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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Quesadilla Apple Bacon Cheese! Your “go-to” snack just got even better. Take a hayride through the apple orchard where farm-to-table treats are as common as animal cloud shapes in the sky. Choose a nice juicy red apple; something to sink your teeth into like Gala, Fuji, or Delicious. The cheese could be American, but I prefer extra sharp cheddar. Go meatless or go crazy and add a couple slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, with enough crunch to match the crispy tartness of sliced apples. Get the picture? Nibble, nibble.
QUESADILLA APPLE BACON CHEESE
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 flour tortillas
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 strips Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked until crisp
Sprinkle cheese on half a tortilla. Layer apple slices over cheese. Add more cheese. Lay two strips of bacon on top. Fold tortilla in half. Repeat process for second tortilla. Microwave quesadilla for 20 seconds on High setting, or until cheese is melted. Transfer quesadilla to a toaster oven for a crunchy crust that is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Dining Outside the Home: Bistro La Baguette in Naples, Florida! When craving traditional French food without the cost of a plane ticket, look for a place that is tied to its roots. Bistro La Baguette offers classic French fare. The kitchen is a bounty of fresh ingredients for traditional dishes as well as decadent pastries, which are featured in a glass showcase at the counter. A shaded porch, surrounded by hanging draperies and green plants, offers open-air seating steps away from the dining room and wine cellar. The velvety green salads are overflowing with garden produce and topped with a heavenly house made dressing. Whether you’re nibbling over lunch or in for a gourmet experience, taking time is the secret to living like a Francophile.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Orzo Chicken Soup! If you like thick soup, this recipe is for you. Every spoonful is filled with veggies, chicken, and pasta. If you prefer to slurp the soup or add crumbled saltines, simply increase the liquid by adding two cups of water or more broth. The soup will thicken as the orzo continues to absorb the liquid. In the event there are leftovers for another meal, feel free to add more liquid until you have the desired consistency. Whichever way you like your soup, get ready to enjoy a flavorful bowl of YUM.
ORZO CHICKEN SOUP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
3 Bay leaves, dried
In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, sliced carrots, and chopped celery. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in Herbes de Provence. Add chicken broth and orzo pasta. Stir. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until pasta is tender. Fold in shredded chicken. Tuck bay leaves into soup. Heat until soup is hot and bay leaves are soft, stirring gently. Ladle soup into bowls. Remove bay leaves before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Egg Salad Chip Dip! I learned a long time ago that egg salad makes a wonderful, light, and satisfying snack when unexpected guests stop by. At the time I served it with celery sticks, chicken-flavored crackers, and salty potato chips. I remember how awed my girlfriend was as she practically inhaled one scoop after another. She simply couldn’t believe egg salad was a finger food instead of a midday meal layered between two pieces of sandwich bread. It’s amazing what you can serve on a budget.
EGG SALAD CHIP DIP
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, snipped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Paprika, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, mash the hard-boiled eggs, using a fork. Fold in mayonnaise, green onion snips, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Stir until well blended. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve with lettuce leaves or sour cream and onion potato chips.
“Chowing Down”, what a charming expression. We’re all familiar with its meaning: to eat, especially at mealtime. It’s no secret I get great satisfaction from food, whether it’s an afternoon snack, evening appetizer, or late night sweet. Nowadays with the flux of farm-to-table and organic options, is it any wonder the allure of food is so enticing? Mealtime then becomes an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my posts have received a nod from Le Cordon Bleu as well as the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail). Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, spotted me on Instagram @gail_dorna. This continuous 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. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE CHOW DOWN!”
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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque! My pantry is sometimes filled with good intentions. I envision a nutritious meal and then get sidelined by other ingredients, especially in the Produce Department of the local grocery. I mean, just look at the bin overflowing with organic sweet potatoes. Medium-sized, smooth skin, pretty color, and screaming “Pick me. I’m healthy.” Soon after I get home, I store them out of sight in a cool, dark area only to discover them three weeks later. Thank goodness, sweet potatoes are very forgiving. Their shelf life is easily 5 weeks. If you ever wondered how to tell if it’s time to toss them out, press the skin. If it’s soft, discolored, or has an unpleasant odor, throw them out and promise yourself you’ll do better next time.
BACON BIT SWEET POTATO BISQUE
2 large sweet potatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Green onion snips, for garnish
Bacon bits, for garnish
Dollop Greek yogurt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil over the skins of the sweet potatoes. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop the sweet potatoes into a bowl and thoroughly mash. Discard peels. Warm butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, ground ginger, cumin powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer. Add chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer. Transfer sweet potatoes to a food processor and Pulse until consistency is smooth. Whisk sweet potatoes into broth until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with green onion snips, bacon bits, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana. When a stay-cation makes sense to remain close to home, wander down the road a piece to The Sherman. Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, step over the threshold of this quaint inn and eatery. You may be taken aback by the lively music and intermittent laughter coming from the Black Forest Bar. Peek around the corner. Rub your eyes and look again. The deep dark interior almost resembles a magical forest where fairy tales come true. Do the walls have eyes? Enter if you dare. Check out that giant pretzel. The couple with their heads huddled together are nibbling on it as though they were Hänsel and Gretel. This is just one of many appetizers for dipping pleasure with gourmet mustards and bier cheese. The crafted cocktails and extensive beer selection complement house-baked specialties with Bavarian leanings. Go early, stay awhile, and above all…share dishes. The German-style food is so spot on, you’ll want to eat your fill…and then some.