Picnic Pork and Beans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Picnic Pork and Beans! Tradition speaks loud and clear at family gatherings and picnics, especially in the summer. No matter the cookout, barbecue, or pitch-in, certain foods are expected on the buffet table. One of them is the coveted baked beans. Usually the unmarried auntie or the matriarch is the keeper of the cherished recipes. The “grande dame” knows all the ingredients, especially the heavily-guarded secret ones. It might be a dab of this or a pinch of that. My advice? Time, patience, and integrity. After all, there’s a lot of responsibility in carrying on the Secret Family Recipes. In the end, it’s all worth it!

PICNIC PORK AND BEANS

Ingredients:

3 slices uncured bacon, thick

1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

28-ounce can pork and beans

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Fry bacon in a large skillet until partially cooked. Remove bacon from pan and dab on paper towels. Let cool and then break into pieces. Discard all but one tablespoon bacon drippings. Add sweet onion to pan; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine sweet onion, pork and beans, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, diced pimento, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with bacon pieces. Bake uncovered for one hour, or until beans are bubbly and sauce is thick. Let stand 10 minutes for sauce to thicken slightly. Serve warm.

Onion Broccoli Florets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Onion Broccoli Florets! Sweet onions, whether they are Vidalias grown in Georgia or Walla Wallas grown in Washington, are mild-tasting onions that fans wait all year to magically appear in the produce aisle. Combine them with the natural sweetness of raisins, the crunch of honey-roasted sunflower seeds, the earthiness of broccoli florets, and the smoky taste of bacon. Then watch it totally disappear at the next family reunion.

ONION BROCCOLI FLORETS

Ingredients:

1 stalk broccoli

2.5 ounce package real bacon bits

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup honey roasted sunflower seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:

Cut the stalk off a head of broccoli high enough so the florets fall away. Discard stalk. Cut each floret in half or quarters. In a large bowl, combine florets, real bacon bits, sweet onion, raisins, and honey-roasted sunflower seeds. Mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar until blended. Add dressing to broccoli salad one hour before serving.

New Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: New Potato Salad! If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the French have it going on! The more I explore their recipes, the more I feel like a gourmet chef. You can, too. Trust me. When I tell you I’m going to have you make potato salad by skipping the mayo, just pretend you didn’t hear me and forge ahead. The results are worth it. Don’t make a big deal when you serve it as a side dish. You’re husband will do that for you. Husband-tested, rave reviews!

NEW POTATO SALAD

1 pound red-skinned new potatoes

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup celery hearts, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh chervil, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Place quartered potatoes, skin on, in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15-20 minutes. For dressing, combine olive oil, garlic red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. Whisk until blended. When potatoes are cooked, drain well. Transfer them to a bowl to cool. Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Add celery and chervil, gently folding to blend flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mediterranean Summertime Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Mediterranean Summertime Tomatoes! Do you say “to-may-toe” or “to-mah-toe”? Like it really matters when you sink your teeth into its meaty flesh as the juice runs down your chin. Face it, summer is all about the luscious tomato. Gardeners go crazy planting, watering, weeding, and coaxing the plants’ climbing tendrils to wind within the wire baskets so when the vine becomes heavy with fruit (yes, actually the tomato IS a fruit) you’ll reap the harvest. After all, everyone loves a neighbor who grows, and shares, garden tomatoes.

MEDITERRANEAN SUMMERTIME TOMATOES

Ingredients:

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

2 Campari tomatoes, sliced

1 cup yellow mini tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, crushed

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Sea salt to taste

Anchovy-stuffed olives (optional)

Fresh basil for garnish

1 loaf French bread

Instructions:

Core and slice tomatoes. Arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle red onion over the tomatoes. Whisk together the olive oil, Herbes de Provence, garlic powder, and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over the tomatoes and onions. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with anchovy-stuffed green olives and fresh basil. Dip French bread in the marinade and eat with the tomatoes.*

*Serving Suggestion: Begin with a bed of baby spinach leaves for a complete meal.

Lo Mein Made Simple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Lo Mein Made Simple! Do you ever go to the refrigerator and wonder what to make for dinner? I do. Recently my leftovers consisted of a couple of pork tenderloin fillets, grilled over the weekend, plus some veggies in the produce bin. Not quite enough. Unless you throw them all together in an amazing sauce. I didn’t exactly have Lo Mein egg noodles, but I did have some dried pasta on hand. Who doesn’t? The results were mouth-watering!

LO MEIN MADE SIMPLE

Ingredients:

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup fresh snow peas

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon pimento, sliced

2 pork fillets, grilled and cut up

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Green onion snips for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, ground ginger, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic powder, and carrot strips. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, baby spinach, and pimento slices. Stir until spinach has wilted. Add pork fillet chunks. Heat through. Add cooked pasta and soy sauce mixture. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Kabob Brownie Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Kabob Brownie Bites! This recipe seems like a no-brainer. It’s that simple. Strawberries + Marshmallow + Brownie Bites = Dessert Kabobs! Talk about a foodie’s favorite. This no-fuss festive platter will make a melody in your heart. If you like continuous joy, and a dessert that will draw raves, treat everyone to this explosion of sweetness. (As a time-saver, you may substitute package brownie bites instead of homemade.)

KABOB BROWNIE BITES

Ingredients:

1 Fudge Brownie Mix

1 pound fresh strawberries

8 ounces large marshmallows

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Skewers

Instructions;

Using a mini-muffin tin, prepare Fudge Brownie mix according to package directions. Bake. Cool on a wire rack. Clean and dry strawberries. Cut them in half to have a flat end. Beginning with a strawberry cap, skewer it so the greens are on the top. Add a marshmallow, one brownie, and the other half of the strawberry so the point is on the bottom of the kabob. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. For toasted marshmallows, use a kitchen torch. One at a time, carefully “roast the marshmallow” over a low flame. Do not burn. Return kabob to baking sheet. Repeat until all are toasted. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on High. Stir and repeat until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer melted chocolate to a squeeze bottle or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Drizzle chocolate over the kabobs. Refrigerate until chocolate ready to serve.