Monday, June 27, 2022

Bald Eagle Cheese Ball Bites


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!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I love themed food, especially for holidays. A few years ago, I made a large bald eagle cheese ball for the Fourth of July. Yes, it's a little goofy-looking, but it's still one of my favorite things I've made. 

I decided to run with the bald eagle theme again this year, but this time I made mini cheese ball bites! I love that they're bite-sized.


I recently discovered that my food processor grates cheese, and it has made my life so much easier. Since I already had my food processor out, I decided to add the cream cheese and the ranch seasoning to it as well, and it made this recipe so incredibly easy. But if you don't have a food processor, you can, of course, mix everything by hand. I used Challenge cream cheese for this recipe because the taste and texture is far superior to anything else I've found on the market. That's because it's made with real milk, cream, and other natural ingredients.

I used a microplane to grate the mozzarella for the feathers because it creates smaller pieces.

You can make the cheese ball mixture and grate the cheese ahead of time, but I do not recommend putting it onto the cracker until right before you plan to serve them because crackers will get soft in the refrigerator,


Bald Eagle Cheese Ball Bites
Yield: Makes about 28 servings

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 6 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 (1-ounce) packet ranch dressing mix
  • About 28 round crackers
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
  • About 28 cashews
  • About 56 peppercorns
Directions
  1. Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese and ranch dressing mix. I find it’s easiest to do this in a food processor.
  2. Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, scoop cheese ball mixture onto round cracker.
  3. Press pecan pieces in single layer around base of cheese ball.
  4. Press mozzarella onto top of cheese ball.
  5. Insert one cashew halfway into center of cheese ball so it resembles a beak.
  6. Insert one peppercorn on either side of cashew so they resemble eyes.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Surprise, a baby!

 

You may have noticed I’ve been absent on my blog lately, but it’s been for good reason. I gave birth to my first child, Penelope, a few weeks ago. 

The weeks leading up to and after her birth have been truly chaotic. We bought a new house, sold our old house, had a baby, officially closed on the new house while we were still in the hospital, moved, and officially closed on our old house. Of course, we didn’t plan on making all of these stressful life changes at the same time. But a house in our neighborhood that we already loved went on the market just a few weeks before my due date, and we couldn’t pass it up. 

So after a crazy season of life, I am giving myself the luxury of taking this time to focus on my newborn. I plan to slowly roll out more recipes in the coming weeks, and I’ll resume my segments on FOX59 in July. But right now, my main focus is being a new mom. 



Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth Day Parfaits

 

I like to call these Earth Day parfaits the grownup version of dirt pudding. It has a chocolate cookie crust, pistachio cheesecake filling, and tasty decorations like white chocolate shavings, sprinkles, chocolate-covered strawberries, and gummy worms.


It's a simple, no-bake recipe, which of course I'm a big fan of. However, I want to point out the importance of following the directions with the heavy whipping cream. If you try to incorporate it without first whipping it, your cheesecake filling will be the consistency of toothpaste, which is especially gross in this recipe since the mixture is already green. 


But when you whip the heavy cream, you incorporate air into the mixture, and it will ultimately become whipped cream. That makes our result light and creamy. You could, of course, substitute store-bought whipped topping, but I guarantee it won't taste nearly as good. 


The decorations can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. I dyed white chocolate green and broke it up into little pieces for grass in the examples pictured in this post. I also dipped strawberries into orange candy melts so they looked like carrots. But if you want to do the bare minimum, you can just top your pistachio cheesecake filling with gummy worms.

Earth Day Parfaits

Yield: Makes about 8 parfaits

Time: About 1 hour

Ingredients

For the chocolate cookie crust

  • 1 (14.3 ounce) package chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 4 ounces butter, melted

For the pistachio cheesecake filling

  • 1/2 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup (57 grams) confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional: Gummy worms, orange chocolate-dipped strawberries, green sprinkles, green dyed white chocolate shavings, shredded coconut dyed green

Directions 

For the chocolate cookie crust

  1. Crush chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor or sealed bag.
  2. Mix with melted butter.
  3. Evenly distribute mixture amongst 8 cups.

For the pistachio cheesecake filling

  1. Whip heavy cream into stiff peaks on high speed, about 2 - 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Cream cream cheese on medium speed with pudding mix, both sugars, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth.
  3. Use spatula to slowly and gently fold whipped cream into pistachio mixture.
  4. Spoon pistachio cheesecake mix over chocolate cookie crumbs.
  5. Decorate tops of parfaits with gummy worms, orange chocolate-dipped strawberries, green sprinkles, white chocolate shavings, etc.




Thursday, April 14, 2022

Lentil Carrot Falafel

 

Central Indiana food pantries have seen a dramatic increase in demand over the last few months due to skyrocketing grocery prices, general inflation, and the recent spike in gas prices. Nearly 1 million Hoosiers are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to nutritious and affordable food, and one in six Indiana residents goes to bed hungry every night.


Each year, FOX59 and CBS4 team up with Midwest Food Bank and Gleaners Food Bank for an initiative called "Pack the Pantries." They are requesting financial donations, rather than food donations, because Gleaners and Midwest can buy in bulk at wholesale prices, which allows them to stretch the dollar much further.

A donation of just $1 provides about 5 meals. A $10 gift provides 50 meals and $25 covers 125 meals. Find out more information about how to donate here.


This lentil carrot falafel recipe is one of two recipes I developed for the Pack the Pantries initiative. I spoke with representatives from Gleaners about which items they have trouble moving off their shelves. Gleaners told me they have an abundance of canned pumpkin, lentils, and frozen carrots because shoppers don’t always know how to prepare these ingredients.

This recipe uses lentils, which are a great source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium. Lentils are high in protein and low in fat, which makes them a healthy and affordable meat substitute. Before starting this recipe, it's important to note that you must soak the lentils first. If you don't sufficiently soften the lentils,  you’ll encounter tough, crunchy pieces in your falafel. Soak the lentils in cold water overnight (8 to 12 hours) or in hot water for about an hour and 30 minutes. You don't want to cook the lentils--that will cause mushy falafel. You still want the lentils to have some texture. Also, it's important that you remove the excess moisture from the lentils before using them in the falafel recipe.


I used a food processor to make this falafel recipe, but I didn't puree the ingredients—I used the pulse function. Like I mentioned earlier, it's important for the falafel to have texture. You can still make falafel if you don't own a food processor. You'll just need to finely chop all the ingredients.

Traditional falafel is fried, but I baked the falafel instead to reduce the calories and fat. I liked this version just as well as the fried version. If you don't have access to a kitchen with an oven, you can use a toaster oven to bake them.

Serve the falafel by itself, with pita bread, or add it to salad. I also recommend adding a sauce like hummus, tahini, or tzatziki.

Lentil Carrot Falafel

Yield: 16 falafel

Time: About 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for 1 hour 30 minutes in warm water or 8 - 12 hours in cool water
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots or about 1 cup, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley, leaves and stems
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Oil for coating sheet pan
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat baking sheet in oil (I use avocado oil and line my baking sheet with aluminum foil). Set aside.
  2. Pulse lentils, onion, carrots, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, salt, and black pepper in food processor.
  3. Stir in flour and baking powder.
  4. Scoop into golf ball-sized portions and shape into patties.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. Serve falafel immediately.





Pumpkin Lentil Curry

Central Indiana food pantries have seen a dramatic increase in demand over the last few months due to skyrocketing grocery prices, general inflation, and the recent spike in gas prices. Nearly 1 million Hoosiers are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to nutritious and affordable food, and one in six Indiana residents goes to bed hungry every night.

Each year, FOX59 and CBS4 team up with Midwest Food Bank and Gleaners Food Bank for an initiative called "Pack the Pantries." They are requesting financial donations, rather than food donations, because Gleaners and Midwest can buy in bulk at wholesale prices, which allows them to stretch the dollar much further.

A donation of just $1 provides about 5 meals. A $10 gift provides 50 meals and $25 covers 125 meals. Find out more information about how to donate here.

This pumpkin lentil curry recipe is one of two recipes I developed for the Pack the Pantries initiative. I spoke with representatives from Gleaners about which items they have trouble moving off their shelves. Gleaners told me they have an abundance of canned pumpkin, lentils, and frozen carrots because shoppers don’t always know how to prepare these ingredients.

Many people associate canned pumpkin with Thanksgiving, but it's important to note that it's a squash with many health benefits. It's high in fiber, potassium, and beta carotene. It's a great thickener in many recipes, and it also adds a little sweetness. You can generally replace sweet potatoes or butternut squash in recipes with canned pumpkin.

This recipe also uses lentils, which are a great source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium. Lentils are high in protein and low in fat, which makes them a healthy and affordable meat substitute. Often with recipes that use dried lentils, you have to soak the lentils first. But that isn’t the case with the Pumpkin Lentil Curry recipe because the lentils will cook as the curry simmers. You can serve this curry with rice, additional vegetables, naan, or just by itself.

I also want to point out that you can make this curry on a hot plate if you don't have access to a stove in a kitchen.

Pumpkin Lentil Curry

Yield: 8 cups

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I prefer coconut oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion (6 ounces), small dice
  • 1 cup carrots, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 4 cup vegetable stock
  • 14 ounces canned coconut milk (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large pot. Sweat onion and carrots over medium low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger and saute 2 minutes or until garlic and ginger are fragrant.
  3. Add curry powder and salt and saute another minute.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and lentils and stir to ensure they’re coated in seasonings.
  5. Pour in vegetable stock, bring curry to boil, reduce to simmer, cover curry and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and stir in coconut milk.
  7. Adjust seasonings and serve.



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Carrot cake monkey bread (homemade and store-bought dough versions)

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!

Carrot cake is a classic Easter dessert. In fact, I’ve made several variations for the holiday in years past. This year I’m putting an entirely new spin on it by making carrot cake monkey bread.

Most people make traditional carrot cake with carrots and a combination of warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. I also like to make my carrot cake with pineapple and pecans. This monkey bread encompasses those flavors but in a unique form.

So what is monkey bread? Monkey bread is a cake formed from pieces of dough coated in cinnamon and sugar, covered with a sugary sauce, and baked in a bundt pan. You eat it with your hands, just like a monkey. Most people serve it as a sweet breakfast treat or as a dessert.


I’ve made several variations of monkey bread in the past, including a blueberry lemon monkey bread and a pineapple upside down cake monkey bread, using store-bought biscuit dough. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But with this variation, I really wanted the carrot cake flavors to stand out in the individual pieces, so I made the dough from scratch. But don't worry! I still included a recipe with store-bought dough.

There are a few differences between the version with the homemade dough and the version with the store-bought dough. The homemade dough is an enriched dough meaning it has fat and sugar. It is important to add the butter after the structure is established, otherwise the gluten network may not properly develop.

In the store-bought version, I can't incorporate the carrots into the dough, so instead, I scattered the carrots across the dough in the bundt pan with the crushed pineapple and pecan filling. Another difference: the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves are mixed in with the orange zest/sugar coating in the store-bought version.


Once your dough is ready, the process moves quickly. I like to set up an assembly line with my bowl of dough, melted butter, sugar coating, and bundt pan. Just dip the dough in the melted butter, then the sugar, and then place it in the bundt pan. Repeat the process with half the dough. Then add the pineapple and pecan mixture, and continue the assembly line with the rest of the dough.


Before baking the dough, I made a simple sauce by combining melted butter, brown sugar, and juice from the can of crushed pineapple. I poured it all over the top of the dough which will allow it to seep through to the bottom and coat each piece as it bakes.


Carrot cake isn't complete without cream cheese frosting! I used Challenge cream cheese for this recipe because I know they use hormone-free milk from local dairies, resulting in all-natural and high-quality products. 


Carrot cake monkey bread with homemade dough

Yield: 10 servings

Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk, lukewarm
  • 2 eggs (100 grams), beaten, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups (540 grams) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 grams) salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) Challenge unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c (200 grams) carrots, grated

For the coating

For the filling

  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained but juice reserved for sauce and frosting
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) pecans, chopped

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup reserved juice from can of crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup (213 grams) brown sugar

For the frosting

  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (57 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons reserved juice from can of crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

For the dough

  1. Combine milk and eggs in large mixing bowl. Add bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  2. Knead everything together, using a mixer or by hand, to form a smooth ball of dough. Mix on first speed for 5 minutes to combine the ingredients, increase to second speed until dough develops and pulls away from sides of bowl. This may take up to 10 minutes. Dough will be sticky, but it should pull away from sides of bowl. If it doesn't, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Add half of butter on first speed and mix 2-3 minutes or until fully incorporated. Add remaining butter and mix on second speed 4-5 minutes until fully incorporated and dough “sheets” when window is pulled.
  4. Add carrots and mix until evenly distributed throughout dough.
  5. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let double in volume at room temperature, around 90 minutes to 2 hours. 
  6. De-gas dough and transfer onto pastry mat or lightly floured surface. 

For the coating and the filling

  1. Prepare bundt pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix sugar and orange zest.
  3. Create assembly line with melted butter, sugar mixture, and bundt pan.
  4. Divide dough in half. Starting with first half, cut off small sections about 25 grams in size and shape into balls.
  5. Dip 1 ball in butter, then sugar mixture, then place in bundt pan. Repeat with remaining pieces from first half of dough.
  6. Mix pineapple and pecans and spread evenly over dough in bundt pan.
  7. Repeat dough assembly line with second half of dough until there is no more dough.
  8. Cover top of bundt pan with plastic wrap and rest for 20 minutes.

For the sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat butter, pineapple juice and brown sugar until mixture comes to boil.
  3. Remove plastic wrap from bundt pan and pour sauce over dough.
  4. Transfer bundt pan into oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Or until golden brown on top. If top browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Double check to see if dough is cooked through by testing with thermometer. Inside should register between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto serving platter.

For the frosting

  1. Beat together cream cheese with sugar, pineapple juice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Once monkey bread is cool, pipe frosting down sides of monkey bread.
  3. Serve monkey bread with any extra frosting for dipping.



Carrot cake monkey bread with store-bought dough

Yield: 10 servings

Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the rolls

  • 24 frozen dinner rolls, thawed, or 2 (16 ounce) cans refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) Challenge unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 c (200 grams) carrots, grated
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained but juice reserved for sauce and frosting
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) pecans, chopped

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup reserved juice from can of crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup (213 grams) brown sugar

For the frosting

  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (57 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons reserved juice from can of crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

For the rolls

  1. Prepare bundt pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Cut each roll or biscuit into 4 pieces and shape into ball.
  3. Mix sugar, orange zest, and spices.
  4. Create assembly line with melted butter, sugar mixture, and bundt pan.
  5. Dip 1 dough ball in butter, then sugar mixture, then place in bundt pan. Repeat with half of dough balls.

For the filling

  1. Mix carrots, pineapple and pecans and spread evenly over dough in bundt pan.
  2. Repeat dough assembly line with second half of dough balls. 

For the sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat butter, pineapple juice and brown sugar until mixture comes to boil.
  3. Pour sauce over dough in bundt pan.
  4. Transfer bundt pan into oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Or until golden brown on top. If top browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Double check to see if dough is cooked through by testing with thermometer. Inside should register between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto serving platter.

For the frosting

  1. Beat together cream cheese with sugar, pineapple juice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Once monkey bread is cool, pipe frosting down sides of monkey bread.
  3. Serve monkey bread with any extra frosting for dipping.







Thursday, April 7, 2022

Spring vegetable puff pastry tart

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

It’s finally that time of year! The heat is off, the windows are open, the flowers are blooming, and it’s snowing… It’s nature’s cruel April Fools’ Day joke on us all. You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to spring in Indiana!

One of my favorite parts about spring is the return of fresh, local produce. I turn my attention away from rich, hearty stews and instead focus on easy, breezy recipes. 

The dish I’m sharing with you all today is less of a recipe and more of a concept. I’m showcasing spring produce, like asparagus, peas, and radishes, on a puff pastry tart. But you could just as easily swap it our for your favorite fresh produce or whatever is in season. Also, instead of puff pastry, you could put it on pizza or flatbread.

A lot of people like to bake the vegetables with the puff pastry, but I think spring vegetables are delicious eaten raw. In fact, I love the crunch. But I recommend blanching the vegetables beforehand. Blanching brighten and enhances vegetables’ natural colors.



In order to blanch, prepare a pot of boiling water and an ice bath. Plunge the vegetables into the boiling water for about 30 seconds and then move the vegetables to the ice bath. Once the vegetables are cool, dry them off.

You an use any type of schmear or spread for this tart. I made whipped feta with Challenge cream cheese, lots of mint and parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest. I whipped it all up in the food processor, so it was super easy. I only use Challenge cream cheese when I’m cooking and baking. Challenge cream cheese is made with real milk, cream, and other natural ingredients. You can definitely taste a difference.

When I'm creating a dish, I try my best to balance textures and the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. If everything is salty or umami, the dish will taste flat and unexciting. The same thing goes for texture. It's boring if everything is soft (like baked puff pastry with baked asparagus and melted cheese). So for this tart, the peas are sweet, the lemon juice and zest are sour, the feta is salty, the radishes are a little bitter, and the prosciutto has umami flavor. I also combined soft puff pastry with creamy spread and crunchy vegetables for a variety of textures.

If you plan to serve this tart as an appetizer for a special occasion, I recommend making it on the same day. But I will say the leftovers taste just as good the next day.



Spring vegetable puff pastry tart

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

For the whipped feta spread

  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8-ounce block feta cheese
  • 4 ounces Challenge cream cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon (3 Tablespoons)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the tart

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 6 ounces thin asparagus, trimmed and blanched
  • 4 ounces peas, shelled and blanched
  • 4 radishes, sliced thin
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into pieces
  • 0.5 ounces chives, chopped and blanched
  • Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water)

Directions

For the whipped feta spread

  1. Pulse mint, parsley, and garlic in food processor until finely chopped. 
  2. Add feta and cream cheese to food processor and puree until creamy.
  3. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and puree until smooth. Whipped feta should be spreadable consistency. If not, add 1 Tablespoon more olive oil at a time until it is.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

For the tart

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll out puff pastry dough onto baking sheet.
  3. Score 1-inch border around dough, making sure not to cut all the way through.
  4. Use fork to create holes in dough inside perimeter.
  5. Brush entire sheet with egg wash.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until puff pastry is golden brown.
  7. Allow puff pastry to cool for at least 10 minutes before spreading whipped feta inside perimeter.
  8. Arrange asparagus in center of puff pastry.
  9. Sprinkle peas and radishes inside the gaps.
  10. Scatter prosciutto pieces across tart and top with chives.
  11. Cut into pieces and serve.


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