Peanut Butter Fudge

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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.

Xmas Pizzelle Cookies

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Xmas Pizzelle Cookies! I’m obsessed with food that has eye appeal. That’s one reason I was drawn to pizzelles, a traditional Italian waffle cookie. I could make you crazy by telling you we’re going to make them from scratch, but hey, my time is in high demand just like yours. Besides, since I don’t own a pizzelle iron, sometimes it’s better to leave things to an expert. I’m here today to save you time when someone suggests a Holiday Cookie Exchange. Pick up a package of Classic Italian Pizzelles on your way home from work, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts. You can thank me later when you’re sitting back relaxing with a glass of wine.

XMAS PIZZELLE COOKIES

Ingredients:

7-ounce package Vanilla Flavored Pizzelle Cookies

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 ounces pistachios, chopped

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Heat in microwave on 50% setting for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each pizzelle cookie into melted chocolate. Sprinkle both sides with chopped pistachios. Place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.

Zebra Almond Bark

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Zebra Almond Bark! Isn’t it funny how things get their name? Almond Bark doesn’t even contain nuts. Seriously. I guess, technically, there is a popular candy coating people believe is white chocolate, but isn’t. It’s made with vegetable oil and often artificial flavors. It was used originally to be melted into chopped almonds to make Christmas candy that people went crazy over. So, although I borrowed the name “almond bark”, I actually preferred to use white chocolate chips instead. The ingredient list mentioned cocoa butter and natural extracts, which sounded more appealing and taste better, in my opinion. Whatever you choose, we’ll still refer to it as “almond bark”.

ZEBRA ALMOND BARK

Ingredients:

2 cups premiere white chocolate morsels

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate morsels on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals until morsels are melted and consistency is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Spread thin. In another microwave-safe bowl, melt mini chocolate chips the same way, stirring until no lumps remain. To form “zebra” stripes, drop tiny spoonfuls of dark chocolate into the white chocolate. Take a cake tester and create a swirl pattern by dragging the dark chocolate outward into stripes. The more random the design, the prettier it looks. Place baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. Remove pan and break Zebra Almond Bark apart into pieces. Store candy at room temperature.

Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers! Don’t hate me. These bakery-style popovers come with a warning label: Highly Addictive! Perhaps I might include a disclaimer. If you never suffer with sweet tooth cravings or for some unknown reason dislike cinnamon, no worries. For the rest of us, all I can say is “Try to resist licking your fingers!”.

NUTMEG CINNAMON POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups flour

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, sea salt, sugar, and flour. Blend until no lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Meanwhile place melted butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Take a popover and brush it with melted butter to coat. Place the popover in the sugar mixture and roll to coat. Repeat with entire batch of popovers.

Eagle Brand Caramel Rum Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Eagle Brand Caramel Rum Sauce! For caramel-lovers all over the world, this recipe can be your legacy. It’s rich, it’s thick, it’s buttery, and it’s laced with a hint of dark rum that gets the party started. Take a moment to tick off the countless ways you can drizzle caramel sauce over food. Spread it on toast, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Add it to coffee for a smooth latte. Turn it into an apple dip coated with salted peanuts. Whip it into pudding or smoothies. Top off a bowl of ice cream. You get the idea. If your imagination stalls out, simply dip a teaspoon into the jar and enjoy the caramel sauce all by itself.

EAGLE BRAND CARAMEL RUM SAUCE

Ingredients:

14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil. Carefully place the pie plate into a shallow pan. Fill the larger pan with 1/2 inch hot water. It will surround the pie plate. Bake 2 hours or until sauce is thick and caramel in color. Remove larger pan from oven. Take the pie plate out; remove foil and pour caramel into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on LOW speed for one minute. Add dark rum and vanilla extract. Continue beating on LOW speed until liquid is blended. Increase speed to HIGH for one minute longer. Caramel will appear smooth and creamy. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Almond-Vanilla Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Almond-Vanilla Popovers! What if I told you it was possible to eat a serving of bread, but without all the preservatives? It is. And then, what would you say if I told you the outside was golden brown and the inside was hollow? That’s right. Hollow. These light and airy popovers of pancake-like batter puff up into delectable buttery crowns that leave you singing their praises and clapping your hands. It’s like you just witnessed a bit of magic in your very own kitchen.

ALMOND-VANILLA POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, sea salt, sugar, and flour. Blend until no lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, remove and transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of honey, jam, or butter.

No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream! Years ago my best friend was a specialty brand of Turkish coffee ice cream. I was working two jobs, averaging mostly 70-hour work weeks, seven days nonstop to support myself, and help my kids through college. I also admit I was hiding out from “Life”. Many evenings I’d come home, crash on the sofa, and open a pint of the creamiest concoction laced with butterscotch topping I’d ever tasted. It was bliss. Since then, the company stopped making it in favor of more popular flavors like banana chocolate chunk and coconut almond chip. Seriously? Oh well, that left me with no recourse but to make it myself. Between you and me…I think I knocked it out of the park!*

NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons espresso instant coffee

2 tablespoons warm water

2 cups heavy cream

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped

Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping

Instructions:

In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in warm water. Stir well. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract on High speed for 4 minutes until smooth and thick. Reduce speed to Low. Add the prepared coffee; continue until blended. Fold in chopped espresso beans. Spoon ice cream into a loaf pan. Cover tightly and freeze overnight. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with espresso before serving. Drizzle with butterscotch topping, to taste.

*The secret to my success was chilling the utensils overnight in the freezer and making sure all the ingredients were refrigerator cold.

Watermelon Waffle Wedges

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Watermelon Waffle Wedges! Bring back childhood memories of lazy summer days leaning against the back porch chomping on a mouthwatering slice of watermelon. As the juice runs down your chin, a swipe of the shirt sleeve doubles as a napkin. Your mischievous brother takes aim at your bare feet, shooting tiny black seeds as if his mouth is a pea shooter. You squeal with delight and sometimes run away. Those were the days. Now we think about nutrition. That’s okay. Watermelon, with its juicy red flesh, is high in lycopene which makes it heart-healthy. Chomp away.

WATERMELON WAFFLE WEDGES

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 slices watermelon, cut in wedges

Maple syrup, to taste

Butter, to taste

Strawberries, cherries, almonds, powdered sugar, mint sprig for Garnish

Instructions:

Preheat waffle iron. Place eggs in a bowl and beat on medium-high using a hand mixer. Eggs will get fluffy. Slowly add flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat just until smooth. Brush waffle iron with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray. Pour mix into waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve warm with watermelon wedges, strawberries, cherries, almond slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh mint.

Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse! Americans have this uncanny obsession with chocolate and peanut butter. Some even crave it often. It may be the creamy sweetness of cocoa blended with the saltiness of roasted peanuts. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the allure is undeniable. Throw in vanilla pudding and whipped cream showcased in a parfait glass for eye appeal. It all adds up to an easy, upscale dessert that makes an everyday experience extraordinary. I find small juice glasses an appealing portion-control guide.

UPSCALE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE

Ingredients:

16-20 Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, wrappers removed and candy chopped

1/3 cup peanuts

1/2 cup chocolate fudge sauce

1 3.4-ounce package Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix

1 3/4 cups light cream

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup whipped topping

1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Choose 4-6 glasses or cups, depending on portion preferred. Divide peanuts equally between glasses. Layer with 1-2 dollops of chocolate fudge sauce. Set aside. In a chilled bowl, empty contents of pudding mix. Gradually add 1/2 cup light cream, beating on low speed with a hand mixer. Mix until well blended. Add peanut butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups of light cream. Beat on low, increasing speed as it incorporates. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Pudding will thicken. Gently fold in whipped topping to create air bubbles. Next, fold in chopped candy, reserving a few pieces to use as garnish. Spoon pudding into glasses, layering over fudge sauce. Garnish with candy chunks and mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.