Nori Sesame Popcorn

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Delicious Holiday Foods: 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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Teriyaki Chicken Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Teriyaki Chicken Bowl! Do-ahead meals take a little bit of planning, but the “devil is in the details”, they say. In this case it means, make sure the chicken breasts are thawed AND marinated 24 hours before you plan on serving them. I realize that requires the cook to be somewhat organized. Pantries don’t stock themselves. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a dish without all the ingredients. Take sesame oil, for example. I find it absolutely delicious because it adds an earthy nuttiness to Asian food. Vegetable oil tastes meh, in my opinion. Not only does it alter the taste, the texture will be different. When I can find it, I buy toasted sesame seeds so I don’t have to worry about toasting them on the stove or in the oven. That’s 10 minutes I could be planning tomorrow’s meal. Idiosyncratic, but true.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN BOWL

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Green onion snips, for garnish

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:

Place chicken breasts, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, minced garlic, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Baste chicken completely. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours. When ready to cook, preheat grill to 450°. Lightly oil grill grate. Remove chicken breasts from marinade, place directly on grill, close lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Discard marinade. After 5 minutes, open lid, flip over chicken breasts, close lid, and cook 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove teriyaki chicken from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with sticky rice and mixed vegetables.

Autumn Spice Banana Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Autumn Spice Banana Bread! Whenever people want to give me a gift of a scented candle, I always choose bakery aromas over floral ones. Buttery Caramel Corn, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Vanilla Frosted Cupcake, to name a few. I confess, I could have a love affair with cinnamon, maple, ginger, or cardamom. My knees grow weak just thinking about it. Perhaps that is one reason Autumn spices make me crazy while throwing caution to the wind and willpower out the door. I scrape the bowl leaving just enough batter to taste in a teaspoon. It’s how you know the results will be amazing; at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

AUTUMN SPICE BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

3 bananas, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a bowl, combine mashed bananas, mayonnaise, and egg. Mix well. In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sea salt. Stir in the banana mixture, just until moistened. Fold in flaked coconut and shredded carrots. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Rest for 10 minutes. Remove banana bread from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Ingredients for Frosting:

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2-3 tablespoons light cream

Roasted pumpkin seeds and crushed pecans, for garnish

Instructions for Frosting:

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and unsalted butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and sea salt. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons light cream. Frosting will be thick, but spreadable. Spread the frosting over the completely cooled banana bread. Sprinkle generously with roasted pumpkin seeds and crushed pecans.

Everything Turkey Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Everything Turkey Sliders! These miniature sandwiches are anything but small, when it comes to flavor. In a world of “supersize” portions, having something more manageable is always a good thing. It’s like when my husband and I eat out at a restaurant. We split a portion and then if we’re still hungry, we can order something else. More often than not, we are completely full and satisfied with smaller portions. It works for us. These sliders follow the same concept. Eat one and if you’re still hungry, have another. Permission granted.

EVERYTHING TURKEY SLIDERS

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon natural honey

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons poppyseeds

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

6 slider rolls, split

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 cups shredded turkey, precooked

6 slices Havarti cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine melted butter, Dijon mustard, natural honey, Worcestershire sauce, poppyseeds, and minced onion in a small bowl. Whisk until mixed. Set aside. In a 6”x10” baking dish, place the bottom halves of the slider buns in a single layer, sides touching. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over them. Divide the shredded turkey between the buns. Place one slice of Havarti cheese over the shredded turkey. Carefully place the bun lids on top of each slider. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the sliders. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the buns are toasted. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Add Water and Stir

“God has equipped you to handle difficult things,

In fact, He has already planted the seeds

of discipline and self-control inside you.

You just have to water those seeds

with His Word to make them grow!”

~ Joyce Meyer

Alfalfa Sprouts at Home

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Alfalfa Sprouts at Home! Remember the time you stopped at the corner bistro for a super-healthy bite to eat? You know the sammie. It’s made with the crusty artisan bread, hearty summer veggies, creamy herbed cheese, and stacked high with alfalfa sprouts instead of lettuce. Afterwards you thought, “Hey, I can make this at home.” So you went to the grocery and found everything you needed…except alfalfa sprouts. What’s up with that? Unfortunately, alfalfa sprouts are extremely vulnerable to contamination for one reason or another. A lot can go awry from harvesting to produce aisle. Problem solved. DIY kits are available, along with certified organic seeds. Now you, too, can enjoy one of the most nutritious greens around. Supplies include a quart jar, screening lids, and seeds. You’re welcome.

ALFALFA SPROUTS AT HOME

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic alfalfa seeds

Water

Instructions:

Measure dry seeds and place in a quart canning jar. Add warm water. Soak overnight. The next morning, use a fine screen top to drain all the water. Do not soak again. Rinse the seeds under a faucet using tepid water. Gently swirl and drain. For faster growth, repeat this process again in the evening. Place the jar at an angle with the screened lid facing down. This allows proper drainage and ventilation. Repeat on Day 2. As the sprouts grow, change to a larger screened lid. You will notice the seed hulls wash away during rinsing. By swirling under running water, most hulls are flushed out through the lid. This may take two or more rinsings. Drain well. Continue to rinse and drain every 8-12 hours. Harvest on Day 6 when the leaves are open and have mostly turned green. Store finished sprouts in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Zestful Ahi Poke

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Zestful Ahi Poke! Have you noticed all the rage about eating raw tuna? Whether it’s an appetizer or poke bowl, ahi seems to be the star attraction. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps it takes some getting used to. After all, the texture is totally different from cooked fish. When saturated in a spicy sesame soy marinade, I found it absolutely irresistible. Then served with crunchy wonton crisps, taro chips (my fav), or corn tortilla chips it evolves from a curiosity to a craving. Just so you know, premium ahi tuna steaks are now available in the freezer aisle for those, like me, who are landlocked part of the year.

ZESTFUL AHI POKE

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, premium grade

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

Wonton Crisps, Taro Chips, or Corn Tortilla Chips

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Cut into 1/2” cubes. Transfer to a bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped green onions. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Serve as an appetizer with choice of chips.

Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.

VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST

Ingredients:

1-2 slices multigrain toast

1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter

3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese

1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked

1 hard boiled egg, sliced

Snipped chives for garnish

Chia seeds for garnish

Instructions:

Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.

Lemon Garlic Hummus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Lemon Garlic Hummus! If you go crazy over hummus and veggies, here’s a variation that adds flavorful notes of citrus. The use of pink-colored Himalayan salt equals an added bonus of less sodium than table salt plus trace elements of healthy minerals like iron, which translates to protein that maintains good body chemistry. But that’s the boring news. The best part, in my opinion, is the guilt-free buttery taste of hummus. Discover how one creamy spoonful practically melts in your mouth. Then scoop away with crisp and zesty radish slices. It’s finger food on steroids.

LEMON GARLIC HUMMUS

Ingredients:

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, hulls removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Paprika, toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Radish slices, for serving

Instructions:

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, pink Himalayan salt, and sesame oil. Press Pulse to blend until very smooth. If necessary, add a tablespoon of water to create a smoother consistency. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with sliced radishes.