What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Endive Apple Salad! Have you noticed how bright and beautiful the produce is right now? Sometimes I marvel at all the farm fresh fruits and vegetables imagining the flavors I can pair on a plate. It’s a good thing my husband is open to trying new things. A juicy sweet slice of red ripe apple nestled between curly-edged leaves of rich green endive become pleasing to the eye long before the first crunch is heard. Add Bleu cheese crumbles with praline pecans drizzled in a balsamic reduction sauce. Together it adds deliciousness that is unsurpassed, in my opinion.
ENDIVE APPLE SALAD
1 large Gala apple
1/4 lemon juice
1 bunch curly endive
1 small head napa cabbage
1/2 cup praline pecan halves
1/4 cup bacon pieces
1/4 cup Bleu cheese crumbles
Balsamic reduction sauce*
Pour lemon juice into a shallow bowl. Cut the apple in half. Take one portion and place cut side down in lemon juice. This keeps the apple from turning brown. Remove the apple and set aside for garnish. For the remaining apple half, core and remove seeds. Slice apple into 7 equal-size wedges; dip both sides of apples into lemon juice to coat. Meanwhile, arrange napa cabbage leaves and endive on a decorative platter, alternating for bursts of color. Place the apple half in the center and nestle one apple wedge inside a cabbage leaf, creating a pinwheel effect. Add praline pecans, bacon pieces, and Bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle with balsamic reduction glaze.
*For my quick and easy homemade version, follow the link to
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Iceberg Lettuce Cranberry Pecan Salad! Make today an easy day. Throw together a tossed salad that will satisfy hunger pangs with the crunch of lettuce, the natural sweetness of fruit, lean meat, the salty mix of pecans, protein-packed eggs, and heart-healthy bleu cheese. Bonus points include a natural source of fiber, weight control, plus super-convenience. Not only is salad a time-saver, it is also a money-saver. Most of all, you’re worth it.
ICEBERG LETTUCE CRANBERRY PECAN SALAD
2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mandarin orange slices
1/3 cup sugared pecans
1 cup grilled chicken, cut-up
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
2 soft-boiled eggs, halved
Balsamic vinaigrette, to taste
Divide iceberg lettuce between salad bowls. Top with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, sugared pecans, cut-up grilled chicken, and bleu cheese crumbles. Place soft boiled egg half on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette, to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies! Get set for an explosion of hot jerk sauce slathered over fork-tender chicken slowly cooked all afternoon. These “fall off the bone” juicy morsels will have you smacking your lips and wiping your chin. A side dish of chunky Bleu cheese dressing snuffs out the fire and tramples the heat. Keep stalks of celery handy and you’ll find yourself wondering how you finished the entire platter.
WICKED HOT WINGS AND DRUMMIES
1 1/2 cups Jazzy Jerk Sauce**
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup ginger beer
1 1/2 pounds chicken wings and drummies
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Mix together habanero sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup ginger beer. Stir to blend. Place chicken wings and drummies in a crockpot. Cover all with sauce. Cook on High setting for 2 hours. Reduce temperature to Low setting and cook 2 1/2 hours longer. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with nonstick oil. Place wings and drummies on foil. Baste tops with sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Turn with tongs, baste, and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with additional sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serving suggestion: Celery sticks and chunky Bleu cheese dressing.
*The Jazzy Jerk habanero sauce may be substituted for another hot pepper sauce.
**Jazzy Jerk Sauce recipe may be found by clicking on the link below.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Oregano Roasted Fingerling Potatoes! Seasoning can change the taste of anything, especially when using fresh herbs. This is the time of year when I get excited about nurturing my herb garden. The hardier herbs, like mint, chives, and thyme withstand the winter months and breakthrough in the Spring with vim and vigor. Other favorites require renewing annually; rosemary, basil, cilantro, dill, and oregano are among them. Today’s recipe partners the delicate new fingerling potatoes, which grow small and narrow to live up to their name, alongside robust bleu cheese crumbles and the earthy flavor of fresh oregano. Together they produce a rustic dish characteristic of the south of France, Italy, and Greece. Enticing, isn’t it?
OREGANO ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES
1.5 pound bag of petite fingerling gourmet potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet to coat the pan with a thin layer. Using a 2-quart pan on the stovetop, cut fingerling potatoes in half and place in the pan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil; cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain well. Set aside. Sprinkle dried oregano over potatoes. Cover pan with lid and shake vigorously to slightly loosen potato skins. Carefully transfer oregano potatoes to the baking sheet. Turn to coat in oil. Bake 30-40 minutes until skins are golden and crispy. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. Once the potatoes are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, transfer fingerling potatoes to a serving platter. Add bleu cheese crumbles and freshly chopped oregano. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Wayward Wedge Salad! I get so excited when I come across bleu cheese at the Farmers Market! Recently, I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on a nice creamy chunk of Amish Bleu Cheese. And rather than nibble the entire portion away, I thought I better do something healthy with it. Does anyone else struggle with an internal tug-of war?
1 head iceberg lettuce
6 slices bacon, precooked
2 eggs, hard cooked and chopped
Blue cheese crumbles
Blue cheese dressing
2 Campari tomatoes on the vine, quartered
Chill 4 salad plates in refrigerator. Cook bacon until crisp; let cool and crumble. Set aside. Quarter and core lettuce. Place one wedge on each chilled plate. Top with dressing, bacon, tomatoes, and chopped egg. Garnish with cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Wholesome Waffle BBLT! You’ve never tried a waffle sandwich before? Me, either. Since I had some Belgian waffles in the freezer from the last time we pulled out the waffle iron, I thought today would be a great day to transform a classic BLT sandwich into something wonderful. The waffle dough keeps the sandwich soft and chewy, rounding off and eliminating the sharp edges of toast. The extra B, you ask? It’s for the subtle hint of bleu cheese; Bacon-Bleu-Lettuce-Tomato!
WHOLESOME WAFFLE BBLT
1 Belgian waffle, quartered
6 slices black pepper bacon, cooked crisp
Romaine lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon Bleu cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Warm waffle wedges on low heat in a skillet brushed with a little butter. Do not let burn. Remove from heat. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt, and Bleu cheese crumbles. To assemble sandwich, spread the mayonnaise blend on one waffle. Next, layer tomato, lettuce, and bacon. Top with another waffle. Secure the stack with a toothpick.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: 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? The Chow Down: Nutty Cherry Crostini! Go international with an Italian appetizer that has become a timeless classic. Crostini is a fancy word for “little crusts”, according to Wikipedia. Did you know during medieval times it was pretty normal for Italian peasants to eat their meals on slices of bread instead of using pottery? Lucky for us, the idea caught on. I can’t think of a better way to socialize before dinner.
NUTTY CHERRY CROSTINI
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
4 baguette slices, toasted
4 ounces Danish bleu cheese, room temperature
1-2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
Fresh sprigs if lemon thyme, for garnish
In an iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add sliced cherries, stirring gently to soften. Meanwhile toast baguette slices. Spread on bleu cheese. Add a spoonful of cherries. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme leaves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Cobb Salad! Some days the dinner option is as plain as the nose on my face. Leftover rotisserie chicken becomes the star attraction. Using seven of your favorite ingredients, which you probably already have on hand, this time-saving classic is the perfect solution to that mundane question, “What’s for dinner?” Go easy on yourself and build a Cobb Salad on a platter for show-stopping presentation.
Bag of Spring Mix Salad Greens
3 cups chicken, precooked and shredded
3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
6 slices bacon, crispy and crumbled
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup Bleu cheese crumbles
Salad Dressings of choice
Choose individual salad plates or a serving platter. Arrange salad greens as the base. Working from the left side of the plate to the right, arrange shredded chicken from top to bottom. Next arrange chopped egg, crumbled bacon, diced avocado, and tomato halves, ending with Bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle with salad dressing of choice and serve.