Vegan Charcuterie Board

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to serve with grilled meats this summer. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for holidays and picnic outings. Check it out!

VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

Carrot sticks

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers

Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers.

Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Urban Taco Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Urban Taco Pizza! If you’re caught between the Taco/Pizza dilemma of what to have for dinner, simply combine the two for a taste extravaganza. Everyone wins. By using a prepared crust, taco seasoning packet, and bottled salsa, dinner can be ready in as fast as 30 minutes. For the cooking enthusiast, I know you already have all the homemade ingredients on hand. Either way, time is valuable in a life of constant motion. Do yourself a favor and prepare a healthy option at home. It’s easy, delicious, and most of all kid-friendly!

URBAN TACO PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust, any variety

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 pound lean ground beef

1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix

1 cup salsa plus more for topping

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup Spring Mix salad greens

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup slices black olives

Crushed tortilla chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a pizza pan with nonstick oil. Sprinkle cornmeal on pan. Cover with pizza dough. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. In a skillet, cook ground beef until crumbly. Add taco seasoning mix. Mix well. Cover pizza dough with 1 cup salsa. Layer ground beef mixture, spreading almost to the edge. Top with both cheeses. Bake 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven. Top with mixed salad greens, chopped tomatoes, and sliced black olives. Spoon on more salsa, to taste.

Thyme for Brie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Thyme for Brie! Serving baked cheese is always a good idea, in my book. It’s like granting permission to have an appetizer as a meal, plus you get to eat with your fingers. By adding fresh herbs and natural honey, suddenly cheese becomes an elegant appetizer that even has men succumbing to its allure and gooey texture. Grab a bottle of wine or sparkling beverage, ease onto the back porch, and watch the sun sink into the shadowy horizon.

THYME FOR BRIE

Ingredients:

1 wheel of Brie

2 tablespoons Savannah Bee raw acacia honey*, or natural honey

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Sea salt crackers

Crispy Parmesan cheese rounds

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a nonstick ovenproof dish with nonstick oil. Slice the rind off the top of the wheel of Brie. Place the wheel in the dish with skin side down. Drizzle acacia honey over the top of the Brie. Place fresh thyme over honey. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is gooey and completely melted. Serve immediately with any assortment of crackers.

*I receive no recompense for recommending Savannah Bee raw acacia honey.

Spicy Salami Mozzarella Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Spicy Salami Mozzarella Pizza! Whether you choose to use a homemade pizza crust or a store-bought variety, the best part about this Italian favorite is the naturally smoked spicy salami and thick gooey mozzarella rounds. I froze pizza dough when I made a batch of Neapolitan-style crust. You can do the same so it’s only a footstep away to the best pizza crust on the planet! By baking it in an iron skillet, the heat seals in the flavor while creating a crispy crunch that’ll have you rolling your eyes in ultimate satisfaction.

SPICY SALAMI MOZZARELLA PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 Neapolitan pizza crust*

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 ounces sliced Lipari Old Tyme Hard Salami**

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced rounds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh basil leaves

Instructions:

Fold each slice of salami in half and then in half again to form a triangle. Set aside. Transfer one ball of dough to a medium bowl that has a handful of flour in it. Flip to coat. Pat off excess flour and transfer it to a floured surface. Gently stretch dough, with fingertips, into a circle. Pick it up and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. With one hand in the center of the dough round, use the other hand to stretch the edge outward without tearing, rotating as needed. Place the oven rack on its highest setting. You should still be able to place an iron skillet on it. If not, lower the rack. Preheat the Broiler on High. Dust the iron skillet with flour; tap out excess. Heat the empty skillet until it is smoking lightly, approximately 3 minutes. Transfer dough to the skillet. Moving quickly, top the dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella slices, and spicy salami triangles. Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil. Transfer skillet back to the broiler and cook until pizza is puffed and charred in spots, up to 4 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Snip fresh basil over all. Serve immediately. For more than one pizza, repeat process.

*To make your own Neapolitan-style pizza crust, click the following link.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2017/04/05

**I receive no recompense for mentioning Lipari Old Tyme Hard Salami.

Quiche Fromage

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Quiche Fromage! If you’ve ever been to Paris, you can’t help but be charmed by the street vendors near Notre Dame along the Seine River. One in particular featured homemade quiche specialties for picnicking tourists. There’s nothing more charming than grabbing a spot on the nearest bench for a lunchtime picnic in the midst of people-watching, that’s for sure. You can relive the moment with today’s version of cheese quiche made with a puff pastry crust. Ooh là là!

QUICHE FROMAGE

Ingredients:

One puff pastry sheet

5 eggs

1/3 cup crème fraîche or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup light cream

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

6-7 ounces Sartori Montamoré cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

Thaw the puff pastry for 40 minutes. Roll out to fit a 10 1/2″ pie plate. Crimp the edges and pierce the bottom with a fork. Place pie plate in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the pastry with foil and place pastry weights in the bottom. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove the foil and pastry weights, pierce dough again if needed, and bake 5 minutes longer until bottom is golden. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, crème fraîche, light cream, Herbes de Provence, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in cheese crumbles. Spoon mixture into the pastry crust. Bake 30 minutes until the filling is golden and the crust is puffed. To test for doneness, insert cake tester. If pick comes out clean, the quiche is baked through. Serve immediately. Enjoy with a glass of Pinot Noir.

El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia

Dining Outside the Home: El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia! You know you’ve hit the jackpot when it’s BOGO on a Saturday night. That translates to buy one margarita, get one free, no matter what brand of tequila you choose. A nice Mexican tequila that is 100% pure de agave goes down smooth and perfect. The cocktail was crisp and citrusy from a squeeze of fresh lime, rather than green and sugar-laden. Perhaps that’s their secret. Being in the mood for a salad did not disappoint. The Grilled Shrimp Salad was, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had. There must have been at least a dozen perfectly-seasoned grilled shrimp served in a crispy flour tortilla shell. Refried beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, cheese and sour cream turned this simple salad into a meal-in-a-bowl. Our waitress, Jasmin, was very accommodating in meeting our needs. Great food is a must, but customer service makes it memorable.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Lemon Pepper Pasta! Have you ever had one of those days when things just fall into place and you cook like a gourmet chef? And then, because everyone is starv-ing, you are halfway through the meal before you realize you forgot to take the food photo? Well, this is what an (almost) clean plate looks like! lol Perhaps it’s absent-mindedness, or maybe….yes, maybe…it’s just that good!

LEMON PEPPER PASTA

Ingredients:

8-ounces lemon pepper pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 green onions, chopped

8-ounces ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed on package. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm olive oil and bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shiitake mushrooms sprinkled with garlic powder; cook until soft. Add Roma tomatoes. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Reduce heat and stir gently. Add chopped green onion. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in spinach and heat on low 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain lemon pepper pasta. Add to spinach mixture. Toss to coat. Heat through and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese Wonton Appetizers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Goat Cheese Wonton Appetizers! If you want an amazing appetizer that can be made in a flash, look no further. We’re all pretty familiar with those tiny pastry cups located in the freezer section of the supermarket. But have you seen the price? It’s ridiculous. Back away and take a turn to the dairy aisle instead. Pick up a package of wonton wrappers, a roll of goat cheese, a block of cream cheese, and a jar of bacon jam.* In no time at all, these festive cuties will have “party” written all over them. Remember, you’re allowed one taste-test, but fight the urge to eat any more than that before the guests arrive.

GOAT CHEESE WONTON APPETIZERS

Ingredients:

48 wonton wrappers, 12-ounce package

4-ounce goat cheese

4-ounce cream cheese

12-ounce jar bacon jam*

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with nonstick oil. Cut corners off wonton wrappers to make an octagon shape. Using your fingers, gently press one wrapper into each cup. Press down without puncturing dough. Lightly spritz wrappers with cooking oil. Bake until golden brown, 8-9 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Transfer cups to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Meanwhile, combine goat cheese and cream cheese. Blend until smooth. Drop by scant spoonful in each wonton cup. Top with a dollop of bacon ham. Place the appetizers on a baking sheet. Bake filled wontons for 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

*To make your own Bacon Jam, use the following link.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2017/04/14

Daikon Radish Cheese Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Daikon Radish Cheese Dip! Meet your new friend, the daikon radish. High in Vitamin C, eaten raw like a carrot, the daikon radish gives the benefit of the crunch you crave when scooping up a warm, cheesy dip. Basically, it’s a large white radish-more tubular than round-with a slightly sweet flavor. Forego the high carb chips and indulge away.

DAIKON RADISH CHEESE DIP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons black truffle olive oil

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 cup asiago cheese, shredded

8 ounce package Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2-3 drops liquid smoke

1-2 medium Daikon radishes, peeled and sliced

Crumbled Bacon for garnish

Green Onion Curls for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet over medium heat, add black truffle olive oil. Add sliced onions, seasoned salt, and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes longer. Meanwhile, combine Parmesan cheese, asiago cheese, Neufchâtel cheese, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside. After the onions have cooked 20 minutes, add chopped shiitake mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Cook 5-7 minutes longer. Combine onion/mushroom mixture with cheese mixture. Stir well. Transfer to a shallow casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Spread evenly. Bake 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with bacon crumbles and green onion curls. Serve in a bowl surrounded by daikon radish slices.