Egg Veggie Tart

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Egg Veggie Tart! Take ordinary ingredients and spread them over a prepared puff pastry crust and I promise you, your family will eat anything you serve. It’s that good. I always keep a box of frozen puff pastry on hand because it is so versatile. From main courses to desserts, they all turn out like a culinary masterpiece. For everyone to take you seriously though, be sure to wear an apron. It makes you look like a chef who means business. I think I have at least five different styles, some with pockets, some without. And I’m always open for more. Today’s version of a breakfast tart incorporates vegetables and prosciutto that not only add color, but eye appeal. Without regrets, add this recipe to your list of easy-to-assemble meals.

EGG VEGGIE TART

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

4 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

3 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips

1/4 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed

3 eggs plus 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup baby peas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons green onion snips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry on prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, pierce the dough evenly across surface, stopping about 1/2” from the edge. At the edges, roll dough once to form a crust. This will keep the ingredients from overflowing. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven to assemble remaining ingredients. Layer the Swiss cheese on the bottom of the crust. Arrange tomatoes, prosciutto, and green beans. Crack 3 eggs onto the dough. Try to place the eggs where the vegetables will “hold” them into place. Sprinkle tart with baby peas. Drizzle with olive oil. Divide grated parmesan cheese over all. Brush the crust all the way around the tart with the egg/water mixture. This gives the crust that beautiful golden color when baked. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is cooked through. Garnish with green onion snips. Cut into squares. Serve immediately.

Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Furikake Party Mix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.

FURIKAKE PARTY MIX

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

6 cups Crispix cereal

5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

2 cups wasabi peas

1/2 cup furikake seasoning

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Jasmine Rice Pilaf

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Jasmine Rice Pilaf! If you can boil water, you can master the art of restaurant-style rice pilaf. It’s that simple. By using your favorite herbs and spices, the air is filled with an aromatic essence that draws everyone to the kitchen. Keep in mind, Patience is key. Follow this step-by-step recipe for a be-all and end-all gourmet fluffy rice pilaf that can be eaten as a main meal or partnered with a meat portion. I served it with Nugget Sesame Chicken, which you’ll be seeing a little later on. Stay tuned.

JASMINE RICE PILAF

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup long-grain jasmine rice

1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup white wine

1-2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces prosciutto, cubed

1/2 cup sweet baby peas

1 egg, beaten

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

Fresh chives, snipped

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, onion, garlic cloves, seasoned salt, and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, approximately 45 seconds. Sprinkle in cumin powder. Add jasmine rice; stir to coat. Cook 3 minutes until grains turn toasty. This prevents clumping later on. Add low-sodium chicken broth and wine. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Take a cotton tea towel and cover the pan. Place the lid over the towel to absorb the steam; let rice rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat butter on low. Add cubed prosciutto, peas, and beaten egg. Stir while cooking until egg is scrambled. Add soy sauce to taste. Before serving the rice, fold in the prosciutto mixture. To complete the pilaf, garnish with fresh chive snips.

Iceberg Lettuce 7-Layer Salad in a Jar

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Iceberg Lettuce 7-Layer Salad in a Jar! I don’t know about you, but I think this is a perfect idea for taking a salad-on-the-go. Use whatever jars you have on hand, such as quart or pint canning jars or even jelly jars. You decide the portion size. As a “do-ahead” recipe, it’s also a time-saver. Simply layer all the ingredients, top them off with the yummy homemade dressing, and then pack a couple jars in your lunchbox or picnic basket. It’s ideal for sharing. Choose healthy!

ICEBERG LETTUCE 7-LAYER SALAD IN A JAR

Ingredients:

1 head lettuce, shredded

2-3 green onions, snipped

5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 pound thick bacon, pan-fried and crumbled

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 cup frozen baby sweet peas, thawed and uncooked

Dressing:

2 cups mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:

Prepare each ingredient, as indicated. Set aside. This is the order the jars will be assembled beginning at the bottom: Lettuce, green onion, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese, and peas. To keep the layers even in the jar, use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently press the salad as you complete each layer. Mix together the mayonnaise and sugar. Divide evenly between the jars. Garnish with a few sprinkles of shredded cheese and crumbled bacon bits. Place a lid on each jar to secure. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To serve, empty the jar onto a plate; mix in the dressing to moisten. Enjoy!

Delicious Dill Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Delicious Dill Dip! “Remember to eat your veggies.” We’ve all ignored that inner voice that tends to remind us not to reach for a second cookie. So today we’re going to make eating vegetables FUN! This dip is so yummy, you can scoop it up with cucumber spears, celery sticks, baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, or cauliflower. But don’t stop there. The fresh dill even complements a toasted bagel, which you’ll see later on.

DELICIOUS DILL DIP

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon celery flakes

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill

Instructions:

Mix thoroughly yogurt and mayonnaise. Add sea salt, celery seed, onion powder, celery flakes, and chopped onion; blend well. Fold in fresh dill. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Enchilada Cheesy Hash Browns

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Enchilada Cheesy Hash Browns! This time-honored recipe came to me from a friend who had perfected the art of authentic Mexican food. Monica shared some of her trade secrets on more than one occasion, but warned me about one unwary pitfall. “Once you perfect these traditional recipes, your husband may be less willing to take you out to dinner as often.” So be forewarned. Choose this perfect alternative for those nights you need a “meatless” meal.

ENCHILADA CHEESY HASH BROWNS

Ingredients:

4 baked potatoes, peeled and shredded into hash browns*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

3/4 cup Spanish onion, chopped

10 ounces baby peas

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

10-count package corn tortillas

15 ounces tomatillo salsa

Green onions for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with nonstick oil. Pour tomatillo salsa into a pie plate. Set aside. Place the corn tortillas on a plate nearby. In a large skillet, sauté onions in olive oil. Add hash brown potatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook until slightly crisp. Add peas and mix well. To assemble enchiladas, dip one tortilla into tomatillo salsa on both sides. Transfer to a dinner plate and fill with potato mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of each cheese. Gently roll enchilada and place seam side down in glass dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Drizzle remaining salsa over all. Spread cheese over top of enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and brown cheese 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Olé!

*If time is of the essence, you may substitute with frozen shredded hash browns.

Risotto Easy Peasy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Risotto Easy Peasy! Until I master the same technique of the gourmet risotto served in my favorite Italian restaurant, I turn to this reliable substitute. Made with eco-friendly high quality arborio rice and seasonings, it’s ready in half the time with results that please. By adding baby peas and fresh parmesan cheese, the outcome gives it my stamp of approval.

RISOTTO EASY PEASY

Ingredients:

1 box Gluten-Free Lundberg Creamy Parmesan Risotto*

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup baby peas

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Sauté arborio rice for 2 minutes in olive oil over medium heat using a 2 quart saucepan. Add 2 1/2 cups water and seasonings. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice will get thick and creamy. Add baby peas stirring until heated through. Garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

*Available from Lundberg Family Farms. (I receive no recompense for promoting their product.)