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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Corn on the Cob
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)
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.
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Yakitori Chicken Skewers! Our dinner was supposed to be grilled outdoors. Thank goodness when the weather doesn’t cooperate, meat and vegetables can be broiled indoors with very tasteful results. The international marinade lends itself to an enhanced blend of aromatic soy, olive oil, and pungent ginger which is pleasing to the palate. The Japanese-style dish is a light and healthy alternative when mixed with fruit and vegetables.
2-3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, and cut into small sections
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake or vermouth
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, shaved
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup green pepper strips
Place chicken in a dish. Combine sugar, soy sauce, sake, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Mix well to combine. Pour over chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. Thread chicken, pineapple, and green pepper alternating on skewers. Preheat oven broiler on high setting. Place skewers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes; turn and broil an additional 5 minutes on the other side. Cook until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from oven being careful of hot juices.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: 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.
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
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.
Dining Outside the Home: Felicia Suzanne’s in Memphis, Tennessee! Tucked comfortably at a corner table is like feeling on the edge of a party, in my opinion. The intimate atmosphere at Felicia Suzanne’s feels festive as distant conversations emit a slow buzz. This is Friday lunchtime, when 25-cent martinis set the stage for an unforgettable weekend prelude. Order it your way: shaken, stirred, or slightly dirty. No matter the choice, it all works well with the specialized menu of southern cuisine from local sources. I guess you could describe it as farm-to-table, with a white linen finish. Fresh lump crabmeat boulettes tempt the palate with a saucy kick of pepper jelly. In a word, delectable. Coming from a seafood lover, the BBQ Gulf Shrimp was a no-brainer as well. Every item has the stamp of Project Green Fork on it, but one visit doesn’t begin to complete the truly southern experience.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Harvest Snap Beans! If you’ve ever planted a garden, you already know how easily and quickly green beans are to grow. They produce so well, even a novice takes pride in their bounty. When it’s time to harvest, choose smooth green (or yellow) pods. Lumps are a sign of an overripe bean, which means it could be dried out or damaged inside. Be particular. You can always tell how fresh it is by the “snap” sound it makes when broken. Perhaps that’s why my aunt on the farm used to call them “snap beans”. Taste is everything.
HARVEST SNAP BEANS
1 pound frozen yellow wax and green beans, thawed
6 slices bacon; cooked and broken into chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange yellow wax beans and green beans in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle bacon pieces over beans. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and agave nectar. Mix well. Pour over green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.