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.

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!

Icing Glazed French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Icing Glazed French Toast! This is one of those days where little effort produces extraordinary results. I recently purchased a loaf of homemade raisin bread at the Amish Market, the kind smothered in gooey white icing. Later on, I plumped some raisins to add to the glaze, beat a couple eggs, and Voilà. Within minutes, it was transformed into a bakery-fresh gourmet breakfast. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to slice and eat as the craving hits. You can thank me later.

ICING GLAZED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raisins

Boiling water

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons boiling water

2 large eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 slices raisin bread, cut into quarter triangles

Instructions:

Place raisins in a heatproof dish. Boil water. Pour just enough water over raisins to cover. Stir. Let raisins sit 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually add enough boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and appears like thick cream. It should coat the back of the spoon. Fold the raisins into the icing glaze. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Dip each portion of raisin bread into the egg batter. Flip to soak bread completely; coat both sides evenly. Transfer to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drizzle with raisin icing glaze. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Laced French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Vanilla Laced French Toast! Here’s a twist on ordinary French toast. If you prefer the outside to be crispy, don’t be ashamed to coat the bread with crushed cracker crumbs before dropping it into the buttered skillet. It not only seals in the flavor, but also produces a “to-die-for” custard filling. Forget soggy bread, go instead for a golden brown crunch drizzled in dark maple syrup and topped with the rich flavor of vanilla glazed pears. Have I got your attention?

VANILLA LACED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup light cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed*

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1-2 tablespoons butter

6 slices Hawaiian sweet bread

Glazed Pear Topping, if desired**

Powdered sugar, sprinkling

Pecan halves, as garnish

Instructions:

Whisk eggs, light cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed crackers, cinnamon, and nutmeg with a fork. Melt butter on low heat in an iron skillet. Do not burn. Increase heat to medium. Dip bread slices in egg mixture, coat both sides in cracker crumbs, and place in the skillet. Cook 3 minutes until brown. Turn. Cook 3 minutes longer. Remove to a platter. Repeat until all slices are used. Serve with butter, maple syrup, and fruit, if desired. Garnish with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and pecans.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Ritz Crackers.

**Recipe for Cinnamon Glazed Pears can be found at this link.

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