Beet Bacon Bleu Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Beet Bacon Bleu Salad! Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you eat beets? And you hated them? Well, thank goodness as we age, our taste buds change. Perhaps it’s time to give them a second chance. I did and the results made me wonder why I waited so long.

BEET BACON BLEU SALAD

Ingredients:

15-ounce can sliced beets, drained

3 tablespoons lemon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

2 cups mixed salad greens

1 egg, hard-cooked and sliced

3 slices applewood bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled

1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Garnish with croutons

Instructions:

In a shallow dish, combine lemon olive oil, seasoned salt, and Herbes de Provence. Add sliced beets. Marinate 10 minutes, turn and marinate 10 minutes longer. Arrange salad greens in a bowl. Add beets, reserving marinade. Arrange egg slices on greens. Top with bacon pieces. Sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle all with reserve marinade plus balsamic reduction. Garnish with croutons.

Iowa Loose Meat Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Iowa Loose Meat Sliders! If you’ve ever taken a road trip through Iowa, or are fortunate enough to live there, you’re already familiar with its popular loose meat sandwich found at local diners. Made of 100% freshly ground beef, the Midwest tradition began around 1926. Bypassing the form of a patty and omitting the sauce of a sloppy joe, what you saw was what you got—all loose meat. The steaming technique plus the combination of spices remain a trade secret. But if you’re willing to come pretty close, give this recipe a try. Just remember to hold the ketchup.

IOWA LOOSE MEAT SLIDERS

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins sauce

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 1/2 cups beer

1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

6 slider buns

Sliced dill pickles

Minced onions

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add ground beef. Cook until brown and crumbly. Add yellow mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Stir in beer. Bring to boil. Add beef bouillon. Reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Serve on toasted slider buns. Top with dill pickles, mustard, and minced onions.

Oil and Vinegar Herbed Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Oil & Vinegar Herbed Tomatoes! Be amazed at the rich and vibrant colors of autumn in this tantalizing harvest side dish of slow-roasted tomatoes. It may become love at first bite. Inspired by herbs from the south of France, first-press olive oil from the Italian countryside, and garden fresh tomatoes from local farms, this dish is sure to please. Don’t take my word for it. Be transformed.

OIL & VINEGAR HERBED TOMATOES

Ingredients:

2 pints of tomatoes, assorted sizes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins sauce

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a shallow dish, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Lee & Perrins sauce, herbs de Provence, kosher salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until incorporated. Cut the tomatoes in half from end to end. Place cut side down in the olive oil mixture. After a few minutes, turning cut side up, transfer tomatoes to an iron skillet. Arrange in a single layer. Drizzle extra olive oil mixture over all the tomatoes. Bake 20 minutes. Remove iron skillet from oven and snip fresh basil over the tomatoes. Bake 10 minutes longer or until tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Serve immediately.

Jalapeño Confetti Jelly

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Jalapeño Confetti Jelly! This homemade jelly may become your all-time favorite. Not only is it enticing in the jar with its festive swirls of colorful confetti, but once you slather it over your favorite foods, it becomes a taste sensation. Don’t settle for ordinary. Be creative. Serve it as a dipping sauce with grilled meats and shrimp or spread it on crostini and crackers. No rules apply. Make some for yourself and some to share. Either way, it’ll be gone long before the next crop of garden jalapeños roll around.

JALAPEÑO CONFETTI JELLY

Ingredients:

8-10 jalapeño peppers, stems removed

12-ounce bag assorted mini peppers

2 cups apple cider vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 packet pectin, no sugar needed*

Instructions:

Wear disposable gloves when handling jalapeños. Chop jalapeño peppers, then pulse in a food processor until they are minced. Transfer jalapeños to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan. Repeat with mini peppers after removing stems, inner ribs, and seeds. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. Start with a rough chop, then pulse in the food processor until finely minced. Add mini peppers to the pan with the jalapeño peppers. Add apple cider vinegar and sugar to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the pan to a boil. Gradually add the fruit pectin. Continue boiling for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle the hot liquid into clean jars. (Makes three pints or use assorted jar sizes for gift-giving.) Set aside jars to cool before capping. As jelly cools, pepper bits float to the top. Stir occasionally to distribute more evenly for a confetti appearance. Once the jelly is cool, cap and refrigerate the jars. The Jalapeño Confetti Jelly will thicken as it cools.

* I received no recompense for suggesting SURE-JELL, no sugar needed, premium fruit pectin, 1.75 ounce size box.

End-of-Season Tomato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: End-of-Season Tomato Salad! Going, going, gone. Ever wonder why homegrown, backyard, garden tomatoes taste so good? Is it because we invest our own blood, sweat, and tears fighting weeds and combating annoying insects? Surely not. Perhaps it’s because we allow them to ripen naturally on their own schedule, rather than picking them early to allow for transporting and packaging purposes. Whatever the reason, pat yourself on the back and enjoy. It’ll have to hold you til the next planting season rolls around again.

END-OF-SEASON TOMATO SALAD

Ingredients:

5/6 Roma tomatoes, sliced

6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning

Instructions:

Arrange sliced Roma tomatoes and halved cherry tomatoes on a shallow platter. Tuck red onion strips between layers. Top with fresh basil pieces. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes. Repeat with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle salad with kosher salt and Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve immediately.

Ziti Green Bean Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Ziti Green Bean Salad! Citrusy and Refreshing, that’s how to describe this incredibly vibrant cold pasta salad. Thin and crunchy green beans are paired with luscious cherry tomatoes wrapped in highly fragrant minced parsley bits. Make-ahead options give you time to spend on leisure activities to maximize the final days of summer. Skip the mayonnaise and revel in the burst of lemon vinaigrette for a seasonal change. Life is good!

ZITI GREEN BEAN SALAD

Ingredients:

16 ounces whole wheat ziti pasta

8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3/4 cup Lemon Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans to boiling water during the last two minutes of cooking time; drain. Rinse pasta mixture under cold running water until cool; drain again. Combine pasta mixture, tomatoes, and vinaigrette. Toss to coat. Cover and chill overnight. Just before serving, gently fold in minced parsley.

LEMON CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 minced shallot

1/2 cup olive oil

1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced

1/2 tablespoon natural honey

1/2 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Combine lemon juice and minced shallot. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add olive oil, fresh parsley, natural honey, and Dijon mustard. Whisk together to blend. Store in refrigerator.

Xinjiang Mini Cukes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Xinjiang Mini Cukes! Has anyone else noticed the adorable mini cucumbers in the produce department of the grocery store? I mean, they’re really cute; the size of an index finger. And they’re seedless! What a great addition to a relish plate. Today’s Chinese version of marinated cucumbers will kick-start any meal. It offers enough heat and spice from chile peppers along with the full-bodied taste of fried garlic to transport you to a country in Southeast Asia. No worries, the rice vinegar and natural honey make it easier on the stomach.

XINJIANG MINI CUKES

Ingredients:

4-6 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fried garlic

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1 tablespoon chili paste

Instructions:

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise; then slice in half to make four quarters. Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain excess water from cucumbers. Using a mortar and pestle, pumice red pepper flakes and fried garlic. Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, natural honey, Golden Mountain sauce, and chili paste. Mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce for mini cucumber appetizer OR pour over cucumbers; toss to coat and marinate in refrigerator for one hour or overnight.

Okra is Optional

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Okra is Optional! Mention the word “okra” and you may see people wrinkle their noses. It’s really not that bad, in my opinion. The flavor is mild and the texture is silky. Okra is often eaten fried in a delicious cornmeal batter or combined with vegetables in hearty homemade soups. Today’s version is pickled with its spicy second cousin, the jalapeño.

OKRA IS OPTIONAL

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh okra

2 jalapeño peppers, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 cups apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

Instructions:

Wash okra thoroughly and remove tips. Divide between 3 pint jars. Repeat with jalapeños and garlic. Combine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and mustard seeds in a 2-quart pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Ladle hot vinegar over okra mixture in jars. Wipe rims. Cover jars with kids. Cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for no longer than two months.

Perfect Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Perfect Pot Roast! Today all chefs get the day off from cooking. Seriously. This one-pot meal will turn out perfectly, as long as you ignore it. Use a slow-cooker or a Dutch Baker in a low temperature oven. I actually begin with a frozen chuck roast and forget about it, that is until the savory aromas lightly waft throughout the house. The liquid turns into a pleasant au jus or can be thickened into gravy. Personally, I ladle the juice into a food storage container to use as a sauce for beef carnitas, but that’s another story. Leftovers promise delicious options.

PERFECT POT ROAST

Ingredients:

3-4 pound chuck roast, frozen

3/4 cup vinegar

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup kosher salt (or less)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1 pound baby carrots

3-4 white potatoes, skin on, quartered

2-3 sprigs thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275°. Place frozen roast in Dutch Baker. Combine vinegar, orange juice, and melted butter. Pour over roast. Sprinkle roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Lay thyme sprigs across the top of the meat. Put the lid on the Dutch Baker and bake for 4 hours. Then add carrots and cut-up potatoes to the pot. Reduce oven temperature to 185°. Bake 4 hours longer. The roast is fall-apart tender and ready to serve.