Bleu Plate Special

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Bleu Plate Special! As the day winds down, the kids are fed, and the sunset turns to burnt-sugar orange, take some time out for yourself. Make a delightful cheese plate filled with inviting textures balanced by a range of flavors from aged and smoky to salty and sweet. Pair with a glass of sweet wine (or fruity spritzer) for an amazing taste sensation. Sink back into a comfy chaise lounge and let soft music fill the room. Remind yourself this is a classic French dessert, and prepare to be pampered.

BLEU PLATE SPECIAL

Ingredients:

Wedge of Bleu Cheese (or any aged cheese variety)

Bunch of Green Grapes (or any seasonal fruit)

Smoked Almonds

Water Crackers (or crusty breads)

Instructions:

Choose a platter where all ingredients can be arranged in a simple way, leaving space between choices. Identify cheeses if offering more than one kind. Rule of thumb: Place one cheese knife or spreader for each type of cheese. Keep it simple.

Apple “Dew” Dumplings

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Apple “Dew” Dumplings! Autumn brings with it the distinctive smell of woodsmoke on the wind, the crunch of vibrant-colored leaves underfoot, and the warm sweet taste of cinnamon apple dumplings as the nights cool down. Although this recipe offers short cuts in the kitchen, the rewards are anything but. Use it once and you’ll discover its value for the next soul-stirring family gathering.

APPLE “DEW” DUMPLINGS

Ingredients:

Two tubes crescent rolls

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 8 wedges

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pecans, chopped

12 ounces Mountain Dew

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap each piece of apple in a crescent triangle. Arrange in a 9″x13″ glass baking dish or 10″ deep pie plate. Melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Pour over apple dumplings. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nuts. Without stirring, pour Mountain Dew over all. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Do not over bake. Serve warm.

The Joy of Eating

Food is one of Life’s pleasures. It is sustenance for our very existence, mood-altering for our emotions, nourishment for our soul, comfort for our inner child, and essential for our livelihood. It brings Joy into our world. If you agree with me, pull up a chair for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: The Joy of Eating!” Within a few short months of blogging, the response continues to amaze me on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all of my followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE JOY OF EATING!”

Zwieback Crust Peach Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Zwieback Crust Peach Pie! Icebox dessert pies conjure up sweet memories of dog-day afternoons, sun-burned shoulders, and aluminum tumblers of cherry Kool-Aid that left a bright red mustache stain. Following a stifling afternoon of playing in the yard that made sweaty bangs plaster to my sticky forehead, my brothers and I would run inside, slamming the screen door for what probably seemed like the umpteenth time to Mother who rang the dinner bell. “Wash your hands before you sit down,” she coaxed. “Dessert is something special, if you clean your plate.” Those words alone were enough to turn youthful minds into obedient offspring. Dessert defined those adolescent years. Everyone enjoyed them, guilt-free. Ah, the good old days.

ZWIEBACK CRUST PEACH PIE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups zwieback cracker crumbs

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

3 ounce-package orange gelatin

3 cups ripe peaches, peeled and sliced; stone removed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine zwieback crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, and melted butter. Stir well. Reserve one tablespoon for crumb garnish. Press remaining crumbs firmly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9”-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and water until smooth. Cook until thick and bubbly, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in flavored gelatin until dissolved. Cool. Arrange sliced peaches in crust. Pour filling over peaches. Sprinkle reserve crumbs on top. Chill for 2 hours, or until set. Serve cold.

Yellow Pepper Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Yellow Pepper Spaghetti! You know how spaghetti always tastes better the second day? There’s something about those savory spices intensifying the sauce and melding it with the pasta. Some of it has to do with starch, I’m told, but I don’t want to get too scientific. I’ll trust my taste buds to go with the flow. Because my garden has a bounty of peppers right now, this seemed like a natural progression. Stuff ‘em. Not only did the leftover spaghetti taste amazing, but the yellow pepper added it’s own smoother mild flavoring. Not bitter. Not sweet. Just right. Maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion.

YELLOW PEPPER SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

4 yellow peppers, whole

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cups of leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce

Chopped tomatoes, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut off the top of each yellow pepper and remove the insides. Rinse and drain. Stand peppers upright in a baking dish. Put a heaping tablespoon of mozzarella cheese in the bottom of each yellow pepper. Then stuff each pepper with the leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, divide remaining cheese over the tops. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

X-quisite Caesar Salad Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: X-quisite Caesar Salad Dressing! Ever wonder why restaurants add an upcharge when customers order a Caesar Salad? One of the reasons is the time involved. Fine restaurants will have the server make it table-side for presentation. That’s pretty cool. Another reason is the high quality of ingredients required, especially if you don’t cut corners. Romaine is the lettuce of choice, not iceberg. Anchovies are also a key ingredient, not sardines. Do you see a pattern here? Plus olive oil, parmesan cheese, and homemade croutons are in there. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Naturally, this all adds up for the restaurant so they need to pass it along to you. That’s why I’m here to offer you a tasty alternative. Just like cooking at home is less expensive than eating out, every once in awhile you get the urge to satisfy that food craving right where you live. Make sense?

X-QUISITE CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 anchovies

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

Romaine lettuce, gently torn

Buttered croutons*

Parmesan cheese, shaved

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

Instructions:

Combine grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, lemon juice, anchovies, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Run on Low speed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil another 30 seconds until thick and creamy. Divide the torn romaine lettuce between salad plates. Add buttered croutons. Drizzle Caesar Salad Dressing over all. Top with shaved parmesan cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste. Serve immediately.

*To make buttered croutons, warm 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce in a medium skillet. Add 3 cups of day-old artisan bread cubes or sliced bagel pieces. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing to coat, until croutons are golden brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined platter. Lightly season with Everything But Bagel seasoning.