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.

Wine Lovers Vineyard Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Wine Lovers Vineyard Cake! Every once in awhile a special occasion rolls around where you need a dessert that’s outside the box. By substituting some of the liquid with a sweet wine, such as peach, blackberry, or elderflower, you create an unique taste that intensifies the flavor. I chose a peach passion for this particular recipe. With subtle hints of orange extract, it transformed the rich moist bundt cake into a delectable version of a fuzzy navel. The photo reflects a powdered sugar dusting, but you may certainly opt for a glaze finish instead.

WINE LOVERS VINEYARD CAKE

Ingredients for Cake:

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

2 3/4 cup flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 small box vanilla pudding, instant

3/4 cup white wine

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/4 cup water

4 eggs

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Arrange pecans in the bottom of the pan. Using a mixer on low speed, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, vanilla pudding mix, white wine, vegetable oil, orange extract, water, eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Scrape sides, as needed. Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a pick comes out clean and cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. To unmold, place a cake plate on top of the bundt pan. Holding tightly, invert.

Ingredients for Glaze:

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1-2 tablespoons white wine, slightly warmed

Instructions:

To make glaze, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and white wine. Drizzle over warm cake.

Habanero Hot Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Habanero Hot Sauce! Let’s kick things up a notch or two with one of the hottest known chili peppers legally sold in grocery stores. And I mean REALLY hot, compared to the average pepperoncini. The adorable orange lantern with its sweet-looking dimples can be deceiving. Its sting may feel as strong as a viper while simultaneously releasing an endorphin rush that’ll knock you off your feet. This is my fourth batch from the garden harvest. I’m hooked! However, it comes with a few words of caution: Wear gloves and avoid the juices near your face and eyes. While oven roasting, set the exhaust fan on High. When taste-testing, keep a wedge of white cheese nearby. It actually cuts the heat almost instantly. Be brave, my Peeps. Heed these simple rules. Then and only then, will you become the master of your own domain.

HABANERO HOT SAUCE

Ingredients:

16-20 habanero peppers, halved, stems, and seeds removed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1/8 teaspoon lime juice

Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

Place habanero pepper halves, skin side up in a single layer, on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast habanero peppers on High for 10 minutes, or until black spots appear. Remove. Using tongs, transfer habanero peppers to a covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Using gloves, remove any loose skins; discard. Add peppers to a food processor. Pulse to a slightly coarse texture. Add minced garlic, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Pulse until desired consistency. Season with sea salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve in dips, as a condiment, paired with ripe fruits in salsas, or on grilled meats.

Candied Orange Peel

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Candied Orange Peel! Anything with the word “candy” grabs my attention this time of year. And the fact that I’m a fan of oranges makes it that much better. Wait a minute, you think, are you talking about actually eating the peel of the oranges? I am. Of course there are a few secrets to making them delectable. We all know, from childhood, that orange peelings can be a trifle bitter. First of all, take a clean kitchen scrubbie and run it over the outer skin. This can eliminate the shiny look that makes it attractive in the produce aisle. Some places put a thin coat of wax on produce to make fruit enticing to the consumer. Secondly, remove as much of the white pith on the inside of the peel. Otherwise the orange peel might taste bitter, even with copious amounts of sugar. That being said, shall we begin?

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL

Ingredients:

2 oranges

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Sugar, for rolling

Instructions:

Remove the skin from the oranges. You can do this by scoring the skin into 4 vertical portions. Cut each section into strips. Set aside. Reserve the oranges for another use. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce heat to a simmer. Add orange peel strips. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain well. Allow peels to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar into a shallow bowl. One at a time, roll an orange peel strip in the sugar. Transfer candied orange peel to a wire rack to dry. Repeat until all are coated. Store in an airtight container.

Rainbow Fruit Cup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Rainbow Fruit Cup! As the seasons roll on, here’s a friendly reminder about buying fresh fruit. Most grocers feature fruits that are always in season, such as apples, bananas, and grapes. If you pay attention to the first ones you see as you walk in the door or in high traffic areas, most likely you’ll reap the savings. That’s one clue. If the store has an abundance of something on hand, they focus on “pushing” it through quickly, which translates BEFORE it becomes overripe. Consumers can take advantage of the prices while enjoying healthy options. Rainbow fruit simply means combining different colors for plate appeal. Keep in mind that canned fruit can be substituted at times. I like balancing out pineapple chunks or mandarin oranges along with fresh fruit. No worries. The citrus dressing will pull everything together nicely.

RAINBOW FRUIT CUP

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and quartered

1 cup blueberries

1 peach, sliced with skin removed

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons organic mango orange juice

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon raw acacia honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon citrus peel, granulated

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Instructions:

Combine sliced strawberries, blueberries, and peaches in a bowl. Toss lightly to mix. For dressing, combine lemon juice, mango orange juice, lemon olive oil, acacia honey, lemon citrus peel, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk together until blended. Pour over fruit salad. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.