Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Lemon Berry Cheesecake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Lemon Berry Cheesecake! There’s something about lemon that makes your head spin, especially on a hot summer day. It might be the refreshing burst of citrus that seems to hydrate the senses. Or it could be the charm of living in the South that makes it incredibly desirable. Perhaps you’re just a sweet-tart kinda soul. Whatever the reason, add a little berry to the mix and it feels like a party. Because time may be a factor, I began with a prepared cake mix. The rest is pure magic.

LEMON BERRY CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

16-ounce box of yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 eggs

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1 pound powdered sugar

8 ounce block Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Sliced strawberries, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine cake mix, melted butter, and one egg. Press crust into the bottom of a greased and floured 10” deep dish pie plate. Spread a thin layer of strawberry preserves over crust. Mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, Neufchâtel cheese and lemon extract until smooth. No lumps should remain. Slowly pour cream cheese mixture over the layer of strawberry preserves. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool and cut into wedges. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Icy Limoncello Slushie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Icy Limoncello Slushie! Talk about refreshing. Imagine yourself strolling along the Amalfi Coast of southern Italy. Pause a moment near the rugged shoreline to allow the cool breezes to caress your skin. Admire the sheer cliffs where coastal roads hug towering rock formations. Pay attention to the landscaped vineyards and lemon groves winding down the slope that practically appear to plunge into the sea. This is home to Limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur produced in the region. It is enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive around evening mealtime, due to its pleasing effect on the palate. What better time to gratify your taste buds.

ICY LIMONCELLO SLUSHIE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 cups ice cubes

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup Limoncello liqueur

Lemon and Limes, for garnish

Instructions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Heat 3 minutes, or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Strain sugar mixture, using a sieve to remove solids. Pour simple syrup into a blender. Add ice cubes, lemon juice, and Limoncello liqueur. Process until smooth and ice chunks no longer remain. Pour slushie into glasses. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Herbed Watercress Pistachio Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Herbed Watercress Pistachio Salad! Everyone knows leafy greens can supercharge your diet. But not everyone is crazy about kale and arugula. Ask my husband. The strong pungent flavors of the former can step aside, as far as I’m concerned. Watercress is the new sheriff in town. Its delicate leaves reveal a slight hint of horseradish or wasabi, but with a crispier texture. To combat the bitter tang, simply add a nice citrus fruit along with the ancient royal pistachio nut. Did you know the Queen of Sheba found pistachios so delightful, she declared it was forbidden for commoners to harvest pistachio nuts for themselves? Alas, I digress. Watercress is the star attraction. Rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, and folic acid, its roots thrive in creek bottoms where clear running water encourages natural growth. Most farmers cultivate it in very wet ground providing constant moisture. Ask around at the Farmers Markets. It sells quickly to those who desire it.

HERBED WATERCRESS PISTACHIO SALAD

Ingredients:

1 bunch watercress, roots trimmed

8 leaves fresh basil

8-10 leaves fresh mint

20 leaves Mexican tarragon

1/2 cup mandarin orange slices

1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pistachio nuts, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 drop orange extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Arrange watercress, basil, mint, and Mexican tarragon on a platter. Tuck mandarin orange slices and red onion pieces throughout. Sprinkle toasted pistachio nuts over all. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, orange extract, sea salt, and pepper. Slowly add olive oil while continuing to whisk. Dressing will emulsify. Before serving, drizzle salad dressing evenly over salad.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Hummus Amongus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Hummus Amongus! If I told you this was a healthy alternative to chip dip, would you believe me? It’s true. The difference is hummus is made from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. They are rich in protein and provide daily fiber. Their smooth texture feels buttery in the mouth leaving a slightly nut-like aftertaste. By adding lemon and spices, it’s the perfect partner for pita chips and fresh vegetables. Go ahead, indulge!

HUMMUS AMONGUS

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

Instructions:

Using a food processor, pulse garbanzo beans until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin powder, and salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with diced pimento. Serve with fresh crudités.

Lamb Chop Lemon Thyme

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Lamb Chop Lemon Thyme! Break out the grill! For a tasty alternative to beef and chicken, make today’s choice lamb. It is tender, it is lean, and most of all it has high nutritional value. Yay, low in fat! Did you know lamb is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and protein? Think about shaking up your menu a bit with a different kind of red meat. Everyone knows grilled meats taste better!

LAMB CHOP LEMON THYME

Ingredients:

3 lamb chops, 1″ thick bone-in

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Smidgen herb pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves

Instructions:

In a shallow dish, place lamb chops in a single layer. Pour olive oil over lamb chops. Sprinkle with kosher salt, herb pepper, garlic powder, and lemon thyme leaves. Coat both sides. Marinate for one hour in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Turn a gas grill on HIGH heat. Sear the chops for 3 1/2 minutes on one side. Flip over and cook an additional 2 1/2 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes to absorb juices. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Shrimp Linguine

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Asparagus Shrimp Linguine! Whether you scour the ditches and railroad tracks, visit the local Farmers Market, or drop by your favorite grocers, the growing season of asparagus is upon us. Now is the time to take full advantage of its abundance. Look for signs of firm, tight buds for tender morsels. The delicate purplish tips are the best of the stalk. Indulge thy self. Permission granted.

ASPARAGUS SHRIMP LINGUINE

Ingredients:

3 ounces lemon pepper linguine

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1/2 pound shrimp, precooked

8-10 asparagus spears, cut-up

8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon herb and garlic seasoning

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1 tablespoon nonpareil capers

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Cook lemon pepper pasta with sea salt according to package directions. Drain. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat lemon olive oil on medium. Add shrimp, asparagus, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, herb and garlic seasoning, marjoram, and basil. Fry shrimp and vegetables until crisp and tender, 4-5 minutes. Add linguine and cook until heated through. Swirl to toss gently. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese shavings. Garnish with capers.

Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones! Question: What do you get when you cross a cake and a quick bread? Answer: An English Scone, of course! Now here’s an excuse to eat something lightly sweetened in the middle of the day. Scones are popular with brunch or afternoon tea in some countries. They are made in a single-serving size and come in several variations. By adding fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sanding sugar, the results are astounding. Drizzle a lemony glaze on top to transform this beauty into a dessert as well.

ZINGY LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup milk

White sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon Glaze Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large with sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon citrus peel in a large bowl. Add butter and blend until crumbly. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Stir in the milk. On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough. Form into two 6-inch disks. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Gently transfer wedges to the prepared sheet; brush with milk; sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool on the pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze. Serve warm.

Lemon Glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over warm scones.