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.

Yummy Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Dough Bars! “Honestly, you had me at Salted Caramel”, someone exclaimed to me recently. If you crave chocolate or adore peanut butter, this dessert will grab your attention. Although its golden caramel layer is dotted with mounds of cookie dough infused with white and dark chocolate, underneath lies a layer of peanut butter, oats, and toffee bits. Oh my! You may need a scoop of natural ice cream on top just to cut the sweetness. Trust me when I say, “A little goes a long way!”

YUMMY SALTED CARAMEL COOKIE DOUGH BARS

Ingredients for Cookie Dough:

3/4 cup butter, unsalted

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup instant oats

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits

Ingredients for Caramel Topping:

11 ounce bag of caramels

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil and line with parchment paper. Using a food processor, cream butter and sugar together. Add peanut butter and blend well. While running, add one egg at a time, thoroughly mixing in each egg. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and toffee bits. Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, unwrap caramels and place in a saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are fully melted. The mixture will be smooth. Slowly pour caramel sauce evenly over dough. Flatten the remaining 1/3 dough like a pancake, cut into squares, roll into balls, and drop randomly over caramel sauce. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle coarse sea salt over all. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Xtreme Sloppy Joes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Xtreme Sloppy Joes! Some days you crave a sweet and savory warm sandwich over a lunchbox ham and cheese on wheat. Sure, it can be a little messy, but pile it high anyway and add a mound of shredded cheese. Then watch things melt together.

XTREME SLOPPY JOES

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon mustard

2 cups ketchup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, onion, and green pepper seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until meat is in crumbles. Reduce heat. Add diced pimento. Stir in vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup. Mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof covered dish and bake in the oven for one hour.

Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies! Get set for an explosion of hot jerk sauce slathered over fork-tender chicken slowly cooked all afternoon. These “fall off the bone” juicy morsels will have you smacking your lips and wiping your chin. A side dish of chunky Bleu cheese dressing snuffs out the fire and tramples the heat. Keep stalks of celery handy and you’ll find yourself wondering how you finished the entire platter.

WICKED HOT WINGS AND DRUMMIES

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Jazzy Jerk Sauce**

1/2 cup butter

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 cup ginger beer

1 1/2 pounds chicken wings and drummies

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Instructions:

Mix together habanero sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup ginger beer. Stir to blend. Place chicken wings and drummies in a crockpot. Cover all with sauce. Cook on High setting for 2 hours. Reduce temperature to Low setting and cook 2 1/2 hours longer. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with nonstick oil. Place wings and drummies on foil. Baste tops with sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Turn with tongs, baste, and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with additional sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serving suggestion: Celery sticks and chunky Bleu cheese dressing.

*The Jazzy Jerk habanero sauce may be substituted for another hot pepper sauce.

**Jazzy Jerk Sauce recipe may be found by clicking on the link below.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/10/15

Vegetarian Bruschetta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Vegetarian Bruschetta! There’s something about sharing an appetizer for dinner. It feels sinful and tastes shamefully delicious. The rustic combination of artisan bread, savory veggies, and warm cheese conjure up images of the Italian landscape. Transcend yourself to a country villa in the hills of Tuscany. Lend a little romance to dinner with finger food that melts in your mouth with a slightly salty finish.

VEGETARIAN BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced horizontal

1/2 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

12-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 cup mozzarella cheese

2 green onions, snipped

1 tablespoon pimento, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice baguette horizontally and place open face on baking sheet. Spread olive oil on top of baguette. Sprinkle with garlic powder, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Drain artichoke hearts, reserving liquid. Cut artichokes into bite size pieces and add back into the liquid. Add mushrooms to liquid. Mix well to coat. Divide artichoke/mushroom mixture between the baguette halves. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is crunchy. Cut into diagonal slices. Garnish with green onion and pimento.