Cake Batter Dip

Cooking in a dorm means cooking with very limited space. My mini fridge can barely hold a Brita pitcher in it, let alone a weeks worth of groceries. That is why I’ve found it is important that I buy ingredients that can work in multiple recipes. I can buy precooked chicken strips and shredded cheese which will work for salads, wraps, and quesadillas. There is no room in my fridge for something that will be used once and never again (I learned that from the jalapeño mustard I bought on an impulse).

I saw this recipe for cake batter dip around the same time I saw the recipe for 1, 2, 3 cake.  Both recipes require full boxes of cake, so I bought one angel food cake mix and one devil’s food cake mix. I knew I would never be able to eat all the dip that one full box would make, so I set aside some devil’s food cake mix before combining the mixes for the 1, 2, 3 cake.

I changed the measurements from the original recipe to make a smaller batch and added peanut butter. This recipe still makes enough for 2-4 people, depending on how much of a sweet tooth you and your friends have. I enjoyed it, but I think the mug cake was a much more satisfying use of the cake mix.

Cake Batter Dip
3 oz. plain yogurt
3/4 cup whipped cream
1/2 cup devil’s food cake mix
1/4 cup peanut butter
Graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, or whatever you’d like to eat your dip with. I used Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams.

1. Melt the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl for 20 seconds. Stir, and put it back in the microwave for 20 more seconds.
2. Combine the whipped cream and the yogurt.
3. Mix in the devil’s food cake mix
4. Add the peanut butter and mix until everything is fully combined
5. Serve with your choice of crackers and enjoy!

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1, 2, 3 Cake (Take 4)

I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I’ve heard someone say it is where boring girls go to congregate, but I disagree. I mean, I am pretty boring most of the time. But not because I love Pinterest. Plenty of my other interesting, active friends use Pinterest in very interesting ways.

I love Pinterest because I find inspiring pictures, ideas for weekend craft projects, and awesome recipes.

I also love Pinterest because it is where I found my latest study break obsession.

Remember my last study break snack? Where I said maybe my next one will be healthier? Well this one has strawberries. In my book, that counts.

I found this recipe for an easy mug cake on Pinterest and knew right away I had to try it. I brought a mug from home, even though I don’t drink coffee, specifically for this recipe.

That made it even sadder when my first attempt at 1, 2, 3 Cake ended in failure. I forgot to mix the batter. Half the cake rose and the rest was powdered mix sitting at the bottom of the mug.

My second attempt, I mixed the batter thoroughly before putting my mug in the microwave. 1, 2, 3 Cake (Take 2) was definitely a cake… just not a very good one. It was dry and it made me realize that the main reason I like cake is frosting.

I decided to try one more time, this time adding more than the two tablespoons of water the recipe calls for. My cake was moister, but I still wasn’t impressed. I was ready to give up on the whole mug cake genre until I opened my fridge to get a bottle of water. It was then I noticed the whipped cream and strawberries I had for another recipe. Perfect! I chopped up some strawberries, threw them into my mug, and covered it in whipped cream. The strawberries were nice and cold and the whipped cream helped the cake seem more moist. Take 3 was a success.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog that I realized I had mini chocolate chips in my room. Thus, 1, 2, 3 Cake (Take 4) was born.

1, 2, 3 Cake (Take 4)

What you need for the cake base:
1 box angel food cake mix (it MUST be angel food cake to work)
1 box any other cake mix (I used devil’s food cake)

Combine the box of angel food cake with your other cake mix and store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. You only need 3 tablespoons of this mixture each time you make a cake, so it will last you awhile.

Everything else you need:
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a handful of mini chocolate chips
whipped cream
1-3 strawberries
a mug
measuring spoons

1. Scoop 3 tablespoons of your cake mixture into a mug and add your water and vanilla extract
2.  Stir until all the lumps are gone
3. Dump a handful of mini chocolate chips into your mug
4. Microwave for 1 minute on high power
(Don’t touch the mug right away–it is extremely hot. I learned that the hard way.)
5. Take your mug out of the microwave once it has cooled down a little and top with whipped cream and chopped strawberries.

This recipe has seriously revolutionized the way I crave desserts. It used to be that I waited for someone’s birthday or for the dining center to have a good dessert selection to get to eat cake. Now I am always two to three minutes away from a very satisfying cake. It is a blessing and a curse.

Pasta Boat!

I love pasta. I could eat it every day for a week and not get tired of it. Whenever I want to cook a nice dinner, pasta is always my first option. I have over 50 macaroni and cheese recipes saved in my bookmarks. I have five pages worth of favorites on Food Gawker and a majority of them are pasta. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make any pasta living in a dorm. It is one of the things I miss most from home. The dining hall’s pasta station only has good sauces once every few days.

So when I got my belated Valentines gift from my boyfriend over the weekend and it was a Pasta Boat, I was beyond excited. Sure, when we’d seen the commercial on TV and he told me I should buy it, I said no. I was skeptical and didn’t think I needed pasta that much.

I was wrong.

To be fair, I’ve only used this once so far. I cooked one serving of angel hair pasta in it today, and it worked perfectly. I accidentally left the lid on (I didn’t realize I was supposed to take it off until I watched the infomercial again) so the handles got pretty hot. My microwave is also a little small, so the Pasta Boat was not able to rotate all the way around. Other than that, it was as easy to use as the commercial makes it look.

I expected my pasta to be a clumpy mess when I took it out of the microwave, but instead it looked just like it does after cooking it in a pot. It takes anywhere from 13 to 18 minutes to cook the pasta in the microwave, but if you have the time, it is definitely worth it.

If you love pasta, and have some money to spare, I would definitely recommend buying a Pasta Boat.


Pasta Boat commercial

I didn’t realize how much time it took before making my pasta today, so I just covered mine in a canned tomato sauce and sprinkled salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning in with the sauce. It was much more satisfying than my usual Easy Mac lunch.

I will definitely be posting more recipes for the Pasta Boat in the upcoming weeks.  It came with different recipes (including one for mac and cheese!) that looked interesting to me, so I want to try some of those out.

A Lesson in Patience

I’m not the most patient person. If I get to lunch craving pasta and the line in front of the pasta station is too long, I just find something else to eat. When I’m waiting for friends to arrive, I pace back and forth and check the door every two minutes. And sometimes, when it comes to cooking, I try to take shortcuts. This sandwich needs homemade cranberry mustard? I’ll just buy it, and that will mean I get to eat my sandwich five minutes sooner!

When I found this pizza crackers recipe on pinterest, I thought it was perfect. I love every single ingredient involved. It looked as easy as could be. If you can follow directions, and are patient, your pizza crackers should come out looking like this:


(Photo courtesy of Picky Palate)

Instead, because I was impatient, mine came out looking like this:

I didn’t want to wait for my cream cheese to soften, so I stuck it in the microwave. What came out was closer to the consistency to sour cream than it was to cream cheese. When I added the shredded cheese to my warm cream cheese, the mozzarella melted.

I thought it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but it did. The cracker sandwiches still tasted good, but the consistency was off. And there was something strange about eating a warm cream cheese pizza sandwich.

Learn from my mistakes. Just let the sour cream soften by taking it out of the fridge ten or fifteen minutes before you start assembling your crackers.

Pepperoni “Pizza-wiches”

I didn’t want to make a whole batch, so I used half the amount of cream cheese and just guessed how much sauce, pepperoni, and cheese to put in. The official recipe from Picky Palate is as follows:

8 ounces softened cream cheese
20 pepperonis, quartered
20-30 whole pepperonis
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pizza or pasta sauce
1 box Town House Crackers (Target only had Ritz when I went, so I used those instead and they worked well)


My cream cheese, post-microwave


Pour the pizza sauce into the cream cheese. This step made my mixture even runnier, but if you follow the recipe your mixture should look more solid.


Add in the pepperonis


And the cheese


Spread mixture onto a cracker, top with a pepperoni (and cheese, if you like cheese as much as me) and enjoy!

 

Easy Study Break Snack

I’ve been studying all week for the first two tests of my semester. They both fell on the same day and I spent my time alternating between reading about journalism ethics and environmental science. I don’t know what it is teachers like about this week, but all my friends have had tests too. I’ve been getting texts from my friends every few hours about how much they hate studying or trying to convince me to drop out of school and work on a cruise ship with them. It was almost tempting until we remembered how annoying we must have been to the workers on our ship when we went on a cruise for our senior spring break.

We all survived the week, of course. I credit my success partially to this study break snack I’ve been doing. It is not at all healthy. It is the complete opposite of healthy. You probably shouldn’t eat too many of these in a week. I’ve had far too many. Don’t follow my example.

It is unhealthy, but it is simple, quick, and completely delicious. Exactly what you need to get your mind off of studying.

S’mores Nachos 


All you need is graham crackers, chocolate, mini marshmallows, a microwave, and a plate.


Put down a layer of graham crackers, and then top with chocolate pieces and marshmallows. Put your plate in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Check if it is melted enough (mine wasn’t) and if it isn’t to your liking, put it in for another 15-20 seconds. It is that simple.

The result:

Absolutely delicious.


This camera has a funky lens on for this one, but I like it because you can see my little side table. I got it from Target at the beginning of the school year. I used to just keep my lamp on it, but it has become my makeshift counter during this process. Very useful.

There you have it. The snack that has kept me going this week. Maybe my next favorite study snack will be a little bit healthier. It probably won’t be though.

Cooking With a Kitchen (for the weekend)

I ended up going home this weekend to watch the Super Bowl and I was so glad I did. What a game! I think my family and I were having a collective heart attack for the last five minutes of it. I have no idea how four people managed to be so loud, but the noise we made after the Giants won was unbelievable. And, in case anyone was wondering, my dad did wear his magic green polo. It worked again!

Not only did I get to watch my favorite team win with my family, but I also had a rare luxury: I got to cook in a kitchen. I managed to make chicken nuggets, stove top macaroni and cheese (not the Kraft kind), hashbrown casserole, buffalo chicken dip, taco dip, and pancakes in the two days I was home. It was amazing. I wish I had thought to take pictures of all of the food.

For those with a kitchen, or those who torture themselves by reading recipe after recipe of things they can’t make while sitting in their dorm, I thought I’d include the results for the chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

We used this recipe for macaroni and cheese from Hungry Cravings. I had it favorited on food gawker (a great site to find recipes) and I was looking for something that didn’t need to be baked.

This recipe has you begin with the pasta, water, butter, milk, and seasonings all mixed together. You have to stir the pasta constantly once the mixture begins to boil. The whole process took me about fifteen minutes. For about nine minutes it was just me standing in front of the stove and stirring my macaroni. I didn’t mind it, because my boyfriend was working on the chicken nuggets next to me and I just talked to him. If I were making it alone, I might have gotten a little tired of stirring.

Instead of making a roux, this recipe has you cook the pasta with the milk and then leave it unstrained. You just pour the cheese on top afterwards, and it all melts together to be extremely cheesy and creamy. I wasn’t completely sold on this method. I think the texture of the finished product was a little off–maybe it was just the way my cheese melted, but it was a little grainy. Regardless, I ate my whole serving and my boyfriend enjoyed it, so it is definitely worth a try! I may try this recipe again with a higher quality cheese.

We found the recipe for chicken nuggets from 100 Days of Real Food. It was so simple to follow the directions and the end results were delightful. The part that took the longest was simply cutting up the chicken into bite sized pieces. The macaroni and chicken nuggets ended up being done at about the same time.

Unfortunately, as nice as this weekend was, I’m back to cooking without a kitchen. Check back later in the week for a recipe for a quick study break snack!

Homesick Sunday and a Superbowl Recipe

I’m not a huge football fan. I cheer for the Giants if they are playing. I smack talk friends whose team plays against my team. I wear Giants pajama pants and t-shirts. But I really couldn’t tell you anything technical … Continue reading