In a world of instant gratification, it may be tough to come up with new ideas for meals in a flash, let alone prepare them at home before someone in the house hits “pizza” on the speed dial. Truth is, there’s a world of fabulous options available. Let me help you, since I think about meal-planning practically all the time. If you open your mind to flavorful combinations, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Time flies on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all my followers on the website http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. Follow me on Facebook at Gail Dorna, on Instagram @gail_dorna and Twitter @ Snapshotsincursive. What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. No matter how much we travel, I relish the thought of returning there to create something delicious. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FAB FOODSTUFF!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse! Americans have this uncanny obsession with chocolate and peanut butter. Some even crave it often. It may be the creamy sweetness of cocoa blended with the saltiness of roasted peanuts. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the allure is undeniable. Throw in vanilla pudding and whipped cream showcased in a parfait glass for eye appeal. It all adds up to an easy, upscale dessert that makes an everyday experience extraordinary. I find small juice glasses an appealing portion-control guide.
UPSCALE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
16-20 Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, wrappers removed and candy chopped
1/3 cup peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate fudge sauce
1 3.4-ounce package Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix
1 3/4 cups light cream
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup whipped topping
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
Choose 4-6 glasses or cups, depending on portion preferred. Divide peanuts equally between glasses. Layer with 1-2 dollops of chocolate fudge sauce. Set aside. In a chilled bowl, empty contents of pudding mix. Gradually add 1/2 cup light cream, beating on low speed with a hand mixer. Mix until well blended. Add peanut butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups of light cream. Beat on low, increasing speed as it incorporates. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Pudding will thicken. Gently fold in whipped topping to create air bubbles. Next, fold in chopped candy, reserving a few pieces to use as garnish. Spoon pudding into glasses, layering over fudge sauce. Garnish with candy chunks and mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Rum Raisin Cookies! Before you turn the page, let me clarify…you can choose to omit the rum in this recipe and substitute with water and opt for rum extract instead. Either way, if you’re a raisin-lover, this version puts the “plump” in raisin to make them moist and chewy. In the time it takes to preheat the oven and assemble the remaining ingredients, the raisins are ready to use. Trust me, everyone will thank you!
RUM RAISIN COOKIES
2 cups raisins
1 cup dark rum
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside; do not drain. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly before folding in the raisins and chopped almonds. Drop with a tablespoon 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cool on wired rack.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie! In a world of “super-size” portions, this one is really worth defending, especially on hot, summer days. The oven is on for less than half an hour with results that leave your home smelling like a bakery. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make several batches of cookies. By baking all the dough in an iron skillet, the end result will still yield enough for a crowd. Cut the giant cookie into pie-size portions with a scoop of ice cream on top or divide it into squares for finger-food munching.
OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP SKILLET COOKIE
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate and peanut butter chips, mixed
1/8 teaspoon sea salt crystals
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 10″ iron skillet. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Continue beating until creamy. In another bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk until blended. Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients until flour is incorporated. Add oatmeal to dough. Blend well. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spread cookie dough into the greased skillet. Top with mixed blend of chocolate and peanut butter chips. Sprinkle with sea salt crystals. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Eagle Brand Chocolate Fudge Sauce! Have you had your chocolate “fix” today? This homemade sauce can be served over ice cream, banana splits, fresh fruit, pound cake, or even drizzled into your morning coffee. The secret ingredient, Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, is really no secret. It has been around since 1856. Truth. It was originally invented as a safe and wholesome milk product for the military. The fact that it provided nourishment for infants and children was a bonus. Besides, when Elsie the Cow became the spokes-cow at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, its popularity spread all over the globe. Every kitchen pantry should keep a can or two on the shelf.
EAGLE BRAND CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE
1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a 2-quart glass measuring cup, combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate morsels, butter, and water. Microwave on High power for a total of 3 minutes, stirring at one-minute increments. Add almond extract and vanilla extract. Microwave 30 seconds longer. Stir until smooth. Serve warm. Pour extra sauce into a jar; cover, and refrigerate.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Dump Cake with Cherries! Allow me to explain what is a less appealing title for a cake recipe. Dump Cake, seriously? Before you head off in another direction, let me assure you this is literally the easiest cake recipe you’ll find today. It comes from one of those cookbooks put together by a group of church ladies in the early 1980s. And it is fantastic! After all, just “dump” the ingredients in a 9″x13″ pan and bake. Top it off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Can I hear a “Hallelujah”? 🌟
DUMP CAKE WITH CHERRIES
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1 15-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 18-ounce box of yellow cake mix
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 smidgen nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
Preheat oven to 375°. Dump cherry pie filling into the bottom of a 9″x13″ glass baking dish. Spread into a single layer. Dump crushed pineapple, with juice, on top of cherries. Spread to cover. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over fruit layers. Top with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dot with slices of butter. Cover with sliced almonds. Bake for one hour, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
Stop feeling guilty about fueling your body! Food fulfills many basic needs: nutrition, health, social connections…to name just a few. Think about it. What does food mean to you? I like fresh ingredients, garden herbs, rich chocolate, and French butter. But I’m in good company. Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Gail Dorna @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). I’d love to see you there as well. Come along with me for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Eat More!” This remarkable journey of the palate is special because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: EAT MORE!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Mandarin Orange Cake! For all those gloomy days out there, a taste of sunshine comes to greet you in a naturally sweet cake. Did you realize mandarin oranges don’t only come in a can? Actually, you know them by other names in the produce department: “Halos” and “Cuties”. Sometimes people refer to mandarin oranges as clementines or tangerines. Small world, huh? Whatever you choose to call them, their pretty color and ease in peeling make them a popular choice. This cake recipe is versatile enough to be baked in a muffin tin, miniature bundt molds, or as a single-layer coffeecake. Something else to think about. The sugary glaze tops it all.
MANDARIN ORANGE CAKE
1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one orange
1/2 cup milk
Ingredients for Orange Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
Orange peel zest, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray miniature bundt molds with nonstick oil with added flour. Sift together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Add egg; mixing well before adding orange extract, vanilla extract, and zest of one orange. Gently fold in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Stir until combined. Divide mixture into miniature bundt molds, filling 2/3 full. Bake 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Prepare orange glaze by combining powdered sugar and orange juice. Stir until smooth. When cakes are golden brown, remove from oven. Cool slightly before inverting molds onto a wire rack. Remove molds. Transfer cakes to a platter to finish cooling. Drizzle with orange glaze and garnish with orange zest. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Rose Petal Cupcakes! Before I set out on this journey of the palate, I had no idea how to make crystallized rose petals. So when the miniature rose bush in my own yard presented me with perfectly proportioned soft pink petals, I knew I was going to try. It could not have been simpler to create such beautiful edibles.* Next I chose angel food cupcakes, tasting like sweet fluffy clouds, swirled with a crown of grenadine buttercream frosting. You can almost taste the subtle hint of rose water. Is it any wonder the rose is a symbol of passion and heavenly perfection?
ROSE PETAL CUPCAKES
Ingredients for Rose Petals:
24 rose petals, clean and dry
1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
Using a pastry brush, gently paint each petal on both sides with the egg whites. Toss them in sugar, coating both sides. Place on a wire rack allowing them to dry overnight. Store in an airtight container.
Ingredients for Cupcakes:
16 ounce box of angel food cake mix
1 1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon rose water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Place cupcake papers in each muffin cup. Place rose water and coconut extract in 1/4 measuring cup. Add the difference in water to fill liquid to top. In a large metal bowl, empty contents of cake mix. Add the 1 cup of water plus the 1/4 cup of liquid. Blend on low mixer speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat one minute longer. Pour cupcake batter into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake according to package directions 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
Ingredients for Grenadine Buttercream Frosting:
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons grenadine
Using a hand mixer on low setting, cream together Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Blend in almond extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating halfway to add one tablespoon grenadine. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If needed, use one more tablespoon of grenadine to make it spreadable. Beat on medium for one minute. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with crystallized rose petals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
* Always use rose petals that are free of pesticides or other chemicals.