All the Buzz!

Life can find us as busy as a bee some days, so I invite you to drop by from time to time to find something sweet. Who doesn’t enjoy dining al fresco, picnics in the park, and foods that are healthy? I do. I like fresh ingredients, garden herbs, rich chocolate, and French butter…to name just a few. But I’m in good company. Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter as well as Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) on Instagram. Come along with me for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: All the Buzz! This remarkable journey of the palate is special because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and 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: ALL THE BUZZ!”

Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones! Question: What do you get when you cross a cake and a quick bread? Answer: An English Scone, of course! Now here’s an excuse to eat something lightly sweetened in the middle of the day. Scones are popular with brunch or afternoon tea in some countries. They are made in a single-serving size and come in several variations. By adding fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sanding sugar, the results are astounding. Drizzle a lemony glaze on top to transform this beauty into a dessert as well.

ZINGY LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup milk

White sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon Glaze Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large with sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon citrus peel in a large bowl. Add butter and blend until crumbly. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Stir in the milk. On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough. Form into two 6-inch disks. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Gently transfer wedges to the prepared sheet; brush with milk; sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool on the pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze. Serve warm.

Lemon Glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over warm scones.

Yellow Bloomin’ Onion

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Yellow Bloomin’ Onion! Nothing is more fitting for Spring than an appealing appetizer that resembles a flower, in my opinion. Now you can make a healthy version at home by baking the breaded onion instead of deep-frying it. The last few minutes under the broiler give it a crispy finish that adds extra crunch to the delicious petals. And the dipping sauce….oh my gosh, you have to try it!

YELLOW BLOOMIN’ ONION

Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup Panko crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon Cajun spices

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Seasoning salt to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In one bowl, combine the flour, bread crumbs, Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Cajun spice. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine beaten eggs and milk. Whisk together. Set aside. Cut the top side of the onion. Turn over and carefully cut the root side just enough to peel the outer skin of the onion. Leave the root intact as this will be the base and hold the onion together. Discard onion skins. In order to give the appearance of an open flower, 16 sections are made. With the root side up, place the knife 1/8″ away from the core and slice straight down. It is best to begin with quarters and then make 3 slices in each quadrant all the way around. Carefully turn the onion over and spread the “petals” apart. Dip the onion in the milk bath and wash it completely using a pastry brush. Carefully transfer the onion to the bowl filled with breading. Beginning at the bottom, cover each petal with dry coating. Again using the pastry brush, continue coating the petals until the egg wash is gone. You may alternate the egg mixture and dry coating to cover the petals. Transfer the onion to an oven-safe pie plate or dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Using hot pads, take the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Using a pastry brush, coat the onion with melted butter. Return to the oven. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until crispy. I set the broiler on High and broiled it for 4-5 minutes to make it extra-crunchy. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place on a serving platter. Serve with dipping sauce.

DIPPING SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 teaspoons ketchup

2 teaspoons Lea and Perrins

2 tablespoons horseradish

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, ketchup, Lea and Perrins, horseradish, paprika, and cayenne. Mix well and refrigerate for one hour. Pour into a small cup and place in the center of the onion.

X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie! Here’s to the Cookie Monster in all of us. If you live your life on a grande scale, this recipe will easily become a family favorite. My husband said, “It’s like indulging in a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!” I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a cookie recipe. By baking the dough in an iron skillet, the edges got a little crispy while the center stayed super-chewy. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this came straight from the neighborhood bakery. Fill up a glass of milk and indulge yourself.

X-TRA LARGE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals

10 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup peanut butter chips

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ iron skillet with two tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla to blend. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough into the prepared iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a golden color and edges are crisp. Check with a toothpick to be sure the cookie is cooked through in the center. Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes; loosen edges. Turn onto a round pizza pan. Reinvert back onto a platter, slice, and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! What I love about this recipe is any type of chicken will do. If you prefer wings, thighs, drumsticks, breasts, or all of the above, it works! The lemony citrus accent is perfect with a side salad and a piece of warm crusty bread. If you can get your hands on a lemon infused olive oil, you may want to take the plunge. It’s also a great way to jazz up an ordinary salad with the bright, tangy flavor of citrus. Balance it out with a pomegranate balsamic vinegar for a winning combination. Who knows, you may have found a new favorite.

WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER

Ingredients:

6 chicken fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon granulated lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced and quartered

6 green onions

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Trim and pat dry the chicken fillets. In an iron skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, carefully place chicken in pan. Season with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Sear both sides for 3-4 minutes each. Add lemon slices, wedges, and green onions. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve chicken with roasted lemons and onions.

Vermicelli Pasta Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Vermicelli Pasta Salad! A little advance planning goes a long way whether you choose to make this a side dish or a main course. Plus, you get bonus points if it becomes your Midweek Meatless Meal. It’s easy, it’s versatile, and it’s made with fiber-filled veggies for extra crunch and flavor. Substitute ingredients to match your family’s personal cravings. On the go? Pack it in single serving jars for fuss-free options.

VERMICELLI PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound vermicelli

1 1/2 tablespoons Accent seasoning

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup green pepper, chopped

3/4 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups broccoli/carrot/red cabbage slaw

1 cup black olives, sliced

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions:

Cook vermicelli as directed on package. Rinse in cold water. Drain. Place in large bowl. Make a marinade of Accent seasoning, seasoned salt, lemon juice, and vegetable oil. Pour over vermicelli; mix well. Cover and marinate for two days, stirring once or twice. Add green pepper, onion, cut-up broccoli/carrot/cabbage slaw, black olives, poppy seeds, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Marinate overnight. Serve chilled.

Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!

UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS

Ingredients:

Club crackers, whole

1 cup crushed Club crackers

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt crystals

Instructions:

Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.