What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Delicious Dill Dip! “Remember to eat your veggies.” We’ve all ignored that inner voice that tends to remind us not to reach for a second cookie. So today we’re going to make eating vegetables FUN! This dip is so yummy, you can scoop it up with cucumber spears, celery sticks, baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, or cauliflower. But don’t stop there. The fresh dill even complements a toasted bagel, which you’ll see later on.
DELICIOUS DILL DIP
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon celery flakes
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill
Mix thoroughly yogurt and mayonnaise. Add sea salt, celery seed, onion powder, celery flakes, and chopped onion; blend well. Fold in fresh dill. Refrigerate one hour before serving.
Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a Food Junkie. I confess that I eat to live and enjoy the ride. I like fresh ingredients, garden herbs, rich chocolate, and French butter…to name just a few. But I’m in good company. Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter as well as Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) on Instagram. Come along with me for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Food Junkie Favorites! This remarkable journey of the palate is special 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. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. 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: FOOD JUNKIE FAVORITES!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Oyster Snack Crackers! When you get that craving for something slightly salty partnered with a crunchy snack, turn to these little gems made from basic oyster crackers. Add seasonings and oil; bake and store in an airtight container. I literally sprinkle them on homemade soups, organic salads, and sometimes the palm of my hand. In a pinch, I’ve crushed them as a coating for baked chicken or fish. It’s all up to you.
OYSTER SNACK CRACKERS
16-ounce package of oyster crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
Preheat oven to 325°. Take a one gallon ziplock bag. Pour oyster crackers into bag. In a glass measuring cup, combine butter, olive oil, ranch seasoning mix, dill weed, onion powder, and lemon pepper. Stir well. Pour over crackers. Seal the bag and toss to coat, alternating every 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a baking sheet. Form single layer. Bake 10 minutes; toss and bake 10 minutes longer. Do not burn. Let cool and then store in an airtight container. Will keep for weeks.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Nori Sesame Popcorn! If you’ve never tasted dried edible seaweed, you’re really missing out. It wasn’t until recently that I gave it a whirl and I have to tell you, I kinda like it. Besides, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Asian cultures have known this all along, so it’s like preaching to the choir when I rave about the natural health benefits. When nori is added to a batch of popcorn, seasoned with roasted sesame seeds and Oriental rice crackers, it transforms a typical snack into a sensational wholesome one. Prepare to grab a handful and nibble away.
NORI SESAME POPCORN
1 packet microwave popcorn, any variety
8-ounces rice cracker blend, bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
.21 ounces dried seaweed sheets, cut into small strips
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the microwave popcorn according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add the rice cracker pieces. Toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, and nori strips. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Cool five minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Wonton Nachos! Sounds strange, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought the first time I glanced around the restaurant where couples sat munching away on the mountain of gooey cheese and triangular chips. Fusion foods combine different cultures. There are no rules and this proves it. Take Asian wonton wrappers and blend them with Mexican seasonings and salsa for a perfect pairing. Because wonton wrappers are paper thin dough, they bake up in a matter of minutes. Don’t forget the sprinkling of sea salt. By the time the margaritas are mixed, everything is ready to be assembled onto a platter of spicy Wonton Nachos that encourage conversation. Now put down your cell phones and eat!
12-ounce package of wonton wrappers
8-ounce package Mexican-style cheese, shredded
Toppings of choice
Salsa for dipping
Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside. Cut each wonton wrapper in half diagonally, or quarters if you desire smaller chips. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Coat the tops with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 10 minutes, or until crispy. Turn for even browning. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Repeat until all chips have been made. To make nachos, arrange chips in an ovenproof dish. Add Mexican cheese and toppings of choice. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Pretzel Nuggets! Anyone who has been to an outlet mall, movie theater complex, or shopping center may have been seduced by the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked pretzels. How about those wonderful travel cups of soft buttery nuggets speared with a wooden pick? Who can resist? Especially with a side of gooey molten cheese? Here’s a shortcut to making a batch at home in your own kitchen. It’s all about portion control to keep it real. The next time you’re at the grocery, pick up a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough. You can thank me later.
1 tube refrigerated biscuit dough, 8-count
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1-2 teaspoons Everything But Bagel Seasoning*
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each biscuit slice into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ball. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 2 1/2 quart pan. Slowly stir in baking soda. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Drop the biscuit dough rounds into the water. Avoid overcrowding by working in batches. Cook dough for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg to assist browning. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Finish with coarse sea salt. Bake 15-20 minutes until pretzel nuggets are golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough. Cool pretzel nuggets on a wire rack. Serve with cheese dip.
*To make your own Everything But Bagel Seasoning, click the link below.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Nutella Strawberry Dip! Here’s a match made in Heaven for chocolate-lovers and strawberries. Try it at home and then think about something new for the next social gathering where you’re asked to bring something yummy to share. It’s so Strawberrylicious, my first word of advice is…double the recipe. You’ll have the ingredients on hand, so go for it. It’s easy to make, kid-friendly, healthy, and sweet. Next stop: Book Club, Girls Night Out, Birthday Celebration, Family Picnic, Block Party. The list goes on and on and on.
NUTELLA STRAWBERRY DIP
3/4 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread
1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 cup Cool Whip, regular or light
1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish
Fresh Strawberries, sliced in half
Combine Nutella, powdered sugar, and Neufchâtel cheese in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on Low until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip topping. Blend well. Pour into covered bowl. Kept refrigerated until ready to serve. Arrange sliced strawberries on a platter. Pour dip into a serving bowl. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread! Some days time is in short supply and all we can hope for is a “working lunch”. At least you can treat yourself to something a little bit gourmet that says “I’m really worth it.” Knäckebröd whole grain crispbread is mighty enough to hold a layer of herbed cream cheese, a mini slice of seedless cucumber, wild Alaskan smoked salmon, fresh dill weed and chopped chives. How’s that for refueling your work day? Be forewarned: your coworkers may gather round the desk in curiosity while you’re nibbling away on finger food. Just hold up a single digit and keep nibbling. After all, it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.
KNÄCKEBÖRD CUCUMBER SALMON CRISPBREAD
4-6 slices Knäckebröd sourdough crispbread
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix
2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced
4 ounces Wild Alaskan applewood smoked salmon
Sprig of dill weed
Combine Neufchâtel cheese and Italian seasoning mix. Stir until blended. Store in a covered container. To assemble, lightly spread crispbread with a layer of herbed cream cheese. Next add one or two slices of seedless cucumber. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill weed and fresh chives.