Tag Archives: coconut

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad with Pan Fire-Roasted Vegetables and Peanut-Honey-Lime Dressing

2 Apr

After a year and a half hiatus, I’m back at it (well, sort of!). This blog is purely a hobby for me, and when I transitioned jobs a year and a half ago, I found that I really didn’t have time to photograph, document and post anymore, especially in the day light (my main challenge to this blog has been being able to photograph all my food in natural light, since I don’t have any other equipment to make night shooting possible). Anyway, I had the urge to share this recipe and thought that there’s no harm in getting back into blogging, although I do want to give a disclaimer that I have no idea how often I’ll be posting. I don’t want my hobby to become a chore – I just want to be able to share good recipes when I can!

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad

There were a few inspirations for this recipe – trying to eat healthier since it’s getting warm out and my winter hibernation is finally ending :-) and trying to eat more vegetables (inspired by this article I was reading today about how much it can cut your risk of death!). I figure it can’t do much harm to eat more fruits and vegetables, so I might as well try! This recipe counts for at least a few servings I think!

I tend to like heartier salads when I’m eating healthy – otherwise I’ll be hungry an hour or two later! That’s why I combined coconut-crusted chicken with a fire-roasted vegetable mix, which was inspired by the one on Panera’s Thai Chicken salad (my favorite!). It’s a nice, charred mixture of diced carrot, bell pepper and edamame, which adds great flavor, texture and body to the salad. The cucumbers add a nice fresh crunch and the almonds are sweet and crunchy as well. You could easily substitute chopped peanuts to make this even more “Thai”.

A few recipe notes – the coconut I used is unsweetened flaked coconut. I found mine from Whole Foods and it worked well as it was very small flakes that adhered easily to the chicken. I suggest checking the health food/organic aisle of your grocery store to find unsweetened coconut. Also, the quantities of cucumber, sliced almonds and lettuce are merely suggestions, as it is truly personal preference.

This dressing is worth making extra of – it’s super flavorful and versatile. Much better than anything you can get in a bottle!  For more tips on making homemade vinaigrettes and dressings can be found here.

Coconut Chicken Salad 2

 

  • Servings: 2 dinner salads
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad with Pan Fire-Roasted Vegetables and Peanut-Honey-Lime Dressing

Chicken:

  • 2 medium chicken breasts or breast tenderloins (~1 lb)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into strips (4-5 per breast). Whisk egg in a small bowl with a splash of water. Combine panko, coconut and salt (~1/2 t.) in a separate bowl. Coat chicken in egg, removing excess, then coat thoroughly in breadcrumb mixture. Meanwhile, heat several tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken several minutes per side, until golden brown and chicken is cooked through (165°F).

Dressing:

  • 1 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 3 T. lime olive oil (or regular – see notes below)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 1 t. fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware or Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a small bowl. If you do not have lime olive oil, you can substitute regular extra-virgin olive oil and use more lime juice in place of the rice vinegar (lime zest could be added for extra lime flavor).

Pan fire-roasted vegetable mix

  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ to ¾ cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 T. vegetable oil

Salad:

  • Mediterranean or romaine salad mix (about 4 cups)
  • Honey roasted sliced almonds (or chopped peanuts)
  • 4-5” English cucumber, sliced

Place diced carrot and frozen edamame in a microwave-safe bowl and add a few tablespoons water. Microwave on high ~2 minutes to thaw edamame and slightly cook carrot. Drain. Heat oil in a small skillet over high heat; add edamame, carrot and pepper and stir fry until lightly cooked and slightly blackened.

Assemble salad with cucumber, charred vegetable mix, chicken, slivered almonds and drizzle with dressing.

Coconut Chicken Salad 1

 

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The Best Lemon Coconut Cupcakes of Your Life

3 Jun

…… or (an alternative title): The Best Cupcakes of your life in general.

This may sound a little extreme, but I just ate another one of these and was in heaven all over again, and I’m pretty sure you will agree (I know Matt and the rest of my family agreed!!).

Originally this was going to be a Lemon Coconut Cake creation.  That was until I was halfway through making the cake batter and could not locate any sort of round cake pans in my kitchen.  How is that possible!?  I even looked back at our wedding registry online to see if we registered for them….. nope?!  So I’m thinking what happened is that Matt and I both had sets of round cake pans in our separate apartments, and that they were probably old and gross so we got rid of them, thinking we would register for nice new ones.  And then we forgot to register for them.  Who knows?! Or else I really do have them somewhere and just couldn’t find them….

Oh well! The thing is, I think this recipe came out infinitely better as a cupcake anyway!  Instead of using the homemade lemon curd as a filling in between the layers of cake, I scooped out a bit of each cupcake and filled it with lemon curd:

Let me just say, I am mildly obsessed with lemon curd.  It’s just so sweet and tangy and creamy and tart and lemony and heavenly and … is this going too far?  I’ll eat it with a spoon.  Though a cupcake is a much better vehicle I must admit.

Anyway, the point was to make a lemon coconut cake for my mom for a belated Mothers Day celebration.  She loves lemon and loves coconut, and she definitely loved these cupcakes.  I somewhat cheated by starting with a boxed yellow cake mix (I’m going a little Sandra Lee/Semi-Homemade on you), but I made sure to jazz it up with lemon juice, sour cream and shredded coconut.

The frosting is a homemade cream cheese frosting, recipe adapted from Ina Garten, topped with shredded coconut (either toasted or not, you decide – we LOVED the toasted kind, plus it’s a bit prettier I think).

The lemon curd was also an Ina Garten recipe.  It was incredibly easy.  I didn’t make quite a full batch of it (namely because I only had 3 eggs and her recipe calls for 4, ha), but I’ll just link to her original recipe and you can adjust the batch size if you want.  A lot of lemon curd recipes call for using a double boiler-type set up, but her method was so much more simple.  Basically, mixing sugar and lemon zest and butter and eggs and lemon juice all together (it almost looked like cake batter to start), and then cooking it over low heat for just 10 minutes.  It was awesome.  And you don’t even need very many lemons, so it’s affordable too ;-)

Other notes I want to mention: I pulsed the shredded coconut in a food processor before adding it to the batter. I didn’t want it to be stringy at all, like coconut can sometimes be.  This really helped and the coconut wasn’t so noticable in the cake itself.   See the difference?

Also, don’t be intimidated by the added step of scooping out some of the cake and adding lemon curd.  It was very easy to do with a spoon, and then you get to eat the leftover cake pieces and no one has to know :).

I find the easiest way to fill the cupcakes with the curd and to ice them is to put the curd and icing into ziplock baggies, cut off the corner, and pipe it in/on as if you are using a pastry bag (this saves a lot of time over spreading it with a knife, and it looks prettier).

So without further ado, a recipe that will change your life (haha, I’m so over the top about food sometimes, it’s ridiculous, I know):

Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Cream Cheese Icing

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Cake:

  • 1 yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic Yellow – for reference, since other cake mixes may call for different amounts of liquid/eggs)
  • 1/3 cup oil (this is what the mix calls for)
  • 3 eggs (again, as per the box)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water (the box mix called for 1 cup water, so I used 1/4 lemon juice plus 3/4 water)
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut (pulsed in a food processor, optional)

Preheat the oven according to package directions.  Combine all ingredients (except coconut), according to package directions.  Stir in coconut, then scoop into cupcake pans (either sprayed with cooking spray or lined with cupcake liners), filling 2/3 full.  Bake and cool according to package.

Lemon Curd:

For the lemon curd, I used Ina Garten’s Recipe.  I adjusted the recipe to make a smaller amount, but if you make the recipe according to her directions you’ll have plenty of wonderful leftovers then.

I used a microplane zester to zest my lemons, so that elminated the need for me to pulse the lemon peel strips with the sugar as is stated in the original recipe.

At first I was worried because the recipe seemed a little chunky and cloudy:

But as it cooked, it became clear and beautiful just like it should be.

Don’t be worried if it doesn’t seem as thick as it should be after the 10 minutes of cooking are up, because it will continue to thicken once it is cooled and refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Icing:

I again used Ina Garten’s recipe, found at the bottom of this recipe here.

I made a half batch, removed the almond extract, and made other slight adjustments so the ingredients were as follows:

  • 1/2 pound cream cheese (1 bar), at room temperature
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pound confectioners’ sugar

Simply beat all ingredients with an electic mixer (or very strong arm) until smooth and combined.

To Assemble:

Once cupcakes are cooled, use a cookie scoop or small spoon to remove small portion of the middle of each cupcake:

Spoon cooled and thickened lemon curd into a small ziplock bag, seal, then snip one corner and pipe into the well of each cupcake.

Spoon icing into another ziplock bag and similarly cut off a corner to pipe the frosting on top of each cupcake, hiding the lemon curd inside.

Top each with shredded coconut, either toasted or not, it’s up to you! (To toast, place some coconut, about 5 ounces, in a dry saute pan on the stove.  Turn heat to medium low, tossing frequently to prevent burning.  Watch it carefully, it will toast quickly!).

If you don’t eat all the cupcakes in one sitting, store them in the refrigerator until your next binge :)