Pan-Seared Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Pan-Seared Tilapia! I don’t often “fry” foods, but once in awhile nothing else will do. The secret to pan-searing fish involves five key steps. First, make sure the skillet is nonstick or a trustworthy cast iron skillet. Secondly, choose a neutral-flavored oil which has a higher smoke point. You won’t need much, so it’s crucial to make sure the oil is not going to turn black from high heat. The third point, and this is just as important, make sure moisture is removed from the fish. If not, there is guaranteed to be steam-created soggy fish or dangerous grease splatters. Step Four: When the fish is placed in the pan, do not overcrowd it. The pieces should not touch each other at all. Finally, allow the fish to sear without moving it. This is how you get that beautiful crispy surface. Use a timer. Once the fillets are carefully flipped over, you’re almost done. By this time everyone in the house will be heading to the kitchen to discover what smells so incredibly good. Well Done, Grasshopper.

PAN-SEARED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

2 frozen tilapia fillets, thawed

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 lime, juice and zest

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pat butter, divided

Fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions:

Defrost fish fillets overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from package, pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. In a shallow dish, combine brown sugar, chili powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, and lime zest. Mix well. Warm vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Rub both sides of each fillet with the spice mixture. Cook tilapia fillets for 4 minutes. Carefully flip them over. Squeeze lime juice over fish in pan. Divide a pat of butter over the top of each fillet. Cook 3 minutes longer, or until opaque and flaky. Transfer pan-seared tilapia fillets to a platter. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh dill. Serve immediately.

Hot Sauce Tex-Mex Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Hot Sauce Tex-Mex Dip! Nothing screams “party” like a flavorful Mexican dip loaded with cheese, beans, chorizo, and chips. This do-ahead recipe is perfect for advance planners. Pull it all together and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready, simply allow it to stand at room temperature half an hour before you need to bake it. Add 10 minutes to the time it is covered in the oven for melting the ooey gooey cheese. If you’re going to make this Tex-Mex Dip, may as well get lost in the tug-of-war between chili lime seasoning and garlicky hot sauce. It’s everything you love. Just add cocktails.

HOT SAUCE TEX-MEX DIP

Ingredients:

4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature

15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained, and divided

3/4 tablespoon fresh lime juice, divided

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 cup chorizo, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons red pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix

4 ounces Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded and divided

1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons pickled jalapeño, diced

Tortilla chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, 1 teaspoon lime juice, hot sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir remaining black-eyed peas, chorizo, scallions, red pepper, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup Mexican Cheese Blend into the cream cheese mixture. Mix thoroughly. Spread into the bottom of a lightly greased deep dish pie plate. Sprinkle with remaining Mexican Cheese Blend. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 15 minutes longer until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir together in a bowl chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, olive oil, diced jalapeño, remaining lime juice, and remaining sea salt. Using a slotted spoon, top dip with tomato mixture. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup! At first glance, this appears to be a meatless meal. It can be with one minor change. Just don’t add meat. And yet, if you appreciate a dish you can sink your teeth into, I invite you to read on. This flavorsome recipe gets down to earth as a stick-to-the-ribs dinner. We all know brown rice is a good source of fiber as well as an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Black beans support good heart health and could help lower cholesterol. Pork provides protein. Last time I checked, 1+1+1=3. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

BLACK BEANS ‘N RICE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

10.5-ounce can beef consommé

1/2 cup instant brown rice

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup seasoned pork, precooked and shredded

1/2 cup water, if needed

2 tablespoons red pepper, diced

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until onions are soft and clear. Add red chili garlic sauce, cumin, and oregano. Cook 2 minutes longer. Add beef consommé and brown rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add black beans and seasoned pork. Stir to combine. Add water, if needed to ensure everything is covered. Replace lid and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with diced red peppers and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Paniolo Santa Maria-Style BBQ in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Paniolo Santa Maria-Style BBQ in Kapaa, Kauai! Everyone loves a barbecue whether it’s the blaze of fire or the smell of the wood. Perhaps it’s the fiery outdoor cooking. Either way, the smoky taste is amazing. The owners and staff of Paniolo understand that attraction for personal enjoyment. Eating at picnic tables adds to the allure. Top it off with live entertainment and you’ve got a reason to gather together. People want to savor and enjoy food. Look no further than Paniolo Santa Maria-Style BBQ. Check out their menu online. Many items are served with homemade chili, fresh garden salad, and grilled garlic bread.

Kung Pao Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Kung Pao Chicken! When I promise savory, I deliver. Combine sweet and sour, garlic and spice, with the crunch of peanuts, to pull off this do-it-yourself version of a Chinese restaurant favorite. By making it at home, you may have it faster than takeout. One bite and you’ll love it, but remember to share. Add a few red chili peppers for a dynamic taste experience, if you dare.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons sherry cooking wine

2 tablespoons soybean sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chili paste

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 green onions, snipped

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Instructions for Marinade:

Mix together 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until smooth. Place chicken chunks in a glass dish. Pour in marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Instructions for Sauce:

Combine in a glass bowl 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Mix until smooth. Add chili paste, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, and garlic. Stir. Gradually fold in green onions, water chestnuts, and chopped peanuts. Transfer to a medium skillet. Cook on low/medium heat until aromatic, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Sauté chicken chunks in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. As the sauce becomes aromatic, add in sautéed chicken chunks. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Serve over noodles or rice.

Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup! One thing I love about Fall is the convenience of crockpot meals. Throw all the ingredients together, stir, and then forget about it for a few hours. Do something fun……and I don’t mean raking leaves or shelling walnuts. Take a nature walk, visit an apple orchard, choose a mum plant for your front door, photograph colorful pumpkins and gourds. You get the idea. Don’t let the season pass you by. Autumn is in full swing and Mother Earth has splattered the landscape with vibrant colors.

TEX-MEX TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

20-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild flavor

10-ounce can diced tomatoes, zesty flavor

15-ounce can black beans, organic

15-ounce can corn, drained

15-ounce can kidney beans, drained

4-ounce packet taco seasoning mix

4-ounce packet ranch seasoning mix

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

3 green onions, snipped

1/3 cup sliced jalapeño peppers

Instructions:

Brown ground beef. Drain any liquid. Place ground beef, tomatoes (juice included), black beans, corn, kidney beans, taco dry seasoning mix, and ranch dry seasoning mix in a slow-cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours OR on Low for 6-8 hours. Uncover. Ladle Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup into bowl and garnish with Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt, onion snips, and jalapeño pepper rings. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Firehouse BBQ and Blues in Richmond, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Firehouse BBQ and Blues in Richmond, Indiana. The “All American City” has hit the mark with slow-roasted barbecue, live blues music, and awesome drinks in a restored 1860s firehouse in the Depot District. Hand-painted murals simple add to the allure and charm of the cozy atmosphere. Not looking for a heavy meal? Choose Firehouse Chili. You know it’s tried and true. Swirl the cheddar cheese and onions into the thick savory soup. Crumble jalapeño cornbread in for a extra spice. Next time you’ll want the pulled pork barbecue or the hickory smoked beef brisket. After all, it’s what they’re famous for.

Habanero Hot Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Habanero Hot Sauce! Let’s kick things up a notch or two with one of the hottest known chili peppers legally sold in grocery stores. And I mean REALLY hot, compared to the average pepperoncini. The adorable orange lantern with its sweet-looking dimples can be deceiving. Its sting may feel as strong as a viper while simultaneously releasing an endorphin rush that’ll knock you off your feet. This is my fourth batch from the garden harvest. I’m hooked! However, it comes with a few words of caution: Wear gloves and avoid the juices near your face and eyes. While oven roasting, set the exhaust fan on High. When taste-testing, keep a wedge of white cheese nearby. It actually cuts the heat almost instantly. Be brave, my Peeps. Heed these simple rules. Then and only then, will you become the master of your own domain.

HABANERO HOT SAUCE

Ingredients:

16-20 habanero peppers, halved, stems, and seeds removed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1/8 teaspoon lime juice

Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

Place habanero pepper halves, skin side up in a single layer, on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast habanero peppers on High for 10 minutes, or until black spots appear. Remove. Using tongs, transfer habanero peppers to a covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Using gloves, remove any loose skins; discard. Add peppers to a food processor. Pulse to a slightly coarse texture. Add minced garlic, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Pulse until desired consistency. Season with sea salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve in dips, as a condiment, paired with ripe fruits in salsas, or on grilled meats.

Tuna Tartare with Seaweed

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Tuna Tartare with Seaweed! Do you wrinkle your nose when you hear the word “raw”? Some people get a little squeamish. How about if you see the word “sushi”? My grandkids’ eyes light up and their mouths begin to salivate. See the difference? “Tartare” is a fancy word for raw meat or seafood. In Hawaii, you may see the words “Ahi Poke”, which is a healthy raw tuna dish made with the best tuna right out of the sea. By adding a mixture of ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, the flavor becomes incredibly irresistible. Check out the closest Asian Deli to pick up a container of ready-to-serve seaweed salad. It’s already marinated in a delicious sauce. Together on a plate, you’ve just created a masterpiece.

TUNA TARTARE WITH SEAWEED

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, cut into 1/4” cubes

3 tablespoons organic soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 green onion

1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced

4-ounce container of prepared seaweed salad

Green onion slivers for garnish

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add organic soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, the chopped white ends of the green onions, and the red jalapeño pepper slices. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. To serve, place prepared seaweed salad on a plate. Layer ahi tuna over salad. Garnish with the remaining green onion curls.