What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor.
GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES
15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup pure honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Coarse sea salt for garnish
Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! Now you have no reason to sneak a teaspoon of cookie dough when that sweet craving strikes. Since this recipe eliminates the need for a raw egg, it removes the worry of allergic reactions. Whip up a batch in minutes. I like the idea of spooning half the dough into a canning jar to keep in the refrigerator. Makes snacking unbelievably yummy! The remaining dough can be formed into truffle-size portions and stored in the freezer for later. Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough makes a great gift from your kitchen as well, that is if you have any left to share.
EDIBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons light cream
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
In a food processor, combine butter and brown sugar. Cream together. Add vanilla extract and sea salt. Pulse to blend. Gradually add flour. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Add light cream. Pulse to mix well. By hand gentle fold in semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Transfer dough to a jar and store in the refrigerator. For snack size portions, use a small cookie scoop to keep them uniform.
Dining Outside the Home: Goo Goo Shop in Nashville, Tennessee! Wander into the SoBro area just off Broadway’s bar scene to tickle your tastebuds with clusters of buttery caramel, creamy marshmallow, roasted peanuts, and decadent chocolate. But don’t stop there. This is home of the famous candy nougat for over a hundred years. Start with the classic then mix it up with southern pecans or gooey peanut butter. The dessert bar offers thick milkshakes, retro candies, moist cakes, chocolatey sundaes, and much more. Nibble away. True love never tasted so good.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Rich Ricotta Cannoli! For those of you like me, who can’t run down to the Italian bakery, try this recipe on for size. It’s perfect for the holidays and won’t leave you wringing your hands for something gourmet. By splurging on store bought cannoli shells, you can focus on the delectable filling instead. The results are astounding! Applause, applause!
RICH RICOTTA CANNOLI
15 ounces ricotta cheese, whole milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
12 miniature cannoli shells, ready-to-fill
Powdered sugar for dusting
In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on low speed, whisk the ricotta cheese and almond extract until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and nutmeg. Mix well. Refrigerate for one hour. To fill the cannoli shells, pipe the ricotta mixture into both ends of the shell, allowing the cream to fill the center. Garnish with mini chocolate chips. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Prepared cannoli may be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container up to three days.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Outrageous Oatmeal Fudgies! Who doesn’t love No-Bake cookies? Forget about spending hours in the kitchen. This kid-friendly favorite can be ready in a flash. The toughest part is deciding if you want to top them off with a piece of candy corn, a walnut half, a maraschino cherry, or leave them plain. Either way, they won’t hang around long because…..(repeat after me)…Everyone loves peanut butter and chocolate!
OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL FUDGIES
1/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Dash sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy
2 cups whole grain oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine butter, sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and dash of salt in a 4-quart pan. Bring to boil over medium-high temperature. Stirring occasionally, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Quickly add crunchy peanut butter, whole grain oats, and vanilla. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Top with one piece of candy corn. Let stand until cool. Store in a covered container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Mole Sesame Chicken! One of my longtime friends introduced me to this dish after spending some time in the Dominican Republic. The unique mole sauce contains chili pepper, aromatic spices, and dark Mexican chocolate making it a savory sauce over turkey or chicken. It creates a fabulous meal when you have leftover meat. Simply add plain or Spanish rice along with soft flour tortillas for the perfect pairings. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty finish.
MOLE SESAME CHICKEN
8.25 ounce jar Doña Maria Mole*
28 ounces chicken broth
1-2 pound rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. Shred rotisserie chicken, removing skin and bones. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Empty contents of mole paste into a blender. Add half the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add remaining broth. Repeat. Pour mole sauce over chicken. Stir to incorporate. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with sticky rice or Spanish rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
*I receive no recompense for recommending Doña Maria Mole, Mexican Condiment.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: German Chocolate Brownies! Take a journey to the Land of Chocolate. It’s a place where milkshakes are thick and creamy and go down easy. You can nibble on chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, candy bars for lunch, and dark chocolate cake as a bedtime snack. No calories exist because chocolate is good for you! Wouldn’t that be lovely? It would be Paradise, in my opinion. Today’s recipe requires a little more self-control than that. You can do this!
GERMAN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Ingredients for Crust:
1 box devil’s food chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
Ingredients for Filling:
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″x13″ pan with foil. Lightly spray with nonstick oil. Mix together chocolate cake mix, melted butter, and egg. Press into the bottom of the pan. Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven. For the filling, combine sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, egg, pecans, and coconut. Mix well. Pour over chocolate crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Bake 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven; cool. Cut into brownie squares.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!
JAVA CHIP COOKIES
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Kolachy Wedding Cookies! The beauty of this wedding delicacy, popular in Central Europe, transforms every bite into a puff of pastry. Taste the splendor. Choose one or more of your favorite fruit toppings, sprinkle with a few chocolate morsels, and let the celebration begin! I made mine into Cherry Chocolate Chip Kolachys!
KOLACHY WEDDING COOKIES
1 cup butter
1 8-ounce package Neufchâtel cheese
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 can pie filling, any flavor
1/2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels
Powdered sugar for dusting
Cream together butter, Neufchâtel cheese, milk, and sugar. Add beaten egg yolk. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture and blend well. Refrigerate until the dough is thoroughly chilled (4 hours or overnight). Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out dough to 1/4″ thick on well-floured board. Cut with a 2″ round cookie cutter, or small glass. Place cut-outs on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make a depression with the back of a spoon in the center of each round. Fill the center with a dollop of fruit filling. Sprinkle chocolate morsels on top. Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.