Caramelized Plum Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Caramelized Plum Sauce! A plum is one of those fruits whose skin is incredibly tender and easy to bite into. It offers a slightly tart taste before the sweetness of the flesh engulfs your senses. When I was a teenager living in Nebraska along the Missouri River, I remember puttering along winding country roads in the grain belt on a late summer afternoon. The weather was hot and humid, so the windows were rolled down on the beat up 1962 Plymouth Valiant that had seen better days. An irritated cicada beetle was screeching from the glove box where my boyfriend had tossed it after seeing it land on the front seat. I turned my head away to look beyond the car’s front fender when I saw a small native tree bursting to its limit with sweet, ripe, purple plums. “Look!” I exclaimed pointing my index finger, “It’s just like the plums in the grocery store!”

CARAMELIZED PLUM SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 fresh plums, washed, sliced, and stones discarded

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons brown sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon raw honey

Instructions:

Cut stone fruit in half. Remove pits and slice into segments, leaving skin on. Set aside. In a large skillet, warm butter over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and raw honey. Stir. Bring to a simmer. Gradually add sliced plums; gently tossing to coat. Continue simmering for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fruit will turn tender, not mushy. Remove pan from heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Spoon caramelized plum sauce over vanilla bean ice cream. Serve immediately. Once the sauce is cool, pour into a glass jar. Cover. Store in the refrigerator up to one month.

Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque! My pantry is sometimes filled with good intentions. I envision a nutritious meal and then get sidelined by other ingredients, especially in the Produce Department of the local grocery. I mean, just look at the bin overflowing with organic sweet potatoes. Medium-sized, smooth skin, pretty color, and screaming “Pick me. I’m healthy.” Soon after I get home, I store them out of sight in a cool, dark area only to discover them three weeks later. Thank goodness, sweet potatoes are very forgiving. Their shelf life is easily 5 weeks. If you ever wondered how to tell if it’s time to toss them out, press the skin. If it’s soft, discolored, or has an unpleasant odor, throw them out and promise yourself you’ll do better next time.

BACON BIT SWEET POTATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Green onion snips, for garnish

Bacon bits, for garnish

Dollop Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil over the skins of the sweet potatoes. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop the sweet potatoes into a bowl and thoroughly mash. Discard peels. Warm butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, ground ginger, cumin powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer. Add chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer. Transfer sweet potatoes to a food processor and Pulse until consistency is smooth. Whisk sweet potatoes into broth until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with green onion snips, bacon bits, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie! For those who were lucky enough to be gifted with one of the spectacular supermarket fruit baskets and are now wondering how to eat everything before it spoils, think outside the box. Citrus fruits can be refrigerated, as long as you don’t forget about them out-of-sight in the crisper drawer. And we all know what happens to bananas in the fridge. Ugh. Not a pretty sight. But today we’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite fruit, the mouth-watering juicy apple. In reality, slab pies are the grown-up version of a pop tart, only better. The apple filling is honest-to-goodness fruit instead of a smearing of sugary jam. And the crust is more than a pastry shell of dry dough. Its layers of flaky goodness and buttery deliciousness are magically separated by pockets of air.

APPLE CINNAMON SLAB PIE

Ingredients:

2 9-inch pie crusts, refrigerated dough

8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon warm milk, if needed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Gently toss. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour over sliced apples. Toss to coat. Roll one prepared pie crust to fit the baking sheet. Trim the dough to only fit the bottom of the pan. If necessary, use the extra dough to fill in the corners. Spread apple filling over bottom crust. Roll out second pie crust. Place over the apple filling. Pierce top of dough with a fork in several places. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Bake 35-40 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. For a slightly thinner consistency, add the warm milk. Remove Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie from oven when the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbly. Cool slab pie on a wire rack for 10 minutes before pouring glaze over top. Spread to edges. When pie is cool, slice to serve.

After the Holidays

Now that the period of time from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day is in the rear view mirror, everyone can take a deep sigh of relief to figure out what to do with the abundance of leftovers as well as homemade sweets we’ve accumulated. Let’s approach the days ahead with the clear vision of waste not, want not. I’m the first to admit I limit trips to the grocery store, during the current pandemic, in order to be proactive about my health. Thankfully, I have extra freezer space which keeps my husband and me from eating the same meals over and over until it’s finally gone. I’ve found a few minutes of planning works as a productive strategy to keep foods from going to waste. Perhaps that is also the secret to offer balance, color, texture, and food presentation. After all, isn’t that what the pros do? And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest and Parler at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: After the Holidays!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and daily words of encouragement.

Garlic Clove Little Smokies

Experience the Holidays: 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 lunch box 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 party food for any occasion. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?

GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.