Instant Plum Brekkie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Instant Plum Brekkie! Sooo, I went in for my annual health assessment, and learned I’m not eating enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains each day. I reported 3-4 servings of each and learned those numbers need to be bumped up to 5 servings a day. Seriously??? You’d never know it by the foods I post on my blog. Let me be clear, I do prepare and eat EVERYTHING you see from Gail’s Kitchen. Granted, I am getting older. But in my defense, I simply cannot eat as much as I did when I was younger. My metabolism won’t allow it. I need to think about the stress and strain extra weight can put on the heart, back, joints, and feet. That being said, my BMI (body mass index) is within a healthy range, which is good. If you need to make substitutions of ingredients to meet your own personal goals, please do what is right for you.

INSTANT PLUM BREKKIE

Ingredients:

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread

1-2 tablespoons Neufchâtel cheese

1 plum, pit removed and sliced

1 teaspoon granola

Dusting of ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions:

In a toaster oven, lightly brown bread on both sides. Spread Neufchâtel cheese on each piece of toast. Arrange sliced plums over creamed cheese layer. Add the granola-topper. Sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Feta Morning Fried Egg

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Feta Morning Fried Egg! Thank goodness this is a healthy way to begin my day. Honestly, I think I might be seriously addicted to it. Remember when your kids were little and could go days eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches? We’d roll our eyes as the pediatrician assured us they would be fine. “It’s a phase”, he’d say, “You’ll see.” And he was right. My kids grew up to be healthy, active teens, and so on. But I’m an adult. And I’ve been making this breakfast for 3 weeks now. Granted, the avocados are in abundance along with the price of eggs being so affordable I feel as though the grocery store is practically paying me to take them home. Do me a favor, try this recipe yourself and give me your feedback. I’d like to know it’s just not me going through a midlife crisis.

FETA MORNING FRIED EGG

Ingredients: (Serves two)

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread, toasted and buttered

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

2 eggs, sunny side up

1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

2 tablespoons herbed feta cheese, crumbled

1 Roma tomato, sliced

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Green onion, for garnish

Instructions:

While quinoa bread is toasting, cook two eggs in melted butter or nonstick oil, over medium heat, according to taste. Set aside. Butter toast. Divide avocado slices between toast. Slide cooked egg onto avocado toast. Sprinkle with herbed feta cheese. Garnish with green onion strips. Serve with sliced Roma tomatoes sprinkled with Italian seasoning.

First Watch in Estero, Florida

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.

Texas Tony’s Rib & Brewhouse in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Texas Tony’s Rib & Brewhouse in Naples, Florida! Look for the curls of woodsmoke arising from the barbecue smoker along Tamiami Trail. It’s mighty important to slow cook cuts of beef brisket and pork butts so the exterior is browned just right while the interior remains tender and juicy. Barbecuing is an art, after all. Follow the smoke signals to enter Texas Tony’s where the meat is cooked low and slow all day long to achieve perfection. Using orange tree wood seems to be the Floridian secret. Mild, but definitely delicious. Dinners are complemented by homemade corn bread or Texas toast, sweet coleslaw, baked potato, or cowboy beans. And the sauces: sweet, tangy, spicy. Go wild; mix and match. Everything gets washed down easily when drinks are 2 for 1 all day long. Better check out what you might be missing.

Yogurt Tomato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Yogurt Tomato Bisque! Before you turn up your nose at the sound of yogurt, hear me out. Here’s a couple of facts you may not have heard about yogurt. Number One, it’s healthy. Number Two, it makes the soup creamier, which is always a plus in my opinion. Number Three, Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. And, Number Four, it has about half as many carbs, if that’s something that is important to you. All together, that makes it a Superfood. Yada-yada-yada. In the end, what it all comes down to is flavor. Tomatoes can be sweet, so the yogurt adds a little tang, which goes well with a dab of butter. Add herbs and cheese with a slice of garlic toast and you have the “pièce de résistance”. Nicely done.

YOGURT TOMATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup Greek yogurt

Dab of butter

Colby cheese, finely shredded

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place plum tomatoes and chopped onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor to purée. In a stock pot, combine vegetable broth and puréed tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Divide into soup bowls. Garnish with a dab of butter and finely shredded Colby cheese. Sprinkle with marjoram. Serve with garlic toast.

Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.

VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST

Ingredients:

1-2 slices multigrain toast

1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter

3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese

1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked

1 hard boiled egg, sliced

Snipped chives for garnish

Chia seeds for garnish

Instructions:

Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.

Guac-on-Rye

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Guac-on-Rye! Tired of boring early morning breakfast choices? I can only eat a hard-boiled egg or a dish of Greek yogurt so many days in a row before I want to switch things up a bit. Last week I picked up an avocado at the Farmers Market. Granted, it wasn’t quite ripe so I needed to place it in a brown paper bag for a couple days to hasten the process. Nevertheless, it created a level of anticipation that energized my imagination. What you see is what you get. It did not disappoint. Perhaps you may try it, too.

GUAC-ON-RYE

Ingredients:

2 slices marble rye bread, deli-style, toasted

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed

1/8 teaspoon everything but bagel seasoning

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

1 radish, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Place toast on a serving plate. Set aside. In a small bowl, slightly mash half the ripe avocado. Add everything but bagel seasoning and lime juice. Stir. Cut the remaining avocado into chunks. Gently fold chunks into the mashed avocado. Divide guacamole between the toasted marble rye slices. Add baby spinach leaves and radish slices. Serve immediately.

Ahi Morning Booster

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Ahi Morning Booster! The secret to cooking ahi tuna is to never overcook it. If that happens, you’ll know because the center will be dark and the fish will taste dry and rubbery. Using a timer will prevent this from happening. For a visual, you want the ahi to appear like a medium-rare steak. By starting off the day with this protein-packed combination, you’ll feel as though you can handle just about anything. You deserve a tremendous boost to help you on your way.

AHI MORNING BOOSTER

Ingredients:

1 ahi steak

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon furikake seasoning

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 ripe avocado, mashed

1 piece wheat toast

Instructions:

On a piece of wax paper, combine sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and furikake seasoning. Mix well. Press the ahi steak into the seasonings, coating both sides. Warm vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the ahi steak for 2 minutes per side. A crust will form, while the inside remains rare. Set aside. Meanwhile, spray a ramekin with nonstick oil. Crack an egg into the dish. Pierce the egg yolk with a sharp knife or toothpick. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave for one minute on 30% power. Gently swirl runny egg white. Microwave for one minute longer on 30% power. The yolk will be slightly runny. Place the wheat toast on a plate. Layer with mashed avocado. Slice the ahi steak; arrange over avocado. Transfer the egg to the plate. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Urban Lemon Curd French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Urban Lemon Curd French Toast! Shortcuts, gotta love them. Just because you’re preparing food at home doesn’t mean everything has to be made from scratch. Betty Crocker, an American cultural icon, is proof of that. I used a store-bought lemon curd instead of making it from scratch. And if you want to take this recipe one step closer to simplifying your life, merely substitute the fresh berry compote with frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed of course. After all, the main attraction is the lemony rich oven-baked French toast sprinkled with vanilla bean and nutmeg. Everything is prepared the night before so all that’s needed is baking time the next morning. See? Simple isn’t so bad.

URBAN LEMON CURD FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved

10-ounce jar lemon curd

1 loaf Hawaiian Sweet Bread, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup cherries

1/2 cup mulberries

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, garnish

Instructions:

To make the French toast, butter an oval baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean seeds. Fold in the lemon curd. Stir well. Arrange the Hawaiian Sweet Bread slices evenly in the prepared dish, slightly overlapping them. Pour egg mixture over bread. Spoon to coat all slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To make the fruit compote, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine blueberries, cherries, mulberries, cranberries, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit breaks down, about 15 minutes. As the juices are released, the fruit will thicken. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate. Warm in the microwave the next day before serving. The next day, to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350°. Let the French toast stand at room temperature 15 minutes before placing in the oven. Remove lid. Bake 45-50 minutes. To make the whipped topping, chill the mixing bowl and beaters beforehand. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until the cream begins to thicken, about 4-6 minutes. The whipped cream will double in volume and form soft peaks. Remove the French toast from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Top with warm berry compote, whipped cream, and dusting of powdered sugar. Serve warm.