Coconut Cake

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I made Alton Brown’s coconut cake yesterday. I made the coconut cream, milk, and extract from scratch. Matt grated the coconuts for me last week. It was really sweet of him.

Overall this was a pretty easy recipe to follow. I’ve never done a sponge cake before, but I made sure not to overmix. Not all the meringue got mixed in, but the cake rose very nicely. I made a 7 minute frosting, which turned out wonderfully.

The cake did taste a bit biscuity, and many reviews said it was too sweet, but I didn’t think that at all!

The extract was really easy to make. You put vodka and coconut together and let it sit. Then after a week or do, strain out the coconut, and voila! Extract!

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Beef Stroganoff

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Matt loved the beef stroganoff I made last night. It was super easy. We left the house at 5:30 AM, so I put 3/4 lb of mushrooms, 1 can cream of chicken, 1 can cream of mushroom, a chopped onion, a little garlic, pepper, and 2 beef bullion cubes in my crockpot. Then I added 2 lbs of frozen, cubed London broil. I let set the crockpot on low.

When I got home at 4:15, the house smelled amazing! I reheated egg noodles from Monday, added 2 cups of sour cream to the crockpot, and we had a delicious dinner… And plenty of leftovers!

On the other hand, my hands smelled like onion all day long. 🙂

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Cheddar Chicken

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Last night I made cheddar chicken. I saw it on Pinterest a couple weeks ago. Matt LOVED it. He said, “I would totally pay $20, no, $30, in a restaurant for this.” Awwww!!! Later he said, “I love you. You are an amazing cook.” what a sweet husband!!

Here is what I did:

I took two chicken breasts, and cut them up into 4 pieces each. I ran a sleeve of generic Ritz crackers in the food processor, and I grated a little less than 8 oz of cheddar cheese. I sprinkled salt & pepper in the crackers, then dipped the chicken pieces in milk, cheese, and finally the crackers. The cheese does not stick very well, but I added some cheese on top after I put the chicken in a greased pan. I baked the chicken at 400 until it was 160 degrees, about half an hour.

The sauce is 1 can cream of chicken soup, with 2 T margarine and 2 T sour cream. I added dried parsley for texture. I just stirred it up until it was hot.

I served this with mashed potatoes, mixed with cream cheese, margarine, and salt/pepper.

Also happy birthday to my baby sister!!! She is 7 today, and she is the most wonderful 7 year old ever! 😉

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Weekend

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This weekend was exciting.  Matt took me on a spontaneous trip to Santa Barbara/Solvang. 

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Pea soup!  Very delicious!

We spent Friday night at Andersen’s Pea Soup Hotel (everything was GREEN!!!). 

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Paula’s Pancake House – great Danish pancakes!

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We got a strudel to take home at this bakery.

Saturday morning, we had breakfast in Solvang, and then walked around the whole village before heading back down the coast.

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Matt on a bench with carved horses for arm rests!

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A bust of Hans Christian Andersen.

Matt stopped at some mussel shoals to gather mussels; he watched a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown steamed live mussels, so Matt wanted to try it. 

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If you look closely, you can see Matt getting mussels.

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Matt’s nachos – they filled him up, with leftovers!

Afterwards, we stopped at Freebird’s near UCSB.  Freebirds is kindof like Chipotle, only much yummier.  It’s an independent store, separate from the chain restaurant that is sprouting up. 

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Surrey rental

After that, we went to the Santa Barbara pier, where the museum was shooting off a cannon that day.  It was super loud!  My ears rang for a little bit afterwards.  We rented a surrey (seriously, too expensive!), and we biked down the beach for about 45 minutes.  Great leg workout!

 When we got home on Saturday night, Matt steamed the mussels.  I had to hole myself up in the bedroom with scented candles, because the smell was overpowering.  The recipe asked for a couple cloves of garlic… Matt thought a bulb of garlic was a clove, so in actuality, he used about 10 cloves of garlic!  Ahhhhh!  Turns out the mussels did not taste very good.  He was disappointed, but I promised we would go camping/fishing at the Kern River in a couple months, so he can get some good out of his fishing license. 

 

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We made it to the top!

On Sunday after church, we went to the LA Arboretum, which is right up the street from our church.  We walked for about 45 minutes (seriously, most of it was uphill, since downhill was a flight of stairs!!).  There are peacocks loose everywhere in the arboretum.  They were very beautiful. 

Yesterday was MLK day, so I was off work (yay for government jobs!).  Matt’s parents came over for dinner, and I made Julia Child’s Chicken with mushrooms & cream.  You guys.  You have GOT to try this.  Here’s how to make it:

In a large pan (one that can go in the oven), melt 5 Tablespoons butter until foamy.  Put in 2 stalks green onions, sliced, and sauté them for a minute or so.  Add ¼ lb mushrooms, sliced.  Don’t let the veggies brown.  Sprinkle with a little salt.  Turn off the fire, and then add 4 chicken breasts, sprinkled with lemon juice, salt & pepper.  Flip them in the butter until they get completely covered.  Put a lid on the pan, and place it on the oven for about 35-40 minutes.  Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken breasts and put them in a place where they will stay warm.  Then add ¼ cup dry wine (I used chardonnay, a $4 bottle from Trader Joe’s) and ¼ cup stock (I used Swanson’s chicken broth).  Boil it down a little bit (it’s supposed to get syrupy…mine did not).  Add 1 cup heavy cream, boil until it thickens (mine didn’t thicken – I added a tablespoon of flour, then it thickened nicely).  Add fresh parsley (I used dried, and it was fine).  I served it with fresh green beans and egg noodles.  It was scrumptious!  Definitely a repeat!

If you don’t cook with wine, just use more chicken broth instead. 

I also cut my foot yesterday while cleaning (silly carpet nails), and my foot hurts.  That was our weekend!! 

Weekend

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Life is going nicely in our house.  Matt got his first day job with the sheet metal union, and we are hoping that he gets more day jobs soon.  Although, a permanent job would be better!  He wants to work in a shop, fabricating, not in the field, which is installing.  So I am praying that he gets a permanent job where he will be happy.

I am doing great; I’m helping Gina with her wedding planning, which is super fun!  We went to Paper Source on Saturday for a wedding stationery workshop, and I rediscovered embossing.  It’s so pretty –  you stamp paper with clear (or color) ink, cover the ink with embossing powder, and then blow hot air to melt the powder.  The result is a gorgeous, shiny design.  I’m thinking that I may need to invest in some supplies!

On Sunday, Bob and Matt Y. came for dinner.  I served chicken fajita’s with homemade tortillas.  I also browned a pound of ground beef for tacos – you would think 2.5 pounds of chicken breast would feed three hungry guys, but I know better!  🙂

Chicken Parmesan

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Matt loved the chicken parmesan I made the other night. I used Private Selection Pemko Parmesan Herb Bread Crumbs. You hammer the chicken out really flat, then dip it in flour, milk, and the bread crumbs. I browned each side in the frying pan, in olive oil, and then I baked them at 400 for 15 minutes.

While that baked, I boiled linguine and made my sauce. I used a basic can – Hunts Traditional – but I chopped up a whole onion, bell pepper, and tomato, and sautéd them first. Then I added the sauce. I used the food processor for the onion and pepper – so easy! The sauce will last for another meal, too.

When the chicken was done, I sprinkled mozzarella cheese, and then let it bake a couple more minutes, until it was melted.

Matt heartily approves of this meal!!

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New Year

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This was our third year at the Rose Parade. We got there around 8:30 PM, and it wasn’t too hard to find a spot. It was so cold this year, so it wasn’t very crowded. Next year, we are bringing a heater!!

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