January 31, 2018

Loaded Chili Baked Potatoes


for the chili:
1 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2-3 jalapenos, diced
20 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 1/2 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the potatoes:
6 large Russet potatoes
2 avocados, cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco


For the chili:

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, peppers, beans, and spices. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs and then high until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). If the chili looks watery then turn up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.

1 1/2 hrs prior to serving:

Preheat oven to 400. Bake potatoes until fully cooked, about 1 hour. Slice in half lengthwise and allow to cool slightly. Scoop out the potatoes into a large bowl, reserving the skins. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in the chili to evenly distribute it in the potatoes while still leaving the meat and beans whole. Scoop back into the skins, top with avocado, sour cream, red onion and queso fresco.

Serves 12


Potatoes can be made ahead.  Reheat and garnish with sour cream, onion, avocado and cheese prior to serving.

My thoughts:
Although I like to think that spring is right around the corner, in reality, it is still somehow January. Sigh. We had a few relatively balmy days there and now we are back baking to warm the house. 

Anyway, I hear there is some sort of sporting event this weekend so I thought it would be a good time to post this wintery, filling twist on baked potatoes. They aren't twice-baked so they come together a little more quickly and since the chili is made in the slow cooker (which is perfectly safe, This Is Us viewers) there is very little hands-on time.

These potatoes are so filling, just half with some sides (chips and guac anyone?) is a full meal. I know a lot of Super Bowl parties are all snacks all the time but adding these filling, protein-rich potatoes will surely be welcome and only slightly more difficult than just making chili.  

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 29, 2018

Swiss-Italian Frittata

4 oz cubed prosciutto
2 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
8 oz baby Swiss chard (if using regular, chop)
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup shredded Gruyère
10 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the leek and mushrooms until the leeks have softened. Add the chard and prosciutto and saute until the chard is wilted and the prosciutto is lightly browned.

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

Oil or butter 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.

My thoughts:
Why not Swiss-Italian? Italian from the frittata and proscuitto, Swiss from the (dubious origins so I'm stretching here) the Swiss chard and the Gruyère (although the French fight over that too). It's easier to say that "Prosciutto, Swiss Chard Frittata with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Gruyère", right? I made this one using produce from my locally grown produce box delivery. I don't get it every single week, especially during the colder months but these were all things that were grown in greenhouses from what I could tell and super flavorful. The baby chard was super cute and easy to use (I didn't bother to do anything more than wash it) but regular chard can be used, just chop it up (stems and all) and saute. The prosciutto adds a savory, meaty flavor but could easily be left out for a vegetarian meal. We like to have this for dinner but it would make a great breakfast or brunch dish too.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 24, 2018

Spiced Sour Cream Cake

1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
8 oz (full fat) sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
6 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch salt

powdered sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom for sprinkling (optional)


Preheat oven to 325.

Grease and flour one bundt pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl and using a hand-mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream well. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, baking soda, and vanilla. Add to sugar mixture and combine thoroughly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the spices and flour.

While the mixer is running, add 1 cup flour to the butter/sour cream mixture then beat in 2 eggs. Repeat for the rest of the flour and eggs ending with flour. Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Leave in the pan on the cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert. Flip again so the part that exposed is back on top. Allow to cool fully. Sprinkle with a mixture of spices and powdered sugar if desired.

My thoughts:
This a variation of one of my very favorite cakes, sour cream cake. My Aunt A, my grandpop's sister, always made this cake and it is so simple yet good! It is similar to a pound cake but instead of a full pound of butter, you have a mix of butter and sour cream which gives the cake a nice tang. A lot of bundt cakes are flipped over so the top, uncovered part of the cake becomes the bottom so the outside is smooth. You can do this but then you miss the craggy, sweet topping that forms on the cake. I perfect to leave it as-is or sprinkle it with a bit of powdered sugar rather than make a glaze.

It is a great cake to take to a potluck because it can be made ahead of time (although I personally make it is the day-of), travels well, and doesn't require icing. Personally, I hate bringing hot dishes to a potluck because of food safety concerns so desserts are always preferred. And who doesn't love a bundt cake? Plus it is super easy to slice into as many slices as are needed--perfect for when you aren't sure exactly how many people coming.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 22, 2018

Slow Cooker Japanese Beef & Sweet Potato Curry Rice

1 1/4 lb cubed stew beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 large Russet potato, cubed
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large Murasaki sweet potato, cubed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Japanese curry powder (like S & B Oriental Curry Powder)

hot, cooked Japanese rice (often labeled sushi rice) to serve

In a small pan, saute the onions until browned, about 10 minutes.

Place all ingredients in a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender. Stir. Serve with rice.

Stovetop Variation:
Don't want to slow cook? Saute the onion and beef in a Dutch oven until browned. Add the remaining ingredients and 3/4 cup beef broth or stock. Simmer until the meat, potatoes, and carrots are tender, about 1 1/2-2 hrs. Serve with hot rice.
My thoughts:
Kareh Raisu (curry rice) is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. It is filling and hearty and luckily pretty easy to make at home! Instant curry packets are readily available (even at stores like Safeway) even here in Baltimore where Japanese ingredients can be tricky to find but I find that like with most things, making it from scratch is so much tastier! The trick is to use the right curry powder. Luckily, S & B Oriental Curry Powder is available at nearly any Asian grocery store; I've seen it at Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian and Filipino markets.

A lot of recipes have you using tapioca or rice flour slurries to thicken the dish but as you can see, it is quite thick straight from the pot! In fact, if you like a soupier curry rice you might want to thin it out with some beef broth. My secret? The Muraski sweet potato. It literally melts into the dish. The cubes disappear and the mixture is magically thickened. It also adds the sweetness that Japanese curry needs without adding sugar or apples like some recipes call for and you get all of the health benefits of the sweet potato.  It is a little non-traditional, normally beef curry rice does not have sweet potato but I love the flavor and thickening it provides.

Want to learn more about curry rice? Check out this article I found that outlines the history of the dish. Also, today, January 22nd, is Curry Rice Day in Japan! It celebrates the anniversary of school lunches in Japan and if it is a school day, they mark it by serving curry rice.

January 19, 2018

Apple and Stilton Sausage Rolls

1 lb ground pork
3 sprigs' worth fresh thyme leaves
5 leaves sage, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup small cubed apple (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup crumbled Stilton
freshly ground black pepper
1 box (17.3 oz) puff pastry (defrosted)
1 egg yolk, beaten
sesame seeds, optional


Preheat oven to 350. Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the pork together with the herbs, spices, cheese, and apple until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll the meat into 4 long sausages about 1 1/2 inch around and about a foot long.

Place each puff pastry sheet, unfolded on a large flat surface. Slice in half, length-wise.

Place a sausage in the middle of each of the four sheets. Fold the sheet over the sausage and press close with the tines of a fork. Repeat for remaining pastry/sausage. Slice each into thirds.

Place on the prepared baking sheet leaving an inch or so between each roll. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool on a wire rack, serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

My thoughts:
I've always wanted to make sausage rolls. I've read about them since I was a child in British novels and they are frequently mentioned in the various U.K. shows we watch. I had always thought they'd be a bit tricky to make because people seemed to make the pastry themselves but when I noticed more than one British Instagramer make them using readymade puff pasty, I thought if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me! 

Since I was using puff pastry and am in the US with limited access to British sausages, I bought ground pork and made the sausage myself. Since it goes in the rolls raw, it is easy to mix up and roll into tubes. And because I can't leave well enough alone, I mixed in some apple and English Stilton to fancy them up a bit. They'd be fine without it but it made them a bit more special. The sausage rolls were everything I hoped they would be: juicy, flavorful and very satisfying. 

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 16, 2018

Homemade Fudge Chip Peanut Butter Boppers (with Cookie Crunch Variation)


3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup crisped rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies), lightly crushed
1/2 cup semisweet miniature chocolate chips
8 oz dark melting wafers*


Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, butter, and confectioner's sugar until paste forms. It should be easy to shape, like a soft yet dry dough. If it is very soft--too soft to shape, add additional powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until it forms the correct texture.

Roll the dough between your hands into 4 inch long logs, about 1-1 1/2 inch in diameter. Place on the lined tray.

Refrigerate while you melt the chocolate according to package instructions. Meanwhile, stir together the chips and cereal in a shallow bowl or platter.

Roll each log in the chocolate and then immediately into the chip mixture to coat. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes or until the coating is firm. Slice the ends off to expose the peanut butter filling for maximum accuracy. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Remove from fridge 5 minutes before serving at room temperature.

For the best shelf-life store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Boppers should not, however, melt if kept at room temperature.

*I used these Ghiradelli wafers I bought at Wegmans but any candy making wafers would do.

Cookie Crunch variation:

Instead of crisped rice cereal and chips, roll logs in 3/4 cup crushed Nabisco Chocolate Wafers (or Oreos with the creme filling removed and discarded if you can't find the wafers).

Yield: about 12 Bopppers

My thoughts:
For some reason, Peanut Butter Boppers, a snack rarely discussed that disappeared from the shelves in the 1980s has haunted me for decades. Growing up we did not eat much in the way of packaged snack food at all. My mom packed our lunches but 99% of it was homemade and even the things like chips were from a larger bag and repackaged--no prepacked convenience foods for us. For some reason, Boppers must have made it into the cart because I can still remember how they taste today. I have a very distinct memory of looking at them on the shelf when I was around 7 and being told we couldn't get a box and then they disappeared from the shelf forever. I have this thing where I can't really picture anything beyond the vaguest outlines and one of the very few things I can sort of picture is a row of Boppers on a grocery store shelf so it made quite an impression! Why I don't know. They were very tasty though!

When the internet became a thing I tried to look them up to see if they were still regionally available or discontinued entirely. I kept thinking they were called Bonkers which didn't make sense as Bonkers was another candy of the '80s that is now defunct and in my search, I realized that what I was thinking of was called Boppers. I found this commercial which explains some of my confusion--in it they talk about "going crazy, going boppers" over Peanut Butter Boppers. Who uses "boppers" and not "bonkers" to mean nutty is beyond me but at least that solved one mystery. Boppers also made a cameo in The Lost Boys, they were on the shelf the boys were not allowed to touch in the refrigerator along with the root beer and Oreos. So someone out there was eating them besides me!

Basically, Boppers were a dryish peanut butter stick (think the filling of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup) rolled in chocolate then crisped rice cereal and chips. Apparently, they were made by granola-famous Nature Valley but I don't recall them being marketed as any sort of health food and let's be honest, these are a treat.

Since I have always loved dark chocolate, I used dark melting chocolate and semisweet chips (which I feel were in used in the originals as well) but if you have more of a sweet tooth, you can use milk melting chocolate and/or chips. Remember to use actual melting chocolate though so it sets up properly. Alternatively, you can melt and temper your own chocolate but this is much easier and for this, just as tasty. Also, use mini chips to coat, regular chips are just too big and will fall off.

They really do taste like the Boppers I remember (of course, I was about 6 back then so it has been a while) but perhaps slightly better thanks to using better quality ingredients. Satisfyingly peanut buttery, slightly crunchy and chocolatey. I don't think they are bringing these back to the shelves anytime soon but you can enjoy these today!

Now if I could just figure out how to make Chocolate Mint Bubblicious, another mid-80s era discontinued favorite, I'll be all set.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 10, 2018

Mediterranean-Inspired Tuna Chickpea Salad Pita Sandwiches

2 5-oz cans solid white tuna packed in water, drained
7-oz cooked chickpeas
2-3 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 tablespoon tahini*
1 1/2 tablespoons dill weed
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/3 cup whole plain Greek yogurt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup (loose) watercress
1 tomato, sliced
pita (4-6)

In a medium bowl, flake the tuna with a fork. Add the chickpeas, capers and red onion. Stir. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, spices, and yogurt until smooth. Pour over the tuna mixture and stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

Fill pita halves with egg slices, watercress, and tomato. Serve immediately.

*A good alternative to tahini in this that I love is sesame Goddess dressing. Annie's Naturals makes it but I buy the knock-off at Aldi. Use it to taste (I use about 2-3 tablespoons and slightly less yogurt).

My thoughts:

I do love a good tuna salad sandwich. I remember my mom sending it in my packed lunch packed separately from the bread or crackers so it didn't get soggy. It is easy to make and pretty filling but it can be boring week after week. This week I had a ton of ingredients leftover from NYE dishes we made so I decided to branch out and be a bit fancy. My husband bought these new-to-us pita squares (Toufayan Smart Pockets) at the grocery store last week and I really like them. They are square, sturdy, and pre-cut so sandwich filling fits in them so much better than round, thin pita. Even wet fillings like this one. Such a simple thing but so much easier! Of course, any wrap, homemade or store-bought pita would be fine.

This is definitely a hearty, filling, protein-rich sandwich! Surprisingly, it does not tasty heavy at all! The fresh tomato and the yogurt dressing really lighten it up and the dill weed, mint and capers pack a lot of flavor.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 08, 2018

Spaghetti Squash Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

1 1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
3 oz gruyere, shredded
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 teaspoon hot paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup roasted spaghetti squash*
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used leftover cheese bread)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Oil one 8x8 inch baking dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

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 cheddar and Gruyere and whisk until thickened 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained noodles and spaghetti squash. Pour into the prepared pans and top with an even layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

*Slice in half, roast open-side down for about 40 minutes or until super tender. Scrape with a fork to form threads. I roasted mine a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated it. If you do this and it releases some liquid, drain the liquid prior to use.

My thoughts:
This recipe is my attempt to bridge the gap between the gooey stove-top cheese lovers, the baked mac & cheese lovers, the crispy breadcrumb lovers and the hidden veggie people. I think I have done a remarkable job if I do say so myself. This is a very cheesy, very gooey macaroni and cheese variant with squash (that fades into the background texture-wise but adds a tiny hint of squash-y sweetness) with lots of breadcrumbs on top. I used the cheese bread we buy from our local bakery during their weekly "happy hours" with half off baked goods for an extra punch of cheese. I like a baked mac & cheese that is heavy on the cheddar and has cheese on top that gets a nice chew to it, personally but this one is very good too. I think of this more as a macaroni and cheese casserole (but maybe I'm wrong, I do not come from casserole eating people) than straight up macaroni and cheese thanks to the squash addition and the breadcrumbs. Honestly, I can't imagine any cheese and pasta-eating person not enjoying this.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

January 04, 2018

Chorizo, Eggs and Spinach Breakfast Quesadillas

1 lb. spicy Mexican-style chorizo
12 eggs
1/4 cup chopped scallions
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach
5 oz. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
8 Mission® Carb Balance Soft Taco Flour Tortillas

to serve:
sour cream

Remove the chorizo from any casing, as needed.

In a large, nonstick pan, sauté the chorizo until cooked through, breaking up any big pieces with the back of a spoon. Remove the sausage to a separate plate. If necessary, drain all but 2 tablespoons of grease out of the pan. Return the pan to the burner and heat.

Add the frozen spinach to the pan. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has thawed, and all liquids have evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, green onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over cooked spinach and scramble together. Remove the eggs to a separate plate.

Heat up a small nonstick skillet. Place one tortilla on the skillet. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle half of the tortilla with cheese, top with sausage, egg, then sprinkle again with shredded cheese. 

Fold the empty half over the filling. Cook, flipping once, until the tortilla is browned and the cheese is melted. 

Repeat for remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Pro Tip:

Keep the quesadillas warm until ready to serve by placing them on a platter in a preheated, 200° oven. 

My thoughts:

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mission®. All opinions are entirely my own.

Every January I get a bunch of messages asking for tasty, more wholesome recipes to start off the New Year. After the winter holidays it seems like everyone is looking at food with new eyes. When Mission® got in touch about developing a recipe using their Carb Balance Flour Soft Taco Flour Tortillas, it sounded like a perfect fit! I hadn’t tried them before but why not? I am happy to say I was really pleased with the results. The Carb Balance Tortillas were as soft, thick, and flavorful as traditional tortillas, and are perfect for all kinds of meals and snacks.
I even did a little taste test challenge and my husband couldn’t tell the difference between a quesadilla made with a traditional tortilla and the Carb Balance Tortillas—high praise from someone still obsessed with the breakfast tacos he ate nearly 20 years ago in Austin, TX. These tortillas contain only 6g of net carbs per serving, and are an excellent source of fiber making them a better choice for your breakfast.

When I think breakfast and tortillas, tacos are the first thing that come to mind. Well, that and migas. I wanted to make something different. Enter the breakfast quesadilla. Just as easy as tacos but more cheesy. Who doesn’t love cheese? These are super easy too as they are made by folding the tortilla over in half rather than trying to layer them. The spinach adds some veggies to the mix, the green onion adds some bright, fresh flavor, and the chorizo is the perfect spicy meat filling. A great, low-carb, protein-packed option. This recipe makes a great breakfast for friends and family or enjoy them on your own.
Bonus? Store any leftover, finished quesadillas in the fridge and reheat them in a pan or microwave the next day for a no fuss breakfast. Warming them tastes the best so resist the urge to eat them cold!

Mission is also hosting a contest for a chance to win a Fitbit® tracker!  You can enter by going directly to or share your New Year’s inspiration and/or resolution on Twitter including the hashtags #MissionToChange and #Sweepstakes (must include both). Find out more at!
 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg