Yams in Pecan Glaze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Yams in Pecan Glaze! Oh. My. Gosh. You have got to make this recipe. There’s still plenty of time before the holidays to switch back to your traditional family favorite if you don’t like it, but think about this a moment. By using canned yams, or sweet potatoes, preparation is a snap. Who knows? You could end up making both. Remember what I said about “Start Smart”? Sometimes that means taking advantage of the numerous products that eliminate the extra leg work. Sugared pecans are such a gourmet treat. Pick up a package of those to add to the decadent pure maple syrup sauce. Read on if you’re curious.

YAMS IN PECAN GLAZE

Ingredients:

29-ounce can cut sweet potatoes in syrup

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sage, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

For Pecan Glaze:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup sugared pecans

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Drain liquid from sweet potatoes into a saucepan. Carefully slice and arrange yams in a casserole dish. Set aside. Boil the liquid over medium heat until only 1/4” covers the bottom of the saucepan. Add butter, sage, thyme, cinnamon, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. While potatoes are baking, make the pecan glaze. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat. Add sugared pecans. Toss to coat. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add pure maple syrup. Cook 5 minutes longer, or until the pecans are caramelized and syrupy. Pour over sweet potatoes. Return casserole to the oven and bake 5 minutes longer, or until the glaze becomes thick. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs before serving.

Oven-Roasted Golden Peaches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Oven-Roasted Golden Peaches! Forget about cleanup of baking sheets by utilizing a perfect nonstick solution. Parchment paper. Never confuse it with wax paper, though, which will smoke in the oven. That’s a big mistake. Parchment paper is made to withstand oven temperatures during the baking or roasting process. Not only that, parchment paper contains a release agent that prevents foods from sticking to it. Bonus points, in my opinion. Because we’re covering the sliced peaches with pure maple syrup, you can imagine how difficult that would be to scrape off the pan once it’s baked in. May as well throw the pan away and buy another. Or…you could do what I did the first time I baked a galette. My husband took his sander tool and ground the petrified sugar off. Hey, don’t judge me. It was my favorite baking sheet. Still is.

OVEN-ROASTED GOLDEN PEACHES

Ingredients:

3-4 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced peaches in a single layer, without touching. Drizzle with melted butter and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then flip peaches over. Spoon excess sauce over peaches. Bake 10 minutes longer. Serve warm with sea salt caramel ice cream.

Furikake Party Mix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.

FURIKAKE PARTY MIX

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

6 cups Crispix cereal

5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

2 cups wasabi peas

1/2 cup furikake seasoning

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.

Watermelon Waffle Wedges

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Watermelon Waffle Wedges! Bring back childhood memories of lazy summer days leaning against the back porch chomping on a mouthwatering slice of watermelon. As the juice runs down your chin, a swipe of the shirt sleeve doubles as a napkin. Your mischievous brother takes aim at your bare feet, shooting tiny black seeds as if his mouth is a pea shooter. You squeal with delight and sometimes run away. Those were the days. Now we think about nutrition. That’s okay. Watermelon, with its juicy red flesh, is high in lycopene which makes it heart-healthy. Chomp away.

WATERMELON WAFFLE WEDGES

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 slices watermelon, cut in wedges

Maple syrup, to taste

Butter, to taste

Strawberries, cherries, almonds, powdered sugar, mint sprig for Garnish

Instructions:

Preheat waffle iron. Place eggs in a bowl and beat on medium-high using a hand mixer. Eggs will get fluffy. Slowly add flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat just until smooth. Brush waffle iron with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray. Pour mix into waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve warm with watermelon wedges, strawberries, cherries, almond slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh mint.

Vegan Banana Maple Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Vegan Banana-Maple Muffins! For breakfast on the run, mid-morning snack, or late night munchie, these banana maple muffins are a welcome sight. Made with overripe bananas and coconut milk, they provide nutritional benefits that fuel the body as well as satisfy hunger pangs. Between the first crunch of nuts and the last taste of maple cream icing, you may find yourself reaching for a tall glass of cold milk wondering how you lived so long without trying these before.

VEGAN BANANA-MAPLE MUFFINS

Ingredients for Muffins:

2 small bananas, peeled and mashed

2/3 cup coconut milk

1/3 vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside. In a bowl, mash overripe bananas with a fork. Whisk together bananas, coconut milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Mix well. Gradually add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Gently fold in chopped pecans. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Bake 18-20 minutes or until tops spring back and cake tester comes out clean. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool completely before adding icing.

Ingredients for Maple Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons margarine, softened

2 tablespoons coconut milk, slightly warmed

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch sea salt

12 pecan halves for garnish

Instructions:

Beat together the powdered sugar, margarine, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt until the icing is smooth and creamy. Drop one or two dollops of icing on each muffin. Garnish with pecan half.

French Toast Bananas Foster

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: French Toast Bananas Foster! For that daily dose of potassium you get in bananas, think French Toast for breakfast. With an added twist of Bananas Foster, you may feel as though you’re dining on a private balcony overlooking the French Quarter in New Orleans. It’s that good! For starters, I used Hawaiian sweet bread for its unique fluffy texture. By soaking the slices in a custard-style egg mixture and browning them in a buttered iron skillet, the results were luscious.

FRENCH TOAST BANANAS FOSTER

Ingredients for Sauce:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup maple syrup

1-2 tablespoons dark rum

3-4 bananas, cut into thick slices

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 smidgen nutmeg

Instructions:

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar; stir. Gradually bring to boil and add cream, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting. Add maple syrup and dark rum. Stir until smooth. Add sliced bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook until tender.

Ingredients for French Toast:

4 slices Hawaiian sweet bread, sliced thick

3 whole eggs, beaten

1/2 cup half and half cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons butter

Whipped cream

Mini chocolate chips

Pecan pieces

Instructions:

Whisk together eggs, half and half cream, and vanilla extract. In a shallow dish place 4 slices of Hawaiian bread, single layer. Pour custard egg mixture over bread; turn bread 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 keep warm in a 200° oven. To serve, place a piece of French toast on a plate. Cover with banana sauce and dollop of whipped cream. Top with a second slice of French toast. Add more banana sauce. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces.

Waffle Doodle-Doo

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Waffle Doodle-Doo! The million dollar question of the day is “Why are chicken and waffles so popular?” Could it be the crispy moist chicken tenders, or the fluffy golden-edge waffle, or the sweet creamy butter? Maybe. Perhaps it’s the robust taste of natural maple syrup. That’s good, too. Personally, I like the explosive kick of jalapeño and the bite of cilantro mixed in. Sliced apple sticks are a bonus. No matter your preference, it’s kind of a thing. Go the easy route like I did. Pick up an order of breaded chicken tenders from your favorite food joint. Since my husband is a master on the waffle iron, he does that part. Make extra waffles; they freeze well. You can thank me later. Pull it all together for a unique flavor that works for breakfast, weekend brunch, or late night craving.

WAFFLE DOODLE-DOO

Ingredients:

4 chicken tenders, precooked

2 buttermilk or Belgian-style frozen waffles

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1-2 tablespoons jalapeño pepper jelly

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks

Butter, room temperature

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Warm chicken tenders in a 350° oven while waffles are being made in the waffle iron or heated in a toaster to desired crispness. Combine maple syrup and jalapeño jelly in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High in 15-second intervals. Stir together until jelly is melted and the flavors are blended. Core the apple, then slice into matchsticks. For presentation, cut waffles into triangles to form a “tent”. Brush waffles with softened butter. Drizzle with jalapeño maple syrup. Arrange chicken tenders. Add apples. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Griddle Golden Pancakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Griddle Golden Pancakes! Dust off that old iron skillet you’ve shoved to the back of the cabinet; you’ll never use the electric griddle again. The benefits? Foods brown beautifully holding the cooking temperature steady, plus cleanup is a snap. Just saying. The results are light, fluffy, and golden brown pancakes that would make your grandma proud.

GRIDDLE GOLDEN PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Vegetable oil for skillet

Instructions:

Heat an iron skillet on medium to low heat. This may take about 5-8 minutes. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl. Form a well in the center. Add egg, milk, vanilla extract, and butter. Mix until a few lumps remain. Brush vegetable oil evenly onto the skillet. Using a 1/4 cup, drop batter into the oiled skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on side one. Bubbles will appear on the surface before flipping over. Then cook 1-2 minutes longer. Serve with warm maple syrup and butter.

Belgian Waffles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Belgian Waffles! Call me crazy, or call me lazy, but truth be told sometimes you need to take a shortcut in preparing a meal. Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste. Here’s a perfect example: Belgian Waffles made from starter pancake mix in a box. Add a few extras like pure vanilla and fresh fruit to turn an ordinary waffle into a spectacular one. Make a batch for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Let the cheers begin!

BELGIAN WAFFLES

Ingredients:

2 cups Log Cabin All Natural Pancake Mix

4 tablespoons oil

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat waffle iron. Combine pancake mix, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a blender. Blend 30 seconds until lumps are removed. Let batter rest for a few minutes. Grease waffle iron if necessary. Pour batter by scant cupfuls onto center of hot waffle iron. Bake 3-5 minutes or until steaming slows and waffle is golden brown. Carefully remove. Serving suggestions: Fresh fruit, melted butter, dark amber maple syrup, pecans, whipped cream, and a side of bacon.