Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits! Say whaaat? Somebody needs to tell me what that word means. Umami. Evidently it is the taste bud beyond the famous four: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Oh yeah, taste buds we’ve been familiar with since we first began to put food in our mouths. This “umami” envelopes earthy, meaty, and savory. Examples of foods that reflect this are soy sauce, tomatoes, cheeses, anchovies, and cured pork products. Chorizo falls into the latter category, you probably concluded. Sooo, are we good?

UMAMI BOMB CHORIZO GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grits, uncooked

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 chorizo sausage links, casing removed

1 tablespoon red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon green pepper, diced

1 tablespoon red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, crumbled

1 hard-boiled egg

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Set aside. Remove the casing of the chorizo. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Add chorizo. Sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the meat with a fork as it cooks. Add red pepper, green pepper, red onion, and corn. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, transfer cheesy grits to a shallow dish. Add chorizo and sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a hard-boiled egg. Garnish with cayenne pepper, to taste.

Mango Avocado Radish Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Mango Avocado Radish Salad! You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat”. In essence, food becomes a source of energy or sluggishness. Personally, I want fuel for my body that benefits brain function, metabolism, eliminates anxiety, and extinguishes inflammation. It’s a no-brainer. Too often junk food includes processed foods and artificial sweeteners. Sure, it may be easy and convenient. But by eating whole foods that look and smell amazing, you’re sending a great message to your body that says, “Honey, you’re worth it.”

MANGO AVOCADO RADISH SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup organic frozen mango chunks, thawed

1 ripe avocado, pitted and skin discarded

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon tajin seasoning

2 radishes, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons lime olive oil

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Chop the mango chunks into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on a platter. Chop the peeled avocado into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a shallow dish. Drizzle with lime juice. Sprinkle with tajin seasoning. Arrange avocado around the mango on the platter. Trim the radishes; slice very thin. Insert among the mango and avocado chunks. Crumble the feta cheese over all. Sprinkle on more tajin seasoning, if desired. Drizzle lime olive oil over all. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve chilled.

Fig and Pig Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Fig and Pig Flatbread! Make life easy tonight with an amazing twist on this sweet and salty sensation. Everyone loves bacon. I get it. And the fig preserves provide a sweet after taste that mingles with the natural crunch of crispy crust and salty meat. The gooey cheese is like the icing on a cake. With only a few ingredients, preparation is a snap leaving more time for settling in front of the television with a glass of wine and your favorite program. You can thank me later.

FIG AND PIG FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon corn meal

1/2 cup fig and muscat wine preserves

4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush both sides of flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle corn meal on the bottom side of the flatbread. Place onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Bake 5 minutes; remove from oven. Spread fig and muscat wine preserves evenly over flatbread, leaving a crust edge. Arrange crumbled bacon as next layer. Scatter mozzarella and feta cheese over top. Bake 10 minutes longer until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve with a side salad.

Feta Morning Fried Egg

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Feta Morning Fried Egg! Thank goodness this is a healthy way to begin my day. Honestly, I think I might be seriously addicted to it. Remember when your kids were little and could go days eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches? We’d roll our eyes as the pediatrician assured us they would be fine. “It’s a phase”, he’d say, “You’ll see.” And he was right. My kids grew up to be healthy, active teens, and so on. But I’m an adult. And I’ve been making this breakfast for 3 weeks now. Granted, the avocados are in abundance along with the price of eggs being so affordable I feel as though the grocery store is practically paying me to take them home. Do me a favor, try this recipe yourself and give me your feedback. I’d like to know it’s just not me going through a midlife crisis.

FETA MORNING FRIED EGG

Ingredients: (Serves two)

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread, toasted and buttered

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

2 eggs, sunny side up

1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

2 tablespoons herbed feta cheese, crumbled

1 Roma tomato, sliced

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Green onion, for garnish

Instructions:

While quinoa bread is toasting, cook two eggs in melted butter or nonstick oil, over medium heat, according to taste. Set aside. Butter toast. Divide avocado slices between toast. Slide cooked egg onto avocado toast. Sprinkle with herbed feta cheese. Garnish with green onion strips. Serve with sliced Roma tomatoes sprinkled with Italian seasoning.

Date Chile Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Date Chile Salad! One of the best kept secrets in cooking is infused olives oils. It kicks things up a notch. The flavors intensify ordinary ingredients by beginning with organic and aromatic extra virgin olive oils, which in turn, are infused with delightful natural flavors. Some oils contain the essence of herbs, while others may be crushed with fresh citrus or toasted seeds. Be adventurous. Visit a specialty store where premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold. Most stores offer samples to encourage “taste testing”. One of my favorites is Lime Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. Another is Sicilian Lemon Olive Oil paired with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar. Recently I added an Italian Black Truffle Oil to my collection. I was told it tastes divine drizzled over popcorn or as a finishing oil on pizza. I can’t wait!

DATE CHILE SALAD

Ingredients:

2 navel oranges, pith and peel removed

1/3 cup dried dates, chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 red or green jalapeño pepper, sliced into rings

1/2 serrano chile pepper, sliced into rings

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1-2 tablespoons lime olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Slice oranges into thin rounds. Arrange on two salad plates or bowls. Divide chopped dates between them. Sprinkle on crumbled feta cheese. Add jalapeño and serrano pepper rings. Tuck in mint leaves. Drizzle lime olive oil over salads. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve.

Tomato Feta Egg Au Gratin

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Tomato Feta Egg Au Gratin! I’m all for trying new things, so when I saw this recipe featured at Williams-Sonoma, I knew it had to be good. The fact that I already had all the ingredients on hand was sheer bliss. I confess, I may have tweaked the original by adding a buttery crouton topping, but that’s just me. You may do without. As everything warms together in the oven, the aroma arising is staggering. How much longer? There’s something about serving individual casseroles that make a dish eloquent, wouldn’t you agree?

TOMATO FETA EGG AU GRATIN

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes and juice

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup light cream

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4-8 eggs

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 slices bread, torn into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, marjoram, and oregano; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes. Stir in mustard, red pepper flakes, and light cream. Season with sea salt and pepper. Divide tomato mixture evenly among 4 small au gratin dishes. Carefully crack 1 or 2 eggs into each cocotte and use a spoon to gently swirl egg white into tomato mixture, without breaking yolk. Season yolks lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the bread crumbs in the melted butter until completely absorbed. Divide among the 4 casseroles. Bake until egg is cooked to your liking, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with feta cheese and parsley. Serve.

Gyro-Mania

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Gyro-mania! The debate continues…do you pronounce the sandwich like the Greeks, “(h)year-oh”, or the American standby, “Jai-roh”? Either way, it’s a taste sensation. Think about it: rotisserie meat crispy shaved into strips wrapped into a soft pita pocket topped with onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. The bold foodie will pick it up with both hands and devour it until not a crumb remains. Others may eat it with a fork. Whatever you choose, with Eastern Mediterranean spices, this sandwich is not for the meek.

GYRO-MANIA

Ingredients:

1 box Kronos Gyros Kit*

1 Vidalia onion, sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tomato, chopped

1 cucumber, diced

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Watercress sprig, for garnish

Dill weed, for garnish

Instructions:

In an iron skillet, lightly grill both sides of pita bread on medium heat until light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Set aside. Add olive oil to skillet and sauté onions until tender. Remove and set aside. Add gyro slices of meat to skillet. Heat both sides on medium heat for 20 seconds per side. In a small bowl, mix Greek yogurt with tzatziki sauce. Stir until creamy. To assemble gyro sandwich, top pita bread with gyro meat slices, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. Garnish with watercress leaves and dill. Enjoy!

* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of using Kronos Gyro Kit in this recipe.

Mouth-Watering Strawberry Mint Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Mouth-Watering Strawberry Mint Salad! Before the frost sets in, I wanted to take advantage of the lingering crop of fresh mint in the herb garden. What better way than to give it center stage in this appetizing side salad? It’s refreshing, light, aromatic, and appealing to the eye. Experience your first bite through the sense of sight, then follow your heart to the nearest market and pick up 3 simple ingredients to create your own masterpiece.

MOUTH-WATERING STRAWBERRY MINT SALAD

Ingredients:

1 quart of fresh strawberries

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

3 sprigs of fresh mint leaves

Instructions:

Rinse strawberries and pat dry. Remove tops and discard. Slice strawberries into quarters. Place portions into chilled salad bowls. Spoon feta crumbles over strawberries. Tuck mint leaves throughout. Serve.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Noodle Rigatoni! When time is of the essence, and you need a fulfilling meal, this dish can be made in minutes. While the wine is slightly chilling, and you wish to keep the kitchen cool, everything works together between stovetop and microwave. Your tastebuds will be satisfied without salad or bread as well since this meal-in-a-bowl hits the spot.

NOODLE RIGATONI

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fennel

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1 8-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, cut-up

2 cups of Italian Roma tomatoes in sauce, cut-up

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

16 ounces rigatoni noodles

Instructions:

In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage until crumbled and cooked through. Drain and add garlic powder, pepper, salt, fennel, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and marjoram. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. Warm separately the cut up tomatoes and the marinated artichoke hearts. Keep warm. Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart pan of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until tender; about 10 minutes. Stir often. It should be firm. Drain pasta. Place portions of rigatoni in individual serving bowls. Spoon tomatoes in sauce over noodles. Arrange artichoke hearts around edges. Lastly add crumbled Italian sausage over top. Garnish with feta cheese.