What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Wing Beans Shoyu! Have you ever seen a four-angled bean? It actually has four corners. The rough texture looks a little odd, all jagged and such. Since they grow in tropical climates where there is plenty of humidity, rainfall, and warmth, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t find them at your local grocery store. However, they are readily available at Farmers Markets in the Hawaiian Islands, which is where I got these delectable little jewels. They taste similar to a snow pea with a slightly sweet crunch. Then there’s the sauce. YUM!
WING BEANS SHOYU
1/2 pound wing beans, washed, ends trimmed, and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce, Japanese-style
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 strip bacon, cooked and crumbled
Place prepared wing beans in a covered casserole dish. Add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on High setting for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Do not cook until mushy. Drain. Add crumbled bacon. Combine soy sauce, agave nectar, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Whisk to blend flavors. Drizzle over wing bean mixture. Toss to coat. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Jalapeño Celery Crack! I’m not ashamed to say I’ve found a new addiction. Hence the name. By the time I wrote this post, I had already made this recipe 3 times and shared it once with a close friend. Jalapeño Celery Crack has a spicy creaminess that screams, “just one more bite”. When I ran out of celery, I discovered it tastes amazing on tortilla corn chips. Sometimes you need an appetizer. Sometimes you want a snack. And sometimes making it part of a meal is justification enough. Perhaps you should try it. You know you want some.
JALAPEÑO CELERY CRACK
1 bunch of celery, cut into 4” pieces
8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon parsley
2/3 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño juice
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
Cut celery into 4” pieces. Set aside.
Combine softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth. Add sea salt, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Mix thoroughly. Add chopped jalapeños, pickled jalapeño juice, and crumbled bacon. Stir well to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange celery stalks on a platter. Fill with jalapeño mixture. Garnish with extra dill. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Angus Beef Burger! Anyone who is a beef-eater understands that when meat has a high level of marbling, it keeps it moist for longer when cooking. Why is marbling important, you wonder? Because the fat ratio is scattered throughout creating juicy, tender, and more flavorful results. Long story, short, angus beef means better burger. No one wants a hockey puck for a hamburger. Right? Although it may cost a little more per pound, the end results are worth it.
ANGUS BEEF BURGER
1 pound Angus beef, ground
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
Lettuce, tomato, bacon and condiments as desired
Preheat a gas grill on High temperature. Form the ground beef into four equal portions. Season both sides of each patty with sea salt and black pepper. Brush the burgers with olive oil. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes until brown and slightly charred. Flip over. Do not press down to release juices! Cook 4 minutes longer, for medium rare, until golden and charred. Grill longer for desired results. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns. Add fixings and condiments to taste. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Unbelievable Bacon Jam! Your morning just got better. Everyone loves bacon, right? And coffee is often casually referred to as a “cuppa joe”. Know what you get when you mix the two together, along with a few other items from the food pantry? You guessed it: Bacon Jam that can be slathered on buttered toast or added later to a Charcuterie Board. Tested on guests at Gail’s Kitchen, this recipe is spot on. Give it a try and see for yourself. You can thank me later.
UNBELIEVABLE BACON JAM
9 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced thick
4 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, diced
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cook the bacon until brown and slightly crispy. It should be chewy. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add diced red onion. Turn to coat. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté until onions are cooked, stirring frequently. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, remaining bacon grease, brewed coffee, pickled jalapeños, smoked sea salt, Dijon mustard, and bacon pieces. Add cooked onions. Stir well. Bring the bacon jam to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the jam is thick. The bacon jam should appear chunky. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Refried Beans Restaurant-Style! Copycat recipes are so much fun to share with the family, especially when tweaked to express your own personal taste. If you’ve been to more than one Mexican restaurant, which most of us have, you’ve probably noticed an order of refried beans can be extra-creamy, smooth or chunky, blah or spicy. No worries. If you like the earthy taste, substitute black beans for the pinto beans. The same goes for a slightly smoky taste. That effect comes from bacon drippings instead of olive oil. For authentic results you may even choose to begin from scratch. I was pretty pleased with the results featured here.
REFRIED BEANS RESTAURANT-STYLE
16-ounce can refried beans, traditional
16-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1 small onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2-3 jalapeño peppers, pickled and sliced
Preheat oven to 350°. In a skillet over medium heat, add bacon drippings. Sauté chopped onions until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in cumin powder, garlic powder, and sea salt. Add refried beans. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Fold in pinto beans. Reduce heat. Warm until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into individual ovenproof bowls. Place bowls. on a baking sheet. Top each with Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted and beans are bubbly. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven. Garnish with jalapeño slices.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Fig and Pig Flatbread! Make life easy tonight with an amazing twist on this sweet and salty sensation. Everyone loves bacon. I get it. And the fig preserves provide a sweet after taste that mingles with the natural crunch of crispy crust and salty meat. The gooey cheese is like the icing on a cake. With only a few ingredients, preparation is a snap leaving more time for settling in front of the television with a glass of wine and your favorite program. You can thank me later.
FIG AND PIG FLATBREAD
1 prepared flatbread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon corn meal
1/2 cup fig and muscat wine preserves
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400°. Brush both sides of flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle corn meal on the bottom side of the flatbread. Place onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Bake 5 minutes; remove from oven. Spread fig and muscat wine preserves evenly over flatbread, leaving a crust edge. Arrange crumbled bacon as next layer. Scatter mozzarella and feta cheese over top. Bake 10 minutes longer until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve with a side salad.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Beet Bacon Bleu Salad! Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you eat beets? And you hated them? Well, thank goodness as we age, our taste buds change. Perhaps it’s time to give them a second chance. I did and the results made me wonder why I waited so long.
BEET BACON BLEU SALAD
15-ounce can sliced beets, drained
3 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 cups mixed salad greens
1 egg, hard-cooked and sliced
3 slices applewood bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction
Garnish with croutons
In a shallow dish, combine lemon olive oil, seasoned salt, and Herbes de Provence. Add sliced beets. Marinate 10 minutes, turn and marinate 10 minutes longer. Arrange salad greens in a bowl. Add beets, reserving marinade. Arrange egg slices on greens. Top with bacon pieces. Sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle all with reserve marinade plus balsamic reduction. Garnish with croutons.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Butternut Squash Bisque! You’ll know this squash by its half-dumbbell cylindrical shape. Its tan skin can be tough to peel, so exert caution in preparation. This is nothing like peeling potatoes. I worked in small sections. Once the hard rind has been removed, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. From there, cutting into chunks is a breeze. As with anything, the first time can seem challenging, but once you’ve experienced the taste of the sweet buttery orange flesh, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1″ chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon thyme
14 ounces chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry roasted sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a large bowl, combine butternut squash, onion, and green pepper. Add olive oil and garlic. Season with kosher salt, seasoned salt, and cracked black pepper. Gently toss to coat evenly. Transfer to the baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Bake 15 minutes, turn over and bake 15 minutes longer until tender. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. Working in batches, transfer cooked vegetables to a food processor. Pulse to puréed consistency. Transfer to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan. Add thyme and chicken broth. Blend well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with bacon crumbles, sunflower seeds, and fresh thyme.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Elegant Chicken! Rummage through your collection of “fundraiser cookbooks” and you’re sure to find this hidden gem. By baking it ahead, you save hours preparing the meal. It transforms an ordinary chicken dinner into a crowd-pleaser, especially with its thick creamy sauce and hint of hickory-smoked bacon. Serve Elegant Chicken over wild rice or buttered noodles. Either way, you’ll wonder how you lived without this classic dish so long.
8 5-ounce chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
8 slices bacon, uncooked
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounces Greek yogurt
Paprika to garnish
Preheat oven to 275°. Grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with dried beef. Wrap each chicken breast with one strip of bacon. Arrange chicken over dried beef. Blend cream of mushroom soup with Greek yogurt. Spoon over chicken breasts. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake uncovered for 3 hours until chicken is cooked.