Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing


What kind of idiot bakes in 90 degree weather, while living in a house with a central air unit that hates to go below 80 degrees inside when it’s hot outside!!? What kind of idiot I ask you!!??

Erhmmmm *looks sheepish*, that would be me.

I can’t help it! It’s a sickness. Many many food bloggers have it. We tell you and ourselves that it is all because we love you and want to create yummy things for you to drool over but in reality we’d bake anyway. Like I said, it’s an illness.

And ill is what I’m going to be if I keep shoving these sweet rolls into my chubby mouth. But oh my gosh, I’m rather proud of myself here. These are delicious! You get a tender sweet roll with a touch of coconut flavor in it, then the raspberry/coconut filling with it’s tang and mild crunch, then the rich creamy orange cream cheese icing. When this idea first came to me (lying in bed, trying to get to sleep. Many ideas come to me then. I’m strange.), I wasn’t sure how it would work. I was afraid that all of the flavors would clash with each other but they don’t do that at all. As a matter of fact, this will be going down as one of my favorite ways to make a sweet roll.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

  • Sweet Roll Dough-
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 cup milk, warmed (about 110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups to 5/12 cups flour (you can use bread flour or all purpose- I use bread flour when making almost any yeast dough)
  • Filling-
  • 12 ounces raspberry preserves
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed, drained and gently blotted dry
  • 1 7 ounce bag sweetened grated coconut, toasted at 350 degrees until light brown
  • Icing-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • zest of one large orange (about 3 tablespoons zest)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 150 then immediately turn it off. The purpose is to have a nice warm oven to proof the dough in but not to have it too hot. Butter 2 9 inch round cake pans (or one 13×9 inch baking pan) and set aside.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. let sit for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle hook (can all be done by hand but it makes it a bit more work and work scares me 😛 ), combine the milk, extracts, sugar, salt and butter. On low speed, mix just until combined.
  4. Pour in the yeast mixture and again, mix just until combined. Change over to the dough hook, then add 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat on low speed until it is a shaggy mass. Add another 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Feel the dough and if it it is still very sticky or tacky, add about another 1/4 cup of  flour. You want the dough to be just a tiny bit sticky, not enough that it sticks to your hands or fingers. By the same token, you don’t want dry dough because that equals dry finished product. Either way, beat on low speed until the dough is smooth, silky and has come away from the bowl in a solid mass, about 5 minutes.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for just a minute (that is the reason you did all this in a stand mixer, so you didn’t have to knead by hand) then put into a greased bowl, turning it so that all sides are greased.
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and put into the previously preheated, now nicely warm oven. Let rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  7. Punch dough down and then turn out onto a lightly floured board or counter. Roll it into a rectangle that is roughly 28 by 12 inches.
  8. Spread the dough with the raspberry preserves. Then sprinkle all but 2/3 of a cup of the toasted coconut on top of the preserves. Then place the fresh raspberries on top of that.
  9. Starting at one of the long ends, carefully roll up the dough into a tight log. Don’t squeeze too hard though or you’ll squeeze out the preserves.
  10. Cut the log into 16 large rolls. Place them in the prepared pan(s) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Again allow the dough to rise in a warm place (NOT the oven) until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, make the icing- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, orange zest and orange juice. Beat at medium speed until smooth.
  12. Add in the 2 cups powdered sugar and at LOW speed (unless you like being covered in sugar), beat until smooth and creamy. Add  in another half a cup sugar if the icing is too thin to spread. Cover and set aside.
  13. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees until they are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. When cool, frost with the cream cheese icing (if you haven’t already eaten most of it straight from the bowl 😀 ) then sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut.

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Mounds Bars Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream

 

Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream

Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream


Respiratory illnesses suck. Just sayin’. I am one of those people who doesn’t get a mere cold. Oh nooooooo… my body is as ornery as my personality. I get the sniffles and we know to have 911 on standby for when I start coughing up bits and pieces of a lung or twelve. Thus why I have been gone almost 2 weeks. It takes time to piece back together a lung. And I’ve never been good at puzzles. I tried yesterday and I am pretty sure that my lung is NOT supposed to be on the bottom of my foot. But that’s ok. It tickled. I kinda liked it.

It’s been a LONGGGGGG 2 weeks. This may have effected more than lungs and sinuses. Oh hell, who am I kidding. I’m acting no weirder than normal.

Seriously though, sorry I was gone so long. I’m more or less on the mend now. Still coughing like crazy and still need meds to breathe at night but good otherwise. Definitely ready to get back to work.

And I started out way over the line on the decadence side. Gee. imagine that huh? Me? Making naughty foods instead of quinoa salads?

These brownies are yummy. Yummy may be an understatement. They kind of cross the line over into “OMG, I am gonna need to work out for 3 hours if I eat one of these!” territory. The brownie part of these is barely adapted from Ina Gartens Outrageous brownie recipe. I simply more or less cut it in half (changed it a touch but like I said, barely). Then I shoved some fun size Mounds bars and semisweet chocolate chips into the batter before baking. THEN to add insult to injury, I topped it off with a creamy coconut buttercream. But wait! Order right now and pay just ONE shipping and handling!

Sorry. I was having an infomercial moment. As I was saying… then, I covered it all with a rich thick chocolate ganache. Then (how many times can I say then for one recipe?) I coated THAT with some crunchy toasted coconut. So what do we have here? Thick, chewy, chocolatey, mounds bars, buttercream, ganache, more coconut. I think I may have broken some laws somewhere with this one.

You know the drill. Get to cookin’.

                                      Mounds Bar Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream

  • Brownies-
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 fun size Mounds Bars
  • Buttercream-
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut (found with the mixers in the drink aisle)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream (more or less as needed to get desired thickness of buttercream)
  • Ganache-
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted coconut for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper then butter the paper.
  2. In a large glass (or other microwave safe) bowl, place the unsweetened chocolate, the butter and the 8 ounces semisweet chocolate. Microwave on 70% power for 2 minutes. Stir well, then microwave on 70% power for 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until all the chocolate is melted. Stir for about two minutes to help cool then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl,  stir together the eggs and egg yolk, the vanilla and the sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture then allow it to cool to room temp.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir well (no beating, just stirring). Stir in the 12 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Lay the 12 Mounds bars in 4 rows of 3 down the length of the pan, pressing them down slightly into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle (make sure to not hit a Mounds bar) comes out barely clean, with just a few moist crumbs on it. Don’t overbake! Nothing worse than a dry crumbly brownie.
  7. Let cool thoroughly in pan on a wire rack before frosting. Also nothing worse than watching your frosting melt into a puddle on a too warm baked good.
  8. Meanwhile, make your buttercream.
  9. In a a large bowl (you’re welcome btw for all the dirty dishes. Don’t mention it.) combine the butter, cream of coconut and coconut extract. Beat well until mixture is smooth. Stir in the 4 cups of powdered sugar. I’d advise actually stirring at first to incorporate some of it before turning on the beater unless you are aiming to powder the kitchen. When you have it mixed in well, turn the beater on high and beat well for about 5 minutes. You’re trying to get a nice thick creamy mixture. Add the heavy cream in, one tablespoon at a time, until you get a good spreading consistency.
  10. When the brownies are completely cool, spoon on the buttercream and spread to the edges of the brownies. Chill while you make and cool the ganache.
  11. Ganache-
  12. Put the 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a small glass bowl.
  13. Microwave the 1 cup cream just to the simmering point. Don’t boil. Pour all of the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes or so. Stir well. The heat from the cream should have been enough to totally melt the chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined then let sit until the ganache has cooled completely and thickened up. Pour in a steady stream down the middle of the buttercream. Spread to the edges of the brownies. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
  14. Chill brownies in fridge for at least 3 hours to give the buttercream and ganache time to set.
  15. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, cut the brownies into desired size squares. These are extremely rich. I suggest small squares. Also, they are best if you let them sit for a while after cutting. They get fairly hard when cold. Though I know some people who like that, if you want them softer, let them sit.


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Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling


Ya know, for a woman who once claimed to not like coconut, I have noticed that my tune has changed and I have quite a few coconut recipes in here now. I’ve always thought that that aspect of human physiology was interesting. We can hate or love something for years and then all of a sudden, we do a 360 on how we feel about it. Other than Mounds Bars or Almond Joy bars, just 2 years ago you’d be hard pressed to find me saying anything nice about coconut. Coconut flavor I was fine on as well as coconut milk (I could happily drink it with a straw 😛 ) but actual coconut? No way.

What about you? Anything that you have changed your mind on in either direction as you’ve aged? Food wise that is.

All that said, obviously the recipe for today contains coconut. What? You were expecting goose liver perchance? Some Morels? Not sure either of them would have gone as well with this cake. And believe me, coconut goes well in this. the first two “taste testers” I served this to took a bite and then their faces went into that “omg, this is good” look that all food bloggers love to see 😀

This is a very moist cake, which makes it a good keeper if you make sure it stays covered. The coconut filling is very reminiscent of a Mounds bar but with a bit of an almond flavor to it (if you’re not a fan of almond extract, feel free to omit it.)  Then there is the chocolate ganache glaze. Really? Do I need to describe it? Chocolate ganache. Enough said. Go… shoo… bake. Thank me later.

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

  • Filling-
  • 2 cups (one small bag) shredded sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Cake-
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sifted (yes, sifted; cocoa always has those little lumps it leaves behind otherwise) unsweetened cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 5 eggs, room temp
  • 2 cups sour cream (NOT low fat)
  • Glaze-
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish-
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  1. Combine all your filling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the cake- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. If, like me, you only have a 10 cup pan, also grease 5 king sized muffin cups because if you try to fit all this batter into a 10 cup pan, you WILL have it overflow all over your oven. Been there, done that, learned my lesson.
  3. Whisk together your dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter at high speed until creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and coconut flavoring. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add it in three batches, alternating with the sour cream.
  6. Spoon a little less than half of the batter into the prepared bundt pan. (If using a ten cup pan, FIRST fill the 5 prepared muffin pans about 2/3 full THEN go to the bundt pan, using about half of the remaining batter. Don’t use the coconut filling in the cupcakes; just think of them as extras to hoard for yourself :-p )
  7. Carefully spoon the coconut filling over the batter in the pan. Make sure it is in the middle of the pan, not touching either side or it will stick and make the cake difficult to remove.
  8. Spoon the rest of the batter carefully over the top of the filling, smoothing it down where needed.
  9. Bake at 350 for about an hour and ten minutes for the 12 cup pan, about 50 minutes for a ten cup (about 20 minutes for the cupcakes) or until a wooden skewer inserted in the cake (make sure to get the cake not the filling) comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool until just barely warm then turn the cake out onto the rack to finish cooling completely before glazing.
  11. For the glaze- heat your cream just to boiling in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl and let sit for about 3 minutes, Stir to combine. Let it sit for a bit to thicken up somewhat. Spoon over the cooled cake. Garnish with the toasted coconut.
  12. If you have any glaze and/or coconut left (which you will) just dump the coconut into the ganache, stir well then put it into the fridge until it firms up. You can then scoop it out and form it into small truffles. Or just spoon it out and eat it in front of the TV watching bad reality show reruns. I won’t tell.

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Creamy Coconut Flan

Creamy Coconut Flan

No long winded story and bad jokes tonight. I’m sleepy and on a massive sugar crash from this flan. 😛
Ok, maybe a short story based on the whole sugar high/crash idea.

I remember when my brother, sister and I were kids. Every year we would get our mother a large heart shaped box of Fanny May candy for Valentines day. We used her money to buy it of course and I am fairly sure that any change went for things like Lemonheads and ice cream. Well, each and every year, mom would put the opened box into the fridge. She wasn’t a huge sweets eater (obviously I get my love of them from my sweets binging diabetic father hehe) so would put it there with, I’m sure, the idea that when she wanted a piece (ONE piece) she could get one (again… ONE piece. Who does that!?). Well, every.single.year. mom would invariably come to us with a heart shaped box asking what had happened. Why? Because what she held was a practically empty box bearing only one or two pieces of candy that had a bite out of the side, those pieces being the ones none of us kids liked.

Mom always said she hoped I had kids just like me. I did. I now have a “stash” of candy and junk food in my closet that the kids are supposed to stay out of. HA! yeah, right. The ones living at home go in it all the time and the ones who come and visit head straight to the stash, coming out bearing junk food galore and innocent expressions.

On a side note, taking a drink of Pepsi Throwback after eating a huge serving of flan isn’t advisable. It has absolutely no flavor according to my “sweeted out” taste buds plus I think my pancreas just cried a little, then died.

This is one yummy flan btw. Sweet (oh my, is it sweet), quite coconutty, with that mouth feel texture that everyone loves (man, that sounds vaguely obscene. but then I’m tired and everything is making me titter). The caramel sauce on the top is the perfect topping. I used to make flan just for the topping. I swear I did. I’m weird. This is intensely coconutty so if you’re so so about coconut flavor this may be one you need to pass by.

Creamy Coconut Flan

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can cream of coconut (found with the drink mixers- do NOT sub coconut milk)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut vodka
  • Toasted coconut for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pour your sugar into a small saucepot. Heat it over medium high heat until it is melted and a nice golden brown color. Don’t walk away once it starts melting. It doesn’t take long to go from melting to scorched and wasted.
  3. Pour the sugar onto the bottom of 8 one cup ramekins, swirling to coat the bottom of the ramekins with the melted sugar.
  4. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until foamy. Add in the condensed milk, cream of coconut, cream, vanilla extract and vodka. Whisk until well combined. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl (preferably one with a pour spout) or large measuring cup.
  5. Pour the flan mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Set the ramekins into two deep baking dishes. Set into the oven then carefully add hot water to each pan to go about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. be careful not to slosh any INTO them though.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees until the center is almost set, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from the pan (I used tongs) and set on a wire rack for about an hour, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  8. Carefully slide a butter knife all around the edges of each flan and invert onto a plate. If it doesn’t come out,  place the ramekin into hot water for a minute or so to loosen it up, then try again. Garnish with the toasted coconut if using.

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White Chocolate Coconut Mojito Cookies

White Chocolate Coconut Mojito Cookies

I’m not a huge imbiber when it comes to hard alcohol. I joke about it on my facebook page and yes, I do like my wine and every once in a while something harder. But generally speaking, I’m pretty darn boring that way. I did all my drinking in my wild younger days (someday I’ll tell the story of waking up in the backseat of a car, unclothed, with no memory of how I got there. I was…interesting when in my late teens and early 20’s). But even then I tended to drink wine. When I drank the hard stuff, I ended up..well, in situations. Learn from me, grasshoppers.

So I’ve never had a mojito. But the IDEA of them has always intrigued me since I absolutely LOVE lime and enjoy mint too. So the thought of them together sounded yummy. But it meant buying rum and the only time I buy rum is when I buy an airline sized bottle around Christmas to soak my fruitcake in.

So I saw a recipe a few days ago for a Mojito Scone. That sounded interesting but I know I do a lot of that type of baked goods in here and hadn’t done any cookies for a while <insert Cookie Monster voice here saying “COOOOOOKIEEEESSSS!”>. So I thought. Then I thunk some more. Then I answered the door cause the fire department was there saying they had multiple reports of the smell of burning coming from my house.

So I stopped thinking. And that’s when it came to me. These cookies. Mojito flavored. As well as tasting of some toasted coconut just because I love any excuse to throw toasted coconut into things.

These turned out both good and not to my taste, all at once. Will I make them again? Yes, but next time I will double the lime zest, add some lime oil, cut the mint extract in half (it was a bit overpowering for me) and add some coconut extract as well. Then, I think they would be absolutely perfect. But if you prefer the flavor of mint to be more prominent, make them exactly as I will type them out here. Otherwise, try them the way I just suggested up above. that will make the lime and coconut flavors more noticeable. But for an experiment, I was really pleased with these. They are nice and chewy, the toasted coconut was a great addition and were pleasantly buttery. I WILL be making these again 🙂

White Chocolate Coconut Mojito Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract (cut in half if you want mint flavor lighter)
  • zest and juice from one small lime (remember, double the zest and add some lime oil if you prefer the lime to dominate over the mint)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted in a 350 degree oven until light brown (also, about 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract if you want a heavier coconut flavor)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 11 ounce bag of white chocolate pieces
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and the sugars.
  2. Add the eggs, the extracts and the lime juice and zest. Beat until well blended.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture. Mix just until blended. Stir in the white chocolate pieces and the toasted coconut.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and/or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Spoon or scoop rounded spoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. They should be just barely browned on the edges of the cookies.
  7. Let cool on pan for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.


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Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup



Today we are joining together to help raise awareness for Heart Disease. Kim of Cravings Of A Lunatic lost her Mom to heart disease when her mother was 47, and Kim was 15. Each year on the day her Mom passed she shares stories and photos of her Mom. This year she joined forces with Jen of Juanita’s Cocina, whose life was also touched by heart disease when her Stepfather had a heart attack. Jen’s Stepfather is alive and well more than a decade later, and for that, Jen is thankful every day. The ladies got in touch with other bloggers to ask them to share their own stories about how heart disease has touched their lives. So today we share stories and recipes from our hearts to yours, in memory and honor of Momzie, Kim’s Mom. We hope you will share your stories with us today as well.

I think everyone has been touched by heart disease in one way or another, be it with their own health or that of a family member. It is still, in the year 2013,  the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States with over 600,000 deaths per year. Why? genetics of course but you can add in there the increasing tendency towards obesity and the utter lack of exercise many of us get other than walking to and from the snack cabinet. Add in the high fat, high calorie foods so many of us, including myself, love and it is far too common to see people be literally one heartbeat away from death.

I had a stroke last year as many of you know. While it’s not the same as a heart attack or heart disease, it can be caused by many of the same things I just talked about. So is this important to me also? Damn straight. It’s why I lost almost 50 pounds and have tried to get my own health issues fixed.

My family history isn’t pretty when it comes to heart disease. My dad had a heart attack in his mid 40’s. My mom had tachycardia from early adulthood until her death. I have issues with a heartbeat that goes so slow at times that I get dizzy.

On my husbands side, HIS dad has had…five…yes, five…heart attacks. The man is amazing. But the chances of most people being that blessed are rare. Tragically, a lot of the time, one heart attack is all it takes to leave behind a family who will feel that loss forever. So if there is a family history of heart issues for you (and even if there isn’t), I beg of you, don’t wait until later to take steps to insure your own heart health. If you need to lose weight, do it NOW, not after you finish all the junk food you have in the house. If your exercise consists of lifting your hand to your mouth to insert a doughnut, get off your butt and move, even if it’s only a short 20 minute walk per day. But please… please… take care of yourself. Too many people need you. Yes, even YOU back there eating that bag of potato chips, no matter what you think. You…are…loved. Why? Because you have a good heart. So keep it that way.

This soup can be either semi decadent or healthy, depending on what you use in it. For this post, I obviously chose the healthy way; even if you ARE used to seeing foods that have 14,000 calories from me. It can also be played with in many ways to make it more to your family’s tastes. Like things spicier? Add some Sriracha or red pepper flakes at the end or use a hot curry paste. Want a bit less tang? Use less lime juice. Slightly sweeter? Add a touch of brown sugar along with the regular. Plus you can use full fat coconut milk if so inclined and regular chicken broth instead of fat free. Don’t like chicken or just not in the mood? Use shrimp. You could even do this full on vegetarian by using vegetable broth and firm tofu instead of meat. This is a very versatile recipe. It’s also delicious and made as stated you won’t miss the fat or calories. I PROMISE. I mean, c’mon, you all know what I normally cook. So would I lie about something low fat being tasty? This has it all. Spicy, meaty, rich and creamy (yet with no dairy), sweet, salty, tangy. Also, don’t use dried lemongrass in this. If you can’t find fresh (I couldn’t) get the squeeze tubes of lemongrass you can now find in the produce section of most major supermarkets.

This recipe originally comes from Cooks Illustrated.

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Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, tough outer parts removed, then sliced lengthwise (or use 1 tablespoon of the squeezable lemongrass)
  • 3 large shallots, chopped
  • 8 sprigs cilantro (they say to chop them but I don’t bother since you will be straining them out later anyway)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (Nam Pla) (do NOT omit this. Yes, it smells ghastly as it heats but it adds that needed something to so many Thai dishes and it leaves NO fishy taste)
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 2 14 ounce cans low fat (lite) coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoon lime juice (I also use the zest from one of the limes)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (I tend to use more… no such thing as too much curry in my book hehe)
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the lemongrass, cilantro, shallots and one tablespoon of the fish sauce (like I said, the fish sauce smells horrid as it heats. But it is not meant to be eaten plain. Once mixed with everything else, the smells fades and it leaves an undefinable flavor. Cook this mixture just until the shallots and lemongrass are softened, about 2 to 5 minutes. If using the squeeze lemongrass, use it now too.
  3. Pour in the chicken broth and one can of coconut milk; bring to a simmer over high heat.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about ten minutes
  5. Strain soup over a mesh strainer into another pot; discard the solids.
  6. Return pan to medium high heat and stir in the remaining can of coconut milk and the sugar.
  7. Add the mushrooms and chicken. Stir and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is JUST done.
  8. Combine the lime, zest if using, remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce and the curry paste in a bowl. Stir into the soup.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more cilantro and scallions and some slices of serrano (or jalapeno) pepper. If you really like the tang, pass around some lime wedges too.

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Now that you’ve seen my recipe and have read what I have to say, go check out what these other bloggers have to tell you. You’ll find good food and stories that will touch your heart.

 

The Recipes from the Heart Crew:

Healthy Snacking with Radish Dip by Juanita’s Cocina

Arugula, Walnut Pesto by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts

Farro, Apple & Pecan Salad by It’s Yummilicious

Chicken-Quinoa Burgers with an Avocado Yogurt Sauce by The Spiffy Cookie

Pasta House Wilted Salad by Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

Gooey Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars by The Cooking Actress

Dark Chocolate Covered Walnuts by All Day I Dream About Food

Mini Pear Walnut Crisps with Blood Orange Caramel Sauce by Chocolate Moosey

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos by The Dutch Baker’s Daughter

Honey Soy Glazed Salmon by Curry and Comfort

Apple Walnut Spinach Salad by Magnolia Days

Broiled Salmon Gyros with Cucumber Feta Yogurt Dip by Damn Delicious

Maple Mustard Glazed Salmon by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Make-Ahead Chocolate Oatmeal by Crumb

Hoisin Flounder by Taking on Magazines

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Veggie Nachos by Dine & Dish

Cheesy Quinoa and Asparagus Bake by Hungry Couple

Ahi Tuna Salad by Noshing with the Nolands

Canapes of Apricot, Goat Cheese, Almonds and Rosemary by Cook the Story

Thai Chicken Soup by From Cupcakes to Caviar

Italian Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf by Rachel Cooks

Black Bean Quesadillas by Pastry Chef Online

Sautéed Rataouille with Quinoa by Whipped

Polenta Rounds with Apples and Cheddar by Diethood

 

 

What I REALLY Think Of Valentines Day

 

Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

I’m not a big Valentines Day person. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy any holiday where you can go to the store and see an aisle set up just for special candy. What’s not to like? But otherwise? Not so much. I think it’s a day where a lot of men (and women somewhat) feel pressured to “be romantic”, “make this a day she’ll never forget”, “buy this, spend more, get diamonds, MAKE HER LOVE YOU!!!!”. And then what happens? You go out, you wait in an outrageously long line for an hour to get a dinner that was haphazardly prepared and served because 99% of restaurant staff absolutely hates working on Valentines Day. Trust me.. they do. By the end of the evening, you’re tired, you’re frustrated and you’re feeling anything but loving towards ANYONE. You get flowers and candy from a man who felt like crap cause he forgot what day it was (“Hello… February 14th, dude… that day meant for lovers world wide to suck up to atone for their sins the other 364 days of the year. Now go buy some dying roses at the grocery store!” hehe) and three days later you have dead flowers and an increasing waistline.

Yeah, yeah, I know. “Cynical much, Janet?” And honestly, it’s not that really. I am a sappy fool. I just don’t want to be EXPECTED to be sappy. Nor do I expect my husband to be sappy because someone, somewhere decided that it was a good day for it. Nope; ain’t happ’nin. So how am I sappy? How is my husband sappy?

I make his coffee at night so all he has to do in the morning when he’s half asleep is press a button. I make baked goods that I know he likes, even if I don’t like them. I give him my last chicken McNugget even though I’m still hungry. I kiss him when he has morning breath. I cuddle at night when sometimes what I really want to do is roll over and read a book, I watch Holmes on Homes when I’d prefer to watch an old episode of Roseanne.

Him? He makes me tea every single morning. Tonight, he is making me grilled cheese and tomato soup because my mouth still hurts from dental surgery. He doesn’t gripe at me when I spend too much at Trader Joes. He rubs my back when it hurts and doesn’t expect it to be anything but a back rub. He gets up with our son (his stepson really; mine biologically) at 6:30 every school day so that I can sleep because I don’t sleep well. He supports, financially and otherwise, my two teen boys even though it’s not his job. he loves my kids as his own to the point that he is not bitching about my daughter and her kids moving back in for 6 months while her husband is in Boot Camp. He was there to hold my hand and help me walk down the stairs when I had my stroke and he still does that when I’m having a bad day physically.

These are my Valentines Day Gifts. I get them every day of the year. I don’t need the calendar and some cheap flowers bought on the fly to know that he loves me. He doesn’t need me in a slinky nighty with a rose between my teeth (though I’m sure he wouldn’t argue) willing to try every position in the Kama Sutra for him to know I love him. We do our damndest to prove it to each other each and every day, in small ways and in big. We talk out our problems, we hold hands in public, we make love when we’d rather sleep, we sleep when we’d rather make love. We share, we love, we STAY… even when it’s not easy. Not just on February 14th.

This recipe makes a large 13×9 pan. Feel free to cut it in half and do it in an 8×8 pan if you’d like. Also, unless you make the glaze alcohol free, this is NOT kid friendly.

Brandied Cherry & Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 6 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup brandy (can sub 1/4 cup juice and 1/2 teaspoon brandy flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried coconut flakes (sweetened or not; your choice. I used unsweetened)
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons dry instant coffee (optional- helps deepen the chocolate flavor but don’t run out and buy it if you’ll never use it again)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped good quality dark chocolate (I used a Trader Joes Dark Chocolate bar, chopped)
  • GLAZE-
  • Reserved brandy from the cherries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and then line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray Sprinkle your coconut in another baking pan and toast at 350 until lightly browned. Don’t forget it in the oven and make charcoal. Don’t ask me why I advise this….ahem.
  2. Meanwhile, put your brandy and cherries in a shallow bowl. Stir to mix and then let sit while you make the brownies.
  3. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 45 second increments and watching carefully. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the extracts, coffee is using and again mix well.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate.
  6. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt, baking soda and coconut. Drain your cherries, reserving he liquid to use in the glaze.
  7. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined then fold in the chocolate and drained cherries.
  8. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake at 350 until a skewer or toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with maybe a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Let cool in pan on rack until cool. For glaze- mix powdered sugar with the reserved brandy (that has now been wonderfully flavored with cherries). If desired, add a bit of red gel food coloring to make this pink…pink is always good. Drizzle glaze over cooled brownies 😀 Lift brownies out by the parchment paper then cut into SMALL pieces. Trust me; these are rich.


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(Mine and my husbands song)

Girl Scouts, Schmirl Scouts! Who Needs ‘Em?!

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookie Bars

I have mentioned before that I’m not too fond of coconut in baked goods. Yet I have noticed a fair amount of coconut recipes here in my blog. I’m not counting the coconut milk ones however because I adore coconut milk and would happily eat it straight form the can day in and day out if it wouldn’t leave me weighing as much as a semi. Yet I said something about not caring for coconut in this post for Chewy Coconut Lime Cookies and I used coconut here in these Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars . I sure whine a lot about not liking it and then use it anyway. In my defense though, the ones with real coconut in them have it on top, not IN it. Coconut inside a baked good, I have said before, has, to me, the same appeal as finding a hair in my food.

Moving on… remember this Caramel Sauce that we made a few weeks ago? What do you mean, you never got around to making it!? Sigh. What am I going to do with you people? Now before you can get to making these amazing cookie bars, you have to make the caramel. If you had listened to me weeks ago, you would be all set for baking. But noooo…. nobody listens to Zathras! Bonus points if you know (without googling) where that line came from.

Well, that caramel sauce you forgot to make is being put to use today. A very very good, very rich very “omg, I want 16 of these right now” sort of use. My step daughter, who is visiting, said they exert a gravitational pull on her and she can’t stay away from the pan. I found the basic recipe for these on about.com. I really didn’t change much though any of you who have read this for a while know I can’t not change SOMETHING, usually something that makes recipes more caloric, higher in fat and working towards getting voted “Most Likely To Clog Your Arteries In One Bite”. So what did I change? I used home made caramel sauce… you know, the one you forgot to make *sticks my nose in the air and looks snotty* instead of jarred, I doubled the amount of coconut flavoring because the original amount was chintzy, I kinda, maybe, could have, might of, quadrupled (or more) the amount of chocolate chips, double the amount of the caramel sauce and used about an extra half cup of shredded coconut. WHAT!? Don’t judge me. It had to be done. It was a moral imperative!

These are like Girl Scout Samoa Cookies (or whatever they are called now) on steroids. They are way more…well…everything, including tasty. My husband is a major fan of Samoa cookies and I think this means I will be making these often. I have to admit it, I loved them too. They are rich and gooey…boy, are they gooey. Plus they have one heck of a dose of chocolate and the home made caramel sauce is awesome in these.

So git to cooking… though now you have to make the caramel sauce first, you doofus. Then come back and tell me how wonderful I am to have shared this recipe with you. I can take the heavy praise if you need to give it out. Don’t overcook these or the crust will get too crispy.

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (in the same aisle as the vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips plus another 1/2 cup for the top of the bars
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  •  1 cup caramel sauce (preferably home made)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and butter well or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring every few minutes. Watch carefully; coconut can go from pale to burnt  very quickly. When it’s done, set aside.
  3. Place the softened butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl and beat well, until relatively light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, coconut flavoring and egg. beat well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, 2 cups chocolate chips, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine then add into the wet ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom of the foil lined pan. Top with the extreme abundance of caramel sauce, then the shredded coconut. Top this with the extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 350 until the bars are just barely set. The middle shouldn’t wiggle but should just feel barely firm when pressed. Don’t press too hard because molten caramel on your fingertip hurts. Don’t ask how I know this please.
  7. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to finish cooling on a rack. If they start to collapse onto themselves when you lift, let cool for a while longer.

Coconut Caramel Bar Cookies AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookies

 

Me Old. You Younger. Ugh *Beats Head With Club*

Chewy Coconut Lime Cookies

I’m 47 years old. I’ll be 48 in August. A bit longer in the tooth than the vast majority of food bloggers. And non food bloggers. And much of the population of the Earth. And many outlying planets.

Erhmmm, moving on. I’m older than you. And you. And you. And…oh God, not you… you’re older than God. Get your glasses and Geritol!

Did I mention that moving on thing? Yeah. Sorry. Let’s try that again.

My frame of reference in many ways is far different than that of many of the food bloggers. When they were born, I was in high school. When they were in high school, I was married with at least one kid. So musical tastes, books in some cases, movies, TV shows, etc etc, are going to be far removed from those of many. Sometimes, this leads me to feeling pretty darn out of the loop lol. People will mention books, songs, TV shows, movies, what have you that either I have never heard of or have no interest in because it’s just too young for me. In explanation to anyone who may think I am being snooty there, not at all. I grew up when there were 5 TV channels, as well as movies being a lot…tamer, for lack of a better word. So a lot of the more wild movies (musicians, songs, TV shows ) turn me off. I’m 47 going on 95 😛

But I’ve always loved how some of the above things cross generational boundaries with no problem. I mean, 27 or 47, you’ve heard of the show “Little House On The Prairie”. You’ve heard of and probably jokingly head bang along with the song “Bohemian Rhapsody”. You’ve heard of the movie “Gone With The Wind”. Am I right?

And this song coming up here is one that I think everybody knows for one reason or another. Maybe you’re old like me and remember when the song came out originally (Harry Nilsson sang it). Maybe you first heard it sung by The Baja Men or when Kermit The Frog sang it on the Muppet Show 😀 (I love the Kermit version hehe) But finding someone who has never heard at least the key parts of it would be difficult, methinks.

 

 

So whenever I make anything that has Lime and Coconut in it, this song comes into my mind and I find myself singing it (and wanting a nice Caribbean drink) as I cook. And since the lime coconut combo is a favorite of mine, I sing this often enough that I should probably be put away somewhere safe. With padded walls. And cable TV in my room. And nice sleepy meds. And someone bringing me my food. Hell, this is starting to sound good. Sign me up! Continue reading

You Put Da lime In Da Coconut And Shake It All Up

Hello everybody! Are we all in our places with bright shining faces? Wearing your pearls, makeup and high heels while listening to Mozart as you get ready to make something delicious?

If you are, you are quite possibly on the wrong blog page. Because here, I am in sweats and a t-shirt with no make up on (I’m honestly not sure if I even own any anymore) listening to The Backstreet Boys (Hey! Don’t judge. You can’t tell me you never listen to bubble gum music. Ok, so maybe I’m the only one listening to BSB’s. Still; don’t judge. I’ll cry. And make you eat liver. Or cows tongue.) Erhmmm, sir, does your wife know that you have on her pearls and high heels? I REALLY think you’re on the wrong blog page (*brain bleaches self*)

But I HAVE been cooking something delicious. Can you smell that? That lovely smell of the tropics coming at you from my kitchen? Well, sniff harder darn it! Because it’s there. yeah; there. Oh yeahhhhh… right thereeeee.

Sorry; got distracted for a moment.

Moving on. Wanna know where that smell is coming from? I made muffins! Lovely lime and coconut flavored muffins.

I was contacted recently by the lovely Miranda who was representing the company that makes Melt Buttery Spread and offered some samples of their product and the chance to make something yummy and review Melt™   (buahahahahaaaaa… the power. The poooooooowwwwwwwerrrrrr!. Sorry. I’m fine now.).

I of course said yes after looking at their site because the product sounded delicious. Melt is an organic alternative to butter  made with Virgin Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Palm Fruit Oil and a few other goodies. Talk about healthy! Flaxseed oil is so good for you and coconut oil is something very representative of the “good fats”. So Melt Buttery Spread is great if you’re trying to watch your weight or cut your cholesterol. Before cooking with it, I tried it on a slice of crusty French bread and it’s pretty darn good. You can definitely taste the coconut oil and anyone who has been following my blog knows I love me some coconut oil.

 

Here are a couple of links from them to go check out. http://www.meltbutteryspread.com/virgin-coconut-oil/ and http://www.meltbutteryspread.com/butter-substitute/

I wanted to make something sweet (go figure huh?) and I wanted something that used the Melt Buttery Spread  in a melted state because a lot of times butter subs don’t work well when baking. So I decided on muffins. Many muffins use either melted butter or vegetable oil so I knew I could sub Melt easily.

One muffin I’ve been making for years is a Lime Coconut one I adapted heavily from one that is on food.com.  These are moist and delicious and smell as fantastic as they taste. I use coconut milk in them (am I the only one who has to force myself to not just stick a straw in the coconut milk can, slurp away and then lick the insides of the can clean?? You’re judging me again aren’t you? Sigh.) which gives them suchhhh a good taste.

The Melt went wonderfully in these due to it’s own ingredients. Like I said, you can taste the coconut oil in the Melt so making something tropical is a natural fit. So give these muffins a try. They’re a quickly made treat. May not be fancy but oh my do they taste great! They’re perfect for breakfast or a light dessert. Then go to the Melt site and check them out. Good stuff!

Tropical Lime Coconut Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Melt Buttery Spread, melted
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (I didn’t realize I was out of limes so I subbed  1/4 teaspoon lime oil; worked fine.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional but adds nice flavor)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients, including the lime zest.
  3. In another bowl, combine your wet ingredients.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ones. Mix with a fork until JUST combined. Never over beat muffins or you end up with a tough tunnel filled mess.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 375 degrees until tops are nicely browned and firm to the touch.
  6. Let cool in pan for a minute then turn onto wire rack to finish cooling.