Pickled Red Onions

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Pickled Red Onions! What’s the buzz over pickled red onions? This relatively new condiment seems to be grabbing center stage with pizza, burgers, and tacos. True, the raw red onion can come across a lot more potent than its yellow cousin. Some even consider it bitter. I find it very appealing when sliced razor thin. Now you have another alternative. When pickled, their tangy sweetness becomes so unique it may appear as though a secret ingredient suddenly turned the dish into a gourmet delight. Before long pickled red onions may find themselves as popular as ketchup and mustard.

PICKLED RED ONIONS

Ingredients:

1 red onion

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Slice the top and bottom off the onion. Slice onion in half from top to bottom. Remove outer skin; discard. Slice red onion into half moons, about 1/8” thick. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together apple cider vinegar, garlic wine vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt. Place over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Whisk until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove pan from heat and whisk in allspice and red pepper flakes. Add sliced onions to the pan; gently stir to combine. Allow mixture to cool completely at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour into a glass container. Cover tightly with a lid. Refrigerate overnight. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Meatball Pizzetta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Meatball Pizzetta! Need a late-night snack beyond a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream? Don’t get me wrong, there was a time in my life when I self-medicated with a pint of Turkish Coffee Ice Cream, at least 3 or 4 times a week. No regrets and certainly no judgment here. What I recently discovered, though, is a mini portion of authentic flatbread, packaged in a 4-count. Just the right size to become a pizzetta for one. I always seem to have a jar of homemade Italian marinara in my fridge. And mozzarella cheese? Well, that’s practically a staple around my house as well. Do you see the wheels turning? This is how my kitchen is stocked. Because you never know when a craving will hit.

MEATBALL PIZZETTA

Ingredients:

I mini naan flatbread

2-3 tablespoons marinara sauce, prepared

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

3-5 small frozen Italian meatballs, thawed

1 tablespoon pickled red onions

Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the rack while the oven is warming. Take a mini naan flatbread and place it on a plate. Spread a layer of marinara, stopping short of the edges. Layer naan with shredded mozzarella cheese. Arrange Italian meatballs on top. Transfer pizzetta to a preheated pizza stone. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese melts and crust is crunchy. Carefully remove from oven, add pickled red onions, and slice pizzetta. Garnish with fresh basil.

Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits! Say whaaat? Somebody needs to tell me what that word means. Umami. Evidently it is the taste bud beyond the famous four: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Oh yeah, taste buds we’ve been familiar with since we first began to put food in our mouths. This “umami” envelopes earthy, meaty, and savory. Examples of foods that reflect this are soy sauce, tomatoes, cheeses, anchovies, and cured pork products. Chorizo falls into the latter category, you probably concluded. Sooo, are we good?

UMAMI BOMB CHORIZO GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grits, uncooked

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 chorizo sausage links, casing removed

1 tablespoon red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon green pepper, diced

1 tablespoon red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, crumbled

1 hard-boiled egg

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Set aside. Remove the casing of the chorizo. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Add chorizo. Sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the meat with a fork as it cooks. Add red pepper, green pepper, red onion, and corn. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, transfer cheesy grits to a shallow dish. Add chorizo and sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a hard-boiled egg. Garnish with cayenne pepper, to taste.

Frittata Egg White Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Frittata Egg White Muffins! Egg whites are probably the most misunderstood superfood. They alone are responsible for muscle gain and brain function. The high protein content can boost immunity levels as well. So why is it people turn up their noses when you mention egg whites? Personally, I think it may have something to do with the extra work involved in separating the yolk from the white. As we have teeter-tottered back and forth between the medical community urging us to ditch the yolk because of its fatty content and then backpedaled with discoveries that perhaps now it had nothing to do with heart disease, is it any wonder we stand around scratching our heads? Long story short. Eggs aren’t unhealthy, so do what you want.

FRITTATA EGG WHITE MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups egg whites

2 tablespoons green peppers, diced

2 tablespoons red peppers, diced

2 tablespoons sweet onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 thick slices bacon, precooked and crumbled

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Alfalfa sprouts, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, green peppers, red peppers, sweet onion, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the mini muffin pan cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until egg whites are fully cooked. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Loosen and remove from pan. Top each egg white frittata with chopped chives and alfalfa sprouts. Serve immediately.

Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Black Beans ‘n Rice Soup! At first glance, this appears to be a meatless meal. It can be with one minor change. Just don’t add meat. And yet, if you appreciate a dish you can sink your teeth into, I invite you to read on. This flavorsome recipe gets down to earth as a stick-to-the-ribs dinner. We all know brown rice is a good source of fiber as well as an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Black beans support good heart health and could help lower cholesterol. Pork provides protein. Last time I checked, 1+1+1=3. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

BLACK BEANS ‘N RICE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

10.5-ounce can beef consommé

1/2 cup instant brown rice

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup seasoned pork, precooked and shredded

1/2 cup water, if needed

2 tablespoons red pepper, diced

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until onions are soft and clear. Add red chili garlic sauce, cumin, and oregano. Cook 2 minutes longer. Add beef consommé and brown rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add black beans and seasoned pork. Stir to combine. Add water, if needed to ensure everything is covered. Replace lid and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with diced red peppers and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Wings Beans Shoyu

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Wing Beans Shoyu! Have you ever seen a four-angled bean? It actually has four corners. The rough texture looks a little odd, all jagged and such. Since they grow in tropical climates where there is plenty of humidity, rainfall, and warmth, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t find them at your local grocery store. However, they are readily available at Farmers Markets in the Hawaiian Islands, which is where I got these delectable little jewels. They taste similar to a snow pea with a slightly sweet crunch. Then there’s the sauce. YUM!

WING BEANS SHOYU

Ingredients:

1/2 pound wing beans, washed, ends trimmed, and cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup soy sauce, Japanese-style

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 strip bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

Place prepared wing beans in a covered casserole dish. Add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on High setting for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Do not cook until mushy. Drain. Add crumbled bacon. Combine soy sauce, agave nectar, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Whisk to blend flavors. Drizzle over wing bean mixture. Toss to coat. Serve warm.

Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus! If you’ve ever needed a simple appetizer that will elevate an evening, think shrimp. By adding fresh ingredients, it definitely kicks things up a notch. When people cram into the kitchen to watch, assign them a minor task such as chopping fruit into chunks or snipping cilantro into small sprigs. Real conversations happen in the kitchen. Everyone benefits and memories are created. After all, being involved is natural and welcoming. It’s how we all stay connected.

SEASONED SHRIMP PINEAPPLE PUPUS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup papaya, cut into chunks

1/2 cup pineapple, cut into chunks

12 jumbo frozen shrimp, precooked and thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Arrange papaya chunks on a decorative platter. Set aside. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, arrange pineapple chunks in a single layer. They will sizzle and char. Flip over to darken both sides. Remove and add to the platter. Warm olive oil in the same skillet. Layer shrimp without overlapping. Sprinkle with half the seasoned salt, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Slightly sear, then flip over. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning. When shrimp is golden brown, transfer to the pupu platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Hawaiian Spam Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Hawaiian Spam Breakfast! Not everyone is on the same page when it comes to breakfast. Some prefer a bowl of cereal in front of the tv, others like yogurt and fruit while checking their email, and some are perfectly happy with their morning cuppa joe watching the sunrise. That’s where this recipe comes in handy. It is a Hawaiian meal for one.

It takes only a couple minutes to heat and eat. So when everyone comes crowding into the kitchen because it smells so good, just roll your shoulders and say, “You already had breakfast.”

HAWAIIAN SPAM BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

10.5 ounce package heat-and-eat microwaveable rice

2 slices Spam* brand canned meat

1 egg, scrambled

1 green onion, snipped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Microwave rice according to package directions. Spray a small skillet with nonstick oil. Over medium-high heat, quick-fry 2 slices of Spam. Flip to get both sides crispy. Chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Crack an egg into a small dish. Whisk to break the yolk. Spray the small skillet again with nonstick oil. Pour the egg mixture into the pan using the same setting, medium high. Cover. Cook one minute. Remove lid, break up the egg with a spatula. Turn off the burner. Replace the lid for one minute longer. Transfer rice to a bowl, add Spam, scrambled egg, green onion snips, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Mix well. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with chopsticks.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Ole Red in Nashville, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Ole Red in Nashville, Tennessee! Blake Shelton has a following, that’s for sure. Whether it’s his chart-topping hits, his popular menu favorites, or his rugged good looks, Ole Red is a Lower Broadway destination worth talking about. Take the elevator up. The lookout sky bar boasts the best hideaway where glam-meets-grit. The view is dynamic, so grab a seat. Signature cocktails come smooth and often, which aim to please. Chew on shareable plates for grazing to leave room for sweet regrets. This isn’t just a bar, it’s an experience.