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? Elevated Edibles: Donut Strawberry Shortcake! Whether you celebrate your own version of “Doughnut Day” or stick to the declared ones on the national calendar twice a year, here is one more reason to indulge yourself. Transform an ordinary glazed donut into a strawberry shortcake. Begin with a delicious deep-fried glazed doughnut, bakery-fresh. Slice it horizontally to remove the top. Ladle on the ripe and juicy strawberries. The fruit filling is nothing but fresh strawberries mixed with a little sugar. For a thicker sauce simply warm a spoonful or two of strawberry jam and stir. Cover the strawberry layer with a luscious blanket of whipped cream. Replace the top and add more berries, if desired. Perhaps now you, like me, see no reason to wait until the declared holidays roll around.
DONUT STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
4 glazed cake donuts, split lengthwise
1 pound fresh strawberries, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons strawberry jam, warmed
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, cold
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and warmed jam. Partially mash some of the berries. Gently stir; rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, make whipped cream. Combine heavy cream and Greek yogurt. Whip 4-5 minutes until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whip 1 minute longer until fluffy. Place each donut on a dessert plate. Remove top. Fill with strawberry mixture, then whipped cream. Replace top; spoon additional strawberries over donut hole. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Jello Strawberry Cake! Take advantage of the price of strawberries when the opportunity arises. Whether it be a local Farmer’s Market, grocery store featured item, or pick-your-own berry field celebrating years of family history, run don’t walk to fill your basket without plans to what comes next. Everyone loves strawberries. The sun-kissed fruit kindles childhood memories of joyous occasions when we would eat our weight in berries as juice ran down our chins. Never mind the red stained fingers or dewy rows from early morning fog. In a week or so, strawberries need to be eaten, canned, or frozen. Anything goes.
JELLO STRAWBERRY CAKE
16.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 ounces strawberry gelatin mix
1 1/2 cups water, divided
8 ounces whipped topping
2 cups strawberries, sliced
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9”x13” cake pan. Set aside. Combine cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool at room temperature. Using a fork, poke many holes in the cake. This will allow the liquid jello to fill the gaps creating a ribbon effect. Bring one cup of water to boiling. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix. Stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve flavoring. Add 1/2 cup ice water to mixture. Stir. Slowly pour the liquid strawberry jello into the holes on the top of the cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, “frost” the cake with whipped topping. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Flaky Strawberry Turnovers! Let the experts do what they do best, I always say. That’s the reason I begin with a prepared puff pastry easily found in the freezer section of the grocery store. The flaky light dough is filled with yummy butter and then repeatedly folded and rolled before baking. For you, my peeps, it simply involves thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Pure genius, if you ask me, making the rest of the recipe is a walk in the park.
FLAKY STRAWBERRY TURNOVERS
1 sheet puff pastry, prepared
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup strawberries, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white, beaten
For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Cut into four squares. Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and almond extract. Mix well. In another bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Gently toss until coated. Spread the cream cheese onto the squares of dough, keeping it towards one corner, forming a diagonal. Spoon strawberries over cream cheese. Gently fold the corner over the mixture. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each turnover with beaten egg white. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberry turnovers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Dark Chocolate Mug Cake! The first thing I want to tell you about this recipe is coconut flour can make a cake drier than all-purpose flour. True, it does make it a gluten-free alternative AND an excuse to add a scoop of ice cream, which I did. I would call the texture very dense, but my husband was painfully honest and used the word “dry”. I believe adding an extra egg white might alleviate that problem, but who knows? Perhaps you’ll try it and get back to me. The gist of the story is, when you’re really craving something sweet and don’t want to put a lot of time into it, this is a “piece of cake”. Two minutes in the microwave and you’ve got it. Just add fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and a wicked scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. You can blame me.
DARK CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, room temperature
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Fresh strawberries, for garnish
Sliced almonds, for garnish
Rub the inside of a microwave-safe coffee mug with butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and a large egg. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared mug. Microwave on High for 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove the mug and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add fresh strawberries and sliced almonds, for garnish.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Zakarian Chocolate Pudding! Sometimes you look to a celebrity chef for inspiration. Today’s feature recipe is brought to you by “Iron Chef”, Geoffrey Zakarian. Although it is filed under Dark Chocolate Pudding, its decadent taste and smooth consistency remind me more of a French Silk Pie. Do I have your undivided attention? Can you hear me now? This is most definitely a chocolate-lovers dream! By serving it in shot glasses, you control the portion and everyone gets a taste. Mr. Zakarian serves it with whipped sour cream. I modified it a bit by adding crushed pistachios and a slice of strawberry.
ZAKARIAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING
6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch sea salt
4 large egg yolks
Whipped sour cream, optional
Strawberries for garnish
Pistachios for garnish
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream and light cream to a bare simmer. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt, and egg yolks. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking all the while. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into glasses or custard cups. Refrigerate until chief and set, about 3 hours. Serve with whipped sour cream, if desired. Garnish with fresh strawberry slice and chopped pistachios.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Yogurt Tropical Breeze! Breakfast never tasted so good. Elevate an ordinary yogurt serving to something extraordinary by switching to tropical fruits like juicy ripe pineapple and buttery sweet papaya. Instead of granola, sprinkle on toasted coconut for a refreshing taste that will transport you like a summer breeze on a tropical island.
YOGURT TROPICAL BREEZE
16 ounces Greek yogurt
15.25 ounce can tropical mixed fruit; pineapple, red and yellow papaya*
1 small seedless orange, separated into segments
3 strawberries, sliced
2-3 tablespoons toasted coconut
Fresh mint for garnish
Drain fruit, save reserve juice for later. Divide Greek yogurt into serving dishes. Add topical fruit, orange segments, and strawberry slices. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint.
*Kroger brand Tropical Mixed Fruit in fruit nectar, 15.25 oz can. I receive no recompense for recommending this product.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Nutella Strawberry Dip! Here’s a match made in Heaven for chocolate-lovers and strawberries. Try it at home and then think about something new for the next social gathering where you’re asked to bring something yummy to share. It’s so Strawberrylicious, my first word of advice is…double the recipe. You’ll have the ingredients on hand, so go for it. It’s easy to make, kid-friendly, healthy, and sweet. Next stop: Holiday Party, Book Club, Girls Night Out, Birthday Celebration, Family Gathering, Block Party. The list goes on and on and on.
NUTELLA STRAWBERRY DIP
3/4 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread
1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 cup Cool Whip, regular or light
1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish
Fresh Strawberries, sliced in half
Combine Nutella, powdered sugar, and Neufchâtel cheese in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on Low until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip topping. Blend well. Pour into covered bowl. Kept refrigerated until ready to serve. Arrange sliced strawberries on a platter. Pour dip into a serving bowl. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Foolproof Strawberry Galette! It’s more than the sweet strawberries that make this an appealing dessert. In my opinion, the delicious buttery cream cheese crust is as good as it gets. First of all, to keep your galette foolproof, here are a few tips. Make sure the dough is not too moist or it will turn chewy instead of crisp. Pay attention to the strawberries. If they appear too juicy, add more cornstarch to help the filling thicken. And don’t overfill the galette. Remember, there is no pie plate to contain the abundance. It’s better to make two smaller galettes than a big sloppy one. And lastly, be sure to use parchment paper on the baking sheet or you may find yourself replacing bakeware from the runoff. All that being said, let’s roll.
FOOLPROOF STRAWBERRY GALETTE
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, cubed
1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut up
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar
Pulse flour, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor. Add Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Pulse until crumbly. Add 3-4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Remove onto a lightly floured board. Gently knead to tighten dough. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Unwrap dough and roll to 1/8 inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Create a 12″ diameter circle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss strawberries with cornstarch, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar. Leaving an inch border, arrange strawberries atop dough. Fold border up and over strawberries to create a rim. Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake galette 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack.