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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Low-Calorie Sugar-Free Fancy Berry Drink with Cascade Ice


All that sugar last week wore me out. Catering a "Love is Sweet" bridal shower was so much fun and the sugar rush was intense. I knew that people might get sugared out, or need a sugar-free treat to help calm things down. And since liquids go straight to the blood stream I figured I better create a sugar-free drink. Cascade Ice to the rescue! I had tried Cascade Ice on my recent trip to Miami and indulged in quite a few guilt-free zero-calorie bottles. I knew that it would make the perfect party drink. My favorite flavor of Cascade Ice is Huckleberry Blackberry, but they have 20 other flavors of which I've tried most and they are all quite tasty. The bridal shower was in Idaho where huckleberries grow wild so Huckleberry-Blackberry was the perfect fit. My mom has huge raspberry bushes in her backyard in their prime. Triple berry drink? How can you go wrong! Cascade Ice is magically sugar free and is sparkling delicious and they are pretty much everywhere in the United States now so all of my readers should be able to find it quite easily. Don't skip rimming the glasses on this drink. It's such an easy step and makes all the difference. I also can't help but mention that some of my party goers preferred the drink over the whole spread of desserts. Yes, it was that good! They were shocked to learn that it had less than 40 calories in a glass, and that those calories all came from raspberries (something healthy!)




Ingredients

2 cups frozen raspberries or blackberries
2 TB lemon juice
4 bottles Huckleberry Blackberry Cascade Ice
1 lemon wedge
1/4 cup artificial sweetener (such as Splenda)


Instructions

1. In a blender, combine berries and lemon juice. Pour in enough cascade ice to blend into a puree. 

2. Rim the glasses by running a lemon wedge along the rim of the glasses and then dipping into sugar or an artificial sweetener  sugar-like substance. 

3. Pour in some of the berry puree in the bottom of a glass. Fill the rest of the glass with Cascade Ice. 






Look, everyone at the party even got to go home with their own Cascade Ice. Love really is sweet!



***Disclosure: Cascade Ice sent a free case of drinks for me to use when they heard my plans. All thoughts and opinions on the product are my own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chili-Lime Baked Chicken Tenders



I've had this idea rolling in my head for a few weeks now, and when a huge package of chicken tenders made their way into my Costco shopping cart...well, that's a lot of chicken so it was bound to happen. This was a huge hit with the family. The chicken is nice and crisp and flavorful, and the dipping sauce is fun and healthy made with greek yogurt and all. I love making chicken strips for dinner because the require very little prep. Just coat and toss them in the oven. And no one ever complains about them. Everyone at the table is always a fan. This chili-lime version has a nice zippy flavor that gives a nice twist on your standard strip. Utilizing both lime juice and lime zest is the key here. 


Prep Time: About 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


Ingredients

4 limes
2 lbs chicken tenders
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tsp ancho chili powder, divided
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup greek yogurt


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 4-sided baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Zest the limes and place the zest in a small mixing bowl. Mix in panko bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp of chili powder. Toss together.

3. Squeeze the juice of 3 of the limes into the butter.

4. Working one at a time, dip the chicken tenders into the butter mixture, and then into the bread crumb mixture. Ensure that each piece of chicken gets a nice coating of bread crumbs.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.

6. While the chicken tenders are baking, make a dipping sauce by combining greek yogurt, juice of 1 remaining lime, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir together until combined.

7. Serve chicken strips hot with dipping sauce.


Tip: I like to finish off my chicken tenders under the broiler for a coupe of minutes just to ensure that the breading gets nice and crispy.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Sriracha-Honey Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple



It's been a while since I've done an appetizer. Remember a last week when I made all those desserts for my little sister's "Love is Sweet" bridal shower? Well, we needed at least a couple of savory appetizers to balance things out. I still wanted them to have an element of sweetness to them, yet satisfy that need for balance. Bacon. Bacon is the solution to a lot of things. It's salty, but if you candy it you can make it salty and sweet. Perfect. I snuck through my sister's Pinterest boards and found that she had an interest in bacon and pineapple. Ta-da!  Wrap some pineapple with a little bacon, and throw a little sweet sauce on top to candy it and you've got an easy little appetizer that is sweet, salty, and I've even thrown in some spice. Balance. Balance with bacon. Love it! And it was a huge hit! Turns out people loved it just as much as all the sweets!


Prep Time: < 15 minutes
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: About 20 to 25 pieces


Ingredients

1 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 lb thick cut bacon
*Note: you'll want 2 chunks of pineapple for every 1 piece of bacon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 lime, juiced
2-4 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 TB finely chopped cilantro stems
2 TB. chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 4-sided baking sheet.

2. Cut the bacon in half so you'll have twice as many strips to work with. Wrap each pineapple chunk in a piece of bacon and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, honey, lime juice, sriaracha, and soy sauce. Pour over each piece of bacon-wrapped pineapple to glaze. Sprinkle cilantro stems over the top.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until bacon is crispy. 

5. Insert toothpicks into each bite for easy serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. 



Recipe adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Friday, July 18, 2014

Baked Vanilla Cake Donuts with Chocolate Glaze




I'm ending dessert week on a beautiful donut note. I might be a little donut-crazed lately. I love making them and I love eating them. And I made a ton testing donut recipes in preparation for my little sisters "Love is Sweet" bridal shower so my friends and neighbors have been loving and eating them as well. I may have become a donut delivery man for a brief time there. These vanilla cake donuts seem to be a lot of people's favorite. They have a nice cakey texture, and the perfect balance between the sweet vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate glaze. Add in a little sprinkles and you've got a colorful, picture perfect little donut. 


Time To Make It: 30 minutes
Yield: 24 mini donuts 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TB water

don't forget sprinkles!


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-donut pan.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

3. Stir in egg, milk, and melted butter until combined.

4. Transfer batter into a pastry bag fitting with a large circular tip. Pipe dough into donut molds, filling about 1/2 or 2/3 full.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. 

6. Meanwhile, make the glaze by stirring together powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Add in water and stir until combined. Spread several tablespoons of sprinkles out on a small plate. 

7. Remove from oven and remove donuts from pan. Dip the tops of the donut into the glaze and then into the sprinkles. Let cool completely on a wire rack. 



Other Recipes From Dessert Week:


Homemade Mexican Churros with Video Recipe
Quick and Easy Nutella Mousse

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mint Chocolate Frosting




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quick and Easy Nutella Mousse



Dessert week continues with this easy to make Nutella Mousse. This perfectly light and airy mousse is so easy to make and satisfies those strong Nutella cravings. I'm not the only one to get those, am I? I love that this dessert comes together in just a few minutes. It all depends on how long it takes you to whip your cream. That's it! You can eat it right away, but I like it best when it's been chilled. You can serve this in small bowls or shot glasses, but be forewarned that you are going to want to lick the dish clean and that is really hard to do with a shot glass. See?



Time To Make It: 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


Ingredients

3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup Nutella


Instructions

1. Put a glass or metal mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) into the freezer for about 5 minutes.

2. Remove mixing bowl from freezer and pour in heavy whipping cream and sugar. Use a hand mixer, or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, to whip cream until stiff peaks form. If you have trouble whipping cream you can trouble shoot HERE

3. Scoop the nutella into a separate mixing bowl. Add in about 3/4 of the whipped cream. Fold it together using a rubber spatula until it looses its streaks. 

4. Scoop into serving dishes, or use a piping bag if you are being fancy. Top with the remaining whipped cream. 

5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 




Other Recipes From Dessert Week:


Homemade Mexican Churros with Video Recipe

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mint Chocolate Frosting


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots



How fun is this? When I saw the idea to make chocolate chip cookie shot glasses, I knew I'd be trying it. Serving these at my little sisters ultra decadent "Love is Sweet" bridal shower was absolutely perfect. These cookie cups are ultra rich, and so fun to eat. You can have your milk and cookies and eat it too! All at once! You'll need a popover pan to make this recipe work. I actually bought one just so I could make these. Now, admittedly, these are larger than shot glasses, but the actual cup part where the milk goes is true to a shot size so the name sticks. You have to give these a try. Your kids, guests, or whoever will love them. I can't imagine someone not having fun with these treats!


Time To Make It: 30 minutes hands on + baking time + cooling time
Yield: About 6 or 9 "cups" (depending on how thick you make them)


Ingredients

1 cup all vegetable shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, divided


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a nonstick popover pan.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together shortening, brown sugar, and sugar until mixture is fluffy. 

3. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until smooth.

4. Use a large spoon to stir in flour. Mixture will be really crumbly, but should hold together when pressed. Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips until combined.

5. Scoop mixture into popover pan and press to the bottom and sides, making sure to leave a hole in the middle for the milk to go later. You only need the sides and bottom to be about 1/4 inch thick. It's hard to get it much thinner.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until cookies get a golden brown kiss.

7. Carefully remove the cookies from the popover pan. This can be done by placing a large cutting board or pan over the popover sheet and flipping it over. Gently tap the bottoms of the popover cups to loosen. Let cool completely.

8. Carefully melt the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl by microwaving for 15 seconds at a time, removing and stirring, until chocolate is melted. 

9. Coat the holes in the cookie cups with the chocolate. Drizzle some in and swirl, or if your chocolate is on the thicker side just give it a good smearing. 

10. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Serve by filling the "cups" with milk and enjoy! 




Recipe Adapted from Yumsugar



Other Recipes From Dessert Week:


Homemade Mexican Churros with Video Recipe

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Quick and Easy Nutella Mousse







Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Homemade Mexican Churros + Video Recipe


Before I made homemade churros, my husband had only had them a couple of time in his life. It made my culinary heart sad. I love churros! His reasoning was that he only sees them at theme parks and carnivals and they always charge an arm and a leg for them. Truth. I can't fault him for that. Making your own is a lot easier than you think. I even made a video recipe in case you are skeptical. It's true. Frying is the hardest part. Actually, scooping stuff into a pastry bag for piping is the hardest part. I hate doing that for some reason. That's why I use plastic disposable pastry bags. Because what is worse than filling them? Cleaning one. 



Back to the churros. I made these for my family a couple weeks ago and they ate them as fast as I could cook them. They are ridiculously good fresh, but you can also freeze them after they are cooked and reheat them for about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Best fresh though. Some people pipe the dough onto parchment paper and freeze it so they can get perfect shapes. I find that it doesn't give as flaky and puffy a texture, so I prefer to squeeze mine directly into the oil. They aren't always perfectly straight, but they are the perfect crunchy churro texture. 

You'll need a large star tip for your pastry bag. The dough puffs up as it cooks, but you'll still want to use a large tip. A star tip gives the nice ridged sides. A large circular tip works too, it's just a round churro, instead of ridged. In the end, it's all delicious. So, what are you waiting for?



Time To Make It: 30 minutes
Yield: A lot, but never enough (a couple dozen 6-inch churros)


Ingredients

4 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying
1 cup water
1//2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon


Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a large pot to between 350 and 375 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, make the dough by heating water, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large saucepan. Once the butter is completely melted and the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon.

3. Add in the eggs one at a time, stirring and mashing the dough together until the egg is fully incorporated. 

4. Transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star-shaped tip. 

5. Working in batches of 3 to 5, pipe the dough directly into the hot oil using scissors to trim to the desired length. 

6. Cook until dough puffs and turns golden brown, turning halfway through so all sides evenly cook. This should just take 2 to 4 minutes total.

7. Carefully remove churro from oil using tongs and place on a paper towel-covered plate to drain.

8. Once the churros have cooled enough to handle, put the sugar and cinnamon into a resealable plastic bag. Put the churros in one or two at a time and gently shake until churro is coated. 





Other Recipes From Dessert Week:


Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots

Baked Vanilla Cake Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

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