Sunday, August 21, 2011

Coconut Cream Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

This cake is SCRUMPTIOUS! So moist and coconutty..... I almost ate the whole thing myself!

(recipe adapted from

1 package white cake mix

1 t coconut extract
1 14 oz can cream of coconut - NOT COCONUT MILK!
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 package frozen whipped topping, thawed (I whipped my own cream and sweetened it with powdered sugar and vanilla extract).
1 (8 ounce) package flaked coconut

Prepare and bake white cake mix according to package directions adding in coconut extract before baking. Remove cake from oven. While still hot, using a utility fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
Mix cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk together. Pour over the top of the still hot cake. Let cake cool completely then frost with the whipped topping and top with the flaked coconut. Keep cake refrigerated.

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Red Sauce

As I have said before...I love mexican food! I always make extra to freeze or have for leftovers the next day. I usually make chicken enchiladas, but decided to brave the beef ones today. This recipe came from one of my most favorite web sites: . She never disappoints and I love to play around with her recipes

Shredded Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce:

Recipe adapted slightly from For the Love of
2 tbsp canola oil (divided)
2 lb lean chuck roast (I get mine from Costo...they are the best and shred the best when cooked this way!
1 sweet yellow onion, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder (plus some to season roast)
1 1/2 tsp cumin (plus some to season roast)
1 tsp coriander (plus some to season roast)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (plus some to season roast)
1/2 tsp honey
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste (plus some to season roast)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of beef broth
2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle a bit of chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper on both sides of the roast. Once the pan is hot, add the roast and sear for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set in crock pot preheated to low.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes, make sure you scrape up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the minced garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and honey then stir constantly for 1 minute. Add beef broth and diced tomatoes. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste and add the honey then cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add to the meat in the crock pot and cover. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. When meat is tender and will shred with a fork, remove from corckpot. take the remaining sauce and blend the sauce with a blender until smooth.(BE CAREFUL, IT IS HOT! and you don't want hot liquid squirting out of your blender onto your face!!)  Taste and re-season if neeeded.
Shred meat with forks.
If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more beef broth and stir to combine (I added about 1/2 cup).

Other Ingredients:
Corn tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Cilantro, chopped
Sour cream
Wet a dishcloth or several paper towels and ring out. Place the corn tortillas inside and cook them in the microwave for 60-90 seconds until soft and pliable. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray then pour some enchilada sauce over the bottom. I used about 1/4 cup of sauce and spread it around. Take a corn tortilla and spoon shredded beef along the center, sprinkly some of the monterey jack cheest over top and then roll and place into the pan. Repeat until finished. Add the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Top with cheese then cover with tinfoil and place into the oven.
Bake for 25 minutes then remove the tinfoil and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with green onions. Serve with sour cream. Enjoy.

Elote - aka "Mexican Corn on the Cob"

I love to try new side dishes to spice things up a little...especially if they are easy! When I saw this recipe in "Our Best Bites" cookbook, I knew I had to try it! We love mexican food at our house and usually just pair it with rice - BORING! So here is our new favorite side dish! It was soooo good! The kids all wanted seconds! Try it with Beef enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce ( to be seen in the next post). You will want it over and over and over again!!!

Mexican-style Corn on the Cob
adapted slighly from: Our Best Bites Cookbook

6 ears fresh corn on the cob
1 1/2 C shredded cojita cheese (which i found easily in my grocery stores specialty cheese section).
4 1/2 T mayonnaise
3 T. sour cream
1 1/2 t lime zest
1 1/2 t fresh lime juice
3/4 t. chili powder
1/2 tsp franks red hot sauce
Pinch of salt

Husk corn and cook in your desired way. We rubbed ours with butter, covered with salt and pepper and rolled up in heby duty tin foil to grill on the grill on medium heat. It took about 15 minutes, turning the corns every 3-5 minutes.
Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, chili powder, and franks red hot all together.
Grate the cotija cheese on a large plate that you can roll the corn in.
When the corns are done, unwrap, rub on the mayo mixture and then roll in the cheese.
Words. Can't. Describe. The. Deliciousness.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Homemade Jam! (the easy way....)

I have to admit....I love homemade jam and all things canned. BUT....I HATE the time it takes to make these things and the mess, mess mess it leaves behind. I like to keep things relatively simple. I work, I have 4 kids, blah, blah, blah. Seldom do I have a full day to dedicate to canning. Sooooooo, when my friend Lyndsay introduced me to this instant jam, I was instantly hooked. So easy, so delicious! NO COOKING required!!! The problem is keeping it around for very long!! Strawberry is my favorite. Lyndsay puts kiwi's in her strawberry jam. (OH MY GOODNESS!) Strawberry Jam will never be the same. I made a batch with blueberries mixed in. I am going to do strawberry and peach together next. I may even do some raspberry. I can't stop. Try some!

Homemade Jam
4 cups fruit of your choice, cleaned and pureed in the blender (Best combo's so far: 3 1/2 c strawberries and 3 kiwis; 3 c. strawberries and 1 c blueberries)
1 1/2 c sugar
1 package INSTANT fruit pectin (I used the "Ball" brand).

Blend fruit and sugar in blender until combined. Add pectin slowly while blender is mixing and let mix for about 2 minutes. Pour into containers of choice. (I used gladware disposable tupperware). Let set for about 30  minutes and then refrigerate or freeze.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tangy Pulled Pork

This is a very super easy, super yummy go to dinner idea! Especially if your having friends over!!

Tangy Pulled Pork
1 pork tenderloin
1 C ketchup
3 T brown sugar
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 T dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper

Cut the tenderloin in half and place in a crock pot. combine all the ingredients together and pour over port. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Shred and serve on kaiser rolls, with melted parmesan cheese! (they would also be good with your favorite tangy cole slaw over the top!!! yum yum!

Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Thighs

The best thing to go with the Meditteranean Orzo pasta are these Mediterranean Chicken thighs. Lemony, easy, and delicious! Again, I am a chicken thigh convert. TRY THEM! They turn out juicier and more flavorful and they are cheaper!!! Give them a chance!!

Meditteranean Lemon \Chicken Thighs

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
5 T olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
1T red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients together in a zip lock bag. Let the chicken marinate in the bag in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Hea tthe olive oil olive in a large OVEN PROOF skillet over meduim high heat. Coat the chicken with olive oil .  Once the skillet is hot, lay the chicken thighs smooth side down in the pan and cook until golden brown. Turn chicken over and place pan in preheated oven. cook for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Let the meat rest for a couple minutes.  while the meat rests pour the marinade into the skillet and cook over high heat unitl it boils rapidly, about 1-2 minutes. Place the chicken on a serving plate and pour the boiled marinade on top. Sprinkle with oregano, parsley and a squeeze of lemon.  yum yum!

Meditteranean Orzo Salad with Roasted Veggies

We have been on an orzo kick at our house for the last couple weeks! The kids and hubby have just been gobbling it up! I love that you can add whatever veggies and spices you want to just change it up a little bit! This one has a meditteranean flair to it that we ADORED! I will be making this again and again!!!

Meditteranean Orzo Salad with Roasted Veggies
adapted slightly from

1/4 c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Combine in blender and mix well.

1 T olive oil
1 zucchini cut into spears
1 yellow squash cut into spears
1/2 red onion sliced into rings
1 yellow, red , and green pepper, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
garlic salt  and dried oregano to taste
1 C orzo, cooked per package instructions
1 1/2 T fresh parsley, chopped
3 T crumbled feta cheese
handful of kalamata olived, sliced
Prehead oven to 450 degrees. prepare a sheet pan with olive oil and place all veggies on pan. season with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic salt to taste. place in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until veggies are soft and roasted. Cut the veggies into bite sized pieces and add to cooked and drained orzo. Add the fresh parsley and feta cheese. Drizzle on the vinaigrette and then toss to coat. (you may not need all the vinaigrette). Taste and reseason if needed. serve immediately!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Garlic Knots

How cute is the name of these breads of deliciousness? Littly knotty pieces of dough all tucked around each other and then dipped in butter garlic yumminess. Need I say more?

Garlic Knots
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1 C warm water
1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
2 T olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sugar

For the garlic mixture:
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 T melted butter
2 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar with warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Create a small well in the center of the flour mix.  Pour in the yeasty mix and add oil.  With a fork, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. It the dough is too sticky, add more all purpose flour. Dough should be slightly sticky but not stick to your hands too much.  KNeaad dough onto a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place dough in a large greased bowl, flip the dough over to coat the dough. cover with plastic wrap and clean kitchen towell and leave to rest in a draft free place for about an hour. or until dough is doubled in size.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10x10 square.Use a pizza cutter to cut 10 one inch strips. Tie a knot in the center of the dough, and then wrap the ends under and around the know. Just make sure the dough is all tucked into itself. Cover with clean kitchen towell and let rest for about 30 minutes. Place racks in center and upper 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. line two baking sheets with parchment paper. place dough knots on prepared sheet and back ro 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
While bread bakes, in a large bowl whisk together minced garlic, butter, olive oil and parsley and salt. When rolls come out of the oven, immediatly toss them in the garlic butter mixture. Toss until coated. Serve rolls warm.

Peach Cobbler a Fun Way!

We love peaches this time of year! So juicy and delicious! My kids love them with cream and sugar in the morning for breakfast! When I saw this recipe, I knew it would be an immediate hit for our family! 1. its easy
2. it uses fresh peaches 3. you can put ice cream over the top. Please! Does summer livin get any better than that? I tripled the recipe because I am cooking for 6 (not 2) and it turned out wonderfully!

Peach Cobbler Joy the Bakers way!
adapted slightly from
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice a peach in half and remove the pit. With a small spoon, scoop out the the dark red pit center, creating just a bit more room for the crumble topping.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, coconut, and almonds. Add butter and, with your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Quickly break up the butter until it is well combined. Some of the butter bits will be the size of oat flakes, others will be the size of small peas.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in a small, oven-safe dish. Top each peach half with a generous portion of crumble topping. Heap it on!

Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cold milk. Peaches are best served warm from the oven.

Brownies with Caramel and Chocolate Sauce (aka Over the Top Brownies)

I love brownies. I love chocolate. I love caramel. So why not put them all together? Luckily over at, she loves the same things and came up with this delicious recipe!!! I love how the caramel and chocolate are just oozing down over the top! Looking at that picture makes me happy. It made my stomach happy too, (a couple of times... hee hee).

Over The Top Brownies
slightly adapted from
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate (chunks, disks, chips or mini chips)

1/4 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate
18 Kraft Caramels
2 tablespoons heavy cream
chopped/crushed nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F
Prepare a 9×13 baking dish as follows: lightly spray the insides with cooking spray then with the dish horizontally in front of you lay in one sheet of aluminum foil across the length (left-to-right) leaving enough overhang on the sides so that you can use the excess foil as handles and on top of that lay in one sheet of aluminum foil across the width (top-to-bottom). Spray the foil with cooking spray. You want to be sure the insides of the pan are completely covered and you have foil “handles” which you’ll use to lift the slab of brownies from the pan after baking
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, both sugars and the vanilla extract in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until the liquid mixture is completely blended.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add this into the liquid mixture until it is fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate pieces (chunks, disks, chips or mini chips) and stir to combine. It will resemble fudge frosting at this point… and it will taste delicious!! Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.
Bake about 40-45 minutes until a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick inserted in the center. Don’t bake to the point of the toothpick coming out clean or the brownies will be dry. Remove the baking dish from the oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes… then… using the foil handles remove the brownie slab from the dish and cool completely on wire rack.
Put the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl and add the heavy cream. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring well after each time until the caramels begin to melt and stir to incorporate the cream. Do not over-cook this!
After the brownies have cooled a bit but are not yet at room temperature, pour the melted caramel/cream mixture over the top and let it set up for a little while. Then drizzle on the melted chocolate and top with crushed nuts. (we didn't use nuts and my kids liked it a little better).We like to serve them warm and gooey with a big glass of milk!!!

Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan

This is one of our new favorite side dishes! My family loved it so much, I had to make it twice in one week! SOOOOO good, and so fresh and summer tasting!!! I served this with lemon chicken!!! This would also be good as a lunch salad with some lemon chicken or shrimp mixed in!!

Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan
adapted slightly from Keeping Up Cookbook (
2 T. Butter
1/2 C. finely diced onion
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. garlic salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 C. orzo
2 1/2 C. chicken broth
1 1/2 C. frozen peas, thawed
1 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon, cut into thin wedges

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and salts. Cook until onion is softened. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the grains are golden, about 5 minutes. DONT SKIP THIS STEP! Toasting the orzo gives it an amazing nutty flavor that makes the whole dish! Carefully stir in the broth, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is tender, 15-20 minutes. (Keep heat low or liquid will boil off too quickly). If the orzo is cooked and liquid remains, increase heat until evaporated.
Off the heat stir in the peas and parmesan. Let stand until the peas are warmed thorugh, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with lemon wedges. (I drizzled a little lemon juice over the entire dish first and then covered with lemon wedges.


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