Friday, February 20, 2015

Can you help us out? Coconut Sheet Cake for the neighborhood

Here goes my husband again!  He saw a recipe one Sunday morning and "poof"  it appears on our counter that evening.  Cooking to him is like a stress reliever or a way to relax.  He likes to try new items and then likes to put his magic on them and make them his own.  For this one he made it like the recipe stated, but has now made notes on the recipe of things he can do to change it.  This is coconut sheet cake from the Chef-in-training website.  Hubby's enhancement would be to toast the coconut that you sprinkle on top of the cake. I think that is a good idea.
Now you are probably wondering why I call the post "Can you help us out?".  Well just look at the size of this cake....There is only 3 of us in the house and there is no way we can eat all of this.  So Giada from across the street and her hubby got a call from us stating "I need your help!"  Her first thought was something was wrong.  Then he explained that he made this huge cake and we needed some help eating it!  They gladly accepted and return the dish the following week with brownies! 

Coconut Sheet Cake



2 cups flour plus 2 Tablespoon flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup water
½ cup shortening
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
¼ cup shredded coconut
½ cup butter
6 Tablespoons milk
Can you help us out?
16 oz. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
Additional Ingredients
Sweetened Shredded Coconut for topping ( We suggest toasting the coconut)


In a large mixing bowl, measure flour and sugar. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, water, and shortening. Bring to a boil. After mixture reaches a boil, add it to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add buttermilk, then baking soda, then eggs, then vanilla in that order, mixing in-between each addition. Stir in coconut.
Pour into a greased 18x13x1 inch cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Coconut Frosting
Bring combine butter and milk bring to a boil, stir in powdered sugar and coconut extract until smooth. After cake has cooked, remove from oven and poke holes in hot cake with a fork. Pour frosting evenly over the top.
Sprinkle top of cake with shredded coconut.

My baker!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Off the back of the box!

How many times have you pulled out a box mix of either rice, noodles or the like to see a recipe on there and then just make the mix as is?  I have done that numerous times until I saw this recipe on the box of Near East Cous Cous for Mediterranean Chicken and Couscous that peeked my interest.  The prep time and the cook time listed was pretty easy and would make for a quick weeknight dinner.  

Early in the morning I pulled out two seasoned chicken breast from our freezer and then found  the box of Cous Cous in the pantry that I could use the Chicken with.  I made note of my missing ingredients and planned on stopping at the grocery store on my lunch hour.  The plan worked out well.  The end result was delicious and one recipe I will make again.  I just have to remember to have the right box of Cous Cous on hand.

Mediterranean Chicken and Cous Cous

1 package of Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Cous Cous
2 Table spoons olive oil
1/2 half pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 clove of garlic minced
2 cups baby spinach
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts 

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and garlic and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently until chicken is no longer pink.  Add spinach during last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking chicken.

Stir in water, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and contents of spice pack.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in Cous Cous, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff Cous Cous lightly with fork.  Stir in cheese and pine nuts.  Serve immediately.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A quick Christmas Gift Idea - White Chocolate Bark

Happy Holidays!


White Chocolate Bark

II feel way behind when it comes to my Christmas treats and cookies.  I have a number of cookies I want to try, and some chocolate sweets as well.  When I was shopping this weekend I remembered a recipe that only takes 3 ingredients and about 40 minutes to make.    Knowing that hubby likes white chocolate I decide to make my White Chocolate Bark with pistachios and dried cranberries (pleases my Nutrition major in the house) which is both sweet and salty.   What better combination than pistachios and dried cranberries.
To make the bark, melt 1 lb. of chocolate.(They type of chocolate is at your discretion.  I used the candy making chocolate pieces) This can be done with a double boiler or in the microwave.   When using the microwave you melt it slowly cooking it 30 seconds at a time and at 50% power.  Stirring at each 30 second interval.   Once it's melted and smooth remove from microwave and let sit a couple of minutes.   At this time, line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.  
Next add a 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios and a 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the chocolate.   Mix well.  Spread chocolate mix evenly on cookie sheet.  When done place the pan in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour to set.   Then break or cut into pieces.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dinner Club Assignment

A couple of weeks ago our dinner club got together after a long hiatus at Giada and her hubby across the street. The menu was reminiscent of their first dinner club dinner with a taste of Italy.  Our recipe was for soup that was a combination of each of their mothers recipe.  I feel honored to have been able to make this family recipe.

Our dinner club has been going on for a number of years with just one couple switch out.  We have tried a variety of recipes, cuisines and culinary explorations.  If I look back over the recipes it is hard to find just one favorite.  I guess I have to go with what our foodie friends said when I asked them to pick their favorite dinner - the first dinner each couple made.  For us it was  family favorite-marinated prime rib, for foodie friends it was their Thai dinner, Farm Boy and our southern artist friends would be the Creole Chicken and grits, and for Giada and her hubby a Spinach Lasagna with Sicilian Veal Rolls.  

This dinner featured a goat cheese and oil appetizer, homemade Ravioli from Melina's fresh pasta, short ribs and polenta and Ricotta pie to go along with our authentic Escarole soup.  

Escarole soup with mini meatballs
(Serves 8 to 10)

For mini meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cups grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tblsp dried parsley or Italian seasoning
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 small bunch parsley, minced
1 egg beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

For soup:
2 heads of escarole, core removed and torn into small pieces
8 to 10 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion minced
2 cloves minced garlic

Make mini meatballs: mix all the listed ingredients in a bowl and form into s,
Mall size meatballs.  Chill for about 1 hour.

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven pot over medium heat, add garlic and onions, cook until lightly brown, taking care not to burn garlic.  Add escarole and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium/low and add meatballs.  Allow meatballs to simmer until cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending upon size.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

And now scenes from our dinner......


Main Course
Dressed dessert

Mrs Foodie!

My Wonderful Husband!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Quick Crockpot Ravioli

We are always looking for a recipe that is quick to put together and will satisfy our son.  So anything with pasta and sauce will do for him.  This recipe can be put together mid day and be ready when you walk in the door after work.  Either my hubby or I will come home during our lunch time and pull this recipe together, because of how easy this is.  Your basically just making a quick sauce and letting the pasta cook in it without boiling.

2 bags frozen ravioli, preferably beef and cheese flavored
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 small onion, diced
3 tsp. minced garlic
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parsley, for presentation

Pour the frozen ravioli into your slow cooker lined with a crock pot bag ( for easy cleanup)
In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, onion, minced garlic, Italian seasoning and salt & pepper. Pour sauce over the frozen ravioli and stir to coat.
Cover and cook on low for about 3 to 4 hours.  (Only you know how your crockpot cooks.  Mine is 24 years old and always takes less time than any recipe states)
About 10 minutes before serving, sprinkle the ravioli with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Place the cover back on the slow cooker and let the cheese melt. 

Looks good!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lemon cookies - Can't wait to make again!

Oh, I can't wait for hubby to make these again.  I think they have become my favorite cookie he has ever made.  A couple of weeks ago I met my 2 sisters at my mother's house to clean out some closets, cabinets, and prep for her new carpets and floors.While it was a necessary job to get done with little time, and finding stuff you have no idea why she kept them,  it turned out to be a good morning bonding with the "Gray girls".  I left our house before 9 to make Pilates class, then I drove directly out to mom's house.   My sisters had started, and I quickly jumped in.    4 hours later , I packed up the cleaning supplies and headed home to find these lovely lemon cookies waiting for me on the counter, alongwithdinner plans and yes, the wine was included . 

They were soft,sweet and just melted in your mouth.  I used restraint when eating these cookies because I was trying to be good and lose a little of the holiday weight gain and I wanted to make them last.  So I thought that by the following Wednesday there would be at least a couple left to take out to my mom, who loves anything lemon.  When I opened the pantry and grabbed the cookie dish, it was empty. Who leaves an empty cookie dish in the pantry?  

I think it's time to fill it back up again....don't you

Lemon Krinkle Cookie


1  15.25 oz package lemon cake mix ( for moist cake)
2 eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup lemon infused olive oil
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl stir together cake mix, eggs, flour, oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, lemon extract, and vanilla until combined. (Dough will be soft.)
  2. Place granulated sugar in one bowl and powdered sugar in another bowl. For each cookie, drop 1 tablespoon of the dough into the granulated sugar; toss to coat with sugar (dough will have a soft ball shape). Toss dough in the powdered sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes.Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens