I like to play around in the kitchen; I think we all do, to an extent. When I’m at home, I use it as an opportunity to find new meals and snacks to make at my apartment in Blacksburg. And as always, I try to make things that are (somewhat) healthful without sacrificing taste and flavor. That’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Here are some of my favorites from this summer…
I’ve made these twice now, and both times, they were fantastic and extremely easy. These can even be made gluten free using the Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix, and all BC frosting is gluten free.
All you need is 1 box of cake mix (any flavor, I used yellow Funfetti), ingredients for the cake, 1 container of frosting, and chocolate candy melts of any kind (dark, milk, white); you can also use regular chocolate chips. That’s for the “real” version. For a lower-fat, somewhat lower-calorie version, I made the cake with 1 cup of water and 1 container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. It tastes just as good, and it’s not as dense as using eggs and oil. And then I used half a container of frosting, maybe a little less than half, and about 2/3 of a block of low-fat cream cheese. The end result is the same, and just as tasty.
Bake the cake in a 9×13 pan according to the directions on the back of the box. When it’s done, let it cool completely. Crumble the completely cooled cake into a large bowl; make sure the crumbles are small and broken up well. Add the frosting/cream cheese (in whatever proportions you so desire) to the cake crumbles and mix well. It’ll form a dough. Let the dough chill for at least half an hour; I usually let it sit for an hour, but half an hour is sufficient.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the chocolate melts. They can be melted in the microwave or on the stovetop. When the dough is ready, roll it into 1-inch balls and set them aside. Try to keep them cold between being rolled and being dipped in the chocolate; it’ll make dipping them easier. Roll the balls in chocolate, and then set them on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you desire, top them with sprinkles or other decorations while they’re still wet. This is optional, but it makes them look pretty.
Chill them in the freezer, just long enough for the chocolate to harden. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Try not to eat them all at once. It’s difficult, trust me.
Brie with pecans
Cheese is my downfall, especially soft, creamy cheeses like brie. It’s especially delicious when melted and topped with strawberry jam, or baked in crescent roll dough.
Another favorite is topped with pecans and a brown sugar glaze. My mom made this a few weeks ago, and kicked it up a few notches with some Jack Daniels honey whiskey. We kind of eyeballed it, but here’s an exact recipe to follow, from Saucy Girl’s Kitchen:
1 wheel of brie cheese (we use Presidente Light)
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans (we use pecans)
1/4 cup brown sugar (we use the Splenda brown sugar blend)
2 Tbsp whiskey of choice (it’s especially tasty with JD Honey)
Place brie in a medium-to-large(ish) baking dish or on a plate. Microwave it just enough to soften the cheese (or you can put it in the oven, at 350, for 5-7 minutes). Mix the nuts, whiskey and brown sugar in a bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes until the sugar is melted and the mixture bubbles. Pour over the cheese and serve immediately with crackers. It’s also great with apple slices.
Click that link and tell me that photo does not make your mouth water.
Graham cracker pudding sandwiches
I found these on Pinterest and had been wanting to make them for a while. We had family friends visiting last weekend, so what better time to give them a try? They were easy, and everyone loved them. They’re a really nice, light alternative to ice cream sandwiches, and just as delicious, if not more!
You’ll need 1 box of graham crackers (I used low-fat honey), 1 box of pudding mix (I used sugar-free, fat-free chocolate), 1 small container of Cool Whip, and about 1/2 cup of milk.
Mix the pudding mix with the milk and Cool Whip until it forms a thick mousse. Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes so it will thicken up a little. While waiting, break apart about 10 graham crackers so you have 20 pieces to make the sandwiches.
When the pudding is ready, spoon a heaping spoonful onto a cracker, smooth it out, and top with another cracker. I dipped the sides of my sandwiches in sprinkles for some color. Then set the sandwiches on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and let them freeze until ready to serve. Mine stayed in the freezer all afternoon until dessert after dinner, but only a couple hours is enough.
Happy cooking/baking, y’all!