Original Marinara Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Original Marinara Sauce! Marinara isn’t just a fancy name for spaghetti sauce, it actually lacks one key ingredient that sets it apart. You guessed it: MEAT. Basically, marinara is a tomato-based sauce infused with herbs and spices. It can be prepared very easily in less than half an hour. Personally, I find it perfect for a meatless meal. I like chunks of tomatoes, the hint of garlic, and a slight kick of red pepper spice. Look again at the snapshot. Perhaps it’s time to make marinara at your house.

ORIGINAL MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can Italian Roma tomatoes, diced with sauce

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm olive oil. Add minced garlic; sauté for one minute until slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Add diced Roma tomatoes with sauce, fresh oregano, chopped basil, sea salt, marjoram, agave nectar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer sauce until thickened, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Marinara sauce will be chunky and thick. Serve with cooked pasta.

Ketchup From Scratch

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Ketchup From Scratch! Many gourmet burger joints are joining the health revolution by opting out with in-house condiments. For those who truly appreciate knowing exactly what’s in the food they eat, here is a novel recipe for homemade ketchup without high fructose corn syrup and extra preservatives. It’s incredibly simple to make and can be prepared in about 30 minutes. The taste, you ask? OMG! I never thought I’d actually consider ketchup a veggie, but now I do. Enough said.

KETCHUP FROM SCRATCH

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

28-ounce can whole Italian Roma tomatoes in juice

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Warm olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Cook until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add chopped garlic, chopped ginger, red pepper flakes, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir for 2 minutes. Add the Italian Roma tomatoes in juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The ketchup will thicken and appear shiny. Remove from heat. Blend until smooth. Cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders! Even though the weather won’t cooperate, you can still have that “just grilled” taste of tender pork in your own oven. Broil it instead. The blend of Jamaican spice creates a hot spice mixture that will jazz up any meal. Go heavy or go light. It’s not just for meats, “don’t cha know”. Dry rub fish, shrimp, veggies, or tofu. The diversity will amaze you.

JAMAICAN JERK PORK TENDERS

Ingredients:

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds pork tenders, cut into chunks

Instructions:

Combine cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, ginger, garlic powder, allspice, and sea salt in a shallow dish. Mix to blend. Using a mini chopper, combine green onion and yellow onion. Chop very fine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic wine vinegar. Purée until smooth. Add red pepper flakes. Mix with the spices in the shallow dish. Dredge pork in marinade, coating both sides. Cover and marinate for eight hours or overnight. Skewer pork tenders and place on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, with oven rack in the top position. Broil on high 5 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Hot and Saucy Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Hot and Saucy Meatballs! For an amazing appetizer or afternoon snack, simply throw everything together for quick work. Bake in the oven or simmer in the crockpot on a low setting. Obviously, if you prefer to make the meatballs from scratch, be my guest. I opted for a simpler method today. Either way, once the meatballs are cooking, you can get on to other things. Such as the latest episode of “The Voice” on DVR. Don’t judge me.

HOT AND SAUCY MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 honey

1 cup ketchup

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

26 ounces Italian meatballs, fully cooked

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add Italian meatballs. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.

Dirty Kettle Chips

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Dirty Kettle Chips! Get set to trigger your brain’s pleasure center. I came upon this treat after surviving a bout with the flu bug. For days all I could do was crawl into bed and sleep, drink plenty of water, then satisfy my hunger pangs with spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup. Obviously when my appetite returned, I discovered there weren’t too many groceries in the house. Voilà, Dirty Kettle Chips were born. One bite was all it took to begin craving more. You should try it.

DIRTY KETTLE CHIPS

Ingredients:

8-ounce bag kettle-cooked potato chips

6-ounces provolone cheese, sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Green onion snips, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an iron skillet with nonstick oil. Arrange potato chips in a single layer overlapping a bit. Next add provolone cheese on top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Top with cracked black pepper. Repeat for second layer. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts and edges turn slightly brown. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce! Take a deep breath and try not to drool as you look at this tender slab of pork ribs. Focus instead on the incredible homemade bourbon barbecue sauce. It is so good you may want to slurp it with a spoon. Go ahead, permission granted. Swirl the tangy goodness around in your mouth so you can appreciate the savory sweet thick sauce with a surprising kick of red pepper. Underlying all this magnificence are hints of oak, toffee, dark fruit, and anise from bourbon whiskey. Well done.

SAVORY BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey*

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark molasses

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine ketchup, bourbon, brown sugar, dark molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended. Transfer bourbon barbecue sauce to a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for two minutes. Reduce heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about half and thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Carefully pour sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*I receive no recompense from recommending Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Edamame Spicy Stix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Edamame Spicy Stix! You’ve probably been to a restaurant where the server placed a bowl of edamame on the table, in lieu of the bread basket. Next to it was an empty bowl for placing the discarded pods. If it was a first for you, no worries. Friends, this is one time you are allowed to eat with your fingers. Truth. Simply pick up one pod with your fingers and put it in your mouth, not letting go. Bite down with your teeth and slide the beans out as you pull the pod away. Tender green beans, about the size of peas, will drop onto your tongue. Chew and enjoy the flavor sensation. Easily toss the pod into the empty bowl and reach for another. Who would’ve thought eating edamame could be this much fun?

EDAMAME SPICY STIX

Ingredients:

12-ounce bag frozen Edamame with sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, divided

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Instructions:

Microwave edamame according to package directions. Let stand for one minute. Open package and set aside. In a cast iron skillet, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced garlic cloves, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and add cooked edamame. Transfer to a serving bowl. Fit with remaining butter. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Serve immediately. Remove shells before eating. Do not consume pods.

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob! Here’s an alternative to stovetop corn on the cob or microwave cooking. Throw the corn on the grill while the burgers are on their way to being well-done. You won’t believe the incredible taste. Or will you? If the results are slightly blackened or charred in spots, so much the better. That’s what makes it taste so good. By leaving the corn in the husk, natural steaming keeps the corn moist rather than dry and brittle. And if it rains? By all means, get out the kitchen torch and improvise. Toppings still apply.

GRILLED CORN ON THE COB

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, in husks

1 teaspoon sea salt

Butter to taste

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning*

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Peel the husks without removing at the base. Strip away the corn silk. Fold the husks back into place. Fill a bowl with cold water. Add sea salt. Submerge the corn for 10 minutes. Heat the grill to medium-high. Remove corn and let drain. Place on the grill for 15 minutes. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally. Allow the corn to get slightly charred in places. When done, transfer corn cobs to a serving platter. Slather with butter. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning.

Overstuffed Pineapple Boat

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Overstuffed Pineapple Boat! If you’re looking for the WOW-factor for the next social gathering, bookmark this recipe for a standing ovation. It’s that good! Not only does it satisfy the meat and seafood lover in all of us, it also has “healthy” written all over it. You gotta admit, the pineapple presentation is a show-stopper. And the best part is, with a little planning, anyone can pull it off.

OVERSTUFFED PINEAPPLE BOAT

Ingredients:

1 whole ripe pineapple

1 pound frozen cooked shrimp; thawed, tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant rice, brown or white

1 1/2 cups fine home style noodles

10-ounce can chunk chicken breast, drained

14-ounce chicken broth

4 green onions, chopped

8-ounce can of slivered water chestnuts, drained

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soybean seasoning sauce

Instructions:

Cut pineapple lengthwise; cut around the inside, following the edge to create a “boat”. Do not pierce the underside. Cut the pineapple flesh into chunks. Scoop out and place in a bowl. Set pineapple aside. In a deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove sautéed shrimp and place on paper towel-lined plate. Melt butter in the same skillet. Do not burn. Add white rice and thin noodles. Coat well. Cook them over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in chicken broth and chicken chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Add chopped green onion with tops, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and soybean seasoning sauce. Mix well. Gently fold in sautéed shrimp and pineapple chunks, to taste. Refrigerate leftover pineapple in a covered container. Fill pineapple boats. Serve on platters. Garnish with cilantro leaf.