Solunto Restaurant & Bakery in San Diego, California

Dining Outside the Home: Solunto Restaurant & Bakery in San Diego, California. You may as well throw any semblance of willpower out the window when you cross the threshold into Solunto’s Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy. Especially if you’re hungry. Close your eyes for a moment. Inhale. The aromas alone of handcrafted breads, decadent pastries, napoletana pizzas, flavorful gelatos, and artisan coffees can mean only one thing. You’re going to be here awhile. But that’s okay. Solunto is all about family and friends socializing over a meal. Savor every bite; just leave room for more. The crisp Italian dessert shells, known as Cannolis, are filled with sweet, creamy filling. But don’t take my word for it. The pastry case is a feast for the eyes. Try one of everything. Solunto’s Bakery has “to-go” boxes.

Bobby V’s Italian Restaurant in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Bobby V’s Italian Restaurant in Kapaa, Kauai. Happy Hour is always a good place to start, especially if you’re on vacation. Choose between Bobby V’s Hawaiian Mai Tai or the salt-rimmed Margarita to enjoy on the outside patio. Before you hit the default button and order pizza, consider other Italian favorites like the hearty Fettuccine Alfredo or the cheese-laden Classic Lasagna. A side of savory meatballs swimming in thick homemade marinara sauce does not disappoint. It’s okay to sprinkle on a little crushed oregano or grated parmesan cheese. Just saying. Word of warning: the portions are generous, so don’t fill up on the bread basket. Otherwise, I see leftover portions in your future.

Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Yeast Cinnamon Rolls! Don’t you just love modern kitchen appliances? My husband already owned a countertop Bread Machine when we got married seven years ago, so today I decided to try it out. (First I had to find it. When combining two households, things get shuffled around.) The recipe booklet boasted the best glazed cinnamon rolls and the photo bolstered my confidence enough to put it to the test. I’m glad I did. The house smelled like a family-owned bakery and the warm, gooey cinnamon buns were phenomenal. The challenge came at only eating one.

YEAST CINNAMON ROLLS

Ingredients for Dough:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Ingredients for Filling:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Ingredients for Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

Measure all dough ingredients carefully and place in the bread machine in the order they are listed: water, butter, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Select “Dough” cycle and “Start”. When the timer rings, remove the dough and flatten with a rolling pin into a 9-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Spread with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon filling over the buttered dough. Roll the dough up tightly; pinch the ends to seal. Cut the dough into 1-inch slices. Place in a 9″x9″ square pan. Cover with a wet tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until double. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Combine Glaze ingredients mixing powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Remove from pan to wire rack. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Serve warm.

Xenial Spinach Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Xenial Spinach Dip! Take a trip down Memory Lane with this hip 1970s all-star party staple. “I called it!”, shouted my best friend when asked to bring an appetizer to share. Maybe it was the presentation of carrying an artisan bread bowl into the room, or perhaps it was the “healthy” alternative to potato chips and onion dip, or it could have been the standing ovation it got from everyone who tasted it. Think about it….how fun is that to tear off a piece of crusty bread and slather it in creamy spinach mingled with a spicy crunch of water chestnuts. “I called it!”

XENIAL SPINACH DIP

Ingredients:

1 pound artisan bread bowl

1 pint Greek yogurt

3 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

10 ounces mayonnaise

8 ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 package Swiss vegetable dry soup mix

10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, mix Greek yogurt, Neufchâtel cheese, and mayonnaise. Chill one hour. Add water chestnuts, package of Swiss vegetable dry soup mix, and uncooked spinach. Mix well. Chill one hour longer. Hollow out center of bread bowl. Fill with spinach dip. Serve with raw vegetables.

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Glaze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Sauce! In honor of an Irish tradition, this classic staple is made with simple ingredients. The hard crust and dense center is very filling and meant to be eaten often with meals. The sign of the cross on top symbolized protection of the family. Since yeast is not used, preparation comes easily and on short notice for unexpected guests who pop in. Make this bread today and the aromas linger to keep your home smelling nice in the days ahead.

IRISH SODA BREAD WITH WHISKEY GLAZE

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup Irish Whiskey, or water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup buttermilk

Irish Whiskey Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon butter, softened

3 teaspoons Irish Whiskey*

*For nonalcoholic glaze, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2 1/2 teaspoons milk.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease baking sheet. In a small saucepan, combine raisins, Irish whiskey or water, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce to a simmer until the raisins are plump and the liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat. Do not drain. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Add raisins plus liquid. Stir to blend. Gradually stir in buttermilk until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes until smooth. Shape into a round loaf. Transfer to baking sheet. Cut an “X” in the top before baking. Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. While the bread is is in the oven, combine powdered sugar, butter, and Irish whiskey. Stir until creamy. When the bread is finished, brush with glaze. Serve warm.

Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing! With the holiday season on the horizon, here’s a tasty side dish that is sure to please. If you have the time, I suggest substituting homemade breadcrumbs (which is about one loaf of day-old bread) for the stuffing mix. I split the difference and added homemade croutons on top of the casserole.

LEEKS AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces shiitake wild

mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

6 ounce box chicken stuffing

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a covered casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the wild mushrooms and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Using the same pan, add one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté leeks and celery until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth, butter, and parsley flakes. Bring to a boil. Stir in contents of stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Fold in wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Stir until well combined. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes; remove lid and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Nigella Seed Cheese Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Nigella Seed Cheesies! One of the benefits of making friends in the blogosphere is meeting other foodies who share the same love of cooking….and eating! This recipe comes directly to you courtesy of Lyn at http://lynzrealcooking.com/2015/10/28

She posted this wonderfully cheesy snack and it went viral! Because it is called “Cheesies”, you can use a wide variety of cheese options, including your own personal favorites. Thanks, Lyn!

NIGELLA SEED CHEESE BITES

Ingredients for Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup butter, softened

1-8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

Ingredients for Filling:

2 cups Nigella seed string cheese

1/2 cup Colby cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix well. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for one hour. Remove and divide into four equal-sized balls. Roll one ball at a time into a flat shape larger than a pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and fold ends to seal. With seam side down, transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Using a knife, slit each loaf where it will be cut into serving pieces. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve.*

*As a garnish, I sprinkled a mixture of Parmesan cheese and dill weed over the top during the last 5 minutes of baking.

Zucchini-Orange-Walnut Loaf

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Zucchini-Orange-Walnut Loaf! Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? Take care. This relative of the squash family has fewer calories than a baked potato and more potassium than a banana. Plus, its versatility is a bonus. Zucchini is probably the most bland vegetable you can find. But that works to its advantage. You can pair it with just about anything. I promise you this, if I hadn’t told you there was shredded zucchini in this luscious loaf of quick-bread, you’d never know it from the taste. Nutrition is your friend. The moist, delicious orange and walnut combination make it seem as though you’re eating cake.

ZUCCHINI-ORANGE-WALNUT LOAF

Instructions:

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon orange rind, zested

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1-2 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour the bottom of a loaf pan. Set aside. In a food processor, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Add vegetable oil, orange juice, and shredded zucchini. Pulse to mix. Slowly add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, orange rind, cinnamon, and cloves. Scrape down sides, as needed. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, blend powdered sugar, butter, and orange juice. Spread over warm loaf. Cool completely and slice.

Yeast Dinner Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Yeast Dinner Rolls! There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly-baked bread wafting out the oven door, in my opinion. It seems as the yeast magically leavens with flour, it produces an aroma that is not only warm heartwarming, but nostalgic. Perhaps it brings back childhood memories for you as well. For instance, the Wonder Bread Years were a simpler time where I played outside til after dark, giggled with my girlfriend, dated a boy on the weekend, and took a sack lunch to school. Crisp autumn days with damp earthy leaves and woodsmoke aromas smell nice as well. Maybe it’s time for you to bake some bread, too.

YEAST DINNER ROLLS

Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, layer warm milk, butter, and eggs in the bottom of the pan. Next add sugar, sea salt, and bread flour. Form a slight well in the flour layer. Pour the dry yeast into the well. Close the lid. Select Dough setting and press the Start button. When cycle is complete, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 24 sections. Shape dough into balls. Place in a greased 9”x13” baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.