Strawberries Stuffed With Chicken Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Strawberries Stuffed with Chicken Salad! Has anyone noticed the ginormous strawberries lately? I was beginning to wonder if I fell asleep for a few years, like Rip Van Winkle, and awoke to discover that gigantic plants have overrun the earth. Ordinarily I’d serve chicken salad on a cantaloupe wedge, but guess who has competition now. May the better fruit win.

STRAWBERRIES STUFFED WITH CHICKEN SALAD

Ingredients:

2 romaine lettuce leaves, washed

2 extra-large strawberries, washed

1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded

2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoon almonds, chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Mint leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Place romaine lettuce leaves on two salad plates. Set aside. Carefully slice strawberries, creating a pinwheel, without cutting through the bottom. Transfer each strawberry to the prepared salad plate. In a bowl, combine shredded chicken, chopped celery, almond pieces, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Fill each strawberry pinwheel with chicken salad. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve chilled.

Neufchâtel Nibblets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Neufchâtel Nibblets! Instead of serving the traditional large cheese ball at your next group gathering, think about individual portions. As a centerpiece on a buffet table, a cheeseball makes a great focal point until someone digs in. Then it immediately loses its form. On the other hand, nibblets remain appealing. Finger food is always a good idea, in my opinion. Not only are they fun to eat, they make things easier for walking around the edge of a party. Grab a few crackers and nibble away.

NEUFCHÂTEL NIBBLETS

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons Neufchâtel cheese, softened

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/3 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Carrot sticks, cut 3 inches long

Celery sticks, cut 3 inches long

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a mixing bowl combine Neufchâtel cheese, softened butter, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and smoked paprika. Mix well. Using a cookie scoop, form mixture into balls, transfer to prepared baking sheet, and refrigerate one hour or until balls are firm. In a shallow dish, combine fresh chives and chopped pecans. Gently press chilled cheeseballs in nut mixture. Insert vegetable stick into each cheeseball. Arrange a platter and serve.

Egg Noodle Chicken Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Egg Noodle Chicken Casserole! Do you ever become territorial with your food, perhaps hiding it in secret places no one ever looks? I do. In fact I keep a very unique bag of Iowa potato chips in the freezer to nibble on whenever I get the urge. Yes, you can freeze potato chips, but that’s another story. Comfort food also means having your very own individual crock in order to savor every bite, like today’s version of chicken casserole. It especially means the buttery cracker topping is all yours, to save until the very end or to mix into every bite. The choice is yours.

EGG NOODLE CHICKEN CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

1 cup egg noodles

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 cup frozen grilled chicken chunks, fully cooked and thawed

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:

1/2 cup Ritz* crackers, crushed

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease two individual casserole dishes with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Add diced onion and celery. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine egg noodles, onions, celery, chicken chunks, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and chopped parsley. Mix well. Divide between the two prepared casserole dishes. In a small bowl, stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the casseroles. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Zesty Citrus Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Zesty Citrus Salad! “If you build it, they will come.” That familiar quote may spark a flicker of remembrance from a popular movie years ago, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner was the actor who had an idea and went with it. Cooking is like that, in my opinion. For example, build a better salad. It’s pretty simple, actually. Choose garden greens for the foundation, layer on fruits or vegetables for flavor, toss in some crunchy nuts, and slather on the sauce to dress it up. Of course, you can include cheese, meat, and eggs to bulk it up into a meal if you’d like. May as well go ahead and make your own salad dressings. There’s no comparison; being naturally better than bottled, they serve nicely as dips if you have any leftover. No promises on that note, because they’re that good.

ZESTY CITRUS SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups lettuce, gently torn

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 naval orange, segments cut into thirds

6 strawberries, quartered

2 tablespoons red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons almonds, sliced

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Tupelo honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Dash sriracha

Instructions:

Place torn lettuce into salad bowls. Divide celery leaves between them. Arrange the orange segments, quartered strawberries, and red onion slices. Scatter almonds over all. Set aside to chill in the refrigerator. To combine dressing, whisk together garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Tupelo honey, Dijon mustard, toasted sesame seeds, and dash of sriracha sauce. Mix well. Drizzle over salad before serving.

Radish Chive Egg Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Radish Chive Egg Salad! Meatless meals do not have to be boring, that’s for sure. I find it fun to put together interesting combinations of fresh veggies with egg salad. You can, too. If you like a hint of celery seed, think of feathery green celery leaves instead. Or if you usually add chopped shallots, what about snipped chives this time? Instead of tomatoes, add the crunch of radish slices. Bread doesn’t have to be humdrum either. Ditch the bland white open-faced for rye, pumpernickel, or honey wheat. Do you see where this is heading? Anything goes.

RADISH CHIVE EGG SALAD

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed and halved

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 slices honey wheat bread, toasted

12 celery leaves, washed

2 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Place the peeled eggs in a bowl. Roughly chop into pieces. Add mayonnaise, chopped chives, Dijon mustard, sea salt, white pepper, turmeric, and ground ginger. Mix the ingredients together until combined. Cut the toast into diagonal quarters. Arrange on a platter. Dollop a portion of the egg salad onto each piece of bread. Tuck celery leaves around egg salad. Top with thinly sliced radishes. Using a kitchen shears, snip the chives over all for garnish.

Knee-Jerk Chicken Wings

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Knee-Jerk Chicken Wings! Look ahead for a weekend meal that is Mmm Mmm Good. It takes a minute of advanced planning, but is, oh, so worth it. As with any marinade, its main purpose is to tenderize the chicken while bathing it with flavor and moisture. In the end you have chicken wings so juicy you won’t be able to put them down. As always, store the marinated chicken in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend reusing the marinade once you transfer the meat to a baking pan. As a general rule, any sauces that come into contact with uncooked meat should be disposed of properly to prevent harmful bacteria exposure. I’m good with that. In most cases an extra sauce or dressing can be offered instead.

KNEE-JERK CHICKEN WINGS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon dark rum

2 habanero peppers, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon molasses

2 pounds chicken wings

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon spicy honey

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

To make the jerk paste marinade, combine vinegar, dark rum, habanero peppers, red onion, green onions, thyme, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses in a blender. Pulse to mix until smooth. Place the chicken in a baking dish. Pour lime juice over chicken to coat on both sides. Wearing gloves, rub the jerk paste over both sides of the chicken wings, covering well. Transfer chicken to a gallon freezer bag. Use a rubber spatula to transfer all the marinade to the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a rimmed baking pan with nonstick oil. Place chicken wings in a single layer, skin side up. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then flip to bake for another 20 minutes. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, and spicy honey in a small bowl. Mix well. Turn the chicken back over so the skin side is up. Brush with ketchup sauce. Bake 10 minutes longer. When chicken is done, transfer to a platter. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing.

Pinto Bean Cottage Ham Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Pinto Bean Cottage Ham Stew! Whenever I make a main course meat, I usually have enough excess to freeze a portion or two for recipes down the road. It keeps us from growing weary of eating the same thing over and over until it’s gone. This recipe is one of those “second meals” from the cottage ham dinner recently. It can easily be substituted with ham or completely omitted for a vegetarian meal. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it?

PINTO BEAN COTTAGE HAM STEW

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup celery, diced

6 mini carrots, sliced

15-ounce can pinto beans, with liquid

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups water or broth from cottage ham*

1 cup cottage ham, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1-2 bay leaves

Instructions:

In an iron skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, diced celery, and sliced carrots. Cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the pinto beans with liquid, garlic powder, marjoram, thyme, liquid smoke, and black pepper. Stir. Slowly add water and cottage ham pieces. Stir to combine. Place the bay leaves on top. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 30 minutes. For a thicker stew, lightly mash some of the pinto beans. Remove bay leaves before serving.

*Broth was saved from the original preparation of the cottage ham.

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Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup! You can always tell when I’m going down a road of mealtime shortcuts. It might be because I stayed up late the night before binge-watching Netflix, or I suddenly got a burst of energy to work in the outdoor herb garden instead. Life in the country is always filled with distractions, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean we sacrifice healthy meals for fast-food. Leftover turkey roast can be magically transformed into a bowl of hearty, delicious soup loaded with vegetables, orzo pasta, and earthy herbs. Be good to yourself. You’re worth it.

LEFTOVER TURKEY ORZO SOUP

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 stalk celery, chopped

6-7 mini carrots, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup orzo pasta

2 cups cooked leftover turkey, shredded

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté diced onion, chopped celery, and sliced carrots until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook for one minute longer until fragrant. Stir occasionally. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add uncooked orzo pasta and shredded turkey. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover. Cook 15 minutes until orzo is tender. Remove from heat; stir. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Jalapeño Celery Crack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Jalapeño Celery Crack! I’m not ashamed to say I’ve found a new addiction. Hence the name. By the time I wrote this post, I had already made this recipe 3 times and shared it once with a close friend. Jalapeño Celery Crack has a spicy creaminess that screams, “just one more bite”. When I ran out of celery, I discovered it tastes amazing on tortilla corn chips. Sometimes you need an appetizer. Sometimes you want a snack. And sometimes making it part of a meal is justification enough. Perhaps you should try it. You know you want some.

JALAPEÑO CELERY CRACK

Ingredients:

1 bunch of celery, cut into 4” pieces

8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon parsley

2/3 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño juice

2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

Cut celery into 4” pieces. Set aside.

Combine softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth. Add sea salt, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Mix thoroughly. Add chopped jalapeños, pickled jalapeño juice, and crumbled bacon. Stir well to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange celery stalks on a platter. Fill with jalapeño mixture. Garnish with extra dill. Serve.