What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Iced Coconut Milk Banana Smoothie! Try something new today. Rev up your morning routine with a nutritious alternative to steel-cut oats. Delight your senses with a sweet-tasting banana infused smoothie. The hint of dark chocolate bathed in tropical coconut creaminess makes it go down with a smile. What better way to include a serving of fresh fruit on a daily basis.
ICED COCONUT MILK BANANA SMOOTHIE
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dark chocolate syrup
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon natural honey
4-5 ice cubes
Nutmeg for garnish
Mini chocolate chips for garnish
In a blender, combine banana slices, chocolate syrup, coconut milk, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, and honey. Pulse to chop bananas. Add ice cubes. Increase speed to liquefy smoothie. Pour into a glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Eagle Brand Caramel Rum Sauce! For caramel-lovers all over the world, this recipe can be your legacy. It’s rich, it’s thick, it’s buttery, and it’s laced with a hint of dark rum that gets the party started. Take a moment to tick off the countless ways you can drizzle caramel sauce over food. Spread it on toast, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Add it to coffee for a smooth latte. Turn it into an apple dip coated with salted peanuts. Whip it into pudding or smoothies. Top off a bowl of ice cream. You get the idea. If your imagination stalls out, simply dip a teaspoon into the jar and enjoy the caramel sauce all by itself.
EAGLE BRAND CARAMEL RUM SAUCE
14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425°. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil. Carefully place the pie plate into a shallow pan. Fill the larger pan with 1/2 inch hot water. It will surround the pie plate. Bake 2 hours or until sauce is thick and caramel in color. Remove larger pan from oven. Take the pie plate out; remove foil and pour caramel into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on LOW speed for one minute. Add dark rum and vanilla extract. Continue beating on LOW speed until liquid is blended. Increase speed to HIGH for one minute longer. Caramel will appear smooth and creamy. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.
YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP
4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2-3 basil leaves
1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish
Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.
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
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
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.
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? The Next Step: Frangelico Fudge Topping! It may have been awhile, but the smooth taste of Frangelico Italian liqueur is not forgotten. Need I remind you it has the same hints of chocolate and toasted hazelnut you practically eat out of a jar? Think Nutella, silly. If it were a cocktail, it would go by this name, with an added punch of alcohol. And since we’re talking dessert, let’s move on to this amazing fudge topping that works on anything from ice cream to waffles. Now I’ve got your attention.
FRANGELICO FUDGE TOPPING
1 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
12-ounces evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and Frangelico liqueur. Stir well. Serve immediately over desserts or waffles. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Instant Mac ‘n Cheese! Face it. Every once in awhile the craving hits us to settle into a comfy chair with a warm bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese. Most pantries have all the ingredients you need to make it at home in a flash. Pasta, butter, milk, cheese, and seasonings. If you don’t have elbow macaroni, substitute ziti. If you’re low on cheddar cheese, use a couple slices of Velveeta instead. It’s all good. Sprinkle the gooey Mac ‘n Cheese with Cajun seasoning for extra zest. Oh, yeah!
INSTANT MAC ‘N CHEESE
4 ounces pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Dash of Cajun seasoning
Cook pasta according to package directions. In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and sea salt. Stir until smooth. Raise heat to medium. Slowly add milk, stirring occasionally. Cook until bubbly. Add cheese and stir well until melted. Drain pasta. Blend with cheese sauce stirring to coat. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie! Here’s to the Cookie Monster in all of us. If you live your life on a grande scale, this recipe will easily become a family favorite. My husband said, “It’s like indulging in a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!” I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a cookie recipe. By baking the dough in an iron skillet, the edges got a little crispy while the center stayed super-chewy. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this came straight from the neighborhood bakery. Fill up a glass of milk and indulge yourself.
X-TRA LARGE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ iron skillet with two tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla to blend. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough into the prepared iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a golden color and edges are crisp. Check with a toothpick to be sure the cookie is cooked through in the center. Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes; loosen edges. Turn onto a round pizza pan. Reinvert back onto a platter, slice, and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Quaker Oat Breakfast Companions! I must confess, some days a cup of Italian espresso and a crispy wafer roll is enough to get my engine up and running. But on those mornings when I wake up ravenous, I turn to a hearty bowl of Quaker Oats with all the trimmings: pomegranate arils, orange slices, almonds, cinnamon, and brown sugar. I appreciate the fiber, fruit, and nuts for healthy living. Topped with a bit of honey and milk in lieu of brown sugar, and I’m left feeling full for longer periods of time. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber and iron. Switch things up now and then by choosing a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
QUAKER OAT BREAKFAST COMPANIONS
1 cup milk
1 dash sea salt
1 dash cinnamon
1/2 cup whole grain oats
1 mandarin orange, peeled
1 tablespoon almond slices
1 tablespoon pomegranate arils
1 teaspoon brown sugar or natural honey
Combine milk, salt, cinnamon, and oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High 2 1/2-3 minutes. Remove and mix well. Top with oranges, almonds, arils, and honey.