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

Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Yeast Cinnamon Rolls! Don’t you just love modern kitchen appliances? My husband already owned a countertop Bread Machine when we got married seven years ago, so today I decided to try it out. (First I had to find it. When combining two households, things get shuffled around.) The recipe booklet boasted the best glazed cinnamon rolls and the photo bolstered my confidence enough to put it to the test. I’m glad I did. The house smelled like a family-owned bakery and the warm, gooey cinnamon buns were phenomenal. The challenge came at only eating one.

YEAST CINNAMON ROLLS

Ingredients for Dough:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Ingredients for Filling:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Ingredients for Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

Measure all dough ingredients carefully and place in the bread machine in the order they are listed: water, butter, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Select “Dough” cycle and “Start”. When the timer rings, remove the dough and flatten with a rolling pin into a 9-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Spread with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon filling over the buttered dough. Roll the dough up tightly; pinch the ends to seal. Cut the dough into 1-inch slices. Place in a 9″x9″ square pan. Cover with a wet tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until double. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Combine Glaze ingredients mixing powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Remove from pan to wire rack. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Serve warm.

Lilac, Sugar, Sugar

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Lilac, Sugar, Sugar! Here’s a way to capture the essence of an early Spring morning. By infusing lilacs into ordinary table sugar, any bakery item or tea beverage can be transformed into an European delight. The unique floral flavor of lilacs is amazing paired with lemon citrus or wild berries. Think scones, muffins, cookies, and ice cream. Or what about an aromatic herbal infusion to iced tea? I like mine fizzy with lemonade and sparkling water. How refreshing! In any event, the possibilities are endless. The next time the lilac blossoms come around, get picking. Your taste buds will thank you.

LILAC, SUGAR, SUGAR

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup lilac petals

Instructions:

Rinse lilac flowers under running water. Let dry. Remove blossoms from stem with scissors. Discard stems. Alternate layers of sugar and lilac petals in a jar. Close lid. Place the jar in a dry dark cabinet. Every day, gently shake the jar to mix the sugar and break up any clumps. After one week, sift the sugar to separate the dried petals from the flavored sugar. Crush the petals or discard them. Spread the lilac sugar on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to dry one week longer. Transfer lilac sugar to an airtight container for storage.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter I

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Icing Glazed French Toast! This is one of those days where little effort produces extraordinary results. I recently purchased a loaf of homemade raisin bread at the Amish Market, the kind smothered in gooey white icing. Later on, I plumped some raisins to add to the glaze, beat a couple eggs, and Voilà. Within minutes, it was transformed into a bakery-fresh gourmet breakfast. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to slice and eat as the craving hits. You can thank me later.

ICING GLAZED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raisins

Boiling water

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons boiling water

2 large eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 slices raisin bread, cut into quarter triangles

Instructions:

Place raisins in a heatproof dish. Boil water. Pour just enough water over raisins to cover. Stir. Let raisins sit 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually add enough boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and appears like thick cream. It should coat the back of the spoon. Fold the raisins into the icing glaze. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Dip each portion of raisin bread into the egg batter. Flip to soak bread completely; coat both sides evenly. Transfer to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drizzle with raisin icing glaze. Serve immediately.

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 M

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Mexican Spiced Brownies! Olé! If you’re as crazy about adding a “kick” to your palate, look no further. (And if you’re not, the recipe can be modified.) The wild ride adrenaline rush you get from chili peppers can be addictive. I like the fact that your immune system can get a boost. The color of red chili peppers signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Combine the chili with dark chocolate and there you have it…..permission to eat brownies!
MEXICAN SPICED BROWNIES
Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or a smidgen of cayenne pepper)

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt the butter and add to the sugar. Stir until blended. Add the eggs, vanilla, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon powder to the sugar mixture. Mix well. Slowly add the flour and cocoa powder. Stir until smooth. Pour into a greased 9 x 9 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
***For regular brownies, omit crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. 
Chocolate Icing:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons butter, softened 

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract

2 tablespoons warm milk
Gently mix butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and milk until frosting is of spreading consistency. Spread evenly on cooled brownies. Sprinkle top with semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Lemon Citrus Cookies. With the arrival of Springtime comes the refreshing citrus flavor of this season’s lemons. Even if you’re not a fan, think about the benefits to your immune system. And then have another cookie…..or two. 
LEMON CITRUS COOKIES 
Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened 

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/4 cups flour
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and beat well. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. When blended, add salt, baking powder, and flour. Mix together into dough. Roll cookies into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges of the cookies.
Lemon Icing:

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened 

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in lemon extract and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel. 

Spread evenly on cooled cookies; top with yellow sprinkles. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: White Chocolate Cranberry Spice Bars

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: White Chocolate Cranberry Spice Bars! Like snowdrops over a country field, the white chocolate bits add a sweet creaminess to the crumb bars offsetting the tart tangy taste of cranberry sauce. You may notice a warm sweet-heat every once in awhile. It’s the candied baby ginger infused throughout. I use all-natural crystallized ginger slices and chop them up for added zing. For the merriest of holidays, make a batch of these bite-sized guilty pleasures. Perfect for a cookie exchange. 
WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY SPICE BARS
Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups chunky cranberry sauce

1/4 cup crystallized ginger

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients together. Spread 3/4 of batter into a 9″x13″ greased dish. Gently press down with a spoon to level. Divide cranberry sauce over top. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over cranberry mixture. Fill in with chopped crystallized ginger. Crumble remaining batter on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into squares or triangles. To make glaze, mix powdered sugar with milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over bars.