Jicama Avocado Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Jicama Avocado Salad! Allow me to introduce you to the legume family. Jicama is a cousin to beans, peas, and lentils. It provides protein, which is important to everyone, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Choosing foods that are beneficial to a healthy diet can keep a weekly menu from turning hum-drum and boring. Jicama can be prepared in any number of ways. Eating it raw is just one of them. Its taste slightly resembles a crispy red apple. Only recently I slathered peanut butter all over a slice as a variation from a celery stick. Jicama is also low-carb, if that’s important to you. Not a raw-veggie-kind-of-person? Slice ‘em up and make a batch of french fries. It works.

JICAMA AVOCADO SALAD

Ingredients:

I large jicama

1 avocado, pitted and chopped

Zest of 2 limes

1 teaspoon Tajin seasoning

1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Juice of 2 limes

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Using a chef’s knife, slowly peel the thick skin of the jicama. Cut a thin slice at the top and bottom so the vegetable can keep from rolling. Working from top to bottom, slide the knife under the skin to remove the tough, fibrous outer covering. Rinse jicama and slice into matchsticks. Transfer to a bowl. Halve the avocado and remove pit. Scoop the flesh away from the skin. Chop avocado into bite-sized pieces. Add to the jicama sticks. Sprinkle with lime zest, Tajin seasoning, smoky paprika, and garlic powder. Squeeze lime juice over all. Add chopped cilantro leaves. Gently toss and serve.

Furikake Party Mix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.

FURIKAKE PARTY MIX

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

6 cups Crispix cereal

5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

2 cups wasabi peas

1/2 cup furikake seasoning

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Buffalo Chicken Pizza! Combine two bar and grill favorites to equal one outstanding supper on game night. From the creamy ranch dressing slathered over a crispy olive oil crust to the tender rotisserie chicken dotted with robust bleu cheese and crunchy celery, you will not believe your taste buds. This is good stuff. Decide how high you want to crank up the heat by using spicy sriracha sauce and red pepper flakes. Go wingless for a sensational show-stopper that will leave everyone cheering.

BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared naan, flatbread, or pizza crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4-1/3 cup ranch salad dressing

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup deli-roasted chicken, shredded

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

1/2 cup chopped celery

2-3 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush both sides of a prepared pizza crust. Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom only. Sprinkle garlic powder over top. Bake seasoned crust on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from oven. Spread ranch salad dressing evenly over top crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Layer on shredded chicken. Dot with bleu cheese crumbles. Bake 10 minutes longer. Arrange chopped celery over pizza. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

Spicy Poblano Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Spicy Poblano Sauce! Try to avoid slurping this sauce by the spoonful straight out of the jar. Poblano peppers are a whole other animal, so to speak. Compared to its fiery cousins, the habanero or jalapeño, poblanos are mild and earthy, especially when roasted. Most of the time they are either stuffed (like the chile relleno you find on restaurant menus) or served as a sauce over roasted chicken enchiladas. Still confused? Think Mexican green sauce with chicken and spicy red sauce with beef or cheese.

SPICY POBLANO SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 cup light cream

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Space poblano peppers two inches apart. Roast poblano peppers in broiler oven on High setting until the skins are blistered and charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to a bowl and cover for 15 minutes. When cool, peel off the skin and chop the peppers, discarding seeds and stems. Warm butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and light cream. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Add chopped poblanos. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer poblano mixture to a food processor. Pulse to purée. Season with cumin powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Pulse again. Add Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. Serve warm over burritos or other Mexican dishes.

Yucca Crispy Sticks

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Yucca Crispy Sticks! From time to time I get a little help from my friends. Recently The Dancing Herbalist* suggested I share a post on the yucca root with my readers. To be honest, I have yucca plants growing all over my yard, and while I enjoy their hardy green foliage year round, and their beautiful white fan of blossoms every summer, I never gave them a second thought as a food source. Apparently they contain dietary fiber advantageous in controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels in subtropical regions. Tasting very much like a potato, with roots that simulate a sweet potato, the yucca root is an healthy option loaded with antioxidants. I admit, I learn something new every day.

YUCCA CRISPY STICKS

Ingredients:

1 large yucca, peeled and cut into sticks

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Panko seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, finely ground

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Peel yucca with vegetable peeler to remove waxy skin. Cut into sticks, as uniform in thickness as possible. Do not make too thin. Place in a 2-quart pan with enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Cook 5-7 minutes. Remove and drain immediately. Submerge in an ice bath. Transfer drained sticks to a large bowl. Coat with olive oil and chili pepper, seasoned salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix together panko crumbs, Italian seasoned bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Spread on waxed paper. Roll each seasoned yucca stick in the crust mixture to coat and line in a single layer on a wire rack nested on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn and bake 5 minutes longer until golden brown. Serve warm with spicy mayo.

Ingredients for Spicy Mayo:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili pepper rings

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix well until smooth. Garnish with chili pepper rings.

* Please visit The Dancing Herbalist at

https://thedancingherbalist.wordpress.com

Yellow Bloomin’ Onion

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Yellow Bloomin’ Onion! Nothing is more fitting for Spring than an appealing appetizer that resembles a flower, in my opinion. Now you can make a healthy version at home by baking the breaded onion instead of deep-frying it. The last few minutes under the broiler give it a crispy finish that adds extra crunch to the delicious petals. And the dipping sauce….oh my gosh, you have to try it!

YELLOW BLOOMIN’ ONION

Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup Panko crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon Cajun spices

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Seasoning salt to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In one bowl, combine the flour, bread crumbs, Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Cajun spice. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine beaten eggs and milk. Whisk together. Set aside. Cut the top side of the onion. Turn over and carefully cut the root side just enough to peel the outer skin of the onion. Leave the root intact as this will be the base and hold the onion together. Discard onion skins. In order to give the appearance of an open flower, 16 sections are made. With the root side up, place the knife 1/8″ away from the core and slice straight down. It is best to begin with quarters and then make 3 slices in each quadrant all the way around. Carefully turn the onion over and spread the “petals” apart. Dip the onion in the milk bath and wash it completely using a pastry brush. Carefully transfer the onion to the bowl filled with breading. Beginning at the bottom, cover each petal with dry coating. Again using the pastry brush, continue coating the petals until the egg wash is gone. You may alternate the egg mixture and dry coating to cover the petals. Transfer the onion to an oven-safe pie plate or dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Using hot pads, take the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Using a pastry brush, coat the onion with melted butter. Return to the oven. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until crispy. I set the broiler on High and broiled it for 4-5 minutes to make it extra-crunchy. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place on a serving platter. Serve with dipping sauce.

DIPPING SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 teaspoons ketchup

2 teaspoons Lea and Perrins

2 tablespoons horseradish

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, ketchup, Lea and Perrins, horseradish, paprika, and cayenne. Mix well and refrigerate for one hour. Pour into a small cup and place in the center of the onion.

Loaded Lettuce Cups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Loaded Lettuce Cups! Eating with your fingers is so much fun! Here’s an idea for supper that is not only kid-friendly, but has an Asian flair that adults adore. By toasting the rice and noodles in butter, it gives the food a nice crunchy taste complimented by sesame and soybean undertones. Add chicken and water chestnuts for a healthy meal. The mere fact that it’s all wrapped up in the soft, buttery Boston lettuce leaves make it an all-star hit!

LOADED LETTUCE CUPS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant white rice

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

Boston lettuce leaves

Instructions:

Melt butter in a deep 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 and serve in Boston lettuce cups.

Chunky Clam Chowder

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Chunky Clam Chowder! As the days grow shorter, take the damp chill off with a bowl of warm, creamy clam chowder. This made-from-scratch one-pot meal can be served now or later. The longer it sits, the more savory it becomes. Turn a simple classic into a filling favorite.

CHUNKY CLAM CHOWDER

Ingredients:

2 red potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons onion, diced

1 1/2 cups water

1 stalk celery, chopped

10-ounce can fancy whole baby clams in juice

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup instant potatoes

1 teaspoon dill (optional)

Green onion snips

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium-high heat, combine water, potatoes, butter, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, onion, and celery. Cook 20 minutes until tender. Add clams in juice and heavy cream. Bring to low boil, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Slowly add instant potatoes and mix well. Reduce heat to low. Stir to thicken. Add dill to blend. Ladle into cups or bowls. Garnish with green onion snips.

Barbacoa Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Barbacoa Banana Peppers! More and more supermarkets are offering a wide variety of prepared meats to help make mealtime as effortless as possible. You can take advantage of these precooked packaged options or make use of last night’s leftover roast in the refrigerator, turning it into Barbacoa beef. I have great respect for everyone who juggles their time between work and home. This recipe combines fresh produce with convenient seasoned alternatives. Meet me halfway for this labor of love.

BARBACOA BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 mild banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; ribs and seeds removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

6 sticks mozzarella string cheese

1 cup Barbacoa beef, shredded

1/3 cup fresh sweet corn

1/2 cup pico de gallo

2 green onions, sliced into curls

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange in a single layer, without touching, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Roast for 10 minutes until banana peppers begin to soften slightly. Remove from oven to cool. Tuck one mozzarella cheese stick into each pepper.(It may be necessary to pull the cheese apart into strings to fill the pepper from end to end.) Divide shredded Barbacoa beef between peppers. Top with sweet corn. Set oven to Broil. Return stuffed banana peppers to the oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden in spots. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Top with pico de gallo. Garnish with green onion strips.