Ole Smoky Cherry Drops

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: 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.

Iced Coconut Milk Banana Smoothie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Iced Coconut Milk Banana Smoothie! Try something new today. Rev up your morning routine with a nutritious alternative to steel-cut oats. Delight your senses with a sweet-tasting banana infused smoothie. The hint of dark chocolate bathed in tropical coconut creaminess makes it go down with a smile. What better way to include a serving of fresh fruit on a daily basis.

ICED COCONUT MILK BANANA SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon dark chocolate syrup

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon natural honey

4-5 ice cubes

Nutmeg for garnish

Mini chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions:

In a blender, combine banana slices, chocolate syrup, coconut milk, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, and honey. Pulse to chop bananas. Add ice cubes. Increase speed to liquefy smoothie. Pour into a glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately.

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

Zero-Guilt Honey & Nut Date Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Zero-Guilt Honey & Nut Date Bites! Goodness knows we carry around enough guilt these days between the gourmet coffee addiction and the lack of gym time workouts. So here’s a logical snack that not only provides protein, carbs, and fiber, it feels like a treat! Honestly, anything with natural honey gets my stamp of approval. The fruit, nuts, and coconut are an added bonus, in my opinion. Go ahead, make up a batch and see how rewarding it is.

ZERO-GUILT HONEY & NUT DATE BITES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt crystals

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup coconut, flaked

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, raisins, eggs, honey, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. The eggs need to cook thoroughly, but not scramble. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and sea salt crystals. Fold in chopped walnuts and pecans. Mix well. Form into small bite-size balls, uniform in shape. Roll each ball in coconut flakes. Refrigerate an hour or until firm. Store in an air-tight container.

Vegan Banana Maple Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Vegan Banana-Maple Muffins! For breakfast on the run, mid-morning snack, or late night munchie, these banana maple muffins are a welcome sight. Made with overripe bananas and coconut milk, they provide nutritional benefits that fuel the body as well as satisfy hunger pangs. Between the first crunch of nuts and the last taste of maple cream icing, you may find yourself reaching for a tall glass of cold milk wondering how you lived so long without trying these before.

VEGAN BANANA-MAPLE MUFFINS

Ingredients for Muffins:

2 small bananas, peeled and mashed

2/3 cup coconut milk

1/3 vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside. In a bowl, mash overripe bananas with a fork. Whisk together bananas, coconut milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Mix well. Gradually add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Gently fold in chopped pecans. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Bake 18-20 minutes or until tops spring back and cake tester comes out clean. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool completely before adding icing.

Ingredients for Maple Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons margarine, softened

2 tablespoons coconut milk, slightly warmed

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch sea salt

12 pecan halves for garnish

Instructions:

Beat together the powdered sugar, margarine, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt until the icing is smooth and creamy. Drop one or two dollops of icing on each muffin. Garnish with pecan half.

Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!

UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS

Ingredients:

Club crackers, whole

1 cup crushed Club crackers

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt crystals

Instructions:

Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.

Tropicana Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Tropicana Bars! When you combine exotic fruits, flaky coconut, and macadamia nuts, you may feel as though you stepped off an airplane onto a tropical island in the Pacific. This mouthwatering dessert is perfect for summer. Go ahead, take a bite for a quick trip to a faraway destination. Let your mind wander to swaying palm trees, magical waterfalls, and sunshine that warms the body as well as the spirit.

TROPICANA BARS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups Zucchini Jam*

1/4 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, crushed

1 tablespoon crystallized sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together sugar and butter. Set aside. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together until blended. Combine dry ingredients with sugar mixture until crumbly. Spread 3/4 of batter into a 9″x13″ greased dish to make a crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Layer with Zucchini Jam, coconut, and nuts. Crumble remaining batter over all. Sprinkle with crystallized sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares.

* For Zucchini Jam recipe, please follow the link below.

http://Snapshotsincursive.com/2016/04/12

Coconut’s Fish Café in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Coconut’s Fish Café in Kapaa, Kauai. Anyone who likes coconut shrimp will absolutely flip over this Happy Hour appetizer: Half price Coconut Shrimp with a fiery sweet chili pineapple dipping sauce. A generous portion count of six batter fried fan-tailed shrimp is enough to share or make a substantial meal for one. Don’t judge me. Another winner is the Ahi Poke: raw tuna chunks marinated in soy, garlic, and green onions. Try not to drool. Long story short, if you like to save money and don’t mind a late lunch or early supper, spend more time at the beach and then head over to Coconut’s Fish Café for a great taste of seafood.

Ina Garten’s Fruit Crunch Sundae

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Ina Garten’s Fruit Crunch Sundae! The Barefoot Contessa is a familiar face on the Food Network these days. Not only does she offer great ideas for any meal, but she makes them seem incredibly simple. Today’s recipe comes from a recent episode where Ina wanted to serve up a special breakfast for her husband. I like the idea of taking everyday food and turning it into something extraordinary. By baking a batch of crunchy granola and storing it in an airtight container, single servings can be assembled in a flash. Use whatever fruit is on hand to make it unique.

INA GARTEN’S FRUIT CRUNCH SUNDAE

Ingredients:

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup sliced almonds

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons pure honey

4 strawberries

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup pineapple tidbits

1 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until completely combined. Pour into a baking sheet and bake until mixture turns golden brown. Stir occasionally. Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool. Stir once. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple in a bowl. Using stemmed glasses or parfait glasses, layer granola, yogurt, and fruit until full. You may alternate ingredients to repeat layers. Serve immediately.