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

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Pretzel Beer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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're looking for a topic everyone can unite behind for the greater good of humans across the globe, I regret to inform you that grilled cheese is not that topic. When I posted my deluxe grilled cheese recipe last year for National Grilled Cheese Day, I quickly learned that many people have very different opinions about whether a sandwich with ingredients other than cheese can even be called a grilled cheese.

So this year as I prepared my segment for National Grilled Cheese Month, I decided to take out the debate completely by only using cheese in my sandwich filling. But of course, I had to make it unique. And this Pretzel Beer Grilled Cheese Sandwich was born!

If I'm being honest, the idea evolved from a lobster roll I had over the weekend from one of my favorite fish places in Indianapolis, Caplinger's Fresh Catch. They use a pretzel roll with their lobster roll which I really appreciate because I feel like pretzel rolls are very underused. Once I decided to use a pretzel roll for my recipe, beer cheese dip was just a natural addition.

But actually, the beer cheese dip which consists of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese works really well in a grilled cheese recipe because it's creamy and it melts well. Also, the shredded cheeses in the dip melt quickly as well.

I sandwiched the beer cheese dip in between two slices of gouda. Gouda will always be one of my favorite cheese to use for grilled cheese because it's extremely flavorful, and it melts really well.

TIP: Avoid "sharp" and "smoked" when picking out your cheeses. Sharp cheddar is aged longer than mild cheddar cheese and does not melt well at all. Avoid it entirely. Also, when you smoke a cheese, it messes with its ability to melt. So avoid smoked gouda, and stick with regular gouda.

Now that we've discussed the best cheeses to use, I'd like to share one more tip: You can make grilled cheese sandwiches for a crowd by cooking them in the oven. Cue gasps! Yes, I said it, it's true. That's why I saved this one for last because I know it would be a bit controversial.

Here's the deal, I hate it when you're trying to make grilled cheese for multiple people on the stove, and no one gets served at the same time. So the first person gets their grilled cheese, and they finish it before the second person is even served. Or their sandwich gets cold while they wait around for everyone else to get served. Cooking grilled cheese sandwiches in the oven solves that problem because you can cook about six to eight sandwiches at the same time. The best way to get the sandwiches to taste like their grilled cheese and not just baked sandwiches is by placing a pan on top while they're baking so the outside of the bread gets crispy just like it would on the stove.

Pretzel Beer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Yield: Makes about 8 sandwiches
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Challenge butter, melted
  • 8 pretzel rolls or pretzel buns
  • 16 slices gouda cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit; place two baking pans in oven
  2. Beat together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, beer, dijon mustard, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  3. Brush melted butter onto bottom half of pretzel buns; remove one baking pan from oven and place the bottoms of the rolls in the pan. 
  4. Add a slice of gouda to each sandwich. Top with 3 Tablespoons of beer cheese dip mixture. Add another slice of gouda and top with other half of bun.
  5. Brush melted butter on top of sandwiches.
  6. Remove other baking pan from the oven and stick on top of sandwiches. Add heavy objects to top pan to ensure it is weighted down on top of buns, and stick it into the oven.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until everything is melted through.

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