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.
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
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.
Experience the Holidays: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail! One bite, one little taste, will leave you wondering how you didn’t know about this version of an old classic. So what’s the difference, you ask. Actually, quite a bit. But I’m not gonna lie to you. If you’ve been following my blog, you can often see there’s a method to my madness. One recipe can be a critical ingredient to another dish. Like today. Recently I featured Jalisco Pico de Gallo. I’m gonna tell you it is a key ingredient in my Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, slightly tweaked. On the upside, it makes preparation a snap. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
MEXICAN SHRIMP COCKTAIL
1 1/2 cups Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
1/2 cup Clamato Tomato Cocktail**
1/2 cup ketchup
1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked but chilled
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a bowl, combine Jalisco Pico de Gallo, Clamato Tomato Cocktail, and ketchup. Mix well. Take at least half the shrimp, discard tails, and cut into chunks. Add the shrimp chunks to the sauce mixture. The remaining whole shrimp will be used for dipping. Gently fold in avocado chunks. To serve, divide shrimp cocktail into parfait glasses. Arrange whole shrimp on the edge of the glass. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
*Follow the link for recipe.
**I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
Experience the Holidays: Pretzel Nuggets! Anyone who has been to an outlet mall, movie theater complex, or shopping center may have been seduced by the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked pretzels. How about those wonderful travel cups of soft buttery nuggets speared with a wooden pick? Who can resist? Especially with a side of gooey molten cheese? Here’s a shortcut to making a batch at home in your own kitchen. It’s all about portion control to keep it real. The next time you’re at the grocery, pick up a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough. You can thank me later.
1 tube refrigerated biscuit dough, 8-count
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1-2 teaspoons Everything But Bagel Seasoning*
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each biscuit slice into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ball. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 2 1/2 quart pan. Slowly stir in baking soda. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Drop the biscuit dough rounds into the water. Avoid overcrowding by working in batches. Cook dough for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg to assist browning. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Finish with coarse sea salt. Bake 15-20 minutes until pretzel nuggets are golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough. Cool pretzel nuggets on a wire rack. Serve with cheese dip.
*To make your own Everything But Bagel Seasoning, click the link below.
Experience the Holidays: Fabulous Fruit Dip! Recently I served a delightful fruit cup for breakfast when family came to visit. Because it is made with Greek yogurt and nutmeg, it’s an impressive alternative to ordinary yogurt. Think of it as Summer-in-a-Cup. Whether you decide to arrange a generous fruit platter for a crowd or scale it down to individual portions, the results are the same: heavenly delicious!
FABULOUS FRUIT DIP
1 large orange*
8 ounces of Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
4 ounces marshmallow Creme
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/8 teaspoon orange zest
Assorted fresh fruits
Mint Sprig for Garnish
Cut 1/3 off the top of the orange to create a “bowl”. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside. Do not cut through the peel. Gently scoop out the fruit. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together Neufchâtel cheese and marshmallow creme. Beat until smooth. Fold in Greek yogurt. Make the zest by using the top portion of the orange peel. Add orange extract, zest, and nutmeg. Blend thoroughly. Chill one hour. Scoop into the orange “bowl” before serving. Garnish with fresh mint sprig. Place on a serving platter surrounded by fresh fruit.
* For individual servings, choose four small navel oranges.
Experience the Holidays: Unbelievable Cheesy Pimiento Spread! If you’re a cheese lover, this is a “must-do” appetizer. It is guaranteed to bring big raves at the next holiday gathering. The smokey-peppery version is sure to test your willpower. Should it just be slathered on crackers or bagel chips? What about apple slices? Or will you take it one step further and build a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread? Whatever you choose, create all sorts of ideas for enhancing this nostalgic Southern favorite.
UNBELIEVABLE CHEESY PIMENTO SPREAD
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons French Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
4-ounce jar of diced pimientos, drained
2 green onions, snipped
8 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, finely shredded
10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, medium shredded
1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt, and pepper. Mix well. Fold in pimientos and onions. Stir in both cheeses until blended. Add sriracha for a kick of heat. Chill one hour or overnight.
Serving Suggestion: Serve as an Appetizer with crackers or assorted vegetables. Also excellent as finger sandwiches.
*For block cheeses, grate one kind with small holes and the other with medium holes on a box grater or using food processor blades.
Experience the Holidays! This year things will be a little different. Unsettling times of chaos and confusion can still accompany satisfying food. Some people will gather virtually, others behind plastic shields, window panes, and face masks. Christmas cards, letters, texts, and phone calls are especially important right now. It is critical to stay connected. Every family has its favorites from the past. Some indulge in time-worn traditions while others enjoy modern classics. As you embrace the holidays with limited companionship, sentimental yearnings, enjoyable food, or jubilant festivities, celebrate the spirit of the season. In the next few weeks, join me as I share festive foods as well as healthy options. Experience the holidays with gifts that never go out of style: Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love. These are the things worth sharing.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Tzatziki Ranch Chip Dip! When you shop the produce department of the grocery store, pay close attention to the different kinds of cucumbers. The fancy ones, wrapped in plastic wrap, are known as English cucumbers. There’s a reason for their madness. The skin is extremely thin and tender. The plastic wrap actually serves a purpose of protection against bruising, punctures, and dehydration. Hmmm. The seeds are much smaller, too. Because the skin is thinner and tender, there is no need to peel the tubular vegetable before proceeding with the recipe. I think you’ll be impressed. The English cucumber is less bitter, making it almost sweet and wonderful for transforming into a fabulous party dip. Be kind to others. No double-dipping.
TZATZIKI RANCH CHIP DIP
1 English cucumber, seeded, coarsely grated, and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 envelope ranch seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons light cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh dill, for garnish
In a bowl, combine grated cucumber, kosher salt, mayonnaise, ranch seasoning mix, Greek yogurt, and light cream. Stir well. Cover and chill one hour, or until ready to serve. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve with crinkle-cut potato chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Original Pistachio Party Ball! Nothing says par-tay like a holiday cheese ball. Instead of picking one up at the grocery store this year, why not surprise the family and make something a little different. Pistachios tend to be shoved aside in favor of walnuts and pecans, mostly due to their cost. But I guarantee you, people will sit up and take notice of them embedded in this party cheese ball. A little goes a long way, especially when rolled on the outside of the cheese ball. For those who enjoy the experience of cracking the shell to pluck out the pistachio, you not only get to nibble as you crack, you also justify the savings involved over the cost of pistachios without shells. Now there’s a thought worth considering.
ORIGINAL PISTACHIO PARTY BALL
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon zesty Italian salad dressing dry mix
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
In a bowl, cream together Neufchâtel cheese and unsalted butter until smooth. Sprinkle in zesty Italian dry mix. Mix well. Add Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes. Fold in sharp cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Layer with chopped pistachio nuts. Transfer cheese mixture onto the nuts. Wearing disposable gloves, form the cheese mixture into a ball, turning to cover each side with chopped nuts. When completely covered, wrap the pistachio cheese ball in a clean piece of plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour to intensify flavors. Serve with assorted crackers.