What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!
UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS
Club crackers, whole
1 cup crushed Club crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut, flaked
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt crystals
Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Tropicana Bars! When you combine exotic fruits, flaky coconut, and macadamia nuts, you may feel as though you stepped off an airplane onto a tropical island in the Pacific. This mouthwatering dessert is perfect for summer. Go ahead, take a bite for a quick trip to a faraway destination. Let your mind wander to swaying palm trees, magical waterfalls, and sunshine that warms the body as well as the spirit.
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Zucchini Jam*
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, crushed
1 tablespoon crystallized sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together sugar and butter. Set aside. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together until blended. Combine dry ingredients with sugar mixture until crumbly. Spread 3/4 of batter into a 9″x13″ greased dish to make a crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Layer with Zucchini Jam, coconut, and nuts. Crumble remaining batter over all. Sprinkle with crystallized sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares.
* For Zucchini Jam recipe, please follow the link below.
Dining Outside the Home: Coconut’s Fish Café in Kapaa, Kauai. Anyone who likes coconut shrimp will absolutely flip over this Happy Hour appetizer: Half price Coconut Shrimp with a fiery sweet chili pineapple dipping sauce. A generous portion count of six batter fried fan-tailed shrimp is enough to share or make a substantial meal for one. Don’t judge me. Another winner is the Ahi Poke: raw tuna chunks marinated in soy, garlic, and green onions. Try not to drool. Long story short, if you like to save money and don’t mind a late lunch or early supper, spend more time at the beach and then head over to Coconut’s Fish Café for a great taste of seafood.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Ina Garten’s Fruit Crunch Sundae! The Barefoot Contessa is a familiar face on the Food Network these days. Not only does she offer great ideas for any meal, but she makes them seem incredibly simple. Today’s recipe comes from a recent episode where Ina wanted to serve up a special breakfast for her husband. I like the idea of taking everyday food and turning it into something extraordinary. By baking a batch of crunchy granola and storing it in an airtight container, single servings can be assembled in a flash. Use whatever fruit is on hand to make it unique.
INA GARTEN’S FRUIT CRUNCH SUNDAE
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pure honey
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
1 cup Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until completely combined. Pour into a baking sheet and bake until mixture turns golden brown. Stir occasionally. Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool. Stir once. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple in a bowl. Using stemmed glasses or parfait glasses, layer granola, yogurt, and fruit until full. You may alternate ingredients to repeat layers. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Easy Energy Balls! Do you ever get those mid-morning blahs where all you want to do is go back to bed? Well, here’s a way to get a tasty boost of energy without the guilt of a candy bar. By choosing pure and organic ingredients, you not only reap the health benefits, but you also gain the satisfaction your tummy needs in order to feel full. Make up a batch in minutes, store in the refrigerator, then Grab and Go!
EASY ENERGY BALLS
1 cup organic creamy dark roasted peanut butter
2/3 cup pure honey
2 cups flaked coconut
2 cups old fashioned whole grain oats
1 cup organic flaxseed
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup ground nuts
Warm peanut butter just enough to blend well with the honey. Remove from heat and add coconut, oats, flaxseed, and chocolate chips. Mix well. Sprinkle in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. Roll into 30 bite-size balls, coat in ground nuts, and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Key Lime Pie in a Flash! I’m Busy! When the hours fly by in a flurry of activity, it’s nice to know shortcuts don’t imply sacrificing flavor. After all, pre-packaged dessert mixes and sweet treats have gone the distance with culinary masters. Tried and true components can become the foundation for producing inspiring results, like today’s version of Key Lime Pie. By using fewer ingredients, preparation can be done in a flash!
KEY LIME PIE IN A FLASH
1 box Jell-o No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 tablespoon lime extract
1 drop green food coloring
1 lime, sliced
1 tablespoon toasted coconut
To make the crust, combine butter, sugar, and crust mix. Reserve one teaspoon of crumb mixture for garnish. Press remaining crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to fill. Next, pour milk into a medium bowl. Add filling mix and blend with a hand mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and beat on medium speed 3 minutes until filling turns thick. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of pure lime extract. Mix 30 seconds longer. Add 1 drop of green food coloring and mix another 30 seconds. Pour into the chilled crust. Refrigerate one hour. Garnish with fresh lime slices, reserve crumb mixture, and toasted coconut.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Coconut Curry Chicken! Every once in awhile you cross paths with someone who offers a product to enhance a food blog. Antonio @seasonalityspices offered me a free sample of handcrafted organic Indian Curry. Instantly, I knew the dish I would prepare. One bite of mild and spicy chicken, enhanced with the creamy flavor of organic coconut, is all it took to turn ordinary chicken into a flavorful obsession. Don’t mind if I do. Thanks, Antonio.
COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup sweet rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
13.5-ounce can organic coconut milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
Cilantro, for garnish
Combine water, sweet rice, and olive oil. Cook in a rice cooker according to directions. (Package rice may be substituted on a stovetop.) in a large skillet, warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken and onion until chicken is no longer pink and onions are transparent. Sprinkle chicken mixture with curry powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir in organic coconut milk and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes or until thickened. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve with sticky rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Xylocarp Coconut Bars! Although it’s not typically a word in my vocabulary, I discovered the word xylocarp means “a fruit, such as a coconut, having a hard woody pericarp.” Bingo! It’s the answer to my alphabet challenge when I get to this letter. Everyone is already aware coconut has health benefits. Some even classify it as a superfood. Personally, I just like the taste of it. It can magically transport me to a tropical island with swaying palm trees and hypnotic reggae music. Ahhhhh.
XYLOCARP COCONUT BARS
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 1/3 cups of coconut, flaked
1 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ baking pan lightly with nonstick oil. Pour butter in pan to cover the bottom. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over butter. Slowly pour the sweetened condensed milk to form another layer. Top evenly with chocolate morsels, coconut, and pecans. Press down firmly. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly before cutting.
Dining Outside the Home: Coconut’s Fish Café in Kapaa, Kauai. Even if you never plan to ride a surfboard, you can still enjoy the spirit of Aloha every time you visit Coconut’s Fish Cafe. Surfboard table tops encourage a “Hang Loose” attitude while filling the room with positive energy and healthy food. Top a mixed green salad with the grilled shrimp duo and a seared plank of blackened ahi, smeared with wasabi sauce. Also, might I suggest the papaya dressing? It’s amazing. All sauces and dressings are made from scratch. Order the coconut shrimp to have beforehand or with the meal. It sets the stage for a fabulous meal.