Original Marinara Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Original Marinara Sauce! Marinara isn’t just a fancy name for spaghetti sauce, it actually lacks one key ingredient that sets it apart. You guessed it: MEAT. Basically, marinara is a tomato-based sauce infused with herbs and spices. It can be prepared very easily in less than half an hour. Personally, I find it perfect for a meatless meal. I like chunks of tomatoes, the hint of garlic, and a slight kick of red pepper spice. Look again at the snapshot. Perhaps it’s time to make marinara at your house.

ORIGINAL MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can Italian Roma tomatoes, diced with sauce

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm olive oil. Add minced garlic; sauté for one minute until slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Add diced Roma tomatoes with sauce, fresh oregano, chopped basil, sea salt, marjoram, agave nectar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer sauce until thickened, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Marinara sauce will be chunky and thick. Serve with cooked pasta.

Easy Empanadas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Easy Empanadas! Imagine this: a light, flaky, buttery pastry pocket filled with tender savory meat. Now add a kick of spice and a finish of pimento-stuffed olives. Mmmm. Sure you can add cheese or go completely vegetarian. That’s the beauty of cooking at home. Make it to suit your personal taste. Either way, in three bites, you’re ready for seconds. Don’t forget the dipping sauce.

EASY EMPANADAS

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound ground beef, lean

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped

1 egg, whisked

1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry sheets

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add oregano, sweet paprika, cumin powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Add ground beef. Stir and cook until meat is crumbly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Remove from heat. Fold in pimento-stuffed olives. Cool meat mixture completely, about two hours in the refrigerator. Cut pastry sheets into 4” rounds. Place 2 tablespoons of filling into the center of each round. Brush water around the outer edge of each round. Fold round in half. Press to seal. Using fork tines, press down on edges. Carefully transfer empanadas to the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 1” apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to prevent leakage while baking. Brush empanadas with whisked egg. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce or salsa.

Ziti Baked Spinach

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ziti Baked Spinach! Four simple ingredients are baked together to create a timeless Italian favorite: ziti pasta, tomato sauce, spinach, and cheese. The rest is simply embellishment for the palate. The short tubular shape of ziti grabs onto chunky sauces, making it a distant cousin to penne, which may be easier to find in the grocery aisle. However, I visited a specialty store where I chose an authentic organic brand of ziti pasta made in Italy. Buona Saluté!

ZITI BAKED SPINACH

Ingredients:

8 ounces ziti

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

16 Italian style meatballs, halved

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

24 ounce jar of basil spaghetti sauce

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain in a colander. Sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, 1/4 cup cheese, and ziti. In a large skillet, mix spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Layer a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill the next layer with the spinach ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies! Get set for an explosion of hot jerk sauce slathered over fork-tender chicken slowly cooked all afternoon. These “fall off the bone” juicy morsels will have you smacking your lips and wiping your chin. A side dish of chunky Bleu cheese dressing snuffs out the fire and tramples the heat. Keep stalks of celery handy and you’ll find yourself wondering how you finished the entire platter.

WICKED HOT WINGS AND DRUMMIES

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Jazzy Jerk Sauce**

1/2 cup butter

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 cup ginger beer

1 1/2 pounds chicken wings and drummies

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Instructions:

Mix together habanero sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup ginger beer. Stir to blend. Place chicken wings and drummies in a crockpot. Cover all with sauce. Cook on High setting for 2 hours. Reduce temperature to Low setting and cook 2 1/2 hours longer. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with nonstick oil. Place wings and drummies on foil. Baste tops with sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Turn with tongs, baste, and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with additional sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serving suggestion: Celery sticks and chunky Bleu cheese dressing.

*The Jazzy Jerk habanero sauce may be substituted for another hot pepper sauce.

**Jazzy Jerk Sauce recipe may be found by clicking on the link below.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/10/15

Jazzy Jerk Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Jazzy Jerk Sauce! Get fired up as you crank up the heat with this homemade habanero pepper sauce. Choose those festive little lantern-shaped peppers from the local market or nearby health food resource, don a pair of vinyl gloves, and fill your kitchen with aromas from the Caribbean Islands. As it cooks, let your imagination run wild for the condiment that sends the temperature rising!

JAZZY JERK SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

1 cup baby carrots, chopped

2 cups water

10-12 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add habanero peppers, orange juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*Serving suggestion: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies!

Quality Lemon Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Quality Lemon Butter! Is it a thick custard to be eaten plain? Is it creamy butter for freshly baked bread? Or is it frosting for a scone? You decide. I smothered a blueberry muffin with this citrusy spread. But then again, I also topped my morning yogurt with it. Talk about versatility. You can improvise with this luscious lemon butter in just about anything. Well, except broiled lobster or corn on the cob. That might be disappointing simply because this particular lemon butter has a sweetness to it that makes it more like a dessert than a condiment. Think lemon curd and you’ll be on the right track. Now let’s get started.

QUALITY LEMON BUTTER

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 cup sugar

2 lemons, grated peeling and juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine eggs, egg yolk, and sugar. Stirring constantly, cook until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil as it will curdle. When mixture is thick, remove from heat. Add grated lemon peel, lemon juice, and melted butter. Stir well. Pour warm lemon butter into jars. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator.

Coconut Curry Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Coconut Curry Chicken! Every once in awhile you cross paths with someone who offers a product to enhance a food blog. Antonio @seasonalityspices offered me a free sample of handcrafted organic Indian Curry. Instantly, I knew the dish I would prepare. One bite of mild and spicy chicken, enhanced with the creamy flavor of organic coconut, is all it took to turn ordinary chicken into a flavorful obsession. Don’t mind if I do. Thanks, Antonio.

COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 1/4 cup sweet rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

13.5-ounce can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine water, sweet rice, and olive oil. Cook in a rice cooker according to directions. (Package rice may be substituted on a stovetop.) in a large skillet, warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken and onion until chicken is no longer pink and onions are transparent. Sprinkle chicken mixture with curry powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir in organic coconut milk and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes or until thickened. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve with sticky rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Xotic Black Raspberry Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Xotic Black Raspberry Sauce! When my friend, Nancy, gifted me with a pound of wild black raspberries from her woods, I knew had to make something special. I wanted that succulent sweet taste to linger long after the season had exhausted itself. The answer was to transform the berries into an exotic sauce. Now I can enjoy them every morning as a healthy topping spooned over a bowl of calcium-rich Greek yogurt. The combined benefit gives me the effects of a probiotic as well as an antioxidant. Thanks, Nancy!

XOTIC BLACK RASPBERRY SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 cups black raspberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Instructions:

In a 2.5 quart pan, add black raspberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally for about ten minutes. From time to time, smash some of the berries against the side of the pan. This will help thicken the sauce. Add the lemon extract and continue cooking another ten minutes. Do not let it burn. It should form the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat. As it cools, it will thicken even more. Pour into a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.

Open-Faced Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Open-Faced Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches! Stretch Summer to its limit with this popular sandwich that has maximum flavor on a toasted pretzel bun. Pile it high with tangy cole slaw and a dill pickle spear on the side for a satisfying meal. Once you combine the shredded pork with the barbecue sauce, keep it warm in the crockpot and savor the aromas filling the house.

OPEN-FACED PULLED PORK BBQ SANDWICHES

Ingredients:

3-4 pound boneless pork roast prepared as directed from the segment Kalua Pork Roast https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/05/27

Leftovers can be frozen and used later to make something incredible like today’s special.

Add 1 cup of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce to the shredded pork. Simmer to blend flavors. Or…..make the sauce yourself!

BBQ SAUCE:

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Instructions:

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat all ingredients to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed. Mix with pulled pork to blend flavors. Keep warm.