July 23, 2018

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas & Tomato Salad


1 small-medium tomato, cut into wedges
1 lb sugar snap peas
3 sprigs' worth of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon (coarse) Herbs de Provence
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 oz crumbled fresh goat cheese
zest and juice of one lemon


Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Place all the peas, thyme, spices and tomato in a medium bowl and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes or until the tomato and snap peas are just browned around the edges. Allow to cool to room temperature. Toss with lemon zest, juice, and cheese.

My thoughts:
It's sugar snap pea season again! I've found I really enjoy them briefly roasted vs raw or steamed. They seem to caramelize a bit yet stay crisp. Tomatoes are (finally!) coming into season here but they aren't always quite as great as they will be in a week or so. Roasting them really brings out the sweetness and deepens the flavor. I added some lemon, soft goat cheese and Herbs de Provence for a faint French flair that I think complemented them very nicely. A super easy, flavor-packed side dish for summer.

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July 20, 2018

American Taco Pie


3/4 lb 93% lean ground beef*
1 1/2-2 tablespoons taco seasoning*
1/2 onion, chopped*
15 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup shredded quesadilla cheese
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese

Heat oven to 400. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

Cook ground beef and onion in large skillet, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces until beef is cooked through. Drain off fat if needed. Stir in seasoning mix and canned tomatoes.

Spoon into the prepared pie plate and smooth to cover the entire bottom of the pie plate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, baking power, milk and canola oil until smooth. Pour over the beef mixture.

Bake about 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese.

Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes prior to serving.

*I actually just used leftover, cooked and seasoned taco meat vs making it fresh. Either works!

My thoughts:
Last year I was into making international-fusion taco recipes for some reason. I made Takoraisu (Okinawan Taco Rice) and Tacopaj (Swedish taco pie), both of which combine American style ground beef tacos with their own traditional cuisine. Somehow, I never made the very American version of this, Impossible Taco Pie, a popular '70s era Betty Crocker recipe using Bisquick. Basically. it's "impossible" because you creates the crust by just pouring it over the meat and it "magically" forms a cohesive, sliceable pie.

It's a little silly but it's fun. I don't keep Bisquick on hand so I made my own batter and jazzed the filling up with some spicy tomatoes and some quesadilla and cotija cheese instead of the cheddar normally used in the pie. The result is an interesting mashup of tacos and almost quiche if quiche wasn't quite so eggy. It's easy to make, very flavorful and a neat change for a weekday dinner.

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July 17, 2018

S'mores Marble Cake


for the cake:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (2 crackers, smashed) graham cracker crumbs, divided use
pinch salt
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 cup hot water

for the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a standard (9x5) loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, vanilla, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add it to the egg mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with milk. Pour roughly 1/3 of the batter into a second bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the hot water and cocoa until smooth. Whisk into the smaller bowl of batter until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Stir half of the graham cracker crumbs into the vanilla batter. Spoon the batter into the pan, alternating spoonfuls (forming a sort of checkerboard pattern) until both batters are gone. Run a thin knife through it to marbelize once or twice.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

to decorate:

Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over cake. Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.

My thoughts:
We've been watching the Great British Bake-off lately. What's airing here in the US right now is about 6 years old so that's a bit odd but luckily it is not a show that depends on fads. PBS has the "new" episodes but Netflix has what they call the GBBO Masterclass which just has Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry making versions of what were challenges for the contestants. It's a little odd (they flash to the competition occasionally but it isn't really worked into the baking "class" very much) and I wonder if maybe it was a web-only special? Anyway, all of this watching baking has made us really want cake!

The problem is that we are only a family of two so making a huge cake is tricky--there is no way the two of us can finish it! A few years ago I made a few loaf cakes and they are a pretty good solution. Much less final product for us to eat or have to giveaway. They seem to be popular with afternoon tea in England as well. I can see why you get a good number of servings out of it (about 8 slices) but they are modest slices and not quite as overwhelming as a whole bundt or layer cake.

For some reason, I've been obsessed with s'mores this summer so I thought I'd put a twist on an old favorite, the marble cake and s'mores-ify it . I added graham crackers to the vanilla batter to give it that distinctive flavor and sprinkled more onto the top of a chocolate glaze. Mini marshmallows complete the look. It really is a show stopper if I do say myself! Very tasty, good chocolate and graham cracker flavor throughout, fairly simple to make yet very impressive and fun to look at.

July 12, 2018

Cornmeal Battered Soft Crabs with Old Bay Corn Grits


for the crabs:
4 soft crabs, cleaned
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2-3 tablespoons Old Bay, divided use
freshly ground black pepper

for the grits:
1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
3 cup water or chicken stock
1/3 cup grated Gouda
1 tablespoon Old Bay
4 ears' worth of (cooked) corn kernels
freshly ground black pepper


for the crabs:

Whisk together the milk, egg and half of the Old Bay in a medium bowl. Pour into a resealable bag, add the crabs. Seal and refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, and remaining spices together in a bowl. Dredge both sides of each crab in the seasoned flour. Place on a platter until ready to fry.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a large pan. Fry the crabs for 3-5 minutes on each side or until crisp and fully cooked. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

for the grits:

In a medium pot, bring the water or stock and Old Bay to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and corn. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
We had such a seafood weekend! We had a clambake in the Inner Harbor that had clam, mussels, crabs, lobster, and sausage then the next day we had steamed crabs and corn at home in the backyard. The only thing we didn't have was soft crabs. Soft crabs are possibly my most favorite food so this clearly needed to be rectified.

I purchased live soft crabs and stored them in my fridge until I was ready to make them then I cleaned them. You can use defrosted, previously frozen, cleaned soft crabs but you do not want to buy dead nonfrozen soft crabs as they spoil really quickly and you have no way of knowing how long they were dead! It is okay to buy them alive and have the store clean them for you as long as you make them quickly and keep them cool.  If you live in a blue crab area, seafood markets and locally owned grocery stores are your best bet, although I will be honest and say I have also bought them at stands on the side of the road. They're alive and if they were spoiled, I'd know so I feel safe doing that. But that's pro-level crab procurement.  If you are local, feel free to email me and I will tell you where I get my crabs. I always bring a cooler and huge ice pack to transport my crabs home in since it is summer and I don't want to poison us.

Anyway, I normally do a flour coat for my soft crabs and make sandwiches but I got fancy this time and busted out the cornmeal and made grits on the side using up the extra corn on the cob the steamed crab place gave us for some reason. It was such a good meal! I also made another vegetable dish but honestly, the grits and the soft crabs were enough. The crabs were super juicy and flavorful (the batter and the fact that you eat them shell and all really keeps the flavor in) and the creamy grits tied in perfectly. I really want to make this same meal again, right now.

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July 09, 2018

Golden Flannel Hash

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
2 lbs Russet potatoes, cubed
3/4 lb corned beef, cubed
2 "baby" or "spring" Vidalia onions, greens and white parts chopped
2 yellow beets with greens*
1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
fresh thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

fried eggs to serve


Cube the beets (chop and reserve the greens) and parboil with the potatoes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion, potatoes, and beets until the onion is translucent. Add the corned beef, greens, herbs and spices. Saute until the corned beef is heated through. Plate and top with fried egg(s).

*I used yellow cylindra beets which are so pale they are almost white.

My thoughts:
Red flannel hash is a classic New England breakfast dish that adds red beets to corned beef hash. The story behind the name varies depending on who telling it (I've heard everything from laundry mishaps to vengeful wives serving actual flannel to bizarre war stories) but the most common explanation is that the finished dish looks like a red flannel shirt thanks to the beets dying the potatoes pink and the pinky corned beef.

Beets are in season so I thought it was a perfect excuse to make it! I also bought corned beef and froze it back near St Patrick's day and my freezer is bursting at the seams so it's a win-win for me. My beets turned out to be yellow so I changed the name to golden flannel hash and added the beet greens and (also in season) kale for some extra flavor and vitamins(!) which is not strictly traditional but I think it makes a great addition. This would be a good use of leftover greens or cabbage if you had some too. While hash seems breakfasty, it is so hearty, I like to serve it for dinner. I parboil the potatoes ahead of time so it comes together more quickly, they keep just fine in the fridge for a day or two.

So homey and satisfying, even if it is summer and it seems slightly better suited for winter! It's not like you stop eating hot food just because it is hot out and at least this only needs a brief fry to heat everything up. Plus all of the vegetables are in season right now so why not use them at their peak tastiness?

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July 06, 2018

Fresh Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cherries
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mats. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined.

Fold in cherries and chips. Place heaping 1 tablespoon sized blobs of dough (I used this cookie scoop or size down for smaller cookies) on the prepared cookie sheet (about 1 inch apart, they spread) and bake for 14 minutes or until they look "set" and the bottoms are just brown. Cool in the pan 1-2 minutes then carefully remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
I made fresh cranberry cookies many years ago and thought I'd revisit the idea of making something that is normally made with dried fruit (a cookie) with fresh fruit again. I had a bunch of cherries left after making cherry butter and freezing some so I chopped some up to make cookies. I'm pleased with the results! The batter was a little on the oddly fluffy side so I was worried a bit but they came out great! Sort of chewy, full of cherry flavor and with the right hint of chocolate. Since they have oatmeal in them you can almost fool yourself into thinking they are good for you too!

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July 02, 2018

OLD BAY Party Mix

6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon OLD BAY
4  cups corn squares cereal
4  cups rice squares cereal
1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cup mini-twist pretzels
2 cups oyster crackers


Preheat oven to 250°F.

Melt butter on the stovetop in a small pan, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and OLD BAY.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the cereals, peanuts, pretzels, and oyster crackers. Carefully pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan.

Drizzle with OLD BAY butter.

Gently stir the cereal mixture in until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container up to one week.

Yield: about 12 cups of mix

My thoughts:
You guys all know how much I love OLD BAY. Growing up in Baltimore, I don't think you have a choice. It is in our veins. I've posted 43(!) recipes using OLD BAY in everything from classics like crabcakes, crab dip and crab imperial to "popcorn" cauliflower and zucchini pickles. I'm not ashamed to say I buy it in bulk and only once have I actually steamed crabs at home. I just use it in everything!

So when OLD BAY approached me and asked me to develop a recipe to kick off their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest, obviously I was in.

I thought a lot about what I could make with OLD BAY this time. I wanted something that I could make ahead and that would travel well. We not only have a lot of fun outdoor events planned, we're road-tripping it to a family wedding this year and clearly we needed to bring a snack to share. Can you believe some of my in-laws claim not to know what OLD BAY is? They might be from NYC but they are going to learn this year!

I love any sort of party mix. I love the mix of textures and flavors from the add-ins and I especially love getting that one piece that is super loaded with flavor. What better flavor than OLD BAY? That's a trick question, obviously, there isn't one. It was hard to pick what to mix in but I went pretty classic. I've made OLD BAY peanuts before so they were an easy pick and as a nod to the Chesapeake Bay, I used oyster crackers vs cheesy crackers or bagel chips which ended up being a great choice; they are like crunchy pillows! Pretzels are always a welcome addition and I find the mini-twists are less salty than sticks so they are great in party mix.

Make this today and spice up a trip to the beach, a party, a picnic, a cook-out or even a road trip. It lasts about a week in an air-tight container. Just be sure it is 100% cool before you pack it up.

Take a minute, have some OLD BAY and enter their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest. It's a summer-long local contest for OLD BAY fans in Baltimore and D.C. to showcase how they’re celebrating summer together with OLD BAY. To enter,  upload your favorite moments of summer with OLD BAY, using the hashtag #OldBayOurWay, for a chance to win a season’s supply of OLD BAY seasoning and swag.

Follow OLD BAY online:

Instagram: @oldbay_seasoning
Pinterest: @oldbayseasoning
Facebook: @oldbay
Twitter: @OLDBAYSeasoning

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