Normandy Vegetable Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Normandy Vegetable Soup! Take a stroll down a country lane where small-scale growers of local gardens nourish a family farm with adventurous dishes. Simple vegetable consumption combined with milk, butter, and cheese appeals to the taste buds. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our childhood where nothing went to waste. Or maybe it’s the fact that classic veggies are always a good idea. Normandy Vegetable Soup. Put a twist on your next meal-in-a-bowl.

NORMANDY VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups light cream

2 cups chicken broth

16-ounce bag Normandy vegetables, thawed*

4-6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add chopped sweet onion, herbs de Provence, and olive oil. Sauté 5 minutes or until soft. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add flour, sea salt, and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly add light cream, stirring often to remove lumps. Bring to a slow boil. Carefully add chicken broth, onions, Normandy vegetables. Bring mixture back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in sharp cheddar cheese until cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls. Serve hot.

*Normandy vegetables are broccoli and cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. Some varieties include a few red pepper bits, green beans, and lima beans.

Baby Corn Split Pea Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Baby Corn Split Pea Soup! For a taste of the country, chocked full of wholesome ingredients and tender smoked ham, look no further. Step off the beaten path of ordinary chicken noodle soup for a bowl of flavorful homemade goodness. Pay attention to the subtle smoky aftertaste of cottage ham that lingers on the tongue. Perhaps the blissfully sweet golden harvest of roasted baby corn meets your satisfaction. Either way, the blend of savory split peas infused among them will leave you asking for a smidgen more.

BABY CORN SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 3/4 cups dry split green peas and lentils, rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups smoked ham, shredded

7-ounce jar baby corn, whole

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, combine split peas and lentils, vegetable broth, water, garlic powder, black pepper, celery seed, and sea salt. Mix together. Add chopped onion and shredded ham. Cover and cook on HIGH for four hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Adjust with more water if soup becomes too thick. Meanwhile, drain baby corn. Pat dry. Take an iron skillet; spray it with nonstick oil. Heat on high temperature. Add baby corn. Gently turn corn as it browns so all sides are evenly roasted. Cut into pieces or leave whole. Add to soup. Lower crockpot setting to LOW. Cook two hours longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm.

Positively Popular Poutine

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Positively Popular Poutine! While traveling to Canada recently, I was taken aback by a friendly waitress who recommended a very popular dish on the menu made with crispy French fries, fresh cheese curds, and rich brown gravy. She called it Poutine. Like a deer in the headlights, I was completely frozen at the thought. So I shook my head no, thanked her, and ordered my fries plain. By the end of the meal I was convinced I had missed out on something spectacular. Practically every restaurant listed Poutine as their specialty. Some Poutine platters were loaded with bacon, others chunk lobster, beef brisket, jerk chicken, or sautéed veggies. One place even boasted “Award Winning Poutine” and stayed open til 4:00 a.m. just to meet the late-night cravings of college students. Maybe this dish will catch on, after all.

POSITIVELY POPULAR POUTINE

Ingredients:

2 pound bag of frozen extra crispy seasoned crinkle fries

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

2 cups cheddar cheese curds, white and yellow

1-2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups beef broth

Fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Arrange frozen French fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste. For the gravy, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Whisk together cornstarch and cold water until no lumps remain. Add cornstarch mixture to melted butter, stirring constantly. Gradually add beef broth, continuing to stir until all broth is used. Bring gravy to a boil, as you stir. Allow gravy to boil at least one minute to dissolve thickener. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Divide the crinkle fries among serving bowls. Cover each bowl with cheese curds. Ladle rich brown gravy over each portion. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Garlic Smashed Potatoes! Now you, too, can have the same potato side dish at home which you often choose in popular eateries. It’s so incredibly easy you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t think of it before now. My simple recipe requires only three key ingredients: Idaho Russet Potatoes, Boursin Garlic Cheese, and of course, French Butter with sea salt. A sprinkling of bacon bits and fresh cut chives for garnish merely enhances an already phenomenal taste. With the holidays on the horizon, be kind to yourself. Keep it simple and WOW your friends and family without spending endless hours in the kitchen. You deserve it.

GARLIC SMASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:

2 large Idaho Russet Potatoes

5.2 ounces package Boursin Garlic and Herb Gournay cheese

2 tablespoons butter, salted

Bacon bits, for garnish

Fresh cut chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Place potatoes in a 2-quart pan. Cover with cold water. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes for 15-18 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Empty pan of potatoes into a colander to remove water. Transfer potatoes back to the pan, add butter and Boursin garlic cheese. Cover for 2-3 minutes. Take a hand mixer and smash the ingredients together until slightly chunky. Potatoes will be stiff but creamy. Transfer potatoes to a serving dish. Top with bacon bits and fresh cut chives for garnish. Serve immediately with gravy, if desired.

Yam Streusel Boats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Yam Streusel Boats! Root vegetables are our friends. Yams, also known as sweet potatoes, contain more healthy fiber and Vitamin A than white potatoes. Plus they are lower in calories. Granted today’s recipe has a streusel topping, but think about it. When you eat a baked (white) potato, do you add butter, sour cream, and crumbled bacon? I know, right! Obviously portion-control is part of the equation in making healthy choices. With the holidays on the horizon, think warm, comfort foods containing root vegetables.

YAM STREUSEL BOATS

Ingredients for Yams:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 pinch cinnamon

1 pinch chipotle chili powder

Ingredients for Chipotle Pumpkin Seeds:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8 teaspoon raspberry chipotle rub

3/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Ingredients for Streusel Topping:

1 tablespoon flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/4 cup chipotle pumpkin seeds, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Rub sweet potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Pierce the top with a knife. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack. Bake one hour. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl. Place potato shells on a baking sheet. Slightly mash the sweet potato flesh. Add butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder. Whisk until smooth. Spoon mixture equally into yam shells. For seasoned pumpkin seeds, combine butter, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and raspberry chipotle rub. Whisk well. Put pumpkin seeds in a ziplock bag. Pour butter mixture over all. Seal and shake to coat. Transfer seeds to a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Toss and bake 5 minutes longer. Cool. Chop 1/4 cup of seasoned pumpkin seeds for topping. For streusel topping, use a medium bowl. Combine flour, brown sugar, and butter. Mix well. Topping should be crumbly. Fold in chopped pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle streusel topping over mashed sweet potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Vegan Black Bean Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Vegan Black Bean Stew! Autumn has arrived. And with it comes all the comfort we crave in foods that warm our toes and fill our tummies. You don’t have to be a meat-lover to appreciate a heaping bowl of hearty stew. Choose vegetable medleys and aromatic spices instead. Combine them all together in the slow cooker for savory results. Go meatless!

VEGAN BLACK BEAN STEW

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 sweet onion, diced

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

3 cups vegetable broth

45 ounces black beans, with liquid

1 cup sweet corn

Bell Pepper rings

Fresh Cilantro

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add chopped carrots, sliced celery, and sweet onion. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste, garlic powder, and cumin. Cook 2 minutes longer until tomato paste turns brownish. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Transfer skillet mixture to a crockpot. Add black beans, sweet corn, and remaining vegetable broth. Stir well. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 6 hours. Serve heaping bowls with bell pepper rings and cilantro to garnish.

Hasselback Honey-Roasted Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Hasselback Honey-Roasted Carrots! Get cooking with a vegetable side dish that will bring on the cheers. It not only has eye appeal when served, it is bursting of natural flavor combined with exotic spices. This is everyday cooking. Who wants to give it a try? These beautifully sliced carrots are incredibly simple to make.

HASSELBACK HONEY-ROASTED CARROTS

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and tops trimmed

1/4 cup natural honey

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon thyme

Fresh Chives for garnish

Pomegranate arils for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Beginning at one end of the carrot, slice in vertical strips, being careful to stop before slicing through the bottom. Repeat with remaining carrots. Transfer carrots to a shallow dish. Combine natural honey, olive oil, seasoned salt, black pepper, ground ginger, paprika, ground cumin, and thyme. Stir well. Brush glaze onto the carrots, turning to coat. Place carrots on a nonstick baking pan in a single layer without touching. Bake 40-45 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives and pomegranate arils.

Xtra Tender Crockpot Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Xtra Tender Crockpot Carrots! Take advantage of a favorite workhorse at your disposal for men and women alike. Some call it a crockpot (from the 1970s) while others refer to it as a modern-day slow cooker. It basically became popular because it was a handy appliance that could be filled with traditional stew ingredients left to cook slowly all day long. People plugged it in and trotted off to work. When they returned home, the entire house was filled with savory aromas that could make a macho man weep. The only thing missing was the synthesized beat of the disco hit by the Village People. Now I’m really dating myself.

XTRA TENDER CROCKPOT CARROTS

Instructions:

2 pounds whole carrots, washed and peeled

1/3 cup apricot jam

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons water

Instructions:

Trim carrots, as needed, to fit lengthwise in a crockpot or slow cooker. Remove all but an inch of the carrot tops. In a bowl, combine apricot jam, melted butter, raw honey, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, kosher salt, dried thyme, dry mustard, and black pepper. Stir until thoroughly mixed. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together cornstarch and water. Pour into the apricot sauce. Stir well. Drizzle apricot sauce over carrots. Cover crockpot. Cook on LOW setting for 5-6 hours, or until tender. Carrots are done when pierced easily with a fork. Serve immediately.

April’s Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: April’s Potato Salad! For years whenever I made a six-hour road trip to visit my best friend, April, I would request her famous potato salad. Upon arrival, between hugs and laughter, we’d eventually meander to the front porch with a couple of ham sandwiches and a plate of homemade potato salad. As we’d sit there gazing out over cornfields at sunset, I’d inhale the intoxicating scent of juicy sweet corn, the pleasant odor of dewy stalks, humid green earth, and maybe even a touch of honey from waning wildflowers. I probably said the same thing over and over every year, “Life doesn’t get any better than this.”

APRIL’S POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

7 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

Instructions:

Boil potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Set aside. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, yellow mustard, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. In a large bowl, add cooked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, chopped celery, and chopped onions. Toss to combine. Pour mayonnaise mixture over all. Coat well. Refrigerate one hour before serving.