Zested Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Zested Lemon Blueberry Pancakes! If you’re a “regular” customer at the same restaurant, it’s perfectly natural to become good friends with the owners and staff. Kind of like an extended family. You learn their personalities as they become accustomed to your quirks, humor, and mannerisms. Before long, you may even exchange cell numbers so you can text the restaurant when you’re on your way. It benefits both parties. In turn, if I’m kinda crazy about a certain dish, I may get a nonchalant “secret” ingredient hint dropped my way. The rest is up to me. Now I don’t claim to make menu items as well as a restaurant, but in a pinch it satisfies a craving that will suffice until I return.

ZESTED LEMON BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon granulated lemon peel

1 cup cottage cheese, small curd

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 pint blueberries

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

10-ounce jar lemon curd, to taste

Powdered sugar, garnish

Instructions:

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix agave nectar, lemon zest, and granulated lemon peel. Add cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Whisk until almost smooth. The cottage cheese will continue to have small lumps. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients. Stir to combine. The batter will be a little bit lumpy. Fold in a few blueberries, about 1/4 cup. Warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Brush the skillet with vegetable oil. Add a 1/4 cup of pancake batter to the skillet. Cook for a couple minutes until small bubbles appear. Carefully flip and cook the remaining side until golden, about 2 minutes longer. Brush the skillet with more vegetable oil and repeat the process until all the batter is gone. Serve the pancakes with remaining fresh blueberries and a dollop of lemon curd. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

X-Treme Everything Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: X-treme Everything Deviled Eggs! When it comes to deviled eggs, you hear a plethora of descriptions ranging from “world’s best” to “million dollar” to “dangerously good” deviled eggs. But here’s the catch: Everyone has a different number of taste buds. They extend beyond your tongue to include the roof of your mouth as well as the inner cheeks and throat. What you find appealing may not interest me in the least. Here’s a good example. Everything But Bagel Seasoning contains garlic, onion, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. While it may make your heart flutter sprinkled all over a freshly baked bagel, it may sound completely gross mixed in a deviled egg. On the other hand, when I topped the deviled egg with a clump of newly grown alfalfa sprouts, my taste buds did something similar to a TikTok dance. Just saying.

X-TREME EVERYTHING DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel Seasoning

Alfalfa sprouts, for garnish

Instructions:

Peel the prepared hard-boiled eggs. Slice in half horizontally. Carefully remove the solid yolks and transfer to a small bowl. Place the egg whites on a serving platter. Using a fork, mash the egg yolks into a fine crumble. Add mayonnaise and softened cream cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in Everything But Bagel Seasoning. Spoon the yolk filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle more seasoning on top, if desired. Garnish deviled eggs with a crown of fresh alfalfa sprouts.

Macadamia Nut Pineapple French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Macadamia Nut Pineapple French Toast! Forget the maple syrup. Indulge instead in a tropical fruit explosion of flavor. Some compare this breakfast specialty to caramelized pineapple bliss. I suppose the taste could remind you of a tropical Pina Colada cocktail. It’s that good. For your next “Staycation”, why not treat yourself to paradise on a plate.

MACADAMIA NUT PINEAPPLE FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients for Sauce:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut syrup

1 teaspoon almond extract

8-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 smidgen nutmeg

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

Instructions:

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar. Stir. Gradually bring to a boil. Add cream, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting. Add maple syrup, coconut syrup, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Add pineapple chunks, cinnamon, nutmeg, and shredded coconut. Cook until tender.

Ingredients for French Toast:

4 slices Hawaiian sweet bread, sliced thick

3 whole eggs, beaten

1/2 cup light cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons butter

Macadamia nuts, chopped

Fresh strawberries

Instructions:

Whisk together eggs, light cream, and vanilla extract. In a shallow dish, place 4 slices of Hawaiian bread, single layer. Pour custard egg mixture over bread; turn to coat both sides completely. Let moistened bread rest to soak up liquid. In an iron skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter on medium-low heat. Transfer the soaked bread to the skillet. Cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Add butter as needed. If cooking in batches, transfer browned French toast to a wire rack on a baking sheet and kept warm in a 200° oven. To serve, place one piece of French toast on a plate. Cover with pineapple sauce. Top with second slice of French toast. Add more pineapple sauce. Garnish with sliced strawberries and macadamia nut pieces. Dust with powdered sugar.

Beet Bacon Bleu Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Beet Bacon Bleu Salad! Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you eat beets? And you hated them? Well, thank goodness as we age, our taste buds change. Perhaps it’s time to give them a second chance. I did and the results made me wonder why I waited so long.

BEET BACON BLEU SALAD

Ingredients:

15-ounce can sliced beets, drained

3 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

2 cups mixed salad greens

1 egg, hard-cooked and sliced

3 slices applewood bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled

1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Garnish with croutons

Instructions:

In a shallow dish, combine lemon olive oil, seasoned salt, and Herbes de Provence. Add sliced beets. Marinate 10 minutes, turn and marinate 10 minutes longer. Arrange salad greens in a bowl. Add beets, reserving marinade. Arrange egg slices on greens. Top with bacon pieces. Sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle all with reserve marinade plus balsamic reduction. Garnish with croutons.

Xanthous Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Xanthous Deviled Eggs! Farm-to-Table deviled eggs are growing in popularity at family owned restaurants. Don’t believe me? Check out the appetizer menu for starters. Deviled eggs are not just for picnics and pitch-ins any more. You may find them filled with everything from meat or seafood to cheese, nuts, and hot peppers. Which brings me to today’s version: Jalapeño & Cilantro. The kick of spice mellows nicely with the creamy yolk filling. You determine the heat factor. If you decide to omit the caper liquid, you may want to substitute with salt to taste.

XANTHOUS DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño peppers, minced

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon pickled jalapeño juice or white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon caper liquid (optional)

Pinch of Cajun seasoning

Pinch of sugar

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, slices for garnish

Instructions:

Halve the eggs lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and place in a small bowl. Gently place white portions in a deviled egg platter. Mash egg yolks with a fork. Add pickled jalapeño peppers, mayonnaise, cilantro, Dijon mustard, pickled jalapeño juice, caper liquid, Cajun seasoning, and sugar. Stir until combined. Spoon mixture into hollowed out egg white shells. Garnish with a fresh jalapeño slice. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Store leftovers in a covered container.

Kickstart Breakfast Burrito

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Kickstart Breakfast Burrito! Eggs have a way of warding off those mid-morning hunger pangs, in my opinion. Being high in protein makes them a favorite and keeps me from caving in to foods with empty calories later on. Because I’m a bread-lover, the tortilla satisfies like manna from heaven. Cheese, turkey sausage, and veggies kickstart my breakfast so I can stay focused and on point. Choose a breakfast wrap the next time you want a little variety in your day.

KICKSTART BREAKFAST BURRITO

Ingredients:

2 flour tortillas, burrito size

2 tablespoons salsa

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 lemon chili pepper, chopped (optional)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

2-4 turkey sausage links, precooked and sliced

4 tablespoons Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Top tortillas with salsa. Set aside. Combine onion, green pepper, tomato, and lemon chili pepper in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Microwave on High for 1 minute, 45 seconds. Remove and set aside. Heat turkey sausage chunks for 30 seconds on High in the microwave oven. Set aside. In a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat, add beaten eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally for one minute. Add turkey sausage, shredded cheese, and vegetable mixture. Cook one minute longer or until eggs are set. Do not burn. Divide scrambled egg mixture between the tortilla shells. Fold into a burrito. Makes two breakfast burritos.

Date Bread with Walnuts

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Date Bread with Walnuts! Treat yourself to remarkable flavors leaning toward exotic ingredients with a gourmet twist. Naturally dried dates have this amazing quality of satisfying a sweet tooth that needs a bit of nurturing any time of day. By adding the salty crunch of walnuts combined in a loaf pan, the results are more cake than bread. Perhaps it’s the splash of cognac that makes all the difference.

DATE BREAD WITH WALNUTS

Ingredients:

2 eggs, room temperature; beaten

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon cognac

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

8 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Slowly combine beaten eggs with boiling water, stirring constantly. Add cognac, baking soda, and chopped dates. Mix well. Set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cream together butter and sugar. Blend with date mixture. Mix flour and baking powder. Stir into date mixture. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Lemon Curd French Toast

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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.

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.

Quiche From the Hen House

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Quiche From the Hen House! Certain foods are like time-travel. Take quiche, for instance. Elsewhere it’s no big deal, popular even. But in America, guys couldn’t stand it back in the ‘80s. Too sissy. Never mind that it was economical and the ingredients were pretty much on hand when the grocery budget was stretched to the max. But then came bacon, and everything changed. Suddenly quiche was raised to the level of deep dish pizza.

QUICHE FROM THE HEN HOUSE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust

1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 sweet onion, chopped

3 eggs

1 cup light cream

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a pie plate with nonstick oil. Place prepared pie crust in the pie plate. Crimp edges. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese over bottom. Set aside. In a microwave-safe covered dish, steam broccoli for 2 minutes; drain. Set aside. Place chopped onion in a microwave-safe dish. Cook 2 minutes on High setting. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, light cream, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Arrange broccoli pieces and chopped onion in the pie crust. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes. Quiche is done when center is set and a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve warm.