Toasted Coconut, Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you like chocolate chip cookies but are sick of the same ol' same ol', these are for you.  They are outstanding.  I wish my husband liked coconut so he could appreciate these as well.  Since he doesn't, I shared these with my parents (I don't need to inhale 2 dozen cookies, as much as I'd love to), who love coconut as much as I do.  Needless to say, they requested a second batch.

My secret ingredient?  Use coconut rum instead of the coconut extract it calls for.  It makes such a huge difference!  The first time I made them I didn't have the extract and didn't think to use the rum that was in the cupboard.  They were still good, don't get me wrong, but using the coconut rum makes all the difference!

You'll notice there's not a lot of rum left in the bottle.  This is not from baking, but because it is fantastic with pineapple juice.  But that's a story for another day.

1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (try coconut rum if you don't have/can't find the extract)
1 large egg
1 cup Heath toffee bits
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange coconut in a single layer on the pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until coconut is lightly toasted, stirring once. Set coconut aside to cool.

Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add brown sugar and butter. Beat at medium speed until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Beat in vanilla extract, coconut extract, and egg. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in toasted coconut, toffee bits, and chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until cookies start to brown around the edges. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire racks.

Lemon Cream Bars

I've been on a lemon kick lately.  So when I saw this dessert, I knew I had to make it.  Especially since it was featured in one of my favorite recipe blogs,  I made them twice on Good Friday, one batch for each Easter dinner I was attending.  They are simple to make, with a fresh lemony flavor.  Just what your tongue needs in time for spring!

1 can sweetened condensed milk - 14-ounce can
½ cups lemon juice (fresh, if you can)
1½ cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
⅔ cups butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine milk and lemon juice. Mix well and set aside for a moment.

Mix remaining ingredients until crumbly.

Press half of the streusel (dry) mixture into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour the lemon mixture over top. Finish by sprinkling remaining streusel over the top of the lemon filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely then store in the refrigerator.

These are easiest to cut when they are cold.

Spinach Artichoke Crab Dip

Last weekend we had a family get-together, a kind of going-away party for my cousin, who is being deployed to Afghanistan with the Marines.  Get-togethers in my family always include food, and lots of it.  I made this up because I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a spinach artichoke dip or an artichoke crab dip.  Why not all three at once?  Seemed reasonable to me.  It was a huge hit with everyone.  There is no picture...I forgot to take one before we left for the party with it.

1/2 package of Neufchatel cheese (or any cream cheese), softened
1 c mayonnaise
1 c low-fat sour cream
1 can lump crab meat, drained
1 (10 oz) bag chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 can artichoke hearts (NOT marinated), chopped
1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray or grease a medium sized baking dish.

Combine the Neufchatel, mayo and sour cream in a medium sized bowl.  Add the crab meat, stir well.  Stir in the spinach and artichoke, mixing well to combine.

Spoon the dip into the baking dish, smooth out with back of wooden spoon.  Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Serve hot with tortilla chips or crackers.

Mini Cheese Biscuits

I always like to have something in the family of bread/rolls/biscuits when I serve anything with my tomato sauce.  Last night I planned to make tortellini, and mini biscuits sounded perfect.  I made this up with the ingredients I had on hand, and once they came out of the oven my taste-testers lined up.  After agreeing how good they were, my daughter said they taste "like the biscuits they give you at that know..."  After a second of thought, we both said, "Red Lobster!"  Yep, they are very much like the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, only much less greasy and less salty, and I would imagine much better for you.  Easy and delicious.

2 c Bisquick
1 - 1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
3 garlic cloves, minced
sprinkle of sea salt
2/3 c milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray or grease a mini muffin tin (or if you don't have one, use a regular cookie sheet).  In a bowl, combine the Bisquick, cheese, salt and garlic.  Stir in the milk just until moistened.

Drop by rounded teaspoon into muffin cups (or onto sheet).  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Makes 36 mini biscuits.

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

I found this amazing recipe and have been dying to try it.  I made them yesterday morning, and they are delicious.  So much so that I've already received requests to make them again.  They are quite easy.  Make sure you use fresh lemon juice...I don't know if they would be quite the same with bottled juice.  I used low-fat ricotta, so don't feel like you have to use the whole milk version. 

The turbinado sugar that is sprinkled on the top of the muffins is easy to find in the baking aisle.  I bought the Sugar in the Raw brand, and as I won't use it much for anything other than baking, I got the box of individual packets rather than the box that will essentially be open until used again.  Bonus--it was a little cheaper that way.  In case you don't know, turbinado sugar is large grains of sugar along the lines of sea salt.  Perfect for topping muffins or sweet breads.

If you don't have fresh blackberries, use frozen.  I did.  Also, if you're not a blackberry fan, these would be good with any other kind of fruit as well.

Photo courtesy of

To view the recipe, go here: