Dill Pickle Bacon Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Dill Pickle Bacon Spears! If you’ve ever drooled over the thought of a dill pickle appetizer, be prepared to reward yourself with this amazing recipe you can make at home. For the perfect zing of flavor, choose zesty garlic dill pickle spears. I recommend visiting the butcher department at your favorite grocers to buy a pound of thick sliced hickory-smoked bacon. You only need a half a pound for these appetizers, but trust me, you’ll finish it later on. Not only is the flavor unsurpassed, but the mere texture of thick bacon combined with the garlic pickles is highly addictive. Go ahead, slather them in creamy buttermilk ranch dressing for an unbeatable combination. You’re Welcome!

DILL PICKLE BACON SPEARS

Ingredients:

12 dill pickle spears, zesty garlic

6 slices thick bacon, cut in half lengthwise

1/3 cup buttermilk ranch dressing

Chives for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange the 12 bacon strips on a wire rack that is placed on a foiled-lined baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool until easy to handle. Wrap each dill pickle spear with one strip of bacon, seam side down. Secure with 1-2 toothpicks. Return dill pickles to wire rack and bake 25-30 minutes longer until bacon is crisp. Remove from oven and arrange on a platter. Pour buttermilk ranch dressing into a dip bowl. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.

Zen Himalayan Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Zen Himalayan Plate! Go above ordinary ingredients and transform your palate with a meal on the Himalayan salt plate. Foods pick up a delicate saltiness that transcends the flavor and leaves behind monotony. By creating bite-size pieces of fish, shellfish, and cucumber sushi, nourishment balances out the inner peace from within. Good for health-crazed affenciados as well as those soul-searching for expression.

ZEN HIMALAYAN PLATE

Ingredients:

3.75-ounce tin Wild Caught Sardines, in olive oil

1 lemon, sliced and quartered

3.75-ounce tin smoked oysters

Fresh lemon thyme

7-ounces prepared crab dip

4 mini cucumbers, seedless

Fresh dill

Assorted crackers

Instructions:

Arrange sardines on a Himalayan salt plate. Drizzle with olive oil from the tin. Place lemon wedges on fish and garnish with fresh lemon thyme. Smoked oysters may be served in individual sea shells. Drizzle with sauce from the tin. Oysters may also be served on a cracker. To assemble the cucumber sushi, slice mini cucumbers into thick rolls. To remove the inside portion of each disc, place the cucumber on a cutting board, use a sharp knife, and rotate the cuke until the center is cut out. Make sure the walls remain. Discard fleshy pulp. Place the cucumber “rings” on the Himalayan salt plate. Spoon prepared crabmeat dip into each ring. Press gently to fill the sushi roll. Garnish with dill.

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.

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.

Fabulous Fruit Dip

Experience the Holidays: 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.

Kentucky Benedictine Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Kentucky Benedictine Dip! Each State seems to have its claim-to-fame. Kentucky is no exception. Around the turn of the 20th century, a Louisville chef came up with a tasty alternative to the club sandwich. By combining crisp cucumbers, softened cheese, and a few other subtle ingredients, the freshly sweet cucumber sandwich was born. I imagine in the beginning the bread crusts were eliminated creating bite-size “finger” sandwiches served with afternoon tea. As time wore on, vegetable dips became the rage making it less work and more appealing. After all, who doesn’t love eating with their hands? Graze through your next gathering with the cool refreshing taste of cucumbers.

KENTUCKY BENEDICTINE DIP

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Instructions:

Grate the cucumber with a food processor. Add softened cream cheese, grated onion, sea salt, black pepper, and mayonnaise. Pulse until mixture is well blended and smooth. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with fresh vegetables and multigrain crackers.

X-tra Cheese, Please, Appetizer

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: X-Tra Cheese, Please, Appetizer! Ever since I visited a popular Las Vegas restaurant, I’ve been looking for a cheese appetizer like this one. It’s not the traditional gooey soupy cheese dip you swipe tortilla chips through before gobbling down. The waiter set the iron skillet in front of us and said, “This is a cheese you need to use a knife and fork with. It’s not going to jump onto the chip.” Come to find out it was flambéed over an open fire in the kitchen. Wow! And they used tequila to ignite it. I wish I could tell you that’s what I did here, but sorry, “no comprendo”. Instead I baked it at a high temperature and dredged it through a spicy honey. Show compassion. I tried.

X-TRA CHEESE, PLEASE, APPETIZER

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup raw Tupelo honey

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 teaspoon garlic habanero sauce

2 tablespoons ranch dressing

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 475°. Using a 10” iron skillet, warm butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and kosher salt. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden brown. Add Monterey Jack cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix thoroughly with onions. To make the spicy honey, in a microwave-safe dish combine raw Tupelo honey, sriracha, and garlic habanero sauce. Stir well. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir again. Set aside. Transfer cheese-filled iron skillet to the oven. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Turn oven setting to High on Broil. Allow dark spots to appear on the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully as this happens very quickly. Remove skillet from oven. Drizzle with spicy honey and ranch dressing. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with tortilla chips.

Jalapeño Celery Crack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Jalapeño Celery Crack! I’m not ashamed to say I’ve found a new addiction. Hence the name. By the time I wrote this post, I had already made this recipe 3 times and shared it once with a close friend. Jalapeño Celery Crack has a spicy creaminess that screams, “just one more bite”. When I ran out of celery, I discovered it tastes amazing on tortilla corn chips. Sometimes you need an appetizer. Sometimes you want a snack. And sometimes making it part of a meal is justification enough. Perhaps you should try it. You know you want some.

JALAPEÑO CELERY CRACK

Ingredients:

1 bunch of celery, cut into 4” pieces

8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon parsley

2/3 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño juice

2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

Cut celery into 4” pieces. Set aside.

Combine softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth. Add sea salt, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Mix thoroughly. Add chopped jalapeños, pickled jalapeño juice, and crumbled bacon. Stir well to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange celery stalks on a platter. Fill with jalapeño mixture. Garnish with extra dill. Serve.

Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York, New York

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York! Perhaps Cinco de Mayo isn’t the best time to try out an authentic Mexican restaurant. But then again, maybe it is. The vibrant cantina was hopping like a fiesta celebration. Shot glasses were slung back and refilled on demand. Traditional guacamole was served in natural molcajete stones with warm tortilla chips. The salsa trio was a bonus. Queso Fundido, piping hot in a black iron skillet, was spot on. Thick with melted cheese, poblano peppers, dark beer, and roasted tomatoes made it a meal. Keep the Cadillac Margaritas coming for an amazing culmination.