Underrated Summertime Salad

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.

Culinary Cauliflower

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Culinary Cauliflower! Not everyone is a fan of cauliflower. I get that. It might be because of the way it’s prepared. Or smells. Or possibly because it looks bland and boring. Meh. Well, here’s my solution if you promise to give it one more chance. Smother it in cheese. Good cheese, like smoky Gouda. Then take buttery garlic croutons and sprinkle them over the top. Get the picture? Sooo, if the family turns up their noses at the idea of eating cauliflower, simply shrug your shoulders, kick off your shoes, and curl up on the sofa with the entire bowl yourself.

CULINARY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 cup water

1/2 cup smoky bacon Gouda cheese, sliced thin

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup garlic croutons, coarsely crushed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm water over medium heat in a saucepan with a steamer basket. Cut off stem of cauliflower, removing the leaves. Make an “x” in the core with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer, place cauliflower in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Cut cauliflower into florets. Transfer to an ovenproof bowl. Combine sliced Gouda cheese and milk in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on Low (30%) in 30-second intervals. Stir until smooth as it melts. Pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Bake 5-10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Warm butter in a pan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic croutons. Stir occasionally until brown. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over melted cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Red Chile Garlic Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Red Chili Garlic Chicken! If you are a fan of stir-fry, this sauce is often a staple inspired by the fusion flavors of the Far East. Take a quick peek at the ingredient list to see what I mean: ginger and garlic popular in China, chili peppers from Thailand, Vietnamese soy sauce, and sweet rice vinegar used in Japan. It’s all in there. Personally I’m a fan of the sweet heat mixed with the cashew crunch. Skip the take-out for tonight and try this version for yourself.

RED CHILI GARLIC CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried red chiles

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, boneless and skinless

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup cashews

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

3 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Add clili peppers; cover. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain water. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in medium skillet. Turn heat to high setting and add chicken tenders. Season with sea salt, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. After 3-4 minutes, when chicken turns brown, flip over. Reduce the heat to medium setting and cover. Cook chicken until firm, about 5 minutes longer. The chicken will release itself from the surface when it is ready. Set pan aside. For the sauce, in a medium skillet combine brown sugar, rice vinegar, red wine, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Bring to a gentle boil on medium-high heat. Stir often. Mixture should not foam. Sauce will thicken after 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over chicken tenders. Add drained chiles, cashews, sesame seeds, and green onion snips. Heat through, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. Serve with choice of cooked rice.

Kimchi Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Kimchi Shrimp! Brace yourself for a wickedly sour Korean flavor with a crazy spicy kick. Some say it can be a bit salty, especially if you keep an eye on that sort of thing. Others notice the strong leaning toward fish, which is why I dove head first into this dish by adding naturally sweet shrimp, and of course, butter. Did you just do a double take? Stick around. You may end up on the hook.

KIMCHI SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1/2 cup prepared kimchi, chopped

1 pound frozen cooked jumbo shrimp, thawed

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ginger root, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Romaine lettuce leaves

Green onions, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a mini chopper, pulse the prepared kimchi into a paste. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter. Layer the shrimp in the pan. Add chopped ginger. Sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Cook shrimp for one minute, then flip over. Add the kimchi paste, stirring to coat shrimp. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve over romaine lettuce leaves. Garnish with green onion snips.

Egg Brekkie Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Egg Brekkie Pizza! Ever get the feeling you just aren’t in the mood to cook? I’ve been there. While you’re standing at the refrigerator, leaning on the door like it’s your best friend, don’t ignore last night’s leftover pizza. Butter up the iron skillet, toss in a couple slices of pizza, crack an egg on top, and put a lid on it. There’s gotta be an extra packet of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, not to mention, crushed oregano somewhere. Bingo! You’re done.

EGG BREKKIE PIZZA

Ingredients:

2 slices leftover pizza, any variety

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs

Sprinkling of parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and oregano

Instructions:

Warm butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle garlic powder into butter. Place pizza slices in pan. Crack an egg onto each slice. Cover. Cook until bottom of pizza is crispy and eggs are barely set, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and crushed oregano.

Bird’s Nest Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Bird’s Nest Breakfast! For something fun, take an ordinary poached egg, lay it on a bed of greens, and turn it into a festive meal nestled in a coffeehouse cup. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you like toast, you say. No worries, it’s in there. Think about this attractive alternative when serving a mid-morning brunch for two or breakfast in bed on the weekend. This is how we cruise through life.

BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

4 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed*

2 slices baguette bread, toasted and buttered

2 extra large eggs, poached or fried sunny-side up

2 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing

Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions:

Gently tear romaine lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide between two large coffeehouse cups. Toast artisan bread, butter, and cut into cubes. Add to each lettuce cup. Gently toss. Poach or fry two eggs, leaving the centers slightly soft. Transfer one egg to each bowl. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

*Add alfalfa sprouts, if available.

Zia Marianna’s Grilled Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Zia Marianna’s Grilled Peppers! Did you know there are three ways to roast peppers? You can use a grill pan over a burner flame, a broiler for fast charring, or roast them in the oven. The results are amazing, compared to raw peppers sliced into a salad. The incredible flavor is so smoky and sweet you may wonder why you don’t take the time more often. Pay attention to your taste buds! This is how we add depth to any dish, I promise you that.

ZIA MARIANNA’S GRILLED PEPPERS

Ingredients:

10 mini sweet peppers, mix of red and orange

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Celery leaves

Instructions:

Heat a grill pan on high heat until hot. Rinse the mini sweet peppers and garlic cloves; pat dry. Place the whole peppers and garlic cloves onto the grill pan, charring the skin completely on all sides until black on the outside and soft on the inside, 5-8 minutes per side. Remove and discard charred skin of peppers, seeds, and stems. Cut the peppers into thin slices about 1/4” thick. Transfer the charred pepper slices and garlic cloves into a container with a lid. Slightly wilt celery leaves on grill pan. Add to pepper mixture. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Add the seasoned salt and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Warm slightly before serving.

New Day Red Pepper Frittata

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: New Day Red Pepper Frittata! When you need breakfast for more than one, think frittata. Omelets serve one, frittatas serve two or more. Nowadays the courteous thing to do is omit the crust in case someone needs a low-carb gluten-free option. You can always serve the frittata with a crusty artisan piece of buttered toast for those who like bread with their meal. Using light cream will result in more of a creamy egg custard, but can certainly be omitted. Because I had already packed my iron skillet, I had to make due with a baking dish. Baking the frittata in an iron skillet gives the edges a “fried” appearance, which always gets the mouth drooling.

NEW DAY RED PEPPER FRITTATA

Ingredients:

8 large eggs

1/4 cup light cream

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup fresh basil, minced

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 green onions, chopped

1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped

2 green onions, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, light cream, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, chopped green onions, and sweet red peppers. Mix well. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Too with 2 green onions. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until eggs are completely set. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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

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