Perfect Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Perfect Pot Roast! Today all chefs get the day off from cooking. Seriously. This one-pot meal will turn out perfectly, as long as you ignore it. Use a slow-cooker or a Dutch Baker in a low temperature oven. I actually begin with a frozen chuck roast and forget about it, that is until the savory aromas lightly waft throughout the house. The liquid turns into a pleasant au jus or can be thickened into gravy. Personally, I ladle the juice into a food storage container to use as a sauce for beef carnitas, but that’s another story. Leftovers promise delicious options.

PERFECT POT ROAST

Ingredients:

3-4 pound chuck roast, frozen

3/4 cup vinegar

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup kosher salt (or less)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1 pound baby carrots

3-4 white potatoes, skin on, quartered

2-3 sprigs thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275°. Place frozen roast in Dutch Baker. Combine vinegar, orange juice, and melted butter. Pour over roast. Sprinkle roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Lay thyme sprigs across the top of the meat. Put the lid on the Dutch Baker and bake for 4 hours. Then add carrots and cut-up potatoes to the pot. Reduce oven temperature to 185°. Bake 4 hours longer. The roast is fall-apart tender and ready to serve.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

X-Citing Everyday Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: X-citing Everyday Salad! Whoever said salads are ho-hum hasn’t raided the refrigerator for a weeknight dinner, especially on a rainy day. Just use your imagination. After all, you only buy produce that you really like, right? I’m a fan of herbed olive oil and tomatoes, so by turning that into a dressing it satisfies my quest for the perfect Italian vinaigrette. Look again at the photo. See the leafy greens? Start there and build the layers. By the time you finish adding what you like (substituting stuff like green olives for black), you have a meal-in-a-bowl that rivals your neighborhood eatery. Enough talking, now let’s get moving.

X-CITING EVERYDAY SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Italian cheese, finely shredded

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups mixed greens, gently torn

1/2 cup broccoli florets

10-12 pepperoni slices

1/3 cup green olives, sliced

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, oregano, basil, marjoram, garlic powder, and sea salt. Stir well. Add balsamic vinegar and Italian cheese. Fold in cherry tomatoes to coat. In a large bowl, layer mixed greens, broccoli florets, pepperoni slices, and green olives. Drizzle with tomato herbed vinaigrette. Gently toss before serving. Garnish with cracked black pepper.

Vidalia Onion Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Vidalia Onion Dressing! Have you ever loved the taste of a homemade salad dressing so much you wish it could be more? Well, consider this. Marinades are like a secret step to making meat taste flavorful and tender. By planning a little bit in advance, you can pour this dressing over chicken breasts to marinate one hour before grilling or baking. The dressing actually saturates the meat in a way that benefits the flavoring with a sweet onion taste. When everyone gathers around the table and raves about the extraordinary taste of ordinary chicken, just shrug your shoulders and say, “Its my grandma’s family secret.”

VIDALIA ONION DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 medium Vidalia onion, grated

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup vinegar

Jalapeño sliced, pickled

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, sea salt, dry mustard, and celery seed. Stir. Add grated Vidalia onion, vegetable oil, and vinegar. Heat until sugar is melted, stirring constantly. Add jalapeño slices. Cool and refrigerate for one hour. Serve as a dressing over toasted salad.

Jalapeño Lime Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Jalapeño Lime Dressing! I’m telling you, flavored vinegars and olive oils make my life a breeze. Think about it. If you could open a bottle of zesty lime balsamic vinegar with spicy jalapeños, would you be tempted to splash it into a pitcher of margaritas? Don’t laugh. What if you turned it into a marinade with lime olive oil for a plate of grilled shrimp tacos? It’s sweet, slightly tart, and adds a zing of jalapeño heat to get the blood flowing. Whether you plan a garden salad, steamed rice, or roasted vegetables on the menu tonight, think outside the box with exotic pairings.

JALAPEÑO LIME DRESSING

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon jalapeño lime balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup lime olive oil

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño pepper slices

Instructions:

In a blender, combine fresh parsley, cilantro leaves, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, jalapeño lime balsamic vinegar, and lime olive oil. Pulse until all ingredients are finely minced and dressing has emulsified. Transfer to a jar. Add sliced jalapeños. Cover. Refrigerate one hour.

Warm Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Warm Potato Salad! The debate continues. Which is better? Potato salad made with mayonnaise and served cold or potato salad made with vinegar and served warm? One is creamy with hard-boiled eggs, celery, and pickles while the other is tangy with bacon, mustard, and sugar. What a dilemma. I guess it depends on the craving that drives your appetite on any given day. Whatever you choose, in my opinion, potato salad is not just for summer anymore.

WARM POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

2 pounds potatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 ounces applewood smoked bacon

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon onions, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Scrub potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot. Cover potatoes with cold water and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain the water. Allow potatoes to air dry for a few minutes. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces. Set aside. In another skillet over medium heat, cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Transfer bacon, with a slotted spoon, to a paper towel-lined plate. Warm the reserve bacon drippings (about 1/4 cup) over Low heat. Slowly stir in apple cider vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard until combined. Add chopped onions and celery seeds. Cook for one minute longer. Remove the pan from heat and toss in the potatoes. Mix gently. Fold in the cooked bacon. Transfer the warm potato salad to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Lime Cilantro Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Lime Cilantro Dressing! The first time I tasted this unique dressing with a southwestern kick, I wanted to put down my fork and literally guzzle it by the spoonful. Then again, I’m a fan of fresh cilantro. It’s one of those herbs, I’ve discovered, people either love it or hate it. If you can’t handle it….well, I’ll see you tomorrow when I bake something sweet and decadent. For those who choose to remain, grab a spoon and hang on!

LIME CILANTRO DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in quarters

1 garlic clove

3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup natural honey

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Combine the jalapeño pepper, garlic clove, and ginger root into a mini chopper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add lime juice, natural honey, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to mix. Add cilantro leaves. Pulse a little longer to blend. With the mini chopper on Low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing until it is completely blended. It is now ready to serve.

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.