What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Iceberg Lettuce 7-Layer Salad in a Jar! I don’t know about you, but I think this is a perfect idea for taking a salad-on-the-go. Use whatever jars you have on hand, such as quart or pint canning jars or even jelly jars. You decide the portion size. As a “do-ahead” recipe, it’s also a time-saver. Simply layer all the ingredients, top them off with the yummy homemade dressing, and then pack a couple jars in your lunchbox or picnic basket. It’s ideal for sharing. Choose healthy!
ICEBERG LETTUCE 7-LAYER SALAD IN A JAR
1 head lettuce, shredded
2-3 green onions, snipped
5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 pound thick bacon, pan-fried and crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup frozen baby sweet peas, thawed and uncooked
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
Prepare each ingredient, as indicated. Set aside. This is the order the jars will be assembled beginning at the bottom: Lettuce, green onion, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese, and peas. To keep the layers even in the jar, use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently press the salad as you complete each layer. Mix together the mayonnaise and sugar. Divide evenly between the jars. Garnish with a few sprinkles of shredded cheese and crumbled bacon bits. Place a lid on each jar to secure. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To serve, empty the jar onto a plate; mix in the dressing to moisten. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.
VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST
1-2 slices multigrain toast
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese
1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Snipped chives for garnish
Chia seeds for garnish
Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Island Sweet Potato Salad! There is nothing wrong with your smart phone screen. The colors of Hawaiian sweet potatoes range from orange to green to purple. Notice the creamy texture. The slightly sweet taste may remind you more of a piece of fruit than a root vegetable. Sure it’s popular among the Asian markets, and it can be a little drier than its American cousin, but didn’t someone once say, “Variety is the spice of life”? Go ahead, add your version of seasonings. The results will amaze you.
ISLAND SWEET POTATO SALAD
3 sweet potatoes, Hawaiian assortment, cooked with skin on and cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
3 strips bacon, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and Himalayan sea salt. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Coat with mayonnaise mixture. Fold in bacon crumbles and green onion. Chill for one hour. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Hungry Man Potato Skins! Shrug off that old myth about ditching potato skins because they’re high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition. My grandma used to say “if you’re gonna eat the skin, you may as well eat a handful of dirt!”. Thank goodness times have changed and we’ve learned that the skin of the potato is loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber. When baking instead of frying, the nutritional value gets kicked up a notch. Now that you’re on a roll, go ahead and add toppings like fresh broccoli, bacon, and cheese. Whaaat? Hear me out. By choosing small russet potatoes, the calories are drastically reduced. One piece of bacon is divided over four skins, just enough for flavor. And reduced-fat cheddar cheese is a good choice, one you’ll barely notice in taste. When it’s all said and done, two potato skins are about 200 calories. Not bad.
HUNGRY MAN POTATO SKINS
2 small russet potatoes, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 strip thick bacon, precooked
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup panko crumbs
Ranch dressing, for dipping sauce
Green onion, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Pierce each potato for steam to escape during baking. Lightly spray potatoes with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about one hour. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place broccoli florets into a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with droplets of water, and microwave on High for one minute. Set aside. If you need to cook bacon, place one strip of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel. Microwave on High for two minutes. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. For potato skins, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh leaving a shell 1/4” thick. Reserve potato flesh for another use. Brush around the rim of potato shells with olive oil. Place skins upright on a baking sheet. Broil in oven on High for one minute. Remove to fill. In a bowl, combine broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, and bacon crumbles. Divide broccoli mixture evenly between potato shells. In a small pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add panko crumbs, stirring often until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle over loaded potato skins. Return to oven and bake at 400° until cheese is bubbly and topping is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing garnished with green onion snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Sweet Strawberry Salad! Whenever you feel the need to change things up a bit from your ordinary salad, think strawberries! Did you know the strawberry is actually a cousin to the rose family? Truth. In history, they represent love, purity, and perfection. Hmmm. And of course, everyone knows how deliciously sweet they are. Okay, I’m in. Serve a strawberry salad and watch everyone’s face break into a smile. Think strawberries! 🍓
SWEET STRAWBERRY SALAD
1 pound Spring Mix, gently torn
1 quart strawberries, caps removed and halved
4 green onions, snipped
1 cup harvarti cheese, grated
1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped
1/3 cup bacon pieces
1/2 cup lemon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic reduction
Combine Spring Mix salad greens, strawberries, and green onion snips in a large bowl. Gently add cheese to mix. Top with sugared pecans and bacon. Toss with lemon olive oil to coat. Drizzle balsamic reduction over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Pig Candy Bacon! If you ever needed a reason to eat candy for breakfast, permission granted. This marriage of brown sugar, spices, and hickory smoked bacon is the best idea since sliced bread! You’ll want to choose thick bacon to hold all the seasonings. Line a pan with foil despite the fact a rack is used; it just makes clean up that much faster. If you don’t….well, let’s just say the other people in your house won’t be waiting around for you. Once the glazed sweetmeat is taken out of the oven, all bets are off. The line forms here.
PIG CANDY BACON
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
8-10 slices bacon, thick cut
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix brown sugar, black pepper, wasabi powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder in a deep baking dish. Add bacon, one strip at a time; toss to coat well. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place a wire rack on pan. Lay bacon strips on rack in a single layer without overlapping. Place baking sheet one setting below top rack in oven. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until crisp. There is no need to turn the bacon. Carefully remove pan from oven. Let caramelized bacon cool slightly before transferring with a tongs to parchment paper.* Serve as a breakfast companion, appetizer, or snack.
* The second time I made Pig Candy, I pierced them with bamboo skewers after they were baked and they were spot on!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Black Pepper Bacon! Bacon, bacon, bacon. Did someone mention Bacon? Nothing smells more amazing than the aroma of hickory-smoked maple bacon lightly wafting through the home. It has been known to make robust men weak in the knees and healthy women light-headed. By adding the spicy jolt of black pepper, it kicks the fragrance up a notch and awakens the taste buds.
BLACK PEPPER BACON
1 pound hickory-smoked maple bacon, thick cut
1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Place bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack. Sprinkle black pepper over all. Bake 40-45 minutes or until crisp. Carefully remove pan from oven, being careful not to spill the hot liquid. Drain bacon on paper towels. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits! Here is a salad you can snack on over and over. It keeps for days in the refrigerator as the flavor intensifies. And because the broccoli is fresh, the crunch appeases the taste buds. By adding the sweetness of raisins and the saltiness of bacon, it soothes those unexpected cravings that sabotage even the strictest diet enthusiast. Go ahead, take a bite. Permission granted.
UNLIMITED BROCCOLI TIDBITS
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and stems
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup bacon bits, fully cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 envelope of Italian dry salad dressing mix
Combine broccoli tidbits, raisins, and bacon in a covered bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian dry seasoning mix in a glass measuring cup until blended. Pour marinade over broccoli mixture. Gently stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate salad for two hours. Spoon reserve marinade over salad before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Peppy Parmesan Egg Toast! What do you get when you morph a Croque Madame with a BLT? The end result is a spot on open-faced healthy start for the day that will keep you energized for hours. Challenge yourself. Resist the temptation to take a fork and pierce the luscious center of the egg. The silky golden yolk may find you practically licking the plate clean. I won’t tell.
PEPPY PARMESAN EGG TOAST
4 slices thick bacon
2 slices rustic sesame bread
2 pats butter
4 slices Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
2 green onions
Sriracha Sauce to taste
Fry bacon to crisp. Drain on paper towels. Toast bread slices to golden brown. Butter each piece. Slice Parmesan cheese with diagonal pieces to cover toast. Later crispy bacon on cheese. Crack eggs into a small skillet treated with nonstick spray; cook until whites are set, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip without breaking yolk. Reduce heat for one minute longer. Remove from burner and carefully transfer fried eggs to Parmesan toast. Drizzle with Sriracha sauce to taste. Garnish with green onion snips.