Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing! If you ever get bored, take a stroll down the Tea Aisle at your nearby grocers. Choose from any assortment of gourmet blends; especially one containing full-leaf sachets. Read the label. In a few seconds, you will feel as though you have been transported to a magical land “bursting with life and tinged with the color of true love to make sure you never have to live a day without passion”.* And that’s only the beginning. Turn to the side panel for an invigorating adventure that awakens the senses as well as the imagination. After that when I decided to steep this delicacy to flavor buttercream icing, I knew it would be nothing short of fabulous. Perhaps you may think so, too.

HIBISCUS PASSION TEA ICING

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons brewed hibiscus passion tea

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Garnish with loose tea leaves

Instructions:

Brew a cup of hibiscus passion tea, according to package directions. (Since you won’t need all of it, the reserve tea can be sipped over ice.) Refrigerate until slightly cool. In a medium bowl, cream together softened butter and powdered sugar. Add the hibiscus passion tea and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Spread a thin layer of icing over your favorite cake. I made a gluten-free chocolate cake.** Open a dry tea sachet and sprinkle the tea leaves over one side. When serving, place a dollop of extra icing on the side of the plate or on top of the cake. Either way, it will disappear, I promise you that.

*TAZO Passion Tea.

**For Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake, follow the link.

http://Snapshotsincursive.com/2017/12/18

Quazy Carrot Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Quazy Carrot Cake! “What’s up, Doc?” is something we’ve all heard Bugs Bunny say more than once. You may find yourself asking the same question when you take a bite of this tasty version of Carrot Cake. It’s loaded with fresh carrots, pineapple tidbits, and chopped pecans. The crowning moment comes when you smack your lips together over the wonderful cream cheese icing. I have seen expressions of jubilation over this award-winning dessert. Treat yourself to something special this weekend.

QUAZY CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 cups carrots, grated

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup pecans, chopped

Ingredients for Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and Neufchâtel cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. When cake is cool, top with cream cheese icing. Garnish with a pecan half.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Caramel-Bacon Spice Cake! For the sweet and savory child inside all of us, this recipe takes the cake. It is a combination of salty, sugary, and spicy…in every bite. Your mouth will think you’re at the circus being stimulated by all the contrasting flavors! Amazingly, they come together with moist results. Hop on board and take a ride with this incredible treat.

CARAMEL-BACON SPICE CAKE

Ingredients for Cake:

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs, milk, and vanilla until blended. Set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly alternate the egg mixture and the dry mixture until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Bacon-Caramel Frosting:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces bacon bits

In a medium saucepan, mix brown sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. It should be thick enough to spread on the cake. Top with crisp, crumbled bacon.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter V

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Vanilla Frosting-Dipped Fruit and Cookies! Sometimes providing a last minute dessert is easier than you think. The trick is making others believe you spent hours creating such a masterpiece. Choose your favorite fruit, cookies, and frosting. (Now some may really need to cut corners and buy the ready-made frosting as well. I’ll pretend that doesn’t happen so I can share my easy buttercream frosting recipe with you today.)

VANILLA FROSTING-DIPPED FRUIT & COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 pound strawberries, whole with stems

1 package Strawberry Macaroons

2 ounces white nonpareils

12 bamboo skewers

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1-2 tablespoons milk, warmed

Instructions:

Cream butter and sugar on low speed with hand mixer. Gradually add extracts. Blend until smooth. Add enough milk to keep it creamy, but not runny. Spoon a portion into a small microwave-safe dish and warm frosting 10 seconds in the microwave. While the frosting is warm, dip a piece of fruit or a cookie into the bowl. Using a swirling motion, rotate each piece to cover. Immediate dip into the nonpareils to coat. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat until all desired pieces are covered. Refrigerate for half an hour or until firm.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: “Quazy” Carrot Cake!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Quazy Carrot Cake! “What’s up, Doc?” is something we’ve all heard Bugs Bunny say more than once. You may find yourself asking the same question when you take a bite of this tasty version of Carrot Cake. It’s loaded with fresh carrots, pineapple tidbits, and chopped pecans. The crowning moment comes when you smack your lips together over the wonderful cream cheese icing. I have seen expressions of jubilation over this award-winning dessert. Treat yourself to something special this weekend.

QUAZY CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 cups carrots, grated

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup pecans, chopped

Ingredients for Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and Neufchâtel cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. When cake is cool, top with cream cheese icing. Garnish with a pecan half.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter R

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Rainbow Cookies! Wouldn’t it be nice to tap your ruby slippers together and have a super-easy delicious dessert? You can. Even Dorothy and her friends would find these yummy morsels “no-place-like-home” irresistible. What a great kid-friendly recipe when school’s out for summer!
RAINBOW COOKIES 
Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

12-ounce bag of mini M&M candies

15.6-ounce can Buttercream icing
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, and oil until moistened. Reserve 1/2 cup M&M candies for decorating. Then gently fold in remaining mini morsels. Form little balls with the dough and place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Remove from cookie sheet and cool slightly on wire racks. Spread frosting over warm cookies and immediately sprinkle each cookie with remaining mini M&M candies. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

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.  

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Pumpkin Roll

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Pumpkin Roll! Announcing a festive cake that looks as though you stopped by the bakery. Anyone can feel like a professional pastry chef with this holiday specialty. In a few simple steps, the rich pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the velvety cream filling. Afterwards all you have to do is sit back and bask in the accolades. 
PUMPKIN ROLL 
Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:

3 eggs

2/3 cup pumpkin purée 

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

3/4 cup flour 

1/3 cup chopped pecans 
Ingredients for Filling:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla 

2 tablespoons butter, softened 

1 cup powdered sugar
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with waxed paper. For pumpkin roll combine eggs, pumpkin purée, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour. Mix until well blended. Pour into jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a tea towel, turn cake onto towel, and remove the waxed paper. Starting at one end, roll the cake up, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, combine Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar. Mix together until smooth and velvety. After one hour, unroll cake and spread the filling all the way to the edges. Reroll cake and refrigerate two hours longer. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Special Edition 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home For the Holidays: Misunderstood Mincemeat Cookies! When my friend, Ray, “gifted” me with a batch of his time-honored traditional homemade mincemeat, I felt as though I had received a portion of the Holy Grail. Could this secret from the past hold special powers? Would one bite provide happiness, eternal youth, and food in infinite abundance? You tell me. Ray carefully coached me on how to “season” the mixture by adding flavored brandy (I chose apricot) over a three-week period, stirring it occasionally in a covered clay crock. I was an awestruck student following his instructions to the letter. The results were phenomenal and elegant. Don’t let anyone tell you mincemeat is awful. When prepared correctly, some things are worth the wait. 
MISUNDERSTOOD MINCEMEAT COOKIES
Ingredients for Cookies:

2/3 cup butter, softened 

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup mincemeat* 

2 cups flour

1 cup pecans, chopped 

Pecan halves for garnish
Ingredients for Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons butter, softened 

1 tablespoon apricot brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1-2 tablespoons warm milk, as needed
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add eggs and mincemeat. Gradually stir in the flour. Fold in chopped pecans. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until tops of cookies are dry and set. Bottoms will be slightly golden. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wired rack. Frost while slightly warm. Top each cookie with a pecan half before frosting sets. 
Instructions for Icing:

In a medium bowl gently mix powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add brandy and vanilla. Stir well. As needed, add warm milk to create a thick consistency. Place a dollop of icing on each cookie. Garnish with pecan half. 
*The “Elegant Homemade Mincemeat” recipe can be found in the 1972 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, page 371.