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.

Wasabi Furikake Aioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Wasabi Furikake Aioli! For a homemade sauce that can be spread on fish and poultry or used as a spicy dip for vegetable crudités, this one is spot on. The “kick” of wasabi is a distant cousin to horseradish making its intensity a roller coaster ride for the palate. Wasabi lovers know all about the health benefits. Sushi bars offer it as a regular condiment. I find this superfood absolutely delicious.

WASABI FURIKAKE AIOLI

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon furikake seasoning (sesame seed and green seaweed)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons wasabi powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate one hour before serving.

Vegan Charcuterie Board

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to bring to the next holiday party. 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 office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and other festive occasions. 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.

Nutella Strawberry Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Nutella Strawberry Dip! Here’s a match made in Heaven for chocolate-lovers and strawberries. Try it at home and then think about something new for the next social gathering where you’re asked to bring something yummy to share. It’s so Strawberrylicious, my first word of advice is…double the recipe. You’ll have the ingredients on hand, so go for it. It’s easy to make, kid-friendly, healthy, and sweet. Next stop: Book Club, Girls Night Out, Birthday Celebration, Family Picnic, Block Party. The list goes on and on and on.

NUTELLA STRAWBERRY DIP

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

1/3 cup powdered sugar

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 cup Cool Whip, regular or light

1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish

Fresh Strawberries, sliced in half

Instructions:

Combine Nutella, powdered sugar, and Neufchâtel cheese in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on Low until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip topping. Blend well. Pour into covered bowl. Kept refrigerated until ready to serve. Arrange sliced strawberries on a platter. Pour dip into a serving bowl. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.

Viva Poblano

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Viva Poblano! How can such small pepper plants produce so many poblanos? When it rains, it pours! It seems as though we have peppers coming out of our ears: jalapeño peppers, Marconi sweet peppers, poblano peppers, bell peppers, and finally habanero peppers. I have roasted, baked, dried, and pickled peppers in all sorts of delicious ways. Today’s dish is a Mexican specialty that showcases the smoky taste of poblanos. It’s a meal in itself. To tone down the heat, always add cheese. Permission granted.

VIVA POBLANO

Ingredients:

4 large poblano chiles, roasted, halved, seeded, skins removed

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions. Add ground beef, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until meat is completely brown and crumbly. Remove from heat. Spray four individual casserole dishes with nonstick oil. Place one poblano pepper in the bottom of each dish, laying the split pepper open to fill the dish. Cover the pepper with Monterey Jack cheese. Add a layer of seasoned ground beef mixture. Finally top with cheddar cheese. Spray aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Cover each casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve with chips and salsa.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter W

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Layered Taco Dip! Wait no longer for a great appetizer. Set the tone for a social gathering with foods that say, “Let’s get this party started!”. A creamy dense layer of Mexican spices over a base of refried beans make the perfect foundation to hold the remaining ingredients. Not a fan of black olives? Simply choose green peppers or mushrooms instead. After all it’s your kitchen, so own it!

LAYERED TACO DIP

16-ounce can refried beans, traditional

16-ounce carton sour cream

8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature

1 taco seasoning packet

1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

3 green onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained

Tortilla chips or corn chips

Instructions:

Spread refried beans on the bottom layer of a serving platter. Combine sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning packet in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Spread over refried beans. Divide romaine lettuce evenly over cream cheese layer. Top with diced tomatoes and green onion snips. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese followed by Monterey Jack cheese over all. Finish with black olive slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dip for at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Q

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Queso Casa Dip! Here’s an all-around favorite for any social gathering. The cheese delivers a smooth creamy taste followed by a “bite” of chile! Some say it’ll curl the tines of a fork. Just kidding! But seriously, it’s so popular you’ll have your friends asking for the recipe!

QUESO CASA DIP

Ingredients:

4 cups cheddar cheese, extra-sharp finely shredded

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter

1/7 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 ghost chile pepper, cut-up and seeds discarded*

2 Roma tomatoes, cut-up

2 green onions, cut-up

16-ounce can green-chile and lime refried beans

Greek Yogurt and jalapeños for garnish

*Ghost peppers are extremely hot, so you may substitute jalapeño peppers instead.

Instructions:

Empty cheese into a large bowl, sprinkle with corn starch, and toss to coat. Melt butter into a large saucepan and add garlic, cheeses, and milk. Set on low heat and cook slowly, stirring mixture to keep from scorching. As it melts, fold in the 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. Continue for 10-15 minutes until mixture is smooth and velvety. Add fresh tomatoes, green onions, and the ghost pepper. Stir gently to blend. Keep warm. Meanwhile, place refried beans in a microwave-safe dish and heat through. To serve, layer refried beans on a platter, pour Queso dip over top. Dollop with Greek yogurt. Serve with tortilla chips, café style.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Green Pepper Dip! Nothing says “presentation” like a vegetable dip served in a green pepper. If you don’t believe me, try this for your next gathering. People practically “oooh” and “aaah” when you enter the room with it. The best part is a subtle flavor of the pepper blends into the dip. Hint: Do your homework at the produce aisle. Make sure you buy a pepper that will sit straight on the serving dish.

GREEN PEPPER DIP

Ingredients:

1 Large Green Bell Pepper

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

Instructions:

Cut top off green pepper. Carefully scoop out all seeds and the four ribs. Rinse and pat dry. Combine all remaining ingredients. Mix well. Gently fill the pepper with dip, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least one hour. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Serve with crudités and crackers.