Kabob Brownie Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Kabob Brownie Bites! This recipe seems like a no-brainer. It’s that simple. Strawberries + Marshmallow + Brownie Bites = Dessert Kabobs! Talk about a foodie’s favorite. This no-fuss festive platter will make a melody in your heart. If you like continuous joy, and a dessert that will draw raves, treat everyone to this explosion of sweetness. (As a time-saver, you may substitute package brownie bites instead of homemade.)

KABOB BROWNIE BITES

Ingredients:

1 Fudge Brownie Mix

1 pound fresh strawberries

8 ounces large marshmallows

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Skewers

Instructions;

Using a mini-muffin tin, prepare Fudge Brownie mix according to package directions. Bake. Cool on a wire rack. Clean and dry strawberries. Cut them in half to have a flat end. Beginning with a strawberry cap, skewer it so the greens are on the top. Add a marshmallow, one brownie, and the other half of the strawberry so the point is on the bottom of the kabob. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. For toasted marshmallows, use a kitchen torch. One at a time, carefully “roast the marshmallow” over a low flame. Do not burn. Return kabob to baking sheet. Repeat until all are toasted. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on High. Stir and repeat until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer melted chocolate to a squeeze bottle or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Drizzle chocolate over the kabobs. Refrigerate until chocolate ready to serve.

Insanely Delish Chocolate PB Truffles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Insanely Delish Chocolate PB Truffles! Now here is a dessert that will bring raves from friends and family. Some swear these truffles are filled with crunchy toffee. Others insist it contains chunks of Butterfingers. This is when you just smile demurely and ask, “Do you like it?”. (Don’t worry, you can tell by the way they lick their fingers.) This is one time I wish I could magically snap my fingers and send each one of my readers an insanely delicious sample!

INSANELY DELISH CHOCOLATE PB TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

2 cups natural peanut butter, crunchy

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 gluten-free pretzels, crushed with broken bits

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2 12-ounce bags semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Crushed pretzels for garnish

Instructions:

Combine peanut butter, butter, and vanilla extract in a food processor. Pulse until mixed and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar until well combined. Transfer dough to a large bowl. Fold in crushed pretzel bits and mini morsels of chocolate to make a cookie dough consistency. Chill 10 minutes. Using a melon ball scoop, take dough and form into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat until all dough is used. Caution: Do not taste the dough. You may find yourself nibbling on it too often. lol. Refrigerate dough balls for 30 minutes. As they are being chilled, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High one minute. Stir and repeat until microwaved chocolate is smooth. Do not overcook in microwave. Using a spoon, dip one ball at a time in the melted chocolate. Coat entirely. Place the truffle back on the baking sheet. Repeat. Dust with crushed pretzels. Refrigerate the truffles for 30 minutes, or until chocolate is firm. Share and Enjoy!

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.

Coconut Flour Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Coconut Flour Brownies! Every once in awhile I need a gluten-free recipe for sharing. The bonus is a healthy alternative to sugary sweets with high caloric count. Coconut flour is high in fiber and lower in carbs, yet free from wheat and grains. I like its hint of coconut with a mild, slightly toasty flavor. Don’t be discouraged by the cost. A little goes a long way.

COCONUT FLOUR BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, unsalted, melted

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

3 large eggs

1/2 cup natural honey

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup toasted coconut

1/3 cup candied pecans, chopped

1 Toblerone chocolate bar, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Line an 10″ glass baking pan with parchment paper. Spray lightly with nonstick oil. In a large bowl, combine butter, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, and eggs. Mix well. Add honey, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add baking soda, coconut flour, and kosher salt. Mix until batter is thoroughly combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Spread evenly into prepare baking pan. Top with toasted coconut, candied pecans, and chopped Toblerone pieces. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Once room temperature, remove from pan and cut into serving portions. Keep in airtight container.

Whoopie Pies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Whoopie Pies! Dip into your past for a childhood favorite that has been around since your parents and grandparents were kids. Some say it’s a cookie, others refer to it as a cake, but the name that seemed to stick more than any other is “Whoopie Pie”. No worries, one bite and it simply won’t matter. You’re hooked. Picture this: Sweet, creamy marshmallow fluff sandwiched between two chewy dark chocolate mounds. I know, right?!

WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon molasses

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

7-ounce jar marshmallow creme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream together butter, vegetable oil, molasses, and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg. Add vanilla extract. Combine flour, baking soda, sea salt, and cocoa powder. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir until blended. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I baked 6 cookies per sheet to allow room for them to form a perfect circle.) Bake 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully. Cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. To fill, spread a generous dollop on the bottom half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies. Wrap and chill 2 hours before serving.

Nutella Fudge Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Nutella Fudge Brownies! If you haven’t been introduced to Nutella lately, allow me to take a moment to introduce you. Nutella is a distant cousin to peanut butter, the difference being its two main ingredients of heart-healthy hazelnuts and nutritious cocoa chocolate. Like peanut butter, portion control is key. That being said, love it or leave it. A little Nutella goes a long way, in my opinion. I topped a batch of fudge brownies with Nutella frosting and crushed salted pretzels for a super-yummy dessert. I have grandkids, after all, and my job is to spoil them silly.

NUTELLA FUDGE BROWNIES

Ingredients for Pretzel Crust:

1 1/2 cup pretzels

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8″x8″ square pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Using a food processor, pulse pretzels into small pieces. Add brown sugar and pulse until mixed. Pour in melted butter and continue until mixed. Press pretzel mixture into prepared pan. Bake 12-14 minutes until crust is firm. Remove and set aside.

Ingredients for Fudge Brownies:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Ingredients for Frosting:

1/3-1/2 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Crushed pretzels for garnish

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a larger mixing bowl, combine sugar and melted butter, stirring thoroughly. Add one egg. Mix well. Repeat with second egg. Add vanilla extract and 1/3 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread. Stir until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well. Pour batter onto prepared crust. Spread evenly. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow fudge brownies to cool 30 minutes. Frost with Nutella Hazelnut Spread, according to taste. Garnish with crushed pretzel pieces and sea salt.

Snickerdoodle Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Snickerdoodle Chocolate Chip Cookies! When my 11-year old granddaughter came for a visit, one of the things we did together was bake homemade cookies. It was a wonderful way to build social skills for life, not to mention lasting memories. Conversation flowed easily while mixing cookie dough and then afterwards licking the bowl. Her technique for cracking an egg, without getting eggshells in the dough, was to hold it securely in the palm of her hand, above a custard cup…and squeeze. Don’t laugh. It worked. Surprisingly it takes a lot more uneven pressure to break it that way, but her reasoning was, “Nana, it’s easier than trying to get my thumbs in the opening and pulling it apart.” Priceless.

SNICKERDOODLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

16.5-ounce box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine yellow cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill dough 20 minutes. Whisk together sugar and ground cinnamon in a shallow dish. Set aside. Scoop teaspoon-sized balls of cookie dough; roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet 2 minutes longer. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. Store in an airtight container.

Incredibly Delish Chocolate Bliss

Experience the Holidays: 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.

Ole Smoky Cherry Drops

Experience the Holidays: Ole Smoky Cherry Drops! For those who think this is a strange name for something sweet, allow me to explain. The Great Smoky Mountains form one of the most beautiful mountain ranges along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Nestled in “The Holler” is a distillery made famous by its 100-year-old recipe base for signature flavors of moonshine. Can you see where this is going? Stick with me. From the fermenting grains of the moonshine stills come the most extraordinary combinations you can ever imagine. Bottled in quart jars are what appear to be a dozen or more moonshine variations that go by names like Apple Pie, Hunch Punch, Blue Flame, Lemon Drop, Dill Pickles, and Moonshine Cherries. Since I found a jar in my pantry, I thought going into the holidays, this might present an interesting dessert opportunity. It definitely passed the “flame test” in my house.

OLE SMOKY CHERRY DROPS

Ingredients:

1 quart jar Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries*

12-ounce bag white chocolate chips

4.6-ounce jar rainbow sprinkles

5.2-ounce jar sanding sugar

14-ounce bag sweetened coconut flakes

Party Picks

Instructions:

Several steps are necessary to prepare your workspace. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove maraschino cherries from jar. Reserve moonshine for another use. Gently pat dry each cherry and set aside. This is important before coating them in white chocolate. Place each topping (rainbow sprinkles, sanding sugar, and coconut flakes) in a separate dish. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. To melt white chocolate, place half a bag of chips in a microwave-proof bowl. Warm at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval. Repeat until the white chocolate is smooth and no lumps remain. Working quickly, pierce a cherry with a cake tester. Coat it halfway in the white chocolate, then dip it in one of the toppings. Place decorated cherry on the waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all cherries are decorated. Chill to set. Two things: As the white chocolate cools, gently warm and stir. When it becomes necessary to use the remaining white chocolate chips, begin with a clean bowl. This will eliminate waste. Cherry Drops should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with party picks.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries.