August 31, 2015

Toasted Coconut Cookies

I know there are a lot of coconut haters out there and I completely understand. It's the texture, right? I, too, have avoided a lot of shredded coconut in my life because of the same reason, but I'm obsessed with the smell and flavor of coconut. Doesn't make sense really.

But toasted coconut? That is a whole new ball game. The flavor is completely enhanced and you get a crunchy bite instead of a chewy one. Oh man...toasted coconut is my new go-to snack and it's SO easy to toast at home.
And toasted coconut sprinkled on top of a creamy coconut glaze spread on top of a coconut flavored cookie??? Seriously people, these were some of the best cookies I've ever had.
And they're pretty, too!
If you are a coconut fan you will die over these and even if you're not you should at least try them with or without the toasted coconut. Because who doesn't love the flavor of coconut?
And the bonus is you will have plenty of toasted coconut left over to mix into oatmeal, toss into some homemade granola or simply eat by the handful. For real.

Toasted Coconut Cookies
Adapted from Chef in Training
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 cups flour
Coconut Glaze
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
4 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Toasted Coconut
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

1. For toasted coconut: Heat the oven to 350°F. Spread coconut evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally. Watch closely to avoid over-browning. Set aside.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and beat in well. Add coconut extract.
3. Add salt, baking powder and flour and mix until well incorporated.
4. Roll cookies into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Space cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart from each other.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges of cookies. Remove from pan and let cool completely on cooling rack.
6. Combine glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth glaze is formed. Spread as much as desired onto cookies using a spoon and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

August 27, 2015

Peaches 'n Cream Bars

Let's say you're walking through your local grocery store and eye the peach display. And if you live in Utah like me, you know you should buy some. We've all been there when the peaches look so good you buy a little too many and the next thing you know you have some very ripe peaches that need to be used right away.
Enter these peaches and cream bars...They are a decadent and rich way to turn your peaches into an incredible dessert. 
They are really so easy to make and so good that my husband seriously wouldn't let me share them with the neighbors...True story.
If you are looking for a dessert that will wow your family or friends, this is the one. The bar ingredients all easily fit into an 8x8-inch pan, but don't worry there will be plenty to share.

Peaches ’n Cream Bars
1 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Peach Filling
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped (about 1.5 cups)
Vanilla Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. cream or milk 
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil with enough overhang on the sides for easy removal. Spray foil with nonstick spray.
2. Make the crust/topping: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender or your hands until it reaches coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture that will be used for the topping.
3. Evenly press the remaining oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes as you prepare the filling.
4. Make the filling: Whisk the egg and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and salt. Whisk until combined. Fold in the peaches. Remove crust from the oven after 15 minutes and pour the filling over hot crust. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. 
5. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill for 2 hours before cutting into squares.
6. Make the vanilla glaze: Using a fork or spoon, whisk/stir the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla extract together until smooth. Drizzle over each square. Store bars tightly covered in the refrigerator. Bars stay fresh for up to 4 days.

August 21, 2015

Cilantro, Lime and Avocado Chicken Salad

I'm not even sure where to start about this chicken salad...other than that it's amazing and you'll never make regular old chicken salad ever again. Avocados, lime and cilantro?? Need I say more? This chicken salad has so much flavor and is perfect tucked inside of a folded pita.

This salad comes together in a flash and you will keep coming back for more. And so will the rest of your family. I promise.

Cilantro, Lime & Avocado Chicken Salad
Adapted from Family Fresh Meals
2 cups shredded chicken
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes to let the flavors blend together. 

2. Serve on bread, crackers or a pita.

August 19, 2015

Chocolate Strawberries and Cream Pie

This pie is a definite winner. I guess you could say I'm picky about pies in a way. I'd rather have a graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust any day over traditional pie crust, save that for something savory! And of course I'll take a pudding or cream pie over a cooked fruit one no matter what. So the fact that this pie combines a few of my favorite things about pie is just too good to be true.
This recipe actually called for a traditional pie crust, but I didn't even consider it. And instead of using a graham cracker crust, I thought a chocolate one seemed fitting. And boy was I right!
The cream filling is out of this world and provides the perfect, light sweetness to pair with the strawberries and chocolate ganache.
This is definitely a crowd pleaser and you won't be able to only have one slice. Trust me.
My advice to you is just to make sure you share. But if not, you'll probably really, really enjoy yourself.

Chocolate Strawberries and Cream Pie
Adapted from Let’s Dish
1 (6 oz.) chocolate pie crust
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
16-20 strawberries, quartered or halved (depending on size)
For the Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, beat 1-1/2 cups heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until light and fluffy.
3. Beat whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
4. Spoon mixture into prepared crust and smooth top. Arrange strawberries over the top of the filling as desired.
5. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Let stand for 2-3 minutes.

6. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth and shiny. Drizzle over strawberries. Refrigerate pie for at least 2 hours before serving.

August 17, 2015

Grilled Coconut-Lime Shrimp and Veggie Foil Packets

I'm sure most of you can tell that I'm not a big fish person, hence the complete lack of any recipes having to do with seafood. But the one "fishy" food I can handle is shrimp. I guess maybe because it doesn't have that fishy taste. Anyway, I really do love shrimp and love this fresh dinner idea that is perfect for summer.
The coconut-lime marinade is perfect for shrimp and once you combine it with some yummy cooked summer veggies, you've got yourself a winner! We ate ours over rice to make sure we were completely filled and it did not disappoint. And did I mention how easy these are to throw together?? Just make sure you leave time to marinate them. That is the key. Enjoy!!

Grilled Coconut-Lime Shrimp and Veggie Foil Packets
Adapted from Diethood
Serves 6-8
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp. garlic
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 - 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 to 10 aluminum foil sheets large enough to wrap around the food
1 zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 to 2 cups fresh corn kernels
1-2 cups cooked white rice, optional

1. In a blender, combine onion, garlic, coconut, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil and soy sauce; blend until smooth.
2. Place marinade and shrimp in a resealable bag and toss to coat. Place in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.
3. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
4. For each foil pack, prepare two sheets of aluminum foil; place the sheets one on top of the other for durability and lightly spray with cooking spray.
5. Divide up the veggies and shrimp evenly and place into the center of each foil packet. Fold the sides of the foil over the shrimp, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
6. Transfer the foil packets to the grill, cover grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque.

7. Carefully open the foil packets and stir the contents. Serve over white rice if desired.

August 6, 2015

Cowboy Caviar

I know Cowboy Caviar (or whatever you like to call it) is a long-standing recipe that has been passed down in many of your families for years and years...but not in mine.

About a month ago, my husband's aunt brought this to snack on while we were up in Bear Lake (Utah) and I was addicted. It had only been about the second time I've tried it and I was officially hooked.
This is a perfectly light and tasty dip/salsa that is awesome to serve to large crowds at your next family or neighborhood barbecue. You could easily add more heat, more veggies or whatever you like to make this your own. It's a new favorite over here!

Cowboy Caviar
Adapted from AllRecipes
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (15.5 oz) can black-eyed peas, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeƱo peppers, optional for heat
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 cup Italian salad dressing
3/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Mix beans, peas, tomatoes, corn, onion and peppers in a large bowl. Season with garlic salt. Stir in dressing and cilantro; toss to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.

August 4, 2015

Crunchy Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Apparently I've really been into making French toast lately, but this one takes the cake! As in it tastes more like cake than French toast, but either way it is AMAZING. The Pioneer Woman knows her stuff!
I knew when I saw this recipe I was going to make it within the next few days. It looked that good to me. And thankfully I was not disappointed.
There is just something about that added crunch of the Panko that makes this French toast so decadent. Granted it could be the extra sugar and cinnamon mixed in, but hey it still counts for a balanced breakfast, right?
You could make this French toast for breakfast, lunch, dinner and heck, even for dessert. I definitely will whip this one out to wow my family for years to come. Enjoy!

Crunchy Cinnamon French Toast
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
8 slices bread
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
butter and syrup for serving

1. In a pie pan, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, half the sugar and half the cinnamon. Set aside.
2. In a separate pie pan, stir together the Panko breadcrumbs with the rest of the sugar and cinnamon. Use a fork to stir in the butter so that the crumbs are slightly moist. Set aside.
3. Heat a large nonstick frying pan or griddle to medium-low heat. Grease with cooking spray or butter.
4. One by one, dunk each bread slice in the egg mixture (turning to coat), then lay in the dish with the Panko crumbs, turning them over and pressing down gently so the Panko sticks to and totally covers each surface.
5. Place each slice onto the pan or griddle and let them cook on the first side for 5 to 6 minutes, watching closely to make sure the crumbs don't burn. Turn them over and let them cook for 3 minutes on the other side.
6. Transfer the pieces to individual plates and serve with butter and syrup.