Guest Blogger - Kaylee - With Recipes!!!!

Today I am exceptionally lucky to have a guest blogger - Kaylee!  Check out her amazing recipes!

 I’m Kaylee, and I date Derek, one of Sue’s sons.  He took the picture of me below:

Thanks to Sue, I’m writing my first-ever recipe for a blog! For me, this is a big deal, because until fairly recently, I was known in my family as a “Food Wuss.” A “Food Wuss” is a very picky, unadventurous eater unwilling to try new things. That all changed when I spent time abroad in Paris and tried a bunch of food way outside my comfort zone – chicory, artichokes, lychees, unpasteurized cheeses, fish I can’t seem to find any translation for…you name it! The incredible fresh produce available to me at all of the outdoor markets changed my relationship with food. No more picky eater tendencies for me!

Yet another change happened when I moved away from home and into my own place. My mom was not much of a cook while I grew up, but she remains the best baker I know.  So while I was living alone, I was equipped with the skills to make from-scratch cakes, brownies, cookies, and pies, I had to teach myself how to cook from the ground up. But I always found myself baking rather than cooking when I truly wanted to de-stress and gain joy from my food. So, with an ever-growing sweet tooth AND waistline, I decided to learn how to make healthy modifications to my baking endeavors. Many food bloggers swear by making healthy substitutes while baking, swapping things like honey, maple syrup, yogurt, and applesauce for ingredients like sugar, sour cream, eggs, and oil. So far, I have had decent success!

Today, I have two cake recipes for you, complete with some of the substitutes I mentioned. When making substitutes for ingredients to make a product healthier, it is almost never a good idea to switch out more than one ingredient per recipe. This first recipe, for Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins, is the exception to this rule. I am particularly proud of it because it was the first recipe I ever developed for myself. 

The second recipe, Cherry Poke Cake, is one that reminds me of Christmas in my Mom’s house growing up.  Like I said, the woman made incredible baked goods, but when serving an extended family of 30, sometimes she just had to break out the cake mix instead of working from scratch. That said, the festive red-and-green interior of this cake (created by pouring jello into holes poked in the top of the cake) was always a hit with friends and family when Mom would cut into it! And while Mom’s cake always tasted delicious, I thought I would lighten it up a bit and make it just a bit healthier.

I’m no photographer, so I do not have close-up photos of my final products. My friend did take this one of me holding the blueberry muffins (some wrapped in plastic). I’m definitely not thrilled with having my photo taken here, but I hope you will enjoy anyways!

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins
The key to this recipe is the cinnamon sugar topping – seals the tops and keeps the muffin moist while complementing the delicious blueberries within the healthy muffin!

1 ½ C of flour
¾ C + 2 T sugar, divided
½ t salt
2 t baking powder
1/3 C, slightly over-full, of Vanilla Greek Yogurt (Plain works, but if you use plain, be sure to add 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract instead of the 1 called for in the recipe)
1 ½ t applesauce (estimate; eyeball to what looks like roughly the amount of liquid in an egg)
1/3 C milk (I use skim – whole tends to make this batter too thick; you will likely need to add a bit more milk to thin the batter to your liking)
1 t vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
1 container of blueberries (I use Driscoll’s)

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F. Line cupcake tin or muffin tin with paper liners. If you don’t end up using all of the liners, fill the empty spaces with a tablespoon of water. This protects your tins and helps to make sure the muffins bake evenly.

Combine the flour, ¾ C sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Add the Greek yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until combined. The batter will be quite thick. Using a mixer or a spoon, add milk until your batter is thick, but will still run off of the spoon as a liquid instead of drop off of it in stretchy pieces more like pizza dough – this is too thick!

Next, add your blueberries – yes, the whole container! Trust me! Mix them in gently with a rubber spatula. Fill your liners until just under level with the tops. The muffins will get a nice top this way without getting all over the tin.

Finally, in a separate bowl or Dixie cup (my method!) combine the remaining sugar with cinnamon. I tend to be heavy-handed with the cinnamon, but a good standard is 2 T sugar, 2 t cinnamon. Dust the cinnamon sugar onto the tops of the muffins using a spoon or by folding the Dixie cup for pouring.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean or with crumbs.

Set the muffins, still in a tin, on a cooling rack, and gently rotate them to one side in the tin using a fork. This allows the muffins to cool without overbaking on the bottom. When cooler, transfer the muffins themselves onto a cooling rack or into a plastic bag. These can freeze for up to 3 months.

 Jello Poke Cake
The great thing about this cake is that you can use a cake mix, and with the addition of jello, no one would know. Or, if you’re like me and don’t care about using a cake mix, the jello just provides a nice variation on an otherwise plain white cake mix!

1 package of white cake mix, plus water and egg whites called for on Cake Mix box plus 1/3 C applesauce (to replace oil on cake mix box)
1 package of white cake mix, plus 2 egg whites and 1 1/3 C water

1 cup boiling water
1 3 oz package of Jello (any flavor you like; I’m partial to Sugar Free cherry)
½ C cold water
1 8 oz tub of Light Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make cake according to directions on the box, either
a) substituting the 1/3 c applesauce for the 1/3 c oil called for, or
b) omitting the extra ingredient entirely, using 1 1/3 C water and 2 Eggs.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes, and then poke at ½-inch intervals using a large fork or skewer.

Bring water to a boil and add to Jello in a small bowl. Stir until completely dissolved, and then add in the ½ C of cold water. Pour over the cake, and refridgerate for about 3 hours.

Frost the cake with cool whip. I either let the cool whip thaw for about 10 minutes before use, or add a bit of milk to make the mixture more spreadable. No matter what, stir up the cool whip so it spreads more smoothly without destroying your cake.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, and feel free to garnish the cake with sprinkles, cherries, or any other decoration you like!

Thanks, Kaylee, for being a guest blogger and for making us delicious homemade treats, too!

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