Insanely Delish Chocolate PB Truffles

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!

Unbelievable Eggnog Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Unbelievable Eggnog Cake! Did you know you can freeze eggnog for up to six months? You can. And isn’t it a relief to know that you won’t be pouring money down the drain? Too much of anything can take away the joy. We all get caught up in holiday indulgences, thinking it’s the only time of year to appreciate our favorite treats. No more. Rather than feeling like a glutton for punishment, followed by waves of guilt, here’s a way to stretch the cheer throughout the winter months. When the nights are dark and the fire warms your feet, snuggle up with a slice of nostalgia. You deserve it.

UNBELIEVABLE EGGNOG CAKE

Ingredients:

16.5-ounce yellow cake mix

3-ounce vanilla instant pudding mix

1 cup eggnog

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Glaze:

1/4 cup butter, warmed

1/4 cup eggnog

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon rum

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups powdered sugar

Garnish with rosemary sprigs and pomegranate arils

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a bundt pan (or 8 mini bundt pans) with nonstick oil containing flour. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine yellow cake mix, dry vanilla pudding mix, eggnog, eggs, vegetable oil, nutmeg, water, and vanilla extract. Beat with a mixer for 2 minutes until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour batter into pan(s). Bake 50 minutes for large, or 25 minutes for small bundt cakes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool for 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack. Allow to cool 10 minutes longer before transferring to a cake plate. While cakes are cooling make the glazed icing. In a bowl, whisk together butter, eggnog, vanilla extract, rum, and nutmeg until smooth. Sprinkle in powdered sugar, stirring with a spoon, until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and pomegranate arils for a festive finish.

Plum Coffee Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Plum Coffee Cake! Plums have a way of making a person feel special. They’re not as plentiful as apples, but when they’re available I can’t wait to snag a few to plunk into a homemade coffee cake. The sweet flavor reminds me of stepping into a pastry shop where fruit-filled delicacies are placed front and center in the glass-domed showcase. From mini fruit tarts overflowing with ripe, juicy berries to cheesecakes smothered in exotic options. Turnovers become too tempting when a smidgen of filling seeps out. And just look at the succulent strudels and rustic galettes. But I digress. Today’s feature is all about the mouthwatering palatable pleasure of the plum.

PLUM COFFEE CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 pound plums, pitted and sliced

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9” cake pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In another bowl cream together butter and sugar, using an electric mixer, for 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and egg. Beat on Low speed until well mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on Low speed until smooth. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Arrange sliced plums on top in a circular pattern. Bake for one hour until golden brown. Center is set when a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Naked Belgian Waffles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Naked Belgian Waffles! Doesn’t this sound sinfully decadent? Imagine fluffy discs of indented lattice, with slightly crisp edges, exuding a seductive vanilla essence. The deep indentations of golden batter cake are perfect vessels for whatever your heart desires. Might it be rich, creamy butter or hand-tapped pure maple syrup? What about toasted pecan halves and powdered sugar? Or perhaps even a smearing of hazelnut spread with fresh red raspberries. Whatever your craving, do yourself a favor. Make a double batch of waffles to store in the freezer. Then pop one in the toaster for a great way to start the day. Romance is in the air.

NAKED BELGIAN WAFFLES

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs, room temperature

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Slowly add liquid mixture to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not over-mix. Spray waffle iron with nonstick oil. Pour 3/4 cup of batter into preheated waffle iron. Close lid. Do not open until golden brown. Repeat until batter is gone. Serve warm with softened butter, maple syrup, pecan halves, powdered sugar, or fruit toppings.

Double Lemon Poppyseed Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Double Lemon Poppyseed Bread! Everyone has their favorite flavors and foods that remind them of happier times. A good friend of mine recently lost her husband, after challenging years with a slow-progressing disease. When I stopped by to visit her with a gift of food, it created an unexpected see-saw of emotion. At first, she was happy and delighted because it brought back memories of early morning get-togethers for Bible study at a local coffee shop. We’d laugh, chat, share, or reflect on scripture over coffee and pastries before heading off to work. It was a wonderful way to begin the day, often shifting gears from a trying mindset to a positive outlook. The emotional see-saw tipped from high to low that day when she realized how uncertain her future has become in consequence of widowhood magnified by isolation during a pandemic. Let us strive to remember the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

DOUBLE LEMON POPPYSEED BREAD

Ingredients for Bread:

16.25-ounce box white cake mix

3.5-ounce vanilla flavored instant pudding, powdered

4 eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon lemon citrus peel

2 tablespoons poppyseeds

Ingredients for Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-4 tablespoons light cream, slightly warmed

Lemon zest, for garnish

White nonpareil sprinkles, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine white cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, lemon juice, vegetable oil, and hot water. Beat on Low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to Medium setting; beat 2 minutes longer. Fold in lemon citrus peel and poppyseeds. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. To glaze, combine powdered sugar, softened butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Stir to blend. Slowly add the warmed cream, stirring constantly for a smooth consistency. Drizzle over Lemon Poppyseed Loaves. Garnish with lemon zest and nonpareil sprinkles.

Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie! For those who were lucky enough to be gifted with one of the spectacular supermarket fruit baskets and are now wondering how to eat everything before it spoils, think outside the box. Citrus fruits can be refrigerated, as long as you don’t forget about them out-of-sight in the crisper drawer. And we all know what happens to bananas in the fridge. Ugh. Not a pretty sight. But today we’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite fruit, the mouth-watering juicy apple. In reality, slab pies are the grown-up version of a pop tart, only better. The apple filling is honest-to-goodness fruit instead of a smearing of sugary jam. And the crust is more than a pastry shell of dry dough. Its layers of flaky goodness and buttery deliciousness are magically separated by pockets of air.

APPLE CINNAMON SLAB PIE

Ingredients:

2 9-inch pie crusts, refrigerated dough

8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon warm milk, if needed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Gently toss. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour over sliced apples. Toss to coat. Roll one prepared pie crust to fit the baking sheet. Trim the dough to only fit the bottom of the pan. If necessary, use the extra dough to fill in the corners. Spread apple filling over bottom crust. Roll out second pie crust. Place over the apple filling. Pierce top of dough with a fork in several places. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Bake 35-40 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. For a slightly thinner consistency, add the warm milk. Remove Apple Cinnamon Slab Pie from oven when the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbly. Cool slab pie on a wire rack for 10 minutes before pouring glaze over top. Spread to edges. When pie is cool, slice to serve.

Vanilla Bee Pollen Ice Cream

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Vanilla Bee Pollen Ice Cream! What’s all the “buzz” about? The jury is still out on the benefits of bee pollen. Some claim amazing health results while others blame it for side effects. Bee pollen is actually intensified plant pollen picked up by honeybees and brought back to the hive as a source of food for the colony. So obviously, its characteristics depend solely on the geographic location of where it is collected. Just like honey, some say if you struggle with seasonal allergies, the best way to combat that is to take a teaspoon of raw honey every day from the area where you live. Bee pollen is made up of carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can certainly see why naturalists call it a superfood. As with any herbal supplement, contact your health care provider before beginning something new. Many foodies like to add a teaspoon of bee pollen to their morning smoothie. Here it is sprinkled over no-churn ice cream.

VANILLA BEE POLLEN ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 vanilla bean pod, sliced horizontally, seeds extracted

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon bee pollen

Agave nectar, for drizzling

Lemon thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

Be sure the mixing bowl, whisk, and loaf pan are chilled before using. (I placed mine in the freezer overnight. If the ingredients are warm, the mixture won’t thicken to desired texture. I also put the can of sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator the night before.) In the chilled bowl of the stand mixer, combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla bean seeds, and raw honey. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the chilled loaf pan. Freeze 6 hours or overnight. To serve, place three rounded ice cream scoops in a dish. Sprinkle bee pollen over top. Drizzle with agave nectar ribbons. Garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme.

Raw Honey Peanut Butter Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Raw Honey Peanut Butter Cookies! No baking required. Wait, whaaat? These bite-size morsels are not only healthy as an energy snack, they can be made in a matter of minutes with ingredients you probably already have on hand in your pantry. So, what exactly is raw honey, you wonder. Most beekeepers will tell you it simply means the honey is strained right before it is bottled. That translates to nature’s sweetness with all its beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. By eliminating the intense processing stage of heat filtration, what you get instead is honey that comes from the bee hive to your home. No extra sugar is added either. To make sure you are getting raw honey, always check the label.

RAW HONEY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw honey

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups whole grain oats

Sprinkles, for garnish

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Pour sprinkles into a dish. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine raw honey, creamy peanut butter, and vegetable oil. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat. Add vanilla extract. Mix well. Add whole grain oats. Stir to incorporate until cookie dough forms a large ball. Using a cookie scoop, press dough to make bite-size uniform cookies. Dip into sprinkles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cookies will “set up” on their own. Transfer to a covered container for storage.

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies! Mention the word “cheesecake” and wait for an automatic human response. It might be a low sensuous moan or perhaps a catch of breath. Either way, the reaction is suggestive of a rewarding self-indulgence. Add chocolate for a superb combination. Now you can make your own bite-size cheesecake cookie that is worthy of bakery status. The cookie becomes a soft crust for the creamy vanilla filling. Can you imagine? If so, you’re only a few steps away from making it a dream-come-true.

DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

18-ounce box Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Ingredients for Filling:

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat butter, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add kosher salt and prepared chocolate cake mix. Thoroughly blend together, scraping sides, as needed. Refrigerate dough for one hour. While cookie dough is chilling, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Form tablespoon-size portions into a ball. Make an indentation in the center. Place onto ungreased baking sheet. Fill with one teaspoon of cream cheese filling. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake until edges are set, about 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely, about 20 minutes, before removing from baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh strawberries.