Cream of Coconut Cake

I have been making one version or another of this cake for so long now that I couldn’t even begin to tell you where or when the idea originated.

Coconut Cream Cake is a fairly rich dessert.  It’s similar to a tres leche cake, except it uses cream of coconut as one of the components.  This one is also served right from the pan you baked it in, which can be a blessing for folks like me who can hardly get a small cake out of a pan in one piece.

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Spicy Pretzels with a Kick

This recipe is a close relative of spiced crackers.  The only real difference here is the choice of spice add in used.  I prefer to keep the cayenne pepper out of my spiced crackers, but it pairs well with pretzels, at least in my mind.

Spicy Pretzels with a Kick pairs well with beer because of the kick.  I like to serve these when we are having a few folks over to watch football games.

These pretzels also serve well as hostess gifts just like Peppermint Crunch and Spiced Crackers do.

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10 Perfect Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Home Chefs and Foodies

Over the years my wife and I have bought some pretty amazing things that we would think the average foodie would love to receive as gift. With holiday season rapidly approaching, we figured now would be an appropriate to share our favorite items any foodie would appreciate. We didn’t stick to any pricing guidelines, but we think these are pretty reasonable gifts. So here we go.


1. Finishing Salt

10-foodie-gifts-finishing-saltI don’t think a lot of people think about salt when they think of ingredients, but any chef knows that salt can either make or break a recipe. Too little salt in a recipe is just flat and bland. Another way to add flavor or texture to a dish is to sprinkle some finishing salt on top of your finished dish.

My wife bought my first finishing salt last year for Christmas. Finishing salts are salts with a large grain size or salt that have been flavored with special ingredients like smoke, wine, or citrus. Finishing salts can also come from special regions where their source of salts is known for its distinct flavor characteristics, Hawaii for example.

Finishing salts are great on steaks or even some chocolate treats. My favorite use of them is probably in risottos. Risottos really need a healthy dose of salt for it to really sing true. Finishing salts come in a large range of flavors and crystal sizes.

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Peppermint Crunch

Everyone needs an easy go to Holiday treat recipe.  One that requires minimal ingredients and minimal time to make.  Peppermint Crunch fits that bill.

It only has 3 ingredients.  4 ingredients if you decide to add peppermint flavoring to either chocolate layers.

Just like spiced crackers, this recipe makes great hostess gifts.  It cost a bit more than crackers, but who doesn’t love chocolate and peppermint during the holidays.  This is probably why we gain up to 5% of our weight over the holidays.  I don’t deny that nuts, caramel, and cinnamon flavored treats are part of the problem.

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Homemade Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle is not something I make very often.  I don’t know why I don’t make if often, it’s actually pretty simple.  There is more margin for error in this recipe than in some of my other candy recipes.

This recipe is a favorite no matter where I serve it.  It is also one of those food I try not to keep laying around the house as we eat far too much of it when it’s here.

There are recipes around the internet that do not require a candy thermometer, but this is not one of those.  I cook mine until it reaches the hard crack stage.  I prefer this method as it avoids the dreaded “too chewy” brittle.

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Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

I love bacon wrapped snacks and appetizers.  I have been making this bacon wrapped water chestnut for over 25 years.

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are perfect for tailgating, game day parties, New Year’s parties, and just about any gathering of people.

I have been known to serve these at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and even Christmas day while the holiday meal is cooking.

I am sure this came off of the back of a product, but it’s been a minute since I last saw it anywhere near a product package.  It could have been chestnuts, or soy sauce, or even Worcestershire sauce.

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Soft Homemade Caramels

Homemade soft caramels should never be made when you are home alone.  These may possibly be the most dangerous thing that has ever been cooked in my kitchen.

Not because it will hurt, although it could if you aren’t careful playing with molten lava temperature melted sugar, but because you need to get them wrapped and out of the house as quickly as possible.

Do not send more than a few of these at a time to friends, as these will also be dangerous at their house.  Do bring them to work for brownie points! Should be worth at least a few of those.

You and everyone else who eats these will not be able to stop eating them until either your teeth hurt, your stomach hurts, or you have eaten all of them.  Once they are all eaten, you will be thinking of them for days to come.

After reading several caramel recipes, I settled on starting with this one from Land O’Lakes and tweaking it ever so slightly.

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Beef Salad

Beef Salad is perfect for elegant cocktail parties and casual get-togethers.  It’s all in the presentation with this one.

It is easy enough that even beginners should be able to pull off beef salad so long as they own a food processor or blender.  I might be possible to mince the meat with a knife, but I have never done it.  I am too lazy for all of that, and patience is NOT by strong suit.

This recipe can be scaled down to use leftover roast beef.  I used to make it this way until I discovered that so many people liked it that I actually needed to make a full roast just for beef salad.  This is another one of those dishes that I carry to others’ parties as an appetizer.

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Snickerdoodles

If I had to choose the one cookie recipe that I think would please everybody, it would be Snickerdoodles.  Soft, buttery, and covered in sugar and cinnamon.

No worries about someone who doesn’t like chocolate, or those who may have a tree nut allergy.  These are great with coffee, tea, warm cider, on winter days, on warm days, well they are great no matter when or how you serve them.

Snickerdoodles are one cookie you can bet will always be on my Christmas cookie gift platters.

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