Friday, December 31, 2010

Toasted Coconut Saltine Candy

So funny story about this recipe, I almost burnt my oven down making it a couple years ago. I used to make this candy (minus the toasted coconut) allllll the time for gift baskets and at home snacking. At the time, I had the smallest baking sheet you can buy. So anytime I needed to make an abundance of this treat, I had to make four batches. So I had a flat pizza sheet that was like three times the size and decided "hey, why not use this?". I'll tell you why not use this past presence idiot self, the recipe has butter in it. So, on a flat sheet when the butter bubbles up, it bubbles over, over as in to the bottom of the oven. Luckily, when making this recipe my knight in shining armor, Jon, was outside working on his truck. I started screaming like a mad woman as I'm watching smoke pour from the rings of my stove top and flames engulfing my pizza sheet inside the oven. Jon snaps into action, grabs the fire extinguisher and saves the day. What the heck would I have done if he wasn't there? I really should take a fire safety course or something...

Morale of the story, make sure when you make this recipe, you use a baking sheet that has a lip on all four sides. I took pictures of the evolution of this recipe for you so you can see what I'm talking about there. You'll also notice in my pictures that only half of mine is covered with toasted coconut and almonds. My parents have had coconut flakes in the fridge forever and haven't used them for anything. I decided I wanted to make this recipe with them and asked Jon to go get them for me. He was pissed. He hates coconut and knew that I was going to be creating something that he wouldn't even get to it. So, out of the kindness of my heart, I went ahead and made half my way, and half his way. Aww, I'm so nice. The recipe however reflects the whole thing being covered with coconut flakes and almonds. If you have picky eaters in the house like I do, just go ahead and cut the almonds and coconut flakes in half.

On to the recipe...

Toasted Coconut Saltine Candy

42 saltines (this is going to vary on the size of your baking sheet)
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
2 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. *While the oven was preheating, I toasted up my coconut flakes in there on a foil covered baking sheet for 3-4 minutes until golden brown*Arrange saltines on foil covered baking sheet. Be sure they are all touching each other but not overlapping. Melt butter in microwave or on stove top. Once melted, whisk in brown sugar. Pour over top of saltines and use spatula to spread it evenly across saltines. Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes until bubbling. Take out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Allow the chocolate chips to melt and then use the back of spatula to spread evenly over entire surface. Sprinkle with toasted coconuts and finely chopped almonds. Refrigerate for one hour. Break into pieces and enjoy!

Just a quick note... When you take the saltines out of the oven, the butter mixture may make them move around a bit. I just take a spoon or spatula and rearrange them so they're not overlapping. I tend to yell at them "get back in line!" while I do it, purely for my own amusement. Hope you all enjoy this delicious chocolate concoction!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aloha 2010, thanks for everything!

I know I say it all the time, but I'm excited for this post. I decided for this post I would share 12 favorite pictures/memories from my boring life and then 12 recipes that I've felt are the most worthy of your recipe boxes!

First, I just want to say thank you to the universe! Jon and I hit a rough patch emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, you name it-ly in 2008-2009. 2010 finally paid us back for our frustrating years. We had an amazing year and I'm just hoping and praying that 2011 will bring us the same blessings. I also keep hoping that my friends and family have an amazing 2011. 2010 also inspired me to start this blog and I get so excited when I get emails from people all over the United States. I am on twitter- @caithowland, so follow me and I can probably get to your questions even quicker! I love how much experimenting I've done this year with cooking. I've also taken a lot more pictures knowing I could post them up here to give you guys a little insight into my corner of the world in Hawaii. Thank you all for reading and I wish you a happy, healthy safe, and fun new year!

"Real World Hawaii" January 2010

This was actually taken in 2009 but I LOVE this pic of Savannah!

The tsunami scare in Hawaii, March 2010

Jon proposed at this beautiful spot!! May 25, 2010 <3

Best Buy Women's Leadership Conference- June 2010- Orange, CA

Lunch before our first Bridal Show- July 2010

Krissy's BFFL Liane came to visit, August 2010

Taken October 2010 during my "staycation"- Miss Lei Lei!

Disney themed Halloween- October 2010

Christmas Lights in Mililani, December 2010- Lei Lei & Savannah

"The Usuals" at my hale for Nalani's bday- December 2010

Our favorite spot- Dave and Busters! This pic represents ALL the good times there!
And my Top 12 Recipes for 2010....

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
This is my number 1 recipe to be shared, made, eaten, etc etc. Its amaaaazing, I promise!

Apple Crumbler
Oh boy, has to be one of the most delicious desserts on the planet!

Oreo Cheesecake
Or maybe THIS is the most delicious dessert on the planet!

Scalloped Potatoes
MY favorite meal of all time, straight from my mama's kitchen!

Chicken Parm
JON's favorite meal of all time

Bonnie's Barbecue Sauce
Must have barbecue sauce recipe

Mashed Potatoes
I just really love these

Olive Tapenade
SUPER simple dip or spread, or can be used like pesto for pasta!

Doggie Treats
Can't leave out our four legged friends!

Bonnie's Banana Bread
No one has ever been able to top mama's banana bread in my opinion!

Baked Brie with Apple Sauce
Family favorite!

Parmesan Garlic Bread
The most amazing bread to serve with your dinner

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!

2010 has been an amaaaazing year for me, I'm not going to lie. I'm usually the type of person to always see the bright side of situations, but this year has brought nothing but good fortune for us anyways. We got to wake up all 365 days (minus the four days I was in California) on the beautiful island of Oahu, major bright side there for you. Jon and I finally got engaged on May 25th of this year. Shortly after that, Jon got promoted at work and I went back to Things Remembered as Assistant Manager. We have my parents and our doggies here. I have also made some amazing new friends. I strengthened friendships with some old friends, even with the distance we have between us.

Jon and I got majorly spoiled for Christmas. His family sent us a bunch of gift cards and goodies that we needed. My parents bought me a beautiful set of pearls so I can feel fancy and classy whenever I want. Jon got a beautiful new tee shirt, something that people who know him know is the way to his heart. His work gave out employee christmas gift cards, so he was able to buy his Turtle Beach headset. I'm so happy to not listen to his sales pitch anymore of why we NEEDED to spend cash on that, haha. My beautiful friend Nalani made me the most epic magnets I've ever seen. I am a magnet freak and I was amazed at her craftiness. My secret santa, KTom, got me a huge set of nail polishes. I have literally redone my nails everyday since getting it so I can try out all the colors, haha. Jon got me a beautiful Pandora charm to add to my epic collection. Speaking of epic, he also got me Epic Mickey for Wii, which I think was more a gift for him than me, but moving on... Haha. My co-workers also spoiled me. My newly promoted fellow assistant manager got me some delicious truffles and a gift card to my favorite place, Costco. My manager also got me some delicious truffles and A VICKY'S SLEEP SHIRT! Ah, I LOVE IT! I don't even know what else, we were just majorly blessed this year.

In 2011, I just wish for continued happiness and peace for us. I want my parents to have some of the blessings we had in 2010. They deserve it, they are the most amazing, kind, generous people you'd ever meet and they've had a hard few years. I feel in my heart and bones and guts and soul that 2011 is going to be their year. Everyone wish and pray that it comes true, okay?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. I hope Santa brought you everything you wished for! If you were blessed and are able to give back please go to the websites at the bottom of the page... They are the two charities that are nearest and dearest to my heart. The true meaning of Christmas is all about giving. I hope you're able to give even just a dollar to make a difference. Thanks for reading <3

Oreo Cheesecake

So making a cheesecake from scratch has been an adventure I've been wanting to attempt for awhile now. It was a true adventure. I had a bajillion questions, so I turned to someone who makes cheesecakes all the time, my Mama. She makes the most delicious cheesecakes.

Some questions I had were "what temperature should the oven be at?" "Should I do the water bath method?" "If I do the water bath method can I put my metal pan in a glass baking dish?" "How the heck do I get a pan in my crockpot if I want to do a slow cooker cheesecake?" Any of the questions she couldn't answer, I googled. Boy, I heart Google.

 I finally found out that you need a 7 inch springform to fit in your crockpot, which I didn't have. So I ended up going with the water bath method. Then my 11x15 glass baking dish wasn't big enough to fit my 8 inch springform pan. So I used one of my baking sheets that has a lip on it.(see the pictures) This also eliminated my concern about putting a metal pan in a glass dish. However, all my googling didn't bring me to believe that metal + glass= oven explosion.

Anyway, I was amazed at how easily I got a great texture on the cheesecake. The hardest part was allowing it time to cool in the refrigerator without eating it. I did get a few small cracks and blemishes. My 17 year old niece recommended a chocolate drizzle and some oreo garnishes to make it look perfect, which I have to say made it look super professional. Thank you Ava for that!

Also I read online you can check that your cheesecake is done by making sure the temp is at 160 degrees. However, the thermometer leaves an ugly little hole in it! Gross. Nothing an oreo couldn't cover though. :)

The cheesecake was delicious, the most important part in my opinion. Jon said it was better than Cheesecake Factory, but I pay him to say stuff like that, so you'll just have to make it yourself.

If you run into questions, email me! I will do my absolute best to get you an answer!

2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs
12 oreo cookies, crushed

25 oreo cookies, finely crushed
4 tbsp salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine crust ingredients. Press into greased springform pan. Set aside.

Boil about 2 cups of water in tea kettle.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt with mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in crushed cookies with spatula. Pour over crust.

Cover the bottom of springform pan with aluminum foil to avoid water leaking into cheesecake. Place springform pan in baking dish. Pour boiled water around pan, until half way up the baking dish.*I did this once the cheesecake was in the oven to avoid me spilling boiling water as I carried it to the oven* Bake cheesecake for about an hour and 20 minutes. Center will still be a little gooey. Allow to set overnight in refrigerator. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and garnish with halved oreo cookies. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bonnie's Banana Bread

Seriously guys, I'm sooo sorry I've been so absent. I have the day off today so I'll hopefully be experimenting some in the kitchen. In the meantime, I wanted to share an amazing family recipe. My mama's banana bread! Besides her famous Scalloped Potatoes, she is also known for her banana bread. It is just super delish!

I was going to call her later tonight to steal the recipe from her. Then, I was going through my archive of recipes in my email and I was surprised to find my dad had emailed me the recipe when they were in Hawaii and I was still in Massachusetts missing them and the banana bread! Hope you guys love it. <3

Bonnie's Banana Bread

1(8oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 c.  sugar
½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed bananas
2 eggs
1 c. flour
1 ¼ c. oatmeal
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 c. chopped nuts
½ c. peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine cream cheese, sugars, butter (best at room temp.) and vanilla mixing well. Blend in bananas and eggs. Add remaining ingredients, mix well until moistened.  Pour in greased and floured 9x5 loaf pan.  Bake approximately 1hr. and 10 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cait's Cocktails...

I'm so sorry to everyone for being so absent. Work has been crazy. I also had some friends over the other night for my good friend Nalani's birthday. We made my spinach and artichoke dip, marinated grilled steak and some portuguese sausage. It was pretty delicious. We also made some cocktails :D I decided now would be a good time to share some recipes for cocktails since I haven't had much time for cooking recently.

Most of these pictures are captured by the beautiful and talented Nalani. One is with my cell phone and a couple are with my good old Canon Powershot lol.

(I titled this drink after having a few)
2 oz. Pineapple juice
2 oz. Peach schnapps
4 oz. Malibu Rum
Shake everything together and then strain into a martini glass.

Scally Wag
(Look up the definition on Urban Dictionary)
2 oz. Cola
2 oz. Amaretto
4 oz. Malibu Rum
Shake everything together and then strain into a martini glass.

Nuts n Berries
*This one was shared by my good friend Allie that works at 21 Degrees North at Turtle Bay. Go visit her, she makes a mean martini!*
1 part Hangar One Raspberry vodka
1 part Chambord
1 part Frangelico
1 part cream or milk.
Shake everything together and then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a white chocolate stick.

Here's some pictures from Nalani's birthday and our trip to Mililani to see the beautiful Christmas Lights! Mele Kalikimaka everyone!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Wish List

Jon, I hope you're reading this ;)

Our Ala Moana Victoria's Secret doesn't carry the Patriots Pink line :( If anyone in MA is reading this, I'm size L. :D

Ala Moana does carry the sleep tees though. Size L, kthxbai!

I just discovered Sephora the other day. Here are two of the things that I really wanted. The green primer thingamawhatsit reduces redness on your face. Have you guys met me? Perfect gift for me. The frangrace sampler gives you a coupon inside for an upgrade to a free full size perfume after! Amazing!

Also, Celtics or Pats gear of any form would be awesome since I can't find much out here and shipping is so damn expensive. :)

Gift cards?

Executive Chef
Charlotte Russe
Forever 21
Wet Seal
Victoria's Secret
Bath & Body Works (they're opening one here in March finally!!!)

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Every holiday, my parents usually serve up Twice Baked Potatoes. They are so delicious. I decided to try and make it a little different with some sweet potatoes.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

6 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
1 stick butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and cook in oven for about an hour. Take out of oven and allow to cool until able to handle. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out middle of all potatoes. Reserve skins. Combine potatoes, butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in mixing bowl. Fill potato skins with potato mixture. Place back on baking sheet and bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Three Cheese Chicken Pasta

So last night I didn't feel like doing back flips to get dinner on the table. As I've mentioned, I'm in retail so this month is incredibly tiring for me. I found a recipe on the inside of a cream cheese package for spaghetti mixed with cream cheese. I made a few changes and whipped it together real quick.

I was so excited at how delicious it was. I really think its a new household favorite now. Hope you guys like it too!

Three Cheese Chicken Pasta

2 lbs pasta
1/2 stick butter
1 8 oz. container cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups pasta sauce
2 cups shredded chicken
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated romano cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain pasta and set to side. In pasta pot, melt 1/2 stick butter on medium heat. Add cream cheese and pasta sauce to pot and stir to combine. Add in chicken, parmesan and romano. Pour pasta back into pot and toss with sauce.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Sorry I don't have a picture for this post. Hopefully it's yumminess makes up for the lack of picture. This was only my second attempt at a Turkey Pot Pie. The first attempt was meh. It was good, but nothing to write home about. This second one was incredibly easy to throw together. I used some leftovers from Thanksgiving and some canned veggies that I had in my pantry.

I am definitely usually the type to use fresh vegetables. However, I made this the day after Thanksgiving and I was not in the mood to do over the top cooking the next day. I wanted to throw something together that was delicious and quick and get on my way to my closing shift on Black Friday at work. You guys can feel free to swap in the fresh veggies if you'd like. A 15 oz can is a little shy of two cups of fresh, chopped vegetables.

I also used the Bisquick biscuit mix for the topping to cut some more corners. You could also use a ready made pastry sheet, usually in the freezer section of the grocery store. Funny story about Bisquick. As you guys already know, I watch Paula Deen religiously. She is always using a dry biscuit mix for her recipes. I searched my grocery store high and low looking for a biscuit mix and couldn't find it. I finally voiced my frustration to my mom. She then informed me that I can just use Bisquick. I've always known Bisquick as a pancake mix, had no clue you could use it to make biscuits. It is dangerous that I now have a fast and easy way to make delicious biscuits. :O

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

1 cup gravy
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 15 oz can of diced potatoes
1 15 oz can of corn kernels
1 15 oz can of peas & carrots
2 1/2 - 3 cups shredded turkey (or rotisserie chicken)
1/2 stick salted butter, diced

Biscuit topping:
1 cup bisquick mix
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking dish with butter. In mixing bowl, combine gravy, cream, chicken stock, poultry seasoning, salt, cream of chicken soup, potatoes, corn, peas & carrots and shredded turkey. Pour into prepared baking dish. Place pieces of butter throughout the filling. Combine biscuit mix, milk and butter together and pour over top of filling. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Cookie Story

So I'm about to bring you guys in on a family story of mine. This story to this day, when told, gets all family members in fits of laughter with tears in our eyes. It may not be that funny to outsiders, but we told Jon the story and he was laughing just as hard as we were.

Little Cait!

I was your typical child, took dance lessons, got good grades in schools, built tree forts on the weekends in the woods behind my house. I also would have my occasional meltdowns. One night, my mom gave me and my sister 2 cookies. I wanted 4 cookies. I was even a member of the fat kid club back then. I started having a typical meltdown and screaming on the top of my lungs "I WANT FOUR COOKIES!! I WANT FOUR COOKIES!! I'M GOING TO TELL THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD WHAT AWFUL PARENTS YOU ARE! I'M GOING TO RUN AWAY!". This meltdown lasted forever with my parents and younger sister in the other room just laughing at me as I tore through the house freaking out. I'm sure at this point I could've just walked into the kitchen, gotten the other two cookies and be done with it. I kept going until bedtime, shut up, and went to bed with only the two cookies.

That's pretty much the cookie story. So, why am I sharing? Well, Jon now has his own cookie story. No tantrums or anything, just a disastrous cookie situation.

First off, every time I type cookie I feel like it should be cooky because the plural is cookies. Not sure what that's about. Anyways, Jon had been craving chocolate chip cookies. I was exhausted so I told him he could handle it, he just needed to follow the recipe on the back of the bag. In all truth, I've been trying to use him as my guinea pig to see if I can teach people how to act right in the kitchen. Not so much on mission #1.

He comes into the bedroom where I'm watching my DVR which is filled with old CSI episodes. [In case you're wondering, I watch the original mostly and occasionally NY. I NEVER watch Miami.] So, Jon comes in and with a very concerned voice states "Um, the recipe calls for two TSP (he actually says T-S-P, not teaspoon, by the way) of milk and we don't have ANY." So I'm like "Okay, we have egg nog, just use that." He looks relieved and walks away. Then I think back to all the times I made those cookies and realize its probably supposed to be tbsp of milk, not tsp. I pause Gil Grissom and walk to the kitchen.

I come in and first off, its a hot mess. He looks slightly overwhelmed. So I calmly ask him to check if he was supposed to do tbsp not tsp of milk. He like "awww, yeah I was!", picks up the tbsp measuring spoon and goes so "If this is the T-S-P spoon which is the T-B-S-P spoon?" I'm like "no, Jon that's the tablespoon.. Have you been using it as teaspoon?" He looks at it, then at the recipe and then back to me and goes "Uhhhh, yeah. Was that wrong?". What does this mean? Well, the baking powder and baking soda which was already incorporated with the flour had about 4x the amount it should. So, we had to quadruple the rest of the ingredients. I can't remember exactly but I think we had to use like 8 sticks of butter and 8 eggs to get the recipe exact. Thankfully, I had gone to Costco for Thanksgiving and bought what I thought was enough butter and eggs to last us until Easter. After quadrupling the ingredients, it tasted really good (the batter that is). We now had enough batter to open our own bakery with a batch of approximately 6,738 cookies.

So Jon was up for about 3 hours that night baking multiple cookies. We ended up just saving some of the cookie dough in the fridge to give our oven a break. I have been going to the gym religiously again, and now we have a bajillion cookies in our fridge taunting me every day I come home. Thank you, universe.

I hope you guys enjoyed our cookie stories. I've been really busy at work and actually had to type this post on my phone and email it to myself in the car to get this post even started. I have a couple days off soon, so I will hopefully be doing some experimenting to share with you guys. I do have a turkey pot pie recipe that is simple and tasty, so I will be posting that soon, I promise. Thanks for reading. I've been loving getting your emails with questions! Keep them coming-

xoxo Cait


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