Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coconut Layer Cake

Do you like coconut? I've learned that people are either a fan of it or they really just don't care for it much at all. I love it! My husband had a not-so-pretty episode with coconut as a child, so he's pretty much turned off by the tropical fruit.

And coconut is so popular now--- with coconut milk, coconut water, coconut cream, and let's not forget the powerful coconut oil! Man, I LOVE that stuff.

But let's talk about shredded coconut. You can buy it either sweetened or not. You can toast it and sprinkle it on ice cream..or garnish a cake with it. How about coconut shrimp? Yum!

But now it's time for cake!  As a child, I always requested an ice cream cake for my birthday. Those are just so fun and yummy and was like a two for one!  As I got older and my palate matured a bit, I began asking for my Mama's Coconut cake.  My birthday is in early April, so many years Easter falls on or around my birthday. Coconut cake is also a great dessert for Easter.
I made it this year for Thanksgiving. It is also perfect for Christmas. Bottom line---- coconut cake is wonderful all year long. But in moderation of course. I'm struggling with that.

You know what's even better? You can use a cake mix! Now of course for those of you that cringe at the thought of a boxed mix, a scratch cake would be awesome too. I've done it both ways. And I honestly do prefer the scratch cake myself. That's because it is better than a boxed gluten free cake mix. And really, the icing is what makes this cake. That's where all the coconut is.  This is also one of those cakes that gets better as the days go on.  Which is probably another reason a scratch gluten free cake worked better.

OK, ready? Here we go.

Coconut Layer Cake

1 pint sour cream (light is fine to use)
2 cups sugar (I know, I know..but I said light sour cream is OK)
3 packages frozen sweetened coconut. (See picture for what I use) 

I let the coconut thaw slightly, then...mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for 24 hours. 

Cake time

Next make your cake. You can wait and bake your cake the next day when the icing is ready. Whatever floats your boat. 

So.... Bake a yellow cake in two round cake pans. Cake mix or scratch...whichever you prefer. Let the cake cool completely! Once cooled, slice each layer in half with a serrated knife so that you'll have four layers of cake. 

Grab a cake plate. Place one layer down and slap some of that delicious coconut icing on top. Spread and repeat with the remaining layers. Once you get to the last layer, pour the rest of the icing on top and spread it around. You do not need to ice the sides. Because this icing is a little runny, it will run down the sides, icing itself. Store the cake in the refrigerator. That's it! Sooo good!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here is a recipe I've been meaning to share with you.  Between homeschool, laundry, church, dishes, soap making, laundry, and feeding my family I somehow forgot to post this recipe. Did I mention laundry? 

I researched several soup recipes similar to this one. I wanted something that would suite the tastes of my family and be easy to prepare for those busy days. You that I could turn on and walk away from..for hours. Because well, laundry.  So, I make this in the slow cooker.  It is perfect for those crazy busy days. If we are gone all day to co-op or running errands or whatever, it is so wonderful to have supper done when we arrive home.  This also makes a great Sunday lunch. Wouldn't it be nice to come home from church and sit down with a warm bowl of soup? 

This recipe is similar to The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I tweaked it to make it fit for us.  I did, however, use her way of making the fried tortilla strips.  Those are sooo good. So check out her post for the tortilla strips.  

We like corn, so I use quite a bit.  A quart size bag is what I use for this soup. We "put up" corn here every summer. I put probably two and a half cups (maybe even three) in one quart size bag.  It is so nice to have a freezer full of corn all year. If you are using canned corn, start with one can and then decide if you'd like more. I also only used two boneless skinless chicken breasts. Those chicken breasts went a long way!

*Note: If you don't feel comfortable putting raw chicken into the pot with the other ingredients, roast or boil your chicken a little bit first. I don't mind using it raw...and we lived to tell about it. ;-)

All the soup ingredients are just thrown into the pot.

Look at how wonderful the chicken shreds.

Slice the tortillas into strips.

Just before serving, fry the strips.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 quart of chicken broth (I use homemade. If you are using purchased broth, I recommend the low sodium)
  • 1 or 2 cans of corn (Or frozen--2 cups or more depending on your preference)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Fried Tortilla Strips

  • 3 or 4 small corn tortillas
  • oil for frying

Place all soup ingredients into slow cooker. Give it a stir.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is done and shreds. 

Just before serving, slice the tortillas into strips and fry in hot oil. This does not take long. Keep your eyes on them. They will burn quickly! Again, see The Pioneer Woman's post for more instructions on the fried strips. 

Top individual servings with tortilla strips and whatever other toppings you like. We like sharp cheddar and a little avocado. 


Friday, September 26, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

You know by now that I don't love the cooler temps that come with fall, but I do love the fall foods. Soups, stews, breads, etc... are just warm and comforting. My aunt gave me a few butternut squash from her garden and I knew just what I was going to do with them. I love to roast them with sweet potatoes and red skin potatoes, but I really enjoy butternut squash Soup.

I found a recipe in a magazine a year or so ago for butternut squash soup and I sort of followed it. There were ingredients in the recipe that I don't normally use or have on hand. I decided to create my own similar recipe and I love how it turned out.   There are apples and a potato hiding inside and I topped it off with bacon  pieces. You can never go wrong with bacon!  I served the soup with gluten free cheese garlic bread and a simple salad of greens, cucumber, strawberries,  and fresh from the mountains apples and pears.

These are three small squash that yielded exactly 4 full cups diced. I used half of this potato.

 I love the smell of onions cooking. Sadly, this was my last Vidalia.

4 full cups of peeled and diced butternut squash.

All the veggies, fruit, and spices added to the pot.

After the soup cooks for about 30 minutes, it is time to puree.  I LOVE my immersion blender.

Ready for the full recipe? You will enjoy it!

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cups butternut squash--peeled, seeded, and diced (I used 3 small squash, but you might find that one large one is sufficient.)
  • 2 medium apples-- a sweeter variety (I used an old fashioned Grimes Golden. Golden Delicious will work well, too.), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium russet potato--peeled and diced
  • 1 quart of chicken broth--homemade is best!
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Rosemary sprigs and bacon crumbles for garnishing
In a large pot, heat olive oil and cook onion until tender.  Add in the squash, apples, potato, chicken broth, apple juice, pepper, salt, and chopped rosemary.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Remove from heat, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth and no lumps remain.  Serve warm and top with bacon crumbles and a sprig of fresh rosemary.  

*Note:  If you do not have an immersion blender, try an electric hand mixer.  This would blend wonderfully in a VitaMix.  Too bad I don't have one of those!

Perfect Fall meal!