Nature’s Tomato Naan

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Nature’s Tomato Naan. Who likes ooey gooey melted mozzarella cheese? I do, I do! Now add nature’s juicy ripened tomatoes for fresh garden flavor that will have you wiping your chin after the first bite. Be careful of those cheese pulls, though. Steam may be trapped between the naan crust and the pizza stone. Besides, there’s nothing worse than burning the roof of your mouth from lack of patience. Let your eyes create desire. After all, everyone wants eating to be an enjoyable experience.

NATURE’S TOMATO NAAN

Ingredients:

One prepared naan crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 Campari tomatoes, sliced

5 grape tomatoes, sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spread olive oil on both sides of naan bread. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom crust. Sprinkle garlic powder over top crust. Place cornmeal side down on a pizza stone. Bake for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes on a cutting board. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Remove naan from oven. Carefully layer mozzarella cheese over crust. Then arrange sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with parmesan cheese before serving.

Instant Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Instant Mac ‘n Cheese! Face it. Every once in awhile the craving hits us to settle into a comfy chair with a warm bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese. Most pantries have all the ingredients you need to make it at home in a flash. Pasta, butter, milk, cheese, and seasonings. If you don’t have elbow macaroni, substitute ziti. If you’re low on cheddar cheese, use a couple slices of Velveeta instead. It’s all good. Sprinkle the gooey Mac ‘n Cheese with Cajun seasoning for extra zest. Oh, yeah!

INSTANT MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

4 ounces pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Dash of Cajun seasoning

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and sea salt. Stir until smooth. Raise heat to medium. Slowly add milk, stirring occasionally. Cook until bubbly. Add cheese and stir well until melted. Drain pasta. Blend with cheese sauce stirring to coat. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.

Asparagus Shrimp Linguine

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Asparagus Shrimp Linguine! Whether you scour the ditches and railroad tracks, visit the local Farmers Market, or drop by your favorite grocers, the growing season of asparagus is upon us. Now is the time to take full advantage of its abundance. Look for signs of firm, tight buds for tender morsels. The delicate purplish tips are the best of the stalk. Indulge thy self. Permission granted.

ASPARAGUS SHRIMP LINGUINE

Ingredients:

3 ounces lemon pepper linguine

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1/2 pound shrimp, precooked

8-10 asparagus spears, cut-up

8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon herb and garlic seasoning

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1 tablespoon nonpareil capers

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Cook lemon pepper pasta with sea salt according to package directions. Drain. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat lemon olive oil on medium. Add shrimp, asparagus, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, herb and garlic seasoning, marjoram, and basil. Fry shrimp and vegetables until crisp and tender, 4-5 minutes. Add linguine and cook until heated through. Swirl to toss gently. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese shavings. Garnish with capers.

Lasagna Lovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Lasagna Lovers! Move over, ho-hum lasagna; Baby Kale Lasagna Roll-ups are here. This dish is fast and easy to prepare, while managing portion-control at the same time. If you are looking for a meatless meal, simply adjust the recipe to suit your needs. The taste is unbelievable and leftovers will have you looking forward to a savory dinner later in the week. Mama Mia, that’s amazing!

LASAGNA LOVERS

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, bulk

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fennel

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced

24 ounces pasta sauce

1 cup water

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

16 ounces lasagna noodles

Baby Kale Leaves, stems removed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet brown Italian sausage until crumbly. Drain. Add onion, garlic, fennel, basil, oregano, marjoram, and mushrooms. Mix well. Add pasta sauce and water to the browned meat mixture. Simmer 10 minutes. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and parsley. Prepare lasagna noodles per package directions. Drain. When cooked, place the noodles lengthwise in a single layer on two sheets of aluminum foil. This makes it very easy to fill and roll up. Grease a 9″x13″ baking dish. Spread one half of the meat mixture on the bottom of the dish. To assemble lasagna rolls, spread 2-3 heaping tablespoons of ricotta cheese filling along noodle. Top with baby kale leaves. Beginning at one end, roll the noodle up. Transfer to baking dish. Repeat until all ingredients are assembled and arranged. Finish by pouring the remaining pasta sauce over lasagna rolls. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese over top. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup! The crockpot is essential, in my opinion. Never mind the fact that a slow-cooker turns the entire house into a well-seasoned bistro. It’s the hands-free unattended cooking with astounding results that makes it a winner in my book. Throw everything together, let it simmer, and enjoy the meal to come. Leftovers are delicious and clean-up is a snap!

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients:

4-6 chicken fillet tenders

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

60-ounces chicken broth

23-ounce can of cream of chicken soup

3 stalks celery, cut-up

1/2 pound mini carrots, whole

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 cups home style noodles

1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

Sauté chicken tenders in a large skillet with olive oil, lemon pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and celery seed. Remove from heat. Pour the cream of chicken soup into the crockpot. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring until the two are well. blended. Transfer the sautéed chicken tenders from the skillet. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Stir gently. Add bay leaves. Heat on high setting for four hours. Remove lid and shred the chicken for a chunky consistency. Return to soup. Add noodles and butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer two hours longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Zested Orange Cranberry Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Zested Orange Cranberry Sauce! Infuse the traditional cranberry sauce with cinnamon, orange, and citrus to reap a perfect blend of holiday flavors. By simmering the mixed fruits together, it transforms ordinary sauce into a fancier version of a popular classic. Elevate your taste buds from semi-sweet to welcome complement. Top off baked Brie, spoon onto a dish of yogurt, or slather across a piece of toast. It’s perfect for now as well as all season long.

ZESTED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup orange marmalade

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

1/8 teaspoon granulated lemon zest

3/4 cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup fresh orange juice, from 2 oranges

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries

Instructions:

Combine marmalade, orange rind, and lemon zest. Set aside. Combine juice, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in marmalade mixture. Cover and chill.

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.

Ziti Baked Spinach

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ziti Baked Spinach! Four simple ingredients are baked together to create a timeless Italian favorite: ziti pasta, tomato sauce, spinach, and cheese. The rest is simply embellishment for the palate. The short tubular shape of ziti grabs onto chunky sauces, making it a distant cousin to penne, which may be easier to find in the grocery aisle. However, I visited a specialty store where I chose an authentic organic brand of ziti pasta made in Italy. Buona Saluté!

ZITI BAKED SPINACH

Ingredients:

8 ounces ziti

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

16 Italian style meatballs, halved

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

24 ounce jar of basil spaghetti sauce

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain in a colander. Sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, 1/4 cup cheese, and ziti. In a large skillet, mix spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Layer a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill the next layer with the spinach ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Hacienda Taco Salad Bowls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Hacienda Taco Salad Bowls! It’s okay to indulge in those fast-food cravings. Everyone does now and then. When I get the urge to succumb to the temptation, I begin to turn things around in my own kitchen. Take, for example, the glorious Taco Salad with the edible crispy flour shell bowl. It can be made for half the cost at home, leaving extra money in your wallet for something like…oh I don’t know…SHOES! Make this guilt-free version at home.

HACIENDA TACO SALAD BOWLS

Ingredients:

6 flour tortillas

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Romaine lettuce leaves, torn

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 cup black olives, sliced

1/4 cup jalapeño peppers, sliced

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup salsa

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Using nonstick spray oil, coat the inside of oven-safe bowls. Gently mold the flour tortilla inside to form a bowl. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and cool before transferring to wire rack. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Mix well. Assemble hacienda bowls by filling with remaining ingredients, per taste. Top with Greek yogurt and salsa.