What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Mole Sesame Chicken! One of my longtime friends introduced me to this dish after spending some time in the Dominican Republic. The unique mole sauce contains chili pepper, aromatic spices, and dark Mexican chocolate making it a savory sauce over turkey or chicken. It creates a fabulous meal when you have leftover meat. Simply add plain or Spanish rice along with soft flour tortillas for the perfect pairings. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty finish.
MOLE SESAME CHICKEN
8.25 ounce jar Doña Maria Mole*
28 ounces chicken broth
1-2 pound rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. Shred rotisserie chicken, removing skin and bones. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Empty contents of mole paste into a blender. Add half the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add remaining broth. Repeat. Pour mole sauce over chicken. Stir to incorporate. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with sticky rice or Spanish rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
*I receive no recompense for recommending Doña Maria Mole, Mexican Condiment.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Fondue Pizza Party! Revitalize the 1970s by throwing a fondue party. Gather up the dipping forks, where everyone chooses their favorite color. Remember, these forks are for spearing and dipping only. Never allow your guests to eat from the sharp pointed ends. Another reason eating from the fondue forks is a no-no is to avoid adding germs to the fondue sauce. So, set the table and let the fun begin!
FONDUE PIZZA PARTY
1 pound Italian meatballs, pre-cooked and ready-to-serve
8 ounces bite size dry salami or pepperoni slices
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 pound cherry tomatoes
8 ounces mozzarella sticks, cut into chunks
28-30 ounce jar pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce
Heat pizza sauce to boiling, then reduce to simmer, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Transfer to a fondue pot when ready to serve. Set on low heat to maintain a constant temperature. Arrange meatballs, pepperoni slices, green pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese chunks on one or two serving platters. Include breadsticks, crostini, or bagel chips as another option. Spear dippers with fondue forks or rosemary sprigs. Dip ingredients into the fondue sauce for pizza party magic.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Deveined Shrimp Queso! As the nights turn cool, cozy up around the fire with warm appetizers that are sure to please. Save prep time by beginning with precooked shrimp. It takes all the worry out of wondering if the shrimp is cooked through. I find the convenience of having frozen shrimp on hand an advantage. You will, too.
DEVEINED SHRIMP QUESO
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 pound jumbo shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup margarita mix, liquid
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Romano cheese, shaved
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, shrimp, seasoned salt, seafood seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Cook 5 minutes; turn and cook 2 minutes longer. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover shrimp with tequila and liquid margarita mixture. Add butter. Cook 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to an ovenproof casserole dish. Arrange in single layer. Mix the cornstarch and water until smooth. Bring pan drippings to a boil. Gradually add cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly as sauce thickens. If necessary, add more water. Pour sauce over shrimp. Cover with Monterey Jack cheese, spreading evenly. Top with shaved Romano cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Garnish with fresh dill. Serve warm with tortilla chips or crostini.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Kickstart Breakfast Burrito! Eggs have a way of warding off those mid-morning hunger pangs, in my opinion. Being high in protein makes them a favorite and keeps me from caving in to foods with empty calories later on. Because I’m a bread-lover, the tortilla satisfies like manna from heaven. Cheese, turkey sausage, and veggies kickstart my breakfast so I can stay focused and on point. Choose a breakfast wrap the next time you want a little variety in your day.
KICKSTART BREAKFAST BURRITO
2 flour tortillas, burrito size
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 lemon chili pepper, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
2-4 turkey sausage links, precooked and sliced
4 tablespoons Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded
Top tortillas with salsa. Set aside. Combine onion, green pepper, tomato, and lemon chili pepper in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Microwave on High for 1 minute, 45 seconds. Remove and set aside. Heat turkey sausage chunks for 30 seconds on High in the microwave oven. Set aside. In a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat, add beaten eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally for one minute. Add turkey sausage, shredded cheese, and vegetable mixture. Cook one minute longer or until eggs are set. Do not burn. Divide scrambled egg mixture between the tortilla shells. Fold into a burrito. Makes two breakfast burritos.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Jalapeño Confetti Jelly! This homemade jelly may become your all-time favorite. Not only is it enticing in the jar with its festive swirls of colorful confetti, but once you slather it over your favorite foods, it becomes a taste sensation. Don’t settle for ordinary. Be creative. Serve it as a dipping sauce with grilled meats and shrimp or spread it on crostini and crackers. No rules apply. Make some for yourself and some to share. Either way, it’ll be gone long before the next crop of garden jalapeños roll around.
JALAPEÑO CONFETTI JELLY
8-10 jalapeño peppers, stems removed
12-ounce bag assorted mini peppers
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 packet pectin, no sugar needed*
Wear disposable gloves when handling jalapeños. Chop jalapeño peppers, then pulse in a food processor until they are minced. Transfer jalapeños to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan. Repeat with mini peppers after removing stems, inner ribs, and seeds. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. Start with a rough chop, then pulse in the food processor until finely minced. Add mini peppers to the pan with the jalapeño peppers. Add apple cider vinegar and sugar to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the pan to a boil. Gradually add the fruit pectin. Continue boiling for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle the hot liquid into clean jars. (Makes three pints or use assorted jar sizes for gift-giving.) Set aside jars to cool before capping. As jelly cools, pepper bits float to the top. Stir occasionally to distribute more evenly for a confetti appearance. Once the jelly is cool, cap and refrigerate the jars. The Jalapeño Confetti Jelly will thicken as it cools.
* I received no recompense for suggesting SURE-JELL, no sugar needed, premium fruit pectin, 1.75 ounce size box.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Habanero Hot Sauce! Let’s kick things up a notch or two with one of the hottest known chili peppers legally sold in grocery stores. And I mean REALLY hot, compared to the average pepperoncini. The adorable orange lantern with its sweet-looking dimples can be deceiving. Its sting may feel as strong as a viper while simultaneously releasing an endorphin rush that’ll knock you off your feet. This is my fourth batch from the garden harvest. I’m hooked! However, it comes with a few words of caution: Wear gloves and avoid the juices near your face and eyes. While oven roasting, set the exhaust fan on High. When taste-testing, keep a wedge of white cheese nearby. It actually cuts the heat almost instantly. Be brave, my Peeps. Heed these simple rules. Then and only then, will you become the master of your own domain.
HABANERO HOT SAUCE
16-20 habanero peppers, halved, stems, and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/8 teaspoon lime juice
Sea salt to taste
Place habanero pepper halves, skin side up in a single layer, on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast habanero peppers on High for 10 minutes, or until black spots appear. Remove. Using tongs, transfer habanero peppers to a covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Using gloves, remove any loose skins; discard. Add peppers to a food processor. Pulse to a slightly coarse texture. Add minced garlic, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Pulse until desired consistency. Season with sea salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve in dips, as a condiment, paired with ripe fruits in salsas, or on grilled meats.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Splatter Pan Roasted Peppers! There’s something comforting about roasted vegetables. Perhaps it’s the amazing flavor as a result of dry oven heat. Ever notice that slightly caramelized texture? Sometimes it results in a toasted nutty-like flavor. Sweetness piques, especially in tomatoes. The soft brown garlic bulbs surprised me most of all. I mashed one against the roof of my mouth. The raw bitterness had been replaced with a savory sweetness that brought sheer pleasure to my taste buds. No wonder people say food can produce a seductive spark. Am I the last one to discover this about roasted garlic?
SPLATTER PAN ROASTED PEPPERS
3 green bell peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
24 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon basil, crushed
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a splatter pan with nonstick oil. Arrange green peppers, cut side up to fit. Brush the peppers, inside and out with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mozzarella cheese between peppers. Arrange cherry tomatoes so they fill each pepper “boat” to overflowing. As they roast the tomatoes will shrink in size. Tuck garlic cloves in between the tomatoes. Finish with capers. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle crushed basil over all. Bake 40-45 minutes. Allow roasted peppers to cool to room temperature before serving.
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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Grilled Brats, Onions, and Peppers! As you can see I was so busy sneaking one more meal of grilling outdoors before the weather changes that I almost forgot to take a snapshot. Here’s what’s left of a one-pan supper that is super-easy. Garden green peppers and sweet onions definitely complement the different spices that make up bratwurst. The reason the sausage links are cut up is because my husband and I wanted more of the “stuff” and less of the bun. Problem solved. Go bunless.
GRILLED BRATS, ONIONS, and PEPPERS
1-pound package German bratwurst
3 green peppers, stem, seeds, and rubbed removed
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Preheat the grill on medium to 350°. Cut the bratwurst into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to a grill pan. Cut the green peppers into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to the grill pan. Cut the sweet onion into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to the grill pan. Give the pan a light coating of nonstick oil. Sprinkle seasoned salt over vegetables. Lightly toss the bratwurst, onions, and peppers. Place grill pan on the grill. Close lid. This infuses the mixture with a nice smoky flavor. Cook 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally for that charred caramelized appearance. Serve immediately.