Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Granola Fruit Pizza

I'm a big proponent of getting kids in the kitchen at an early age. I think it cuts down on picky eating, and also, it gives them a better appreciation of food. I was thinking about when the last time I even cooked for a child was, and I don't think it's been since when I was in high school when I used to babysit a family of five kids that lived down the street from me.

The extent of the cooking I did for them wasn't even close to "gourmet." All they wanted to eat was hot dogs and sauerkraut (yes, they were German). I started cutting their hot dogs to look like octopus, and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.

But I feel like today's era of children would roll their eyes at my octopus hot dogs. They grew up with Pinterest moms, and they expect their food to be exciting. That's why I wanted to come up with a dish that was not only easy to make, but also colorful and pretty too.

I think I really nailed it with this granola fruit pizza.

The crust requires just a few ingredients, and you don't need to bake it. The ingredient measurements don't need to be extremely precise, so your kids can get practice measuring and patting the crust down into the cake pan.

As you can see, I made a rainbow design with fruit on the pizza, but you can use anything to decorate it. I suggest setting out a variety of ingredients in bowls (like chocolate chips, shredded coconut, sprinkles, nuts, fruit) and let the kids express their creativity by deciding what to put on top.

I served this Granola Fruit Pizza for my FOX59 segment on National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day. I also shared two other kid-friendly treats: Banana Sushi and Apple Slice Doughnuts.

The Banana Sushi is just a banana wrapped in a tortilla that's covered with peanut butter. Slice it up so it looks like sushi. I drizzled melted peanut butter and sprinkled Fruity Pebbles on top for decoration.

Apple Slice Doughnuts start with apples sliced about 1-inch thick on their side. Just cut right through the core. Then use a melon baller to scoop out the center so it looks like a doughnut. Cover each apple slice with either cream cheese, nut butter, or chocolate then decorate with sprinkles or chocolate chips so they look like doughnuts!

Granola Fruit Pizza
Yield: Makes about 8 servings
  • 3 cups granola
  • 2/3 cups peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fruit, other toppings
  1. Combine granola, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla
  2. Line 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper
  3. Dump granola mixture into pan and spread until top is even
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes
  5. Remove granola pizza crust from cake pan and move to plate
  6. Spread Greek yogurt evenly onto granola pizza
  7. Top with fruit, chocolate, nuts, shredded coconut, or whatever you please
Recipe adapted from Tip Buzz

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Double-Duty Dinners, Featuring Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese and Pizza

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

As much as I love to cook, I don’t necessarily like to spend every night in the kitchen preparing dinner. When I’m hungry, I want to eat now. If you feel the same way, one of the best ways to make sure you have food available is by meal prepping. There are different forms of meal-prepping, but one of my favorite ways is making “double-duty dinners.”

The idea behind double-duty dinners is to prepare one big meal with plenty of food so you can transform the leftovers into an entirely new meal the following night. This is great for picky eaters who don’t like to eat the same thing for dinner every single night.

The Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese featured on this blog post is a great recipe to transform into a double-duty meal. Normally, if I was preparing this meal for just one night, I would only use about one pound of chicken. But since I plan to use the leftovers for another day, I should double the protein and add about two pounds of chicken (or more) to the slow cooker. When the chicken is done, I remove all of it, shred it, and return just half of it to the slow cooker.

I store the other half in the refrigerator for my dinner the following day, which I can use to make salad, pasta, or pizza (as you’ll see below)!

I chose to make pizza as the other half of this double-duty meal because it used a lot of the same ingredients as the Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. The only new additions were pizza dough, tomato sauce, and butter. So not only did I save time, but I also saved money. Now I don't need to go out and buy ingredients for an entirely new meal!

Some other ideas for double-duty dinners that I featured in the segment on FOX59 are:
Pulled pork used to make sandwiches the first night and pork quesadillas on the second night.
Fish, specifically tilapia, use to make a rice dinner on night one and fish tacos on night two.

One thing I need to point out — it’s important to always use the best ingredients available. That’s why I used Challenge cream cheese in the macaroni and cheese and Challenge butter in the pizza. I choose Challenge over every other brand because I know there are no hormones, additives, or fillers in their products.The taste is also superior to other brands because they use real cream.

NOTE: In the recipes below, I’m posting the regular version, not the double-duty version, in case some people saw the picture of the pasta and scrolled straight to the recipe. But if you want to make the double-duty version, just double the amount of chicken as discussed earlier.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: Makes about 8, 1-cup servings
  • 1 pound chicken
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound macaroni pasta, uncooked
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese
  • Green onions and blue cheese for garnish, if desired
  1. Add chicken, chicken broth, buffalo sauce, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and salt to slow cooker. Stir until combined and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours. (Could be more or less time depending on your slow cooker. My chicken was done right at 2 hours)
  2. Remove cooked chicken from slow cooker, shred, and return to slow cooker.
  3. Add pasta, cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, milk, and cream cheese to slow cooker.
  4. Mix and cook on high for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until pasta is cooked
  5. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles and green onions if desired and serve 

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Yield: Makes 1 pizza
  • Pizza dough
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup tomato sauce (depending on whether you like a lot of sauce or not)
  • 3 Tablespoons buffalo sauce
  • 1 tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Green onions for garnish, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to the specified temperature for your pizza dough (I set my oven to 425)
  2. Combine tomato sauce, buffalo sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder and spread on uncooked pizza dough
  3. Add half the cheddar cheese on top of the sauce and layer it with the chicken, the rest of the cheddar cheese, and the blue cheese crumbles.
  4. Bake pizza for about 14 to 18 minutes — keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!
  5. Remove from oven, garnish with green onions, and serve
Recipe adapted from the Food Network

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cookie Dough Football Dip

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

I think we can all agree, one of the best things about fall is the start of football season. Even if you don’t like the sport, everyone can appreciate the camaraderie among fans and delicious food at tailgates.

I’ve certainly made a lot of dips for game days, but surprisingly, I’ve never made one that was actually football-themed! I needed to change that. 

I've seen a lot of cheeseballs in the shape of footballs, but I wanted to do more of a dessert dip. As I was thinking about it, for some reason my mind went straight to cookie dough. I NEEDED to make a cookie dough dip.

I came up with a concoction that I thought would taste like cookie dough, and indeed it did! I only used Challenge butter and cream cheese of course. I prefer Challenge over every other brand because I know there are no hormones, additives, or fillers in their products.The taste is also superior to other brands because they use real cream.

The next stage of my plan was to mold the dip into a football. However, the dip was not firm enough to make any type of semi-spherical shape. So I refrigerated it for an hour and tried again. Nope. So I refrigerated it for 3 hours. Still nope.

I was pretty frustrated. It tasted delicious, and I definitely didn’t want to scrap the recipe. So I improvised. I spread it on a piece of plastic wrap and shaped it into something that resembled a football. But it needed a little something more, so I improvised once again and dyed shredded coconut green with food coloring by shaking it up in a plastic bag. I spread spread the coconut along the sides of the dip, and after adding a little melted white chocolate for the laces, it definitely looked like a football!

I wanted to tell you that long story about my dip struggles because it just goes to show that the internet can be deceiving. We only ever see everyone’s best pictures, and never the struggles and the mistakes that occurred before the picture was posted.  So even though this dip didn’t turn out the way I originally imagined, it was still delicious and cute.

Cookie Dough Football Dip
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup shredded Coconut, green food coloring (if desired)
  1. Use mixer to combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. 
  2. Stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
  3. Lay piece of plastic wrap on plate or platter. Dump dip onto plastic wrap and shape it so it looks like a football.
  4. Completely cover dip with remaining chocolate chips.
  5. Use melted white chocolate to draw on football laces
  6. Combine shredded coconut and a few drops of green food coloring in plastic bag and shake until coconut turns green
  7. Spread the coconut along the edges of the football so it looks like grass and chill until ready to serve
  8. I recommend serving it with pretzels or Vanilla Wafers.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Moon Pies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

For over the past year, we’ve been reporting on the Great American Solar Eclipse. Yes, you read that correctly—YEAR! So it’s hard to believe the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here.

You all know I love themes, so naturally the eclipse is the perfect chance for me to break out my favorite celestial treats. The number one item on that list is moon pies! A moon pie consists of two graham cracker cookies with marshmallow filling dunked in chocolate. They’re most common in the south seeing as they’re made in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

There are quite a few recipes for homemade versions online, but I didn’t like any of them because they seemed much too complex. I’m very particular about what I put on my blog. I only like to share recipes that I know I would want to make again and again. If I’m already bored while reading the ingredient, that’s a problem.

So I tested a recipe out, and then changed it, and then changed it again and again, and finally it was exactly what I wanted. The cookie is very similar to the shortbread cookie recipe I shared in 2016, but I replaced some of the flour with graham cracker crumbs.

Since there aren't many ingredients in the cookie, it's important that each ingredient is good quality. That's why I only use Challenge butter. Challenge butter is made with fresh milk and cream and is in the dairy case just 24 hours after leaving the farm.

Also, just recently, Challenge made the switch so all of their butter is wrapped in foil. This best preserves the taste of the butter, and it's less likely to pick up unwanted refrigerator odors.

As you can see in this picture, I added a few other items to my eclipse segment to make it more complete. I used a cookie cutter on Cosmic Brownies to make brownie stars. I also bought Sunkist, Sun Chips, Milky Way candy, and Eclipse gum.

Solar Eclipse Moon Pies
  • 1 cup Challenge salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 12 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons all-vegetable shortening
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cream the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy
  3. Slowly add in the flour and graham cracker crumbs and mix until just combined
  4. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes; allow to cool
  5. Spread 1 Tablespoon of marshmallow creme on cookie and sandwich with a second cookie
  6. Freeze cookie sandwiches for 10 minutes
  7. Melt chocolate chips and all-vegetable shortening in microwave in 30-second intervals until smooth
  8. Dip each cookie sandwich into chocolate until coated; place on wax paper and allow chocolate to set

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lemon Meringue Skillet Dip

Lemon meringue pie was always my grandfather’s favorite pie, but the only version I ever remember having was from Marie Calendar. Very few people make homemade lemon meringue pie anymore, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it seems like such a daunting task.

So in honor of my grandpa and Lemon Meringue Pie Day, I came up with a recipe that you can whip together in no time at all. There are just two easy steps to this Lemon Meringue Skillet Dip, and the ingredients are minimal.

The first thing I want to address are the eggs. With this recipe, and with most all meringue pie recipes, you will need to separate the egg yolks and the egg whites. Eggs separate most easily when they are cold, but egg whites whip best for the meringue when they are room temperature. So before you do anything else, I recommend first separating the egg yolks and whites so the whites can sit out at room temperature while you prepare everything else.

As you can see in the ingredient list below, there are very few ingredients in the filling. And it comes together just with a whisk. Which is good because you’ll need to save your muscles for the meringue.

So the way the meringue comes together is basically magic. Well, technically it’s science. You see, egg whites are 90% water and 10% protein. When you beat them together, air bubbles are distributed and the proteins cluster together causing it to foam. But the meringue is very delicate and at risk of deflating. So an acid like cream of tartar steps in to help stabilize the meringue by keeping the air bubbles in place. Even though you add just a small amount of cream of tartar, it’s very important for the structure of the meringue.

I’ve said this before (just a few sentences ago, in fact) and I’ll say this again — the meringue is very delicate! When it’s time to add the sugar, it’s important to only add it one tablespoon at a time so you don't knock the air out of the meringue. The meringue is done when you lift the beaters and the tip stands straight up. This is called a stiff peak.

For my last meringue tip, I want to talk about giving the meringue texture. Rarely do you see meringue spread smoothly on a pie. One of the things that makes it so beautiful is the texture, or curled peaks. You can create the curled peaks by using the bottom of a spoon to create an indent in the pie and then lift up. The meringue should lift up with the back of the spoon and curl up.

My intention for this recipe was that it would be eaten like a dip, but after trying it I realized it’s with something as delicious as this, there’s no shame in grabbing a spoon and digging in.

Lemon Meringue Skillet Dip
For the filling
  • 28 ounces sweetened condensed milk 
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
For the meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 8 Tablespoons of sugar
For the filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, egg yolks, and lemon zest; set aside
For the meringue
  1. Combine egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until soft peaks form
  3. Switch mixer to high speed and add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time
  4. Continue beating until sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form
  1. Spread filling into bottom of 10-inch prepared cast iron skillet
  2. Spread meringue on top of filling; use back of spoon to form peaks
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue peaks start to turn brown
  4. Serve immediately with graham crackers 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

I only just recently discovered the benefits of including zucchini in recipes. I always thought people just added it in because they either couldn't get their kids to eat anything green or they had too much of it. But as it turns out, there are real benefits to adding zucchini to recipes, especially recipes with chocolate.

You see, cocoa powder can significantly dry out a recipe, far more than flour. So it's important to try to add as much moisture as possible. And that's where zucchini comes in. 

Zucchini is basically flavorless moisture. You really can't taste it at all. There are two ways to add it to baked goods: you can either shred it or puree it.

To shred a zucchini, all you do is cut off the ends and rub it against a grater. You'll get small, stringy pieces of zucchini and green flecks will still be visible. In most cases, this method is best for anyone who isn't bothered by the fact that there's a vegetable in their dessert. But that may cause some people to freak out.

So personally, I recommend pureeing your zucchini when adding it to a baked good, as you'll see in the recipe below. In fact, while you're at it, you can just blend all of the wet ingredients in a food processor so you don't have to worry about using a mixer.

Before you make these brownies, let me forewarn you, these babies are rich! You'll need to grab a glass of milk before diving in. And one of the things I love most about them is they get more moist as time goes on.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Yield: Makes about 16 brownies
For the brownies
  • 8 ounces zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (155 grams)
  • 3 Tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (56 grams)
  • 1/2 cup flour (60 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
For the frosting
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
For the brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare 9x9 pan with nonstick cooking spray and / or parchment paper.
  2. Add zucchini, brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract to food processor and puree until no zucchini chunks remain
  3. In medium mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add wet ingredients to bowl and stir until just combined.
  4. For the frosting
  5. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let brownies cool for at least a half hour.
For the frosting
  1. Combine chocolate chips and milk in small bowl; heat for 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
  2. Pour frosting over brownies and let set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur  Flour Company

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chili Dog Bake

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

My first experience with cooking hot dogs began when I was a babysitter in middle school for a family with four children. It can be hard to get young kids to all agree on one thing to eat for dinner, but fortunately, all these kids ever wanted was hot dogs and sauerkraut (yes indeed, they were German).

But as you can imagine, plain hot dogs get a little boring after a while, so I had to spice things up. Sometimes I made “octopus” hot dogs. I just cut the bottom of the hot dog into eight parts so  it looked like tentacles.

Then the kids started requesting all kind of animals, like “giraffe” hot dogs and “zebra” hot dogs, but those were a little too complicated. So that’s when my famous hot dog casserole was born!

What’s that you ask? You bake hot dogs in a dish with sauerkraut and cheese. Sound disgusting? That’s because it probably was (I never tried it). But the kids loved it!

I was thinking about that hot dog casserole recently when it occurred to me I could use the same concept to make chili dogs for a crowd.

One of my favorite tricks, especially when you’re cooking for a group of people, is to transform your favorite dish into a casserole because it’s easier to serve multiple people at once. Remember that chicken and waffles casserole I made a few weeks ago? So much easier than making individual servings of chicken and waffles!

I decided not to use regular hot dog buns because I was afraid they would get soggy. Instead I cut a piece of puff pastry into eight strips and I wrapped each hot dog in the puff pastry strip. I chose puff pastry over crescent roll dough because it doesn’t expand as much, and I hate it when you take a bite and get a little meat with a lot of bread.

I baked the hot dogs for about 15 minutes in order to cook the dough before I covered everything in chili, onions, and cheese and baked it again. You’ll notice that I combined Challenge cream cheese with the chili. I did this because I wanted to make the chili a little thicker and creamier so it wouldn’t slide off the hot dogs completely. And I always use Challenge cream cheese because it’s hormone free and they use real cream. You can really tell the difference between Challenge and other generic brands.

As far as the chili goes, you can use store-bought chili, canned chili, or your favorite homemade chili! I’m going to share my favorite, easy chili recipe below. If you like planning ahead, you could make a big batch of the chili ahead of time and freeze it so it’s always available.

Chili Dog Bake
Yield: Serves 8 people
For the chili
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese

For the hot dogs
  • 1 package puff pastry dough
  • 8 hot dogs
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Directions
For the chili
  1. Heat large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and ground beef, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until it’s no longer pink or about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain beef and return to pan.
  3. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Stir in cream cheese.
For the hot dogs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the puff pastry sheet into 8 equal strips and wrap each hot dog in a strip.
  3. Place the hot dogs in a prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.
  5. Pour chili over hot dogs and add cheese on top (Optional: you can add more onions between the chili and cheese layer)
  6. Stick baking pan back in oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes and serve.

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