Jalisco Pico de Gallo

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Grilled Brats, Onions, and Peppers

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

Ingredients:

1-pound package German bratwurst

3 green peppers, stem, seeds, and rubbed removed

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Nonstick oil

Instructions:

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.

Xtra Healthy Turkey Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Xtra Healthy Turkey Spaghetti! It’s true you can limit your weekly intake of meat by choosing vegetarian recipes and meatless meals. On the other hand, by making a simple substitution of turkey over beef, you’re getting a leaner, less fatty meat without sacrificing taste. But the debate continues. Some report that nowadays leaner beef choices still make beef the winner when it comes to fat, sodium, and cholesterol. To be honest, I already had baked turkey on hand, so I took advantage of it and went for something a little different. Variety, in my kitchen, is the spice of Life.

XTRA HEALTHY TURKEY SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

1 pound of shredded turkey, precooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, cut into strips

1/3 cup onion, chopped

15-ounces prepared marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce

6 ounces angel hair pasta

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray four individual casserole pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add poblano pepper, green pepper, and chopped onions. Sauté until tender. Stir in the shredded turkey and marinara sauce. Turn heat off and set aside. Prepare angel hair spaghetti according to package directions. Drain thoroughly. Add cooked pasta to sauce. Stir to mix. Transfer turkey spaghetti to individual casseroles. Divide mozzarella cheese between them. Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is golden and melted. Garnish with parmesan cheese before serving.

Date Chile Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Date Chile Salad! One of the best kept secrets in cooking is infused olives oils. It kicks things up a notch. The flavors intensify ordinary ingredients by beginning with organic and aromatic extra virgin olive oils, which in turn, are infused with delightful natural flavors. Some oils contain the essence of herbs, while others may be crushed with fresh citrus or toasted seeds. Be adventurous. Visit a specialty store where premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold. Most stores offer samples to encourage “taste testing”. One of my favorites is Lime Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. Another is Sicilian Lemon Olive Oil paired with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar. Recently I added an Italian Black Truffle Oil to my collection. I was told it tastes divine drizzled over popcorn or as a finishing oil on pizza. I can’t wait!

DATE CHILE SALAD

Ingredients:

2 navel oranges, pith and peel removed

1/3 cup dried dates, chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 red or green jalapeño pepper, sliced into rings

1/2 serrano chile pepper, sliced into rings

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1-2 tablespoons lime olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Slice oranges into thin rounds. Arrange on two salad plates or bowls. Divide chopped dates between them. Sprinkle on crumbled feta cheese. Add jalapeño and serrano pepper rings. Tuck in mint leaves. Drizzle lime olive oil over salads. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve.

Xinjiang Mini Cukes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Xinjiang Mini Cukes! Has anyone else noticed the adorable mini cucumbers in the produce department of the grocery store? I mean, they’re really cute; the size of an index finger. And they’re seedless! What a great addition to a relish plate. Today’s Chinese version of marinated cucumbers will kick-start any meal. It offers enough heat and spice from chile peppers along with the full-bodied taste of fried garlic to transport you to a country in Southeast Asia. No worries, the rice vinegar and natural honey make it easier on the stomach.

XINJIANG MINI CUKES

Ingredients:

4-6 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fried garlic

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1 tablespoon chili paste

Instructions:

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise; then slice in half to make four quarters. Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain excess water from cucumbers. Using a mortar and pestle, pumice red pepper flakes and fried garlic. Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, natural honey, Golden Mountain sauce, and chili paste. Mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce for mini cucumber appetizer OR pour over cucumbers; toss to coat and marinate in refrigerator for one hour or overnight.

Jersey Hot Dogs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Jersey Hot Dogs! Ask anyone how they prefer a hot dog and you’re bound to get a multitude of answers. Some prefer ketchup and onions, others insist on mustard and pickle relish. When grilling or roasting you hear everything from “barely warm” to “charred and crispy”. And then there’s New Jersey where the technique has been practiced for over a century. Maybe you know the secret: crispy potato chunks, sweet red peppers, and grilled onions. Overload the bun and slather on the mustard. Pay attention. You’ve just entered the Hot Dog Zone of America!

JERSEY HOT DOGS

Ingredients:

3 new potatoes, cut into chunks

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips

1 Vidalia onion, sliced

1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning

4 Angus beef hot dogs

4 hot dog buns

Deli Mustard to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add potatoes. Fry for 3 minutes; turn and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Potatoes will be partially crisp and browned. Remove and set aside. Add sweet red peppers and onions; repeat same frying process. Return potatoes to skillet. Add Italian seasoning. Combine vegetables. Cook 5-7 minutes longer on medium heat until all are tender and browned. Open hot dog buns and smear with deli mustard. Grill hot dogs as you prefer them. Insert hot dogs into sliced buns and fill with potato mixture.

Underrated Summertime Supper

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Underrated Summertime Supper! Does anyone have a Himalayan Salt Block besides me? Well, one of the things I like about it is, it can take the guesswork out of adding seasoning to food. It’s a block of pink salt, after all. When serving cold foods like salads, fruits, and cheeses, refrigerate the salt block overnight before using. This helps to keep foods chilled for hours when you need it. Simply arrange the ingredients directly on the block, drizzle on the dressing, and you’re good-to-go. Clean up is easy. Never use soap; salt is naturally antibacterial. Remove food residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse it with a clean swipe, then dab dry. Allow the salt block to air-dry before next use. You’re done.

UNDERRATED SUMMERTIME SUPPER

Ingredients:

4 ounces goat’s milk cheese, plain

1 teaspoon Italian dry mix spice blend

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces mixed greens, washed

1 Roma tomato, chopped

4 assorted mini sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into rings

2 radishes, sliced very thin

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Crusty Artisan Bread

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle Italian dry mix spice blend and red pepper flakes. Form the goat’s milk cheese into a ball. Roll it in the spice mix to cover all sides. Place cheese ball on the chilled Himalayan salt block. Next, arrange mixed greens in a single layer. Arrange Roma tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, radish slices, and red onion rings. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over top. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over salad. Serve with crusty artisan bread.

Surf ‘n Turf Lettuce Cups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Surf ‘n Turf Lettuce Cups! This is one of those freezer meals that you can throw together in a flash. Precooked frozen shrimp and leftover sirloin tip roast are the main attractions. By adding spices, fresh herbs, and a special dipping sauce, this hearty meal knocks it out of the park! The whole idea behind the lettuce cup is keeping it simple. You deserve all the praise!

SURF ‘N TURF LETTUCE CUPS

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, precooked and thawed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 pound sirloin tip roast, shredded

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Blend

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1/2 cup French Fried Onions

Boston Lettuce leaves

For Dipping Sauce:

6-8 dried peppers, sliced

1/4 teaspoon fried garlic

1 wedge of lime

1/2 teaspoon honey

2-4 tablespoons Golden Mountain Sauce

2-4 tablespoons fish sauce

Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Remove tails and discard. Dab shrimp with paper towels. In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add roast beef to same skillet using pan drippings. Season with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend and Golden Mountain sauce. Stir. Reduce to simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed. Return shrimp to pan and gently combine with beef. Wash Boston Lettuce; separate leaves, being careful not to tear. Arrange lettuce in a bowl. Fill lettuce cups with shrimp and beef mixture. Garnish with French Fried Onions. Serve with Dipping Sauce, which can also be used as a dressing.

Philly Cheesesteak Bolillo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Philly Cheesesteak Bolillo! While at the local bakery, I couldn’t help but choose these nicely shaped oval bolillo rolls. Their lack of crunchy outer crust, like the baguette, made them more appealing for the cheese-laden spicy shredded beef I planned as a main course. Don’t you just love it when you get extra servings from another day’s roast sirloin? The opportunities are endless. This time around the onions, green peppers, red peppers, and mozzarella cheese all team together for that infamous cheesesteak sandwich to die for. Add a slice of tomato and a couple sweet gherkin pickles to punch up the taste buds. Any takers?

PHILLY CHEESESTEAK BOLILLO

Ingredients:

1 pound roast sirloin, cooked and shredded

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vinegar

1-2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 teaspoon fennel

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 bolillo sub rolls, halved

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, add shredded sirloin beef, green pepper, onion, and red pepper. Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and whole grain mustard. Stir well. Pour over meat and vegetables. Add seasoned salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low; simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed and meat is tender, approximately 20 minutes. Preheat oven to Broil. Cut bolillo subs in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers to make a well. Butter the faces generously. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil on high until the tops are golden, 2-3 minutes. Spoon meat mixture onto each half. Divide cheese over all. Return to broiler to melt the cheese. Watch carefully. Remove from oven and match the sandwich sides together to form a sandwich.