DIY Barbecue Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: DIY Barbecue Sauce! Have you ever began preparations for a recipe and realized you were short one ingredient? It happens to me all the time. Since I live in the country, it’s easier for me to peruse my pantry for a do-it-yourself recipe than to run into town. Perhaps you feel the same way. For example, instead of tomato sauce and tomato paste, I substituted a jar of cocktail sauce. When I checked the ingredient list, the cocktail sauce contained both items plus a touch of horseradish. I love the zing that horseradish provides. Once you realize cooking is all about the flavors you like, the rest is a breeze.

DIY BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients:

12-ounces cocktail sauce

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup raw honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons agave nectar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoky sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cocktail sauce, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, Dijon mustard, molasses, agave nectar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, smoky sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Sauce will slightly thicken. Transfer to a sealed container. Refrigerate up to one week.

Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Jalapeño Cherry Smoothie Bowl! Get ready to eat well. This morning’s smoothie bowl will energize your body as well as your mind. Feel the easygoing ingredients stimulate your senses with a kick of sass right between the eyes. I mean, just look at the brightness real cherries can make. Begin with frozen fruit. Did you know if you freeze a cut-up banana it doesn’t turn brown? Truth. Each ziplock bag contains an entire sliced banana. Make sure they freeze in a single layer, though. When it’s time to blend the frozen fruit, the smoothie is chilled so there’s no need to add ice cubes. Now to address the elephant in the room, so to speak. Jalapeños. Don’t worry. Their bold flavor is invigorating. It actually adds a nice balance between the sweet and creamy, not to mention the extra vitamins. But don’t take my word for it.

JALAPEÑO CHERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen cherries

1 sliced and frozen banana

3-5 slices of pickled jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños for garnish

Instructions:

In a blender combine frozen cherries, frozen banana, chopped jalapeños, chopped pistachios, orange juice, sherry vinegar, and Greek yogurt. Pulse to process. Add coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and Himalayan pink salt. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer smoothie to a bowl. Garnish with cherries, pistachios, and jalapeños.

Gluten-Free Egg Shoyu

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Gluten-Free Egg Shoyu! Have you ever wondered how to make those awesome tasting hard-boiled eggs you find nested in a bowl of ramen noodles? The whites are tender; the yolks a gorgeous shade of golden yellow. That slightly salty taste, combined with a hint of sweetness, is the result of marinating the peeled eggs in a soy sauce mixture. I’m not going to lie, that’s the step you need to do in advance. The marination process can take anywhere from 8 hours to 24, depending on the depth of saturation you desire. Its purpose is to allow the natural salt to season the egg yolk. In the end you achieve a perfect ring of tawny brown to outline the incredible edible egg.

GLUTEN-FREE EGG SHOYU

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs

6 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

Everything But Bagel Seasoning, for garnish

Instructions:

Remove the shells of the hard-boiled eggs. Discard. Place the uncut eggs in a deep bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the warm water and sugar until dissolved. Add sherry vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the eggs. You want them covered and submerged. Sometimes it is necessary to place a plate over the eggs so they do not float. Marinate the eggs for 8 hours or overnight. Remove the eggs from the sweet and salty marinade. Transfer them to a sealed container for up to three days. When ready to eat, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Sprinkle, or dab, with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve with rice or noodles.

Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing! Imagine my delight at seeing thin sprigs of thyme with tiny spear-shaped leaves in the herb bed again. Although a perennial, thyme seems to thrive more in full sun. Doesn’t everything? Crush a few leaves to breathe in the slight, lemony aroma. Nice. There’s an easier way to remove the leaves without picking them off one by one. Position your thumb and forefinger at the non-root end of the stem, then pull backwards so the leaves fall into a dish. Discard the stem and you’re ready to go. Fresh thyme adds a nice finish to recipes whether you sprinkle the leaves as a finishing touch or use the entire sprig as a garnish. I like adding fresh herbs to salads and dressings. It’s like a delicious taste of sunshine.

CREAMY HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raw Tupelo honey

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fresh lemon thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine Tupelo honey, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. Add lemon thyme leaves. Drizzle over salads and vegetables.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Vietnamese Dipping Sauce! Like any good dish, the sauce can make or break it. Some like it sweet and mild, others prefer hot and tangy. As you pull everything together, don’t be shy about taking a taste test. If you prefer less sweetness, adjust accordingly. Do the same to crank up the heat a notch or two. I took the advice from a friend of mine who puts this sauce on everything from spring rolls to noodles to salads to fish. It’s amazing!

VIETNAMESE DIPPING SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 cup rice vinegar

1 cup fish sauce

2 cups sugar

10 red chili peppers, chopped fine

1 clove garlic, crushed

Instructions:

Combine water, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, chili peppers, and garlic in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Unbelievable Bacon Jam

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Unbelievable Bacon Jam! Your morning just got better. Everyone loves bacon, right? And coffee is often casually referred to as a “cuppa joe”. Know what you get when you mix the two together, along with a few other items from the food pantry? You guessed it: Bacon Jam that can be slathered on buttered toast or added later to a Charcuterie Board. Tested on guests at Gail’s Kitchen, this recipe is spot on. Give it a try and see for yourself. You can thank me later.

UNBELIEVABLE BACON JAM

Ingredients:

9 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced thick

4 tablespoons bacon drippings

1 large red onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup brewed coffee

1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, diced

1 teaspoon smoked sea salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Cook the bacon until brown and slightly crispy. It should be chewy. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add diced red onion. Turn to coat. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté until onions are cooked, stirring frequently. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, remaining bacon grease, brewed coffee, pickled jalapeños, smoked sea salt, Dijon mustard, and bacon pieces. Add cooked onions. Stir well. Bring the bacon jam to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the jam is thick. The bacon jam should appear chunky. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

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.