Coconut Macadamia Muffins

We had alot of snow days this year. So many in fact, that to make up the days (and ensure that our kids weren’t in school until the 4th of July!), they’ve extended the school day by 45 minutes until the end of the year. They’re going in 15 minutes early, and getting out 30 minutes later. So, our morning routine has been squeezed a little tighter lately.

Enter a good, homemade muffin. I ended up with a half a can of coconut milk the other day, so I thought a coconut muffin would be a good use for it. I also added plenty of toasted shredded coconut, and some macadamia nuts for a little decadence and crunch. They turned out so wonderful, and we enjoyed them for breakfast all week long! The tropical flavors really taste like spring.

Speaking of spring, have you guys seen the new spring prints from Hen House Linens? They’re absolutely gorgeous. I can never say enough wonderful things about their linens, they wash and wear wonderfully.  I use them everyday in my home, just not for the staged photos that I share here…but at my table – morning, noon, and night. The lovely ladies over in the hen house have graciously offered up a set of 4 dinner napkins for giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment telling us what is your favorite thing about spring! Contest will run today to April 9, at 11:59 PM. (Congrats to winning entry #22 – Lisa!)

henhouselinens

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, fun-filled with egg hunts and lots of chocolate. We’re looking forward to dying our eggs and having a small egg hunt in our new backyard for the first time, and of course attending the Annual Easter Decoy & Art Festival here on the island. This is the weekend that everything really starts to open-up again here on our little island – spring is definitely in the air!

Source: adapted from A Taste of Thai

Boardwalk Fries

I was kind of shocked when I realized I didn’t have a recipe for good, old-fashioned boardwalk fries here on the site. It’s shameful really. Sure, I have oven fries (which employ the same soaking technique I’ll touch on later) and fish & chips…but I needed to have an entire post devoted to these crispy, salty favorites.

My first taste of boardwalk fries was of course at Thrasher’s in Ocean City, MD…notorious among Marylanders, Eastern Shore folks, and really the entire nation in some cases. That’s because they’re the best. Their first trick is a soak for the cut potatoes in hot saltwater. It helps to remove some of the starch, and softens them up a bit for cooking.

The second key step is the twice-fried technique. The potatoes are cooked in hot oil for one round, basically to par-cook them. They’re then removed from the oil, set aside to drain, and then added back to the oil to attain that beautiful golden brown and crunchy exterior.

Immediately season with salt, and apple cider or malt vinegar. Never ketchup! It’s actually a rule at Thrasher’s…they don’t have it available. The place  next store has a racket selling containers of it at exorbitant prices. We don’t have boardwalks here on Chincoteague, which is just fine by me – but it’s nice to have a little taste of it here at home!

Mexican Chorizo and Corn ChowderA few weeks ago a huge box of goodies arrived on my door sent by the good folks at V&V Supremo. They specialize in Mexican products – chorizo, cheeses, cremas ans sour creams. I have a hard time finding good, authentic Mexican ingredients here in my rural area, so it was a real treat to have so many yummy ingredients at the ready!

I’ve long wanted to make a spin on my Southwestern Potato & Corn Chowder using chorizo for a Mexican twist. So, that’s pretty much what I did. The flavor from the chorizo just melts down into every bite of the soup. Chunks of tender potato and crunchy corn make for a filling soup that fills you up, but doesn’t weigh you down. I used some quesco fresco to crumble on top, and a little fresh cilantro. It was amazing!

I’ll definitely be stocking up on more of their chorizo next time I’m doing a stock-up trip in the big city. It’s great to have around for so many applications, and has so much more flavor than traditional sausage…that isn’t spicy either – just intensely flavored. If you’ve never used chorizo in your kitchen before, this soup is a great place to start! Make this one soon, guys – it’s a winner!

Disclaimer: I was provided with products courtesy of V&V Supremo. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Spring is definitely in the air here on Chincoteague Island, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The marshes are starting to return back to their vibrant green color, we have a family of bunnies that live in a thicket right next to the house, and we’ve been treated to a handful of almost 70 degree days.

But, in places like sunny Florida – it’s springlike temperatures pretty much all year. I had the opportunity to work with a couple of different wonderful Florida based companies this week in my kitchen, and it was the perfect way to kick-start spring around here! First off, Natalie’s Juice Company. Their sales rep, Brandy, was at the Ocean City Food Show that we attended weekend before last. She is so sweet, and sent me home with a wonderful sampling of their juices to take home. They are wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The least pasteurization that’s allowed, so it really is like drinking juice directly from the fruit. They’re wonderful!

In additional to that wonderfulness, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association generously overnighted me a huge box of glorious, juicy, ripe, red strawberries. The possibilities are endless, right? Look for another great strawberry recipe next week. I can’t thank you enough, Sue!

So naturally, I couldn’t help doing something together with the two of them! These strawberry lemonade cupcakes immediately came to mind. I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and added in a bit of lemon zest and good lemonade. Then I roasted the strawberries to release some of the moisture, and intensify the flavor (a trick I learned from my buddy, Annie). Added 3/4 of them to the cupcake batter, then pureed the remaining amount to add to the buttercream frosting, along with a little more lemon zest and lemonade.

All I can say is “wowza!”. They are absolutely perfect. Light, tender, and moist – bursting with the fresh flavor of strawberries and lemons. I garnished with a slice of strawberry and lemon, which I thought was so simple and pretty. So, if you’re feeling like a taste of spring…definitely make these soon!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Natalie’s and the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. I was provided with complimentary products to review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.