Dining Outside the Home: Alberto’s on Fifth in Naples, Florida! There’s nothing that makes me feel more special than dining on white linen tablecloths. Call me crazy, but I simply love it. Now, imagine this table in the mountainous part of Northern Italy where the chef is transforming ordinary food into spectacular dishes. The secret, you wonder? Fresh, local vegetables, pasta, and seafood with fewer processed ingredients. Traditions are important, cutting corners is not. Each dish is a form of art. Creamy mozzarella, salty prosciutto, and fresh basil leaves will literally drive your tastebuds crazy. Listen to the chatter. Crowd-pleasers are everywhere. Linger over the delicious Italian balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over a garden salad. The aromas seduce the palate with a slightly spicy taste. Aging is the secret, of course. But it doesn’t matter what I say, it’s the velvety texture on the tongue that is the judge. Take smaller bites to enjoy the meal longer. It has profound effects that will find you enjoying the meal with satisfying results.
Festive Food Gifts
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? There’s nothing better than sharing homemade foods with cherished friends, family members, and those very special people who make our lives easier. Think about all those who impact your life on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis: Mail Carrier, Hairdresser, Physical Therapist, Dog Groomer, Nail Technician, Bartender, Delivery Driver, Babysitter, Housekeeper, Lawn Service, Teacher, Coach, Clergy Staff, Neighbor, Secret Santa, and more. The holidays are perfect for saying, “I made this especially for you!” Gifts of food are great ways to show thoughtfulness and appreciation. Many recipes can be divided creatively to make several gifts. Decorative boxes, ribbons, picks, and tags personalize each package. The recipes forthcoming in the days to come range from sweet and salty to healthy and heartwarming. So, turn up the music, slip on your apron, and get busy. Celebrate the season by giving something that is simply delicious: Festive Food Gifts!
Experience the Holidays!
Experience the Holidays! This year things will be a little different. Unsettling times of chaos and confusion can still accompany satisfying food. Some people will gather virtually, others behind plastic shields, window panes, and face masks. Christmas cards, letters, texts, and phone calls are especially important right now. It is critical to stay connected. Every family has its favorites from the past. Some indulge in time-worn traditions while others enjoy modern classics. As you embrace the holidays with limited companionship, sentimental yearnings, enjoyable food, or jubilant festivities, celebrate the spirit of the season. In the next few weeks, join me as I share festive foods as well as healthy options. Experience the holidays with gifts that never go out of style: Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love. These are the things worth sharing.
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
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
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.
Angel Food Cake Kabobs
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Angel Food Cake Kabobs! Feeling Patriotic? This colorful dessert is perfect for an Independence Day picnic or gathering. Strawberries for Red, angel food cake for White, and blueberries for…..well, you know…Blue! Get the kids involved by letting them assemble the delectable desserts in advance. Better throw in extra ingredients for nibbling. Transport the kabobs in pint-size canning jars. Drizzle with chocolate before serving or make up individual portions of hot fudge sauce in small jars for dunking. It’s all fun and celebration for a light, refreshing dessert-on-a-stick. Then sit back and enjoy the fireworks!
ANGEL FOOD CAKE KABOBS
Angel Food Cake
12-15 bamboo skewers
1 quart strawberries
1 pint blueberries
I jar chocolate fudge sauce
Cut the angel food cake into large square, bite-sized pieces. Wash strawberries; pat dry. Repeat with blueberries. To assemble kabobs skewer one strawberry, one piece of cake, then two blueberries. Repeat to fill each skewer. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays
Festive Foods! Good times naturally accompany good food. Every family has its favorites. Some indulge in time-worn traditions while others enjoy modern classics. As you embrace the holidays with companionship, nostalgia, food, or festivities, celebrate the spirit of the season. In the next few weeks, join me as I share favorite foods as well as healthy options. Bring it home for the holidays with Festive Foods! Follow me on Instagram @gail_dorna or check in with me on Twitter @Snapshotsincursive.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Yuletide Favs!
Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Yuletide Favs! Good times naturally accompany good food. Every family has its favorites. Some indulge in time-worn traditions while others enjoy modern classics. As you embrace the holidays with companionship, nostalgia, food, or festivities, celebrate the spirit of the season. In the next few weeks, join me as I share favorite foods as well as healthy options. Bring it home for the holidays with Yuletide Favs! Follow me on Instagram @gail_dorna or check in with me on Twitter @Snapshotsincursive.
Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Kabob Brownie Bites! This recipe seems like a no-brainer. It’s that simple. Strawberries + Marshmallow + Brownie Bites = Dessert Kabobs! Talk about a foodie’s favorite. This no-fuss festive platter will make a melody in your heart. If you like continuous joy, and a dessert that will draw raves, treat everyone to this explosion of sweetness. (As a time-saver, you may substitute package brownie bites instead of homemade.)
KABOB BROWNIE BITES
1 Fudge Brownie Mix
1 pound fresh strawberries
8 ounces large marshmallows
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Using a mini-muffin tin, prepare Fudge Brownie mix according to package directions. Bake. Cool on a wire rack. Clean and dry strawberries. Cut them in half to have a flat end. Beginning with a strawberry cap, skewer it so the greens are on the top. Add a marshmallow, one brownie, and the other half of the strawberry so the point is on the bottom of the kabob. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. For toasted marshmallows, use a kitchen torch. One at a time, carefully “roast the marshmallow” over a low flame. Do not burn. Return kabob to baking sheet. Repeat until all are toasted. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on High. Stir and repeat until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer melted chocolate to a squeeze bottle or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Drizzle chocolate over the kabobs. Refrigerate until chocolate ready to serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai
Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai. A table for two was nestled against the nontraditional Hawaiian pine tree whose vivid boughs were as feathery as ringlets on a toddler’s head. Golden pineapple ornaments dangled in scattered formation among exotic hula dancers and bamboo ukuleles while background music played softly overhead. The master chef’s menu for the night before Christmas presented itself with a culinary experience long remembered.