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.

Glorious Glazed Pecans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: 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.

Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes! Every so often I succumb to my sweet tooth. At those times I admit, I throw caution to the wind. If I’m going to splurge on something sweet, I pull out all the stops. Hence, today’s feature includes a caramel pecan cookie dough crust, a sensuously satisfying vanilla cheesecake center, and a spectacular topping of sea salt caramel, chocolate chips, and sugared pecans that says, “Go all the way, you’re worth it!” Now you can be pampered as well.

TURTLE CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

16-ounce package refrigerated Pecan Turtle Cookie Dough, room temperature

16 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels

1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped

1/3 cup caramel butterscotch ice cream topping

Coarse sea salt, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers to make 24 cupcakes. Cut each square portion of cookie in half. Place one section of dough in the bottom of each paper-lined muffin cup. Bake 12 minutes. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer and a medium-sized bowl, beat the Neufchâtel cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and sea salt for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Spoon 3 tablespoons of cheesecake mixture over each cookie crust. Bake 18 minutes longer. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Refrigerate Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes for one hour. Before serving, top each with mini chocolate chips and sugared pecans. Drizzle caramel butterscotch sauce over all. Garnish with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

Sweet Potato Stacks

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Sweet Potato Stacks! Bring gourmet taste, with a quirk of presentation, to the dinner table tonight. It’s not rocket science. In fact, you may find yourself giggling at how ridiculously simple this is to make. When I pierced each stack with a rosemary sprig, my husband nearly fell out of his chair in amusement. (It’s not at all necessary. The sweet potato stacks stand upright on their own.) Roasted in a muffin tin, and drizzled with pure maple syrup are two trade secrets you can share with others. Or keep to yourself. Either way, it’s a tower of Yum.

SWEET POTATO STACKS

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick oil. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, rosemary leaves, and garlic powder. Coat slices of sweet potatoes. Place a slice of sweet potato in each muffin cup. Top with parmesan cheese between layers of potato slices. Continue until the muffin cup is filled. Going above the top is okay since the cooked sweet potatoes will shrink a little. Repeat with remaining sweet potato slices. Drizzle maple syrup over each stack. Sprinkle extra parmesan cheese over all. Bake stacks 35-40 minutes until tender. Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon reserve maple syrup mixture over top. Garnish with fresh rosemary.