Category Archives: Juliana’s Favorites

The Easiest Ultimate Coconut Cake

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Easter would not be Easter without coconut cake.

What am I saying? Any day is a good day for coconut cake. The problem is most recipes are time consuming or call for multiple layers, which means there’s a higher probability that something can go wrong.

I have the solution. A simple white coconut cake that is delectable! It starts with a boxed white cake and then I make it similar to a tres leches cake but I use coconut based milks instead of cow’s milk.

Tres leches translates into “three milks” and it’s a dessert usually made with sweetened condensed milk, regular milk or cream,  and evaporated milk.  The mixture is poured over a cake and the cake soaks it up. For my coconut version, I use cream of coconut (it comes in a can and is used to create pina coladas);  coconut milk (the refrigerated variety not a can), and then top the cake with homemade whipped cream.

This cake is delectable. It is best made a day in advance which is perfect because you’re not fussing with it on Easter day. It’s a sheet cake so it’s not as pretty as a layered cake, but the flavor makes up for the presentation.

The coconut milks soak into the cake overnight transforming it into a light, fluffy bite of coconut heaven.

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Coconut Tres Leches Cake

1 box vanilla cake

3 eggs

½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 cup water

½ cup canola

1 (15-ounce) can Coco Lopez cream of coconut

2/3 cup refrigerated coconut milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream

½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or coconut extract

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

It is very important you use cream of coconut, not a can of coconut milk. Cream of coconut is thick, very sweet with a strong coconut flavor, whereas coconut milk is thinner and not sweet. Cream of coconut is the goodness that goes into a Pina Colada so sometimes you will find it next to the alcohol mixers or in a liquor store.

The recipe calls for refrigerated coconut milk, not canned. If you cannot find refrigerated variety, you can substitute whole milk or use equal parts milk and coconut coffee creamer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together cake, eggs,  ½ cup shredded coconut, water and oil. Pour into a greased in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake according to package directions.

When it has cooled, poke repeatedly with a fork and poke it all the way to the bottom.

Whisk together cream of coconut with coconut milk or plain milk. Pour over the cake.

Use an electric mixer to beat the heavy whipping cream on high speed. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and vanilla extract. Whip until mixture thickens. Then spread over the cake. Top with 2 cups shredded coconut.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.

 

Mango, Pineapple Salsa (serve it as an appetizer first and leftovers on pork, chicken or fish)

I love salsa. Fruit salsa. Smokey salsa. Charred salsa. Jarred salsa. Green salsa. You name it, I love it.

But I particularly love this Mango, Pineapple Salsa. One of my best friends makes a similar salsa and this is my version. My salsa won “Best Overall Salsa” at a friendly competition and it was up against an array of excellent salsas.

Aside from being delicious served on its own, this salsa is great on grilled fish or pork. I recently marinated pork chops for 24 hours in Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce (online) http://www.soyvay.com/flavors/veri-veri-teriyaki) and then pan fried the pork and topped it with the leftover salsa. It was fantastic!

 Pork with Mango, Pineapple Salsa

If you don’t have that sauce, use soy sauce, ginger, 1 teaspoon canola oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar  and 1/2 a garlic clove for 3-4 pork chops. That makes a nice marinade. A pork loin marinated in Asian sauce, grilled and then served with this salsa would be spectacular.

This would also be great on chicken or fish tacos.

The key to this salsa is ripe, sweet fruit. Mangoes are hardly ever ripe when you buy them, so I buy them 3-4 days before I need to make this salsa. I also buy extras in case some are not sweet. Whenever I have to use avocados or mangoes I buy extra because you’ll often get a disappointing one in the batch. I bought 5 mangoes to be safe. There were all sweet, so I ate the others for breakfast.

Let this marinate for 2 hours or more before serving. You can adapt this recipe and add 2/3 cup drained black beans to this and it’s delicious, too. In that case, I also add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

If you can’t find ripe mangoes, you can use the jarred refrigerated type, but fresh is always best!

I like to serve it in a margarita or martini glass for nice presentation. It’s such a refreshing salsa for summer. I adore it!

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Mango, Pineapple Salsa

2 1/2 very ripe mangoes, chopped fine

2 ½ cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

¾ of a medium red onion, chopped

2/3 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin seed

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

.Directions:

Chop all the ingredients and place in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste. Toss and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail — SO DELICIOUS

Why do I call this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail? Because it’s based on a dish I love at a local Mexican restaurant and that is exactly what they call it.

In flavor, it’s really a cross between a ceviche, salsa and shrimp cocktail. I love Ecuadorian style ceviche, which has tomato and lot of citrus. It’s served with popcorn on top, which sounds weird but is amazing. However, it’s huge pain to make. So I simplified the concept by using Zing Zang, which is one of my favorite Bloody Mary Mixes.

The I add fresh lime juice, cilantro, shrimp (cooked because I live in the Midwest and would not trust raw shrimp here), tomatoes, cucumbers and chunked avocado. This is divine. It’s excellent for a summer party because it’s light and people can serve themselves. It’s fun served in martini or margarita glasses.

Plus, if you have a garden, you can use the cucumbers and tomatoes out of it in this dish.

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Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

2 ½ cups Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix, chilled

2/3 cup chopped and peeled cucumber

1 cup chopped tomatoes

½ cup minced red onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Half a red bell pepper, chopped

12 ounces cooked small shrimp (I bought frozen precooked shrimp in a bag and defrosted it)

¼ cup lime juice, minus 1 teaspoon

2 avocadoes, chopped

Note: If you are not serving this right away, then don’t add the avocadoes until you serve it.

If shrimp is frozen, follow the instructions on the package to defrost it. I defrosted mine in the refrigerator overnight.

The Bloody Mary mix should be chilled in advance especially if you plan to serve this immediately.

Because of the lime juice in this recipe, you want to use glass or another nonreactive bowl.

Place Bloody Mary mix in the bowl and set aside.

Peel and chop the cucumber; chop the tomato, onion, cilantro and red bell pepper and add to the bowl.  Drain the water off your shrimp and add to the mix. Stir in lime juice and mix thoroughly.

Gently fold in chopped avocado. Serve. You can serve this plain or with tortilla chips on the side.

Try this Fabulous Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread

Divine. Heavenly. That’s how I’d describe my Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread, which is bubbly, creamy, bacon goodness.

Every day this week, I am showcasing a new flatbread creation and this is my favorite so far. Now, I am not done creating yet, but I’m in the home stretch.

This wonderful flatbread is topped with bits of tart apple that provide a nice contrast in terms of texture and flavor.

This pairs beautifully with red wine. The funny thing is I don’t usually like blue cheese, but Gorgonzola is much lighter than many other varieties and this doesn’t even taste like blue cheese. So if you think you don’t like blue cheese, it’s still worth trying this.

I can’t wait to eat it again.

Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread

Makes 2 flatbreads

1 (8.8 ounce) package (which contains 2 flatbreads) of Stonefire Tandoori Baked Original Naan

5 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup real bacon pieces or chopped bacon, plus 1 teaspoon (do not use bacon bits)

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ cup Gorgonzola crumbles

1 ¼ cups chopped rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 Granny Smith apple

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together cream cheese, bacon, heavy whipping cream, garlic powder and Gorgonzola. Set aside.

Remove the breasts from the rotisserie chicken and chop those. Finely mince the Granny Smith apple and set aside.

When oven is preheated, spread half the cream cheese mixture on each flatbread. Sprinkle half the chicken on each flatbread and top with Mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 9 minutes. Then sprinkle with the apple and serve.

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Southwest Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

This is now my favorite Go To Summer dish. I am so in love with this quinoa salad.  It’s healthy, refreshing, low fat, high in fiber, high in protein and loaded with vitamins. And did I mention it’s delicious!

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First, I cook the quinoa with chicken broth to give it more flavor. Then I chilled it and tossed it with chicken, cilantro, red bell peppers, corn, avocado and a lime-cumin vinaigrette. Sliced grape tomatoes are a nice addition and so are black beans. I actually thought I had black beans when I made this and when I realized I didn’t, was too busy to go to the store, so I made it without.

Anyway, this is perfect for lunch as a main course; as a side dish at a picnic; or as a light dinner.

Give it a try.

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Southwest Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (breast is preferred in this recipe)

Half a large red bell pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons red onion

½ cup of chopped cilantro

Half a can of corn, drained

½ cup black beans, drained (optional)

1 avocado

Dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon canola oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the quinoa: Bring quinoa and chicken broth to a boil in a medium pot with a tight fitting lid. Let it boil 3 minutes, cover with lid and cook another 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when a hook is released from the grain. Chill for later.

To prepare: Chop chicken, red bell pepper, onion and cilantro and place in a medium to large bowl. Fluff the quinoa and add it to the mix.

Drain corn and black beans (if you’re using those) and toss with quinoa. Then pit your avocado and chop.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over quinoa. Toss to coat and serve.

If you are making this ahead of time, leave the avocado off until the last minute.

Note: This recipe is also good with about ½ cup halved grape tomatoes, too.

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EASY Mediterranean Quesadillas with Feta, Red Pepper Sauce

I LOVE this recipe. It comes together in about 10 minutes so it’s perfect for lunch, a snack, light dinner (serve it with a salad) or a quick appetizer.  If you want to cut  calories and fat, you can omit the cheese inside the quesadilla and only use the feta in the red pepper sauce. I have done that and it was still popular.

You have to try these!

EASY Mediterranean Quesadillas with Feta, Red Pepper Sauce

1 cup chopped, skinless rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup hummus

1 tablespoon chopped red onion

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chopped black olives

1 tablespoon chopped green olives

3 (8-inch) flour tortillas

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Parsley or cilantro to garnish (optional)

Sauce:

1/3 cup feta cheese

¾ cup roasted red pepper slices

These quesadillas are so, so, so easy and delicious!

Make the sauce first. Place feta and roasted red pepper slices in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Set aside.

Next, mix chicken, hummus, onion, cumin, and olives together and set aside.

Place mixture in half a flour tortilla shell (so when you fold it over it looks like a half moon). Top the mixture with cheese.

Preheat a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. When hot, place the folded quesadilla down and cook about 3-4 minutes per side.

If desired, garnish with parsley or cilantro (I did this more for the photo than the taste).

Remove and top with red pepper sauce and serve immediately.

Awesome, Chicken and Artichoke Sandwich

Awesome Chicken, Artichoke Sandwich

This chicken sandwich is crusty on the outside, gooey on the inside and packed with flavor. If you love artichoke dip at parties, you will LOVE this.

This recipe can easily be doubled and you will want to once you taste it. It’s one of my favorites.

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoon your favorite olive tapenade (I like green olive for this)

1 cup chopped artichoke hearts

1 cup shredded, fresh parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Half a loaf of French or Italian bread (not baguette)

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir together chicken, cream cheese, mayonnaise, olive tapenade, artichoke hearts, Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

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Cut the bread in half and then cut it horizontally. Fill the bread with chicken mixture. If desired, add a tiny sprinkle of more Italian seasoning.

Wrap the loaf in aluminum foil and pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes. When it’s done, cut into four servings.

Yes, it’s THAT EASY!!

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Serve with a salad.