What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.
PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA
1 prepared pizza crust
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornmeal
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce
1 cup pulled pork
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Hungry Man Potato Skins! Shrug off that old myth about ditching potato skins because they’re high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition. My grandma used to say “if you’re gonna eat the skin, you may as well eat a handful of dirt!”. Thank goodness times have changed and we’ve learned that the skin of the potato is loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber. When baking instead of frying, the nutritional value gets kicked up a notch. Now that you’re on a roll, go ahead and add toppings like fresh broccoli, bacon, and cheese. Whaaat? Hear me out. By choosing small russet potatoes, the calories are drastically reduced. One piece of bacon is divided over four skins, just enough for flavor. And reduced-fat cheddar cheese is a good choice, one you’ll barely notice in taste. When it’s all said and done, two potato skins are about 200 calories. Not bad.
HUNGRY MAN POTATO SKINS
2 small russet potatoes, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 strip thick bacon, precooked
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup panko crumbs
Ranch dressing, for dipping sauce
Green onion, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Pierce each potato for steam to escape during baking. Lightly spray potatoes with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about one hour. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place broccoli florets into a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with droplets of water, and microwave on High for one minute. Set aside. If you need to cook bacon, place one strip of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel. Microwave on High for two minutes. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. For potato skins, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh leaving a shell 1/4” thick. Reserve potato flesh for another use. Brush around the rim of potato shells with olive oil. Place skins upright on a baking sheet. Broil in oven on High for one minute. Remove to fill. In a bowl, combine broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, and bacon crumbles. Divide broccoli mixture evenly between potato shells. In a small pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add panko crumbs, stirring often until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle over loaded potato skins. Return to oven and bake at 400° until cheese is bubbly and topping is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing garnished with green onion snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Whitewashed Egg Pizza! Putting an egg on pizza? Seriously? I know this might sound a little weird, but take a baby step out of your comfort zone. The first time I saw fried egg on a pizza, I was visiting the south of France. It’s really quite common there. In fact, you’re the fortunate one if you get the egg on your slice at a takeaway stand. You really must give it a whirl. I find as long as I bake in stages, the end result is a crispy crust with an egg over easy. Just imagine how fun it will be to pop the egg yolk and spread it around so everyone gets a taste.
WHITEWASHED EGG PIZZA
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons chunky pasta sauce
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
2 onion rings, nested
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Dash of pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. Set oven rack on middle setting. (For the last step you will raise it up one setting.) Rub olive oil over surface of naan. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon chunky pasta sauce evenly over naan. Use 1 tablespoon fresh basil over sauce. Sprinkle with gruyere cheese. Bake 5 minutes until slightly melted. Remove from oven. Raise the oven rack up one setting. Place the nested onions on a flat portion of the crust. Gently crack an egg into the center of the onion rings. Distribute the mozzarella cheese over the pizza, excluding the egg area. Dollop the Greek yogurt over the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 5 minutes longer or until egg is set. If the crust becomes too brown, cover it with foil, leaving the egg portion uncovered. When cheese is gooey and egg is cooked, remove from oven. Garnish with fresh basil.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Florentine Meatball Pasta! When you talk about a meal in minutes, this one ranks at the top of the list. After all, some days the family schedule runs tight between daily obligations and evening commitments. In the time it takes to cook the pasta, everything else can be thrown together. Utilize the microwave in conjunction with the stovetop for time-saving results. Ready-Set-Go!
FLORENTINE MEATBALL PASTA
1/2 pound rigatoni pasta
6-8 Italian meatballs, pre-cooked
12 ounces spaghetti sauce, any chunky style
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
Cook rigatoni pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, microwave Italian meatballs according to package directions. In a large skillet on medium heat, combine chunky spaghetti sauce and Italian meatballs. Cook until bubbly, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring gently. Add cooked rigatoni; toss to coat pasta. Turn off heat. Add baby spinach to the skillet. Toss to combine and cover. The steam will wilt the spinach. Right before serving, add Parmesan shavings.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Veal Parmesan! Actually, this recipe works really well with chicken, if you choose to substitute. Either way, it’s a gourmet dinner entrée that deserves a friendly nod of approval. By first browning the coated veal in a skillet, the crust seals in the rustic Italian flavor. Top it with Muenster cheese instead of mozzarella for a tangy smooth complement to the savory tomato sauce.
1 pound veal cutlets or chicken breasts
1/3 cup Italian dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup Panko seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups Italian tomato pasta sauce, chunky
2 cups Muenster cheese, sliced
Preheat oven to 350°. Between plastic wrap, flatten each cutlet to a disc. In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk together to blend. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine Italian bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Dip veal into egg mixture, then coat with bread crumb mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the veal 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. In a greased baking dish spoon half the pasta sauce on the bottom. Next layer the veal cutlets. Spoon remaining sauce over veal. Top with Muenster cheese overlapping the meat. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is golden brown in spots. Garnish with fresh basil.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Sauce! In honor of an Irish tradition, this classic staple is made with simple ingredients. The hard crust and dense center is very filling and meant to be eaten often with meals. The sign of the cross on top symbolized protection of the family. Since yeast is not used, preparation comes easily and on short notice for unexpected guests who pop in. Make this bread today and the aromas linger to keep your home smelling nice in the days ahead.
IRISH SODA BREAD WITH WHISKEY GLAZE
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup Irish Whiskey, or water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup buttermilk
Irish Whiskey Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon butter, softened
3 teaspoons Irish Whiskey*
*For nonalcoholic glaze, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2 1/2 teaspoons milk.
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease baking sheet. In a small saucepan, combine raisins, Irish whiskey or water, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce to a simmer until the raisins are plump and the liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat. Do not drain. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Add raisins plus liquid. Stir to blend. Gradually stir in buttermilk until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes until smooth. Shape into a round loaf. Transfer to baking sheet. Cut an “X” in the top before baking. Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. While the bread is is in the oven, combine powdered sugar, butter, and Irish whiskey. Stir until creamy. When the bread is finished, brush with glaze. Serve warm.
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Zested Orange Cranberry Sauce! Infuse the traditional cranberry sauce with cinnamon, orange, and citrus to reap a perfect blend of holiday flavors. By simmering the mixed fruits together, it transforms ordinary sauce into a fancier version of a popular classic. Elevate your taste buds from semi-sweet to welcome complement. Top off baked Brie, spoon onto a dish of yogurt, or slather across a piece of toast. It’s perfect for now as well as all season long.
ZESTED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/8 teaspoon granulated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup fresh orange juice, from 2 oranges
1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
Combine marmalade, orange rind, and lemon zest. Set aside. Combine juice, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in marmalade mixture. Cover and chill.
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.