X-Citing Everyday Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: X-citing Everyday Salad! Whoever said salads are ho-hum hasn’t raided the refrigerator for a weeknight dinner, especially on a rainy day. Just use your imagination. After all, you only buy produce that you really like, right? I’m a fan of herbed olive oil and tomatoes, so by turning that into a dressing it satisfies my quest for the perfect Italian vinaigrette. Look again at the photo. See the leafy greens? Start there and build the layers. By the time you finish adding what you like (substituting stuff like green olives for black), you have a meal-in-a-bowl that rivals your neighborhood eatery. Enough talking, now let’s get moving.

X-CITING EVERYDAY SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Italian cheese, finely shredded

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups mixed greens, gently torn

1/2 cup broccoli florets

10-12 pepperoni slices

1/3 cup green olives, sliced

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, oregano, basil, marjoram, garlic powder, and sea salt. Stir well. Add balsamic vinegar and Italian cheese. Fold in cherry tomatoes to coat. In a large bowl, layer mixed greens, broccoli florets, pepperoni slices, and green olives. Drizzle with tomato herbed vinaigrette. Gently toss before serving. Garnish with cracked black pepper.

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.

Bird’s Nest Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Bird’s Nest Breakfast! For something fun, take an ordinary poached egg, lay it on a bed of greens, and turn it into a festive meal nestled in a coffeehouse cup. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you like toast, you say. No worries, it’s in there. Think about this attractive alternative when serving a mid-morning brunch for two or breakfast in bed on the weekend. This is how we cruise through life.

BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

4 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed*

2 slices baguette bread, toasted and buttered

2 extra large eggs, poached or fried sunny-side up

2 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing

Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions:

Gently tear romaine lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide between two large coffeehouse cups. Toast artisan bread, butter, and cut into cubes. Add to each lettuce cup. Gently toss. Poach or fry two eggs, leaving the centers slightly soft. Transfer one egg to each bowl. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

*Add alfalfa sprouts, if available.

Wheat Brioche Burgers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Wheat Brioche Burgers! Why brioche buns, you’re thinking. First of all, you must admit a hamburger bun that crumbles into your hands is very frustrating. After the first bite, you’re afraid to put it down in case it turns into a heaping mess on your plate. From that point on, a fork is your only option. Amirite? Brioche buns are rich, chewier, and a little more dense. The golden texture alone is soft and buttery while leaving you with an element of light consistency. Now that’s a way to compliment a savory, grilled burger. Wouldn’t you agree?

WHEAT BRIOCHE BURGERS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chuck beef

2 beef bouillon cubes

2 tablespoons water, boiling

2 eggs, beaten

6 Ritz crackers, crushed

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 gourmet wheat brioche hamburger buns

4 tablespoons butter, softened

4 leaves romaine lettuce

1 large tomato, sliced into 8 rings

1/3 cup mayonnaise

Instructions:

In a small bowl, dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water. Stir. In another bowl, combine ground chuck, bouillon water, and beaten eggs. Fold in crushed crackers. Divide beef into four portions. Form into patties about 1/2” thick and 1” wider than the burger buns. Indent with a thumbprint in the center of the patty. Sprinkle with black pepper. Chill for one hour. Preheat grill on high heat to 400°. Grill patties, indented side up, for 6 minutes. Juices will accumulate on top of burgers causing them to sear. Do not smash down. Flip; reduce grill temperature to 325° for another 6 minutes. Turn grill off, leaving burgers on grill for 4 minutes longer. At this time, spread the cut sides of the brioche buns with softened butter. Place buttered sides down on grill for a couple minutes to toast until golden brown. Meanwhile, coat romaine lettuce leaves with mayonnaise, gently turning. To assemble burgers, transfer buns to a platter. Add more mayonnaise, if desired. Layer hamburgers with grilled meat, romaine leaves, and tomato slices. Top with toasted buns. Serve immediately.

Uff-da Bread Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Uff-Da Bread Tacos! Did you know there is a difference between naan and pita bread? Pita bread is definitely enhanced by all the ingredients stuffed into it. Naan, on the other hand, is made with egg and yogurt-instead of water-which are typically fermented (or rested) in the dough before baking in a clay oven, which makes it chewy and delicious. The texture is different and more pliable. Have I piqued your curiosity? If so, now it’s time to see for yourself. You’re welcome.

UFF-DA BREAD TACOS

Ingredients:

4 single-serving naan bread slices

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound ground chorizo

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup picante sauce, divided

1 cup romaine lettuce, gently torn

1 cup pinto beans, drained

1 cup Mexican blend cheeses, finely shredded

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup black olives, sliced

1/2 cup sour cream

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chorizo. Break apart the meat as it cooks. Drain off excess grease. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle in the chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and black pepper. Mix well. Simmer 2 minutes. Keep warm. Warm grill pan, over medium-high heat; brush pan with vegetable oil. Use remaining vegetable oil to lightly coat naan on both sides. Place naan slices on pan for 1 minute; flip and repeat for one minute longer. Naan will be slightly charred, soft, and pliable. Remove pan from heat. Set aside. To assemble bread tacos, spoon picante sauce on each naan. Layer with romaine lettuce leaves, pinto beans, crumbled chorizo, Mexican blend cheeses, red onion slices, and black olives. Top with a dollop of sour cream and the remaining picante sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Egg Salad Chip Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Egg Salad Chip Dip! I learned a long time ago that egg salad makes a wonderful, light, and satisfying snack when unexpected guests stop by. At the time I served it with celery sticks, chicken-flavored crackers, and salty potato chips. I remember how awed my girlfriend was as she practically inhaled one scoop after another. She simply couldn’t believe egg salad was a finger food instead of a midday meal layered between two pieces of sandwich bread. It’s amazing what you can serve on a budget.

EGG SALAD CHIP DIP

Ingredients:

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Paprika, for garnish

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, mash the hard-boiled eggs, using a fork. Fold in mayonnaise, green onion snips, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Stir until well blended. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve with lettuce leaves or sour cream and onion potato chips.

X-Cellent Egg Salad Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: X-cellent Egg Salad Sliders! Have you noticed more and more farm-to-table cafés are featuring egg salad sandwiches on the menu? I get crazy happy when I discover it, as someone who loves home-cooking. Not only are there a dozen variations on egg salad, but each seems to add a unique twist. This recipe is pretty basic so you can get creative from here. Think avocado, dill, bacon, or red pepper flakes. Looks like I need to buy more eggs. Happy Boiling!

X-CELLENT EGG SALAD SLIDERS

Ingredients:

8 eggs, hard boiled and peeled

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dill pickle relish

1 tablespoon red onion, diced

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

8 slider buns

4 romaine lettuce leaves

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel seasoning

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, dill pickle relish, red onion, yellow mustard, and sea salt. Chop the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir gently until well blended. Cover and chill in the refrigerator one hour. Assemble sliders using the buns, egg salad, romaine lettuce leaves, and tomato slices. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve.

Iceberg Lettuce Cranberry Pecan Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Iceberg Lettuce Cranberry Pecan Salad! Make today an easy day. Throw together a tossed salad that will satisfy hunger pangs with the crunch of lettuce, the natural sweetness of fruit, lean meat, the salty mix of pecans, protein-packed eggs, and heart-healthy bleu cheese. Bonus points include a natural source of fiber, weight control, plus super-convenience. Not only is salad a time-saver, it is also a money-saver. Most of all, you’re worth it.

ICEBERG LETTUCE CRANBERRY PECAN SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 cup mandarin orange slices

1/3 cup sugared pecans

1 cup grilled chicken, cut-up

1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese

2 soft-boiled eggs, halved

Balsamic vinaigrette, to taste

Instructions:

Divide iceberg lettuce between salad bowls. Top with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, sugared pecans, cut-up grilled chicken, and bleu cheese crumbles. Place soft boiled egg half on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette, to taste.

Fennel Honeydew Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Fennel Honeydew Salad! One final “hurrah” before you leave warm weather behind may be this tangy fruit salad sprinkled with niblets of sweet corn and a hint of anise. Are you intrigued? Ripe honeydew, in my opinion, emits a gloriously sweet fragrance that practically makes my mouth water. Once I cut into it, I find myself wandering back to the refrigerator for tidbits the way a bird eats at a feeder. One bite, close the door, visit a blog, get up, return for another snack, check Twitter, meander back, and peck at it again. Finally I surrender my willpower and stand at the kitchen sink taking in small bits until another wedge is gone. What’s a girl to do?

FENNEL HONEYDEW SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/4 section ripe honeydew, rind and seeds removed, then sliced

3-4 fennel stalks, cut into 2” pieces with ends split

1/4 cup fresh sweet corn

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

1/4 cup cilantro dressing

Fennel fronds, for garnish

Instructions:

Divide lettuce between salad bowls. Arrange sliced honeydew melon over lettuce. Tuck fennel stalks around fruit. Sprinkle fresh sweet corn kernels over all. Top with chopped pistachios. Give it a dash of Everything But Bagel seasoning. Drizzle cilantro dressing over salad. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve chilled.