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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.
WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY
7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
Butter for rubbing
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Open-Faced Sammie! The popularity of open-faced sandwiches has been brewing since the 15th century, when it was typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper. Although the layers have changed, butter or cheese remain the favorites as spreads, plus any combination of meat and vegetables. This is where your personal palate comes in. Or, perhaps whatever you have on hand in the refrigerator. Gardens abound with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. But don’t limit yourself there. I find avocados to be perfectly satisfying, especially with a crispy slab of applewood smoked bacon. Like I said, the choice is yours. One thing is for certain, it’s definitely easier to eat an open faced sandwich with a fork and knife.
2 slices pumpernickel rye bread, artisan-style
1 tablespoon sea salt butter
3 slices Swiss cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tomatillo, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Toast artisan pumpernickel rye bread. Butter with sea salt. Place 1 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of toast. Microwave on High 15 seconds to melt cheese. Layer with 1 1/2 slices crisp bacon. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped tomatillo. Spread over each sandwich. Place two tomato slices over avocado mixture. Spoon chopped hard-boiled egg pieces over tomatoes. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Makes two open-face sandwiches.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Devils on Horseback! The name itself is a conversation starter. I know, right. The colors themselves resemble the “dark side” of our personalities. The small savory dish is made with pitted dates, smoked almonds, and crispy bacon or prosciutto. It’s pretty simple to prepare and is often served as an appetizer at social gatherings. Popular as a finger food, this hors d’oeuvre is perfect for small conversation at backyard parties. Watch yourself. Eating too many may find you a little mischievous.
DEVILS ON HORSEBACK
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
24 pitted dates, whole
24 smoked almonds, whole
3-ounce package prosciutto, deli sliced and cut in half lengthwise or 12 slices thin bacon, cut in half width wise
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a shallow bowl, combine soy sauce and ground ginger. Mix well. In a second dish, place brown sugar. Take a pitted date, open carefully, and stuff it with a smoked almond. Wrap the date with a half slice of prosciutto or half bacon slice. Dip it into the soy sauce mixture. Roll it in brown sugar and place seam side down into the prepared baking dish. Repeat until all dates are prepared. Bake in the preheated oven until the prosciutto or bacon is crisp, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: ZZ “Zucchini” Topped Potatoes! This recipe is going to be rock music to your ears. (If you pre-bake several potatoes on the weekend, it’ll eliminate one step during the week.) Create a fast meal by loading baked potatoes with yummy ingredients. Then top them off with sautéed zucchini, sweet onions, and hickory-smoked bacon. Can you feel the beat? Put this toe-tapping favorite in your recipe box…….and Rock On!
ZZ “ZUCCHINI” TOPPED POTATOES
4 large potatoes, baked
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 green onions, snipped
1/4 cup butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Preheat oven to 350°. Wash potatoes, pat dry. Pierce each one on top. Spray with nonstick oil and sprinkle sea salt on skins. Bake for one hour. When done, let cool for ten minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Sauté onions and zucchini in olive oil. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Remove the flesh into a bowl leaving enough skin to form a shell. Place skins in a shallow baking dish. To the flesh, add yogurt, milk, green onions, butter, and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Blend until creamy. Spoon the filling into the potato skins. Top with remaining cheese, sautéed zucchini, onions, and crumbled bacon. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bubbly.