Mango’s Dockside Bistro & Sushi Bar on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Mango’s Dockside Bistro & Sushi Bar on Marco Island, Florida! It’s a tough decision when you need to think about sitting outside with a backdrop of the local marina or inside where you can watch exotic salt-water fish swim by in a huge aquarium. Try a tropical appetizer like the Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Jalapeños. Spicy, with a touch of natural saltiness. It’s a nice starter along with the Yellowfin Tuna over Seaweed Salad. Quench your thirst with a crafted cocktail like the Key Lime Pie Martini. It’s more like a dessert for those who enjoy a touch of sublime sweetness. After all, isn’t that the reason you walk two miles along the beach every day? Eating out is fun and something everyone looks forward to for socialization. The Tropical Island Salad makes quite a statement served in a fresh pineapple boat over a bed of mixed greens. A scoop of Mango’s famous chicken salad takes center stage surrounded by juicy strawberries, crushed walnuts, and Gorgonzola crumbles. The menu goes on and on to satisfy every palate.

Jamba Juice Copycat Smoothie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Jamba Juice Copycat Smoothie! Everyone gets excited with a copycat version of a well-known brand. Some knockoffs make it, others fall short. I have the advantage of living with a food critic in my own home, my husband. So when I asked him to taste my version of the Caribbean Passion Smoothie, he was very accommodating. Afterward, my favorite question to ask was, “Would you have this again if I made it?” Sometimes the truth hurts, but this time his smile said it all. Here’s a helpful hint: frozen fruit can be thawed slightly and substituted for fresh. Caution: Take it easy. If you slurp it too fast, prepare for a “brain freeze”.

JAMBA JUICE COPYCAT SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1 cup organic apricot mango juice

1 cup fresh strawberries, tops removed and cut-up

1/2 heaping cup peach slices, if frozen slightly thawed

1 cup mango sherbet

1/2 cup ice

Instructions:

Combine apricot mango juice, cut-up strawberries, sliced peaches, mango sherbet, and ice cubes together in a blender. Pulse to purée, then blend on High until smooth. If necessary, turn off blender to scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Resume. Mixture should be slushy. Pour into glasses. Serve immediately.

Nutella Strawberry Dip

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Grilled Romaine with Strawberries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Grilled Romaine with Strawberries! I call this a lazy cook’s meal. After all, it’s pretty simple. More than likely, most ingredients are probably there in the fruit and vegetable crispers of the refrigerator. You know, those drawers down at the bottom that regulate humidity. (Quick tutorial: most fruits like LOW humidity, most vegetables like HIGH humidity. If set correctly, everything stays fresher and crisper longer.) Heat up the grill, sear the romaine, layer on ripe strawberries, red onion slices, and shaved parmesan cheese. Drizzle olive oil over all. You’re done. The hubs will think you planned the meal with attention to detail. Just nod your head and smile.

GRILLED ROMAINE WITH STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients:

1 romaine heart, cut lengthwise

Nonstick olive oil spray

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pint strawberries, sliced in half, stems removed

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat grill to 400°. Spray both sides of romaine halves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on the hot grill. Sear 3 minutes, until charred. Carefully flip over and sear 3 minutes longer until slightly wilted. Transfer to a platter. Layer with fresh strawberries and red onion slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Kabob Brownie Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Kabob Brownie Bites! This recipe seems like a no-brainer. It’s that simple. Strawberries + Marshmallow + Brownie Bites = Dessert Kabobs! Talk about a foodie’s favorite. This no-fuss festive platter will make a melody in your heart. If you like continuous joy, and a dessert that will draw raves, treat everyone to this explosion of sweetness. (As a time-saver, you may substitute package brownie bites instead of homemade.)

KABOB BROWNIE BITES

Ingredients:

1 Fudge Brownie Mix

1 pound fresh strawberries

8 ounces large marshmallows

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Skewers

Instructions;

Using a mini-muffin tin, prepare Fudge Brownie mix according to package directions. Bake. Cool on a wire rack. Clean and dry strawberries. Cut them in half to have a flat end. Beginning with a strawberry cap, skewer it so the greens are on the top. Add a marshmallow, one brownie, and the other half of the strawberry so the point is on the bottom of the kabob. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. For toasted marshmallows, use a kitchen torch. One at a time, carefully “roast the marshmallow” over a low flame. Do not burn. Return kabob to baking sheet. Repeat until all are toasted. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on High. Stir and repeat until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer melted chocolate to a squeeze bottle or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Drizzle chocolate over the kabobs. Refrigerate until chocolate ready to serve.

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Bark

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Bark! When my stepdaughter, Brandi, passed along this healthy summer frozen yogurt idea, I just had to give it a try. One bite and my mouth did a “Happy Dance”!With a plain non-fat yogurt base, practically any fruit can be used. Think about it: raspberries, peaches, blueberries, or bananas. Choose sprinkles or nuts for added crunch, like I have here. The possibilities are endless. Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Bark is cold, it’s refreshing, and it disappears before you know it. Just beware of the eager-eater. You may be witness to a brain-freeze!

FROZEN STRAWBERRY YOGURT BARK

Ingredients:

2 cups Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons natural honey

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons crushed pistachios, separated

5 fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1 teaspoon toasted coconut

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine Greek yogurt, natural honey, and almond extract. Mix well. Fold in white chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon crushed pistachios. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the yogurt mixture evenly to keep the bark 1/2″ thick. Arrange the strawberry slices on top. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, the toasted coconut, and remaining crushed pistachios. Place baking sheet in the freezer 4 hours or overnight. Remove frozen strawberry bark and break into pieces. Store in a covered container in the freezer.

Kiwi Dessert Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Kiwi Dessert Pizza! What do you get when you cross a bakery crust with a sweet and creamy fruit topping? At first glance, it appears as though frosting is smeared over the mini flatbread crust. It kinda is. The secret is cream cheese with a hint of sweetened coconut. The rest is simply fresh fruit…until you detect the toasted coconut flakes. Now it’s tough to decide if this dessert is a cookie or a fruit tart. Either way, it’s a delightful change from traditional pies or standard cakes. Not too sweet, not too bland. It’s just right.

KIWI DESSERT PIZZA

Ingredients:

2 mini naan prepared flatbreads

4 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon coconut syrup

2 strawberries, tops removed and quartered

1 kiwi, peeled, sliced, and quartered

3 sliced peaches, cubed

10 blueberries, divided

Toasted coconut, for garnish

Lemon thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

Remove naan from packaging. Spritz with water before heating. Place in toaster on medium setting. Transfer to a platter. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut syrup. Stir until smooth. Spread over surface of the naan. Arrange strawberries, kiwi, peaches, and blueberries. Garnish with toasted coconut and lemon thyme.

Itty Bitty Pumpkin Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Itty Bitty Pumpkin Cake! Do you have a love affair with pumpkin spice? You know, that delectable blend of bakery spices recognized as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Perhaps they remind you of autumn. The days are still warm as the evenings turn chilly enough to gather around the fire pit in a thick cozy sweater. Childhood memories conjure up bumpy hayrides through apple orchards, jack-o-lanterns on the front porch, and disheveled piles of newly-raked leaves. Plus there’s all things pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin roll, pumpkin latte, and now this.

ITTY BITTY PUMPKIN CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

1/4 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray six mini bundt pans with nonstick oil containing flour. Place pans on a baking sheet. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat on High setting with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat two minutes longer. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Gradually pour half the pumpkin mixture and half the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Mix well, scraping the sides down as needed. Add the remaining ingredients; stirring only until combined. Do not over stir. Fill each prepared mini bundt pan 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with a fresh strawberry before serving.

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies! Mention the word “cheesecake” and wait for an automatic human response. It might be a low sensuous moan or perhaps a catch of breath. Either way, the reaction is suggestive of a rewarding self-indulgence. Add chocolate for a superb combination. Now you can make your own bite-size cheesecake cookie that is worthy of bakery status. The cookie becomes a soft crust for the creamy vanilla filling. Can you imagine? If so, you’re only a few steps away from making it a dream-come-true.

DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

18-ounce box Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Ingredients for Filling:

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat butter, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add kosher salt and prepared chocolate cake mix. Thoroughly blend together, scraping sides, as needed. Refrigerate dough for one hour. While cookie dough is chilling, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Form tablespoon-size portions into a ball. Make an indentation in the center. Place onto ungreased baking sheet. Fill with one teaspoon of cream cheese filling. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake until edges are set, about 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely, about 20 minutes, before removing from baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh strawberries.