Dang Good Mac & Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Dang Good Mac & Cheese! I just cranked up this all-time favorite dish a notch, maybe two. Cheddar cheesy? It’s in there. Mozzarella madness? Oh, yeah. Palatable parmesan? Absolutely. Sooo, what’s the big deal, you wonder. Well…I kinda switched out the macaroni pasta noodles for gnocchi’s pillow-like tender dumplings that swaddle themselves in a blanket of creamy cheese sauce. Hold on. Then I topped it all with a buttery crunch topping of panko and Italian bread crumbs. Mmmwah! Life doesn’t get any better that this.

DANG GOOD MAC & CHEESE

Ingredients:

1-pound package gnocchi

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup milk, warmed

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup panko and Italian bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook the gnocchi, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Whisk together cornstarch and chicken broth in a measuring cup until completely dissolved. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic. Sauté 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly to make a light brown roux. Add warm milk, stirring until smooth as the mixture reaches a low boil. Remove pan from heat; stir in mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses until melted and smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Combine panko and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the cheesy gnocchi. Bake 15 minutes to brown the topping. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie! Oddly enough, I’ve had a couple people tell me they’ve never heard of tomato pie. It may be more of a southern dish, or perhaps its more familiar to those of us who live in the country and can’t figure out what to do with the abundance of garden tomatoes. Who knows? I must admit there is a secret ingredient that I discovered from the Savannah restauranteur and popular chef, Paula Deen. Maybe you can pick it out, too.

VINE-RIPENED TOMATO PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared deep-dish pie shell

4-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup mayonnaise

Cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pie shell according to package directions. Remove from oven and set aside. In a bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Allow tomatoes to “weep” for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seasoned tomatoes to the pie shell. Layer sweet onion over tomatoes. In another bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and parmesan cheese with mayonnaise. Mix well. Spread cheese mixture over top of tomatoes and onions. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.

Iceberg Lettuce 7-Layer Salad in a Jar

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Iceberg Lettuce 7-Layer Salad in a Jar! I don’t know about you, but I think this is a perfect idea for taking a salad-on-the-go. Use whatever jars you have on hand, such as quart or pint canning jars or even jelly jars. You decide the portion size. As a “do-ahead” recipe, it’s also a time-saver. Simply layer all the ingredients, top them off with the yummy homemade dressing, and then pack a couple jars in your lunchbox or picnic basket. It’s ideal for sharing. Choose healthy!

ICEBERG LETTUCE 7-LAYER SALAD IN A JAR

Ingredients:

1 head lettuce, shredded

2-3 green onions, snipped

5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 pound thick bacon, pan-fried and crumbled

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 cup frozen baby sweet peas, thawed and uncooked

Dressing:

2 cups mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:

Prepare each ingredient, as indicated. Set aside. This is the order the jars will be assembled beginning at the bottom: Lettuce, green onion, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese, and peas. To keep the layers even in the jar, use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently press the salad as you complete each layer. Mix together the mayonnaise and sugar. Divide evenly between the jars. Garnish with a few sprinkles of shredded cheese and crumbled bacon bits. Place a lid on each jar to secure. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To serve, empty the jar onto a plate; mix in the dressing to moisten. Enjoy!

Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.

VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST

Ingredients:

1-2 slices multigrain toast

1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter

3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese

1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked

1 hard boiled egg, sliced

Snipped chives for garnish

Chia seeds for garnish

Instructions:

Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.

Potato Chip Potluck

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Potato Chip Potluck! This one-dish wonder is so yummy, it can be packed in a picnic basket and taken along on your next adventure. With the double crunch of water chestnuts and potato chips, it almost seems like a party dip. Wrap it in foil and you’re good-to-go. Kids love the salty chips and adults appreciate the herbed chicken chunks.

POTATO CHIP POTLUCK

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 green onions, snipped

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

Sea salt to taste

Dash of pepper

1 cup extra sharp cheese, sliced or shredded

1-2 tomatoes, sliced

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine chicken, mayonnaise, onions, water chestnuts, lemon juice, celery seed, tarragon leaves, salt, pepper, and half the cheese. Mix lightly. Spoon into a casserole dish. Layer with sliced tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and potato chips. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

OMG Nachos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: OMG Nachos! The first time I heard about putting tator tots on nachos, I thought, “What’s up with that?”. Curiosity got the better of me. So I tried it and OMG Nachos were born! If you like cheese and potatoes, you’re going to love, love, love this! I pulled it all together in an iron skillet by arranging one layer of corn tortilla chips on the bottom and then around the edge of the pan to form a bowl. Next, I filled it with all the goodies. Fifteen minutes later I was wiping my chin from the incredible taste explosion in my mouth. OMG, you gotta try it.

OMG NACHOS

Ingredients:

1/2 bag of tator tots

Corn tortilla chips, café style

1/2 cup black beans, drained

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup jalapeño slices

3 green onions, snipped

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

4 ounces Havarti cheese

Salsa to taste

Guacamole to taste

Sour cream to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place tator tots on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; turn over and bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and set aside. In an iron skillet, place one layer of corn tortilla chips on the bottom of the skillet and then arrange chips around the edge of the pan to form a bowl. Layer remaining ingredients, including tator tots, alternating with cheese. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and dig in. Top with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream to taste.

Unbelievable Cheesy Pimento Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Unbelievable Cheesy Pimiento Spread! If you’re a cheese lover, this is a “must-do” appetizer. It is guaranteed to bring big raves at the next holiday gathering. The smokey-peppery version is sure to test your willpower. Should it just be slathered on crackers or bagel chips? What about apple slices? Or will you take it one step further and build a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread? Whatever you choose, create all sorts of ideas for enhancing this nostalgic Southern favorite.

UNBELIEVABLE CHEESY PIMENTO SPREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons French Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4-ounce jar of diced pimientos, drained

2 green onions, snipped

8 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, finely shredded

10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, medium shredded

1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt, and pepper. Mix well. Fold in pimientos and onions. Stir in both cheeses until blended. Add sriracha for a kick of heat. Chill one hour or overnight.

Serving Suggestion: Serve as an Appetizer with crackers or assorted vegetables. Also excellent as finger sandwiches.

*For block cheeses, grate one kind with small holes and the other with medium holes on a box grater or using food processor blades.

Havarti Mashed Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Havarti Mashed Potatoes! The best kept secret for staying organized during the flurry of activity of family gatherings is “make-ahead” recipes that have the oven doing most of the work. By creating this side dish the day before, you eliminate everyone hovering in the kitchen while you whip it up at the last minute. And leftovers are a breeze because they automatically become Divine Duchess Potatoes.* Do yourself a favor, enjoy that glass of wine with your guests while the mashed potatoes bake in the oven.

HAVARTI MASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:

10 potatoes, peeled and cut up

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 cup Havarti cheese, shredded

1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon parsley

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Place potatoes in a 4 quart pan. Cover with water. Salt if desired. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low and cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Add butter and mash. Slowly add milk beating slowly to eliminate lumps. Add yogurt, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Beat vigorously until potatoes are fluffy. Fold in Havarti cheese. Transfer to casserole dish and top with cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

*Leftovers can be used to make Divine Duchess Potatoes. See link

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/11/13

ZZ “Zucchini” Topped Potatoes

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

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes, baked

Sea Salt

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

Instructions:

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.