Kung Pao Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Kung Pao Chicken! When I promise savory, I deliver. Combine sweet and sour, garlic and spice, with the crunch of peanuts, to pull off this do-it-yourself version of a Chinese restaurant favorite. By making it at home, you may have it faster than takeout. One bite and you’ll love it, but remember to share. Add a few red chili peppers for a dynamic taste experience, if you dare.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons sherry cooking wine

2 tablespoons soybean sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chili paste

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 green onions, snipped

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Instructions for Marinade:

Mix together 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until smooth. Place chicken chunks in a glass dish. Pour in marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Instructions for Sauce:

Combine in a glass bowl 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Mix until smooth. Add chili paste, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, and garlic. Stir. Gradually fold in green onions, water chestnuts, and chopped peanuts. Transfer to a medium skillet. Cook on low/medium heat until aromatic, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Sauté chicken chunks in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. As the sauce becomes aromatic, add in sautéed chicken chunks. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Serve over noodles or rice.

Dirty Breakfast Rice

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Dirty Breakfast Rice! What do you get when you blend Hawaiian culture with Louisiana spice? You get a savory breakfast that will rev your engine all day long. Too often we think a cold breakfast will give us the energy needed until time allows for the next meal. Sometimes that isn’t until after the workday is almost finished. At least with Dirty Breakfast Rice you get a running start on a busy schedule. Its healthy carb is easily digestible and nutty taste is simply satisfying. Be good to yourself.

DIRTY BREAKFAST RICE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant brown rice

7-ounce vegetable broth

1/2 pound smoked sausage link, cut-up in chunks

4 green onions, chopped

2 eggs, scrambled

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/4 cup soybean sauce

Instructions:

Melt butter in a deep skillet. Do not burn. Add brown rice. Coat well. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in vegetable broth and smoked sausage chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Scramble the eggs on the side of the pan. Once the eggs are almost cooked, combine the rice and eggs together. Add chopped green onion with tops, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, Cajun seasoning, and soybean sauce. Mix well and serve immediately.

Ahi Tuna Appetizer

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ahi Tuna Appetizer! When you’re looking for something to serve that makes a great starter, choose an exotic appetizer that awakens the “wow” factor in your taste buds. It takes only minutes to prepare but your guests will long remember it after the evening is over.

AHI TUNA APPETIZER

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, 4-5 ounces each, skinless

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons aji nori furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon white toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange on a platter, overlapping the slices. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and a Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Sweet and Sour Spicy Pork

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Sweet and Sour Spicy Pork! Too busy to cook? This is where the leftover meat from a pork roast comes in very handy. A little bit goes a long way, especially when paired with fruit, vegetables, and a yummy sauce. Dinner can be on your table in less than 30 minutes, leaving more time for your favorite programs on the DVR or Netflix.

SWEET AND SOUR SPICY PORK

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pork, cut up

13-ounce can pineapple chunks, reserve liquid

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 pound mini carrots

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili paste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon corn starch

2 green onions, snipped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

In a large skillet, combine ketchup, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, water, garlic powder, and chili paste. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Blend lemon juice and corn starch. Stir into skillet. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir one minute. Add cut-up pork, pineapple chunks, green pepper, and mini carrots. Heat through. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve over rice.

Mole Sesame Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Mole Sesame Chicken! One of my longtime friends introduced me to this dish after spending some time in the Dominican Republic. The unique mole sauce contains chili pepper, aromatic spices, and dark Mexican chocolate making it a savory sauce over turkey or chicken. It creates a fabulous meal when you have leftover meat. Simply add plain or Spanish rice along with soft flour tortillas for the perfect pairings. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty finish.

MOLE SESAME CHICKEN

Ingredients:

8.25 ounce jar Doña Maria Mole*

28 ounces chicken broth

1-2 pound rotisserie chicken

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Shred rotisserie chicken, removing skin and bones. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Empty contents of mole paste into a blender. Add half the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add remaining broth. Repeat. Pour mole sauce over chicken. Stir to incorporate. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with sticky rice or Spanish rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

*I receive no recompense for recommending Doña Maria Mole, Mexican Condiment.

Hamburger Strudel

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Hamburger Strudel! Dress up a classic meatloaf recipe with this super simple crust to create an elegant wrap for a main course. No, it’s not Beef Wellington, but it’s a tasty alternative at a fraction of the cost. I highly recommend an all-natural organic lean beef for fabulous results. It’s dinner-party worthy!

HAMBURGER STRUDEL

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 onion, chopped

1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced

2 pounds ground beef

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parsley

1 tube 8-count crescent rolls

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Pinch of parsley

1 cup sour cream

2 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a baking pan with nonstick oil. In a large skillet, sauté onions and mushrooms in butter. Add ground beef. Cook until crumbly and brown. Drain excess liquid. In a large bowl, combine meat mixture, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Let cool slightly before folding in beaten eggs. Add cheddar cheese and parsley. Form into a loaf pan and freeze for one hour. Carefully remove chilled loaf from pan. Unroll tube of crescent rolls. Pinch seams to seal. Wrap dough around meatloaf; seal. Transfer to the prepared baking pan. Brush with butter; sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and pinch of parsley. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cut into 1″ slices. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and green onion snips.

Tuna Tartare with Seaweed

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Tuna Tartare with Seaweed! Do you wrinkle your nose when you hear the word “raw”? Some people get a little squeamish. How about if you see the word “sushi”? My grandkids’ eyes light up and their mouths begin to salivate. See the difference? “Tartare” is a fancy word for raw meat or seafood. In Hawaii, you may see the words “Ahi Poke”, which is a healthy raw tuna dish made with the best tuna right out of the sea. By adding a mixture of ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, the flavor becomes incredibly irresistible. Check out the closest Asian Deli to pick up a container of ready-to-serve seaweed salad. It’s already marinated in a delicious sauce. Together on a plate, you’ve just created a masterpiece.

TUNA TARTARE WITH SEAWEED

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, cut into 1/4” cubes

3 tablespoons organic soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 green onion

1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced

4-ounce container of prepared seaweed salad

Green onion slivers for garnish

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add organic soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, the chopped white ends of the green onions, and the red jalapeño pepper slices. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. To serve, place prepared seaweed salad on a plate. Layer ahi tuna over salad. Garnish with the remaining green onion curls.

Xinjiang Mini Cukes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Xinjiang Mini Cukes! Has anyone else noticed the adorable mini cucumbers in the produce department of the grocery store? I mean, they’re really cute; the size of an index finger. And they’re seedless! What a great addition to a relish plate. Today’s Chinese version of marinated cucumbers will kick-start any meal. It offers enough heat and spice from chile peppers along with the full-bodied taste of fried garlic to transport you to a country in Southeast Asia. No worries, the rice vinegar and natural honey make it easier on the stomach.

XINJIANG MINI CUKES

Ingredients:

4-6 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fried garlic

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1 tablespoon chili paste

Instructions:

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise; then slice in half to make four quarters. Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain excess water from cucumbers. Using a mortar and pestle, pumice red pepper flakes and fried garlic. Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, natural honey, Golden Mountain sauce, and chili paste. Mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce for mini cucumber appetizer OR pour over cucumbers; toss to coat and marinate in refrigerator for one hour or overnight.

Tahini Paste

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Tahini Paste! If you really like making homemade hummus, you already know that it’s practically impossible to find tahini paste in the local grocery stores. At least that has been my experience. When I take my inquiry to a store clerk, I get a puzzled look as they shrug their shoulders and walk away. Now I simply make it at home with ingredients that are readily available. You can, too!

TAHINI PASTE

Ingredients:

1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon olive oil

Instructions:

In an electric mini chopper, place the sesame seeds. Pulse the seeds a few seconds to make them ground. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon olive oil. Grind to mix into a paste. It will be necessary to scrape down the sides. Gradually add more olive oil to make the consistency pourable. You can do this by testing with a teaspoon. Pour contents into a jar that will hold up to 8 ounces. Store tahini paste in the refrigerator up to three months.