Picnic Pork and Beans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Picnic Pork and Beans! Tradition speaks loud and clear at family gatherings and picnics, especially in the summer. No matter the cookout, barbecue, or pitch-in, certain foods are expected on the buffet table. One of them is the coveted baked beans. Usually the unmarried auntie or the matriarch is the keeper of the cherished recipes. The “grande dame” knows all the ingredients, especially the heavily-guarded secret ones. It might be a dab of this or a pinch of that. My advice? Time, patience, and integrity. After all, there’s a lot of responsibility in carrying on the Secret Family Recipes. In the end, it’s all worth it!

PICNIC PORK AND BEANS

Ingredients:

3 slices uncured bacon, thick

1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

28-ounce can pork and beans

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Fry bacon in a large skillet until partially cooked. Remove bacon from pan and dab on paper towels. Let cool and then break into pieces. Discard all but one tablespoon bacon drippings. Add sweet onion to pan; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine sweet onion, pork and beans, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, diced pimento, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with bacon pieces. Bake uncovered for one hour, or until beans are bubbly and sauce is thick. Let stand 10 minutes for sauce to thicken slightly. Serve warm.

Onion Broccoli Florets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Onion Broccoli Florets! Sweet onions, whether they are Vidalias grown in Georgia or Walla Wallas grown in Washington, are mild-tasting onions that fans wait all year to magically appear in the produce aisle. Combine them with the natural sweetness of raisins, the crunch of honey-roasted sunflower seeds, the earthiness of broccoli florets, and the smoky taste of bacon. Then watch it totally disappear at the next family reunion.

ONION BROCCOLI FLORETS

Ingredients:

1 stalk broccoli

2.5 ounce package real bacon bits

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup honey roasted sunflower seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:

Cut the stalk off a head of broccoli high enough so the florets fall away. Discard stalk. Cut each floret in half or quarters. In a large bowl, combine florets, real bacon bits, sweet onion, raisins, and honey-roasted sunflower seeds. Mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar until blended. Add dressing to broccoli salad one hour before serving.

Restaurant-Style Salsa

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Restaurant-Style Salsa! Everyone goes crazy over the slightly chunky and spicy kicked salsa served in your favorite Mexican restaurant. Now you can make it yourself and enjoy it at home. With a few key (and secret) ingredients, you’ll find yourself doing a “Mexican Hat Dance” just like a pro. Combine everything in a food processor, press a button, and GO! Do it now. You can thank me later.

RESTAURANT-STYLE SALSA

Ingredients:

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

10 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies

1/4 cup onion

1 carrot, peeled

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 jalapeño, stem removed

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

Instructions:

Combine diced tomatoes, tomatoes and green chilies, onion, carrot, cilantro, and jalapeño in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is smooth, but still slightly thick. Add lime juice, kosher salt, garlic powder, and cumin powder. Pulse until completely mixed and consistency looks desirable. Pour into a sealed container. Refrigerate one hour to enhance flavors. Serve with warm tortilla chips.

Pulled Pork Barbecue Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Pulled Pork BBQ Flatbread! I love prepared flatbreads. In fact, I always pick up a couple from my grocer’s deli to keep on hand. The possibilities are endless for a quick meal without scrambling for the fast-food drive-through. I freeze containers of leftover meats that were slow-cooked earlier, so as to have healthy options at home, such as today’s pork tenderloin. If need be, there are prepackaged resources at your local grocery store as well. Being flexible with time-saving choices is always a “Win”, in my opinion.

PULLED PORK BBQ FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup BBQ sauce, any variety

1 pound pork tenderloin, cooked and shredded

2 eggs

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

Dash of white pepper

1/2 cup Spring Mix, chopped

1 green onion, snipped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush flatbread with olive oil on both sides; sprinkle bottom with cornmeal. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon BBQ sauce evenly over flatbread. Cover all with shredded pork. Create a “well” for each egg. Gently crack an egg into each “well”. Sprinkle eggs with seasoned salt and white pepper. Bake 8-10 minutes until eggs are set. If the crust becomes too brown, cover it with foil, leaving the egg portion uncovered. When eggs are cooked, remove from oven. Add chopped Spring Mix and green onion snips.

Overstuffed Pineapple Boat

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Overstuffed Pineapple Boat! If you’re looking for the WOW-factor for the next social gathering, bookmark this recipe for a standing ovation. It’s that good! Not only does it satisfy the meat and seafood lover in all of us, it also has “healthy” written all over it. You gotta admit, the pineapple presentation is a show-stopper. And the best part is, with a little planning, anyone can pull it off.

OVERSTUFFED PINEAPPLE BOAT

Ingredients:

1 whole ripe pineapple

1 pound frozen cooked shrimp; thawed, tails removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup butter

1 cup instant rice, brown or white

1 1/2 cups fine home style noodles

10-ounce can chunk chicken breast, drained

14-ounce chicken broth

4 green onions, chopped

8-ounce can of slivered water chestnuts, drained

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soybean seasoning sauce

Instructions:

Cut pineapple lengthwise; cut around the inside, following the edge to create a “boat”. Do not pierce the underside. Cut the pineapple flesh into chunks. Scoop out and place in a bowl. Set pineapple aside. In a deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add seafood seasoning, dill, and lime juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, turning once. Remove sautéed shrimp and place on paper towel-lined plate. Melt butter in the same skillet. Do not burn. Add white rice and thin noodles. Coat well. Cook them over medium heat 3-5 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Stir in chicken broth and chicken chunks. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Add chopped green onion with tops, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and soybean seasoning sauce. Mix well. Gently fold in sautéed shrimp and pineapple chunks, to taste. Refrigerate leftover pineapple in a covered container. Fill pineapple boats. Serve on platters. Garnish with cilantro leaf.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Lemon Pepper Pasta! Have you ever had one of those days when things just fall into place and you cook like a gourmet chef? And then, because everyone is starv-ing, you are halfway through the meal before you realize you forgot to take the food photo? Well, this is what an (almost) clean plate looks like! lol Perhaps it’s absent-mindedness, or maybe….yes, maybe…it’s just that good!

LEMON PEPPER PASTA

Ingredients:

8-ounces lemon pepper pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 green onions, chopped

8-ounces ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed on package. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm olive oil and bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shiitake mushrooms sprinkled with garlic powder; cook until soft. Add Roma tomatoes. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Reduce heat and stir gently. Add chopped green onion. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in spinach and heat on low 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain lemon pepper pasta. Add to spinach mixture. Toss to coat. Heat through and serve immediately.

Daikon Radish Cheese Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Daikon Radish Cheese Dip! Meet your new friend, the daikon radish. High in Vitamin C, eaten raw like a carrot, the daikon radish gives the benefit of the crunch you crave when scooping up a warm, cheesy dip. Basically, it’s a large white radish-more tubular than round-with a slightly sweet flavor. Forego the high carb chips and indulge away.

DAIKON RADISH CHEESE DIP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons black truffle olive oil

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 cup asiago cheese, shredded

8 ounce package Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2-3 drops liquid smoke

1-2 medium Daikon radishes, peeled and sliced

Crumbled Bacon for garnish

Green Onion Curls for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet over medium heat, add black truffle olive oil. Add sliced onions, seasoned salt, and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes longer. Meanwhile, combine Parmesan cheese, asiago cheese, Neufchâtel cheese, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside. After the onions have cooked 20 minutes, add chopped shiitake mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Cook 5-7 minutes longer. Combine onion/mushroom mixture with cheese mixture. Stir well. Transfer to a shallow casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Spread evenly. Bake 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with bacon crumbles and green onion curls. Serve in a bowl surrounded by daikon radish slices.

Avocado Egg Bake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Avocado Egg Bake! Everyone already eats eggs and avocados, right? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must confess, this really is delicious! Forget hum-drum. I mean, just look at the colors! What surprised me the most was not that the eggs cooked thoroughly in the avocado shell, but that the avocado did not turn an unpleasant shade of brown. Seriously. Top it off with onion snips and prosciutto crumbles for love at first bite.

AVOCADO EGG BAKE

Ingredients:

1 avocado, halved and pit removed

2 eggs

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cracked black pepper

1 pinch garlic powder

1 slice prosciutto

1 green onion, snipped

1 pinch parsley flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place oven rack in the middle setting. Arrange avocado halves in a small baking dish to keep them upright. Crack each egg into a custard cup. Gently spoon one egg yolk into the center of each avocado half. Transfer as much of the egg white as possible without overflowing. Discard excess. Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Bake 15 minutes until eggs are set. Meanwhile, microwave prosciutto on High setting until crispy for 45-60 seconds. Crumble and set aside. Remove avocados from oven. Sprinkle with prosciutto crumbles, onion snips, and parsley flakes.

Lobster-Mate Cheddar Biscuits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Lobster-Mate Cheddar Biscuits! Having to shelter-in-place during the pandemic does not mean that restaurant cravings just stop. I see you nodding your head in agreement. If I named a restaurant, chances are you would say, “Oh, I love their…steak burgers, iced tea, queso dip, sweet potato wedges, or cheddar biscuits.” Admit it, dining out is a fact of life and we miss it right now. So, the alternative is to give it our best shot at home. Thanks to my friend, Colleen, for her blog post* on a name-brand seafood restaurant’s copycat recipe for the bread basket. These cheddar biscuits are spot on. I guarantee you, the results will astound you.

LOBSTER-MATE CHEDDAR BISCUITS

Ingredients:

4 cups prepared baking mix

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/3 cup water

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion salt

Dill weed, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine baking mix, cheddar cheese, and water in a bowl. Mix well. Drop biscuits by spoonful on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, garlic powder, and onion salt. Brush butter mixture over warm cheddar biscuits. Sprinkle with dill weed. Serve warm.

*Check out Colleen’s recipe at

http://leencuisine.com/2020/12/01