Guac-on-Rye

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Guac-on-Rye! Tired of boring early morning breakfast choices? I can only eat a hard-boiled egg or a dish of Greek yogurt so many days in a row before I want to switch things up a bit. Last week I picked up an avocado at the Farmers Market. Granted, it wasn’t quite ripe so I needed to place it in a brown paper bag for a couple days to hasten the process. Nevertheless, it created a level of anticipation that energized my imagination. What you see is what you get. It did not disappoint. Perhaps you may try it, too.

GUAC-ON-RYE

Ingredients:

2 slices marble rye bread, deli-style, toasted

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed

1/8 teaspoon everything but bagel seasoning

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

1 radish, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Place toast on a serving plate. Set aside. In a small bowl, slightly mash half the ripe avocado. Add everything but bagel seasoning and lime juice. Stir. Cut the remaining avocado into chunks. Gently fold chunks into the mashed avocado. Divide guacamole between the toasted marble rye slices. Add baby spinach leaves and radish slices. Serve immediately.

Spinach Ricotta Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Spinach Ricotta Flatbread! Savory flatbreads have to be on my Top 10 list of foods to make. Growing up as a child of the ‘60s, Sunday nights were the night for pizza. Because my mother cooked well-balanced meals all week, she boldly declared Sundays “Pizza Night”. Back then it still meant she made homemade pizza because we lived in the country and, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as pizza delivery. Years later, while raising my own children, I adopted her “modus operandi” and to this day I still honor it. Sometimes I make the dough from scratch, and other times I take a shortcut by using prepackaged flatbreads found in the bakery department of the grocery store. The toppings change according to the mood of the day and the ingredients in the kitchen. So far, no complaints from the husb.

SPINACH RICOTTA FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 flatbread, prepackaged

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup marinara sauce

3/4 cup ricotta

1 cup grilled chicken, precooked and cubed

1 cup baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush both sides of flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle bottom side with cornmeal. Place flatbread, bottom side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Spread marinara sauce evenly over top of flatbread. Place dollops of ricotta cheese over marinara sauce, leaving 1/2” perimeter around the edge. Arrange grilled chicken and baby spinach leaves as the next layer. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over top. Garnish with dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly gooey. Remove flatbread from oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before cutting into slices. Serve warm with extra marinara sauce for dipping.

Pom Pom Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Pom Pom Salad! You can’t miss the incredibly bright red edible seeds of a ripe pomegranate. It’s actually the only part of the fruit that can be eaten. The naturally sweet and slightly tart flavor of an aril almost tastes like a piece of candy. They look incredibly enticing when sprinkled on a leafy salad. Wouldn’t you agree?

POM POM SALAD

Ingredients:

1 lime, juice of

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon raw honey

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 smidgen cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning

25 baby spinach leaves, chopped

6 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

Instructions:

To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, raw honey, kosher salt, cinnamon, and chili-lime seasoning. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. To assemble salad, place baby spinach leaves on a large platter or individual salad plates. Arrange orange slices on spinach. Drop pomegranate arils on top. Drizzle the prepared dressing over salad. Serve slightly chilled.

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.

Instant Egg Brekkie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Instant Egg Brekkie! Don’t you love it when you discover a healthy breakfast that can be prepared in a few minutes? Whenever I traveled with my husband, I seemed to be challenged with minimal ways to prepare meals. The one common denominator was a microwave and hot plate. Let me start off by saying, eggs can be tricky in a microwave. Two secrets I want to share: always pierce the egg yolk (or it will explode) and cook eggs on a low power setting in short segments. If you can master those two things, a dozen eggs will go far in the mini-fridge.

INSTANT EGG BREKKIE

Ingredients For One Serving:

3-5 fresh baby spinach leaves, for charring

1 nip seasoned salt

6-7 fresh baby spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon water

1 slice cherrywood deli ham, gently torn

1 teaspoon feta cheese, crumbled

1 large egg

1 pinch Herbes de Provence seasoning

Garnish with charred spinach leaves and radish slices

Baguette slices

Instructions:

Preheat stovetop grill pan on highest setting for one minute. Spray baby spinach leaves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place the prepared spinach leaves directly on the grill pan. As they begin to char, using a tongs, flip them over. Watch carefully. When leaves appear slightly wilted and charred, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside for garnish. Meanwhile, spray a ramekin with nonstick oil. Pack a layer of baby spinach leaves in the bottom of the dish, pressing down to create an even level. Drizzle with water. Gently tear the cherrywood deli ham over the spinach layer. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Crack an egg over the top. Pierce the egg yolk with a sharp knife or toothpick. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence seasoning. 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. Transfer ramekin to a plate. Arrange the charred spinach leaves on top. Garnish with radish slices. Serve with baguette slices. Repeat for number of portions needed.

Yum Yum Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Yum Yum Sauce! Although I got a little creative with the recipe, I’m seriously not making up the name, Yum Yum Sauce. Many of you already know it as the popular condiment found in Japanese hibachi restaurants. With a little tweaking, you now have permission to bathe dinner in it. By pairing it with tilapia fish and adding creamy spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, it literally had me licking my fork after every bite. I suppose you could add a side dish of rice or noodles, but honestly, I never got that far.

YUM YUM SAUCE

Ingredients:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2-3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, diced

1 teaspoon corn starch

1 cup heavy cream

10-ounce package frozen creamed spinach

3 tilapia fillets

2 tablespoons Italian-style bread crumbs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, melted butter, tomato paste, agave nectar, seasoned salt, and rice vinegar in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly to blend. Fold in sun-dried tomatoes. Whisk together corn starch and heavy cream. Add to sauce. Mix well. Set aside. Microwave creamed spinach according to package directions. Set aside. To prepare tilapia fillets, dust both sides with Italian-style bread crumbs. Warm 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Fry seasoned fillets until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined platter. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring Yum Yum Sauce to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook 5 minutes until thickened and heated through, stirring occasionally. Add creamed spinach. Stir well. To serve, spoon enhanced Yum Yum Sauce onto a plate. Top with tilapia fillets.

Tortellini Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Tortellini Soup! No matter the weather, a classic Italian soup is always a good idea. Make it a budget-friendly weeknight meal with all the flavor of a Tuscan countryside, without the cost of an airline ticket. Common ingredients like garden veggies, rich plum tomatoes, sweet aromatic herbs and zesty spices blend together to enhance the dish. I love the mushroom-stuffed tortellini pasta. It’s curly ring-shape is very gourmet. When it all comes together at the table, you’ll think you created a masterpiece. Well done!

TORTELLINI SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound chorizo sausage, ground

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, diced

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

14 ounces vegetable broth

8.8 ounce package porcini mushroom tortellini

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

Brown chorizo sausage until fully cooked. Meat will be crumbly. Drain well. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, chopped onions, and diced green peppers. Cook until soft. Add crumbled chorizo. Stir. Add Roma tomatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Stir well to mix ingredients. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Gently fold in tortellini and spinach. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer until tortellini is tender. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini.

Lo Mein Made Simple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Lo Mein Made Simple! Do you ever go to the refrigerator and wonder what to make for dinner? I do. Recently my leftovers consisted of a couple of pork tenderloin fillets, grilled over the weekend, plus some veggies in the produce bin. Not quite enough. Unless you throw them all together in an amazing sauce. I didn’t exactly have Lo Mein egg noodles, but I did have some dried pasta on hand. Who doesn’t? The results were mouth-watering!

LO MEIN MADE SIMPLE

Ingredients:

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup fresh snow peas

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon pimento, sliced

2 pork fillets, grilled and cut up

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Green onion snips for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, ground ginger, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic powder, and carrot strips. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, baby spinach, and pimento slices. Stir until spinach has wilted. Add pork fillet chunks. Heat through. Add cooked pasta and soy sauce mixture. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Lemon Pepper Pasta! Have you ever had one of those days when things just fall into place and you cook like a gourmet chef? And then, because everyone is starv-ing, you are halfway through the meal before you realize you forgot to take the food photo? Well, this is what an (almost) clean plate looks like! lol Perhaps it’s absent-mindedness, or maybe….yes, maybe…it’s just that good!

LEMON PEPPER PASTA

Ingredients:

8-ounces lemon pepper pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 green onions, chopped

8-ounces ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed on package. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm olive oil and bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shiitake mushrooms sprinkled with garlic powder; cook until soft. Add Roma tomatoes. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Reduce heat and stir gently. Add chopped green onion. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in spinach and heat on low 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain lemon pepper pasta. Add to spinach mixture. Toss to coat. Heat through and serve immediately.