Hummingbird Cake

A few weeks ago my Mom came to town for graduation. The timing was perfect since it meant she ended up being here for Mother’s Day and her birthday also. I made this cake for Mother’s Day and it was fantastic. The banana flavor isn’t very strong, but it makes the cake wonderfully moist and allows the coconut and pineapple to shine. Drizzling some cream cheese frosting over the top makes it pretty close to perfect!

This cake could be served with brunch as a coffee cake, or in the evening after dinner which is what we did. Either way it’ll be tasty!

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 cup low-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 2 mashed bananas (1 scant cup)
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbl. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. While the oven is heating up, sprinkle 1/3 cup of shredded coconut and 1/3 cup of chopped nuts on a cookie sheet to toast. Place in the oven and check every couple of minutes and stir as needed until the coconut is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside until you’re ready to garnish the cake.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to combine, then set aside.
  4. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time blending until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and coconut extracts and the Greek yogurt.
  5. Set the mixer on low and add half the dry ingredients mixing until just combined. Add the mashed bananas and the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the coconut and pineapple.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth in an even layer. Bake for 50-55 minutes, rotating halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the cake is done, a toothpick should come out cleanly when inserted into the center of the cake. Let the cake cool in its pan for 20-30 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the side pan then gently turn over on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  7. When the cake is cool, whisk the cream cheese, milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together to make the glaze. Add more powdered sugar or milk if needed to reach the right consistency.
  8. Drizzle the frosting over the cake and sprinkle with the toasted coconut and nuts. Let the glaze set before slicing. Enjoy!
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Spinach Rice Casserole

A few weeks ago I found myself with some leftover rice in the fridge and not enough vegetables to make a stir fry. I had been looking forward to trying this recipe for a while and it was the perfect opportunity! I love creamy, cheesy casseroles and this one turned out really well. I used cheddar cheese when I made it, but next time around I think I’ll use pepper jack instead to give the casserole a little spice.

Spinach Rice Bake

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1 tbl. water
  • 1/2 tbl. olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (measure after cooking)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or pepper jack)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 8 x 8 inch baking dish.
  2. Place the spinach and water in a large skillet over medium heat; cover and cook until the spinach wilts. Drain the spinach and set aside.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove and heat the olive oil. Saute the chopped onion for a few minutes until translucent.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the brown rice, cheese, milk, eggs and salt. Stir in the onion and wilted spinach. Pour into the prepared 8 x8 inch pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until set in the middle
Makes: 4 servings
Adapted from Tammy’s Recipes

Coconut Margaritas

My mom was in town earlier this week for my graduation which worked out great since it meant she was also in town for Mother’s Day and her birthday! The night of her birthday I planned to try out a recipe for gnocchi which I’ve been anxious to make for quite a while. We went for a long walk that afternoon with the dogs and worked in my garden some and by the time we were finished we were both so hot and tired that spending a bunch of time in the kitchen did not sound fun.

We scrapped our plans for gnocchi and decided to munch on some fruit, guacamole and pita chips. These coconut margaritas were incredibly cool and refreshing and they were delicious with the guac and chips. Our dinner may not have been as fancy or impressive as I’d planned, but sitting out on my back steps in the shade sipping coconut margaritas felt pretty close to perfect!

Coconut Margaritas

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbl. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup Coco Lopez*
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • Ice
  • Lime wedges
* If you can’t find Coco Lopez, you can sub in cream of coconut, but you might need to add a little sugar to sweeten it.
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toss 1/2 cup coconut and salt on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minute, checking frequently and stirring, until the coconut is brown and toasted. Coarsely chop the coconut, then set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup coconut, lime juice, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice and tequila in a blender. Add ice cubes and blend until you reach the the desired consistency (I used about 8 ice cubes, use more if you want it thicker).
  3. Rub the rim of two glasses with a wedge of lime and dip in the toasted coconut to coat the rim. If you’re having a hard time getting the coconut to stick to the glass, put a bit of honey or corn syrup on the rim then dip it into the coconut. Divide the drink between the two glasses, then garnish with a slice of lime. Enjoy!
Makes: 2 drinks
Adapted from Eat Make Read

Vegetable Fajitas

My mom and brother both came to town over the weekend to attend my graduation ceremony. I know that families usually go out to eat the night of graduation, but we decided to stay home and cook a delicious meal ourselves and skip the crowds. Vegetable fajitas are one of my favorite dinners and this was the perfect meal to enjoy out in the backyard after graduation!

It was so much fun having my family stay with Boom and I for a few days. My mom and brother each brought a dog along with them, so my little house was bursting at the seams with the extra people and canines, but we had a great time. Many more great recipes from the weekend will be on the way!

Vegetable Fajitas

Ingredients

  • 1 tbl. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat then add the carrots and saute for a minute. Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Stir in the red and yellow peppers, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the black beans to the vegetables and cook until the beans are hot but the vegetables are still crunchy.
  2. To heat the tortillas, wrap them in a paper towel and microwave for one minute. Or, if you like them crispy, you can heat a skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wipe the skillet with the oil to lightly coat it, then cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side to heat it up, then fold in half to give it some shape while you cook the next tortilla.
  3. Serve with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Source: Original Recipe

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies are probably my very favorite store-bought cookie. When I was in middle school and high school I rode at a barn that was right across the road from a big gas station.  My friends and I spent pretty much all day at the barn during the summer. In the afternoons, we’d run across the 4-lane highway to get something to eat and cool off in the air-conditioned gas station for a few minutes. An Oatmeal Cream Pie was almost always my pick for a snack. I haven’t bought one in years, but when I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s site, I had to give them a try.

These cookies are soft and chewy and the marshmallow cream tastes remarkably like the filling in the Little Debbie’s. Marshmallow cream will spread and ooze out from between the cookies, so wait to fill the cookies until you want to eat them, or fill ahead of time and freeze until you’re ready. Just as a word of caution, take the cookies out of the oven before they look fully done, if you wait until they’re brown and look ‘done’ they’ll be a little too crisp to really taste like an Oatmeal Cream Pie.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbl. boiling water
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick cook oats
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the brown sugar, butter and shortening for several minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs and mix to combine, then stir in the salt, cinnamon and baking powder. In a small glass or bowl, combine the baking soda and boiling water, then add to the mixing bowl and stir. Add the flour and oatmeal and mix until just combined.
  3. Use a heaping teaspoon to portion out the dough and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until barely light brown, they’ll still look slightly puffy. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.
  4. When the cookies are cool, scoop 1-2 teaspoons of marshmallow cream onto a cookie then top with another cookie. Enjoy!

Makes: About 18 sandwich cookies

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Orzo with Peas, Spinach and Parmesan

I’ve been eating a lot of soup the last few weeks. This is my last week of grad school and it has been busy to say the least. Soup is my go-to meal for busy weeks since I can make one batch and just re-heat it each night. Luckily I love soup, so that works out pretty well but eventually you get to the point where it would be nice to eat with a fork.

I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but I wanted to whip up something tasty and comforting and this definitely fit the bill. This orzo dish came together in no time and is really creamy, even though it’s made with broth not cream. I put peas and spinach in here, but you could certainly throw in addition vegetables if you’d like.

I served this as the main dish, but it would be a great side too. If you have leftovers, I suggest adding a splash of milk to the pasta before you re-heat it. Pasta sometimes gets dry in the fridge and the milk will help the leftovers stay creamy.

Orzo with Peas and Spinach

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. orzo
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 oz. fresh spinach
  • 2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese (or more if desired)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in the garlic and orzo. Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the broth and cook until the orzo absorbs the broth, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and frozen peas and stir until the spinach wilts and the peas are hot. Stir in the Parmesan cheese then salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Makes: About 3 servings as the main course, about 5 as side dish
Adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Chewy Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

I’m a huge fan of pretty much anything that involves Biscoff Spread. I’ve finally got to the point where I don’t even buy the stuff unless I have plans to bake with it. An open jar in my cupboard is way too tempting for me and I end swiping spoonfuls straight out of the jar. One of the (many) great things about Biscoff Spread is that its consistency is very similar to peanut butter. I’ve subbed Biscoff in place of peanut butter in a few different recipes with great results.

This has always been one of my favorite cookies when made with peanut butter, but naturally I like it even more with Biscoff! The cookie is soft and chewy and the Biscoff flavor really shines through. You can certainly eat these cookies on their own, or you can add a smear of Biscoff in-between two cookies to make a sandwich cookie.

If you haven’t had Biscoff Spread before, it has a peanut butter-like texture but tastes like cinnamon. It’s absolutely divine. For a while, I had to order it online from Amazon, but recently I found it at our local Wal-Mart  right next to the peanut butter and Nutella.

Chewy Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff Spread
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quick-cook oats
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt then set aside.
  3. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter, Biscoff Spread, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract then blend to combine. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined, then add the oats.
  4. Use a small cookie dough scoop (about 2 tsp.) to portion out the dough onto a cookie sheet then bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be lightly brown and still slightly puffy. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Make into sandwich cookies with additional Biscoff Spread, or enjoy them on their own!
Makes: About 20 sandwich cookies
Adapted from All Recipes