Keto Midday Snack

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

Ingredients:

3 slices smoked ham

3 slices Swiss cheese

Garlic and onion chives

3 cherry tomatoes

2 dill pickle spears

1/4 cup walnut halves

Instructions:

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.

Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Ranch Deviled Eggs

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

Ingredients:

12 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

Instructions:

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.

Leeks and Ham Gnocchi

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Leeks and Ham Gnocchi! Leeks are nothing more than giant green onions. They add a mild onion-like taste to any dish and seem to be more flavorful when cooked. By combining them with gnocchi and ham, the leeks turn these little dumplings into a gourmet Mac ‘n Cheese alternative that is pleasing to the palate. The biggest challenge lies in preparing leeks for eating. After all, like an onion or shallot, they have a small bulb and a long stalk of green tightly-wrapped leaves. First I trimmed the tops and cut off the roots. Then I found that when filling the sink with water and submerging them, what little dirt that collected near the leaves fell to the bottom. Once rinsed, they were easy to slice and fun to separate the rings. Use what you need and freeze the rest for soups, casseroles, or other dishes later on. Isn’t it fun to try new things?

LEEKS AND HAM GNOCCHI

Ingredients:

1 leek, sliced into rings

1 cup chopped ham

1 16-ounce package gnocchi

8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded

1 1/4 cups light cream

3 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 slices Hawaiian bread, torn

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Grease lightly 3 individual casserole dishes. In a medium bowl, combine ham, gnocchi, and Havarti cheese. Divide evenly between casseroles. Whisk together light cream, flour, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper until smooth and flour is dissolved. Pour over gnocchi, dividing equally. In a bowl, place bread and leeks. Pour melted butter over all to coat. Gently toss. Sprinkle over gnocchi casseroles. Bake 35 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.

Quiche Keto-Friendly

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.

QUICHE KETO-FRIENDLY

Ingredients:

8 eggs

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

Instructions:

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.

Maque Choux Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Maque Choux Soup! This fancy name for Spicy Corn Chowder is pronounced “mock shoe”. (Sometimes I get a kick out of acting like a gourmet chef, so humor me a little bit.) Believe me when I say use the freshest garden ingredients in making this rich bodied soup. You won’t regret it. Since I freeze the wonderful Indiana sweet corn in its prime, along with the garden green bell peppers, the flavors seemed to burst forth in jubilation. If you can’t find fresh produce, try frozen as a substitute. I also had saved some smoky end pieces from a baked Virginia ham recently for a nice salty finish.

MAQUE CHOUX SOUP

Ingredients:

2 cups whole-kernel corn

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons cornmeal, finely ground

1/2 cup smoked ham, diced

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium high heat, add half the corn, onion, and green pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes until vegetables begin to char. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Add the vegetable oil and cumin to the skillet and repeat process with remaining corn, onion, and green pepper. Transfer to the same bowl. Take 1 cup of mixture, add 1 cup of chicken broth and blend until slightly smooth. (I used a food processor on pulse.) Meanwhile, in a 2-quart pan, boil potatoes in remaining chicken broth seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If necessary add enough water to keep it from boiling dry. Reduce heat to medium low and add one cup milk. Simmer, stirring often. Add corn mixture and creamed corn mixture to potato base. Simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk together sour cream and cornmeal in a measuring cup. Slowly add hot soup to it. This will keep the sour cream from curdling. Then slowly pour it back into the corn chowder. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until soup thickens. Add diced ham. Heat through. Serve hot. Garnish with cheddar cheese and ham pieces.

Havarti Habanero Handful

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

Ingredients:

4 thick slices of artisan bread

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces cherrywood smoked ham, deli sliced

4 ounces havarti habanero cheese, sliced

Instructions:

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.

Incredible Ham Potato Casserole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Incredible Ham Potato Casserole! As the days grow shorter and the night chill sets in, gather around the table for this hearty harvest meal. It can be made ahead and popped in the oven at a moment’s notice. When it comes out with the cheese bubbly and the topping crisp, serve it in the same vessel to keep it hot. By adding smoky Virginia ham chunks and chopped vegetables, this main dish is easy-to-follow and goes a long way. The crunchy topping gives it a nice finish. Plus, leftovers are a bonus!

INCREDIBLE HAM POTATO CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

3 cups ham chunks

1 green pepper, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

30-32 ounces frozen southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup cream of chicken soup, condensed

16 ounces sour cream

1/2 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased 9″x13″ casserole dish. Add topping.

Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups corn flakes

Instructions:

Gently mix corn flakes with butter and spread over top of casserole. Bake in oven for one hour. Serve family-style.

White Bean Hot Dish

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: White Bean Hot Dish! One of the secrets of being a seasoned cook is knowing when to use quality ingredients to your advantage. Especially when you’re short on time or just needing a mid-week break. I keep my pantry stocked with what I refer to as “staples”; standby products that produce excellent results. Then on the nights when we are on the go, I can turn to a delicious alternative while serving another food-lover’s favorite. Pat yourself on the back and make yourself a hero, too.

WHITE BEAN HOT DISH

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 24-ounce jar Randall’s Great Northern Beans*

16 ounces ham, cooked and shredded

16 ounces baby carrots

14.5 ounces diced potatoes, including liquid

3 bay leaves

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté chopped onions in seasoned salt and pepper until they turn opaque. Reduce heat to medium. Add beans, ham, carrots, and potatoes. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add bay leaves and celery seed. Cover and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer longer for thicker results. Before serving remove bay leaves.

*I receive no recompense for promoting their product.