What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Guacamole-Stuffed Tomatoes! Avocados are so convenient to use as a modern salad alternative. Adding fresh lime, tomatoes, and herb seasonings make it a winning combination for more than a Super Bowl Party or Cinco de Mayo celebration. Whether the results are chunky or smooth, once the dish is made it needs to be eaten before the natural exposure to oxygen turns the guacamole sauce brown. The lime juice slows down the process a bit, but this is definitely not a “do ahead” recipe. Make fresh and eat fresh!
2 romaine lettuce leaves
2 medium size tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon chia seeds
Place one romaine lettuce leaf on a small luncheon plate. Take one whole tomato; remove top stem; score tomato into 8 sections leaving the bottom intact. Transfer to luncheon plate, atop romaine lettuce leaf, opening tomato to form a serving well. Scoop the flesh from the avocado and place in a mini chopper. Add lime juice, garlic powder, and sea salt. Pulse to thicken. Fill tomato centers. Top with red pepper flakes, green onion snips, and chia seeds. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois! When it gets steamy hot in the Midwest , rest assured you can cool things off at a casual spot for classic Mexican cooking and salt-rimmed margaritas that go down smooth and easy. Order a Taco Salad. It’s served in a fried flour tortilla shell, then cradled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chunky guacamole, and spicy salsa. Saira can add seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken to suit your taste. Either way, you get a healthy dose of veggies that’ll keep you coming back for more…whenever you pass through town.
Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Feel the romantic rhythm of northern Italy in a tropical destination overlooking the beach. This is paradise on the island of Kauai. The food is true Italian cuisine, the wine from cellars across the world. Café Portofino, a family-owned business, offers fresh seafood and locally sourced vegetables as well as classic dishes. Notice the Red Beet Salad and Grilled Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, both celebration-worthy. Chat with the wait staff. Their friendly reception is warm and connected with deep-felt hospitality. For a memorable evening, especially bringing in the New Year, treat yourself to a taste of Italy.
Dining Outside the Home: Pizzeria Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! If the aromas of Italian tomato, roasted garlic, and fresh basil waft through the air the second you raise the lid of the takeout box, you already know the pizza inside is going to taste good. The Americano combination of savory sauce, salty pepperoni, and gooey mozzarella cheese make chowing down come easy. Whether the crust is chewy soft or charred crisp, everyone wins at Pizzeria Portofino. That’s the beauty of ordering to please. Spend all day at the beach, then save some serious dough. Dine-in or carry out. For me? With a view like this with a private balcony, it was an easy choice to make.
Dining Outside the Home: The Lanai Restaurant And Bar in Koloa, Kauai. Avocado croquettes, sweet watermelon salad, crunchy sea salt macadamia nuts, grilled shrimp. If you strive for healthy options, local ingredients, and aloha flavor, rest easy at The Lanai. Escape to the garden isle where open-air ambience meets great tasting food. People-watching is a bonus, especially among gentle sea breezes. Adjacent to a gourmet market makes it a plus for top-notch quality. Take it slow, savor each bite. Then think about the next time you plan to come back.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: X-cellent Egg Salad Sliders! Have you noticed more and more farm-to-table cafés are featuring egg salad sandwiches on the menu? I get crazy happy when I discover it, as someone who loves home-cooking. Not only are there a dozen variations on egg salad, but each seems to add a unique twist. This recipe is pretty basic so you can get creative from here. Think avocado, dill, bacon, or red pepper flakes. Looks like I need to buy more eggs. Happy Boiling!
X-CELLENT EGG SALAD SLIDERS
8 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon red onion, diced
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 slider buns
4 romaine lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, dill pickle relish, red onion, yellow mustard, and sea salt. Chop the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir gently until well blended. Cover and chill in the refrigerator one hour. Assemble sliders using the buns, egg salad, romaine lettuce leaves, and tomato slices. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Uber Hasselback Caprese Salad! Want to do something fancy-schmancy? Take ordinary garden Roma tomatoes (the oval kind) and cut them in such a way that they fan out a little bit like an accordion. Then, using your fingers, tuck slices of cheese and fresh herbs in between. It’s so simple, yet looks incredibly delish as a side salad. This is why we like food so much. It becomes a dining experience versus chowing down.
UBER HASSELBACK CAPRESE SALAD
3 Roma tomatoes
3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
13-16 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette
Judging by the size of each tomato, make 4-5 slices, stopping before the knife cuts completely through. Transfer tomatoes to a serving dish. Fill each slit with a mozzarella slice. Tuck in spaces with fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle Everything But Bagel seasoning over all. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Iceberg Lettuce Cranberry Pecan Salad! Make today an easy day. Throw together a tossed salad that will satisfy hunger pangs with the crunch of lettuce, the natural sweetness of fruit, lean meat, the salty mix of pecans, protein-packed eggs, and heart-healthy bleu cheese. Bonus points include a natural source of fiber, weight control, plus super-convenience. Not only is salad a time-saver, it is also a money-saver. Most of all, you’re worth it.
ICEBERG LETTUCE CRANBERRY PECAN SALAD
2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mandarin orange slices
1/3 cup sugared pecans
1 cup grilled chicken, cut-up
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
2 soft-boiled eggs, halved
Balsamic vinaigrette, to taste
Divide iceberg lettuce between salad bowls. Top with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, sugared pecans, cut-up grilled chicken, and bleu cheese crumbles. Place soft boiled egg half on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette, to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Fennel Honeydew Salad! One final “hurrah” before you leave warm weather behind may be this tangy fruit salad sprinkled with niblets of sweet corn and a hint of anise. Are you intrigued? Ripe honeydew, in my opinion, emits a gloriously sweet fragrance that practically makes my mouth water. Once I cut into it, I find myself wandering back to the refrigerator for tidbits the way a bird eats at a feeder. One bite, close the door, visit a blog, get up, return for another snack, check Twitter, meander back, and peck at it again. Finally I surrender my willpower and stand at the kitchen sink taking in small bits until another wedge is gone. What’s a girl to do?
FENNEL HONEYDEW SALAD
1 cup lettuce, shredded
1/4 section ripe honeydew, rind and seeds removed, then sliced
3-4 fennel stalks, cut into 2” pieces with ends split
1/4 cup fresh sweet corn
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro dressing
Fennel fronds, for garnish
Divide lettuce between salad bowls. Arrange sliced honeydew melon over lettuce. Tuck fennel stalks around fruit. Sprinkle fresh sweet corn kernels over all. Top with chopped pistachios. Give it a dash of Everything But Bagel seasoning. Drizzle cilantro dressing over salad. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve chilled.