Shepherd’s Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Shepherd’s Pie! Chicken or Beef? That’s the biggest decision you need to make with this tasty comfort food recipe. If you follow tradition, no doubt you would choose beef. That’s fine. I, on the other hand, was in the mood for chicken. Either way the cheesy potato crust, over a savory blanket of gravy, is the star attraction. If you are searching for a great weeknight meal without all the fuss, warm up your kitchen, kick back, and relax.

SHEPHERD’S PIE

Ingredients:

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, and cut into chunks

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 cup mashed potatoes

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the cream of mushroom soup and water in a large bowl. Stir well. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add chicken chunks, black pepper, onion powder, and poultry seasoning. Cook until well browned. Transfer the chicken to the soup mixture. Add mixed vegetables. Stir to coat. Spoon chicken filling into a 2-quart casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes over chicken layer. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake 40 minutes or until chicken filling is hot and bubbly.

Fennel Honeydew Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Fennel Honeydew Salad! One final “hurrah” before you leave warm weather behind may be this tangy fruit salad sprinkled with niblets of sweet corn and a hint of anise. Are you intrigued? Ripe honeydew, in my opinion, emits a gloriously sweet fragrance that practically makes my mouth water. Once I cut into it, I find myself wandering back to the refrigerator for tidbits the way a bird eats at a feeder. One bite, close the door, visit a blog, get up, return for another snack, check Twitter, meander back, and peck at it again. Finally I surrender my willpower and stand at the kitchen sink taking in small bits until another wedge is gone. What’s a girl to do?

FENNEL HONEYDEW SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/4 section ripe honeydew, rind and seeds removed, then sliced

3-4 fennel stalks, cut into 2” pieces with ends split

1/4 cup fresh sweet corn

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

1/4 cup cilantro dressing

Fennel fronds, for garnish

Instructions:

Divide lettuce between salad bowls. Arrange sliced honeydew melon over lettuce. Tuck fennel stalks around fruit. Sprinkle fresh sweet corn kernels over all. Top with chopped pistachios. Give it a dash of Everything But Bagel seasoning. Drizzle cilantro dressing over salad. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve chilled.

Barbacoa Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Barbacoa Banana Peppers! More and more supermarkets are offering a wide variety of prepared meats to help make mealtime as effortless as possible. You can take advantage of these precooked packaged options or make use of last night’s leftover roast in the refrigerator, turning it into Barbacoa beef. I have great respect for everyone who juggles their time between work and home. This recipe combines fresh produce with convenient seasoned alternatives. Meet me halfway for this labor of love.

BARBACOA BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 mild banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; ribs and seeds removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

6 sticks mozzarella string cheese

1 cup Barbacoa beef, shredded

1/3 cup fresh sweet corn

1/2 cup pico de gallo

2 green onions, sliced into curls

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange in a single layer, without touching, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Roast for 10 minutes until banana peppers begin to soften slightly. Remove from oven to cool. Tuck one mozzarella cheese stick into each pepper.(It may be necessary to pull the cheese apart into strings to fill the pepper from end to end.) Divide shredded Barbacoa beef between peppers. Top with sweet corn. Set oven to Broil. Return stuffed banana peppers to the oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden in spots. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Top with pico de gallo. Garnish with green onion strips.

Zapata Mexican Corn Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Zapata Mexican Corn Salad! Picnic season is upon us and salads are the star attractions. They are not only refreshing, colorful, and bursting with flavor, but look appealing in glass jars…making them incredibly portable. Choose single-size portions or larger quantities. How fun is that? Southwest corn offers the extra kick of poblano and red peppers. Pair it with natural sweet corn for amazing seasoning. Top everything off with the crunch of chili cheese corn chips. Toss a bag in the picnic basket since you only crush them and sprinkle them on before serving. Nibbling is allowed.

ZAPATA MEXICAN CORN SALAD

Ingredients:

15-ounce can Southwest Corn with poblanos and red peppers, whole kernel and drained

15-ounce can natural sweet corn, whole kernel and drained

2 radishes, chopped

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

1 jalapeño, chopped

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

9.75-ounce bag chili cheese corn chips

Cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

Combine southwest corn, sweet corn, radishes, green onion, red onion, and jalapeño. Mix well. Stir in mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Fold in cheddar cheese. Stir well. Transfer to covered container. Refrigerate one hour. Before serving, crush chili cheese corn chips. Sprinkle on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Huevos Rancheros

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Huevos Rancheros! The nice thing about a breakfast like this is it’s basically made from leftovers. Beef roast. Check. Baked potatoes. Check, check. If you need ingredients on short notice, no worries. Substitute cooked chicken instead. Potatoes with the skin on cook very quickly in the microwave before being transformed into tasty hash browns. Just remember to pierce them first. Then cook on High for 5 minutes each. For this morning’s heuvos rancheros, I skipped the tortillas and substituted a couple of corn chips for crunch. It’s all good.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups beef, cooked and shredded

10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies, mild

1/3 cup onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 potatoes, baked and cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

Fresh cilantro

4 tortillas or corn chips

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine shredded beef, diced tomatoes with green chilies, chopped onion, cumin, oregano, and sea salt in a large saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. This makes the beef moist and tender. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Add cubed potatoes. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Do not stir. Turn potatoes for a crispy finish; cook 5 minutes longer. Drizzle in more olive oil, if needed to avoid burning. Remove potatoes from heat when desired texture is reached. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. In another skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Crack 4 eggs into the skillet. Fry eggs sunny side up in butter, 3-4 minutes for runny yolks. To assemble huevos rancheros, layer corn chips or a tortilla on the plate. Next, add spicy meat mixture, then crispy hash brown potatoes. Top with fried egg. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Korean Pork Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Korean Pork Tacos! Once you get a taste for spicy food, the cravings thrive. That doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring, to say the least. Be creative. I like corn tortillas so I transformed an ordinary pork loin into slightly hot Korean tacos. Forego the kimchi and traditional greens by substituting with crispy broccoli strips and shredded carrots. Fresh cilantro and green onions add zest, not heat. Trust me, this recipe is not “burn your lips off” hot, it’s just more balanced between flavor and spice.

KOREAN PORK TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound pork loin, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup ground fresh chili paste

1 tablespoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

Corn tortillas, warmed

10-ounce bag broccoli and carrot slaw

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, dried garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, green onions, and yellow onions in a bowl. Add pork chunks, mixing well to coat. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and marinate for 2-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Be sure the meat is no longer pink in the center. Lower heat and shred pork with two forks. Simmer to absorb liquid to enhance flavor. For coleslaw, mix broccoli and carrot blend with mayonnaise. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fill bottom half of corn tortillas with coleslaw. Top with shredded pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Baby Corn Split Pea Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Baby Corn Split Pea Soup! For a taste of the country, chocked full of wholesome ingredients and tender smoked ham, look no further. Step off the beaten path of ordinary chicken noodle soup for a bowl of flavorful homemade goodness. Pay attention to the subtle smoky aftertaste of cottage ham that lingers on the tongue. Perhaps the blissfully sweet golden harvest of roasted baby corn meets your satisfaction. Either way, the blend of savory split peas infused among them will leave you asking for a smidgen more.

BABY CORN SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 3/4 cups dry split green peas and lentils, rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups smoked ham, shredded

7-ounce jar baby corn, whole

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, combine split peas and lentils, vegetable broth, water, garlic powder, black pepper, celery seed, and sea salt. Mix together. Add chopped onion and shredded ham. Cover and cook on HIGH for four hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Adjust with more water if soup becomes too thick. Meanwhile, drain baby corn. Pat dry. Take an iron skillet; spray it with nonstick oil. Heat on high temperature. Add baby corn. Gently turn corn as it browns so all sides are evenly roasted. Cut into pieces or leave whole. Add to soup. Lower crockpot setting to LOW. Cook two hours longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm.

Alphabet Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Alphabet Soup! Remember when you were a kid and your mom placed a steaming bowl of alphabet soup in front of you? The first thing I did was grab the spoon and search for the letters in my name. My mother, in her wisdom, would say, “Begin by eating the letters you know don’t count.” Not only was it a lesson in letter recognition, but I ultimately ended up finishing my soup before it got cold. Smart lady. How do you eat Alphabet Soup?

ALPHABET SOUP

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken broth

1 pound boneless chicken tenders

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup mixed vegetables, frozen

3/4 cup celery, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup dried parsley

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup butter

1 cup alphabet pasta

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, combine chicken broth, boneless chicken tenders, yellow onion, mixed vegetables, celery, seasoned salt, black pepper, dried thyme, dried parsley, and bay leaves. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return it back to the slow cooker. Add alphabet pasta and butter. Gently stir to combine. Cook 30 minutes longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.