Avocado Onion Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Avocado Onion Dip! Nowadays I look for any reason to eat avocados. Once I’ve have my fill of guacamole, I turn to other creative ways to produce a nutritional boost to the menu. Although stuffed avocados can be baked or grilled, sometimes it’s a real treat to prepare them this way. Some might call it a light lunch, simply because it satisfies the appetite as a filling meal.

AVOCADO ONION DIP

Ingredients:

8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup crispy-fried onions, slightly crushed

2-3 ripe avocados, halved and pits removed

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Green onion snips, for garnish

Whole celery seed, for garnish

Instructions:

Using an electric mixer, beat together softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, chopped capers, and cayenne pepper until blended. Fold in crushed crispy-fried onions until combined. Transfer to a covered bowl. Refrigerate for one hour. Prepare avocado halves. Brush with lime juice; sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder. When ready to serve, scoop onion dip into each avocado half. Garnish with green onion snips, chopped capers, and a sprinkling of whole celery seed. Serve immediately.

The Luck ‘o the Irish: Corned Beef Brisket

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Corned Beef Brisket! Eating corned beef brisket isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore. However, it’s the best time to stock up when it’s popular and readily available at the nearby market. Go from the traditional favorite dinner one day to corned beef hash and eggs the next morning and Reuben sliders for a late night snack. Are you getting the idea? Be creative and tell me yours!

CORNED BEEF BRISKET

Ingredients:

3-pound corned beef brisket, boneless

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon bay leaves

1 cup ginger beer or water

1-pound baby carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, in a covered roaster. Sprinkle spices on top. Add 1 cup of ginger beer or water. Cover and roast for three hours. The guideline is one hour per pound. After 2 hours add carrots to roaster. Cover and cook for 1 hour. At that time, the contents should be fork tender. Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Remove carrots and place in a bowl. Add butter to coat. Sprinkle with paprika.

BOILED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

In a deep pan, add 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage quarters and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Turn cabbage with tongs. Simmer 5 minutes longer until tender. Drain well. Add butter to coat cabbage thoroughly.

PARSLEY BOILED POTATOES

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sections

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Place potatoes in 2 quart saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Add butter to coat. Garnish with parsley.

Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing! For those who really crave the taste of stuffing, here’s an idea for a meal-in-one-dish. Some people may call it a “casserole” since it contains crumbled pork sausage, mixed vegetables, bread stuffing, and wild rice grains. Either way, you’re going to want to bookmark and print this recipe. It’s that good. Of course, you can make the serving portions a little smaller and serve it as a side dish with roasted chicken, turkey, or a Cornish hen like I did. Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing can easily be made a day ahead of time and gently reheated when you need it. Leftovers can be frozen up to three months. I believe I just saw your face light up. Trust me, your family will thank you. They may even offer to load the dishwasher.

WILD RICE SAUSAGE STUFFING

Ingredients:

6-ounce package long grain and wild rice mix

1 pound bulk sausage

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

4-ounce can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained

6-ounce package chicken stuffing cubes

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook wild rice according to package directions. Set aside. Brown sausage until cooked and crumbled; drain. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Sauté onion and celery pieces until tender, 4-5 minutes. Do not burn. In a large bowl, combine wild rice, sausage crumbles, sautéed onions/celery mixture, and mushrooms. Stir well. Fold in chicken stuffing cubes. Add beaten eggs, chicken broth, seasoned pepper and poultry seasoning. Stir thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Serve warm.

Zesty Citrus Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Zesty Citrus Salad! “If you build it, they will come.” That familiar quote may spark a flicker of remembrance from a popular movie years ago, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner was the actor who had an idea and went with it. Cooking is like that, in my opinion. For example, build a better salad. It’s pretty simple, actually. Choose garden greens for the foundation, layer on fruits or vegetables for flavor, toss in some crunchy nuts, and slather on the sauce to dress it up. Of course, you can include cheese, meat, and eggs to bulk it up into a meal if you’d like. May as well go ahead and make your own salad dressings. There’s no comparison; being naturally better than bottled, they serve nicely as dips if you have any leftover. No promises on that note, because they’re that good.

ZESTY CITRUS SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups lettuce, gently torn

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 naval orange, segments cut into thirds

6 strawberries, quartered

2 tablespoons red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons almonds, sliced

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Tupelo honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Dash sriracha

Instructions:

Place torn lettuce into salad bowls. Divide celery leaves between them. Arrange the orange segments, quartered strawberries, and red onion slices. Scatter almonds over all. Set aside to chill in the refrigerator. To combine dressing, whisk together garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Tupelo honey, Dijon mustard, toasted sesame seeds, and dash of sriracha sauce. Mix well. Drizzle over salad before serving.

Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup! At first glance, this appears to be a meatless meal. It can be with one minor change. Just don’t add meat. And yet, if you appreciate a dish you can sink your teeth into, I invite you to read on. This flavorsome recipe gets down to earth as a stick-to-the-ribs dinner. We all know brown rice is a good source of fiber as well as an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Black beans support good heart health and could help lower cholesterol. Pork provides protein. Last time I checked, 1+1+1=3. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

BLACK BEANS ‘N RICE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

10.5-ounce can beef consommé

1/2 cup instant brown rice

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup seasoned pork, precooked and shredded

1/2 cup water, if needed

2 tablespoons red pepper, diced

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until onions are soft and clear. Add red chili garlic sauce, cumin, and oregano. Cook 2 minutes longer. Add beef consommé and brown rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add black beans and seasoned pork. Stir to combine. Add water, if needed to ensure everything is covered. Replace lid and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with diced red peppers and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl! Say the word “teriyaki” and watch people start to salivate. It’s all about the sauce. Part sweet like honey, and part salty like soy sauce, only thicker. Some may use the word “gooey” to describe how teriyaki sauce sticks to the meat sealing in all those concentrated spices and juices. For today’s drool-inducing teriyaki you may substitute pork for chicken, depending on what you have on hand. Just remember, although it’s a quick meal, you still need to be patient and kind. You must allow time to cook the rice.

QUICK TERIYAKI PORK BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless pork, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions:

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk together until the cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. In a skillet over medium heat, add cooked pork and teriyaki sauce. Coat the meat well. Continue to warm, stirring constantly, until the pork is heated through and the sauce thickens into a shiny glaze. Keep warm while making the side dishes. Remove from heat and serve with steamed broccoli and rice.

Egg Veggie Tart

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Egg Veggie Tart! Take ordinary ingredients and spread them over a prepared puff pastry crust and I promise you, your family will eat anything you serve. It’s that good. I always keep a box of frozen puff pastry on hand because it is so versatile. From main courses to desserts, they all turn out like a culinary masterpiece. For everyone to take you seriously though, be sure to wear an apron. It makes you look like a chef who means business. I think I have at least five different styles, some with pockets, some without. And I’m always open for more. Today’s version of a breakfast tart incorporates vegetables and prosciutto that not only add color, but eye appeal. Without regrets, add this recipe to your list of easy-to-assemble meals.

EGG VEGGIE TART

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

4 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

3 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips

1/4 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed

3 eggs plus 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup baby peas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons green onion snips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry on prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, pierce the dough evenly across surface, stopping about 1/2” from the edge. At the edges, roll dough once to form a crust. This will keep the ingredients from overflowing. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven to assemble remaining ingredients. Layer the Swiss cheese on the bottom of the crust. Arrange tomatoes, prosciutto, and green beans. Crack 3 eggs onto the dough. Try to place the eggs where the vegetables will “hold” them into place. Sprinkle tart with baby peas. Drizzle with olive oil. Divide grated parmesan cheese over all. Brush the crust all the way around the tart with the egg/water mixture. This gives the crust that beautiful golden color when baked. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is cooked through. Garnish with green onion snips. Cut into squares. Serve immediately.

Hungry Man Potato Skins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Hungry Man Potato Skins! Shrug off that old myth about ditching potato skins because they’re high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition. My grandma used to say “if you’re gonna eat the skin, you may as well eat a handful of dirt!”. Thank goodness times have changed and we’ve learned that the skin of the potato is loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber. When baking instead of frying, the nutritional value gets kicked up a notch. Now that you’re on a roll, go ahead and add toppings like fresh broccoli, bacon, and cheese. Whaaat? Hear me out. By choosing small russet potatoes, the calories are drastically reduced. One piece of bacon is divided over four skins, just enough for flavor. And reduced-fat cheddar cheese is a good choice, one you’ll barely notice in taste. When it’s all said and done, two potato skins are about 200 calories. Not bad.

HUNGRY MAN POTATO SKINS

Ingredients:

2 small russet potatoes, washed and patted dry

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 strip thick bacon, precooked

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup panko crumbs

Ranch dressing, for dipping sauce

Green onion, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Pierce each potato for steam to escape during baking. Lightly spray potatoes with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about one hour. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place broccoli florets into a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with droplets of water, and microwave on High for one minute. Set aside. If you need to cook bacon, place one strip of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel. Microwave on High for two minutes. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. For potato skins, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh leaving a shell 1/4” thick. Reserve potato flesh for another use. Brush around the rim of potato shells with olive oil. Place skins upright on a baking sheet. Broil in oven on High for one minute. Remove to fill. In a bowl, combine broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, and bacon crumbles. Divide broccoli mixture evenly between potato shells. In a small pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add panko crumbs, stirring often until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle over loaded potato skins. Return to oven and bake at 400° until cheese is bubbly and topping is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing garnished with green onion snips.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup! The crockpot is essential, in my opinion. Never mind the fact that a slow-cooker turns the entire house into a well-seasoned bistro. It’s the hands-free unattended cooking with astounding results that makes it a winner in my book. Throw everything together, let it simmer, and enjoy the meal to come. Leftovers are delicious and clean-up is a snap!

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients:

4-6 chicken fillet tenders

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

60-ounces chicken broth

23-ounce can of cream of chicken soup

3 stalks celery, cut-up

1/2 pound mini carrots, whole

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 cups home style noodles

1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

Sauté chicken tenders in a large skillet with olive oil, lemon pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and celery seed. Remove from heat. Pour the cream of chicken soup into the crockpot. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring until the two are well. blended. Transfer the sautéed chicken tenders from the skillet. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Stir gently. Add bay leaves. Heat on high setting for four hours. Remove lid and shred the chicken for a chunky consistency. Return to soup. Add noodles and butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer two hours longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.