L’Olivo Ristorante in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: L’Olivo Ristorante in Naples, Florida! Located in the heart of Fifth Avenue is an authentic Italian restaurant where Happy Hour, Three-Course Specials, and Featured Entrees make it a memorable place. Although there is a main menu, sometimes it’s a good idea to go with the flow, especially when the chef suggests preset combinations. The portions were reasonable in order to keep a steady pace from one specialty to another. The Bruschetta Prosciutto with shaved parmesan cheese was an easy start, allowing time for sipping on an Aperol Spritzer. The oven-baked Lasagna with bolognese sauce and melted mozzarella cheese was hearty, down to the very last dredge of crusty bread across the marinara. As a finale, there’s always room for dessert when it’s Tiramisu. The espresso-soaked ladyfingers are like eating air. Grazie!

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.

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.

Incredibly Delish Chocolate Bliss

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: 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.

Java Chip Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!

JAVA CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup toffee bits

1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies.

Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie! Now that’s a mouthful. But truth-be-told when you’re talking about a dessert with mounds of plump cherry clusters, flaked coconut, and sliced nuts…well, nothing else will do. By transforming it all into a slab pie, portions become more manageable over traditional sliced servings. The crust is still flaky, even if there is less of it. Focus instead on a sweet treat with a single shot of Italian espresso or scoop of ice cream. It’s a perfect balance for the taste buds.

QUASI CHERRY ALMOND MACAROON SLAB PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust

Ingredients for filling:

21-ounce can cherry pie filling

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredients for topping:

1 cup coconut, shredded

1/2 cup almonds, sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Roll the prepared pie crust to fit the baking sheet. Trim the dough to only fit the bottom of the pan. If necessary, use the extra dough pieces to fill in the corners. Pinch to seal. In a large bowl, combine the cherry pie filling, cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spoon the filling onto the pie crust. Spread in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the topping, fill a mixing bowl with the shredded coconut, sliced almonds, sugar, sea salt, milk, melted butter, almond extract, coconut extract, and beaten egg. Remove the slab pie from the oven. Spread macaroon topping over all. Return slab pie to oven, bake 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly and golden brown. Cut into slices. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

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.

Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies! Get ready for a cookie that combines three incredible cravings: chocolate, coffee, and cream. It’s the perfect mid-morning break, lunchtime nibble, mealtime morsel, or late night snack. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of coffee that complements the sugary sweetness of chocolate. The creaminess of white chocolate is similar to adding a splash of milk to your morning cuppa joe. Unlock all the flavors in a single bite. Take things slow; pamper yourself. Savor the sweetness and focus on the texture. Isn’t it time to spotlight the things that make you happy?

JAVA WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

18-ounce box chocolate cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup sugar, for rolling

1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and vanilla extract until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine chocolate cake mix, espresso mixture, vegetable oil, and eggs until a soft dough forms. Fold in white chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. On ungreased baking sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoons, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 9 minutes, or until tops appear dry. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and espresso powder. Set aside. Remove cookies from oven; cool 1 minute. Roll cookies in espresso sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Zucchini Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Zucchini Brownies! There’s only one reason you ever need to mention the title of this dessert, and that is to avoid a food allergy to zucchini. Honestly, most people will raise their nose and never give it a chance if they know it’s in there. You cannot taste it. To prove it, I served this sweet treat to adults as well as kids. I heard comments like, “That fudge is super amazing!” These brownies are truly rich and fudgy, not to mention packed with healthy nutrients. Go for it.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time for one minute each, until the mixture is light and creamy. Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until just blended together. Fold in the grated zucchini. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Brownies are done when center is set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with tiny crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.