Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad! When you need a boost from the usual lunch menu, treat yourself to an outstanding salad that feels gourmet-worthy. As a shrimp-lover, I already had ideas about serving this to my husband. In my opinion, the bigger the shrimp you can find, the better. Because I saw for myself the seafood deli offered humongous jumbo shrimp (yeah, I know), I couldn’t resist getting a pound to take home. Here’s the secret: oftentimes the market gets specific seafood brought in frozen. Frozen shrimp is usually same-day fresh. They thaw it for the customers and sell it individually or by the pound. I asked the seafood specialist if I could buy a frozen quantity from him. He was more than happy to oblige. Now you know.

LETTUCE CUP SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked and tails removed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 stalk celery, sliced

2-3 lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

Red onion, finely sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Gently fold in the precooked shrimp and celery slices. Place a lettuce leaf onto a plate. Scoop shrimp salad on top. Garnish with red onion. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve.

Jarcuterie Jumbles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Jarcuterie Jumbles! How’s this for a “Wow!” factor? Instead of preparing an entire platter full of goodies, create a personal jarcuterie allowing mobility for every party guest to mingle. By assembling jars containing fresh fruits, crudités, whole olives, cubed cheese, sea salt crackers, cured meats, and pretzel sticks, people can nibble at their leisure. Choose jars you may already have on hand to keep it interesting. I went one step further and made cheese ball minis rolled in Everything But Bagel seasoning. The results were worth the advanced planning. Simply keep the jars chilled until you wish to serve them. Place baskets of extra crackers and pretzels for those who crave more. Leftover jarcuteries can be refrigerated for the next day. Guests may simply attach the lid and take it with them or leave them behind for you to recycle for your next gathering.

JARCUTERIE JUMBLES

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2-3 tablespoons Everything But Bagel seasoning

8 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed

8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed

8 ounces hard salami, sliced thin

3 ounces whole manzanilla olives

6 ounces red raspberries, fresh

6 ounces blackberries, fresh

1 stalk celery, fresh

16 ounces green seedless grapes, fresh

8 ounces pretzel rods

5 ounces sea salt pita crackers

Party Picks, for assembly

Assorted Jars, sterilized

Celery Sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

To prepare mini cheese balls, take a teaspoon of softened cream cheese, roll into a ball. Set aside. Repeat until the block of cream cheese is used. Sprinkle Everything But Bagel seasoning onto a sheet of waxed paper. Roll each mini cheese ball in the seasoning. Transfer to a plate. When finished, refrigerate to chill. Meanwhile, fill the base of each jar with green grapes. Skewer cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, hard salami, and olive as preferred. Skewer red raspberry, green grape, and blackberry together. Arrange skewers, pretzel rod, and celery stick into the jar. Finish with a fresh sprig of celery leaves. Refrigerate jars until ready to serve. Cover with plastic wrap.

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.

Hawaiian Mac Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Hawaiian Mac Salad! Some things get a reputation for being “island food”. This is one of them. It was created out of economic necessity, just as SPAM® became a household staple. Both survived due to their lack of being perishable in a tropical climate as well as being tasty and affordable. The flavor of this Mac salad is so unique, it continues to remain a constant plate lunch for workers, surfers, schools, and just about anyone. Check out fish markets, food trucks, roadside stands, diners, and grocery store delis. Hawaiian Mac Salad pairs beautifully with fresh fish and a scoop of white rice. Now you can make it yourself without the cost of a plane ticket to the Hawaiian Islands.

HAWAIIAN MAC SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces macaroni pasta

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 stalk celery, diced

1 large carrot, grated

1/4 cup sweet onion, diced

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Boil the macaroni in lightly salted water. Cook al dente; one minute less than package directions. Drain the macaroni and rinse with cold water. Set aside. For the sauce, in a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Add the cooked macaroni, diced celery, grated carrots, and diced onions. Gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Toss before serving. Garnish with green onion snips.

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.

Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad! One of my offseason luxuries is baking a turkey during the summer months. Think about it. There’s less holiday stress, plenty of time, and loads of leftover ideas. Think it’s way too much meat for the two of you? No worries. Divide the cooked turkey into gallon-size freezer bags to use as timesaving options later on. Turkey makes a refreshing substitute for most chicken or pork recipes by simply adding different herbs and spices. I’ve served turkey carnitas with chunky salsa for a Mexican fiesta, shredded turkey and hash browns with eggs for a weekend breakfast, and added garden vegetables for a farm table midday Cobb salad. Today though, in lieu of chicken salad, turkey is the star attraction for a summertime picnic.

SMOKED TURKEY THYME SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked turkey, shredded

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine shredded turkey, liquid smoke, mayonnaise, sea salt, black pepper, chopped celery, and sweet pickle relish. Mix well. Gently fold in chopped hard-boiled egg and minced thyme leaves. Serve over a bed of alfalfa sprouts, or mixed greens, with seasonal fruit.