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.
Dining Outside the Home: Red Fish Blue Fish in Key West, Florida! When you’re wandering around Mallory Square, step off the beaten path a block or so to discover a hidden gem where seafood is prime and the drinks go down easy. Order one of the signature cocktails from Red Fish Blue Fish, made with real fruit and fresh juices. Stay awhile, and without a doubt, you’ll be smitten by the most breathtaking sunset in the Florida Keys. This is cause for celebration. The sheer beauty and passion of the residents is enough to make anyone feel at home once they cross the threshold of this popular seafood joint.
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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Loaded Lettuce Cups! Eating with your fingers is so much fun! Here’s an idea for supper that is not only kid-friendly, but has an Asian flair that adults adore. By toasting the rice and noodles in butter, it gives the food a nice crunchy taste complimented by sesame and soybean undertones. Add chicken and water chestnuts for a healthy meal. The mere fact that it’s all wrapped up in the soft, buttery Boston lettuce leaves make it an all-star hit!
LOADED LETTUCE CUPS
1/4 cup butter
1 cup instant white rice
1 1/2 cups fine home style noodles
10-ounce can chunk chicken breast, drained
14-ounce chicken broth
4 green onions, chopped
8-ounce can of slivered water chestnuts, drained
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup soybean seasoning sauce
Boston lettuce leaves
Melt butter in a deep skillet. Do not burn. Add white rice and thin noodles. Coat well. Cook them over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in chicken broth and chicken chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Add chopped green onion with tops, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and soybean seasoning sauce. Mix well and serve in Boston lettuce cups.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Lump Crabmeat Salad! Be pampered on a sunny porch or backyard patio with a light luncheon for two. Dining al fresco is especially popular with nature’s backdrop of fragrant flowers and tittering birdsong. These are what days are made of. If it’s a late afternoon gathering of light appetizers and spritzers, serve this lump crabmeat salad with crackers instead. Fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take advantage of warm weather and celebrate a party-like atmosphere.
LUMP CRABMEAT SALAD
8 ounces wild caught lump crabmeat, cartilage removed
1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 rib celery, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
4 teaspoons chives, sliced
1 teaspoon tarragon leaves
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 dash sriracha sauce
Red pepper, halved and membrane removed
Bibb lettuce leaves
Gently rinse crabmeat in a fine mesh strainer to remove any shell pieces or cartilage. Do not break up crab chunks. Transfer crabmeat to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning mix. Toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red pepper, sliced chives, tarragon leaves, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery seed, kosher salt, white pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the crabmeat mixture to the mayonnaise mixture, gently coating the lump crabmeat. Spoon the crabmeat into two hollowed out red pepper shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange Bibb lettuce leaves on two saucers; place lump crabmeat salad on each plate. Serve chilled.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Kinky Red Cabbage Slaw! When you need a little color, a satisfying crunch, and an extra dose of vitamin K, look no further than red cabbage. Its robust, hearty flavor can be combined with spices that have you feeling like the Queen of Sheba or the King of Siam. Make a healthy choice today. Opt out for red cabbage. It may provide just the twist you need.
KINKY RED CABBAGE SLAW
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons celery seed
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red onion, diced
Whisk together vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Slowly add oil, celery seed, salt, and pepper. Toss in cabbage and onions. Coat well. Refrigerate for one hour.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad! Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to serve up gluten-free meals. This one, in particular, is packed with protein and fiber, plus non-GMO red lentils. You don’t need to have allergic restrictions to appreciate its natural goodness. The texture is firm while providing an amazing taste sensation. Eat it cold or warmed up a bit. You decide. Either way, the health benefits will have you patting yourself on the back for making such a healthy choice.
ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA SALAD
8 ounces organic red lentil pasta
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/3 cup red onions, sliced
1 tablespoon pimento, diced
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dry Italian dressing and seasoning mix
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon natural honey
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Cook red lentil pasta 8-10 minutes, according to package directions. Water will turn cloudy and foam up, so be sure to use enough water. Remove from heat. Drain, rinse, and set aside. To make dressing, combine garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, Dijon mustard, and natural honey. Whisk together until nicely blended. Fill a large bowl with pasta, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red onion slices, diced pimento, and Kalamata olives. Pour dressing over all. Toss gently to coat ingredients. Serve cold.
In the quaint harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts, is a little fishing shack with a huge history. So much so, it has been deemed the “most often-painted building in America”. Initially home to a colony of artists and avid fishermen, the shack was built, at the end of a granite wharf, in the 1840s as a symbol of maritime life. Artists favored it for the simple composition and ideal lighting, making it appealing on canvas. Locals readily offer tidbits of Hollywood films shot at this location: “Finding Nemo” and especially Sandra Bullock’s 2009 blockbuster entitled, “The Proposal”. Now that you see the charming little shack with its weathered red paint, perhaps you’ll flock to Rockport for a closeup of Motif Number One.*
*”Motif” is a French term for a distinctive and recurring subject in a work of art.
Take Route 550 slowly up Waimea Canyon Road on the west side of Kauai. Pull over for a scenic view of a strange phenomenon. On one side of the winding road is a man-made waterfall where the gushing water juts through red clay earth spilling the stream into shades of yellow and orange. Snap a photo for substantiation. Cross the road and you’ll find another area of mystery. Stones of varying sizes and shapes are stacked helter-skelter to the edge of the cliff creating a sacred-like appearance. Like hallowed ground. What does it all mean? Ahu. Is it an insult to Pele, the volcano goddess? Or a breach of the natural beauty intended for spiritual energy? Stop and listen. All is quiet aside from the gentle wind whistling in your ears against a backdrop of rushing water. Some native Hawaiians say it is bad luck for the island stones and lava rocks to be moved around or taken home by visiting tourists. It is disrespectful and sabotages the importance of preserving the island’s natural beauty, according to National Park officials. The golden rule of national parks is that visitors should “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” Whether you call them cairns, stacking rocks, or ahu, be kind and pay homage to the Garden Isle of Kauai.