Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Tropical Evening - Alisha & Emily - April 2012

Our April Gourmet Gathering was hosted by Alisha & Emily.  It was a fun evening with a tropical theme.

Emily & Alisha

Invitations (and oops a typo, it really was in April, not May!)

The table with the dessert/appetizer table behind it

The place settings were colorful and fun.  The napkin rings had a flower on them to take home and enjoy as a hair clip or on a cardigan or necklace.

The place cards were on these little bags and inside the bag was another favor...

these fun rings made out of rick rack.

The menus (see below for complete recipes)

The hostesses

The evening started with the appetizer table and included...

Kiwi Smoothies

Fresh Fruit Bruschetta with Orange Honey Cream

Pineapple Shrimp Skewers

Black Bean and Mango Salsa with Tortilla Chips

Then onto the salad course:

Brazilian Lemonade

Creamy Avacado and Lime Chilled Pasta & Grilled Pineapple

We had a special guest (and MAJOR helper) for the evening, Emily's sister Annika had flown in from Utah.

The Main Course:  Spicy Honey Chicken Salad with Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette,  
Coconut Rice, and Tropical Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Back Row:  Alisha, Tori, Holly, GG
Front Row:  Emily, Brittany, Mandy, Brenda, Tanya, Carrie, Corinne and Alyssa
Corinne was days away from the birth of her new little one and we're so glad she waited so she could join us!

And last was a tasty dessert table filled with goodies to choose from...

Tropical Tiramisu

Frozen Chocolate Coconut Covered Banana Bites

Creamy Lime Bars

Tropical Ice Cream

Coconut Pineapple Cake
Alisha made these gorgeous flowers out of pineapple to go on top, so pretty!

And a little bag of take home goodies:
Lemon Crinkle Cookies, Coconut Lemon Meltaways, and Chewy Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies

A very fun night away in Paradise!

4 ripe kiwi, peeled and halved
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon agave
1 cup crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

Serves 2.

Black Bean and Mango Salsa
{great as a dip, salad or on meat}
from Our Best Bites

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained
1 medium mango peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup diced red onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 medium avocado diced

In large bowl combine black beans, mango, red onion, and cilantro.  In small bowl combine lime juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir to dissolve sugar and then pour over black bean mixture.  Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.  When ready to serve gently fold in the diced avocado.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Fruit Bruschetta with Orange-Honey Cream
Posted By sara On 03.28.2010 @ 11:01 pm
  • 1 pound (to 2 Pounds) Peeled, De-veined Jumbo Shrimp
  • 1 can (about 20 Oz.) Pineapple Chunks (or 1 Whole Fresh Pineapple)
  • _____
  • ½ cups (to 1 Cup) Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2 whole (to 3 Whole) Green Onions, Sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons Garlic, Chopped, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Sugar (optional)
  • Pineapple Juice (reserved From Can If Using Canned Pineapple)
  • 1 dash Lemon Juice
  • 1 dash Kosher Salt
  • _____
  • Optional Ingredients
  • Lime Zest
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Minced Fresh Ginger
  • Jalapenos Seeded And Chopped

Preparation Instructions

In a bowl combine teriyaki sauce, green onions, garlic, sugar, pineapple juice, lemon juice and salt (and any other of the optional ingredients of your choosing, to taste). Mix these together well and set aside.
Wash, then peel and de-vein the shrimp (unless they’ve already come that way). Stir peeled/de-veined jumbo shrimp into the marinade and marinate at least a couple of hours.
Skewer pineapple chunks with the shrimp and grill until done, about 1 to 2 minutes per side on a very hot grill. Flip again and cook until brown to just slightly blackened. Serve to a hungry crowd. Get ready to be kissed because they will love you for the shrimp, if for nothing else.

Creamed Avocado and Lime Chilled Pasta
Chilled pasta coated with a simple-tasting creamed avocado sauce.
  • 1 1/2cup dry shell pasta or short pasta of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2Tbsp lime juice
  • 3Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain well, set aside to cool.
  2. Peel avocado and remove the pit. Put it in a food processor together with chopped cilantro, lime juice, mayonnaise and garlic paste. Blend it until it’s creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in a refrigerator if you have time.)
  3. Transfer the avocado sauce to a medium sized bowl. Add cooked pasta and toss them well. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top.
Grilled Pineapple

Slice into 1 inch rounds and grill for a few minutes on each side.

Brazilian Lemonade
4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 c. sugar
6 c. cold water
6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
Wash limes thoroughly with soap (I just use hand-dishwashing soap or regular hand soap); you need the soap to get the wax and pesticides off of the limes because you’re using the WHOLE lime, baby. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.
Place 1/2 of the limes in your blender.
Add 1/2 of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk; DO NOT leave this step out unless you will die of a horrible sweetened condensed milk allergy because this is the secret ingredient! You may want to taste test it at this point; I used giant, thick-skinned limes tonight and didn’t test it and it came out a little bitter. If it’s bitter, just add some more sugar and maybe a little more milk.
Serve immediately over lots of ice. This does not keep well, so don’t make this in advance (although you can cut the limes, mix the sugar water, and measure the sweetened condensed milk in advance). Serves 4, although I can pretty much guarantee you that people will want more; I usually plan on 1 1/2 servings at LEAST per person.
Spicy Honey Chicken Salad

Spicy Honey Chicken
 1-2 heads Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce
2 ripe but firm mangoes, chilled
2-3 ripe but firm avocados
optional: thinly sliced red onion
This serves 4 large salads or 6 smaller sized ones.
While chicken is grilling, wash lettuce and divide among serving plates. Slice avocados, onions, and mangoes and place them on top of the lettuce. When chicken is finished, let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing to preserve the juices. Then slice it up and divide among the salads. Drench it all in the Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette and pretend you’re at a fancy restaurant!
Honey-Citrus Vinagrette
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 T grated onion
1/3 C fresh orange juice
3T fre
sh lime juice
2T honey
3/4 t cumin

1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 C vegetable oil 

3. Place all ingredients in a tightly sealed jar and shake your bootie (and the jar) vigorously. Store in the fridge, and shake before dressing salad.

 Tropical Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash
1 sweet potato
1 butternut squash (equal in size to the sweet potato)
1/8 fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces
6 dates, chopped into small pieces
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 stick cinnamon
2 TBSP Agave
1 tsp salt
Wash, peel and chop the sweet potato and squash into 1/2 inch pieces.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
Cover with water.
Bring to a Boil.
Reduce to a Simmer (Medium).
Simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve warm.
Serves 4-6.

Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice
from Our Best Bites

2 c. white or Jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
2 c. water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Splash of white vinegar (optional, but it helps with the texture)
2-3 tsp. white sugar
Handful of chopped green onions, plus chopped green onion tops for garnish (we’re using the whole animal here…)
Black pepper to taste

Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Add green onions, black pepper (if desired), and additional salt if necessary.

Emily's note:  I put everything in my rice cooker except the green onions and pepper then when it's finished I add those.

Creamy Lemon {or Lime!} Bars
from Our Best Bites


What you'll need . . .
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chocolate chips (vegan works, too)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • Coconut flakes (unsweetened is fine)
Method . . . 
  1. Set out a large plate or bowl with a piece of parchment or wax paper on it.  A Silpat works, too.
  2. Cut up the bananas into good-sized chunks.
  3. Heat the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave on high for about a minute. Then stir until smooth.
  4. Dip the banana pieces in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture.
  5. Spread a bit of the mixture in banana chunk sized thin layers as the “bottom.”
  6. Lay the coated bananas in these spots, leaving some space between them.
  7. Then sprinkle the coconut flakes on top.
  8. Transfer to the freezer for about an hour until hardened.
  9. You can enjoy them like this (but they really aren't frozen yet -- and when they're frozen, the banana tastes like vanilla ice cream) . . . I suggest then covering them to let freeze overnight.
For about 10 servings 
- 1 small pineapple
- 1 banana
- 1 mango, not too big and a bit ripe
- 1 C. raspberries (can be frozen)
- around 20 mini-ladyfingers or a dozen normal-sized
- 1 cup exotic fruits juice
- a handful of sliced almonds

For the crème :
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 oz. sugar
- 6 oz. mascarpone
- 2 oz. good coconut milk
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 C. heavy whipping cream (chilled)

Beat egg yolks with sugar until it is smooth and frothy and white.
Mix mascarpone with coconut milk, add to the egg yolks mixture and combine. Add coconut extract.
Whip the chilled cream until stiff peaks form, then incorporate delicately to the mascarpone-coconut crème.
Peel fruits and dice them in little cubes.
Mash raspberries.
In your glasses, cocktail glasses are nice, pour a tablespoon of raspberries. Add a thin layer ofcrème, then a layer of ladyfingers coated with fruit juice : cut the big ones in 3, the mini-sized ones in half and put 3 halves for each layer so that it is even in the glasses (or do as you wish but make it look nice).
Then make a layer of diced fruits, and cover with a last layer of crème (not too thick, don't try to finish the crème at all costs, if there's some left do something else with it : it should be harmonious).
Grill the sliced almonds in a pan for a few minutes, then, after they have completely cooled, sprinkle some over the tiramisù.
Let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours and enjoy !  Great “process” pictures of the layers being made and layered.
Coconut Pineapple Cake
*Recipe by Jasey's Crazy Daisy

1 light colored Super Moist or pudding included cake mix, white, yellow, even golden butter, your preference
3 eggs
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk, not cream of coconut
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved for glaze

1 1/2 cups of milk, or less depending on pineapple juice
reserved pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (use 1 teaspoon if you like more)
coconut for dusting

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, and coconut milk with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping occasionally. Stir in coconut and pineapple. Pour into pans. Bake as directed per pan size on box. Don't over bake, I take it out when a few moist crumbs stick to a toothpick. Cool 15 minutes.

While cake is cooling, add enough milk to reserved pineapple juice to make 1 1/2 cups. Combine pineapple-milk mixture, sugar, and 1/2 cup coconut in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 minute. Poke holes into cake using a fork, straw, or even a kabob stick. Carefully spoon evenly over warm cake allowing liquid to soak into holes. Pop cake into the fridge to cool completely.

Beat heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form. (If making a layer cake, you may want to beat it just a little extra so that sticks to the sides of the cake. I also spread a little of this prepared cream between layers). Frost cake with prepared whipped cream. Cover cake with remaining coconut. Keep (and store) in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tropical Ice Cream Recipe

  • 3 cups frozen fruit blend (Mango, Pineapple, Kiwi, Papaya and Strawberries)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups milk or cream
  • 2 - 3 TBSP Agave (depending on how sweet you like things)
Put the fruit, milk, and agave into a blender, and blend until fruit is smooth. Start with 1 cup of milk, and slowly add one more until the blender starts to work. You know how sometimes, if there isn’t enough liquid, the blender just won’t go. Depending on how good your blender is, you may have to add more milk until it begins to move. Don’t add too much though, because then you’ve turned your ice cream into a smoothie! Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Serve immediately or freeze and serve later.

Coconut-Lemon Meltaway Cookies
Makes roughly 22 to 24 Cookies
Step 1.
Dry Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups Almond Flour (you can make this, or buy it - however most store bought Almond flour is not raw)
1 & 1/2 cups dried Shredded Unsweetened Coconut (I used medium shred, but fine shred would also work well)
1/3 c Coconut Flour
2 big pinches of Salt
Mix all of your dry ingredients together - set aside and move onto the next step.
Step 2.
Wet Ingredients
In a small mixing bowl combine the following:
6 Tbsp Agave (Eep! Agave found it's way into my kitchen!)
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Lemon zest (Tip: Zest your Lemon before you juice it)
Mix together all of the above ingredients...
THEN . . . with your mixer on, slowly stream wet ingredients in to dry ingredients.
Step 3.
The Thickener
1/4 cup AND 1 Tbsp melted Coconut Oil
While your Mixer is on, stream in your melted Coconut Oil. Your batter will thicken fairly quickly as it mixes with the Oil and the oil cools down.
Step 4.
Roll your cookies into ball shapes.  Place on a cookie sheet w/Silpat.
Warm them in either your Oven (set at it's lowest heat, leaving the door cracked open).
Warm your Cookies for 1 hour, maybe a bit longer
Your finished Cookie will be dry on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth moist on the inside
Place your cookies in the fridge after they've cooled down, letting them chill and set before you eat them.

Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated via Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Uploaded by Monica H at
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
  • 2 oz cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable (or canola) oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the lime zest, and cream cheese in a large bowl (no need to stir them together yet). Put the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a pie plate and set aside. Pour the warm butter over the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine - the mixture won't be completely smooth yet, that's fine. Whisk in the oil then the egg, milk and lime juice. Mix until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, until a soft dough comes together.

Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a cookie scoop, using about 2 tablespoons for each cookie. Working quickly (if you handle the dough too much you're more likely to wind up with flat cookies), roll the dough into a ball with your hands then roll in the sugar set aside in the pie plate previously. Repeat until you've used all of the dough, placing 9 cookies on each baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the dough balls into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the remaining sugar in the pie plate, using about 2 teaspoons per sheet of cookies.

Bake the cookies, 1 tray at a time, for about 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are set and beginning to brown. The tops will be puffy and slightly cracked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.

Makes 24-28 cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.


1 comment:

  1. What a great evening it was! Thank you Emily and Alisha, for the great food and beautiful atmosphere! I am dying to make that coconut cake, it was soooooo good :)