Ginger Liqueur

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Ginger Liqueur! There’s nothing worse than enjoying a specialty crafted cocktail on a remote tropical island and then returning home with a craving to have it again. That happened to me about 4,500 miles ago. What’s a girl to do? “Why not make it yourself?” my husband quipped. “Sure…easy for you to say”, I responded. Well, long story short, as long as he agreed to help me as the “taste tester”, it was worth a shot. Between the two of us, I’m pretty sure we came up with a winning combination for my new fav, Ginger Liqueur Martini. Cheers!

GINGER LIQUEUR

Ingredients:

2 cups vodka

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup ginger root, diced

1/2 vanilla bean, sliced horizontally and seeds scraped

Orange peel

Instructions:

Take a quart-size jar. Combine vodka, sugar, ginger root, vanilla bean, and orange peel. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Place jar, away from sunlight, in a kitchen cabinet. Swirl the jar to stir the contents every morning and night for one week. Remove the vanilla bean. Repeat swirling twice a day for 3 more days. Strain solids through a fine wire mesh strainer. Filter remaining liquid again through two coffee filters until no solids remain. Bottle the ginger liqueur. Allow it to “mellow” for another day. Store away from sunlight.

Ginger Liqueur Martini:

4 ounces vodka, chilled

1 ounce ginger liqueur

Garnish with crystallized ginger

Instructions:

Place martini glass in the freezer to chill. Remove glass and add chilled vodka. Set aside. Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Pour in ginger liqueur. Allow it to chill for one minute. Shake. Strain the ginger liqueur over vodka into the martini glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger.

Red Chile Garlic Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Red Chili Garlic Chicken! If you are a fan of stir-fry, this sauce is often a staple inspired by the fusion flavors of the Far East. Take a quick peek at the ingredient list to see what I mean: ginger and garlic popular in China, chili peppers from Thailand, Vietnamese soy sauce, and sweet rice vinegar used in Japan. It’s all in there. Personally I’m a fan of the sweet heat mixed with the cashew crunch. Skip the take-out for tonight and try this version for yourself.

RED CHILI GARLIC CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried red chiles

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, boneless and skinless

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup cashews

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

3 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Add clili peppers; cover. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain water. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in medium skillet. Turn heat to high setting and add chicken tenders. Season with sea salt, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. After 3-4 minutes, when chicken turns brown, flip over. Reduce the heat to medium setting and cover. Cook chicken until firm, about 5 minutes longer. The chicken will release itself from the surface when it is ready. Set pan aside. For the sauce, in a medium skillet combine brown sugar, rice vinegar, red wine, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Bring to a gentle boil on medium-high heat. Stir often. Mixture should not foam. Sauce will thicken after 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over chicken tenders. Add drained chiles, cashews, sesame seeds, and green onion snips. Heat through, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. Serve with choice of cooked rice.

Kimchi Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Kimchi Shrimp! Brace yourself for a wickedly sour Korean flavor with a crazy spicy kick. Some say it can be a bit salty, especially if you keep an eye on that sort of thing. Others notice the strong leaning toward fish, which is why I dove head first into this dish by adding naturally sweet shrimp, and of course, butter. Did you just do a double take? Stick around. You may end up on the hook.

KIMCHI SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1/2 cup prepared kimchi, chopped

1 pound frozen cooked jumbo shrimp, thawed

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ginger root, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Romaine lettuce leaves

Green onions, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a mini chopper, pulse the prepared kimchi into a paste. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter. Layer the shrimp in the pan. Add chopped ginger. Sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Cook shrimp for one minute, then flip over. Add the kimchi paste, stirring to coat shrimp. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve over romaine lettuce leaves. Garnish with green onion snips.

Butter Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Butter Chicken! At first glance, this dish looks surprisingly similar to curry chicken, doesn’t it? Sooo, what is the difference, you wonder. The secret is in the name. It’s made with butter! The tomatoes, coconut milk, and seasonings are cooked slow enough to transform the sauce into a gravy-like consistency with a nice kick of flavor. Also, by slow-cooking the chicken, it becomes fork tender and juicy. Ahhh, now I have your attention. Sounds like a grocery list is in order. Bravo. Your family will thank you.

BUTTER CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken breasts, skinless and cut into chunks

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

14.5 ounce can coconut milk

6 ounce can tomato paste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Dollop of Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, add chicken chunks, chopped onion, diced jalapeño, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Dot with cubes of butter. In a medium bowl, stir together curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Add coconut milk and tomato paste. Whisk to combine. Pour over chicken mixture. Cover slow cooker; heat contents on LOW for 5 hours. Serve with cooked rice and naan bread. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

No-Bake Lime Coconut Truffles

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: No-Bake Lime Coconut Truffles! Here’s a festive treat that satisfies the desire for something sweet enough without the overkill. This time white chocolate becomes the confectionery of choice. Instead of nuts, candied ginger and lime zest become key ingredients to complement the tropical tones of coconut. One might suggest these truffles resemble tiny snowballs, if not for the lime zest. To serve, simply place each truffle in a fluted foil or paper candy cup and arrange on a decorative platter. It promises to bring “Oohs” and “Ahhs” as a crowd-pleaser.

NO-BAKE LIME COCONUT TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

1 cup white chocolate chips

2 cups sweetened coconut, shredded

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, grated

1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Lime zest, for garnish

Instructions:

Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until completely smooth. Mix in sweetened shredded coconut. Fold in crystallized ginger and lime zest. Add lime juice to the mixture. Form into 16 small mounds. Garnish with more lime zest. Chill until set.

Lime Cilantro Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Lime Cilantro Dressing! The first time I tasted this unique dressing with a southwestern kick, I wanted to put down my fork and literally guzzle it by the spoonful. Then again, I’m a fan of fresh cilantro. It’s one of those herbs, I’ve discovered, people either love it or hate it. If you can’t handle it….well, I’ll see you tomorrow when I bake something sweet and decadent. For those who choose to remain, grab a spoon and hang on!

LIME CILANTRO DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in quarters

1 garlic clove

3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup natural honey

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Combine the jalapeño pepper, garlic clove, and ginger root into a mini chopper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add lime juice, natural honey, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to mix. Add cilantro leaves. Pulse a little longer to blend. With the mini chopper on Low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing until it is completely blended. It is now ready to serve.

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.

Ramen Noodle Shrimp and Egg

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Ramen Noodle Shrimp and Egg! So often, in college, a regular diet may consist of ramen noodles in lieu of the standardized meal plan. I remember buying ramen noodles by the case for my son during his freshman and sophomore years. Sure, it stretches the budget for other essentials, but in the long run if you can ditch the salt-laden seasoning packet and add a few veggies, it’ll hike the nutritional value with a burst of flavor as well. Try sautéed shrimp and leeks. (Frozen vegetables are also a cheap option because a little goes a long way.) Add red pepper flakes for spice and toasted sesame seeds for crunch. It transforms the dish into a main course meal.

RAMEN NOODLE SHRIMP AND EGG

Ingredients:

6-10 frozen precooked jumbo shrimp, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1/2 cup leeks, sliced

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 package ramen noodles, discard seasoning packet

2 eggs, soft-boiled and cut in half

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Sesame oil, to taste

Garlic and onion chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add jumbo shrimp. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Turn to coat both sides. Sauté shrimp 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Warm one more tablespoon olive oil in skillet. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, and sliced leeks. Stir for one minute. Add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add ramen noodles. Using a fork, break noodles apart after 2 minutes. When done, transfer noodles to two soup bowls. Divide the broth mixture between them. Add sautéed shrimp and sift-boiled eggs. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with garlic and onion chives. Serve immediately.

Devils on Horseback

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Devils on Horseback! The name itself is a conversation starter. I know, right. The colors themselves resemble the “dark side” of our personalities. The small savory dish is made with pitted dates, smoked almonds, and crispy bacon or prosciutto. It’s pretty simple to prepare and is often served as an appetizer at social gatherings. Popular as a finger food, this hors d’oeuvre is perfect for small conversation at backyard parties. Watch yourself. Eating too many may find you a little mischievous.

DEVILS ON HORSEBACK

Ingredients:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup brown sugar

24 pitted dates, whole

24 smoked almonds, whole

3-ounce package prosciutto, deli sliced and cut in half lengthwise or 12 slices thin bacon, cut in half width wise

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a shallow bowl, combine soy sauce and ground ginger. Mix well. In a second dish, place brown sugar. Take a pitted date, open carefully, and stuff it with a smoked almond. Wrap the date with a half slice of prosciutto or half bacon slice. Dip it into the soy sauce mixture. Roll it in brown sugar and place seam side down into the prepared baking dish. Repeat until all dates are prepared. Bake in the preheated oven until the prosciutto or bacon is crisp, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature.