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

Bowlful of Cherries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Bowlful of Cherries! Aren’t they lovely? Ripe cherries are an ideal snack, by the handful. For some, it’s so simple to remove the pit with your teeth. I knew a guy once who could tie the cherry stem into a bow. (I think he did it to impress his wife.) Ripe cherries pair well with Goat cheese, Camembert cheese, or Bleu cheese garnished with a sprig of thyme, basil, or mint. Their ruby-red color is as appealing as their natural sweetness. The possibilities are endless. Add chocolate pieces for a dessert charcuterie board if you like a relaxed atmosphere at the end of a meal. Whatever you choose, get a pound of cherries before they’re gone. And don’t forget a nice bottle of Chardonnay.

BOWLFUL OF CHERRIES

1 pound ripe cherries, stems on

1/2 pound cheese of choice

Fresh herbs

Dark Chocolate candies

Instructions:

Fill a small bowl with sweet cherries. Set aside. Make available a plate of pitted cherries. To pit a cherry, place the fruit on a cutting board. Using a sharp paring knife, press down gently on one side of the stem. Firmly slice an incision from top to bottom until the cherry loosens the pit. Do not crush the cherry. Gently pull on either side to expose the pit. Remove it with your fingernail. One side will have the stem, the other will not. Provide colorful toothpicks for piercing.

Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins! Nix the flour for old-fashioned oats for a healthier version of an old classic. Did you know oats can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control? It’s a fact we’re all getting older and from time to time need to make minor adjustments in our food consumption. I’m all for small plates. Portion sizes have become insane! When did it happen? As a collector of vintage dishes, modern day dinner plates are now the size of grandma’s meat platter. Did you know “in Europe, the average plate measures 9 inches while some American restaurants use plates that are around 13 inches in diameter. Research has shown that by switching to a 10-inch plate from a 12-inch plate you eat 22% less.”* Snack healthier.

XENIAL CHUNKY MONKEY BANANA MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3 ripe bananas, mashed

3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs, whisked

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Spread shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. Scoop mixture into 12 muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.

*How Big Are Your Dinner Plates And Why It Matters, by Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, May 2012. Eatouteatwell.com

No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream! Years ago my best friend was a specialty brand of Turkish coffee ice cream. I was working two jobs, averaging mostly 70-hour work weeks, seven days nonstop to support myself, and help my kids through college. I also admit I was hiding out from “Life”. Many evenings I’d come home, crash on the sofa, and open a pint of the creamiest concoction laced with butterscotch topping I’d ever tasted. It was bliss. Since then, the company stopped making it in favor of more popular flavors like banana chocolate chunk and coconut almond chip. Seriously? Oh well, that left me with no recourse but to make it myself. Between you and me…I think I knocked it out of the park!

NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons espresso instant coffee

2 tablespoons warm water

2 cups heavy cream

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped

Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping

Instructions:

In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in warm water. Stir well. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract on High speed for 4 minutes until smooth and thick. Reduce speed to Low. Add the prepared coffee; continue until blended. Fold in chopped espresso beans. Spoon ice cream into a loaf pan. Cover tightly and freeze overnight. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with espresso before serving. Drizzle with butterscotch topping, to taste.

*The secret to my success was chilling the utensils overnight in the freezer and making sure all the ingredients were refrigerator cold.

Killer Skillet S’Mores

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Killer Skillet S’Mores! You were probably wondering if I’d ever get around to satisfying your sweet tooth. Look no further than your favorite fire pit companion: sticky chocolaty marshmallow s’mores. Bring out the inner child who remembers camping trips with family members when you’d circled a crackling fire, balancing a roasting stick on your knee. Not too close to the flames or you’d end up with a charred gooey mess. Then again, those marshmallows were ones you got to gobble down before skewering another one. Fast-forward to the Present where you can recreate that same incredible taste in an iron skillet.

KILLER SKILLET S’MORES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 graham cracker, broken into chunks

1 milk chocolate bar, broken into pieces

8 large marshmallows, cut in half

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat mixture for 30 seconds. Let rest 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. In another bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly add the butter mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10” iron skillet. Top with remaining chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, graham cracker chunks, and chocolate bar pieces. Bake 18-20 minutes. Remove hot skillet and carefully arrange the large marshmallows around the edge of the cookie. Return pan to the oven and continue baking until the marshmallows turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookie to cool 15 minutes before serving.

Frangelico Fudge Topping

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Frangelico Fudge Topping! It may have been awhile, but the smooth taste of Frangelico Italian liqueur is not forgotten. Need I remind you it has the same hints of chocolate and toasted hazelnut you practically eat out of a jar? Think Nutella, silly. If it were a cocktail, it would go by this name, with an added punch of alcohol. And since we’re talking dessert, let’s move on to this amazing fudge topping that works on anything from ice cream to waffles. Now I’ve got your attention.

FRANGELICO FUDGE TOPPING

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups sugar

12-ounces evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur

Instructions:

Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and Frangelico liqueur. Stir well. Serve immediately over desserts or waffles. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Dulce De Leche Turtle Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Dulce de Leche Turtle Bars! So today we learn that Dulce de Leche is another name for slow-cooked caramelized milk. And before you scroll down, I assure you it’s one of the easiest toppings you’ll ever make, and certainly worth your time. It’s Heaven in a jar….lusciously sweet and creamy. However, if you make it too far in advance, the most difficult challenge will come when you get the urge to dip a spoon into the jar to drizzle the decadent sauce over a scoop of ice cream. I know what you’re thinking…..but, Gail, it’s only one spoonful. Amirite? Don’t do it. Otherwise you’ll need another can of sweetened condensed milk for these turtle bars.

DULCE DE LECHE TURTLE BARS

Ingredients for the Crust:

2 cups flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Ingredients for the Toppings:

1 1/4 cups Dulce de Leche*

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

*NOTE:

Dulce de Leche must be made in advance. Preheat oven to 425°. Pour a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a 9” pie pan. (This will equal 1 1/4 cups.) Cover with foil. Carefully place the pie pan into a larger shallow pan. Fill the larger pan with 1/2” hot water to surround the pie pan. Bake 2 hours or until sauce is thick and caramel in color. Remove larger pan from oven. Carefully remove the pie pan; set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Pour Dulce de Leche into a jar until ready to use. Store in the refrigerator, if made days in advance.

Instructions for the Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9” square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving extra over the edges for easier removal of the dessert. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick oil. Set aside. Using a mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and sea salt. Stir well until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press mixture into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Instructions for the Toppings:

In a mixing bowl, combine Dulce de Leche, heavy whipping cream, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Stir well; pour mixture over crust. Sprinkle chocolate morsels and chopped pecans over filling. Bake 20 minutes, or until set. Remove pan from oven. Cool completely before cutting onto bars.

Nutella Espresso Rollups

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Nutella Espresso Rollups! French toast makes every day a wonderful day, doesn’t it? Now you can take a few basic ingredients, follow a super simple recipe, and create a treat that tastes like a chocolate-filled donut. Each sugar coated flute is perfect as a finger food for weekend breakfast, lazy day brunch, afternoon snack, or late night dessert. Ambitious cooks may choose to make more than one variation. I’m thinking flavored cream cheese and strawberry filling, for one. Peanut Butter Banana is another. Meat lovers may decide to use sausage links, then drizzle them with maple syrup. You’re thinking holiday buffet. I can see it in your eyes.

NUTELLA ESPRESSO ROLLUPS

Ingredients:

6 slices honey wheat bread

1/2 cup Nutella spread*

1/4 teaspoon espresso powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons fine sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Nutella, for drizzling

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Trim the edges of the sliced bread and discard crusts. Flatten bread with a rolling pin. Spread 1-2 teaspoons of Nutella on each slice. Sprinkle with espresso powder. Roll up the bread tightly and place seam side down on a plate. In a shallow dish, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Set aside. On a plate, combine cinnamon and fine sugar. Set aside. Warm butter over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Do not scorch. Dip bread roll in the egg mixture, coating well. Place in the nonstick skillet, seam side down. Cook in batches until golden brown, turning often to brown all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove immediately and roll in cinnamon sugar. To serve, drizzle with Nutella and dust with powdered sugar.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Xmas Pizzelle Cookies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Food Gifts: Xmas Pizzelle Cookies! I’m obsessed with food that has eye appeal. That’s one reason I was drawn to pizzelles, a traditional Italian waffle cookie. I could make you crazy by telling you we’re going to make them from scratch, but hey, my time is in high demand just like yours. Besides, since I don’t own a pizzelle iron, sometimes it’s better to leave things to an expert. I’m here today to save you time when someone suggests a Holiday Cookie Exchange. Pick up a package of Classic Italian Pizzelles on your way home from work, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts. You can thank me later when you’re sitting back relaxing with a glass of wine.

XMAS PIZZELLE COOKIES

Ingredients:

7-ounce package Vanilla Flavored Pizzelle Cookies

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 ounces pistachios, chopped

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Heat in microwave on 50% setting for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each pizzelle cookie into melted chocolate. Sprinkle both sides with chopped pistachios. Place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.