Friday, May 25, 2018

Strawberry Salsa

You all will not believe the birden (yes, I spelled it that way for a reason) I faced while trying to make this strawberry salsa.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend William installed an herb garden on my patio, and it has been a dream. I don’t know how I lived without it. It’s been so much easier to incorporate herbs in my cooking.

I was very excited to use my homegrown cilantro for this strawberry salsa, however, was greeted with an unpleasant surprise when I stepped onto my patio: aggressive birds.

The sweet blue birds I thought were visiting me à la Cinderella were actually protecting a nest they so conveniently built in the corner of my porch. So when I stepped outside, the birds all started diving at me. It was truly terrifying. And the worst part is they don’t seem to be the least bit afraid of humans. When I yell at them to move, they just look at me. In fact, I would go as far to say they taunt me! I thought playing hawk sounds on my phone would help, but it did not.

So I put in a request with maintenance to have the nest removed. Unfortunately, it only made the problem worse. Now the aggressive birds are real life angry birds. And now there are about 8 of them that continue to swoop at my sliding door and look inside, like they’re devising a plan to enter and attack me. Also, I think they’re starting to build a new nest above my patio door. So that’s wonderful.

But I have GREAT news. If you don’t have to dodge angry birds trying to take your head off, this recipe is extremely easy with just a handful of ingredients. And guess what — if you don’t like one of the ingredients, just omit it!

Strawberry Salsa
  • 1/2 pound strawberries, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced (for more heat, leave in seeds)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice (about the equivalent of juice from one lime)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and serve! Would be great with tortilla chips or served or chicken and fish. I like to serve with blue corn tortilla chips because I think it looks patriotic.
  2. This is best the day it’s made otherwise the strawberries start to get mushy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

7-Layer Buffalo Chicken 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!

Memorial Day is traditionally the kickoff to summer. Everyone loves to break out their grills and host cookouts. But not everyone can be the grill master. Someone needs to get the party started with appetizers!

My mom used to make a dip called “7 layer dip.” It seems to be very popular, and there are a lot of variations of it online. Three years ago, I saw one variation of it from Serious Eats incorporating buffalo chicken, and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. Why on earth didn’t I make it sooner?! So I finally tried it out, and it couldn’t be easier or tastier. I also love how unique it is. I bet if you show up to a party with it, no one will have had it before. Uniqueness plays a huge part when I’m trying to decide what to make for a party.

I always make sure to use Challenge cream cheese in my dips because it’s made form incredibly fresh 100% cream and there are no additives.

7-Layer Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing (you can use all ranch if you don't have blue cheese)
  • 2 cups chicken, shredded
  • 2/3 cups buffalo sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2/3 cups grilled or roasted corn kernels
  • 5 strips bacon, crumbled
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Tortilla chips or celery sticks for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. I used an 8x8 glass casserole dish so you can see the layers.
  2. Stir together the refried beans and wing sauce. Spread it in the baking dish as the first layer.
  3. Mix together the cream cheese, ranch dressing, and blue cheese dressing. Gently spread it on top of the refried beans.
  4. Mix together the chicken, buffalo sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Spread it on top of the cream cheese layer. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes minutes.
  6. Top it with blue cheese crumbles immediately when it comes out of oven.
  7. Layer corn, bacon, and green onions on top.
  8. Serve with tortilla chips or celery sticks.
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

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!

You know those people who look forward to going on long runs for "fun" or "to clear their minds"? I'm not one of those people.

I've never considered myself a runner, and honestly, I don't like it all that much. But last year, I started going to Orange Theory. Have you all heard of it? It's a workout class that combines a variety of exercises and puts an emphasis on getting your heart rate up in order to burn more calories.

A portion of the class is spent on the treadmill. The treadmill circuits combine sprinting and uphill intervals. It's helped me get stronger and faster. So much so that I got this crazy idea to run a half marathon.

Everyone talks about how much fun the Indy Mini is, so I decided to sign up one week before the race. Now mind you, I've never even run a 5K, and I somehow thought this was a good idea.

Good news: I survived, injury-free! But I was very very sore. I also had problems binge-eating afterwards. Does anyone else seem to have the problem? I''m usually able to resist sweets (believe it or not), but I've had a really hard time lately. And it has taken all of my strength to resist this chocolate chip cookie brittle that I made for National Chocolate Chip Day.

What I love about this brittle is you don't have to take the time to roll out the cookies. Just microwave, mix, and flatten on a baking sheet.

I used Challenge salted butter in these cookies because I think the salt cuts into the sweetness. I only bake with Challenge because they use real cream, and there are no hormones, additives, or fillers.

One last thing I want to point out: Make sure you rotate the pan frequently while it's baking! The brittle is very thin, so it's more prone to burning!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle
  • 3/4 cup Challenge salted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  1. Melt butter and brown sugar in microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute, or until butter is completely melted
  2. Add vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Whisk in flour.
  3. Press dough onto baking sheet. Try to press out the dough so it covers the entire surface of the baking sheet. 
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans on top.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until brittle is golden brown. Rotate brittle every 6 minutes while it's baking to prevent it from burning.
  6. Let brittle cool and chocolate chips harden.
  7. Once brittle is completely cool, break into small pieces.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Kentucky Bourbon Chex Mix

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!

It's official: I have confirmed that I am indeed a crazy person. On Sunday, I signed up to run my first half marathon, the Indy 500 Mini Marathon. But here's the thing, the race is this Saturday! So clearly, I didn't train for it, other than my daily Orange Theory class. Oh yeah, and you know how I said this is my first half marathon? Well, what I really meant to say was this is my first race of any kind ever. Like I've never even done a 5K before. And by the way, all of this is in the midst of me preparing for a presentation and a final exam for my last required anatomy and physiology class.

So like I said, I am indeed a crazy person! Although, I probably didn't need to convince you.

Speaking of races, the Kentucky Derby is also this Saturday. I'm clearly not going but I wanted to make a Kentucky Derby-themed recipe. But I also wanted the recipe to be appealing to those who aren't interested in the Derby.

Let me introduce you to this Kentucky Bourbon Chex Mix! Party mixes are always a win in my book, and this one is particularly addicting. The flavors are unique, but they all work very well together. And can I just mention for a second that this is so incredible easy to make. Skills required include microwaving and mixing. That's pretty much it!

Kentucky Bourbon Chex Mix
  • 2 cups Corn Chex
  • 2 cups Rice Chex
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex
  • 1 cup pretzels
  • 1 cup bagel chips
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits or cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3-4 Tablespoons bourbon, depending on taste preference
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare 2 baking sheets by either spraying it with nonstick spray or by lining it with parchment paper
  2. Mix together Chex cereals, pretzels, bagel chips, pecans, and bacon bits.
  3. Combine butter, brown sugar, and honey in microwave safe bowl and melt for 30 seconds, or until mixture is completely melted.
  4. Wait 2 minutes for it to slightly cool, and add bourbon and chipotle seasoning.
  5. Pour sauce over dry ingredients and stir to combine
  6. Distribute mixture evenly between 2 baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

No-Mix Strawberry Dump Cake

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've talked about how agonizingly difficult it can be to come up with "original" and "unique" recipes. Sometimes I spend hours and hours of time trying to create new, never-before-seen-anywhere-else content for my blog.

All I wanted for this recipe was to celebrate the start of strawberry season in Indiana with the easiest dessert possible. My goal with this is for someone to be able to grab fresh Indiana-grown strawberries from either their own garden or grocery store and prepare a tasty dessert in just a matter of minutes.

Dump cakes are really popular, and that's what initially came to mind. The name of the dessert probably gives it away, but basically you just dump 5 ingredients into a cake pan and bake it in the oven. That’s it! You don’t have to pull out a single mixing bowl, spatula, or whisk! I didn't mix anything at all because I just poured the melted butter on top.

No-Mix Strawberry Dump Cake
Yield: Serves about 10 people
  • 5 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice or juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Dump strawberries at bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish
  3. Pour sugar and lemon juice on top; this will bring out the natural juices of the strawberries
  4. Dump cake mix over strawberries and pour butter on top
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and serve warm

Friday, April 20, 2018

Creating filling recipes using food pantry staples

For the second year in a row, FOX59 is teaming up with Financial Center, Gleaners and Midwest Food Bank for our “Pack the Pantries” initiative. So like last year, I spent some time at a local food pantry (thanks to my friends at Old Bethel) to get an idea of the kinds of food available to food pantry shoppers. I then created several recipes using the same items available at the food pantry.

The breakfast recipe I have chosen to make involve eggs and bread. Midwest Food Bank-Indianapolis and Gleaners are part of the HATCH egg program which essentially insures that the food pantries will have eggs available as part of an ongoing effort to provide much needed protein for families in Indiana. 

It is very important to start your day off with some type of protein. You’ll feel more energized, and it will help keep you more full throughout the day. That’s why eggs are a great start to your morning. One egg has approximately 6 grams of protein, compared to cereal like Cheerios which only has 2.5 grams of protein per serving.

Also the pantry always has plenty of bread available. In fact, at Old Bethel food pantry, visitors can take as much bread as they can use.

Using both eggs and bread, I am making egg and toast cups for breakfast. I like this recipe because you can make up to 12 servings at one time if you have an oven and you’re trying to feed a family. Or, for those people without an oven, you can make one serving in the microwave using a mug. 

You can add whatever mix-ins the pantry has available to enhance the dish. For instance, when I visited there was cheese and salsa available, and that would be great to add to it.

For lunch, I will have egg salad sandwiches. I feel like it’s not a very popular dish anymore, but it used to be because I remember my grandma would frequently make it. It’s a good recipe to keep on hand since we know eggs and bread are always available at the food pantry. People without an oven can make the hardboiled eggs using either a hot plate or the microwave.

Also, you can adapt or add to the recipe depending on what produce is available. Lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes are definitely great additions when they’re available.

Side note: Did you know you can make hardboiled eggs in the microwave? Just place your eggs in a microwave-safe bowl in a single layer; cover completely with water, about 2 centimeters past the top of the eggs; microwave for 10 minutes; remove from microwave and place in cold water bath; peel once they’re cool enough to touch.

I have prepared a southwest chicken skillet for dinner! I was inspired to make this dish because during my visit to the pantry I saw salsa, green chiles, canned corn, beans, and rice. Salsa is one of my favorite ways to flavor any meal because it has a lot of flavor, but it’s still very healthy. So I always try to incorporate it in recipes when I see it.

I chose to make a chicken dish because chicken has been available every time I’ve visited. However, if by some chance it isn’t available, you can substitute any other meat or also canned chicken works well. I’ve used canned chicken on numerous occasions, and you cannot tell a difference. 

Another interesting thing I would like to point out is that I used chicken bouillon to make chicken broth. Chicken broth is not usually available at the pantry, and it expires within about a week of opening it. Chicken bouillon on the other hand will last a very long time. Even if you have to buy it, it’s not very expensive, and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.

One of the great things about this recipe is the rice cooks in the same skillet as everything else. I love getting everything done at once without having to use additional pots and pans.

And even if you don't shop at the food pantry, this dish is just very cheap in general to make. It's $1.08 per serving, and the serving size is actually a generous two cups of food.

Also, as with just about everything I’ve showed you today, you can substitute or add other canned vegetables to make it more filling, and it won’t have a significant impact on the taste because there’s so much stuff in it.

Easy Egg Salad
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced celery, if available
  • 1/2 cup diced onion, if available
  • 1/2 cup peas or other canned vegetable for added nutrition, if available
  • 1/4 cup mayo (or sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Bread and lettuce for serving
  1. Peel the eggs and cut into a rough dice.
  2. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the celery, onion, peas, mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Serve egg salad on bread with lettuce

Easy Egg Toast Cups
  • 6 slices of bread
  • 1/4 cup cheese, if available
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut crust off bread and flatten with rolling pin.
  3. Stuff bread into each cavity of a muffin tin. Bake for 5 minutes, or until bread is lightly toasted.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of cheese in center of toasted bread cup
  5. Crack one egg into each cup and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on how runny you like your egg yolk.
  6. Remove egg toast cups from muffin tin and season with salt and pepper.

Southwest Chicken Skillet
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 11-ounce can corn, drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 4.5-ounce can green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cheese, if available
  1. In a large skillet, mix together water and chicken bouillon. Add rice, chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, salsa, green chiles, and red pepper flakes to skillet and stir.
  2. Place lid on skillet and let mixture come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the skillet rest with the lid in place for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, sprinkle cheese on top, replace lid, and let sit for just a few minutes until cheese is melted.

Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue

I love the concept of fondue because it’s very much a social dining experience. There’s no bonding experience quite like having a group of people gather around a pot of melted cheese. But for some reason it seems to be a lost art. I think the problem is a lot of people try to make it, but realize it’s more than just melted cheese so they give up. Or they think they need a fondue set to make it. I’m going to address both of those problems in this blog post, sharing tips for achieving the creamiest fondue, regardless of whether or not you own a fondue set.

Firstly, it’s important to use grated cheese. I think it’s pretty obvious, but grated cheese results in a quicker, smoother fondue. Fortunately, you can find most any cheese grated nowadays. But it you are unable to get the grated version of your favorite cheese, I recommend sticking it in the food processor to save time.

Secondly, coat the grated cheese in cornstarch. The cornstarch protects the proteins and the fat in the cheese from breaking down and becoming clumpy and lumpy. Some recipes use flour, but I think that changes the taste of the fondue, making it more starchy. That being said, if you don’t have cornstarch you can substitute flour.

Thirdly, keep the heat low. If you start with the temperature too high, your fondue will get stiff. It takes patience, but it’s one of the most important tips! If you’re able to measure the temperature, it should be around 140 for 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fourthly, the acid in the wine is very important because the tartaric acid also helps keep the cheese proteins from breaking down and prevent clumping. Citric acid in lemon juice also works, but it’s best to have a combination of the two. You don’t need to buy an expensive wine because it won’t affect the taste much when you cook it. But keep in mind it should be a dry white wine for classic fondue.

Fifthly, slowly add the cheese. This helps with the melting process and once again helps prevent the fondue’s biggest enemy, clumping!

Now that it’s time to make the fondue, what are you going to put it in? There are several very good options if you do not own a fondue set.

You can make it in a slow cooker. The constant low heat is actually really great for making fondue and keeping it warm. I recommend making sure the pot is hot though before you add the ingredients.
The indirect heat of a double boiler also works really well.
Serve your fondue in a cast iron skillet. A cast iron skillet retains heat well. It will just be harder to maintain a constant temperature.
Essentially, the fondue set I have is just a ceramic bowl and a tera light. You could easily make your own version of a similar contraption.

Once your fondue is made, you can always use wooden skewers instead of special little dipping forks. Some good options for dippers are cubed bread, sausage, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, apples, potatoes, or anything else your brain can imagine.

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue

  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  1. Rub garlic cloves on inside of fondue pot until well-coated
  2. Add white wine and heat on medium until steaming
  3. Add spinach and artichoke hearts and continue to heat until spinach starts to wild
  4. Toss cheese with cornstarch until cheese is well-coated and add to pot one handful at a time on low heat.
  5. Stir and continue to add cheese until cheese is melted completely.
  6. Add lemon juice, salt, and white pepper
  7. Keep in pot on low heat until ready to serve
  8. If fondue thickens too much, you can add a splash of wine to loosen it a bit

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