Li Hing Pineapple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Li Hing Pineapple! Talk to any adult who is native to Hawaii and you’ll discover a craze from their youth. It’s Li Hing Mui, a powdered flavoring that can be sprinkled on anything from fruit to candy to popcorn, and even rimming the glasses of adult cocktails. No kidding. So what exactly is this mysterious flavoring, you wonder. Li Hing is plum powder made from dried plums. It has a combination of sweet, salty, and tangy taste. Local children love it on sour gummy worms or shave ice. Anything goes. One taste and you’ll find yourself giggling like a kid.

LI HING PINEAPPLE

Ingredients:

Fresh pineapple

Li Hing powder

Instructions:

Peel and core fresh pineapple. Cut into chunks. Using a sifter, lightly dust the fresh pineapple chunks with Li Hing powder. Let rest for a minute. Serve.

Nori Sesame Popcorn

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Nori Sesame Popcorn! If you’ve never tasted dried edible seaweed, you’re really missing out. It wasn’t until recently that I gave it a whirl and I have to tell you, I kinda like it. Besides, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Asian cultures have known this all along, so it’s like preaching to the choir when I rave about the natural health benefits. When nori is added to a batch of popcorn, seasoned with roasted sesame seeds and Oriental rice crackers, it transforms a typical snack into a sensational wholesome one. Prepare to grab a handful and nibble away.

NORI SESAME POPCORN

Ingredients:

1 packet microwave popcorn, any variety

8-ounces rice cracker blend, bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

.21 ounces dried seaweed sheets, cut into small strips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the microwave popcorn according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add the rice cracker pieces. Toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, and nori strips. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Cool five minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter W

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup! Not only is this soup perfect for those chilly evenings ahead, but it is also more fun to eat simply because instead of saltine crackers, fresh popcorn is used. That’s right, you heard me…popcorn. It really doesn’t matter if you use the air-popped variety, microwave movie popcorn, or slightly sweet kettle-style popcorn. I know, right!?! More and more you may discover this quirky dish on a restaurant menu, even outside the state of Wisconsin. It actually dates back to when German immigrants came to America. Beer was readily available and often used in soup. Over time, more veggies, spices, and cheese were added turning supper time soup into the comfort meal it is today. If you’re up for an adventure, read on. 
WISCONSIN BEER CHEESE SOUP 
Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped 

1 yellow onion, diced

1 rib celery, chopped 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1/4 cup butter 

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard 

2 cups light cream or milk, warmed

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

16 ounces beer

Popcorn for garnish 
Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil. Add chopped carrots, diced onions, chopped celery, and minced garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. In a 4-quart pan, melt butter on low heat. Do not burn. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle in flour. Stir constantly while cooking. The flour mixture will turn a light brown. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper, and dry mustard. Mix well. Gradually pour in warmed milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps or scorching. It will thicken nicely. Add Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in shredded cheese, stirring constantly to melt the cheese. Slowly add beer and bring to a boil. Stir until foam disappears. Reduce heat to low setting. Add vegetable mixture to the cheese soup. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve with popcorn garnish. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Nori Sesame Popcorn! If you’ve never tasted dried edible seaweed, you’re really missing out. It wasn’t until recently that I gave it a whirl and I have to tell you, I kinda like it. Besides, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Asian cultures have known this all along, so it’s like preaching to the choir when I rave about the natural health benefits. When nori is added to a batch of popcorn, seasoned with roasted sesame seeds and Oriental rice crackers, it transforms a typical snack into a sensational wholesome one. Prepare to grab a handful and nibble away. 
NORI SESAME POPCORN 
Ingredients:

1 packet microwave popcorn, any variety

8-ounces rice cracker blend, bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

.21 ounces dried seaweed sheets, cut into small strips
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the microwave popcorn according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add the rice cracker pieces. Toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, and nori strips. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Cool five minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.