Carrot Cake Pancakes

IMG_0889Good evening all–  Sunday evening supper. To tell the truth, Sunday supper around here is usually a thrown together quesadilla or peanut butter toast in front of the t.v.  But when the kids were young, lots of Sundays, it was pancakes for supper.  So in memory of those “good old days,” I’m making pancakes for Sunday supper this week– with a fresh, spicy, nutty twist– and loads of maple syrup!

2 cups grated carrot, about 2 large carrots
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts

Grate the carrots and set them aside.  Stir up the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and sugar.  Then add in the eggs, vanilla, oil and buttermilk*.  Finally stir in the carrots, coconut, currants and nuts.  Cook them up on a griddle sprayed with cooking spray (or butter, if your cholesterol is lower than mine) on medium heat.  Pour out small scoopfuls.  They do spread to get bigger on the pan!  Top with pecans and globs of maple syrup!  Hope you like them as much as we did.

*For butter milk, I just added a a couple tablespoons of cider vinegar to regular milk.


Coconut Almond Chocolate Cookies

IMG_0650Hey friends– Cookies just out of the oven and you know they are better hot, so I had to eat one straight away!  Our son Micah in Shanghai loves Almond Joy candy bars, and these little guys are the cookie equivalent, so I’m wishing I could send him off a few right now.  But I think these crumbly cookies wouldn’t hold up over thousands of transit miles. So oh well, we’ll just have to share them with friends closer to home.

3/4 cup coconut (the sweetened kind)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate bar)
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely

IMG_0640Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the coconut across a cooking sheet and toast it in the oven for 6 or 7 minutes– Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  Set it aside to cool.  Then with an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg.  Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the coconut, chocolate and almonds.

The batter will be crumbly. So with your hands, squish together little cookie dough mounds and put them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes about 20 medium cookies.  Heat them while they’re hot!

German Chocolate Brownie Bites (and old friends)

IMG_9071Hello to you all–  Last weekend we had a little get away with 40 of our closest friends!  Spent a couple days laughing, eating, walking, have time to really talk and getting into a couple hours of intense bananagrams!  It was just grand.  And to contribute to the snacks galore, I took along this little brownie bites.  They are pretty irresistible.

Brownie Mix (9″x13″ pan size)
2 eggs


Make the brownies according to the instructions on the box.  Spoon the batter into mini muffin pans** sprayed with cooking spray.  (makes about 30)  Bake them up at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are firm to the touch.  Cool before putting on the topping.

1/2 cup evaporated milk*
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3/4 cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped

IMG_9091Drop the first 5 ingredients into a heavy pan and stir them constantly over medium heat until they come to a simmer.  Cook 30 seconds more.  Then stir in the coconut and almonds.  Spoon little mounds of the gooey coconut topping onto the cooled little brownies.  Eat them up and pass them out to friends!

*Evaporated milk comes in cans of over a cup– but you can freeze what you don’t use for the next time you need it.
**You can cook them directly in the mini muffin pans, or get these cunning little foil cups from the Kamei restaurant supply store in San Francisco.  Love those little things.

We do so love these old friends– been sharing life’s ups and downs with most of them for over 30 years– There’s no one I’d rather grow old with than these fabulous, fun and faithful friends.  Here they are:


IMG_9116      19616_10151415988784614_11828499_n
photos:  My Larry with Paul– the marathon walkers,  a little wacky after 2 hours of playing bananagrams,  just 4 friends hanging out,  the beach walking buddies.

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

IMG_8197Hi friends–  Did you have a fine full Christmas?  I’m hoping so.  After all that eating (and eating) here’s a simple soup that is just right for a winter day.  Savory and steaming hot it warms you all the way down.  I had a version of this at a downtown lunch place in San Francisco called D.G.F. (darn good food) at Thanksgiving time and have been hungry for it every since.  It’s a new favorite.

1 butternut squash, 2-2 1/2 pounds
2 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3 green onions, white & green parts chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. honey
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. orange vinegar*
salt to taste
more green onions for garnish

Peel the squash and take out the seeds.  Cut it up into 2″ chunks.  Toss the squash, coconut milk, chicken broth, green onion, garlic and ginger into a soup pot and simmer it for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender.  Add the honey, curry, vinegar and salt if you think you need it (I didn’t) and cook for 5 more minutes.  Use a stick blender or food processor to puree the soup til it’s rich and creamy.  Serve hot, hot with a sprinkle of green onion bits on top.  So good!

*Trader Joe’s has a mouth watering Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar that works well in this recipe and is killer for dressings on fruity salads.

Coconut Cranberry Cake


Hello friend– Last night was our school staff Christmas party. Unlike the teachers’ lunchroom at school, there were glasses of wine all around and we even managed to not talk over funny student stories and math scores.  I as planning to bring along my favorite Cranberry Christmas Cake, but then I got requests for good old coconut cake.  So I put the two together and this is what resulted–

1 white cake mix
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups coconut

1 cup sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/3 cup water

1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar
a few handfuls more of coconut

First make the filling, so it can be cooling to room temperature while the cake bakes. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch til blended. Then add in the cranberries and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly for about 5 minutes. Until the cranberries pop open and the sauce thickens.

Then bake the cake in 2 sound cake pans according to the box instructions, adding in the 1 1/2 cups coconut just before you scoop the batter into the cake pans sprayed with cooking spray. Bake and cool. Slice the two layers horizontally to have 4 flat layers.

For the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until completely blended.

THEN– put it all together. Put the first cake layer on the cake plate and top with 1/3 of the filling. Repeat with the second and third layers, being careful that the filling doesn’t dribble down the sides of cake. Then put on the 4th top layer and frost it all up with the cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle it all, sides and top, with coconut and it looks like a big snowball! –a pretty Christmas cake.

German Chocolate Poke Cake

Hello all–  Here’s a easy chocolate cake that is moist as can be, with crunchy almonds and coconut on top.  Oh, and why do we call it “poke cake?”  After it bakes you poke holes in the hot cake so the chocolate pudding will ooze down into the cake.  Just pretty all around delicious.

1 chocolate cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
1 large (5 oz.) box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix*
2 1/2 cup s milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut

Make the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box.  Bake it in a 9×13″ pan sprayed with cooking spray– or in 2 9″ cake pans to make 2 separate cakes**.  While the cake is baking cook the pudding mix in a pan on the stove top using just 2 1/2 cups of milk.  Let that cool while the cake finishes baking.

When the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes down into the cake about an inch apart with a handle of a wooden spoon.  Then spoon the pudding all over the cake allowing the pudding to dibble down into the holes and saturate the cake.

For the topping put the sugar and almonds into a nonstick pan and turn the heat up to high, stirring the whole time.  When the sugar starts to melt turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring.  When the almonds start to turn brown, add in the coconut and stir for about a minute more.  Spoon the mixture out onto a piece of tin foil and let it cool before you sprinkle it all over the pudding topped cake.  That’s it!

*I use the cooked type of pudding instead of instant because the flavor is so much smoother and richer.
**Use 2 round cake pans or springform pans so you have one cake to eat and one to give to give away.  (share the calories!)

Hazelnut Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi friends– How about a cookie?  When I got home from our travels this week, I was just itching to bake something.  So when I ran across a recipe from hazelnut cookies, I went straight to the kitchen.  And I’ve been nibbling away on these things all week.  Pretty delish– you might want to give them a try.

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 sticks of butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cut the hazelnuts in half and spread them on a baking sheet.  Toast them at 350 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes (keep you eye on them so they don’t burn) until they are golden brown. Let them cool a few minutes before adding them to the cookie mixture.  With a mixer, cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally stir in the toasted hazel nuts, coconut and chocolate chips.  Drop them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray by rounded tablespoonfuls.  Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 15- 17 minutes until nicely browned.

Add a mug of milk and a good book and you’re set to enjoy these cookies…

Coconut Milk Pancakes

Good morning– It’s pancake time.  We had a little “pancake party” this morning.  Laurel is just in from her 7 week road trek and my Mom came by after we walked at the park this morning.  So how about a stack of pancakes to celebrate? –sounds like a good enough excuse to me. These pancakes are not too sweet (that’s what all that maple syrup is for) and have a hint of coconut flavor to make them delicious.  They are worth waking up for!

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
1 egg

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the coconut milk, oil and egg until completely blended.  And pour them out on a hot griddle sprayed with cooking spray.  and voila!!–pancakes!

This makes about 8 medium size pancakes.  Next time, I think I’ll throw in a little shredded coconut and some chopped pecans.  Hope you give them a try!