LIME COCONUT-MACADAMIA OATMEAL COOKIES

Recently I shared a recipe for Lime-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies that featured the always lovely and tasty Craisins. This week, I substituted macadamia nuts for Craisins. And, oh, are they good!

Lime-Coconut-Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies 2

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime, divided

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided

1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, divided (since I used roasted and salted macadamias, I cut back on the salt in this recipe)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, cream butter and both sugars with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy

3) On medium speed, beat in egg, vanilla, lime zest (save a large pinch for cookie tops after baking), lime juice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

4) Beat in 1 cup coconut (reserving 1/4 cup) and oats; stir in 3/4 cup macadamia nuts (reserving 1/4 cup), and flour (dough will be on the moist side)

5) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, press a pinch of coconut and a couple pieces of reserved macadamia nuts into tops; bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden but still soft

6) Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire rack; when cool, scatter with tiny pinches of reserved lime zest; enjoy!

Makes: 2 dozen cookies

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 04/29/12

CRAISIN-RAISIN-PECAN GRANOLA

I’ve been making this Craisin-Raisin-Pecan Granola for years, and it never fails to please my guys–and me! Sure you can put it in a bowl, pour milk over it, and enjoy a gourmet breakfast, but in my opinion, it’s best eaten straight out of the hand. Other munchies should be so wonderfully tasty and amazingly easy to make!

Craisin-Raisin-Pecan Granola

6 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup sweetened, flake coconut

3/4 cup Craisins (or you can go all raisin)

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Spread oats in large baking dish (I used a 12″x17″ roasting pan) and bake in oven 10 minutes, stirring once

3) Meanwhile, in large bowl combine: pecans, coconut, Craisins, raisins, and brown sugar; in small bowl, combine vegetable oil, honey, and vanilla

4) Stir pecan-coconut mixture into toasted oats (in baking pan), followed by oil-honey mixture

5) Bake in oven 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes; remove from oven, give one last stir, let cool 5 minutes, and transfer to large bowl to complete cooling (you can leave in pan to cool, but the granola will start to adhere to the bottom and you’ll have a bit of scraping to do–really, the bowl is a better choice)

Makes: Many heaping helpings (Why limit yourself?)

PECAN PRALINE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

We’re a breakfast casserole family, and though these dishes taste best when chilled overnight prior to baking in order to allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture, I’m too often spur-of-the-moment. As evidenced by this tasty Pecan Praline Breakfast Casserole–and some very hungry guys–you can fudge on soak time. Thumbs up!

Pecan Praline Breakfast Casserole

1 cup packed brown sugar

5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

3 large ciabatta rolls (4″x4″), sliced in half, top and bottom crusts removed (or other nice white bread)

6 eggs

1-1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp granulated white sugar

1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly butter an 11×9″ casserole dish

2) In small bowl, mix brown sugar, melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and pecans; spread across bottom of casserole dish; top with 6 ciabatta slices; set aside

3) In medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon; pour over ciabatta slices and let sit 10 minutes; bake in oven 45-50 minutes until eggs set; using spatula, flip each slice over onto plate to expose pecan praline topping; serve with or without extra maple syrup (it’s pretty sweet on its own)

Servings: 6

LIME-COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIES

Well, yum! When I decided to concoct something (the warming weather made me do it), little did I know these cookies would be such a hit. Since it’s hard to go wrong with oatmeal cookies, especially those that have both a soft and crispy side, that’s where I started. And ended. Why try to improve on perfect, hmm? The addition of Craisins added a lovely “pop” to the cookies, but I imagine they would be delicious without.

Lime-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime, divided (save a large pinch for cookie tops after baking)

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided

1 cup Craisins + 2 tbsp for cookie tops (Craisins are optional, but oh-so-good and talk about pretty!)

1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, cream butter and both sugars with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy

3) On medium speed, beat in egg, vanilla, lime zest, lime juice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

4) Beat in 1 cup coconut (reserving 1/4 cup for cookie tops), Craisins, and oats; stir in flour (dough will be on the moist side)

5) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, press a pinch of reserved coconut and 2 Craisins into tops; bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden but still soft

6) Remove from oven, scatter tiny pinches of reserved lime zest on each cookie; transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool

Makes: 2 dozen

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 04/23/12

PECAN-CRAISIN-LEMON CHOCOLATE ‘N CHOCOLATE BARK

This is a variation on Pistachio-Craisin-Orange Chocolate ‘N Chocolate Bark . It’s delicious (though I do lean more toward the pistachio version), and just as easy to make. Add or subtract toppings to your heart’s desire and you’ll have a beautifully sweet treat to share.

Pecan-Craisin-Lemon Chocolate Bark

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

zest of one lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), divided

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

1) Line a large  (12×17″) cookie sheet with parchment paper

2) Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and stir in half the lemon zest (reserving half for topping); pour melted chocolate onto prepared baking sheet and smooth into a rectangle

3) Pour white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and drop by spoonfuls on semi-sweet chocolate; using a knife or wooden spoon, swirl chocolates together until your swirl is just right

4) Sprinkle pecans, Craisins, and remaining zest over top and lightly press into chocolate; if you have the space, cool in fridge 30-40 minutes until chocolate is hard; if you don’t have the fridge space, cool on counter to room temperature; break into pieces of whatever size you think you can limit yourself to and serve (we like it cold, but it’s wonderfully tasty at room temperature)

VANILLA WAFER BANANA PUDDING COOKIES

Last night’s dinner was good but not worth writing home–er, blog–about. So…cookies that feature crumbed, chopped, AND whole vanilla wafers, not to mention bananas. If you like classic Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding, you’re bound to love these marvelous mouthfuls that are made by mounding cookie dough on top of a vanilla wafer and letting all that deliciousness bake down over it. All thumbs up! I did good 🙂

Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 pkg instant banana pudding mix

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (crush in zip top bag with rolling pin)

2 small medium-firm bananas, diced

1 cup vanilla wafers, coarsely chopped

4 dozen vanilla wafers, whole

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, beat butter, both sugars, and banana pudding mix 3-5 minutes until creamy

3) Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat 1 minute

4) Add flour and vanilla wafer crumbs; beat 1 minute

5) Gently stir in banana and chopped vanilla wafers

6) On cookie sheet, space whole vanilla wafers 1″ apart; place 1 tbsp cookie dough on top of each vanilla wafer and gently pat down

7) Bake 9-10 minutes until golden; cool on wire rack and STAND BACK!

Makes: about 4 dozen cookies

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/04/12.

BLACKBERRY AND WINE CRUMBLE

Three out of our four enjoy salads as a meal. Since Junior prefers heartier meals, I made up for his calorie deficit by whipping up this easy Blackberry and Wine Crumble. Of course, I couldn’t make it for Junior without making it for all of us. And, yes, I had to increase my morning work out 😦

Blackberry and Wine Crumble

2/3 cup sweet red wine

2 tsp cornstarch

5 cups frozen blackberries (or mixed berries)

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup 5-minute oatmeal

1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 tbsp butter, softened

Optional: 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly oil 4 individual casserole dishes (about 1-3/4 cup capacity each)

2) In medium-sized saucepan, whisk wine and cornstarch until well combined; add blackberries and white sugar and, stirring often, cook over medium-high heat 7-8 minutes until blackberry mixture thickens; remove from heat and divide between 4 individual casserole dishes

3) In small bowl mix flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, and butter until well combined and crumbly; sprinkle over blackberry-wine mixture; place casserole dishes on a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until blackberries are bubbly and crumb topping is golden and lightly crisp; remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving; serve with or without drizzled whipping cream

Servings: 4

CARAMEL POPCORN CUPCAKES

I think cupcakes with mountain-high frosting is glorious. However, the sight of those beauties always alarms my guys who scrape off most of the frosting and leave a beautiful mess on their plates (seems I’m the only one who eats cupcakes for the frosting). So I thought: how about mountain-high caramel popcorn cupcakes? The verdict: no caramel corn left on their plates!

Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes 2   Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

CUPCAKES:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FROSTING:

12 Kraft individually wrapped caramels, wrappers removed (buy 1-14 oz bag and use balance for caramel corn below)

6 tbsp butter

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup half-and-half

CARAMEL POPCORN:

8 cups popcorn (I used 1 bag of microwave kettle corn)

38 (or so) Kraft individually-wrapped caramels, wrappers removed

2 tbsp water

1) CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes; add eggs, vanilla, and milk and beat until combined; beat in baking powder and salt; on low speed, gradually add flour and beat until just combined

3) Divide batter between 12 liners in muffin pan; bake 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; remove from oven and set aside to cool

4) FROSTING: While cupcakes are baking, prepare double boiler on stove by pouring 1 cup of water in bottom of double boiler and bringing to a boil over medium-high heat; to top pan of double boiler, add 12 caramels and butter; stir often until just melted (7-8 minutes)

5) Gradually stir in confectioner’s sugar and half-and-half; when mixture is combined and smooth, remove from heat and let cool on counter 10 minutes; refrigerate 1 hour or more

6) Stir frosting to a smooth consistency and frost cupcakes; refrigerate

7) CARAMEL CORN: Pop popcorn, discard unpopped kernels (don’t want to chip a tooth); set popcorn aside

8) In large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add caramels and 2 tbsp water; stirring constantly, melt into a smooth caramel sauce; remove from heat and immediately pour popcorn into sauce; with plastic spoon, gently stir popcorn until well coated; remove cupcakes from refrigerator; lightly wet hands and, working quickly (and carefully if your skillet is hot), scoop a small handful of caramel-coated popcorn, pat into ball shape, and gently push down into frosting on cupcake; repeat with remaining cupcakes

9) Serve immediately or refrigerate for later (if your guys will let you)

Makes: 12 cupcakes

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/25/12.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED STRAWBERRY KABOBS

This idea came to me via Pinterest. However, rather than use pound cake, I opted for Angel Food Cake. and why settle for white chocolate when you can have semi-sweet chocolate? Or both? In the words of Junior Too, “This is definitely one for your blog.” Yep.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kabobs

1 lb small to medium-sized strawberries, stems removed

1/3 store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1/4 cup white chocolate morsels

6 bamboo skewers

Optional dips: whipped cream or thinned preserves (3/4 cup strawberry preserves mixed with 1/4 cup water)

1) Alternately thread strawberries and angel food cake onto bamboo skewers (should make about 6 kabobs)

2) Arrange kabobs on parchment paper 1/2″ apart

3) Place semi-sweet chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl; microwave until melted (I microwaved 30 seconds, stirred, and microwaved an additional 20 seconds); working quickly, spoon melted chocolate in small zip top bag, snip bottom corner, and pipe zigzags over each kabob

4) Repeat step #3 with white chocolate

5) Refrigerate 20 minutes (to set chocolate) and serve with or without dip

Makes: About 6 large kabobs

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/07/12.

PINEAPPLES FOSTER (NO FLAMBE, NO RUM, BUT PLENTY OF YUM)

A while back, I whipped up an unusual version of my Bananas Foster by substituting pineapple for bananas. And…yum! Clean plates again. Er, possibly licked clean 🙂

Pineapples Foster

olive oil

1 fresh whole pineapple, skin removed and cored

4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 tbsp brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (pecans would be nice too, maybe better, hmm?)

frozen vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream, enough for 4 generous scoops

1) Brush a swirl of olive oil across surface of a large skillet; heat to medium high

2) Cut pineapple into 8-10 rings; place 4 pineapple rings in skillet and cook 1-2 minutes each side until surface brown lightly; remove from skillet and place one ring in center of each of 4 plates

3) Lower skillet heat to medium-low; cut remaining pineapple rings (4-6) into small wedges

4) Add butter to skillet; as it melts, add brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and ginger; stir to combine; add Craisins, walnuts, and pineapple wedges; stirring constantly, cook 4-5 minutes until pineapple is heated through; remove sauce from heat (leave in skillet to keep warm)

5) Place a generous scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt in center of each pineapple ring; pour sauce over frozen yogurt; serve immediately and let the plate scrapers have at it!

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/17/12.