Dirty Kettle Chips

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Dirty Kettle Chips! Get set to trigger your brain’s pleasure center. I came upon this treat after surviving a bout with the flu bug. For days all I could do was crawl into bed and sleep, drink plenty of water, then satisfy my hunger pangs with spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup. Obviously when my appetite returned, I discovered there weren’t too many groceries in the house. Voilà, Dirty Kettle Chips were born. One bite was all it took to begin craving more. You should try it.

DIRTY KETTLE CHIPS

Ingredients:

8-ounce bag kettle-cooked potato chips

6-ounces provolone cheese, sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Green onion snips, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an iron skillet with nonstick oil. Arrange potato chips in a single layer overlapping a bit. Next add provolone cheese on top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Top with cracked black pepper. Repeat for second layer. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts and edges turn slightly brown. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Crockpot Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Crockpot Mac ‘n Cheese! I find this is seriously the best way to make macaroni and cheese for a crowd without all the fuss. It is so kid-friendly, in fact, you may discover you have an extra pair of helping hands without even asking. When using a slow cooker, the pasta softens as the sauce thickens into a hot, creamy, extra-cheesy youthful delight. Top it off with crushed potato chips for a heart-warming side dish.

CROCKPOT MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 pound cellentani pasta, also known as cavatappi, uncooked

4 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Instructions:

Spray the crockpot with nonstick oil. Pour the uncooked pasta into the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer the butter and cream cheese chunks over the pasta. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, milk, and cream. Mix well. Pour over pasta. Stir to blend. Spread pasta into an even layer, being sure to coat everything in sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 1-2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Be sure to spread macaroni into one layer after stirring to keep pasta coated with sauce. When pasta is done, sprinkle shredded cheddar and pepper jack over all. Stir to combine. Replace cover and cook 10 minutes until cheese is creamy and melted. Sprinkle with crushed potato chips before serving.

Baby Corn Split Pea Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Baby Corn Split Pea Soup! For a taste of the country, chocked full of wholesome ingredients and tender smoked ham, look no further. Step off the beaten path of ordinary chicken noodle soup for a bowl of flavorful homemade goodness. Pay attention to the subtle smoky aftertaste of cottage ham that lingers on the tongue. Perhaps the blissfully sweet golden harvest of roasted baby corn meets your satisfaction. Either way, the blend of savory split peas infused among them will leave you asking for a smidgen more.

BABY CORN SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 3/4 cups dry split green peas and lentils, rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups smoked ham, shredded

7-ounce jar baby corn, whole

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, combine split peas and lentils, vegetable broth, water, garlic powder, black pepper, celery seed, and sea salt. Mix together. Add chopped onion and shredded ham. Cover and cook on HIGH for four hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Adjust with more water if soup becomes too thick. Meanwhile, drain baby corn. Pat dry. Take an iron skillet; spray it with nonstick oil. Heat on high temperature. Add baby corn. Gently turn corn as it browns so all sides are evenly roasted. Cut into pieces or leave whole. Add to soup. Lower crockpot setting to LOW. Cook two hours longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm.

Alphabet Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Alphabet Soup! Remember when you were a kid and your mom placed a steaming bowl of alphabet soup in front of you? The first thing I did was grab the spoon and search for the letters in my name. My mother, in her wisdom, would say, “Begin by eating the letters you know don’t count.” Not only was it a lesson in letter recognition, but I ultimately ended up finishing my soup before it got cold. Smart lady. How do you eat Alphabet Soup?

ALPHABET SOUP

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken broth

1 pound boneless chicken tenders

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup mixed vegetables, frozen

3/4 cup celery, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup dried parsley

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup butter

1 cup alphabet pasta

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, combine chicken broth, boneless chicken tenders, yellow onion, mixed vegetables, celery, seasoned salt, black pepper, dried thyme, dried parsley, and bay leaves. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return it back to the slow cooker. Add alphabet pasta and butter. Gently stir to combine. Cook 30 minutes longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.

The Color of Food

Ever wonder why restaurants feature photos on the menu? It’s pretty simple, actually. People respond to the color of food. Our sense of sight connects to our sense of taste in a way that creates an expectation causing a positive physical response. It’s no secret our taste buds are ruled by the appearance of food before one morsel ever reaches our mouth. Think about it. Cravings conjure up memories of satisfaction. Mealtime then becomes an emotional all-star event tapping into our senses. And speaking of stars…Some of my posts have received a nod from the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram @gail_dorna. This continuous journey of the palate gives me time 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 A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE COLOR OF FOOD!”

Zingy Weeknight Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Zingy Weeknight Pasta! Don’t you love it when everything you need for a quick meal is right at your fingertips? Well, I do. This was one of those nights when everything in the fridge “must-go” simply because we were leaving on a trip the next day. I already had a jar of homemade marinara sauce, but feel free to substitute a store bought variety you probably keep in your pantry, next to the package of spaghetti. The chicken strips are frozen, grilled, and precooked. Don’t judge me. It works. Oh, and I actually served freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish, but we sprinkled it on at the table.

ZINGY WEEKNIGHT PASTA

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups prepared marinara

2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks

1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into pieces

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped green pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add marinara sauce. Meanwhile, microwave frozen chicken to thaw. Cut into chunks. Add chicken and salami to sauce. Stir to mix. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but remove the pasta 4 minutes earlier than directed since we are going to add the spaghetti to the sauce to finish cooking. Once the spaghetti is prepared to that point, ladle some of the pasta water into the sauce, about 1/3 cup. This will add wonderful flavor and help thicken the sauce nicely. Now drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce mixture, without rinsing. Let the spaghetti finish cooking until it is al dente. Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese. (Freeze any leftovers to serve when you return from a day of travel.)