Candied Orange Peel

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Candied Orange Peel! Anything with the word “candy” grabs my attention this time of year. And the fact that I’m a fan of oranges makes it that much better. Wait a minute, you think, are you talking about actually eating the peel of the oranges? I am. Of course there are a few secrets to making them delectable. We all know, from childhood, that orange peelings can be a trifle bitter. First of all, take a clean kitchen scrubbie and run it over the outer skin. This can eliminate the shiny look that makes it attractive in the produce aisle. Some places put a thin coat of wax on produce to make fruit enticing to the consumer. Secondly, remove as much of the white pith on the inside of the peel. Otherwise the orange peel might taste bitter, even with copious amounts of sugar. That being said, shall we begin?

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL

Ingredients:

2 oranges

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Sugar, for rolling

Instructions:

Remove the skin from the oranges. You can do this by scoring the skin into 4 vertical portions. Cut each section into strips. Set aside. Reserve the oranges for another use. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce heat to a simmer. Add orange peel strips. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain well. Allow peels to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar into a shallow bowl. One at a time, roll an orange peel strip in the sugar. Transfer candied orange peel to a wire rack to dry. Repeat until all are coated. Store in an airtight container.

Angel Food Cake Kabobs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Angel Food Cake Kabobs! Feeling Patriotic? This colorful dessert is perfect for an Independence Day picnic or gathering. Strawberries for Red, angel food cake for White, and blueberries for…..well, you know…Blue! Get the kids involved by letting them assemble the delectable desserts in advance. Better throw in extra ingredients for nibbling. Transport the kabobs in pint-size canning jars. Drizzle with chocolate before serving or make up individual portions of hot fudge sauce in small jars for dunking. It’s all fun and celebration for a light, refreshing dessert-on-a-stick. Then sit back and enjoy the fireworks!

ANGEL FOOD CAKE KABOBS

Ingredients:

Angel Food Cake

12-15 bamboo skewers

1 quart strawberries

1 pint blueberries

I jar chocolate fudge sauce

Instructions:

Cut the angel food cake into large square, bite-sized pieces. Wash strawberries; pat dry. Repeat with blueberries. To assemble kabobs skewer one strawberry, one piece of cake, then two blueberries. Repeat to fill each skewer. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Unicorn Holiday Bark

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Unicorn Holiday Bark! Everyone remembers a childhood of mythical creatures, especially the unicorn which resembled a horse with a pointed horn spiraling out of its forehead. Some believed it had magical powers in addition to being a symbol of purity and grace. Only a virgin had the power to tame the unicorn, according to art from the Middle Ages now hanging on museum walls. Today the thought of unicorns make us happy. Perhaps they represent childhood dreams, or wishes, filled with hope for a future. It should be no surprise that pink swirls of white chocolate and candy glitter in sparkly hues appear in food to further those good feelings. Think of Unicorn Holiday Bark for your next festive occasion. Kid-friendly, husband-approved.

UNICORN HOLIDAY BARK

Ingredients:

2 pounds white chocolate chips

Food coloring of choice

1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles

1 tablespoon glitter sprinkles

1 tablespoon candy pearls

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Depending on how many colors you choose (I used 3), place 1/3 cup white chocolate chips per color in separate microwave-safe bowls. Warm on Low setting for 15 second intervals in microwave, stirring often. Continue until chips are melted. Add food coloring to desired tint. Hint: One drop of red will produce a pastel pink. Prepare tinted chocolate first before finishing with the remaining plain white chocolate. Once the white chocolate is melted, spread it onto the baking sheet. Smooth into an even layer, approximately 1/4” thick. Working quickly, dot tinted colors over the white chocolate in a random pattern. Take a wooden skewer, or toothpick, and drag it through the colors creating swirls. Next, scatter the rainbow sprinkles, glitter sprinkles, and candy pearls on top. Refrigerate baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until firm. Once set, break the bark into pieces, reserving a curved edge for the unicorn’s horn. Let the magic begin!

Festive Breakfast Pizza

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Festive Breakfast Pizza! Whether you prepare a holiday brunch for invited guests or gather ’round the table in your pajamas, this recipe is a winner. Simply because, everyone loves pizza! You now have an excuse to eat it for breakfast, even if you’re “Home Alone”. It has baked eggs, it has shredded potatoes, it has crumbled sausage, and gooey cheese all together over a golden deep dish crust. So there you have it. Bring out the holiday movies, set up the TV tray, and eat pizza for breakfast. Permission granted.

FESTIVE BREAKFAST PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 pound pork sausage, ground

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning*

1 green pepper, chopped

2 ounces pimentos, diced

1 cup hash brown potatoes, shredded

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tube prepared pizza crust

5 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage until cooked and crumbly. Drain well. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, white pepper, and Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning. Microwave chopped green pepper on HIGH for two minutes. Combine diced pimentos, green peppers, and sausage. Mix well. For a deep dish pizza, roll out pizza crust and press into an iron skillet bringing dough up the sides of the pan. Layer with sausage mixture, hash browns, and cheddar cheese. Whisk eggs and milk together. Pour over the pizza. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes or until eggs are set and crust is golden.

*I receive no recompense for recommending Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning.

Bourbon Balls

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Bourbon Balls! Remember the scene from “The Grinch Stole Christmas” where the adults in Whoville are throwing a key party? Well, I’m convinced they may have been nibbling on holiday Bourbon Balls based on the way they were flirting and having a crazy-fun time. Be forewarned. This recipe does contain chocolate and alcohol. You may want to mention it.

BOURBON BALLS

Ingredients:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup bourbon

2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Granulated sugar

Instructions:

Pulse vanilla wafers in a food processor to make crumbs. Set aside. Over hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate morsels; remove from heat. Blend in corn syrup and bourbon. In a large bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, and nuts. Add chocolate mixture. Blend well. Chill 30 minutes. Using a melon ball utensil, scoop dough into 1″ balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Store in covered container for several days to season flavor.

Gruyère Onion Soup

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Gruyère Onion Soup! Everyone, sooner or later, falls in love with French Onion Soup, in my opinion. After all, who can resist the savory taste of caramelized onions, buttered croutons, and gooey melted cheese smothered in a beef broth that’s been splashed with a well-aged cognac? I wish I could tell you it’s as easy to make as opening a can of soup, but it isn’t. Don’t hate me. Let’s just say this…..if you are looking for an evening of mystery, romance, and excitement, then read on. This “soup de jour” may be the love potion that’ll woo the night away. Bon Appetît!

GRUYÈRE ONION SOUP

Ingredients:

3 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

10 ounces beef consommé

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Montamoré cheese, crumbled

Splash of cognac

4 slices baguette, toasted

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

4 slices Gruyère cheese

Parsley flakes to garnish

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, microwave sliced onions on HIGH for 2 minutes. In a large skillet, melt butter on low setting. Do not scorch. Layer onions over butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Cover and do not stir for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir occasionally until onions are dark in color, another 10 minutes. Turn heat to High and add white wine and honey. Cook until wine is reduced and consistency is thick. Reduce heat to Simmer. Add apple cider vinegar, beef consommé, low-sodium chicken broth, and worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle soup into four oven-proof crocks placed on a heavy baking sheet. Add Montamoré crumbled cheese. Top with a splash of cognac. Place a toasted baguette slice on top of soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lay one slice of Gruyère cheese over each bowl, with corners slightly overlapping sides. Broil on High for 2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove carefully! Garnish with parsley flakes and serve immediately.

Rum Raisin Cookies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: 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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Jell-O Shots with Sugared Cranberries

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Jell-O Shots With Sugared Cranberries! The holidays ring in the cheer with festive activities, enticing food, and snappy beverages. Make things awesome with dressed up Jell-O shots that cap off any occasion. Not only do they have an elegant look, but they satisfy the sweet tooth as a miniature dessert. By creating a garnish of fresh fruit with the sugared cranberries, it’s a classy finish with a gourmet twist!

JELL-O SHOTS WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES

For Make-Ahead Sugared Cranberries:

2 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup filtered water

12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup filtered water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Add cranberries. To prevent cranberries from bursting, do not boil. Stir until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack. Let dry for one hour. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Store in airtight container.

Ingredients for Jell-o Shots:

3-ounce package raspberry gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

1/2 cup ice water

Sugared cranberries

Rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Empty contents of raspberry gelatin packet into a mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and amaretto liqueur and iced water. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs just before serving.

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.