What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Mini Caprese Skewers! Can you tell I’m trying to squeeze as many foods in my picnic basket as possible before Summer ends? For a quick veggie burst of flavor, these off-the-vine cherry tomatoes are a match made in heaven when paired with fresh basil. It doesn’t hurt that the marinated mozzarella balls are skewered together for lovely presentation. It’s all about the finger food.
MINI CAPRESE SKEWERS
12 mozzarella balls
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Italian spice blend
24 fresh basil leaves
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
12 black olives, sliced
Olive oil for drizzling
In a shallow bowl, place mozzarella balls. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with Italian spices. Toss cheese to cover well. Beginning with a cherry tomato half, thread tomato on a toothpick or skewer. Then place one basil leaf, followed by a marinated mozzarella ball. Finish with the remaining cherry tomato and another basil leaf. Repeat with remaining cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella balls. Thread black olives on separate skewers. Drizzle olive oil mixture over finished caprese skewers. Transport in jars or covered containers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Liptauer Cheese Spread! I love appetizers. Mostly because they give you permission to graze through a meal. Some say by eating smaller meals more frequently, it can lead to a longer, healthier life. So, around dinner time you could find me uncorking a bottle of nice red wine and nibbling on fruit, cheese, and crudités. This mellow cheese spread offers a blend of anchovy-stuffed green olives, sweet onions, salty capers, and spicy French Dijon mustard. Permission granted, my friends.
LIPTAUER CHEESE SPREAD
8-ounce block of Neufchâtel cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely chopped
12 anchovy-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon French Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon imported capers, chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon paprika
Combine softened Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix until smooth. Add Vidalia onion, anchovy-stuffed green olives, French Dijon mustard, imported capers, caraway seed, and paprika. Mix well. Form into a ball. Chill for one hour. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices and vegetable crudités.
Happiness is: KNOWING YOU! What an awesome, wonderful, and super-fantastic day! I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it! Moments ago I was alerted by my newest follower, Katie, that she is my 1000th follower!!! So many thanks and blessings to each and every person who made this milestone a reality! What a privilege it is to call you “Friend”! I invite you to meet Katie. Follow her link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Krispy ‘Mallow Bars! Remember when you were a kid and your lunchbox treats made all the other kids envious? Well, this quick and easy dessert bar has the same effect. Chocolate-lovers appreciate the crunch of miniature M&Ms as much as marshmallow-lovers crave the sugary sweetness. Some say it’s the best of both worlds.
KRISPY ‘MALLOW BARS
3/4 cup M&M miniature chocolate candies
3 tablespoons butter
7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme
6 cups of crispy rice cereal
Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Melt butter, over low heat, in a 2 1/2 quart pan. Do not burn add marshmallow creme. Stir until melted. Remove from heat. Working quickly, add rice cereal. Stir until rice is completely coated. With buttered hands, or wearing disposable gloves, press mixture, gently but firmly, over candy in pan. Cool. Cut into bars. Serve candy side up.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Jersey Hot Dogs! Ask anyone how they prefer a hot dog and you’re bound to get a multitude of answers. Some prefer ketchup and onions, others insist on mustard and pickle relish. When grilling or roasting you hear everything from “barely warm” to “charred and crispy”. And then there’s New Jersey where the technique has been practiced for over a century. Maybe you know the secret: crispy potato chunks, sweet red peppers, and grilled onions. Overload the bun and slather on the mustard. Pay attention. You’ve just entered the Hot Dog Zone of America!
JERSEY HOT DOGS
3 new potatoes, cut into chunks
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
4 Angus beef hot dogs
4 hot dog buns
Deli Mustard to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add potatoes. Fry for 3 minutes; turn and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Potatoes will be partially crisp and browned. Remove and set aside. Add sweet red peppers and onions; repeat same frying process. Return potatoes to skillet. Add Italian seasoning. Combine vegetables. Cook 5-7 minutes longer on medium heat until all are tender and browned. Open hot dog buns and smear with deli mustard. Grill hot dogs as you prefer them. Insert hot dogs into sliced buns and fill with potato mixture.
“Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move.
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.”
~ William Shakespeare
“It is obvious that we can
no more explain a passion
to a person who has never
experienced it than we can
explain light to the blind.”
~ T. S. Eliot
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Iced Coconut Milk Banana Smoothie! Try something new today. Rev up your morning routine with a nutritious alternative to steel-cut oats. Delight your senses with a sweet-tasting banana infused smoothie. The hint of dark chocolate bathed in tropical coconut creaminess makes it go down with a smile. What better way to include a serving of fresh fruit on a daily basis.
ICED COCONUT MILK BANANA SMOOTHIE
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dark chocolate syrup
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon natural honey
4-5 ice cubes
Nutmeg for garnish
Mini chocolate chips for garnish
In a blender, combine banana slices, chocolate syrup, coconut milk, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, and honey. Pulse to chop bananas. Add ice cubes. Increase speed to liquefy smoothie. Pour into a glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Homemade Tortilla Chips! Ever wonder why your favorite Mexican restaurant has such incredible tortilla chips? Well now you can make your own café-style chips at home. Begin with flour and corn tortillas the day before. Just open the packages and let them breathe overnight on the kitchen counter. This simple step removes any excess moisture and allows them to fry up crispier. Sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chunky salsa is practically a dream come true.
HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS
2 cups vegetable oil
1 package yellow corn tortillas, extra thin
1 package flour tortillas, soft taco size
Sea salt to taste
Cut each corn tortilla into 8 wedges. Use entire package. Set aside. Cut each flour tortilla in half and then into strips. Use entire package. Set aside. Beginning with one cup vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat the oil on medium setting until a tortilla sizzles. Avoid smoke. That means the oil is too hot. Place a handful of corn tortilla wedges into the hot oil. Do not overlap. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the chips are golden and crisp. Use tongs to flip over half way through, if necessary. As the oil is used, reduce heat to avoid smoking. Use tongs to remove chips from oil; drain on paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat in batches until all corn chips are fried. Add remaining cup of oil to skillet. Repeat with flour tortilla strips. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a picnic basket companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable picnic. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?
GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup catsup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners
Fresh chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, catsup, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Add cocktail wieners. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.