Grill Pan Pork Loins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Grill Pan Pork Loins! My latest kitchen essential is an enameled cast iron skinny grill that just happens to fit perfectly across two burners on my newly installed glass stovetop. As you can see, the vibrant red handles not only allow for attractive table service, but also make it easy to manage while cooking. Now I get that unique grilled taste all year long, no matter what the weather. The cast iron feature is the secret to even cooking. Plus, the nonstick finish makes cleanup a flash, in addition to enhanced seasoning qualities. I like the idea that foods, once grilled, show the little black grill marks. After all, it’s about the presentation, isn’t it? In addition, vegetables work out quite nicely. No more frustrating pieces falling through the grill grates. I can see you agree with me.

GRILL PAN PORK LOINS

Ingredients:

4 pork loins, boneless, and one-inch thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 red onion, sliced

1 cup broccoli florets

1/3 cup pineapple chunks

4 fingerling potatoes, halved

Instructions:

Preheat the stovetop grill pan on medium heat setting. Brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the pork loins with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Arrange on grill pan. Add red onion slices, broccoli florets, and pineapple chunks in a single layer. Pierce fingerling potatoes with a fork. Microwave on High setting for two minutes. Cut in half and add to grill pan. Cook pork loins until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Turn vegetables as needed to prevent scorching. When pork reaches 145° on a meat thermometer, transfer loins to a cutting board; tent with foil for 5 minutes. Turn stovetop setting to Off. Divide food into four portions. Serve warm.

Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque! My pantry is sometimes filled with good intentions. I envision a nutritious meal and then get sidelined by other ingredients, especially in the Produce Department of the local grocery. I mean, just look at the bin overflowing with organic sweet potatoes. Medium-sized, smooth skin, pretty color, and screaming “Pick me. I’m healthy.” Soon after I get home, I store them out of sight in a cool, dark area only to discover them three weeks later. Thank goodness, sweet potatoes are very forgiving. Their shelf life is easily 5 weeks. If you ever wondered how to tell if it’s time to toss them out, press the skin. If it’s soft, discolored, or has an unpleasant odor, throw them out and promise yourself you’ll do better next time.

BACON BIT SWEET POTATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Green onion snips, for garnish

Bacon bits, for garnish

Dollop Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil over the skins of the sweet potatoes. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop the sweet potatoes into a bowl and thoroughly mash. Discard peels. Warm butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, ground ginger, cumin powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer. Add chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer. Transfer sweet potatoes to a food processor and Pulse until consistency is smooth. Whisk sweet potatoes into broth until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with green onion snips, bacon bits, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Quesadilla Chile Relleno

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Quesadilla Chile Relleno! Before you shake your head and walk away, hear me out. Green poblano peppers are a pretty mild distant cousin to the jalapeño and habanero. You could almost say they’re from the “other side of the tracks”, so to speak. Personally, I think they’re underrated. If you look up their classification, they might even be referred to as sweet. Now, I don’t know about that. What I do know is they smell somewhat earthy, tend to hold their shape, and are absolutely scrumptious when bathed in Mexican cheeses. In my opinion, they definitely deserve a second chance. What have you got to lose?

QUESADILLA CHILE RELLENO

Ingredients:

2 large flour tortillas

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup Mexican-style four cheeses, shredded

2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and sliced in strips

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/4 cup ranch dressing, prepared

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Instructions:

Butter one side of each flour tortilla. Set aside. Warm an iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the skillet, butter side down. Add half the Mexican cheeses. Arrange the poblano peppers in a single layer over cheese. Scatter chopped onion over all. Add remaining Mexican cheese blend. Place the remaining tortilla on top, butter side up. Press down lightly. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook 3-4 minutes until tortilla is lightly browned and cheese is melted. Using a spatula, flip over the quesadilla. Cover with lid. Cook 2-3 minutes longer until golden brown. Do not burn. Transfer quesadilla to a cutting board. Let rest for 2 minutes to avoid a flood of gooey cheese. In a small bowl, combine prepared ranch dressing, cayenne pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Cut the quesadilla into 6 triangles. Serve with sriracha ranch dipping sauce.

Frisée Blueberry Pistachio Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Frisée Blueberry Pistachio Salad! Have you tried frisée lately? This member of the lettuce family offers a slightly bitter bite, which is why it’s a good idea to pair it with some form of sweetened fruit. The appealing curlicue tendrils have a crunchy texture as well as upstanding hardiness. That factor alone is important since it translates to the ability to withstand a creamy dressing without turning it to mush. Should one desire, adding a robust bleu cheese, blackened bacon strip, or scattering salty capers among the sturdy leaves, permits a heavier dressing in short order. So you see, the question remains: to frisée or not to frisée.

FRISÉE BLUEBERRY PISTACHIO SALAD

Ingredients:

1 bunch frisée, stems trimmed, leaves gently torn

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon red onion, slivers

1/4 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Divide salad plates with frisée. Arrange sliced radishes, red onion slivers, blueberries, and tarragon leaves around frisée leaves. In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Slowly, whisk in olive oil. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle dressing over salads; tossing to coat. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. Serve chilled.

Artichoke Chicken Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Artichoke Chicken Flatbread! Marinated artichoke hearts are a luxury worth savoring. Let me repeat myself: Marinated artichoke hearts are a luxury worth savoring. Now that I’ve said it twice, tuck those words into your memory banks. The next time you go shopping for groceries, grab a jar off the shelf. Don’t worry, it won’t go to waste. For some reason, artichokes taste like a summer day, standing barefoot under a canopy of shade trees overlooking a babbling brook. Invigorating. Vivacious. And stimulating. Think about all the ways you can serve artichoke hearts: in dips, as appetizers, on charcuterie boards, roasted with veggies, or straight out of the jar. Just wait until you try them on flatbread.

ARTICHOKE CHICKEN FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/3 cup prepared ranch dressing

1 1/2 cup Italian cheeses, shredded

1/2 cup grilled chicken strips, precooked and cut into chunks

1/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

2 tablespoons red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons sweet onion, chopped

Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil on the bottom of the flatbread. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Spread ranch dressing over top of flatbread. Sprinkle with one cup of shredded Italian cheeses. Arrange grilled chicken chunks, marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, green peppers, and sweet onions over all. Add remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and deeply golden around the edges. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving.

Sour Cream ‘n Onion Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Sour Cream ‘n Onion Deviled Eggs! Every once in awhile I crave something a little bit salty. To satisfy that urge, I whip up a batch of egg salad to scoop with potato chips or crackers. It’s pretty tasty, too. But what happens if all you have on hand are the crumbs at the bottom of the potato chip bag, hmmm? I’ve got an idea. Go one step further and make deviled eggs. By adding crumbled onion straws to the filling, it adds zing. Then sprinkle the potato chip crumbs on top for a salty finish. It works.

SOUR CREAM ‘N ONION DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

2 tablespoons ranch salad dressing

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sour cream

2 tablespoons onion straw pieces

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

2 tablespoons sour cream and onion potato chips, crushed

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Slice eggs in half horizontally and carefully transfer yolks to a bowl. Place the empty whites on a platter. Mix ranch salad dressing, mayonnaise, and sour cream with the egg yolks. Stir until smooth. Fold in onion straw pieces and chopped chives. Fill the egg whites. Garnish with crushed sour cream and onion potato chips sprinkled with fresh chives.

Ramping Up Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Ramping Up Breakfast! For a hearty and satisfying way to jumpstart your morning, think outside the box with sautéed ramps. Prepared in minutes with hardly anytime at the stove, you’ll be serving up a “green” feast fit for a king. If you live in the country where farm fresh eggs are as plentiful as the next roadside produce stand, even better. Treat yourself to a scrumptious weekend meal on the back porch in true farmhouse style.

RAMPING UP BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

1/4 pound wild ramps

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

2 smoked sausage links

2 pieces artisan bread, toasted

Crushed oregano, for garnish

Instructions:

Wash thoroughly every crevice and leaf stem of each ramp. Cut off and discard bulb roots. Rinse again. Gently pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Warm olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer ramps to the skillet. Cook until tender and crispy, gently turning. After 10 minutes, divide ramps between two plates. Cook eggs according to personal preference. Add to each plate. Heat smoked sausage, slicing open to sear. Arrange on plates. Butter toast to complete each breakfast plate. Garnish ramps and eggs with crushed oregano. Serve immediately.

Kentucky Benedictine Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Kentucky Benedictine Dip! Each State seems to have its claim-to-fame. Kentucky is no exception. Around the turn of the 20th century, a Louisville chef came up with a tasty alternative to the club sandwich. By combining crisp cucumbers, softened cheese, and a few other subtle ingredients, the freshly sweet cucumber sandwich was born. I imagine in the beginning the bread crusts were eliminated creating bite-size “finger” sandwiches served with afternoon tea. As time wore on, vegetable dips became the rage making it less work and more appealing. After all, who doesn’t love eating with their hands? Graze through your next gathering with the cool refreshing taste of cucumbers.

KENTUCKY BENEDICTINE DIP

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Instructions:

Grate the cucumber with a food processor. Add softened cream cheese, grated onion, sea salt, black pepper, and mayonnaise. Pulse until mixture is well blended and smooth. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with fresh vegetables and multigrain crackers.

Individual Lasagna Roll-Ups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Individual Lasagna Roll-Ups! Lasagna can be a tedious process from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, some days it is definitely worth the effort. When I want to simplify my life, I take advantage of the effortless idea of creating a roll-up from each noodle. Not only does it make each portion compact, but it also guarantees that every helping has all the goodies tucked neatly inside. And that’s basically what lasagna is all about, isn’t it? Think about how easy it would be for transporting to family gatherings or seasonal parties, should you choose to share. Everyone wins.

INDIVIDUAL LASAGNA ROLL-UPS

Ingredients:

6 lasagna noodles

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1/2 teaspoon fennel

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 tablespoons green pepper, diced

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

12 ounces marinara sauce

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain. Refill pot with cold water to keep the noodles from sticking together. Set aside. In a large skillet, cook Italian sausage over medium-high heat. Add fennel, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Crumble meat as it cooks. Add chopped onions, diced green peppers, and sliced mushrooms. Pour marinara over all. Stir thoroughly; reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off heat. Spread the bottom of the prepared casserole dish with 1/4 cup meat mixture. In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and chopped parsley. Transfer lasagna noodles to a baking sheet. Spread cheese mixture over the top of each noodle. Add a strip of meat mixture over the cheese layer. Roll up noodles and transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Spread remaining meat mixture over lasagna rolls. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover casserole with a lid or foil. Bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove lid and broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is lightly golden. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.