Very Cheddar Potato Gratin

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Very Cheddar Potato Gratin! It’s no secret some of us have a love affair with cheese. It’s not enough to sprinkle a handful of cheese on top of scalloped potatoes before sliding them into the oven. Sometimes you have to be downright sneaky about it. And you can blame me for it, if need be. By hiding grated cheese between two layers of sliced potatoes, and then sprinkling more cheese across the top of these mini casseroles, you not only guarantee a cheesy, ah-mazing dish, you have one that is comfort-food all the way to your favorite spot on the couch. Now where’s the remote?

VERY CHEDDAR POTATO GRATIN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Everything But Bagel seasoning

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray single two serving pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, light cream, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, and thyme. Mix well. Layer half the potatoes in the prepared dishes. Sprinkle half the cheese over each; divide half the liquid over top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, cheese, and broth. Transfer cookware to a baking sheet. Cover each pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender when tested with a knife. The top will be crispy. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Cool slightly before serving.

Crunchy Crab Cakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Crunchy Crab Cakes! Get ready for a celebration meal by simply serving crab cakes. You’re going to want to savor every bite, so try really hard to chew your food 20 times before taking another forkful. The outer layer is crispy crunchy, which works well for serving with a homemade jezebel sauce, creamy horseradish, or Caesar dressing. Personally, I prefer a bed of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and green onions simply because it intensifies the sweet lump crabmeat filling that much more. Pour yourself a glass of chilled Chardonnay, bubbly Prosecco, or Pinot Blanc. Now let’s get this party started.

CRUNCHY CRAB CAKES

Ingredients:

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha

1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped

16-ounce can lump crabmeat, rinsed and drained

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together beaten egg, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, sriracha, and Cajun seasoning. Add chopped red pepper and green onions. Fold in crabmeat and 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs. Place remaining breadcrumbs on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Divide crab mixture into fourths. Shape each portion into a patty. Coats both sides in the panko bread crumbs. Place crab cake on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with the remaining mixture. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until crab cakes are crispy on the bottom. Flip over and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

Quirky Clean Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Quirky Clean Salad! We’ve all heard the word “clean” when referring to food. Once upon a time, it meant wash the vegetables before eating them. Now it seems to have multiple meanings. Some of those phrases include “unprocessed foods, organically grown, no preservatives, low carbs, gluten-free, free-range, or no high fructose corn syrup.” Basically, it translates to what is clean for YOU. My unwritten rule is, if I have a craving for it, I’m eating it. Perhaps that’s why I added the word “Quirky” to the title. You do what is right for you. Are we good?

QUIRKY CLEAN SALAD

Ingredients:

1 head broccoli, florets only and chopped

1 green apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup green olives, sliced

1/4 cup raisins

5 pitted dates, chopped

2 slices bacon, crispy cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon natural honey

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli florets, diced apples, chopped almonds, sliced green olives, raisins, chopped dates, and crumbled bacon. Gently toss to mix. In another bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic wine vinegar, natural honey, Himalayan salt, cracked black pepper, and chopped rosemary. Pour the vinaigrette over the broccoli salad; mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.

Kielbasa Hot Dogs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Kielbasa Hot Dogs! If you like to try something a little different than ordinary hot dogs, choose a beef sausage link that focuses more on natural flavorings like garlic, woodsmoke, cloves, or pimento. Personally, I lean more toward nitrate-free labeling, which means the preservatives are natural rather than chemically added. Every little bit helps, because sometimes eating a grilled hot dog just makes the world a happier place.

KIELBASA HOT DOGS

Ingredients:

13-ounce package of 4 kielbasa smoked sausage links, fully cooked

4 brioche split-top brioche hot dog buns

1/2 sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

1/4 cup yellow mustard

Instructions:

Preheat gas grill to 400°. Arrange smoked sausage links directly on the grill grates. Close lid. The total cooking time should be approximately 12 minutes. After 3 minutes, using tongs rotate each sausage link a quarter turn. Close lid. After 3 more minutes, rotate another quarter turn. Repeat until all sides have been slightly charred. It helps to keep the sausage links from touching as they cook; this allows the heat to sear the skins evenly. When finished transfer to a platter and serve with chopped onion, sweet pickle relish, and yellow mustard.

Everything Turkey Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Everything Turkey Sliders! These miniature sandwiches are anything but small, when it comes to flavor. In a world of “supersize” portions, having something more manageable is always a good thing. It’s like when my husband and I eat out at a restaurant. We split a portion and then if we’re still hungry, we can order something else. More often than not, we are completely full and satisfied with smaller portions. It works for us. These sliders follow the same concept. Eat one and if you’re still hungry, have another. Permission granted.

EVERYTHING TURKEY SLIDERS

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon natural honey

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons poppyseeds

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

6 slider rolls, split

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 cups shredded turkey, precooked

6 slices Havarti cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine melted butter, Dijon mustard, natural honey, Worcestershire sauce, poppyseeds, and minced onion in a small bowl. Whisk until mixed. Set aside. In a 6”x10” baking dish, place the bottom halves of the slider buns in a single layer, sides touching. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over them. Divide the shredded turkey between the buns. Place one slice of Havarti cheese over the shredded turkey. Carefully place the bun lids on top of each slider. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the sliders. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the buns are toasted. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Angus Beef Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Angus Beef Burger! Anyone who is a beef-eater understands that when meat has a high level of marbling, it keeps it moist for longer when cooking. Why is marbling important, you wonder? Because the fat ratio is scattered throughout creating juicy, tender, and more flavorful results. Long story, short, angus beef means better burger. No one wants a hockey puck for a hamburger. Right? Although it may cost a little more per pound, the end results are worth it.

ANGUS BEEF BURGER

Ingredients:

1 pound Angus beef, ground

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Lettuce, tomato, bacon and condiments as desired

Instructions:

Preheat a gas grill on High temperature. Form the ground beef into four equal portions. Season both sides of each patty with sea salt and black pepper. Brush the burgers with olive oil. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes until brown and slightly charred. Flip over. Do not press down to release juices! Cook 4 minutes longer, for medium rare, until golden and charred. Grill longer for desired results. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns. Add fixings and condiments to taste. Serve immediately.

Urban Grilled Egg Salad Sammie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Urban Grilled Egg Salad Sammie! Making dietary changes, however slight, can move the needle in a positive direction without sacrificing taste. Organic multigrain bread with flax seed and quinoa provides a nice crunch, whether toasted with butter, grilled in an iron skillet, or eaten plain with sliced tomatoes. Sometimes things need to be experienced to be believed. Because I had a bowl of hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator, I thought….hey, I wonder how an egg salad sandwich would taste if it was warmed like a grilled cheese sandwich? Long story, short. Curiosity can create new meals. Perhaps you may wonder enough to find out for yourself.

URBAN GRILLED EGG SALAD SAMMIE

Ingredients:

6 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon jalapeño pickle juice

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

4 slices organic quinoa multigrain bread

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine hard boiled eggs and red onion with mayonnaise. Mix well. Sprinkle in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir until blended. Add Dijon mustard and jalapeño pickle juice. Stir well. Butter one side of each slice of quinoa bread. Warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Place 2 slices of bread, butter side down, into skillet. Divide egg salad between sandwiches. Top with remaining 2 slices of bread, butter side up. Carefully turn the sandwiches over when the bottoms are golden, after 3-4 minutes. When the underside is golden, transfer sandwiches to a plate. Serve with a dill pickle spear.

Ranch Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Ranch Deviled Eggs! Behold the egg. It serves many options from breakfast omelets to afternoon appetizers, light snacks to mealtime casseroles. And who doesn’t love deviled eggs? Talk about versatility. This version implements the tangy creaminess of ranch flavor so popular in salad dressing. Add a garnish of applewood smoked honey ham crumbles for a superb finish. Make a dozen and watch them disappear.

RANCH DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

12 eggs

3 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced chives

1/2 pound applewood-smoked honey ham or bacon, crumbled

Instructions:

In a 4-quart pan, place eggs in a single layer. Add enough water to cover eggs. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. To remove eggshell, crack it by tapping gently all over; roll between hands to loosen it. Peel, beginning at the large end. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Transfer to a platter. Remove yolks. In a medium bowl, mash the egg yolks with a fork. Sprinkle with dry ranch dressing mix. Add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and minced chives. Stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. Garnish with applewood-smoked honey ham crumbles. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. May be prepared a full day in advance.

La Sorpresa Latina Cuban Café in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: La Sorpresa Latina Cuban Cafe in Naples, Florida! For the real taste of Cuba, you go to the source. But if a journey 90 miles from the southernmost point of Florida is not in the near future, no worries. Thanks to La Sorpresa, a family-owned place for a quick bite and a signature coffee, you can get a killer Cuban Sandwich stateside. This popular sammie is stuffed with shredded pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. Go ahead and add some hot sauce for extra kick. Everything is pressed together like a panini, making it the perfect handheld option. Because the crusty bread is bakery-made, you might think about sharing. Cuban bread is formed in the shape of a baguette, only with plenty of air pockets, so it could be over twelve inches long. It has a touch of sweetness that makes you crave another bite. We ordered two Cuban Sandwiches the first time and ended up cutting one in half for lunch. ‘Course that meant we got to eat the same thing the next day. By the time we left the café, we had an order of plantains and an extra loaf of Cuban bread. After all, dreams do come true. You just have to believe it.