Double Lemon Poppyseed Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Double Lemon Poppyseed Bread! Everyone has their favorite flavors and foods that remind them of happier times. A good friend of mine recently lost her husband, after challenging years with a slow-progressing disease. When I stopped by to visit her with a gift of food, it created an unexpected see-saw of emotion. At first, she was happy and delighted because it brought back memories of early morning get-togethers for Bible study at a local coffee shop. We’d laugh, chat, share, or reflect on scripture over coffee and pastries before heading off to work. It was a wonderful way to begin the day, often shifting gears from a trying mindset to a positive outlook. The emotional see-saw tipped from high to low that day when she realized how uncertain her future has become in consequence of widowhood magnified by isolation during a pandemic. Let us strive to remember the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

DOUBLE LEMON POPPYSEED BREAD

Ingredients for Bread:

16.25-ounce box white cake mix

3.5-ounce vanilla flavored instant pudding, powdered

4 eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon lemon citrus peel

2 tablespoons poppyseeds

Ingredients for Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-4 tablespoons light cream, slightly warmed

Lemon zest, for garnish

White nonpareil sprinkles, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine white cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, lemon juice, vegetable oil, and hot water. Beat on Low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to Medium setting; beat 2 minutes longer. Fold in lemon citrus peel and poppyseeds. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. To glaze, combine powdered sugar, softened butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Stir to blend. Slowly add the warmed cream, stirring constantly for a smooth consistency. Drizzle over Lemon Poppyseed Loaves. Garnish with lemon zest and nonpareil sprinkles.

Velvet-Filled Pumpkin Roll

Experience the Holidays: Velvet-Filled Pumpkin Roll! Announcing a festive cake that looks as though you stopped by the bakery. Anyone can feel like a professional pastry chef with this holiday specialty. In a few simple steps, the rich pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the velvety cream filling. Afterwards all you have to do is sit back and bask in the accolades.

VELVET-FILLED PUMPKIN ROLL

Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:

3 eggs

2/3 cup pumpkin purée

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Velvet Filling:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with waxed paper. For pumpkin roll combine eggs, pumpkin purée, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour. Mix until well blended. Pour into jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a tea towel, turn cake onto towel, and remove the waxed paper. Starting at one end, roll the cake up, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, combine Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar. Mix together until smooth and velvety. After one hour, unroll cake and spread the filling all the way to the edges. Reroll cake and refrigerate two hours longer. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Xmas Crinkle Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Xmas Crinkle Cookies! Shortcuts are the key to success for that next cookie-exchange the kids forgot to tell you about. “Oh yeah, Mom, sorry.” No worries. Head to the kitchen to clang some pans around, preheat the oven, and dust a little powdered sugar on your nose. They’ll be none the wiser. By the time the house begins to smell like a neighborhood bakery, you’ll have rows of cookies lined up ready to be boxed. And if you’re one of those organized parents, just so you know, these cookies freeze well. Arrange them in a freezer gallon bag, layered between squares of waxed paper. I have literally taken these crinkle cookies out of the freezer and handed them to a little girl to eat. Other than being slightly chilled, they retain a chewiness that makes them simply delicious. You deserve a pat on the back. You’re welcome.

XMAS CRINKLE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

15.25-ounce box strawberry cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, room temperature

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberry cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir until a dough forms. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Shape dough into 1” balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until center is just set. Remove pan from oven; cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with more powdered sugar.

Limoncello Upside-Down Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Limoncello Upside-Down Cake! I love everything lemon, so imagine my excitement at trying this exquisite dessert with limoncello lemon liqueur. Limoncello is produced mainly along Italy’s scenic Amalfi Coast. Every sip transports you to the rugged hillsides along the deep blue cerulean waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Imagine the lemon trees engorged with ripe fruit. You can almost smell the heady scent of natural citrus wafting from the arbors. Now that I have your complete and undivided attention, read on.

LIMONCELLO UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 thin lemon slices, seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 egg, room temperature

2 tablespoons limoncello lemon liqueur

1/2 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray ramekins with nonstick oil. Cut 6 parchment paper circles to fit ramekins. Place a circle in the bottom of each. Set aside. Bring brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar, and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until reduced and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Submerge lemon slices in syrup. Let sit until rind and pith are translucent, 20-30 minutes. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sea salt, egg, remaining sugar, and limoncello just until blended. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Gradually add wet mixture, beating just until blended. Pour one tablespoon syrup from lemon slices into each ramekin. Using tongs, gently place a lemon slice in each ramekin. Reserve remaining syrup. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Evenly divide batter between them. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the cake before inverting onto a platter. Remove parchment paper circles. Brush with remaining syrup. Dust with powdered sugar.

Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies! Get ready for a cookie that combines three incredible cravings: chocolate, coffee, and cream. It’s the perfect mid-morning break, lunchtime nibble, mealtime morsel, or late night snack. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of coffee that complements the sugary sweetness of chocolate. The creaminess of white chocolate is similar to adding a splash of milk to your morning cuppa joe. Unlock all the flavors in a single bite. Take things slow; pamper yourself. Savor the sweetness and focus on the texture. Isn’t it time to spotlight the things that make you happy?

JAVA WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

18-ounce box chocolate cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup sugar, for rolling

1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and vanilla extract until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine chocolate cake mix, espresso mixture, vegetable oil, and eggs until a soft dough forms. Fold in white chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. On ungreased baking sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoons, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 9 minutes, or until tops appear dry. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and espresso powder. Set aside. Remove cookies from oven; cool 1 minute. Roll cookies in espresso sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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.

Lavender Lemon Meltaways

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Lavender Lemon Meltaways! Are you still on the fence about tasting the flavor of lavender? Is it possible you believe it’s way too close to air freshener or bath soap? Think about this a moment…one of the most popular cooking staples in France is dried herbes de Provence. Lavender is in there. It’s a distant cousin to rosemary, which is one reason the leaves can appear similar in young plants. The taste of lavender has a slight undertone of fresh mint, making it a perfect partner for lemon in homemade cakes, creamy frostings, and sprinkled on ice cream. Now I see I have your full attention.

LAVENDER LEMON MELTAWAYS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs

Lavender Glaze Ingredients:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon lavender extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Lavender buds, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. One at a time, beat in eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients; mix until combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. To make the lavender glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add lavender extract and lemon zest. Stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the lemon cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle with lavender buds. Allow glaze to harden before cutting into bars.

Jello Strawberry Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Jello Strawberry Cake! Take advantage of the price of strawberries when the opportunity arises. Whether it be a local Farmer’s Market, grocery store featured item, or pick-your-own berry field celebrating years of family history, run don’t walk to fill your basket without plans to what comes next. Everyone loves strawberries. The sun-kissed fruit kindles childhood memories of joyous occasions when we would eat our weight in berries as juice ran down our chins. Never mind the red stained fingers or dewy rows from early morning fog. In a week or so, strawberries need to be eaten, canned, or frozen. Anything goes.

JELLO STRAWBERRY CAKE

Ingredients:

16.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix

1 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3 ounces strawberry gelatin mix

1 1/2 cups water, divided

8 ounces whipped topping

2 cups strawberries, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9”x13” cake pan. Set aside. Combine cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool at room temperature. Using a fork, poke many holes in the cake. This will allow the liquid jello to fill the gaps creating a ribbon effect. Bring one cup of water to boiling. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix. Stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve flavoring. Add 1/2 cup ice water to mixture. Stir. Slowly pour the liquid strawberry jello into the holes on the top of the cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, “frost” the cake with whipped topping. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.