Huevos Rancheros Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Huevos Rancheros Casserole! Looking for a little variety for a weekend breakfast? Take a trip down a rural road for an old classic that was served as “ranchers eggs” on the farms in Mexico. By turning it into a robust casserole, you can give it an American twist. It still has eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortillas in there. I chose street-size corn tortillas just because they were smaller and easier to work with. Obviously any type will do. Feel free to add beans and chorizo if you’re looking for hearty portions. Do ahead and refrigerate overnight so it’s ready to bake first thing in the morning.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

10 street-size corn tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

1 cup black beans, drain liquid

1 1/2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped and cooked; drained

3 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into strips

6 eggs

1/2 milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Sour cream, for garnish

Green onion snips, for garnish

Instructions:

Spray on 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick oil. Line the sides and bottom with 8 street-size corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread a layer of salsa over the bottom. Next, layer with black beans. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Top with cooked chorizo, poblano peppers, and another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cut the last 2 tortillas into strips and layer over cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin powder. Whisk together. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Press lightly into egg mixture. Cover dish. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake covered casserole 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie! Oddly enough, I’ve had a couple people tell me they’ve never heard of tomato pie. It may be more of a southern dish, or perhaps its more familiar to those of us who live in the country and can’t figure out what to do with the abundance of garden tomatoes. Who knows? I must admit there is a secret ingredient that I discovered from the Savannah restauranteur and popular chef, Paula Deen. Maybe you can pick it out, too.

VINE-RIPENED TOMATO PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared deep-dish pie shell

4-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup mayonnaise

Cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pie shell according to package directions. Remove from oven and set aside. In a bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Allow tomatoes to “weep” for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seasoned tomatoes to the pie shell. Layer sweet onion over tomatoes. In another bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and parmesan cheese with mayonnaise. Mix well. Spread cheese mixture over top of tomatoes and onions. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.

Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew! This time of year the nights are chilly and the days can still be warm. A slow-cooker makes preparing a satisfying meal pretty simple. Throw everything together and let it “stew” for awhile. Nowadays you can get an assortment of 15 beans ranging from pinto, garbanzo, and northern to split pea, navy, and lentil in the same package. Add that ham bone you stored in the freezer during the holidays and you’re on your way. By adding sweet onion, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves, you’ll make this a classic favorite every time.

FIFTEEN-BEAN HAM BONE STEW

Ingredients:

20-ounce package of 15 Bean Soup assortment

1 pound ham bone with ham chunks

32 ounces vegetable broth

32 ounces water

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4-5 bay leaves

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Rinse beans. Place in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water. Allow beans to soak overnight. After soaking, drain water. Transfer beans to a slow-cooker. Add ham bone with meat. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add chopped onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on High setting for 5 hours (or Low setting for 7-8 hours) or until beans are tender. Remove the ham bone. Let the excess meat fall off into the stew or cut it off the bone and put the meat chunks back into the crockpot. Stir in diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 minutes longer on Low setting. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

Apple Orchard Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Apple Orchard Pie! Nothing conjures up autumnal nostalgia like a slice of apple pie, still warm enough from the oven to soften a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Inhale the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s delectable, isn’t it? I realize making pies may not be on the top of the list for everyone who loves it. So, I’m telling you today, it’s okay to begin with a prepared pie crust. There are some pretty decent brands out there for you to try. Some refrigerated brands are made to unroll and crimp the edges; others are frozen and meant to be thawed. Some are buttery, super-flaky, and even taste as good as homemade. That’s where you’ll need the help of an assistant, or taste-tester, so to speak. Just remember, pie doesn’t have to be picture perfect to taste spot on. It’s dessert, after all.

APPLE ORCHARD PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, 9”

4-5 large sweet apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Form prepared pie crust into a pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Crimp edges. Set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sea salt. Sprinkle about a quarter cup of mixture over the bottom of the pie crust. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the remaining sugar mixture. Coat well. Transfer apples to the pie plate, forming a mound in the center. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon for crumb topping. It should resemble small peas when mixed. Carefully add the topping to the apple pie. Bake 30 minutes longer. If necessary, cover the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Turmeric Chicken Curry

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.

TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

4 teaspoons turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Yellow Squash Bolognese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Yellow Squash Bolognese! I’m at it again. The Spiralizer has become my new best friend. This time the star attraction is yellow squash noodles in place of pasta. But first, prepare the Bolognese sauce. It not only takes a bit longer, but it will turn your kitchen into an aromatic sensation. The rich Italian Bolognese sauce is a time-honored tradition that can take up to four hours to duplicate. This version, however, requires less than an hour from start to finish. I knew you would appreciate that fact.

YELLOW SQUASH BOLOGNESE

Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, diced

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 pound ground Sweet Italian sausage

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

8 basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, Vidalia onion, and minced garlic. Add celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Increase heat and add ground Italian sausage, fennel, marjoram, and oregano. Cook until meat is no longer pink and appears crumbled, approximately 10 minutes. Lower heat and add tomatoes, parsley, basil, sea salt, and pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Noodles:

1-2 yellow squash

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Spiralize the yellow squash into noodles. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add yellow squash noodles; toss gently. Sauté no longer than two minutes. The noodles will turn soft, but not translucent. Serve with Bolognese sauce garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Tomato Feta Egg Au Gratin

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Tomato Feta Egg Au Gratin! I’m all for trying new things, so when I saw this recipe featured at Williams-Sonoma, I knew it had to be good. The fact that I already had all the ingredients on hand was sheer bliss. I confess, I may have tweaked the original by adding a buttery crouton topping, but that’s just me. You may do without. As everything warms together in the oven, the aroma arising is staggering. How much longer? There’s something about serving individual casseroles that make a dish eloquent, wouldn’t you agree?

TOMATO FETA EGG AU GRATIN

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes and juice

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup light cream

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4-8 eggs

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 slices bread, torn into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, marjoram, and oregano; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes. Stir in mustard, red pepper flakes, and light cream. Season with sea salt and pepper. Divide tomato mixture evenly among 4 small au gratin dishes. Carefully crack 1 or 2 eggs into each cocotte and use a spoon to gently swirl egg white into tomato mixture, without breaking yolk. Season yolks lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the bread crumbs in the melted butter until completely absorbed. Divide among the 4 casseroles. Bake until egg is cooked to your liking, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with feta cheese and parsley. Serve.

Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches! Here’s a combination you will truly enjoy: crisp sliced cucumbers with juicy sweet strawberries. Together they come across as eye candy. Whip up a creamy spread of sea salt butter, Neufchâtel cheese, and Italian seasonings to slather across the top of a toasted slice of artisan rye bread. Add a sprig of dill, sprinkled with tiny thyme leaves to crown things off. The results may find you believing you embarked on a journey through the charming countryside of Tuscany.

CUCUMBER STRAWBERRY SANDWICH

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons sea salt butter, softened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved

2-4 slices rye bread, toasted

Fresh dill sprig, for garnish

Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Cream together Neufchâtel cheese, butter, and yogurt until smooth. Fold in Italian seasoning and dill to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Slice cucumber; halve strawberries. Toast rye bread; slather with seasoned cheese spread. Top with cucumber slices and strawberries. Add dill sprig and thyme leaves for garnish.

Yogurt Tomato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Yogurt Tomato Bisque! Before you turn up your nose at the sound of yogurt, hear me out. Here’s a couple of facts you may not have heard about yogurt. Number One, it’s healthy. Number Two, it makes the soup creamier, which is always a plus in my opinion. Number Three, Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. And, Number Four, it has about half as many carbs, if that’s something that is important to you. All together, that makes it a Superfood. Yada-yada-yada. In the end, what it all comes down to is flavor. Tomatoes can be sweet, so the yogurt adds a little tang, which goes well with a dab of butter. Add herbs and cheese with a slice of garlic toast and you have the “pièce de résistance”. Nicely done.

YOGURT TOMATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup Greek yogurt

Dab of butter

Colby cheese, finely shredded

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place plum tomatoes and chopped onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor to purée. In a stock pot, combine vegetable broth and puréed tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Divide into soup bowls. Garnish with a dab of butter and finely shredded Colby cheese. Sprinkle with marjoram. Serve with garlic toast.