Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coconut Cake and Garavan

Good morning.

No, Garavan is not a new cooking term for you to learn. Garavan de Bruir is an artist currently being featured on Etsy. I love Etsy and all the creativity that comes from it. Garavan's designs are lovely and if he didn't live in Ireland, I'd ask for the opportunity to sit and watch him work.... although, maybe this is my excuse to go to Ireland. Hmmm. Anyway, you should take a look at his designs. They're too pricey for me, but looking at them still does something for my soul. You can find him on Etsy or his website.

Now, let's make coconut cake. You'll thank me for this recipe. I had to beg, plead, cry, bribe, and shake my fist to get this recipe for you all. Okay, I asked Jessica if her mom would be kind enough to share her coconut cake recipe. She kindly gave it and here we are: happy and capable of making swoon-worthy coconut cake. It's so easy you're going to jump up and down with joy.

1 box white cake mix
2+ cups angel flake coconut
1 can cream of coconut
1 container Cool-Whip

Mix the cake mix as instructed, adding in 1 cup of coconut before baking. Bake the cake per the box instructions. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then slowly pour the cream of coconut over the entire cake. (Sidenote: Cream of coconut can solidify in the can, so place the can in a warm cup of water to help it return to liquid form.) Once the cake is completely cooled, mix the Cool-Whip with one cup of coconut and spread over the cake. Sprinkle the top with extra coconut, if desired. Chill in the refrigerator.

I weep every time I eat this cake. But they're tears of joy, so that's good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And the winner is.....

Look, it's low-tech around here. And as much as I try to treat my roommates like minions, they keep refusing to serve me and do as I ask. Since I have no idea how to enable technology to randomly choose a name and since the girls won't help me either, I had to choose the highly scientific paper in a bowl.

Try to follow this highly scientific process.

All names are written down. This particular list was written in the order the comments were received.

The names are cut up with no preference given.

After much stirring with eyes closed, a slip of paper is pulled (with eyes still closed), and the winner comes out to be Clara!!

Congrats, Clara! You'll be hearing from me. If you don't hear from me by tomorrow, assume your fellow competitors have sabotaged the electronic delivery and send me a comment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Did Someone Say Free Cookbook??!!

1. It's been cold today.

2. I have coconut cake baking, bread rising, shredded pork cooling, and chocolate chip cooking dough chilling.

3. I watched Chuck's Day Off yesterday and now have a mini-crush.

4. The PW sent back my cookbook signed and I squealed like a 7-year-old girl.

5. This week I accepted a position in the Neonatal Intensive Care.

6. School resumes in one week officially.

7. My quilting class starts tomorrow and I'm not sure if I can even effectively operate my new sewing machine.

8. I plan on standing in line for hours in a few weeks to meet the PW on her book tour.

9. I love Jimmy Fallon.

10. David Cook is seemingly wrapping up his sophomore album.

Because of all these things and because I want an American Eskimo dog (but will not be getting one at this point)....

I'm giving away a copy of the Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That? cookbook. It's true. This is not a farce people.

To enter, write a comment below telling me what makes you squeal like a 7-year-old girl. I'll accept entries until midnight PST on Friday. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Goals, Challenges, and Books, oh my!

I'm pretty sure I'm borderline insane. I've made a list of new recipes to try, 25 books to read, three quilts to make, and the goal of a 5k. I may walk or crawl the 5k, but I'd like to finally check that off my list.

My quilting classes begin tomorrow! I'm soooo excited and I just can't hide it! Every time I think of that song, I think of this:

Moving on....

I love to read. I have such strong childhood memories linked to books. I think books not only entertain, but they give your mind a chance to grow, dream, and expect more. Kathleen Kelly agrees.

Anyway, with school taking over my life, my personal reading has sadly dwindled. I'm making 2011 my year to pick up books for fun. I've chosen some classics, fiction, nonfiction, the entire Harry Potter series years after everyone else has finished them, and a couple by authors that have made me laugh.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows- J.K. Rowling
The Guinea Pig Diaries- A.J. Jacobs
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible- A.J. Jacobs
I Am America (And So Can You!)- Stephen Colbert
The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis
Wicked- Gregory Maguire
We Were the Mulvaneys- Joyce Carol Oates
Anne of Green Gables- Lucy Maud Montgomery
To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Betty Smith
Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert
Crazy Love- Francis Chan
Hector and the Search for Happiness- François Lelord
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
The Time Traveler’s Wife- Audrey Niffenegger
Mere Christianity- C.S. Lewis
Moby Dick- Herman Melville
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank
Bless Your Heart, Tramp and Other Southern Endearments- Celia Rivenbark

It's a quirky little mixture, but I think we've determined that I like quirky.

My recipe list is a combination of main dishes, side dishes, desserts, breads, breakfasts.... and general yummy-ness.

Apple Dumplings
Baked Lemon Pasta
Billie's Italian Cream Cake
Chicken Tikka Masala
Cheddar Puffs
French Breakfast Puffs
French silk pie
Raspberry Cobbler
Ivy's Prune Cake
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Perfect Pancakes
Vanilla Bean Scones
Quiche (PW's)
Apple Tart
Spaghetti Squash with Maple Syrup and Shallots
Spicy Shredded Pork
Tres Leches Cake (unless this ends up grossing me out)
White Chili
Hearty Tomato Soup (FINISHED!)
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (FINISHED!)
Orangette's Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (FINISHED!)
Mile High Popovers
Red Velvet Cupcakes & Frosting
Banana Cake
Caramels (I'm scared. Candy is hard to make!)
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Noodle Soup
Spicy Vegetable Soup
Chicken and Corn Quesadillas
Tomato & Thyme Soup
Mac & Cheese
Penne with Tomato and Olive Sauce
Baked Vanilla Cheesecake
Lemon & Poppy seed Drizzle Cake
Panna cotta with raspberries
Cheese & Onion tart
Quiche Lorraine
Lasagna with Homemade sauce
Roast Chicken
Soft Pretzels
Lemon Cake with Lemon Meringue frosting
Mexican-style Lime & Cilantro whole chicken
Bunny's Turkey Breast
Swiss Steak
Brown Butter Pumpkin Bread
Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake
Homemade Smores
Pizza Bites
Zebra Cake
Bread Pudding
Chicken 'n Dumplings
Caramel Corn

I'll also be experimenting with different spices for chicken, pork, and beef. But I'll mostly be making those up. There are also a few recipes that I'll be trying, but that I'm not at liberty to share. Sorry. But if I want to benefit, I have to keep promises of confidentiality. Either that or I'll have to fork over a kidney in exchange for blabbering. Well, a kidney and $25,000. I don't have that kind of cash, so the secrets will go to my grave. Plus, I like my kidneys.

So, those are the recipes you can look forward to seeing. I may succeed, I may fail, but by golly I'm going for it. I will guarantee you that I will not be taking caffeine pills like Jessi. I don't even want to see myself that loaded. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hearty Tomato Soup

Before I tell you about today's recipe, let me mention a local restaurant. Farmer's Gastropub is delicious, the people are friendly, and the roommates and I have decided this is our new place. They use local farmers and stores to provide their food, which I think is pretty fantastic. Check them out. You'll be supporting a local business and local farmers. It's a win-win for everyone. Plus, you'll eat some seriously tasty food in one of the best atmospheres I've seen in a restaurant. And if you want to invite me along, I'm in.

Now, friends, it's cold outside. Not as cold as it has been, but it's far from warm. To all of you in warm climates...I have nothing to say to you. Mostly because I'm jealous. Of course, I am getting some great use out of my new, super warm coat, so I guess that's a good thing. Anyway, when the temps drop, I think soup. I usually think Campbell's tomato soup and grilled cheese.

A few weeks ago, Giada made a tomato soup that caught my eye. It looked promising, easy, and was perfect for my first recipe of 2011.

And away we go...


* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 onion, peeled and chopped
* 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 15-ounce can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2/3 cup creme fraiche
* Zest of one lemon


In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

Puree the soup in a blender in batches, being careful to remove and discard the bay leaf. Return the soup to a soup pot and keep warm over low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl fold in the lemon zest and the remaining teaspoon of rosemary to 2/3 cup creme fraiche. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and dollop each bowl with the lemon rosemary creme fraiche. Serve immediately.

Note: I skipped the rosemary because I'm not a big fan of rosemary and I skipped the fraiche because I didn't want it. The soup is really filling and tasty without it. If you decide to try it, I'm sure you'll love it. I have faith in Giada. Something tells me things are going to work out for that girl.

Guess what? Baby carrots were cheaper, so they won yesterday. Bonus: they're already peeled! Take that grown-up carrots!

Repeat after me: The bay leaf goes in, the bay leaf comes out. Do this BEFORE you put it in the food processor. It'll save you a headache or two.

You can make the soup as chunky or fine as you'd like. I wanted some texture, so I didn't blend it too long. The bread? It's a garlic bread and it works splendidly with the soup.


Monday, January 3, 2011


This recipe is Jené's fault. She brought these treats to Decemberloso, our Christmas party. So if you make them, love them, and eat all of them in one sitting...well, everyone would understand, but don't do it. You'll feel guilty, then angry at me, then I'll have to deflect the anger to Jené and I don't want to do that since she's nice, but it's survival of the fittest, baby.

I don't know what their actual name is, but I figure Turtles are accurate enough...except they have the pretzel. So maybe Turtles with Shells? Whatever. They're super easy and fast to make. And apparently widely popular. Rolos were sold out at a couple different stores for a couple weeks. I blame this recipe.

Prepare yourself. It's going to get complicated.

Take a bunch of pretzels and place them on a cookie sheet. Unwrap the same number of Rolos and place them on top of the pretzels. Place in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Take out of the oven, place pecan halves on top and press down. Let cool and eat. Bingo! I know it's hard, but you can do it.

Easy as Pie

First, let's do a little housekeeping, shall we? You will now notice at the end of each blog, a Print Friendly button. This nifty button will allow you to print my recipes. (Can I hear an amen? Maybe it's just me, but this button has eliminated me from stretching my brain, trying to figure out how to make my recipes printer friendly. So... AMEN!) This link explains how to eliminate the extra mumbo jumbo I write and the photos, so you can simply print the important stuff.

Next order of business: Pride and Prejudice
I love this movie, though I love the shorter version with Keira Knightly because I really can't handle the six hour version. It's just a bit too much for me. Actual swooning occurs when I watch the movie. I can't help it. I only tell you this because I'm currently watching it.

I think I have ADD today. Or that I need a nap. Maybe both...

On New Year's Eve, I made a pie. A pie that set the tone for 2011. A pie that is the food version of myself. It's Apple Green-Chili Pie With Cheddar Crust and Walnut Streusel. How does it set the tone for this year? It's a new recipe. I have set the challenge for myself to make 52 new recipes this year. How is it a food version of me? It's classic, surprisingly spicy (?), exciting, and cheesy. I have no idea where to go from there. I'm a mess. Let's just get to the pie and put this whole conversation behind us, okay? Mike, as in the creator of this brilliance, sent me this recipe. It's from the New York Times.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons ice water, more as needed

5 cups peeled and thickly sliced tart apples, such as Jonagold, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
1/2 cup chopped roasted green Hatch chilies, mild or medium hot (see note)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch

For the topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Vanilla ice cream, for serving.

1. Make the crust: In a food processor or mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add butter one piece at a time, while pulsing or mixing at low speed, until mixture is fine and crumbly. Transfer to a large bowl and toss well with the cheese. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with fingers just until dough holds together. To test, pinch a small amount of dough. If it is crumbly, add more ice water. Form dough into a ball, wrap loosely in plastic, then roll into a disk. Refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 3 days, before rolling. (Dough can be frozen for up to a month.)

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a circle at least 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably glass. Turn edges under to make a thick rim; flute rim by pinching into a zigzag pattern. Refrigerate until ready to bake, at least an hour.

3. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples, green chilies and lemon juice together. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to apples and chilies, tossing until thoroughly coated.

4. Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix flour, walnuts and brown sugar. Add melted butter and toss together until crumbly.

5. Bake the pie: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, scoop filling into chilled crust, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of juice from bottom of bowl. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until filling bubbles at edge and crust is brown. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Yield: About 8 servings.

Note: Roasted green Hatch chilies from New Mexico can be ordered from, and are sometimes found frozen in grocery stores. Drained canned green chilies are acceptable.

Look, let's have an honest conversation. Fluorescent lighting stinks. Even with a little color/lighting correction, these pictures are a little off. You'll judge me, I'll shake my fist at you, and we'll all move on. But just know this: you're a jerk for judging me. You have no idea the struggles I have with lighting! Excuse me while I gnash my teeth at you. Okay, I'll calm myself down. I apologize. Can we hug it out? I'm sorry. Now, hold my hand and we'll gaze at the pictures together.

Grate your own cheese. That's an order. And it's cheaper. But if graters scare you, I understand. They're my biggest fear. It's why I weep while I grate.

The crust dough will look a bit different, but don't you worry your little heart. It'll all be okay.

See? It's looking like we're on track.

I didn't have plastic wrap, so I used press 'n seal. Suck it, New York Times!

There's a place for us, a time and place for us, hold my hand and we're halfway there, hold my hand and I'll take you there...sorry. I got caught up in West Side Story for a moment. Musicals live in my head with You've Got Mail quotes.

All ready to face the oven. It was a little worrisome for me that I was not protecting the crust with the usual covering. A real nail-biter.

It's a Christmas miracle! No burnt edges!

Hello, sweet thing. Sweet and spicy thing. Yummy thing....Hello. Is it me you're looking for? I can see it in your eyes, I can see it in your smile. You're all I've ever wanted and my arms are open wide. Hmmm. Apparently, Lionel Richie is paying a visit today too.

I'm sorry. Crazy is my way of life.