What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor.
GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES
15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup pure honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Coarse sea salt for garnish
Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Hudson Yards Grill in New York, New York! Outside the window stands one of Manhattan’s newest public landmarks called The Vessel. It’s got people talking, which brings visitors to Hudson Yards for shopping and dining. After climbing the giant sculpture of interlocking staircases for a spectacular panoramic view of the Hudson River, Central Railroad, and Hudson Yards neighborhood, you’re bound to be hungry. Look no further than Hudson Yards Grill. Its Pre Fixe meals, Sushi, Salads, and Desserts win raves. And that’s just for lunchtime. Ingredients are fresh, expertly prepared, and served like an artistic masterpiece. Count on coming back for dinner. You deserve it.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Stuffed Tomato Tuna Salad! Pat yourself on the back for choosing today’s recipe as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. For the weight-conscious, opt out for a lighter version of mayonnaise or substitute using plain Greek yogurt instead. The tomato contains a high water content, plus the fiber will provide a feeling of fullness. That being said, go stuff yourself. Permission granted.
STUFFED TOMATO TUNA SALAD
6 ounce can tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
2 tomatoes, cored
1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped
Fresh lemon tarragon
Romaine lettuce leaves
Chill two luncheon plates. Place flaked tuna in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Add mayonnaise, sea salt, celery seed, chopped celery, and dill pickle relish. Mix well. Chill. Cut tomatoes into 8 segments without slicing the bottom portion. Place one or two romaine lettuce leaves on a chilled plate. Transfer one tomato. Open it like a pinwheel. Spoon tuna salad into the tomato, filling it with half the portion. Garnish with walnuts, lemon tarragon, and a lemon slice. Repeat with second serving.
Dining Outside the Home: Red Fish Blue Fish in Key West, Florida! When you’re wandering around Mallory Square, step off the beaten path a block or so to discover a hidden gem where seafood is prime and the drinks go down easy. Order one of the signature cocktails from Red Fish Blue Fish, made with real fruit and fresh juices. Stay awhile, and without a doubt, you’ll be smitten by the most breathtaking sunset in the Florida Keys. This is cause for celebration. The sheer beauty and passion of the residents is enough to make anyone feel at home once they cross the threshold of this popular seafood joint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins! Nix the flour for old-fashioned oats for a healthier version of an old classic. Did you know oats can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control? It’s a fact we’re all getting older and from time to time need to make minor adjustments in our food consumption. I’m all for small plates. Portion sizes have become insane! When did it happen? As a collector of vintage dishes, modern day dinner plates are now the size of grandma’s meat platter. Did you know “in Europe, the average plate measures 9 inches while some American restaurants use plates that are around 13 inches in diameter. Research has shown that by switching to a 10-inch plate from a 12-inch plate you eat 22% less.”* Snack healthier.
XENIAL CHUNKY MONKEY BANANA MUFFINS
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, whisked
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Spread shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. Scoop mixture into 12 muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.
*How Big Are Your Dinner Plates And Why It Matters, by Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, May 2012. Eatouteatwell.com
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits! Here is a salad you can snack on over and over. It keeps for days in the refrigerator as the flavor intensifies. And because the broccoli is fresh, the crunch appeases the taste buds. By adding the sweetness of raisins and the saltiness of bacon, it soothes those unexpected cravings that sabotage even the strictest diet enthusiast. Go ahead, take a bite. Permission granted.
UNLIMITED BROCCOLI TIDBITS
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and stems
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup bacon bits, fully cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 envelope of Italian dry salad dressing mix
Combine broccoli tidbits, raisins, and bacon in a covered bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian dry seasoning mix in a glass measuring cup until blended. Pour marinade over broccoli mixture. Gently stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate salad for two hours. Spoon reserve marinade over salad before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Kale Chips! Mention the word “kale” and you can see the noses wrinkle. But, seriously, if you eat leafy vegetables anyway…what’s the big deal? I find kale quite versatile. Its rich dark leaves hold up well in salads, pasta dishes, and snacks. Once baked, with the right seasonings, they turn into a spicy guilt-free alternative.
2 cups baby Kale leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 300°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break off the stems of the kale leaves and discard. Gently wash each leaf and dry on a paper towel to eliminate all moisture. One by one, using your fingers, rub both sides of each leaf with olive oil. Place the kale on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer without overlapping. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake 10 minutes longer. The kale leaves will shrink and begin to curl. Do not over-bake! Remove baking sheet from oven and cool for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Dining Outside the Home: Art Café Hemingway in Kapaa, Kauai. Living life in true island-style comes easy as you step over the threshold into an atmosphere that is both rustic European and casual charm. Choose a cozy table for two on the edge of the room to appreciate the artistic ambience, natural light, and blend of pleasing aromas in the air. Natural ingredients, locally grown, make every dish unique. For breakfast order The Nest, for instance, served in a vintage bowl. Multigrain bread cubes fill the bottom. Then a layer of alfalfa sprouts cradle a poached egg smothered in hollandaise sauce. Appreciate its beauty before gently piercing the egg. Watch the thick yellow yolk ooze forth. Try not to drool. Now enjoy every bite. “Time is the least thing we have of,” said Ernest Hemingway long ago. Perhaps it is the secret of a good life.
Dining Outside the Home: The Lanai Restaurant And Bar in Koloa, Kauai. Avocado croquettes, sweet watermelon salad, crunchy sea salt macadamia nuts, grilled shrimp. If you strive for healthy options, local ingredients, and aloha flavor, rest easy at The Lanai. Escape to the garden isle where open-air ambience meets great tasting food. People-watching is a bonus, especially among gentle sea breezes. Adjacent to a gourmet market makes it a plus for top-notch quality. Take it slow, savor each bite. Then think about the next time you plan to come back.