Yummy Spud Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Yummy Spud Fries! Choose a healthier way to have your fries and eat them, too. Take regular potatoes, preferably russet, cut them into thick strips leaving the skin on, and bake until crispy before adding a mound of toppings. I use both grated and shaved Parmesan cheese. You’ll know perfection when the outside is a lovely sunset golden color. One bite reveals a fluffy potato within. Now dunk them in sour cream and chives or slather on thick tomato ketchup. Mmmmm.

YUMMY SPUD FRIES

Ingredients:

4 russet potatoes, washed and cut into thick strips

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Garnish with bacon crumbles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Put potato strips in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Season with garlic powder, thyme, and seasoned salt. Coat well. Transfer potatoes to a nonstick baking sheet. Spread into a single layer. Reserve oil in bowl. Bake 15 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes back into the bowl with reserved olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Coat well. Layer fries onto baking sheet. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Before serving sprinkle spud fries with shaved Parmesan cheese and bacon crumbles. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Summertime Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Mediterranean Summertime Tomatoes! Do you say “to-may-toe” or “to-mah-toe”? Like it really matters when you sink your teeth into its meaty flesh as the juice runs down your chin. Face it, summer is all about the luscious tomato. Gardeners go crazy planting, watering, weeding, and coaxing the plants’ climbing tendrils to wind within the wire baskets so when the vine becomes heavy with fruit (yes, actually the tomato IS a fruit) you’ll reap the harvest. After all, everyone loves a neighbor who grows, and shares, garden tomatoes.

MEDITERRANEAN SUMMERTIME TOMATOES

Ingredients:

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

2 Campari tomatoes, sliced

1 cup yellow mini tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, crushed

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Sea salt to taste

Anchovy-stuffed olives (optional)

Fresh basil for garnish

1 loaf French bread

Instructions:

Core and slice tomatoes. Arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle red onion over the tomatoes. Whisk together the olive oil, Herbes de Provence, garlic powder, and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over the tomatoes and onions. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with anchovy-stuffed green olives and fresh basil. Dip French bread in the marinade and eat with the tomatoes.*

*Serving Suggestion: Begin with a bed of baby spinach leaves for a complete meal.

Lo Mein Made Simple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Lo Mein Made Simple! Do you ever go to the refrigerator and wonder what to make for dinner? I do. Recently my leftovers consisted of a couple of pork tenderloin fillets, grilled over the weekend, plus some veggies in the produce bin. Not quite enough. Unless you throw them all together in an amazing sauce. I didn’t exactly have Lo Mein egg noodles, but I did have some dried pasta on hand. Who doesn’t? The results were mouth-watering!

LO MEIN MADE SIMPLE

Ingredients:

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup fresh snow peas

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon pimento, sliced

2 pork fillets, grilled and cut up

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Green onion snips for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, ground ginger, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic powder, and carrot strips. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, baby spinach, and pimento slices. Stir until spinach has wilted. Add pork fillet chunks. Heat through. Add cooked pasta and soy sauce mixture. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Hand-Packed Burgers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Hand-Packed Burgers! For a hamburger worthy of a gourmet chef, begin with a low-fat lean meat. Divide the ground beef or sirloin into four equal portions. Form each one a little wider than the bottom bun to allow for shrinkage during grilling. Press your thumb into the center to create a small well, or dimple. If you’re a perfectionist, choose a jar lid slightly larger than the hamburger bun. Line the lid with plastic wrap, press the meat into the shape, flip the patty, and continue on to the next one. That’s way cheaper than buying a hamburger press. The secret’s out. Now you choose.

HAND-PACKED BURGERS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground sirloin or lean ground beef

1 beef bouillon cube

1-2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon steak seasoning mix

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sesame Seed Buns

Cheese of choice

Toppings

Condiments

Instructions:

Heat water to boiling. Add beef bouillon cube. Stir to dissolve. Fold into ground beef. Sprinkle steak seasoning into meat. With clean hands, mix gently until all ingredients are combined. Divide into quarter-pounders. Hand-pack ground beef into equal size patties. Rub both sides with olive oil. Refrigerate one hour before grilling. To cook, preheat gas grill on High heat. Place burgers directly on grate; cook for 4-5 minutes; flip and cook 4 minutes longer for medium doneness. Do not press on burger to flatten because it will release all those flavorful juices. Transfer to a platter. Immediately top with cheese of choice. Add sliced onions, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce leaves. Dress up with ketchup, mustard, and mayo. You’ve just made the best backyard burger!

Buffalo Chicken Crostini

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Buffalo Chicken Crostini! Take a spicy hot dip, add the buttery texture of avocado, and finish it with the cooling sensation of natural yogurt. Now smile. You’ve just bitten into an appetizer-turned-meal after an exhausting day you’ll soon leave behind. This is how we treat ourselves right. You’re welcome.

BUFFALO CHICKEN CROSTINI

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup ranch dressing

1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning mix

3/4 cup red hot sauce

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

3/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 avocado, pitted

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1-2 green onions, snipped

1 baguette loaf, sliced and toasted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat Neufchâtel cheese, goat cheese, ranch dressing, ranch dry seasoning, and red hot sauce. Fold in chopped chicken. Spread mixture into a prepared casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle extra-sharp cheddar cheese over top. Bake 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, using a mini chopper, combine avocado, garlic powder, sea salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until mixture is combined but still chunky. Set aside. To assemble crostini, spread creamed avocado over toasted baguette slices. Add a scoop of Buffalo Chicken dip. Dollop with Greek yogurt. Garnish with onion snips.

Antipasto Salad

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.

Kielbasa Sausage Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Kielbasa Sausage Stew! As the outside temperatures continue to rise and fall, there’s comfort in bringing a hearty meal to the dinner table. This is what I call Food for the Soul. Warm up a side of artisan bread from the local bakery, smear on a dab of sweet, creamy butter, and sink your teeth into a heart-warming meal that is sure to please. Rainy days and chilly nights make this an extra-satisfying dish, especially when the sun refuses to shine.

KIELBASA SAUSAGE STEW

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces smoked Kielbasa sausage, sliced into circles

1/2 onion, diced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups chicken broth

1 carrot, pealed and diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 small potato, peeled and cubed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubes

1 cup kale, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sliced Kielbasa sausage rounds. Brown on both sides. Do not burn. Reduce heat and add diced onion. Sauté together 3 minutes until golden. Add Italian seasoning, paprika, black pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan, combine chicken broth, diced carrots, diced celery potato cubes, and sweet potato cubes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add contents of skillet. Allow to simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes longer to enhance flavors. Remove from heat. Add kale and chopped parsley. Stir a couple minutes to wilt. Serve immediately.

Boursin Garlic Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Boursin Garlic Bisque! Have you been to a restaurant where the main course is served with a side of garlic smashed potatoes? The texture is incredibly smooth and the flavor is bursting with fresh herbs and garlic. Gourmet Boursin cheese may be their secret ingredient. Its airy-light texture is a marriage between spreadable cream cheese and whipped butterfat. You can find this French icon wrapped in foil in the cheese department of your favorite grocery store. Serve it with crackers, pita chips, or go all out and make this simple potato bisque.

BOURSIN GARLIC BISQUE

Ingredients:

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups Yukon potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup sweet onions, chopped

3/4 cup light cream

5.3 ounce Garlic Boursin Cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

5 slices crisp bacon, pieces and crumbles

Fresh Garlic Chives

Ground Smoked Almonds

Instructions:

Combine chicken broth and chopped potatoes in a 2-quart pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, sauté garlic clove and sweet onions in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add to potato mixture. After potatoes are tender, partially smash the potatoes to thicken, leaving some potato chunks for texture. Add light cream and Boursin cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add baby peas and bacon pieces. Simmer 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with bacon crumbles, garlic chives, and smoked almonds.

Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing! For those who really crave the taste of stuffing, here’s an idea for a meal-in-one-dish. Some people may call it a “casserole” since it contains crumbled pork sausage, mixed vegetables, bread stuffing, and wild rice grains. Either way, you’re going to want to bookmark and print this recipe. It’s that good. Of course, you can make the serving portions a little smaller and serve it as a side dish with roasted chicken, turkey, or a Cornish hen like I did. Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing can easily be made a day ahead of time and gently reheated when you need it. Leftovers can be frozen up to three months. I believe I just saw your face light up. Trust me, your family will thank you. They may even offer to load the dishwasher.

WILD RICE SAUSAGE STUFFING

Ingredients:

6-ounce package long grain and wild rice mix

1 pound bulk sausage

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

4-ounce can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained

6-ounce package chicken stuffing cubes

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook wild rice according to package directions. Set aside. Brown sausage until cooked and crumbled; drain. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Sauté onion and celery pieces until tender, 4-5 minutes. Do not burn. In a large bowl, combine wild rice, sausage crumbles, sautéed onions/celery mixture, and mushrooms. Stir well. Fold in chicken stuffing cubes. Add beaten eggs, chicken broth, seasoned pepper and poultry seasoning. Stir thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Serve warm.