Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Coconut Cashews

These coconut cashews are addictive!

It's one of those snacks you keep going back for more of. Lightly salted cashews (mine were from Trader Joe's) are coated with yummy bits of toasted coconut, then baked until perfectly crisp and golden brown.  

Coconut Cashews 

1 cup granulated sugar (maybe just a tad under one cup) 
1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut * 
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
Salt **
1 egg white 
1/2 tsp teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract 
4 cups roasted, lightly salted cashews** (Trader Joe's) 

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
Mix together the granulated sugar, coconut and salt until well combined, set aside. In another bowl, whisk egg white, vanilla and coconut extract until frothy with soft peaks. Add the cashews to the bowl of frothy egg whites and toss until the nuts are completely coated. 

Pour the coconut and sugar mixture into the coated nuts and toss until they are well coated. Pour the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Scoop out any extra coconut mixture onto the nuts.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice. Nuts will be golden brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

* I used half Let's Do Organic, Unsweetened Toasted Coconut Flakes and regular unsweetened, shredded coconut. I thought the combination of the toasted flakes and the shredded coconut was delicious. You could also just use all unsweetened, shredded coconut.

** Since my cashews were lightly salted, I omitted the salt. If you use unsalted cashews add about 1/2 tsp -3/4 teaspoon salt to the coconut sugar muixture to balance out the sweetness.

Inspired by: Bake Eat Repeat

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lemon Panna Cotta

This panna cotta is simple to make and is sooo creamy and luscious. It's one of my favorites.

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert meaning cooked cream.

Cream, sugar, lemon zest, gelatin and sour cream are combined into a silky, aromatic mixture that then gets poured into a mold and chilled. You can serve this panna cotta plain or with fruit.

Panna Cotta

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (I used Knox gelatin)
1/4 cup milk (whole, 2%, skim...)

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
zest from 2 small lemons
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract

vegetable spray for pan

Place gelatin and 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl, give a quick stir and allow to soften for 5 minutes.

In a medium sauce pan, heat cream, sugar and lemon zest over low heat until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. The milk should just be warmed through. Whisk softened gelatin, sour cream and extracts into warmed milk until gelatin dissolves and mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into a 4-cup mold (I used a bundt pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray or you can use six (4 oz) ramekins, also sprayed with cooking spray. 

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow panna cotta to set. Dip bottom of mold into a bowl of hot water for 3 sections (you don't want to melt the panna cotta). Invert mold or ramekin onto a pretty platter. Decorate with fresh fruit if desired. You could also grate a little more lemon zest on top.

My Notes:
* Raspberry sauce drizzled over the top would be divine with this.

* If you omit the lemon zest and lemon extract (and up the vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons), you can serve this panna cotta with warm caramel sauce or chocolate sauce. 

* If you use decorative, clear glasses, you can just garnish the tops with fruit and you don't need to unmold the panna cotta.

Adapted from Marguerite Henderson

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Confetti Cookie Dough Bites

Vanilla cookie dough is studded with sprinkles for a delightful bite-sized treat. And these tasty morsels are eggless so go ahead and enjoy a few!

Confetti Cookie Dough BitesMakes 20+ depending on how big you roll them


1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. milk or cream
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sprinkles

Beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla milk or cream. Slowly mix in the flour and salt and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the sprinkles.

Roll into 1-inch bites and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Refrigerate to allow the bites to harden.

Inspired by: Bake Your Day with
original recipe from Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stuffed Pork Loin

With the chilly weather creeping in, it's time to warm up with cozy comfort meals! 

This stuffed pork loin is simple to make and turns out super flavorful and moist. Pair it with a chutney or slices of apple and rice or mashed potatoes to soak up the wonder juices and you've got yourself a delicious meal that will help you forget all about the cold.

Recipe from Savor the Memories by Marguerite Henderson

Stuffed Pork Loin
3 to 4 pound boneless pork loin,
  trimmed and cut in half horizontally
  to allow the roast to kay flat
4 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup milk

Topping *
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon course ground pepper
6 sprigs fresh Rosemary or Thyme
1 cup chicken or beef broth

Lay pork loin, fat side down, on work surface. Flatten with a meat pounder to 1 1/2 inches thickness. For the stuffing, heat butter in a medium skillet. Saute onion, celery and carrots in the skillet until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs, thyme, salt, pepper and milk. Mix well. Spread filling evenly on pork loin. Roll up jelly roll style from wide end. Tie roast with kitchen string at 2-inch intervals. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Tuck the springs of herbs under the string on top and underneath the roast. Roast in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of roast. Add 1 cup chicken stock or beef broth to pan after 30 minutes of roasting. Test for doneness after 1 hour. Internal temp of roast should be 145 to 150 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to "rest" before slicing and serving.

* I just sprinkled salt, pepper and dried thyme on top of the roast instead of making the topping and using fresh herbs. Sometimes I'm lazy like that :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Spice Caramel Popcorn

I just couldn't resist!

I know, I know, it's only the beginning of September but I've already been craving some of the wonderful flavors of fall. On cooler, rainy days (and we've had plenty of them, at least rain-wise) I always get the urge to bake.

After enjoying my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, I was inspired to make more fall-flavored treats. I love caramel popcorn and I thought the combination of warm buttery caramel mixed with freshly ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger sounded divine...And it was! I've made this pumpkin pie spiced caramel corn a few times now and have taken it to a few parties and everyone has loved it! 

Plain caramel corn is addicting all by itself, but this perfectly spiced version makes it extra special and is great way to usher in the beginning of cooler weather and all-things-pumpkin (when you're ready of course :)

Pumpkin Pie Spice Caramel Popcorn
  • 10 cups popped corn (or about 1 1/4 bags)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pop popcorn into a very large bowl, remove any unpopped kernals. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and allow to boil 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and baking soda and stir mixture until thick and glossy. Pour half of caramel sauce over popcorn then toss several times, add remaining caramel sauce and toss popcorn until evenly coated. Spread popcorn onto a large rimmed cookie sheet and bake in pre-heated oven 1 hour, stirring popcorn every 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely. 
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
  • Inspired By: Cooking Classy

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ultimate Quiche

This quiche is DREAMY.

What makes it so delectable?

A light and fluffy puff pastry is used in place of your typical pie shell. The puff pastry adds wonderful layers of flaky, buttery goodness. Who doesn't like that?!

The filling is a creamy, light-as-air mixture of creme fraiche (swoon) and beaten eggs that are lightly seasoned with salt and a pinch of nutmeg. 

Crispy pieces of bacon are enrobed in this creamy mixture and it all gets topped off with a nice helping of buttery, nutty gruyere cheese.

It's delicious! If you need a special breakfast/brunch dish to impress...this is it!

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Source: The Gourmet Cookbook

The Ultimate Quiche

12 slices bacon, cooked until crisp (drain, crumble, set aside)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 Large eggs, beaten
2 (8 oz) containers Creme Fraiche
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere Cheese (about 4 oz)
9-inch deep dish fluted quiche pan with removable
   bottom or 9-inch ceramic quiche dish

Put a baking sheet on middle oven rack (this will catch any spillovers - I didn't have any though) and preheat oven to 375.

Roll out Puff Pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 13in square. Fit pastry into quiche pan and roll rolling pin over top to trim pastry flush with rim or trim extra with a knife.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until well combine and light in color, then whisk in creme fraiche, salt, nutmeg just until smooth. Pour filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a pastry shell. Sprinkle bacon evenly over filling and top with Gruyere.

Bake quiche on heated baking sheet until center is set (no jiggle), 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool to warm or room temperature.

If using quiche pan, remove rim just before serving.

My Notes:
* My quiche was golden brown and cooked through at about 40 minutes.
* I will definitely be making this again, but for a special occasion. Between the bacon, puff pastry, creme fraiche and Gruyere this tart is pretty spendy to make. But truly, it's worth it. Hello Christmas morning!
* A mix of fontina cheese with the Gruyere is also tasty. Maybe a 1/4 cup of fontina.
* I wouldn't add any other ingredients to the filling (i.e., onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc.) as the filling mixture would overflow. You could however substitute chopped ham or roasted diced tomatoes instead of the bacon. But honesty, the bacon is divine :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ginger-Lemon Oatmeal Cookies

These delightful cookies caught my attention at a gathering the other day. I couldn't stop at just one and either could the other guests. These cookies are all the wonderful things you love about an oatmeal cookie with bright notes of lemon and ginger throughout that make for one irresistible treat!

I have made these cookies several times now and my only change is to up the fresh ginger just a tad and maybe throw in a pinch of all-spice to kick up the zesty flavors. I love the crunch and nutty flavor the toasted pecans lend to these too. Yum!

Ginger-Lemon Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (heaping Tablespoon :)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (heaping also :)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the butter with the sugars in a medium bowl with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, zest, vanilla and egg, and mix well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and then add to the butter mixture and mix. Add the oats and mix until combined. Fold in the pecans with a wooden spoon. Spoon the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes, and then remove from the baking sheets.

Recipe Source: Melissa d'Arabian

Monday, August 4, 2014

Deconstructed Salad

Recently I went to a dinner at a friends house who is known for her cooking and entertaining skills. As  the other guests and I sat down at the table, we were greeted to an amazing nicoise-stylesque salad (also known as a deconstructed salad). The platter before us was so colorful and beautiful. It was a complete dinner all on one plate and we each just helped ourselves.

Some highlights on the salad for me: mustard glazed potatoes, blanched asparagus, marinated mozzarella balls, roasted peppers and 4 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

This salad is great because you can choose any meat or fish to serve in the center (I'm not a big fan of salmon). Seared tuna, grilled steak or rotisserie chicken would all be delicious options. 

To make this deconstructed salad, on a bed of greens set atop your prettiest platter add sections of your favorite salad toppings such as;  mixed olives, boiled eggs, roasted red peppers, blue cheese crumbles, mozzarella balls, sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, fresh basil leaves, steamed green beans, fresh radishes(more for looks :), cooked asparagus, sliced cucumbers, marinated mushrooms, avocados, sliced onions and maybe a few lemon wedges if you're doing fish.
Serve with a vinaigrette or your favorite dressing on the side.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Caprese Bruschetta

This tasty little appetizer is a mix between a caprese salad (tomato, basil and mozzarella) and bruschetta (toasted bread drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes). I jazzed them up with some fresh pesto and a thin slice of prosciutto (cured Italian ham). 
This bruschetta has all the bright, wonderful flavors of summer!

Caprese Bruschetta

1 loaf French bread
1 small jar, Pesto
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 log mozzarella, sliced thin
1 package Prosciutto
Fresh basil.

Cut French bread into thin slices about 1/4 inch. Place slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle or brush with olive oil. Toast in oven at 400 for 5-6 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven. Spread each slice with pesto. Layer with one tomato slice and sprinkle with salt (just a pinch) and pepper. Top tomato with a piece of mozzarella, drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Finally top with a little prosciutto and some torn basil leaves. Set on a platter and enjoy. These can be made a few hours ahead of time and chilled.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coconutty Granola

This recipe came straight from the package of Let's Do...Organic Coconut Flakes. It's one of the best tasting granola recipes I've tried. There are so many wonderful flavors going on in this; toasted coconut, almonds, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. Who could resists oats enveloped in all that yumminess?!

Coconutty Granola
3 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup sliced or shopped almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 F

Mix oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon and almonds in a medium bowl. Mix maple syrup, oil and vanilla in a seperate bowl. Combine the syrup mixture with the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated.Pour the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and spread to cover evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, stir and bake another 20-30 minutes depending on preferred doneness. Store in airtight container. May refrigerate or freeze to extend freshness.

Can substitute raisins or dried cranberries for some or all of the almonds.

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

This savory tart is not only sophisticated in appearance, it's simple to make and really quite tasty. The nutty, salty flavor of the Gruyere cheese pairs nicely with the asparagus and flakey puff pastry crust.

With asparagus being in season, this tart is a great way to use this delicious vegetable.
Source: Martha Stewart

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 18 to 20  minutes.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mini Pancake Muffins

This recipe comes from the delightful Pioneer Woman Blog, found here. I just love her blog and cooking show and cookbooks. Every recipe I've made of hers has been delicious. These mini pancake muffins are no exception.

If you can whip up a batch of pancake batter, either from scratch or from the box, you can easily make these mini pancake muffins. Just pour your prepared pancake batter into mini muffin pan cups, coated with cooking spray, and bake at 425 for 8-9 until puffed and golden.

I love these pancakes because you can customize then anyway you would like. I tried plain, blueberry, dark chocolate-cinnamon and maple bacon. All combinations were tasty and my family and friends loved dipping them in warm maple syrup. These are fun for the kids and also great to serve to company at breakfast or brunch.
Mini Pancake Muffins

3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3/4 teaspoons Salt
2-1/2 cups Milk
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
2 whole Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
Blueberries (optional)
Warm Syrup, For Serving
Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Stir together the milk and vinegar and let it sit for 1 minute. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients, then stir in melted butter. If batter is too thick, stir in a little milk.

Spray a mini-muffin pan generously with baking spray. Fill cups 2/3 full. If using blueberries, drop 2 to 3 blueberries into each cup.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let sit in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn them out of the pan. (Use a small knife if any are stubborn.)

Serve warm with warm syrup!

**425 will result in crisper edges. For a softer muffin, bake at 400 for 11 minutes.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Wow! These peppers are good. Really good. They will definitely being going into my usual dinner rotation.  And I love that it only takes a few ingredients to make such a delicious stuffed pepper.
Here's How:
Blanch bell pepper halves to soften them up.
Line each half with a slice of provolone cheese (my kids aren't a fan of cheese, so I only used cheese in some).
 Fill peppers with a delicious mixture of sauteed mushroom, onions and shaved beef.
 Top with another slice of cheese.
And bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Drool.

You can easily double or triple this recipe.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Makes 4 servings
8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Bell Peppers, any color
1 Medium Sweet Onion
6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds. Place pepper halves in a microwave safe bowl and fill with 2-inches of water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and pierce 2-3 vent holes with a knife. Microwave for 5-6 minutes. Remove from microwave. Let peppers cool to touch, pat dry and place in 9x13 baking dish.

Slice onions and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper. Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized. About 20-25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400*

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture. Allow to cook 5-10 minutes so the beef can soak up all the yummy flavors. Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.

Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing. Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.

* Serve peppers over rice or cous cous and with a simple side salad.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Luscious cheesecake is layered with raspberry jam and an irresistible crunchy almond coconut topping. All this sits a top a delectable buttery shortbread crust. Um...Yum!
Slightly adapted from Midwest Living

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped sliced almonds
1/2 cup salted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry preserves or other preserves or jam
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and the finely chopped almonds. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside 1/2 cup crumb mixture.
For crust, press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are golden.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, eggs, almond extract and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread over hot crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the reserved crumb mixture, coconut, and the sliced almonds. Spread preserves over hot cream cheese layer. Sprinkle coconut mixture over preserves.

Bake for 15 minutes more. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 32 bars.

* I used unsweetened coconut flakes. I like the texture and flavor of the large flakes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cherry Jell-O Cookies

If the color of these cookies doesn't shout Valentines, I don't know what does!

These vibrant cookies get their festive hue from cherry Jell-O. The Jell-O gives these cookies a unique but tasty flavor that's a welcome change from your standard cookie. Both kids and adults will enjoy these!

 As I mentioned, the color of the dough is quite something.

 The Jell-O powder is divided and a part of it is mixed with sugar for rolling.

 Roll your neon balls into the sugar mixture to coat.
Place on a cookie sheet and press with the tines of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.
Decorate with sprinkles if desired and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Drizzle with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk, if desired. And then, enjoy!

Cherry Jell-O Cookies

1 pkg. (3 oz.) Cherry or Strawberry JELL-O Gelatin, divided
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk


Reserve 1 Tbsp. dry gelatin mix.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry gelatin mix with flour and baking powder, set aside.

Beat butter in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add granulated sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Shape dough into balls, roll in sugar mixture and place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten with tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Whisk 2 cups powdered sugar, reserved gelatin mix and 2 Tablespoons milk until blended; spread or drizzle onto cookies. Top with sprinkles


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