Firecracker Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Firecracker Shrimp! Celebrations bring people together to share joy, laughter, and fond memories. They can be as elaborate as milestone birthdays and anniversaries or as simple as two friends supporting each other. Whatever the reason, emotions are involved to experience peace, harmony, and rapport. Hence, the explosion of bold flavors for shrimp-lovers everywhere. Let your celebrations include food that says “Wow! I’m really glad to see you.”

FIRECRACKER SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, pre-cooked and thawed

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup natural honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon chili paste

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 green onion, snipped

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Combine cornstarch, cornmeal, sea salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. Place beaten eggs in a separate shallow dish. Coat shrimp in dry breading, one at a time. Dredge coated shrimp into beaten eggs, covering both sides. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add coated shrimp to pan; do not crowd. Cook until golden brown, approximately 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all shrimp is pan-fried. To make glaze, combine natural honey, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, chili paste, and ground ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce to Simmer for 2 minutes until thickened, stirring often. Drizzle honey mixture over pan-fried shrimp or use as a dipping sauce. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Korean Pork Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Korean Pork Tacos! Once you get a taste for spicy food, the cravings thrive. That doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring, to say the least. Be creative. I like corn tortillas so I transformed an ordinary pork loin into slightly hot Korean tacos. Forego the kimchi and traditional greens by substituting with crispy broccoli strips and shredded carrots. Fresh cilantro and green onions add zest, not heat. Trust me, this recipe is not “burn your lips off” hot, it’s just more balanced between flavor and spice.

KOREAN PORK TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound pork loin, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup ground fresh chili paste

1 tablespoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

Corn tortillas, warmed

10-ounce bag broccoli and carrot slaw

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, dried garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, green onions, and yellow onions in a bowl. Add pork chunks, mixing well to coat. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and marinate for 2-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Be sure the meat is no longer pink in the center. Lower heat and shred pork with two forks. Simmer to absorb liquid to enhance flavor. For coleslaw, mix broccoli and carrot blend with mayonnaise. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fill bottom half of corn tortillas with coleslaw. Top with shredded pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders! Even though the weather won’t cooperate, you can still have that “just grilled” taste of tender pork in your own oven. Broil it instead. The blend of Jamaican spice creates a hot spice mixture that will jazz up any meal. Go heavy or go light. It’s not just for meats, “don’t cha know”. Dry rub fish, shrimp, veggies, or tofu. The diversity will amaze you.

JAMAICAN JERK PORK TENDERS

Ingredients:

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds pork tenders, cut into chunks

Instructions:

Combine cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, ginger, garlic powder, allspice, and sea salt in a shallow dish. Mix to blend. Using a mini chopper, combine green onion and yellow onion. Chop very fine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic wine vinegar. Purée until smooth. Add red pepper flakes. Mix with the spices in the shallow dish. Dredge pork in marinade, coating both sides. Cover and marinate for eight hours or overnight. Skewer pork tenders and place on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, with oven rack in the top position. Broil on high 5 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Hot and Saucy Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Hot and Saucy Meatballs! For an amazing appetizer or afternoon snack, simply throw everything together for quick work. Bake in the oven or simmer in the crockpot on a low setting. Obviously, if you prefer to make the meatballs from scratch, be my guest. I opted for a simpler method today. Either way, once the meatballs are cooking, you can get on to other things. Such as the latest episode of “The Voice” on DVR. Don’t judge me.

HOT AND SAUCY MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 honey

1 cup ketchup

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

26 ounces Italian meatballs, fully cooked

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

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

Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce! Take a deep breath and try not to drool as you look at this tender slab of pork ribs. Focus instead on the incredible homemade bourbon barbecue sauce. It is so good you may want to slurp it with a spoon. Go ahead, permission granted. Swirl the tangy goodness around in your mouth so you can appreciate the savory sweet thick sauce with a surprising kick of red pepper. Underlying all this magnificence are hints of oak, toffee, dark fruit, and anise from bourbon whiskey. Well done.

SAVORY BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey*

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark molasses

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine ketchup, bourbon, brown sugar, dark molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended. Transfer bourbon barbecue sauce to a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for two minutes. Reduce heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about half and thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Carefully pour sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*I receive no recompense from recommending Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Harvest Snap Beans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Harvest Snap Beans! If you’ve ever planted a garden, you already know how easily and quickly green beans are to grow. They produce so well, even a novice takes pride in their bounty. When it’s time to harvest, choose smooth green (or yellow) pods. Lumps are a sign of an overripe bean, which means it could be dried out or damaged inside. Be particular. You can always tell how fresh it is by the “snap” sound it makes when broken. Perhaps that’s why my aunt on the farm used to call them “snap beans”. Taste is everything.

HARVEST SNAP BEANS

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen yellow wax and green beans, thawed

6 slices bacon; cooked and broken into chunks

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange yellow wax beans and green beans in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle bacon pieces over beans. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and agave nectar. Mix well. Pour over green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Thai Peanut Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Thai Peanut Sauce! Known as a popular condiment for skewered meat or seafood in East Asian cuisine, peanut dipping sauce gets all the attention. Homemade Pad Thai is one example. After all, it’s no secret anyone can get addicted to peanut butter. Think about it. We add spicy chili peppers for heat, exotic curry for an earthy taste, coconut milk for authenticity. And depending on the day, there is no substitute for peanut butter and chocolate. Just saying.

THAI PEANUT SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

3/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a food processor, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, kosher salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.

*Serving Suggestion: Skewered Shrimp with orange wedges and cilantro.

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.

Overstuffed Pineapple Boat

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Overstuffed Pineapple Boat! If you’re looking for the WOW-factor for the next social gathering, bookmark this recipe for a standing ovation. It’s that good! Not only does it satisfy the meat and seafood lover in all of us, it also has “healthy” written all over it. You gotta admit, the pineapple presentation is a show-stopper. And the best part is, with a little planning, anyone can pull it off.

OVERSTUFFED PINEAPPLE BOAT

Ingredients:

1 whole ripe pineapple

1 pound frozen cooked shrimp; thawed, tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant rice, brown or white

1 1/2 cups fine home style noodles

10-ounce can chunk chicken breast, drained

14-ounce chicken broth

4 green onions, chopped

8-ounce can of slivered water chestnuts, drained

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soybean seasoning sauce

Instructions:

Cut pineapple lengthwise; cut around the inside, following the edge to create a “boat”. Do not pierce the underside. Cut the pineapple flesh into chunks. Scoop out and place in a bowl. Set pineapple aside. In a deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove sautéed shrimp and place on paper towel-lined plate. Melt butter in the same skillet. Do not burn. Add white rice and thin noodles. Coat well. Cook them over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in chicken broth and chicken chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Add chopped green onion with tops, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and soybean seasoning sauce. Mix well. Gently fold in sautéed shrimp and pineapple chunks, to taste. Refrigerate leftover pineapple in a covered container. Fill pineapple boats. Serve on platters. Garnish with cilantro leaf.