What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Zero-Guilt Honey & Nut Date Bites! Goodness knows we carry around enough guilt these days between the gourmet coffee addiction and the lack of gym time workouts. So here’s a logical snack that not only provides protein, carbs, and fiber, it feels like a treat! Honestly, anything with natural honey gets my stamp of approval. The fruit, nuts, and coconut are an added bonus, in my opinion. Go ahead, make up a batch and see how rewarding it is.
ZERO-GUILT HONEY & NUT DATE BITES
3/4 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt crystals
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup coconut, flaked
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, raisins, eggs, honey, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. The eggs need to cook thoroughly, but not scramble. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and sea salt crystals. Fold in chopped walnuts and pecans. Mix well. Form into small bite-size balls, uniform in shape. Roll each ball in coconut flakes. Refrigerate an hour or until firm. Store in an air-tight container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Creamed Honey on Toast! Begin today at the Farmers Market on a quest for liquid gold. This version of natural honey is thicker in consistency, lighter in color, and creamier than ordinary honey varieties. For one, it does not contain the noticeable sugar crystals that can often leave a grainy aftertaste. Trained beekeepers put more effort into this little delicacy but, in my opinion, it is worth the extra time and effort. Pick up a couple jars this summer. Store them at room temperature and they will be good until you scrape the bottom of the jars.
CREAMED HONEY ON TOAST
Artisan bread, sliced
Sea salt French butter
Choose a nice artisan bread for toasting. Slather on a tablespoon of sea salt French butter and watch it melt. Next, drizzle a generous swirl of creamed honey over the butter layer. Finally, top it off with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Quaker Oat Breakfast Companions! I must confess, some days a cup of Italian espresso and a crispy wafer roll is enough to get my engine up and running. But on those mornings when I wake up ravenous, I turn to a hearty bowl of Quaker Oats with all the trimmings: pomegranate arils, orange slices, almonds, cinnamon, and brown sugar. I appreciate the fiber, fruit, and nuts for healthy living. Topped with a bit of honey and milk in lieu of brown sugar, and I’m left feeling full for longer periods of time. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber and iron. Switch things up now and then by choosing a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
QUAKER OAT BREAKFAST COMPANIONS
1 cup milk
1 dash sea salt
1 dash cinnamon
1/2 cup whole grain oats
1 mandarin orange, peeled
1 tablespoon almond slices
1 tablespoon pomegranate arils
1 teaspoon brown sugar or natural honey
Combine milk, salt, cinnamon, and oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High 2 1/2-3 minutes. Remove and mix well. Top with oranges, almonds, arils, and honey.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Yams Topped with Pecan Streusel! One of the advantages of being married is the blending of traditions, especially when it comes to family recipes. “My mama always put marshmallows on our sweet potatoes,” my husband volunteered as I sat planning my holiday menu. I’d heard of it, but had no idea why people raved about it. ‘Til now. OMG! This yam dish is about as close as you can get to eating dessert throughout the meal. Seconds, please.
YAMS TOPPED WITH PECAN STREUSEL
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 1/2 pound can of yams; drained, cut into 1″ cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup natural honey
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup glazed pecans, chopped*
1 3/4 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round casserole dish with one tablespoon unsalted butter. Arrange cut yams evenly. Drizzle the yams with olive oil, natural honey, and pure maple syrup. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, sea salt, and white pepper. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add melted butter. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and topping resembles small peas. Spread over the top of the yams. Sprinkle pecans over all. Bake 25 minutes. Remove and carefully arrange miniature marshmallows around the perimeter of the casserole dish. Return to the oven and additional 5 minutes until marshmallows appear toasted. Watch carefully. Serve warm.
*Glazed Pecans can be referenced at the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Ina Garten’s Fruit Crunch Sundae! The Barefoot Contessa is a familiar face on the Food Network these days. Not only does she offer great ideas for any meal, but she makes them seem incredibly simple. Today’s recipe comes from a recent episode where Ina wanted to serve up a special breakfast for her husband. I like the idea of taking everyday food and turning it into something extraordinary. By baking a batch of crunchy granola and storing it in an airtight container, single servings can be assembled in a flash. Use whatever fruit is on hand to make it unique.
INA GARTEN’S FRUIT CRUNCH SUNDAE
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pure honey
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
1 cup Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until completely combined. Pour into a baking sheet and bake until mixture turns golden brown. Stir occasionally. Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool. Stir once. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple in a bowl. Using stemmed glasses or parfait glasses, layer granola, yogurt, and fruit until full. You may alternate ingredients to repeat layers. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Easy Energy Balls! Do you ever get those mid-morning blahs where all you want to do is go back to bed? Well, here’s a way to get a tasty boost of energy without the guilt of a candy bar. By choosing pure and organic ingredients, you not only reap the health benefits, but you also gain the satisfaction your tummy needs in order to feel full. Make up a batch in minutes, store in the refrigerator, then Grab and Go!
EASY ENERGY BALLS
1 cup organic creamy dark roasted peanut butter
2/3 cup pure honey
2 cups flaked coconut
2 cups old fashioned whole grain oats
1 cup organic flaxseed
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup ground nuts
Warm peanut butter just enough to blend well with the honey. Remove from heat and add coconut, oats, flaxseed, and chocolate chips. Mix well. Sprinkle in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. Roll into 30 bite-size balls, coat in ground nuts, and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Traditional Plum Pudding! Everyone remembers Little Jack Horner’s fame from a childhood nursery rhyme: “He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum.” It’s hard to resist that urge while eating these sweet, fruity, luscious plums. To pull this off, do like my Gramma used to say, “Honey, just dump everything in the pan, stir a little bit, and bake.” Sometimes we try to make things too difficult.
TRADITIONAL PLUM PUDDING
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
4 cups ripe plums, pits removed, skin on, and sliced
1 cup natural honey
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, sea salt, and baking powder in the prepared dish. Whisk together. Add melted butter and milk. Stir well. Spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sliced plums and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the pudding batter. Do not stir. Bake for 35-40 minutes until pudding is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm with whipped cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Lime Cilantro Dressing! The first time I tasted this unique dressing with a southwestern kick, I wanted to put down my fork and literally guzzle it by the spoonful. Then again, I’m a fan of fresh cilantro. It’s one of those herbs, I’ve discovered, people either love it or hate it. If you can’t handle it….well, I’ll see you tomorrow when I bake something sweet and decadent. For those who choose to remain, grab a spoon and hang on!
LIME CILANTRO DRESSING
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in quarters
1 garlic clove
3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup natural honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the jalapeño pepper, garlic clove, and ginger root into a mini chopper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add lime juice, natural honey, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to mix. Add cilantro leaves. Pulse a little longer to blend. With the mini chopper on Low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing until it is completely blended. It is now ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Confetti Corn Flake Cookies! Who wants to turn your day into a party? Me, that’s who. Have a pinwheel of fun when you make a batch of these crunchy sweet drop cookies that never touch the oven. Cook them on the stovetop in just a few minutes. Make this an after-school game plan with the kids and grandkids. As they lick the chocolate morsels from their nimble fingers, they’ll sing your praises!
CONFETTI CORN FLAKE COOKIES
1/2 cup Karo syrup*
1/2 cup pure honey*
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
4-5 cups corn flakes
1 cup assorted dark chocolate, white chocolate, and butterscotch morsels
*1 cup of Karo syrup can be used, omitting honey OR 1 cup of honey can be used, omitting Karo syrup. Karo gives the cookies a “glossy/shiny” finish.
Over medium heat, combine the Karo syrup, honey, and sugar in a 4-quart pan. As it comes to a rolling boil, stir vigorously. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Gradually add corn flakes being careful not to crush them. Mix well. Gently blend in a portion of assorted morsels, saving some to use as topping. Line two baking sheets with waxed paper. Drop cookie mixture onto waxed paper by spoonfuls. Top with assorted morsels. Let cool before serving.