Thursday, August 29, 2013

 Cool Lime and Coconut Pie

 Everyone has movies they watch all the time. Like an old friend they just give you a certain comfort in knowing what is going to happen and how it's going to be solved. One of my favorite movies is "Practical Magic." You may chuckle, but it really is cute. And there is a red head in it, which always boosts the credibility for me. 
For those who have missed the grand opportunity to watch it, it features two sisters who are witches. It's a silly movie, but I really love it. There is a scene where they are having a party in their house sound tracked to the Hary Nilson song "Coconut." As a kid I didn't really understand what this was all about, but I did know for sure that limes and coconuts were meant to be together. This pie reaffirms that idea. 

This pie is really easy to make and it's tasty. It has been a perfect treat in this late summer heat we have going on in the Denver area. It's super simple to put together and people love it!


2 limes
1 small can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, divided
1 small container of whipped topping
1 graham cracker crust

 In a large bowl, zest and juice both of the limes.

Mix in the sweetend condensed milk and 3/4 cup of the coconut

Gently fold in the whipped topping to keep it nice and fluffy.

Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and smooth out the top. Cover this and let it chill over night.

Toast the remaining coconut over very low heat, stirring constantly. This will burn really quickly! Let this cool before sprinkling over the pie. 

Sprinkle the cooled coconut over the pie just before serving. Enjoy with some limeade for a super citrus filled punch!

Monday, August 26, 2013

 Ratatouille Pasta

Labor Day brings us to the sad and official end of summer. For many it has been the signal to go back to school, stop wearing white and put the cover on the grill for the season. Despite the reluctant seasonal goodbye, we do have a few benefits at the end of the summer. All the fruits and veggies are perfect for eating and cooking with. One of my favorite things to make is a combination of different sauteed veggies and a simple sauce. 
My sweet parents have a garden they tend to and share from, and it is a beautiful thing. Most of the stuff in this dish they were so nice to send me home with. This is super easy to put together and can be served hot, cold, or even room temperature. It's a great side to use up nature's bounty and share with others as a last summer hooray!


2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons, olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups orzo or other small pasta, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons basil, chopped

 In a cold pan place the olive oil and garlic cloves together. Then turn the heat to medium low. Starting with a cold pan infuses the oil with the garlic flavor. Let the garlic cook for just a few minutes, but don't let it brown.

After the garlic has softened, add in the rest of the veggies and add in some salt and pepper. Let this cook over medium heat until they have just softened a little.

Once the veggies are slightly tender, add in the whole can of tomatoes with the juice. Let this simmer for about ten minutes

Add in the pasta and combine it well with the sauce. Let this cook for about another five minutes so the pasta absorbs all the flavors. Turn off the heat and add in the cheese. If you add the cheese while it's still cooking, it gets a weird rubbery texture.

Just before serving, sprinkle over a bit more cheese and a few specks of basil.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nutty Monkey Bread

Good advice is easy to find but hard to follow. Take for example " Never serve people something you make the first time." I find this to be very smart, but it's not always realistic especially with a food blog. The food you see often gets made several times to get it just right. I thought of that phrase as I stared at a puddle of scalding cinnamon sugar oozing everywhere in my oven. "This was a bad idea." I thought. While there was a huge mess to clean up after I made this, my guests and I would agree it was well worth it. 

Some great buddies of mine were having a brunch get together and they needed a sweet treat. This was the first thing that came to mind. I had never made it before but it seemed simple enough so I bought all the ingredients and started making this far too late in the evening.


24 thawed Rhodes Rolls
1 1/2 cup of Cinnamon Sugar ( 1 1/2 cup sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

I made an assembly line to start off the process. Cut each roll into four pieces and then roll it in the butter. Make sure your butter is melted but not too hot.

Then toss the dough pieces into the cinnamon sugar mixture. I like to press the dough into the sugar to really get it to stick. 

 I then ploped each of the dough pieces into a greased spring form pan. Big mistake! Use just a tall cake pan or a casserole dish and grease it really well. I do a full layer of the rolls and then sprinkle over half of the nuts. Then repeat so each bite has a bit of crunch.

If you have any leftover sugar or butter, just evenly put it over the dough. 

Let the dough rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour. 

They're just so happy and poofy lookin'! When they poof up like this, then bake the dough at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour. 

It wasn't too long after the bread was baking that I started hearing a weird noise. Drip...sizzle. Drip....sizzle. I looked into the oven and it looked like a volcano of syrup had erupted. The butter and sugar had leaked through the bottom of the pan! Quickly I went to work and put on my pretty pink rubber gloves (naturally) and started a painful transfer of the molten lava like dough into another pan. You can easily avoid this by using a casserole dish. 

Despite the troubles this was a crazy tasty brunch addition!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

 No Bake "Dinosaur" Cookies

The beginning of the school year always makes me wish I were in second grade again. All the new paper, notebooks and crayons just make me want to go back to Mrs. Barkley's class with my Flintstones lunchbox. Don't get me wrong, being able to drive, vote and stay up as late as I want are all great perks of adulthood. But there are some things I would like to go back to. 

In my second grade class we were studying dinosaurs and we ended the unit with a class cooking project. We all lined up single file and walked down to the cafeteria. We watched Mrs. Barkley mix up the different parts of the cookie and it was the best thing ever. The ingredients were just gross enough to be cool.We got to eat cookies with fossils in them! I saved the printed copy of this for a pretty long time and then it disappeared. In my maturity I manage to still remember the silly things she called each one of the ingredients. When I saw Linda from mykindofcooking posted this recipe, I knew I had to recreate the best day of elementary school.


2 cups sugar (dinosaur teeth, finely ground)
½ cup butter (alligator grease)
½ cup milk (lake water)
½ cup peanut butter (dinosaur ear wax)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (dirt)
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal (dinosaur bones)

Melt the sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat.

Let the mixture come to a boil and let it fester for about a minute to a minute and a half.

Add in the cocoa and the peanut butter and mix until it's well combined. It would be a terrible idea to try to taste this delicious peanut buttery chocolate combination in this state. Trust me, it is craaaaazy hot! It wasn't even worth the blister on my finger.

Add in the oats and mix them until the velvety mixture covers each of the "fossils." 

Spoon the combination onto wax or parchment paper to make the cookies. Allow them to cool until they are set. I like to have these ice cold with a glass of milk.

Monday, August 12, 2013

 Pineapple Chicken Curry

I've developed a need for this cute little Thai place close to me.Pineapple curry is not something I would think to order on my own, but a good buddy suggested it and was amazing! Tommy's Thai in downtown Denver has become my favorite place to go, just so I can order this chicken. But there is a sad part to this story. They are closed on Sundays. It must be a mental coincidence that I have an extra need for this on the day it's closed. Extremely delicious curry calls for extreme measures. 

This recipe is pretty close. I have used regular Italian Basil and cilantro in this and both are really good. If you like this extra spicy you can add more curry paste or even red pepper flakes. Either way this is a super good dinner idea. 


1 lb of chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 small can of coconut milk ( I used the light kind)
 1 cup of canned pineapple chunks
cilantro or basil (optional)
3 to 4 cups of cooked white rice for serving

 Season the chicken and then cook it over medium heat on each side. Don't crowd the pan too much or else it won't brown properly.

Once the chicken is browned, put it off to the side to make the heavenly sauce.

 Your pan should have some delicious chicken bits cooked into it to make the sauce even tastier.

With the heat still on medium, add the curry paste to the pan and mix it with the chicken browned bits. 

After the curry paste has cooked for about a minute, add in the coconut milk. As you simmer this, scrape the bits off of the bottom of the pan.

Let the sauce simmer over medium high heat. You do want this to reduce and become thicker and creamier. 

Add in the pineapple in the last five minutes of the cooking. If you add it too soon, the pineapple with dissolve in the sauce. 

Lastly, add in the browned chicken and let it heat through again. When you are ready to serve mix in some chopped cilantro or basil and pour the delightful mixture over the rice. 

Regardless as to how far you live from Tommy's Thai or if it's a Sunday, you can make this delicious meal anytime!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

 Italian Sloppy Joes

 I have always loved food. A lot. Even as a child at daycare my best friend was the cook. Her name was Helen. She let me stir when the other kids were distracted. It was just magical to me how she could make food that great for so many people. Her specialties were muffins, green beans (look for these in the future) and Italian Sloppy Joes. As an adult I find it pretty magical how she never got food on her silly white polyester pants. These sandwhiches just feel like home
This isn't exact, but they are pretty close. I like them to be a bit spicier but other than that they are the same. Italian Sloppy Joes are super easy to throw together and uniquely good.


1 lb Italian Sausage
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons Sloppy Joe seasoning (powder from a packet)
4 hamburger buns
Italian Seasoning and Parmesan Cheese to taste

 First, crumble and brown the sausage in a medium sauce pan. If there is a lot of fat that comes out, drain it off.

 When the sausage is browned, sprinkle over the Sloppy Joe seasoning. I like to let it brown with the meat for a few minutes

 Add in the tomato sauce. It will look too runny for a few seconds but just let it simmer for a little bit. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, toast the buns until they are golden brown. I buttered and seasoned the buns, but that is not the Helen way. 

This is what the sauce should look like when it is ready. Taste it for salt and pepper and you are ready to go. 

Helen would serve these with some tater tots with Italian Seasoning sprinkled over the top, but a salad is pretty nice, too. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

 Creamy Taco Dip

 "I'm hungry. Not really hungry, just sort of. All I really want is chips and salsa." This is a conversation my former roomate and I would have on a weekly basis. I really believe there is such a degree of hunger as "just chips and salsa" hungry. Keep in mind, this does mean eating about a cup of salsa and half a bag of chips. Both of which are not slightly hungry portions, but that's besides the point. 

Moving away from New Mexico has taken a good deal of salsa from my daily life, but I frequently just want chips and dip, not a whole meal. This is a great dip for salsa rotation. It is creamy and just a little spicy. This is also great over the top of tacos or burritos. But if you are only "chips and salsa hungry" this is the perfect remedy.


1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 salsa
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine all the ingredients until they are well mixed. I like to refrigerate the dip for a few hours to really let it set and get yummy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

BLT Macaroni and Cheese

I had a rather uncomfortable moment the other day at the bank. It was a longer line than usual but very quiet. You could feel everyone and their internal voice wondering why it was taking so long. As I was reading through a recipe magazine on casseroles my stomach growled very, very loudly. It was less of a growl and more of a pack of blue wales calling to one another. 
Everyone noticed and stared my way. Blushing and smiling politely I made a terrible joke about eating the paper from the magazine. Cricket, cricket. To be fair, there was a very life like picture of a party set up. A Macaroni and Cheese Bar with a million different toppings and combinations for people to make on their plates. My eyes wondered to the bacon, tomato, and spinach. It has all the great flavor of a BLT sandwich but it has a chance to swim in a sea of cheese sauce. This is a great dish for parties or just a week night dinner, regardless everyone will love it!


5 Tablespoons of butter
a scant 1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
5 cups of hot milk
6 cups of shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack and Cheddar)
1 lb macaroni, cooked and drained
5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
3 cups baby spinach
3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan until it is smooth. 

Add in the flour and whisk well. The amount of flour is a little weird, I know. But it depends on how moist it all ends up being in the pan. 

I sprinkle in a little at a time and stop once the flour is absorbed by the butter. When it is a solid paste, you know you have the perfect combination. Let this cook for about 3 minutes. Don't let it brown, but you want to make sure all the flour taste is cooked out. Add in salt and pepper to your liking.

Slowly add in the hot milk, stirring vigorously until it all smooths out. 

With a big cheesy plop, add in the cheese and stir until smooth and velvety.

I taste the sauce before I add in the pasta. Add in more salt and pepper as you feel. Then, stir in the pasta until it's well combined. 

Add in the bacon, spinach and tomato and transfer this into a greased 9X13 baking dish.

I like to add another thin layer of cheese to top off the casserole, but it's not totally necessary. 

Bake the mac and cheese for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the center is bubbly and the edges are crispy and brown. 

Don't be fooled by the veggies in this dish, it is very rich! This is perfect with a side salad or some delicious roasted veggies. It will give your stomach something to talk about for sure!