Monday, October 24, 2016

Pumpkin Coconut Bread

If you read this blog, you know I love anything and everything about Fall.  Sweaters, boots, pretty leaves, pumpkins, what's not to love?  Over the years I've posted about a bazillion recipes using pumpkin (slight exaggeration).  Point is, I like to cook with pumpkin, it's good and good for you.  I've made a lot of pumpkin bread in my life, but this recipe, that I ran across in an old Southern Living cookbook, is the best I've ever tasted.  Seriously, it's moist and flavorful and tastes like Fall.  It uses coconut cream pudding mix in the batter, which is what makes it so moist.  It's almost like cake.  Yum!  Trust me, it's good.

*Note:  If you don't dig coconut (or are allergic) you can use vanilla flavored pudding mix instead.



2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 small box coconut cream instant pudding
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl slightly beat eggs.

Add the sugar and oil and beat with a mixer on medium speed until well combined.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pudding mix, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon,  I like to use a whisk to combine them well.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the pumpkin to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Stir in the chopped pecans.

Grease a loaf pan.  You can use cooking spray but I like to use shortening.

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn it out and let it cool completely on a rack.

This bread is just plain delicious.  It's moist and flavorful from the spices.  The coconut pudding mix gives it a little something extra.  It's awesome with a cup of coffee on a cool morning!  

You will definitely want to make this pumpkin coconut bread.  Invite a friend over for coffee and share this yummy treat (or save it all for yourself, I don't judge).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Easy Pot Roast

My parents are still with us.  They are slowly but surely rebuilding their life.  The flood took away practically everything they owned so it's an uphill fight, to say the least.  However, they both have positive attitudes about it, which is half the battle.  They've been shopping for new stuff to put in their new home, when it's ready, and while they were out shopping, they bought me a covered roaster.  They're so sweet!  I couldn't wait to try it out.  So, here's an easy recipe for a very delicious pot roast.  P.S. if you don't have a roaster, that's OK.  Any oven proof pot with a lid will work.  If you don't have an oven proof pot, no problem.  You can cook this on the stove top instead of in the oven.


1 (2-3 lb) chuck roast 
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 potatoes, cut in large chunks
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
salt/pepper/Cajun Seasoning
vegetable or canola oil

*Note - Don't chop the veggies too small.  This is going to cook for a long time so you don't want them to disintegrate.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Season the roast with Cajun Seasoning (or just use salt and pepper if you like).  Rub the seasoning into the roast.  Next, put some flour on a plate and dredge the roast in the flour, coating it on all sides.  You just want a light coating of flour.  This will help form a gravy later on.

Heat an oven-proof pot (that has a lid) over medium-high heat.  Add a little oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pot).  When it's very hot, add the roast and let it brown (about 5 minutes).  Then flip it over and let it brown on the other side. Brown the sides, too. You want it browned on all sides, like this:

Remove the roast to a plate and set aside.  While the pot is still hot, add a little water (or red wine, maybe) and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  This is called deglazing the pan.  

Now, turn off the heat and add the vegetables to the pot and season with salt and pepper.
Then add the can of diced tomatoes and stir well.

Return the roast to the pot.  Nestle it into the vegetables.  

Add enough water to reach halfway up the side of the roast.  You do not want to cover it completely.  This is called braising,  

Now, cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours.  If you don't have an oven-proof pot you can do this on the stove top instead.  Just simmer, covered, on low heat for 2-3 hours.  But, make sure it doesn't run out of liquid.  You need to check it every so often to be sure.  If it gets very low on liquid, you need to add a little water but as long as you simmer on low heat, you should be OK.  If you make it in the oven you can just leave it alone for 3 hours.  Very easy and low-maintenance!

I like to shred up the meat, place it in a bowl, then use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies to another bowl.

Then I pour the remaining gravy over the meat.  But you can totally leave it all mixed together in the pot (I have picky eaters that like it separate).

I serve it over rice.

This roast is so tender and the veggies are flavored with the juices from the meat which makes them delicious!  This recipe is so easy, anyone can make it.  Even if you never cook, you can do this.  All it takes is some time.  Your family will think you slaved for hours when you really just stuck it in the oven and forgot about it for 3 hours.  Give this recipe a whirl and let me know how you like it.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Vanilla Wafer Cake

The weather has finally started to cool off a bit.  It's been lovely.  I've tried my best to enjoy it, but I've been busy.  I was working on a t-shirt quilt made from vintage LSU tees.  I'm raffling it off to raise money for families affected by the Louisiana flooding.  So many people I know are struggling.  Family, friends from college, friends from high school, etc.  This flood did not discriminate.  It hurt anyone and everyone it could.  I felt guilty, at first, that my house didn't flood, too.  But, like my Mama said, "If you flooded then where would we stay?"  They are living with us until they can rebuild.  I wondered what I could do to help others, like my brother, who lost everything?  I can't do much, but I can sew.  So, I sewed a quilt and am hoping to raise some money for those folks who need it right now.  Wish me luck!

Now, let's talk about food.

This cake recipe is unique in that it doesn't use flour.  Instead, it uses vanilla wafer crumbs.  This gives it such a wonderful flavor.  I really love this cake!  It disappeared so fast, I can't wait to make it again (and again).  Here's how I did it:


Half of a 12 oz pkg vanilla wafers
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 TBS vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1/4 cup milk


2 TBS butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS milk

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (that just means beat it like crazy using a whisk or a mixer).  

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add milk and mix well.

Using a food processor, crush the vanilla wafers into fine crumbs.  If you don't have a processor, put them in a large zip top bag, close it up and gently pound them with a rolling pin or a small pot, or a water bottle, etc, until crushed into crumbs.

Do the same with the pecans.

Add the wafer crumbs, pecans, coconut and vanilla extract to the butter mixture.

Butter an 8x8 baking dish.  TIP:  I save the wrapper from the stick of butter that I softened for the cake.  It usually has enough butter left on the wrapper to grease the pan.

Lightly flour the buttered pan (just sprinkle in a little flour then gently move the pan around until it is completely coated in flour, bottom and sides).

Spread batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Blend all the glaze ingredients together well with a whisk (or a fork).  It should be thick enough to coat the cake but thin enough to pour.  It should flow off the spoon easily.  If it comes out too thick, just add a drop more of milk (not too much!) and whisk until you get the right consistency.  If you accidentally make it too thin, just add a little bit more of the powdered sugar and whisk.

Once the cake has cooled, spread the glaze on top.

Let it sit and set up before cutting into squares.

This cake is moist and delicious!  It almost tastes like a carrot cake (without all those pesky vitamins from the carrots lol).  Seriously, it's a really good cake.  Very unique.  You can double the recipe and make it in a 9x13 baking dish.  It would be great for a potluck.  Give this one a try and let me know how you like it.