Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Underrated Summertime Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Underrated Summertime Supper! Does anyone have a Himalayan Salt Block besides me? Well, one of the things I like about it is, it can take the guesswork out of adding seasoning to food. It’s a block of pink salt, after all. When serving cold foods like salads, fruits, and cheeses, refrigerate the salt block overnight before using. This helps to keep foods chilled for hours when you need it. Simply arrange the ingredients directly on the block, drizzle on the dressing, and you’re good-to-go. Clean up is easy. Never use soap; salt is naturally antibacterial. Remove food residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse it with a clean swipe, then dab dry. Allow the salt block to air-dry before next use. You’re done.

UNDERRATED SUMMERTIME SUPPER

Ingredients:

4 ounces goat’s milk cheese, plain

1 teaspoon Italian dry mix spice blend

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces mixed greens, washed

1 Roma tomato, chopped

4 assorted mini sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into rings

2 radishes, sliced very thin

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Crusty Artisan Bread

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle Italian dry mix spice blend and red pepper flakes. Form the goat’s milk cheese into a ball. Roll it in the spice mix to cover all sides. Place cheese ball on the chilled Himalayan salt block. Next, arrange mixed greens in a single layer. Arrange Roma tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, radish slices, and red onion rings. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over top. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over salad. Serve with crusty artisan bread.

No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream! Years ago my best friend was a specialty brand of Turkish coffee ice cream. I was working two jobs, averaging mostly 70-hour work weeks, seven days nonstop to support myself, and help my kids through college. I also admit I was hiding out from “Life”. Many evenings I’d come home, crash on the sofa, and open a pint of the creamiest concoction laced with butterscotch topping I’d ever tasted. It was bliss. Since then, the company stopped making it in favor of more popular flavors like banana chocolate chunk and coconut almond chip. Seriously? Oh well, that left me with no recourse but to make it myself. Between you and me…I think I knocked it out of the park!

NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons espresso instant coffee

2 tablespoons warm water

2 cups heavy cream

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped

Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping

Instructions:

In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in warm water. Stir well. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract on High speed for 4 minutes until smooth and thick. Reduce speed to Low. Add the prepared coffee; continue until blended. Fold in chopped espresso beans. Spoon ice cream into a loaf pan. Cover tightly and freeze overnight. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with espresso before serving. Drizzle with butterscotch topping, to taste.

*The secret to my success was chilling the utensils overnight in the freezer and making sure all the ingredients were refrigerator cold.

Culinary Cauliflower

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Culinary Cauliflower! Not everyone is a fan of cauliflower. I get that. It might be because of the way it’s prepared. Or smells. Or possibly because it looks bland and boring. Meh. Well, here’s my solution if you promise to give it one more chance. Smother it in cheese. Good cheese, like smoky Gouda. Then take buttery garlic croutons and sprinkle them over the top. Get the picture? Sooo, if the family turns up their noses at the idea of eating cauliflower, simply shrug your shoulders, kick off your shoes, and curl up on the sofa with the entire bowl yourself.

CULINARY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 cup water

1/2 cup smoky bacon Gouda cheese, sliced thin

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup garlic croutons, coarsely crushed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm water over medium heat in a saucepan with a steamer basket. Cut off stem of cauliflower, removing the leaves. Make an “x” in the core with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer, place cauliflower in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Cut cauliflower into florets. Transfer to an ovenproof bowl. Combine sliced Gouda cheese and milk in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on Low (30%) in 30-second intervals. Stir until smooth as it melts. Pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Bake 5-10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Warm butter in a pan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic croutons. Stir occasionally until brown. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over melted cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Frangelico Fudge Topping

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Frangelico Fudge Topping! It may have been awhile, but the smooth taste of Frangelico Italian liqueur is not forgotten. Need I remind you it has the same hints of chocolate and toasted hazelnut you practically eat out of a jar? Think Nutella, silly. If it were a cocktail, it would go by this name, with an added punch of alcohol. And since we’re talking dessert, let’s move on to this amazing fudge topping that works on anything from ice cream to waffles. Now I’ve got your attention.

FRANGELICO FUDGE TOPPING

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups sugar

12-ounces evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur

Instructions:

Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and Frangelico liqueur. Stir well. Serve immediately over desserts or waffles. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Ka-Pow! Thai Curry Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Ka-Pow! Thai Curry Tacos! Fusion foods get my vote every time. This is a perfect example of where the Mexican culture teams with a kick of Thai for a contrast that sends the taste buds spinning. Curry is the star attraction and the best kept secret to a spice sensation beyond your wildest dreams. When the ingredients overlap, they bring their own unique experience that transports you halfway around the world in a chemical reaction. Are you ready to travel?

KA-POW! THAI CURRY TACOS

Ingredients:

12 corn tortillas, street-size

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

8.5 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and finely chopped

10-ounce bag broccoli slaw

1 cup sweet corn, off the cob

Lime wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray each corn tortilla on both sides with nonstick oil. Place on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. Warm canola oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the Thai red curry paste, minced garlic, and chopped onion. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the garlic and onions are softened. Add the shredded turkey. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, and sun dried tomatoes; simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. To assemble tacos, layer the broccoli slaw onto the crispy corn tacos. Divide the turkey mixture among the tortillas. Top with sweet corn. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Xavier Dumpling Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Xavier Dumpling Soup! Everyone loves dumplings, those little flavorful puffs of dough soaked in chicken broth, surrounded by fresh vegetables. Xavier soup got its name in honor of the patron saint of missionaries and may be served on the feast day celebration in December. I like the soup so much I can’t wait all year before making it again. Taste it once and you’ll see what I mean.

XAVIER DUMPLING SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/4 cup matchstick carrots

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

4 ounces evaporated milk

10.5-ounce can cream of chicken soup, concentrated

20 ounces chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tube buttermilk biscuits

2 tablespoons flour

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven, warm butter over medium-high heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onions, sliced celery, matchstick carrots, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add shredded chicken, evaporated milk, condensed cream of chicken soup, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cut the biscuits into quarter pieces; lightly toss in flour. Add the biscuit chunks to the pot; Cook 8-9 minutes. Once the biscuits are cooked through, ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Quarantined Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Quarantined Mac ‘n Cheese! We all know the effects of social distancing and being quarantined at home. It can reek havoc on mental health and increase anxiety, that’s for sure. Rising costs of groceries can contribute to feelings of fear, worry, and frustration as well. That’s when comfort foods come to the rescue. I actually made this dish when my kitchen was being renovated during the pandemic and all I had was a counter microwave for cooking meals. This one-bowl meal eased the pain of feeling like things were out of control. Perhaps it may help you, too.

QUARANTINED MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients For One:

1/2 cup dried macaroni pasta

1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Everything But Bagel Seasoning, for garnish

Instructions:

In a deep microwave-safe dish, combine macaroni pasta, water, and sea salt. Stir to combine. Microwave uncovered on high power for 2 minutes. Stir. Repeat for 4-8 minutes longer, stirring every 2 minutes until pasta is cooked. Using oven mitts, remove dish from microwave. Stir in milk, butter, and cheddar cheese. Microwave on high power in 30-second intervals until cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. This will take about 90 seconds total. Garnish with a sprinkling of Everything But Bagel Seasoning. Serve immediately.

Copycat Jiffy Cornbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Copycat Jiffy Cornbread! If you’re wondering why anyone would make a homemade version of a boxed mix, read on. Could it be I’m a control freak? Maybe I want a healthier version? Or is it because my adult son says he recalls fond memories of the blue and yellow box from his childhood? Truth be told, I was too lazy to drive into town to buy the store-bought variety. Good thing I keep a well-stocked pantry.

COPYCAT JIFFY CORNBREAD

Ingredients:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup organic cornmeal

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a square pan with non-stick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, organic cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix well. Whisk in vegetable oil until smooth. Add egg and milk. Stir only until lumps no longer remain. Do not over-beat. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm.