Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque! My pantry is sometimes filled with good intentions. I envision a nutritious meal and then get sidelined by other ingredients, especially in the Produce Department of the local grocery. I mean, just look at the bin overflowing with organic sweet potatoes. Medium-sized, smooth skin, pretty color, and screaming “Pick me. I’m healthy.” Soon after I get home, I store them out of sight in a cool, dark area only to discover them three weeks later. Thank goodness, sweet potatoes are very forgiving. Their shelf life is easily 5 weeks. If you ever wondered how to tell if it’s time to toss them out, press the skin. If it’s soft, discolored, or has an unpleasant odor, throw them out and promise yourself you’ll do better next time.

BACON BIT SWEET POTATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Green onion snips, for garnish

Bacon bits, for garnish

Dollop Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil over the skins of the sweet potatoes. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop the sweet potatoes into a bowl and thoroughly mash. Discard peels. Warm butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, ground ginger, cumin powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer. Add chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer. Transfer sweet potatoes to a food processor and Pulse until consistency is smooth. Whisk sweet potatoes into broth until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with green onion snips, bacon bits, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Unforgettable Wild Ramp Bacon Chowder

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Unforgettable Wild Ramp Bacon Chowder! For American hunter-gatherers, as well as European foragers of gourmet plants, wild ramps are as coveted as the elusive morel mushrooms. Since the leafy garlic bulbs are popular with curiosity seekers, in addition to critters of the woods, the quest for a fragrant “bouquet” becomes a challenge between man and beast. Who will get there first to reap the wild-growing delicacy? Perhaps both have their secret stomping grounds. I invite you to stick around awhile to sample the wide variety of ways to enjoy wild ramps.

UNFORGETTABLE WILD RAMP BACON CHOWDER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

1/2 cup ramps roughly chopped, bulbs and greens

1 potato, skin on and diced

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1 1/4 cups coconut milk

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Crumbled bacon, for garnish

Charred ramp greens, for garnish

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté ramps in bacon drippings until soft. Add diced potatoes, chicken broth, seasoned salt, and garlic and herb seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked thoroughly. Reduce heat to low. Add coconut milk, cheddar cheese, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, but do not boil. Gently heat for 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to thicken. Ladle into soup bowls; garnish with crumbled bacon and charred ramp greens.

Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Leftover Turkey Orzo Soup! You can always tell when I’m going down a road of mealtime shortcuts. It might be because I stayed up late the night before binge-watching Netflix, or I suddenly got a burst of energy to work in the outdoor herb garden instead. Life in the country is always filled with distractions, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean we sacrifice healthy meals for fast-food. Leftover turkey roast can be magically transformed into a bowl of hearty, delicious soup loaded with vegetables, orzo pasta, and earthy herbs. Be good to yourself. You’re worth it.

LEFTOVER TURKEY ORZO SOUP

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 stalk celery, chopped

6-7 mini carrots, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup orzo pasta

2 cups cooked leftover turkey, shredded

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté diced onion, chopped celery, and sliced carrots until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook for one minute longer until fragrant. Stir occasionally. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add uncooked orzo pasta and shredded turkey. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover. Cook 15 minutes until orzo is tender. Remove from heat; stir. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Narrow Noodle Harvest Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Narrow Noodle Harvest Soup! Comfort food. We nurture our bodies as well as our minds with childhood favorites that are food for the soul. Take advantage of the abundant supply of fresh vegetables right now for a health-conscious main course meal. I chose peas, carrots, and green beans to compliment the grilled chicken breast and Amish-made narrow noodles. When it’s all said and done, there’s “no place like home.”

NARROW NOODLE HARVEST SOUP

Ingredients:

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 cup mixed vegetables

1/2 cup chicken, precooked and chopped

1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic seasoning

2 bay leaves

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 cup narrow home style noodles

2-3 sprigs fresh cilantro

Instructions:

In a heavy pan, combine onion, celery, mixed vegetables, chopped chicken, herb and Garlic seasoning, bay leaves, and white pepper. Bring to a boil. Add narrow noodles and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parsley flakes. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 35 minutes longer until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

No-Fuss Turkey Gravy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: No-Fuss Turkey Gravy! So today’s post is one that will either have you running out to the store or shopping online. I’m honestly asking myself why I waited so long. My son introduced me to the secret of having incredibly lump-free gravy. He gifted me with a fat separator which takes all the effort out of skimming the fat from the top of the pan drippings. Just in time for the upcoming holidays, too. This gadget is amazing. It looks like a regular measuring cup with the exception of a spout stopper and strainer. Here’s how it works: make sure the rubber stopper is in the spout. Pour the pan drippings into the cup through the strainer. Allow the drippings to “rest” and separate. The stopper actually prevents fat from flowing into the spout. Remove the stopper and slowly pour the clear broth into a pan. Then discard the fat. You may have to repeat the process if you are making gravy for a crowd. It works like magic.

NO-FUSS TURKEY GRAVY

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

3-4 cups turkey broth, separated

Parsley flakes

Instructions:

Transfer meat drippings from the roaster pan to a sauté pan on the stove over medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan, blending with a wire whisk. Continue to stir as the gravy begins to thicken. At this time, gradually add the strained turkey broth. Alternate stirring and adding liquid until you get the consistency you want. While the gravy is simmering, it will begin to evaporate, making it thicker. If need be, you can add water to thin it down. (My mother taught me to use the potato water I used to boil the mashed potatoes. It adds flavor.) Before serving, sprinkle parsley over top.

Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew! This time of year the nights are chilly and the days can still be warm. A slow-cooker makes preparing a satisfying meal pretty simple. Throw everything together and let it “stew” for awhile. Nowadays you can get an assortment of 15 beans ranging from pinto, garbanzo, and northern to split pea, navy, and lentil in the same package. Add that ham bone you stored in the freezer during the holidays and you’re on your way. By adding sweet onion, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves, you’ll make this a classic favorite every time.

FIFTEEN-BEAN HAM BONE STEW

Ingredients:

20-ounce package of 15 Bean Soup assortment

1 pound ham bone with ham chunks

32 ounces vegetable broth

32 ounces water

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4-5 bay leaves

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Rinse beans. Place in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water. Allow beans to soak overnight. After soaking, drain water. Transfer beans to a slow-cooker. Add ham bone with meat. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add chopped onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on High setting for 5 hours (or Low setting for 7-8 hours) or until beans are tender. Remove the ham bone. Let the excess meat fall off into the stew or cut it off the bone and put the meat chunks back into the crockpot. Stir in diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 minutes longer on Low setting. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

Turmeric Chicken Curry

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.

TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

4 teaspoons turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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!

Gruyère Onion Soup

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Gruyère Onion Soup! Everyone, sooner or later, falls in love with French Onion Soup, in my opinion. After all, who can resist the savory taste of caramelized onions, buttered croutons, and gooey melted cheese smothered in a beef broth that’s been splashed with a well-aged cognac? I wish I could tell you it’s as easy to make as opening a can of soup, but it isn’t. Don’t hate me. Let’s just say this…..if you are looking for an evening of mystery, romance, and excitement, then read on. This “soup de jour” may be the love potion that’ll woo the night away. Bon Appetît!

GRUYÈRE ONION SOUP

Ingredients:

3 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

10 ounces beef consommé

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Montamoré cheese, crumbled

Splash of cognac

4 slices baguette, toasted

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

4 slices Gruyère cheese

Parsley flakes to garnish

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, microwave sliced onions on HIGH for 2 minutes. In a large skillet, melt butter on low setting. Do not scorch. Layer onions over butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Cover and do not stir for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir occasionally until onions are dark in color, another 10 minutes. Turn heat to High and add white wine and honey. Cook until wine is reduced and consistency is thick. Reduce heat to Simmer. Add apple cider vinegar, beef consommé, low-sodium chicken broth, and worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle soup into four oven-proof crocks placed on a heavy baking sheet. Add Montamoré crumbled cheese. Top with a splash of cognac. Place a toasted baguette slice on top of soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lay one slice of Gruyère cheese over each bowl, with corners slightly overlapping sides. Broil on High for 2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove carefully! Garnish with parsley flakes and serve immediately.