Friday, June 25, 2010

Coconut Cake

*Gasp!* Two posts in a row! I have pretty much neglected this poor bloggy, but i'm really hoping to start getting into it. 

Rodney begged asked me to make him a coconut cake. I've never made one before, so I scoured the internet trying to find a simple one that I thought I could do. After hours (and hours) of reading recipes, I finally found one I was brave enough to try. I went to the grocery store in search of coconut milk, but all I could find was cream of coconut. I bought it hoping I could make it work, but after thinking about it, I decided to do one more search for a recipe. I found one right off the bat!  I wanted it without custard, so I just doubled the icing recipe and put icing between the layers.  It was delicious!!! This is definitely something I will make again.

Coconut Layer Cake
10 servings
Hands on time: 1 hour  Total time: 2 hours

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used salted because that's all I had.)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (extra-fine is best) (Regular worked perfectly fine.)
3/4 cup cream of coconut (I bought a 15 oz can and it was more than enough.)(Make sure you shake it before you open it. I didn't read that on the side of the can and I made a mess trying to stir it.)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat buttermilk (I didn't have any buttermilk, but I did this and it turned out fine.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8-inch cake pans, or butter and line bottoms with buttered parchment paper (I just sprayed them with cooking spray). Set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the cream of coconut and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the flour mixture in two or three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing just until combined. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form (This was so much fun!). Fold into the cake batter. Divide the batter between the pans and bake until center springs back when lightly touched and cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks, removing from the pans when they are cool enough to handle.

 Half-and-Half Frosting:
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature (I used 4 oz, then doubled the whole recipe.)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (Again, used salted)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners' sugar, and then beat in the cream of coconut, vanilla and coconut extracts. Set aside.
Coconut Topping:
3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cream of coconut (I used more like 4 tablespoons)
In a small bowl, toss coconut with cream of coconut and set aside.

For the custard (which I didn't make):
1 1/4 cups flaked sweetened coconut
2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a small bowl, combine coconut, cream of coconut and vanilla; set aside. In a small saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until no lumps remain. Add the cream and butter and stir over low heat until the butter melts. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is boiling and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut mixture.

To assemble the cake: (All I did was put one layer down, spread a thick layer of icing on top, and sprinkled it with coconut flakes. Then, I put the second layer on and iced the whole cake, sprinkled coconut flakes on top and patted them on the sides.) Slice each layer in half horizontally. Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving platter and spread with some of the warm custard. Top with another layer, cut side up, and spread with another ? of the custard. Top with another layer, cut side up, and spread with remaining custard. Top with final cake layer, cut side down. Frost top and sides with a thin layer of Half-and-Half Frosting. Gently press top and sides of frosted cake with Coconut Topping.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chili's Chicken Cajun Pasta

Please ignore the fact that I'm eating on a coffee table. 
We live in a tiny apartment with no room for a real table.

I love the Cajun Chicken Pasta from Chili's. So I decided to see if anyone else had made it and had a recipe. This is what I found. It's been a long time since I've eaten it, so I can't quiet remember what it tastes like, but this is pretty darn good! I used this recipe with a few changes.

Chili's Cajun Chicken Pasta 

The Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used 2 large breasts)
  • 4 tsp. cajun seasoning (I love this stuff, so I'm sure I used more. A lot more....)
  • 4 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 3 cups heavy cream (I used 2% milk and it turned out fine)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 8 oz. cooked penne pasta (drained) (I used whole wheat. yum!)
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced (and some green onions, chopped)
  • fresh shredded parmesan, to taste
The Process:
  1. Slightly moisten chicken with water. (Didn't do this.)
  2. In a large resealable plastic bag, shake chicken and cajun seasoning until chicken is thoroughly coated. (To save a plastic bag, I just sprinkled some cajun seasoning on the chicken and rubbed it in)
  3. In large skillet, saute chicken in 2 tbsp. butter, over medium heat, turning whenever necessary.
  4. When chicken is about half-way done, grab a second skillet and combine heavy cream, 2 tbsp. butter, and remainder of seasonings over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (I hate dishes, so I just waited 'til the chicken was done, put it on the cutting board, then used the same skillet. Also, while looking for this recipe I found another where they used butter and flour to make a roux, so I did that since I was using milk, and I was afraid it would be too thin. Then added more seasoning and the milk a half a cup at a time.)
  5. After I added all the milk, I put the softened cream cheese in and stirred it until it was melted. Then, I added more cajun seasoning (because it wasn't enough for me).
  6. When cream mixture begins to bubble (mine had been bubbly for a while, but it was way too thin, so I waited til it was thick), add the pasta and turn off heat. Stir well.
  7. When chicken is cooked through, place on cutting board and slice into strips.
  8. Spoon pasta and sauce onto large serving plates (2) and top with chicken, diced tomatoes, and parmesan.
  9. Throw a thick, garlicky slice of Texas toast on that bad boy and enjoy!