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.

Perfect Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Perfect Pot Roast! Today all chefs get the day off from cooking. Seriously. This one-pot meal will turn out perfectly, as long as you ignore it. Use a slow-cooker or a Dutch Baker in a low temperature oven. I actually begin with a frozen chuck roast and forget about it, that is until the savory aromas lightly waft throughout the house. The liquid turns into a pleasant au jus or can be thickened into gravy. Personally, I ladle the juice into a food storage container to use as a sauce for beef carnitas, but that’s another story. Leftovers promise delicious options.

PERFECT POT ROAST

Ingredients:

3-4 pound chuck roast, frozen

3/4 cup vinegar

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup kosher salt (or less)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1 pound baby carrots

3-4 white potatoes, skin on, quartered

2-3 sprigs thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275°. Place frozen roast in Dutch Baker. Combine vinegar, orange juice, and melted butter. Pour over roast. Sprinkle roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Lay thyme sprigs across the top of the meat. Put the lid on the Dutch Baker and bake for 4 hours. Then add carrots and cut-up potatoes to the pot. Reduce oven temperature to 185°. Bake 4 hours longer. The roast is fall-apart tender and ready to serve.

Original Marinara Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Original Marinara Sauce! Marinara isn’t just a fancy name for spaghetti sauce, it actually lacks one key ingredient that sets it apart. You guessed it: MEAT. Basically, marinara is a tomato-based sauce infused with herbs and spices. It can be prepared very easily in less than half an hour. Personally, I find it perfect for a meatless meal. I like chunks of tomatoes, the hint of garlic, and a slight kick of red pepper spice. Look again at the snapshot. Perhaps it’s time to make marinara at your house.

ORIGINAL MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can Italian Roma tomatoes, diced with sauce

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm olive oil. Add minced garlic; sauté for one minute until slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Add diced Roma tomatoes with sauce, fresh oregano, chopped basil, sea salt, marjoram, agave nectar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer sauce until thickened, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Marinara sauce will be chunky and thick. Serve with cooked pasta.

X-tra Tender Marinated Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: X-tra Tender Marinated Chicken! Here is one recipe that definitely lives up to its name. Tender. And I mean “melt-in-your-mouth” tender. For variety, I have used the marinade ingredients but switched the meat between chicken and pork. Both with astounding results. Because I literally took the meat out of the freezer and popped it in the slow-cooker may be another reason the outcome was so effective. Do it first thing in the morning before you’re off and running. When you return home later on, the irresistible aromas will greet you at the door. For a finishing touch, flash fry the pieces (plus juices from the marinade) in an oiled iron skillet at high temperature for a minimal amount of time. The results will leave everyone singing your praises. You can thank me later.

X-TRA TENDER MARINATED CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2-3 pounds chicken

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup vinegar

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying

Lemon and capers for garnish

Instructions:

Place chicken in a slow-cooker. Combine melted butter, vinegar, orange juice, kosher salt, oregano, and garlic powder. Pour over meat. Cover. If meat is frozen, set timer for four hours on High, then four hours on Low. If meat is thawed, set timer for eight hours on Low. When finished, using a tongs, transfer chicken to a platter. Reserve marinade. To “flash fry”, warm an iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add chicken. Do not overcrowd. Ladle a small portion of marinade juice over chicken. It will sizzle, so a screen lid is recommended. After 2-3 minutes gently turn juicy chicken to char the other side. Add oil to prevent meat from sticking. Repeat until all chicken is fried. This works well with boneless or shredded meat. Serve warm with assorted vegetables. Garnish with capers and lemon slices.

Oregano Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Oregano Roasted Fingerling Potatoes! Seasoning can change the taste of anything, especially when using fresh herbs. This is the time of year when I get excited about nurturing my herb garden. The hardier herbs, like mint, chives, and thyme withstand the winter months and breakthrough in the Spring with vim and vigor. Other favorites require renewing annually; rosemary, basil, cilantro, dill, and oregano are among them. Today’s recipe partners the delicate new fingerling potatoes, which grow small and narrow to live up to their name, alongside robust bleu cheese crumbles and the earthy flavor of fresh oregano. Together they produce a rustic dish characteristic of the south of France, Italy, and Greece. Enticing, isn’t it?

OREGANO ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES

Ingredients:

1.5 pound bag of petite fingerling gourmet potatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet to coat the pan with a thin layer. Using a 2-quart pan on the stovetop, cut fingerling potatoes in half and place in the pan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil; cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain well. Set aside. Sprinkle dried oregano over potatoes. Cover pan with lid and shake vigorously to slightly loosen potato skins. Carefully transfer oregano potatoes to the baking sheet. Turn to coat in oil. Bake 30-40 minutes until skins are golden and crispy. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. Once the potatoes are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, transfer fingerling potatoes to a serving platter. Add bleu cheese crumbles and freshly chopped oregano. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter I

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Italian Stewed Tomatoes! Before the weather turns chilly, grab up all those garden tomatoes at the peak of ripeness. You’ll appreciate a little extra effort now for that rich intense flavor in the middle of winter. Slow-cooked and simmered to perfection, stewed tomatoes are the secret ingredient for tailgating chili, flavorful stews, and Italian pasta dishes. Go ahead, score big with the best-tasting slightly sweet firm texture of harvest stewed tomatoes. 
ITALIAN STEWED TOMATOES 
Ingredients:

19-20 Roma tomatoes 

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon agave nectar 

1/2 teaspoon parsley 

1/2 teaspoon oregano 

1/2 teaspoon basil 

1/2 teaspoon marjoram 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1 green pepper, chopped 
Instructions:

Make a small X in the stem end of each Roma tomato. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for one minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water for an ice bath. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes, removing the core, and place tomatoes in a large skillet. Add kosher salt, agave nectar, parsley, oregano, basil, marjoram, garlic powder, and green pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve fresh or freeze for later. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter O

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Old Mexico Street Poppers! As the garden brings forth a bounty of jalapeños, variety becomes the spice of life. Stuffed with cheese and veggies makes sinking your teeth into this spicy popper feel like eating from a Mexican cobblestone street vendor in Puerto Vallarta. Anything goes! Give your taste buds an “old town” vacation and then go shopping afterwards!
OLD MEXICO STREET POPPERS 
Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened 

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, snipped

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/8 teaspoon onion salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder 

1/2 cup organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup sweet corn, whole kernel 

1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons butter, melted 

1/8 teaspoon taco seasoning 

12 jalapeño peppers, cut lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Spray with nonso like. Set aside. In a bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, onion salt, cumin powder, black beans, sweet corn, and Monterey Jack cheese. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, Mexican cheese, melted butter, and taco seasoning. Mix well. Set aside. To prepare jalapeños, wear rubber gloves. Leaving the stem on, slice the upper third portion lengthwise. Discard top. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Divide filling evenly between jalapeños. Place on wire rack. Cover top of jalapeños with crumb topping. Press gently into cream cheese mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until tops are golden brown and jalapeños are tender. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Kooky Cucumber Salad! Does anyone really count the number of daily servings of vegetables recommended for a healthy diet? I know I don’t. And I suspect I’m not in the minority. What I do pay attention to is how appealing food looks on the plate. It’s one of the reasons I have a Spiralizer among my kitchen utensils. Besides, it takes minimal effort to make ordinary foods look this good. The fact that I’m maintaining a low fat, low carb, and low calorie intake just gives me all the more reason to splurge on something sweet later on. Call me crazy, or call me “kooky”.
KOOKY CUCUMBER SALAD
Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, halved

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped for garnish
Instructions:

Spiralize half the cucumber with the apple core attachment, for wider strips. Spiralize the remaining cucumber half with the noodle attachment, for spaghetti-like spirals. Arrange cucumbers in a serving bowl. Top with chopped tomatoes and red onion slices. Add Kalamata olives. Whisk together olive oil and garlic red wine vinegar. Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano.