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Ree Drummond makes a 'top-secret' chocolate cake using boxed cake mix

The Pioneer Woman shares her shortcuts to great home-cooked meals.
/ Source: TODAY

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is joining TODAY to share a few of her favorite easy and delicious recipes from her newest cookbook "The Pioneer Woman Cooks ― Super Easy!: 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More." She shows us how to make Buffalo chicken totchos, a secret-ingredient chocolate cake, sheet-pan roasted veggie salad and sheet-pan gnocchi with pesto.

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In case you haven't heard, totchos are a thing. Basically, you bake frozen tots, then use them to make any variety of "nachos" you happen to have a hankering for. This Buffalo chicken version is spicy, messy and marvelous! I recommend having a tall stack of napkins nearby. (And maybe don't eat these on a first date?)

As a middle-aged woman of the world, it is no secret to me that you can doctor up boxed cake mix to create a heavenly dessert. This trend took hold in the nineties and it gave masses of people permission to forgo the measuring and mess of a from-scratch cake. But just in case your generation hid this eternal cake mix truth from you your whole life, I'm here to lift the veil. This is an incredibly simple way to ease into the cake-mix era in your life: a rich, very chocolaty cake that's such a cinch to make, it might become your go-to birthday cake request.

Sheet-Pan Gnocchi

Packaged gnocchi are one of my most favorite ingredients during this need-things-to-be-easier season in my life. Does that make me sound old? Good, because I meant for it to! All self-deprecating old lady references aside, this meatless marvel is both a cinch and a revelation: soft and tender gnocchi pillows roasted on a sheet pan with the best variety of veggies and topped with Parmesan and basil. Give me this, a clear to-do list, a glass of wine … and I'm just fine.

Sheet-Pan Salad

This sheet-pan salad is hard to put into words, but I'll try: I roast squash and cauliflower (which is a favorite veggie combo of mine) with shallots and chickpeas, then use the roasted veggies as a base to build a serious looker of a salad. It's a showstopper, actually. Creamy tahini dressing really makes it unique, but this salad is so pretty and delicious, you could top it with ranch and it'd still be a star!

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