Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie

The weather’s warming up here in Central Texas, so it’s time for lighter fare. This pie is perfect for warm springs days or your Easter table.

Though Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie is a quick fix, it has a rich flavor that betrays its ease of preparation. It’s well-loved by those who like coconut. Don’t serve it to folks who don’t like coconut because it’s got a whole lot in it.


Coconut-Cream Cheese Pie

  • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325°. Spread softened butter around a pie plate (don’t use a deep dish). Press 1 ½ cups coconut into butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice and zest until blended thoroughly. Stir in 1 cup coconut. Transfer to prepared pie shell.

Spread remaining coconut around the edges of the pie. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


Mediterranean Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Olives, and Fresh Herbs

When they eat chicken, most people prefer chicken breasts. But the real flavor is in the dark meat.

Mediterranean Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Olives, and Fresh Herbs is an inexpensive meal that’s packed with flavors.

Mediterranean Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Olives, and Fresh Herbs

Mediterranean Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Olives, and Fresh Herbs

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only (no stems)
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup black kalamata olives
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • freshly cooked pasta

Combine oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and fresh herbs in large mixing bowl. Add in chicken thighs and stir to cover. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Transfer thighs to greased baking pan. Arrange olives and tomatoes around thighs. Pour any remaining marinade over thighs, olives, and tomatoes. Bake 30 minutes, and then increase temperature to 425°. Bake for another 10 minutes, browning chicken.
Serve thighs over freshly cooked pasta, spooning sauce over chicken.

Homemade Oven Fries

McDonald’s has it right: There’s no better accompaniment to hamburgers than French fries. But if you’re trying to avoid fried foods like we are, you have to say no to all that grease.

Here’s a compromise: Oven-fried French fries. They’re just as tasty but a bit healthier too.


Homemade Oven Fries

  • 6 russet potatoes, washed and cut lengthwise into 8ths
  • 1/4 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Combine oil and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Add in potatoes and mix well, ensuring seasoning gets on all sides of the potatoes.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with Pam. Transfer potatoes individually to baking sheet, trying to get potatoes to “stand up” on the wider, unpeeled side. Pour any remaining marinade over potatoes.

Place potatoes in oven and cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and tender. Serve hot.


Thai Yellow Curry Shrimp with Pineapple & Mango

It’s Friday in Lent, which for us means seafood. Because it’s getting warmer outside, we opted for a light, tropical-type dinner.

We had this healthy one-dish meal over jasmine rice, but it’s so full of fruit and veggies, that it would be just as good on its own.


Thai Yellow Curry Shrimp with Pineapple & Mango

  • 1½ pounds peeled shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced [or frozen or canned sliced carrots, drained]
  • 1½ Tbsp Mae Ploy Thai Yellow Curry Paste
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup cold water
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • fresh pineapple, peeled, sliced, and cubed [or canned pineapple chunks, drained]
  • fresh mango, peeled and cubed

Heat vegetable oil in a wok. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and carrots and sauté until veggies are just starting to get tender.

Add yellow curry paste and mix well, coating the onions and peppers. Mix in brown sugar and fish sauce; stir well. Turn heat up a little and add in cornstarch mixture, stirring to blend, being careful not to burn the cornstarch. Add in coconut milk and stir well.

Bring mixture to slight boil and add shrimp, stirring to blend. When shrimp are beginning to turn pink, add pineapple and mango, return to slight boil, and cook 3 minutes.

Serve as it is or over hot, cooked jasmine rice.

Beef Teriyaki

Before I was born, my parents lived on the island of Okinawa in Japan. My mom brought this recipe for Beef Teriyaki home with her. It’s been a family favorite my whole life.

A key to success with this dish is to purchase the leanest sirloin steak you can find and slice it super thin.


Beef Teriyaki

  • 1-½ to 2 pounds sirloin steak, pounded thin, and sliced into 1-½ -inch long super-thin slices; all fat and gristle removed
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 to ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine ginger, garlic, Mirin, brown sugar, soy sauce, and green onions. Add the beef and mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add in beef. Cook, stirring often, until marinade is evaporated and meat has carmelized.

Serve with cooked carrots and edamame over hot, cooked rice.

Thai-Like Ground Beef and Cabbage

If you’re like me, I’m always looking for new ways to prepare ground beef – because it’s one of the less expensive meat choices and it cooks up quickly.

The strangest mix of ingredients make up this dish, but they all work really well together to make a quick and flavorful meal.


Thai-Like Ground Beef & Cabbage

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 9-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • zest from 1 lime
  • juice from 1 lime
  • ½ head of cabbage, thinly sliced or 1 14-ounce bag of shredded cabbage or Cole slaw mix (without the dressing)
  • fresh cooked white rice

In a large skillet, cook ground beef with garlic cloves and onion. When onion is tender and beef is cooked through, add red curry paste; mix well.

Add tomato sauce, fish sauce, coconut milk, and lime zest and juice; stir until well blended. Add cabbage and cook until tender and heated through.

Serve over hot, white rice.


Quick-Fix Chicken Enchiladas

Last night I was in a pinch for time. I had 30 minutes to prepare dinner for my family and get out the door for a meeting. I quickly threw these tasty enchiladas together and had them in the oven in less than 20 minutes.

Because they rely on prepared foods, these homemade enchiladas can be assembled fast yet still have a fresh, savory taste.


Quick-Fix Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 15-ounce can Hatch Chile Green Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine enchilada sauce and sour cream in small bowl until blended. Place a ladleful of sauce mixture in the bottom of a greased 11×7 baking pan.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place a warmed tortilla on work surface. In a line along one side of the tortilla, place filling ingredients: shredded chicken, onions, and shredded cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in baking pan. Repeat with all the tortillas.

Cover enchiladas with sauce mixture. Top with shredded cheese and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.