Sweet Potato Stacks

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Sweet Potato Stacks! Bring gourmet taste, with a quirk of presentation, to the dinner table tonight. It’s not rocket science. In fact, you may find yourself giggling at how ridiculously simple this is to make. When I pierced each stack with a rosemary sprig, my husband nearly fell out of his chair in amusement. (It’s not at all necessary. The sweet potato stacks stand upright on their own.) Roasted in a muffin tin, and drizzled with pure maple syrup are two trade secrets you can share with others. Or keep to yourself. Either way, it’s a tower of Yum.

SWEET POTATO STACKS

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick oil. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, rosemary leaves, and garlic powder. Coat slices of sweet potatoes. Place a slice of sweet potato in each muffin cup. Top with parmesan cheese between layers of potato slices. Continue until the muffin cup is filled. Going above the top is okay since the cooked sweet potatoes will shrink a little. Repeat with remaining sweet potato slices. Drizzle maple syrup over each stack. Sprinkle extra parmesan cheese over all. Bake stacks 35-40 minutes until tender. Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon reserve maple syrup mixture over top. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

Grilled Romaine with Strawberries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Grilled Romaine with Strawberries! I call this a lazy cook’s meal. After all, it’s pretty simple. More than likely, most ingredients are probably there in the fruit and vegetable crispers of the refrigerator. You know, those drawers down at the bottom that regulate humidity. (Quick tutorial: most fruits like LOW humidity, most vegetables like HIGH humidity. If set correctly, everything stays fresher and crisper longer.) Heat up the grill, sear the romaine, layer on ripe strawberries, red onion slices, and shaved parmesan cheese. Drizzle olive oil over all. You’re done. The hubs will think you planned the meal with attention to detail. Just nod your head and smile.

GRILLED ROMAINE WITH STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients:

1 romaine heart, cut lengthwise

Nonstick olive oil spray

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pint strawberries, sliced in half, stems removed

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat grill to 400°. Spray both sides of romaine halves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on the hot grill. Sear 3 minutes, until charred. Carefully flip over and sear 3 minutes longer until slightly wilted. Transfer to a platter. Layer with fresh strawberries and red onion slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Broiled Bay Scallops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Broiled Bay Scallops! Tender and sweet, bay scallops are a miniature version of the large-size sea scallops. When sautéed in garlic butter and dill, with a light squeeze of lemon juice, the end result is a splendid appetizer. Be festive and serve them on a half shell.

BROILED BAY SCALLOPS

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound bay scallops

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic clove; sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add scallops. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, dill weed, and sea salt. Sauté until lightly browned. Squeeze lemon juice over all. Remove from heat. Combine mayonnaise, grated parmesan cheese, and garlic powder. Gently fold in bay scallops. Transfer mixture to a greased casserole dish or clam shells. Bake 20 minutes. Broil 3-4 minutes on High until tops are golden. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Serve with bagel chips.

Manicotti Pasta Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Manicotti Pasta Bowl! Comfort food. We all have our favorites. Some include melted cheese, rich chocolate, home made soups, or peanut butter sandwiches. And then there’s pasta; guardian of the energy boost. Not only is pasta a healthy option, it satisfies by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Being affordable, versatile, and nutritious make it even more enjoyable. And a little pasta goes a long way. We all know that. Sure, pasta is a carb…but in a good way. It partners well with low fat protein and veggies. Go, Team Pasta!

MANICOTTI PASTA BOWL

Ingredients:

6 manicotti shells

3/4 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, chunky

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Drain shells; rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Remove from heat. Drain liquid. Add sea salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Pour prepared spaghetti sauce over meat. Mix well. Spoon 1/3 of meat mixture into the bottom of two single-serving casserole dishes. Add softened creamed cheese and mozzarella cheese to the remaining meat mixture. Stuff each shell with filling. Arrange three filled manicotti shells in a row over sauce. Repeat in second casserole dish. Spread remaining filling over the tops of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; serve in casserole dish. Garnish with fresh basil.

Aubergine Mini Pizzas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Aubergine Mini Pizzas! Lately I’ve been exploring different ways of making gluten-free pizza. So, naturally, when I discovered using an eggplant slice to replace the dough, I had to jump on the low-carb bandwagon to celebrate the merits of healthy choices. Talk about satisfying! Don’t believe me? Check my fellow foodie at http://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2018/02/21 who gave me the idea. Yes, you still get marinara sauce. And of course, cheese toppings are a must-have. The secret to the incredible taste is Italian herbs, in my opinion. But be forewarned, you absolutely cannot skip the first step of “weeping” the bitter juices from the eggplant slices before assembling. Just be sure to allow at least half an hour for that process. Then you’re good-to-go.

AUBERGINE MINI PIZZAS

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon corn meal

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, chunky

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Instructions:

Cut off ends of the eggplant; discard. Slice remaining into 3/4” equal sections. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides of each slice and transfer eggplant onto paper towels to “weep” for 30 minutes. Set aside to allow the towels to absorb the liquid. Then rinse well. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush one side of each eggplant slice with olive oil. Dust with cornmeal. Place each slice face down on the parchment paper. Then brush the tops with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle on oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and layer each eggplant slice with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Top with freshly chopped basil. Return to the oven. Change setting to Broil. Watch carefully. Remove after a couple minutes when cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Tortellini Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Tortellini Soup! No matter the weather, a classic Italian soup is always a good idea. Make it a budget-friendly weeknight meal with all the flavor of a Tuscan countryside, without the cost of an airline ticket. Common ingredients like garden veggies, rich plum tomatoes, sweet aromatic herbs and zesty spices blend together to enhance the dish. I love the mushroom-stuffed tortellini pasta. It’s curly ring-shape is very gourmet. When it all comes together at the table, you’ll think you created a masterpiece. Well done!

TORTELLINI SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound chorizo sausage, ground

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, diced

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

14 ounces vegetable broth

8.8 ounce package porcini mushroom tortellini

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

Brown chorizo sausage until fully cooked. Meat will be crumbly. Drain well. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, chopped onions, and diced green peppers. Cook until soft. Add crumbled chorizo. Stir. Add Roma tomatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Stir well to mix ingredients. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Gently fold in tortellini and spinach. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer until tortellini is tender. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini.

Oval Pizza Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Oval Pizza Rolls! Do you ever get the munchies during that last hour of late-night tv? When it hits me and the commercials seem to become more frequent, my willpower eventually wanes and I succumb to the nibbling temptation. I’m here to say, this is a perfect bedtime snack. Just the right sized portion to satisfy those late night cravings under the bluish glow of a 42-inch screen. You no longer have to sit and devour an entire pizza while being absorbed in your favorite program or professional sports. Permission granted.

OVAL PIZZA ROLLS

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust

1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce

3 ounces provolone cheese, sliced

4 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced

2 ounces pepperoni slices

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, shredded

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1-2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon dill weed

Garlic salt, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x9” pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Remove pizza dough from can to a lightly floured work space. Unroll dough. Spread with pizza sauce. Layer with provolone cheese, ham slices, and pepperoni slices. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Beginning at the long end, roll up dough. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Wrap in parchment paper, seam side down. Freeze for 20 minutes to chill. Remove dough roll from freezer. Slice into 1 1/2-inch ovals. Transfer to prepared pan, slice side up. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter; sprinkle with dill weed and garlic salt.

Gluten-Free Crustless Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Gluten-Free Crustless Pizza! Are you ever tempted to just eat the toppings off a pizza? For those who require a gluten-free lifestyle or simply desire fewer carbs, here is a healthy alternative on pizza night. Eliminate the crust altogether. By substituting eggs and cheese for bread dough, it’s surprising how this turns into a delicious deep dish pizza.

GLUTEN-FREE CRUSTLESS PIZZA

Ingredients:

8-ounce cream cheese

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pizza sauce

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 ounces pepperoni, sliced

1/3 cup ham, chopped

1/3 cup chorizo sausage, cooked and crumbled

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10”-12” iron skillet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine cream cheese, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Spread in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese. Arrange pepperoni, ham, chorizo sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and marjoram. Bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into pizza slices.

Zingy Weeknight Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Zingy Weeknight Pasta! Don’t you love it when everything you need for a quick meal is right at your fingertips? Well, I do. This was one of those nights when everything in the fridge “must-go” simply because we were leaving on a trip the next day. I already had a jar of homemade marinara sauce, but feel free to substitute a store bought variety you probably keep in your pantry, next to the package of spaghetti. The chicken strips are frozen, grilled, and precooked. Don’t judge me. It works. Oh, and I actually served freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish, but we sprinkled it on at the table.

ZINGY WEEKNIGHT PASTA

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups prepared marinara

2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks

1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into pieces

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped green pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add marinara sauce. Meanwhile, microwave frozen chicken to thaw. Cut into chunks. Add chicken and salami to sauce. Stir to mix. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but remove the pasta 4 minutes earlier than directed since we are going to add the spaghetti to the sauce to finish cooking. Once the spaghetti is prepared to that point, ladle some of the pasta water into the sauce, about 1/3 cup. This will add wonderful flavor and help thicken the sauce nicely. Now drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce mixture, without rinsing. Let the spaghetti finish cooking until it is al dente. Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese. (Freeze any leftovers to serve when you return from a day of travel.)