Zippy Olive Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Zippy Olive Pesto! Your last visit to the doctor may have been one where you received a good report, yet were advised to lean more toward a Mediterranean diet. What does that mean exactly, you wonder. In layman’s terms it simply suggests making a couple of substitutions in food choices to maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease, live longer, and travel often. “The healthy fats in olives are extracted to produce olive oil, one of the key components of the incredibly healthy Mediterranean diet”, according to Healthline, a provider of health information.* For many this may not be the advice you wish to hear, but for an olive-lover, like me, it is the Best.News.Ever.

ZIPPY OLIVE PESTO

Ingredients:

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 bunch parsley, leaves only

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

5 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup organic green olives, chopped

3 tablespoons water (optional)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast pine nuts turning occasionally until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine parsley leaves, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until almost smooth. Add toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Pulse slightly. With the machine running on low, drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Transfer pesto to a bowl. Fold in the chopped green olives. Add water, if needed. Season with kosher salt. Serve over toasted bread.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this website.

Utmost Prosciutto Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Utmost Prosciutto Plate! Treat yourself right by going the extra mile in gourmet treats. Something so simple, yet sublime, can change a mood from sour to exciting. We all need something to look forward to. Am I right? Fresh mozzarella is usually sold in a brine or water solution to retain its moisture, texture, and soft shape. Let it drain for a few minutes on paper towels; then dab dry and slice. By drizzling a rich olive oil over the mozzarella to enhance that delicate milky flavor, the buttery essence peeks through. Add a leaf or two of fresh basil to enrich the nutritive value. As you sit there nibbling on a slice of prosciutto, pat yourself on the back for enduring the tough times we’ve been through recently. Our home is a safe haven and we can get through whatever storm is next.

UTMOST PROSCIUTTO PLATE

Ingredients:

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, room temperature

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon dried basil

3 ounces old world prosciutto, sliced

7 ounces rustic crostini crackers

4 ounces organic green olives, pitted

Instructions:

Drain mozzarella cheese for a few minutes on paper towels; then dab dry and slice. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with dried basil. Arrange sliced prosciutto and crostini crackers around cheese. Add pitted green olives. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with Pinot Grigio.

Pea and Radish Crostini

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Pea and Radish Crostini! There’s something decadent about bite-size grilled toast. It could be the olive oil that transports you to the central region of Tuscany where rows of timeless Italian vineyards parade alongside twisted trunks of enduring olive trees. Or perhaps it’s the exotic radish with a history dating back to pre-Roman times. Maybe you just like smaller bites. A smudge of this, a smidge of that. Whether you find food tantalizing, adventurous, or hopefully romantic, the appetizer is here to stay. You may as well make it healthy and visually appealing at the same time.

PEA AND RADISH CROSTINI

Ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced into 1/4” slices

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 large avocado, pitted and sliced

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

4-5 radishes, sliced thin

2 mint sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush each side of the baguette slices with olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Himalayan pink salt, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Bake 5-7 minutes until slightly toasted. Let cool. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle the sliced avocado with lime juice. Sprinkle with garlic powder and sea salt. Mash a few slices of avocado to spread a thin layer of guacamole on each piece of baguette. Place 2-3 slices of avocado in the center of each toast. Lightly press the peas in place onto the mashed avocado on each end. Arrange sliced radishes on top. Garnish with mint leaves. Buon Appetito!

Mediterranean Baked Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Mediterranean Baked Tilapia! Do you ever experiment with different spice combinations? Salt and pepper can only go so far, especially if you try to reduce your salt intake. Spices, on the other hand, can turn an ordinary meal into a savory one. They can also add color, flavor, and aroma. If you’re like me, when a recipe calls for a spice you don’t stock in your pantry, you go out and buy a jar. Then what? Do you use it once and shove it back into the corner of your cupboard? What if you experiment a little instead? When you use cumin, think about partnering it with coriander for results that can add warmth as well as a tinge of sweetness.

MEDITERRANEAN BAKED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tilapia fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400° in a shallow bowl, combine lemon juice, butter, and olive oil. Mix well. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Pat tilapia fillets dry. Dip fish in lemon juice mixture before coating with flour coating. Repeat for second tilapia fillet. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish fillets. After a minute or so, flip fillets over to sear the both sides. Remove skillet from heat. Add minced garlic to remaining lemon juice mixture. Drizzle over fish. Bake 7-9 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with broccoli and cous cous.

Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup! You can always tell when I’m going down a road of mealtime shortcuts. It might be because I stayed up late the night before binge-watching Netflix, or I suddenly got a burst of energy to work in the outdoor herb garden instead. Life in the country is always filled with distractions, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean we sacrifice healthy meals for fast-food. Leftover turkey roast can be magically transformed into a bowl of hearty, delicious soup loaded with vegetables, orzo pasta, and earthy herbs. Be good to yourself. You’re worth it.

LEFTOVER TURKEY ORZO SOUP

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 stalk celery, chopped

6-7 mini carrots, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup orzo pasta

2 cups cooked leftover turkey, shredded

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté diced onion, chopped celery, and sliced carrots until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook for one minute longer until fragrant. Stir occasionally. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add uncooked orzo pasta and shredded turkey. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover. Cook 15 minutes until orzo is tender. Remove from heat; stir. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Quartered Chicken with Oranges

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Quartered Chicken with Oranges! If you are fortunate enough to be the recipient of a Fruit-of-the-Month Club, you will not only have premium fresh fruit delivered to your door, but tucked inside the box is a recipe card with serving suggestions. Thanks go out to the families of Brandi and Jennifer! Today’s special features the Cara Cara Orange, which is a sweet seedless variety with interesting undertones of cherry and blackberry. The delightful taste is less acidic than ordinary oranges. And the pinkish-red flesh reminded me of its distant cousin, the blood orange. My compliments to Harry & David.*

QUARTERED CHICKEN WITH ORANGES

Ingredients:

2 sections of quartered chicken, leg and thigh portion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2 Cara Cara oranges, quartered

1/2 onion, chopped in chunks

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Place chicken in an iron skillet. Surround it with oranges, onion, and garlic. Rub the chicken well with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary leaves and Herbes de Provence. Tuck two sprigs of thyme in between chicken. Bake one hour until golden and internal temperature is 165°.

*I receive no recompense for featuring Harry & David Fruit-of-the-Month.

Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas! What if I told you this recipe will give you the crunch of bacon and the tenderness of a roast? And what if I also told you there’s no shame in eating a plate of tender, super-crispy meat without tortillas and refried beans on the side? (It’s true. I actually had these pork carnitas for breakfast one day.) If you’ve ever ordered this house special in a Mexican restaurant, I challenge you to give it a try. I simply threw all the ingredients together before I went to bed and let the slow cooker do its magic overnight. The next morning, the aromas will drive you crazy! Be creative. Have tacos, tostadas, nachos, or simply eat them as is. I did, without regrets. Mmmmm.

PAN-SEARED PORK CARNITAS

Ingredients:

7-pound pork shoulder, bone-in

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 tablespoon Hawaiian Rub*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

Fresh lime

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Rinse and dry pork shoulder. Pat dry. Cover with olive oil. Rub in oregano, cumin powder, Hawaiian Rub, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, in a slow-cooker. Add chopped onion and jalapeño slices. Mix together orange juice and vinegar. Pour over all. Cover. Cook on Low for 10 hours. When done, the meat will be very tender. Remove the roast from the slow cooker. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Shred the meat using two forks, allowing some pieces to remain in bite-size chunks. Strain the juices into a medium size saucepan. Discard solids. Warm the drippings over medium heat to skim off the fat. Set aside. To serve, warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place shredded pork in the skillet and drizzle in a ladle of juices. Avoid overcrowding. Use a screen lid cover to eliminate splatters. Let the juices evaporate for 2-3 minutes so the bottom of the pork appears charred and crusty. Carefully turn over the pork pieces to cook golden brown. Overcooking will reduce tenderness and juiciness. Remove pork from skillet. Take a lime wedge and squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with cilantro. Leftovers may be divided into storage containers. Pour the juice equally over the pulled pork in each container. Freezing is also an option.

*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. I receive no recompense for promoting their product.

Zucchini Spirals Over Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Zucchini Spirals over Meatballs! I am intrigued by the Spiralizer. Perhaps because it can take an ordinary vegetable and turn it into a gourmet attraction. And food that looks appealing is that much closer to an instant craving, in my opinion. By taking a shortcut with store bought meatballs and marinara sauce, this meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Boom!

ZUCCHINI SPIRALS OVER MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1-2 zucchini, spiralized

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon capers

1 pound home style meatballs, precooked

1 jar spaghetti sauce, any flavor

Instructions:

Spiralize zucchini into a bowl. They will appear like pasta noodles. Discard spiral stems. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Reduce heat and toss zucchini spirals to coat. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Fold in capers. Heat no longer than 2-3 minutes. They should be slightly crunchy. In a large microwave-safe dish, combine meatballs and spaghetti sauce. Heat thoroughly. To serve, top meatballs and sauce with zucchini spirals.

Whole Roasted Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Whole Roasted Chicken! Go nontraditional this Thanksgiving. Scale things back a bit for an intimate dinner for two. By choosing a free-range whole chicken for roasting, you still afford classic results in each juicy bite. Prepare this succulent bird in half the time. Then go crazy with your favorite sides.

WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN

Ingredients:

3-pound chicken, whole

3 fresh rosemary sprigs

3 tablespoon butter, sliced

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

5 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan. Season cavity with sliced butter. Insert rosemary sprigs. Generously sprinkle outside of bird with Herbs de Provence, onion powder, celery seed, sea salt, and black pepper. Brush skin with melted butter. Bake uncovered 1 1/2 hours. Skin will be golden and internal temperature should read 180°. Juices should run clear. Remove from heat. Baste with drippings. Cover. Let rest 20 minutes to allow juices to absorb before serving.