Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Jalapeño Spiced Green Beans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Jalapeño Spiced Green Beans! I must admit, the first time I tasted these incredible green beans, it was as a garnish in a Canadian Caesar Cocktail (a seafood version of America’s Bloody Mary). Talk about a natural kick of spice! Oh. My. Gosh! If you don’t mind a little kick of heat and like green beans, you must try these. Toss them into a garden salad, layer them inside a grilled cheese sandwich, top them on deviled eggs, pair them with shrimp cocktail. Do you see where this is going? It’s extreme, it’s appetizing, and it’s a party in your mouth.

JALAPEÑO SPICED GREEN BEANS

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon agave nectar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 jalapeño peppers, sliced and stems discarded

1 pound fresh green beans, stems snipped and snapped to fit in the jars.

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, water, agave nectar, and kosher salt. Heat to boiling. Stir until dissolved. As it continues boiling, add the slices jalapeños. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquid. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. Have ready 1-2 clean, sterilized pint jars. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. Cook until the beans begin to turn bright green, 3-4 minutes. Drain the pan. Rinse immediately with cold water; place green beans in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain well. Divide the green beans between the jars. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeños and garlic cloves to the green beans. Ladle the pickling juices over top until the jars are filled. Discard any leftover brine. Let cool at room temperature before securing lids. Store in refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator.

Jiggers of Apple Cider Jello Shots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Jiggers of Apple Cider Jello Shots! It’s a chilly winter’s evening where the crackling flames encompass the fireplace logs. My husband and I are snuggling under woolen blanket throws as we binge-watch another series on Netflix. I think we’re addicted. No judgement, please. Outside the windows, the ground takes on a blueish tint as the snow and ice reflect the elusive rays of fading daylight. From time to time, gusts of air beguile the wind chimes into dancing around in synchronized motion. It’s times like these where I slip my toes into sherpa-lined slippers and pad my way to the kitchen for a sinfully delicious elixir of life. You may, too. For adults only.

JIGGERS OF APPLE CIDER JELLO SHOTS

Ingredients for Jello Shots:

1 cup bourbon

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup apple cider

1/4 cup sugar

2 packets gelatin

Ingredients for Serving:

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Lemon wedge

Whipped cream, for garnish

Star anise, for garnish

Instructions:

In a glass jar, combine bourbon and cinnamon sticks. Cover. Infuse flavor for two days; remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Set aside. Lightly spray 10-12 shot glasses with nonstick oil. Wipe away excess. In a saucepan, combine apple cider and sugar. Sprinkle gelatin over top. Allow to sit for 3 minutes, or until surface has a wrinkled appearance. Warm mixture on medium heat until sugar and gelatin have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Mixture will be smooth. Stir in spiced bourbon. Pour into prepared shot glasses. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. To finish, combine sugar and ground cinnamon. Transfer mixture to a plate. Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of the shot glass. Dip into the cinnamon sugar topping. Place shot glass on a tray. Repeat with remaining desserts. Keep refrigerated. To serve, add a dollop of whipped cream and a star anise. Serve chilled.

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Pears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Fried Cinnamon Sugar Pears! Impulse buys. We all get lambasted as soon as we step through the automated doors of the supermarket. The colorful array of succulent fruit and glistening vegetables appear as lush as if they were grown in the Garden of Eden. Before you know it, the grocery cart is overflowing with a mountain of luxuriant produce. In your mind, you’re already forming mental images of gastronomic creations where you spin around the kitchen like Julia Child waving a wooden spoon in the air. That is until you get home. The fruit is ripening faster than you can say, “go bananas”. Now two weeks in, you’ve already exhausted several different ways of consuming that box of winter pears. Allow me to offer a quick ‘n easy side dish. It goes especially well with pork loin or spiral ham. I promise you, your family will be singing your praises from now on.

FRIED CINNAMON SUGAR PEARS

Ingredients:

6 Oregon pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

2-3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Fresh lemon thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over low heat, warm butter. Combine sugar, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a bowl. Mix well; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together apple cider and cornstarch. Set aside. Add sliced pears to melted butter. Coat well; increase heat to medium setting. Stir gently for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle sugar mixture over pears. Stir. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pears are fork tender. Pour apple cider liquid over pears, stirring constantly for 2 minutes longer. Remove iron skillet from heat. Allow fried pears to cool slightly and thicken. Ladle into small bowls. Serve warm.

Pickled Red Onions

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Pickled Red Onions! What’s the buzz over pickled red onions? This relatively new condiment seems to be grabbing center stage with pizza, burgers, and tacos. True, the raw red onion can come across a lot more potent than its yellow cousin. Some even consider it bitter. I find it very appealing when sliced razor thin. Now you have another alternative. When pickled, their tangy sweetness becomes so unique it may appear as though a secret ingredient suddenly turned the dish into a gourmet delight. Before long pickled red onions may find themselves as popular as ketchup and mustard.

PICKLED RED ONIONS

Ingredients:

1 red onion

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Slice the top and bottom off the onion. Slice onion in half from top to bottom. Remove outer skin; discard. Slice red onion into half moons, about 1/8” thick. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together apple cider vinegar, garlic wine vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt. Place over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Whisk until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove pan from heat and whisk in allspice and red pepper flakes. Add sliced onions to the pan; gently stir to combine. Allow mixture to cool completely at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour into a glass container. Cover tightly with a lid. Refrigerate overnight. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.