Friday, May 21, 2010

Simply Irresistible Coconut Cake

Summer is just around the corner (at least in my mind anyway!) and I am so excited to pull out all of my favorite recipes for weekend get togethers. And with Memorial Day weekend one week away it's time to start planning what to bring for all the parties that mark the official launch of summer!

This Coconut Cake might just be one of the easiest recipes I've ever made. As I may have mentioned, I am really not much of baker (too much precision for me). That's why I love this doctored up "out of a box" cake recipe. I apologize to all those baking purist - but I'll leave the "real baking" to you. Besides, it's summer ... we need recipes that are fast and simple!

PS: Sorry about the less than stellar photo - we were so excited to eat the cake, we almost forgot to take a picture :)

Simply Irresistible Coconut Cake
adapted from Paula Dean
serves 10-12 (or more)

1 box yellow cake mix - prepared as directed
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
15 ounce can cream of coconut
8 oz frozen cool whip
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 basket of fresh strawberries, washed and sliced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.

Prepare cake as directed.

Remove cake from oven and poke holes all over the cake with a fork or skewer.

In a small bowl mix together sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut. Pour mixture over warm cake.

Let cool completely.

Frost with whipped topping, sprinkle with coconut, and top with strawberries.

Cover and refrigerate.

Best made the day before.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grilled Tri-Tip with Red Wine Marinade

We had such a great time visiting with my husband's parents last week! So great in fact, that I've been a little behind in posting recipes :) But the good news is that while we were visiting, we also did quite a bit of cooking!

When my in-laws come to visit, I often grill tri-tip. It's a cut of meat that is somewhat difficult to find in the South East, so we often serve it at least once during their stay. Tri-tip is also a personal favorite of mine! I love the Santa Maria style that is typically found along the California Central Coast. But I also love experimenting with new spice combinations and marinades, so I was excited to try my hand at a red wine marinade.

Red wine and beef - most of us believe it's a fabulous combination. And the same holds true when you combine the two in a marinade. I found the base for my recipe on Epicurious, but did change the ratios quite a bit to suit my taste. I also reserved the marinade and reduced it, making a great reduction sauce.

Everyone agreed it was fabulous meal, and let me add, EXTREMELY simple!!!

Grilled Tri-Tip with Red Wine Marinade
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, May 1996 via
Serves 4-6

* 5 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup dry red wine
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon honey
* 1 to1 1/2 pound tri-tip (London broil may be substituted)


In a medium mixing bowl, whisk first 6 ingredients together.

In a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag combine tri-tip with marinade. Seal bag, pressing out excess air, and put in a shallow baking dish. Marinate steak, chilled, turning occasionally, at least 4 hours and up to 24.

Prepare grill.

Grill meat to desired doneness. Reserve the remaining marinade.

For medium rare meat, grill until the center of the meat reads 145°F on a meat thermometer. Approximately 20-25 minutes on the grill. Remove from grill and let meat rest 15 minutes. Thinly slice and top with the reduction sauce.

For the reduction sauce. Bring remaining marinade to boil in a small sauce pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lemon Mousse with Raspberry Coulis

In honor of the Mother's Day I am posting a recipe for this fabulous dessert. I had hoped to post it earlier in the week, but true to life of a busy mom, I ran out of time.

This lemon mouse is going to be my new "go to" dessert for dinner parties and special occasions. It's sweet, creamy and decadent - what else can you ask for in a dessert. I originally made it for a pre-Easter celebration and it was the perfect compliment to a rather heavy meal.

The recipe is fairly simple to make. There are several steps involved, but nothing too time consuming, and you can prepare most of it ahead of time and assemble everything just prior to serving.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas. I hope your day was filled with love, happiness, and fabulous food!

Lemon Mousse with Raspberry Coulis
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse via
Serves 4


* 1/2 cup lemon juice
* 4 egg yolks
* 1 egg
* 6 tablespoons butter, diced
* 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
* 1 pint raspberries
* 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
* 1/4 cup halved blackberries
* 3/4 cup whipped cream
* fresh mint
* 3/4 cup whipped cream
* fresh mint sprigs


For mousse:

In a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan combine the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, egg, and butter. Over medium-high heat, whisk the mixture constantly until thickened. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice and chill, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Fold in the whipped cream, wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

For raspberry coulis:

Place the raspberries and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the processor and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean nonreactive mixing bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate in a well sealed container until ready to use. Will keep for 2 days.

To serve:

Place 1/2 cup (or more) of the mousse in 4 stemmed glasses. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the Raspberry Coulis over the mouse. Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. Garnish with blackberries and sprigs of mint and serve.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Simple Spanish Paella

I love the opportunity to cook with my husband. But with our busy schedules and two small kids, we have rarely take the time to make a meal together. But last weekend we took the time to make one of our all time favorites. On the menu: Spanish Paella.

We've made paella before, but usually it's the "cheat version" with pre-seasoned saffron rice. This time we were making the real deal and I was excited to use some imported Spanish saffron my brother-in-law had given me for Christmas. I really think the saffron made this dish great. Although it's kind of pricey, a little goes a long way. If you don't have it on hand you can purchase it at Trader Joe's for around $7.

Served with a bottle of Spanish Red Wine, this dish was a complete meal on its own. It made so much, we called my parents over to join us at the last minute. And as added bonus, our two year old devoured this dish, including the mussels and calamari!

Spanish Paella
serves 4

* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 2 cups enriched white rice
* 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
* 1 quart chicken broth or stock
* 2 cups, cooked diced chicken tenders
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3/4 pound chorizo, casing removed and sliced on an angle
* 1 pound mixed seafood (I used a combo of scallops, shrimp, and calamari)
* 18 green lipped mussels, cleaned
* 1 cup frozen peas
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)


In a very wide pan or paella pan, preheat over medium high heat. Add olive oil, crushed garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and rice and saute for 2 - 3 minutes. Add saffron threads and broth, and bring liquid to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with lid or foil and reduce heat to simmer.
In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high heat, brown the chorizo until cooked through, approximately 4-6 minutes.

In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high brown the chorizo until cooked through, about4-6 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

After about 13 minutes, add shellfish to the rice pan, nesting them in cooking rice. Pour in peas, and seafood, then cover the pan again. After 5 minutes, remove cover or foil from the paella and discard any unopened mussel shells. Stir rice and seafood mixture. Arrange cooked chicken and , onions and chorizo around the pan. Top with parsley.

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