09 May 2012

Family dinner.

This past winter, we instituted Sunday Family Dinners with the Smits family. They are just plain awesome, obviously, but none of us have family in town, so it's been nice to have a family of friends nearby (and by nearby, I mean across the street and down a block!) to have warm, cozy big dinners with on occasion. Our first dinner fell shortly after Brad's birthday, and Hillary was kind enough to tackle Swedish meatballs per his request. The next one was old-school tuna noodle casserole (me), and I made some lemon-thyme biscuits (from scratch!) for dunking. The star of the evening was most definitely Hillary's coconut cake.

Hillary used this recipe, and I know she has a few tips (including a different frosting recipe), so if you want to make this (YOU SHOULD), let me know and I will pass them along. So let me break this down for you - coconut cake, with ooey coconut cream(ish) that soaks down between the layers, and coconut frosting. Now, you may think, "Wow, that sounds like TOO MUCH coconut." To which I will say - Brad said the same thing.... And upon eating it, was won over. I cannot express how delicious this cake was. I would say I think of it weekly. I could eat this cake daily. I'm pretty sure this is the best cake I've ever had. Hillary is a cake goddess.

This past Sunday, we had what is likely our last Family Dinner for at least a little bit, as Hillary is 9 months pregnant. Keep that in mind when I tell you she made pierogies. From scratch. (Note, these are from The Chew. Double triple bonus points for Hillary!) We arrived just as Hillary was finishing up, so I managed to score some pics.

I just have to mention that Hillary's baby bump pushes buttons on the oven while she cooks (and it goes "beep! beep! beep!"), and I just find it so adorable that I had to say so.

Along with a salad and some sauerkraut, we sat down to a picnic feast out back. Maren joined us briefly for some applesauce and cottage cheese.

It is safe to say.... Yum.

I mean, seriously! They look perfect! Doughy on the outside, creamy on the inside. How will we ever be satisfied with Mrs. T.'s again?

I was on dessert duty, so after some deliberation, I settled on Gail Simmons' (from Top Chef) frozen chocolate, peanut butter, and banana bars with coconut (which she made on The Chew).

I know I've said it before, but I love cooking when you can watch the food change. Science, yeah! Melting chocolate, whipping cream... Never ceases to make me giggle or gasp "oooh!"

For as simple as these are, it took a while to make them. And a lot of bowls and spoons! But there were lots of yummy ingredients, including the banana layer, which was banana, vanilla Greek yogurt, coconut milk, and honey. Blend blend blend.

Layer 1, into the freezer. An hour later, out for top layer.

The not-so-pretty finished product, back into the freezer!

Note - I couldn't find any whole milk Greek yogurt except for plain, and I couldn't imagine putting plain in here. So I just used the nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt I had at home. I was also half a banana short. Due to one or both of these things - maybe? - the middle, banana layer didn't freeze very well, so it was kind of a mess when it came time to slice.

Tasty food still tastes tasty even when it looks like a mess, right? These were surprisingly banana-y, despite the banana shortage. The chocolate peanut butter was yummy. Crunchy with the nuts. Overall, I liked these. Everyone seemed to be a fan. That being said, they didn't scream "Wow!" They were just, you know, there. Yummy, but there. For the effort, kind of a bummer. But, fine.

More than fine? Dinner overall. Next time, we'll have a new, sixth dinner guest!


troyandhill said...

Yay for family dinners! And I totally enjoyed the dessert. The chocolate peanut butter layer was my fav :) Troy ate the rest later that night!

Sara said...

Oh, two things I want to make. Now 3 because that coconut cake looks amazing. Which reminds me...I meant to bring you Gail Simmons book as well. Interested in that one?

Stephanie said...

That cake IS amazing! You should definitely make it. :)

And sure! I'd read Gail's book!!