Mango Avocado Radish Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Mango Avocado Radish Salad! You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat”. In essence, food becomes a source of energy or sluggishness. Personally, I want fuel for my body that benefits brain function, metabolism, eliminates anxiety, and extinguishes inflammation. It’s a no-brainer. Too often junk food includes processed foods and artificial sweeteners. Sure, it may be easy and convenient. But by eating whole foods that look and smell amazing, you’re sending a great message to your body that says, “Honey, you’re worth it.”

MANGO AVOCADO RADISH SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup organic frozen mango chunks, thawed

1 ripe avocado, pitted and skin discarded

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon tajin seasoning

2 radishes, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons lime olive oil

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Chop the mango chunks into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on a platter. Chop the peeled avocado into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a shallow dish. Drizzle with lime juice. Sprinkle with tajin seasoning. Arrange avocado around the mango on the platter. Trim the radishes; slice very thin. Insert among the mango and avocado chunks. Crumble the feta cheese over all. Sprinkle on more tajin seasoning, if desired. Drizzle lime olive oil over all. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve chilled.

Olive Oil Herb Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Olive Oil Herb Potatoes! Being raised in the Midwest, practically every evening meal consisted of meat, potato, and vegetable. Perhaps that is why I love potatoes so much. I learned how to make homemade potato soup at the hem of my mother’s apron, without measuring or a recipe. But that’s a story for another day. I like the baby potatoes available now at the supermarket. By slicing them, with the skin on, and drizzling them with herbs and olive oil, the taste is unbelievable! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these tasty little nuggets?

OLIVE OIL HERB POTATOES

Ingredients:

5 baby potatoes, washed and sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Leaving skin on potatoes, wash thoroughly and pat dry. Put one potato on a soup spoon. Beginning at one end, slice in strips, being careful to stop before slicing the bottom skin. The knife will hit the spoon to prevent it from cutting through. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Continue until all potatoes are sliced. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic powder, Herbes de Provence, and chopped rosemary leaves. Brush each potato with herbed olive oil, separating slices to coat both sides. Drizzle remaining oil over all. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake potatoes one hour until crispy, basting occasionally. Serve immediately.

Ingenious Bakery Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ingenious Bakery Bread! Some days are just made for shortcuts. The fact is, everyone needs a timesaving tip now and then. For starters, buying frozen bread dinner roll dough takes the guesswork out of measuring ingredients, which is why I keep a bag on hand. The other day I made homemade chicken noodle soup and wanted freshly-baked bread instead of saltine crackers. While the aromatic flavors of the soup were blending in the slow-cooker, the bread was rising to perfection. Together they pulled off a meal like a pro.

INGENIOUS BAKERY BREAD

Ingredients:

8 pieces frozen yeast dinner roll dough

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Place the 8 frozen rolls into the pan in a single layer with edges touching. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Cover entire pan with a tea towel. Place pan in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, between 2 and 4 hours. Remove tea towel and plastic wrap. The raised dough will resemble a single loaf. Brush top of dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with dill weed and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Immediately remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Brush with melted sea salt butter. Serve warm.

Niçoise Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Niçoise Salad! Repeat after me, “nee-SWAHZ”. One more time, “nee-SWAHZ”. Spoken like a true Parisian. Now what does it mean, you wonder. In layman’s terms, niçoise refers to the style of cooking in the south of France. It usually includes deep brown olives, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tiny new potatoes, thin green beans, and anchovies or tuna. The dressing almost always includes Dijon mustard, minced shallots, herbs, and olive oil. If it sounds like a lot of fresh ingredients, think of it this way: it’s a gourmet salad, a meal in itself. Besides, it is absolutely show-stopping on the plate. Take your time. Enjoy every bite. Because when you’re all finished, you may discover you’re ready to have it again next week.

NIÇOISE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 pound petite fingerling potatoes

6 ounces thin green beans, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup niçoise olives

4 eggs, hard-boiled and halved

2 ahi tuna steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Wasabi mustard

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, bring to a boil fingerling potatoes, with skin on, in salted water. Cook 15 minutes. Add green beans for 1 minute or until bright green. Remove from heat. Drain; set aside. When potatoes are cool, cut in half or quarters. For salad dressing, whisk together Dijon mustard, garlic wine vinegar, minced shallot, marjoram, thyme, and oregano. Whisking continuously, slowly add olive oil until fully blended. Add kosher salt to taste. Set aside. Divide butter lettuce into serving dishes. Arrange fingerling potatoes, green beans, grape tomatoes, niçoise olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Serve with seared ahi steaks.

Instructions for ahi steaks:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning and white sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Drizzle wasabi mustard on a platter. Arrange sliced ahi, overlapping the slices.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Unleavened Bread! Nothing is more appetizing than the aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven, in my opinion. Unleavened Bread is a quick and easy flatbread made with flour, salt, olive oil, and water. No yeast needed. Choose between a crispy texture, like I have here for that luscious golden color, or shorten the baking time for softer, more chewy results. Eat it plain, slather it with French butter, or turn it into a personal-size pizza flatbread. You can thank me later.

UNLEAVENED BREAD

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water

Dill weed for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside. Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in the oil on Low speed. Dough will resemble crumbs. Continuing on Low speed, gradually add water until dough forms a ball. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth, but not sticky. Divide into 6 equal balls. Pat each ball into a circle, using a rolling pin or your hands. Transfer flattened dough onto prepared baking sheet. Do not crowd. Bake in two steps, if necessary. Use a fork to lightly prick the dough. Brush each flatbread round with olive oil and sprinkle with dill weed. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Olive Tapenade!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Olive Tapenade! Here’s a nice prelude to an evening meal. Forego the usual focaccia bread and herbed olive oil for a southern France hors d’oeuvre instead. By using an exotic mixture of olives and spices, it creates a versatile condiment for crackers, bread, cheese, and vegetables. Later on, serve it over pasta or fish as another option. Whatever you choose, seek adventure. You won’t be disappointed in the mellow salty garlic flavor lingering long into the night.

OLIVE TAPENADE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green olives with pimentos

1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

2 tablespoons capers

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients. Pulse in a food processor for several minutes. Scrape sides and repeat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve with crusty artisan bread or pita chips. Tastes great spread over cream cheese for party flavor.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: X-tra Virgin Olive Oil Dipping Sauce! It’s no secret I’m a bread-lover. Just like chocolate, wine, and cheese….the key is moderation. I look to the French culture for validation. Their motto seems to be “use quality ingredients and fresh foods” for the best flavor. And I believe it. During my visit to Paris and the south of France, I noticed open markets everywhere and held often. Preservatives are pretty much absent. Nutrition rules. Grow an herb garden. Crush dried herbs to release flavor. That being said, go ahead and reach for the bread basket, just don’t eat the whole thing!
X-TRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon parsley

1/4 teaspoon oregano 

1/4 teaspoon marjoram 

1/4 teaspoon basil 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar 

Bakery baguette, sliced
Instructions:

Pour olive oil into a measuring cup. Add garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil, and kosher salt. Whisk to blend flavors. Add parmesan cheese. Stir. Marinate at room temperature for one hour to enhance flavors. Stir and pour onto a plate or shallow bowl. “Dot” oil with balsamic vinegar. Serve with baguette bread. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Urban Taco Pizza! If you’re caught between the Taco/Pizza dilemma of what to have for dinner, simply combine the two for a taste extravaganza. Everyone wins. By using a prepared crust, taco seasoning packet, and bottled salsa, dinner can be ready in as fast as 30 minutes. For the cooking enthusiast, I know you already have all the homemade ingredients on hand. Either way, time is valuable in a life of constant motion. Do yourself a favor and prepare a healthy option at home. It’s easy, delicious, and most of all kid-friendly!
URBAN TACO PIZZA 
Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust, any variety 

1 tablespoon cornmeal 

1 pound lean ground beef

1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix

1 cup salsa plus more for topping

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup Spring Mix salad greens

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup slices black olives

Crushed tortilla chips
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a pizza pan with nonstick oil. Sprinkle cornmeal on pan. Cover with pizza dough. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. In a skillet, cook ground beef until crumbly. Add taco seasoning mix. Mix well. Cover pizza dough with 1 cup salsa. Layer ground beef mixture, spreading almost to the edge. Top with both cheeses. Bake 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven. Top with mixed salad greens, chopped tomatoes, and sliced black olives. Spoon on more salsa, to taste. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter T

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Tequila Tacos! Do you follow any of the chef’s on the Food Network? It seems they are always thinking outside the box when it comes to expanding our palates. Take Guy Fieri and his famous hamburgers. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Guy’s Burger Joint can see how he very casually broke the mold when it comes to men in the kitchen. Anything Goes! Today’s “nod” of adding silver tequila to ordinary tacos definitely gets the party started! 
TEQUILA TACOS
1 pound lean ground beef

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1 teaspoon cumin powder 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper 

1/3 cup tequila, silver

8 flour tortillas 

1/4 cup butter, melted 

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 

1 romaine lettuce heart, torn

1 tomato, chopped 

2 green onions, chopped 

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup salsa

1 cup Greek yogurt 

1/4 cup black olives, sliced
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium skillet, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain. Stir in garlic powder, cumin powder, sea salt, black pepper, and tequila. Reduce heat to simmer on low until liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Set aside. Brush one side of tortillas with melted butter. Spoon about 1/4 cup crumbled meat mixture onto center of unbuttered side. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Fold in half; place on a baking sheet. Repeat until all tortillas are filled and meat is evenly divided between them. Bake in oven 10-15 minutes or until tortilla shells are crisp. Remove from oven and serve with lettuce, tomato, green onions, and cilantro. Spoon salsa over top; add a dollop of Greek yogurt. Garnish with black olive slices.