Nosh Crostini and Oranges

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Nosh Crostini and Oranges! When you’re not exactly hungry, but could use a snack between meals or to satisfy a late night craving for “something”….crostini fits the bill, so to speak. Crostini adds the crunch of potato chips and the flavor of croutons, only better. Fresh mozzarella melts incredibly well because it contains less moisture. You can thank fresh mozzarella for those ah-mazing cheese pulls that become gooey strands of seductiveness. Uh-huh, I see you nodding your head in total agreement. Better grab a napkin.

NOSH CROSTINI AND ORANGES

Ingredients:

1 large tomato, diced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/2 loaf baguette bread, sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

1 navel orange, peeled with each segment cut in half

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange diced tomatoes in a single layer on the cutting board. Sprinkle with kosher salt and oregano. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder on top. Place one slice of fresh mozzarella on each piece of baguette. Spoon diced tomatoes over cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven. Garnish crostini with fresh basil. Serve with navel orange segments.

Meatball Lollipops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Meatball Lollipops! This is such a wonderful prelude to a pizza party. It’s simple, delicious, takes minutes to prepare, and makes life easy for the host or hostess. Whether you’re making pizza from scratch or ordering it for delivery, this is a great appetizer to keep things festive. Just remember to make enough to share. You won’t regret it.

MEATBALL LOLLIPOPS

Ingredients:

10 precooked frozen Italian meatballs, thawed

15 ounces of prepared marina sauce

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

10 party picks

Instructions:

Cook meatballs in a microwave-safe dish, with lid, according to package directions. Drain. Add prepared marina sauce. Cook on 40% power in microwave-safe covered dish for 10 minutes. Pierce each meatball with a party pick and transfer to a platter, or 5 per serving. Spoon marinara sauce over meatballs. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, marjoram, and garlic powder. Divide the shredded mozzarella cheese between portions. Serve immediately.

Turkey Burrito Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Turkey Burrito Bowl! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times…freeze leftover meat for another day. I’m still working on that 22-pound turkey I baked some time ago. You’d certainly never know it by the variety of meals we’ve eaten. Soups, sliders, hash, and the daily special are among the numerous ways we reduce food waste while saving money. By adding fresh produce and grains, using leftover turkey simply becomes a brilliant time saving option. You probably utilize leftovers yourself without even giving it a second thought. I’m thinking stir-fry, casseroles, omelets, and basic sammies. See how easy it is? Just don’t tell the kids.

TURKEY BURRITO BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked turkey, shredded

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons butter

Sides: Avocado, lettuce, red onion, tomato, rice, yogurt, and tortilla corn chips

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine shredded turkey, garlic powder, kosher salt, orange juice, vinegar, and butter. Transfer to an ovenproof covered dish. Bake 30 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. If necessary, remove lid after 30 minutes to allow the juices to breathe. Serve seasoned turkey with instant rice, tortilla chips, and fresh produce.

Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus! If you’ve ever needed a simple appetizer that will elevate an evening, think shrimp. By adding fresh ingredients, it definitely kicks things up a notch. When people cram into the kitchen to watch, assign them a minor task such as chopping fruit into chunks or snipping cilantro into small sprigs. Real conversations happen in the kitchen. Everyone benefits and memories are created. After all, being involved is natural and welcoming. It’s how we all stay connected.

SEASONED SHRIMP PINEAPPLE PUPUS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup papaya, cut into chunks

1/2 cup pineapple, cut into chunks

12 jumbo frozen shrimp, precooked and thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Arrange papaya chunks on a decorative platter. Set aside. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, arrange pineapple chunks in a single layer. They will sizzle and char. Flip over to darken both sides. Remove and add to the platter. Warm olive oil in the same skillet. Layer shrimp without overlapping. Sprinkle with half the seasoned salt, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Slightly sear, then flip over. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning. When shrimp is golden brown, transfer to the pupu platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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.

Iceberg Lettuce Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Iceberg Lettuce Salad! Generally speaking, we all become pretty accustomed to grocery prices in our home town. We know, when it comes to produce, we can expect to pay a little more for berries than bananas. Just like the many varieties of leafy greens. Typically, spinach, kale, and romaine are always way more than iceberg lettuce. Right? So recently while visiting Kauai, knowing that a lot of food is imported, I made the decision to make some compromises. I picked up a head of iceberg lettuce listed at $3.99. In the States it’s around $1.49 a head. Okay. When I checked out, the register rung up $6.00. Imagine the sticker shock. Come to find out, the sign actually said iceberg lettuce was $3.99 a pound. Let me tell you, I stretched that head of lettuce over many meals and savored every bite.

ICEBERG LETTUCE SALAD

Ingredients:

3 leaves of lettuce, gently torn

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1 green onion, snipped

2 tablespoons Caesar dressing, prepared

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon oregano

Instructions:

Divide the gently torn lettuce leaves between two salad plates. Arrange chopped tomatoes over lettuce. Using a kitchen shears, snip the green onion pieces over top. Drizzle with salad dressing. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and oregano. Serve chilled.

Jalisco Pico de Gallo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Jalisco Pico de Gallo! It wasn’t until recently I dined at a family-owned Mexican cantina where the recipes truly originated from Guadalajara. I know this because the waitress explained that Jalisco-style dishes might taste different than anything else I tried before. “For starters,” she explained, “only fresh vegetables are used. We use Mexican oregano for flavor.” I was intrigued. So much so, I made a batch of pico de gallo when I returned home. The Jalisco-style street tacos come later. Stick around and tell me what you think.

JALISCO PICO DE GALLO

Ingredients:

7 Roma tomatoes, sliced and chopped

1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

6 Serrano chile, stems removed

3 jalapeño peppers, stems removed

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Mexican oregano, dried

2 teaspoons garlic powder

3 teaspoons cumin powder

1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon orange/mango juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

Instructions:

In a large bowl, place Roma tomato chunks. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Using a mini chopper, pulse Serrano peppers until finely chopped. Add to the bowl. Next, place jalapeño peppers in the mini chopper; pulse until finely chopped. Scrape sides and add to the bowl. Add chopped sweet onion to tomato mixture. Sprinkle on Mexican oregano, garlic powder, and cumin powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped cilantro leaves. Drizzle with orange/mango juice and lime juice. Gently stir. Transfer pico de gallo and liquid to covered jars and refrigerate. The flavors intensify as they marinate. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for Mexican dishes.

Huevos Rancheros Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Huevos Rancheros Casserole! Looking for a little variety for a weekend breakfast? Take a trip down a rural road for an old classic that was served as “ranchers eggs” on the farms in Mexico. By turning it into a robust casserole, you can give it an American twist. It still has eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortillas in there. I chose street-size corn tortillas just because they were smaller and easier to work with. Obviously any type will do. Feel free to add beans and chorizo if you’re looking for hearty portions. Do ahead and refrigerate overnight so it’s ready to bake first thing in the morning.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

10 street-size corn tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

1 cup black beans, drain liquid

1 1/2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped and cooked; drained

3 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into strips

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Sour cream, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Spray on 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick oil. Line the sides and bottom with 8 street-size corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread a layer of salsa over the bottom. Next, layer with black beans. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Top with cooked chorizo, poblano peppers, and another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cut the last 2 tortillas into strips and layer over cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin powder. Whisk together. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Press lightly into egg mixture. Cover dish. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake covered casserole 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie! Oddly enough, I’ve had a couple people tell me they’ve never heard of tomato pie. It may be more of a southern dish, or perhaps its more familiar to those of us who live in the country and can’t figure out what to do with the abundance of garden tomatoes. Who knows? I must admit there is a secret ingredient that I discovered from the Savannah restauranteur and popular chef, Paula Deen. Maybe you can pick it out, too.

VINE-RIPENED TOMATO PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared deep-dish pie shell

4-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup mayonnaise

Cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pie shell according to package directions. Remove from oven and set aside. In a bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Allow tomatoes to “weep” for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seasoned tomatoes to the pie shell. Layer sweet onion over tomatoes. In another bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and parmesan cheese with mayonnaise. Mix well. Spread cheese mixture over top of tomatoes and onions. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.