I’m Nuts for Coconuts

coconut 1

The thing about coconut is that you either love it or hate it, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Used to be coconut was that “exotic” ingredient that made its appearance only in a cake or candy bar or cookie. Sure making macaroons (not the French kind) always required that you buy a bag or two but ethnic dishes aside, until a few years ago the idea of coconut water was laughable, now, it’s the hottest item in the specialty water market place.

Early New World Spanish explorers discovering the coconut in their exploration called the strange round object that fell from trees coco, which translated means “monkey face”. I suppose those three indentations on that hairy nut does sort of resembles a monkey head but really when the coconut was brought back to Europe it became a source for many and varied products. Just to be accurate, a coconut is actually the fruit of the coconut palm and is a drupe, not a nut at all. A drupe is a seed consisting of an outer hard shell

The coconut is a multi talented food source and it provides a form of meat, juice, milk, and oil to countries around the world. It’s also a rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies have shown that the coconut is one of the best foods around.

Today, coconut is considered a wonder food. There are lots and lots of coconut products available on grocery shelves these days. Shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, really coconut everything and knowing what you’re getting and how to use it is key to making the most of your coconut experience. The dried coconut is obviously used in all kind of dishes. The coconut oil and coconut milk (which come from flesh of the coconut) are used in cooking baking, cooking and frying and coconut oil is also used in the manufacturing of soap and cosmetics. Coconut water is the hot new product in the flavored water aisle these days and not to be ignored the husks and leaves are used for making furniture and other house hold items.

So, it’s obvious that the past bad rep surrounding the coconut has been debunked. Now that you know exactly how versatile every little part of the coconut is, go get some and use these fun and delicious recipes to become acquainted. Who knows, maybe it will become you new favorite ingredient.

 coconut 3 soup



1/2 cup oil

1 large onions, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 to 3 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup vodka

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 14-Ounce can coconut milk

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Cork screw or bow tie pasta cooked al dente, kept warm


In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic and celery in the oil until softened and just beginning to take on a brown color. De-glaze with the vodka, stir well, and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes (with the juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook 20 more minutes. Using an immersion blender or food process. Puree slightly, leaving some chunks. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve immediately with the cooked pasta or cool and refrigerate or freeze. Makes About 2 Quarts


My file, source unknown




1 lb pkg. fettuccini noodles

4 heaping tablespoons shredded coconut, unsweetened, toasted

6 cups chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green chili, seeded, finely sliced

2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce (more to taste)

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (use a food processor)

1/2 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, optional

3 green onions, sliced


Place the dry noodles in a large bowl. Pour room temperature water over the noodles and let them soak for 10 to 15 minute. (They will be al dente in about 15 minutes). Drain and rinse and then divide them between 8 bowls)


Bring the broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Reduce to medium heat and add the turmeric, chili powder, garlic, and chili. Mix to combine, cook 2 minutes and then add the chicken. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken pieces are all cooked. Reduce heat to a simmer and add fish sauce, ground peanuts, and coconut milk. Cook for 1 minute more and remove from heat. Add the lime juice, mix to combine and then spoon the soup over the noodles in the 8 bowls. To serves, top each bowl with the chopped cilantro, green onion, and toasted coconut. Serves 8


Modified from yummly.com




2 teaspoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 cup red bell peppers, sliced thinly

1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds raw shrimp

2 cups light coconut milk from a can

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

salt to taste

cooked rice for 6 to 8


In a large skillet heat the oil and saute the onion, red pepper, and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Cook for 1minute. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 2 minutes.

Add in the shrimp, bump up the heat to medium and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Stir the mixture into shrimp mixture, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve either on individual plates or on a platter. To serve sprinkle the chopped cilantro and peanuts on top. Serves 8.


Modified from about.com

 coconut 4 cake


I love this recipe, I found it in Bon Appetite and have been making it ever since



1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars broken into small pieces, divided

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut



3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk**

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in the unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, butter, and orange peel and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.


Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, (tent with sheet of foil if cake is browning too quickly) 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.


In a bowl combine the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla and mix to combine, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

Place the cake on a serving platter and then drizzle the glaze over the top. Cool cake completely on platter. This is great with vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.

Modified from Bon Appétit January 2010



1 1/2 cups butter

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flaked coconut

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon

Salt and pepper to taste


In a saucepan combine the honey, brown, sugar, and coconut. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Cool the mixture slightly and pour it into a 9X13 glass pan. Place the salmon in the pan and then flip it once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flip the filets and refrigerate for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the salmon in the dish, and spoon some of the marinade over the top, making sure to get some of the coconut on the top. Season with just a little salt and pepper. Bake 25 minutes in the oven, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the salmon is flaked easily with a fork. Serves 4

Submitted by Eleanor Razon Toronto Canada


© Eileen Goltz coconut 13



Make Mine Marshmallow


            There seems to be two kinds of marshmallow lovers, those that swear by the cute mini or medium sized cylindrical spheres of sugar or those that prefer the jar version of goo called marshmallow cream. Now I’m not saying that in a taste test war between Campfire ®, Stay Puff ® and a jar of Fluff ® that one or the other brand would come out a clear taste winner because obviously, the winner in the marshmallow contest is the person who gets to eat the stuff.

            Many people aren’t aware that there actually is a plant called the marshmallow plant. In the olden days marshmallows used to be made from the boiled extract of its roots combined with eggs and sugar. This process was extremely time consuming and tres expensive. Today marshmallows are typically created by combining corn syrup, gelatin, gum arabic, egg and flavorings and shooting them through a tube.

Now if this were my typical food column I’d be telling you that marshmallows are in always in season AND they are available year round. They come in various shapes, sizes, flavors and colors and have a shelf life (if you keep them in an air tight container or bag that’s at least 6 months.  When figuring out exactly what type/size of marshmallow you want you want (or purpose you intend to use them for) you want make sure they’re soft (ok, you can squeeze them a little) and buy them. Be warned, however, if you’re a vegetarian, gelatin is an ingredient in the modern marshmallow recipe and most gelatins are animal based. There are, however, marshmallows made by companies like Elyon and Emes that specifically use non animal based gelatin in their recipes.

With summer just a few months away (ok, 4)  marshmallows sightings will become much more frequent. With this in mind and the term s’more allegedly standing for ‘gimme some more’ I say bring on the marshmallow recipes and lets get cooking.



1 cup flour
1 cup self rising flour
5 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup milk

1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 lb. frozen coconut
12 lg. marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 sm. can 6 oz. evaporated milk
2 tablespoon cocoa

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together 2 cups sugar and 1 cup shortening. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Sift the flour together. Add to the sugar mixture, alternating with the cup of milk. Stir in vanilla. Pour into 3 greased and floured cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile place 1 cups sugar and 1 cup milk in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add coconut and marshmallows. Stir and boil for 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and set aside. When the cakes are done let them sit for 5 minutes and then remove them from the pan. Spread the filling between the layers while they are still hot (you may want to use tooth picks to stabilize the cake). Let cool and frost.

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until thick and it forms a soft ball when small amount is dropped in cold water. Cool and frost top and sides of cake. Frosting for 1 cake. Serves 10 to 12.


1-1/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2-1/2 cups blueberry pie filling
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups mini marshmallows

Combine crumbs and butter or margarine; press onto bottom of 9-inch square baking pan. Cover with pie filling; chill. Whip cream with vanilla; fold in marshmallows. Spread over filling. chill several hours before serving.


This is a recipe I’ve had for years. I got it off the back of the Fluff jar and it’s as good today as it was when I first made it.

1 egg

1/3 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 cup unsifted flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350. Grease two large cookie sheets and set aside. In a large bowl with mixer at medium speed beat egg and vegetable oil. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until pale yellow in color. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a measuring cup combine milk and vanilla. Add flour and milk mixtures alternately to eggs and sugar, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. These will spread a lot, so make 6 cakes per sheet at a time. Bake about 5 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched with finger. Remove to wire racks to cool. When cool, use filling and two cakes to make sandwiches. Makes 15.


1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup Marshmallow Fluff (about 1/2 of a 7 1/2-oz. jar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and remaining ingredients until light and fluffy.


1 cup plain popped popcorn

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup salted peanuts

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Coat a 12 cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide popcorn, marshmallows and peanuts evenly among the cups. Place the chocolate into a microwave-safe container. Heat on high for 45 seconds, then continue to heat at 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour into the muffin cups, filling to the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release any bubbles. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Unmold and serve. Makes 12. This recipe can be doubled or triple and made in larger muffin tins.


2 tablespoons butter

1 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup half-and-half cream

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup butterscotch baking chips

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup roasted Spanish peanuts

Line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square pan with waxed paper. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, salt and half and half. Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring enough to keep from scorching. Remove from heat and stir in the marshmallows, and butterscotch chips. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. In the microwave or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate chips, and peanut butter together stirring frequently until smooth. Spread over the mixture in the pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into squares. Serves 12.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter, softened

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow Creme

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons milk, divided

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine, marshmallow creme and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well blended. Blend in 1 tablespoon of the milk. Add remaining 1 tablespoon milk if necessary for desired spreading consistency. Recipe makes enough to fill and frost a 2-layer cake. Makes 2 cups

2 (8-ounce) sweet potato
4 tablespoons light sour cream
3 tablespoons marshmallow creme
2 tablespoon sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoon chopped pecans
3 tablespoons drained, crushed pineapple
8 dried apricot halves, chopped
Preheat oven to 400. Wash the sweet potato, pat dry and pierce in several places with a fork. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or cook in a microwave oven on high (100 percent power) 5 minutes to 7 minutes, or until tender when pricked with a fork. Let cool slightly. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl; blend well. Working lengthwise, slice sweet potatoes in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh leaving a 1/4 inch shell of the flesh in each half. Place the scooped-out potato in a bowl, mash lightly with a fork; add about half the pineapple mixture; blend well. Spoon this mixture back into the potato halves and top each with the remaining pineapple mixture. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled and you can adjust the amount of pineapple and coconut to suit your taste.


This recipe was sent to me by a friend and it’s absolutely amazing. You’ll need to make a double recipe because the first one will disappear like magic.

1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 jars (7 ounces each) marshmallow cream
4 plain milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), chopped
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
2 cups whipping cream, whipped

In a saucepan, combine milk and vanilla; stir in marshmallow cream. Cook and stir over low heat until smooth. Cool. Stir in candy bars, almonds and cherries. Fold in whipped cream. Transfer to an ungreased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.


1 (16 ounce) box powdered sugar
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons maple extract
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (14 ounce) package caramels, unwrapped
3 tablespoons water,
2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted
In large bowl combine confectioners’ sugar, marshmallow creme, maple flavoring, and vanilla. Knead all together until all sugar is incorporated. Divide mixture into fourths and shape each fourth into a 5-inch log. Put them all on a baking sheet and chill. Melt caramels with water in double boiler over simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat; dip each log in caramel mixture. Then roll in pecans. Chill for another hour till firm. Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Store in air-tight container in cool place. Makes 4.

Happy New Year Recipes Reinvented

Some consider New Years Eve the holy grail of party nights. As per usual my skewed perspective sees it more as a night to NOT share roads with a higher than usual amount of inebriated drivers, NOT spend gobs of money for inexpensive (and usually mediocre) champagne, less than spectacular food and service and especially NOT to listen to a cover band whose median age is that of my children.

            I prefer to invite friends and neighbors over for a casual fun night of scintillating conversation, fabulous food and watching the ball drop in Times Square. I want everyone (including the designated drivers) to be able to party like a bailout was when a rowboat sprang a leak, the ozone was where you parked your car at a football game and cooties was the only type of contamination you had to worry about.

            It’s simple enough to have beer and wine on hand and only slightly more complicated to have stuff to mix up drinks. Most of my friends aren’t drinkers anyway so every year I try to come up with a new non alcoholic version of an alcoholic beverage. Over the years I’ve collected quite a few really good ones and now seems like a great time to share. Kids (that are allowed to stay up till 12:01 always love them). A few tips and tricks to make any beverage better and we’re all good to go.



1. Use fun and funky stemware! Anything seems more elegant in a wine, champagne, or martini glass. Even water.

2. Go for the garnish! A simple slice of lime to a sugared rim, a decoration like a paper umbrella adds a touch of magic to your glass.

3. Everyone loves bubbles!  A splash or two of club soda, ginger ale or lemon lime soda always add to the adventure.

1 dash = 6 drops
3 Teaspoons = 1/2 ounce
1 pony = 1 ounce
1 jigger = 1-1/2 ounce
1 large jigger = 2 ounces


A must have for many cocktails

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the mixture condenses into a clear, sweet syrup, approximately 5 minutes. Cool. You can use immediately or store indefinitely in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Makes 1 cup. This recipe can be doubled.

A non-alcoholic version of this frozen margarita.
1.5 oz. non alcoholic Margarita mix
1 oz. non alcoholic triple sec
6 ice cubes
Salt (optional)
Lime (optional garnish)
In a blender mix all liquids together  Add ice and crush until smooth, like a snow cone.  Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with salt (optional). Garnish with lime. Serves one


4 ounces apple juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

dash of grenadine

chilled ginger ale

apple slice

Pour ingredients except for apple slice into a Highball glass with some ice and stir. Top up with ginger ale. Garnish with an apple slice. Serves one

6 fluid ounces pineapple juice or fresh pineapple chunks
2 fluid ounces Coconut cream
3 to 4 cups of Ice
Slices of pineapple, orange or lime
Paper umbrellas for decoration

In a blender, crush ice while gradually adding the pineapple and the coconut cream. The ice should be thick enough to hold a cherry on top without sinking into the drink. Serve in a tall glass with a straw. Garnish with one cherry and a slice of pineapple. Insert a paper umbrella for that tropical, exotic touch. Serves one


1 can (12 oz) frozen limeade concentrate

1 1/2 cups cold water

1/3 cup sugar

1 package (16 oz) frozen strawberries

1 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed and thick. Serves 6.

1 oz fresh lime juice
3 oz fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen strawberries or strawberry syrup)
1 teaspoon sugar
Cracked ice

mint leaves (optional)
Fill lime juice, strawberries, and sugar into a blender. Blend until smooth, then add the cracked ice and blend again until smooth. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with whole strawberry or mint leave. Serve with a straw. Serves one


1/3 cup sugar
10-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 chilled club soda
2 bottles (25.4 ounces each) chilled sparkling white grape juice

Strawberries, sliced thin, for garnish if desired
Thin lime slices, halved, for garnish if desired

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Let the sugar syrup cool completely. In a food processor, puree the strawberries with their syrup and the lime juice, transfer the mixture to a large punch bowl, forcing it through a fine sieve if desired, and stir in the sugar syrup, the orange juice, and the club soda. Chill the mixture, covered, until it is cold. Add the sparkling grape juice slowly just before serving and serve the punch in punch glasses, each garnished with a strawberry slice and a lime slice. Makes 8 to 10 servings


4 1/2 cups cubed honeydew melon (about 1 small)
1 1/2 cups lime sherbet
2 tablespoons lime juice
fresh strawberries (optional)

Place melon cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze 30 minutes or until firm.  Put the knife blade in food processor bowl and add the frozen melon, sherbet, and lime juice. Process until smooth.  Pour into glasses. Garnish with strawberries, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 5 to 6

BONUS RECIPES!!!! The following recipes were sent to me by readers who swear they are the best appetizers to serve with mock-tails. While I haven’t tried making them myself they looked so good I wanted to share them.


1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1 egg
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
2 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set sauce aside.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, coconut milk, flour, curry powder and remaining sugar; mix well. Spread coconut on a sheet of waxed paper. In a small bowl, combine salt and cayenne. Dip shrimp into coconut milk batter; let excess drip off. Dredge shrimp in coconut; place on a wire rack.

In a deep heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat Add the shrimp in batches; cook, turning once, until browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cayenne mixture. Serve with the sauce. Servings: 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Submitted by Corie Sullivan Elmwood IL


1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 jarred roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package frozen bread dough, thawed

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 2 baking sheets. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic; saute for 2 minutes. Add broccoli; cook, stirring until moisture has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine broccoli mixture, mozzarella, Parmesan, roasted peppers, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 8 pieces; roll out each piece to form a 6-inch circle. Spoon an equal amount of broccoli mixture in the center of each circle. Fold dough over filling to form a half circle. Press edges with a fork to seal; prick a few holes in pocket tops. Place pockets on prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pockets

Darin Carmichael Crystal Lake IL