Danish Pumpkin Spice

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Danish Pumpkin Spice! The mere mention of pumpkin spice sends people into a tizzy. It could be simply because it signifies the turning of a new season and screams, “limited time only!”. The crisp Autumn leaves, smell of woodsmoke, and anticipation of holidays looming on the horizon resurrect desires of nostalgia. We can’t help it. Longings of yesteryear where childhood memories and romantic flashbacks are pause for distraction. Family traditions and customs return to life. This is us.

DANISH PUMPKIN SPICE

Ingredients:

2 tubes crescent rolls (8 count each)

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, room temperature

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon chestnut praline syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Unroll crescent rolls into a rectangular shape. Cut along the seam to separate into two equal rectangles. Each rectangle will container four crescent rolls. Press seams together, cutting each rectangle into four squares. When you do this, you will have 8 squares from each tube. Place squares on the silicone baking mat before filling. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin purée, sugar, vanilla extract, allspice, and egg. Whisk until smooth. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin spice mixture into the center of each square. Fold the edges around, by rolling and crimping, to form the Danish. Sprinkle chopped pecans over all. Bake 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cool before glazing. Repeat with remaining dough. To make the glaze, beat Neufchâtel cheese until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Stir gently. Add vanilla extract and chestnut praline syrup. Transfer glaze to a zipper sandwich bag. Snip off the tip of one corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle glaze in stripes over each Danish.

Creole Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Creole Shrimp! The guy who invented the crockpot is a genius, in my opinion. Think about it. You throw everything into a slow cooker, give it a stir, plop on the lid, and come back later to mouthwatering aromas that can make your stomach growl. Some are what I refer to as “One Dish Wonders”. Others are transformed into lip-smacking sensations when combined with simple sides. Read on to see what I mean.

CREOLE SHRIMP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup green peppers, diced

1/2 cup sweet onions, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes with bay leaf

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound precooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Green onions for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté green peppers, sweet onions, and chopped celery. Cook 5 minutes until softened. Add chili powder. Sauté until caramelized, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Transfer to crockpot, set on High setting. Cut up Roma tomatoes. Transfer tomatoes and sauce to crockpot. Add sriracha sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir. Replace lid and cook for three hours. After that time, warm butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté shrimp, sprinkled with seasoned salt, dill weed, and red pepper flakes. Turn once. Remove from heat. Transfer sautéed shrimp to slow-cooked tomato sauce. Cook five minutes longer. Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with green onion snips.

Barbacoa Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Barbacoa Banana Peppers! More and more supermarkets are offering a wide variety of prepared meats to help make mealtime as effortless as possible. You can take advantage of these precooked packaged options or make use of last night’s leftover roast in the refrigerator, turning it into Barbacoa beef. I have great respect for everyone who juggles their time between work and home. This recipe combines fresh produce with convenient seasoned alternatives. Meet me halfway for this labor of love.

BARBACOA BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

6 mild banana peppers, sliced lengthwise; ribs and seeds removed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

6 sticks mozzarella string cheese

1 cup Barbacoa beef, shredded

1/3 cup fresh sweet corn

1/2 cup pico de gallo

2 green onions, sliced into curls

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange in a single layer, without touching, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Roast for 10 minutes until banana peppers begin to soften slightly. Remove from oven to cool. Tuck one mozzarella cheese stick into each pepper.(It may be necessary to pull the cheese apart into strings to fill the pepper from end to end.) Divide shredded Barbacoa beef between peppers. Top with sweet corn. Set oven to Broil. Return stuffed banana peppers to the oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden in spots. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Top with pico de gallo. Garnish with green onion strips.

Apple Butter Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Apple Butter Bars! What if I told you there was no “butter” in apple butter? Would you wrinkle your brow and say, “Whaaat?” It’s true. Apple butter is made by slow-cooking apples a long time until the sugar content caramelizes, giving it a deep brown color. I skipped the homemade process by choosing to purchase an organic brand made by one of my favorite country restaurants. You can, too, by visiting local farmers who are more than willing to share their bounty this time of year. It’s Applelicious!

APPLE BUTTER BARS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups natural apple butter

1 gala apple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup peanuts, chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9”x13” pan. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix flour, sea salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Spread 3/4 of batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Spread apple butter on top. Layer chopped apple pieces over all. Fill in with chopped peanuts. Crumble remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares.

Waste Not, Want Not

If you needed a reason to stay home, despite the current climate, turn social distancing to your favor. After all, your place is a Safe Haven. Now may be the time to expand your creativity in the kitchen by being budget-friendly, challenging your cooking skills, and focus your energy on healthy alternatives. Take a look in the pantry, the refrigerator, and the freezer. People buy food they like in the first place. Right? Have fun when pulling meals together. Pretend you’re a celebrity chef and make cooking a choice of entertainment. Display some of your placemats, napkins, and dishes to keep it fun and interesting. Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures one bite at a time. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Waste Not, Want Not!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. As of this writing, WordPress has acknowledged that I’m on a 1853-day streak. Let’s keep it going!

Devil’s Food Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Devil’s Food Cake! Sometimes all you crave is a slice of good old-fashioned chocolate cake like your grandma used to make, before Betty Crocker introduced the world to cake mixes. It’s very simple, really. Take a walk down Memory Lane with a recipe that recaptures youthful musings.

DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup salad oil

1 cup boiling water

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add salad oil and boiling water. Stir until lumps are gone. Gradually add milk; stir. Add eggs and vanilla; stir. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert onto serving platter. Cool before frosting or sprinkling with powdered sugar.

Appetizers to Desserts

Everything has a beginning and an ending. Food is no different. It sets the stage for informal gatherings, romantic interludes, festive celebrations, and grande finales. From the first bite of crudité to the last sip of coffee, the entire experience can be extraordinary. If you agree with me, pull up a chair for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Appetizers to Desserts!” In a short time of blogging, the response continues to amaze me on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all of my followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: APPETIZERS TO DESSERTS!”

Traditional Plum Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Traditional Plum Pudding! Everyone remembers Little Jack Horner’s fame from a childhood nursery rhyme: “He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum.” It’s hard to resist that urge while eating these sweet, fruity, luscious plums. To pull this off, do like my Gramma used to say, “Honey, just dump everything in the pan, stir a little bit, and bake.” Sometimes we try to make things too difficult.

TRADITIONAL PLUM PUDDING

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

4 cups ripe plums, pits removed, skin on, and sliced

1 cup natural honey

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, sea salt, and baking powder in the prepared dish. Whisk together. Add melted butter and milk. Stir well. Spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sliced plums and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the pudding batter. Do not stir. Bake for 35-40 minutes until pudding is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm with whipped cream.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter P

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Picnic Pork and Beans! Tradition speaks loud and clear at family gatherings and picnics, especially in the summer. No matter the cookout, barbecue, or pitch-in, certain foods are expected on the buffet table. One of them is the coveted baked beans. Usually the unmarried auntie or the matriarch is the keeper of the cherished recipes. The “grande dame” knows all the ingredients, especially the heavily-guarded secret ones. It might be a dab of this or a pinch of that. My advice? Time, patience, and integrity. After all, there’s a lot of responsibility in carrying on the Secret Family Recipes. In the end, it’s all worth it!
PICNIC PORK AND BEANS
Ingredients:

3 slices uncured bacon, thick

1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

28-ounce can pork and beans

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Fry bacon in a large skillet until partially cooked. Remove bacon from pan and dab on paper towels. Let cool and then break into pieces. Discard all but one tablespoon bacon drippings. Add sweet onion to pan; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine sweet onion, pork and beans, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, diced pimento, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with bacon pieces. Bake uncovered for one hour, or until beans are bubbly and sauce is thick. Let stand 10 minutes for sauce to thicken slightly. Serve warm.