February 15, 2015

Birthday Cake Milkshakes and Raffle for #NoKidHungry


Do you guys know what today is? It's my birthday, and I've decided to celebrate. First on the list are these thick and tasty Birthday Cake Milkshakes. For my last day at the job, I baked up a double batch of my favorite Birthday Cake Cupcakes, but I ended up only having enough frosting for half of them (I even doubled the frosting recipe. I guess I was just over zealous with the piping bag). I decided I didn't want to make more frosting and stuck the extra cupcakes in the freezer. They've kind of been in the freezer ever since.

I don't like wasting food, and I especially don't want to waste good cupcakes, so what's a girl to do except stick them in the blender with some almond milk and ice cream and make milkshakes?
These milkshakes are thick and creamy and totally taste like liquid cake. They're a great way to use leftover or stale cake, and an on-the-go alternative to the traditional birthday cake if you plan on going out to see the movie about space bees for your birthday (aka Jupiter Ascending)

I used unfrosted cupcakes because that's what I had, but I can't see how frosting would hurt these puppies. It would probably just give it a more authentic birthday cake flavor. I also used vanilla almond milk. You could go with dairy or soy milk, but I think that the almond milk just gives it that right amount of extra flavor.
Second on the birthday celebration list is a giveaway! I got an extra copy of Dining With the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook for Christmas, and since I know a lot of you may have found me through my myriad Doctor Who posts, I figured this is something you may enjoy. But since it is my birthday and that's put me in a very generous mood, I've decided that in place of the usual giveaway format, I'd make it a raffle instead to benefit one of my favorite charities.

No Kid Hungry is a charity that I've supported for a while now, since even before I had a blog. It is a charity dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. Did you know that one in every five children in the US go hungry? That's over 16 million kids whose brains and bodies are still developing and need all the nutrition they can get.
So here's the deal: I've put together a fundraising page on No Kid Hungry. Anyone who donates to that page, between now and Monday, February 23, is eligible for one raffle entry for Dining with the Doctor. You don't get more entries for more money, so donate whatever amount you feel is appropriate.

After you've donated, go to the Rafflecoptor widget below and fill in your entry. The email address you provide is the email address that I will use to contact the winner, so please make sure it is accurate. The winner will be chosen randomly, and the giveaway is open to US residents only.


You can also donate without entering the raffle. I have a fundraising goal of $150, which seems like such a small amount, but it can provide up to 1,500 meals for children in need. It would make all my birthday wishes come true to reach it, so please remember that every dollar helps. Tell you family, your friends, your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate, and let's help put a big ole dent in childhood hunger. My fundraising page is here.

Birthday Cake Milkshakes
Yield: 2 milkshakes

Ingredients
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup vanilla ice cream*
4 vanilla cupcakes (or 1 slice of cake), chopped into pieces

Directions
Place the cake into a bowl and pour the almond milk on top. Cover and refrigerate for minimum of 30 minutes.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

*Low fat vanilla Greek yogurt can also be used, but will add a tangier flavor

Recipe by Kim

February 11, 2015

One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta


I'm going to be completely geeky for a sec (though really, when do I ever stop?). I bought myself and early birthday present in the form of a video game called Life is Strange. That title may or may not sound familiar to you, as there was recently some controversy when every publisher except for Square Enix told the developers that they wouldn't touch the game unless they changed the protagonist from female to male.

But I'm not here to talk about that (although I could give a good long rant), even though I'm a little happy that it happened. Not publishers going, "no, girls have cooties!" but the fact that it gave the game such early publicity. I've recently gotten into adventure games, and I've been waiting for a more interactive title. Adventure games have the tendency to feel a little bit passive, but Life is Strange promises choices that have real consequences to the story, plus the power to reverse time that will probably lead to a kind of butterfly effect. (The first time Max reverses time, she was taking a picture of a butterfly. Subtle, devs, real subtle).

I'm not pleased with the fact that it's being released in chapters, though. That's a new thing that's been happening with adventure games lately, and while it makes a certain amount of sense for indie games, a big publisher like Square Enix should be able to release the whole game in one fell swoop. The first chapter is mostly exposition with a couple of fairly basic fetch quests, and even though I'm a pretty slow gamer (I like to explore and talk to everyone), I finished it in one sitting. Still, I'm excited to play the next chapter and see how my choices effect the rest of the game.
Anyway, that concludes my geeky update for today. I was just really excited about that game. Now we can move on to the stuff you care about: the pasta.

Do you ever notice that there are a lot of recipes out there that claim to be one pot recipes, but then you read the ingredients and it will say, "8 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained," or "1 cup cooked white rice." Umm, no. If I have to have the pasta or rice already cooked, then I have to use a second pot to do that cooking, ergo, you are not a one pot recipe so go sit in the corner of shame.

That's not to say that there aren't actual one pot recipes on the interwebz, but then these imposters will show up while I'm looking for a real recipe and they'll make me so angry that I ragequit and just end up making a bowl of pasta in the microwave, like you do.

This recipe, however, is a real one-pot recipe. Or technically, a one skillet recipe, since I didn't actually make it in a pot. The first time that I made it was during snowmaggedon, which while being a lot less snowmaggedony than predicted, was still not weather I wanted to go out in. I had spent most of the day making brownies and then realized I had nothing prepped for actual food. I searched the fridge and found some chicken I had defrosted, some cherry tomatoes, half a carton of chicken broth, and some frozen spinach. In the pantry, I had half a box of rotini. I threw all of these things into my big skillet and it turned into this super delicious pasta and crazy easy pasta dish.
This time I made it with canned tomatoes and fresh spinach. I like it better with the canned tomatoes because fresh tomatoes take longer to cook down, but honestly you could go either way. With the spinach, I prefer using the fresh just so I don't have to defrost the frozen. It's all about the priorities.

The key to this dish is in its simplicity. The sauce is no more than tomatoes and chicken broth, with a little parmesan stirred in at the end. The pasta cooks directly in the sauce and in turn, the starch from the pasta helps thicken the sauce. The spinach cooks alongside the pasta. There's onion and garlic in there for flavoring, but if you want the dish to come together even faster, you can always use onion and garlic powder. You could even skip the chicken (and use vegetable broth) for a vegetarian dish.
One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta
Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
8 oz. rotini pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in the pasta and spinach, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the pasta is tender. Stir in the cheese and season to taste.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Serve hot.

Recipe by Kim

Things you may need:


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