Your Classic Green Bean Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Your Classic Green Bean Casserole! Can we ever get enough of this all-time favorite side dish? I think not! It seems there are all sorts of variations on this classic holiday casserole. Some of my friends only use French-style green beans while others prefer freshly snapped. And the seasonings are all over the map from Hawaiian sea salt medleys to crushed Midwest garden herbs. I keep it simple because, honestly, once you add the French fried onion rings, everything else takes a back seat.

YOUR CLASSIC GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

2 cans whole green beans, drained and cut-up

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup light cream

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash herb and garlic seasoning

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a medium casserole dish with nonstick spray. Combine green beans, cream of mushroom soup, light cream, herb seasoning, and salt. Mix well. Fold in 1/2 cup of French fried onion pieces. Place in casserole dish. Spread evenly. Arrange remaining French fried onion rings over top around the edges leaving the center open. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Paleo Pepper Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Paleo Pepper Steak! Before you delete this post, hear me out for sec. Paleo does not mean blah, boring, and tasteless. In fact, this recipe gives you permission to only eat the stuff you crave. No hidden sauces or funky herbs. Basically, what you see is what you get. (Disclaimer: Pay no attention to that slice of garlic bread. It was put in the photo by my alter ego who loves carbs.) The green and red peppers are so fresh you may feel like nibbling on one or two as you slice them into strips. And the caramelized onions compliment the taste of steak, in my opinion.

PALEO PEPPER STEAK

Ingredients:

1 large green bell pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large sweet red pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large yellow onion, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2-6 ounce filet mignon steaks

Sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder steak to taste

1 pat of butter

Instructions:

Salt and pepper both sides of the steak while the gas grill is preheating from 450°-500°. At this time sprinkle the steak with garlic powder as well. The salt begins to draw out a little bit of moisture which makes the steak sizzle when it hits the grill grate, sealing in the flavor. For accuracy in grilling, my husband sets the timer on his cell phone, which is quite handy. Grill the steak for 2 1/2 minutes on one side before flipping over for the remaining 2 1/2 minutes. The finished steak will be medium-rare. Now this is the most difficult part. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The juice will reabsorb back into the steak to give you that moist and meaty taste.

Meanwhile, sauté pepper and onion slices in olive oil and seasonings in a large skillet on medium heat. Turn often to gradually brown the vegetables and avoid burning. They will be tender in about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low simmer to keep warm. Before serving, surround the steak with peppers and onions. Finish with a pat of butter.

Olive Tapenade

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Olive Tapenade! Here’s a nice prelude to an evening meal. Forego the usual focaccia bread and herbed olive oil for a southern France hors d’oeuvre instead. By using an exotic mixture of olives and spices, it creates a versatile condiment for crackers, bread, cheese, and vegetables. Later on, serve it over pasta or fish as another option. Whatever you choose, seek adventure. You won’t be disappointed in the mellow salty garlic flavor lingering long into the night.

OLIVE TAPENADE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green olives with pimentos

1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

2 tablespoons capers

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients. Pulse in a food processor for several minutes. Scrape sides and repeat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve with crusty artisan bread or pita chips. Tastes great spread over cream cheese for party flavor.

Fried Green Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Fried Green Tomatoes! The key to success is using solid, firm green tomatoes. Ripe ones will turn mushy and very disappointing. Even if you don’t live in the South, everyone can enjoy these crisp and juicy medallions. The seasoned cornmeal crust will have you resurrecting a southern drawl that sounds as authentic as a waitress in a country café. Try the first one with a fork and then have seconds as a sandwich.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

Ingredients:

2 green tomatoes, sliced with skin on

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, cheese, seasoned salt, and pepper. Blend with a fork. In a shallow bowl, mix egg and milk. Dip a green tomato slice in the egg mixture then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Repeat. Set aside. Continue until all slices have been coated. In a deep skillet on medium-high heat add vegetable oil for frying. Place tomatoes in a single layer. Do not crowd. Fry each side 3 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other side. Remove and place on a wire rack to remove excess oil. Repeat until all green tomato slices are used. Serve hot. Garnish with a dollop of wasabi aioli.

Traditional Four-Bean Combo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Traditional Four-Bean Combo! This is an amazing side dish you can slow cook in the crockpot and forget about it. The end result is a sweet and savory baked bean assortment that will explode with flavor and compliment anything you plan to pair with it, especially grilled meats. The presentation is a color wheel of enticing hues giving it center-stage on the dinner plate. Leftovers only taste better and better as the flavors get swallowed up in each other. The next time you crave something different and nutritious, give this recipe a whirl.

TRADITIONAL FOUR-BEAN COMBO

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bacon, sautéd and diced

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup brown sugar

15 ounces kidney beans, drained

15 1/2 ounces yellow waxed beans, drained

42 ounces pork and beans, with sauce

3 cups garden green beans, cooked al dente

Instructions:

Combine bacon, onion, mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar. Mix well. Add the beans and stir together to blend the colors and flavors. Transfer to a crock pot. Cook on HIGH until beans are bubbly. Turn to LOW setting and simmer for 5-7 hours. Unplug crock pot. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Green Tea Berry Cobbler! Now you can drink your tea and eat it too. Presenting a unique twist on an old favorite. Green tea combines its earthy flavors with a touch of bitterness to complement the natural sweetness of fresh fruit. The results will astound your taste buds, rounding off the cobbler’s cake-like topping. Choose any combination of fruit; blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, or mulberries. One hint for best results: Spoon the cobbler topping in small portions leaving room for the fruit to “pop” through and become caramelized. That’s the part that makes our eyes roll back in satisfaction.

GREEN TEA BERRY COBBLER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup boiling water

1 Green Tea bag

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup mulberries

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup granola

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking dish or iron skillet with butter. Set aside. Place teabag in 1/2 cup boiling water. Steep for 3 minutes. Discard tea bag. Cool tea to room temperature. In a medium bowl, combine berries, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Toss gently to coat; do not crush berries. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together egg and sugar. Continue for one minute. Add sea salt, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely blended. Add green tea. Mix well. Gradually add flour and baking powder. Stir until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan, leaving about 5 tablespoons reserved for topping. Gently layer berries over batter. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over fruit. Bake 10-12 minutes. Scatter granola over the top of the batter. Bake 20 minutes longer or until cobbler is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Zippy Stuffed Peppers! I can hardly wait for my garden peppers to grow large enough for this tasty Italian-style meal. It is traditional, yet impressive, when serving to our dinner guests. And the presentation is phenomenal. When serving, place each stuffed pepper in a shallow bowl with a side of buttery bicolor sweet corn, cobs removed. Add crusty bread and everyone will sing your praises thinking you slaved all day to make such a five-star entrée. Live it up!

ZIPPY STUFFED PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 large green bell peppers

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

I teaspoon fennel

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup corn

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes in sauce

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut off the top of each pepper and remove the insides. Rinse and drain. Brown the Italian sausage, garlic, and onion in olive oil. Drain and stir in the spices. Add cooked rice, corn, and half the tomatoes. Mix gently and heat through. Stand peppers upright in ungreased baking dish. Put a scant spoonful of sauce in the bottom of each pepper. Sprinkle in a little cheese. Then stuff each pepper with the meat mixture. Pour remaining sauce over stuffed peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese, and bake 15 minutes longer.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Y

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: You Are What You Eat! I’ve been hearing this phrase my entire life, and it wasn’t until recently I actually began paying attention to it again. Oh sure, I knew moderation was key, exercise important, and water essential. I tried to maintain a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, and even fats because it made a difference in how well I felt. Plus it reflected in my energy level as well. So, as I was collecting all this produce, it seemed like a no-brainer to share the snapshot with everyone. Bon Appétit.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Ingredients:

Tomatoes

Green Beans

Assorted Peppers

Corn on the Cob

Zucchini

Onion

Garlic

Squash

Instructions:

Wash the vegetables. Eat them raw, cooked, puréed, chopped, minced, buttered, grilled, roasted, par-boiled, or baked.

“Make food simple

and let things taste

of what they are.”

~ Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland)

French Writer (1872-1956)

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter S

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Shish Kabobs! It’s dinner-on-a-stick! Each skewer provides a vibrant color wheel of your favorite edible combinations. Warm or cool, dark or light. All you need to do is assemble a combination that will have your family singing your praises! Grab the apron, fire up the grill, and let the serious eating begin.

SHISH KABOBS

Ingredients:

1-pound smoked sausage, cut up into 8 pieces

2 ears corn, cut into thirds

2 red potatoes, quartered

1 Vidalia onion, cut into wedges

1 green pepper, cut up and seeds removed

1 zucchini, sliced 1/2″ thick with skin on

Seasoned salt to taste

Cracked blacked pepper to taste

Mrs Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning to taste

Instructions:

Wash, cut-up, and prepare meat and vegetables. Thread pieces of smoked sausage, corn, potatoes, onion, green pepper, and zucchini onto metal skewers alternating color for variation and eye-appeal. Repeat until all ingredients are skewered. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly spray each skewer of meat and vegetables with non-stick oil. Sprinkle with seasonings. Grill 5-6 minutes per side. The natural flavors will burst forth with a touch of smokiness. The edges of the sausage will char. Avoid excess charring. Keep turning for even grilling. Watch for slight blistering to indicate when done.