Haricot Vert

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Haricot Vert! From the French countryside to your spacious farm table, this international string bean (haricot vert) is an all-time favorite side dish that is worth the effort. The first savory bite will have you craving for a second one. Watch this specialty disappear.

HARICOT VERT

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans, fresh

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Snap the ends of the green beans. Discard. In a medium skillet over low heat, combine butter and olive oil. Increase the heat to medium setting. Add garlic and onions. Cook one minute. Add green beans and cook one minute longer until they turn bright green. Immediately add chicken broth, pimento, seasoned salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Leave the lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. The beans should be soft, yet slightly crisp. Bon Appétit!

The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!

Your Classic Green Bean Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Your Classic Green Bean Casserole! Can we ever get enough of this all-time favorite side dish? I think not! It seems there are all sorts of variations on this classic holiday casserole. Some of my friends only use French-style green beans while others prefer freshly snapped. And the seasonings are all over the map from Hawaiian sea salt medleys to crushed Midwest garden herbs. I keep it simple because, honestly, once you add the French fried onion rings, everything else takes a back seat.

YOUR CLASSIC GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

2 cans whole green beans, drained and cut-up

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup light cream

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash herb and garlic seasoning

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a medium casserole dish with nonstick spray. Combine green beans, cream of mushroom soup, light cream, herb seasoning, and salt. Mix well. Fold in 1/2 cup of French fried onion pieces. Place in casserole dish. Spread evenly. Arrange remaining French fried onion rings over top around the edges leaving the center open. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Winterfest Walking Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Winterfest Walking Tacos! Here’s the perfect “Grab and Go” snack when you’re heading out the door. This time of year towns all over the world celebrate the holiday season with dazzling displays of outdoor Christmas lights. From Santa’s Workshop to high-tech Winter Wonderlands, the animation never stops. Pile the kids on board and have a tailgate party in your car, truck, or SUV. Keep it simple by using plastic picnic tumblers for easy handling. Enjoy a tasty snack while embracing the spirit of the holidays.

WINTERFEST WALKING TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning mix

15-ounce can chili beans

10-ounce can tomato bits and sauce

2 cups shredded romaine

1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

10-ounce bag of corn chips, slightly crushed

1/3 cup salsa

Instructions:

Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Stir over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain. Add taco seasoning packet, chili beans, tomato bits and sauce. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Before serving, assemble corn chips in the bottom of each cup followed by beef mixture and toppings of choice. Eat with a fork.

Veggie Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Veggie Burger! For a quarter-pounder without all the fat, substitute red meat for black beans instead. Sound crazy? Actually, I conducted a little taste test on my husband recently. By using mashed black beans, onion, green pepper, egg, and bread crumbs, it seemed more like a meatloaf than a burger. It kinda did. The texture was the same and they fried up real nice in the iron skillet. By the time we added lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, we practically did a double-take on the finished product. Go all out and slide it between a brioche bun. The veggie burger definitely crossed the finish line at the dinner table. Now that’s delicious.

VEGGIE BURGER

Ingredients:

16-ounce can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well

1/2 green pepper

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

3 drops sriracha sauce

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Butter for frying

Brioche hamburger buns

Condiments, per taste

Instructions:

Using a food processor set on Pulse, mash black beans until thick and chunky. Transfer to a bowl. Next, combine green pepper, yellow onion, and minced garlic in the food processor. Chop into small pieces. Stir into the black beans. Add egg, chili powder, cumin, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add bread crumbs. Mix together with gloved hands until consistency is dense enough to form into patties. Melt butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Place patties into skillet and cook about 7-8 minutes until a crispy outer edge is present. Flip and cook 7-8 minutes longer. Serve with condiments of choice on a brioche bun.

White Bean Hot Dish

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: White Bean Hot Dish! One of the secrets of being a seasoned cook is knowing when to use quality ingredients to your advantage. Especially when you’re short on time or just needing a mid-week break. I keep my pantry stocked with what I refer to as “staples”; standby products that produce excellent results. Then on the nights when we are on the go, I can turn to a delicious alternative while serving another food-lover’s favorite. Pat yourself on the back and make yourself a hero, too.

WHITE BEAN HOT DISH

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 24-ounce jar Randall’s Great Northern Beans*

16 ounces ham, cooked and shredded

16 ounces baby carrots

14.5 ounces diced potatoes, including liquid

3 bay leaves

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté chopped onions in seasoned salt and pepper until they turn opaque. Reduce heat to medium. Add beans, ham, carrots, and potatoes. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add bay leaves and celery seed. Cover and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer longer for thicker results. Before serving remove bay leaves.

*I receive no recompense for promoting their product.

Niçoise Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Niçoise Salad! Repeat after me, “nee-SWAHZ”. One more time, “nee-SWAHZ”. Spoken like a true Parisian. Now what does it mean, you wonder. In layman’s terms, niçoise refers to the style of cooking in the south of France. It usually includes deep brown olives, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tiny new potatoes, thin green beans, and anchovies or tuna. The dressing almost always includes Dijon mustard, minced shallots, herbs, and olive oil. If it sounds like a lot of fresh ingredients, think of it this way: it’s a gourmet salad, a meal in itself. Besides, it is absolutely show-stopping on the plate. Take your time. Enjoy every bite. Because when you’re all finished, you may discover you’re ready to have it again next week.

NIÇOISE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 pound petite fingerling potatoes

6 ounces thin green beans, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup niçoise olives

4 eggs, hard-boiled and halved

2 ahi tuna steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Wasabi mustard

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, bring to a boil fingerling potatoes, with skin on, in salted water. Cook 15 minutes. Add green beans for 1 minute or until bright green. Remove from heat. Drain; set aside. When potatoes are cool, cut in half or quarters. For salad dressing, whisk together Dijon mustard, garlic wine vinegar, minced shallot, marjoram, thyme, and oregano. Whisking continuously, slowly add olive oil until fully blended. Add kosher salt to taste. Set aside. Divide butter lettuce into serving dishes. Arrange fingerling potatoes, green beans, grape tomatoes, niçoise olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Serve with seared ahi steaks.

Instructions for ahi steaks:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning and white sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Drizzle wasabi mustard on a platter. Arrange sliced ahi, overlapping the slices.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter R

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Roasted Chickpeas! If you’re like me, some days instead of three squares, you graze your way through the day. It helps to have a high-protein snack on hand when the cravings kick in for something crisp and crunchy. Sure, potato chips might be handy, but would you really feel good after downing an entire bag while perusing the internet? I think not. Seasoned chickpeas can be just as satisfying with their naturally nutty flavor and fiber-filling benefits. Season them with maple syrup for sweetness, a kick of cayenne for spice, garlic for pizazz, or savory ranch flavoring. The best part is you get to choose. Just remember the basic rules: drain, pat dry, peel the skins, and bake. “Bada-bing bada-boom!”

ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Instructions:

30-ounces canned chickpeas, drained and patted dry. Skins removed.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine olive oil, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Mix well. Drain chickpeas. Transfer to a clean tea towel. Cover and rub gently over the chickpeas. This will loosen the skins so you can easily peel them away and discard. When dry, place the chickpeas in a ziplock gallon bag. Pour olive oil seasoning mixture over chickpeas. Seal bag, squeeze out the air, and toss bag to coat the chickpeas all over. Transfer seasoned chickpeas to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Adjust time, if necessary. They should appear browned and crunchy. Do not burn. Cool 10 minutes.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Normandy Vegetable Soup! Take a stroll down a country lane where small-scale growers of local gardens nourish a family farm with adventurous dishes. Simple vegetable consumption combined with milk, butter, and cheese appeals to the taste buds. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our childhood where nothing went to waste. Or maybe it’s the fact that classic veggies are always a good idea. Normandy Vegetable Soup. Put a twist on your next meal-in-a-bowl.

NORMANDY VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups light cream

2 cups chicken broth

16-ounce bag Normandy vegetables, thawed*

4-6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add chopped sweet onion, herbs de Provence, and olive oil. Sauté 5 minutes or until soft. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add flour, sea salt, and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly add light cream, stirring often to remove lumps. Bring to a slow boil. Carefully add chicken broth, onions, Normandy vegetables. Bring mixture back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in sharp cheddar cheese until cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls. Serve hot.

*Normandy vegetables are broccoli and cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. Some varieties include a few red pepper bits, green beans, and lima beans.