Lo Mein Made Simple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Lo Mein Made Simple! Do you ever go to the refrigerator and wonder what to make for dinner? I do. Recently my leftovers consisted of a couple of pork tenderloin fillets, grilled over the weekend, plus some veggies in the produce bin. Not quite enough. Unless you throw them all together in an amazing sauce. I didn’t exactly have Lo Mein egg noodles, but I did have some dried pasta on hand. Who doesn’t? The results were mouth-watering!

LO MEIN MADE SIMPLE

Ingredients:

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup fresh snow peas

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon pimento, sliced

2 pork fillets, grilled and cut up

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Green onion snips for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, ground ginger, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic powder, and carrot strips. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, baby spinach, and pimento slices. Stir until spinach has wilted. Add pork fillet chunks. Heat through. Add cooked pasta and soy sauce mixture. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Hand-Packed Burgers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Hand-Packed Burgers! For a hamburger worthy of a gourmet chef, begin with a low-fat lean meat. Divide the ground beef or sirloin into four equal portions. Form each one a little wider than the bottom bun to allow for shrinkage during grilling. Press your thumb into the center to create a small well, or dimple. If you’re a perfectionist, choose a jar lid slightly larger than the hamburger bun. Line the lid with plastic wrap, press the meat into the shape, flip the patty, and continue on to the next one. That’s way cheaper than buying a hamburger press. The secret’s out. Now you choose.

HAND-PACKED BURGERS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground sirloin or lean ground beef

1 beef bouillon cube

1-2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon steak seasoning mix

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sesame Seed Buns

Cheese of choice

Toppings

Condiments

Instructions:

Heat water to boiling. Add beef bouillon cube. Stir to dissolve. Fold into ground beef. Sprinkle steak seasoning into meat. With clean hands, mix gently until all ingredients are combined. Divide into quarter-pounders. Hand-pack ground beef into equal size patties. Rub both sides with olive oil. Refrigerate one hour before grilling. To cook, preheat gas grill on High heat. Place burgers directly on grate; cook for 4-5 minutes; flip and cook 4 minutes longer for medium doneness. Do not press on burger to flatten because it will release all those flavorful juices. Transfer to a platter. Immediately top with cheese of choice. Add sliced onions, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce leaves. Dress up with ketchup, mustard, and mayo. You’ve just made the best backyard burger!

Garlic Clove Little Smokies

Experience the Holidays: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a lunch box companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable party food for any occasion. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?

GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup catsup

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, catsup, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Add cocktail wieners. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.

Za’atar Avocado Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Za’atar Avocado Salad! Za’atar is one of those words that sounds mystical and magical to me, like “Abracadabra” or “Shazaam”. Sprinkling this Middle Eastern spice on fresh salads, meat dishes, or even homemade hummus guarantees to mysteriously transport you to faraway lands. Open the jar and sprinkle a little bit onto the palm of your hand. Dip your tongue into the blend of spices. Taste that earthiness? It’s cumin and toasted sesame. You already detect the savory flavors of oregano, marjoram, and thyme. But what is that unexpected tanginess? Can you guess? It’s sumac, the secret ingredient. Za’atar is a one-spice wonder you may want to sprinkle into olive oil to slather onto focaccia bread. Do it. Once you try it, watch it disappear. It’s that good.

ZA’ATAR AVOCADO SALAD

Ingredients:

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 hearts of palm, cut into thin rounds

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed

2 radishes, sliced thin

1 tablespoon za’atar seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon raw honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Grated zest of lemon, for garnish

Instructions:

Arrange the avocado slices in a single layer on a platter. Drizzle lemon juice over slices. Scatter the hearts of palm over the avocados. Top with shelled edamame. Insert sliced radishes throughout. Sprinkle za’atar seasoning over all. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, rice vinegar, and raw honey until blended. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad. Garnish with lemon zest. Serve immediately.

East-West Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: East-West Shrimp Salad! Shrimp, on its own, is a star attraction for a special meal. That pretty much goes without saying. I like the idea that shrimp makes a main course look complex, or restaurant-worthy. By adding steamed mukimame, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, suddenly an everyday garden salad sings a different tune. The fusion of flavors becomes enlightening, like the eternal knowledge of an Eastern sunrise. Is it any wonder I heart shrimp?

EAST-WEST SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cooked

1/2 cup mukimame, steamed

1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

1/2 cup baby cucumber, skin on and sliced

1/4 red pepper, cut into strips

Lettuce greens

Ingredients for Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Prepare the shrimp according to package directions. Set aside. Arrange lettuce greens on a salad plate. Add steamed mukimame, mandarin orange segments, sliced cucumbers, and red pepper strips. In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic wine vinegar, agave nectar, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning mix, soy sauce, ground ginger, and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Pour dressing over salads and toss to coat. Arrange shrimp on top to spotlight. Serve immediately.

Zesty Citrus Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Zesty Citrus Salad! “If you build it, they will come.” That familiar quote may spark a flicker of remembrance from a popular movie years ago, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner was the actor who had an idea and went with it. Cooking is like that, in my opinion. For example, build a better salad. It’s pretty simple, actually. Choose garden greens for the foundation, layer on fruits or vegetables for flavor, toss in some crunchy nuts, and slather on the sauce to dress it up. Of course, you can include cheese, meat, and eggs to bulk it up into a meal if you’d like. May as well go ahead and make your own salad dressings. There’s no comparison; being naturally better than bottled, they serve nicely as dips if you have any leftover. No promises on that note, because they’re that good.

ZESTY CITRUS SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups lettuce, gently torn

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 naval orange, segments cut into thirds

6 strawberries, quartered

2 tablespoons red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons almonds, sliced

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Tupelo honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Dash sriracha

Instructions:

Place torn lettuce into salad bowls. Divide celery leaves between them. Arrange the orange segments, quartered strawberries, and red onion slices. Scatter almonds over all. Set aside to chill in the refrigerator. To combine dressing, whisk together garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Tupelo honey, Dijon mustard, toasted sesame seeds, and dash of sriracha sauce. Mix well. Drizzle over salad before serving.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Egg Roll in a Bowl! For once in my life I’m taking the easy route to an old favorite. Making eggs rolls, using store bought wrappers, can be quite a labor-intensive ordeal. There’s the cutting of vegetables, marinating of meat, separating the wrappers and covering them with a moist towel, then heating the oil for deep-fried results. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wasn’t up to the task when what I really wanted was more of the amazing filling to devour. Don’t get me wrong, I still drizzled on the duck sauce, probably more than was necessary. But it’s all a matter of individual taste. Lean in and I’ll tell you a secret. I’d do it again.

EGG ROLL IN A BOWL

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shredded pork, precooked

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

14-ounce bag coleslaw mix

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Drizzle of sriracha

Green onions, for garnish

Duck Sauce, if desired

Instructions:

Warm the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the shredded pork, ginger, sea salt, black pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Cook until the pork is heated through. Add the coleslaw mix, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Sauté until the coleslaw is slightly tender. Divide into serving bowls. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, drizzle of sriracha, and chopped green onions. Spoon prepared Duck Sauce over top, if desired.

Ahi Poke Platter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Ahi Poke Platter! Here’s a perfect example of choosing the foods you love. An ahi platter can offer many variations of side veggies to compliment the star attraction. Personally, I like the crunch of radish slices and mukimame. They balance quite nicely with the creaminess of a ripe avocado. Perhaps you may substitute these ingredients with cucumber slices and jicama sticks. I realize there are those who just don’t care for the taste of cilantro, no matter how often they try. That’s fine. Dill is a delightful change. I’m not here to be the food police. Are you getting the idea?

AHI POKE PLATTER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

2 ahi tuna steaks, skinless

1 cup sticky rice, prepared

1 avocado, pitted and cubed

1/2 cup mukimame

1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin

Fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Add furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove steaks from marinade and set aside. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the marinade mixture. Cook ahi steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center remains pink. 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 over sticky rice, overlapping the slices. Arrange avocado chunks, mukimame, radish slices, and chopped cilantro on the platter. For dipping sauce, combine mayonnaise, sriracha, and soy sauce. Mix well. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the ahi poke platter.

Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl! Say the word “teriyaki” and watch people start to salivate. It’s all about the sauce. Part sweet like honey, and part salty like soy sauce, only thicker. Some may use the word “gooey” to describe how teriyaki sauce sticks to the meat sealing in all those concentrated spices and juices. For today’s drool-inducing teriyaki you may substitute pork for chicken, depending on what you have on hand. Just remember, although it’s a quick meal, you still need to be patient and kind. You must allow time to cook the rice.

QUICK TERIYAKI PORK BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless pork, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions:

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk together until the cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. In a skillet over medium heat, add cooked pork and teriyaki sauce. Coat the meat well. Continue to warm, stirring constantly, until the pork is heated through and the sauce thickens into a shiny glaze. Keep warm while making the side dishes. Remove from heat and serve with steamed broccoli and rice.