I was SO lucky these past few weeks because I got to spend them with Q! He had a little break from work, and I took some vacation days so that we could spend time with each other before Q heads out for more training. I found my love of the kitchen again, and remembered how much I LOVE cooking for another person (amazing how cooking for two is SO much better than cooking for one!). For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to try a new recipe, so I made these Coconut Pancakes. It made a bunch (I actually cut this recipe in half since it was two of us and there was still a ton left over!). I put them in a freezer ziploc bag and freeze them for the future. They were delicious and really not that much work, who knew? Enjoy!
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (10 ounces)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons pure coconut extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for serving
- Canola oil, for brushing
- Pure maple syrup for serving
- Preheat the oven to 35o. (Koko note: I did this in my toaster oven, since it is small and heats up quickly). Spread the coconut in an even layer on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, about
5 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a bowl; reserve the baking sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 200.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, whole milk, eggs, coconut extract, honey and the 4 tablespoons of the butter until smooth. Whisk into the dry ingredients just until combined; there will be a few lumps. Let the batter stand for 10 minutes.
- Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet until hot, then brush with canola oil or spray with Pam (the easy way). Ladle 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle and spread into 4- to 5-inch rounds. Sprinkle each pancake with 1 tablespoon of the toasted coconut and cook over moderate heat, flipping once, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the pancakes to the reserved baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter and more toasted coconut to make 18 pancakes total. To serve, stack the pancakes on plates, sprinkling additional toasted coconut between the layers. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.
Adapted from Food & Wine
The other night I wanted to make a fun Mexican-themed dinner. Instead of doing my usual brown rice on the side, I decided to try and make some Spanish rice. This recipe is easy, delicious and tastes super authentic. I put it on the stovetop the same time I made my fajita chicken (recipe to come) and it was a delicious meal.
A few hints: this makes a LOT of rice (like 4 cups), which you can easily portion out and freeze or make for a small crowd. Also, I used brown basmati rice because that’s what I had. Feel free to play around with what type of rice you want to use, just be mindful of liquid to rice ratio and cooking time.
Easy Stovetop Spanish Rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 cups of medium or long-grain rice (I used brown basmati, see note above)
- 3 cups chicken stock*
- 1 can Rotel or diced tomatoes, strained
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Pinch of oregano
- Pinch of cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
*Pay attention to the liquid to rice ratio on the rice package. For my basmati brown rice, the ratio is 2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice, so I used 3 cups chicken broth for 1.5 cups rice.
- Heat olive oil in skillet or cast iron pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the rice, constantly stirring so most of the rice is lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the onion, stirring frequently until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic, stirring in with the onions and rice for another minute. Remove from heat
- In a medium pot, combine the broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, salt and bring to a simmer. Add in the rice and onions. Bring everything to a simmer, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, depending on the type of rice and instructions on the rice package. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Let’s talk about breakfast for dinner. It could be one of my favorite types of meals, but instead of doing the usual cereal/oatmeal/eggs, I decided to make savory waffles, fried eggs and pan-roasted chicken for dinner the other night. The waffles were SO good, honestly better than I thought they were going to be. They are filled with herbs and cheddar cheese and then topped with a fried egg.
This recipe uses what felt like a lot of pots and pans in the kitchen, and required some time management (frying eggs and making waffles at the same time isn’t as easy as it seems), but the end result is totally worth it. I made all of my waffles before I fried my eggs. I made them and then popped them in a 200 degree oven, so they stayed warm while I used up all of the batter.
Gluten-Free Cheddar Herb Waffles
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free baking flour (if you don’t need to be gluten free, use regular all purpose flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 6 eggs, divided
- 1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup packed, grated sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, chives and basil), plus more chives for garnish
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and yeast. Make a well; add two eggs, milk, water, honey and oil. Whisk until smooth. Stir in cheddar and herbs. Set aside until batter is doubled in volume and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Cook according to waffle iron instructions.
- Place a medium frying pan on the stove. Heat the pan on high heat for at least 30 seconds and then add your olive oil. Make sure to coat the bottom of pan. Crack eggs into pan. Let the eggs sit and cook for 2-4 minutes. They are done when the whites are cooked through and the edges begin to turn up. (I like to pop mine in a 350 degree oven for 2 minutes at the end to make the eggs more like over-medium, but if the oven isn’t on that can be a pain).
- Divide one waffle into four servings and arrange on plates. Top each with an egg. Garnish with chives.
This is one of those OMG-this-is-the-best-weeknight-dinner-ever sort of meals. These peppers and the stuffing were SO delicious and tasty that I ate one every day for lunch and dinner for the three days after making them. And if you aren’t a fan of peppers, make the stuffing alone and eat it with some fried eggs (like I did). Trust me, it is GOOD.
If you don’t feel like making your own semi-homeamde pasta sauce, feel free to skip step 2 (where you blend fresh basil and garlic with tomato sauce and instead use whatever pasta sauce you have on hand). I made 7 peppers (whatever fit in the baking dish), and still had the filling left over (which is great). There is no real science to filling them or how many you can fit, just use up as much as you can (keep it as easy as possible for you!).
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 cups chunky tomato sauce, divided
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
- 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup cooked brown (or white/wild/any type) rice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 -8 medium to large green bell peppers
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a blender or food processor, add 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce, garlic cloves and basil. Blend on high 1-2 minutes until smooth. Set aside. (This step is optional, use pasta sauce if need be!)
- Heat olive oil in a large 10 inch skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. Add diced onions, cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add turkey, breaking up the meat as you stir. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until turkey is cooked and no longer pink. Stir in tomato sauce from the blender, along with oregano, Italian seasoning and spinach. Simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes; stirring every few minutes. After it is done cooking, stir in beans and rice. Taste, add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- While the turkey and sauce is cooking you can prepare the peppers: Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Rinse out extra seeds and place each pepper next to each other in a greased 2 quart baking dish.
- Fill each pepper with turkey mixture to the top. Add an extra spoonful of remaining tomato sauce on top each pepper with a little mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender. Makes 6-8 peppers!
- (Peppers can be frozen and baked at a later date. Same thing with the filling: prep ahead and freeze if necessary!).