February 15, 2015

Birthday Cake Milkshakes and Raffle for #NoKidHungry

Do you guys know what today is? It's my birthday, and I've decided to celebrate. First on the list are these thick and tasty Birthday Cake Milkshakes. For my last day at the job, I baked up a double batch of my favorite Birthday Cake Cupcakes, but I ended up only having enough frosting for half of them (I even doubled the frosting recipe. I guess I was just over zealous with the piping bag). I decided I didn't want to make more frosting and stuck the extra cupcakes in the freezer. They've kind of been in the freezer ever since.

I don't like wasting food, and I especially don't want to waste good cupcakes, so what's a girl to do except stick them in the blender with some almond milk and ice cream and make milkshakes?
These milkshakes are thick and creamy and totally taste like liquid cake. They're a great way to use leftover or stale cake, and an on-the-go alternative to the traditional birthday cake if you plan on going out to see the movie about space bees for your birthday (aka Jupiter Ascending)

I used unfrosted cupcakes because that's what I had, but I can't see how frosting would hurt these puppies. It would probably just give it a more authentic birthday cake flavor. I also used vanilla almond milk. You could go with dairy or soy milk, but I think that the almond milk just gives it that right amount of extra flavor.
Second on the birthday celebration list is a giveaway! I got an extra copy of Dining With the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook for Christmas, and since I know a lot of you may have found me through my myriad Doctor Who posts, I figured this is something you may enjoy. But since it is my birthday and that's put me in a very generous mood, I've decided that in place of the usual giveaway format, I'd make it a raffle instead to benefit one of my favorite charities.

No Kid Hungry is a charity that I've supported for a while now, since even before I had a blog. It is a charity dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. Did you know that one in every five children in the US go hungry? That's over 16 million kids whose brains and bodies are still developing and need all the nutrition they can get.
So here's the deal: I've put together a fundraising page on No Kid Hungry. Anyone who donates to that page, between now and Monday, February 23, is eligible for one raffle entry for Dining with the Doctor. You don't get more entries for more money, so donate whatever amount you feel is appropriate.

After you've donated, go to the Rafflecoptor widget below and fill in your entry. The email address you provide is the email address that I will use to contact the winner, so please make sure it is accurate. The winner will be chosen randomly, and the giveaway is open to US residents only.

You can also donate without entering the raffle. I have a fundraising goal of $150, which seems like such a small amount, but it can provide up to 1,500 meals for children in need. It would make all my birthday wishes come true to reach it, so please remember that every dollar helps. Tell you family, your friends, your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate, and let's help put a big ole dent in childhood hunger. My fundraising page is here.

Birthday Cake Milkshakes
Yield: 2 milkshakes

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup vanilla ice cream*
4 vanilla cupcakes (or 1 slice of cake), chopped into pieces

Place the cake into a bowl and pour the almond milk on top. Cover and refrigerate for minimum of 30 minutes.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

*Low fat vanilla Greek yogurt can also be used, but will add a tangier flavor

Recipe by Kim

February 11, 2015

One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta

I'm going to be completely geeky for a sec (though really, when do I ever stop?). I bought myself and early birthday present in the form of a video game called Life is Strange. That title may or may not sound familiar to you, as there was recently some controversy when every publisher except for Square Enix told the developers that they wouldn't touch the game unless they changed the protagonist from female to male.

But I'm not here to talk about that (although I could give a good long rant), even though I'm a little happy that it happened. Not publishers going, "no, girls have cooties!" but the fact that it gave the game such early publicity. I've recently gotten into adventure games, and I've been waiting for a more interactive title. Adventure games have the tendency to feel a little bit passive, but Life is Strange promises choices that have real consequences to the story, plus the power to reverse time that will probably lead to a kind of butterfly effect. (The first time Max reverses time, she was taking a picture of a butterfly. Subtle, devs, real subtle).

I'm not pleased with the fact that it's being released in chapters, though. That's a new thing that's been happening with adventure games lately, and while it makes a certain amount of sense for indie games, a big publisher like Square Enix should be able to release the whole game in one fell swoop. The first chapter is mostly exposition with a couple of fairly basic fetch quests, and even though I'm a pretty slow gamer (I like to explore and talk to everyone), I finished it in one sitting. Still, I'm excited to play the next chapter and see how my choices effect the rest of the game.
Anyway, that concludes my geeky update for today. I was just really excited about that game. Now we can move on to the stuff you care about: the pasta.

Do you ever notice that there are a lot of recipes out there that claim to be one pot recipes, but then you read the ingredients and it will say, "8 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained," or "1 cup cooked white rice." Umm, no. If I have to have the pasta or rice already cooked, then I have to use a second pot to do that cooking, ergo, you are not a one pot recipe so go sit in the corner of shame.

That's not to say that there aren't actual one pot recipes on the interwebz, but then these imposters will show up while I'm looking for a real recipe and they'll make me so angry that I ragequit and just end up making a bowl of pasta in the microwave, like you do.

This recipe, however, is a real one-pot recipe. Or technically, a one skillet recipe, since I didn't actually make it in a pot. The first time that I made it was during snowmaggedon, which while being a lot less snowmaggedony than predicted, was still not weather I wanted to go out in. I had spent most of the day making brownies and then realized I had nothing prepped for actual food. I searched the fridge and found some chicken I had defrosted, some cherry tomatoes, half a carton of chicken broth, and some frozen spinach. In the pantry, I had half a box of rotini. I threw all of these things into my big skillet and it turned into this super delicious pasta and crazy easy pasta dish.
This time I made it with canned tomatoes and fresh spinach. I like it better with the canned tomatoes because fresh tomatoes take longer to cook down, but honestly you could go either way. With the spinach, I prefer using the fresh just so I don't have to defrost the frozen. It's all about the priorities.

The key to this dish is in its simplicity. The sauce is no more than tomatoes and chicken broth, with a little parmesan stirred in at the end. The pasta cooks directly in the sauce and in turn, the starch from the pasta helps thicken the sauce. The spinach cooks alongside the pasta. There's onion and garlic in there for flavoring, but if you want the dish to come together even faster, you can always use onion and garlic powder. You could even skip the chicken (and use vegetable broth) for a vegetarian dish.
One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta
Yield: 3-4 servings

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
8 oz. rotini pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in the pasta and spinach, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the pasta is tender. Stir in the cheese and season to taste.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Serve hot.

Recipe by Kim

Things you may need:

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links*

February 4, 2015

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

Do you guys remember when I made that soooper delicious gluten free cookie cake? And I said the one drawback was it was a little bit delicate? Well, I wanted to try the recipe again with a little xanthan gum to see if I could solve that problem. But then it was the holidays and I had a ton of Christmas baking to do. Except, I'm a problem solver.

My mom gives me a list of things to bake every year to give to her coworkers. This year it consisted of Browned Butter Maple Blondies, Zucchini Brownies, and my sort-of famous Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies. She puts together a little selection of treats for everyone and I assume it pleases them since she still asks me to do it. But one of her coworkers is gluten free and she only gets the cookies. Don't get me wrong, everyone loves those cookies, but it's gotta be a little sucky when everyone else has all sorts of choices and you've only got the one.
"What about my cookie cake?" I asked. "I want to try making it again and it's gluten free."

My mother had reservations. "But it's a pie. How would I give it out?"

"I could make it into cookie cups." She agreed that sounded like a good idea.

I had all the ingredients to make the cookie cake in my pantry already, I just bought some Reese's to stuff the cookie cups with when I was picking up the ingredients for everything else on my list.

Then I made them with just a couple adjustments, and I had to keep from stuffing all of them in my face they were so good. I managed to keep from eating them all so my mother could give them away as presents, but I made them again to share on ze blog and these are mine-all-mine

These don't taste gluten free at all. In fact, the coconut flour helps make the outside crisp while the inside stays soft and gooey, giving it the ideal cookie cup texture. These aren't delicate the way the cookie cake was, plus they don't have grainy edges like the cookie cake did.

The Reese's on top then gets all melty and biting into it is like an explosion of peanut buttery chocolatey goodness. And just like the cookie cake, these are beyond simple to make. One bowl, one whisk, stuff it with a seasonal Reese's, and you've got a simple and adorable treat perfect for sharing.

Or hoarding. Which is what I plan on doing.

*EDIT: it's been brought to my attention that the seasonal Reese's are not gluten free. However, Reese's cups are GF and actually fit better into the cookie cups. I was just trying to be cute and seasonal. Please always make sure to read the packaging*
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cups
Yield: 3 dozen cookie cups

2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tbsp. milk
3 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 cup chocolate chips
36 chocolate covered peanut butter candies (like these Reese's hearts), unwrapped and frozen

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the brown sugar and mix until dissolved. Mix in the peanut butter until smooth. Add the coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum and mix until well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Add 1 tablespoon of dough to each cavity of the prepared muffin tin, pressing it in lightly with your finger. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to brown and set. Immediately press the candies into the middle of each cup.

Place the tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before removing the cookies to cool completely. If you want the candies to keep their shape, chill the tin in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before removing the cookie cups.

Note: Seasonal shaped Reese' s candies are not gluten free. See more on the Hershey' s website here

Recipe by Kim
 *Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links*

February 1, 2015

Grape-Nuts Turkey Burger Sliders with Cranberry Jalapeno Ketchup

Today is a day that many people are going to sit around their television with other people and a lot of food and they are going to yell at the sportsball players on the television.

I'm not sure why they yell at the sportsball players. Maybe it's because they make an awful lot of money considering they play a game for a living. Why does no one pay me millions of dollars to play games? Have you seen the size of my Steam library? I have a lot of games I could play.

The sportsball is confusing, but the food, that's something I can understand. All the good stuff seems to come out this time of year: buffalo wings and cheese dip and burgers and fried fatty goodness.

But January just ended. Literally yesterday. And I'm guessing your New Year's Resolution did not involve more fried fatty goodness in your diet. So why not take the burgers and the finger foods and all that good stuff and make it healthy?
Hear me out: healthy doesn't have to mean bland. Ground turkey is a super lean source of protein that takes flavor really well. And I know you've probably had tasteless hockey pucks before masquerading as turkey burgers, but these sliders are juicy and tasty, and thanks to a super secret ingredient, they're totally satisfying. That secret ingredient: Grape-Nuts cereal. I know, it's totally crazysauce, but it works sort of like stuffing in meatloaf. The Grape-Nuts take a little bath in some non-fat Greek yogurt and Worcestershire sauce, they soak up all that good flavor, and they soften, which in turn helps keep the turkey burgers moist and tasty. Plus it adds whole grains and a ton of nutrients

Then you top it off with this cranberry jalapeno ketchup, which couldn't be simpler to make and has got that whole sweet and spicy thing going on. Ketchup is usually too sweet for me, but the addition of the cranberries helps cut that, and it is so good on top of these burgers

These sliders have the whole food pyramid going on. Meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy, whole grains. They're super easy to make, and they're so good. Add them to your sportsball menu. Your body and tastebuds will thank you.
Grape-Nuts Turkey Burger Sliders
Yield: 12 sliders

For the cranberry jalapeno ketchup:
1/2 cup ketchup 
1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
2 tbsp. diced canned jalapenos
1 tsp. onion powder

For the burgers:
1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tbsp. nonfat (skim) milk
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg
1 tbsp. olive oil

12 slider buns

In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until use

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Grape-Nuts, Greek yogurt, red onion, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and garlic powder. Let stand for about 10 minutes, or until the cereal softens. Add the egg and the turkey and mix until well incorporated (do not overmix, or the meat will get tough). Form into 12 equal patties (about 1/4 each)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the burgers and cook 4-5 minutes per side, until each side is well browned.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the slider buns, add lettuce, a burger, and top with the prepared ketchup. Serve warm.

Recipe from PostFoods.com
*Disclaimer: I was provided with free samples of Post Grape-Nuts cereal in order to feature this recipe. I was under no obligation to give a positive review, and I receive no further compensation from this post. All opinions remain, as always, my own. This post contains affiliate links*