What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Keto Midday Snack! The funny thing about the Keto diet is discovering I ate that way, but didn’t know it was a “thing”. I’d pack a lunch in the morning because I was one of those people who ate at my desk. Hence, finger food seemed the logical choice. Hard-boiled egg, cheese wrapped in meat, nuts, veggies, and fruit. It was easy to nibble on and never got cold when a phone call or visitor interrupted my break. I wonder how many other people go through the same thing. Now, by choice, I still like finger foods to nibble on. Imagine that.
KETO MIDDAY SNACK
3 slices smoked ham
3 slices Swiss cheese
Garlic and onion chives
3 cherry tomatoes
2 dill pickle spears
1/4 cup walnut halves
Place the ham on a flat surface. Add a slice of Swiss cheese. Lay garlic chives horizontally over cheese. Roll the pieces tightly into a spiral. Wrap two or three strands of onion chives around each ham roll and tie in a knot. Repeat two more times. Serve with cherry tomatoes, pickle spears, and walnut halves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew! This time of year the nights are chilly and the days can still be warm. A slow-cooker makes preparing a satisfying meal pretty simple. Throw everything together and let it “stew” for awhile. Nowadays you can get an assortment of 15 beans ranging from pinto, garbanzo, and northern to split pea, navy, and lentil in the same package. Add that ham bone you stored in the freezer during the holidays and you’re on your way. By adding sweet onion, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves, you’ll make this a classic favorite every time.
FIFTEEN-BEAN HAM BONE STEW
20-ounce package of 15 Bean Soup assortment
1 pound ham bone with ham chunks
32 ounces vegetable broth
32 ounces water
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4-5 bay leaves
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Rinse beans. Place in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water. Allow beans to soak overnight. After soaking, drain water. Transfer beans to a slow-cooker. Add ham bone with meat. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add chopped onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on High setting for 5 hours (or Low setting for 7-8 hours) or until beans are tender. Remove the ham bone. Let the excess meat fall off into the stew or cut it off the bone and put the meat chunks back into the crockpot. Stir in diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 minutes longer on Low setting. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Ranch Deviled Eggs! Behold the egg. It serves many options from breakfast omelets to afternoon appetizers, light snacks to mealtime casseroles. And who doesn’t love deviled eggs? Talk about versatility. This version implements the tangy creaminess of ranch flavor so popular in salad dressing. Add a garnish of applewood smoked honey ham crumbles for a superb finish. Make a dozen and watch them disappear.
RANCH DEVILED EGGS
3 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 pound applewood-smoked honey ham or bacon, crumbled
In a 4-quart pan, place eggs in a single layer. Add enough water to cover eggs. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. To remove eggshell, crack it by tapping gently all over; roll between hands to loosen it. Peel, beginning at the large end. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Transfer to a platter. Remove yolks. In a medium bowl, mash the egg yolks with a fork. Sprinkle with dry ranch dressing mix. Add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and minced chives. Stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. Garnish with applewood-smoked honey ham crumbles. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. May be prepared a full day in advance.
Dining Outside the Home: La Sorpresa Latina Cuban Cafe in Naples, Florida! For the real taste of Cuba, you go to the source. But if a journey 90 miles from the southernmost point of Florida is not in the near future, no worries. Thanks to La Sorpresa, a family-owned place for a quick bite and a signature coffee, you can get a killer Cuban Sandwich stateside. This popular sammie is stuffed with shredded pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. Go ahead and add some hot sauce for extra kick. Everything is pressed together like a panini, making it the perfect handheld option. Because the crusty bread is bakery-made, you might think about sharing. Cuban bread is formed in the shape of a baguette, only with plenty of air pockets, so it could be over twelve inches long. It has a touch of sweetness that makes you crave another bite. We ordered two Cuban Sandwiches the first time and ended up cutting one in half for lunch. ‘Course that meant we got to eat the same thing the next day. By the time we left the café, we had an order of plantains and an extra loaf of Cuban bread. After all, dreams do come true. You just have to believe it.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Quiche Keto-Friendly. So, in case you don’t know the difference between keto, paleo, and gluten-free, here’s a quick study. Keto focuses on fat, carbs, and protein without grains or breads. Paleo avoids most dairy, legumes, and grains. And gluten-free basically means you’ve given up wheat, rye, and barley. So you can be on a gluten-free diet and still be keto-friendly. What I’ve done today is eliminate the crust in the traditional quiche making it similar to an omelette, only thicker. No worries. You won’t miss the crust because the ham and cheese filling is worth the trade-off.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup ham chunks
1 cup cheddar cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon onion, minced
Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, and seasoned salt. Add ham chunks into egg mixture; stir to combine. Fold in shredded cheese and minced onion. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes until set. Top should appear golden brown.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Oven Spinach Frittata! Frittata is a fancy word for an Italian omelet baked in the oven without a crust. It also cooks in half the time, making it less labor-intensive. Somehow that doesn’t sound near as exciting as a French quiche. Yet, it is because the filling ends up being light, fluffy, and savory. The feta cheese is a crowning point with its rich tangy flavor. And the next time you need something versatile for leftover lunch the next day, think frittata. Even at room temperature, it tastes amazing.
OVEN SPINACH FRITTATA
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 strip bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup cherrywood deli ham, sliced
1/4 cup baby spinach leaves
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Italian dried herbs, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, Greek yogurt, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes until combined. In an iron skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add the green onions; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked bacon, cherrywood ham, and baby spinach. Cook one minute, stirring gently. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Place cubed feta cheese on top. Transfer the iron skillet to the preheated oven. Bake 25 minutes or until the eggs are puffy and slightly browned. Remove pan from oven. Garnish with a pinch of dried Italian herbs. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Instant Egg Brekkie! Don’t you love it when you discover a healthy breakfast that can be prepared in a few minutes? Whenever I traveled with my husband, I seemed to be challenged with minimal ways to prepare meals. The one common denominator was a microwave and hot plate. Let me start off by saying, eggs can be tricky in a microwave. Two secrets I want to share: always pierce the egg yolk (or it will explode) and cook eggs on a low power setting in short segments. If you can master those two things, a dozen eggs will go far in the mini-fridge.
INSTANT EGG BREKKIE
Ingredients For One Serving:
3-5 fresh baby spinach leaves, for charring
1 nip seasoned salt
6-7 fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon water
1 slice cherrywood deli ham, gently torn
1 teaspoon feta cheese, crumbled
1 large egg
1 pinch Herbes de Provence seasoning
Garnish with charred spinach leaves and radish slices
Preheat stovetop grill pan on highest setting for one minute. Spray baby spinach leaves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place the prepared spinach leaves directly on the grill pan. As they begin to char, using a tongs, flip them over. Watch carefully. When leaves appear slightly wilted and charred, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside for garnish. Meanwhile, spray a ramekin with nonstick oil. Pack a layer of baby spinach leaves in the bottom of the dish, pressing down to create an even level. Drizzle with water. Gently tear the cherrywood deli ham over the spinach layer. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Crack an egg over the top. Pierce the egg yolk with a sharp knife or toothpick. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence seasoning. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave for one minute on 30% power. Gently swirl runny egg white. Microwave for one minute longer on 30% power. The yolk will be slightly runny. Transfer ramekin to a plate. Arrange the charred spinach leaves on top. Garnish with radish slices. Serve with baguette slices. Repeat for number of portions needed.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Havarti Habanero Handful! You’re probably thinking, “Not another grilled cheese sandwich!” Anyone who knows me understands I can’t leave well enough alone. So…when I came across this “heated” rich, semi-soft version of havarti cheese, I knew I had to have it. Habaneros, as you may recall, are like dynamite in your mouth. The cheese itself is creamy and mild which makes it a perfect match for the testy habanero pepper, or orange lantern as some people call them. When layered with cherrywood smoked ham and grilled artisan bread, the end result is nothing short of Fire and Ice. Are you up for the challenge?
HAVARTI HABANERO HANDFUL
4 thick slices of artisan bread
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cherrywood smoked ham, deli sliced
4 ounces havarti habanero cheese, sliced
Preheat an iron skillet over medium low heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two slices in skillet, buttered side down. Divide cherrywood smoked ham between them. Replace tops, buttered side up. Heat sandwiches until bread is lightly browned, then carefully flip over. Layer havarti habanero cheese over toasted tops of sandwiches. Reduce heat to low setting. Place a glass lid over the pan so the cheese will melt as the bottoms turn golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Oval Pizza Rolls! Do you ever get the munchies during that last hour of late-night tv? When it hits me and the commercials seem to become more frequent, my willpower eventually wanes and I succumb to the nibbling temptation. I’m here to say, this is a perfect bedtime snack. Just the right sized portion to satisfy those late night cravings under the bluish glow of a 42-inch screen. You no longer have to sit and devour an entire pizza while being absorbed in your favorite program or professional sports. Permission granted.
OVAL PIZZA ROLLS
1 prepared pizza crust
1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce
3 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
4 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced
2 ounces pepperoni slices
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1-2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon dill weed
Garlic salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x9” pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Remove pizza dough from can to a lightly floured work space. Unroll dough. Spread with pizza sauce. Layer with provolone cheese, ham slices, and pepperoni slices. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Beginning at the long end, roll up dough. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Wrap in parchment paper, seam side down. Freeze for 20 minutes to chill. Remove dough roll from freezer. Slice into 1 1/2-inch ovals. Transfer to prepared pan, slice side up. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter; sprinkle with dill weed and garlic salt.