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.

Oyster Snack Crackers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Oyster Snack Crackers! When you get that craving for something slightly salty partnered with a crunchy snack, turn to these little gems made from basic oyster crackers. Add seasonings and oil; bake and store in an airtight container. I literally sprinkle them on homemade soups, organic salads, and sometimes the palm of my hand. In a pinch, I’ve crushed them as a coating for baked chicken or fish. It’s all up to you.

OYSTER SNACK CRACKERS

Ingredients:

16-ounce package of oyster crackers

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup olive oil

1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Take a one gallon ziplock bag. Pour oyster crackers into bag. In a glass measuring cup, combine butter, olive oil, ranch seasoning mix, dill weed, onion powder, and lemon pepper. Stir well. Pour over crackers. Seal the bag and toss to coat, alternating every 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a baking sheet. Form single layer. Bake 10 minutes; toss and bake 10 minutes longer. Do not burn. Let cool and then store in an airtight container. Will keep for weeks.

Artichoke Pesto Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Artichoke Pesto Spread! No matter if you eat artichokes for their nutritional value (high in antioxidants) or if you just need a serving of veggies that taste incredible on toast, this recipe is an excellent tool to pull out in a pinch. The main ingredients are usually in the pantry or refrigerator, so everything is ready to serve in minutes.

ARTICHOKE PESTO SPREAD

Ingredients:

14-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1-2 tablespoons garlic basil pesto

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 green onions, sliced

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine artichoke hearts, pesto, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Blend well. Fold in sliced green onions. Transfer to an ovenproof dish that has been sprayed with a nonstick oil. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with crusty artisan bread and seasoned crackers.

Vegan Charcuterie Board

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to bring to the next holiday party. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and other festive occasions. Check it out!

VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

Carrot sticks

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced

Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers

Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers.

Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Golden Oyster Stew

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Golden Oyster Stew! I knew it was something special when my father requested this savory stew once a year. Although he was the only one who indulged in its aromatic creaminess, I managed to sneak one spoonful each time. I guess you could say eventually I acquired a taste for this seafood delicacy. Now I’m sharing it with you. Carry on the tradition.

GOLDEN OYSTER STEW

Ingredients:

1 medium potato, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

8 ounces of fancy whole oysters, with oyster liquor

1 cup light cream

1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Oyster crackers

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium high heat, combine potatoes, onion, butter, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add just enough water to cover. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add oysters with liquor, cream, and cheese. Stir occasionally for cheese to melt. Gently bubble until the edges of the oysters begin to curl. Do not boil over. Serve the golden oyster stew immediately with oyster crackers.

Key Lime Pie in a Flash

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Key Lime Pie in a Flash! I’m Busy! When the hours fly by in a flurry of activity, it’s nice to know shortcuts don’t imply sacrificing flavor. After all, pre-packaged dessert mixes and sweet treats have gone the distance with culinary masters. Tried and true components can become the foundation for producing inspiring results, like today’s version of Key Lime Pie. By using fewer ingredients, preparation can be done in a flash!

KEY LIME PIE IN A FLASH

Ingredients:

1 box Jell-o No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups cold milk

1 tablespoon lime extract

1 drop green food coloring

1 lime, sliced

1 tablespoon toasted coconut

Instructions:

To make the crust, combine butter, sugar, and crust mix. Reserve one teaspoon of crumb mixture for garnish. Press remaining crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to fill. Next, pour milk into a medium bowl. Add filling mix and blend with a hand mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and beat on medium speed 3 minutes until filling turns thick. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of pure lime extract. Mix 30 seconds longer. Add 1 drop of green food coloring and mix another 30 seconds. Pour into the chilled crust. Refrigerate one hour. Garnish with fresh lime slices, reserve crumb mixture, and toasted coconut.

Bleu Plate Special

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Bleu Plate Special! As the day winds down, the kids are fed, and the sunset turns to burnt-sugar orange, take some time out for yourself. Make a delightful cheese plate filled with inviting textures balanced by a range of flavors from aged and smoky to salty and sweet. Pair with a glass of sweet wine (or fruity spritzer) for an amazing taste sensation. Sink back into a comfy chaise lounge and let soft music fill the room. Remind yourself this is a classic French dessert, and prepare to be pampered.

BLEU PLATE SPECIAL

Ingredients:

Wedge of Bleu Cheese (or any aged cheese variety)

Bunch of Green Grapes (or any seasonal fruit)

Smoked Almonds

Water Crackers (or crusty breads)

Instructions:

Choose a platter where all ingredients can be arranged in a simple way, leaving space between choices. Identify cheeses if offering more than one kind. Rule of thumb: Place one cheese knife or spreader for each type of cheese. Keep it simple.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Xylocarp Coconut Bars! Although it’s not typically a word in my vocabulary, I discovered the word xylocarp means “a fruit, such as a coconut, having a hard woody pericarp.” Bingo! It’s the answer to my alphabet challenge when I get to this letter. Everyone is already aware coconut has health benefits. Some even classify it as a superfood. Personally, I just like the taste of it. It can magically transport me to a tropical island with swaying palm trees and hypnotic reggae music. Ahhhhh.

XYLOCARP COCONUT BARS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1 1/3 cups of coconut, flaked

1 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ baking pan lightly with nonstick oil. Pour butter in pan to cover the bottom. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over butter. Slowly pour the sweetened condensed milk to form another layer. Top evenly with chocolate morsels, coconut, and pecans. Press down firmly. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: No-Bake Hazelnut Bars! Here you go. A delicious nutty chocolate treat that can be a dessert or a snack. And there is no need to heat up the oven. This combination of dietary coconut fiber and heart-healthy hazelnuts are sure to become your personal favorite. One bar may provide the nutritious energy boost you need to keep going strong. But the question is…..can you stop at just one?

NO-BAKE HAZELNUT BARS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/3 milk

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup coconut, flaked

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 13-ounce jar of Nutella Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

Instructions:

Boil butter, milk, brown sugar, coconut, and cracker crumbs in a medium saucepan for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in vanilla extract. Line a 9″x13″ pan with club crackers. Pour the filling over crackers. Top another layer of crackers. Warm Nutella in microwave for 20 seconds. Spread over all. Garnish with nut meats. Cool in refrigerator until firm. Cut into squares.