Outrageous Oatmeal Fudgies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Outrageous Oatmeal Fudgies! Who doesn’t love No-Bake cookies? Forget about spending hours in the kitchen. This kid-friendly favorite can be ready in a flash. The toughest part is deciding if you want to top them off with a piece of candy corn, a walnut half, a maraschino cherry, or leave them plain. Either way, they won’t hang around long because…..(repeat after me)…Everyone loves peanut butter and chocolate!

OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL FUDGIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Dash sea salt

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy

2 cups whole grain oats

1 teaspoon vanilla

Candy corn

Instructions:

Combine butter, sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and dash of salt in a 4-quart pan. Bring to boil over medium-high temperature. Stirring occasionally, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Quickly add crunchy peanut butter, whole grain oats, and vanilla. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Top with one piece of candy corn. Let stand until cool. Store in a covered container.

Kulfi with Pistachios and Lavender

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Kulfi with Pistachios and Lavender Buds! Kulfi is a type of homemade ice cream popular in Southeast Asia and India. This “instant” version can be made in your very own kitchen without the cost or hassle of an ice cream maker. Flavored with pistachio nuts and a hint of lavender make it a delectable frozen dessert worth crowing about.

KULFI WITH PISTACHIOS AND LAVENDER BUDS

Ingredients:

10 ounces evaporated milk

1 cup heavy cream

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons cardamom

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

1 teaspoon lavender buds, crushed

1 teaspoon lavender extract

Instructions:

Combine evaporated milk, heavy cream, and sweetened condensed milk. Blend until smooth. Add cardamom, pistachios, lavender buds, and lavender extract. Stir. Pour into bouchon molds, fluted pan, or popsicle molds. Freeze overnight. Before serving, dip the molds in warm water. Invert kulfi onto a dessert plate. Garnish with crushed pistachios.

Chef’s Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Chef’s Plate! Pull together a party-friendly charcuterie platter where finger foods rule. Make it as elaborate as you choose, depending on the size of the guest list. Obviously for an intimate dinner for two, something like this is a perfect balance of contrasting flavors. Keep the bread crunchy and the jam or jelly sweet. It offsets the fatty, salty meat by cutting through the richness of the buttery cheese. The tartness of gherkins is a classic choice for nibbling in between. Be creative. Anything goes.

CHEF’S PLATE

Ingredients:

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly

Cornichons Gherkins

Red Onion

Baguette Toast

Mixed Nuts

Summer Sausage Sticks

Aged Bleu Cheese

Bite-size Dry Salami

Instructions:

Fill small condiment bowls with pepper jelly, baby gherkins, and assorted mixed nuts. Slice baguette. Rub with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes. Turn over and bake 5 minutes longer. Place on a chef’s board or in a bread basket. Arrange cured hard sausages around the wedge of Bleu cheese. Slices red onion and “fan” near the bread. Once the food is arranged, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the experience of grazing.

Butternut Squash Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Butternut Squash Bisque! You’ll know this squash by its half-dumbbell cylindrical shape. Its tan skin can be tough to peel, so exert caution in preparation. This is nothing like peeling potatoes. I worked in small sections. Once the hard rind has been removed, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. From there, cutting into chunks is a breeze. As with anything, the first time can seem challenging, but once you’ve experienced the taste of the sweet buttery orange flesh, you’ll find yourself wanting more.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1″ chunks

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 teaspoon thyme

14 ounces chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry roasted sunflower seeds

Fresh thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a large bowl, combine butternut squash, onion, and green pepper. Add olive oil and garlic. Season with kosher salt, seasoned salt, and cracked black pepper. Gently toss to coat evenly. Transfer to the baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Bake 15 minutes, turn over and bake 15 minutes longer until tender. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. Working in batches, transfer cooked vegetables to a food processor. Pulse to puréed consistency. Transfer to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan. Add thyme and chicken broth. Blend well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with bacon crumbles, sunflower seeds, and fresh thyme.

Pumpkin Roll

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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 Velvet 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.

Chocolate Chip Candied Cheese Ball

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Chocolate Chip Candied Cheese Ball! The most amazing surprise appears at first bite. Dark chocolate blended with sweetened cream cheese presents itself as a first class cheeseball that leaves everyone smacking their lips in satisfaction. The fun of swiping a cinnamon graham cracker cookie transforms this dessert in a mouth-watering finger food. Make this holiday surprise the happiest one yet.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CANDIED CHEESE BALL

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup sugared pecans, crushed

Graham cracker sticks

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and completely incorporated. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Chill two hours. On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle crushed sugared pecans. Form chilled mixture into a ball. Roll in pecan coating. Chill overnight. Serve with honey graham cracker sticks or cinnamon graham cracker sticks.

Mincemeat Cookies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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.

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.

Rum Raisin Cookies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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.

Bourbon Balls

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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.