Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Quiche Keto-Friendly

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Quiche Keto-Friendly. So, in case you don’t know the difference between keto, paleo, and gluten-free, here’s a quick study. Keto focuses on fat, carbs, and protein without grains or breads. Paleo avoids most dairy, legumes, and grains. And gluten-free basically means you’ve given up wheat, rye, and barley. So you can be on a gluten-free diet and still be keto-friendly. What I’ve done today is eliminate the crust in the traditional quiche making it similar to an omelette, only thicker. No worries. You won’t miss the crust because the ham and cheese filling is worth the trade-off.

QUICHE KETO-FRIENDLY

Ingredients:

8 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 cup ham chunks

1 cup cheddar cheddar, shredded

1 tablespoon onion, minced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, and seasoned salt. Add ham chunks into egg mixture; stir to combine. Fold in shredded cheese and minced onion. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes until set. Top should appear golden brown.

Pork Tamales

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Pork Tamales! I have high respect for the Mexican culture, especially when it comes to cooking. For years I have procrastinated about making tamales, probably because I love them and really don’t want that to change. Seriously though, for me the Mexican homemade version is labor intensive. Most little girls were taught the family traditions by their mothers and grannies. To them it comes easily as an art form after decades of making the traditional dish. Sauces from scratch can take an entire day if you begin with boiling the chilies and blending the spices. I left that labor of love for the pros. Now if you’re game, roll up your sleeves, tie on an apron, and let’s get started.

PORK TAMALES

Ingredient Toppings for Tamales:

Tomatoes, diced

Green onions, sliced

Lettuce, chopped

Lime wedge, for garnish

Ingredients for Corn Husks:

6-ounce package dried corn husks

Instructions:

Soak corn husks in hot water for one hour or until softened. Drain husks; pat dry. Set aside.

Ingredients for Cornmeal Dough:

1 1/4 cups solid shortening

4 cups corn masa mix

1 3/4 cups warm chicken broth

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons paprika

Instructions for Cornmeal Dough:

In a large bowl, beat solid shortening on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, about 3 minutes. In another bowl, stir corn masa mix, chicken broth, salt, and paprika until combined. Gradually add corn masa mixture to shortening, beating on medium speed just until blended after each addition. Cover dough with plastic wrap until ready to use. Set aside.

Ingredients for Pork Filling:

2 cups fully cooked roast pork, shredded

10-ounce can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions for Pork Filling:

In a bowl, combine shredded pork, diced tomatoes and green chilies, barbecue sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir until well blended. Set aside.

Ingredients for Tamale Sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups unsalted beef broth

2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo

2 teaspoons taco seasoning

Instructions for Tamale Sauce:

In a skillet over medium heat, warm unsalted butter. Do not scorch. Sprinkle in flour, whisking until a paste is formed. Stir 2 minutes longer. Gradually add beef broth, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Add adobo sauce and taco seasoning. Stir until combined. Set aside. Serve warm over tamales.

Instructions for Assembling Tamales:

Spread about 3 tablespoons of Cornmeal Dough into a 3”x3 1/2” rectangle in center of one corn husk. Spoon one heaping tablespoon of meat filling down the center of the Cornmeal Dough rectangle. Fold long side of husk over, enclosing meat filling with Cornmeal Dough. Fold bottom of husk over folded sides, leaving top end open. Tie with strips of corn husk or bakery twine. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining ingredients. In a 16-quart tamale steamer pot, fill water to about 1/2” from the bottom of the rack. Stand tamales above the water level, closed end down, on rack in steamer.* Cover the tamales with leftover husks and a clean cloth before placing the lid on the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and steam over medium heat for two hours until masa is no longer doughy. Add water as necessary. Take one tamale from the middle to check it is done before turning pot off. When done, allow tamales to cool for 10 minutes to set properly. To serve, transfer tamales to a platter. Unwrap a tamale, ladle on the sauce, and top with diced tomatoes, green onion slices, and chopped lettuce. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve immediately.

*In order to keep the tamales upright, put a heat-proof cup, bottom up, in the middle of the rack. It will help the tamales to balance upright.

Himalayan Salt Plate Shrimp Skewers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Himalayan Salt Plate Shrimp Skewers! How to cook with an Himalayan salt plate can be tricky. The key is patience. This can be done on an outdoor gas grill very easily. First make sure the salt block is completely dry. Always begin on a low heat setting. Allow the block to heat at that temperature for 15 minutes. Then switch the heat to medium and let the block warm for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn the heat to high for the last 15 minutes. Then sprinkle a few drops of water on the block. Once it sizzles and immediately evaporates, you may add the prepared food. Let’s do it!

HIMALAYAN SALT PLATE SHRIMP SKEWERS

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, peel and deveined, tails intact

1 pound smoked sausage, skinless, cut into 1” pieces

2 tablespoons bacon olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning blend

Olive oil for brushing salt plate

Instructions:

Place one shrimp around a piece of smoked sausage. Thread combo onto a skewer and lay in a large baking dish. Repeat until all pieces are used. In a small bowl, whisk together bacon olive oil, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning blend. Brush onto shrimp skewers. Cover and refrigerate while Himalayan salt plate is warming up. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. At this time slowly preheat the Himalayan salt plate over 45 minutes.* See above. The internal grill temperature should be no higher than 450°. When ready, lightly brush the preheated salt plate with regular olive oil. Working in batches, place the shrimp/sausage skewers on the salt plate and cook, turning once, until the shrimp are pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pieces will appear slightly charred. Transfer skewers to a warmed platter to prevent food from becoming too salty. Brush the salt plate with more olive oil between batches. Repeat. Serve immediately.

Ahi Morning Booster

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Ahi Morning Booster! The secret to cooking ahi tuna is to never overcook it. If that happens, you’ll know because the center will be dark and the fish will taste dry and rubbery. Using a timer will prevent this from happening. For a visual, you want the ahi to appear like a medium-rare steak. By starting off the day with this protein-packed combination, you’ll feel as though you can handle just about anything. You deserve a tremendous boost to help you on your way.

AHI MORNING BOOSTER

Ingredients:

1 ahi steak

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon furikake seasoning

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 ripe avocado, mashed

1 piece wheat toast

Instructions:

On a piece of wax paper, combine sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and furikake seasoning. Mix well. Press the ahi steak into the seasonings, coating both sides. Warm vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the ahi steak for 2 minutes per side. A crust will form, while the inside remains rare. Set aside. Meanwhile, spray a ramekin with nonstick oil. Crack an egg into the dish. Pierce the egg yolk with a sharp knife or toothpick. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave for one minute on 30% power. Gently swirl runny egg white. Microwave for one minute longer on 30% power. The yolk will be slightly runny. Place the wheat toast on a plate. Layer with mashed avocado. Slice the ahi steak; arrange over avocado. Transfer the egg to the plate. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Toasted Cheese Ravioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Toasted Cheese Ravioli! Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Take a walk on the wild side by turning dumpling-style pasta dough into a flavorful, tart, and cheesy appetizer. Panko breadcrumbs provide a crunchier coating that taste more like a fried shell when baked. This is due to the fact that panko breadcrumbs are made from crustless bread, thereby making them have an airier texture. The results are amazing.

TOASTED CHEESE RAVIOLI

Ingredients:

8-ounces fresh cheese ravioli, found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Marinara sauce, for dipping

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a wire rack with nonstick oil. Place rack on a baking sheet. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk together egg and milk until fully incorporated. In another shallow dish, combine panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Mix well. Working one at a time, dip ravioli in egg mixture. Allow excess to drip off before generously coating both sides with breadcrumb mixture. Place ravioli on prepared wired rack. Leave spaces between ravioli to allow even browning. Spray tops of ravioli with nonstick oil. Bake 10 minutes until ravioli is golden brown. Turn ravioli over and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.

Oven Spinach Frittata

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Oven Spinach Frittata! Frittata is a fancy word for an Italian omelet baked in the oven without a crust. It also cooks in half the time, making it less labor-intensive. Somehow that doesn’t sound near as exciting as a French quiche. Yet, it is because the filling ends up being light, fluffy, and savory. The feta cheese is a crowning point with its rich tangy flavor. And the next time you need something versatile for leftover lunch the next day, think frittata. Even at room temperature, it tastes amazing.

OVEN SPINACH FRITTATA

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green onion, chopped

1 strip bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup cherrywood deli ham, sliced

1/4 cup baby spinach leaves

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Italian dried herbs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, Greek yogurt, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes until combined. In an iron skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add the green onions; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked bacon, cherrywood ham, and baby spinach. Cook one minute, stirring gently. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Place cubed feta cheese on top. Transfer the iron skillet to the preheated oven. Bake 25 minutes or until the eggs are puffy and slightly browned. Remove pan from oven. Garnish with a pinch of dried Italian herbs. Serve immediately.

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.