Banana Coconut Bars

I’ve been on a bar kick recently.  Not the party kind of bar, like the cookie-that-you-cut type bar.  Like this:

As for the other type of bar, I’m not cool enough to hang out in bars.  You’re more likely to find me in a park.

A few weeks ago I had decided I wanted to open a bar.  Not just any bar, I wanted it to be an outdoor bar (think park meets bar, see where I’m going with this?).  I think it’s ridiculous that Southern California has awesome weather but very few places where you can enjoy the weather with a beer/wine in your hand.

Sure, there are bars with patios, but those are usually small and there’s no grass involved.  Grass is really essential to the full outdoor enjoyment. I still want to open that bar.  Would you come?

But enough about those types of bars.  Let’s talk about this sort…

I’m a fan.  You will be too.  Unless you’re like my friend Emily who hates cooked fruit, in which case you should make this instead… or this.

But if you love cooked fruit (I do!) and more importantly bananas and coconut and sweet goodness, then you should probably give these a try!

Banana Coconut Bars

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour (or just 2 cups all purpose)
3 ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
5 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  The texture will be pretty crumbly, press into a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used a jelly roll pan and pressed it into about 2/3 of it) lined with parchment paper.

Lay banana sliced on dough.  Next spread shredded coconut on top and chocolate chips if desired.  Drizzle with 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk.

In a bowl combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup oats, 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar.  Use your hands to work it into coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the mixture over the bars.  Drizzle with remaining sweetened condensed milk.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool complete.  Cut into bars and serve!

In case it wasn’t obvious, everyone is cool enough for this bar.

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Coconut Cupcakes

On Saturday mornings, my boyfriend sometimes takes me on a hot date… to the swap meet.  What can I say, we’re classy like that.  Clearly by “hot” I mean it’s literally warm out.

He likes to get an enormous tejuino.

I like to get an enormous cup of mixed fruit, which I proceed to douse in lime and chili.   In my mixed fruit cup, there’s always cucumber, pineapple, watermelon and fresh coconut.  The only reason I get the mixed fruit and not the delicious mango covered in chili and lime is that I absolutely love coconut.

I pretty much like anything that’s coconut flavored but you can’t beat the taste of real, fresh coconut.  So next time you feel the need for a coconut treat I recommend going to the swap meet at OCC (if you live in Orange County), but if not, make these:

No extracts.  Just the real stuff.

Coconut Cupcakes

adapted from Epicurious

For Reduced Coconut Milk:

2 cans coconut milk (to be reduced)

For Cupcakes:

2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (3/4 cup)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk

For Frosting:

1 Stick of Butter, Room Temperature
4 oz cream cheese
3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp reduced Coconut milk

In a deep saucepan, bring 2 cans of coconut to a boil.  Simmer about 30-40 minutes until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups liquid.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Then blend in vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients, beat until just combined.  Beat in coconut milk.  Pour batter into 18-20 lined cupcake pan.  Bake 18-20 mins (depending on your oven this will vary).  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Next make the frosting. Beat together all the frosting ingredients.  Gradually add in coconut milk until you get the right consistency.

Frost and garnish with extra flaked coconut.

Serve and enjoy!

The coconut flavor is light and delicate, but most definitely there.  So when you need your coconut fix, give these a whirl.

They’re probably easier to make than cracking open a coconut or searching for a swap meet… just sayin’.

Rum Layer Cake with Coconut Custard Filling

In addition to being obsessed with weddings, I’m also all about birthdays.

Yeah, that’s me… I love birthdays (along with any opportunity to bake a cake).

So…I know cupcakes are all the rage these days, but I have an unnatural love for layer cakes and let’s face it, birthdays merit layer cakes.  There’s something about a fully assembled and frosted layer cake that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I can understand why people don’t like making them.  Let’s face it, they’re sort of labor intensive, but in my opinion totally worth it, especially for a special friend.

My friend, Rachel, totally deserves a layer cake.  In fact, she got this one.

Rum Cake with Coconut Custard Filling

adapted from Bacardi Rum Cake

For Cake:*

1 box yellow cake mix
1 package instant pudding (4 serving size)
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup water or milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

For Custard:*

1 cup whole milk (I used 3/4 cup nonfat milk and 1/4 cup of cream and it worked fine)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp corn starch
1 cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Food coloring (optional)

Make Cake. Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans (you can also put it in 3 pans, bake it for less time).  Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan.  Pour contents of cake mix and pudding mix into a large bowl. In another bowl mix together milk, rum, eggs and vegetable oil.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined.  Pour into the prepared cake pans, bake approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.  You can make this a day or two in advance, just make sure you cover it in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

Make custard.  Heat milk on low heat in a medium saucepan stirring occasionally to keep it from burning.  In a separate bowl mix together egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and vanilla. Stir in half a cup of the warm milk, then pour the mixture into the saucepan.  Keep stirring over low-medium heat until thick.  Pour into a bowl to cool, cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate a few hours until completely cooled.

Make Frosting.  Beat together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla (and food coloring if you choose to use it).

Assemble cake.  Cut off the tops of the cakes so you have a level surface.  Lay down the first layer, then put down a layer of the filling in the center, don’t spread it to the edges, it’ll over flow.  If you only do two layers then place the top layer.   If not, repeat.  Cover in a thin layer for frosting, then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Apply a thicker layer of frosting, decorate, chill again and serve.

*Note: For a taller cake, double the recipe.  I used 1.5 of this recipe (had oven issues and had to throw away one of my 4 layers).
**Note: If you only make a 2 layer cake, half the custard recipe is enough for one layer of filling.

I’m usually opposed to box mix.  I know I’m a total snob, but this was just sooo good, I had to give in and make it.  Honestly, I’ll probably make it again. In fact, I feel like this should be a birthday tradition.

It was a hit at the Birthday Dinner.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

What’s your favorite kind of birthday cake?

Bird’s Nest Cupcakes

Easter is right around the corner.  For some reason unknown to me, Easter = eggs.  I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t quite get it.  I’ll go with it anyway.

I’m generally a pie girl, but sometimes the occasion calls for cupcakes, and I can think of two good occasions to make a cupcake.  These cupcakes really:

Easter and a Baby Shower.

I made these for a bird’s nest themed baby shower, but now that I was looking at the photos I realized they’d be perfect for Easter as well.

Although I’ll be honest, they’re so tasty that they’re really appropriate at any time of the year.

Egg Nest Cupcakes

1 recipe for your favorite chocolate cupcakes (I like Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake)
1 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
Few cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded coconut
1 package Cadbury Mini Eggs

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely.  Make frosting by blending together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar gradually until you get the consistency and sweetness you like (I added about 2 cups).   Using the oven or a toaster oven, toast coconut by placing it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Stir every few minutes and keep a close eye on it, it burns easily.  Allow to cool completely.

Frost cupcakes, press toasted coconut onto top of cupcakes, place a few mini eggs in the center.  Ta da!  That’s it!  Super cute and easy!

They were adorable for the bird’s nest themed shower, I promise they’re so tasty that anyone will love them.

I mean really who doesn’t love cupcakes AND those little chocolate eggs?

What Easter treat are you looking forward to?

200 Cookies and Some Tips

Want to know what 200 cookies looks like?

That’s what.

Tip #1: When you’re baking for a crowd, don’t experiment.  Use tried and true recipes.  Like these…

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tip #2:  It’s okay to make small changes to recipes.  But only if they’re idiot-proof.  Example: those Peanut Butter cookies.  I used the same recipe for Almond Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies, replaced almond butter with peanut butter and voila! Whole new cookie!  No brainer, can’t really mess that up.

Regular Chocolate Chip and Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(Oh hey, imagine pretty cookies here because I totally forgot to take pictures of these)
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Tip #3: Don’t over-mix your cookie dough.  It yields flat cookies.  True story.

Tip #4: Cookies keep well for a long time (or at least a few days).  Store them in air tight containers or zip loc bags.

It’s cookie season.  So get baking!

Coconut Curry Stew and My New Love

Since moving, I had to start from scratch.

I bought furniture.  So now I have 1 bed, 1 nightstand, 1 table and 1 dresser.

I have 1 large plate, 1 small plate, 4 bowls, 2 cups, 1 mug, 1 old frying pan and this:

This is my new love.  It’s amazing.  Cast iron is every overly-domestic girl’s dream.

So when you have someone over for dinner and you only really have one plate (though luckily a few bowls) and one pot, start from scratch with fresh ingredients.  It’s easier than it sounds, I promise.

Wondering what to make?

Coconut Curry Stew, naturally.

It might wow your guest.  Who knows?  He might just be polite.  But either way, make this stew.  It’s easy, delicious, healthy, and requires minimal utensils without sacrificing flavor.

Coconut Curry Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp curry powder (or more or less depending on how you like it)
1 can light coconut milk
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a pot.  Add onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell pepper and jalapeno.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.  Add garlic, cook for an additional minute, then add tomatoes.  Add broth and curry and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes soften.  Add coconut milk, garbanzo beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and serve.

I served it with some sauteed kale.  I thought it was pretty tasty and super easy to make.

You can store left overs in a jar.  That’s how I roll.

Just keeping it real… or maybe I have no other storage containers…

Coconut Cream Pie but Better

I’m not completely sure what the difference is between a pie and a tart, other than the shape of the pan.  For all intents and purposes, what follows is a pie disguised as a tart.

Thus, it is a much fancier (almost French seeming, hey, it’s Bastille Day!) version of coconut cream pie.

Okay, let’s be honest.  I’ve never eaten coconut cream pie.  I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one in person.  That was until I made my version of what I think coconut cream pie should be like.

I have no idea if this is what coconut cream pie should taste like, but here’s my creation.  Karla’s new and improved version with rich chocolate whipped cream for topping.

I’m going to go ahead and call it a winner.

Coconut Cream Pie with Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 package of graham crackers
6 tbsp butter
3 cup finely shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup milk
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 + 2 tbsp cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder

For the crust:

Crush graham crackers and combine with 1 cup of coconut.  Melt butter and pour over graham cracker mixture, toss to combine.  Press into a pie or tart pan.  Refrigerate.

For Custard Filling:

In a saucepan, combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, vanilla and salt.  Heat, stirring constantly, until nearly boiling.  Take some of the warm milk mixture and combine in a small bowl with the corn starch, stir until smooth.  Pour in the corn starch mixture and the 2 cups of coconut.  Continue to stir until thick (not too thick though!).  Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap.  Lay the plastic wrap directly on the custard.  Refrigerate until completely cooled, like so:

Once your custard is cool, fill the tart crust with the creamy filling.

Then make your whipped topping.

For the topping, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Using a mixer start to whip cream, gradually add in cocoa powder and sugar.  Whip until the cream holds firm peaks.

Lay it on there, or nicely use a piping bag.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter.  Even the worst spreading will be covered up with some divine toasted coconut.  Lay your coconut on a baking sheet or on a piece of foil and stick it in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes.  Turn it every so often and watch out because it can easily burn.  Allow the toasted coconut to completely cool and sprinkle as much or as little as you’d like onto your beautiful tart!

Serve, enjoy and feel fancy while you eat it.