Jam Pockets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Jam Pockets! Here’s a versatile quick recipe that makes a wonderful dessert, breakfast pastry, or afternoon snack. Prepared pie crusts or pizza dough from the dairy case in the supermarket can be used. Plus, any flavor of fruit jam will complement the smooth creamy filing inside. Although I didn’t add them here, I think sliced almonds would make a nice addition as well. The buttery crust serves as a nice “pocket” for the burst of fruity sweetness inside. Try as I might, it’s a challenge to stop at just one. Perhaps I won’t.

JAM POCKETS

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on package

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup four-fruit jam

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out refrigerated pie crust to 1/4-inch. Cut into twelve 3-inch rounds. Set aside. In a bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese, almond extract, and powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Drop a teaspoon of cheese mixture into the center of each round. Top with a dollop of fruit jam. Brush the inside edges with beaten egg; fold in half. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Brush top and bottom with more egg wash; dust both sides with sugar. Pierce the top of each pocket. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat steps for remaining jam pockets. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet. Cool slightly. Serve the reserve creamed cheese mixture as a dipping sauce.

Instant Egg Brekkie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Instant Egg Brekkie! Don’t you love it when you discover a healthy breakfast that can be prepared in a few minutes? Whenever I traveled with my husband, I seemed to be challenged with minimal ways to prepare meals. The one common denominator was a microwave and hot plate. Let me start off by saying, eggs can be tricky in a microwave. Two secrets I want to share: always pierce the egg yolk (or it will explode) and cook eggs on a low power setting in short segments. If you can master those two things, a dozen eggs will go far in the mini-fridge.

INSTANT EGG BREKKIE

Ingredients For One Serving:

3-5 fresh baby spinach leaves, for charring

1 nip seasoned salt

6-7 fresh baby spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon water

1 slice cherrywood deli ham, gently torn

1 teaspoon feta cheese, crumbled

1 large egg

1 pinch Herbes de Provence seasoning

Garnish with charred spinach leaves and radish slices

Baguette slices

Instructions:

Preheat stovetop grill pan on highest setting for one minute. Spray baby spinach leaves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place the prepared spinach leaves directly on the grill pan. As they begin to char, using a tongs, flip them over. Watch carefully. When leaves appear slightly wilted and charred, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside for garnish. Meanwhile, spray a ramekin with nonstick oil. Pack a layer of baby spinach leaves in the bottom of the dish, pressing down to create an even level. Drizzle with water. Gently tear the cherrywood deli ham over the spinach layer. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Crack an egg over the top. Pierce the egg yolk with a sharp knife or toothpick. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence seasoning. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave for one minute on 30% power. Gently swirl runny egg white. Microwave for one minute longer on 30% power. The yolk will be slightly runny. Transfer ramekin to a plate. Arrange the charred spinach leaves on top. Garnish with radish slices. Serve with baguette slices. Repeat for number of portions needed.

Quick-Fried Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Quick-Fried Potatoes! My favorite breakfast consists of eggs-over-easy, pan-fried potatoes, and crispy bacon. I love it when the warm runny yolks gush over the buttery chunks of Idaho potatoes, seasoned just right. I learned a long time ago the secret to perfect hash browns. Begin with baked potatoes. My sister-in-law gleaned that little secret from a restaurant where she worked. Thankfully, anyone can bake a potato in five minutes by using the microwave. Just don’t forget to pierce it first.

QUICK-FRIED POTATOES

Ingredients:

1 baking potato, skin on

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Wash potato; pat dry. Pierce with a paring knife. Microwave on High for 4 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and cut into slices or chunks. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Fry mixture until crispy, turning once or twice. Enjoy!

Monkey Cinnamon Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Monkey Cinnamon Bread! Cutting corners can be a good thing, especially on a lazy day when I gotta have a breakfast pastry and really don’t want all the fuss. I mean, I know I can make this from scratch and allow time for the dough to rise while scrolling through social media, but honestly…I don’t wanna. I’d rather sip my morning cuppa joe, talk to my husband, and inhale the bakery aromas that drift through the house. Maybe you would, too.

MONKEY CINNAMON BREAD

Ingredients:

3 (8-ounce) tubes of buttermilk biscuit dough

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a Bundt pan with butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Cut each biscuit into four equal pieces. Roll each piece in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Arrange in the prepared Bundt pan. Continue layering until all the dough is used. Transfer the excess cinnamon sugar (about 1/2 cup) to a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar and butter. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from heat. Drizzle the mixture over the dough in the Bundt pan. Bake 30 minutes or until the tops are crisp and turning golden brown. Remove from oven. Rest 5 minutes. Cover the Bundt pan with a large plate. Invert pan. Carefully, left the pan to expose the gooey sweet Monkey Cinnamon Bread.

Danish Pumpkin Spice

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Danish Pumpkin Spice! The mere mention of pumpkin spice sends people into a tizzy. It could be simply because it signifies the turning of a new season and screams, “limited time only!”. The crisp Autumn leaves, smell of woodsmoke, and anticipation of holidays looming on the horizon resurrect desires of nostalgia. We can’t help it. Longings of yesteryear where childhood memories and romantic flashbacks are pause for distraction. Family traditions and customs return to life. This is us.

DANISH PUMPKIN SPICE

Ingredients:

2 tubes crescent rolls (8 count each)

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, room temperature

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon chestnut praline syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Unroll crescent rolls into a rectangular shape. Cut along the seam to separate into two equal rectangles. Each rectangle will container four crescent rolls. Press seams together, cutting each rectangle into four squares. When you do this, you will have 8 squares from each tube. Place squares on the silicone baking mat before filling. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin purée, sugar, vanilla extract, allspice, and egg. Whisk until smooth. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin spice mixture into the center of each square. Fold the edges around, by rolling and crimping, to form the Danish. Sprinkle chopped pecans over all. Bake 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cool before glazing. Repeat with remaining dough. To make the glaze, beat Neufchâtel cheese until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Stir gently. Add vanilla extract and chestnut praline syrup. Transfer glaze to a zipper sandwich bag. Snip off the tip of one corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle glaze in stripes over each Danish.

Urban Lemon Curd French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Urban Lemon Curd French Toast! Shortcuts, gotta love them. Just because you’re preparing food at home doesn’t mean everything has to be made from scratch. Betty Crocker, an American cultural icon, is proof of that. I used a store-bought lemon curd instead of making it from scratch. And if you want to take this recipe one step closer to simplifying your life, merely substitute the fresh berry compote with frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed of course. After all, the main attraction is the lemony rich oven-baked French toast sprinkled with vanilla bean and nutmeg. Everything is prepared the night before so all that’s needed is baking time the next morning. See? Simple isn’t so bad.

URBAN LEMON CURD FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved

10-ounce jar lemon curd

1 loaf Hawaiian Sweet Bread, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup cherries

1/2 cup mulberries

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, garnish

Instructions:

To make the French toast, butter an oval baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean seeds. Fold in the lemon curd. Stir well. Arrange the Hawaiian Sweet Bread slices evenly in the prepared dish, slightly overlapping them. Pour egg mixture over bread. Spoon to coat all slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To make the fruit compote, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine blueberries, cherries, mulberries, cranberries, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit breaks down, about 15 minutes. As the juices are released, the fruit will thicken. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate. Warm in the microwave the next day before serving. The next day, to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350°. Let the French toast stand at room temperature 15 minutes before placing in the oven. Remove lid. Bake 45-50 minutes. To make the whipped topping, chill the mixing bowl and beaters beforehand. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until the cream begins to thicken, about 4-6 minutes. The whipped cream will double in volume and form soft peaks. Remove the French toast from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Top with warm berry compote, whipped cream, and dusting of powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Quinoa Buckwheat Pancakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Quinoa Buckwheat Pancakes! Before you roll your eyes and walk away, let me assure you these pancakes are amazing. My husband had no idea the secret ingredient was quinoa. Honestly. Since I cooked the quinoa the day before, it blended nicely with the buckwheat batter resulting in moist and light pancakes. Better yet, there was no heavy feeling afterwards. You should try it.

QUINOA BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa

3/4 cup buckwheat pancake mix

1 egg plus 1 egg-white

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Fresh blueberries

Mint for garnish

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa and buckwheat pancake mix. In another bowl, whisk together egg, egg-white, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix well. Coat a hot griddle with butter, vegetable oil, or nonstick spray. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons. Cook 2 minutes until bubbles appear. Flip buckwheat cakes to cook underside for 2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter. Reduce heat to medium to avoid burning, if necessary. Serve a stack of quinoa buckwheat pancakes with fresh blueberries, unsalted butter, and pure maple syrup. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Garnish with chopped mint.

Icing Glazed French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Icing Glazed French Toast! This is one of those days where little effort produces extraordinary results. I recently purchased a loaf of homemade raisin bread at the Amish Market, the kind smothered in gooey white icing. Later on, I plumped some raisins to add to the glaze, beat a couple eggs, and Voilà. Within minutes, it was transformed into a bakery-fresh gourmet breakfast. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to slice and eat as the craving hits. You can thank me later.

ICING GLAZED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raisins

Boiling water

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons boiling water

2 large eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 slices raisin bread, cut into quarter triangles

Instructions:

Place raisins in a heatproof dish. Boil water. Pour just enough water over raisins to cover. Stir. Let raisins sit 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually add enough boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and appears like thick cream. It should coat the back of the spoon. Fold the raisins into the icing glaze. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Dip each portion of raisin bread into the egg batter. Flip to soak bread completely; coat both sides evenly. Transfer to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drizzle with raisin icing glaze. Serve immediately.

Huevos Rancheros

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Huevos Rancheros! The nice thing about a breakfast like this is it’s basically made from leftovers. Beef roast. Check. Baked potatoes. Check, check. If you need ingredients on short notice, no worries. Substitute cooked chicken instead. Potatoes with the skin on cook very quickly in the microwave before being transformed into tasty hash browns. Just remember to pierce them first. Then cook on High for 5 minutes each. For this morning’s heuvos rancheros, I skipped the tortillas and substituted a couple of corn chips for crunch. It’s all good.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups beef, cooked and shredded

10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies, mild

1/3 cup onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 potatoes, baked and cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

Fresh cilantro

4 tortillas or corn chips

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine shredded beef, diced tomatoes with green chilies, chopped onion, cumin, oregano, and sea salt in a large saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. This makes the beef moist and tender. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Add cubed potatoes. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Do not stir. Turn potatoes for a crispy finish; cook 5 minutes longer. Drizzle in more olive oil, if needed to avoid burning. Remove potatoes from heat when desired texture is reached. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. In another skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Crack 4 eggs into the skillet. Fry eggs sunny side up in butter, 3-4 minutes for runny yolks. To assemble huevos rancheros, layer corn chips or a tortilla on the plate. Next, add spicy meat mixture, then crispy hash brown potatoes. Top with fried egg. Garnish with fresh cilantro.