Thai Peanut Noodles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Thai Peanut Noodles! Take advantage of that extra serving, or two, of leftover spaghetti noodles in the fridge right now. As long as you kept them separate from the sauce, you have the option to eliminate one step in making Thai Peanut Noodles to eat with a sandwich for lunch. If not, then boil up a batch of spaghetti first and let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. I like the spicy kick of red pepper flakes blended with the smooth creaminess of chunky peanut butter. The fresh green onion bits give it an added crunch. Have I piqued your taste buds?

THAI PEANUT NOODLES

Ingredients:

2 servings of plain spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ginger powder

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

6 tablespoons green onions, sliced

Instructions:

Make spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and cool. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine chunky peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add garlic powder, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Blend well. Add noodles and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with green onion bits and serve.

Mandarin Orange Side Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Mandarin Orange Side Salad! Whenever I serve this colorful side salad to my guests, they rave about the dressing. I create my own version of infused garlic oil, but it can be purchased at your local grocery. Dark, leafy watercress can also be found at the area Farmers Market this time of year. A little bit goes a long way in adding a surprisingly light peppery taste. When partnered with oranges and tomatoes, it refreshes the palate for the next course. If you like a tastier and fresher alternative to an ordinary garden salad, give this one a whirl.

MANDARIN ORANGE SIDE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup watercress

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

18 mandarin orange segments

1/4 cup bacon pieces

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Divide the romaine lettuce, watercress, cherry tomatoes, mandarin oranges, bacon, almonds, and cheese evenly between 6 salad bowls. Serve chilled with dressing. (See dressing recipe below.)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup garlic vegetable oil

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

Instructions:

Combine garlic vegetable oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, sea salt, dry mustard, and onion. Whisk well until blended. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Jambalaya with Garlic Mussels

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Jambalaya with Garlic Mussels! Traditional Flavor, Deep South flavor, intense flavor. Your mouth will thank me. Everything you need for dinner is in this hearty dish. All you want to add is your favorite jazz music to feel the unique culture and staple food of New Orleans. For the seafood lover as well as those who crave veggies, try something a little different this week when you hanker after a taste of Louisiana. “Laissez les bon temps rouler.” (Let the good times roll.)

JAMBALAYA WITH GARLIC MUSSELS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cup egg noodles

1 cup minute brown rice

1/3 cup onion, chopped

15 ounce can chicken broth

8 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, with sauce

1 cup okra, frozen

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 pound kielbasa sausage, pre-cooked

1/4 pound shrimp, pre-cooked

1 pound mussels in tomato garlic sauce, frozen

Instructions:

Melt butter in large skillet on low-medium heat. Add egg noodles, instant brown rice, and chopped onion. Stir to coat well; brown to a golden color but avoid burning. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes and green chiles with sauce. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook okra in microwave for 2 minutes, together with soy sauce, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. Heat shrimp and sausage. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat mussels on high for 4 minutes; reduce and simmer 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. When rice blend is cooked, add okra mixture to large skillet. Add sausage and shrimp to large skillet. Toss gently to blend. Serve jambalaya with mussels and sauce in a bowl.

Garlic Clove Little Smokies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a lunch box companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable party food for any occasion. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?

GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup catsup

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

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

Olive Tapenade

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Olive Tapenade! Here’s a nice prelude to an evening meal. Forego the usual focaccia bread and herbed olive oil for a southern France hors d’oeuvre instead. By using an exotic mixture of olives and spices, it creates a versatile condiment for crackers, bread, cheese, and vegetables. Later on, serve it over pasta or fish as another option. Whatever you choose, seek adventure. You won’t be disappointed in the mellow salty garlic flavor lingering long into the night.

OLIVE TAPENADE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green olives with pimentos

1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

2 tablespoons capers

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients. Pulse in a food processor for several minutes. Scrape sides and repeat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve with crusty artisan bread or pita chips. Tastes great spread over cream cheese for party flavor.

Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

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.

Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes! Turn ordinary tomatoes into a savory side dish with earthy vigor. Have you experienced roasted garlic lately? Don’t hate me if I describe it as smooth and sweet as a dab of butter. Having said that, I can tell by the look in your eye, you’re gonna roast more garlic cloves than I pictured here. Go for it. By quick-roasting vegetables on high heat in the oven, you’ll notice a natural hint of smokiness that satisfies the palate. Although they turn from shiny smooth to a dull luster when finished, the taste is what will win you over. I promise you this, here’s a down-home recipe that will not disappoint.

GARLIC ROASTED THYME TOMATOES

Ingredients:

6 medium tomatoes

6 cloves garlic, peeled

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Rub tomatoes with olive oil and place in a baking pan. Add garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season, to taste, with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, occasionally brushing tomatoes with olive oil from the pan. Skins may split. Remove from oven. Spoon tomatoes, garlic, and thyme into serving bowls. Drizzle with pan juices. Serve warm.

Jazzy Jerk Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Jazzy Jerk Sauce! Get fired up as you crank up the heat with this homemade habanero pepper sauce. Choose those festive little lantern-shaped peppers from the local market or nearby health food resource, don a pair of vinyl gloves, and fill your kitchen with aromas from the Caribbean Islands. As it cooks, let your imagination run wild for the condiment that sends the temperature rising!

JAZZY JERK SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

1 cup baby carrots, chopped

2 cups water

10-12 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add habanero peppers, orange juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*Serving suggestion: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies!