Sweets

Rum and Coconut Cake

My Uncle Bob has been sending a coconut rum cake to my family for years during the holiday season. This cake is coveted by the whole family. It is moist, covered in coconut and pecans and AMAZING. For years – years – only my mother knew about the cake. She would get the package, eat the coconut rum cake, and then share the remaining items with the family. Only recently have we been able to partake in the glory that is the coconut rum cake. Bob won’t share his recipe – and this isn’t exactly the same, but it is pretty close!

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Rum and Coconut Cake

for the cake:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, unsalted

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons oil, separated

1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 3.4 oz package coconut pudding mix

3/4 cup whole milk

4 large eggs

3/4 cup rum*

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded coconut plus 1/2 cup coconut

for the soak:

1/2 cup butter, unsalted

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup rum*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare two 9 inch loaf pans. Pour a little oil into each pan and wipe with a cloth to evenly distribute the oil.

Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and 3 tablespoons of oil and mix until combined. The mixture will look like crumbs. Add the pudding mix, and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla, and remaining oil. Add the wet ingredients slowly to the flour mixture until combined. The mixture should be pourable. Hand mix one cup of coconut into the batter.

Pour the batter into the two pans and tap them on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Top the pans with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Bake the cakes for about 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

While the cake cooks, make the soak. Combine the butter, water, sugar in a saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cook until slightly reduced, then remove from the heat and add the rum. Be careful when adding the rum! The mixture will bubble!

When the cakes are done, remove from the oven and place on the counter. Pour the warm soak over both cakes. Let the cake soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. Slice and serve.

*Do not use spiced rum. Use dark rum.

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Main Courses, Sides

BBQ Pinto Beans

We have had a busy couple of months, the details of which I will share later. For now, we are in need of easy comforting food in our house. Very few things are as easy and comforting as a pot of beans.

BBQ Pinto Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans

4 cups water

2 tablespoons chicken base

2 tablespoons Rudy’s dry rub

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce

1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)

2 onions, chopped

Combine all of the ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook on high for thirty minutes. (If you have an Instant Pot, use the bean setting.)

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Breakfast, Snacks, Sweets

Gingerbread

I’m a ginger nut. Early in my marriage, I purchased candied ginger and would occasionally pop a piece and chew it slowly. My husband ate a piece and told me, it was inedible. It was too spicy. He had no idea how I could possibly eat such a thing. He never ate straight candied ginger again (to my knowledge). He has, over our six years of marriage, grown to appreciate ginger. He now drinks ginger beer. He likes ginger candy. He approved of this gingerbread.

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Gingerbread

3/4 cup ginger ale (do not use diet)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup oil, plus a little extra

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon dried ginger

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a eight by 4 loaf pan with a little oil. I like to drizzle a little oil in the bottom of the pan and use a towel to wipe the pan to evenly coat the inside with oil.

Bring the soda to a boil. When boiling, remove the soda from the heat and add the baking soda. Make sure you’re using a pan with high sides because the soda will foam. When the foaming has stopped, stir in the sugar and the fresh ginger. Set aside to cool. When cooled, whisk in the eggs and the oil.

Whisk the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the soda mixture into the flour slowly until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and tap the pan on the counter gently to remove air bubbles.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is firm to the touch. Let the loaf cool before slicing.

 

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Main Courses, Pasta

Peas and Penne

I’ve got it in my head to try and eat more vegan-like, although I can’t seem to go full-vegan. I’ve been buying Vital Farms eggs for more than a year now, and I can’t help but believe that these eggs are not a breach of ethics to consume. In the end, I’m trying to eat ethically, and I’m not really sure what that means yet. It has been a long journey. And that journey has taken me to Kite Hill cheese. Enjoy

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Peas and penne

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cup cleaned and sliced morel mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 package Beyond Meat grilled chicken strips, thawed

2 tablespoons vodka

2 oz Kite Hill soft fresh original

1/2 cup dry penne, gluten free

12 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Saute the mushrooms in the oil in a pan until crispy and slightly browned at the edges. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, and deglaze the pan with the vodka. Add the chicken and the garlic. Saute the chicken and garlic in the oil until warmed. Add in the peas and the mushrooms. Toss with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Add the cooked penne. Serve warm with slices of the Kite Hill.

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Sweets

Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

I adore my sister in law. She is the sister that I never had growing up, and always wanted. When she entered our little family, I was a little nervous – you never know how new relationships are going to go, you know? Her first holiday with out family was Easter, and my mother made carrot cake. The plates were passed, and she grew quiet. She ate a few bites and paused. I never knew why people would eat carrot cake, she said. A cake, made of vegetables, not entirely appealing. But, sometimes you have to just put your head down, she said, and power through. But she liked this carrot cake, and the head down and powering through technique worked.

And now, I can’t eat carrot cake without smiling. I don’t know if this would pass the sister in law test, but it is pretty good.

Oh – and my sister in law blogs! They are presently engaged in a four-month world tour. Check it out here.

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Carrot cake with cinnamon buttercream

for the cake:

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup raisins

2 eggs

1 cup gluten free flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup walnuts

for the buttercream:

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

Make the cake. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until well incorporated. Slowly added the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the carrot, raisins, and nuts. Pout into a loaf pan and bake at 350 for one hour and five minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

For the buttercream, whip the butter until fluffy, then add in the sugar and spice a little at a time until thick. Frost the cake roughly when cool.

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Sweets

Banoffee Pie

We’re celebrating a bit of an anniversary this week. The one week anniversary of my husband’s purchase of fourteen bananas. We are generally a banana-for-breakfast kind of family, but that a few too many bananas for even us to eat. We got down to it, but at the end of the week, we had four bananas left. As the old saying goes, if life gives you bananas, make banoffee pie. It is really rather simple.

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Banoffee Pie

2 14oz cans of sweetened condensed milk

4 bananas

1 pint whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 par-baked gluten free crust

1 oz dark chocolate, shaved (optional)

Place the cans of sweetened condensed milk, with the paper labels removed, in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a simmer and keep it simmering for four hours. That sounds long, I know. You’re making caramelized sweetened condensed milk here, and that takes some time! Put the water to simmer, and read Outlander for a few hours, checking the water every once in a while to make sure that the cans are still covered by the water. You’re going to add water every now and again. Remove the cans at the end of the hour hours and set aside to cool.

Assemble your pie. Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Slice the bananas into roughly quarter-inch slices. Arrange the banana slices in the pie crust. Open the sweetened condensed milk and pour over the bananas, making sure to allow the caramel-y milk to drip to the bottom of the pie crust. Top with the whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Chill for at least four hours.

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Main Courses

Eggplant Stir Fry with Amaranth Griddlecakes

I tried making a salad from amaranth a few weeks ago, and I learned a valuable lesson. Amaranth does not make a good salad, the grain is a little too sticky for a salad. It does, however, make a great griddlecake. Add a little flour and egg and you have a great little base for a savory topping. We added an eggplant stir fry – perfection.

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Eggplant Stir Fry with Amaranth Griddlecakes

1 cup amaranth

3 cups water

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion minced

2 medium eggplant, skinned and cubed

1 bunch scallions, sliced on the bias

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons neutral oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon grated piloncillo sugar

Make the eggplant stir fry. Saute the onion in the 2 tablespoons of oil until soft. Then add the eggplant. Up the heat on the saute pan to medium high and add the salt. Saute the eggplant until it is soft and browned. When the eggplant is cooked through lower the heat in the pan, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the pepper and the coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and sugar. Cook until the sauce is well mixed into the vegetables, and then add the scallions until just wilted.

Make the griddlecakes. Bring the water to a boil and add the amaranth, then bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. When the amaranth is done, set aside to cool. Whisk the amaranth into the eggs. Whisk in the baking powder, corn flour and the tapioca flour. Mix in the milk and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fry in batches as you would pancakes, in oil and flip after bubbles form. Eat these immediately and top with the eggplant.

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Appetizers, Sauces & Other Extras

Muhammara

So we’re deep into Lent now, and this is the time that I am most likely to break. Not even necessarily that I consciously decide to go against the grain, but that I forget that I’ve made a decision to eat closer to the ground and that bowl of salted caramel truffles is calling my name and it’s like seven on a Thursday and what am I still doing at work… I know that you’re busy reshaping the world powered by other people’s humble prayers and good deeds, but God, please take a minute to forgive this human’s seemingly inability to not stop off at the grocery store for a bag of popcorn. I’m weak. I’m human. This dip is a good thing to eat to remind yourself that real food tastes better than fake food. This takes no time at all, and serves as both a great accompaniment to vegetables as it does a conversation starter. No one will believe that you just put things in the blender. Blend away, sinners.

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Muhammara

16 ounces roasted red peppers, drained

2-ish cups walnuts

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon molasses

1 cup virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt.

Blend until you’ve achieved a smooth texture.

***Note to the follower of this recipe. This dip is very forgiving – this is actually what I consider the cheater / I have to make something for book club and I have nothing in the house version of this dip. If you’re attempting to be authentic and make it like a self-respecting Syrian, you’re probably going to use fresh lemon juice, instead of apple cider vinegar, and you’re going to use pomegranate molasses instead of American molasses. But this helpless American can’t ever seem to find pomegranate molasses, so I just up the acid and add a little sweetener. And I forgot to buy a lemon – or did I buy a lemon and just can’t find it? – so apple cider vinegar it is. Feel free to sub in different nuts, I have found that cashews are a decent and creamier substitute.

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Salad, Sides

Winter Slaw

It is the middle of bitter February, and work is crazy busy. We’re implementing a new server at work. We’re adding a new service. And to top it all off, my boss has decided to re-work how we do billing. So, in addition to this disruption to my work-life, it is tax season, which means I’m a grass widow. If we’re looking for the silver lining in all of this crazy, it just means that I can add as much citrus and mint to whatever I want. My husband tends to shy from both of those ingredients. I’m sure that it has nothing to do with the time I experimented with grapefruit and beet ice cream… Boom. Slaw with citrus and plenty of mint.

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Winter Slaw

1 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon mint, chopped

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1/2 cup mixed citrus segments

4 tablespoons light olive oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons coconut vinegar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon coconut aminos

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

Assemble your dressing. Vigorously shake the oils, lime juice, vinegar, syrup, aminos and chili flakes in a jar. Arrange the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Main Courses

Texas-Style Chili

My family moved to Texas when I was in the third grade from Missouri, and we left after sixth grade. Growing up there meant that cowboy boots and red-lacquered nails were common place. Ladies served white-frosted hummingbird cakes, and the men drank Shiner Bock (well, so did the women). Mexican food was really Tex-Mex, but different from the “Tex-Mex” that you find in other states. People ate tamales and Christmas, and decorated their yards with luminarias. And then there was the chili. Texas Chili is built with large chunks of meat, no ground meat here. No beans either. This is about the meat and the gravy. Dig in.

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Texas-Style Chili

4 pounds stew meat, cubed

1 onion, roughly chopped

3 jalepenos

2 poblano peppers

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup masa flour

2 tablespoons coco powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon powdered cumin

1 tablespoon powdered coriander

2 tablespoons dried and powdered chiplotle

10 dried pequin peppers, crushed

3 cups water

56 ounces diced tomatoes

Neutral flavored oil

 

Brown the meat in a little oil. You don’t need to cook this all the way through, you just want to establish a little brown crust on the meat. When you have that, remove the meat and place in a crockpot.

Add the onion to the pan and brown in the remaining oil. If you’re out of oil, add a little more. Deal with your peppers. Address your heat level, if you’re not someone who likes hot, maybe you don’t add jalepenos at all. If you like heat, wash and dice your peppers. Remove the skin from the poblanos first by scorching them over high flame on a gas grill or gas burner. When the skin is black, put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about twenty minutes. After that period of time, you will be able to remove the skin easily. Rough chop the poblanos and add these with the jalepenos to the onions. When the onions are translucent,  add the tomato paste, and cook until the paste is well mixed and fragrant. Add the spices, including the coco powder and masa, and stir to combine. At this point, add 1 cup water and mix to create a paste. Simmer for five minutes, then pour this paste over the meat in the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Add the remaining water and the diced tomato.

Cook on low in the crockpot for  six hours.

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