Kickin’ Leg of Lamb

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Kickin’ Leg of Lamb! Autumn is a popular time to take advantage of the availability of lamb as a meat option. Most farmers raise lambs in their natural environment, simply because it is economically feasible. Think about it. Whenever you come across a bucolic scene, a herd of sheep are casually grazing along the rugged hillside feasting on grass. They are one of the original foragers. They appear to roam free in the fresh air without a care in the world. My husband used to laugh when he’d say, “I think I’m going to get a couple lambs so I no longer need to mow the grounds.” I’d simply look him in the eye and respond, “I’m sure the wildlife predators would like that, too.”

KICKIN’ LEG OF LAMB

Ingredients:

1 pound leg of lamb steak

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup orange marmalade

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Season the leg of lamb steak with sea salt, black pepper, and rosemary leaves. Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the lamb. Cook for 4 minutes per side. Remove the lamb and transfer to a platter. Wipe the oil from the skillet. Add butter, orange marmalade, Dijon mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly over medium heat. Place the leg of lamb steak back into the skillet. Cover with the orange glaze. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Rest for 3 minutes before transferring lamb and glaze to a serving platter. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Coconut Sprinkled Fruit Cups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Coconut Sprinkled Fruit Cups! Whether you choose to enhance a hearty breakfast, compliment a light lunch, or serve as a healthy dessert, fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take a moment to look in the fridge. Perhaps you see an apple, a bunch of green grapes, a ripe banana, or a few stragglers from a berry basket. Combine them together for a surprising and colorful addition to any meal. Sprinkle on some coconut flakes to jazz things up. Drizzle with maple syrup, wildflower honey, or agave nectar. Just a touch. Then, for a nice finish, sprinkle on cinnamon, nutmeg, or citrusy cardamom. Dessert-lovers may add a dollop of whipped cream. The choices are endless. When building a fruit salad, think color, flavor, and presentation. The results may surprise you.

COCONUT SPRINKLED FRUIT CUPS

Ingredients:

1 Cara Cara orange, divided into segments

1/2 cup pineapple, tidbits

2 tablespoons coconut, shredded

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

Instructions:

Fill two fruit cups with orange segments and pineapple tidbits. Sprinkle shredded coconut over top. Drizzle with agave nectar. Garnish with ground nutmeg.

Lime-Seasoned Roasted Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Lime-Seasoned Roasted Carrots! My favorite new seasoning is Tajin Classico*. The first time I tasted it, it was on the rim of a frosted margarita glass. That’s because it is a popular Mexican spice blend of chili peppers, sea salt, and lime juice. The sweet and salty tones awakened my taste buds, with a snap of citrus. It adds a layer of zing I can hardly describe. What I can say, though, is you may find yourself sprinkling it on everything from meat and vegetables to popcorn and beverages.

LIME-SEASONED ROASTED CARROTS

Ingredients:

1 pound carrots

2 teaspoons adobo sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon tajin seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 orange, sliced and halved

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut the top off the carrots and discard. Cut the carrots in half lengthwise; then into quarters. Transfer to a shallow dish. In a bowl, whisk together adobo sauce, olive oil, orange juice, tajin seasoning, and cumin powder. Pour over the sliced carrots; toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Arrange orange slices. Roast carrots for 30 minutes, or until tender. Serve warm.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl! Get ready to eat well. This morning’s smoothie bowl will energize your body as well as your mind. Feel the easygoing ingredients stimulate your senses with a kick of sass right between the eyes. I mean, just look at the brightness real cherries can make. Begin with frozen fruit. Did you know if you freeze a cut-up banana it doesn’t turn brown? Truth. Each ziplock bag contains an entire sliced banana. Make sure they freeze in a single layer, though. When it’s time to blend the frozen fruit, the smoothie is chilled so there’s no need to add ice cubes. Now to address the elephant in the room, so to speak. Jalapeños. Don’t worry. Their bold flavor is invigorating. It actually adds a nice balance between the sweet and creamy, not to mention the extra vitamins. But don’t take my word for it.

JALAPEÑO CHERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen cherries

1 sliced and frozen banana

3-5 slices of pickled jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños for garnish

Instructions:

In a blender combine frozen cherries, frozen banana, chopped jalapeños, chopped pistachios, orange juice, sherry vinegar, and Greek yogurt. Pulse to process. Add coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and Himalayan pink salt. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer smoothie to a bowl. Garnish with cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños.

Yogurt Tropical Breeze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Yogurt Tropical Breeze! Breakfast never tasted so good. Elevate an ordinary yogurt serving to something extraordinary by switching to tropical fruits like juicy ripe pineapple and buttery sweet papaya. Instead of granola, sprinkle on toasted coconut for a refreshing taste that will transport you like a summer breeze on a tropical island.

YOGURT TROPICAL BREEZE

Ingredients:

16 ounces Greek yogurt

15.25 ounce can tropical mixed fruit; pineapple, red and yellow papaya*

1 small seedless orange, separated into segments

3 strawberries, sliced

2-3 tablespoons toasted coconut

Fresh mint for garnish

Instructions:

Drain fruit, save reserve juice for later. Divide Greek yogurt into serving dishes. Add topical fruit, orange segments, and strawberry slices. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint.

*Kroger brand Tropical Mixed Fruit in fruit nectar, 15.25 oz can. I receive no recompense for recommending this product.

Spiced Pear Blueberry Cobbler

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Spiced Pear Blueberry Cobbler! For a truly gourmet experience, this dessert is spot on. You may notice a very distinct flavor, but can’t quite put your finger on it. Not only is it different, it’s alluring and extraordinary. I’m here to tell you, the secret ingredient is cardamom. Not only is it a key ingredient in the spiced pear combination, but if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find it’s the grande finale and the perfect compliment for this exotic cobbler. Cardamom sprinkled on ice cream that has been drizzled with honey is practically like eating two desserts…in one. Bonus points!

SPICED PEAR BLUEBERRY COBBLER

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

1/4 cup orange marmalade

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, place blueberries. Sprinkle with corn starch. Turn to coat. Set aside. In a medium bowl, toss pears with orange marmalade, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Add ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. Gently fold in blueberries.

Ingredients for Batter:

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cups almonds, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix flour, sea salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients. Batter will be crumbly. Spread 3/4 batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Layer fruit filling, spreading to edges. Crumble remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and sliced almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm, a la mode with vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with natural honey and sprinkled with cardamom.

Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas! What if I told you this recipe will give you the crunch of bacon and the tenderness of a roast? And what if I also told you there’s no shame in eating a plate of tender, super-crispy meat without tortillas and refried beans on the side? (It’s true. I actually had these pork carnitas for breakfast one day.) If you’ve ever ordered this house special in a Mexican restaurant, I challenge you to give it a try. I simply threw all the ingredients together before I went to bed and let the slow cooker do its magic overnight. The next morning, the aromas will drive you crazy! Be creative. Have tacos, tostadas, nachos, or simply eat them as is. I did, without regrets. Mmmmm.

PAN-SEARED PORK CARNITAS

Ingredients:

7-pound pork shoulder, bone-in

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 tablespoon Hawaiian Rub*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

Fresh lime

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Rinse and dry pork shoulder. Pat dry. Cover with olive oil. Rub in oregano, cumin powder, Hawaiian Rub, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, in a slow-cooker. Add chopped onion and jalapeño slices. Mix together orange juice and vinegar. Pour over all. Cover. Cook on Low for 10 hours. When done, the meat will be very tender. Remove the roast from the slow cooker. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Shred the meat using two forks, allowing some pieces to remain in bite-size chunks. Strain the juices into a medium size saucepan. Discard solids. Warm the drippings over medium heat to skim off the fat. Set aside. To serve, warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place shredded pork in the skillet and drizzle in a ladle of juices. Avoid overcrowding. Use a screen lid cover to eliminate splatters. Let the juices evaporate for 2-3 minutes so the bottom of the pork appears charred and crusty. Carefully turn over the pork pieces to cook golden brown. Overcooking will reduce tenderness and juiciness. Remove pork from skillet. Take a lime wedge and squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with cilantro. Leftovers may be divided into storage containers. Pour the juice equally over the pulled pork in each container. Freezing is also an option.

*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. I receive no recompense for promoting their product.

Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas, Nevada! An afternoon shower can provide a welcome respite from constant motion along the Las Vegas Strip. Slip through the French turquoise doors of Mon Ami Gabi at Paris for a sip of this and a nibble of that. Might I suggest an unpretentious Aperol Spritz to accompany the “Fruit de Mer” succulent Shrimp Cocktail platter. The magnificent essence of orange moscato is aromatic with citrus notes, which makes it perfect for any afternoon.