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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeño Piggies! Sooo, when you’re looking at a bounty of jalapeños and you’ve already pickled several jars, what’s next? Jalapeño poppers, with a bacon twist! These fiery devils will awaken your taste buds, so it’s a good idea to cool things down a bit with dairy products. Hence the need for a melted cheese filling and a yogurt-ranch dipping sauce. My husband and I feasted on a plate of these one night, so you can too—-if you dare!
CHEESE-STUFFED JALAPEÑO PIGGIES
12-14 jalapeño peppers, red or green
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 mozzarella string cheese sticks
2 slices bacon, precooked and crumbled
Crushed tortilla chips
Cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray a wire rack with nonstick oil and place on the baking sheet. Set aside. Wash the jalapeño peppers. Pat dry. Wearing gloves, slice the top of each jalapeño vertically, removing a small section to create a well. Remove seeds and ribs. Discard. Brush each jalapeño pepper with olive oil. Sprinkle on seasonings. Place jalapeños on the wire rack with cut side down. Bake 10 minutes; then set broiler to High and broil 2-3 minutes until peppers are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Using a tongs, flip them over. Divide the cheddar cheese between the jalapeño peppers. Using a kitchen shears, cut the string cheese into strips. Layer over cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles over the cheese-filled jalapeños. Top with crushed tortilla chips. Broil stuffed “piggies” on High another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove pan from oven and let cool slightly before transferring stuffed jalapeños to a platter. Serve with ranch salad dressing that has a dollop of Greek yogurt mixed in. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Ranch Deviled Eggs! Behold the egg. It serves many options from breakfast omelets to afternoon appetizers, light snacks to mealtime casseroles. And who doesn’t love deviled eggs? Talk about versatility. This version implements the tangy creaminess of ranch flavor so popular in salad dressing. Add a garnish of applewood smoked honey ham crumbles for a superb finish. Make a dozen and watch them disappear.
RANCH DEVILED EGGS
3 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 pound applewood-smoked honey ham or bacon, crumbled
In a 4-quart pan, place eggs in a single layer. Add enough water to cover eggs. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. To remove eggshell, crack it by tapping gently all over; roll between hands to loosen it. Peel, beginning at the large end. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Transfer to a platter. Remove yolks. In a medium bowl, mash the egg yolks with a fork. Sprinkle with dry ranch dressing mix. Add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and minced chives. Stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. Garnish with applewood-smoked honey ham crumbles. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. May be prepared a full day in advance.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Quesadilla Apple Bacon Cheese! Your “go-to” snack just got even better. Take a hayride through the apple orchard where farm-to-table treats are as common as animal cloud shapes in the sky. Choose a nice juicy red apple; something to sink your teeth into like Gala, Fuji, or Delicious. The cheese could be American, but I prefer extra sharp cheddar. Go meatless or go crazy and add a couple slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, with enough crunch to match the crispy tartness of sliced apples. Get the picture? Nibble, nibble.
QUESADILLA APPLE BACON CHEESE
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 flour tortillas
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 strips Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked until crisp
Sprinkle cheese on half a tortilla. Layer apple slices over cheese. Add more cheese. Lay two strips of bacon on top. Fold tortilla in half. Repeat process for second tortilla. Microwave quesadilla for 20 seconds on High setting, or until cheese is melted. Transfer quesadilla to a toaster oven for a crunchy crust that is golden brown. Serve immediately.
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.