Orange-Tomato Pico de Gallo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Orange-Tomato Pico de Gallo! Chunky sauces and relishes make a wonderful addition to any meal, in my opinion. First of all, they can be substituted for a vegetable side dish. They also serve as a nice condiment for stuffing into tacos or for sharing a plate of scrambled eggs. The vibrant colors will even catch the eye of a fussy-eater, if you know what I mean. Pico de Gallo compliments seafood, pork, chicken, and beef as well as any vegetarian star attraction. Better make a batch for dinner tonight. It’s a healthy option you can thank me for later.

ORANGE-TOMATO PICO DE GALLO

Ingredients:

4 navel oranges, peeled and chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup red onion, roughly chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons orange peel, grated

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine chopped navel oranges, diced tomatoes, roughly chopped red onions, and finely chopped jalapeños. Toss gently. Sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, ground ginger, grated orange peel, and chopped cilantro. Stir gently to combine thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Autumn Spice Banana Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Autumn Spice Banana Bread! Whenever people want to give me a gift of a scented candle, I always choose bakery aromas over floral ones. Buttery Caramel Corn, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Vanilla Frosted Cupcake, to name a few. I confess, I could have a love affair with cinnamon, maple, ginger, or cardamom. My knees grow weak just thinking about it. Perhaps that is one reason Autumn spices make me crazy while throwing caution to the wind and willpower out the door. I scrape the bowl leaving just enough batter to taste in a teaspoon. It’s how you know the results will be amazing; at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

AUTUMN SPICE BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

3 bananas, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a bowl, combine mashed bananas, mayonnaise, and egg. Mix well. In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sea salt. Stir in the banana mixture, just until moistened. Fold in flaked coconut and shredded carrots. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Rest for 10 minutes. Remove banana bread from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Ingredients for Frosting:

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2-3 tablespoons light cream

Roasted pumpkin seeds and crushed pecans, for garnish

Instructions for Frosting:

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and unsalted butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and sea salt. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons light cream. Frosting will be thick, but spreadable. Spread the frosting over the completely cooled banana bread. Sprinkle generously with roasted pumpkin seeds and crushed pecans.

Rum-Topped Ginger Beer Float

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Rum-Topped Ginger Beer Float! I gotta tell you, there are some fantastic-tasting nonalcoholic ginger beers on the market right now. One of my absolute favorites is made with organic agave and extracts of chili pepper, coriander, cardamom, lime, and orange. Don’t get me wrong, ginger is still the star attraction. These flavors go extremely well in a Mexican Mule with chile pepper-infused tequila. But that’s another story. I went with a much lighter version of ginger beer for a refreshingly light twist on an old favorite. Granted, with a dark rum floater, it definitely has a boozy punch. Obviously, this is an adult beverage and should not be served to anyone under the age of 21.

RUM-TOPPED GINGER BEER FLOAT

Ingredients:

3 scoops vanilla bean ice cream

6.8-ounce bottle ginger beer, chilled

1.5 ounce spiced dark rum

Lime wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

Place ice cream in a glass or mason jar. Slowly pour ginger beer over ice cream. Squeeze a touch of lime juice into the glass. Top with a spiced dark rum floater. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve with a spoon. Cheers!

Your Grandma’s Molasses Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Your Grandma’s Molasses Cookies! For years I was on a quest to bake soft, chewy cookies. No matter what I did, it seemed as soon as the cookies cooled, they turned crunchy rather than chewy. Don’t get me wrong, they still disappeared in my house because…well, kids seem to love homemade cookies no matter how they turn out. Then, the other day I was rifling through a stack of recipes scribbled on random slips of paper tucked away in a ziplock bag. I came across the familiar handwriting of my beloved Grandma Frieda. I remembered visiting her in the summertime when she’d bring out the Game of Cootie for us to play. Afterwards, she serve a plate of sugary molasses cookies with a glass of milk. Those are good memories, that’s for sure.

YOUR GRANDMA’S MOLASSES COOKIES

Ingredients:

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground 

1 teaspoon cloves, ground 

1 teaspoon ginger, ground 

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups butter, softened 

2 cups sugar plus 1/2 cup

1/2 cup molasses 

2 eggs

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and 2 cups sugar until combined. Add in the molasses and eggs and mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the ingredients of the stand mixer and mix until all is combined. Fill a small bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Form teaspoon-size dough into balls then gently roll them in the granulated sugar. Place onto baking sheet, two inches apart. Repeat until all the cookie dough has been used. Bake only 10 minutes for soft and chewy results. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Autumn Plum Galette

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Autumn Plum Galette! Rustic pies are so forgiving, which is one of the reasons I gravitate to them more. Forget perfection. It just isn’t necessary. A galette is made without a pie plate. Same dough, but no primping and crimping needed. You honestly don’t really need as many fillings either, because there’s no need to pile ‘em high. In fact, you’ll know you’ve overfilled the galette when you see the juices running onto the baking sheet. No fun. And when you taste the galette, the crust may be mushy. So remember, stop yourself and it’ll turn out fine.

AUTUMN PLUM GALETTE

Ingredients:

1 prepared refrigerated pie crust

5 ripe plums, pit removed and sliced

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch ginger

1 pinch cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Ingredients for Almond Filling:

1/2 cup almond flour

5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Fit parchment paper on a baking sheet. Unroll pie crust onto baking sheet. Place galette dough in the refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile, combine almond flour, sugar, flour, butter, and egg in a food processor. Mix until smooth and spreadable. Remove chilled galette from the refrigerator. Spread the almond filling onto the dough*, but stop short of the edges. Arrange plum slices in an overlapping design on top of the almond filling. Sprinkle plums with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Roll the plain edges of the dough over the fruit. Brush the crust with melted butter. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

*I only used half the almond filling and reserved the remaining portion for second galette.

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.