X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie

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

Ingredients:

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 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup peanut butter chips

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels for garnish

Instructions:

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.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Easy Energy Balls!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Easy Energy Balls! Do you ever get those mid-morning blahs where all you want to do is go back to bed? Well, here’s a way to get a tasty boost of energy without the guilt of a candy bar. By choosing pure and organic ingredients, you not only reap the health benefits, but you also gain the satisfaction your tummy needs in order to feel full. Make up a batch in minutes, store in the refrigerator, then Grab and Go!

EASY ENERGY BALLS

Ingredients:

1 cup organic creamy dark roasted peanut butter

2/3 cup pure honey

2 cups flaked coconut

2 cups old fashioned whole grain oats

1 cup organic flaxseed

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup ground nuts

Instructions:

Warm peanut butter just enough to blend well with the honey. Remove from heat and add coconut, oats, flaxseed, and chocolate chips. Mix well. Sprinkle in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. Roll into 30 bite-size balls, coat in ground nuts, and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter H

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Hawaiian Crunch PB Bars! When I asked my grandson what his favorite food was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s easy, Nana. It’s peanut butter.” It was all I needed to know to head to my kitchen to prepare something special for him for the weekend. By twitching things up a bit with Hawaiian shortbread cookies, the results produced an amazing crunch that teamed well with the hazelnut spread frosting. How’s that for double coverage? His opinion, you wonder? Being a teenager, a thumb’s up was approval enough. 
HAWAIIAN CRUNCH PB BARS
Ingredients:

12 ounces Hawaiian banzai furikake shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers

1 cup butter, room temperature 

1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky

2 cups powdered sugar

12 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips

13 ounces hazelnut cocoa spread

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped 
Instructions:

Pulse cookies in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick oil. Combine butter and natural chunky peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until blended. Next fold in cookie crumbs and mini chocolate chips. Mix to combine. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Warm hazelnut spread in a microwave until it is easy to spread. Cover the peanut butter layer completely. Sprinkle with chopped honey roasted peanuts. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter I

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Insanely Delish Chocolate PB Truffles! Now here is a dessert that will bring raves from friends and family. Some swear these truffles are filled with crunchy toffee. Others insist it contains chunks of Butterfingers. This is when you just smile demurely and ask, “Do you like it?”. (Don’t worry, you can tell by the way they lick their fingers.) This is one time I wish I could magically snap my fingers and send each one of my readers an insanely delicious sample!
INSANELY DELISH CHOCOLATE PB TRUFFLES 
Ingredients:

2 cups natural peanut butter, crunchy

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar 

1 1/2 gluten-free pretzels, crushed with broken bits

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2 12-ounce bags semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Crushed pretzels for garnish 
Instructions:

Combine peanut butter, butter, and vanilla extract in a food processor. Pulse until mixed and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar until well combined. Transfer dough to a large bowl. Fold in crushed pretzel bits and mini morsels of chocolate to make a cookie dough consistency. Chill 10 minutes. Using a melon ball scoop, take dough and form into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat until all dough is used. Caution: Do not taste the dough. You may find yourself nibbling on it too often. lol. Refrigerate dough balls for 30 minutes. As they are being chilled, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High one minute. Stir and repeat until microwaved chocolate is smooth. Do not overcook in microwave. Using a spoon, dip one ball at a time in the melted chocolate. Coat entirely. Place the truffle back on the baking sheet. Repeat. Dust with crushed pretzels. Refrigerate the truffles for 30 minutes, or until chocolate is firm. Share and Enjoy!

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor. 
GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES 
Ingredients:

15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/3 cup pure honey

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Coarse sea salt for garnish 

Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Peanut Butter Fudge!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Peanut Butter Fudge! Once a year, my mother would send me a batch of her homemade peanut butter fudge. And, truthfully, I seldom shared it. Not because I was selfish, because it was THAT good! Now that she is no longer able to give me that glorious care package, I have assumed her role for others. The baton has been passed so the family tradition continues. Every peanut butter-lover should try some for yourself. One bite of this melt-in-your-mouth creamy fudge may lead you start a tradition to “Pay it Forward”.
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
Ingredients:

3 cups sugar 

3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

1 teaspoon vanilla

7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
Instructions:

Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a 2-quart pan. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for four minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Be sure to scrape sides as well. Remove from heat. Work quickly stirring in peanut butter until completely melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased 9″x13″ pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter O

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. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter D

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Double Chocolate Skillet Brownie! I love gooey brownies, especially right out of the oven. Maybe it’s the butter and brown sugar that makes them so delicious. Or it might be the smidgen of peanut butter mixed with real vanilla extract. Lest we not forget the main attraction: dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate for that rich delectable aftertaste once your teeth sink in. Mmmm. Pass me the milk, please.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE SKILLET BROWNIE
Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt crystals

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional), for garnish

2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (optional)
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 10″ iron skillet and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar on low speed. Add egg and vanilla extract. Gradually mix in flour, cocoa, baking soda, and sea salt crystals. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to iron skillet. Spread evenly. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. Bake until set in center and pulling away from sides, 20-24 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into pie-shaped wedges. Serve warm. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Zero-Guilt Honey & Nut Bites! Goodness knows we carry around enough guilt these days between the gourmet coffee addiction and the lack of gym time workouts. So here’s a logical snack that not only provides protein, carbs, and fiber, it feels like a treat! Honestly, anything with natural honey gets my stamp of approval. The fruit, nuts, and coconut are an added bonus, in my opinion. Go ahead, make up a batch and see how rewarding it is. 
ZERO-GUILT HONEY & NUT DATE BITES
Ingredients:

3/4 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt crystals

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup coconut, flaked
Instructions:

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, raisins, eggs, honey, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. The eggs need to cook thoroughly, but not scramble. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and sea salt crystals. Fold in chopped walnuts and pecans. Mix well. Form into small bite-size balls, uniform in shape. Roll each ball in coconut flakes. Refrigerate an hour or until firm. Store in an air-tight container.