What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Quickly-Grilled Pork Loin Chops! Uncover the grill for another mouth-watering main course that is sure to please. Imagine the sound of a sizzle soon followed by an aroma-filled cloud of char-grilled pork that is enough to make your stomach growl. Within minutes, a tender moist slice is tested and savored before anything else.
QUICKLY-GRILLED PORK LOIN CHOPS
4 bone-in pork loin chops, center cut 3/4″ thick
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic seasoning*
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
Rosemary sprigs to garnish
Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with half the Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic seasoning plus the seasoned salt. Place pork loin chops in a single layer, pressing down slightly to absorb the spices. Pour remaining olive oil over top; sprinkle with seasonings. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour. Remove dish from refrigerator 15 minutes before grilling. Preheat grill on medium-high heat, about 375°. Cook pork loins for 6 minutes per side for 3/4″ chops. Turn only once. Cut time in half for thinner chops. Discard marinade. Do not over cook. The internal color of cooked pork is white fading to light pink in the center. Transfer pork loin chops to a serving platter; let rest for 10 minutes before serving. This results in juicier meat. Garnish with a dab of butter and rosemary sprigs.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Burrata Meatballs! Time is of the essence. You can either make your own homemade meatballs, or you can bypass one step and use a store bought variety like I did. I put my energy into the homemade marinara sauce simply because the results are between night and day, in my opinion. If you choose to use your favorite pasta sauce, be my guest. The focus today is actually on that incredible Burrata cheese! I think I could drown in a bathtub of Burrata and happily eat my way out of it. Don’t judge me.
1 pound Italian sausage-style meatballs, precooked
2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes*
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
7 ounces mushrooms, sliced and drained
6 ounces Burrata cheese, chunks
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine crushed tomatoes, basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, and mushrooms. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add meatballs. Spoon marinara sauce generously over meatballs. Transfer portions to individual serving casseroles. Randomly place Burrata cheese between meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve Burrata Meatballs with garlic bread or spoon over pasta.
* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of San Marzano Certified Italian Tomatoes.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: White Chocolate Cranberry Spice Bars! Like snowdrops over a country field, the white chocolate bits add a sweet creaminess to the crumb bars offsetting the tart tangy taste of cranberry sauce. You may notice a warm sweet-heat every once in awhile. It’s the candied baby ginger infused throughout. I use all-natural crystallized ginger slices and chop them up for added zing. For the merriest of holidays, make a batch of these bite-sized guilty pleasures. Perfect for a cookie exchange.
WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY SPICE BARS
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups chunky cranberry sauce
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients together. Spread 3/4 of batter into a 9″x13″ greased dish. Gently press down with a spoon to level. Divide cranberry sauce over top. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over cranberry mixture. Fill in with chopped crystallized ginger. Crumble remaining batter on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into squares or triangles. To make glaze, mix powdered sugar with milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over bars.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Pumpkin Roll! Announcing a festive cake that looks as though you stopped by the bakery. Anyone can feel like a professional pastry chef with this holiday specialty. In a few simple steps, the rich pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the velvety cream filling. Afterwards all you have to do is sit back and bask in the accolades.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:
2/3 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Ingredients for Velvet Filling:
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with waxed paper. For pumpkin roll combine eggs, pumpkin purée, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour. Mix until well blended. Pour into jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a tea towel, turn cake onto towel, and remove the waxed paper. Starting at one end, roll the cake up, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, combine Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar. Mix together until smooth and velvety. After one hour, unroll cake and spread the filling all the way to the edges. Reroll cake and refrigerate two hours longer. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Rum Raisin Cookies! Before you turn the page, let me clarify…you can choose to omit the rum in this recipe and substitute with water and opt for rum extract instead. Either way, if you’re a raisin-lover, this version puts the “plump” in raisin to make them moist and chewy. In the time it takes to preheat the oven and assemble the remaining ingredients, the raisins are ready to use. Trust me, everyone will thank you!
RUM RAISIN COOKIES
2 cups raisins
1 cup dark rum
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside; do not drain. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly before folding in the raisins and chopped almonds. Drop with a tablespoon 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cool on wired rack.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Pumpkin Spice Pie! It wouldn’t be a feast without family traditions, whether it’s a circle of loved ones, heirloom tableware, aromatic side dishes, or pumpkin spice pie. No matter how stuffed we are from the bountiful spread, there’s always room for dessert. Am I right? Indeed! Besides, who can resist a touch of creamy custard sweetness surrounded by a golden, buttery crust, even if it is prepared by someone else.
PUMPKIN SPICE PIE
1 prepared 9” pie crust
15-ounce can puréed pumpkin
15-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whipped Cream for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. Place prepared pie dough in an ungreased pie plate. Crimp edges as desired. Set aside. Combine puréed pumpkin, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sea salt. Beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue baking 40-50 minutes until center is firm. If necessary, cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to avoid over browning. A knife inserted will come out clean. Remove from oven. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream, as desired.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Instant Plum Brekkie! Sooo, I went in for my annual health assessment, and learned I’m not eating enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains each day. I reported 3-4 servings of each and learned those numbers need to be bumped up to 5 servings a day. Seriously??? You’d never know it by the foods I post on my blog. Let me be clear, I do prepare and eat EVERYTHING you see from Gail’s Kitchen. Granted, I am getting older. But in my defense, I simply cannot eat as much as I did when I was younger. My metabolism won’t allow it. I need to think about the stress and strain extra weight can put on the heart, back, joints, and feet. That being said, my BMI (body mass index) is within a healthy range, which is good. If you need to make substitutions of ingredients to meet your own personal goals, please do what is right for you.
INSTANT PLUM BREKKIE
2 slices quinoa multigrain bread
1-2 tablespoons Neufchâtel cheese
1 plum, pit removed and sliced
1 teaspoon granola
Dusting of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
In a toaster oven, lightly brown bread on both sides. Spread Neufchâtel cheese on each piece of toast. Arrange sliced plums over creamed cheese layer. Add the granola-topper. Sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Yams in Pecan Glaze! Oh. My. Gosh. You have got to make this recipe. There’s still plenty of time before the holidays to switch back to your traditional family favorite if you don’t like it, but think about this a moment. By using canned yams, or sweet potatoes, preparation is a snap. Who knows? You could end up making both. Remember what I said about “Start Smart”? Sometimes that means taking advantage of the numerous products that eliminate the extra leg work. Sugared pecans are such a gourmet treat. Pick up a package of those to add to the decadent pure maple syrup sauce. Read on if you’re curious.
YAMS IN PECAN GLAZE
29-ounce can cut sweet potatoes in syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
For Pecan Glaze:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugared pecans
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375°. Drain liquid from sweet potatoes into a saucepan. Carefully slice and arrange yams in a casserole dish. Set aside. Boil the liquid over medium heat until only 1/4” covers the bottom of the saucepan. Add butter, sage, thyme, cinnamon, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. While potatoes are baking, make the pecan glaze. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat. Add sugared pecans. Toss to coat. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add pure maple syrup. Cook 5 minutes longer, or until the pecans are caramelized and syrupy. Pour over sweet potatoes. Return casserole to the oven and bake 5 minutes longer, or until the glaze becomes thick. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Lentil Rotini Pizza Pasta! Going organic, especially with red lentils, doesn’t necessarily mean the meal has to be completely plant-based. Sure, you still get the protein and fiber you need, but think about making it appealing to your family as well. By adding cheese and pepperoni slices, you can turn the rotini spirals into an Italian favorite. Pizza Pasta. Spice things up with red pepper flakes, garlic, and oregano. Now you’re talking. Serve in individual baking dishes for extra special treatment. You may even have the kids asking for it again.
LENTIL ROTINI PIZZA PASTA
12-ounce box of organic red lentil rotini
1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup pepperoni slices, divided
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Crushed basil for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rotini. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Caution: Watch carefully as the lentils will foam up to overflowing. You may have to reduce heat to a Simmer. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine marinara sauce, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Add rotini; stir to coat. Fold in 3/4 of the pepperoni and half the mozzarella cheese. Divide into individual broiler-proof baking dishes. Top with remaining pepperoni and shredded mozzarella cheese. Adjust oven rack to at least 4” away from broiler coils. Preheat broiler on High setting. Arrange individual casseroles on a baking sheet. Transfer sheet to oven. Cook until cheese is melted and slightly brown. Garnish with crushed basil. Serve with garlic bread.