Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing! If you ever get bored, take a stroll down the Tea Aisle at your nearby grocers. Choose from any assortment of gourmet blends; especially one containing full-leaf sachets. Read the label. In a few seconds, you will feel as though you have been transported to a magical land “bursting with life and tinged with the color of true love to make sure you never have to live a day without passion”.* And that’s only the beginning. Turn to the side panel for an invigorating adventure that awakens the senses as well as the imagination. After that when I decided to steep this delicacy to flavor buttercream icing, I knew it would be nothing short of fabulous. Perhaps you may think so, too.

HIBISCUS PASSION TEA ICING

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons brewed hibiscus passion tea

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Garnish with loose tea leaves

Instructions:

Brew a cup of hibiscus passion tea, according to package directions. (Since you won’t need all of it, the reserve tea can be sipped over ice.) Refrigerate until slightly cool. In a medium bowl, cream together softened butter and powdered sugar. Add the hibiscus passion tea and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Spread a thin layer of icing over your favorite cake. I made a gluten-free chocolate cake.** Open a dry tea sachet and sprinkle the tea leaves over one side. When serving, place a dollop of extra icing on the side of the plate or on top of the cake. Either way, it will disappear, I promise you that.

*TAZO Passion Tea.

**For Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake, follow the link.

http://Snapshotsincursive.com/2017/12/18

Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Incredibly Delish Chocolate Bliss

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Incredibly Delish Chocolate Bliss! Is it a cake? Is it a confection? Who cares? It’s smooth, creamy dreamy chocolate and it is incredible. The fact that it is flourless is a plus for those who avoid desserts for that particular reason. The dark chocolate and butter combination is divinely rich, which is why a little bit goes a long way. I find a nice cuppa joe or herbal tea creates a balance that works. As always, share a little bliss with those around you. They’ll thank you for it.

INCREDIBLY DELISH CHOCOLATE BLISS

Ingredients:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons butter, cubed

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

6 teaspoons chocolate hazelnut spread

Crushed pistachios for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Use paper muffin cups or buttered ramekins. Set aside. Combine bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-proof bowl. Melt in microwave on high setting at 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Stir occasionally. In a mixer bowl, combine eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until mixture is lightened. Reduce speed to low setting. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Spoon into muffin cups or buttered ramekins. Add one half teaspoon of hazelnut spread in the center of each muffin cup batter. Bake 10 minutes until edges are set, but center is still soft. Do not over bake. Garnish with crushed pistachios. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Brownie Cherry Bomb

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Brownie Cherry Bomb! Nothing taste more decadent than rich dark chocolate and naturally sweet cherries. Is it any wonder it’s a popular combination? What you won’t end up with is a dry chocolate cake-like dessert. Instead it’ll be dense, moist, and gooey. Sink your teeth into the glossy, crisp outer shell. Mmmm. You may even find yourself licking your fingers. This cherry fudge brownie truly is as good as it sounds. It’s the bomb!

BROWNIE CHERRY BOMB

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/8 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cherries, halved

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

Set oven rack on highest setting. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 8-inch square pan with nonstick oil. Line with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine melted butter, olive oil, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat one minute longer for best results. The color will change to a lighter color. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until combined. Fold in cut cherries. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Top with mini chocolate chips. Bake for about 20 minutes until center is slightly set. Insert a toothpick into the center and it should still come out coated with chocolate. That’s okay. Remove from oven and cool for a couple hours on a wire rack. Lift and transfer the parchment paper to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Yumolicious GF Harvest Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Yumolicious GF Harvest Muffins! Have you discovered the silky taste of almond butter lately? I recently came across a gourmet item that enhanced the almond butter with cinnamon and chia seeds. Because it works with this muffin recipe, I went ahead and used it. Obviously, if chia seeds are not your thing, no worries. The butternut squash is the star attraction, in my opinion. It has a natural sweet flavor that surpasses the pumpkin patch variety that is more common. Since I recently made a batch of glazed pears, they were added to the “harvest”, but you can certainly substitute with a delicious apple instead. If I haven’t piqued your interest by now, let me further add the fact that these yumolicious muffins are gluten-free. See? It works. You learn something new everyday.

YUMOLICIOUS GF HARVEST MUFFINS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butternut squash purée

1 cup almond butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pear, finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon almond flour

2-3 tablespoons old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Use muffin cup liners for 12 muffins. Line the muffin tin; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine butternut squash purée, almond butter, maple syrup, beaten egg, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix well. Fold in the chopped pears. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. For the topping, mix brown sugar, softened butter, almond flour, and old fashioned oats. Mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping. Top with sunflower seeds. Bake 30-35 minutes or until muffins pull away from paper liner. Watch carefully.

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.

Moroccan Stuffed Dates

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Moroccan Stuffed Dates! The next time you throw together a Charcuterie Board, surprise everyone with an elegant delicacy of royal ancestors. Their natural sweet flavor and crunchy texture make pitted dates ideal for snacking. And who doesn’t love finger-food? When stuffed with an amazing almond paste, and a sprinkling of rose water, a superior appetizer is born. Impress yourself by turning ordinary into absolutely delicious.

MOROCCAN STUFFED DATES

Ingredients:

8 ounces pitted dates

3/4 cup natural almonds

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

dash of cinnamon

1 teaspoon rose water

1 teaspoon almond extract

1-2 teaspoons water

12-16 walnut halves

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions:

Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Add rose water, almond extract, and one teaspoon of water. Pulse until mixture becomes a paste, adding another teaspoon of water if necessary. Fill each date with the almond mixture, using a demitasse spoon. You want the paste to form a slight bulge over the top of the slit. Repeat until all dates are filled. Place the stuffed dates on a serving platter. Garnish with a walnut half and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie! Now that’s a mouthful. But truth-be-told when you’re talking about a dessert with mounds of plump cherry clusters, flaked coconut, and sliced nuts…well, nothing else will do. By transforming it all into a slab pie, portions become more manageable over traditional sliced servings. The crust is still flaky, even if there is less of it. Focus instead on a sweet treat with a single shot of Italian espresso or scoop of ice cream. It’s a perfect balance for the taste buds.

QUASI CHERRY ALMOND MACAROON SLAB PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust

Ingredients for filling:

21-ounce can cherry pie filling

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredients for topping:

1 cup coconut, shredded

1/2 cup almonds, sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Roll the prepared pie crust to fit the baking sheet. Trim the dough to only fit the bottom of the pan. If necessary, use the extra dough pieces to fill in the corners. Pinch to seal. In a large bowl, combine the cherry pie filling, cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spoon the filling onto the pie crust. Spread in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the topping, fill a mixing bowl with the shredded coconut, sliced almonds, sugar, sea salt, milk, melted butter, almond extract, coconut extract, and beaten egg. Remove the slab pie from the oven. Spread macaroon topping over all. Return slab pie to oven, bake 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly and golden brown. Cut into slices. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Flaky Strawberry Turnovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Flaky Strawberry Turnovers! Let the experts do what they do best, I always say. That’s the reason I begin with a prepared puff pastry easily found in the freezer section of the grocery store. The flaky light dough is filled with yummy butter and then repeatedly folded and rolled before baking. For you, my peeps, it simply involves thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Pure genius, if you ask me, making the rest of the recipe is a walk in the park.

FLAKY STRAWBERRY TURNOVERS

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, prepared

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Cut into four squares. Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and almond extract. Mix well. In another bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Gently toss until coated. Spread the cream cheese onto the squares of dough, keeping it towards one corner, forming a diagonal. Spoon strawberries over cream cheese. Gently fold the corner over the mixture. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each turnover with beaten egg white. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberry turnovers.