What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Frozen Whipped Cream! Now here’s an indulgence anyone can afford. Frozen whipped cream. Simply spread the prepared mixture into a loaf pan, freeze overnight, and cut into chunks. Store in ready-to-use ziplock freezer bags. Then let the fun begin. Replace the creamer in your morning cuppa joe with a block or two, swirl, and watch the magic happen. You can also substitute those stale hardened marshmallows with whipped cream cubes in your favorite hot cocoa beverage. What about fruit smoothies? Throw a few chunks of frozen whipped cream into the blender with fresh fruit for a satisfying snack. Mmmm. Whipped cream isn’t just for dessert any more.
FROZEN WHIPPED CREAM
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chill the mixer bowl and whisk attachment 15 minutes before using. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Set speed to medium for 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat 3-4 minutes longer or until the cream takes on volume and forms stiff peaks. The cream will have doubled in size. Do not over-beat or the cream will turn buttery. Spread whipped cream into a parchment paper-lined loaf pan and freeze overnight. When mixture is frozen, remove from pan and cut into chunks or cubes. Store in a freezer bag and keep frozen until ready to use.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Xmas Crinkle Cookies! Shortcuts are the key to success for that next cookie-exchange the kids forgot to tell you about. “Oh yeah, Mom, sorry.” No worries. Head to the kitchen to clang some pans around, preheat the oven, and dust a little powdered sugar on your nose. They’ll be none the wiser. By the time the house begins to smell like a neighborhood bakery, you’ll have rows of cookies lined up ready to be boxed. And if you’re one of those organized parents, just so you know, these cookies freeze well. Arrange them in a freezer gallon bag, layered between squares of waxed paper. I have literally taken these crinkle cookies out of the freezer and handed them to a little girl to eat. Other than being slightly chilled, they retain a chewiness that makes them simply delicious. You deserve a pat on the back. You’re welcome.
XMAS CRINKLE COOKIES
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
15.25-ounce box strawberry cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°. Place powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberry cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir until a dough forms. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Shape dough into 1” balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until center is just set. Remove pan from oven; cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with more powdered sugar.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Zucchini Brownies! There’s only one reason you ever need to mention the title of this dessert, and that is to avoid a food allergy to zucchini. Honestly, most people will raise their nose and never give it a chance if they know it’s in there. You cannot taste it. To prove it, I served this sweet treat to adults as well as kids. I heard comments like, “That fudge is super amazing!” These brownies are truly rich and fudgy, not to mention packed with healthy nutrients. Go for it.
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
Powdered Sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time for one minute each, until the mixture is light and creamy. Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until just blended together. Fold in the grated zucchini. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Brownies are done when center is set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with tiny crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:
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
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.