

WHITE BEAN HOT DISH

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 24-ounce jar Randall’s Great Northern Beans*

16 ounces ham, cooked and shredded

16 ounces baby carrots

14.5 ounces diced potatoes, including liquid

3 bay leaves

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté chopped onions in seasoned salt and pepper until they turn opaque. Reduce heat to medium. Add beans, ham, carrots, and potatoes. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add bay leaves and celery seed. Cover and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer longer for thicker results. Before serving remove bay leaves.

*I receive no recompense for promoting their product.

Indian Couscous With Saffron

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Indian Couscous with Saffron! This side dish is wonderful to have with poultry instead of potatoes or stuffing. I like its versatility because it doesn’t weigh me down, but offers appealing flavor. You can add or subtract herbs and vegetables to your heart’s delight, choosing what you have on hand. I tend to serve it warm rather than cold. Others make a meal out it. Either way, it’s very economical as well as exotic.

INDIAN COUSCOUS WITH SAFFRON

Ingredients:

1 cup couscous

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 stalk celery, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 tablespoon chives, snipped

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons hot water

4 threads saffron

Instructions:

Dissolve saffron in hot water. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan, combine chicken broth, olive oil, parsley, turmeric, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, celery, and carrots. Add saffron mixture. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous. Cover and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Couscous will be tender. Fluff with fork. Add the snipped chives and pine nuts. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve warm.

Giddyup Gazpacho

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Giddyup Gazpacho! Yee-haw! Get set to gather the bounty of your garden because this dish has quite a variety of appetizing vegetables! You’ll experience an explosion of flavor in every mouthful. Gazpacho is one of those mysterious soups that is meant to be eaten COLD. Sound bizarre? I know, right! Trust me, the fusion of wholesome produce is unsurpassed. And the temperature is perfectly refreshing this time of year.

GIDDYUP GAZPACHO

Ingredients:

4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

1/2 cup baby carrots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

2 cups 100% vegetable juice, low sodium

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the top of the list to the bottom. Stir well. The vegetable juice is added last so you can determine the consistency of the soup. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.