Thursday, November 30, 2023

Eggnog snickerdoodles

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! 

Eggnog can be divisive. Bad eggnog tastes like thick sludge, kind of like Pepto-Bismol. I find that is most often the case with store-bought varieties. Good eggnog, on the other hand, is like a frothy drinkable custard. The ingredients are basically the same ingredients in ice cream: eggs, milk/cream, sugar, warm spices (plus booze). 

One thing that isn't divisive--eggnog-flavored snickerdoodles. These cookies have the same characteristics everyone loves about snickerdoodles (cracked surface, soft and chewy center, a little tangy, and cinnamony) with the addition of fresh nutmeg and booze. And I'm not talking about rum extract. I use the real thing in this recipe.

Let's discuss some ingredients in this recipe:

Brown butter: When we brown butter, the water in the butter evaporates. Two sticks of butter weigh 226 grams. When I weighed the butter after I browned it, it weighed 181 grams. That’s 45 grams of water evaporation. That’s important because we’re going to replace the butter's water content with booze. Additionally, if you're taking the time to brown butter, it's imperative you use a good quality butter. I always use Challenge unsalted butter. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream. That’s it. Nothing artificial or synthetic. 

Bourbon: Eggnog is a boozy drink, and I wanted actual booze, not rum extract, in the dough. But if you add too much liquid to cookie dough, it can cause the cookies to spread too much. But because we evaporated the water from the butter, we now have room for liquid in the form of bourbon. Make sense? You can use either bourbon or rum. I used bourbon because it's what I had.

Freshly grated nutmeg: Ground nutmeg has a pretty short shelf life before it loses potency, whereas whole nutmeg can last several years. And who knows how long the ground nutmeg has been in the jar before you pick it up from the store. That said, freshly grated nutmeg is important for achieving the best flavor!

Cream of tartar: This is what differentiates a snickerdoodle from a sugar cookie and gives them a distinctive, slightly tart (hence "tartar") taste. Also, it prevents the sugar from crystallizing in the cookies, resulting in a soft, chewy texture.

Eggnog snickerdoodles

Yield: Makes about 24 cookies

Time: About 45 minutes


For the cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 450 grams (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 350 grams (1 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg and 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons bourbon or rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the coating

  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Heat butter in stainless steel pot with high sides over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. Butter will sizzle and foam. Once milk solids look golden brown, remove pot from heat and pour butter into mixing bowl. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool and solidify.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two baking sheets with nonstick spray, silicone mats or parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Remove mixing bowl with butter from refrigerator. Add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. Add egg and egg yolks one at a time with mixer on low speed. Add bourbon and vanilla bean paste and beat for another minute. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  6. Add flour mixture to bowl. Mix on low speed until flour is just combined. Set dough aside.
  7. Make coating by combining sugar with nutmeg in small bowl.
  8. Measure out 35 grams of dough, about the size of a golf ball, and roll into ball. Roll dough ball in coating. Use spoon to coat dough balls a second time, ensuring they're completely covered.
  9. Bake cookies for about 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set. Rotate pans halfway through bake time.
  10. Remove baking sheet from oven and cool for several minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Brown butter cashew pie

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'm not entirely sure why pecan pie became the most popular nut pie. As someone whose snacking habits resemble those of a woodland creature, I eat a lot of nuts. And while I like pecans, I think cashews are far superior. Yet, I have never encountered a cashew pie. So I wanted to change that! 

Cashews are softer and a little sweeter than pecans. They taste almost buttery--all characteristics that would be tasty in a pie. When developing a recipe, I ask myself what flavor profile I want to achieve. For this pie, I wanted something complex and toasty with notes of caramel. Here's what I did to achieve that.

First, I toasted my cashews. Always, always toast nuts before using them in a recipe. A little heat "blooms" the nuts, allowing them to release essential oils that make them taste (for lack of a better term) nuttier. It also caramelizes the surface of the nuts, which means more flavor.

Second, if we toast the nuts, we should also brown the butter. Brown butter is butter cooked past the melting point so the milk solids caramelize. This results in a nutty, caramel-like flavor. You can make brown butter by melting butter on the stove. The butter will sizzle, bubble, and foam, and then you'll see amber-colored flecks on the bottom. Start with a good quality butter for the best flavor. I always use Challenge unsalted butter. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream. That’s it. Nothing artificial or synthetic. 

Third, there are two types of corn syrup: dark corn syrup and light corn syrup. Using the two interchangeably won't affect the structure of the recipe, but it will affect the flavor profile. Light corn syrup tastes mild with hints of vanilla. Dark corn syrup contains molasses and has a more robust, deeper sweetness. That's why I use dark corn syrup in this recipe.

There is one more ingredient that will contribute to the flavor profile we're trying to achieve: bourbon. The alcohol in bourbon cooks out during baking, resulting in a rich, nutty flavor that really enhances the other flavors.

Once you toast the nuts and brown the butter, the filling for this pie quickly comes together!

A quick word on pie dough: You can make pie dough and store it in the refrigerator 2-3 days in advance. Or you can store it in the freezer 3 months in advance. Just make sure to pull it out of the freezer 24 hours before trying to roll it out. If you choose to buy pie dough, I recommend using one make with all butter. In my opinion, the Trader Joe's pie crust is the only pie crust worth buying.

Brown butter cashew pie

Yield: 8 - 10 slices

Time: About 90 minutes


  • 6 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) cashews, toasted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c (240ml) dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 c (100g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dough for 1 (9-inch) pie crust


  1. Heat butter in stainless steel pot with high sides over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. Butter will sizzle and foam. Once milk solids look golden brown and smell nutty, remove pot from heat and pour butter into bowl. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread cashews in even layer on baking sheet.
  3. Toast cashews for 10 minutes in oven, stirring every few minutes. Cashews are done when lightly browned.
  4. Whisk eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Add cooled brown butter. Set aside.
  5. Roll out chilled pie dough into 12-inch diameter circle. Place dough in 9-inch pie dish. Fold overhanging edges back over itself to create sturdier crust. Use fingers to flute edges.
  6. Spread toasted cashews evenly inside bottom of pie crust. Pour filling over cashews.
  7. Place pie on baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is just set. If necessary, place crust shield over pie edges if crust is browning too quickly. Or tent aluminum foil over top of pie if it is all browning too quickly.
  8. Remove pie from oven and place on cooling rack.
  9. Slice and serve pie with whipped cream or ice cream once cooled.
  10. Store leftover pie in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Prepare for Thanksgiving weeks in advance with freezer-friendly recipes

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! 

Sit back, relax, and say goodbye to the crazy week leading up to the big feast. Did you know you can prepare and freeze (almost) your entire Thanksgiving meal now so it’s ready to go when the big day arrives, and you’re not duking it out against the grocery store crowds.

Which Thanksgiving foods can I freeze?

I learned from my time in culinary school and working in a bakery that you can freeze just about anything. But there are a few Thanksgiving foods I do not recommend freezing: custard pies, cream pies, meringue pies, amd anything with gelatin. I also avoid freezing cream or milk-heavy dishes because the flavor and texture may change, and it also may separate during the reheating process. For that reason, I’m not a fan of freezing green bean casserole or creamy soups.

Important note: If something is meant to be crispy, don’t freeze it! Example: Don't top your sweet potato casserole with nuts or add bacon or breadcrumbs to the top of your casserole before freezing it. Add those things right before your dish is placed in the oven.

Freeze before or after cooking

Before cooking: Pies, sweet potato casserole, dressing/stuffing

After cooking: Cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, cheesecake, bread/rolls

How to prep foods for the freezer

First, allow your food to cool (preferably for several hours in the refrigerator) before putting it in the freezer in order to prevent freezer burn.

Once cooled, choose the right freezer storage container. You need a vessel that is meant to go in the freezer. I really like using freezer-safe Ziploc bags because you can lay them flat and they take up little space. Bags not specifically labeled "freezer" may split and break.

I also like using aluminum trays. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and you don't have to worry about them breaking from the temperature swing.

Eliminate as much air exposure as possible to prevent food from drying out and developing freezer burn. For food in a container, I recommend laying plastic wrap on the surface of the food, wrapping the whole thing twice, and then wrapping in a layer of aluminum foil. For food in a bag, be a human vacuum sealer! Close the bag except for a tiny portion that you can stick a straw into. Use a straw to suck as much air as possible out of the bag, quickly remove the straw, and close up the bag. (Don't do this with raw meat, spicy peppers, or horseradish. Also, make sure you don't breathe back into the bag.)

Label everything! Write the name of the item, the date, and the baking instructions on your food before sticking it in the freezer.

How to heat after freezing

Pies go straight from the freezer into the oven. Don't thaw in order to avoid a soggy crust! Bake the pie for about 20 minutes longer than a pie that isn't frozen. Just make sure the crust doesn't burn. If it starts to get too dark cover it in foil.

Cheesecake can be thawed in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

Cranberry sauce and gravy can be thawed for 24 hours in the refrigerator before heating on stovetop to desired temperature.

Frozen rolls can be thawed on the kitchen counter, wrapped in foil, and heated in a 300-degree (or lower) oven until warm.

Sweet potato casserole and dressing/stuffing can be thawed for 24 hours in the refrigerator and bake as directed. If your casseroles require a crunchy topping, now is the time to add it!

Mashed potatoes can be placed in an oven-safe dish, covered, and heated at 350 degrees for about 20 - 30 minutes.

A lot of Thanksgiving recipes use butter, so when I'm prepping for the big day, I always make sure to have a few extra pounds of Challenge Unsalted Butter on hand. Challenge Unsalted Butter is 100% real fresh cream butter but with no salt added, which is why it's my preferred choice for all-around kitchen use.

Jalapeno cranberry sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon Challenge unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest


  1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and jalapeños and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add cranberries, maple syrup, water and salt to saucepan and increase heat to medium-high.
  3. Stir often and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until cranberries burst and juices thicken, about 10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and lime zest. Let cool.
  5. Before serving, taste and add more lime juice or zest if necessary.

To freeze: Cool sauce completely, pour into freezer-friendly zip-top bag, remove as much air as possible, and lay flat. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator before heating on stovetop to desired temperature.

Herby sweet heat chutney


  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 jalapeño, no seeds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups cilantro leaves (2 bunches)
  • 2 cups parsley leaves (1 bunch)


  1. Place dates in bowl. Cover with hot water and set aside.
  2. Toast cumin seeds on medium heat until they become aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Grind with mortar and pestle.
  3. Remove dates from water (keep water) and place in food processor with cumin, lime juice, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, and salt.
  4. Run food processor until it’s mostly smooth.
  5. Add herbs to food processor and pulse until mostly smooth, scraping sides periodically. Add reserved water from dates 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to get blades moving.
  6. Taste and adjust lime juice and salt if necessary.

To freeze: Pour into freezer-friendly zip-top bag, remove as much air as possible, and lay flat. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.

Instant Pot leek mashed potatoes


  • 4 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter
  • 2 cups leeks, white and light green parts, sliced into half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, peeled or unpeeled, cut into fourths
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or chicken or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (freshly cracked makes a big difference)


  1. Heat Instant Pot on sauté setting. Add olive oil. Once hot, cook leeks and garlic until transluscent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Deglaze pot with wine. Bring to simmer.
  3. Add potatoes and stock, cover pot, and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooking is complete, release pressure. Add remaining 2 Tablespoons butter and mash potatoes. to desired smoothness.
  5. Stir in buttermilk, cream, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Recipe adapted from Food52

To freeze: Cool mashed potatoes completely. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion mashed potatoes into balls using an ice scream scoop. Set mashed potato balls on parchment paper. Place in freezer. Once balls are frozen, place in freezer-safe zip-top bag and remove as much air as possible. Store up to 3 months. Mashed potatoes can be placed in an oven-safe dish, covered, and heated at 350 degrees for about 20 - 30 minutes.

Mushroom and leek dressing


  • 6 cups (about 8 ounces) sourdough bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Challenge unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 4 cups leeks, white and light green parts, sliced into half moons
  • 2 pounds white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (freshly cracked makes a big difference)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Gruyère cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread bread cubes on large sheet pan and bake until dry, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. 
  3. Add pancetta and cook, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Stir in leeks and cook until leeks are transluscent, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Stir in mushrooms, wine, tarragon, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it has evaporated.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  7. In large bowl, mix eggs, cream, stock, and 1 cup of Gruyère. 
  8. Add bread cubes and mushroom mixture, and stir well to combine. 
  9. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. 
  10. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pour dressing into 13 x 9-inch dish. 
  11. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyère and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is browned.

Recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

To freeze: Before baking, transfer dressing to freezer-safe zip-top bag and lay flat. Or before baking, transfer dressing to 9x13-inch aluminum pan, cover surface with plastic wrap, wrap twice more in plastic wrap and once in aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator and bake as directed. 

Classic dinner rolls


  • 4 - 5 cups (540 - 600 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 21 grams instant yeast (from 3 packets)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk, around 110 degrees
  • 5 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 5 Tablespoons Challenge unsalted butter, melted


  1. Combine 4 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in bowl of stand mixer. Add milk, 5 Tablespoons softened butter, and egg.
  2. Mix on low speed until everything is incorporated.
  3. Attach dough hook to mixer. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, then increase speed to medium, and mix until the dough is smooth, pulling away from sides, and slightly sticky, about 3 minutes. Add up to 1 additional cup flour if necessary,
  4. Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl and cover with towel or plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Remove covering and deflate dough by lightly pressing down with fingers.
  6. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces about 2 ounces each.
  7. Form dough into balls by cupping. fingers around dough and rolling it on work surface.
  8. Lightly grease 9x13-inch pan and arrange dough into 5 rows of 4.
  9. Cover rolls with towel or plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes at room temperature. 
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Internal temperature should register around 190 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  11. Remove rolls and brush with melted butter. 

Recipe adapted from Mom on Timeout

To freeze: Let rolls cool completely. Place in freezer-safe zip-top bag. Remove as much air as possible. Freeze up to 1 month. Frozen rolls can be thawed on the kitchen counter, wrapped in foil, and heated in a 300-degree (or lower) oven until warm.

Pumpkin basque cheesecake


  • 18 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour 
  • 5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom


  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Line springform pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
  2. Beat cream cheese, goat cheese, and sugar on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. On medium speed, mix in eggs 1 at a time.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and heavy cream and mix until smooth.
  5. In small bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cardamom. Sift dry ingredients into batter and mix on low just until combined.
  6. Place prepared pan on baking sheet and pour batter into pan. Transfer to oven and bake until lightly browned but still jiggly, about 65 to 70 minutes.
  7. Remove cheescake from oven and cool completely. It's okay if it cracks and sinks in center.
  8. Before serving, remove cheesecake from pan and pull away parchment paper. Serve at room temperature.

To freeze: Wrap cheesecake in plastic wrap several times, making sure plastic wrap touches all surfaces of cheesecake to prevent freezer burn. Place cheesecake in freezer-safe zip-top bag. Store up to 3 months. Place cheesecake in refrigerator 24 hours before serving in order to thaw. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Whipped feta with homemade pumpkin puree

Many people will tell you canned pumpkin puree is better than homemade pumpkin puree. But that is simply not true. Here's what they mean:  There isn't a noticeable difference between the two when used in baked goods. And since homemade pumpkin puree takes more effort than opening a can, why bother?

I'm here to tell you homemade pumpkin puree tastes significantly better than canned puree. I actually enjoy eating straight homemade pumpkin puree. Can you imagine doing that with the canned version? 

But I'll admit, it's true—there isn't much of a difference in baked goods. So that brings us back to the initial question: Why bother making homemade puree? Well, I think there are some instances in which it does indeed make a difference in taste, particularly in no-bake recipes, like the pumpkin whipped feta dip recipe that you'll find in this post!

What is pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin puree is the cooked and blended flesh of the squash with the seeds and skin removed. 

What type of pumpkin should I use for pumpkin puree?

Use sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. It’s the same thing but with different names. They weigh a couple of pounds and are usually 8ish inches in diameter. DO NOT use great big jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They tend to be bitter and stringier. 

What is the difference between canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin?

Canned pumpkin may be a combination of a few different types of pumpkins. It may even contain other types of squash. It is made by steaming the pumpkin, scraping out the flesh, and blending it.

Fresh pumpkin, on the other hand, is made from one type of pumpkin, and the flesh is roasted before it is blended. I think roasting yields the best flavor because excess water evaporates and the flesh slightly caramelizes in the oven resulting in a sweeter flavor. 

Visually, canned pumpkin is significantly darker in color than fresh pumpkin. Also, fresh pumpkin is thinner than the canned version.

Pros of using canned pumpkin

  • It is a consistent product. Every can contains the same moisture, texture and color. 
  • It’s convenient.
  • Most people say they can’t taste a difference when used in baked goods

Pros of using fresh pumpkin

  • It definitely tastes better on its own.
  • It’s cheaper.
  • You get pumpkin seeds which make a tasty snack.

When should I use fresh vs canned pumpkin?

I don’t think anyone will notice a difference in your baked goods as to whether you use fresh or canned pumpkin puree. I think it makes the most difference when using it uncooked, like in a dip. I think pumpkin puree straight from the can has a slightly metallic taste.

Homemade pumpkin puree

Yield: Makes 4 cups puree

Time: About 15 minutes prep, 60 minutes cooking


  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Wash and dry pumpkin and cut in half.
  3. Use ice cream or cookie scoop to scrape out seeds and pulp. Set aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds if desired.
  4. Brush avocado oil on flesh side of pumpkin halves.
  5. Place halves flesh side down on baking sheet. Use knife to pierce pumpkin skin several times.
  6. Place in oven for 60 minutes, flipping pumpkins to flesh side up halfway through cooking.
  7. Remove from oven and peel skin off each half.
  8. Transfer pumpkin to food process and process until smooth, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  9. Place pumpkin puree in refrigerator up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Whipped pumpkin feta dip

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 10 minutes


  • 10 ounces sheep’s milk feta cheese, block, drained from brine
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked


  1. Put feta in food processor and blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, thyme, honey, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer dip to refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
  4. Garnish with thyme leaves, honey, black pepper, and pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve with toasted pita, crackers, or baguette.

Notes: Do not use feta crumbles. Manufacturers coat feta crumbles with anti-caking agents to prevent them from clumping together. That means they won't blend into a smooth dip. Also, use sheep's milk feta, which is sharper and tangier than cow's milk feta, which can be bland.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Halloween pizzas


I promise the reason this pizza is black isn't because it was in the oven for too long! I purposely made the dough black with a very small amount of charcoal powder.

Food-grade activated charcoal powder is most commonly made by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are completely burnt, according to Eater. Then the ash is processed with steam at extremely high temperatures. 

It is odorless and flavorless and was very popular across social media about six years ago because of its ability to turn foods a deep black hue. 

Important: Don't eat activated charcoal powder if you take medications because it can bind with those medications and cause them to be less effective, according to CNN.  Of course, you can skip it if you aren't comfortable using it or if you don't have any.

Some tips for making homemade pizza

  • A pizza stone makes the best crust, but if you don't have one, your next best bet is to use a cast iron skillet.
  • Cook the pizza in an oven as hot as your oven allows. My oven goes up to 500 degrees, but pizza ovens are around 800 degrees.
  • I recommend using bread flour because it has more gluten and protein than AP flour, which results in a denser, chewier crust. Pizza flour also exists, and it works well here, too, but it's a little harder to find.
  • If you can't find pizza yeast, use instant yeast, and allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl for 30 minutes after kneading it.

Halloween pumpkin pizzas

Yield: 4 personal pizzas

Time: About 30 minutes


For the pumpkin pizza sauce

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the pizza dough

  • 2 cups (240 grams) bread flour (plus 1/4 cup reserved in case dough is too sticky)
  • 1 packet Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon food-grade activated charcoal powder
  • 2/3 cups warm water (130 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Possible toppings

  • Mozzarella medallions, cut into ghost shapes
  • Capers
  • Mozzarella pearls, cut in half 
  • Black olives, sliced
  • String cheese, pulled apart


For the sauce

  1. Combine pumpkin puree, parmesan, garlic, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

For the pizza dough

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If using pizza stone, place in oven while oven heats up.
  2. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and food-grade activated charcoal powder in bowl. Add water and oil and mix until it comes together. Dough should be a slightly sticky. If it's too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup additional bread flour.
  3. Knead dough for about 4 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. I prefer to use my hands.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Flatten and stretch dough with hands until each piece is about 8 inches in diameter. 
  5. Spread pumpkin pizza sauce on dough, place dough on pizza stone or onto baking sheet, and stick in oven. Bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Place toppings on pizza. Return to oven just until cheese melts.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.

For the toppings

  1. To make ghosts, place capers on mozzarella medallions to resemble eyes.
  2. To make eyeballs, place halved mozzarella pearls on sauce in pairs. Place black olive slices on center of pearls.
  3. To make spider web, place string cheese pieces in cross and X. Use string cheese pieces to make 2 giant circles on top of the cross and x. Make spiders with olives by using olive slices as the body and halved slices as the legs.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Witch Broom Puff Pastry


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! 

Today we are making witch brooms out of puff pastry! I first saw this idea on TIkTok, and it looked extremely simple. But then when I tried making it myself, I realized there's a significant learning curve. So I'm going to show you the easiest way I've found to make these.

We start with a roll of puff pastry. There are several different puff pastry brands you can buy, but my favorite brands are the Trader Joe's all butter puff pastry or Jus-Rol puff pastry which is near the refrigerated pie dough. The Trader Joe's puff pastry is seasonal, so if you like making puff pastry treats, now is the time to stock up on it.

Then we're going to cut the puff pastry into 12 pieces. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a pizza cutter to make 4 vertical lines with the sheet in landscape mode, flip it to portrait mode, and then make 3 vertical lines.

At this point you'll need to decide if you want to make sweet or savory witch brooms (or a combination of the two)!

Spread either the Challenge Salted Caramel Butter Snack Spread or the Challenge Everything Butter Snack Spread on half the puff pastry squares and top with either cinnamon-sugar mixture or shredded cheese. The Challenge snack spreads are really flavorful and make this step so easy!

Place a second puff pastry square on top of each square with filling, and use a pizza cutter (or knife) to make slits, making sure to leave a 1/2-inch border at the top. The slits are the brooms' bristles. Then you'll need to twist each slit to help keep them separate while baking so it doesn't just turn into one big glob.

Place a pretzel rod on the one end of the puff pastry square's border, and gently wrap it up in the dough, trying as best as possible to prevent the bristles from clumping together. Place the brooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush them with egg wash. If you're doing a combination of sweet and savory brooms, place them on separate baking sheets.

Bake the brooms until they're golden brown. Different puff pastry brands seem to have different baking times, so you may need to bake them anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

These brooms are best when they're eaten the day they're baked. If necessary, you can prep them and keep them wrapped in the refrigerator up to one day in advance.

Witch Broom Puff Pastry

Yield: 6 brooms

Time: About 45 minutes


For sweet witch brooms

For savory witch brooms


For sweet witch brooms

  1. Thaw puff pastry if necessary.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Cut puff pastry dough into 12 pieces.
  5. Spread butter on 6 of the pieces and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the butter. Cover each piece with the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry.
  6. Use pizza cutter to make vertical slits in dough leaving a 1/2-inch border at top. Twist each of the slits.
  7. Place pretzel on border and gently wrap dough around it.
  8. Place broom on parchment paper and gently spread the slits.
  9. Brush egg wash on puff pastry and bake for about 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

For savory witch brooms

  1. Thaw puff pastry if necessary.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut puff pastry dough into 12 pieces.
  4. Spread butter on 6 of the pieces and sprinkle the parmesan on top of the butter. Cover each piece with the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry.
  5. Use pizza cutter to make vertical slits in dough leaving a 1/2-inch border at top. Twist each of the slits.
  6. Place pretzel on border and gently wrap dough around it.
  7. Place broom on parchment paper and gently spread the slits.
  8. Brush egg wash on puff pastry and bake for about 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Coffee-flavored coffee 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! 

Coffee cake is not typically flavored with coffee—it gets its name from the fact that it's meant to be eaten with coffee. But on honor of National Coffee Day, I was inspired to make a coffee-flavored coffee cake so you can have your coffee and eat it, too! 

I incorporated coffee into each of the three parts of this cake: the crumble, the filling, and the cake itself.

There are a few things I want to point out about this recipe. 

Many coffee-flavored baked goods use espresso powder, but I used finely ground coffee instead. We purchase coffee beans from local Indianapolis roasters (primarily Helm, Blue Mind, and Tinker). These locally roasted beans have an incredible amount of flavor. So I ground about 20 grams of beans at the finest setting on our grinder, and I used the ground beans instead of espresso powder. If you don't have access to a grinder, you can use espresso powder instead.

Coffee concentrate is highly concentrated coffee. My husband and I make coffee concentrate using beans from our local roasters, and then we use that concentrate for cold brew. If you don't want to make your own concentrate, you can buy it from the store or you can brew a really strong cup of coffee and then let it cool.

As you can tell by reading this blog post, I put a great deal of effort in making sure I use high-quality ingredients to achieve the best tasting product. If I'm going through the effort in grinding my own beans and making my own concentrate, the rest of the ingredients I'm using better be high quality. That's why I only use Challenge butter in my recipes. It creams better, it tastes better, I could go on and on... and it contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients.

I hope you enjoy this coffee cake with your morning (or afternoon or evening) cup of coffee! Stay caffeinated, friends! 

Coffee-flavored coffee cake

Yield: Makes 1, 9x5-inch loaf cake

Time: About 2 hours


For the crumble

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted Challenge butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • Optional: 2 ounces pecans, chopped 

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (15 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) coffee concentrate
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 2 large eggs


For the crumble

  1. Mix brown sugar, flour, butter, ground coffee beans, and pecans until you have large crumbles. Set aside.

For the filling

  1. Mix brown sugar, flour,  and ground coffee beans. Set aside. 

For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mix sour cream and coffee concentrate.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and ground coffee with paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl. 
  5. Add eggs 1 at a time while mixing on low speed.
  6. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing until just combined and alternating with sour cream-coffee mixture in 2 additions. Scrape sides of bowl after each addition.
  7. Pour half the cake batter into the loaf pan. 
  8. Sprinkle filling mixture over top of cake batter.
  9. Spread remaining cake batter over filling and sprinkle crumb mixture over top of cake batter.
  10. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake is baked through. Cake should spring back when touched.
  11. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 20 minutes before cutting or trying to remove from pan.

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