What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Worcestershire Onion Dip! Add a little drama to ordinary chip dip. Choose pan-fried sweet onions infused with agave nectar for that luscious caramel taste we adore so much. Pair it with a splash of Worcestershire sauce for spice and pizazz. Blend everything together for the most satisfying oniony taste. Refrigerate an hour and get the party started.
WORCESTERSHIRE ONION DIP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 sweet onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 green onion, chopped
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil and butter. Stir in chopped onions, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and cook until onions are deep golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep from scorching. Stir in agave nectar and garlic powder. Reduce to low heat and cook 15 minutes longer. Reserve one tablespoon of onion mixture for garnish. Set aside. Transfer caramelized onions to a food processor. Purée until only slightly chunky. Add Worcestershire sauce, Neufchâtel cheese, and Greek yogurt. Pulse until combined. Scoop into a bowl. Top with remaining tablespoon of caramelized onions and green onion snips. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Serve with chips, crackers, or pretzels.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Jamaican Jerk Chicken! I admit, I tend to take the path of least resistance. By the time I decided I was making this dish for dinner, all I had on hand was frozen chicken. Solution: Slow-cooker to the rescue. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my crockpot? Honestly, some days I’d be lost without it. Not only is the chicken tender and moist, but the citrusy-sweet-spicy glaze made it a perfect accompaniment for steamed sticky rice. Win! Win!
JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
12 ounces nonalcoholic beer
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup puréed Habanero peppers
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons natural honey
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Place frozen chicken in crockpot. In a measuring cup add nonalcoholic beer, orange juice, lime juice, and Habanero purée. Stir to combine. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, thyme, and garlic powder. Add soy sauce, agave nectar, kosher salt, and olive oil. Pour over meat. Cover and cook 4 hours on High setting. After chicken is cooked, using a tongs, carefully transfer meat to a platter. Chicken will be very tender. Transfer drippings to a heatproof bowl. Add red pepper flakes and honey. Mix well. On the stovetop, heat an iron skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil. Transfer the chicken to the skillet. Add half the marinade to the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy and deep brown or charred in places. Turn chicken over and repeat, adding more marinade. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes longer. Brush over the chicken as it thickens.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Harvest Snap Beans! If you’ve ever planted a garden, you already know how easily and quickly green beans are to grow. They produce so well, even a novice takes pride in their bounty. When it’s time to harvest, choose smooth green (or yellow) pods. Lumps are a sign of an overripe bean, which means it could be dried out or damaged inside. Be particular. You can always tell how fresh it is by the “snap” sound it makes when broken. Perhaps that’s why my aunt on the farm used to call them “snap beans”. Taste is everything.
HARVEST SNAP BEANS
1 pound frozen yellow wax and green beans, thawed
6 slices bacon; cooked and broken into chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange yellow wax beans and green beans in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle bacon pieces over beans. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and agave nectar. Mix well. Pour over green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Thai Peanut Sauce! Known as a popular condiment for skewered meat or seafood in East Asian cuisine, peanut dipping sauce gets all the attention. Homemade Pad Thai is one example. After all, it’s no secret anyone can get addicted to peanut butter. Think about it. We add spicy chili peppers for heat, exotic curry for an earthy taste, coconut milk for authenticity. And depending on the day, there is no substitute for peanut butter and chocolate. Just saying.
THAI PEANUT SAUCE
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy
3/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a food processor, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, kosher salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.
*Serving Suggestion: Skewered Shrimp with orange wedges and cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Roma Tomato Marinara! Now here is a sauce that is as versatile as your food cravings. I like to make up a jar to keep on hand in the refrigerator. You never know when you’ll want it. Roma tomatoes have a texture that leaves your mouth yearning for yet another spoonful. Slather it on flatbread and add cheese for a late-night snack. Or use it as a base in a skillet lasagna. The balance of thick tomatoes, rich olive oil, and hint of basil make it my favorite for dunking buttery breadsticks. For kid-pleasing families as well as empty nesters, say “Yes” to homemade marinara.
ROMA TOMATO MARINARA
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, whole and peeled in basil sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder*
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon olive oil
In an iron skillet over medium heat, warm two tablespoons olive oil. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add Italian tomatoes. Gently, using the back of a wooden spoon, press the tomatoes to crush. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, Herbes de Provence, sea salt, cracked black pepper, agave nectar, and one teaspoon olive oil. Stir to blend. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes on Simmer or until sauce becomes thicker. Spoon over pasta, chicken, meatballs, or bread. Top with cheese of choice.
*Four minced garlic cloves may be substituted for garlic powder.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Vanilla Bee Pollen Ice Cream! What’s all the “buzz” about? The jury is still out on the benefits of bee pollen. Some claim amazing health results while others blame it for side effects. Bee pollen is actually intensified plant pollen picked up by honeybees and brought back to the hive as a source of food for the colony. So obviously, its characteristics depend solely on the geographic location of where it is collected. Just like honey, some say if you struggle with seasonal allergies, the best way to combat that is to take a teaspoon of raw honey every day from the area where you live. Bee pollen is made up of carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can certainly see why naturalists call it a superfood. As with any herbal supplement, contact your health care provider before beginning something new. Many foodies like to add a teaspoon of bee pollen to their morning smoothie. Here it is sprinkled over no-churn ice cream.
VANILLA BEE POLLEN ICE CREAM
2 cups heavy cream
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean pod, sliced horizontally, seeds extracted
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon bee pollen
Agave nectar, for drizzling
Lemon thyme, for garnish
Be sure the mixing bowl, whisk, and loaf pan are chilled before using. (I placed mine in the freezer overnight. If the ingredients are warm, the mixture won’t thicken to desired texture. I also put the can of sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator the night before.) In the chilled bowl of the stand mixer, combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla bean seeds, and raw honey. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the chilled loaf pan. Freeze 6 hours or overnight. To serve, place three rounded ice cream scoops in a dish. Sprinkle bee pollen over top. Drizzle with agave nectar ribbons. Garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Cereal Milk Smoothie! After yesterday’s post, it’s only fair to give the kids equal time on a delicious treat. Grown-ups, simply tap your heels together to be transported back to a time where you started your day at the kitchen table with a bowl of your favorite cereal. Remember how the sugary sweet morsels crunched their way to mushy softness leaving the milk at the bottom of the bowl tasting like syrup? At that point my brother would put down his spoon and lift the bowl to his mouth to slurp up the remaining goodness. Of course Mother never saw it, as she was usually standing at the counter buttering toast with her back to us. Well nowadays, the nostalgic flavor of cereal milk smoothies are a thing. Anyone with a sugar addiction is jumping for joy. And why shouldn’t they? It brings out the inner child in all of us.
CEREAL MILK SMOOTHIE
1 cup Crispix* cereal
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced and frozen
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons agave nectar, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles, for garnish
In a blender, combine cereal, skim milk, Greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, cinnamon, nutmeg, and one tablespoon agave nectar. Pulse until smooth. On a sheet of waxed paper, crush a few cereal pieces until almost fine. Add sprinkles; mix together. With the remaining agave nectar, apply to the rim of a glass. Dip the glass into the topping to coat the rim. Fill with cereal milk smoothie. Add a paper straw. Serve immediately.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Coconut Sprinkled Fruit Cups! Whether you choose to enhance a hearty breakfast, compliment a light lunch, or serve as a healthy dessert, fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take a moment to look in the fridge. Perhaps you see an apple, a bunch of green grapes, a ripe banana, or a few stragglers from a berry basket. Combine them together for a surprising and colorful addition to any meal. Sprinkle on some coconut flakes to jazz things up. Drizzle with maple syrup, wildflower honey, or agave nectar. Just a touch. Then, for a nice finish, sprinkle on cinnamon, nutmeg, or citrusy cardamom. Dessert-lovers may add a dollop of whipped cream. The choices are endless. When building a fruit salad, think color, flavor, and presentation. The results may surprise you.
COCONUT SPRINKLED FRUIT CUPS
1 Cara Cara orange, divided into segments
1/2 cup pineapple, tidbits
2 tablespoons coconut, shredded
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
Fill two fruit cups with orange segments and pineapple tidbits. Sprinkle shredded coconut over top. Drizzle with agave nectar. Garnish with ground nutmeg.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Papaya Banana Boat! When my son and daughter-in-law visited us in Kauai, I wanted to treat them to a special island breakfast. It was a perfect portion for them after greeting the sunrise sipping on macadamia nut coffee. Ripe papaya has such a naturally sweet flavor. It practically melts in your mouth with its creamy, butter-like texture. If you like cantaloupe, I promise you this: Papaya will take you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. You may even hear the magical sounds of a ukulele strumming in the background.
PAPAYA BANANA BOAT
1 ripe papaya, cut in half with seeds removed
1 banana, sliced
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dollops Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons granola
Drizzle of agave nectar
Split the papaya between two plates. Fill half the cavity with sliced bananas. Sprinkle cinnamon over banana slices. Fill the other half of the papaya with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle granola over top of yogurt. Drizzle entire papaya boat with agave nectar.