Knee-Jerk Chicken Wings

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Knee-Jerk Chicken Wings! Look ahead for a weekend meal that is Mmm Mmm Good. It takes a minute of advanced planning, but is, oh, so worth it. As with any marinade, its main purpose is to tenderize the chicken while bathing it with flavor and moisture. In the end you have chicken wings so juicy you won’t be able to put them down. As always, store the marinated chicken in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend reusing the marinade once you transfer the meat to a baking pan. As a general rule, any sauces that come into contact with uncooked meat should be disposed of properly to prevent harmful bacteria exposure. I’m good with that. In most cases an extra sauce or dressing can be offered instead.

KNEE-JERK CHICKEN WINGS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon dark rum

2 habanero peppers, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon molasses

2 pounds chicken wings

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon spicy honey

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

To make the jerk paste marinade, combine vinegar, dark rum, habanero peppers, red onion, green onions, thyme, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses in a blender. Pulse to mix until smooth. Place the chicken in a baking dish. Pour lime juice over chicken to coat on both sides. Wearing gloves, rub the jerk paste over both sides of the chicken wings, covering well. Transfer chicken to a gallon freezer bag. Use a rubber spatula to transfer all the marinade to the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a rimmed baking pan with nonstick oil. Place chicken wings in a single layer, skin side up. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then flip to bake for another 20 minutes. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, and spicy honey in a small bowl. Mix well. Turn the chicken back over so the skin side is up. Brush with ketchup sauce. Bake 10 minutes longer. When chicken is done, transfer to a platter. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing.

Pinto Bean Cottage Ham Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Pinto Bean Cottage Ham Stew! Whenever I make a main course meat, I usually have enough excess to freeze a portion or two for recipes down the road. It keeps us from growing weary of eating the same thing over and over until it’s gone. This recipe is one of those “second meals” from the cottage ham dinner recently. It can easily be substituted with ham or completely omitted for a vegetarian meal. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it?

PINTO BEAN COTTAGE HAM STEW

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup celery, diced

6 mini carrots, sliced

15-ounce can pinto beans, with liquid

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups water or broth from cottage ham*

1 cup cottage ham, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1-2 bay leaves

Instructions:

In an iron skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, diced celery, and sliced carrots. Cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the pinto beans with liquid, garlic powder, marjoram, thyme, liquid smoke, and black pepper. Stir. Slowly add water and cottage ham pieces. Stir to combine. Place the bay leaves on top. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 30 minutes. For a thicker stew, lightly mash some of the pinto beans. Remove bay leaves before serving.

*Broth was saved from the original preparation of the cottage ham.

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Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley! Way back when I was in middle school, my home economics teacher actually graded us on how colorful the foods looked on the plate. Her thoughts were “If it tempts your eyes, your stomach will want it.” I never forgot that message. She was pretty adamant about food presentation. So having mashed potatoes, rolls, and cauliflower was kind of a no-no when meal planning. That’s one of the reasons I was intrigued by Okinawan sweet potatoes when visiting Kauai. They are buff-skinned on the outside with a violet-purple flesh inside. It’s not as sweet as the orange variety I’m accustomed to, but nonetheless, it’s pretty tasty. And as you can see, it passes the color test.

OKINAWAN SWEET POTATO MEDLEY

Ingredients:

1 large Okinawan sweet potato, skin on, washed and sliced

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

2 each of mini sweet peppers in red, yellow, and orange; stems and seeds removed, cut in wedges

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

Spray a sheet of heavy aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Arrange Okinawan sweet potatoes on foil. Add sweet onion slices and mini sweet pepper wedges. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, oregano, and cinnamon. Dot with pats of butter. Place another sheet of heavy aluminum foil over top of vegetables. Fold sides twice to seal. Fold ends twice to seal. Avoid puncturing foil. Place packet on a 425° preheated grill. Close lid. Cook 25 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from grill. Carefully open one corner of foil packet to release steam. Then remove top layer of foil. Transfer sweet potatoes and vegetables in the herbed butter to a platter. Serve immediately.

Double Decker Shrimp Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Double-Decker Shrimp Nachos! Get set for a taste extravaganza that will implode inside your mouth. Talk about a nacho upgrade. It just may kick the ordinary version to the curb. Look at the ingredient list: sautéed shrimp, gooey cheeses, cayenne peppers, and fresh veggies. Double-Decker means two layers of mouthwatering goodness. Better add a side of plain yogurt or sour cream to control the fire, just in case. Keep ingredients on hand. You’re going to end up making it twice!

DOUBLE-DECKER SHRIMP NACHOS

Ingredients:

11-ounce bag corn tortilla chips

12-ounce bag large cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon crushed oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8-ounces Mexican cheese blend, finely shredded

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup corn, frozen and thawed

4-5 green onions, snipped

1 avocado, sliced

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x13” glass dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Arrange shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, crushed oregano, and garlic salt. Turn shrimp to brown both sides. Remove from heat. Repeat if necessary until all shrimp is sautéed. Line bottom of glass dish with a single layer of corn tortilla chips, slightly overlapping. Place half the shrimp over chips. You may cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mexican cheese blend over shrimp. Next top cheeses with one chopped tomato and corn. Using a kitchen shears, snip 2 green onions into bite-size pieces randomly over top. Repeat process for second layer, beginning with tortilla chips. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Garnish with sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for extra flavor. Serve warm.

Dirty Breakfast Rice

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Dirty Breakfast Rice! What do you get when you blend Hawaiian culture with Louisiana spice? You get a savory breakfast that will rev your engine all day long. Too often we think a cold breakfast will give us the energy needed until time allows for the next meal. Sometimes that isn’t until after the workday is almost finished. At least with Dirty Breakfast Rice you get a running start on a busy schedule. Its healthy carb is easily digestible and nutty taste is simply satisfying. Be good to yourself.

DIRTY BREAKFAST RICE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant brown rice

7-ounce vegetable broth

1/2 pound smoked sausage link, cut-up in chunks

4 green onions, chopped

2 eggs, scrambled

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/4 cup soybean sauce

Instructions:

Melt butter in a deep skillet. Do not burn. Add brown rice. Coat well. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in vegetable broth and smoked sausage chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Scramble the eggs on the side of the pan. Once the eggs are almost cooked, combine the rice and eggs together. Add chopped green onion with tops, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, Cajun seasoning, and soybean sauce. Mix well and serve immediately.

Mole Sesame Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Mole Sesame Chicken! One of my longtime friends introduced me to this dish after spending some time in the Dominican Republic. The unique mole sauce contains chili pepper, aromatic spices, and dark Mexican chocolate making it a savory sauce over turkey or chicken. It creates a fabulous meal when you have leftover meat. Simply add plain or Spanish rice along with soft flour tortillas for the perfect pairings. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty finish.

MOLE SESAME CHICKEN

Ingredients:

8.25 ounce jar Doña Maria Mole*

28 ounces chicken broth

1-2 pound rotisserie chicken

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Shred rotisserie chicken, removing skin and bones. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Empty contents of mole paste into a blender. Add half the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add remaining broth. Repeat. Pour mole sauce over chicken. Stir to incorporate. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with sticky rice or Spanish rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

*I receive no recompense for recommending Doña Maria Mole, Mexican Condiment.

Iowa Loose Meat Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Iowa Loose Meat Sliders! If you’ve ever taken a road trip through Iowa, or are fortunate enough to live there, you’re already familiar with its popular loose meat sandwich found at local diners. Made of 100% freshly ground beef, the Midwest tradition began around 1926. Bypassing the form of a patty and omitting the sauce of a sloppy joe, what you saw was what you got—all loose meat. The steaming technique plus the combination of spices remain a trade secret. But if you’re willing to come pretty close, give this recipe a try. Just remember to hold the ketchup.

IOWA LOOSE MEAT SLIDERS

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins sauce

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 1/2 cups beer

1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

6 slider buns

Sliced dill pickles

Minced onions

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add ground beef. Cook until brown and crumbly. Add yellow mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Stir in beer. Bring to boil. Add beef bouillon. Reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Serve on toasted slider buns. Top with dill pickles, mustard, and minced onions.

Fondue Pizza Party

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Fondue Pizza Party! Revitalize the 1970s by throwing a fondue party. Gather up the dipping forks, where everyone chooses their favorite color. Remember, these forks are for spearing and dipping only. Never allow your guests to eat from the sharp pointed ends. Another reason eating from the fondue forks is a no-no is to avoid adding germs to the fondue sauce. So, set the table and let the fun begin!

FONDUE PIZZA PARTY

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian meatballs, pre-cooked and ready-to-serve

8 ounces bite size dry salami or pepperoni slices

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

8 ounces mozzarella sticks, cut into chunks

28-30 ounce jar pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce

Breadsticks

Bagel chips

Rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Heat pizza sauce to boiling, then reduce to simmer, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Transfer to a fondue pot when ready to serve. Set on low heat to maintain a constant temperature. Arrange meatballs, pepperoni slices, green pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese chunks on one or two serving platters. Include breadsticks, crostini, or bagel chips as another option. Spear dippers with fondue forks or rosemary sprigs. Dip ingredients into the fondue sauce for pizza party magic.

Veggie Pot Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Veggie Pot Pie! Do you like to make pie dough? What if it’s not flaky? Are you okay with that? How do you keep the bottom crust from being soggy? Is it necessary to have a top crust? All very good questions, I assure you. Forget them for now and come with me into the land of phyllo dough where tissue-thin layers of unleavened dough are brushed with melted butter creating a crispy golden crunch. Expert bakers took the time and skill to make our lives easier by rolling and stretching the dough multiple times so we don’t have to. The result is a product as close as our neighborhood grocer. With pre-made phyllo dough as your starting point, anyone can be a gourmet chef. No dough-making required.

VEGGIE POT PIE

Ingredients:

7-ounce box antioxidant blend frozen vegetables, thawed

1 cup pearl onions

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup frozen green beans, thawed

1 sweet potato, skin on

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cut-up

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator overnight

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

Keep phyllo dough chilled until ready to use. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine antioxidant vegetable blend, pearl onions, corn, peas, and green beans. Gently toss to keep vegetables from mashing. Wash skin of sweet potato. Pierce with a knife. Microwave on High setting for 3 minutes. Let sweet potato cool enough to handle before cutting into cubes. Gently toss into vegetable mixture. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom pieces. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook, stirring occasionally until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl of mixed vegetables. Add parmesan cheese. Mix beaten egg into vegetables. Sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Butter a 9” iron skillet. Unroll the phyllo sheets and lay them on a flat surface. Immediately cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. This prevents the dough from drying out. Keep phyllo covered after removing each sheet. Fit one phyllo sheet into the skillet, allowing the edges to hang over the sides. Brush lightly with melted butter. Continue working quickly by placing one phyllo sheet in the skillet at a time. Turn skillet a quarter-turn, then top with a second sheet; brush lightly with butter. Repeat with remaining sheets and butter. When finished there should be about a tablespoon of butter left. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly over phyllo layers. Sprinkle goat cheese over top. Fold edges of phyllo dough up and over the filling toward the center, overlapping slightly. Center will be exposed. Brush the top of the phyllo with remaining butter. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Transfer iron skillet to a wire rack. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. The flavor of roasted vegetables intensifies at room temperature. Serve warm. (Leftovers may be reheated in the iron skillet with the crust remaining crisp.)