Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going Bananas

It's a known fact that eating a desert made with fruit makes you feel less guilty than eating something made with chocolate.  That's because fruit is good for you, so your brain is tricked into thinking the desert is healthy and somehow less fattening, then let's say...chocolate cake.  Are you buying this? Me either.  Does it really matter? No, not so much. Why? Because you are going to eat it anyway.  Enough said. 

I made this pie on Saturday night.  It was late and I was very tired.  The pie came out great, which has to mean that the recipe is pretty much foolproof.   You really can't mess this up and trust me - it's always a crowd pleaser.   Here's how to make it. 

1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 bananas
1/2 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups Cool Whip

In a double boiler mix sugar, flour, and salt. 

Gradually stir in milk and cook over boiling water. Stir continually until thickened.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks.  Add them to a small amount of the milk mixture, and then return them to the double boiler.  (This is so the eggs don't scramble). 

Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly and then remove from the heat.  Stir in butter and vanilla. 

Let cool. 

Slice two bananas and line them into the bottom of a cooked 9 inch pie shell.

Pour the cooked mixture over the bananas and refrigerate overnight. 

Before serving top with Cool Whip.

Easter may be over, but the candy and leftover deserts are still alive and well.  I guess in this case, if you can't beat it - join it! The weather is supposed to be in the 70's this week, so my plan is to "walk off what I eat" so everything will pretty much even out.  Are you buying this? Me either.  Does it matter? No, not so much.  Why? Because I'm gonna eat it anyway.  Enough said.

I just can't help myself! 

See you all soon! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coconut Cream Eggs

Hello.  I hope you all had a very happy Easter!!!  Ours was full of family, friends, eggs, and of course...candy!  The Easter bunny was very good to my little one, who worked very hard coloring these eggs....

It's hard to explain to a three year old exactly HOW to handle an egg so it won't crack......

But he had lots of fun, and that's all that matters.  To sum it up, I'll be eating egg salad for a long while...ha-ha :)

I hope you are still in the mood for chocolate, because as promised - here is my recipe for coconut cream eggs:

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add sugar and coconut. 

Refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours.  Using hands dusted in confectioners' sugar mold rounded tablespoonfuls into egg shapes (or balls).  Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours or until slightly firm. 

In a double boiler. melt chocolate chips and shortening.

Remove eggs from freezer and dip them into chocolate mixture until completely coated. 

Top with a pinch of coconut and refrigerate on waxed paper until hardened. Store in refrigerator. 

(Makes about 30 eggs depending on how big you make them)

You don't have to save these treats just for Easter time. Make them anytime you are craving something sweet.  Get yourself a hot cup of tea, a good book - and pop them like deliscious!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Bars

With Easter being only a few days away I decided to break my holiday baking up into three nights.  Mommy duties always come first, so I have to manage my time.  If I do a little every night (after bedtime :) I'll get it all done. I love baking at night - apron on over my jammies, a hot cup of tea on hand, and the radio to keep me company. 

We are having friends and family stopping by Friday and Saturday, so I need to have plenty of treats on hand to serve with coffee - or else what kind of hostess would I be?....wink, wink....  

Tonight I made chocolate coconut bars.  These bars are so easy and delicious.  The best part is that you use crescent rolls for the crust.  They are so buttery and flaky.  You will really love these....

Here's what you need to make them:

1 tube (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 cup (6 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Unroll the crescent roll dough into one long rectangle on an ungreased baking sheet.  Seal seams and perforations.  Roll out (or stretch with your fingers) into a rectangle to cover the surface of the cookie sheet. 

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and egg until smooth. 

Stir in the coconut.

Spread over crust. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cream cheese is set.  (In my oven 12 minutes is perfect.  The cream cheese is set and the edges are slightly browned).

Take out of the oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips and let stand for 5 minutes.

With a spatula, spread melted chips over the top and sprinkle with nuts.

For this batch I also sprinkled and extra fistful of coconut over the top as well.  After all, it's Easter and you can never have too much coconut. 

Let cool completely before cutting.

Of course I had to cut myself two pieces and gobble them up....just to make sure they were OK......

The soundtrack to my baking tonight were these two cd's:

I've had these cd's a long time and I love them so much.  I purchased them many years ago through Parade Magazine, that came in the Sunday Globe newspaper.  This was way back before Internet shopping or even QVC.  I saw an add in the magazine, mailed my check, and waited patiently for 6 to 8 weeks for them to arrive. 

As you can tell by the corny prom picture on the cover, these cd's are a collection of romantic songs from the 50's and 60's.

Songs like Tears on My Pillow by Little Anthony, Only You by the Platters, and Crazy by Patsy Cline.  There's also Chances Are by Johnny Mathis, Earth Angel by the Penguins, and Crying in the Rain by the Everly Brothers.....ahhh those Everly Brothers.  They get me every time.

While dancing around the kitchen tonight (by myself of course) I was thinking about how I originally bought these because I wanted to have one particular song. And that song was I Only Have Eyes For You by the Flamingos. I was broken hearted at the time and wanted to drown my sorrows in that song. (I was also very overly dramatic...)  Nonetheless,  I think it's one of the most romantic songs ever made.  For me it's right up there with I Love You For Sentimental Reasons by Sam Cooke, and Stardust - the Nat King Cole version. 

When I really think about it, it always amazes me how timeless music is.  My parents and people of their generation listened to this music back in the 50's and felt the same way about it as I do here tonight, baking in my kitchen, while my husband and son dream the night away.  What a special gift that is.

I'll be back tomorrow with Coconut Cream Eggs!  Sweet Dreams.....

PS I wasn't broken-hearted for long.  We made up and got married.  In fact, I can hear him snoring at this very moment.  Sometimes I just love irony, don't you?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Acorn Squash

A lot of people are fascinated by Acorn Squash.  They don't quite know what to do with it and they think squash is a vegetable that you just eat in the fall.  Whenever  I serve it to company on any day other than Thanksgiving, they wonder if I've gone mad.  That is, until they taste it. 

I grew up eating squash all year long - butternut, summer, acorn, winter, etc.  You name it, we ate it.  It's probably my favorite vegetable of all time. I love acorn because it's so easy to make, and goes with just about any meal.  I introduced my hubby to it when we got married and he fell in love with it too.  I make it at least once a week.  There are several different ways you can prepare acorn squash, but this way is my favorite.

Cut the squash in half.....

With a spoon, scrape out all the seeds...

Place the half's face down in a glass (Pyrex) dish.  Add a little water (a few tablespoons) to the dish and cover with plastic wrap. 

I have a "vegetable" setting on my microwave.  I hit that button and it cooks for about 15 minutes.  You could cook these in the oven (just until tender) but it would take a lot longer. I find cooking them in the microwave is the easiest and fastest way.

Once the squash is cooked (test by sticking your fork in them - if the fork goes in easy they are done) carefully remove the plastic wrap and drain out the water.

Fill the cavities with a dollop of butter and about a teaspoon of brown sugar (in each).  Put them in a warm oven just to melt the butter.

Each half is one serving.  Once they come out of the oven they are very hot, so I put them in individual bowls.

To eat, just scrape up all the goodness with your fork.  You will never look at squash the same way again. 

On holidays my mother fills the cavities with peas and sometimes cranberries in the fall. 

Try this as a side dish for your next meal.  Enjoy!

Here Comes Easter

With Easter only a week away I've been a busy little bunny around here.  I've been decorating, baking, and "Easter Bunny" shopping till my heart's content. 

This is my Easter Bunny Village.  My mom gave it to me a few years ago.  I love all the pastel colors. 

Couldn't you imagine yourself walking down this street of bunnies?  They all look so friendly....

How can you not smile when you look at this?  I'll keep this village out all spring.

My little one loves it and calls it "Disney World". He said the same thing about my Christmas Village : )   

This year we decided to do an egg tree in the front yard.  I've always admired them in other people's yards and have been wanting to do one of my own for a long time.  When I mentioned it to my three year old he loved the idea!

It was a cold and windy day when we were decorating our tree...brrrr!

Now the Easter Bunny will know where to find him.  : )

I have little touches of Easter everywhere.  I love decorating for this holiday because it's an excuse to have all the tulips you want around the house.  All the colors are so bright and pretty. 

Inside, the promise of better days continues.  This weekend I planted my first seeds of the season.
These are lavender and daisys....

And these are  marigolds and wildflowers.  For now they are making their home on a sunny windowsill at my mother's house.  Once they are little sproutletts I will transplant them into pots and put them on my deck.  The thought of looking out my slider and seeing beautiful, colorful, flowers as I drink my morning coffee will someday be a reality - in only a few short weeks.  Yippeeeeee!

As a reward for doing such a good job decorating our Easter tree I had to make my little one a special desert. He Loves Sweets - - - it runs in the family.

This is just a plain yellow cake that I baked in a heart shaped pan.

I frosted it with chocolate frosting.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  They are as good of friends a peanut butter and jelly!

To make the cake special I decorated it with M&M's, which are his favorite.  It only take a few minutes to turn something ordinary into some thing extra-ordinary....

and something that will make your little three year old's eyes go wide and think you are the best mom in the world.  If that's all it takes, then I'm IN!