Monday, August 30, 2010

Kraft Dinner of the Week: KD Taco Bake

KD Taco Bake


1 pkg. KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner (or any KD or KD substitute)
1 lb.  Ground beef or beef substitute (like veggie ground round or TVP)

1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) Taco Seasoning Mix 
3/4 cup Sour Cream 
1-1/2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided 
1 cup  Thick 'N Chunky Salsa 
  Heat the oven to 400°F. Prepare Dinner as directed on package. While Macaroni is cooking, cook meat (or meat substitute.) with taco seasoning as directed on package.

 Stir sour cream into prepared Dinner; spoon 1/2 into 8-inch square baking dish. Top with layers of meat mixture, 1 cup cheese and remaining Dinner mixture; cover with foil.

Bake it for 15 min.; top with salsa and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Original recipe found here:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Orange Chocolate-swirl Cheesecake

I am finally going to post about the second birthday cake that made an appearance August 15th, my aunt's birthday cake, as she shared the same birthday as my son.  I was holding out to see if  I could find anyone who had taken a picture of my creation, but it turns out that in the haste of that week, I forgot to take a picture, and no one else snapped a shot during the party.  Oh well. 

A note on my decorating of this cheesecake:  My aunt loves the Tigger, you know, Winnie the Pooh's Tigger, and so that was the theme of this cake.  I added extra orange (red and yellow actually, in my case) food colouring to the batter to make it more 'Tigger coloured', then used a similar method to make Tigger stripes  as I did to make the 1 up mushroom for my son's cake.  I used dark chocolate piped onto parchment paper, and this time I coated the chocolate stripes with chocolate cookie crumbs to make them more black.

Orange Chocolate-swirl Cheesecake


4 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar, I buy it at Bulk Barn ;)

5 eggs

2 tablespoons orange juice (or you can sub. orange liqueur if you like)

zest of 1-2 oranges ( a teaspoon or more for the crust, and a tablespoon or so, maybe more for the batter)

1 package of chocolate cookie crumbs, and any ingredients (like butter) the package says it needs


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Prepare a chocolate crust as directed on the package of chocolate cookie crumbs, with the addition of about a teaspoon of orange zest from your collection of zest for the cheesecake. Press into the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the side of a 9 inch springform pan.

In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool, but do not allow to harden.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until smooth. I buzzed a cup of organic cane sugar in the magic bullet to make it a bit finer, but that is only optional. Mix in the eggs, one at a time on a low speed, or by hand. Gradually stir in the orange juice, and orange zest. Reserve 1 cup of the batter. 
Pour the remaining batter over the baked crust. Stir the melted chocolate into the reserved batter. Drop the chocolate batter by large spoonfuls onto the white batter. Use a knife to cut through the batter, and leave a swirling design.

Bake for 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is almost set. Run a spatula or thin knife around the edge of the pan while it is still warm, so the cake will not crack. Allow cake to cool completely before removing the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. 
To help prevent cracking, use a water bath or steam method, as this cake doesn't have a starch to it.
To water bath, put a large piece of foil over the bottom of the spring form pan before closing the ring around it, and fold the sides up, then put 2 more layers of foil around the outside, to try and seal out water.  Put the spring form into a pan with sides and put about an inch of boiling water in the pan, around the spring form but don't get water on the cheesecake.  
To  steam bath, you can either wrap your spring form as mentioned above and set on a muffin tin filled with boiling water, or you can set a pan of water in the bottom rack of the oven when preheating and add some ice to the water when putting the cheesecake in, to make it a bit more steamy.
Either way, you need to cool the cheesecake gradually, and it needs to be cool before sticking it in the fridge or freezer, to prevent cracking.
Original recipe was found here:
but, was of course tweaked by me to suit my personal desires... mmmm cheesecake.

Friday, August 20, 2010

KD of the week: Mac and Cheese Lasagna

Mac and Cheese Lasagna


1 pkg. (7-1/4 oz.) Kraft Dinner 
1-1/2 cups  Spaghetti sauce 
1/2 lb. lean ground beef  (or substitute 1 cup chopped leftover cooked chicken or 1/2 pkg. of veggie ground round)
1 cup  Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese 
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese


HEAT oven to 350°F.
PREPARE Dinner, using the Light Prep directions on package. Meanwhile, brown meat in skillet; drain.
SPOON half the Dinner into lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish; top with layers of half each sauce, meat and shredded cheese. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.

Original recipe found at link below:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Banana Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Okay, so I am playing a bit of catch up since my son's 1st birthday (on August 15th)  which was also my aunt's birthday as well.  As such, I spent that whole week before baking two cakes, my son's cake, pictured above, is the one I will post now, and I will post about my aunt's cake later.  By the way, this tasted amazing, and they all were amazed I baked and decorated it myself.  

...And I will add if you do not know what the theme of this cake is... it's the '1 up' mushroom from Super Mario, complete with coins around the sides.  I figured this fit, what with him being 1 up and all ;)

The Banana Cake:

I made three batches of this cake in a square silicone cake pan, I think it is about 8 x 8, but I am not going to go measure it, I am sure it would turn out in any pan.  Each layer turned out only to be about an inch or two high, and the cake was more impressive with three layers, however if you do not want that much cake then just prepare the amount of cake you want.  

This cake freezes well, and I froze each layer after removing the edges and skimming the bottoms off the cakes, to remove that harder, flour-y layer.  I wrapped each (cooled) cake layer in plastic wrap, then put in large freezer bags and sucked the air out with a straw, like a vaccum seal, sort of (thanks to Kendra at New Life On A Homestead for the straw tip!)  The cake is easier to ice and decorate when frozen too, as a bonus.


3/4 cup of unsalted butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

2 lage eggs

3  tbsp yoghurt

3 large banana, mashed

1 cup self raising flour, sifted  (after doing the recipe, I recommend the tip below instead of self raising flour)
If you are using plain flour, use 8 oz plain/cake flour with 1tsp baking powder and 1tsp baking soda


1, Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius (the original says 180, but you have to watch because my first layer got a bit dark, and the first baby cupcake was burnt crispy)
2. Cream butter & sugar till light and fluffy
3. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well
4. Add yoghurt and banana mix till well blend
5. Fold in flour to mixture and pour into a greased baking pan
6. Bake at 160C for 40 min - 1 hr or till golden brown and skewer comes out clean

Original of this recipe comes from here:
Quick and Easy Treats From Zu's Kitchen

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

For the three layers of cake I had, a double batch of this was just about perfect.

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup caramel topping (look for ice cream sundae topping stuff)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (16 oz.) package of powdered sugar (2 cups, and sifting is a good idea for the best frosting)

1 - 3 Tbsp. milk  (2 was perfect for me)

Beat the first four ingredients together at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 1 tbsp milk, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.  Beat in extra milk if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Original recipe for frosting found here:  My Recipes

*** If you are not freezing your layers of cake, or are afraid of that crumby crust, take a small amount of your finished frosting and 'water' it down a bit with milk, and use to do a crumb coat before frosting outer cake.  Let your crumb coat set, or better yet, give it 10 - 15 min in the freezer before applying your outer layer of frosting.
Use a hot, but dry spatula or cake knife to smooth icing.  Heat it by sticking it in a glass or pot of hot to boiling water, then wipe dry with a cloth or paper towel, being careful not to leave 'fuzzies'. 
To make the mushroom or something similar for the top of your cake, draw or print a template picture and outline with heavy black marker.  Lay out a piece of parchment paper on top of your template, then use slightly cooled chocolate melts in a piping bag, or a sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut in the bottom corner to trace and fill your design, allowing time for each colour to cool between.  Be cautious using the fridge for the chocolate, as it is temperamental and can discolour.  Chocolate melts help, not being real chocolate, but the darker colours may still change if cooled wrong.  Be very careful in removing your image, and avoid picking delicate designs, or else you will want to switch to royal icing, and I am not an expert at that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sanity savers for people with lil peoples

Someone commented to me a while back about the more clever of my baby solutions, and I thought since it is food related enough, I may as well share it here.

I am not the kind of person who really worries that much about a messy baby.  They are meant to have fun with food, so they will enjoy it more as they get older, and maybe not be such a picky eater along the way.  However, to keep that mind set, sometimes I use a few measures to help make the mess less.

My top tip is shelf liner.  Yea, that vinyl crud we stick on the bottom of cupboards and forget about, it is cheap and usually hidden somewhere in your house, I got mine for free when my boss was cleaning out a storage area, and asked if I wanted it.

We just happen to have the kind of table that splits apart in the middle, and the booster seat sits at the middle point where the crack is... and food was getting crammed between.  The little man likes to try and eat everything, so placemats are out of the question, and plates fly and smash when he gets hold of them, so the solution for me was to put a chunk of shelf liner right on the table, covering the crack and wrapped down to cover the edge.

I place all his food directly on it, and wipe it clean.  No dishes to clean, not cracks to de-gunk, and if it gets stained or starts to pull up I replace it with a new sheet.  Easy.

Next tip?  Dollar store table cloths or old picnic table cloths, or vinyl shower curtains.  Why?  You use it like a painter's drop cloth under high chairs or booster seats to catch the mess.  Afterwards, you just shake it off, and if messy the dollar store ones are easily replaced, and picnic table cloths wipe clean, and shower curtains can be wiped or even gently washed in the washing machine (hang dry of course)

Now, high chairs and booster seats can be taken outside in nice weather and hose sprayed, then sun dried for a nice, quick clean with the added bonus that the sun kills germs.  In winter or bad weather, just lug them in the shower and let them drip dry, then set on the table cloth a fore mentioned to catch any hidden water as it finishes drying.  This way you don't have to spend enormous amounts of time wiping down every nook and cranny, and get a better clean usually.

If you are worried about clothes, then feed baby naked.  Diapers are changable and babies hose down pretty good too ;)  Hope this helps.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kraft Dinner of the Week: mac & cheese stuffed poblanos

Mac and Cheese Stuffed Poblanos


2 pkg. (7-1/4 oz. each) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner 
3   OSCAR MAYER Wieners, chopped 
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese, divided 
8   Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded 
1/2 tsp. Paprika


HEAT oven to 350ยบ F.

PREPARE Dinners as directed on package. Stir in wieners and 1 cup cheese.

FILL chiles with Dinner mixture; place, filled-sides up, in single layer in shallow baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese and paprika.

BAKE 15 min. or until cheese is melted and peppers are heated through.

How to Roast, Peel and Seed Poblano Peppers
Heat broiler. Place peppers on rack of broiler pan. Broil until skins are charred or covered with black blisters, turning occasionally. Place hot peppers in resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Let stand 10 min. Remove peppers from bag. Place peppers under cold running water and remove peels, being careful not to break the skins. To remove the seeds, make vertical cut in each pepper. Remove small cluster of seeds attached to the base.
This recipe was found at the link below without any alterations, this time.