Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter J

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Jalapeños Pickled! As you may recall, I live in the country. However, I’m really not much of a gardener. Thank goodness my husband is. He cultivates the ground, plants the seedlings, and kicks the weeds to the curb. Then I gather the produce and transform its bounty into wonderful surprises. This pickled recipe makes me feel like a pro. It’s quick, it’s easy, and most of all it’s super delicious! The spiciness has you asking for more.

JALAPEÑOS PICKLED

Ingredients:

15 jalapeño peppers, sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan, combine the garlic, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Heat to boiling. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. As it continues boiling, add the sliced jalapeños. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeños and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices over top until the jar is filled. Let cool at room temperature before securing a lid and storing in the refrigerator.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter I

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Impressive Pizza Crust! When it comes to making homemade pizza, two factors are critical to taste: Crust and Sauce. (We’ll address pizza sauce another day.) It becomes personal whether you prefer a thin and crispy crust or a deep dish pizza pie. Fortunately, my husband and I are partial to a thin crust. Choosing your “method of madness” takes practice as well. Experts recommend kneading the dough and getting pretty rough to develop the gluten. Others use a bread machine for maximum results. I found my food processor passed the test with this impressive crust. Later on, I may try another.

IMPRESSIVE PIZZA CRUST

Ingredients:

2 cups bread flour, plus more for work surface

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for work surface

1/3 teaspoon sea salt

Cornmeal for pizza pan

Instructions:

In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube. Process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Then add olive oil and salt to dough. Process until dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, 30-60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on a lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into a tight ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

After 24 hours divide the dough into 2 equal portions. (Wrap one tightly with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for later use if you are only making one pizza pie at this time.) Shape dough on lightly oiled baking sheet; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let stand one hour. Preheat the oven to 425°. Then coat the ball of dough with flour and place on a well-floured countertop. Knead and stretch the dough without breaking. Spread olive oil lightly to grease pizza pan. Sprinkle corn meal over the olive oil forming a thin even layer. This keeps the crust from getting soggy and adds a nice crunch to the texture of the crust. Transfer dough to pizza pan. Using fingertips, gently flatten and stretch as you go, until it reaches the edges. Press down around the edges of the pan to create a border, which will keep the sauce and toppings from seeping while baking. Place in oven and bake crust for 10 minutes without toppings. Remove and add pizza sauce plus desired ingredients. Reduce oven heat to 400° and bake an additional 20 minutes until crust is crispy and toppings bubbly.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter H

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Hot Dog Coney Island Sauce! Sometimes it’s a treat to dress up an ordinary grilled hot dog with a thick tangy coney sauce bursting with flavor. Now you can make your own secret sauce to keep on hand for that weekend picnic…or any time.

HOT DOG CONEY ISLAND SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons butter

2 pounds ground beef

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups catsup

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon basil, crushed

Instructions:

In a large sauce pan, lightly brown the onion and garlic in butter. Remove from heat. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Return to heat and cook on medium until the beef is crumbled and cooked. Cover and simmer on low setting for one hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with grated cheese, green onion snips, and mustard.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Gourmet Shrimp Conchiglie Pasta!

(Inspired by Other Bloggers)

Every once in awhile you have to pause and share the inspiration of fellow bloggers. Today is that day for me. My friend, Andrea, of http://oliveandpastel.wordpress.com/2015/06/24

posted a wonderful recipe for shrimp fettuccine recently. I used her recipe with the ingredients I had on hand in my pantry and created a different version of an old favorite. You can do the same with recipes you find on my blog. It’s really very simple, and the results are tastefully rewarding. Here’s my version.

GOURMET SHRIMP CONCHIGLIE PASTA

Conchiglie is an Italian word which translates to “seashells”, which describes the shape of this pasta. The gourmet part is the color wheel of flavors: spinach, tomato, squid ink, wheat.

Ingredients:

1 cup Conchiglie Gourmet Pasta

1 pound shrimp, cooked, peeled, and tail shells removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 jar Bertolli Parmesan Alfredo sauce

Instructions:

In a deep skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté shrimp in seasoning and dill. Remove from pan and brown mushrooms in pan drippings. Do not let pan go dry. If you need moisture, add a tablespoon of lemon juice or lime juice. (Water can be substituted.) Return shrimp to the mushrooms. Add Alfredo sauce and gently stir. Simmer while the pasta is cooking. Meanwhile, cook Conchiglie according to package directions. Drain well and add to the sauce. Mix completely. Simmer 5 minutes longer and then serve. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter F

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Frittata Frenzy! So you like quiche, but sometimes you could really do without the pie crust. Me too. And what about those small containers in the fridge with a smidgen of leftovers that are just too yummy to toss out? Here’s your answer. Mix your favorite ingredients such as cheese, meat, and vegetables. Combine them with egg, dairy, and spices. The end result is practically a masterpiece. It promises to surprise everyone, including you!

FRITTATA FRENZY

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb seasoning

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

4 ounces Mango Fire Cheddar cheese, shredded

4 ounces chorizo, cooked

1/3 cup herb croutons

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs, milk, yogurt, and seasonings. Gently stir in green peppers, onions, pimentos, and cheese. Pour into two 6-inch individual greased baking dishes. Divide crumbled chorizo over the top of the omelet. Gently fold in croutons. This is done right before baking to avoid the meat and bread from sinking to the bottom. Bake uncovered 40 minutes or until omelet is set and top is golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter E

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Egg Salad Extravaganza, A Crêpe Idea! The debate continues………. Mayonnaise and Celery or Miracle Whip and Pickle Relish? What is your preference in Egg Salad? It probably all depends on how your mother made it during your childhood. Fortunately both can be made in a snap!

EGG SALAD EXTRAVAGANZA

Ingredients:

3 eggs, hard cooked

3 tablespoons mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 tablespoon celery, chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon pickle relish (optional)

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Peel and chop eggs, breaking into small pieces. Gently stir into mayonnaise mixture. Add celery or pickle relish. Fill two Crêpes with egg salad. Tuck in several lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with Chia seeds.

(For an alternative bread choice, please reference Crêpe Expectations for the batter recipe at https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/05/17 to make crêpes in advance.)

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter D

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Deep Dish Chicken Salad! Want to feel special? Try serving your next dinner in a traditional French-style mini au gratin pan. Not only does it show off food attractively, it offers single-serving portion control. It’s the perfect touch to any meal and bakes in less time. Make your life simpler with any of the oven-to-table choices available. I did.

DEEP DISH CHICKEN SALAD

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken, cooked

1 cup extra sharp cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon green onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Sea salt to taste

Dash of pepper

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine chicken, celery, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, celery seed, red pepper flakes, and half the cheese. Mix lightly. Spoon casseroles into single serving pans. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and potato chips. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onion snips.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Caramel-Bacon Spice Cake! For the sweet and savory child inside all of us, this recipe takes the cake. It is a combination of salty, sugary, and spicy…in every bite. Your mouth will think you’re at the circus being stimulated by all the contrasting flavors! Amazingly, they come together with moist results. Hop on board and take a ride with this incredible treat.

CARAMEL-BACON SPICE CAKE

Ingredients for Cake:

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs, milk, and vanilla until blended. Set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly alternate the egg mixture and the dry mixture until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Bacon-Caramel Frosting:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces bacon bits

In a medium saucepan, mix brown sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. It should be thick enough to spread on the cake. Top with crisp, crumbled bacon.