October 30, 2015

Ham, Mushroom and Collard Topped Garlic Herb Cheddar Grits


for the topping:
1 bunch collards, ribs removed and chopped
12 oz shiitake mushroom, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz cubed ham
freshly ground black pepper

for the grits:
1 cup stone-ground grits
3 cups water
1/3 cup grated garlic and herb cheddar*

Boil the collards in a large pot of water for about 5 minutes or until wilted. Drain thoroughly. Saute the collards, onion, garlic, mushrooms and ham until the collards and onions are quite soft but not browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in grits and continue to cook, whisking frequently for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese.

Divide grits among 4 plates and evenly divide the ham mixture on top. Serve immediately.

*I used Cabot's

My thoughts:
This another one of those meals that comes and ends up being much better than expected. I love grits and am always looking for ways to incorporate them into a dinner. They make a nice alternative to potatoes or rice and cook up quite quickly, the perfect base for a quick saute. This time I topped them with collards, something I don't see cooked quickly very often which is a shame. They are a bit tough so the boiling step is necessary but they added a great flavor and texture to the dish. Shiitake mushrooms might seem a little out of place but they absorb flavors well and added a fun chew to the saute. I can't wait to make it again

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October 28, 2015

Crab-Broccoli Quiche with an Old Bay-Cheddar Crust

for the crust:
1 cup King Arthur flour
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup grated Cabot Alpine cheddar
2-4 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon Old Bay

1 small head broccoli,cut into small florets
1 1/2 cup lump blue crab*
1 small onion
3/4 cup Cabot Alpine Cheddar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Old Bay

Preheat oven to 425. Place the Old Bay, butter, flour and cheese into a food processor. Add water one tablespoon at a time and pulse just until mixture sticks together. Form the dough into a ball. Roll out into a crust and place in a pie plate or quiche pan or tart pan (I just use a Pyrex pie plate). Prick with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes or until just browned. Turn oven down to 325.

Meanwhile, saute the broccoli and onion in a small amount of oil until the onion is soft and the broccoli is bright green and tender. Allow to cool. Whisk together the egg, Old Bay and milk. Stir in cheese, crab, broccoli and onion. Pour into the prepared shell. Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.

*I used crab leftover from picking crabs, it was still pretty seasoned so I used a bit less Old Bay then called for here. Feel free to adjust to your taste.

My thoughts:
It is King Arthur Flour's 225th anniversary and they paired up with Cabot to send us Cabot Cheese Board bloggers a fun flour and cheese quiche making kit. I tossed around a lot of ideas but when I had some crab leftover from what will probably be our last crab picking session of the summer I knew I need to make a crab quiche! This is possibly this most Baltimore quiche ever--Old Bay is in the filling and the dough! And might I point out how this might be the best quiche dough I've made yet? It rolled out so smoothly and didn't tear when I picked it up. The filling was quite tasty as well, good but not overwhelming Old Bay flavor and lovely chunks of crab. I know quiche doesn't scream "weeknight dinner" but do consider it, it really required less than 15 minutes hands-on time.

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October 19, 2015

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

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 paste 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 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

My thoughts:
Matt was at his Tai Chi class yesterday and I was avoiding washing those last few utensils at the bottom of the sink (no dishwasher here!) so I thought I'd make a quick batch of cookies. Good thing too, because Matt came home saying he felt like having something sweet but that the cookies at the grocery were unappealing and overpriced. Score one for my marital psychic ability. These cookies are dead simple but very satisfying. The trick is to take them out of the oven at precisely 12 minutes and let them continue to cook slightly and set up on the rack. This makes for a cookie that is every so slightly on the moist side (without being pudding-y or brownie-like) but not overcooked or dry. It is a little tricky sliding them onto the rack while still on parchment but it is worth the effort. They are super chocolatey and studded with even more chocolate. What more could you want?

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October 16, 2015

Roasted Shrimp and Vegetable Pearl Cous Cous Salad

1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
8 oz crimini mushrooms, halved
2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced (divided use)
1 3/4 cup pearl (Israeli) cous cous
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp
1 small onion, sliced
greens from 1 bunch carrots, minced*
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Place the cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are fork-tender and lightly browned. Remove to a large bowl.

Bring the water to a boil, add the cous cous. Cover and simmer 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, place the shrimp and onions in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining half of minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until fully cooked. Scoop the cous cous into the bowl with the roasted vegetables. Add the chopped carrot tops. Stir. Remove the shrimp from the pan with tongs and add to the vegetable/cous cous mix. Discard the onions. Stir the mixture.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Could sub in Italian parsley if needed.
My thoughts:
I love when I get carrots with the tops on in my produce box. Once I realized they are not poisonous as I had oddly, erroneously thought, I fell in love with their bright, light carrot flavor. For this recipe I tossed shrimp, both carrots and their tops, cauliflower, mushrooms and my favorite style of cous cous together to make a light yet filling weeknight dinner. It was super easy and quick to make because pretty much everything cooks at once in the oven and required virtually no hands-on time a major plus on the nights when Matt is at school late and I have to make an exciting dinner after a long day.

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October 12, 2015

Marak Kubbeh Adom (Beet Soup with Meat-filled Dumplings)


meat filling:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon ras al hanout, paprika or baharat
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

dumpling dough:
4 cups coarse semolina (not flour)*
2 cups water

for the soup:
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 medium-large roasted beets, cut into wedges
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
2 small yellow squash, cubed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
juice of one lemon


for the filling:
This can be made the day before (or morning of) and refrigerated.  Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the beef and cook, breaking up any large pieces with a spoon, until nearly fully cooked. Stir in spices and parsley. Cook until the beef is fully cooked. Drain off excess fat if needed.

for the dumplings:
In a medium bowl, whisk the water in the semolina. Allow to sit until the semolina absorbs all of the water. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Flatten in the palm of your hand. Place a small amount of filling in the middle and fold the sides to make a round, filled dumpling. Place on a platter until ready to use.

for the soup:
Saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the celery, carrot, squash and beets. Saute 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Meanwhile, bring the stock and tomato paste to a boil. Add the vegetables and simmer 20 minutes or until they are tender. Stir in the lemon juice. Add as many dumplings can fit without crowding.

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Tip: Freeze leftover dumplings (kubbeh) in a single layer on a sheet pan. Then place in a freezer safe container. Add them frozen to the soup the next time you make it.

*I found this very cheaply at a local Italian grocery.

My thoughts:
Over the last few weeks I've become obsessed with the Israeli TV show, Srugim, about four single 30-something modern Orthodox friends who are looking to get married. It is really good! Seasons 1 & 2 are available for streaming on Amazon (for free, if you have Prime) and season 3 is available on Hulu. Anyway, there is a ton of cooking on this show and I swear one of the characters, Yifat, makes this soup at least six times during the first season. After seeing it so much, I had to make it myself. I'm glad I did because it was so good! I will admit, it is quite time-consuming, but I did a few things that made work easier for myself.  I seasoned and browned the meat the morning the day I was going to make the soup (I work from home so that is easy for me, alternatively, make and refrigerate it the day before). I also chopped up the onions and garlic and places them in one container in the fridge. I cut up the rest of the vegetables and refrigerated them also. Then, when it was time to make the soup, I just had to saute the vegetables and then boil the soup while I made the dumplings. This way I wasn't trying to keep track of the vegetables and the beef at the same time and the beef was already cool enough to handle for dumpling making. You can do it all at once (like I shared above) but especially if it is your first time making this, it is worth it to do some work ahead of time. Oh! And I used roasted beets which really cut down on the vegetable sauteing time. It is really worth the effort, is it slightly sweet, slightly sour and very savory. It is even better the next day! I'm totally adding to my rotation of favorite soups.

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October 11, 2015

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Candy Topping

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Divine Chocolate Cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups 2% milk
2 tablespoons butter, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon bourbon
pinch salt
chopped candy (I used Goldenberg's Peanut Chews)

Over medium heat and in a small sauce pan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it boils. Allow to boil for 1 minute while whisking continually. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, bourbon, vanilla and paste. Pour into ramekins or jars. Serve warm or refrigerate until cold, 1-2 hours. Sprinkle with candy bits prior to serving.

My thoughts:
I was excited that Divine Chocolate sent me some yummy bars and baking cocoa for #Chocotoberfest with Imperial Sugar! I love their candy bars (and how they are fair trade and farmer-owned) but I hadn't tried their cocoa before. OMG, it is the best cocoa I have every had! It made for the richest pudding I've ever had, despite making it with only 2% milk! Truly decadent! I sort of gilded the lily by tossing some candy on top, but it is nearly Halloween so it seemed appropriate. This is a great pudding for people who haven't pud'd before, it is egg free so you can skip the tempering (which can be tricky and lead to cocoa scrambled eggs instead of pudding!) but is just as creamy and smooth as any other pudding.

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October 06, 2015

Can't Beet Chocolate Chip Brownies


7 oz semisweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar, such as Imperial Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped roasted beets*
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 inch baking pan. 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, baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla paste 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. Beat in the beets. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with one or two crumbs. Cool (in pan) on a wire rack.

*I processed them using this mini chopper. It was about 2 medium beets.
My thoughts:
I was excited to be invited by Allison over at the PinterTest Kitchen for #Choctoberfest way back in August. Then it evolved into #Chocotoberfest with Imperial Sugar when Imperial Sugar said they'd send all of us Chocotoberfest bloggers a case of sugar! Yes, I am now the proud owner of 40 lbs of sugar minus what I used in these delish brownies!

I've been tooling around with the idea of beet-spiked brownies and #Choctoberfest was the excuse I needed to actually make them. Beets are in season now, so tasty, huge beets are widely available. I wondered if you could taste the beets and while I think they added some slightly earthy flavor that deepened the chocolate, what they really did was make the richest, moistest, slightly chewy brownies I've ever had.  No one who tried them guessed there were beets in the mix. Plus, you can feel slightly less guilty eating them...they are full of vegetables!

Don't forget to enter the #Chocotoberfest Giveaway!

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October 05, 2015

#Chocotoberfest Giveaway!


I am beyond excited today, because it is October 5.... and that means it is the first day of #Choctoberfest! :D

#Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you'll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What's not to love?

Here's what this event is all about!

#Choctoberfest would not be possible without our sponsors, starting with our 2015 Gold Sponsor, Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar has been a trusted name in family kitchens since 1843. Their sugar products and sweeteners are made from non-GMO cane sugar and ensure consistently delicious results. We'll be using Imperial Sugar whenever we use sugar in our recipes this week, and can't wait to share the sweetness with you!

You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Make sure you visit the recipes section of their website for some sweet inspiration, and you can also find coupons on their website if you want to try out Imperial Sugar yourself.

Imperial Sugar and our other sponsors have banded together to contribute some awesome prizes for our #Choctoberfest giveaway! Entering is simple - just click below to follow us on Pinterest. Here's what you could win:
We also have a nonprofit sponsor this year - Rescue Chocolate! They make vegan chocolate treats and donate 100% of their proceeds to animal shelters.

Enter now to win the #Choctoberfest prize. Hurry, because we're picking the winner on October 12 at 8:00 AM, so if you don't sign up before then, you'll miss your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to all of the other blogs participating in #Choctoberfest 2015. Check out their blogs throughout the week for chocolate recipes you won't be able to resist:

The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin' MamasA Day in the Life on the FarmAloha FlavorAmy's Cooking AdventuresAngels HomesteadBalancing MotherhoodBless this MessBusy-at-HomeChocolate SlopesCoconut & LimeColie's KitchenCookaholic WifeCooking In StilettosCooking With LibbyCookistryCopyKat RecipesCravings of a LunaticCrumbs in my MustachioCulinary CoutureCupcakes Take The CakeDeliciously SavvyEat It & Say YumFairyburgerFamished Fish, Finicky SharkFarm Fresh FeastsFood Hunter's Guide to CuisineFull Belly SistersGet Off The Couch and CookGrumpy's HoneybunchHey What's for Dinner Mom?Honey and BirchI Can Cook ThatJane's Adventures in DinnerJessie WeaverLife on Food Life, Love, and Good FoodMajorly DeliciousMoore or Less Cooking Food BlogMother Would KnowOr Whatever You DoPoet in the PantryRecipes Food and CookingRhubarb and HoneySassy Southern YankeeSavory TartSeduction in The KitchenSerena LissySumptuous SpoonfulsTake Two TapasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeThatsSoYummyThe Chonchudo FilesThe Crumby CupcakeThe Dinner-MomThe Saucy SouthernerThe Spiced LifeThe Spiffy CookieThe Two Bite ClubThe Weekday GourmetVintage KittyWendy PolisiWhat A Girl EatsWhitBit's Indian KitchenWit Wisdom & FoodZesty South Indian Kitchen

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