Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coconut Cream Cake

If you like coconut, this one is for you! It came out light and moist, with just the right amount of coconut flavor. The whipped topping was creamy and fluffy and with a bite of strawberry, was the best part to me.

The shortcut of using a boxed mix, with a little doctoring, makes this super simple to put together, but still homemade and great-tasting. Instead of a 9x13 cake, I wanted to make a 3-layer cake. One box mix will get you 2, 8-inch layers. I doubled the recipe and made 4, 8-inch rounds (knowing that at least one would probably fall apart and you have to have one to taste test, right?). I also made extra whipped topping (used 3 cups of heavy cream) since I had layers to fill and then frost the whole outside, too.

I made one other change after reading the reviews. It was recommended several times to only use 1/2 the amount of coconut cream and sweetened condensed milk to soak into the cake. I didn't want it to end up soggy, and I needed to be able to pick up the layers without them crumbling to pieces, so I followed that advice. It still turned out moist and flavorful on the inside, so I would stick to that amount the next time, too.

Source: Allrecipes.com

1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
3 eggs (I only used egg whites)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (14 ounce) can coconut cream
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, water and coconut flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes and pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut cream with sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes into it in even rows using a large fork or chopsticks. Pour milk mixture over, allowing it to soak into the cake. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

In a large bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with flaked coconut.

Super Sloppy Joes

Aimee, my cousin, highly recommended this recipe for sloppy joes and not wanting to miss out, I decided to try it. This recipe calls for a chopped red bell pepper, which is great because we still have plenty in the freezer from the garden last year. The flavor of the pepper really stood out and was different than the sloppy joes we usually eat, which have more of a bbq taste and not as prominent as the tomato flavor in this recipe.

I've only made homemade sloppy joes once before. Ours usually come from a can. You know the song..."You don't have to be a man to love Manwich. You don't have to be a witch either, it's true." Be glad there is no audio here and you don't have to listen to me sing that!

Source: Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend, such as McCormick brand Montreal Seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and meat to the pan. Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up. Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning. Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile sloppy meat onto toasted, buttered bun bottoms and cover with bun tops.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cupcakes for my Baby

I know some of you have noticed my cooking & blogging has practically come to a screeching halt the last couple of months. I just haven't had much of an appetite or felt like cooking anything new. Bloggy friends - that's because we're having a baby! We're really excited to have this new addition, due to arrive October 30th. I'm into my 4th month now and starting to feel good again, so I'm back to blogging.

To make this food related, I'll share these cupcakes I made and brought in to announce to my coworkers. Nothing too fancy here. I made a box mix of chocolate cake topped with chocolate buttercream and strawberry cake topped with lemon buttercream. Then, each cupcake was topped with a daisy and a baby item - either a bottle, diaper pin or pacifier in pink or blue, all made from fondant.

California Chicken Salad

After seeing this salad on Stephanie's blog, Macaroni and Cheesecake, I starred it right away and added it to our menu for this week. It was great for a light dinner and super fast to throw together. It's funny that I wanted to make this because normally I am not a fan of fruit in my salad, or a fan or avocados. But, in the past year, I think I am starting to like avocados a lot more and decided to just give the fruit a chance.

I used a pre-packaged bag of salad mix and was able to get 3 salads out of this recipe (yay, leftovers for lunch!). I used 2 chicken breasts, pounded thin and then seasoned with blackened seasoning. I really liked the variety of flavors in the salad. The sweet strawberries, slightly tart mango (I think it was a bit under-ripe actually), and the creamy avocado came together very nicely mixed with the greens.

Taking Stephanie's lead, I made the same balsamic poppy seed dressing she used. Again, something I would not normally choose because I don't really care for balsamic vinegar. But, I went with it because I do like the other ingredients and have never had a poppy seed dressing before. It turned out just fine - but I personally did not care for it, solely based on the balsamic vinegar flavor. But if you like the flavor, it's great and I'd recommend it!

Even Trixie was scoping it out, hoping to get a taste of the chicken.

Source: Adapted from Jillian Michael's Making the Cut

4-5 cups mixed salad greens
5 large strawberries, sliced
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 chicken breasts, grilled & diced

In a large bowl, place salad greens, then add all other ingredients. Serve drizzled with the poppy seed dressing below, or the dressing of your choice.

Balsamic Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
Source: Adapted from a post on the CookingLight.com Community

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tsp. splenda or sugar
1 tbsp. fat free mayo (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spiderman Cake

Feels like forever since I've made a cake, but I'm back! My nephew Sean LOVES Spiderman, so it's only fitting that he get a spiderman cake for his birthday. I had a hard time getting the buttercream to be really red. For a double batch of buttercream, I used an entire bottle of the no-taste red, plus some burgundy, plus a little more red. In the end I was happy with the color, but for a while I was really afraid this was going to be the first pink spiderman cake. The longer it sits, the darker it gets.

The cake itself is a white cake that I striped blue by dividing the batter into 2 bowls and dying one bowl blue, and leaving the other white. Then, alternating by a spoonful at a time, I layered the colors into the pan before baking. My circles were not quite concentric as the center seemed to spread all over the place. I think my counters aren't level. But, it all worked out because the cake was frosted, so you couldn't tell. My nephew thought they looked like webs through the cake. That works!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Dip Rollups

This weekend we went up to visit my family to celebrate a couple of birthdays. We had some really great food for lunch made by my mom and sister, along with these Chicken Enchilada Dip Rollups I brought that I've wanted to try for a while now. They were fantastic! I used a tomato basil wrap we had, but any kind will do. You can adjust the amount of heat you like in these. I made these mild since I knew the kids probably wouldn't eat anything too spicy. These would be perfect game day food - maybe with a jalapeno inside, too!

Lucky for me, Joelen is hosting a foodie film event this month for Mexican inspired recipes, in honor of Cinco de Mayo. These enchilada rolls would be the perfect addition to any Cindo de Mayo party.

Source: Cook Like a Champion

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced (I used the zester for this. A garlic press would work nicely, as well.)
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
1 small, southwest flavored rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
10-oz. can Rotel tomatoes
1 package jalapeno cheddar tortillas

-Mix cheeses together until well blended.
-Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
-Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
-Place one heaping spoonful onto tortilla.
-Spread to edges using a metal spatula.
-Roll and cut into slices.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Skyline Chili Pizza & Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Last year we started making our own Skyline Chili at home in big batches and then freezing to save time and use for a quick dinner. This stuff is good on top of spaghetti, baked potatoes, hot dogs, in tortillas as a wrap/burrito, and yes, on pizza! Shame on me for not dragging out my light box to take this photo.

This post is actually for 2 recipes - the skyline chili pizza and the whole wheat pizza dough. This was my first time using whole wheat flour and now I'm really not sure why I didn't try it sooner. It was great! I'll definitely make it again. We usually make one crust fresh and freeze the second dough for another time.

To help the crust get a little more crispy/not soggy, I spread out the dough onto the pizza stone and bake 5-7 minutes by itself. Then, I take it out, add the chili, cheese and onions.

Pizza Dough Source: Allrecipes.com

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine flour, wheat germ and salt. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture. Stir well to combine. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes.

Roll dough on a floured pizza pan and poke a few holes in it with a fork.
Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.

Source for Skyline Chili Pizza: I think Donato's or Dominoes offered this in our area for a limited time, so we decided we could make this ourselves.

Skyline Chili (probably about 2 cups for a large pizza)
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 small onion, chopped

Make the pizza dough as directed above. Spread the dough onto a pizza stone and bake at 45 for 5-7 minutes.

Remove crust from oven and top with the chili, cheese, and onions and bake for 15-20 minutes longer.

You could also put black olives on this pizza!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Apple Spinach Salad

In our house, salads are usually pretty boring. Maybe boring isn't the right word, but they are defintely always the same old mundane salads. Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, whatever other veggies we have, croutons and dressing. Over and over. It gets kind of old and makes it harder to want to eat salad.

Not anymore! We had this salad at a party this past Christmas and Aaron and I both loved it. Unfortunately, it took me this long to make it at home for the first time, but it is my new favorite. I love the tart, crunchy granny smith apples, the sweet raisins, the crunchy toasted almonds (I used almonds, the recipe calls for cashews) and the sweet and tangy dressing on top of the spinach.

1 6 oz package fresh baby spinach
2 small Granny Smith Apples, chopped
1/2 c. Cashews
1/4 c. Golden Raisins
1/4 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 c. Vegetable Oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp. Celery Salt

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large salad bowl. Whisk together sugar and next 4 ingredients, until blended. Serve with salad.

You can chill the dressing for up to 1 day. Whisk well before serving.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Weight Watchers Asian Beef & Noodles

This recipe was posted on a message board not long ago and I thought it might be good. I had some cabbage to use up and I have never used Ramen noodles to make something other than Ramen noodles, so we tried it out. This is the second time I've made it, so obviously we liked it! Since a pack of Ramen is only about 20 cents a pack, you know it's a really cheap meal, too.

The cabbage gives it crunch and the beef & onion flavor are really good. You could make it any flavor you want if you don't like or eat red meat. I plan to try it again with chicken or shrimp flavored ramen and meat. The recipe says this makes 2, 10-point servings. But, I thought 10 points was a lot for one meal, so I divided it up into 3 servings to cut back a bit. So each serving was about 6-7 points, instead.

Source: RecipeZaar

1 (8 ounce) rib eye steaks
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 cup sliced green onion (1 inch slices) (I used about 1/2 cup)
2 cups packaged cabbage and carrot coleslaw mix
2 (2 7/8 ounce) packages beef-flavor ramen noodles
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Trim fat from steak; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slice.

Heat 1 Tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Add steak and green onions; stir fry 1 minute.

Remove steak mixture from skillet; keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 Tsp oil in skillet over medium high heat.

Add slaw; stir fry for 30 seconds.

Remove slaw from skillet and keep warm.

Remove noodles from packages; reserve 1 seasoning packet for another use.

Add water and remaining seasoning packet to skillet; bring to a boil.

Break noodles in half; add noodles to water mixture.

Cook noodles 2 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in steak mixture, slaw, and soy sauce; cook until thoroughly heated.
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