What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia! I never thought of tilapia as an interesting choice of fish until I mixed things up with a Santa Fe style coating. The robust crunch of tortilla chips is a surprising prelude to the tender moist fish inside. It had me wishing I prepared seconds for the hubs and me. If you’re looking for a meatless meal, give it a whirl. Who knows, you may find yourself adding tilapia to the weekly menu.
TORTILLA CRUSTED TILAPIA
1/2 cup Santa Fe style tortilla strips, crushed
1 tablespoon natural cornmeal
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 egg, room temperature
Fresh cilantro, garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Whisk egg in a shallow dish. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed tortilla strips, natural cornmeal, panko bread crumbs, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well with a fork. Working one at a time, dip a tilapia fillet into the beaten egg. Flip over to coat both sides. Press fillet onto the crumb mixture; turn over and repeat. For an extra crispy crust repeat process. Carefully transfer crusted fish fillet to the baking sheet. Continue with second fillet. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden and crunchy. Serve with fresh cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Lamb Chop Lemon Thyme! Break out the grill! For a tasty alternative to beef and chicken, make today’s choice lamb. It is tender, it is lean, and most of all it has high nutritional value. Yay, low in fat! Did you know lamb is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and protein? Think about shaking up your menu a bit with a different kind of red meat. Everyone knows grilled meats taste better!
LAMB CHOP LEMON THYME
3 lamb chops, 1″ thick bone-in
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Smidgen herb pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves
In a shallow dish, place lamb chops in a single layer. Pour olive oil over lamb chops. Sprinkle with kosher salt, herb pepper, garlic powder, and lemon thyme leaves. Coat both sides. Marinate for one hour in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Turn a gas grill on HIGH heat. Sear the chops for 3 1/2 minutes on one side. Flip over and cook an additional 2 1/2 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes to absorb juices. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits! Here is a salad you can snack on over and over. It keeps for days in the refrigerator as the flavor intensifies. And because the broccoli is fresh, the crunch appeases the taste buds. By adding the sweetness of raisins and the saltiness of bacon, it soothes those unexpected cravings that sabotage even the strictest diet enthusiast. Go ahead, take a bite. Permission granted.
UNLIMITED BROCCOLI TIDBITS
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and stems
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup bacon bits, fully cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 envelope of Italian dry salad dressing mix
Combine broccoli tidbits, raisins, and bacon in a covered bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian dry seasoning mix in a glass measuring cup until blended. Pour marinade over broccoli mixture. Gently stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate salad for two hours. Spoon reserve marinade over salad before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Salisbury Steak! Everyone knows it’s not really steak, but instead hamburger patties smothered in thick brown gravy. I like to think of it as savory meatloaf patties that are more economical than certified Angus sirloin steak. And honestly, I’ve never heard a single complaint when serving this American favorite. Add mashed potatoes and your choice of vegetable. It takes less than hour to prepare from start to finish.
1 pound ground beef, lean
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Lea and Perrins sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
Combine ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, Lea and Perrins sauce, egg, and parsley in a medium bowl. Mix well and form into meat patties. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the patties 4-5 minutes, then flip and brown 4 minutes longer. Remove from skillet. Add olive oil and mushrooms to the skillet over medium heat. Cook until soft. Sprinkle flour over all. Gradually add beef broth. Using a whisk, stir to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil. As the sauce thickens, reduce heat and cook for 1 minute longer. Return Salisbury steaks to pan. Coat with gravy. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Serve over mashed potatoes.
Dining Outside the Home: Dirt Dog in Las Vegas, Nevada. You know how it gets really hot outside and you can feel little beads of sweat on your brow? And the sun is beating down on your head because you forgot to wear a hat? And you wish for the umpteenth time you drank a glass of water that morning to keep hydrated, but didn’t? Your body is craving salt or something fried or maybe something dirty. Stop at Dirt Dog for amazing hot dogs, dirty sides, and dirty desserts. Begin with a Dirt Dog like The Mutt Dog topped with chimichurri sauce, guacamole, and spicy tomato chile sauce. Add an order of fries or corn on the cob. The seasonings alone are mind-boggling: garlic, limon and chile, sea salt, or chili powder. Finish it up with a deep-fried Twinkie or Oreos for good measure. That’ll teach you to keep hydrated.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Nori Sesame Popcorn! If you’ve never tasted dried edible seaweed, you’re really missing out. It wasn’t until recently that I gave it a whirl and I have to tell you, I kinda like it. Besides, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Asian cultures have known this all along, so it’s like preaching to the choir when I rave about the natural health benefits. When nori is added to a batch of popcorn, seasoned with roasted sesame seeds and Oriental rice crackers, it transforms a typical snack into a sensational wholesome one. Prepare to grab a handful and nibble away.
NORI SESAME POPCORN
1 packet microwave popcorn, any variety
8-ounces rice cracker blend, bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
.21 ounces dried seaweed sheets, cut into small strips
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the microwave popcorn according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add the rice cracker pieces. Toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, and nori strips. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Cool five minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.
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.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Foods: Dijon Deviled Eggs! Those who know me well fondly refer to me as a Francophile, someone who loves everything French. It goes all the way back to my school days when a sixth grade Social Studies teacher introduced the class to France, after having traveled there herself. From that moment on, it became a dream of mine to take a trip there someday. I studied the French language and Impressionist art. I admired the historical connection, the romantic countryside, and most of all the incredible food! Is it any surprise I chose to share today’s recipe of something a little French?
DIJON DEVILED EGGS
6 hard boiled eggs
1 tablespoon French Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon light cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
Fresh Basil for garnish
Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shells, and slice each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove yolk and place in a bowl. Arrange the egg on a plate. Repeat until all eggs are divided. Lightly mash the egg yolks until crumbly, leaving a few chunks. Add Dijon mustard, Greek yogurt, light cream, mayonnaise, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix until almost smooth. Fold in a few red onion pieces. Spoon yolk mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chopped red onion and fresh basil snips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Your Classic Green Bean Casserole! Can we ever get enough of this all-time favorite side dish? I think not! It seems there are all sorts of variations on this classic holiday casserole. Some of my friends only use French-style green beans while others prefer freshly snapped. And the seasonings are all over the map from Hawaiian sea salt medleys to crushed Midwest garden herbs. I keep it simple because, honestly, once you add the French fried onion rings, everything else takes a back seat.
YOUR CLASSIC GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
2 cans whole green beans, drained and cut-up
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup light cream
1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash herb and garlic seasoning
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 1/2 cups French fried onions
Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a medium casserole dish with nonstick spray. Combine green beans, cream of mushroom soup, light cream, herb seasoning, and salt. Mix well. Fold in 1/2 cup of French fried onion pieces. Place in casserole dish. Spread evenly. Arrange remaining French fried onion rings over top around the edges leaving the center open. Bake 30-35 minutes.