Yogurt-Dipped Waffles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Yogurt-Dipped Waffles! How many of you were told, as a child, not to play with your food? I know I was, especially when I was supposed to clean my plate of something I didn’t want to eat. But that’s a lot different than finger food. Now you are allowed to take slightly toasted waffles and dip them in flavored yogurt. Since my tastes change from day to day, I prefer to add flavors to Greek yogurt, but you may certainly purchase flavored yogurts to save time. In addition, I make extra waffles on the weekend to serve during the week. If you have toaster waffles on hand, you’re in good shape.

YOGURT-DIPPED WAFFLES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon coconut syrup

2-3 prepared waffles, separated into wedges

Fresh strawberries, sliced

Fresh blueberries

Fresh black raspberries

Nutmeg, for sprinkling

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine Greek yogurt and coconut syrup. Mix well. Set aside. Using a toaster on low setting, warm waffle wedges. Remove waffles to a plate. In a bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries, and black raspberries. Gently toss. To serve, dip waffle wedges into Greek yogurt. Spoon fresh fruit over yogurt. Sprinkle with nutmeg and powdered sugar. Garnish with mint leaves. Enjoy!

Ole Smoky Cherry Drops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Ole Smoky Cherry Drops! For those who think this is a strange name for something sweet, allow me to explain. The Great Smoky Mountains form one of the most beautiful mountain ranges along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Nestled in “The Holler” is a distillery made famous by its 100-year-old recipe base for signature flavors of moonshine. Can you see where this is going? Stick with me. From the fermenting grains of the moonshine stills come the most extraordinary combinations you can ever imagine. Bottled in quart jars are what appear to be a dozen or more moonshine variations that go by names like Apple Pie, Hunch Punch, Blue Flame, Lemon Drop, Dill Pickles, and Moonshine Cherries. Since I found a jar in my pantry, I thought going into the holidays, this might present an interesting dessert opportunity. It definitely passed the “flame test” in my house.

OLE SMOKY CHERRY DROPS

Ingredients:

1 quart jar Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries*

12-ounce bag white chocolate chips

4.6-ounce jar rainbow sprinkles

5.2-ounce jar sanding sugar

14-ounce bag sweetened coconut flakes

Party Picks

Instructions:

Several steps are necessary to prepare your workspace. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove maraschino cherries from jar. Reserve moonshine for another use. Gently pat dry each cherry and set aside. This is important before coating them in white chocolate. Place each topping (rainbow sprinkles, sanding sugar, and coconut flakes) in a separate dish. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. To melt white chocolate, place half a bag of chips in a microwave-proof bowl. Warm at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval. Repeat until the white chocolate is smooth and no lumps remain. Working quickly, pierce a cherry with a cake tester. Coat it halfway in the white chocolate, then dip it in one of the toppings. Place decorated cherry on the waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all cherries are decorated. Chill to set. Two things: As the white chocolate cools, gently warm and stir. When it becomes necessary to use the remaining white chocolate chips, begin with a clean bowl. This will eliminate waste. Cherry Drops should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with party picks.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries.

Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida! Have you ever eaten in a tiki hut along the waterfront? The open air seating is a sought-after request for a stunning tropical view. It feels like being on a river in the tropics the way the trees embrace the shoreline like an island oasis. There’s no doubt atmosphere affects our perception of being carefree and downright sexy. At Coconut Jack’s the local seafood is fresh, the cocktails are thirst-quenching, and the experience is memorable. Oftentimes, the chef features a daily special that will leave you smiling all the way home. If seafood is your go-to choice, there’s plenty to choose from and more to look forward to on a return trip back.

Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins! Nix the flour for old-fashioned oats for a healthier version of an old classic. Did you know oats can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control? It’s a fact we’re all getting older and from time to time need to make minor adjustments in our food consumption. I’m all for small plates. Portion sizes have become insane! When did it happen? As a collector of vintage dishes, modern day dinner plates are now the size of grandma’s meat platter. Did you know “in Europe, the average plate measures 9 inches while some American restaurants use plates that are around 13 inches in diameter. Research has shown that by switching to a 10-inch plate from a 12-inch plate you eat 22% less.”* Snack healthier.

XENIAL CHUNKY MONKEY BANANA MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3 ripe bananas, mashed

3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs, whisked

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Spread shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. Scoop mixture into 12 muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.

*How Big Are Your Dinner Plates And Why It Matters, by Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, May 2012. Eatouteatwell.com

Ka-Pow! Thai Curry Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Ka-Pow! Thai Curry Tacos! Fusion foods get my vote every time. This is a perfect example of where the Mexican culture teams with a kick of Thai for a contrast that sends the taste buds spinning. Curry is the star attraction and the best kept secret to a spice sensation beyond your wildest dreams. When the ingredients overlap, they bring their own unique experience that transports you halfway around the world in a chemical reaction. Are you ready to travel?

KA-POW! THAI CURRY TACOS

Ingredients:

12 corn tortillas, street-size

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

8.5 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and finely chopped

10-ounce bag broccoli slaw

1 cup sweet corn, off the cob

Lime wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray each corn tortilla on both sides with nonstick oil. Place on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. Warm canola oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the Thai red curry paste, minced garlic, and chopped onion. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the garlic and onions are softened. Add the shredded turkey. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, and sun dried tomatoes; simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. To assemble tacos, layer the broccoli slaw onto the crispy corn tacos. Divide the turkey mixture among the tortillas. Top with sweet corn. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Butter Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Butter Chicken! At first glance, this dish looks surprisingly similar to curry chicken, doesn’t it? Sooo, what is the difference, you wonder. The secret is in the name. It’s made with butter! The tomatoes, coconut milk, and seasonings are cooked slow enough to transform the sauce into a gravy-like consistency with a nice kick of flavor. Also, by slow-cooking the chicken, it becomes fork tender and juicy. Ahhh, now I have your attention. Sounds like a grocery list is in order. Bravo. Your family will thank you.

BUTTER CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken breasts, skinless and cut into chunks

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

14.5 ounce can coconut milk

6 ounce can tomato paste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Dollop of Greek yogurt, for garnish

Instructions:

In a slow cooker, add chicken chunks, chopped onion, diced jalapeño, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Dot with cubes of butter. In a medium bowl, stir together curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Add coconut milk and tomato paste. Whisk to combine. Pour over chicken mixture. Cover slow cooker; heat contents on LOW for 5 hours. Serve with cooked rice and naan bread. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie! Now that’s a mouthful. But truth-be-told when you’re talking about a dessert with mounds of plump cherry clusters, flaked coconut, and sliced nuts…well, nothing else will do. By transforming it all into a slab pie, portions become more manageable over traditional sliced servings. The crust is still flaky, even if there is less of it. Focus instead on a sweet treat with a single shot of Italian espresso or scoop of ice cream. It’s a perfect balance for the taste buds.

QUASI CHERRY ALMOND MACAROON SLAB PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust

Ingredients for filling:

21-ounce can cherry pie filling

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredients for topping:

1 cup coconut, shredded

1/2 cup almonds, sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Roll the 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 pieces to fill in the corners. Pinch to seal. In a large bowl, combine the cherry pie filling, cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spoon the filling onto the pie crust. Spread in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the topping, fill a mixing bowl with the shredded coconut, sliced almonds, sugar, sea salt, milk, melted butter, almond extract, coconut extract, and beaten egg. Remove the slab pie from the oven. Spread macaroon topping over all. Return slab pie to oven, bake 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly and golden brown. Cut into slices. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

No-Bake Lime Coconut Truffles

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: No-Bake Lime Coconut Truffles! Here’s a festive treat that satisfies the desire for something sweet enough without the overkill. This time white chocolate becomes the confectionery of choice. Instead of nuts, candied ginger and lime zest become key ingredients to complement the tropical tones of coconut. One might suggest these truffles resemble tiny snowballs, if not for the lime zest. To serve, simply place each truffle in a fluted foil or paper candy cup and arrange on a decorative platter. It promises to bring “Oohs” and “Ahhs” as a crowd-pleaser.

NO-BAKE LIME COCONUT TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

1 cup white chocolate chips

2 cups sweetened coconut, shredded

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, grated

1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Lime zest, for garnish

Instructions:

Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until completely smooth. Mix in sweetened shredded coconut. Fold in crystallized ginger and lime zest. Add lime juice to the mixture. Form into 16 small mounds. Garnish with more lime zest. Chill until set.

Coconut Curry Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Coconut Curry Chicken! Every once in awhile you cross paths with someone who offers a product to enhance a food blog. Antonio @seasonalityspices offered me a free sample of handcrafted organic Indian Curry. Instantly, I knew the dish I would prepare. One bite of mild and spicy chicken, enhanced with the creamy flavor of organic coconut, is all it took to turn ordinary chicken into a flavorful obsession. Don’t mind if I do. Thanks, Antonio.

COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 1/4 cup sweet rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

13.5-ounce can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine water, sweet rice, and olive oil. Cook in a rice cooker according to directions. (Package rice may be substituted on a stovetop.) In a large skillet, warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken and onion until chicken is no longer pink and onions are transparent. Sprinkle chicken mixture with curry powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir in organic coconut milk and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes or until thickened. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve with sticky rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.