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.
Around this time of year I always get excited for my favorite treat at Starbucks: Cranberry Bliss Bars! A few years ago, I attempted to make them at home and remember loving the, so this weekend while I was in TN, I tried again!
They are actually super simple to make. The white chocolate “drizzle” is more challenging since the chocolate seizes up pretty quickly, but I did more “dallop” than “drizzle” haha! These are a huge hit, and if you cut them into little triangles, no one will know the Starbucks version versus yours!
Cranberry Bliss Bars
Makes 2 1/2 dozen
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used white chocolate chips)
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Prepare the blondie layer: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl, and set aside.
- Place the butter, dark brown sugar, and white sugar into a small saucepan. Cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently until the butter and sugars melt and start to bubble (do not let the mixture boil), about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer cooled butter mixture to a medium bowl, and whisk in whole egg and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the melted chocolate and cranberries. Transfer batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 24-28 minutes, until golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well-blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This weekend my mom and I went back to Tennessee to take a look at my house. Boy do I miss that house. I walk in and remember what it feels like to have my own house and not live at home with my parents (which is also awesome at times FYI). To have all my own things, and my bed… heaven! To thank our neighbors for being wonderful, we baked them a pound cake. This is a traditional pound cake with just a hint of lemon. We served it with fresh whipped cream and berries and it was perfection.
Classic Pound Cake
Makes 1 loaf
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, plus extra for greasing pan
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan. Line the pan with parchment paper (video on how to do that here).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and shiny, about 15 seconds. Add the sugar slowly, beat until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and water. With the mixer running at medium speed, add the mixture to the butter and sugar in a very slow, thin stream. Add the salt and lemon zest.
- Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a sifter and sift over the batter. Fold gently with a rubber spatula, scraping from the bottom of the bowl, until the flour is incorporated. Repeat twice more, adding flour in 1/2 cup increments.
- Scrape the batter unto the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Back until a toothpick inserted into the crack running along the top comes out clean, about 70-80 minutes. (Start checking your loaf after 60 minutes. Mine didn’t have a large crack, so I just put the toothpick in the center :)). Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Place a second wire rack on the cake bottom, then turn the cake over. Cool to room temperature, remove and discard the parchment. Serve with fresh whipped cream and berries.
Adapted from Cooking Illustrated.