kanakuk’s famous coffee cake

kanakuk's famous coffee cake via she likes to eat
as some of you may know, i grew up going to a camp called kanakuk. in the summers as a kid, worked there every summer while i was in college, and now my husband directs one of the camps full-time. crazy the places you never think you’ll end up..

if you know kanakuk, you know that this wonderful little camp is famous for many things, but one thing they are especially famous for is their coffee cake. i dreamed about it during the school year as a kid and constantly begged my mom to make it all year. and when i got to camp? you know i made it MY JOB to eat that coffee cake every sunday when they served it.

the recipe that was given to me years ago by a camp cook was for massive quantities and i was not really sure how to cut it down so much.. (insert nervous face). so i got a new recipe in the last 5 years or so that made a much smaller batch. this is that original recipe from the camp cook, but i have increased the topping portion to make it a little bit thicker (i am sure there are no objections there). also, i initially had some trouble with the topping sinking into the cake (because it is so deliciously heavy) so i now bake the cake for a bit before taking it out, adding the streusel topping, and then finish baking it.

i have only tweaked it a little, but this is the honest, true kanakuk coffee cake recipe. if you have never had kanakuk’s coffee cake, just take my word for it. go make it.

i promise you’ll quickly understand why it’s so famous.

kanakuk’s coffee cake

ingredients for the topping

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour

4 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

ingredients for the cake

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp coarse sea salt

3 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

1 1/2 sticks butter

3/4 cups water

1/2 cup (4 oz) evaporated milk (like milnot)

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350. spray a 9×13 baking dish with coconut oil or cooking spray.

2. in a medium bowl combine topping ingredients. work cold butter in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and all of the butter chunks have been worked in. put in a ziploc bag, seal it, and place in the fridge.

3. in a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt – whisk to incorporate. in a separate large bowl, beat the eggs a minute or two, until foamy + fluffy. add in vanilla and evaporated milk.

4. melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave, about 1 minute. add water to melted butter, gently stir to make sure all the butter has completely melted. add melted butter & water to egg mixture and whisk well to incorporate. add half of dry ingredients into the egg mixture and whisk. add second half of dry ingredients and mix until combined and no longer lumpy. pour batter into prepared baking dish. bake for 20 minutes.

5. remove cake from oven. sprinkle chilled streusel topping evenly over the top of the batter, making sure to cover well and get the edges too. bake for 20-25 minutes more, until center is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. let cool for about 8-10 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.

mixed greens salad with dijon champagne vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves

via she likes to eat

a little over a year ago, my other half took me to a cooking class at whole foods for a birthday present. it was, truly, one of my favorite gifts he has ever given me.

we went together, after leaving the girls at home with my parents, and cooked an incredible menu with about 5 other couples. we laughed, ate well, drank good wine, and met new people while learning a few new things in the kitchen. for real, it was one of my favorite nights ever.

the menu included a wonderfully hearty beef stew with wild rice, a rustic berry tart, buttery biscuits, and this lovely salad. the whole technique with the goat cheese really intrigued me, as i had never seen it done before but thought was crazy brilliant. at our station we had a little bit of the goat cheese leftover after wrapping the rest in the basil leaves.. you can bet i ate that straight out of the bowl. and the dijon vinaigrette has become a staple in my house, one of my favorite basic vinaigrettes that can go on pretty much any salad.

mixed greens salad with champagne dijon vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves
makes 6-8 salads

ingredients

6 cups mixed greens (i like to use a combo of bibb, romaine, and spinach), cleaned + rinsed

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted + chopped

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinaigrette

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp agave nectar, or honey

4 oz plain goat cheese, at room temperature

small bunch basil leaves (you’ll need about 8-10 large-sized leaves)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped*

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped*

olive oil

coarse sea salt & freshly ground pepper

directions

1. in a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. (if your goat cheese is harder, add a little more olive oil to soften.) add a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper – a couple twists of the grinder. mix well, cover with saran wrap, and place in fridge to chill.

2. preheat oven to 350. spread out walnuts on a dry cookie sheet. roast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. place on drying rack to fully cool.

3. in a mason jar, mix 3/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, dijon, agave/honey, and another small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. shake vigorously until well incorporated.

4. after the goat cheese mixture has had at least 15-20 minutes to chill, remove from fridge. on a clean surface or cutting board, remove stems from basil leaves and roll each leaf out flat. place a bit of goat cheese mixture onto the base of each leaf, and then roll the leaf up, wrapping the goat cheese mixture completely with the leaf. once rolled, using a serrated or very sharp small knife, carefully (saw the knife gently back + forth as to not break the leaf) slice the rolled leaf into small sections (you should get about 3-4 slices per leaf.) continue until all basil leaves have been used and sliced.

5. in six or so salad bowls, begin to assemble the salads. first the greens, then the basil leaf/goat cheese slices, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and drizzle generously with vinaigrette.

*i stress using fresh herbs here, if possible.

dark chocolate mexican brownies

mexican dark chocolate brownies via she likes to eat

these might be the perfect brownie.
yes yes, the oreo brownies ROCK MY WORLD and the chocolate-ginger brownies are unexpected and lovely, but for a classic brownie, these are just awesome. they are just the right amount of fudgy and they have that perfect shiny, thinly crisp top. my mom (aka “mahm”) sent me her recipe for spicy mexican brownies a while back and i played with it a bit to get the shiny top (fave) and then added the dark chocolate because IT’S AWESOME. and i am pretty sure she approves, since she is the one who passed on to me the love of dark chocolate. (of course you can use bittersweet or milk chocolate if you’re not a fan of the dark.. and you can come to me for counseling, if so.)

if you aren’t into spicy things like i am or have little ones, you can omit the cayenne pepper. but instead of omitting it altogether, i have come up with a solution. i have 2 little girls who love chocolate mayyybe more than i do so i make it like this: i mix everything but the cayenne, pour half the batter into an 8×8 dish, then whisk in 1/4 tsp cayenne to the last half of the batter (mix well) and then pour it into the other baking dish. then you have one spicy/adult dish’o’brownies, and one for the kiddies.

inexplicably, those little half-texans are not fans of spicy. yet.
maybe these brownies will be the thing to get them to come over to the dark side…

mahm’s dark chocolate mexican brownies

ingredients

2 sticks butter, cut into tablespoons

6 oz. (1 cup) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (or you can use morsels)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup special dark cocoa powder, unsweetened

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

directions

1. preheat the oven to 325. grease a 9 x 13 (or two 8-inch square) baking dish generously with coconut oil or baking spray.

2. melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

3. while you’re waiting for the chocolate to cool, in a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and sugar – whisk well.  stir in remaining ingredients. add in melted chocolate and butter. stir to combine.

3. pour batter into prepared baking dish(es). bake 25-35 minutes. (25 minutes will get you really fudgy brownies and 30-35 minutes will bake them through a little bit more.) let the brownies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy! (store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.)

rosemary garlic hummus

rosemary garlic hummus via she likes to eat

thank you, lord, for hummus.
really. THANK YOU.

hummus is one of the rare things that is on the healthy side, and that everyone in my family loves.
i got a tough crowd, yo.
i usually buy the store-bought hummus since it’s everyone’s favorite but i have been wanting an outside-the-box recipe… one that’s not too wild (or the other 3 people around here would not eat it) but one that is different from your basic hummus. last week, i had some rosemary i was wanting to use up, so i played with it a little and well, THIS HUMMUS ROCKS. i seriously love this hummus. the garlic gives it a little kick, but without being spicy. and the rosemary is just so lovely – my hands smelled like it for a few hours afterwards. as with any hummus, it’s super easy to make and you can store it for a week or so in the fridge. this makes just enough for my family to snack on for a day or two, so if you are making it for a party or a crowd, go ahead and double this recipe.

rosemary garlic hummus
makes about 1 cup

ingredients

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans

1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil (depending on how thick you like your hummus), plus more for drizzling

3 cloves garlic, peeled and tiny brown ends cut off

juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 large sprig of rosemary (about 1 tbsp), not chopped

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt, heaping

freshly cracked pepper

directions

puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. put in serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. serve with cut up veggies, pita chips, or our personal favorite, pretzel chips. will keep for about 7 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

central market’s couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon

central market's couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon
while home in austin for the christmas holiday, my mom and i went grocery shopping at central market (if you’re not familiar, it’s like the best grocery store ever – similar to whole foods). it was a gorgeous afternoon and we sat outside as we ate lunch before hitting the aisles.
yes outside. in late december.
just one of the 5,834,395 reasons i love texas.
we had grabbed a few of their prepared snacks for lunch, some sushi and this amazing couscous salad. we both would have licked the plastic container if there weren’t so many people there. i knew as soon as i got home, i would have to give it a go, and try to make it myself. and obviously, since i am posting the recipe, i am super happy with the results. (this is just my interpretation of the couscous – i didn’t get this recipe straight from CM.) a huge bonus: this recipe takes about 10 minutes to make. it is light and bright, with fresh basil and tangy lemon juice. the spinach adds interest and great nutrition + vitamins. and the feta.. oh the feta. i could put feta on almost anything.
#iloveyoufeta

central market’s couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon
makes a little over 2 cups

ingredients

1 cup uncooked couscous

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or torn into small pieces

juice from 1/2 lemon

few dashes of white pepper (not black pepper, which would be too heavy)

directions

1. bring 1 cup water and 1/4 tsp sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan. once boiling, add 1 cup couscous and stir well. cover and remove from heat. let sit for 5 minutes.

2. once couscous is done, add olive oil, fluff with a fork or spatula and transfer into a bowl. add feta, chopped spinach, basil, and white pepper. squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over top and mix well. serve chilled or at room temperature.

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies | via she likes to eat

i was blazing through target a few weeks ago – the way one does when accompanied by a 4-year old and a 2-year old who are not into shopping the way you are and goldfish snacks are no longer cutting it – and i barely glanced at a display of packaged cookie mixes, all in autumn-inspired flavors. only later did this register and i began to dream of a similar cookie that i had seen, with maple syrup and brown sugar… i thought i would maybe mix in some oats… my wheels were turning.

so i looked in my trusty recipe box – the one you are looking at right now – and went to my oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins recipe, figuring i could edit it to make this cookie recipe i was working on in my head. although i thought it would take a few tries to get it just right – since cooking with maple syrup can be tricky..well, baking PERIOD can be tricky when experimenting – but the first batch, really, was MONEY.

i done it all by mine-self, y’all. (insert ozarks backwoods accent here.)

these babies are a comforting, classic fall cookie. the oats give them texture and they are perfectly crispy on the outer edges and yet gloriously chewy in the center. they are the cookie i crave on a cold fall day, when i don’t want anything fancy, just simple, with a glass of cold milk.

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies
makes about 34 cookies

ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup plain quaker oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (not imitation syrup)

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350. line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt – set aside. in another bowl, cream together butter and both sugars with a mixer (handheld or standing), at medium speed until light and fluffy. add in vanilla, then add in eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. add in maple syrup. continue mixing on low to medium speed for another 1-2 minutes.

3. add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula until just combined. using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place balls of cookie dough an inch or more apart (they will spread a bit during baking) onto prepared cookie sheets. bake each sheet separately, baking for about 13-14 minutes each, until the cookies begin to darken around the edges and are set in the center. allow cookies to cool on a wire rack before removing from cookie sheets.

mexican rice with cilantro + garlic

if you have been to my house, you might have noticed i have a little problem with too many cookbooks. i will admit it, but i am far from getting into a program to help me quit.

every time i get a new cookbook, i will curl up with it that evening like i would a novel and look through it, reading the introduction, the contents, the entries, marking a few recipes that i want to make soon. i love to get a feel for the food inside of it, scanning the food styling and photographs, and letting my mouth water. so the last time i was at the bookstore, my eyes landed on tacolicious, this gorgeous cookbook by the chef at a popular san francisco eatery of the same name. the book is beautifully photographed and the design of it made me immediately pick it up. i only had to flip through it and see all of its mexican food loveliness and i was sold. or rather it was. to me. i have not had the cookbook very long, but i have already made a ton of recipes from it – and i highly recommend it. their rice recipe is my favorite so far – boldly seasoned and perfectly fluffy, after sautéing and then baking in the oven. comes out perfect every time. this makes quite a bit, so for a family night in, i would halve this recipe. but if you are hosting the neighborhood’s taco tuesday fiesta, you will have plenty.

baked mexican rice with cilantro + garlic
adapted from tacolicious by sara deseran

ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 16-oz bag long grain white rice (about 2 cups)

2 1/3 cups water

1 cup canned tomato puree

2 tsp dried cilantro (or oregano)

1 tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

2 tsp coarse sea salt

a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. heat the oil in a large oven-safe pot, covered, over medium heat. add in the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. add the garlic and cook another minute more, until onion is translucent. reduce heat to medium-low, then add the rice and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until rice has browned.

3. add the water, tomato puree, cilantro (or oregano), cumin, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. stir to combine and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. cover, transfer pot to the oven, and bake for 40 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.

4. remove from the oven and allow to cool, first with the cover on, then remove and let cool a bit more. fluff with a fork and serve warm.