First Watch in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: First Watch in Estero, Florida! You can always tell breakfast is going to be good when you know the workers get up with the chickens, which means the crack of dawn. The oven heats up for freshly-baked pastries, the cage-free eggs get whipped for super-light lemon ricotta pancakes, and the smell of hardwood smoked bacon stimulates the appetite as succulent fruits and garden vegetables are chopped, sliced, or diced for the menu of the day. But that’s not all. Smell that coffee. Once you place the order, an aromatic pot of steaming coffee is set before you to drain at your leisure. This is how to enjoy the morning cuppa joe. As you can imagine, word has gotten out, so sometimes there’s a wait. No worries, it takes that long to decide what to choose. Besides, this is Florida and the weather brings a healthy disposition.

Alfalfa Sprouts at Home

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Alfalfa Sprouts at Home! Remember the time you stopped at the corner bistro for a super-healthy bite to eat? You know the sammie. It’s made with the crusty artisan bread, hearty summer veggies, creamy herbed cheese, and stacked high with alfalfa sprouts instead of lettuce. Afterwards you thought, “Hey, I can make this at home.” So you went to the grocery and found everything you needed…except alfalfa sprouts. What’s up with that? Unfortunately, alfalfa sprouts are extremely vulnerable to contamination for one reason or another. A lot can go awry from harvesting to produce aisle. Problem solved. DIY kits are available, along with certified organic seeds. Now you, too, can enjoy one of the most nutritious greens around. Supplies include a quart jar, screening lids, and seeds. You’re welcome.

ALFALFA SPROUTS AT HOME

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic alfalfa seeds

Water

Instructions:

Measure dry seeds and place in a quart canning jar. Add warm water. Soak overnight. The next morning, use a fine screen top to drain all the water. Do not soak again. Rinse the seeds under a faucet using tepid water. Gently swirl and drain. For faster growth, repeat this process again in the evening. Place the jar at an angle with the screened lid facing down. This allows proper drainage and ventilation. Repeat on Day 2. As the sprouts grow, change to a larger screened lid. You will notice the seed hulls wash away during rinsing. By swirling under running water, most hulls are flushed out through the lid. This may take two or more rinsings. Drain well. Continue to rinse and drain every 8-12 hours. Harvest on Day 6 when the leaves are open and have mostly turned green. Store finished sprouts in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad! Either you can use a recipe or not. This salad is very forgiving if you wish to add or subtract ingredients. Some prefer to add crumbled feta cheese, others pass. Some prefer to remove the skins of the chickpeas, others eat them the way they come out of the can. If the skins rub off during the rinsing process, so be it. Either way, this no-cook meal can be ready in a few minutes giving you more time to sort through the day’s mail and play with the family dog.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKPEA SALAD

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup celery tops with leaves, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 baby seedless cucumbers, sliced

3 mini yellow sweet peppers, sliced

1 15-ounce can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained, skins removed

Instructions:

To make the dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper. Set aside. In a serving bowl, combine sliced red onions, celery leaves and tops, cherry tomato halves, sliced cucumbers, yellow sweet peppers, and chickpeas. Mix well. Pour the dressing over all. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for half an hour before serving.

Cheerful Choices

Escape the pandemic for a taste of cheerful choices that can be prepared with basic kitchen cookware and family-friendly ingredients. After all, you have enough rules to follow once you leave the house. Find your spotlight in the power of food. As your body calls out for comfort in the foods that trigger feel-good chemicals, let go of the guilty feelings society labels “taboo”. No one knows you or your family better than you do. It’s what makes you their favorite.

And speaking of favorite…Some of my posts have been noticed by the “Food Network” and Le Cordon Bleu on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Cheerful Choices!” This remarkable journey of the palate is serendipitous because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. You’re the best.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Hummus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Peanut Butter Chocolate Hummus! You don’t have to be vegan to appreciate the benefits of hummus, especially this version. It’s more like a reward than a punishment. The peanut-ty taste combined with dark chocolate makes it only a few steps removed from eating a candy bar. But that’s where the dippers come in handy to turn it into a healthy appetizer or afternoon snack. Think celery, gluten-free pretzels, and juicy apple slices. I couldn’t resist a dollop of hummus between two shortbread cookies. Graham crackers would work just as well. Think of the fun you’ll have coming up with more ways to “spread the joy”!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE HUMMUS

Ingredients:

15-ounce chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

Once chickpeas are drained and rinsed well, add to a food processor. Pulse to mix. Combine remaining ingredients: natural peanut butter, pure maple syrup, milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Blend together until hummus is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a covered dish. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with pretzel sticks, apple slices, shortbread cookies, and celery.

Roasted Chickpeas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Roasted Chickpeas! If you’re like me, some days instead of three squares, you graze your way through the day. It helps to have a high-protein snack on hand when the cravings kick in for something crisp and crunchy. Sure, potato chips might be handy, but would you really feel good after downing an entire bag while perusing the internet? I think not. Seasoned chickpeas can be just as satisfying with their naturally nutty flavor and fiber-filling benefits. Season them with maple syrup for sweetness, a kick of cayenne for spice, garlic for pizazz, or savory ranch flavoring. The best part is you get to choose. Just remember the basic rules: drain, pat dry, peel the skins, and bake. “Bada-bing bada-boom!”

ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Instructions:

30-ounces canned chickpeas, drained and patted dry. Skins removed.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine olive oil, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Mix well. Drain chickpeas. Transfer to a clean tea towel. Cover and rub gently over the chickpeas. This will loosen the skins so you can easily peel them away and discard. When dry, place the chickpeas in a ziplock gallon bag. Pour olive oil seasoning mixture over chickpeas. Seal bag, squeeze out the air, and toss bag to coat the chickpeas all over. Transfer seasoned chickpeas to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Adjust time, if necessary. They should appear browned and crunchy. Do not burn. Cool 10 minutes.

Ginger-Orange Salmon Lettuce Cups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Ginger-Orange Salmon Lettuce Cups! Is it an Appetizer or an Entrée? Both. Ginger paired with orange creates amazing flavor, not to mention health benefits galore. Adding grilled salmon for omega-3s is a bonus. But enough about that and back to the lettuce cup popularity. Anytime you cut down on calories, carbs, and gluten it adds up to guilt-free options. Mix things up with seasonal fruits, garden veggies, grilled seafood, and roasted meat for creative favorites. Anything goes!

GINGER-ORANGE SALMON LETTUCE CUPS

Ingredients:

1 cup grilled orange-ginger grilled salmon, flaked

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 teaspoon capers

1 green onion, chopped

1/3 cup mandarin oranges

Bibb lettuce leaves

Fresh chives, for garnish

Ground Pistachio nuts, for garnish

Instructions:

Grill ginger-orange salmon according to package directions. Flake salmon; set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese and horseradish until smooth. Gently fold in chopped dill, capers, and green onion. Spread onto Bibb lettuce leaves. Equally divide salmon over cream cheese mixture. Add mandarin orange slices. Garnish with fresh chives and pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Foodstuff Redefined

Whether you sit down for a farm-to-table meal, picnic in your own backyard, or pack a Bento Box and go…food can be customized to fit your current needs. Anything goes! Cooking has been reinvented, mixing the old with the new for award-winning results. By choosing your favorite foods, it automatically turns mealtime into an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram @gail_dorna. This remarkable journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FOODSTUFF REDEFINED!”