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.

Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.

PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon cornmeal

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce

1 cup pulled pork

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Island Sweet Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Island Sweet Potato Salad! There is nothing wrong with your smart phone screen. The colors of Hawaiian sweet potatoes range from orange to green to purple. Notice the creamy texture. The slightly sweet taste may remind you more of a piece of fruit than a root vegetable. Sure it’s popular among the Asian markets, and it can be a little drier than its American cousin, but didn’t someone once say, “Variety is the spice of life”? Go ahead, add your version of seasonings. The results will amaze you.

ISLAND SWEET POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes, Hawaiian assortment, cooked with skin on and cubed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

3 strips bacon, crumbled

2 green onions, chopped

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and Himalayan sea salt. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Coat with mayonnaise mixture. Fold in bacon crumbles and green onion. Chill for one hour. Serve.

Onion Basil Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Onion Basil Bread! You have got to try this! Tasty Vidalia onions are unbelievably sweet and mild. They are grown locally in the state of Georgia, yet recognized all over the world. You begin to see them pop up in the neighborhood markets from mid-April to mid-June. Their unique fresh taste makes them an outstanding option for eating raw or cooking in recipes. Packed with nutritional value makes them a bonus. Become a believer; discover why Vidalia onions are all the buzz!

ONION BASIL BREAD

Ingredients:

Loaf of sesame artisan bread

1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 large size Vidalia onion, sliced

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the bread in half, then length-wise, and quarters. Dredge the cut sides in 1/3 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, marjoram, and sea salt. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion slices and seasoned salt. Cover and cook one minute. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Watch carefully to reduce scorching and stir if necessary. Meanwhile divide Jarlsberg cheese equally over the face of the bread. Top with caramelized onions. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.

Diablo Pepper Poppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Diablo Pepper Poppers! Sometimes you need an appetizer that doesn’t come across as a flame thrower sending your guests to the nearest source of water to put out the fire. I have discovered mini sweet peppers are a great stand-in for their high intensity cousin, the jalapeño. These little jewels are a colorful sight and taste even better than they look, which is pretty appealing. The green, orange, red, and yellow “pops” of color are bursting with flavor as well. No fire extinguisher needed.

DIABLO PEPPER POPPERS

Ingredients:

12 mini sweet peppers

2 tablespoons garlic olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt

3 green onions, snipped

7 Pepper Jack string cheese sticks

3 ounces prosciutto, deli sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray and place on the pan. Set aside. Wash the sweet peppers. Pat dry. Slice the top of each pepper vertically, removing a small portion to create a well. Remove any seeds. Brush each pepper with the garlic olive oil. Sprinkle on seasonings. Place peppers on the wire rack with cut side down. Bake 10 minutes; then set the broiler to High and broil for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Using a tongs, flip them over. Divide the green onion snips into the bottom of each pepper well. Using a kitchen shears, cut the string cheese to fit each pepper. Take each deli portion of prosciutto and slice it in half lengthwise. Carefully wrap the prosciutto around each filled sweet pepper and place upright on wire rack. Broil on High another 2-3 minutes or until the prosciutto gets crispy. Remove pan from oven and let cool slightly. Taking a cake tester, pierce each pepper from one side to another to make an opening. Insert a wooden pick in the opening. Now you have a finger food appetizer. Serve with herbed yogurt for dipping.

Unicorn Holiday Bark

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Unicorn Holiday Bark! Everyone remembers a childhood of mythical creatures, especially the unicorn which resembled a horse with a pointed horn spiraling out of its forehead. Some believed it had magical powers in addition to being a symbol of purity and grace. Only a virgin had the power to tame the unicorn, according to art from the Middle Ages now hanging on museum walls. Today the thought of unicorns make us happy. Perhaps they represent childhood dreams, or wishes, filled with hope for a future. It should be no surprise that pink swirls of white chocolate and candy glitter in sparkly hues appear in food to further those good feelings. Think of Unicorn Holiday Bark for your next festive occasion. Kid-friendly, husband-approved.

UNICORN HOLIDAY BARK

Ingredients:

2 pounds white chocolate chips

Food coloring of choice

1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles

1 tablespoon glitter sprinkles

1 tablespoon candy pearls

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Depending on how many colors you choose (I used 3), place 1/3 cup white chocolate chips per color in separate microwave-safe bowls. Warm on Low setting for 15 second intervals in microwave, stirring often. Continue until chips are melted. Add food coloring to desired tint. Hint: One drop of red will produce a pastel pink. Prepare tinted chocolate first before finishing with the remaining plain white chocolate. Once the white chocolate is melted, spread it onto the baking sheet. Smooth into an even layer, approximately 1/4” thick. Working quickly, dot tinted colors over the white chocolate in a random pattern. Take a wooden skewer, or toothpick, and drag it through the colors creating swirls. Next, scatter the rainbow sprinkles, glitter sprinkles, and candy pearls on top. Refrigerate baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until firm. Once set, break the bark into pieces, reserving a curved edge for the unicorn’s horn. Let the magic begin!

Paleo Pepper Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Paleo Pepper Steak! Before you delete this post, hear me out for sec. Paleo does not mean blah, boring, and tasteless. In fact, this recipe gives you permission to only eat the stuff you crave. No hidden sauces or funky herbs. Basically, what you see is what you get. (Disclaimer: Pay no attention to that slice of garlic bread. It was put in the photo by my alter ego who loves carbs.) The green and red peppers are so fresh you may feel like nibbling on one or two as you slice them into strips. And the caramelized onions compliment the taste of steak, in my opinion.

PALEO PEPPER STEAK

Ingredients:

1 large green bell pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large sweet red pepper, sliced and seeds removed

1 large yellow onion, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2-6 ounce filet mignon steaks

Sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder steak to taste

1 pat of butter

Instructions:

Salt and pepper both sides of the steak while the gas grill is preheating from 450°-500°. At this time sprinkle the steak with garlic powder as well. The salt begins to draw out a little bit of moisture which makes the steak sizzle when it hits the grill grate, sealing in the flavor. For accuracy in grilling, my husband sets the timer on his cell phone, which is quite handy. Grill the steak for 2 1/2 minutes on one side before flipping over for the remaining 2 1/2 minutes. The finished steak will be medium-rare. Now this is the most difficult part. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The juice will reabsorb back into the steak to give you that moist and meaty taste.

Meanwhile, sauté pepper and onion slices in olive oil and seasonings in a large skillet on medium heat. Turn often to gradually brown the vegetables and avoid burning. They will be tender in about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low simmer to keep warm. Before serving, surround the steak with peppers and onions. Finish with a pat of butter.