Diablo Pepper Poppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Diablo Pepper Poppers! Sometimes you need an appetizer that doesn’t come across as a flame thrower sending your guests to the nearest source of water to put out the fire. I have discovered mini sweet peppers are a great stand-in for their high intensity cousin, the jalapeño. These little jewels are a colorful sight and taste even better than they look, which is pretty appealing. The green, orange, red, and yellow “pops” of color are bursting with flavor as well. No fire extinguisher needed.

DIABLO PEPPER POPPERS

Ingredients:

12 mini sweet peppers

2 tablespoons garlic olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt

3 green onions, snipped

7 Pepper Jack string cheese sticks

3 ounces prosciutto, deli sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray and place on the pan. Set aside. Wash the sweet peppers. Pat dry. Slice the top of each pepper vertically, removing a small portion to create a well. Remove any seeds. Brush each pepper with the garlic olive oil. Sprinkle on seasonings. Place peppers on the wire rack with cut side down. Bake 10 minutes; then set the broiler to High and broil for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Using a tongs, flip them over. Divide the green onion snips into the bottom of each pepper well. Using a kitchen shears, cut the string cheese to fit each pepper. Take each deli portion of prosciutto and slice it in half lengthwise. Carefully wrap the prosciutto around each filled sweet pepper and place upright on wire rack. Broil on High another 2-3 minutes or until the prosciutto gets crispy. Remove pan from oven and let cool slightly. Taking a cake tester, pierce each pepper from one side to another to make an opening. Insert a wooden pick in the opening. Now you have a finger food appetizer. Serve with herbed yogurt for dipping.

The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!

Frijoles Negros Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Frijoles Negros Stew! The popular dish of Cuba and Latin America translates to “black beans”. This highly nutritious legume is catching on around my household, especially following a day of slow-cooker roast pork. I like the smoky flavor to balance out the onions, peppers, and spices. Read on to see how simple it is to indulge in a thick, hearty stew for your next nutritious meal.

FRIJOLES NEGROS STEW

Ingredients:

2-15 ounce cans of black beans, with sauce

1 can beef consommé

1 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups shredded pork

1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

In a 2-quart saucepan, pour one can of black beans with liquid. Mash beans to a thick paste. Add the other can of black beans with liquid plus the beef consommé. Blend well. Microwave the chopped onion 2 minutes on high. Add to the stew. Add shredded pork, liquid smoke, cumin powder, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Garnish with cheddar cheese, green onions, and salsa. Serve piping hot.

Paleo Pepper Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Paleo Pepper Steak! Before you delete this post, hear me out for sec. Paleo does not mean blah, boring, and tasteless. In fact, this recipe gives you permission to only eat the stuff you crave. No hidden sauces or funky herbs. Basically, what you see is what you get. (Disclaimer: Pay no attention to that slice of garlic bread. It was put in the photo by my alter ego who loves carbs.) The green and red peppers are so fresh you may feel like nibbling on one or two as you slice them into strips. And the caramelized onions compliment the taste of steak, in my opinion.

PALEO PEPPER STEAK

Ingredients:

1 large green bell pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large sweet red pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large yellow onion, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2-6 ounce filet mignon steaks

Sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder steak to taste

1 pat of butter

Instructions:

Salt and pepper both sides of the steak while the gas grill is preheating from 450°-500°. At this time sprinkle the steak with garlic powder as well. The salt begins to draw out a little bit of moisture which makes the steak sizzle when it hits the grill grate, sealing in the flavor. For accuracy in grilling, my husband sets the timer on his cell phone, which is quite handy. Grill the steak for 2 1/2 minutes on one side before flipping over for the remaining 2 1/2 minutes. The finished steak will be medium-rare. Now this is the most difficult part. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The juice will reabsorb back into the steak to give you that moist and meaty taste.

Meanwhile, sauté pepper and onion slices in olive oil and seasonings in a large skillet on medium heat. Turn often to gradually brown the vegetables and avoid burning. They will be tender in about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low simmer to keep warm. Before serving, surround the steak with peppers and onions. Finish with a pat of butter.

Maque Choux Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Maque Choux Soup! This fancy name for Spicy Corn Chowder is pronounced “mock shoe”. (Sometimes I get a kick out of acting like a gourmet chef, so humor me a little bit.) Believe me when I say use the freshest garden ingredients in making this rich bodied soup. You won’t regret it. Since I freeze the wonderful Indiana sweet corn in its prime, along with the garden green bell peppers, the flavors seemed to burst forth in jubilation. If you can’t find fresh produce, try frozen as a substitute. I also had saved some smoky end pieces from a baked Virginia ham recently for a nice salty finish.

MAQUE CHOUX SOUP

Ingredients:

2 cups whole-kernel corn

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons cornmeal, finely ground

1/2 cup smoked ham, diced

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium high heat, add half the corn, onion, and green pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes until vegetables begin to char. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Add the vegetable oil and cumin to the skillet and repeat process with remaining corn, onion, and green pepper. Transfer to the same bowl. Take 1 cup of mixture, add 1 cup of chicken broth and blend until slightly smooth. (I used a food processor on pulse.) Meanwhile, in a 2-quart pan, boil potatoes in remaining chicken broth seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If necessary add enough water to keep it from boiling dry. Reduce heat to medium low and add one cup milk. Simmer, stirring often. Add corn mixture and creamed corn mixture to potato base. Simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk together sour cream and cornmeal in a measuring cup. Slowly add hot soup to it. This will keep the sour cream from curdling. Then slowly pour it back into the corn chowder. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until soup thickens. Add diced ham. Heat through. Serve hot. Garnish with cheddar cheese and ham pieces.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Red Hot Chili Peppers! Hello. My name is Gail and I’m addicted to red pepper flakes. Seriously. Sometimes my husband has to ask me to scale back on the capsaicin factor. In that case, I simply place the jar next to my plate and sprinkle away. It wasn’t until recently I realized the health benefits of crushed red peppers. According to Healthy Eating*, “Red Peppers soothe upset stomach and ulcers, bolsters heart health, regulates diabetes, and fortifies the immune system.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 pound red peppers, cayenne or chili with stem on.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 175°. Wash red peppers; pat dry. Arrange peppers on a baking sheet in a single layer without touching. Bake overnight, or 10 hours. Snap off stems and crush dried peppers, using a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar.

*healthyeating.sfgate.com

I receive no recompense for mentioning this website.

Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Barbacoa Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Barbacoa Banana Peppers! More and more supermarkets are offering a wide variety of prepared meats to help make mealtime as effortless as possible. You can take advantage of these precooked packaged options or make use of last night’s leftover roast in the refrigerator, turning it into Barbacoa beef. I have great respect for everyone who juggles their time between work and home. This recipe combines fresh produce with convenient seasoned alternatives. Meet me halfway for this labor of love.

BARBACOA BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 mild banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; ribs and seeds removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

6 sticks mozzarella string cheese

1 cup Barbacoa beef, shredded

1/3 cup fresh sweet corn

1/2 cup pico de gallo

2 green onions, sliced into curls

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange in a single layer, without touching, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Roast for 10 minutes until banana peppers begin to soften slightly. Remove from oven to cool. Tuck one mozzarella cheese stick into each pepper.(It may be necessary to pull the cheese apart into strings to fill the pepper from end to end.) Divide shredded Barbacoa beef between peppers. Top with sweet corn. Set oven to Broil. Return stuffed banana peppers to the oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden in spots. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Top with pico de gallo. Garnish with green onion strips.

Viva Poblano

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Viva Poblano! How can such small pepper plants produce so many poblanos? When it rains, it pours! It seems as though we have peppers coming out of our ears: jalapeño peppers, Marconi sweet peppers, poblano peppers, bell peppers, and finally habanero peppers. I have roasted, baked, dried, and pickled peppers in all sorts of delicious ways. Today’s dish is a Mexican specialty that showcases the smoky taste of poblanos. It’s a meal in itself. To tone down the heat, always add cheese. Permission granted.

VIVA POBLANO

Ingredients:

4 large poblano chiles, roasted, halved, seeded, skins removed

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions. Add ground beef, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until meat is completely brown and crumbly. Remove from heat. Spray four individual casserole dishes with nonstick oil. Place one poblano pepper in the bottom of each dish, laying the split pepper open to fill the dish. Cover the pepper with Monterey Jack cheese. Add a layer of seasoned ground beef mixture. Finally top with cheddar cheese. Spray aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Cover each casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve with chips and salsa.