Bacon and Egg Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Bacon and Egg Mac’n Cheese! Grab onto your seat because this dish is going to leave you shouting to the rooftops like a kid on a tire swing. Remember how everyone in the neighborhood would congregate around the sturdy oak, count to three, and then pile on the tire like a bunch of monkeys? The biggest guy was always left behind to spin it around like a giant top before grabbing the rope and jumping aboard. The peals of laughter echoed around the block and seemed to go on forever. It’s a wonder the branch didn’t break, or worse.

BACON AND EGG MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 cup bow tie pasta

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

3 slices American cheese

1/4 cup feta cheese

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

4 strips precooked bacon, crumbled

2 tablespoons red peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs, fried according to preference

2 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 individual casserole pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Add the drained pasta and skim milk. Stir. Add cheddar cheese, American cheese, feta cheese, and parmesan cheese. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Fold in crumbled bacon and chopped red peppers. Divide between the two casserole pans. In a small dish, combine panko seasoned bread crumbs and olive oil. Stir to moisten. Sprinkle over top. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggs, according to preference. Remove the casserole pans from the oven. Place one fried egg on top of each. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

Jello Strawberry Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Jello Strawberry Cake! Take advantage of the price of strawberries when the opportunity arises. Whether it be a local Farmer’s Market, grocery store featured item, or pick-your-own berry field celebrating years of family history, run don’t walk to fill your basket without plans to what comes next. Everyone loves strawberries. The sun-kissed fruit kindles childhood memories of joyous occasions when we would eat our weight in berries as juice ran down our chins. Never mind the red stained fingers or dewy rows from early morning fog. In a week or so, strawberries need to be eaten, canned, or frozen. Anything goes.

JELLO STRAWBERRY CAKE

Ingredients:

16.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix

1 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3 ounces strawberry gelatin mix

1 1/2 cups water, divided

8 ounces whipped topping

2 cups strawberries, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9”x13” cake pan. Set aside. Combine cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool at room temperature. Using a fork, poke many holes in the cake. This will allow the liquid jello to fill the gaps creating a ribbon effect. Bring one cup of water to boiling. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix. Stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve flavoring. Add 1/2 cup ice water to mixture. Stir. Slowly pour the liquid strawberry jello into the holes on the top of the cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, “frost” the cake with whipped topping. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Instant Dutch Baby

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Instant Dutch Baby! Be innovative. When my Hawaiian friend, Dillyn, sent me a care package of unique foods from the island, I knew I would make something special to show her. I began with the popular chocolate macadamia nut pancake mix, tweaked it a little, and transformed it into a festive weekend breakfast for two. Everything tastes better with chocolate, doesn’t it? With mini morsels in the batter as well as a sprinkling on top, the flavor was ribboned throughout making one forget about the need for extra syrup. A final dusting of powdered sugar provided a tempting image to share long distance. She approved with glee and open delight. Mahalo!

INSTANT DUTCH BABY

Ingredients:

6 ounces chocolate macadamia nut pancake mix

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus 1 tablespoon for topping

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a one-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine pancake mix, egg, and milk in a bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix until the large lumps are gone. Fold in 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 25 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Flaky Strawberry Turnovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Flaky Strawberry Turnovers! Let the experts do what they do best, I always say. That’s the reason I begin with a prepared puff pastry easily found in the freezer section of the grocery store. The flaky light dough is filled with yummy butter and then repeatedly folded and rolled before baking. For you, my peeps, it simply involves thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Pure genius, if you ask me, making the rest of the recipe is a walk in the park.

FLAKY STRAWBERRY TURNOVERS

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, prepared

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Cut into four squares. Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and almond extract. Mix well. In another bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Gently toss until coated. Spread the cream cheese onto the squares of dough, keeping it towards one corner, forming a diagonal. Spoon strawberries over cream cheese. Gently fold the corner over the mixture. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each turnover with beaten egg white. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberry turnovers.

Egg Noodle Chicken Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Egg Noodle Chicken Casserole! Do you ever become territorial with your food, perhaps hiding it in secret places no one ever looks? I do. In fact I keep a very unique bag of Iowa potato chips in the freezer to nibble on whenever I get the urge. Yes, you can freeze potato chips, but that’s another story. Comfort food also means having your very own individual crock in order to savor every bite, like today’s version of chicken casserole. It especially means the buttery cracker topping is all yours, to save until the very end or to mix into every bite. The choice is yours.

EGG NOODLE CHICKEN CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

1 cup egg noodles

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 cup frozen grilled chicken chunks, fully cooked and thawed

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:

1/2 cup Ritz* crackers, crushed

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease two individual casserole dishes with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Add diced onion and celery. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine egg noodles, onions, celery, chicken chunks, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and chopped parsley. Mix well. Divide between the two prepared casserole dishes. In a small bowl, stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the casseroles. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Umami Bomb Chorizo Grits! Say whaaat? Somebody needs to tell me what that word means. Umami. Evidently it is the taste bud beyond the famous four: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Oh yeah, taste buds we’ve been familiar with since we first began to put food in our mouths. This “umami” envelopes earthy, meaty, and savory. Examples of foods that reflect this are soy sauce, tomatoes, cheeses, anchovies, and cured pork products. Chorizo falls into the latter category, you probably concluded. Sooo, are we good?

UMAMI BOMB CHORIZO GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grits, uncooked

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 chorizo sausage links, casing removed

1 tablespoon red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon green pepper, diced

1 tablespoon red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, crumbled

1 hard-boiled egg

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Set aside. Remove the casing of the chorizo. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Add chorizo. Sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the meat with a fork as it cooks. Add red pepper, green pepper, red onion, and corn. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. To serve, transfer cheesy grits to a shallow dish. Add chorizo and sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a hard-boiled egg. Garnish with cayenne pepper, to taste.

Frittata Egg White Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Frittata Egg White Muffins! Egg whites are probably the most misunderstood superfood. They alone are responsible for muscle gain and brain function. The high protein content can boost immunity levels as well. So why is it people turn up their noses when you mention egg whites? Personally, I think it may have something to do with the extra work involved in separating the yolk from the white. As we have teeter-tottered back and forth between the medical community urging us to ditch the yolk because of its fatty content and then backpedaled with discoveries that perhaps now it had nothing to do with heart disease, is it any wonder we stand around scratching our heads? Long story short. Eggs aren’t unhealthy, so do what you want.

FRITTATA EGG WHITE MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups egg whites

2 tablespoons green peppers, diced

2 tablespoons red peppers, diced

2 tablespoons sweet onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 thick slices bacon, precooked and crumbled

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Alfalfa sprouts, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, green peppers, red peppers, sweet onion, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the mini muffin pan cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until egg whites are fully cooked. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Loosen and remove from pan. Top each egg white frittata with chopped chives and alfalfa sprouts. Serve immediately.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Egg Roll in a Bowl! For once in my life I’m taking the easy route to an old favorite. Making eggs rolls, using store bought wrappers, can be quite a labor-intensive ordeal. There’s the cutting of vegetables, marinating of meat, separating the wrappers and covering them with a moist towel, then heating the oil for deep-fried results. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wasn’t up to the task when what I really wanted was more of the amazing filling to devour. Don’t get me wrong, I still drizzled on the duck sauce, probably more than was necessary. But it’s all a matter of individual taste. Lean in and I’ll tell you a secret. I’d do it again.

EGG ROLL IN A BOWL

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shredded pork, precooked

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

14-ounce bag coleslaw mix

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Drizzle of sriracha

Green onions, for garnish

Duck Sauce, if desired

Instructions:

Warm the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the shredded pork, ginger, sea salt, black pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Cook until the pork is heated through. Add the coleslaw mix, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Sauté until the coleslaw is slightly tender. Divide into serving bowls. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, drizzle of sriracha, and chopped green onions. Spoon prepared Duck Sauce over top, if desired.

Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. One of the privileges of being part of the blogosphere is benefiting from the vast friendships beyond my little corner of the world. Not only is it a creative outlet for expressing my love of food, it also challenges me to stretch my palate and try new things. Today’s recipe comes from Corrie, a Brit, who thrives on a vegetarian diet. She has a fabulous blog entitled http://corriesrabbitfood.com where food looks so amazing it makes you forget about being a meat-lover. To clear up any confusion, “bread pudding” is more commonly known as a dessert. But “bread and butter pudding” is made by buttering the bread before adding any liquid. Now you see the difference, which is why this makes a fabulous breakfast dish. Are you ready to eat more? Then let’s get started.

VEGETARIAN BREAD ‘N BUTTER PUDDING

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf baguette bread, sliced

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup red onion, sliced

3 gloves garlic, sliced

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/3 cup gruyère cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 5”x7” baking dish with softened butter. Set aside. Lightly butter both sides of a baguette slice, then place in the baking dish. Repeat until all pieces of baguette are buttered. When placing them in the baking dish, arrange in a zigzag pattern. This leaves room for the spaces to be filled in with ingredients. Next evenly divide the red onion slices and garlic pieces between the bread. Generously sprinkle the entire loaf with shredded parmesan, gruyère, and 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese, with attention given to lightly packing the cheese in areas where spaces exist. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, skim milk, seasoned salt, basil, marjoram, and oregano. Slowly pour over the pudding, soaking each slice of bread. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30, or until set Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm.