Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies


So... the madness of my life continues.

With the move in high gear, I barely have anything left in my kitchen - but I managed to make a pasta salad and an appetizer for a family party this weekend.

However, that is not what I am sharing with you today.  I wanted to post this recipe for chocolate chip coconut cookies that I made while Lauren Vittles was here.

I know, I know - my obsession with coconut is bordering on obscene at this point.

But there is a method to my madness.  Lauren's husband Tyler housed about 75% of the batch single-handedly, and 'hinted' (not-so-subtly) to her that he is hoping she'll make some.

And by 'some,' I mean like... a truck load.  ASAP.

But I can't say I blame him - these are pretty awesome! 

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 C. white sugar
  • 1/4 C. light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C. sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.


Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Penne and Vodka Sauce


I know I haven't posted in a while but the last 7 days have been a little crazy!

For one, I went back to work.  After sitting around the house with my feet up for almost a month and a half after my foot surgery, it was a little tough to get back in the swing of things.

I also started physical therapy, which I expected to be painful - but no one said I was going to be gripping the side of the table, gritting my teeth, and stifling a moan while the therapist "worked" my big toes like the stick shift of a BMW.

I know, it has to be done, but it's not exactly pleasant.

Thirdly we are moving to another place in 2 weeks.  So on top of going back to work & going to therapy, I've been packing & moving boxes.

Like 99% of the population, I despise moving.  The end result is usually great, but the packing, carrying, and unpacking are all pretty brutal.

However, this weekend has been busy in a good way.  My best friend Lauren Vittles is staying with us, along with her awesome hubby Tyler and their ADORABLE 3 month-old Holt.


You remember Holt, from my visit to see them in South Carolina in December?

They arrived Friday evening and are staying until tomorrow.  Even though probably 60% of our house has already been moved or at the very least packed, I wanted to make them a nice dinner their first night here.

I decided on penne and vodka sauce (one of my personal faves) with garlic bread & salad.  Easy but delicious.

I find that 'penne & vodka' rarely turns out as well at home as it does in a restaurant, but I have to say this one is pretty awesome.

Penne and Vodka Sauce
  • 4 T. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 C. heavy cream (I used a mixture of heavy cream and half &half)
  • 1/4 C. tomato paste
  • 1/3 C. plus 2 Tbs. vodka
  • 2 T. slivered fresh basil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. plus 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 lb. penne or other tubular pasta
  • 1/2 C. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Place drained penne in large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the cream. In a small bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the vodka. Stir into the cream mixture. Add the basil and red pepper flakes. Season with the garlic powder & salt.

Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes.  When ready to serve, remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.  Add as much of the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.  Pour over penne in bowl, mix to combine, and serve. Serves 4.

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn


So tell me... is it wrong to post another popcorn-based recipe in the span of a few weeks?

Don't answer that.

Because I seriously cannot get enough of this.

First of all, let's just have a moment of honesty amongst friends here -  I have a sick obsession with popcorn.

Or at least Mr. Vittles says so. 

I may or may not need counseling, that is yet to be determined. 

I can't go anywhere that sells popcorn without losing what little all self control that I have.  Like, I can spend an hour at a fair or market and not buy a single thing... but God forbid there is a stand with kettle corn anywhere near the vicinity, and out comes the wallet.

I can't help it!  Even Target gets me sometimes.  From the minute you walk in the door, they torture you with heavenly smells of freshly popped, buttery popcorn and it's not even fair.

"Ok, let's focus now.  I need paper towels, dish soap, deodorant, shaving cream, and... POPCORN!  I mean, er, toothpaste...  And POPCORN!"

Ahhhh!  And... all focus goes right out the window. 

In any case, I've been making my own 'kettle corn' for quite a while now, and unfortunately I've long forgotten where I found the original instructions.

Actually no, the truly unfortunate part is that I no longer need to look at the instructions I wrote down, because I make it so often.

But I honestly think it's as good as anything you'd get from someone that makes authentic kettle corn.

(Even so, Mr. V is worried that I'm going to come home with giant kettle one day for the real deal.  I assured him I'm fine with the stovetop variety, but then again they say the first sign of addiction is denial that you have a problem?)

Anyway, I don't know what came over me recently, but I decided to throw a little cinnamon in there and that took things to a whole new level!  But if you're a purist, feel free to leave it out for some good old-fashioned sweet & salty popcorn.

Either way, just go make this.  Immediately.  For both our sake.

I won't judge.  Your secret is safe with me, I swear.

Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn
  • 1/4 C. unpopped popcorn
  • 3 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon (or more, if preferred)
  • salt, to taste

Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl, and set aside.  Place large, empty bowl on counter near stove (this will be the bowl you'll dump the popcorn into).

Place popcorn in 2-quart saucepan (with handle & cover), and pour oil over top.  Shake pan to distribute evenly and coat popcorn kernels with oil. 

Place uncovered on burner at medium to medium-high heat.  In 2-3 minutes, oil will start to sizzle.  When first kernel or two pops, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top and quickly cover.

Holding handle of saucepan, shake pan back & forth and side to side while keeping on the burner.  (Think old-school Jiffy Pop on the stove.)  Popcorn may not immediately start popping once you put the sugar on, but it won't take long.  Keep shaking until popping slows.

Immediately empty into bowl, being careful not to burn yourself on the hot sugar.  Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.

Recipe Adapted from Unknown Source

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fauxstess Cupcakes


So I know it's a little late for me to be boarding the Fauxstess Cupcake train, but this is honestly the first time I've tried such a recipe.

Mr. Vittles and I went to our friends' Super Bowl party this weekend, and I was on cupcake duty. 

But I didn't want to make just any cupcakes- I wanted to make something special!  And what could be more special than a homemade version of Hostess cupcakes?

I will not lie to you though - these are a lot of work. 

And the cream filling (aka seven-minute frosting) is... terrifying.  It turned out absolutely fine, but those seven minutes were riddled with quite a bit of self-doubt (rivaled only by arm-muscle fatigue.)

However, it was all worth it in the end. 


I thought these were awesome, and everyone at the party seemed to enjoy them as well.  So if you have the free time to make these, I would definitely recommend it!

Fauxstess Cupcakes

Cake Recipe:
  • 1/2 C. plus 2 T. cake flour
  • 1/3 C. Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/2 t.baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/3 C. canola oil
  • 1/2 C. plus 2 T. sugar
  • 2 T. water

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks, canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar and water until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir by hand just until combined.
In a clean medium bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one quarter of the whites into the batter to lighten the mixture. Add remaining whites and gently fold the mixture together until no streaks remain.
Evenly divide the batter between the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin coated with nonstick spray (they will be about one-half full). Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the center, about 13 to 16 minutes. Remove and let the cupcakes cool slightly before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cupcakes are almost cooled, make cream filling.

Cream Filling (Seven Minute Frosting):
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. light corn syrup
  • 2 T.s water
  • 1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Combine filling ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Reserve 1/2 cup of the filling to use for piping the swirls on top of the cupcakes at the end.
Once cupcakes are completely cooled, use a sharp knife to slice circles (that end up being cone-shaped pieces) out of the center of each cupcake.  Keep in mind that the closer your sliced circle is to the outside circumference of the cupcake, the bigger the well in the center of the cupcake will be (and the more filling will go on it!).  So slice according to your preference.



Once the cone is cut out of the cupcake, set it aside and fill the well with the cream filling, almost to the top.  (I find that using a pastry bag and large tip was the neatest way to do this, but yo can use a spoon if you prefer). 

Slice off the pointy bottom part of the cake cone so that just the top layer of it remains, then place it on top of the filling.  Press down to adhere.  (How you go through the above steps is up to you - you can either do all the steps on each cupcake one at at a time, or do each step to all the cupcakes, then the next step to all, etc.)

Once all cupcakes are filled, make the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

In a small saucepan, heat cream until steaming. Remove from the heat, add chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Transfer the frosting to a small bowl and dip the top of each cupcake to thoroughly coat.
Spoon the reserved filling into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip and pipe swirls across the center of each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 10 minutes to set the frosting.
Recipe from Beantown Baker, (via Heather Drive, Smiten Kitchen, and Culinary in the Desert)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Coconut Bread


Ok so I today I turn 28.

And for my birthday I made myself a little treat.

As you may have already noticed, I loooove me some coconut.

Let's see... Coconut Kona Ice Cream, Chewy Chocolate Coconut Blondies, Coconut Cake, Coconut Tres Leches Hot Chocolate... ok, you get the idea.

Well I didn't think it was right to make myself a cake on my own birthday.

I'm assuming Mr. Vittles is handling that - my favorite is actually ice cream cake anyway.

But I did think it was not only right, but perhaps necessary, to make myself some of this coconut bread.

Happy birthday to ME!

Coconut Bread
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened coconut cream (or coconut milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk canola oil, coconut cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until blended.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flaked coconut and mix well.  Add wet ingredients from small bowl, and mix just until combined - do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on baking rack (I took mine out of the pan after 10 minutes).  When completely cooled, cut into slices.  Store in airtight container. 

Recipe Adapted from
The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner, by Liz Edmunds

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Easy Chocolate Pudding


Last week was Grammy Vittles' 80th birthday!

My grandmother is just adorable.  I love her to death. 

Let me tell you a little about her...

She is super stylish and loves to shop (but at good stores, like J.Crew and Anthropologie- not 'old lady' stores).

Her favorite hobby is hooking rugs, and over the years she has made so many amazing keepsakes for everyone in our family.

She spoils her grandchildren rotten, and her nickname for us is "Pumpkin" (except she says it like "punkin.")

She calls grilled cheese sandwiches "toasted cheese sandwiches." 

On the first day of the month, she tells people "Hello Rabbit" because it's supposed to be good luck.

She got a computer just so she could play Mahjong Solitaire on it.

She gave me the cutest ruffled polka dot apron for my birthday last year, and suggested "You can surprise [Mr. Vittles] one night and wear it with nothing underneath." 

!!

(In case you were wondering- no, I have not done that)

She makes a fierce grilled skirt steak and potato salad.

Whenever she spills on herself, or if something goes 'down the wrong pipe' when she's eating, she says "Don't mind me- I'm just learning."

And... she keeps her bourbon under the kitchen sink, where it's "more easily accessible."

How cute is she?

Grammy, October 2009

Although Grammy does not really go on the internet, she's been very supportive of Vittles and Bits.  She even gave me one of her recipe boxes, as well as the recipe box that belonged to her mother.



I never knew my great-grandmother on her side, in fact not even my mom did - she passed away in 1954, not long after after my mother was born.

So to see her recipes (many of them written in her own hand) was extremely special. 

I couldn't help but notice she had a ton of recipes with orange- orange pound cake, orange sherbert, orange ice, orange icebox cake...etc, etc.  And Grammy conceded that she did enjoy citrus desserts!

But one that I picked to try first was this recipe for chocolate pudding.  "For utmost deliciousness," it said, "serve with whipped cream.

Utmost deliciousness?  Apparently, being adorable runs in the family.

Easy Chocolate Pudding
  • 2 C. milk
  • 5 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 C. cocoa powder (dutch processed)
  • 1/3 C. + 1 T. granulated sugar
Mix sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa with 1/2 C. milk.  Heat remaining 1 1/2 C. milk in small saucepan over med-low heat until steaming.  Add cocoa mixture to pan, and heat until thickened, stirring constantly (2-3 minutes).  Increase heat slightly if necessary to thicken.  Transfer to bowl or individual ramekins, and sprinkle tops with sugar to prevent skin from forming on pudding.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Serve plain or with whipped cream (for "utmost deliciousness" ;)) Serves 2-3.

Recipe Origin Unknown


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