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.

Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast! If it’s one food item that catches a kid’s attention on the cafeteria menu, it’s pizza. After all, Pizza checks the right boxes in the following food group categories: grain, milk, meat, and vegetable. What I like about this kid-friendly recipe is the fact that adults control the quality of ingredients. Plus, by involving the youngsters you’re feeding, they can feel good about making healthy choices. For instance, substitute plain white bread with crusty artisan varieties. Choose 90% lean meat. Nix the high fructose corn syrup brand of ketchup for the organic one. Try pimentos for natural sweetness. The opportunities are endless.

KID-FRIENDLY PIZZA TOAST

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef sirloin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup diced pimentos

6 slices artisan bread

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain excess liquid. Reduce heat to low. Add sea salt, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir well. Add chopped yellow onions, green peppers, and diced pimentos. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter one side of artisan bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Top with spoonfuls of pizza mixture. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 minutes until cheese melts and toast is crunchy. Bada-bing-bada-boom!

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.

Oval Pizza Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Oval Pizza Rolls! Do you ever get the munchies during that last hour of late-night tv? When it hits me and the commercials seem to become more frequent, my willpower eventually wanes and I succumb to the nibbling temptation. I’m here to say, this is a perfect bedtime snack. Just the right sized portion to satisfy those late night cravings under the bluish glow of a 42-inch screen. You no longer have to sit and devour an entire pizza while being absorbed in your favorite program or professional sports. Permission granted.

OVAL PIZZA ROLLS

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust

1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce

3 ounces provolone cheese, sliced

4 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced

2 ounces pepperoni slices

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, shredded

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1-2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon dill weed

Garlic salt, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9”x9” pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Remove pizza dough from can to a lightly floured work space. Unroll dough. Spread with pizza sauce. Layer with provolone cheese, ham slices, and pepperoni slices. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Beginning at the long end, roll up dough. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Wrap in parchment paper, seam side down. Freeze for 20 minutes to chill. Remove dough roll from freezer. Slice into 1 1/2-inch ovals. Transfer to prepared pan, slice side up. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter; sprinkle with dill weed and garlic salt.

Warm Feta Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Warm Feta Spread! At first glance you may think the hot pepper mixture is too flaming hot to eat. Peppers, after all, can be pretty spicy. Removing the seeds is half the battle. Still, the skin of a hot pepper contains oils which ignite the heat sensors in the mouth. All true. However, cheese acts as a natural fire extinguisher to diminish the heat factor, while promoting the amazing taste of peppers. Feta cheese contains milk, which is another component in reducing heat. Trust me, all together it works.

WARM FETA SPREAD

Ingredients:

8-ounce block feta cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, crushed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 green hot pepper, sliced

1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and chopped

1 shallot, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 ripe tomato, diced

Fresh tarragon for garnish

Assorted bagel chips and crackers

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place feta cheese block in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed Herbes de Provence. Bake 15 minutes until cheese is soft. Meanwhile heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add green hot pepper slices, chopped habanero pepper, sliced shallots, and garlic powder. Cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove warmed feta cheese from oven. Top with diced tomatoes and hot pepper mixture. Garnish with fresh tarragon. Serve with assorted bagel chips and crackers.

Underwood Chicken Pâté

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Underwood Chicken Pâté! Sometimes you need a snack or an appetizer in a pinch for hungry grandkids, neighbors relaxing on the back porch, or late night munchies. A quick solution can be found in the kitchen pantry with premium quality canned meats. Simply add cheese, veggies, and spice for a people-pleasing dip that hits the spot. Adding a side of pepper jelly is a nice compliment to the creamy dip.

UNDERWOOD CHICKEN PÂTÉ

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, extra-sharp, finely shredded

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1/3 cup celery, chopped

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4.25 ounce can Underwood Chicken Spread

1 sprig of tarragon

Cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese, cheddar cheese, red onion, chopped celery, celery seed, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Fold in Chicken Spread and fresh tarragon leaves. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with toasted baguette slices or assorted crackers.

Banana Toffee Pops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Banana Toffee Pops! It’s no secret kids love bananas. Adults do, too. With the dog days of summer upon us, make a treat with frozen bananas. Turn them into tasty pops covered in sprinkles or throw them in the blender for a refreshing smoothie. Can’t make up your mind? Do both! 🐵Question: How do you get a monkey down the stairs? 🐒Answer: Have it slide down the banana-ster! 🍌🍌🍌Have a great day!

BANANA TOFFEE POPS

Ingredients:

3 firm bananas, peeled and cut in half

6 popsicle sticks

8 ounces Greek yogurt

1/3 cup toffee pieces, slightly crushed

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. Set aside. Combine toffee pieces and mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle onto a sheet of wax paper. Once the banana is coated in yogurt, you will roll the banana in the toppings before placing on the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Peel bananas. Slice each banana in half. Insert one stick into the bottom end of a banana segment. Working one at a time, spread yogurt all over the banana until it is completely covered. Coat in candy pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat. When all six are complete, place baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze 4 hours or overnight. Keep treats frozen in storage bags until ready to serve.*

*Serving Suggestion: For smaller portions, slice bananas into 2″ chunks.

USA Happy Snack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: USA Happy Snack! Did I ever tell you I spent my childhood surrounded by apple trees? It’s one of my favorite memories, growing up in the Midwest. If I was in a feisty mood, I’d nibble on sour green apples. Forget that my impatience may have caused a tart pursing of the lips and a slight ache in the stomach. As the apples ripened, I’d pluck the prettiest one off the tree, rub it against my knee for a mirrored sheen, and admire its beauty. Sometimes I’d twist the stem until it broke, reciting my ABCs. Whatever letter I was on when the stem splintered away became the name of my next boyfriend. But not if it matched my brothers’ names. That didn’t count. Here’s to all-American healthy food wrapped up in a little nostalgia.

USA HAPPY SNACK

Ingredients:

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 slices smoked Virginia ham

4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thick

Fresh mint

Instructions:

Brush the sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut the ham slices in half. Take one apple slice and place it on top of a piece of cheddar cheese. Wrap them with one piece of ham, seam side down. Tuck a sprig of fresh mint into the snack. Enjoy!