What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! Now you have no reason to sneak a teaspoon of cookie dough when that sweet craving strikes. Since this recipe eliminates the need for a raw egg, it removes the worry of allergic reactions. Whip up a batch in minutes. I like the idea of spooning half the dough into a canning jar to keep in the refrigerator. Makes snacking unbelievably yummy! The remaining dough can be formed into truffle-size portions and stored in the freezer for later. Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough makes a great gift from your kitchen as well, that is if you have any left to share.
EDIBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons light cream
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
In a food processor, combine butter and brown sugar. Cream together. Add vanilla extract and sea salt. Pulse to blend. Gradually add flour. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Add light cream. Pulse to mix well. By hand gentle fold in semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Transfer dough to a jar and store in the refrigerator. For snack size portions, use a small cookie scoop to keep them uniform.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Cocktail Shrimp Minis! Being a “grazer” can reap advantageous health benefits, in my opinion. Not only are the portions much smaller, but you get to eat every few hours which keeps hunger pangs under control. The rule of thumb is to choose foods high in nutrients and low in sugar, salt, and fat. The key to successful grazing is to prepare things ahead of time. That way when you open the refrigerator, you are drawn to easy choices. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?
COCKTAIL SHRIMP MINIS
1 dozen fresh shrimp, precooked
1 cup fresh salad greens
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/2 cup seafood cocktail sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish
Place salad greens in the bottom of a single serving glass. Divide the block of Neufchâtel cheese into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Place one cheese ball in each glass. Combine seafood cocktail sauce with horseradish. Drizzle sauce evenly over each cheese ball. Skewer one shrimp and insert into each glass, piercing the cheese ball. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Sea View Snack Bar in Mystic, Connecticut! Life is good when you can stop by a roadside drive-in along the Mystic River and walk away from the service window with incredible take-out seafood. Anyone who loves clam strips will literally think they have died and joined King Neptune, Greek mythology’s god of fresh water. But that’s not all. If lobster, scallops, tuna, or shrimp floats your boat, indulge. The price is right and the menu has it all. Picnic tables offer convenient seating under shaded umbrellas. Come as you are. It’s all about the food.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Kid-Friendly Breadsticks & Knots! Here’s a treat that will get your kids involved in cooking for a tasty after school snack. I learned a long time ago, when the kids get cooking, they get pretty excited about the results. By choosing a prepared pizza crust from the dairy section of the grocery store, there’s no time needed for the dough to rise. Plus, moms and dads can be particular about the ingredients. I chose a European bakery-style dough that had no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, and no bleach flour. It was made with olive oil and suitable for vegetarians. It even came with parchment paper for baking. Now you’re talking!
KID-FRIENDLY BREADSTICKS & KNOTS
14-ounce package of refrigerated classic pizza dough, family-style crust
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
1 teaspoon dill weed
1-2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Unroll pizza dough. Cut into 12 strips. Twist the dough into ropes before laying them on the baking sheet. If you prefer knots, tie the dough as you would a pretzel; over, under, and through. Place them on the baking sheet. Lightly brush breadsticks and knots with olive oil. Sprinkle on Everything But Bagel seasoning and dill weed. Bake 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over all. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Keto Midday Snack! The funny thing about the Keto diet is discovering I ate that way, but didn’t know it was a “thing”. I’d pack a lunch in the morning because I was one of those people who ate at my desk. Hence, finger food seemed the logical choice. Hard-boiled egg, cheese wrapped in meat, nuts, veggies, and fruit. It was easy to nibble on and never got cold when a phone call or visitor interrupted my break. I wonder how many other people go through the same thing. Now, by choice, I still like finger foods to nibble on. Imagine that.
KETO MIDDAY SNACK
3 slices smoked ham
3 slices Swiss cheese
Garlic and onion chives
3 cherry tomatoes
2 dill pickle spears
1/4 cup walnut halves
Place the ham on a flat surface. Add a slice of Swiss cheese. Lay garlic chives horizontally over cheese. Roll the pieces tightly into a spiral. Wrap two or three strands of onion chives around each ham roll and tie in a knot. Repeat two more times. Serve with cherry tomatoes, pickle spears, and walnut halves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Homemade Tortilla Chips! Ever wonder why your favorite Mexican restaurant has such incredible tortilla chips? Well now you can make your own café-style chips at home. Begin with flour and corn tortillas the day before. Just open the packages and let them breathe overnight on the kitchen counter. This simple step removes any excess moisture and allows them to fry up crispier. Sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chunky salsa is practically a dream come true.
HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS
2 cups vegetable oil
1 package yellow corn tortillas, extra thin
1 package flour tortillas, soft taco size
Sea salt to taste
Cut each corn tortilla into 8 wedges. Use entire package. Set aside. Cut each flour tortilla in half and then into strips. Use entire package. Set aside. Beginning with one cup vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat the oil on medium setting until a tortilla sizzles. Avoid smoke. That means the oil is too hot. Place a handful of corn tortilla wedges into the hot oil. Do not overlap. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the chips are golden and crisp. Use tongs to flip over half way through, if necessary. As the oil is used, reduce heat to avoid smoking. Use tongs to remove chips from oil; drain on paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat in batches until all corn chips are fried. Add remaining cup of oil to skillet. Repeat with flour tortilla strips. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins! Nix the flour for old-fashioned oats for a healthier version of an old classic. Did you know oats can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control? It’s a fact we’re all getting older and from time to time need to make minor adjustments in our food consumption. I’m all for small plates. Portion sizes have become insane! When did it happen? As a collector of vintage dishes, modern day dinner plates are now the size of grandma’s meat platter. Did you know “in Europe, the average plate measures 9 inches while some American restaurants use plates that are around 13 inches in diameter. Research has shown that by switching to a 10-inch plate from a 12-inch plate you eat 22% less.”* Snack healthier.
XENIAL CHUNKY MONKEY BANANA MUFFINS
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, whisked
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Spread shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. Scoop mixture into 12 muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.
*How Big Are Your Dinner Plates And Why It Matters, by Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, May 2012. Eatouteatwell.com
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.
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.