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.)

“Kale” Caesar Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: “Kale” Caesar Salad! Isn’t it entertaining to take ordinary food, mix it up a bit, and then give it a new name? That’s exactly what I did with the traditional Caesar salad. By partnering tender baby kale with sturdy romaine leaves, it creates a blend that is satisfying to the taste buds. The creamy Caesar dressing alone brings a nice anchovy flavor to the salad with a robust hint of garlic. Just think what would happen if we added grilled chicken. The possibilities are endless.

“KALE” CAESAR SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups baby kale, gently torn

2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded

4 radishes, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher salt, to taste

4 tablespoons prepared Caesar dressing

1/3 cup garlic croutons

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine baby kale, romaine lettuce, radishes, and shallot. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and kosher salt. Toss gently. Top with prepared Caesar dressing, garlic croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

Focaccia Herb Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Focaccia Herb Bread! I love bread. Don’t hate me. Besides, if the Italians and the French can make it a guilt-free pleasure, that’s good enough for me. Focaccia Bread is a flatter version than a loaf and actually resembles the texture of pizza dough and breadsticks. Are you with me now? At first glance you may think there is too much olive oil in this recipe. Not true. Actually, that is the secret to keeping the bread soft or preventing it from drying out. Feel free to begin imagining focaccia bread as an appetizer, sandwich bread, or healthy snack. Permission granted.

FOCACCIA HERB BREAD

Ingredients:

1 cup water

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

Dipping Olive Oil

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, follow this order: add water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt, bread flour, and sugar. Make a small well in the dry ingredients. Pour the active dry yeast in the well. Select Dough/Manual cycle. When cycle is complete, coat a 10”x15” baking pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. This will make the bottom crispy. Press the dough into the pan, stretching it to fit the pan. Be sure to turn the dough over to coat both sides with olive oil. Once the dough is stretched, take a wooden spoon and press it, handle side down, to make impressions in the dough, similar to dimples. Be careful. DO NOT make holes in the dough. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise for one hour. Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia dough with rosemary leaves and parmesan cheese. Drizzle enough olive oil to pool in the indentations. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Remove the focaccia bread and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with herbed olive oil or enjoy as is.

Mountainous Meatball

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Mountainous Meatball! It doesn’t have to be National Meatball Day to indulge in authentic cuisine found in Little Italy. By using everyday ingredients, mix and shape a giant meatball with your own two hands to feel like a gourmet chef. Smother the meatballs in a jar of marinara sauce, store-bought or made-from-scratch for perfection. And my secret, you ask? Tucked in the top of the meatball, like snow on a mountaintop, is a creamy mozzarella ball. Bet you can’t wait to bite into that!

MOUNTAINOUS MEATBALL

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup Italian bread, soaked in milk and squeezed out

1 pound ground sirloin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 eggs

1/4 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped

3 Ciliegine mozzarella balls (cherry size)

2 cups marinara sauce

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup ricotta

Fresh basil for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat. Set aside. Tear Italian bread into chunks. Add enough milk to cover. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine ground sirloin, garlic powder, eggs, dry Italian breadcrumbs, sea salt, black pepper, Italian parsley, and the milk-soaked breadcrumbs (with the liquid squeezed out). Mix well. Form into three meatballs the size of a tennis ball. Make an indentation in the top of each meatball. Stuff with a Ciliegine mozzarella ball. Press meat around the cheese leaving only a small bit visible. Place meatballs on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes until brown and firm. Remove from oven and place each meatball in an individual oven-proof serving dish. Reduce oven temperature to 375°. Spoon marinara sauce over meatballs, dividing it equally between the serving dishes. Top with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, between the three dishes. Bake 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Sprinkle on the remaining parmesan cheese. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh basil. Serve with garlic toast.

Yummy Spud Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Yummy Spud Fries! Choose a healthier way to have your fries and eat them, too. Take regular potatoes, preferably russet, cut them into thick strips leaving the skin on, and bake until crispy before adding a mound of toppings. I use both grated and shaved Parmesan cheese. You’ll know perfection when the outside is a lovely sunset golden color. One bite reveals a fluffy potato within. Now dunk them in sour cream and chives or slather on thick tomato ketchup. Mmmmm.

YUMMY SPUD FRIES

Ingredients:

4 russet potatoes, washed and cut into thick strips

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Garnish with bacon crumbles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Put potato strips in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Season with garlic powder, thyme, and seasoned salt. Coat well. Transfer potatoes to a nonstick baking sheet. Spread into a single layer. Reserve oil in bowl. Bake 15 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes back into the bowl with reserved olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Coat well. Layer fries onto baking sheet. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Before serving sprinkle spud fries with shaved Parmesan cheese and bacon crumbles. Serve immediately.

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob! Here’s an alternative to stovetop corn on the cob or microwave cooking. Throw the corn on the grill while the burgers are on their way to being well-done. You won’t believe the incredible taste. Or will you? If the results are slightly blackened or charred in spots, so much the better. That’s what makes it taste so good. By leaving the corn in the husk, natural steaming keeps the corn moist rather than dry and brittle. And if it rains? By all means, get out the kitchen torch and improvise. Toppings still apply.

GRILLED CORN ON THE COB

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, in husks

1 teaspoon sea salt

Butter to taste

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning*

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Peel the husks without removing at the base. Strip away the corn silk. Fold the husks back into place. Fill a bowl with cold water. Add sea salt. Submerge the corn for 10 minutes. Heat the grill to medium-high. Remove corn and let drain. Place on the grill for 15 minutes. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally. Allow the corn to get slightly charred in places. When done, transfer corn cobs to a serving platter. Slather with butter. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning.

Antipasto Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Antipasto Salad! This recipe is for those of you, like me, who choose a zesty salad every time they visit a Deli. In a few simple steps, you can throw this together and let it marinate in your own refrigerator. Make it the night before, or first thing in the morning. By the time you’re ready for the next meal, it’s done. The flavors blend so well when refrigerated, you’ll think it was store-bought instead. Be kind to yourself. Permission granted.

ANTIPASTO SALAD

Ingredients for Pasta:

1 cup dry rigatoni

1 Roma tomatoes, quartered

6 slices Italian salami, quartered

2 orange sweet mini-peppers, seeded and sliced

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed olives

4 pepperoncini, whole stemmed

3 basil leaves, chopped

For Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning dry mix

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Bibb lettuce leaves

Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine pasta, Roma tomatoes, Italian salami, sweet mini peppers, olives, pepperoncini, and basil. Toss to mix. In a measuring bowl, whisk together olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, grated Parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over pasta mixture. Spoon into Bibb lettuce leaves. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Yolk-Drenched Asparagus Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Yolk-Drenched Asparagus Spears! Sometimes I am taken by surprise at the elegance of simplicity. Remember the slang term for K-I-S-S? Keep It Simple, Stupid! Well, that goes for preparing and photographing food as well. By eliminating fancy techniques and complex recipes, it allows anyone to feel like a master chef. I know I did. Words of Advice: Do your prep work so everything comes together like clockwork in mere minutes. The proof came when my husband clapped his hands and asked me to make it again…soon.

YOLK-DRENCHED ASPARAGUS SPEARS

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1/4 pound bacon, crispy but pliable

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

4 eggs

Sea salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, for garnish

Toast, for serving

Instructions:

Cook the bacon until crispy but still bendable. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. Steam the asparagus until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Divide into servings. Wrap one piece of bacon around each asparagus bunch. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese. In a saucepan, fill water enough to cover eggs, by sight. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat so the water is smooth. Gently crack eggs into the water, so as not to break the yolks. Leave plenty of space between eggs. Cover with a lid. Poach until the whites are set, but the yolks are runny, 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove each egg and set it on the asparagus bundle. Season with sea salt. Garnish with parsley. Serve with buttered toast.