Vidalia Onion Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Vidalia Onion Dressing! Have you ever loved the taste of a homemade salad dressing so much you wish it could be more? Well, consider this. Marinades are like a secret step to making meat taste flavorful and tender. By planning a little bit in advance, you can pour this dressing over chicken breasts to marinate one hour before grilling or baking. The dressing actually saturates the meat in a way that benefits the flavoring with a sweet onion taste. When everyone gathers around the table and raves about the extraordinary taste of ordinary chicken, just shrug your shoulders and say, “Its my grandma’s family secret.”

VIDALIA ONION DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 medium Vidalia onion, grated

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup vinegar

Jalapeño sliced, pickled

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, sea salt, dry mustard, and celery seed. Stir. Add grated Vidalia onion, vegetable oil, and vinegar. Heat until sugar is melted, stirring constantly. Add jalapeño slices. Cool and refrigerate for one hour. Serve as a dressing over toasted salad.

Warm Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Warm Potato Salad! The debate continues. Which is better? Potato salad made with mayonnaise and served cold or potato salad made with vinegar and served warm? One is creamy with hard-boiled eggs, celery, and pickles while the other is tangy with bacon, mustard, and sugar. What a dilemma. I guess it depends on the craving that drives your appetite on any given day. Whatever you choose, in my opinion, potato salad is not just for summer anymore.

WARM POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

2 pounds potatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 ounces applewood smoked bacon

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon onions, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Scrub potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot. Cover potatoes with cold water and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain the water. Allow potatoes to air dry for a few minutes. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces. Set aside. In another skillet over medium heat, cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Transfer bacon, with a slotted spoon, to a paper towel-lined plate. Warm the reserve bacon drippings (about 1/4 cup) over Low heat. Slowly stir in apple cider vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard until combined. Add chopped onions and celery seeds. Cook for one minute longer. Remove the pan from heat and toss in the potatoes. Mix gently. Fold in the cooked bacon. Transfer the warm potato salad to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Nutella Espresso Rollups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Nutella Espresso Rollups! French toast makes every day a wonderful day, doesn’t it? Now you can take a few basic ingredients, follow a super simple recipe, and create a treat that tastes like a chocolate-filled donut. Each sugar coated flute is perfect as a finger food for weekend breakfast, lazy day brunch, afternoon snack, or late night dessert. Ambitious cooks may choose to make more than one variation. I’m thinking flavored cream cheese and strawberry filling, for one. Peanut Butter Banana is another. Meat lovers may decide to use sausage links, then drizzle them with maple syrup. You’re thinking holiday buffet. I can see it in your eyes.

NUTELLA ESPRESSO ROLLUPS

Ingredients:

6 slices honey wheat bread

1/2 cup Nutella spread*

1/4 teaspoon espresso powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons fine sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Nutella, for drizzling

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Trim the edges of the sliced bread and discard crusts. Flatten bread with a rolling pin. Spread 1-2 teaspoons of Nutella on each slice. Sprinkle with espresso powder. Roll up the bread tightly and place seam side down on a plate. In a shallow dish, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Set aside. On a plate, combine cinnamon and fine sugar. Set aside. Warm butter over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Do not scorch. Dip bread roll in the egg mixture, coating well. Place in the nonstick skillet, seam side down. Cook in batches until golden brown, turning often to brown all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove immediately and roll in cinnamon sugar. To serve, drizzle with Nutella and dust with powdered sugar.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

KFC Copycat Coleslaw

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: KFC Copycat Coleslaw! Instead of running into town to the local chicken drive-through for the national brand of coleslaw we’re all familiar with, you can make this popular side dish at home. It goes well on pork sliders, stuffed into fish tacos, or layered over sloppy joes. Knowing you made it fresh may ease your mind when it comes to being susceptible to all the germs running rampant right now. A container of coleslaw will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator, leaving you with many options for jazzing up a meal.

KFC COPYCAT COLESLAW

Ingredients:

8 cups cabbage, finely chopped (or two bags pre-shredded coleslaw mix)

1/4 cup carrots, shredded

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup milk

Instructions:

Combine the chopped cabbage and shredded carrots in a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, white vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and milk. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Refrigerate one hour. Toss and serve.

Jam Pockets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Jam Pockets! Here’s a versatile quick recipe that makes a wonderful dessert, breakfast pastry, or afternoon snack. Prepared pie crusts or pizza dough from the dairy case in the supermarket can be used. Plus, any flavor of fruit jam will complement the smooth creamy filing inside. Although I didn’t add them here, I think sliced almonds would make a nice addition as well. The buttery crust serves as a nice “pocket” for the burst of fruity sweetness inside. Try as I might, it’s a challenge to stop at just one. Perhaps I won’t.

JAM POCKETS

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on package

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup four-fruit jam

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out refrigerated pie crust to 1/4-inch. Cut into twelve 3-inch rounds. Set aside. In a bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese, almond extract, and powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Drop a teaspoon of cheese mixture into the center of each round. Top with a dollop of fruit jam. Brush the inside edges with beaten egg; fold in half. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Brush top and bottom with more egg wash; dust both sides with sugar. Pierce the top of each pocket. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat steps for remaining jam pockets. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet. Cool slightly. Serve the reserve creamed cheese mixture as a dipping sauce.

Fritter Fratter Apple Loaf

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Fritter Fratter Apple Loaf! This recipe is pure country. If you don’t believe me, ask the Amish. They cook for taste, dietary staples, and comfort. It definitely checks all the boxes when it comes to a flavor-filled bakery bread loaded with fresh fruit, brown sugar, and cinnamon spice. No frying allowed, simply because this delectable treat falls in the category of “quick breads”. No need to feel intimidated. You have everything you need. As with any recipe, the results depend on the one baking it. You can do this.

FRITTER FRATTER APPLE LOAF

Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups diced apples, peeled and cored

For Glaze Topping:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tablespoon butter, softened

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until blended. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Gradually add to the large bowl. Stir until blended. Pour milk into the batter; blend until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Layer with half the diced apples. Pour reserve batter over the apple layer. Top with remaining apples. Gently press into the batter. Cover the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. For the glaze topping, blend the powdered sugar and softened butter until smooth. Add milk and vanilla extract to form a smooth consistency. Allow the apple loaf to cool for 20 minutes. Drizzle the glazed topping over all. Slice loaf and serve.

Copycat Jiffy Cornbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Copycat Jiffy Cornbread! If you’re wondering why anyone would make a homemade version of a boxed mix, read on. Could it be I’m a control freak? Maybe I want a healthier version? Or is it because my adult son says he recalls fond memories of the blue and yellow box from his childhood? Truth be told, I was too lazy to drive into town to buy the store-bought variety. Good thing I keep a well-stocked pantry.

COPYCAT JIFFY CORNBREAD

Ingredients:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup organic cornmeal

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a square pan with non-stick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, organic cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix well. Whisk in vegetable oil until smooth. Add egg and milk. Stir only until lumps no longer remain. Do not over-beat. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

Glorious Glazed Pecans

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Glorious Glazed Pecans! Go to any big city or farmers market and you’ll find street vendors roasting sweet and savory candied nuts. The bakery aroma practically has you walking on air. Now you can bring this enticing smell and sugary sweetness right into your very own kitchen. I’ve made it a tradition to bake a couple batches for holiday gift-giving. When mixed with an assortment of smoked almonds, wasabi peas, salty cashews, and honey roasted peanuts, these glazed pecans become a gourmet choice for absolutely anyone on your list. In fact, anticipation creates excitement followed by open delight and thanksgiving.

GLORIOUS GLAZED PECANS

Ingredients:

1 pound pecan halves

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white, room temperature

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a small bowl mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and set aside. In a large bowl beat egg white and water until frothy. Add one pound of pecans and coat well to cover. Pour sugar mixture over nuts. Stir completely to form a coating over pecans. Transfer nuts to the baking sheet. Form a single layer. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to form a crystallized finish. Remove from oven. Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

Walnut Brown Sugar Butter

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Walnut Brown Sugar Butter! Ahh, sweet butter. I don’t know if it’s the winter weather or the upcoming holidays that get me in the mood for bakery ideas. Who doesn’t appreciate aromatic cinnamon, sweet nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice? The smell of bread baking in the oven triggers all kinds of emotions. It can lift our mood and impact our behavior. Honestly, it would have been pretty easy to feature today’s compound butter all by itself. But tell me, isn’t it better to imagine slathering it all over those freshly-baked cinnamon rolls?

WALNUT BROWN SUGAR BUTTER

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine unsalted butter, brown sugar, and sea salt until smooth. Fold in chopped walnuts. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto plastic wrap. Roll layer of plastic wrap over butter to form a log. Roll tight and place in refrigerator for one hour or until firm. Serve over toast, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, or muffins.