Urban Lemon Curd French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Urban Lemon Curd French Toast! Shortcuts, gotta love them. Just because you’re preparing food at home doesn’t mean everything has to be made from scratch. Betty Crocker, an American cultural icon, is proof of that. I used a store-bought lemon curd instead of making it from scratch. And if you want to take this recipe one step closer to simplifying your life, merely substitute the fresh berry compote with frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed of course. After all, the main attraction is the lemony rich oven-baked French toast sprinkled with vanilla bean and nutmeg. Everything is prepared the night before so all that’s needed is baking time the next morning. See? Simple isn’t so bad.

URBAN LEMON CURD FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved

10-ounce jar lemon curd

1 loaf Hawaiian Sweet Bread, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup cherries

1/2 cup mulberries

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, garnish

Instructions:

To make the French toast, butter an oval baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean seeds. Fold in the lemon curd. Stir well. Arrange the Hawaiian Sweet Bread slices evenly in the prepared dish, slightly overlapping them. Pour egg mixture over bread. Spoon to coat all slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To make the fruit compote, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine blueberries, cherries, mulberries, cranberries, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit breaks down, about 15 minutes. As the juices are released, the fruit will thicken. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate. Warm in the microwave the next day before serving. The next day, to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350°. Let the French toast stand at room temperature 15 minutes before placing in the oven. Remove lid. Bake 45-50 minutes. To make the whipped topping, chill the mixing bowl and beaters beforehand. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until the cream begins to thicken, about 4-6 minutes. The whipped cream will double in volume and form soft peaks. Remove the French toast from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Top with warm berry compote, whipped cream, and dusting of powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Hummus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Peanut Butter Chocolate Hummus! You don’t have to be vegan to appreciate the benefits of hummus, especially this version. It’s more like a reward than a punishment. The peanut-ty taste combined with dark chocolate makes it only a few steps removed from eating a candy bar. But that’s where the dippers come in handy to turn it into a healthy appetizer or afternoon snack. Think celery, gluten-free pretzels, and juicy apple slices. I couldn’t resist a dollop of hummus between two shortbread cookies. Graham crackers would work just as well. Think of the fun you’ll have coming up with more ways to “spread the joy”!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE HUMMUS

Ingredients:

15-ounce chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

Once chickpeas are drained and rinsed well, add to a food processor. Pulse to mix. Combine remaining ingredients: natural peanut butter, pure maple syrup, milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Blend together until hummus is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a covered dish. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with pretzel sticks, apple slices, shortbread cookies, and celery.

Brownie Cherry Bomb

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Brownie Cherry Bomb! Nothing taste more decadent than rich dark chocolate and naturally sweet cherries. Is it any wonder it’s a popular combination? What you won’t end up with is a dry chocolate cake-like dessert. Instead it’ll be dense, moist, and gooey. Sink your teeth into the glossy, crisp outer shell. Mmmm. You may even find yourself licking your fingers. This cherry fudge brownie truly is as good as it sounds. It’s the bomb!

BROWNIE CHERRY BOMB

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/8 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cherries, halved

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

Set oven rack on highest setting. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 8-inch square pan with nonstick oil. Line with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine melted butter, olive oil, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat one minute longer for best results. The color will change to a lighter color. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until combined. Fold in cut cherries. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Top with mini chocolate chips. Bake for about 20 minutes until center is slightly set. Insert a toothpick into the center and it should still come out coated with chocolate. That’s okay. Remove from oven and cool for a couple hours on a wire rack. Lift and transfer the parchment paper to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Vanilla Pineapple Jam

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Vanilla Pineapple Jam! I learn so much by following other foodies. My friend, Lathiya, featured this aromatic recipe on her blog recently. I never thought of adding vanilla to pineapple. The results are amazing! Shout out to her for more photos at http://www.lathiskitchen.org/2018/02/23 and a tasty fruit combination to smear on your morning toast or Greek yogurt. It’s Yumolicious!

VANILLA PINEAPPLE JAM

Ingredients:

2 cups pineapple chunks, drain juice if using canned

3/4 cup sugar

3 discs sugared ginger, finely chopped

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

Using a 9-inch saucepan, combine pineapple chunks and sugar over medium-high heat to boil. Reduce to low and continue cooking. Gently mash the chunks with a fork as pineapple softens. Add sugared ginger, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Cook until mixture becomes jam, about 20 minutes. Add lemon juice; stir and cook 10 minutes longer. Jam will begin to thicken. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before transferring to a jar. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Frozen Whipped Cream

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

Instructions:

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.

Xmas Pizzelle Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: 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.

Vanilla Laced French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Vanilla Laced French Toast! Here’s a twist on ordinary French toast. If you prefer the outside to be crispy, don’t be ashamed to coat the bread with crushed cracker crumbs before dropping it into the buttered skillet. It not only seals in the flavor, but also produces a “to-die-for” custard filling. Forget soggy bread, go instead for a golden brown crunch drizzled in dark maple syrup and topped with the rich flavor of vanilla glazed pears. Have I got your attention?

VANILLA LACED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup light cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed*

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1-2 tablespoons butter

6 slices Hawaiian sweet bread

Glazed Pear Topping, if desired**

Powdered sugar, sprinkling

Pecan halves, as garnish

Instructions:

Whisk eggs, light cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed crackers, cinnamon, and nutmeg with a fork. Melt butter on low heat in an iron skillet. Do not burn. Increase heat to medium. Dip bread slices in egg mixture, coat both sides in cracker crumbs, and place in the skillet. Cook 3 minutes until brown. Turn. Cook 3 minutes longer. Remove to a platter. Repeat until all slices are used. Serve with butter, maple syrup, and fruit, if desired. Garnish with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and pecans.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Ritz Crackers.

**Recipe for Cinnamon Glazed Pears can be found at this link.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2015/12/28

Zero Candy Bar Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Zero Candy Bar Cookies! White chocolate fudge has been popular since it was introduced in a candy bar a hundred years ago. At that time it was called the Double Zero Bar due to its “chilling” snowy white color, reminding the public of an ice cube. To this day it is sold in a trademark cool silver wrapper. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. Today’s cookies are nothing short of heavenly.

ZERO CANDY BAR COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 sea salt

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups peanuts, chopped

3.4 ounce Zero Candy Bar, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir until blended. Fold in white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, peanuts, and Zero Candy Bar pieces. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Drop cookie dough, using a melon ball scoop, onto the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 6 dozen.

Xingzi Apricot Tartlets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Xingzi Apricot Tartlets! Apricots have a way of turning simple desserts into gourmet treats. Their rich flavor is similar to a peach, but with a more tender outer skin. The juicy tang blends well with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom for a warm flavorful finish. The buttery dough of puff pastry makes the tartlets as light as air. Guaranteed to impress, and delicious to eat.

XINGZI APRICOT TARTLETS

Ingredients:

1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed

14-ounce can apricots, halved in syrup

2 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed

Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cardamom to taste

1 vanilla bean pod, slivered

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Unroll the puff pastry and cut it into small rectangles. Place on a nonstick baking sheet. Arrange apricot halves on each pastry strip. Brush with apricot jam. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom to taste. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Garnish with slivers of vanilla bean before serving.