Saturday, October 26, 2013

Coconut Cream Pie

Toasted-Coconut-Graham-CrackersCoconut Graham Crust
5 Tbsp sweetened shredded coconut, divided
9 rectangle graham crackers (or 18 squares) broken in rough pieces, one sleeve
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp melted butter

Coconut Pie Filling
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarchCoconut-Pastry-Cream
5 eggs yolks
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut in pieces
2 tsp vanilla

Coconut Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp coconut extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a medium bowl and the beaters in the fridge to chill.  Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of coconut in a small baking pan and toast in the oven on 325 degrees stir 2-3 times, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside 1 tablespoon.  Process the graham crackers, 4 tablespoons of toasted coconut and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor into fine crumbs. Using a fork or rubber spatula, stir in 5 tablespoons of melted butter.  Dump the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and sides forming a crust. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes or until it is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch, which will help reduce lumps. Add egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  Set aside.  Combine the coconut milk, whole milk, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/3 cup sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Take off the heat.  To temper the egg mixture, gradually whisk 3/4 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture to the sauce pan and bring mixture back to simmer whisking constantly until the surface just beings to bubble and thicken, about 60 seconds. Take off the heat.  Add the vanilla, 2 tablespoons butter and whisk until it melts. Pour into the cooled coconut graham crust and smooth until even. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the filling to prevent a skin forming and chill for 3 or more hours.  Just before serving, beat the cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the chilled bowl. Beat until soft peaks form and add the coconut extract. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the pie and sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon of toasted coconut. To serve, cut in wedges and store leftovers in the fridge.


*Tempering – It’s the process of gradually adding a hot liquid into an egg mixture to slowly increase the temperature so that the eggs don’t scrabble.  
*Coconut milk comes in a can and is different than cream of coconut(used in drink mixes).
*For whole milk equivalent, place 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a liquid 1 cup measurer and fill with skim milk. I like to drink skim milk so having some heavy cream on hand allows me to convert skim into 1% or 2% (7 Tbsp skim milk and 1 T heavy cream), whole milk (6 Tbsp skim and 2 Tbsp heavy cream), or Half and Half (2/3 cup skim and 1/3 cup heavy cream). This way I only need skim milk and heavy cream in my fridge.
*While toasting the coconut for this pie, make a cup or two extra and store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on sundaes, coconut cupcakes or cake, layer in a parfait, add to a fruit salad or bake into cookies or quick breads. Or use it for your next Coconut Cream pie. You’ll get requests!

Sweet Potato Casserole - the best!

2 1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup half and half
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
2 large eggs
cooking spray


1 1/2 c miniature marshmallows
1/2 c flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 t salt
2 T chilled butter cut into small pieces
1/2 c pecans chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil potatoes until very tender, drain and cool slightly. place potatoes in large bowl. Add half and half, 3/4 c sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat well (mixture will be thin). Scrape mixture into a 9x13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. To prepare topping, sprinkle marshmallows over top of casserole. Combine flour, sugar and salt into bowl. cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over marshmallows. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Parmesan & Spinach Orzo

Our new go-to side dish. Ryan can eat the whole thing himself if I let him! :) 
Serves 4

2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. flour
1 cup milk (I used skim!)
2/3 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded, plus extra for garnish

Cook orzo according to package directions. Set aside.  Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute or until onions are translucent. Add flour to form a roux and cook for an additional minute.  Add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the pot and whisk to work out any lumps from the roux. When lumps are worked out, add the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes.  Add chopped spinach to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes or until spinach has cooked down. Remove sauce from heat.  Stir parmesan cheese into sauce. When cheese has melted, add cooked orzo to sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce

Fresh cranberries color the sauce a vibrant red, and their tart edge is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet maple syrup
Serves 4

4 1-inch-thick bone-in pork chops (about 2-1/2 lb.) 

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil 
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries 
1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth 
1/2 cup pure maple syrup 
2 tsp. cider vinegar 
2 tsp. Dijon mustard 

Pat the pork dry and season with 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1-1/4 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper.

Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add the pork chops and cook without moving until the pork is browned around the edges and easily releases when you lift a corner, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pork chops and continue to cook until firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into a chop close to but not touching the bone registers 140°F, about 9 minutes.

Transfer the chops to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add the cranberries, chicken broth, maple syrup, cider vinegar, mustard, and the remaining 1 tsp. thyme to the skillet and raise the heat to medium high. Cook, whisking to incorporate the mustard and any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the cranberries soften and the liquid has reduced to a saucy consistency, about 7 minutes.

Return the pork chops and any accumulated juice to the skillet, turning to coat both sides. Serve the pork chops with the sauce.

Green Bean & Whole grain Mustard/Honey Vinaigrette Recipe

I love this easy way to dress up fresh green beans. They have such great flavor. 
Serves 2-4
Total Time: 20 Minutes

about 1 pound green beans, haricot verts 
1/4 cup Olive oil or Grape seed oil 
1 Tablespoon whole grain Mustard 
1 teaspoon Honey 
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar 
1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice 

Wash, trim stems of green beans.   Prepare ice bath. In large bowl, fill with cold water and add about 8-10 ice cubes. In large pot, bring water to boil. Add green beans and cook for just about 2-3 minutes, or until beans become tender.  Drain green beans in colander, rinse quickly with cold water from faucet, then immediately add green beans to ice bath. When green beans have cooled, remove from ice bath and allow to drain.  In bowl or mason jar, add oil, whole grain mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Mix well.  Toss green beans and vinaigrette. Add extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice or lemon zest right before serving.

Gramma's Corn Chowder

This is an easy comfort soup that is a new family favorite! 

Serves 10


1/2 pound bacon 
2 stalks celery, chopped 
2 small onion, diced 
2 tablespoons margarine 
salt to taste 
ground black pepper to taste 
1 (14.75 ounce) can cream-style corn 
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn 
4 cups chicken broth 
2 cups milk 
6 small potatoes, cubed 
2 carrots, chopped 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

Fry bacon in pan until almost done. Add onions and celery, and saute until lightly browned. Transfer to a cooking pot. Add cream-style corn, kernel corn, butter, and broth. Add carrots and potatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes.  Mix together flour and a little water to form a paste.  Add milk and flour paste. You might want to add more flour paste, depending on how thick you like your chowder. Simmer for 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

This dessert requires a little work but is so worth it.  It quickly became our dads favorite spring time dessert.  The Southern style biscuit gives this classic dessert a little twist.
Serves 6

For the strawberry-rhubarb mixture:
1 pound ripe strawberries, about 4 cups, cleaned
1 to about 1 and 1/2 pounds of rhubarb (about 7 stalks), leaves removed, stalks chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar

For the biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla bean**Slice it open and then pull your knife across the opening to remove about 1/2 the seeds. Save the other half for the whipped cream!
1/4 cup heavy cream; plus more for brushing the tops of the biscuits
1/4 cup buttermilk

For the whipped cream

***Chill your mixing bowl, if possible first.
1 and 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean


For the strawberry-rhubarb mixture: In a large sauté pan over low heat, combine the chopped rhubarb and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Stir to coat the rhubarb thoroughly with the sugar, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb breaks down and becomes sticky and stringy, about 40 minutes to one hour.  Put 1/3 of the strawberries into a medium bowl and mash them until they are crushed. Add the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the bowl.  Slice the rest of the strawberries into your desired thickness and add them to the crushed strawberry mixture. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  Once the rhubarb is cooked, add this to the strawberry mixture and set aside.  

For the biscuits: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the pieces of cold butter, and using a pastry cutter or your fingers, crush the butter into the dough until it is crumbly and resembles coarse sand.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and the heavy cream.  Add the buttermilk to the mixture and whisk to combine.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg mixture into the center.  Mix the dough with a fork until just combined (**it will look shaggy).  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until softened and cohesive, adding more cream if necessary.  Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3/4-inch, and using a biscuit cutter (I used a 2 and 1/2-inch diameter round cookie cutter), cut out the biscuits and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, re-rolling and cutting the dough as needed. Fine Cooking stresses not to twist the biscuit cutter when making your cuts-simply push down and pull up the cutter vertically. I did this, and it seemed to work like a charm! Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle the tops with the remaining granulated sugar.  Bake the biscuits until lightly golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process, about 10-15 minutes total.

For the whipped cream: 
In your mixing bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and 1/2 vanilla bean seeds. Mix on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Assemble the shortcakes with the biscuits, strawberry-rhubarb mixture, and top with the whipped cream.

Colorado Pork and Red Bean Chili

Mom's Award Winning Chili! (sorry it was so good we didn't get a picture of the chili!)

3 lbs Boneless Pork Butt Roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, salt
1 lb Anaheim Chilies, stemmed, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 lb Poblano Chilies
3 Jalapeno chilies
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
8 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
3-4 cans Goya Red Beans
Cayenne pepper
Lime wedges

Combine pork, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates and pork browns in its own fat, 15-20 minutes. Transfer pork to bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, adjust 1 oven rack to lowest possible position and second rack to 6 inches below broiler element. Heat broiler, line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable spray. Arrange Anaheim's, skin side up, and Poblanos and Jalapenos in single layer on prepared sheet. Place sheet on upper rack and broil until chilies are mostly blackened and soft, 15-20 minutes, rotating sheet and flipping only Poblanos and Jalapenos halfway through broiling. Place Anaheim's in large bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let cool for 5 minutes. Set aside jalapenos and Poblanos. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove skins from Anaheim's and Poblanos. Chop half of Anaheim's and Poblanos into 1/2 inch pieces and transfer to bowl. Process remaining Anaheim's and Poblanos in food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds; transfer to bowl with chopped chilies. Pulse tomatoes and their juice in now empty food processor until coarsely ground, about 4 pulses.

Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, Anaheim and Poblano Chilies, tomatoes, beans and pork with any accumulated juices and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover pot, transfer to lower oven rack and cook until pork is tender, 1 to 1.5 hours.

Without peeling, stem and seed jalapenos and reserve seeds. Finely chop jalapenos and stir into chili. Season chili with salt, cayenne and reserved jalapeno seeds to taste. Serve with limed wedges.

After winning 1st place at our Chili cookoff!