December 27, 2017

Turkey Cauliflower Hash with Shichimi Togarashi






Ingredients:

1/2 lb cubed cooked turkey breast
4 medium russet potatoes, cubed
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced into half-moons
1-3 tablespoons shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice)
4 eggs

Directions:

Heat some oil in a large pan. Add the potatoes, onion and cauliflower. Saute until the mixture until the onion is browned, and the potatoes and cauliflower are nearly fork-tender. Add the turkey breast and shichimi togarashi,  cook until warmed through. Meanwhile, fry the eggs, sprinkling them with additional shichimi togarashi directly after cracking the egg into the pan.




Note: This works well with leftover plain, roasted cauliflower and or potatoes. Just brown the onions and add the cauliflower and/or potatoes with the turkey and heat through.


My thoughts:
A somewhat nontraditional hash thanks to the spicy addition of shichimi togarashi. I love shichimi togarashi so much I buy it in huge bags on Amazon. Normally it is used on noodles or in soup but I found that I love it with eggs and it is a great way to add a ton of flavor super easily. I made this for a quick and easy lunch to use up an extra cauliflower I had and some leftover turkey and it was so tasty and easy, I had to share. Use as much spice as you like and if you have leftover roasted potatoes and or cauliflower that isn't heavily seasoned, use that instead of starting from scratch as I did. 


 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 26, 2017

Freakishly Good Ham and Cheese Spread




Ingredients:
2 cups cubed smoked ham
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup spicy garlic pickle chips
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 teaspoon paprika
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until well distributed. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.



*I used Heinz brand which is slightly sweet. Not normally my fave kind of pickle but really good with ham.



My thoughts:
My husband has to take a cold dinner to class once a week and that means that over the last year or so I have made so many cold sandwiches and cold pasta salads. You would not believe the amount of mayonnaise we go through. It is a little daunting coming up with something new every week. 

I had a bunch of ham leftover like so many of us do this time of year and thought I'd try to make something more exciting than a plain ham sandwich. I've made ham salad based on a great version a local German deli sells and I love pimento cheese so I thought why not combine the two? Rather than making a smooth mixture like I would for a ham salad, I left the ham chunky, added tons of shredded sharp cheddar and slightly sweet garlic hot pickles instead of pimentos. My husband loved it! Seriously, we were both surprised at how much we liked it. It was freakishly good. Neither of us particularly like that kind of pickle but it somehow it all really pulled together and make a truly excellent sandwich.

So this is my husband's new favorite sandwich salad.  Is sandwich salad an accepted term? I always think of this sort of thing as a "ladies who lunch" salad after the fancy lunch places (usually in the south) that specialize in a "salad" plate that is really a variety of chicken salad, pimento cheese, tuna etc and populated by women who never seem in a hurry to get anywhere. 

It is easy to this sort of thing to be bland but using flavorful pickles, bright Dijon mustard, good quality smoked ham and extra sharp cheddar give it a rich savory flavor making this perfect for any lunch (or cold dinner!).




 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 22, 2017

Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies



Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips and candy cane bits, distributing them evenly throughout the batter. Form cookies by dropping 1 tablespoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Bake for exactly 12 minutes; the cookies will look slightly shiny and soft, but the bottoms should be lightly browned and crisp. Remove gently slide the cookies still on the parchment to a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes or until set. Remove the parchment and continue to cool the cookies on the wire rack until fully cooled.


Yield: about 1 1/2 dozen fairly large cookies



My thoughts:
For some reason, there are a few things I always feel like take a lot of work but really don't. Drop cookies and brownies both fall into this category. I have some sort of mental block against making them. Maybe it is the having to set the butter out first? It seems like such a production until I actually go to make them and magically, 20 minutes after I start, I am eating freshly baked cookies. These are chockful of chocolate and the peppermint not only adds a seasonal note, it adds a lovely chew to the cookies. Bright and rather refreshing for a cookie. These are a great way to use up leftover candy canes too!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 20, 2017

Soft Confetti Sugar Cookie Squares



Ingredients:
1/3 lb butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons colored sprinkles (I used Betty Crocker Hollyberry)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour one 8x8 pan.


In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the sprinkles, distributing them evenly.

Press the dough into the prepared pan in an even layer, taking care to touch all sides of the pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and only 1-2 crumbs come out on a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.

Note: can be doubled to make 2 8x8 inch pans.

Tip: Since this recipe uses a full stick of butter (and a little extra), I used the the butter left on old butter wrapper to grease the pan (just rub the paper butter-side in the pan) and then my dusting wand to flour it. No mess, no waste, no greasy hands! See!

My thoughts:
For this recipe, I tweaked my family's sugar cookie recipe to make sugar cookie squares.  I love making sugar cookies but I don't have the real estate in my fridge for a huge batch of cookie dough right now and I am sure my mom is making some this week. So for a little treat to tide us over, I thought I'd make these bar cookies. So much easier and quicker than traditional rolled out sugar cookies but with all of the flavor.They are softer than the regular sugar cookies I've made in the past due to the thickness but have a lovely, slightly chewy texture vs a brittle snap.

I picked up some of the classic (well, I remember seeing it in the stores at in the '80s as a small child so that is classic enough for me) Betty Crocker Hollyberry Sprinkles at Aldi on my last shop. These are the long green sprinkles with red ball sprinkles and come in a round plastic tub (I found similar ones on Amazon if you can't find them in the store), not the Betty Crocker shaped holly berries and leaves decorating decors. You want to use actual sprinkles (i.e. jimmies) not deco pieces for the best results. Any colored sprinkles would work, of course, I just used the holly berry ones because it is near Christmas and they look festive.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 18, 2017

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá




Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb salt cod
2 1/1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/3 cup black olives



Directions:
2-3 days before you want to make the dish, place the cod in a resealable gallon bag or leak-proof container. Fill with cool water. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 72, changing the water twice a day.

The day you want to serve the dish:

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with olive oil

Bring 2 pots of water to a boil. Add the potatoes to one and the salt cod to another. Boil the cod for 10 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork. Drain the cod. Flake and set aside. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet until lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Place a thin layer of onions on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer the potatoes, cod and onions in the dish, alternating and ending with onions. Cover in foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 minutes or until crispy. Garnish with egg, olives, and parsley. Serve.


My thoughts:
Our trip to Portugal three years ago is one of my favorite memories. We loved the food, the people, the weather, the beautiful cities! We had thoroughly planned out our trip food-wise and had a ton of great dishes. We also went to a few grocery stores and saw stacks and stacks of bacalhau, salt cod. Literal stacks! Way more than they had fresh fish. It makes sense because bacalhau is of of the main ingredients in many of their dishes, including the famous Pastéis de Bacalhau (aka Bolinhos de Bacalhau, Portuguese Cod Cakes). While US grocery stores do not have stacks of salt cod, it is surprisingly easy to find. I've never been to a supermarket with a seafood counter that didn't have it. It is normally on a shelf near fresh seafood. If not, ask, it should be easy for a seafood counter to source for you. It is dried so you need to buy it and rehydrate it before you use it.

This dish originated in Porto (one of the cities we visited) where it is apparently frequently served on Christmas Eve. I can see why--it is festive but very simple to make. Most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time. You do have to soak the cod but I would suspect most Portuguese are used to that and it really is very easy. The dish combines pretty much all of my favorite things: seafood, hard-boiled eggs, olives, caramelized eggs, and potatoes. Honestly, it was like it was tailored made for me! Despite the salt cod being, well, salted, the salt is rinsed off during the soaking process so it is not a salty dish--the saltiest bit is from the olives. 


 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 15, 2017

Marble Chocolate Peppermint Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
2-3 drops peppermint extract
pinch salt

nonpareils for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extract. With the mixer running slow beat the flour into the butter mixture. Remove half of the mixture to a bowl. Add the cocoa to the dough in the mixer, and mix until well-incorporated. 


Fill the cookie press fitted with a disk of your choice (I used tree) with the dough, alternating tablespoons of chocolate and plain dough. 

Press dough 1 inch apart onto ungreased, unlined nonstick baking sheets. Sprinkle with nonpareils Bake 8-12 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  

Yield: 1 1/2-2  dozen cookies (this recipe can be easily doubled)
My thoughts:
I was wondering why peppermint is such a popular flavor at the holidays, I mean wouldn't something seasonal like citrus be a more natural choice? Thanks to living in the modern world, I found this article that asks this important question. Apparently candy canes started out as a stick sugar candy given to children to keep them from being noisy in church? I'm a little skeptical. Apparently no one knows why peppermint flavoring was added or why they were striped. My guess is that like so many food origin stories is that the guy probably had peppermint flavoring and red dye on hand and voila. It is an eye-catching combo and there weren't too many peppermint candies out there save the York Peppermint Pattie.

It also credits Bobs for popularizing candy canes after the invention of an automated candy cane machine that made it possible to make curved candy canes vs the peppermint sticks that had been popular. I have to say, Bobs are far and away the best commerical candy canes out there, annoying lack of apostrophe aside, so I am not surprised they are were at the forefront of the candy cane revolution.

Anyway, it seems like no one knows but I do love peppermint and the holidays are as good an excuse as any other to make something pepperminty. These cookies pair it up with its BFF, chocolate and create a refreshing crisp little cookie. I only made a small batch because we are only two people but feel free to double to triple the recipe, it should be fine.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 13, 2017

Sauerkraut-Spiked Latkes



Ingredients:
4 cups grated Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
1 cup sauerkraut, well drained
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup potato starch
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.

Place the potato and sauerkraut into a metal sieve or colander over a large bowl. Press out any liquid. Pour out the liquid from the bowl and place the drained potatoes and sauerkraut in the bowl on top of the remaining (should be dry-ish) starch. Stir in pepper, egg, and the potato starch. Form into flat patties. If they will not hold their shape, stir in additional potato starch until they do. Fry in hot oil, flipping halfway through, until just golden, about 8 minutes.

Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve hot, with sour cream. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley for some color.



Yield: about 10 latkes, depending on size.



My thoughts:
I've had the idea for sauerkraut-spiked latkes for some years now. I know this because I have a blank draft entitled "Sauerkraut Latkes" dated 2009. Finally, I have actually made them! An aside: we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah but somehow it is the non-Jewish person (me) who makes the latkes every year and it was the Jewish person (my husband) who wanted a Christmas tree (which we finally bought and now have up with only food ornaments).

Anyway, we both love sauerkraut so I am sure that is why I had the idea and then ignored it all these years. As my husband says, there is nothing that epitomizes Jewish food better than combining fatty, starchy and pickled foods and these latkes hit all three. They are super yummy, of course, and you have to eat fried foods for Hanukkah so why not go crazy! We ate an embarrassing amount of these at in one sitting. They got super crispy (maybe thanks to using just potato starch? I normally make latke using either just matzo meal or a combo) yet very tender inside. You want them golden brown inside, too light and the insides might not be cooked enough. The sauerkraut added a nice tang but wasn't overpowering. I'd totally make these again. And maybe top them with some lox to be fancy.

Some notes:

  • Russet (i.e. baking) potatoes only, you need a starchy, "dry" potato. 
  • Potato starch can be found anywhere you can buy "Jewish" or kosher groceries. Japanese, Korean or Filipino grocery stores should have it too. Use the leftovers to make karaage.
  • You can use homemade or jarred sauerkraut (we haven't made sauerkraut yet this year so I used Wildbrine Sauerkraut I bought at Costco which is pretty close to my homemade version)



 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 11, 2017

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies



Ingredients:

5.3 oz bar (70%) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup bittersweet chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

for the topping:
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
handful bittersweet chips




Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 inch baking pan. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa, and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt,  and baking powder. Set aside

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Fold in chips. Pour into prepared pan.

Heat peanut butter over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over brownies and smooth to cover. Sprinkle with chips.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with one or two crumbs. Cool completely in pan, on a wire rack. Cut into 9 or 12 squares. They are a little messy thanks to the peanut butter topping so if you are transporting them, don't stack them.

Note: I did not try this using natural peanut butter. If you do, do at your own risk :)
My thoughts:
I wouldn't say I have a love-hate relationship with peanut butter, it is more of a love-indifference relationship. I like peanut butter but sometimes months, even a year can go by without me thinking of it at all, much less eating it. I wouldn't turn down a peanut butter oatmeal cookie but it wouldn't occur to me to make them myself or to eat a peanut butter sandwich. Then suddenly, a switch goes off and I find myself wanting a peanut butter open-faced sandwich (I do not like peanut butter and jelly ever) on my favorite sliced brioche, eat peanut butter on apple slices and spreading peanut butter on marshmallows. Only the tops of the full-sized ones; I'm not a monster. For some reason, the latter half of 2017 has been a peanut butter season and I've been buying jars at a somewhat alarming rate. It was during such madness that I made these brownies so I could finish the jar and start a new one (much like Ramona Quimby, I think the first spoonful out of a new jar tastes the best). Luckily they turned out well. It has a dark chocolate flavor and lots of peanut butter thanks to the chips and the smear of peanut butter on top. It is as if Reese's Cups were as tasty as they used to be and married a brownie. Yum.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 08, 2017

Ginger Spiced Cranberry-Apple Butter



Ingredients:

8 cups peeeled, diced (I used Jonagold) apples (about 10-12 medium apples)
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 large cinnamon stick
3/4 cup water or apple cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 2-inch knob fresh ginger

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot (I used a 5-quart cast-iron enameled braiser). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and uncovered, until the apples are very tender and falling apart.




Remove and discard the ginger and cinnamon stick. The ginger should be easy to find because unlike the apples, it should still be firm. Blend, using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender until very smooth, carefully as the apple mixture will be very hot and sticky. If the mixture is not at apple butter consistency, return to heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until it reaches the proper thickness.


When it is proper thickness, pour into clean, sterlized jars and cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 weeks or ladle when warm into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.


Yield: about 5 8-oz jars


Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is an Amazon list of my favorite products for canning, including the Blue Book. (I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites to help off-set the cost associated with running this blog.)



My thoughts:
I've made a few batches of apple butter over the years but only in the slow cooker, not the stove top. We like to go to the Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival where they make the apple butter in the town square over a wood fire (although we normally buy it from the cheaper place around the corner that makes in over a wood fire in a parking lot-- not as picturesque but a buck's a buck and I figure they can use the business) but we didn't make the trip this year. I almost didn't make apple butter this year either but Matt bought like a bushel of apples last month to take a to an event and we ended up with a ton of apples leftover. They've been sitting in cold storage (aka my enclosed, uninsulated porch) until today when I thought I'd finally make something with them.

Since it is now December and I am over the whole faking I am excited about fall thing, I thought I'd make a slightly more festive and seasonally appropriate apple butter by adding a ton of spices and cranberries. This takes it right into winter, right? I'm planning to give these out to friends and family right now so I didn't bother canning them but if you want to give them out as gifts (and you should! only fools wouldn't love a jar of this sweet-tart spicy goodness) please can it to make it shelf-stable. Don't give the gift of botulisum this Christmas (or Hanukkah!). The cran-apple butter is just as creamy as the regular but with just a hint of tartness from the cranberries that really takes it to the next level.


Try using the apple butter in one of these recipes.
 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 06, 2017

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Rice Krispies Chocolate Cookies



Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup bittersweet (60% cocoa) chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
2/3 cup puffed rice cereal (Rice Krispies)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.


In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and puffed rice, distributing them evenly.

Form cookies by dropping 1 tablespoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Bake for exactly 12 minutes; the cookies will look slightly shiny and soft, but the bottoms should be lightly browned and crisp. Remove gently slide the cookies still on the parchment to a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes or until set. Remove the parchment and continue to cool the cookies on the wire rack until fully cooled.


Yield: about 1 1/2 dozen fairly large cookies (I used this cookie scoop)




My thoughts:
I've been a cookie making kick lately and I've been trying to mix up what kinds I make. Peanut butter chips are back in stores again thanks to the holiday baking season so I've been stocking up. I don't know why they aren't available in all stores all year long! The same with the bittersweet chips, they are tricky to find off season too.

Anyway, I thought I'd make the classic peanut butter/chocolate combo with a twist: Rice Krispies. I've made cookies with cereal before so I know it could be good but I wasn't sure if Rice Krispies stand out enough. It turns out that they did, they added a bit of a crunch and malty-rice flavor to the cookie that was a fun change.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 04, 2017

Chicken Cordon Bleu Baked Frittata


Ingredients:
2  cups cubed, cooked chicken
4 oz fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely shredded Gruyère
1/4 cup milk
10 eggs
3 oz thin sliced lean serrano ham, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft. Add the spinach and chicken and cook until the spinach is wilted.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cheese salt, and pepper until fluffy*. Fold in the , vegetables/chicken mixture and ham.

Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.


*I love my egg beater for this task.



My thoughts:
I am so happy I discovered baked frittatas a few years back. I had been making frittatas the old fashioned way by starting them on the stove top but this way so much easier! It is sort of like strata but there no layers. Anyway, they are super easy and when you make them in an 8x8 inch baking dish they are the perfect size for dinner with leftovers (they reheat remarkably well in the microwave or oven)--so many baked egg dishes assume you are serving a huge crowd! 

For this baked frittata, I used some leftover cooked chicken (even better it, it was leftover Costco rotisserie chicken I had froze so bonus points for using up leftovers), some Gruyère and serrano ham (thanks Aldi for carrying this stuff on the regular and cheap*!) for a sort of riff on chicken cordon bleu but without the frying and some spinach tossed in so I got some veggies in. Super easy, super satisfy and best of all, super tasty. The cheese and serrano ham add a ton of flavor that really makes the dish. Serve it with a light vegetable dish or just with some crusty bread. 



*Insert shameless plug for my Aldi fan blog for which I do totally for free and with no involvement by Aldi here.


 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

December 01, 2017

Honey Roasted Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares


Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cup bittersweet chips (60% cocoa) or semi-sweet chips
2/3 cup honey roasted peanuts



Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour one 8x8 pan.


In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips and peanuts, distributing them evenly.

Press the dough into the prepared pan in an even layer, taking care to touch all sides of the pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges golden brown and only 1-2 crumbs comes out on a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.


My thoughts:
I normally don't buy honey roasted peanuts (or any nuts at all to be honest) but I bought some to make the Halloween Chex Mix with so I've been snacking on them. I found they were even better if I mixed them with dark chocolate chips (so obvious! peanut butter and chocolate is classic) but eating bowls of chips and nuts seemed a little unseemly somehow. So I thought I'd make them more acceptable (and shareable!) by turning the combo into cookies. I've made a lot of drop cookies this year and a few spritz so I thought I'd make bar cookies instead. Nice, thick, chocolate-y cookies.

I used all dark brown sugar to give it a bit of a chewy texture which I love. The chocolate is awesome of course and keeps the whole cookie from being too sweet despite the sweetened nuts. The nuts add a nice toasty note and a touch of honey flavor. 


 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 29, 2017

Spicy Cheddar Crackers



Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
8 oz brick sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water
pinch salt


Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, mix together all ingredients until a thick dough forms.

Fill the cookie press fitted with a disk of your choice (I used the leaf from the fall disc set and the sunflower that came with the cookie press) with the dough.

Press dough 1 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased, unlined nonstick baking sheets. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Yield: around 2 dozen crackers (this recipe can be easily doubled)

Note: if you do not have a cookie press. Roll the dough into small (1/2 inch) balls and flatten with a fork.



My thoughts:
As I've mentioned before, I didn't grow up using a cookie press or making spritz cookies so when I got one I did some experimenting. It turns out that you can use it to make more than just cookie! I came up with this cheddar cracker recipe (think Cheese Nips or Better Cheddars but spicy) that was not only super easy, made a good amount of crackers. They were great served with soup or eaten out of hand. So when you are making cookies this holiday season, take a break and make a batch of crackers instead. They make a great gift for those who love savory over sweet!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 27, 2017

Spiced Acorn Squash Pulled Pork Sliders




Ingredients:
2 1/4 lb boneless pork roast
1 onion, cut into half-moon slices
4 cloves garlic
1 cup roasted acorn squash pulp (from 1 acorn squash)
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon allspice
salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
brioche slider rolls

Directions:
Pour everything into a four or two quart slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove the meat to a cutting board and shred it. Set aside. Mash the contents of the slow cooker until fairly smooth. Return the pork to the slow cooker. Toss to evenly distribute the sauce. Serve on rolls.



My thoughts:
No matter how many slow cooker recipes I create (and I have created a ton! I wrote a cookbook with 300 recipes for the slow cooker and this is my 119th on Coconut & Lime!!) I always seem to come back to pulled pork. While I love it made the old-fashioned way--smoked, preferably by people who are not me, in the South--it is one of the most consistently good things you can make in the slow cooker. The meat is always tender, it is always flavorful and it is nearly (or totally, I've never had it happen) impossible to overcook. Since I'm making it in the slow cooker anyway, I've used this as an excuse to do some odd things to pulled pork. I'm talking cooking it with apples, with leftover cranberry sauce, with pumpkin and jerk seasoning, fresh blueberries, and even tart rhubarb. So it was inevitable I guess that eventually, I'd get around to making it with acorn squash.

I have a love-hate relationship with acorn squash. On one hand--yay local produce in the late fall! On the other--acorn squash is kind of boring. I guess it isn't its own fault, tomatoes and other summer vegetables are so much more attractive. Still, I sometimes struggle to include as often as I feel like I should. That's the beauty of this recipe. You get all of the benefits of squash (vitamins!) but while it adds some depth to the flavor of the pulled pork, it isn't the star of the show. It also creates a natural, thick sauce which is awesome and eliminates any need to make, buy or steal barbecue or chili sauce.



Note: I made this with ingredients I bought at Aldi. If you'd like to see an "Aldi-fied" version that lists exactly which Aldi products I used, click here to view it on my new Aldi fan site.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 22, 2017

Turkey, Ham, Kale and Mushroom Pie




Ingredients:

1 onion, diced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, diced
2 cups diced cooked turkey breast
2 cups diced smoked ham
1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed sage
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup turkey stock
salt pepper
3 cups cooked plain mashed potatoes
1 egg



Directions:

Preheat oven 350.

Saute the onion and mushrooms until the onions are soft, in a large, high walled skillet. Add the turkey, ham, and kale, saute until the kale wilts. Add the spices and flour, stir until all ingredients are coated. Add the milk and stock, simmer until thickened.

Meanwhile, beat the egg into the potatoes.

Pour the thickened meat mixture into a 2 or 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Top with potatoes.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the dish is bubbly and lightly browned








My thoughts:
Every year I try to post some new Thanksgiving leftovers recipe (I have a ton!! Check them all out here--using up everything from turkey to cranberry sauce to potatoes to turducken) either before or directly after Thanksgiving. Since we did Thanksgiving for Two this year, I didn't have too much in the way of leftovers but I had enough for this Shepard's Pie inspired pie. Last year someone asked if I had any recipes that could use up leftover ham too, so I combined them both for this dish, but you could make it with just ham or just turkey and it would be fine. I used leftover mashed potatoes to top (or you can make fresh or use some leftover baked potatoes) and some kale for the vegetable because I thought it might be a good break from all of the carrots, green beans and corn people seem to eat at Thanksgiving.

Anyway, it is super quick and easy to make and hopefully makes the most of the leftovers you have!
 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 20, 2017

Romanesco Salad with Ground Cherries, Prosciutto & Gorgonzola



Ingredients:

salad:
1 head romanesco, cut into florets
1-pint ground cherries* (also known as Cape gooseberries or golden berries), halved
1 oz sliced Prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into thin half moons
1 Spanish black radish, cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola


dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon
2 1/2 tablespoons Proccesco vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil



Directions:
Steam the romanesco until just softened. Drain and run under cool water to cool completely. Place in a large bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients. Toss.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the vegetables, toss to coat.





*I bought these at Wegmans for a surprisingly affordable $2.49/pint (3 oz). They were labeled as "goldenberries" and were sold under the Melissa's produce label. I've also seen them in farmers markets as "ground cherries", they look like yellow cherry tomatoes and are in a husk like tomatillos. To me, they taste a bit like kiwi.
My thoughts:

This dish takes its inspiration from the popular broccoli salad that is such a crowd pleaser at get-togethers. Since Thanksgiving is this week, I thought I'd fancy it up a bit. I used broccoli cousin romanesco (in season now) instead of broccoli, ground cherries instead of dried cranberries--they have a similar sweet-tart flavor profile, blue cheese because it had to stand up to the strong flavors and in-season Spanish black radish (regular red radish would do in a pinch) for crunch, and Prosciutto instead of bacon. Romesco has a nice crisp flavor and firm texture and looks like a punk rock cross between broccoli and cauliflower. It holds up really well in cold salads. This salad is a bit sharp and pungent tasting but not bitter--one of my favorite attributes in a salad. The perfect contrast to the buttery, creamy, cheesy dishes that grace the holiday table. Bonus: it can be dressed and ready to go hours before serving.



 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 17, 2017

Bacon Pepper Jack Cauliflower Casserole


Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower,  lightly steamed and cut into florets (about 2 cups)
8 oz brick pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 pieces cooked, thick cut bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 1 1/2-quart baking pan. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer in the baking dish.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and spices. Whisk until it forms a paste, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheese and whisk until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the scallions, bacon, and parsley. Pour over cauliflower. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.





My thoughts:
I've been doing a lot of shopping at Aldi lately (shameless plug for my Aldi fan blog here) and while their produce section is small they always have freakishly good looking cauliflower. Plus it is much cheaper there than at the regular supermarket so I've been making and eating a lot of cauliflower lately. I've always liked it but spending $4 for a head of cauliflower when it is a vegetable that needs a lot of work to jazz it up (who eats plain steamed cauliflower? no one I'd want to know) was never very appealing to me. Now that I have a cheaper source, I've been making it in a billion different ways.

This recipe turns cauliflower into a holiday-worthy, indulgent treat. Pepper Jack cheese adds some heat and the parsley and green onions freshen it up. Technically, you could skip the baking step and simply toss it with the cauliflower but those last few minutes in the oven crisps up both the cauliflower and cheese and makes it just that much tastier and satisfying to eat.

I like using a Pepper Jack that is a bit hot (usually Cabot) but a milder Pepper Jack would work as well, for the spice-adverse.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 15, 2017

2 Hour Sheet Pan Thanksgiving for Two or Four: Old Bay Turkey Breast, Roasted Root Vegetables and Herbed Stuffing




Ingredients:

for the turkey breast:

4 1/4 lb bone-in turkey breast
Old Bay

for the injectable marinade:

2 tablespoons Old Bay
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil


for the roasted vegetables:

1 medium turnip, small dice
1 large Russet potato, medium dice
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 sprig's worth fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the stuffing:

8 slices potato bread, torn into bite-sized chunks
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed sage
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup turkey stock



Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Place the turkey breast on a small rack (I used one OXO silicone roasting rack) on one end of a rimmed baking sheet aka a half sheet jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with Old Bay.


Meanwhile, whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place in the flavor injector using the larger needle. Inject the marinade into several places in the breast. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour.



Meanwhile, toss together the roasted vegetable ingredients in a large bowl. Remove the turkey from the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Arrange the vegetable mixture over 1/2-2/3 of the space remaining on the baking sheet next to the turkey. Return to the oven for 30 minutes.



Meanwhile, saute the onions and celery in a skillet until the onion is translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Then, in a large bowl, mix together the stuffing ingredients until well combined. Form into 4 stuffing balls. After the 30 minutes, arrange them in the remaining empty spot on the baking sheet.




Bake 30 minutes or until the turkey reaches 165 on a meat thermometer.

Allow to rest 10 minutes prior to serving. Slice and serve.






Yield: 2 meals with leftovers, 4 meals with little to no leftovers


My thoughts:
Over the years I have done so many versions of Thanksgiving meals. I've done everything from pomegranate-themed to Hawaiian (complete with Pineapple-infused Turkey and Spam-Hawaiian Bread Stuffing) to Polish (with kielbasa-rye stuffing) to Thanksgivukkah and a ton in between! Normally I have a fauxgiving in October to create recipes to share but this year my husband has been busy with school and being a chair in an charitable organization planning its own Thanksgiving event that I couldn't carve out a whole day to devote to Thanksgiving.

I finally had the idea to make a dinner for two! After all, we are a family of two and while I have made a big dinner nearly every one of the last 13 years I've had this blog, we have only made guests once or twice for fauxgiving and instead concentrated on using the leftovers to create dozens of Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. I just didn't have that kind of time this year!

I wasn't sure how to set about doing a Thanksgiving for two but then OXO offered to send me a sheet pan dinner kit and I saw what it included, I knew it was destined to be a sheet pan Thanksgiving. They sent a silicone roasting rack, a meat thermometer (amazingly I didn't have one that worked and normally just roast until the juices run clear and the leg wiggles which doesn't work with a turkey breast) a crazy flavor injector with two different sized needles, a rimmed baking sheet aka a half sheet jelly roll pan and an amazing looking gravy separator that I didn't get to use because the breast was too lean. I'm not being paid by OXO in any way but these items sure did come in handy!

Since I'm a Baltimorean for life, I came up with the idea of doing an Old Bay injected turkey sort of like the Cajun injected turkeys they have in Louisiana but with a Maryland twist. Before my husband moved to Baltimore, he had only used Old Bay on chicken so using it on turkey seemed perfect. It was fun injecting the turkey and the turkey did come out very moist and flavorful so I highly recommend trying it out!

I always make "un-stuffing" for Thanksgiving--my family always put stuffing around the turkey vs in the turkey (we are all very food poisoning-phobic) but never in a separate pan as "dressing". This way the turkey juices flavor the stuffing but it doesn't keep the turkey from coming to the correct temperature. Stuffing balls are perfect for a sheet pan dinner.

Finally, I cooked some root vegetables on the pan. You can vary them if you want, but if you want everything to be done at the same time, you need to pick ones that will cook at the same rate so turnips, carrots and potatoes are the perfect choice. I know turnips aren't too popular here but they should be, they have a nice peppery flavor and high in vitamin C.

This meal easily serves two people with lots of leftovers or four people with little to no leftovers, perfect for a smaller family. Plus it really is done in 2 hours. I did all of the chopping and stuffing making while the turkey was in the oven (though you could cube the vegetables and make the stuffing ahead of time and allow both to come to room temperature before cooking). I did serve it with some cranberry sauce and served it with sauerkraut but that is, of course, up to you.




Check out my Thanksgiving recipes here on Pinterest.
 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 13, 2017

Fennel Potato au Gratin




Ingredients:
3 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 small bulb fennel, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half-moons
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half-moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups shredded Gruyère
1 cup shredded Gouda
salt
freshly ground black pepper
fennel fronds, as garnish (optional)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 355. Lightly oil an 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Set aside.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl of cool water. Allow to soak 10-15 minutes. Drain and let air dry.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute the fennel, garlic, and onion until the onion is soft and translucent. Do not brown. Add the flour and whisk to coat the vegetables. Add the milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1 3/4 cup Gruyère, 3/4 cup Gouda, salt and pepper and cook, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.

Arrange half of the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Pour half of the cheese mixture over the potatoes. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour the remaining sauce over the potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese and fennel fronds.

Bake, uncovered for 1 hour or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the dish is browned and bubbly*. Allow sitting 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Refrigerate leftovers.


*This dish is very bubbly so you may want to line your oven (I use this oven liner or you could use foil) or place the baking dish on a baking sheet to avoid dripping directly onto the oven.

My thoughts:
I always get asked what is the difference is between au Gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes. The answer is easy: au Gratin is topped with a sprinkle of  cheese (or bread crumbs) and scalloped is not. I do see a lot of scalloped potato recipes with cheese in them which I think is a reflection of our country's urge to put cheese in and on everything and everywhere. Now I think the names are pretty much used interchangeably but I do tend to use au Gratin as it was originally intended because in my mind, scalloped potatoes are quite different.

I've been shopping at Aldi lately because not only is it cheap, they have a lot of European foods  that are tricky (or costly) to find else where. I was delighted to see that they are now carrying Gruyère and Gouda right next to the usual shredded cheddar and mozzarella and it wasn't even a special sale. Plus I think it was only about $2.50 for 8 oz which is a great deal for both cheeses and I didn't have to shred an unwieldy wheel of Gouda myself. Score! They are both great cheeses to use for au Gratin potatoes because they melt wonderfully, they have distinctive but not overpowering flavors and they seem a little fancier than regular old cheddar. If I am going to go through the hassle of making a cheese sauce and slicing all those potatoes on a Tuesday night I want it to seem special! It also makes the dish holiday-worthy, I think.

This is a rich, creamy dish, I admit but I lightened it up a bit by using 1/3 stock for the liquid rather than 100% milk. I think it adds a bit more flavor to the finished dish and I don't know if I am imagining this but I never have problems with re-heating the dish the next day; the sauce doesn't split at all. I hate when you reheat dishes (even from restaurants!) like this and it gets all oily or clotted looking but that didn't happen with this at all, which is awesome because this recipe makes a ton and you are bound to have some leftovers.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 10, 2017

Chicken and Stars Udon Soup






Ingredients:
1 7 oz pack refrigerated udon noodles (I used these Fortune brand noodles)
1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh
1 oz dried king oyster mushrooms
1/2 oz dried cloud ear mushrooms (may be labeled as dried black fungus strips)
1-quart chicken stock
4 clove garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 carrot, cut into stars (use a knife or small cutter)
1 smoked jalapeno, chopped
2 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped scallion
shichimi togarashi



Directions:
Discard the flavor pack from the noodles if there is one. Rehydrate the mushrooms according to package instructions. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring the stock, chicken, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, half of the scallions, and carrot to a boil. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken. Slice the chicken into 1/4 inch thick strips, return to the pot. Add the noodles, mushrooms (with or without hydrating liquid) and spinach. Stir until the noodles are fully cooked and the spinach is wilted. Ladle into two bowls, top with remaining scallion and shichimi togarashi to taste. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
We both were a little sniffly this past weekend and I thought some yummy chicken soup was in order.

My inspiration for this was a childhood favorite: chicken and stars soup! In this version, the noodles are udon rather than star shaped but I took a minute to cut my carrots into star shapes using a star-shaped corer I bought years ago (small cutters work well too--or if you have good knife skills-go at it!) at an after holiday sale. I then added some mushrooms we had on hand and lots of ginger and shichimi togarashi to help clear out our noses! The result was a comforting, healthy soup that was ready in under 30 minutes.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg