Tuesday, March 29, 2016

3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken


Between my cooking segments and my recipe videos, I do a lot of baking for other people! And by now you probably think I just eat cupcakes and brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! But fortunately for my waistline, that is not the case.

When it comes to making dinner for myself, I try to make it as quick and easy as possible. Lately, many of my meals have consisted of this recipe for three-ingredient slow cooker chicken.

Three ingredients. Slow Cooker. No Fuss. ‘Nuff said.

What I love about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can use the chicken in tacos, on top of rice, as nachos, or even just plain. I love making a big batch for myself and then eating it multiple ways throughout the week.

I promise, it does not get easier than this!

3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken
Yield: Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar of your favorite salsa
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) packet taco seasoning

Directions
  1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place chicken breasts into slow cooker, sprinkle taco seasoning on top of chicken, dump salsa on top.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours or until easy to shred.
  4. Once chicken is ready, shred with two forks. Mix with remaining salsa in slow cooker.
  5. Serve on top of rice, tortillas, chips, etc.







Monday, March 28, 2016

Black Forest Cake in a Jar



Chocolate and cherry are a classic pairing. And Black Forest Cake is the perfect example of it. So decadent. So rich.

A traditional black forest cake has four layers of chocolate cake with cherry filling between each layer, and it’s frosted with whipped cream frosting.

Sounds delicious right?

But it also sounds like a LOT of work and a nightmare to transport! I’m just not so sure that I trust myself to transport a four-layer cake. That’s why I love the concept of mason jar cakes!

Mason jar cakes are exactly what they sound like – cakes in mason jars. Mason jar cakes are great because they’re easy to transport, they stay very moist, and you can still see all of the cake’s pretty layers.

So let’s talk about the chocolate cake. I RARELY ever use boxed cake mixes just because I don’t mind measuring out all of the ingredients, and I generally prefer the taste. But in this case I did, in fact, use a box Devil’s Food Cake. The reason being is that I’m trying to make a simplified version of Black Forest Cake, and you can’t tell a difference in taste due to all of the other layers. Also, I dressed up the box cake mix by using 1 stick melted Challenge butter in place of vegetable oil and 1 1/4 cups milk instead of water. Both ingredient substitutions make a boxed cake mix taste even better!

Next is the cherry syrup! Typically, Black Forest Cake is made by soaking a pound of cherries in Kirsch cherry liqueur. But I don’t have Kirsch cherry liqueur, do you? So I just omitted the liqueur. I personally don’t think it needs it. Plus, like I said earlier, I’m trying to simplify this recipe!

Lastly is the whipped cream! I make my own whipped cream because I prefer the taste and it only has three ingredients so why not! But, if you prefer, you can use store bought whipped topping and it will still be just as tasty!



Black Forest Cake in a Jar

Ingredients
For the cake

  • 1 (15.25) ounce box Devil’s Food Cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted Challenge butter
  • 3 eggs
For the cherry syrup

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 (12.5 ounce) bag frozen cherries
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For the whipped cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
For the chocolate cake

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine Devil’s Food Cake mix, milk, melted butter, and eggs in large bowl until just combined.
  3. Pour batter into 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  4. Once cake has cooled, cut cake into tiny cubes.
For the cherry sauce

  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add in cherries and toss.
  2. Place saucepan on low heat until frozen cherries begin to melt.
  3. Once a paste has formed around the cherries, increase heat to medium and keep stirring until all the liquid has come out of the cherries and mixture is boiling.
  4. Continue to stir until sauce it becomes very thick, about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Cool completely.
For the whipped cream

  1. Whip heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla on high until stiff peaks form. 
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembly

  1. Choose any size Mason jar. Stuff jar 3/4 of the way full with cake pieces.
  2. Add about 1/8 cup cherry sauce on top of cake pieces (it will most likely soak through the cake as opposed to just sitting on top.
  3. Top with whipped cream.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Will stay fresh in refrigerator for about 4 days.


Cherry syrup recipe adapted from Lauren't Latest.




Monday, March 21, 2016

Easter Egg Cookie Dough Truffles


Easter is my favorite holiday. I love what it represents -- the resurrection, the empty tomb and the promise of new life. Growing up I loved getting together with my cousins and going on Easter egg hunts. And I love sitting around the table for a big family dinner with ham and cheesy potatoes and plenty of desserts. Dessert was always the most important part of our family dinners!

I love making festive Easter desserts! Usually I make carrot cake, but the past two years I've decided to mix things up. Last year I made these adorable Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests, and this year I made super indulgent cookie dough truffles!

I decided to make truffles mainly because I wanted to shape them into eggs and decorate them. The first time I made them, I dipped the eggs in white chocolate and then decorated them using a pastry bag with white chocolate that I had dyed with food coloring. And that was a lot of work. So the next time I made them, I dipped them into white chocolate that I had already colored with food coloring. As you can see in the pictures, I used a little bit of red coloring to turn the eggs pink. That was much easier! 

If you're not a fan of food coloring, you can keep the truffles white and decorate them with sprinkles! Or if you prefer dark or milk chocolate, go ahead and dip the eggs in that! 

Also, important reminder, the cookie dough in this recipe is not cooked, so you cannot use just any old cookie dough. As you can see below, there is no egg in the recipe. That is important because eating cookie dough with raw eggs can give you salmonella and no one wants to get sick, especially not on Easter! 



Easter Egg Cookie Dough Truffles
Yield: Makes about 12 truffles

Ingredients
For cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Challenge butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (156 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
For chocolate coating
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until smooth or for about two minutes. Mix in the milk and vanilla. 
  2. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated. 
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  4. Cover and chill dough for 10 minutes or until it’s firm enough to handle.
  5. Form the dough into one-inch balls and then shape into eggs. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the sheets in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
  7. Stick one toothpick into a truffle and dip it into in the white chocolate until they’re completely covered. Return truffle to parchment paper. Chill until set.
  8. Store chilled in an airtight container.




Monday, March 14, 2016

Samoas Pie


I love Girl Scout cookies so much! Girl Scout cookie-selling season was always my favorite season growing up. I worked my rear end off to be the top cookie-seller! I walked around the neighborhood in below-freezing temps, working up the courage to knock on every single door to sell my cookies. It was a nerve-wracking experience for young, shy Kylee, but it really shaped my character. And there was nothing more gratifying than selling a box all by myself.

For me, Samoas cookies were always the real MVP of Girl Scout cookies. Some areas of the country call them Caramel deLites, but I don't like that name. First of all, they are so much more than a caramel cookie! They are a caramel, chocolate, coconut, shortbread cookie all wrapped up into a delicious treat. Second of all, that’s not even how you spell delight. Case settled.

Okay, now I’m done venting. So let’s talk about pie. Pie is supposed to make people happy!

You can use any pie crust your heart desires for this particular pie. You can use a graham cracker pie crust, a chocolate pie crust, a shortbread pie crust or a cookie pie crust. The recipe below is for a cookie pie crust, and that’s what you’ll see in my pictures. But like I said, it doesn’t really matter because the real MVP of this pie is the filling (I’ve never said that phrase before in my life, and I’ve already used it twice in this blog post).

I’ve been calling this pie a “no-mix” pie because you don’t need to mix the filling at all. Just dump everything on top of the pie crust. Have you ever heard of magic bars? It’s kind of the same concept. And I like that concept because it’s one less bowl to clean. And you know what the secret to a girl’s heart is? Less dishes.

After you finish the pie, make sure to let it set for at least 4 hours, otherwise you’ll have a hot mess.



No-Mix Samoas Pie

Ingredients
For the crust
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (104 grams)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (157 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (for drizzling on top after pie is done)
Directions
For the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and salt and stir until jut combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pie dish and smooth the top.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes; the crust will not appear done, but that’s okay because it’s going back in the oven.
  6. Remove pie crust from oven.
For the filling
  1. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of pie crust.
  2. Sprinkle coconut on top of chocolate chips
  3. Pour sweetened condensed milk on top of coconut.
  4. Pour caramel on top.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove pie from oven.
  7. Using a spoon or Ziploc bag or pastry bag, drizzle melted chocolate on top of pie in long, parallel lines.
  8. Allow pie to cool at least 4 hours or overnight before serving; pie needs plenty of time to set.
  9. Keep pie an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cinnamon roll pancakes with maple cream cheese glaze


If you ever needed a reason to eat pancakes, today is the day! It’s National Pancake Day! I decided I wanted to make something super decadent to celebrate this special day. Immediately the first thing that came to my mind was cinnamon roll pancakes!

There’s a restaurant in Bloomington on Kirkwood Avenue called Village Deli. Village Deli has the most amazing, bigger-than-your-head pancakes. And even better, they have cinnamon roll pancakes! It is life-changing. And since I haven’t been to Village Deli since I graduated in 2013, I NEEED to recreate it!

I started scouring the internet to figure out how I could recreate this blissful breakfast item. And after some research, I discovered that you could essentially turn any pancake into a cinnamon roll pancake by adding a cinnamon sugar swirl to the batter while it’s cooking. Genius, right?!

And of course, cinnamon roll pancakes wouldn’t be complete without a cream cheese glaze. I made a simple glaze using just butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and a little maple syrup. These pancakes are great with just regular maple syrup, but they’re FANTASTIC with cream cheese glaze.

So treat yourself on National Pancake Day by combining two of America’s favorite breakfast foods into one glorious treat!




Cinnamon roll pancakes with cream cheese glaze
Yield: Makes about 8 pancakes

Ingredients
For the cinnamon filling
·      4 tablespoons butter, melted
·      1/3 cup brown sugar (69 grams)
·      1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the cream cheese glaze
·      4 tablespoons butter
·      4 ounces cream cheese softened
·      1 cup powdered sugar (126 grams)
·      1/4 cup milk
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract (can replace with maple extract)

For the pancakes
·      1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
·      3 tablespoons brown sugar (39 grams)
·      2 teaspoons baking powder
·      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·      1/2 teaspoon salt
·      1 cup sour cream (227 grams)
·      4 tablespoons melted butter
·      1/2 cup milk
·      1 egg

Directions
For the cinnamon filling
1.     Combine melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in mixing bowl.
2.     Fold a quart-size Ziploc bag over a cup and pour cinnamon sugar mixture into bag. Seal and set aside.

For the cream cheese glaze
1.     In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter.
2.     Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
3.     Remove from heat and slowly whisk in powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside while you prepare pancakes.

For the pancakes
1.     In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2.     In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, melted butter, and egg.
3.     Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
4.     Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Use 1/4 cup measuring cup (or an ice cream scoop) to add batter to the pan. Let the pancakes set on the skillet for about 2 minutes.
5.     Snip the corner of your bag of cinnamon filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter to form a large swirl. Do not get to close to the edge of the pancake.
6.     Let pancakes cook about 3 more minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and the underside is golden brown. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula under the pancake and gently flip.
7.     Cook an additional 3 minutes, or until the other side is gold brown as well.
8.     Remove pancake from skillet and put them on a plate, swirl side up.
9.     Before cooking the next batch of pancakes, wipe all cinnamon sugar filling from the griddle.
10. Drizzle cream cheese glaze on top of pancakes and serve warm.


Recipe adapted from No. 2 Pencil



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