Hoosier Hot Dish

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Hoosier Hot Dish! When I moved to Indiana over 30 years ago, it didn’t take me long to hear the term “Hoosier”. I knew it was a nickname for the State’s residents. But, honestly, I wondered how it originated. I had no idea it came into popularity over 200 years ago. The story that was told to me went something like this. Along the Ohio River, in the hills of southern Indiana, settlers lived and worked around the riverfront. As boatmen passed by on barges taking corn to New Orleans, the countrymen would call out, “Who’s Yere?” to assure they were friend, not foe. It happened so often, in time those workers became known as people of the “Hooshier” State. My experience in hearing about this one-pot meal for the first time was just as funny. A coworker said she was making Hoosier Hot Dish for supper. When I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and told me there wasn’t one. She said you just throw everything in a pot on the stove and eat it when it’s done. I narrowed it down a little bit more for you. Go figure.

HOOSIER HOT DISH

Ingredients:

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

15-ounce can cut green beans, with liquid

1 pound potatoes, quartered, skin on

1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2” chunks

Instructions:

Warm olive oil on medium-low setting in the bottom of a stock pot. Add sliced onions, seasoned salt, garlic and herbed seasoning. Sauté 20 minutes until onions are a light brown. Add green beans with liquid, quartered potatoes, and smoked sausage chunks. Cover and Cook 30-40 minutes over medium heat or until potatoes are fork tender. Hot Dish will thicken. Add 1/2 cup water, if necessary, to keep things from boiling dry or scorching. Serve with cornbread.

Gherkin Pork Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Gherkin Pork Sliders! Mini sandwiches are popping up on bar and grill menus all over the place. What that translates to the consumer is unspoken permission to have seconds. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s a way to try creative small bites to match your mood. Did you know the toppings can include creamy coleslaw, mac ’n cheese, crunchy potato chips, pineapple salsa, onion rings, and anything else you find delicious? Just like this recipe. If you prefer dill gherkins to sweet ones, by all means tweak it up. After all, in your kitchen you’re in charge.

GHERKIN PORK SLIDERS

Ingredients:

12-count slider buns

3 cups precooked pulled pork

1/2 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1 pint deli coleslaw

Sweet gherkins

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the slider buns horizontally in half. Remove the tops and set aside. Transfer the bottom half of the buns to a 9”x13” glass dish. Spread the precooked pulled pork evenly on the buns. Layer with barbecue sauce. Replace the tops of the buns. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine unsalted butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion salt, garlic powder, and poppy seeds. Warm the mixture on 20% for 15 seconds in the microwave. Stir. Repeat, if necessary, until completely melted. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the buns. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer. Once cool, separate sliders. Serve with coleslaw and sweet gherkins.

Butter Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Butter Chicken! At first glance, this dish looks surprisingly similar to curry chicken, doesn’t it? Sooo, what is the difference, you wonder. The secret is in the name. It’s made with butter! The tomatoes, coconut milk, and seasonings are cooked slow enough to transform the sauce into a gravy-like consistency with a nice kick of flavor. Also, by slow-cooking the chicken, it becomes fork tender and juicy. Ahhh, now I have your attention. Sounds like a grocery list is in order. Bravo. Your family will thank you.

BUTTER CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken breasts, skinless and cut into chunks

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

14.5 ounce can coconut milk

6 ounce can tomato paste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Dollop of Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, add chicken chunks, chopped onion, diced jalapeño, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Dot with cubes of butter. In a medium bowl, stir together curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Add coconut milk and tomato paste. Whisk to combine. Pour over chicken mixture. Cover slow cooker; heat contents on LOW for 5 hours. Serve with cooked rice and naan bread. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

Avocado Onion Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Avocado Onion Dip! Nowadays I look for any reason to eat avocados. Once I’ve have my fill of guacamole, I turn to other creative ways to produce a nutritional boost to the menu. Although stuffed avocados can be baked or grilled, sometimes it’s a real treat to prepare them this way. Some might call it a light lunch, simply because it satisfies the appetite as a filling meal.

AVOCADO ONION DIP

Ingredients:

8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup crispy-fried onions, slightly crushed

2-3 ripe avocados, halved and pits removed

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Green onion snips, for garnish

Whole celery seed, for garnish

Instructions:

Using an electric mixer, beat together softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, chopped capers, and cayenne pepper until blended. Fold in crushed crispy-fried onions until combined. Transfer to a covered bowl. Refrigerate for one hour. Prepare avocado halves. Brush with lime juice; sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder. When ready to serve, scoop onion dip into each avocado half. Garnish with green onion snips, chopped capers, and a sprinkling of whole celery seed. Serve immediately.

Itty Bitty Pumpkin Cake

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Itty Bitty Pumpkin Cake! Do you have a love affair with pumpkin spice? You know, that delectable blend of bakery spices recognized as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Perhaps they remind you of autumn. The days are still warm as the evenings turn chilly enough to gather around the fire pit in a thick cozy sweater. Childhood memories conjure up bumpy hayrides through apple orchards, jack-o-lanterns on the front porch, and disheveled piles of newly-raked leaves. Plus there’s all things pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin roll, pumpkin latte, and now this.

ITTY BITTY PUMPKIN CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

1/4 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray six mini bundt pans with nonstick oil containing flour. Place pans on a baking sheet. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat on High setting with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat two minutes longer. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Gradually pour half the pumpkin mixture and half the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Mix well, scraping the sides down as needed. Add the remaining ingredients; stirring only until combined. Do not over stir. Fill each prepared mini bundt pan 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with a fresh strawberry before serving.

Zucchini-Orange-Walnut Loaf

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Zucchini-Orange-Walnut Loaf! Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? Take care. This relative of the squash family has fewer calories than a baked potato and more potassium than a banana. Plus, its versatility is a bonus. Zucchini is probably the most bland vegetable you can find. But that works to its advantage. You can pair it with just about anything. I promise you this, if I hadn’t told you there was shredded zucchini in this luscious loaf of quick-bread, you’d never know it from the taste. Nutrition is your friend. The moist, delicious orange and walnut combination make it seem as though you’re eating cake.

ZUCCHINI-ORANGE-WALNUT LOAF

Instructions:

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon orange rind, zested

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1-2 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour the bottom of a loaf pan. Set aside. In a food processor, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Add vegetable oil, orange juice, and shredded zucchini. Pulse to mix. Slowly add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, orange rind, cinnamon, and cloves. Scrape down sides, as needed. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, blend powdered sugar, butter, and orange juice. Spread over warm loaf. Cool completely and slice.

Ketchup From Scratch

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Ketchup From Scratch! Many gourmet burger joints are joining the health revolution by opting out with in-house condiments. For those who truly appreciate knowing exactly what’s in the food they eat, here is a novel recipe for homemade ketchup without high fructose corn syrup and extra preservatives. It’s incredibly simple to make and can be prepared in about 30 minutes. The taste, you ask? OMG! I never thought I’d actually consider ketchup a veggie, but now I do. Enough said.

KETCHUP FROM SCRATCH

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

28-ounce can whole Italian Roma tomatoes in juice

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Warm olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Cook until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add chopped garlic, chopped ginger, red pepper flakes, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir for 2 minutes. Add the Italian Roma tomatoes in juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The ketchup will thicken and appear shiny. Remove from heat. Blend until smooth. Cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator.

Easy Empanadas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Easy Empanadas! Imagine this: a light, flaky, buttery pastry pocket filled with tender savory meat. Now add a kick of spice and a finish of pimento-stuffed olives. Mmmm. Sure you can add cheese or go completely vegetarian. That’s the beauty of cooking at home. Make it to suit your personal taste. Either way, in three bites, you’re ready for seconds. Don’t forget the dipping sauce.

EASY EMPANADAS

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound ground beef, lean

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped

1 egg, whisked

1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry sheets

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add oregano, sweet paprika, cumin powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Add ground beef. Stir and cook until meat is crumbly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Remove from heat. Fold in pimento-stuffed olives. Cool meat mixture completely, about two hours in the refrigerator. Cut pastry sheets into 4” rounds. Place 2 tablespoons of filling into the center of each round. Brush water around the outer edge of each round. Fold round in half. Press to seal. Using fork tines, press down on edges. Carefully transfer empanadas to the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 1” apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to prevent leakage while baking. Brush empanadas with whisked egg. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce or salsa.

Creole Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Creole Shrimp! The guy who invented the crockpot is a genius, in my opinion. Think about it. You throw everything into a slow cooker, give it a stir, plop on the lid, and come back later to mouthwatering aromas that can make your stomach growl. Some are what I refer to as “One Dish Wonders”. Others are transformed into lip-smacking sensations when combined with simple sides. Read on to see what I mean.

CREOLE SHRIMP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup green peppers, diced

1/2 cup sweet onions, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes with bay leaf

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound precooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Green onions for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté green peppers, sweet onions, and chopped celery. Cook 5 minutes until softened. Add chili powder. Sauté until caramelized, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Transfer to crockpot, set on High setting. Cut up Roma tomatoes. Transfer tomatoes and sauce to crockpot. Add sriracha sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir. Replace lid and cook for three hours. After that time, warm butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté shrimp, sprinkled with seasoned salt, dill weed, and red pepper flakes. Turn once. Remove from heat. Transfer sautéed shrimp to slow-cooked tomato sauce. Cook five minutes longer. Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with green onion snips.