October 16, 2017

Candied Coconut

I love the dried coconut we used to buy from Costco for road trips. Now that we're in Okinawa without Costco (SNIFF!), I ventured to make my own. SUPER tasty! Takes some time peeling, peeling, peeling, but it's so worth it. Especially if you have easy access to fresh coconut. I found this on one of my favorite recipe websites, allrecipes. Enjoy!!

Candied Coconut

1 whole coconut
1/4 c water
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Bake coconut for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, let cool and crack open with a hammer. Remove meat of coconut in as big of chunks as you can from hard shell. Peel brown skin off meat with peeler. Use peeler to cut meat into thin strips (or use sharp knife) about an inch or two long.
2. Add coconut strips to medium saucepan, cover with water and boil 5 minutes. Drain. Place coconut back into saucepan and add 1/4 c water, 3/4 c sugar and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to as low as it’ll go while still simmering. Stir constantly until syrup dissipates.
3. Spread coconut out on cookie sheet to cool, separating and opening pieces before they cool. Store in an air right container.

Slow Cooked Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

I had a giant sweet potato and 3/4 head of cauliflower to use up and found this recipe. I'm lessening the meat in our diet and this is a wonderful, tasty recipe! The kids really liked it but I made it too spicy. Oops. They still ate it but I think they'll eat any soup to get more homemade bread. :) You can top with things such as shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, chopped green onions, croutons, hot sauce (for added kick) and additional salt and pepper. I got this recipe from Jenn on peasandcrayons.com. Serve with your favorite bread. Makes 4 hearty servings.

Slow Cooked Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

1 lb fresh cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 lb sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 c broth of your choice, though I used chicken
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks green onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 c milk
2 oz cream cheese

1. Set the slow cooker to high and add cauliflower, sweet potato, broth, onion, green onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook and cover 4-5 hours.
2. Once veggies are super tender (a fork slides right through the thickest center), turn off the slow cooker and add milk and cream cheese. Blend to your taste. I pulsed for one second in my Blendtec and that was plenty--I like a bit of texture in my soup.
3. Serve immediately with toppings. Enjoy!

December 19, 2016

Divine Turkey Brine

I tried brine from a packet with my Butterball turkey a couple years ago and was anything but impressed. This year I bought a random brand from Ruler Foods (they carry Kroger brand) and worried about the outcome but yum! The meat was moist and tasted Sooooooo good! I didn't even need my stuffing to give it flavor. So good.
Make sure you use a good grade container to brine the turkey so you don't add any harmful additives to your bird. Makes 1 large turkey.

Divine Turkey Brine

1 gallon chicken, vegetable or turkey broth
1 c  sea salt
1 Tbsp crushed rosemary, or 3 Tbsp fresh leaves, or 3 Tbsp fresh
1 Tbsp dried sage, or 3 Tbsp fresh
1 Tbsp dried rosemary, or 3Tbsp fresh leaves (or 3 fresh sprigs)
1 Tbsp dried savory or marjoram
1 gallon ice water
1 turkey up to about 20 lbs

1. Add broth, salt and herbs to large stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature; pour into a 5 gallon bucket.
2. Remove innards from turkey. Rinse turkey and place in bucket, breast down, making sure liquid fills cavities. Cover and place in fridge (I kept mine in the cold garage) overnight, up to 24 hours.
3. Remove turkey from brine and cook as desired, tossing out brine. Brined turkeys tend to cook about 30 min faster so keep an eye on it. Enjoy!

December 18, 2016

Delicious Roasted Chicken Rub

This rub is divine! I want to eat the whole bird with this recipe. Good thing I didn't because the leftovers made delicious enchiladas the next day! It was a success with EVERYONE. Makes one whole chicken or about three large breasts (I'm talking double D's). Enjoy!

Delicious Roasted Chicken Rub

1 whole chicken*
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried sage, or 1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or a dash of red chili sauce

1. Stir oil and seasonings in small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes for seasonings to re-hydrate a bit. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Remove giblets from bird, cut off excess skin and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub the...well...RUB all over the chicken, getting under the skin where you can and coating the skin. Add any large chunks of veggies around the bird (quartered potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, etc), if desired.
3. Place chicken in preheated oven.
*2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken cook an hour to an hour 15 minutes
 3 lb to 3 1/2 lb chicken cook an hour 15 minutes to an hour and a half
 3 1/2 lb to 4 lb chicken cook an hour and a half to an hour 45 minutes
 4 1/2 lb to 5 lb chicken cook an hour 45 minutes to 2 hours
If you have a larger chicken, you just might've bought a turkey. :)
4. It's done once internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, juices run clear, drumstick meat falls easily off the bone and there is no pink meat. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

December 17, 2016

Easy Jäegerschnitzel

I got this yummy recipe from my German friend. Easy and delicious and my kids always go gaga over it. Serve over any noodle or mashed potatoes. Even rice would go well! I'm sure there's better gravy but this is GOOD and EASY so I'm rolling with it. Makes about 8 schnitzels and 2 cups of gravy .

Easy Jäegerschnitzel

1 1/5 lbs boneless pork chops, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 eggs
2 Tbsp water
4 c Italian style bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Mushroom Gravy
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c diced onion
1-8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
1-15 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c milk

1. Place piece of plastic wrap over a piece of meat. Pound with mallet until about 1/4" thickness (before I owned a mallet I used a hammer, just sayin). Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper; set aside. Repeat for each piece.
2. Heat 1 inch of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Beat eggs and water in a wide, shallow bowl with a fork just until smooth and blended. Pour bread crumbs in another wide, shallow bowl.
3. Dip each piece of flattened meat into egg, then bread crumbs, then egg and bread crumbs again. Once oil sizzles from a drop of water sprinkled onto it, it's ready.
4. Cook two pieces of meat at a time, a few minuets each side until golden brown. Place on a plate covered with a paper towel to drain.


1.  Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute onion and mushrooms four minutes, or until soft. Stir in soup and milk. Continue to site frequently as it heats up. Remove from heat once it starts to bubble or once it heats to your liking.
2. Pour immediately over schnitzel and noodles or potatoes.

December 16, 2016

Snowball Cookies

Nuts usually ruin baked goods for me but this is a recipe I've ALWAYS loved, even as an annoyingly picky little girl. They're known as "Russian Tea Cakes" or "Mexican Wedding Cakes" but we called them "Snowballs" growing up because...well...they looked like snowballs! It was the closest we had to the real thing at Christmastime growing up in Central California. The almond extract is optional but adds a richer flavor. I substituted walnuts because it's all I had on hand and they were still my favorite crumbly cookie. My 2 year old did some sort of Houdini trick to steal a third one off of the counter. Still not sure how he did that but he LOVES them. Makes about 2 dozen.

Snowball Cookies

1 c butter, at room temperature
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond exract, optional
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 c flour
1 c finely chopped pecans
confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, 1/2 c confectioners sugar, vanilla and almond extract with electric  beaters. Mix in salt, flour and chopped pecans. Dough will be crumbly. Press into 1" balls and place on unbaked cookie sheet about 1/2" to 1" apart. They don't flatten much.
2. Bake in preheated oven until bottoms are golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. The tops will still be white. DON'T let them burn. Roll immediately in powdered sugar and once again after they've cooled. Enjoy!

September 20, 2016

Sweet Potato Fries

I was skeptical about SWEET POTATO fries but these were so good! I didn't have the patience to wait for them to crisp up but they were still delicious soft. And supposedly sweet potatoes are healthy so double bonus! Add any seasoning you want. If you want some spice I'd recommend a dash of cayenne pepper. This is nice and flexible for your individual needs and taste preferences. Serves 4.

Sweet Potato Fries

4 medium sized (smooth-skinned) sweet potatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan; set aside. Peel sweet potatoes, if desired, and cut into equal fry-size slices (you know, long, rectangular shapes like the picture above).
2. Add potato pieces to bowl or ziplock bag. Add oil and and stir or shake to coat. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika; mix to coat.
3. Place in single layer on prepared baking sheet without overcrowding. Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven. Flip fries with a spatula and bake another 10 to 15 minutes more, or until fries have turned from glossy to matte skin (if you want them a little crispy).

September 19, 2016

Grilled Marinated Shrimp ll

I LOVE this shrimp! I used (defrosted) frozen shrimp and the texture didn't suffer any. My 10 year old asks for thirds and my 2 year old asks for "moooore!". Makes 2 lb shrimp. Serve with a steamed veggie or salad and cheesy garlic bread swirls or any bread , rice or pasta you'd like. YUM.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp ll (read, "the second," because it's so distinguished)

2 lb raw shrimp
1/3 c olive oil
1/4 c tomato sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Peel and devein shrimp, if necessary. Set aside.
2. Mix oil, tomato sauce, vinegar, basil, salt and cayenne pepper in bowl or large ziplock bag. Add shrimp and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour, flipping shrimp once or twice.
3. Spray grill and preheat to medium heat. Slide shrimp onto skewers, piercing near tail and head.Cook shrimp on preheated grill until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.