Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

{i'm on a coconut kick}
I saw these and died. I have been on a coconut kick lately, and paired with chocolate...even better! I can't really talk these up anymore, but the original recipe was actually featured on Tasty Kitchen. So, basically they are amazing.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and add to butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut. Drop by rounded spoonfuls on to cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. And enjoy!


Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins

{i didn't know bran tasted so good}
I was always kind of against all bran infused foods because I thought that's only what heath nuts ate. Again, my palate is expanding. I now am in love with bran muffins. They were really healthy but they didn't taste like it. They kept me full so I wasn't craving potato chips 30 minutes later. Plus, I put huge chunks of fruit in them which just makes everything better. You should give them a try if you haven't already, and if you have.. well, good for you! Give this recipe a whirl when you are in need of a health snack!
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup whole bran cereal (not flakes)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
14 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 whole apples, skinned, cored, and chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray or butter. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over cereal. Stir to moisten; set aside.
In another medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, add eggs, yogurt, sour cream, and oil. Stir cereal and flour mixture into wet ingredients just until moistened, fold in apples.
Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling 3/4 full. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Serve warm and enjoy! 


Creamy Coconut Cheesecake

{happy pi day!}
I'm so proud of myself for remembering that today was Pi Day before it arrived. This year I was able to make something in celebration of this great day. I know cheesecake isn't really a pie, but it's in the pie shape, so I'm countin' it. Last week, I bought my first spring form pan and so I instantly started craving cheesecake. I searched all week for that perfect cheesecake recipe that would both satisfy my craving, but also be something simple and plain enough that my husband would help eat it, too. I found a Coconut Lime Cheesecake recipe from Our Best Bites and I fell in love with it. Although, husband wasn't so keen on the lime part, so I omitted that and altered it just a bit. It was amazing! Husby told me that it was better than the Cheesecake Factory and was the best cheesecake he'd ever had! Ah, well at least I've got that going for me! :) If you aren't a lover of the coconut you can omit the coconuty parts and just have an amazing plain cheesecake.
for the crust:

2 cups crushed Graham Crackers
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

for the filling:
3 packages light cream cheese (8 oz each), softened. (you can use full fat cream cheese, too) 
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350F and spray spring form pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl mix together Graham Cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and coconut until crumbly and moistened. Lightly press crumbs to bottom of spring form pan (if you press too hard, the crust wont cut properly). Bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and coconut extract and mix until combined. Pour over crust.
You are going to want to do a water bath. Don't get overwhelmed it wasn't that hard! Wrap the spring form pan in a couple layers of foil (not over the top, just the pan part. This is help keep water creeping in through the cracks of the pan). Place cheesecake pan in a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Place both in the oven, and pour water in the roasting pan, until the water reaches half way up the spring form pan. Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until barely browned and the center is a tiny bit jiggly.

Once the cheesecake is done, to prevent the top from cracking, just turn off the oven and crack your oven door. Come back in 30 minutes. Pull the cheesecake out and let it sit until it's completely cooled... then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

The purpose of the water bath is to help cook the cheesecake evenly, to keep the texture creamy, and to prevent the top from cracking. If you don't have a roasting pan or just really don't want to do to a water bath, you don't have to. It wont affect the taste and it will still be amazing! You need a lot of patience with cheesecakes... but they are sooo worth it.
Dig in!


Chicken Tikka Masala

{it's fun to try new things; this is a good place to start}
I'm an Indian food virgin. Until now I hadn't had it before. I always kind of thought Indian was a bit spicy and carried a lot of heat, ya know with the curry and everything. I first tried this at a friends house not knowing it was really Indian until she told me it was, and ya know what? I fell in love with it! It was spicy, but not too spicy. It felt healthy and kept me full for longer than normal. The next day, I was craving it! Mmm, it was so good, people. Take my word for it! Oh also, it wasn't really that hard to make. But if you want to cut out the middle man, you can just buy the jar of sauce at your local grocery store.
Ingredients: (Don't get overwhelmed. There's a lot but it's so worth it.)
5-6 thinly sliced chicken breast (that way, all the nasty fat and stuff is already trimmed off)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
4 gloves garlic, minced
1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches), minced (cut brown edges off first)
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cup light cream
2 cups Basati rice (or regular white rice if you prefer)
Ground Coriander
Garam Masala (can be found in the spice isle, sometimes called "Indian Masala")
Brown sugar
Fresh cilantro
Sour cream

Line a baking sheet with foil, flip your oven to broil. Lay chicken breast on foil and sprinkle both sides with salt, cumin and coriander spice. Then spoon a little yogurt on each one, coating them thoroughly.

Broil for 7-8 minutes on each side (make sure chicken is 10-12 inches from top of oven). Once chicken is done, set aside turn off broiler.
In a large frying pan (you want one with tall edges), melt 2 tablespoon butter over medium heat, saute onion until tender. Add garlic, ginger, and a little salt and stir until combined and fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Make sure to buy the coolest looking piece of ginger you possibly can... Note to self: Get a manicure.
Next add 3 tablespoons Masala spice, stir to combine (should kind of stick to bottom of pan) then add tomatoes and stir immediately as the tomatoes will deglaze the bottom of the pan, also add 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. By now, it should look like this.
Once your tomato sauce has simmered, add the cream, and some chopped cilantro if you'd like. Also, chop up your chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks and add to mixture. Stir and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare rice as per directed.
To serve, scoop some rice, then some Tikka Masala and top with chopped cilantro and sour cream.

Source: The Pioneer Woman via Pastor Ryan


Mini Caramel Pecan Rolls

{half the dough, does that mean half the calories?}
One day, I was roaming through my many cookbooks, particularly the dessert and bread sections, and I came across these and suddenly started craving them. There wasn't even a picture, and I still wanted them. I glanced at the nutritional information and could feel my butt begging me to not make them. So, I decided to split the dough in half, and just use half instead of making a full batch. I don't think it really changes how healthy or unhealthy they are, but at least you only have a few to eat instead of a lot. You're welcome.
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (about one package)
1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl, let sit 5 minutes. Add sugar, sour cream, softened butter, salt, and egg to yeast mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add 2 cups flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turn once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until dough doubles in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 tablespoons corn syrup. Stir over medium heat until combined. Spread mixture in prepared 8 inch round baking dish. Sprinkle 2/3 cup chopped pecans over caramel, set aside. Divide dough in half. You can freeze the remaining dough if you want, or you can use it and make a double batch. Working with one portion at a time, roll dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Brush surface with some melted butter, and sprinkle with 3/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up starting from a filled long side, pinch the dough to secure so it doesn't unroll on you. Take some dental floss, and cut 1 inch slices of dough placing them facing down in caramel pecan mixture.
Cover and let rise again for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size again. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F.
After baking, immediately invert rolls onto serving platter. Nutritional info: 463 calories per 3 rolls. You should only end up with 10-12 rolls depending on how thick you slice the dough. Don't be afraid to share these with your neighbors if you are tempted to eat them all in one sitting...



{me and Italian, like a fat kid and a cupcake}
We have a new favorite in our house. It's called Bruschetta. Don't ask me why we haven't tried it before, but we did and we loved it and now all my husband wants is Bruschetta. Morning, noon and night. I have to admit that I basically loved it, too and it's not hard to make at all so we both win. The thing I like cooking the most, are things that you can alter to your own tastes. Bruschetta lands in this category. If you like just a smidgen of garlic then that's all you'll need to add. If you don't fancy onion, then you can omit it. This dish would go great with home made bread or you can purchase store bough baguettes, any flavor you like!
4 ripe Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
dash of salt and pepper
dried parsley for garnish

Wash and dry tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into fourths, and remove seeds and the stem. Once all the seeds and juices are removed, dice tomatoes as small or as large as you prefer. Add to a medium bowl. Mince garlic, and add to tomatoes. Finely chop onion, add to tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients and toss together until coated and flavors come together. Taste test and add seasonings to fit your tastes. Pour into cute bowl(s), garnish with dried parsley flakes and serve with garlic toast or baguettes. Yield 4 servings.
So easy, right?! Thanks for reading!

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