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Coconut Lemon Cake Revisited

I visited family for Easter and it seemed like a good time to make my Coconut Lemon Cake. It was a hit – though my niece would have preferred a less tangy lemon curd. I will admit, I made it super lemony because my brother and I both love lemon.

Here’s the original recipe.

I made a few changes.

For the cake, I substituted coconut oil for both the oil and butter. When I originally made the cake, I didn’t keep coconut oil in the house, now it’s a staple. This upped the coconut flavor in the cake itself.

For the lemon curd, I flipped the water/lemon juice amounts. Using 1 cup of lemon juice and only 1/2 cup water. This upped the tartness substantially, so be prepared!

For the layers – this time I cut down from 4 to 3, using pie pans for the cake pans. This made for a much sturdier cake without losing any of the flavor – especially with the super tart curd.

Nom-nom. I really could have eaten the entire cake myself.

I’m off to do more prep on the vegetable garden. I have a hoop and 6 wall of water, so I’m hoping to get a head start later this month.

Depending on how the harvest goes, I’m definitely going to get a vacuum sealer to make freezing veggies easier. I. Do. Not. Can.

Are you planning your garden, yet?



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Sautéed Spinach with Bacon

I owe you guys not only a puppy update, but also a real recipe thread. We got hit by a cold snap this week and for whatever reason, it just zapped me of all my energy to do anything extra. I worried a lot about the ducks, since I had to keep them cooped while it was sub-twenties. And of course the dogs (along with me) had cabin fever. We did get a good walk in today. I still have to walk them separately, Scout is not ready for that just yet.

This next week promises to be much warmer. Good thing, because I am ready to start cleaning my bed and get ready for gardening.

I was sitting on the couch just now, with the dogs snuggled up, watching the sunset. I am still amazed at the beautiful view I have…thanks to some awesome tree trimmers. That helps tide me over until spring finally arrives.

Cute duck story – I have a box of corn flakes, mostly for them, and I toss a few out for treats. The other day I decided to have a bowl for lunch. When I sat down at the table, there were the ducks, sitting on the steps, looking in the window. I have no idea how they heard me…they were happily playing across the yard before that. Silly ducks.

Pictured above is my quick dinner of BBQ chicken, cast iron cornbread (I cheat and use Krusteaz after a friend recommended it) and spinach with bacon. I’m not big on cooked spinach, but a friend loves it and never had it with bacon, so I had to make it.

Spinach with Bacon

  • 4 strips of thick sliced bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 10 oz of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • water
  • salt, pepper and vinegar

skillet

Add bacon to cold skillet and cook on medium heat. Fry until bacon is crisp (your desired texture, I like it still a bit chewy). Add the spinach, toss with bacon grease, add about 1/4 cup of water to create steam and cover. Cook until spinach is slightly limp. Remove lid and toss with salt, pepper and dash of vinegar (I like malt vinegar, but balsamic, white or red wine vinegar works well, too).

Serve immediately.



 

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.



 

Bake Flowering Onion ;-)

Don’t want any copyright issues. This was delicious and easy to do. Again, I went to my go-to crispy coating – potato starch. The result was a sweet, creamy onion with a crispy spicy coating.

Baked Flowering Onion

  • 1 very large sweet onion (good time for Vidalias are in season right now)
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  •  2 tsp paprika (the good kind)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of oregano & thyme
  • dash of cayenne
  • 2 eggs

baking dish(greased on the bottom), two deep bowls

Remove about 1/2 inch slice from the top of the onion and peel. Slice about 8 to 10 slices from top to bottom on the onion, making sure not to cut through the bottom end (root end).

Mix together all dry ingredients in bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs with a dash of water in another deep bowl.

Dip the onion in the eggs, making sure it is thoroughly coated. Then place in the dry ingredients and gently roll and use a spoon to help coat inside and out completely with potato starch. Remove to baking dish.

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 45 – 60 minutes until the onion is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. If it begins to get too brown, reduce heat to 350 and gently tent foil over it until it’s completely cooked through. Remove foil and give it a minute or two uncovered to do a final crisp. Serve immediately with favorite dipping sauces (mayo, horseradish, southwestern buttermilk dressing, etc).



 

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats, Something For Everyone

While I’m busy baking away today, here are some previous goodies from 2014:

Assorted Cookies1

Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu



 

Dinner Menu: Salmon in Dill Sauce with Raspberry Pear Salad

Haven’t posted a dinner menu for a while. Pears are on sale right now, so I wanted to take advantage of that. It  has nothing to do with me being tired of plums, grapes and tomatoes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Salmon in Dill Butter Sauce
  2. Rice
  3. Pear-Raspberry Salad

Salmon in Dill Butter Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 4-6 oz boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup chicken broth

skillet

In skillet, melt butter, add dill & lemon juice.  Brush lightly over fillets.  Add chicken broth to remaining butter in skillet and bring to a low boil, lower heat and let simmer until reduced by half .  Grill fillets for 3 to 4 minutes each side (be sure and oil grill rack well before using.  You can also grill on foil or in a grilling pan).  Drizzle with sauce.

Pear-Raspberry Salad

  • 8 oz walnut halves
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz baby greens
  • 2 ripe Bartlett pears
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing

baking dish, serving bowl

In baking dish, toss walnuts with oil, soy, ginger, salt & garlic.  Toast in a 250° oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are crisp. In serving bowl add lettuce.  Seed and slice pears, add to lettuce, along with raspberries, bleu cheese, & walnuts.  Toss with dressing.

dill-2



 

Grilled Chicken and Papaya

I’m thinking I’ll focus on grilling recipes this week. Start with something a bit different with some exotic flavors.  Serve over rice or couscous and add some grilled vegetables for a quick and easy dinner.

Grilled Chicken & Papaya

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 button mushrooms, washed
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 papaya, peeled, seeded & cut into 8 chunks
  • 4 large metal skewers (if you use wooden, remember to soak them first)

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add curry powder and stir for 30 seconds, remove from heat & add lemon juice, water, salt & pepper. Cut each breast into 4 to 6 cubes. Thread on skewers: (suggested) mushroom, chicken, onion, pepper, chicken, papaya, chicken, pepper, onion, chicken, papaya, mushroom. Brush curry mixture on all sides of the kabobs. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently and basting with curry mixture.

papaya1



 

Grilling Menu: Stuffed Jalapeno-Cheddar Burgers and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Stuffed Burger Uncut Snap

I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheeseburger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo.  Grill some plums and dinner is done. Enjoy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
  2. Kaiser Rolls
  3. Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Raw Vegetable Tray
  5. Plums

Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers

Stuffed Burger Final

Ingredients for each burger:

  • 4 oz ground beef
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar, sliced thin
  • 2 or more slices of pickled jalapenos

Mix salt, pepper and garlic into the ground beef. Form two, 2-oz patties. Place jalapenos on one burger, cheese on the other.

Prep2

Place the two sides together and seal the edges completely. Gently flatten the burger, but be careful because you don’t want the cheese busting out of the center.

Prep1a

The key to grilling or frying these is low and slow. Medium heat seals them and allows the cheese to melt without drying the burger out. I flipped at the 5 minute mark, but depending on the heat, 3-4 minutes may be enough to flip. They’re thin, so the beef cooks quickly, but you want to make sure the cheese melts. I would say minimum 4 minutes per side.

If cheese starts to leak out, flip and flip again as needed. DON’T press down on these burgers while you grill, you’ll have a cheesy mess.

Now the warning. Did I say WARNING? Yes I did. You’ll need to rest these burgers to let the cheese cool a bit. Otherwise you could be biting into a scalding cheese center. You’ve been WARNED.

That’s the basics, now let your imagination run wild. Maybe I should have titled this, How To Stuff A Wild Burger.

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

large bowl or baking dish and baking sheet

Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. In bowl, toss with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown outside and tender inside.

Plums

If you grilled the burgers you can also grill the plums. Slice in half, remove the pits and grill over low heat

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack
  • sliced jalapenos (I use pickled)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 large Kaiser rolls
  • Favorite raw vegetables
  • Vegetable dip
  • 4 to 8 plums

Also: cumin, Cajun spice, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed garlic

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Dinner Menu: Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay Snapseed2

Fun with chicken and pineapples. This is also a good recipe to experiment with rice varieties.

On the board tonight:

  1. Thai Chicken Satay
  2. Rice
  3. Thai Spring Rolls
  4. Pineapple rings w/vanilla yogurt

Thai Chicken Satay

I usually make my own simple peanut sauce – peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and a touch of hot sauce.

  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp peanut sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • peanut sauce for dipping

bamboo skewers (soaked in water for at least 10 minutes), broiler

Pound chicken flat and combine with remaining ingredients, except dipping sauce, and mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.  Remove chicken from marinade and cut into 1-inch strips. Thread onto skewers, one piece per skewers and broil or grill, about 5 minutes, until cooked through, the thinner they’re pounded, the quicker they will cook. Turn once to ensure they are evenly cooked. Serve with extra peanut sauce and rice.

Thai Spring Rolls

Recipe and photo directions are here.

Shopping List:

  • bamboo skewers
  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  •  toasted sesame oil
  •  peanut sauce
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium carrot

Also: soy sauce, white wine vinegar, sugar, ground ginger, fish sauce, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice

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