Surf ‘n Turf Lettuce Cups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Surf ‘n Turf Lettuce Cups! This is one of those freezer meals that you can throw together in a flash. Precooked frozen shrimp and leftover sirloin tip roast are the main attractions. By adding spices, fresh herbs, and a special dipping sauce, this hearty meal knocks it out of the park! The whole idea behind the lettuce cup is keeping it simple. You deserve all the praise!

SURF ‘N TURF LETTUCE CUPS

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, precooked and thawed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 pound sirloin tip roast, shredded

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Blend

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1/2 cup French Fried Onions

Boston Lettuce leaves

For Dipping Sauce:

6-8 dried peppers, sliced

1/4 teaspoon fried garlic

1 wedge of lime

1/2 teaspoon honey

2-4 tablespoons Golden Mountain Sauce

2-4 tablespoons fish sauce

Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Remove tails and discard. Dab shrimp with paper towels. In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add roast beef to same skillet using pan drippings. Season with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend and Golden Mountain sauce. Stir. Reduce to simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed. Return shrimp to pan and gently combine with beef. Wash Boston Lettuce; separate leaves, being careful not to tear. Arrange lettuce in a bowl. Fill lettuce cups with shrimp and beef mixture. Garnish with French Fried Onions. Serve with Dipping Sauce, which can also be used as a dressing.

Kosher Salt Dill Pickles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Kosher Salt Dill Pickles! When I visited the Farmers Market this week, I was impressed by the cute little cucumbers in abundant supply. The fact that my dill was showcasing its yellow flowery blossoms in proud display earlier that morning nudged me to take advantage of both. Canning a jar of classic dill pickles was about to become the focus of the day. So….when choosing a variety of cucumber to pickle remember three things: 1.) Choose small cukes about the size of your thumb. 2.) Make sure they have a thicker skin in order to maintain a crunchy snap. 3.) And remember to ask for the ones that were just freshly picked. Time is of the essence. The crucial time to pickle is as soon as practical after picking. This recipe will make one jar, which is exactly what I wanted.

KOSHER SALT DILL PICKLES

Ingredients:

1 pound pickling cucumbers; cut off tips of both ends and slice in half

2 fresh dill sprigs, with heads

1 cup filtered water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a clean quart jar, place one dill sprig and one garlic clove in bottom of jar. Arrange cucumber halves against the side of the jar working your way to the center. Do not crush. Add one more dill sprig. Pour cooled juice into the jar. Be sure to include the spices. Stop liquid within 1/4″ of top. Seal and store in refrigerator for 12 hours before opening. Keep refrigerated.

Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches! Here’s a combination you will truly enjoy: crisp sliced cucumbers with juicy sweet strawberries. Together they come across as eye candy. Whip up a creamy spread of sea salt butter, Neufchâtel cheese, and Italian seasonings to slather across the top of a toasted slice of artisan rye bread. Add a sprig of dill, sprinkled with tiny thyme leaves to crown things off. The results may find you believing you embarked on a journey through the charming countryside of Tuscany.

CUCUMBER STRAWBERRY SANDWICH

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons sea salt butter, softened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved

2-4 slices rye bread, toasted

Fresh dill sprig, for garnish

Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Cream together Neufchâtel cheese, butter, and yogurt until smooth. Fold in Italian seasoning and dill to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Slice cucumber; halve strawberries. Toast rye bread; slather with seasoned cheese spread. Top with cucumber slices and strawberries. Add dill sprig and thyme leaves for garnish.

Dill Pickle Cheese Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Dill Pickle Cheese Spread! You’ve heard of pregnant women craving dill pickles, toddlers munching on them, bar patrons dunking a spear in a mug of beer, and families gobbling down an order of fried dill pickle chips. So what’s the buzz? Why is everyone going crazy over dill pickles? First of all, they practically have no calories at all. They have a crunch that makes your mouth smile. Dill pickles ease in digestion, heartburn, and bloating. Plus, their saltiness helps the body absorb water. I’m sure you can come up with a few reasons of your own.

DILL PICKLE CHEESE SPREAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup dill pickle relish, drained

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Assorted vegetables, crackers, and pretzels

Instructions:

Combine cream cheese, dill pickle relish, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Beat until smooth. Fold in cheddar cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with veggies, crackers, and pretzels. Also good on deli sandwiches.

Lox and Bagels

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Lox and Bagels! Whenever I serve this for an impassioned brunch, I make an extra effort to use top-quality ingredients. For starters, I choose an over-sized gourmet sesame seed bagel freshly baked that morning at the local Bagel Shoppe. The lox is traditionally smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, sliced thin. It smells divine when I break the seal. The creamy Neufchâtel cheese can either be plain or infused with fresh dill. Herbs make everything better, in my opinion. Red onion slices add a slightly sweet taste while the imported nonpareil capers liven up the open face creation with a salty punch that shatters like a fireball in your mouth. Well done!

LOX AND BAGELS

Ingredients:

2 sesame bagels, split and toasted

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

1/4 red onion, sliced

4 ounces applewood smoked salmon

2 tablespoons imported capers, nonpareil

Fresh dill sprigs

Instructions:

Mix the Neufchâtel cheese and Greek yogurt until smooth, light, and creamy. Slather onto a toasted bagel. Top with red onion slice, smoked salmon pieces, and imported capers. Garnish with fresh dill sprig.

Delicious Dill Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Delicious Dill Dip! “Remember to eat your veggies.” We’ve all ignored that inner voice that tends to remind us not to reach for a second cookie. So today we’re going to make eating vegetables FUN! This dip is so yummy, you can scoop it up with cucumber spears, celery sticks, baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, or cauliflower. But don’t stop there. The fresh dill even complements a toasted bagel, which you’ll see later on.

DELICIOUS DILL DIP

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon celery flakes

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill

Instructions:

Mix thoroughly yogurt and mayonnaise. Add sea salt, celery seed, onion powder, celery flakes, and chopped onion; blend well. Fold in fresh dill. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Oyster Snack Crackers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Oyster Snack Crackers! When you get that craving for something slightly salty partnered with a crunchy snack, turn to these little gems made from basic oyster crackers. Add seasonings and oil; bake and store in an airtight container. I literally sprinkle them on homemade soups, organic salads, and sometimes the palm of my hand. In a pinch, I’ve crushed them as a coating for baked chicken or fish. It’s all up to you.

OYSTER SNACK CRACKERS

Ingredients:

16-ounce package of oyster crackers

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup olive oil

1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Take a one gallon ziplock bag. Pour oyster crackers into bag. In a glass measuring cup, combine butter, olive oil, ranch seasoning mix, dill weed, onion powder, and lemon pepper. Stir well. Pour over crackers. Seal the bag and toss to coat, alternating every 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a baking sheet. Form single layer. Bake 10 minutes; toss and bake 10 minutes longer. Do not burn. Let cool and then store in an airtight container. Will keep for weeks.

Vegan Charcuterie Board

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to bring to the next holiday party. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and other festive occasions. Check it out!

VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

Carrot sticks

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced

Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers

Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers.

Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Nigella Seed Cheese Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Nigella Seed Cheesies! One of the benefits of making friends in the blogosphere is meeting other foodies who share the same love of cooking….and eating! This recipe comes directly to you courtesy of Lyn at http://lynzrealcooking.com/2015/10/28

She posted this wonderfully cheesy snack and it went viral! Because it is called “Cheesies”, you can use a wide variety of cheese options, including your own personal favorites. Thanks, Lyn!

NIGELLA SEED CHEESE BITES

Ingredients for Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup butter, softened

1-8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

Ingredients for Filling:

2 cups Nigella seed string cheese

1/2 cup Colby cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix well. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for one hour. Remove and divide into four equal-sized balls. Roll one ball at a time into a flat shape larger than a pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and fold ends to seal. With seam side down, transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Using a knife, slit each loaf where it will be cut into serving pieces. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve.*

*As a garnish, I sprinkled a mixture of Parmesan cheese and dill weed over the top during the last 5 minutes of baking.