Fabulous Fruit Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: 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

Ingredients:

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

Smidgen nutmeg

Assorted fresh fruits

Mint Sprig for Garnish

Instructions:

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.

Yellow Bloomin’ Onion

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Yellow Bloomin’ Onion! Nothing is more fitting for Spring than an appealing appetizer that resembles a flower, in my opinion. Now you can make a healthy version at home by baking the breaded onion instead of deep-frying it. The last few minutes under the broiler give it a crispy finish that adds extra crunch to the delicious petals. And the dipping sauce….oh my gosh, you have to try it!

YELLOW BLOOMIN’ ONION

Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup Panko crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon Cajun spices

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Seasoning salt to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In one bowl, combine the flour, bread crumbs, Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Cajun spice. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine beaten eggs and milk. Whisk together. Set aside. Cut the top side of the onion. Turn over and carefully cut the root side just enough to peel the outer skin of the onion. Leave the root intact as this will be the base and hold the onion together. Discard onion skins. In order to give the appearance of an open flower, 16 sections are made. With the root side up, place the knife 1/8″ away from the core and slice straight down. It is best to begin with quarters and then make 3 slices in each quadrant all the way around. Carefully turn the onion over and spread the “petals” apart. Dip the onion in the milk bath and wash it completely using a pastry brush. Carefully transfer the onion to the bowl filled with breading. Beginning at the bottom, cover each petal with dry coating. Again using the pastry brush, continue coating the petals until the egg wash is gone. You may alternate the egg mixture and dry coating to cover the petals. Transfer the onion to an oven-safe pie plate or dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Using hot pads, take the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Using a pastry brush, coat the onion with melted butter. Return to the oven. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until crispy. I set the broiler on High and broiled it for 4-5 minutes to make it extra-crunchy. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place on a serving platter. Serve with dipping sauce.

DIPPING SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 teaspoons ketchup

2 teaspoons Lea and Perrins

2 tablespoons horseradish

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, ketchup, Lea and Perrins, horseradish, paprika, and cayenne. Mix well and refrigerate for one hour. Pour into a small cup and place in the center of the onion.

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.