Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter R

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Relish Charcuterie! Everyone knows the best defense is a good offense, especially when it comes to group gatherings and holiday parties. Low-calorie items are always a wise choice. Keep it healthy with a nice assortment of raw veggies packed with nutrients and fiber. Besides, they’re colorful and festive. By filling a plate with appealing choices like these, you can splurge later on with a sampling of dessert. 
RELISH CHARCUTERIE 
Ingredients:

1 head celery, with stalks and ribs 

3 large carrots, cut into strips

7 ounces pimento stuffed queen olives

10 ounces grape tomatoes

1 pint sweet gherkins 

8 ounces wild caper berries 

6 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted

12 ounces imported pepperoncinis 

1 bunch garden radishes

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Pickled garlic
Instructions:

Wash all fresh vegetables in cold water. Pat dry on paper towels. Chop and slice as needed in unique shapes. Use small dip bowls for height and color. Arrange ingredients on a nice platter so designs are appealing to the eye. It is better to keep it looking full by switching around shapes and color. Small plates and toothpicks or skewers encourage snacking. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter O

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad! Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to serve up gluten-free meals. This one, in particular, is packed with protein and fiber, plus non-GMO red lentils. You don’t need to have allergic restrictions to appreciate its natural goodness. The texture is firm while providing an amazing taste sensation. Eat it cold or warmed up a bit. You decide. Either way, the health benefits will have you patting yourself on the back for making such a healthy choice. 
ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA SALAD
Ingredients:

8 ounces organic red lentil pasta

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower florets 

1/3 cup red onions, sliced

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar 

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dry Italian dressing and seasoning mix

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1 tablespoon natural honey 

Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions:

Cook red lentil pasta 8-10 minutes, according to package directions. Water will turn cloudy and foam up, so be sure to use enough water. Remove from heat. Drain, rinse, and set aside. To make dressing, combine garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, Dijon mustard, and natural honey. Whisk together until nicely blended. Fill a large bowl with pasta, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red onion slices, diced pimento, and Kalamata olives. Pour dressing over all. Toss gently to coat ingredients. Serve cold. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Kooky Cucumber Salad! Does anyone really count the number of daily servings of vegetables recommended for a healthy diet? I know I don’t. And I suspect I’m not in the minority. What I do pay attention to is how appealing food looks on the plate. It’s one of the reasons I have a Spiralizer among my kitchen utensils. Besides, it takes minimal effort to make ordinary foods look this good. The fact that I’m maintaining a low fat, low carb, and low calorie intake just gives me all the more reason to splurge on something sweet later on. Call me crazy, or call me “kooky”.
KOOKY CUCUMBER SALAD
Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, halved

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped for garnish
Instructions:

Spiralize half the cucumber with the apple core attachment, for wider strips. Spiralize the remaining cucumber half with the noodle attachment, for spaghetti-like spirals. Arrange cucumbers in a serving bowl. Top with chopped tomatoes and red onion slices. Add Kalamata olives. Whisk together olive oil and garlic red wine vinegar. Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter A

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Antipasto Salad! This recipe is for those of you, like me, who choose a zesty salad every time they visit a Deli. In a few simple steps, you can throw this together and let it marinate in your own refrigerator. Make it the night before, or first thing in the morning. By the time you’re ready for the next meal, it’s done. The flavors blend so well when refrigerated, you’ll think it was store-bought instead. Be kind to yourself. Permission granted. 
ANTIPASTO SALAD
Ingredients for Pasta:

1 cup dry rigatoni 

1 Roma tomatoes, quartered 

6 slices Italian salami, quartered 

2 orange sweet mini-peppers, seeded and sliced

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed olives 

4 pepperoncini, whole stemmed

3 basil leaves, chopped
For Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning dry mix

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

 

Bibb lettuce leaves

Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese
Instructions:

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine pasta, Roma tomatoes, Italian salami, sweet mini peppers, olives, pepperoncini, and basil. Toss to mix. In a measuring bowl, whisk together olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, grated Parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over pasta mixture. Spoon into Bibb lettuce leaves. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter V

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to serve with grilled meats this summer. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for holidays and picnic outings. Check it out!
VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD
Ingredients:

Carrot sticks 

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes 

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers
Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers
Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers. 
Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish 

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped
Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Olive Tapenade 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: 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 L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Liptauer Cheese Spread! I love appetizers. Mostly because they give you permission to graze through a meal. Some say by eating smaller meals more frequently, it can lead to a longer, healthier life. So, around dinner time you could find me uncorking a bottle of nice red wine and nibbling on fruit, cheese, and crudités. This mellow cheese spread offers a blend of anchovy-stuffed green olives, sweet onions, salty capers, and spicy French Dijon mustard. Permission granted, my friends. 
LIPTAUER CHEESE SPREAD
Ingredients:

8-ounce block of Neufchâtel cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely chopped

12 anchovy-stuffed green olives, finely chopped

1 teaspoon French Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon imported capers, chopped

1 teaspoon caraway seed

1 teaspoon paprika 
Instructions:

Combine softened Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix until smooth. Add Vidalia onion, anchovy-stuffed green olives, French Dijon mustard, imported capers, caraway seed, and paprika. Mix well. Form into a ball. Chill for one hour. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices and vegetable crudités. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita! When there’s nothing in the house for lunch, take stock of leftovers in your refrigerator. Transform that last pita pocket into a personal pizza with basil pesto, sliced pepperoni, a dollop of tomato sauce, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. That’s what I did. Suddenly, it’s an appealing alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
X-TRAORDINARY PESTO PEPPERONI PITA
Ingredients:

1 pita bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons basil pesto

3-5 slices pepperoni 

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon pimento
Instructions:

Spread olive oil evenly over one side of pita bread. Warm pita bread in an iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Press to flatten. Next build the pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and basil pesto. Layer pepperoni over sauces. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with black olives and pimento. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt. For a crispy crust, remove lid and raise the heat back to medium. Do not burn. Serve whole with salad greens. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Zillions of Zoodles! Anyone who owns a KitchenAid stand mixer will tell you they know all about the Spiralizer. I know it may sound like a super-hero with super-powers, but in many ways it is….for foodies, in my opinion. A Spiralizer is an attachment that can peel and slice vegetables into a uniform spiral making the vegetables look like noodles. This is a great tool for those going Paleo or living gluten-free. In mere seconds any vegetable, like zucchini, can be transformed into an abundant bowl of Zoodles. Think about the options for yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes! Move over, Pasta, there’s a new sheriff in town!
ZILLIONS OF ZOODLES 
Ingredients:

1-2 zucchini, spiralized 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces shrimp, precooked

1/8 teaspoon dill weed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup Greek olive mix

3 tablespoons basil pesto

Fresh parsley, for garnish 
Instructions:

Spiralize zucchini zoodles into a bowl. Discard spiral stems. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to sauté shrimp sprinkled with dill weed, sea salt, and red pepper flakes. Remove from pan; keep drippings. Reduce heat and toss zoodles in reserve oil to coat. Add sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Stir in basil pesto. Toss gently. Heat zoodles no longer than 3-4 minutes. Remove and serve with sautéed shrimp. Garnish with fresh parsley.