Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

When we started this blog almost a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure why I really wanted to try out this whole blogging thing.

I have worked to improve my food photography skills, sometimes with success, and other times, less successfully. But in the past few months I have realized that photography is not my passion.

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Sometimes the lighting in my apartment is just right, and I love taking photos of my food. I love that I have learned to use my husband’s DSLR, and I am very proud of how far my photos have come.

But sometimes, the lighting is just blah and I am more invested in the process of cooking and sharing the food I make with others than in the process of photographing my food.

Sliced bread

Sliced bread

In the almost year we have been blogging, I have invented some delicious new recipes, but in the past few months I have realized that recipe development is not my passion.

I much prefer to be inspired by other peoples’ recipes or to just throw “a little of this and a little of that” into a dish, no measurements required. By the time Friday rolls around, I have pinned and bookmarked more recipes than I could ever tackle in one weekend, and I don’t really feel like creating something “new” of my own.

(Note: Mom got a new bunny apron this year!)

(Note: Mom got a new bunny apron this year!)

But blogging has helped me to learn more about myself and to find a way to articulate my true passion(s). It has helped me to understand why I cook, and it has awakened in me a curiosity about why other people cook.

Blogging has helped me to learn more about our food system, and to understand how my personal choices can and do have an impact on our larger food culture and food systems.

Blogging has helped me to understand that the pursuit of self knowledge and taking time out for self care make me a better person not only for those I love, but also enables me to work towards something greater than myself.

Hello gorgeous!

Hello gorgeous!

Blogging has helped my sister and I connect over food in a new way, and it has created a platform by which my family has begun to share stories about out “kitchen history.”

After losing our Grandma last August, these stories are more important than ever. They are slowing coming out—like a few weeks ago, when my Aunt Kris followed up on my post about pizza with an email telling me that Grandma used to make huge batches of pesto, with basil that the neighbors left on the porch for her (the whole plant, roots and all!), and froze it in ice cube trays to have on hand whenever it was needed.

Freshly baked

Freshly baked

All of this is to say that as life has gotten busy in the past few months, the frequency of our posts has decreased, and will likely continue to remain at 1 or 2 posts per week rather than 3 or 4. But I will continue to document and recount my kitchen adventures when I can! I assure you that I spend most weekends on my feet making one thing after another, even when I forget to take photos.

I whipped up this lovely loaf of bread last Saturday to serve on Sunday morning for Easter Brunch with the East Coast portion of my family (Casey was sorely missed). Inspired by Smitten Kitchen, I did what Deb said was not necessary, and adapted Bill Granger’s recipe for Coconut Bread. I wanted to incorporate the dried apricots that my sister’s mother-in-law brought as part of a house-warming basket for my parents, and this bread seemed the perfect use.

While I have no doubt that the original recipe was fabulous, I really love the addition of the apricots.

Served for Easter Brunch

Served for Easter Brunch

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes 
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

Method

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, coconut, and apricots and stir until just smooth — be careful not to overmix.

Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray. Spread batter in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Hope you had a happy Easter with your loved ones!

-L

Apricot, Cashew, and Coconut Oatmeal

My first “experiment” with my coconut was to blend up some fresh coconut milk. Coconut milk comes from blending the meat with the juice (or water).

lid

I decided to use my fresh coconut milk in a hearty bowl of oatmeal, topped with dried apricots and cashews. It’s been a fruit and (coco)nut kind of week on Pas de Deux, and this will be the first in a “series” I’ll be working on in the next few weeks spotlighting various fruit and nut combos with oatmeal.

bowl

Oatmeal provides such a great canvas upon which to layer flavors and textures. This particular bowl was topped with chopped dried apricots, cashews, coconut flakes, sliced banana, and a drizzle of coconut butter. The coconut milk gave the oats a great creaminess. This bowl was full of healthy fats and kept me full for hours.

toppings

Apricot, Cashew, and Coconut Oatmeal

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Coach’s Oats (or 1/3 – 1/2 cup rolled oats)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut milk (or canned)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch salt
  • dash ground ginger
  • 1/2 banana, plus more for topping
  • Toppings: chopped dried apricots, chopped cashews, coconut flakes, coconut butter

bowl from above

Method

Combine oats, coconut milk, water, salt and ginger in a pot over medium heat. Thinly slice banana into the pot. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you stir vigorously, banana will “melt” into the oatmeal. Pour oats into a bowl, and add toppings. Enjoy!

close up

Cashews are a kidney-shaped nut that grow out of the bottom of cashew apples. Cashew trees are native to Brazil, India, and the West Indies, and though the apples are not imported to the U.S., some parts of South America consider them to be a delicacy. Cashew apples are extremely high in vitamin C, and have a highly astringent taste. Cashew nuts are high in fat and are a good source of copper, iron, and zinc. Unlike other tree nuts, cashews contain starch, which allows them to act as a thickening agent. They can be soaked and blended to make “cheese”, salad dressings, or creams.

Apricots have been grown in China for nearly 4,000 years, and today, 90% of the American crop is grown in California. Dried apricots are often treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their bright orange color (though the ones pictured here were not). Dried apricots are high in vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

stirred

Dried fruit and nuts add a huge nutritional boost to an already hearty and healthy bowl of oatmeal. The flavor combinations go on and on. Do you have a favorite fruit and nut combination for your oatmeal?

-L

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Crunchy Granola State

Yogurt, fruit, and granola

Yogurt, fruit, and granola

It’s a new year. A new beginning. For me, that is a huge relief. The end of 2012 was more than a little challenging, so the idea of a fresh start is very appealing. Already this year, I’ve gotten a new haircut (I got bangs!), made some new friends, and adopted a new “come what may” sort of attitude. It’s exciting.

I was talking with a good girlfriend the other day about life, love, and New Years resolutions. We started laughing at the “crunchy granola” nature of my musings. Since that phrase came up, I have been craving actual granola.

Granola!

Granola!

The flavor of this batch was decided primarily by what was stocked in the bulk bins… apricots, pistachios, walnuts. I decided this combo was a safe bet, since Lindsey has been enjoying the bag of Apricot Pistachio Marge Granola I recently gave her. I’m definitely pleased with the outcome.

(Coco)nut mixture

(Coco)nut mixture

Apricot Pistachio Granola

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced crosswise into small pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, and spices in a large bowl. Melt coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour over oat mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Spread the mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in apricots, stirring to break up any clumps. Return to oven for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool, and enjoy!

Stirring in the apricots

Stirring in the apricots

Since the coconut was sweetened and I knew I’d be serving the granola with fruit, I cut the amount of other sweeteners pretty dramatically. If you prefer sweeter granola, add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar to the oat and nut mixture.

Beautiful bowl

Beautiful bowl

I love that yummy food came from my “crunchy granola” thoughts. What are your New Years resolutions? Have they influenced your meals lately?

Happy eating!

-C

In two weeks, we will be migrating to wordpress.org! If you subscribe to our blog through wordpress.com, it will no longer show up in your feed once we make the switch. To keep getting updates of new posts, subscribe to our RSS feed, or follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook. Thanks for following, and we hope you will stay with us!