Tag Archives: coconut

Give Me S’more Love

S’mores are gooey goodness.

While many people consider them a summer ritual, for me it’s fall fare. I am far more likely to sit around a campfire when the temperatures cool off than I am on a hot summer night.

There is something so simple and special about a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers with chocolate. I love it. When I was a kid, I made basic S’mores but today I get creative with this treat. There are different flavored marshmallows on the market, a variety of graham crackers to choose from, different chocolates (I’m partial to dark chocolate), and my imagination.

If you’re only familiar with a traditional S’more, try a few of these ideas:

Use a cinnamon graham cracker topped with apple butter or pumpkin butter instead of chocolate and then add the toasted marshmallow.

Use pumpkin flavored marshmallows in the fall and pair it with white chocolate.

Create a S’more ice cream sandwich with a little vanilla ice cream, toasted marshmallow and a big drizzle of fudge sauce and caramel sauce. This is lovely! Eat it like a sandwich or use the graham crackers as a spoon.

Use Ritz crackers instead of graham crackers for a salty kick. A little date jam or spread is great with the salt.

A thin slice of brie at room temperature with the chocolate and toasted marshmallow is excellent.

Use a chocolate graham cracker, dark chocolate and add a slice of strawberry on your S’more sandwich.

After you toast your marshmallow, roll it in shredded coconut and drizzle dark Hershey’s syrup on instead of using a square of chocolate.

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One of my favorite S’mores is Peanut Butter Banana because the peanut butter cuts the sweetness and adds richness, and I love bananas and chocolate.   Add a slice of candied bacon and call it “The Elvis.”

Use a variety of nut spreads on the graham cracker like almond or cashew; or skip the chocolate and use Nutella instead.

As you can see, there are so many combinations.

Aside from good old-fashioned S’mores, I wanted to share a few other S’more themed recipes like my  Easy S’more Bars. The name says it all. I start with a box of cake mix, mix it with eggs and butter and then spread it in a pan. I top that with chocolate and marshmallows and bake it. That’s easy!

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You can serve this dish warm or room temperature, see my notes in the instructions.

And finally, The S’mores Fondue is so decadent, quick, and perfect for a party. If you don’t have a flame to toast your marshmallows but still want the spirit of that dessert, this is the recipe for you. The fondue takes less than 10 minutes to make (it has only two ingredients) and then you dip graham crackers and marshmallows in the melted chocolate and it’s heavenly. If you don’t have a fire pit, live in an apartment or just don’t want to deal with fire, this is a great option.

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I hope this gets you out of your S’mores comfort zone and you enjoy these recipes.

Peanut Butter Banana S’mores

10 graham crackers

5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

10 thin slices of banana

5 large marshmallows

5 large pieces of dark chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)

Spread the peanut butter on only one side of the graham crackers and then top each with two slices of banana.  Set aside.

Toast your marshmallows to desired doneness and then sandwich one on a graham cracker. Add chocolate and close it to make a sandwich. Eat and enjoy. It’s messy so have a napkin handy.

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Easy S’more Bars

Serves 12-16

1 yellow cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the cake mix into a medium bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave and the pour it into the bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until combined. Coat a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture in the pan using your hands to spread it out and press it down. Try to make it as even as possible. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows over the top and bake it for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Note: This dish is incredible warm out of the oven but it doesn’t slice well. If you are serving family and don’t care how it looks, you can serve it warm while the chips are melted, just know it will fall apart. It’s amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream when it’s warm though.

For proper bars, you must cool the dessert completely before slicing.

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S’mores Fondue

Serves 10

½ pint of heavy whipping cream

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 bag or large marshmallows

1 box of Graham crackers

Sticks to skewer the marshmallows

This dish comes together quickly so you want everything ready for serving. It takes about 7 minutes total and then it’s ready to serve. I have fondue equipment, but if you don’t you can use forks to skewer the marshmallows or even wooden skewers.

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium pot and turn the heat to medium. When the cream just starts to form bubbles around the edges, stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. It will look and smell incredible. Immediately transfer it to a serving bowl. Surround the dish with marshmallows and graham crackers and serve.

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A Fourth of July Cake the Crowd will Remember

Heavenly. That is how I describe this cake. First, I took Vanilla Oreo’s and lined the bottom of a pan. Then I topped those with sweet shredded coconut. I whipped together cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar and then blended that with a package of cheesecake flavored pudding and a package of white chocolate pudding and whipped topping.

The result is sweet, creamy, light and refreshing. This is a cake your family will remember this holiday weekend.

There’s a funny little story that goes along with this cake that I shared in my column this week. Here it goes:

One of the joys of being a parent is passing on traditions.

I was so excited to write this patriotic desserts column because I planned to create them with my 3-year-old daughter Bella.

Growing up, every holiday was festive in our home.  The traditional American flag cake was a Fourth of July favorite.  Typically, we’d make a white cake topped with whipped cream and then decorate it with blueberries and strawberries but since I was writing a column, I wanted to create something special.

I came up with a Flag Sheet Dessert which was inspired by coconut cream pudding and dirt cake (a Halloween tradition).

I thought my daughter would be excited to help me but after placing two blueberries, she was done. I finished the cake.

But the kicker was when I proudly displayed the finished product and she looked at my flag and told me I had done it wrong. The background should be blue and the stars white so she told to make it again with cream on top this time. She even picked up a flag napkin I’d been using as a prop to prove she was right. I laughed my head off.

During my photo shoot, she grew jealous of the attention I was paying to the desserts and came over and tried to sit on my lap, then took the red dish cloth I was using and placed it on her head like a hat to make me laugh.

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The day didn’t turn out as I expected, but luckily the desserts did.

 

Flag Sheet Dessert

Serves 12

1 package Vanilla Oreos

1 cup sweet shredded coconut

1 (3.4 ounce) package cheesecake flavored pudding

1 (3.4 ounce) package white chocolate pudding

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8 ounce) carton whipped topping, divided in half.

½ cup fresh blueberries

1 pound strawberries

First, line a 9 x 13 inch pan with vanilla Oreos. Then sprinkle shredded coconut over the cookies.

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together both pudding mixes, milk and half of the container of whipped topping.

Then beat together the cream cheese mixture and pudding mixture. Spread it over the bananas. Top it with the last half of the whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or more. This can be made a day in advance but shouldn’t be decorated until the day you are going to serve it because the strawberries may bleed into the topping.

Pina Colada Trifle

I invented this recipe in honor of the late Floyd Mahon, who was like an uncle to me (me and so many others). Floyd died two years ago from colon cancer.  He was one of the best men I’ve ever known and ever will know; I say that with certainty because he was one of those rare, exceptional people who had the ability to make everyone laugh, make everyone feel special. You didn’t have to know him long to feel like a longtime friend.

He was a character and an excellent cook.

Because of that legacy of a life well lived, his family throws Floyd-fest each year to honor him. This year, the theme was Cancun which was Floyd’s favorite place.

Keeping the Cancun theme in mind, I whipped up this dessert in honor of Floyd. Trifles are one of my favorite desserts because they are easy, pretty, creamy, versatile and feed a crowd. And of course, who doesn’t enjoy sipping a pina colada on a beach in Mexico?  This dessert just seemed like him: fun, sweet, tropical, different. If you make it for adults only, you can double the rum.

Floyd-fest was a blast. About 80 people came throughout the day and night. There was a spread of amazing food and drinks. He sons and son-in-laws made incredible pulled pork, fish, steak and chicken and there was a taco buffet. There was a salsa competition (I took best overall salsa 🙂 ), and his entire family pitched in to make the day special and fun for everyone.

It was quite the effort of love.

Another amazing thing at Floyd-fest was his family releases balloons with a self-addressed postcard attached that tells a little about Floyd and asks whoever finds the postcard to drop it in the mail and tell them where it landed. The postcards have been returned from other states. It’s such a cool idea. As a world traveler myself, I want my family to do this to honor me one day.

If Floyd was alive, I hope he’d say this dish is “El Good-o”, that’s one of his many funny sayings.

I hope you find an occasion to share this recipe. Cheers to Floyd, his family, and his legacy.

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Pina Colada Trifle

1 white cake made according to package directions

3 tablespoons dark rum or coconut rum (optional)

2 boxes of instant coconut pudding

1 cup coconut milk (use the refrigerated type, not the canned)

2 2/3 cups half and half (can substitute regular milk)

1 teaspoon rum extract

2 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

1 tub of extra creamy whipped topping

1 cup shredded sweet coconut

Bake cake according to package directions and 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven, brush it with rum. Set aside.

Empty two packages of coconut pudding and whisk together with coconut milk, half and half and rum extract. Whisk until well combined and cover and refrigerate.

Peel and chop the pineapple into small bits.

To assemble the trifle, break half the cake up and place it in the bottom of a bowl or trifle dish. Top with half the coconut pudding, half the pineapple and a thin layer of whipped topping (using only a third of it).

Then repeat the process to create the second layer of the trifle and top it with remaining whipped topping and shredded coconut. Cover and chill 2 hours before serving.

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Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad

I make amazing curried chicken salad!

It’s wonderful stuffed in pita pockets, scooped out on a pile of lettuce for a salad, stuffed in a whole wheat tortilla wrap or even served at a party as an appetizer in puff pastry cups or as a dip with tortilla chips. It’s so versatile.

And it has everything from dried cranberries to shredded coconut, it’s wonderful.

When I serve it as a salad, I like to add chopped green apples on the side and sometimes red bell pepper.

Curried Chicken Salad

1 rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup sliced green grapes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 stalks celery

1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise

1 cup Light Miracle Whip

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

De-skin and de-bone your chicken. I save the skin and bones for stock. You can freeze them for that if you don’t plan to make stock any time soon. Then tear all the meat off the bird and chop it. I use everything, down to the wings.

Place in a bowl. Take about 20 grapes and slice them in thirds. Add the grapes to the chicken. Chop cilantro, red onion and celery and add it. Top with shredded coconut and dried cranberries.

In another bowl, mix mayo and Light Miracle Whip. Stir in curry powder and add a little salt and pepper. I use 1 1/2 teaspoons but if you have a poor quality curry powder, you may need as much as a tablespoon. Taste as you go so you don’t ruin it.

Then stir mayo mixture into chicken mixture. Cover and refrigerate an hour before serving to let the flavors marry.

This chicken salad is so creamy and delicious! If you have a better recipe, please post it. I want to try it.

Easter Macaroon Nests

It’s not chicken, but it’s delicious. For the next few days, I am taking a break from my rotisserie chicken and sharing some great Easter desserts with you.

These macaroon nests are the BEST macaroons I’ve ever tried.

Instead of just egg whites, I use sweetened condensed milk. My husband came home the other night and I handed him a cookie and he said “I only want half.” I said “Trust me, you will want the whole thing. I used sweetened condensed milk.” That’s his weakness. He took a bite and said “You’re right. Can I have another?”

If children are going to be part of the celebration, you have to try my macaroon nests. These are absolutely delicious, and so easy for children to make. There’s only five ingredients and you mix it by hand, so you don’t have to mess with a beater and there’s no flour to spill all over the floor.

If the cookies don’t bake up into perfect rounds, when you take them out of the oven, you can shave off any edges and reshape them slightly while still warm. My recipe only makes about 10 cookies, but they are good size and the recipe can easily be doubled if that’s not enough.

Once you’ve filled the macaroon nests with jellybeans or a candy egg of your choice, them place them on a long platter and use it to decorate the center of the table.

If you don’t like the idea of food dye, leave them white.

These are gluten-free!

Macaroon Nests

Makes 10

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

2 1/3 cups shredded sweet coconut

4 drops green food coloring (optional)

Jelly beans or candy eggs of some sort

Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk egg white for 20 seconds, until frothy. Whisk in vanilla and condensed milk and food coloring until combined. Stir in coconut until combined.

Spread a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spoon about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons onto parchment paper and form a nest. Use your thumb to press gently down on the center to make an indentation so you can fill it later, but be sure not to press all the way through. You just need a little spot in the center. If you press through, the cookie may not hold its shape.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool before placing candy eggs in the nest.