Jollof Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Jollof Spaghetti! Just when you thought you’ve heard of everything, along comes another version of spaghetti night that just made your life a little easier. Gone is the method of boiling water to cook the pasta, worrying about how to keep the starch from building up, or the fact that oil makes the sauce slide right off. Sound familiar? Been there, done that. With this technique, the spaghetti cooks slowly in the marinara sauce. No advanced parboiling required. The results are moist, definitely al dente, and paired with the meatballs…out of this world. I see this in your future.

JOLLOF SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes in basil sauce, cut-up

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

8 ounces spaghetti

1 pound frozen large Italian-style meatballs, precooked and thawed

Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine Roma tomatoes in sauce, oregano, garlic powder, basil, marjoram, olive oil, agave nectar, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. In a microwave-safe dish, combine sweet onion and green peppers. Microwave on High for 2 minutes. Add to marinara sauce. Transfer mixture to a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti; stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until spaghetti is cooked. Stir occasionally to separate pasta. In a microwave-safe dish, add the Italian-style meatballs. Cook on High setting, according to package directions. When cooked, add to the spaghetti mixture. Gently stir. Simmer 5 minutes longer to combine flavors, or keep warm until ready-to-serve. Spoon into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Caesar Cilantro Steak Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Caesar Cilantro Steak Salad! Salads can be a good thing or a sinkhole of weight-gain. If you’ve ever gone through a salad bar, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When thinking of lettuce or greens, begin small, as in “fewer”. Otherwise, in the process of adding ingredients, suddenly what started out as a manageable portion can transform into an enormous bowl-of-plenty. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I get so carried away, my husband has to dump everything into a larger bowl just to toss the salad. And it really doesn’t do me any good to start fresh with the larger bowl because…well, I think you’ve got me figured out. Creature of habit.

CAESAR CILANTRO STEAK SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups lettuce leaves, gently torn

1 Roma tomato, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

6 ounces grilled steak, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons Caesar dressing, bottled

2 teaspoons parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Begin with two salad plates. Divide the lettuce between them. Arrange tomato chunks and chopped green onions over top. Warm the grilled steak in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power. Repeat, if necessary. Divide steak between the two salads. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, oregano, and sea salt. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. One of the privileges of being part of the blogosphere is benefiting from the vast friendships beyond my little corner of the world. Not only is it a creative outlet for expressing my love of food, it also challenges me to stretch my palate and try new things. Today’s recipe comes from Corrie, a Brit, who thrives on a vegetarian diet. She has a fabulous blog entitled http://corriesrabbitfood.com where food looks so amazing it makes you forget about being a meat-lover. To clear up any confusion, “bread pudding” is more commonly known as a dessert. But “bread and butter pudding” is made by buttering the bread before adding any liquid. Now you see the difference, which is why this makes a fabulous breakfast dish. Are you ready to eat more? Then let’s get started.

VEGETARIAN BREAD ‘N BUTTER PUDDING

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf baguette bread, sliced

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup red onion, sliced

3 gloves garlic, sliced

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/3 cup gruyère cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 5”x7” baking dish with softened butter. Set aside. Lightly butter both sides of a baguette slice, then place in the baking dish. Repeat until all pieces of baguette are buttered. When placing them in the baking dish, arrange in a zigzag pattern. This leaves room for the spaces to be filled in with ingredients. Next evenly divide the red onion slices and garlic pieces between the bread. Generously sprinkle the entire loaf with shredded parmesan, gruyère, and 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese, with attention given to lightly packing the cheese in areas where spaces exist. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, skim milk, seasoned salt, basil, marjoram, and oregano. Slowly pour over the pudding, soaking each slice of bread. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30, or until set Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm.

Bored With Cheese?

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Bored With Cheese? Anyone who has perused a deli market understands how confusing the cheese categories have become. The choices appear endless. Cheese can be aged for months, hand-rubbed with robust Italian spices, shelf-cured for optimal quality, or made with passion from a local dairy. Who knew? I recently picked up a “cheese flight” of three Wisconsin varieties. I loved the description detailing the best pairing options for fruits, nuts, and beverages. Not only is it a great way to try mild or robust cheeses, it turns a charcuterie board into a win, win for the night.

BORED WITH CHEESE?

Ingredients:

3.5-ounce wedge Tuscan-rubbed fontina cheese

3-ounce wedge parmesan cheese

1.5-ounce edge bleu cheese

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced

1/2 cup walnut halves

Crackers and baguette slices

Instructions:

Arrange cheeses, apple slices, and walnut halves on a cutting board. Serve with crackers, sliced baguette, beer, and wine.

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.

Ingenious Bakery Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ingenious Bakery Bread! Some days are just made for shortcuts. The fact is, everyone needs a timesaving tip now and then. For starters, buying frozen bread dinner roll dough takes the guesswork out of measuring ingredients, which is why I keep a bag on hand. The other day I made homemade chicken noodle soup and wanted freshly-baked bread instead of saltine crackers. While the aromatic flavors of the soup were blending in the slow-cooker, the bread was rising to perfection. Together they pulled off a meal like a pro.

INGENIOUS BAKERY BREAD

Ingredients:

8 pieces frozen yeast dinner roll dough

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Place the 8 frozen rolls into the pan in a single layer with edges touching. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Cover entire pan with a tea towel. Place pan in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, between 2 and 4 hours. Remove tea towel and plastic wrap. The raised dough will resemble a single loaf. Brush top of dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with dill weed and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Immediately remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Brush with melted sea salt butter. Serve warm.

Quatre Fromage Garlic Breadsticks

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Quatre Fromage Garlic Breadsticks! For all the bread-lovers out there, be aware. What may begin as a simple after-school snack can quickly escalate into an early supper. The aroma of freshly baked bread spreads into a room like magic. Turn things to your advantage. Pair these ooey gooey cheesy breadsticks with a garden salad or plate of fresh veggies. The end result is a contagious good mood, a full stomach, and the rest of the evening to pamper yourself. How’s that for a recipe that is spot on?

QUATRE FROMAGE GARLIC BREADSTICKS

Ingredients:

1 tube prepared pizza dough

1-2 tablespoons corn meal

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

1/3 cup Harvarti cheese, shredded

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon dill weed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Unroll pizza dough. Place over cornmeal on baking sheet. Brush top side with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Layer four cheeses evenly over dough. Take a pizza cutter and slice the dough lengthwise into 10-12 strips. Then cut those in half. Do not separate. Bake 10-13 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheeses are gooey. Remove from oven. Recut each strip all the way through. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with dill weed. Serve warm with marinara sauce, garlic butter, or ranch dressing.

Rosemary Parmesan Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Rosemary Parmesan Popovers! For a light and airy alternative to reaching for the bread basket, try an herb and cheese popover instead. Rosemary provides a nice earthy pine taste which compliments the saltiness of Parmesan cheese. It’s a match made in heaven, like bread and butter. No pun intended.

ROSEMARY PARMESAN POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped plus more for garnish

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cups flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, sea salt, sugar, rosemary, cheese, and flour. Blend until no large lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Sprinkle tops with rosemary leaves. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, remove and transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of French butter.

Neufchâtel Crab Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Neufchâtel Crab Dip! Easy seafood appetizers can be prepared in no time at all. By substituting miniature phyllo dough shells for snack crackers, the results are impressively gourmet. Who doesn’t love that WOW factor?! Make this appetizer the star of your next gathering. Everyone will thank you.

NEUFCHÂTEL CRAB DIP

Ingredients:

1 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed

1/2 cup lobster meat, chunk style

1 green onion, snipped

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely shredded

1 teaspoon lemon juice

8-ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/4 cup Jalapeño Confetti Jelly*

15-count package miniature phyllo dough shells

Fresh dill sprigs

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange phyllo shells on a baking sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes until crisp. Remove and set aside. In a medium bowl, toss crabmeat, lobster, and green onion snips in dill weed, shredded lemon peel, and lemon juice. In a another bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Fold crabmeat mixture into mayonnaise mixture. Transfer dip to an oven-proof dish. Top with Jalapeño Confetti Jelly. Bake 20 minutes. Spoon warm crab dip into phyllo shells. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs. Serve warm.

*Follow the link for the recipe for Jalapeño Confetti Jelly.

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