Making Perfectly Deliciously and Perfectly Healthy Coconut Cookies — March 7, 2021

Making Perfectly Deliciously and Perfectly Healthy Coconut Cookies

The perfect coconut oatmeal breakfast cookies are perfectly delicious, perfectly healthy, and the perfect way to start a perfect day.

Did I use the words “healthy” and “cookies” in the same sentence?

Actually, yes I did.

Why?

Because these coconut breakfast cookies are vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly.

Perfectly delicious because they are perfectly moist and che`wy on the outside…perfectly crisp on the outside with perfectly crisp edges…and bursting with the perfect amount of coconut f1lavor.

 

Dry Ingredients

  • ¼C + 2Tbsp rolled oats
  • ¼C flour—coconut flour, almond flour, regular flour, almond flour
  • ½tsp cinnamon
  • ¼tsp baking powder
  • ¼tsp baking soda
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 2Tbsp coconut sugar, maple syrup, organic cane sugar or organic brown sugar…or 2Tbsp granulated stevia…or ½C pure maple syrup

 

Wet Ingredients

  • 8oz coconut oil or vegan butter
  • 1 flax egg or four medium eggs….
  • 1tsp. vanilla

 

The Coconut…½C unsweetened coconut flakes

Make sure to use large coconut chips or flakes…Using large coconut flakes or chips will ensure that your cookies spread out and flatten like regular cookies…instead of ending up looking like macaroons.

 

Add-in Ingredient

Feel free to customize these cookies to your liking ny adding whatever else you want—such as finely-chopped nuts, seeds, raisins, dried fruit. sugar-free chocolate chips, and so on and so forth.

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil. Set aside. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk all of the wet ingredients in a second bowl until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture. Cream together until light and fluffy. Fold in coconut and any other add-in Ingredients.

Scoop 2Tbsp-sized firmly-packed dough balls onto prepared cookie sheet. Press down with your palm into a cookie shape.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and slightly golden on top.

Making the Perfect Coconut Cake — February 16, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Cake

Growing up in the Deep South, my mom and both grandmothers and almost every other female at that time took great pride in their cooking—especially their cakes and candies.

My Dad’s absolute favorite of these cakes was the coconut cake—as you all probably know already—a cake with frosted with 7-minute frosting or cream cheese icing or buttercreams, covered in shredded toasted and/or sweetened coconut flakes.

But honestly I don’t have the time or level of commitment that my mom and grandmothers had in order to spend hours and hours in the kitchen. That’s why God invented microwaves and freezer meals and drive-through windows, right?!

But on those rare occasions when I do feel like putting forth the time and effort, one of my favorite desserts is coconut poke cake.

Coconut poke cake so very easy to make—a rectangular one-layer white or yellow cake with holes made into the cake to absorb cream of coconut frosted with whipped topping.

So let’s get cookin’…shall we?!

 

 

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The Cake

For the cake, just grab you a box of white or yellow cake mix the next time you go to the store…(or have greoceries delivered)…and make cake according to instructions on the box for a 9×13 pan.

 

 

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The Filling

  • 1 (14 ounce) can cream of coconut
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Mix cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk together. Pour over the top of the still hot cake.

 

 

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The Frosting

  • 16oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • 8oz flaked coconut

Spread cake with Cool Whip. Top with coconut.

Developing a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit — January 11, 2021

Developing a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit

Before starting this series on tropical fruits, I had honestly never even heard of banana passion fruit…and I still honestly haven’t figured out where the closest place to buy it is…but since it is a tropical fruit, I’m gonna go ahead and include here in this chapter…(think once I finish crawling up the Raw Foods Pyramid, I may try to put it all together into a book…probably too lofty of a goal, but hey we are all making New Year’s resolutions right now anyway)…

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The What

Banana passion fruit are native to many areas of South America—particularly Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.

Banana passion fruit grows on vines that can be as tall…or long, not sure which word would be correct here…as twenty-two feet….and that have attractive, deep pink blossoms. The vines are commonly used in landscaping to cover trellises.

plant is known to live for up to twenty years. A mature banana passion fruit vine can produce up to three hundred banana passion fruits. 

The fruit itself is oblong and about four inches long. The orange-scented fruit has a  thick, leathery skin that changes from green to bright yellow as the fruit ripens…and juicy, sweet pulp that is studded with black seeds.

The pulp is juicy and sweet, with a tart bite and hints of banana. Although the seeds are edible, they can be somewhat bitter…

Banana passion fruit is available year-round in the tropics, with a peak season in the spring and fall months.

However…interestingly enough…it is illegal to sell and distribute the plant in New Zealand and Hawaii because it is considered to be an invasive species that can quickly take over and deprive other native plants from the sun.

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

Banana passionfruit are a good source of the following nutrients…

  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • protein
  • vitamins A and C

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

As long as you store ripe banana passion fruit in an open paper bag in the fridge, they will last for around a week.

Although banana passion fruit is best eaten as it is instead of trying to cook or make something else out of it, here are some more ideas as far as using banana passion fruit…

  • desserts such as cakes, cheesecake and pies
  • fruit salads
  • ice cream
  • juices
  • parfaits
  • relishes, jams and other preserves
  • smoothies
  • yogurt 

So let’s take a look in the following posts at a few of these ideas…shall we?!

Making the Perfect Chowder — November 23, 2020

Making the Perfect Chowder

Don’t Be a Dumbo About Making Gumbo —

Don’t Be a Dumbo About Making Gumbo

If I were to talk about both choosing the perfect ingredients for your gumbo and using the perfect method, this would be an extremely long post.

Instead we’re gonna talk about the perfect ingredientsw…and talk about method in the next.

Making the perfect gumbo is about like decorating a Christmas tree. There are an umpteen thousand different ways to do it, and every one has their own opinion of what your finished project should look/taste like.

But regardless your personal preference, there are some tips about choosing ingredients that remain the same regardless what type of gumbo you may be making.

 

 

 

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Mear

A few things to keep in mind as far as the meat are…

1. If you are making chicken gumbo, use the legs becacuse they will give the best flavor.

2. Buy bone-in chicken, and then cook your chicken on the bone, but take off the skin if there’s any on it.. This will add extra richness to your gumbo. Just make sure that you carefully remove all bones from your gumbo before serving…especially if you are serving it to your Cajun grandmother.

3. Brown your meat over high heat before sticking in into the pot. This will add more flavor to your gumbo.

4. If using a sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, wait and add them at the end of your cooking time…otherwise they get get rubbery.

 

 

Now for a few recipes as to which meat can be used and some recipes to try…

 

 

 

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Vegetables

In a  previous post we learned that The Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onions, celery, and bell peppers—not carrots, as in the classic French mirepoix which consists  of onions, celery, and carrots,

As in most cooking, it is always best to use fresh ingredients instead of the frozen stuff…even though the frozen stuff is so much more convenient…

Tomatoes…Tomatoes are typically found in Creole gumbo recipes,..not Cajun…(so not going to get into the specifics of this, just trust me on this one)…versions of the dish

Okra…Okra is often used as a thickener. Okra is often used as a thickener and While there are many gumbo recipes that do not call for okra…and many people do not like adding the okra because they claim that it makes their gumbo slimy…,the word “gumbo” is actually derived from the West African word for okra.

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Liquid

You can use either water or stock/broth to create the base of your gumbo., but using water will mean that your gumbo will end up having much less flavor…so I wouldn’t recommend it.

And of course you can buy stock/broth from the grocery store, but it’s also easy to make your own…and perhaps cheaper.

So how you make your own stock?

The stock or broth that you use depends on the type of gumbo you are making, but here are three basic recipes…

Making the Perfect Avocado Salad — November 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Avocado Salad

  •   Bowl of avocado salad The perfect avocado salad is simple—fresh avocado, thinly sliced red onion…different from standard guacamole in that it has way more depth of flavor and creamy chunks of avocado.

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Ingredients for Salad

  • 3 large avocados…peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2C English cucumbers…chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2C cherry tomatoes or 1 large ripe tomato, chopped
  • ½C radish, halved, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
  • ½C red onion, cut into thin slices
  • 2tsp minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/3C corn
  • 2Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/8tsp pepper

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Ingredients for Salad Dressing

  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4C olive oil
  • ¼C lime juice
  • 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2Tbsp honey

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Instructions

  • Make the Dressing…Stir all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil. Now very slowly drizzle in the avocado or olive oil, constantly whisking to break the fat into small droplets. This will help create a thicker salad dressing.
  • Combine salad ingredients…Stir your salad ingredients together in a second bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the avocado salad.
Making the Perfectly Rockin’ Guac — November 16, 2020

Making the Perfectly Rockin’ Guac

The perfect guacamole is simple to make and like anything else that you make requires using only the freshest, highest quality ingredients—the perfect avocado…the perfect onion…the perfect tomatoes…and the perfect seasonings—such as cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, garlic and salt.

The perfect guacamole should be plain and simple….the perfect blend of high quality ingredients melded together beautifully.

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The Avocados

The perfect avocados for making guacamole should be ripe, but firm….not soft and mushy avocados.

You can know that you are picking the best avocados by only choosing those that still have the stem attached. Avocados with the stem still attached are less likely to have brown spots on the inside.

If you gently press one end of the avocado, it should be firm, yet have a slight give to it.

Here is a tried and true guacamole recipe that’s easy to make, uses fresh ingredients and is loaded with flavor. 

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The Ingredients

3 avocados, ripe

1/2 small onion, finely diced

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

3Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2tsp salt

1 lime, juiced…(Note that using fresh limes instead of bottled lime juice will make a huge difference)…

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Instructions

Slice your avocados in half. Remove the pit and skins. Put the flesh of the avocado in a mixing bowl.

Mash the avocados gently with a fork until you get them as chunky or smooth as you’d like.

Add the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic, lime juice and salt.

Place any leftover guacamole in a storage container…(yeah, right…as my house there is never any leftover guacamole)…Pat down firmly with a spoon so it’s nice and flat on top. Add about 1/2″ cold water on top. Place the lid on the storage container. Stick the container in the fridge.

The water will help keep the guacamole from oxidizing  and turning brown as quickly.

Once you’re ready to devour the rest of the guacamole, drain the water off the top and stir.

Making the Perfect Chili — November 15, 2020

Making the Perfect Chili

The perfect chili will depend on your own person preferences…beans, not beans…beef of chicken…plain or served as chili dogs… burgers topped with chili… (usually without beans)….chili fries…chili mac…or Frito pie and flavored to perfection…(more on this later)…

As we all probably know by now, especially if you live in Texas, chili is a type of spicy stew that not only is great to serve alone…or as

And speaking of chili, chilii made in New York City may taste good…and chili made in Texas may be better…the best chili is made in your own kitchen because you are the boss, and you can choose what ingredients you actually like best, not what somebody thinks you’ll like.

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THE INGREDIENTS

The recipe that you actually end up using for your chili will probably vary from one person to the next…based on where you live and what you actually want to be in your chili…(such as beans or no beans)

Since the perfect chili is a matter of person preference, instead of simply giving you one single recipes for the perfect chili, let’s consider some of the ingredients that you could use in chili…so that you can tweak the recipe until you find the perfect chili that is perfectly perfect for you and your family.

 

 

 

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THE MEAT

Beef…Most of us like our chili to be good and hearty…probab ly stockpiled with lots of meat…chili con carne…as most of us already know, you can always substitute ground turkey for the ground beef.

Chicken,,,one of my favorite meals is white chicken chili…kinda like my favorite lasagna contains white sauce and chicken…instead of the typicaxl ground beef and red saucer.

No Meat…my daughter has decided to embrace the vegetarian era…meaning that I often have to disappointment my Mississippi husband by making meals that do nit contain any meat…

Pork…Chili can also be made with pork…such as chili verde…a ‘green chili that is made from chunks of pork.

 

 

 

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THE PEPPERS

Chili peppers, often in the form of chili powder…which we will talk about later)…is commonly used to spice up your chili.

What makes chili peppers so hot is an ingredient called Capsaicin, the same stuff that’s used to make pepper spray, many pain relief creams, insect-repellentproducts…(yum)…

 

Remember that the white part of the pepper is where most of this capsaicin…especially the seeds.

Five types of  chili peppers rhat you can consider using are…

  • Bell pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Habanero pepper
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Poblano pepper
  • Serrano pepper
  • Thai prepper
  • Wax pepper

As far as if the word is actually “chili” or “chile,” there is no clearcut answer. “Chili ” is typically what most of us call it here in the US, but “Chile” is the the word more often used in Mexico and several other Latin American countries.

Other people prefer to use the word “chile” whenever referring to the pepper, and chili to talk about the stew.

 

 

 

 

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THE VEGETABLES

Vegetables, other than tomatoes, can also be good ingredients in your chili—vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, corn, squash, and beets…which is why I thought I could get by with a chili recipe while talking about the raw food pyramid, while talking about leafy greens, while talking about smoothies, while talking about antioxidants…if that made any sense)…

 

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THE  BEANS

The use of beans in chili has been debated for a very, very long time…especially here in Texas.

In fact the society that “governs” most of the chili cookoffs so populat around America have banned the use of beans in their cook-offs.

Here in Texas. supposedly we eat our chili without beans…(sorry…that doesn[t include me…I like my chili as heartless…I mean hearty…as possible).

While everyone else supposedly like their chili with beans, any type of bean—including

  • black beans
  • blacked-eyed peas
  • great Northern beans
  • kidney beans
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • white beans

As far as chili beans, these are actually pinto or kidney beans that have already been spiced…which will obviously change the taste of the chili from what it would have been if you had used them by themselves.

When using beans, be sure to rinse them first to to remove the extra salt and starches.

 

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THE TOMATOES

 

The use of tomatoes…just like the use of beans…whenever making chili has been a topic of debate for a very, very lnog time.

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THE SPICES

What actually makes chili chili…at least to me…is the spices that you add…

Without the perfect blend of spices, you simply have another meat dish that contains tomatoes, vegetables, and perhaps beans…

NOT chili!!!

The spices that you use are what give chili its complex flavor.

Recipes exist with all sorts of different spice blends to flavor the chili….but the four most common spices are when making chili are…

  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • Other spices that I’ve seen in chili recipes include cayenne pepper, cinnamon,  dry mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and onion powder.

Any by the way, chili powder is not actually a spice in and of itself…and you can make your own without making a special trip to gT

 

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THE TOPPINGS

Toppings that you can add to your chili once it’s finished cooking include…

  • Cheese—such as Monterey Jack, cheddar
  • Cilantro
  • Crackers—such as saltine crackers or oyster crackers
  • Croutons
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced red or green onion
  • Jalapenos
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips
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THE MENU

Foods that go great when served with chili include cornbread,  tortillas, tamales, rice, and pasta.

 

 

 

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THE RECIPE

Meat

  • 2# ground beef or turkey

Vegetables

  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped

  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion -diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

Spices

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder…OR…2Tbsp cumin, 1/4tsp cayenne pepper -optional, 1tsp oregano, 1/2tsp paprika
  • 2Tbsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1Tbsp garlic powder or 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp pepper

Tomatoes

  • 2Tbsp tomato paste…OR…8oz tomato sauce
  • 28oz diced tomatoes with juic

Beans

  • 19 oz kidney beans canned, drained & rinsed

Other

  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth…OR…beer
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Toppings as desired

Cook for 6-7 minutes.

Just thought that I would throw that in there before you smart making chili for tonight’s dinner…it would be much better if you make it today and serve it tomorrow.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.

Add the onion. Cook five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beef, onions, garlic and some of the chili powder…cook for about seven minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Drain any fat.

Add remaining ingredients…making sure to stir until well combined.

Bring the liquid to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low or medium-low.

Simmer uncovered for at least twenty minutes….again stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon…the lower your cooking temperature and the longer you cook your chili, the more flavorful it will be.

Simmering you chili uncovered will allow the chili to naturally thicken without having to add cornstarch or flour.

Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for at least five minutes before serving.

Top with cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro or other favorite toppings.

Leftovers…assuming there are any…will last from three to five days.

Freezing Chili…Chili can be frozen either in single sized portions for lunches or in freezer bags for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Remember…If all else fails, you can always run back to Kroger or Albertson’s or Tom Thumb…or order from Instacart…to get some canned chili…people have been doing this since 1908 when chili first started being canned and sold in New Braufels, Texas…
Soup’s On — November 2, 2020

Soup’s On

Having these nightly meals requires planning and thinking ahead…more so when you find our that your significant other has type 2 diabetes…the main thing I have learned this last year.

Fortunately this is also the time of year for one of my favorite things…

SOUP…

Soup is definitely the ultimate comfort food—both nourishing and warming to the body as well as the soul.

And soup can be made so many different ways—such as chicken noodle soup, vegetable beef stew, clam chowder—to name a few.

Regardless the type of being made, there are certain things to keep in mind as you add soup to your menu plan this winter…certain things that will always remain the same regardless the type of soup being made.

Soup is great this time of year also because as a chef, or at least as a cook, you can easily transform practically any ingredient into a delicious, satisfying meal that will allow to use  whatever ingredients you already have on hand and not have to get back in the cold now that the holidays are over.

In this next series of posts, we’ll look at the ingredients and method used to make a great pot of soup…much better soup than anything you could ever get out of a can or a box…

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About — October 6, 2020

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About

I feel like I have gone on so many tangents while writing this blog that they couldn’t possibly be counted.

 

I have gone all the way from learning to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and clean eating…to making scones with lots and lots of sugar and butter.

This latest tangent has been a result of “the resident five year old” going back to school.

Realizing that he never eats his lunch at school, I have learned the importance of making him a good breakfast instead.

So I have wanted to build myself an arsenal of breakfast recipes to keep him well fed…and hopefully well behaved at school.

 

So before we go on, let’s give our “breakfast cookbook” a Table of Contents…

 

 

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Table of Contents