What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Zapata Mexican Corn Salad! Picnic season is upon us and salads are the star attractions. They are not only refreshing, colorful, and bursting with flavor, but look appealing in glass jars…making them incredibly portable. Choose single-size portions or larger quantities. How fun is that? Southwest corn offers the extra kick of poblano and red peppers. Pair it with natural sweet corn for amazing seasoning. Top everything off with the crunch of chili cheese corn chips. Toss a bag in the picnic basket since you only crush them and sprinkle them on before serving. Nibbling is allowed.
ZAPATA MEXICAN CORN SALAD
15-ounce can Southwest Corn with poblanos and red peppers, whole kernel and drained
15-ounce can natural sweet corn, whole kernel and drained
2 radishes, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, chopped
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
9.75-ounce bag chili cheese corn chips
Cilantro for garnish
Combine southwest corn, sweet corn, radishes, green onion, red onion, and jalapeño. Mix well. Stir in mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Fold in cheddar cheese. Stir well. Transfer to covered container. Refrigerate one hour. Before serving, crush chili cheese corn chips. Sprinkle on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Xiangjiao Banana Bread! How’s this for a fancy word? For those who haven’t a clue, “xiangjiao” is actually Chinese for banana. And who doesn’t love bananas? A few years ago my grandson came to my house for a sleepover. I had been to the grocery store to get some of his favorite foods, in addition to a couple of new choices. Imagine my surprise when I presented him with a half-peeled yellow banana. He got a puzzled look on his face as he eagerly grabbed it and said, “Nana. Ba-Nana?” I smiled and gave him a giant hug before the air exploded into peals of laughter. There’s nothing sweeter than a toddler’s giggle.
XIANGJIAO BANANA BREAD
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, peeled and crushed
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 ripe banana, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with a nonstick oil containing flour. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and crushed bananas. Mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir just until batter is combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped pecans. Pour into prepared pan. For topping, place the two halves of a ripe banana on top of the batter. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans. Bake one hour or until tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and then remove banana bread from loaf pan. Cool longer on a wire rack.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Worcestershire Onion Dip! Add a little drama to ordinary chip dip. Choose pan-fried sweet onions infused with agave nectar for that luscious caramel taste we adore so much. Pair it with a splash of Worcestershire sauce for spice and pizazz. Blend everything together for the most satisfying oniony taste. Refrigerate an hour and get the party started.
WORCESTERSHIRE ONION DIP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 sweet onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 green onion, chopped
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil and butter. Stir in chopped onions, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and cook until onions are deep golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep from scorching. Stir in agave nectar and garlic powder. Reduce to low heat and cook 15 minutes longer. Reserve one tablespoon of onion mixture for garnish. Set aside. Transfer caramelized onions to a food processor. Purée until only slightly chunky. Add Worcestershire sauce, Neufchâtel cheese, and Greek yogurt. Pulse until combined. Scoop into a bowl. Top with remaining tablespoon of caramelized onions and green onion snips. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Serve with chips, crackers, or pretzels.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Marble Loaf Quick Bread! When I was a little girl one of my favorite memories was making marble cake from a box mix. Not necessarily the ease of preparation, but the fact that I could be very artistic with the chocolate and vanilla swirls. There’s no way to get it wrong. And it’s pretty. Today’s version is a buttery classic with a moist center using plain yogurt. Just remember to have the melted butter, eggs, and yogurt at room temperature. If not, they won’t blend properly and you may end up with slightly cooked eggs and chunky batter. Nobody wants that, especially the one who licks the bowl.
MARBLE LOAF QUICK BREAD
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract, butter, and Greek yogurt. Whisk until blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix. Pour half the batter into a medium bowl. Gently fold in cocoa powder until mixed. Alternate spoonfuls of plain batter and cocoa batter into the prepared loaf pan. Take a table knife and swirl the two mixtures together. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not burn. Remove from oven and cool slightly on a wire rack before removing from pan.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Peachy Blueberry Parfait! Leave the velvety skin on, but remove the pit first or you’ll regret it later if you chip a tooth. Peaches are tropical and aromatic. Baby-soft, too. They remind you of a warm summer day followed by a romantic evening rendezvous. Pair the peach’s irresistible aroma with the tangy taste of blueberries for a jumpstart breakfast that will leave your friends and coworkers wondering how you mastered the art of true happiness.
PEACHY BLUEBERRY PARFAIT
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 ripe peach, pit removed and sliced
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup crunchy granola with oats, almonds, and coconut
Combine Greek yogurt and agave nectar. Mix well. Begin with a spoonful of granola in the bottom of 4 parfait glasses. Layer Greek yogurt on the granola. Top with fresh peach slices, blueberries, and the remaining granola. Chill until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Ginger-Orange Salmon Lettuce Cups! Is it an Appetizer or an Entrée? Both. Ginger paired with orange creates amazing flavor, not to mention health benefits galore. Adding grilled salmon for omega-3s is a bonus. But enough about that and back to the lettuce cup popularity. Anytime you cut down on calories, carbs, and gluten it adds up to guilt-free options. Mix things up with seasonal fruits, garden veggies, grilled seafood, and roasted meat for creative favorites. Anything goes!
GINGER-ORANGE SALMON LETTUCE CUPS
1 cup grilled orange-ginger grilled salmon, flaked
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon capers
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup mandarin oranges
Bibb lettuce leaves
Fresh chives, for garnish
Ground Pistachio nuts, for garnish
Grill ginger-orange salmon according to package directions. Flake salmon; set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese and horseradish until smooth. Gently fold in chopped dill, capers, and green onion. Spread onto Bibb lettuce leaves. Equally divide salmon over cream cheese mixture. Add mandarin orange slices. Garnish with fresh chives and pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Buffalo Chicken Crostini! Take a spicy hot dip, add the buttery texture of avocado, and finish it with the cooling sensation of natural yogurt. Now smile. You’ve just bitten into an appetizer-turned-meal after an exhausting day you’ll soon leave behind. This is how we treat ourselves right. You’re welcome.
BUFFALO CHICKEN CROSTINI
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup ranch dressing
1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning mix
3/4 cup red hot sauce
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
3/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 avocado, pitted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1-2 green onions, snipped
1 baguette loaf, sliced and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat Neufchâtel cheese, goat cheese, ranch dressing, ranch dry seasoning, and red hot sauce. Fold in chopped chicken. Spread mixture into a prepared casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle extra-sharp cheddar cheese over top. Bake 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, using a mini chopper, combine avocado, garlic powder, sea salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until mixture is combined but still chunky. Set aside. To assemble crostini, spread creamed avocado over toasted baguette slices. Add a scoop of Buffalo Chicken dip. Dollop with Greek yogurt. Garnish with onion snips.