Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chocolate and Coconut Bars

"When did you make these bars of happiness"

(this is the text I received from an anonymous thirteen year old boy after I left a few of these at his house)

The little bars are perfect for the summer heat

(I don't know where you're at but the weather here has been HOT!)

this SHOULD be a white solid

(coconut oil)

Anyways, these bars are, once again, compliments of Jessica
and being that they are "no bakes" they require no extra time in the kitchen!

Go, go make them!

Chocolate and Coconut Bars
(makes 16 squares in a 9x9 pan)

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (measured solid)
1/4 cup honey

Spray a 9×9 pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, brown sugar and salt. Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add butter and coconut oil, stirring until melted. Add the butter and oil to the oat mixture, then add the honey and stir very thoroughly until the entire mix is moistened. Press it into the pan and stick in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Chocolate Layer
8 ounces good-quality chocolate, chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil (measured solid)

Using the same saucepan that you melted the butter and oil in, add the chocolate and oil and stir over low heat until melted. Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the chocolate evenly over top, spreading with a spatula or spoon. Place back in the fridge for about 30 minutes. When ready to eat, either cut the squares in the pan, or gently lift the square out and place on a cutting board to cut. 

(According to Jessica, let the bars come to room temp before cutting, as they will slightly crumble a bit if super cold!)


Monday, June 25, 2012

Honey Lime Tilapia with Blueberry Salsa

I love tilapia.

The marinade is simple and quick.

The fish cooks quickly.

The salsa is sweet and refreshing.

In short, this dish will help you beat the summer heat!

Honey Lime Tilpia
(serves 4)

4 fresh (or thawed) tilapia filets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
additional honey + lime zest mixed for drizzling

An hour or so before cooking,season tilapia filets with salt and pepper then lay in a baking dish or into a large ziplock bag. In a bowl, combine olive oil, honey, lime juice and zest, and crushed garlic and whisk until combined. Pour over tilapia and let marinate for an hour. Add flour [+ a bit more salt, pepper, and lime zest] to a bowl and set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or a non-stick skillet) over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Dredge each piece of tilapia through the flour until you have a very light coating. Making sure the pan is hot, add tilapia to the oil and cook until flaky and crispy on each side – about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove tilapia from pan and let drain on a paper towel for a few minutes.

Blueberry Lime Salsa
(very slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is... again)
(makes 1 1/2cups)

1 cup fresh blueberries
5 raspberries
1/4 red onion
1 teaspoon lime zest
juice of two limes
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 avocado, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Combine blueberries, raspberries, onion, lime zest, juice and cilantro in a food processor or blender and pulse. The more you pulse the salsa, the smoother it will get, I pulsed mine about 8x for a smoother/ finer salsa. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Scrape salsa into a bowl and fold in chopped avocado. 

Generously cover tilapia with salsa. 


(Salsa also pairs well with chicken and pita chips or pretzels!) 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cookie Bottom Cupcakes with "Magic" Chocolate Frosting

I have a confession.

I've been holding out on sharing one of my cupcake "staples".

BUT before we get to that... let's discuss the vessel on which I deliver my staple.

I made these cupcakes back in March to celebrate the birthdays of two of the kids I nanny for.  

Max (turned 5) requested cookies AND cupcakes.
Amelia (turned 2) requested CHOCOLATE!!!!

They got the best of both worlds!

It's a cookie.
It's a cupcake.
It delivers on the chocolate!

Cookie Bottom Cupcakes
(makes 18 cupcakes)

Cookie layer
1/2 cup butter, softened
 3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed 
1 egg
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350*

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside in a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until it’s light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. 
Line a muffin tin with liners and give each a quick spritz of non-stick spray. Using a spoon also sprayed with non-stick spray, press about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough into the bottom of each liner.

Cake layer
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Using an ice cream scoop, drop batter on top of cookie dough mixture. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

For the frosting, the "magic" comes from chocolate extract (available at higher end grocers, online and specialty spice stores!)

Subbing 1/2 the vanilla extract in your favorite buttercream recipe yields a frosting that looks like vanilla buttercream but smells and tastes like chocolate! 


Magic Chocolate Frosting
(from Domino)
3 3/4 C powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter and extracts.  Using a hand mixer beat on medium speed until creamy.  If desired, add milk (tablespoon by tablespoon) until desired spreadable consistency.
Top cupcakes!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Thai Lime Cashew Encrusted Chicken

I don't know if you've ever coated a chicken in nuts before but

it's divine.

The nuts toast nicely and the chicken stays moist
PERFECT combination in my opinion.

These nuts, on their own, are pretty powerful and spicy but once cooked- the heat mellows down nicely.

(makes 2 chicken breast; easily doubled)

2 boneless skinless chicken breast
3/4 C Trader Joe's Thai Lime Cashews
Olive Oil/ Olive oil spray


Coat a skillet with olive oil.  Using a food processor coarsely grind the nuts and empty onto a plate. Spray chicken with olive oil spray (this will help cashews adhere to the chicken) and place chicken in ground cashews to coat evenly.  Heat in skillet over medium heat, turning once, until cooked thoroughly (180*)

I served with Trader Joe's Kimchi Rice 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rocky Road Cookies

I figure these are the perfect cookie for Father's Day!

What kid hasn't taken their parent down a rocky road, at some point? (the teenage years? Im looking at you!)  I like to think I never gave my "Papa Bear" too much trouble but I did have some GREAT older siblings to teach me what NOT to do (-or- how to do it BUT not get caught!) 

As I mentioned, last week, my Dad and I are really close and I love him VERY much... By the time he gets home from work- there should be a package of these babies waiting for him! (that was this weeks's "Guess that mess..." (huge kudos to Mrs Kolec for the name suggestions!!))

Rocky Road Cookies
(makes 5 dozen small cookies) 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 cup light brown sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 cup mini chocolate chips 
1 cup Mallow Bits
1 cup chopped almonds 

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.

 With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Next, add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.
Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until flour disappears. Stir in chocolate chips, Mallow Bits, and chopped almonds. Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies for 8 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges, but still soft in the center. Don't over bake. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely.

 So make these for your dad... He probably deserves it! 


Monday, June 11, 2012

Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

      Pasta Salad is a quintessential part of summer. 

Pasta salad goes great at any backyard barbecue, picnic dinner or even at the beach 

(AND it's also an excellent "morning after" meal (for when those summer nights don't seem to end before the next day begins!)

I love this pasta salad because it's quick, fresh, colorful and I tend to have all the ingredients on hand.

Pasta Salad 

1 lb of a curly noodle pasta (I use farfalle) 
10 baby carrots (sliced and cut in to bite size pieces)
1 yellow bell pepper (seeded, sliced, and cut into bite size pieces)
1 small cucumber (sliced and cut into bite size pieces)
1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing (I use Kraft Roasted Red Pepper)
10 grape tomatoes cut in half for garnish


Prepare pasta according to label. 
While pasta cooks, cut and slice vegetables.  After pasta cooks rinse in cold water and place in large bowl. Add chopped vegetables (except tomatoes) and Italian Dressing.  Mix thoroughly and add tomatoes.  Place in fridge to chill for at least an hour!


(oh! If you haven't heard I'm hosting a Virtual Stella and Dot Trunk Show!  Go show off some new jewelry and pasta salad at your next summer event!) 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

 This is my Dad

(with my sisters- circa May 2010)

Dad and I talk almost every day and usually about food.  We also have an uncanny ability to spend the majority of our conversations in uncontrollable laughter.

 Last Christmas I struggled at what to get my dad and I realized (despite putting socks on his list) he'd probably like homemade cookies...every month. So for 2012, every month my dad gets a package of homemade treats. 

Except for May. 

That's his birthday month and the man deserves a cupcake! I made a Lemon Blueberry cupcake topped with a lemon cream cheese frosting.

 These cupcakes taste lighter than air and so deliciously summery. The refreshing lemon flavor and the sweet juicy blueberries all bring their best flavors for an irresistible treat! 

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting  
(slightly adapted from Annie's Eats)
 Makes 16 cupcakes 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of  1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. milk, at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries


8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 large lemon
Additional fresh blueberries, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the milk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated. Fold in blueberries. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with fresh blueberries.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Mexi-Chicken with Guacamole

I'll be honest.

  I really have no idea what to call this (besides DELICIOUS) 

 Guacamole? Check 
Cheese? Check
 Salsa? Check 
Chicken? Check

 Why WOULDN'T you make this? 

(makes 3)

 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
 2 tablespoon minced garlic 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 tsp salt and pepper 

 For garnish
 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe's Lite 3 cheese blend) 
1/4 C of your favorite salsa

1 avocado 
10 grape tomatoes, chopped 
2 tablespoons garlic, minced 
1/4 red onion, minced 
 1/2 a small lime zested 
Juice from half a lime 
 Salt  (to taste) 

In a skillet ( I used a cast iron skillet) heat the olive oil and add chicken (make sure it's defrosted and dry!) Heat until cooked through (about 8minutes per side) 

 While chicken is heating prepare guacamole.
In a medium size bowl (I used a cereal bowl!) mash avocado with lime zest and garlic, with a fork.  Then add onion and tomato and mix to combine.  Top with fresh squeezed lime juice and salt 

   After chicken is finished cooking plate and top with cheese, salsa and guacamole.