Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake

This is the kind of coffee cake you're probably going to have strong opinions about. You'll either totally love it or absolutely hate it. I say that because some members of my family have such definite feelings about certain ingredients like pineapple and coconut. Some are lovers and others are haters. I fall into the lover category. I'm a big fan of this Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake, full of fruit and nuts with a topping of toasted coconut and pecans. But, even if you don't love all the ingredients in this yummy cake, chances are there's someone you know who will.

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Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake

2 (15.25 ounce) cans crushed pineapple
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/4 cup coconut, toasted
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray (or grease and flour).
Drain the pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and brown sugar, beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder,  baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in pineapple, coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into the prepared pan, bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, continue cooling on wire rack.
To make topping:  Combine powdered sugar and pineapple juice, mix until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and pecans.


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Food on Friday


Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy

If you're looking for a recipe that's sure to be "the way to a man's heart" this is it. Chicken Fried Steak is pure comfort food and a real southern classic. Authentic Chicken Fried Steak has to be tender, seasoned well, and crispy. If you grew up in the South, maybe you already have a recipe that was handed down to you by the amazing cooks from prior generations. If not, try this Chicken Fried Steak, and you may become the amazing cook in your family with a recipe to hand down.

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Chicken Fried Steak

Sirloin tip steak, thinly cut (about 3/4 - 1 pound)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk, divided
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Oil for deep frying

Place the steak in a zip-top plastic bag. Use a meat pounder to beat the steak out very thin, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Season as desired with salt.
Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, whisk together egg and 2/3 cup buttermilk. In a third shallow dish, whisk together flour, kosher salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, baking powder, and cayenne pepper. Drizzle the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk over the flour mixture, then combine with fingertips.
Dip each steak in cornstarch, shake off excess, then dip in egg mixture. Drain off excess egg mixture, then place steak in flour mixture. Press flour mixture on both sides to coat well, then shake off any excess. Place steak on wire rack (with wax paper underneath). When all steaks are coated, let steaks rest for 10 minutes before frying.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven or electric fryer set at 375 degrees. Place steak in hot oil and fry, turning as needed until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

To make the gravy:
1/4 cup oil from frying steaks
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups 2% milk

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add flour, pepper, and salt; stir until mixture begins to brown. Slowly stir in milk, bring to a boil. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Top steaks with gravy and serve immediately.


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Weekend Potluck


The Mouse I Trapped for Valentine's Day

I borrowed a mouse from a school party so I could recreate more mice for a Valentine's Day treat. I'm a regular at school parties. I've attended as a student, a parent, a teacher, and now as a Grammy. Parents seem to get more creative all the time with the goodies they send for the youngsters. The moms went all out at the Valentine's party I attended this week, and I came home with some new ideas for treats I can make. I also snagged a mouse.

I've seen similar mice before made for Christmas treats, but not for Valentine's Day. The mom who made these for Valentine's Day had also made "cheese" for the mice from Rice Krispie treats.

To make the mice you will need:

1 bag Hershey's kisses
White chocolate candy melts
Maraschino cherries with stems
Candy eyes
Candy bows
Candy hearts

Unwrap the Hershey's kisses and set aside in a bowl. Melt the white chocolate as directed on the package. Dip each cherry in the melted chocolate, leaving the stem uncoated. Place on parchment paper. Immediately attach Hershey's kiss (for head). Let dry until candy coating is firm. Using a small amount of melted candy coating, add candy eyes and bows (for girl mice) or candy hearts (for boy mice).

Thanks to Katy's mom for sharing her tray of mice with the class and for that wayward one I managed to trap.


Lunch at The Dark Side

Hidden away in the tiny town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, is a park dedicated to the memory of a once-upon-a-time visit from the Fab Four. That's right, in 1964, the Beatles made a stop at the airport in this unassuming place between their concerts in Dallas and New York. I can't claim to remember the event, nor was I there, but I have visited the park, and I recently stopped in for lunch at The Dark Side Coffee House that sits adjacent.

The restaurant is owned by locals Cara and Danny West. The restaurant is Cara's enterprise, but the metal sculptures in the park were crafted by Danny. The sculptures are a life-size depiction of the Abbey Road album cover.

The history of the event is documented by markers at the park. Only about 200 - 300 lucky individuals were witness to the Beatles' visit, but Walnut Ridge has never forgotten. The downtown street where the park is located has been renamed Abbey Road.

The coffee and sandwich shop next to the park is a real gem hidden away in such a small town. In a world of too much fast food, an eatery like this one is priceless.

The interior is colorful, welcoming, and fun, plus the employees are attentive and polite.

But, the bottom line is always the food. I had a sandwich called the Yellow Submarine, which is a roast beef with a couple of kinds of cheese and grilled onions. Mine is in a to-go box because I was traveling and needed to be on my way. The sandwich was freshly made, so it took longer than a drive-thru burger, but it sure was worth the short wait. The restaurant is also a store front for many of Danny's unique custom-made metal sculptures. I highly recommend making your way to Northeast Arkansas for a walk on Abbey Road to visit Beatles' Park and for lunch or coffee at The Dark Side.