Veggie Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Veggie Burger! For a quarter-pounder without all the fat, substitute red meat for black beans instead. Sound crazy? Actually, I conducted a little taste test on my husband recently. By using mashed black beans, onion, green pepper, egg, and bread crumbs, it seemed more like a meatloaf than a burger. It kinda did. The texture was the same and they fried up real nice in the iron skillet. By the time we added lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, we practically did a double-take on the finished product. Go all out and slide it between a brioche bun. The veggie burger definitely crossed the finish line at the dinner table. Now that’s delicious.

VEGGIE BURGER

Ingredients:

16-ounce can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well

1/2 green pepper

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

3 drops sriracha sauce

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Butter for frying

Brioche hamburger buns

Condiments, per taste

Instructions:

Using a food processor set on Pulse, mash black beans until thick and chunky. Transfer to a bowl. Next, combine green pepper, yellow onion, and minced garlic in the food processor. Chop into small pieces. Stir into the black beans. Add egg, chili powder, cumin, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add bread crumbs. Mix together with gloved hands until consistency is dense enough to form into patties. Melt butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Place patties into skillet and cook about 7-8 minutes until a crispy outer edge is present. Flip and cook 7-8 minutes longer. Serve with condiments of choice on a brioche bun.

Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread! Some days time is in short supply and all we can hope for is a “working lunch”. At least you can treat yourself to something a little bit gourmet that says “I’m really worth it.” Knäckebröd whole grain crispbread is mighty enough to hold a layer of herbed cream cheese, a mini slice of seedless cucumber, wild Alaskan smoked salmon, fresh dill weed and chopped chives. How’s that for refueling your work day? Be forewarned: your coworkers may gather round the desk in curiosity while you’re nibbling away on finger food. Just hold up a single digit and keep nibbling. After all, it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.

KNÄCKEBÖRD CUCUMBER SALMON CRISPBREAD

Ingredients:

4-6 slices Knäckebröd sourdough crispbread

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix

2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced

4 ounces Wild Alaskan applewood smoked salmon

Sprig of dill weed

Fresh chives

Instructions:

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and Italian seasoning mix. Stir until blended. Store in a covered container. To assemble, lightly spread crispbread with a layer of herbed cream cheese. Next add one or two slices of seedless cucumber. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill weed and fresh chives.

Fried Goat Cheese Rounds

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Fried Goat Cheese Rounds! Now you’re speaking my language. Something fried, something cheesy. And throw in a salad for good measure. Goat cheese, to begin with, is similar to feta but with a nuttier tang to it. Does that make sense? When it’s coated with a dusting of Panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning, then quick-fried in an olive oil-butter blend, the results are amazing. The outside is crunchy while the inside melts in your mouth. I prefer an oil and vinegar dressing, but certainly you can opt out for your favorite bottled dressing if you’re short on time. Either way, the cheese is the main attraction on a plate of mixed salad greens. You know you wanna try it. Permission granted.

FRIED GOAT CHEESE ROUNDS

Ingredients:

4-ounce log goat cheese, refrigerated

1 egg white, beaten

1/2 tablespoon water

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Mixed Salad Greens

Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 tablespoon olive oil, for frying

1 tablespoon butter, for frying

Ingredients for Dressing:

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Cut the cold goat cheese into 1/2” thick slices. Whisk the egg white (save yolk) and water together in a small dish. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine Panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning. Dip each slice of cheese in the beaten egg white, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs. Place cheese rounds on a wax paper-lined platter. Refrigerate 15 minutes. To make the dressing, use a small food processor. Combine apple cider vinegar, garlic wine vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, and egg yolk. Blend for one minute. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the top of the lid. As it seeps through the holes, the vinaigrette will thicken. Toss the salad greens and tomato halves with enough dressing to moisten. Divide among salad plates. Warm 1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus one tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Do not scorch. Quickly fry the goat cheese rounds until golden brown on both sides. Do not melt the cheese inside. Top each salad with 2-3 fried goat cheese rounds. Serve immediately.

Manicotti Pasta Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Manicotti Pasta Bowl! Comfort food. We all have our favorites. Some include melted cheese, rich chocolate, home made soups, or peanut butter sandwiches. And then there’s pasta; guardian of the energy boost. Not only is pasta a healthy option, it satisfies by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Being affordable, versatile, and nutritious make it even more enjoyable. And a little pasta goes a long way. We all know that. Sure, pasta is a carb…but in a good way. It partners well with low fat protein and veggies. Go, Team Pasta!

MANICOTTI PASTA BOWL

Ingredients:

6 manicotti shells

3/4 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, chunky

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Drain shells; rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Remove from heat. Drain liquid. Add sea salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Pour prepared spaghetti sauce over meat. Mix well. Spoon 1/3 of meat mixture into the bottom of two single-serving casserole dishes. Add softened creamed cheese and mozzarella cheese to the remaining meat mixture. Stuff each shell with filling. Arrange three filled manicotti shells in a row over sauce. Repeat in second casserole dish. Spread remaining filling over the tops of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; serve in casserole dish. Garnish with fresh basil.

Lump Crabmeat Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Lump Crabmeat Salad! Be pampered on a sunny porch or backyard patio with a light luncheon for two. Dining al fresco is especially popular with nature’s backdrop of fragrant flowers and tittering birdsong. These are what days are made of. If it’s a late afternoon gathering of light appetizers and spritzers, serve this lump crabmeat salad with crackers instead. Fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take advantage of warm weather and celebrate a party-like atmosphere.

LUMP CRABMEAT SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces wild caught lump crabmeat, cartilage removed

1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 rib celery, diced

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

4 teaspoons chives, sliced

1 teaspoon tarragon leaves

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 dash sriracha sauce

Red pepper, halved and membrane removed

Bibb lettuce leaves

Instructions:

Gently rinse crabmeat in a fine mesh strainer to remove any shell pieces or cartilage. Do not break up crab chunks. Transfer crabmeat to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning mix. Toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red pepper, sliced chives, tarragon leaves, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery seed, kosher salt, white pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the crabmeat mixture to the mayonnaise mixture, gently coating the lump crabmeat. Spoon the crabmeat into two hollowed out red pepper shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange Bibb lettuce leaves on two saucers; place lump crabmeat salad on each plate. Serve chilled.

Zuppa Toscana

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Zuppa Toscana! The secret to great Italian soups can be found as near as your local Italian restaurant. However if you want to save a little money, now you can create a mouth-watering meal at home in your very own kitchen. Don’t believe me, check your pantry. With basic ingredients plus Italian herbs, you can get outstanding results. Pick up bakery fresh breadsticks or focaccia bread for a hearty meal. Buon Appetito!

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 potatoes, washed with peel on and cut into chunks

14-ounce can chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces diced pimentos

2 cups kale, gently torn

4 strips of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium heat, brown Italian sausage until fully cooked and crumbled. Add onion, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue cooking until onions are soft. Reduce heat to keep warm. In a 2-quart pan, add potato chunks, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend flour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add flour mixture to potatoes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add heavy cream, diced pimentos, torn kale, and crumbled bacon. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with breadsticks or focaccia bread.

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.

Zingy Weeknight Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Zingy Weeknight Pasta! Don’t you love it when everything you need for a quick meal is right at your fingertips? Well, I do. This was one of those nights when everything in the fridge “must-go” simply because we were leaving on a trip the next day. I already had a jar of homemade marinara sauce, but feel free to substitute a store bought variety you probably keep in your pantry, next to the package of spaghetti. The chicken strips are frozen, grilled, and precooked. Don’t judge me. It works. Oh, and I actually served freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish, but we sprinkled it on at the table.

ZINGY WEEKNIGHT PASTA

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups prepared marinara

2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks

1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into pieces

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped green pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add marinara sauce. Meanwhile, microwave frozen chicken to thaw. Cut into chunks. Add chicken and salami to sauce. Stir to mix. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but remove the pasta 4 minutes earlier than directed since we are going to add the spaghetti to the sauce to finish cooking. Once the spaghetti is prepared to that point, ladle some of the pasta water into the sauce, about 1/3 cup. This will add wonderful flavor and help thicken the sauce nicely. Now drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce mixture, without rinsing. Let the spaghetti finish cooking until it is al dente. Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese. (Freeze any leftovers to serve when you return from a day of travel.)

Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad! Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to serve up gluten-free meals. This one, in particular, is packed with protein and fiber, plus non-GMO red lentils. You don’t need to have allergic restrictions to appreciate its natural goodness. The texture is firm while providing an amazing taste sensation. Eat it cold or warmed up a bit. You decide. Either way, the health benefits will have you patting yourself on the back for making such a healthy choice.

ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces organic red lentil pasta

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower florets

1/3 cup red onions, sliced

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dry Italian dressing and seasoning mix

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon natural honey

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cook red lentil pasta 8-10 minutes, according to package directions. Water will turn cloudy and foam up, so be sure to use enough water. Remove from heat. Drain, rinse, and set aside. To make dressing, combine garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, Dijon mustard, and natural honey. Whisk together until nicely blended. Fill a large bowl with pasta, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red onion slices, diced pimento, and Kalamata olives. Pour dressing over all. Toss gently to coat ingredients. Serve cold.