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Monday, August 30, 2010

Coconut Cream Bars

Summer is almost gone and I am now living in a place that will soon see the changes of fall taking place. I have several different desserts that I associate with summer and wanted to try out before the sweaters and jeans really make an appearance. My husband's birthday was a few days ago and since he had to work a 24 hour shift leading up it, he said not worry about a cake. But he does love coconut so I decided to make him these bars. They are really light and really good. And really coconutty. (I don't think that is a word). They fit the bill perfectly.

Coconut Cream Bars
From Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3 boxes (5.3 ounces each) shortbread cookies, coarsely broken (I just bought a 15 oz. box)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread coconut in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Leave oven on.
2. Process cookies and 1/2 cup coconut in a food processor until finely ground and mixture begins to clump together, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheet; press into an even layer on bottom. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack.
3. Whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add butter, whisking until combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups coconut.
4. Spoon the custard onto cooled crust; smooth top with offset spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto custard surface, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
5. Beat cream and confectioners' sugar in a large chilled stainless steel bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
6. Cut custard-filled crust into bars. Spoon whipped cream into a pastry bag (use ziplock bag if no pastry bag) fitted with a medium star tip. Beginning at one corner, pipe a zigzag pattern over each bar. Sprinkle bars with remaining 1/2 cup coconut.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Salad

This salad brings back so many memories for me. It was such a staple of summer nights, it literally drags my thoughts right back to our old California home, swimming all day, being threatened and cajoled to come into dinner, wolfing it down, and heading right back to the pool where we dangled our feet in while the requisite 20 minutes went by. (you know, cause you would drown if you went in right after eating....I actually believe that is quite false, thanks mom and dad).
My mom said that when she was growing up, her mom made this salad and called it Hawaiian salad. As she grew older, she suddenly switched and called it California salad. By either name, it is one of my favorites!!

California Salad

1 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple
1 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges
1 cup sour cream
1/2 c-1c coconut (depending on your preference)
1-1 1/2 cups of marshmallows (again, your preference although the more marshmallows, the drier the salad)
1-2 dozen maraschino cherries (optional)

Drain cans of fruit. Mix all together in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours. Serve.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yummy Caramel Popcorn

One of the most dangerous things that my mom makes is caramel popcorn. It seriously is very highly addictive. My girls absolutely love it. And whenever my kids are around her, they always talk her into cooking with them. They recently made a batch together which we promptly used for one of our family movie nights. We totally went old school with the Crush!

Caramel Popcorn

2 sticks butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (My daughter has actually requested to eat a whole bag of brown sugar for her birthday. Wow is all I can say.)
1/2 C corn syrup
1 tsp salt (My mom uses salted butter and then skips adding this but it is up to you)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
24 cups popped corn (about 2-3 bags microwave popped)

Boil butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Stir constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and vanilla. Gradually pour mixture over popped corn and mix well.
Pour into shallow pans (my mom uses 2 9x13 pans)

Bake at 250 degrees for one hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Cool completely, and break apart. You can store in tight containers if you have any leftovers (highly doubtful).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie

My dad LOVES custard pie. He also loves coconut anything. And although it doesn't say it, this really is basically a custard pie. When I came across it, it was appealing to me for two reasons: we were currently staying with my parents and I thought my dad might like it and it had the words impossibly easy in the title. I was pretty much sold.

Impossible Easy Coconut Pie
adapted from Bisquick

1cup flaked or shredded coconut
3/4cup sugar
1/2cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/4cup butter or margarine, softened
2cups milk
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla
1.Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate with shortening or cooking spray.
2.Place all ingredients except the coconut in a blender and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into pan and then sprinkle coconut on top. (I probably used more coconut)
3.Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown (mine didn't take nearly as long, and I wasn't keeping a close enough eye on it, hence, the slightly darker golden brown) and knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.
I got this adaptation of the Bisquick recipe from a reviewer online. The actual recipe calls for adding all the ingredients today in a bowl, stirring, and then pouring into the pan. Several other reviewers talked about how eggy it was and the blender really helped you not to feel like you were in a Stallone movie! (you know, cause he drinks raw eggs!!)