Kids in the Kitchen: Mixed-Up Cereal Bars

WIN_20160116_123407Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we don’t buy bright colored, sugary cereal. The problem is that Santa Claus is a mischievous guy, and leaves Mom-Disapproved cereals under the Christmas tree. The kiddos LOVE this, and for a few weeks they are able to indulge in occasional bowls of silly breakfast cereals. By late winter, this Mom’s patience with Santa has worn thin, and it’s time to get rid of the neon colored breakfast food.

This recipe gives the pint size cooks in your kitchen a fun opportunity to an after school snack out of those bits and specks of breakfast cereal lurking in your pantry. These cereal bars are most fun when you let the kids mix cereals. Why should Rice Crispies get to have all of the fun?

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

WIN_20160116_121312Ingredients (Makes 12 bars)

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

4 cups mixed-up cereal (at least two varieties)

Directions

WIN_20160116_122914Step 1) Melt butter and marshmallows together in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.

Step 2) Remove saucepan from heat and stir in mixed-up cereal.

Step 3) Transfer mixture to a greased pie dish. Using wet hands, press the mixture firmly into the pie dish. Allow mixture to cool and firm up on the counter.

Step 4) Cut into squares or wedges using a wet knife, OR place the pie dish in the freezer for about 30 minutes and cut into squares while partially frozen.

If you plan to pack these Mixed-Up Cereal Bars in school lunches, wrap them individually in waxed paper.

Au Gratin Potatoes

WIN_20160115_204815In chilly weather, a well made bowl of warm and cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes is just the thing to warm up your insides! This recipe gives the potatoes a head start in the microwave, allowing your to indulge your craving for cheesy potatoes even faster. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients (Makes 2 side dish servings)

2 large potatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

WIN_20160115_194355Directions

Step 1) Microwave potatoes in water for 5 minutes or until just barely parcooked. If potatoes are very cold, they will require an additional minute or two in the microwave.

Step 2) Combine butter, shredded cheddar cheese, and milk in a saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until cheese is melted and a smooth sauce forms.

Step 3) Arrange half of the potatoes in a small, greased casserole dish. Top with half of the cheese sauce. Layer on the remaining potato slices, and top with the remaining cheese sauce.

Step 4) Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cover the casserole dish with foil. Bake Au Gratin Potatoes in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Step 5) Remove casserole dish from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and finish baking, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Enjoy your Au Gratin Potatoes!

Weeknight Meatloaf

WIN_20160118_180647

Simple, delicious comfort food – would you expect anything less from well made meatloaf? I make a double batch to slice and freeze for individual workday lunches. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 egg

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

WIN_20160117_141628Directions

Step 1) Combine tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper to make a glaze. Set aside.

Step 2) Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly (use your hands). Shape the meat mixture into a rectangular shape and place in a bread pan.

Step 3) Bake the meatloaf in the pan, uncovered, for 45 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Remove pan from oven and drain fat by tipping the pan carefully over a disposable container placed in the sink (to prevent dangerously hot spills).

Step 4) Remove meatloaf from the bread pan and place on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Spread the glaze on top of the meatloaf. Return meatloaf to the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake meatloaf for an additional 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Tip: Sometimes I bake this meatloaf and place it in the freezer, whole, for about 2 hours. When partially frozen, the meatloaf can be sliced into perfect “magazine photo” slices. I then prepare workday lunches by placing two nice looking slices per freezer container, along with a serving of cooked vegetables.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

WIN_20160116_102115Carrot Cake Pancakes make a lovely weekend breakfast, and are a great way to add extra fruits and vegetables to an otherwise carbohydrate-based meal. The flavor of these pancakes is subtle, which children seem to prefer. If you’d like to ramp up the flavor a bit, double the quantity of cinnamon and cloves.

This recipe makes a rather large batch of pancakes, perfect for freezing. I freeze a few small pancakes along with additional pineapple in single serving containers for quick weekday breakfasts. Carrot Cake Pancakes reheat easily on a baking pan in the oven (approximately 5 minutes at 350 degrees), and can also be microwaved.

WIN_20160116_095823Ingredients (Makes about 24 pancakes – they freeze well!)

1 cup finely grated carrot

2 eggs

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup small pineapple chunks

WIN_20160116_101509Directions

Step 1) Combine all ingredients except for pineapple. Blend well.

Step 2) Ladle 1/4 cup portions of batter onto a well greased skillet or griddle. Place a few small pineapple chunks onto each pancake, and cook over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes per side.

Step 3) Be sure to grease the skillet or griddle in between each batch of pancakes, because the pineapple has a tendency to stick.

Step 4) Serve with butter and additional pineapple. For an added layer of flavor, serve with Carrot Cake Jam. Enjoy your Carrot Cake Pancakes!

Homemade Hot Fudge

WIN_20160114_191200Homemade Hot Fudge takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and is extravagantly delicious. To enjoy this treat, don’t be afraid to think beyond classic hot fudge sundaes. Homemade Hot Fudge is also a fun dipping sauce for fresh strawberries, frozen banana chunks, biscotti, and vanilla wafers. Be creative and enjoy!

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

WIN_20160114_184934Ingredients (Makes about 3 cups)

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup real butter (not margarine)

2/3 cup chocolate chips

12 ounce can of evaporated milk

WIN_20160114_185129

After one minute

Directions

Step 1) Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine.

Step 2) Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir constantly for 8 minutes.

WIN_20160114_190234

After eight minutes

Step 3) Allow to cool before serving. Hot fudge is delicious when slightly warm, but should not be literally “hot.”

Store leftover hot fudge in a glass jar (such as a pint size mason jar) in the refrigerator. Warm in a microwave for a few seconds and stir carefully before serving.

Chocolate Orange Cremes

WIN_20160219_201527Candy making doesn’t need to be complicated. Today’s recipe is super easy! You don’t need any special equipment – no candy thermometers, tempering surfaces, molds, tubes, brushes… none of that. If you have a pot and a mini muffin tin, you have all of the equipment you need to get started.

WIN_20160219_164032If you want – but this is entirely optional – you could use an inexpensive plastic candy mold instead of (or in addition to) a mini muffin tin. The molds shown here were purchased for about $2 each at a local craft store. I purchased them simply to test them alongside a mini muffin tin, and I can confirm – the mini muffin tin works just as well. If anything, the muffin tin is a bit easier to work with, because the larger size is easier to coat evenly with chocolate.

I spent about an hour making the plate of Chocolate Orange Cremes shown above. They are delicious – it was time well spent!

WIN_20160219_164101Ingredients (Makes about 30 candies)

1/2 pound of bulk chocolate coating (milk or dark, such as Ambrosia brand) -AND/OR- Wilton brand Candy Melts (any color)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Melt chocolate. You can microwave chocolate coating to melt, just make sure to stop the microwave every 30 seconds to stir. I melted my milk chocolate coating in a double boiler, and melted a small quantity of orange-colored Wilton Candy Melts (to drizzle over candies) in the microwave. It really doesn’t matter how you melt your chocolate, just stir frequently and don’t burn it.

WIN_20160219_171757Step 2) Fill mini muffin tins or candy molds about 1/3 full with melted chocolate, and use a small spoon (a baby spoon works well) to push the chocolate up the sides of the tin/mold to coat the surfaces. Don’t worry, this is easy.

Step 3) Place coated tins/molds in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Step 4) While tins are cooling, beat together cream cheese and orange juice concentrate with an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until smooth.

WIN_20160219_181605Step 5) Remove tins from the refrigerator. Use a small spoon to fill each chocolate lined tin about 3/4 full with orange creme filling. Important – do not spread the orange creme filling right up to the top of the mold, especially along the edges! Just fill the molds 3/4 full. Return the tin/mold to the refrigerator for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 6) Remove tins from the refrigerator and spoon melted chocolate evenly over the top of the filling. It’s important to form a “chocolate seal” between the top and the side edges.

Step 7) Return filled molds to the refrigerator until chocolate is firm and looks a bit cloudy. To remove cooled Chocolate Orange Cremes from their molds/tins, simply turn the molds upside down and wiggle the candies a bit. They’ll pop right out!

WIN_20160219_195738Step 8) If desired, melt a small quantity (about 1/4 cup) of candy melts in an accent color (I used orange). Pour melted chocolate into a small zip-lock bag and cut a very small corner off of the bag. Use this homemade pastry bag to decorate your Chocolate Orange Cremes!

Enjoy!

Ahi Tuna Salad

WIN_20160114_205827My local market sells small, individually sealed, frozen Ahi tuna steaks for a very reasonable price. Ahi tuna (Yellowfin tuna) is high in protein, low in fat, and packed full of B vitamins. While I generally prefer the sustainability and reliably lower mercury levels of small fish such as sardines, the delectable flavor of Ahi tuna is an indulgence I’m not ready to part with entirely. This recipe offers an easy way to enjoy this delicious fish.

A note about slicing tuna for pan searing: If you enjoy tuna a bit pink in the center, slice your tuna steak 1/3 inch thick and sear quickly. I prefer tuna cooked through, and slice my steak into 1/4 inch thick pieces. It’s up to you.

WIN_20160114_205407Ingredients (per person)

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

3 ounce frozen Ahi tuna steak, sliced thin

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves

2 tablespoons cooked, shelled edamame (soybeans)

1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon chili vinegar

colorful pepper slices to garnish

WIN_20160114_203855Directions

Step 1) Arrange torn lettuce on a serving plate. Sprinkle with cooked, shelled edamame.

Step 2) In a small bowl, whisk together grated ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and chili vinegar to make a simple vinaigrette. Set aside.

Step 3) Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Make sure bottom of skillet is evenly coated with oil. Add Ahi tuna slices and sear 15 – 30 seconds on each side (if you like the middle pink) or up to 1 minute on each side (if you like the tuna cooked through).

Step 4) Arrange tuna slices over lettuce and edamame. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with pepper slices.

Enjoy your Ahi Tuna Salad!

Peach Dumplings

WIN_20160109_183455

These peach dumplings taste like a fresh peach pie, but are easier to serve. There’s no slicing – just spoon the desired number of little peach dumplings onto each plate. For added flair, garnish with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

WIN_20160109_173944Ingredients (Serves 5 – 6)

4 large peaches, quartered (frozen peach slices will work)

1 roll-out refrigerator crust (or homemade pie crust dough)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

WIN_20160109_172816Directions

Step 1) Roll out the pie crust on a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter to divide the crust into 16 pieces. Smaller pieces can be combined and rolled out to make larger pieces; I used rectangle (mostly) shaped pieces.

WIN_20160109_174501Step 2) Wrap one piece of pie crust around each peach slice. The crust doesn’t need to go all the way around, but it’s helpful if the crust is long enough to tuck underneath each peach slice.

Step 3) Arrange crust-covered peach slices close together in a lightly greased glass pie dish or tart pan as shown. Sprinkle with WIN_20160109_184551chopped pecans.

Step 4) In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and spices. Stir over low heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined. Pour sauce evenly over peaches.

Step 5) Bake Peach Dumplings in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

 

A Cook, A Book, and a FREEBIE for you!

This contest has ended.

Congratulations to Courtney H., who will receive a free hardcover copy of SAVING GRAVE!

saving grace

SAVING GRACE, by Jane Green

Hardcover book giveaway contest ended February 29th!

About SAVING GRACE

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Grace Chapman seems to live a perfect life as a caterer in upstate New York, residing in luxurious seclusion with her famous author husband, Ted. But Grace has secrets, and Ted has a temper. Grace’s world is falling apart.

Enter Beth, a seemingly perfect personal assistant recommended by the Chapman’s own daughter. In short order, Beth is able to organize the Chapman household and placate the disorganized, angry author. As the plot deepens and Grace spirals, the reader sees what Grace cannot…

Beth doesn’t want to help Grace. Beth wants to become Grace.

Cooking becomes a lifeline as Grace struggles to save herself.

Saving Grace

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

WIN_20160214_175915

What’s even better than sneaking chocolate chip cookie dough from the mixing bowl?

How about safe-to-eat cookie dough dipped in chocolate?

Try this recipe. Happy Monday!  🙂

WIN_20160214_125852Ingredients (Makes 36 truffles)

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

WIN_20160214_1309241/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon milk (if needed)

1 pound milk chocolate bark

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugars.

Step 2) Stir in vanilla extract, salt, flour, and chocolate chips. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If dough is too dry and crumbly, sprinkle up to one tablespoon of milk over the dough and stir until a large ball forms.

WIN_20160214_175302Step 3) Roll pieces of dough into small balls, using approximately 1 teaspoon of dough per piece.

Step 4) Cover little dough balls and chill for at least one hour.

Step 5) Melt chocolate bark over low heat in a double boiler, stirring frequently.

Step 6) Use either a fork or a toothpick to dip each dough ball in chocolate. Set dipped truffles on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Step 7) Chill dipped truffles for one hour, either in a refrigerator or outside, depending upon your climate and the time of year.

Step 8) Store Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart

WIN_20160105_180446This dessert falls into my favorite category… the “looks complicated, but is really easy to make” category. In just a few minutes time, you can prepare a decadent tart that looks elegant enough to serve at the end of a fancy dinner. Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart is quite rich, and will serve a few more people than a similarly sized fruit pie. A modest wedge of this tart, perhaps garnished with fresh whipped cream and served with coffee, will make a perfect finish for an evening with company. If you prefer to enjoy this Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart in your PJs on a Tuesday night, I won’t judge!

Ingredients (Serves 12)

1 roll-out pie crust (or made from scratch if you prefer)

1/2 pound dark chocolate

1/3 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons rum cream

2 ripe bananas (the yellow peels should have dark spots!)

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

WIN_20160105_142824Directions

Step 1) Roll out your pie crust and use it to line a tart pan. Trim crust even with the rim of the tart pan, and poke a few holes in the pie crust with a fork (this helps to prevent air bubbles). Bake the pie crust according to the package directions, until the pie crust is light golden brown. I baked my pie crust in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Allow your baked pie crust to cool completely.

Step 2) Combine chocolate, half-and-half, and rum cream in a saucepan. Melt together over LOW heat, stirring constantly. This will only take a few minutes… be patient, and keep the heat LOW! Burned chocolate is gross.

Step 3) When chocolate is completely melted, remove saucepan from heat. Allow to cool until close to room temperature. Mixture will thicken a little, but shouldn’t solidify.

WIN_20160105_145524Step 4) Spread a very thin layer of cooled chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell. Use just enough chocolate to coat the crust.

Step 5) Slice bananas into 1/4 inch slices. Cover the chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell evenly with 1-2 layers of banana slices.

Step 6) Carefully pour the chocolate mixture over the banana slices. Spread chocolate so that the banana slices are completely covered; the back of a large spoon works well for this.

Step 7) Freeze the chocolate banana tart for at least two hours or overnight. Slice and serve!

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

WIN_20160105_181337

Delicious!

Rainbow of Roasted Vegetables

WIN_20160206_213713It’s easy to get The Blaaahs this time of year.

“What exactly are ‘The Blaaahs‘,” you ask?

The Blaaahs is the highly scientific term (not really) for feeling run down, sluggish, under-rested, over-worked, and seriously lacking in the rejuvenating powers of sunshine and sand! Short of booking a plane ticket to Jamaica – not that I object to that idea – the best way to beat The Blaaahs is to fortify your diet with brightly colored, vitamin packed vegetables. Try this Rainbow of Roasted Vegetables for dinner tonight, and let me know if you feel a bit better tomorrow!

WIN_20160206_211338Ingredients (Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish)

1 bright orange yam, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 purple sweet potato, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 cup shiitake or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2 cups fresh green broccoli, cut bite size

1 small red bell pepper, cut bite size

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lemon

Directions

Step 1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon 3 tablespoons of coconut oil onto a large baking sheet with shallow sides, and place in the oven for 1 minute to melt.

Step 2) Remove baking sheet from oven, and use a metal spatula to spread the melted coconut oil all over the baking sheet. Place orange yam and purple sweet potato slices on baking sheet, then turn over with a spatula so that both sides are lightly coated with oil.

Step 3) Place baking sheet in oven and roast yams/sweet potatoes for 10 minutes.

Step 4) Remove baking sheet from oven after 10 minutes. Add broccoli to the pan, and turn over everything on the pan once more. Return pan to oven for another 10 minutes.

Step 5) After another 10 minutes have passed, remove baking sheet from oven again. Add mushrooms and red pepper to the pan, and turn over everything on the pan one final time. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over all of the vegetables, and return the pan to the oven for a final 10 minutes.

Step 6) Remove pan from the oven after the final 10 minutes, and taste to see that the vegetables are done to your liking. (If not, feel free to return the pan to the oven for a few minutes.) Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon evenly over all of the vegetables, and serve!

High Protein Breakfast Smoothie

WIN_20160207_103215

It is a fact, at least in the US, that married men have a longer life expectancy than single men. Plenty of married men have joked that this isn’t really true, life just seems longer, but I’ll leave that one alone.  😉  All kidding aside, I do what I can to look out for my favorite guy’s health, and that begins with breakfast. Favorite Guy isn’t much of a breakfast eater, but he works long days this time of year, and (I think) would benefit from quick, high protein breakfast. This breakfast drink packs upward of 15 grams of protein, and is the latest trick in my sinister plot to keep Favorite Guy healthy, breakfast fan or not!

Ingredients (Makes 1 high protein smoothie)

1 Tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

1 Tablespoon real peanut butter (not hydrogenated)

1 Tablespoon Chia seeds

1/4 cup frozen berries (any variety, I like blueberries)

1 cup skim milk

Directions

Simply blend all ingredients together until smooth. So simple!

Chinese New Year: Poached Tuna with Noodles

WIN_20160116_133238Chinese New Year falls on Monday, February 8th this year. 2016 is the year of the Red Fire Monkey. You fall under the sign of the monkey if you were born in 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, or 2016. Chinese astrology suggests that people born under the sign of the monkey should expect competition and challenge in 2016.

10 Pcs Fine Bone China Blue and White Bowl, with Free 10 Porcelain Spoons, Rice Bowl, Cereal Bowl, Soup Bowl, Fruit Bowl Set

Chinese New Year celebrations often span one week or longer, involving spectacular parties, fireworks, family reunions, and lots and lots of food! Today’s recipe for Poached Tuna with Noodles is just the dish to get you in the spirit of things, while still being kind to your body. Poached Tuna with Noodles is a heart-healthy dish complete with long vermicelli noodles for good luck! Noodles represent longevity, and according to superstition should never be cut.

WIN_20160116_131938Ingredients (Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 main dish servings)

4 inch piece of lemongrass, lightly crushed with the broad side of a knife

1 lime leaf

2 tablespoons tom yum paste

WIN_20160116_1307271/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

4 cups water

1 handful of vermicelli noodles (pinch your thumb and index finger together to make a circle, and fill the circle with noodles)

2 tablespoons dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into pieces

6 ounce tuna steak, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup snow pea pods, sliced into matchsticks

WIN_20160116_131525Directions

Step 1) Combine lemongrass, lime leaf, tom yum paste, ginger, and water in a wok or large pot. Bring to a boil.

Step 2) Add broken shiitake mushrooms and vermicelli noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Step 3) Add tuna pieces and simmer for 5 minutes or until tuna is just barely pink in the center.

Step 4) Remove wok from heat. Stir in sliced snow pea pods. Serve immediately.

Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cake wholeThis cake is so very, very delicious.

It’s “Why can’t every day be Fat Tuesday?” delicious! It’s “Please Mom, why can’t I have a third piece?” delicious! It’s “To heck with that resolution, life is short and I want CAKE!” delicious!

 Mardi Gras Beads & Feather Masks Party Pack With 6 Mardi Gras Tattoos

King Cake is a staple of Mardi Gras festivities, Mardi Gras being the joyful and exuberant two week period ending with Fat Tuesday. Throughout much of Europe and the Southern United States, Mardi Gras is when Christians indulge in butter, eggs, sugar, and other luxuries, in preparation for the coming austerity of Lent. As you can see from the recipe below, King Cake is chock full of rich and delicious ingredients. Lent is approaching… let’s enjoy this King Cake now!

WIN_20160128_133351Ingredients (Makes 1 large King Cake, serves 16)

For the cake:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

WIN_20160128_1542502 envelopes of yeast

4 eggs, lightly beaten

6 – 7 cups flour

For the filling:

3/4 package (6 ounces) cream cheese

WIN_20160128_1544181 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raspberry jam

For the frosting:

1/4 package (2 ounces) cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

food coloring (if desired; I used purple)

decorations (I used gold dragees/nonpareils and green sugar)

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

Directions

Step 1) Heat 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup butter in a large pot (the pot will function as a mixing bowl, so use a big pot). Once butter is melted, remove saucepan from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Step 2) After the milk mixture has cooled slightly, stir in yeast and beaten eggs. Slowly stir in 6 cups of flour. Dump the dough onto a floured counter top.

Step 3) Knead dough with your hands until the dough is nice and smooth, about 6 – 8 minutes. Add additional 1 cup or so of flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Step 4) Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a slightly damp cloth (a clean kitchen towel works well) and set dough in a warm (not hot) place to rise for 1 hour.

Step 5) After 1 hour, divide dough in half. On a lightly floured counter top, roll into two approximate rectangles, each approximately 2 feet long and 6 inches wide.

Step 6) Spread raspberry jam down the center of one rectangle. Fold the sides over the jam to make a long, skinny rectangle of dough with the jam trapped in the center.

Step 7) Blend together 6 ounces of cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Spread this mixture down the center of the second rectangle, and fold the same way as the first rectangle (see photo, above).

WIN_20160128_163110Step 8) Place the long, skinny rectangles right next to each other and simply twist them together. You can leave them in a long line to make a straight King Cake, or shape the twisted dough into a wreath as shown.

Step 9) Carefully transfer the unbaked King Cake to a well greased baking sheet. Use a big baking sheet, as the King Cake will expand in the oven! If possible, have someone help you move the dough.

Step 10) Bake your King Cake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sounds a bit hollow when tapped with your fingertip. If you are baking a wreath-shaped cake, place a few well greased canning jars in the center to help retain the shape.

WIN_20160128_172259Step 11) Remove King Cake from oven and immediately remove jars from center of wreath. Use the largest spatula you can find to help transfer your King Cake to a wire rack for cooling.

Step 12) While your King Cake cools, blend together 2 ounces of cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and milk to make frosting. Add the milk only 1 tablespoon at a time – you don’t want runny frosting! Add food coloring if desired, keeping in mind that traditional King Cake colors are purple, green, and gold.

Step 13) When your King Cake is completely cool, drizzle ribbons of frosting all over the top. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other decorations. Enjoy!
King Cake slice