Coconut Chicken with Pina Colada Glaze and Hawaiian Rice

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! This would be an awesome dish to make your valentine if you’re sick of the cold and want to imagine you’re in the tropics with a Mai Tai in your hand and not a care in the world! (Stay tuned later this week for my amazing take on a mai tai.) Of course, this is also just an awesome dish in general – I’d even wager that your kids would like it, as long as they don’t have anything against coconut or pineapple.

The title is a little of a mouthful (sorry!) but there’s a lot of moving parts to this meal and there’s just so many good things about it that I had to include as much in the title as I could!

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The recipe following is for four, but feel free to adjust as necessary!

The first thing you’ll need to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and then put together your breading assembly line. Doing any kind of “breading” process on meat is very simple, but so many people wind up with their yummy coating not sticking and falling off the meat! There’s an easy trick to it, as some may remember from my Parmesan Breaded Chicken (which was a popular hit on Pinterest!): you have to coat the meat in flour first, THEN egg, THEN the breading. Coating in flour first gives the egg something to stick on to, which then makes the breading adhere better!

So, you’ll need three shallow dishes:

Dish 1: 2 tablespoons of flour plus 1 teaspoon of salt plus 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Dish 2: 1 egg, beaten
Dish 3: 1 heavy cup coconut flakes plus 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Adding the salt and pepper to the flour ensures that the flavor is close to the chicken and doesn’t get lost in the breading. Follow this rule any time you’re breading meat, especially with coarser coatings like this one!

Next, prep your chicken. I tend to buy the store brand of chicken breast, and they are HUGE, so I cut one of those babies in half to make two better portioned pieces. Cut two large breasts in half to make four pieces and then get a few tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the chicken first in the flour (shake off excess), then the egg, and finally the coconut. You’ll really need to use your hands to coat the chicken thoroughly. Lay each piece carefully in the pan and allow to brown on both sides. (About 2 minutes or so per side.)

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Once the chicken is browned, put the pieces in a glass baking dish, sprinkle with some additional coconut (1/4 cup or so) and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Conveniently, that should be about the time you’re finishing up everything else.)

Next, you’ll need to get your pina colada glaze reducing. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup cream of coconut, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup coconut flakes, and 2 ounces of crushed pineapple (1/4 of an 8 oz can). Stir well and keep over high heat, allowing it to boil and then reduce down while you’re making the rice.

KITCHEN TIP: You can find cream of coconut in most liquor stores, or in the section of your grocery store where they sell drink mixers. As my loyal readers know, I’m a bit of an amateur mixologist, so I always have some on hand for when I make tropical drinks!

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I use regular old Uncle Ben’s white rice, which takes about 20 minutes to cook. Put 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, allow to boil, then cover and reduce heat to low to allow the water to soak into the rice while it cooks. (Otherwise, follow the directions for whatever kind of rice you use.) Once the rice is going, you can work on the rest of the components to make the rice super delish. 🙂

I call it Hawaiian rice, but really, it’s essentially just fried rice with some minor changes… I gave a recipe for excellent fried rice in my Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken recipe, but since this is a bit different, here’s a refresher:

Dice 1/4 of a sweet onion and 1/2 a green (or red, or yellow, or orange…) pepper. Put these in a skillet over medium high heat with a few tablespoons of oil. (I just washed the pan I used for the chicken and used that one – less dishes later!) Once these have sweated for about a minute or so, add 3/4 cup frozen peas, stir to distribute, and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. Just before it’s done, add 1 clove of minced garlic.

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KITCHEN TIP: Buy your peppers in bulk and prep them once your home – I usually like to julienne some and dice the rest. Put them into separate Ziploc freezer bags, labeled with the date, and freeze them! They’ll be good for up to 6 months, and then you can just take out what you need.

Once the veggies are cooked, push them to the side and pan-scramble one egg in the empty space of the pan. It’s not going to look super appetizing, since it’s going to pick up the oils and juices from the vegetables, but don’t worry. The brown stuff is packed with flavor!

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Once the egg is cooked, mix it in with the rest of the vegetables. Add your cooked rice, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp ground ginger, along with 6 ounces of crushed pineapple (the rest of the can you opened earlier for the glaze) and 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. Stir this all together until combined and then remove from the heat.

By the time your chicken is done, your glaze should have reduced nicely. Take the glaze off the heat and get the chicken out of the oven. You’re ready to plate and serve! Top the chicken with the glaze and serve immediately. (You could also double the glaze recipe and add it to the rice, too!)

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I’m not responsible for when this dinner disappears faster than you can blink! Once you get the process down, it works like a well-oiled machine, and I’m sure this will become a staple dinner for your house!

Full recipe:

Coconut Chicken with Pina Colada Glaze and Hawaiian Rice

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts, cut in half to make 4 pieces
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 heavy cup coconut flakes, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tbsp canola oil, for the pan

Glaze:

1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 tbsp sugar
2 ounces crushed pineapple
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Rice:

1 cup regular white rice
2 cups water
2 tbsp canola oil, for the pan
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
6 ounces crushed pineapple
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare breading assembly line by combining flour, salt, and pepper in first dish, beaten egg in second dish, and coconut and pecans in third dish.

2) Coat a large skillet in canola oil and put over medium heat. Bread the chicken by coating first in flour, making sure to shake off the excess, then the egg, and finally the coconut. Use your hands to ensure the chicken is well coated in coconut and then lay each piece carefully into the pan. Brown on each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a glass baking dish, top with additional coconut, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

3) In a small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, cream of coconut, sugar, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to boil over high heat and then allow to reduce.

4) In a medium saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low, allowing rice to cook through until all the water is gone.

5) In large skillet, heat canola oil over medium high heat and add onion and pepper, allowing to sweat for a minute before adding frozen peas. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for one additional minute.

6) Push the vegetables to the side of the pan and pan scramble an egg in the open space, then stir into the vegetables.

7) Once the rice is done, add to the vegetables, along with pineapple, salt, pepper, ginger, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Stir to combine and then remove from heat until ready to serve.

8) After chicken is done baking, remove from oven and plate with the rice. Top chicken with glaze and serve!

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Frosted Lemon Coconut Cookies

The last time I was at the grocery store, I ambitiously bought an entire bag of lemons. “I always think of ways to use lemons and I never have any,” I thought. “I’ll easily tear through this bag of at least a dozen lemons in less than a week.”

Well, a week later, I was staring at the still unopened bag of lemons trying to decide how on earth to use them, because no random recipes or drinks calling for lemon juice or zest or slices or any other variation had dropped into my head at all. (*Note, this was before yesterday’s pasta in a lemon blush sauce!)

And then out of nowhere I got the craving for cookies. (It’s dinner time. DINNER time. And suddenly my mind seems to be overwhelmed by the insatiable desire for SWEETS.) And then… it just came to me. Lemon Cookies. Sweetened with coconut. And frosted. Yes, absolutely, frosted with sweet lemon coconut icing. Bam.

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So yes, I am unashamed to say that on the night of the creation of these fabulous little beauties, I had cookies for dinner. And milk. And then a few more cookies.

Don’t judge me.

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Anyhow… as per just about every cookie recipe in existence, start by preheating the oven (350 degrees), lining two baking sheets with parchment paper, and combining your dry ingredients. For these, it’s 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking POWDER, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking SODA. The distinction is important.

Dry

In a stand mixer (because now you have one, ever since you read the butterscotch chocolate chip cookie recipe, right?) cream together a stick and a half of butter, 4 ounces cream cheese (which is just 1/2 of an 8 ounce block), and a cup and a half of sugar.

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Remember, it’s important that the butter and cream cheese are soft, NOT melted! 20 seconds in the microwave should be good enough to soften the butter and cream cheese, if they aren’t already room temperature. Cream them together with the sugar by starting on “stir” for 10-15 seconds, and then kicking it up to a medium speed for 2-3 minutes.

Cream Butter and Sugar

To this, add in one egg and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Combine these on a medium speed, then add the zest and juice of half a lemon and 3/4 cup coconut flakes and keep the mixer on medium until everything is incorporated.

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: The easiest and most efficient way to zest any citrus fruit is with a zester (mine is by Microplane and they aren’t that pricey), but you can also use a regular cheese grater or even a vegetable peeler. Remember to only just take the color off. Once you get to the faded white-ish part (the pith), the flavor becomes bitter.

After you’ve added all your flavor components, then, little by little, add your reserved dry ingredients until the mixture has formed into a dough. It’ll be pretty stiff once it gets close to the end; you might need to stop the stand mixer and do the rest with a spoon.

Dough

Drop by rounded spoonfuls (or use an awesome one ounce scooper) onto your prepared baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Once they’re done, let them cool completely and then store them until you’re ready to frost them.

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The frosting might be the most delicious part of this cookie, for real. I’m not normally a fan of iced cookies, but this really makes these go from “good” to “fabulous.”  And it’s SO easy. Just cream together half a stick of butter, 4 ounces of cream cheese (again, 1/2 of an 8 ounce block), and 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and then add one and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 of a cup at a time. Once it’s combined, kick the mixer up to a medium high speed and let it whip up for a minute or two, then add the zest and juice of half a lemon and 1/4 cup of coconut flakes. Mix until just combined and then it’s done!

Icing

Scrape this out into a smaller bowl and then use an icing knife to frost each cookie. Yes, you could just use a table knife, but I like the control I get from an icing knife.

Put the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate them for about a half hour to set the icing, and then store them in an airtight container. Truthfully, I really think these are best when they are cold from the fridge, so feel free to store them there!

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These are definitely not your average cookie – they’ll go fast!

Full Recipe:

Frosted Lemon Coconut Cookies

Yield: About 50 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) of butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup coconut flakes

For the frosting:

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1& 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup coconut flakes

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3) In a stand mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, and white sugar.

4) Add in egg and vanilla. Mix on medium speed to combine, and then add lemon zest/juice and coconut flakes. Mix until just combined.

5) Slowly mix in dry ingredients, with mixer set to “stir,” until everything is combined and a dough has formed.

6) Scoop one-ounce balls of dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Cool completely on wire cooling racks.

7) For the frosting, cream together butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Add powdered sugar 1/2 of a cup at a time until combined, and then mix on medium-high for 2 minutes. Mix in lemon zest/juice and coconut flakes until just combined.

8) Once cookies have cooled completely, frost each one and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

9) Put frosted cookies in the refrigerator for about a half hour to set the icing. Once the icing is set, store them in an airtight container.