Baked Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts

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Back to my blog – hope you haven’t forgotten me. I have been cooking and baking a lot this fall but have not taken the time to update and publish. Let me know what you think of these semi-healthy doughnuts..

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray (I like the ones made with coconut oil)

Ingredients

First, mix together in medium bowl:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Then stir in:

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

1/2 teaspoon coconut emulsion

Transfer batter to gallon ziploc bag. Snip off corner, then fill each doughnut pan cavity 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden, about 8-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently transfer to wire rack to cool. Then prepare glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup good cocoa powder

4-6 tablespoons milk

Blend until smooth. Dip each doughnut in glaze and top with toasted coconut flakes and sprinkle with mini semi sweet chocolate chips.

 

Caribbean Rum Coconut Pie

I have been absent from this blog (but not from the kitchen) for a few months. There have been many recipes that haven’t made it from the kitchen to the computer – other priorities beckoned. I just returned from St. Croix and enjoyed many delicious fresh coconut dishes. The one thing I was craving was coconut cream pie – but there was none to be found on the island (I checked)  Here’s a great recipe I created today that is short on prep time and big on taste.

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Ingredients:

1 ready to bake rolled pie crust, brought to room temperature
1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups half and half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste or extract

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 cup tru whip or cool whip, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Carefully roll out pie crust onto 9 inch pie plate, using  pie weights to help keep shape. Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

Decrease oven temperature to 230 degrees F.
Spread the coconut out evenly on a baking sheet and bake it, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 -10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Add rum and continue stirring consistently for 1 minite more. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the toasted coconut and the vanilla extract.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and chill until firm, about 3-4 hours.
top with whipped topping and with the remaining coconut. Store leftovers lightly covered in the refrigerator.

French Toast Bake with Fresh Strawberries

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This is the perfect weekend brunch treat for friends and family. You can even prepare it the night before and store tightly covered in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. There is enough for 10-12 hungry guests!

Ingredients

1 loaf crusty french bread or brioche bread

8 eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup  heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

struesel topping

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup candied pecans  (optional)

on the side

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced and macerated in 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter) a 9 by 13 inch or similar size rectangular baking pan. Tear the bread into 1 inch chunks and evenly distribute in pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugars and nutmeg and pour evenly over bread. If you are making the night before, cover tightly and store in refrigerator. Make struesel topping, and store in sealed plastic bag.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add butter using a pastry cutter or fork, combine butter with dry ingredients until blended thoroughly and mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Bake 30 minutes, then remove from oven and top evenly with streusel topping. Return to even and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until medium brown on top. Serve immediately with hot maple syrup and macerated fresh strawberries.

Easy Broccoli Gratin

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This is the perfect side dish for when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare but you want a hot savory dinner. This can be made the night before, then cover and put it in the fridge. On the way home,  just grab a rotisserie chicken and pop this in the oven while you set the table. Dinner on the table on 30 minutes – how easy is that?

Ingredients

8 cups broccoli, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups half and half

1 1/2 cups gruyere cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (I like these)

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Directions
Preheat oven to 375° F. Fill a large saucepan with 1/2  inch of water, then add about 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil. Place the broccoli in the saucepan and steam 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender.  Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the half and half and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss with the broccoli.
Transfer the broccoli mixture to a shallow 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining half cup of cheese and the panko bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Manicotti with Fresh Basil and Parsley

Manicotti

Cravings…everyone has cravings, right?  I have had a craving for this dish since we moved to sunny California three years ago. California is a wonderful place to live – the ocean, the mountains, the weather, the wine….a foodies’ paradise too, with all of the fresh fruits and vegetables available year round. They have some stellar restaurants here. The one thing I haven’t found is a real authentic Italian restaurant. I’m not talking “new american” Italian cuisine – I’m looking for an old school, dimly lit place, the menu filled with old family recipes hand carried over on the boat by great grandma Maria.  The kind of place they would film “The Godfather Part 4” in (hey you never know…..) I have been to several wonderful old school Italian restaurants in New York City and also in St. Louis in an area known as “The Hill” where there are a couple dozen amazing and authentic Italian restaurants.

This recipe is an authentic manicotti made with crespelle (italian crepes), not those ridged tubular noodles called manicotti shells in the store. It takes some time but it is actually very simple to prepare – and the results are so worth it! The crespelle are made just like french dessert crepes – the technique takes a little practice – but after a few tries you will have your crepes all ready to stuff with the ricotta mixture.

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The photo is a little blurry because I’m moving the pan around…you have to get the crepes very thin and just lightly browned. I always make the sauce first, then the crepes, then the filling.  Bake 20 minutes in the oven and you have one amazing dinner.

Ingredients:

Marinara Sauce

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped fine

2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic (cloves or the jar kind found in the produce section)

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh italian parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade style, divided

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

salt to taste

Crespelle Batter

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

Ricotta filling

1 8 ounce container part skim ricotta cheese

8 ounces shredded mozarella, divided

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh italian parsley

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and sautee until just lightly browned. Add the crushed tomatoes, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring often.  (you will be making the crepes and filling while this is cooking)  Add the wine, salt, pepper and herbs and simmer 10 more minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon basil for garnish.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for ricotta filling, reserving 1/2 of the mozzarella.  Store in refrigerator until you finish the crepes.

Make the crepes by whisking together the eggs, milk and slightly cooled melted butter in a chilled mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the flour and salt until the mixture is smooth. Lightly coat an 8 inch nonstick skillet with olive oil and place the pan over medium heat. With a 1/4 cup measuring cup or small ladle, pour the batter in the middle of the pan. Turn the pan at an angle and shake from side to side to coat the entire bottom of the pan with batter. Cook only about 30 seconds, or until lightly browned on bottom. Turn crepe over with a large spatula and cook 20 – 30  seconds more. Stack the crepes on a plate lined with waxed paper between each layer.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan with with 2 cups of the marinara sauce. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta about an inch from the end of each crepe. Roll evenly into a tube, keeping the filling even as you roll. Place seam side down in the sauce filled pan. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over top of the manicotti, then sprinkle remaining mozarella over top. Cover loosely with foil and bake approximately 20 minutes, until the sides of the pan are bubbling. Let sit 10 minutes to firm up the filling. Top each serving with reserved fresh basil.

Ghirardelli Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are still my favorite Christmas cookie….and they couldn’t be any easier to make. The oatmeal makes them **a tiny bit** healthier than a lot of your Christmas favorites….

Berries and Cocoa

These are my all time favorite christmas cookie. My grandma made an amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, which I think was a variation of a recipe she found on a Quaker Oats box years ago. My favorite chocolate for baking is Ghirardelli (if I had to choose one…) They make 60% cacao bittersweet, semi sweet and milk chocolate chips. I use a mixture of the bittersweet and semi sweet in this recipe because I think it gives a more rounded flavor to the cookies. After I mix up a batch, I stick them in the refrigerator for an hour or so to chill the batter before using a medium cookie scoop to make a 2 inch round ball. The chilling and using the cookie scoop to scoop them out makes a perfectly puffed cookie with crispy browned edges and a chewy inside.

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I love these stoneware cookie sheets from the…

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