Thursday, July 28, 2016

Milk Chocolate Candy Cookies


I have a bit of a confession to make – sometimes I get very self-conscience about my baking.

I always taste-test my baking, but even afterwards I sometimes still have doubts.

This is the issue I had when making chocolate cookies for the first time this week. I had never made chocolate cookies; actually, I don’t think I had ever eaten chocolate cookies either.

So after taking the first bite I wasn’t so sure about them.

The texture was definitely right; they were soft and chewy, but I had doubts on the flavor. They were very… chocolatey (surprise). They weren’t something I would choose for dessert, and I think that’s what threw me off.

Fortunately, I know plenty of people who are willing to test my baked goods! And my parents and my co-workers were happy to report the cookies were delicious. Several co-workers told me they were the best chocolate cookies they’ve ever had.

So I think this is a lesson in self-confidence. I need to perpetually remind myself that being overly critical of anything won’t make the situation better. Instead, it causes more anxiety, and I miss out on enjoying delicious chocolate cookies.



Milk Chocolate Candy Cookies
Yield: Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box of milk chocolate cake mix
  • 8 Tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese,
  • 1/2 cup M&M's
  • 1/2 cup chopped Snickers
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels
 Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix, melted butter, and egg.
  2. Add cream cheese and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in M&M’s, Snickers, and morsels.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes so it’s easier to shape into a ball.
  5. Once dough has been chilled for a half hour, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
 Recipe adapted from Inside BruCrew Life






Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jalapeño Popper Hot Dogs


Hot dogs are the epitome of a classic, all-American meal! Most people don’t go to a baseball game without eating one, and hot dogs are the stars of backyard barbecues.

But I have to be completely honest with you all – I’m not the biggest hot dog fan. I know, shame on me! It’s not that I don’t like them. If we’re being honest, there probably isn’t a food I dislike (Oops, double negative! I hope my English teacher isn’t reading this!)

It’s just that most of the time I would prefer something else. So when I was asked to do a segment for National Hot Dog Day, it was a little bit of a challenge because I wanted to come up with something that I would actually choose to eat!

As I was thinking about it, for some reason I couldn’t get jalapeño poppers off of my mind. I have no idea why considering I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a jalapeño popper. Maybe it’s because I planted jalapeños in my garden for the first time this year. Who knows! But anyway, it was at that moment that I knew I wanted to use that as the foundation for my hot dog treat.

What I ended up making was a cross between a cross between jalapeño poppers and pigs in a blanket. And just like everything I make, it is super easy!

You start by making a mixture with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and a little cumin and garlic powder. I use Challenge cream cheese because it’s definitely creamier than all other cream cheeses and I know there are no hormones in the product.

Then you just open up a can of refrigerated crescent rolls (probably the trickiest part of the recipe), spread the cream cheese mixture on top, and layer on sliced jalapeños. I generally use about half a jalapeño per crescent roll, but you can add more or less depending on your taste preferences. Stick half a hot dog on top of that, roll it up, and pop it in the oven! If you’re feeling really bold, you can serve it with jalapeño mustard, recently I even saw jalapeño ketchup!



Jalapeño Popper Hot Dogs
Servings: 12 jalapeño popper hot dogs

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (8 ounce) package crescent roll dough
  • 4 jalapeños, sliced
  • 4 hot dogs, cut in half
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cumin, and garlic powder in bowl
  3. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray
  4. Remove crescent roll dough from packaging and lay out the 8 dough triangles on the baking sheet
  5. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on each crescent roll.
  6. Layer jalapeño slices on cream cheese mixture
  7. Stick hot dog on top and roll up crescent roll dough
  8. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Serve hot with ketchup and mustard





Tuesday, July 5, 2016

S'mores Dessert Cheese Ball


It isn't a party until you have a cheese ball, right? I decided to try something new and made a dessert cheese ball. I've tried dessert cheese balls at craft shows and fairs, but I had never attempted to make one myself.

Typically, dessert cheese balls start with cream cheese and powdered sugar, and you cream them together similar in the way in which you would a cheesecake.

I wanted to make a s'mores cheese ball because s'mores always seem to be a fan favorite. Plus, I thought it would compliment the graham cracker dipping sticks well!



S'mores Dessert Cheese Ball
Ingredients
For the cheese ball
  • 16 ounces Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow crème
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
For the outer coating
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow bits
Directions
  1. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and marshmallow creme. Beat until well combined. Add 1 cup mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.
  2. Form ball as best as possible and place cheese ball in freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. While cheese ball sets, combine graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips and marshmallow bits on large plate and mix.
  4. Remove cheese ball from freezer and roll in graham cracker mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour and server with graham crackers.
Recipe adapted from Chef in Training




Monday, July 4, 2016

Red, white, and blue tie-dye cupcakes


Working in the news industry, I spend a good portion of my day hearing about friction and animosity amongst citizens and politicians and authorities. And some days it feels like it's impossible for any of us to get along.

But one thing we can certainly all agree on is that we live in the greatest country on Earth and nothing will ever change that. And that's why Independence Day will always be one of my favorite holidays.

Now that I've got that out there, I suppose I should talk about the food considering this is, in fact, a food blog!

Like most every other family in America, my family always "grills out" for the Fourth of July. Some years it's hot dogs and brats, some years hamburgers, sometimes ribs, and some years we make all of the meats! And of course, we always have plenty of sides like baked beans, corn on the cob, and potato salad (or my favorite, grilled sweet potato salad). The dessert, on the other hand, changes from year to year. Usually we eat whatever Kylee is in the mood to bake.

A few years ago, I made these awesome M&M cookies that are super adorable when you bake them with patriotic M&Ms.

Last year, I made no-bake mason jar cheesecakes. Everyone loved the idea of getting to take home the mason jars as a party favor, and it was actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go.

This year, I spent foreverrrr trying to figure out the perfect patriotic dessert. It was so hard deciding on just one because there are so many that I want to bake. Honestly, I just wish I could spend the whole month of June baking red, white, and blue desserts. I know, I'm crazy.

Anyway, I decided to go with red, white, and blue tie-dye cupcakes. I've always wanted to try tie-dye cupcakes and this was the perfect opportunity. And even better, it was much easier that I ever imagined!

Tie-dye cupcakes are less a recipe and more a technique. So if you want to take a shortcut, you can start with a white cake box mix. However, I don't recommend taking a shortcut when it comes to the frosting. Homemade frosting is just way superior to canned frosting, and it's super easy to make.



Red, white, and blue tie-dye cupcakes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the cupcakes
  • 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (208 grams) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (201 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted Challenge butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting
  • 1 cup  unsalted Challenge butter softened (2 sticks)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (630 grams) 
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
Directions
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In large bowl. combine sugar with melted butter. Whisk in eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until combined. 
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix.
  5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Tint 1 bowl with red food coloring and 1 bowl with blue food coloring.
  6. Add one spoonful of red batter to each muffin cup (I use a cookie scoop for this). Layer a spoonful of blue batter and white batter on top. Liners should be about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.
For the frosting
  1. Cream softened butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat with mixer until combined.
  3. Add heavy cream, vanilla, and salt, and beat for about 3 minutes.
  4. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more heavy cream (1 teaspoon). If frosting is too sweet, add more salt (1/4 teaspoon).
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes; I used a Wilton 1M open star decorating tip to achieve the results above. Start you frosting in the center of the cupcake and swirl it out and up.
  6. Store cupcakes in airtight container on countertop for 3 days or in refrigerator for 5 days. Do not store cupcakes where there will be decorate sunlight.

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction




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