Teriyaki Chicken Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Teriyaki Chicken Bowl! Do-ahead meals take a little bit of planning, but the “devil is in the details”, they say. In this case it means, make sure the chicken breasts are thawed AND marinated 24 hours before you plan on serving them. I realize that requires the cook to be somewhat organized. Pantries don’t stock themselves. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a dish without all the ingredients. Take sesame oil, for example. I find it absolutely delicious because it adds an earthy nuttiness to Asian food. Vegetable oil tastes meh, in my opinion. Not only does it alter the taste, the texture will be different. When I can find it, I buy toasted sesame seeds so I don’t have to worry about toasting them on the stove or in the oven. That’s 10 minutes I could be planning tomorrow’s meal. Idiosyncratic, but true.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN BOWL

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Green onion snips, for garnish

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:

Place chicken breasts, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, minced garlic, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Baste chicken completely. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours. When ready to cook, preheat grill to 450°. Lightly oil grill grate. Remove chicken breasts from marinade, place directly on grill, close lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Discard marinade. After 5 minutes, open lid, flip over chicken breasts, close lid, and cook 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove teriyaki chicken from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with sticky rice and mixed vegetables.

White Chicken Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: White Chicken Flatbread! Nowadays I look for any excuse to have pizza, or a close second. All I have to do is go to my freezer to decide what ingredients to use. In there is often naan flatbread, precooked grilled chicken strips, and previously oven-baked bacon. In lieu of marinara sauce, creamy ranch dressing makes a tasty sauce. People know cheese is always my friend, along with fresh veggies, herbs, and spices. Throw it all together and boom; 20 minutes later it’s ready to eat. I think I deserve a star for that.

WHITE CHICKEN FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 Naan flatbread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1 cup precooked, grilled chicken chunks

1/4 cup precooked bacon, crumbled

2 tablespoons sweet onions, chopped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush the bottom side of the naan flatbread with olive oil; dust with cornmeal. Transfer to a pizza stone. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and assemble the ingredients. Spread the ranch dressing onto the top crust. Layer, in order, the fresh mozzarella slices, grilled chicken chunks, bacon crumbles, and sweet onions. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden. Serve immediately.

Grill Pan Kabobs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Grill Pan Kabobs! Sooo, what do you have for dinner when you plan on kabobs, but can’t find the skewers among all the kitchenware you’ve unpacked during the recent move? The answer: Improvise, by using a grill pan. After all, once the ingredients are cooked and presented for dinner, everyone grabs a fork to “shish” the food off the skewer onto the plate anyway. I see your eyes glazing over as you nod your head in agreement. Focus. The end result is still phenomenal. Now dig in. Your tummy will thank me.

GRILL PAN KABOBS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pound beef tenderloin, cut into chunks

1/2 pound chicken tenderloin, cut into cubes

1 red onion, cut into wedges

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, stems removed

4 ounces cherry tomatoes

Instructions:

In a measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, dry mustard, thyme, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper. Place the beef tenderloin chunks and chicken tenderloin cubes in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Pour half the marinade mixture into the bag, seal, shake, and refrigerate for one hour. Set aside remaining marinade for basting sauce while grilling. Preheat gas grill to 500°. Remove beef and chicken pieces from bag; discard marinade. Allow beef and chicken to “rest” at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Transfer beef chunks, chicken cubes, red onion, green pepper, red pepper, mushroom caps, and cherry tomatoes onto a large grill pan that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Brush kabobs with reserved marinade. To cook medium-rare steak kabobs (charred exterior, pink center), place the grill pan on the hot grill. Chicken tenderloins will cook in the same amount of time, with edges turning white. Close the lid to retain heat temperature. Set timer for 5 minutes. Then using a long-handled tongs, flip, rotate, and move larger pieces of beef and chicken on the grill pan to be in the center of the flame. Vegetables will char faster than the meat. Watch carefully. Cook the kabobs an additional 5 minutes, with the lid closed. Once finished, remove grill pan and turn off the grill. Allow food to “rest” for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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.

Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup! Just hearing the word “soup” during the summer months can make someone rolls their eyes enough to make people pay no attention to what is being said. But hear me out. Let me remind you that the silky consistency of melted ice cream actually brings out the flavor more than its frozen counterpart. Right? Well, “vichyssoise” is a French word for velvety smooth potato and leek soup, usually served chilled. When eaten slightly cold, the sheer creaminess is truly divine. Leeks are mild fancy onions, so if you prefer to use yellow sweet onions, permission granted. Personally, for this recipe, I went all out and used both. I also chose Yukon potatoes for their sweet flavor and moist flesh making them fluffy in texture. Make sense? Obviously you can make modifications to suit your palate. Be creative and send me your thoughts.

VICHYSSOISE COLD CREAMIER SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; green and white parts only

2 Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

14 ounces chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the yellow onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the leeks and sauté 5 minutes longer until soft. Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Carefully transfer small batches of soup to a blender. Purée until smooth. Repeat process until no lumps remain. Pour the smooth texture back into the saucepan. Heat to medium. Add light cream and stir. Soup will thicken within 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and then chill for one hour before serving. Pour into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve.

Turmeric Chicken Curry

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.

TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

4 teaspoons turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Mel’s Diner in Bonita Springs, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Mel’s Diner in Bonita Springs, Florida! Flashback to the 1950’s where American Bandstand was popular for the best rock and roll music. Car Shows meant shine-up-your-car and put-it-on-display in the local park. Drugstore soda fountains served thick chocolate milkshakes, tangy lime phosphates, and cherry syrup-flavored cokes. Fast forward to current day where nostalgia is still popular at Mel’s Diner, a food joint popular from the movie “American Graffiti”. The menu highlights several burger options, pot roast platters with mashed potatoes smothered in brown gravy, beef liver and caramelized onions, black angus meatloaf, fried chicken, or anything else you can imagine for a taste of the “good ole days”. When you’re in the mood for comfort food, stop by for a meal that is worth the cost.

Bistro La Baguette in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Bistro La Baguette in Naples, Florida! When craving traditional French food without the cost of a plane ticket, look for a place that is tied to its roots. Bistro La Baguette offers classic French fare. The kitchen is a bounty of fresh ingredients for traditional dishes as well as decadent pastries, which are featured in a glass showcase at the counter. A shaded porch, surrounded by hanging draperies and green plants, offers open-air seating steps away from the dining room and wine cellar. The velvety green salads are overflowing with garden produce and topped with a heavenly house made dressing. Whether you’re nibbling over lunch or in for a gourmet experience, taking time is the secret to living like a Francophile.

Desperado Dinner Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Desperado Dinner Nachos! The title says it all. I had been running all day long from this to that when I finally returned home to realize I had made no plans for supper. Going back out was not an option. So things got a little desperate. Thank goodness I had some leftover roasted turkey (chicken would work just fine) plus a half a bag of tortilla chips. The rest of the toppings were a given. So you see, sometimes making mediocre effort will suffice, especially if you make it look downright delicious!

DESPERADO DINNER NACHOS

Ingredients:

1/2 bag corn tortilla chips

2 cups roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken, shredded

2 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded

1 tomato, chopped

1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced

2-3 green onions, snipped

Greek yogurt or Sour cream

Salsa

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. In a single layer, line the baking sheet with tortilla chips, covering every space. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, reserving a little as a final sprinkling. Arrange roasted meat over cheese layer. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and green onion snips. Toss on the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve nachos with yogurt and salsa to taste.