Coconut Lime Meringue Nests

How does the song go?

🎶You put the lime in the coconut, then fill it with Easter candy?🎶

Feel free to correct me if that doesn’t seem correct.

Recently, I did a sponsored collaboration with Eggland’s Best to feature their liquid egg whites in an Easter recipe! I was trying to think a little outside of the box on this one: I love a good meringue cookie, but I wanted to invoke that springtime feeling. I know I’ve seen “bird’s nests” before with toasted coconut, and I love how they evoke that twig & straw visual. I never tried it for myself, so there was able experimentation on the best way to distribute the shredded coconut all over these sticky meringues before they were baked.

A little experimentation, a little bit of patience, and I came up with what had been living in my head.

*woohoo*

Eggland’s Best 100% Liquid Egg Whites are awesome, and I am firmly in the camp of “work smart, not hard.” Normally, for a recipe like this, I’d be cracking and separating about 6 eggs. One, it’s messy. Two, it’s icky. Three, one minuscule drop of yolk in the egg whites, and you’re basically DONE, because that meringue will not whip up the way you want to. (Trust, I speak from experience.) But, with pourable egg whites, I can save myself time and a mess. I am HERE for that!

These Coconut Lime Meringue Nests truly are a great dessert for spring, Easter, or just because! The hit of lime zest is surprisingly potent, but not omnipresent. It just pairs well with its classic partner in crime, the coconut. As a fun treat, fill them with easter candies like I did. Other ideas? Perhaps whip up a lime curd to fill them with! That’ll certainly brighten this already-stellar dessert up!

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➡️ Please see the recipe here, and enjoy! ⬅️

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NOTE: This blog post was based on content I created for a sponsored Instagram post & recipe created for Eggland’s Best in March 2021. As always, all opinions are my own.

Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi & Sautéed Broccoli

When the Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi Boom hit freezers in April 2018, you could not escape it. It was the trending food, the hot topic, what was sizzling in everyone’s pans and showing up on everyone’s Instagram feeds. (Wow, has it really been almost 3 years?) Of course, I had to try it for myself to see what all of the fuss was about – it was my duty as a older Millennial woman – but its popularity made it difficult to find. (Although, that being said, it helped me discover their riced cauliflower stir-fry, which has become a PLS for me [Pandemic Lunch Staple].) Back when its popularity was sky-high, did you ever have deals with your friends to pick up bags of it for you if they saw it with a promise to Venmo them later? (Or was that just me and The Hungry Turk?)

With the popularity of the cauliflower gnocchi came the complaints and hacks as well. Many claimed that the directions on the bag caused them to create a gummy mess at the bottom of their sauté pans, so many innovative food bloggers came up with other methods.

I feel like I tried every hack, but, ultimately, was not pleased with the cauliflower gnocchi. No matter what I did, no matter what method I attempted, these gnocchi always came out gummy and unpalatable.

Revoke my Millennialness and call me a Boomer, I suppose.

However, the arrival of Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi in January 2020 was a game changer in my opinion. No gummy gnocchi sticking to the bottom of my pan; a drop of oil and a pat of butter yielded crisp gnocchi that had a nice crunch that led to a warm pillowy center. I really enjoy the flavor on its own, and often a sprinkle of salt and garlic powder compliment it perfectly. I know many that said the taste of the kale gnocchi turns them off a little, but…it’s kale. It isn’t going to be flavorless!

Trader Joe's Kale Gnocchi & Satueed Broccoli
Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi & Sautéed Broccoli

I’m trying to do my best making my lunches at home nowadays – work has been as insane as ever for me – especially over the past 6 weeks as I’ve been assisting with another program in my department on top of my usual 9 to 5 ! – but this baby comes together in about 20 minutes and I can make it on even my busiest days! It’s green. Very green. Super green. So it must be healthy, yes?

I’m super busy and just…have not felt the creative spark lately. It’s been a long winter, and a long…pandemic. But if I can create something small that tastes good and makes me happy, well, then, I’m satiated and happy! I hope that if you are feeling overwhelmed lately, this will offer an easy and comforting meal for you. ❤️❤️❤️

Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi & Sautéed Broccoli

Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi & Sautéed Broccoli

(Makes 1 serving)

Ingredgents:

  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Kale Gnocchi, frozen
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets, raw and cut small
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and garlic powder, to taste

Before We Get Started…

  • As you will see in the directions, I like to sauté my broccoli in the oil, but finish off the gnocchi in butter. Use whatever you prefer for each! Use your oils / butters / vegan alternatives of choice here.
  • Also feel free to experiment with your seasonings! I make this super simple with salt and garlic powder, but utilize your spice rack as you see fit.

Directions:

1.) In a large sauté pan, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add broccoli; sauté and stir until broccoli starts to get slightly golden brown on some edges. Do not let broccoli burn! When cooked to your liking, remove from heat.

2.) Add 1 tablespoon of butter and allow to melt over medium-low heat. Add kale gnocchi and increase heat to medium; sauté and stir for 5 to 7 minutes, until gnocchi become golden brown on the outside. Test one gnocchi at this point to ensure it is no longer frozen in the middle. Once cooked through, add broccoli back into the sauté pan, toss together, add salt and garlic powder and cook for one minute before removing from eat.

3.) Enjoy immediately, or allow to cool to room temperature and store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two days.

The Five Best Female Bakers in NYC

I am not including myself in a list of the five best female bakers in NYC. I might rank about 129,697th in NYC. Ha! When it comes to baking, it has never been a true passion of mine. I’d rather cook – which can be much more forgiving & easy to experiment with – than bake, which can be a true science. Sure, I’ll get on my kicks on baked donuts every so often, and I’ll get heavy into apple pies and crips in the autumn; given the choice, I’d rather pull out my debit card and buy my goodies, let someone else do the work. 😅

Throughout this pandemic, I feel I have become more acquainted with many of the bakeries in my area and online; I’ve been awestruck at the virtual bakeries that have popped up, to be honest. So many folks are baking and shipping out of their own apartments; in NYC, that might mean they’re working out of a half-sized oven in a galley kitchen in a 200 square foot studio. *phew*

With the exception of Hadley Go Lucky – I first met Hadley many years ago at a Yelp Elite Event! Throwback! 😂 – I have gotten to know these other brands better during the course of the pandemic, ordering from them directly or buying their baked goods at local stores. To see so many women thrive just makes me want to celebrate…with all of their cakes, cookies, and breads! Now THAT is where I want to put my money down!

Please click the links for each baker to see menu items and availability; some of their baked goods are sold in stores, while others strictly run virtual bakeries. No matter where you get their goodies from, you’ll be impressed and ready to buy more, I guarantee it!

The Five Best Female Bakers in NYC

Allie’s Banana Bread

  • Known For: Perfect Banana Bread (but of course!)
  • Go For The: Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Bakd Bakery – by Kerianne

  • Known For: Indulgent Overstuffed Cookies
  • Go For The: Curious Jorge or The Sandlot

Blondery by Auzerais Bellamy

  • Known For: Indulgent blondies & cakes (and their delicious trim!)
  • Go For The: Birthday Cake Blondies & Cinnamon Sugar Blondies

Donut Diva – by Montana D’Alessio Barbieri

  • Known For: Inventive desserts at Comfortland
  • Go For The: Her famous Rainbow Crumb Cake

Hadley Go Lucky

  • Known For: Whimsical and Asian-inspired treats
  • Go For The: Melon Pan & Grape Juice Box Cheesecake

Ruby Chocolate-Glazed Baked Donuts

Ahhhh, Valentine’s Day. A day full of commercialized romance. Nuts to love, just give me the SWEETS.

I’m sure this Valentine’s Day will be different for many as we continue to trudge through this pandemic. Many will stay home with the ones they love – their partner, their kids, their pets, or THEMSELVES! – instead of going out. (Then there will be the people that go out anyways, but…let’s not open THAT can of worms here…)

Though I am more of a salty gal than a sweet gal – I take after my mother compared to my father in that regard – I do love the occasional sweets, and I was really turned onto ruby chocolate a few years ago when I ate it in a Valentine’s Day-inspired cookie from Chip City. The unique fruitiness and distinctive tang – not to mention its rosy hue – drew me in, and I enjoy it enough to buy it on its own to snack on: Chocolove produces my FAVORITE Ruby Chocolate bar, and it’s easy to find at most grocery or corner stores in NYC!

When it comes to experimenting with ruby chocolate, I’ve seen others do it better than me. I put my recipe development hat on early last year – pre-pandemic, what a time! – and tried to get clever; my recent query as to whether it’d make for a good dip for candied citrus fruit was answered by Giora Stuchiner when he recently posted ruby chocolate-dipped candied oranges. (A project for me for another day!)

After trying to think of something on the more unique side, I decided not to get too inventive with ruby chocolate and just stick to something I knew how to make: ganache. The general formula for ganache stays the same, and I just switched ruby chocolate in for my usual milk or dark chocolate. Making a ruby chocolate ganache is ridiculously easy, almost fool-proof, in my opinion.

You know what else I’m good at making? Baked vanilla donuts, a long-time fan of the As Easy As Apple Pie recipe.

BOOM.

Ruby Chocolate-Glazed Baked Donuts.

I first made these last year for a Galentine’s Day party at my friend’s old apartment in Harlem last year, and they were a smash! I made them a few times again recently, and they were delicious…except my baking powder has seen better days, because those donuts just did not rise! This photo? It’s a year old. Ha! But at least there is one good shot of them in their ruby chocolate glory. Perhaps I’ll get better photos in due time, but…am I that content creator that wanted to get one good Valentine’s Day dessert recipe online this week?

Duh.

Enjoy!

Ruby Chocolate-Glazed Baked Donuts

Ruby Chocolate-Glazed Baked Donuts

(Donut recipe adapted from “Vanilla Glazed Baked Donuts” by As Easy As Apple Pie; Makes 6 regular-sized baked donuts)

Ingredients:

For Vanilla Baked Donuts:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (See “Before We Get Started…”)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (See “Before We Get Started…”)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Ruby Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 oz. ruby chocolate, roughly yet finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Before We Get Started…

  • I have used both white granulated sugar as well as coconut sugar, both with success in this recipe.
  • I have used whole dairy milk as well as oat milk, both with success in this recipe.
  • This recipe will yield roughly a dozen mini-donuts if you are using a mini-donut pan.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a donut pan (6-donut capacity or 12-mini-donut capacity) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2.) Over a large bowl, pour & shake flour through a large sieve to remove any lumps. Whisk in sugar, salt, and baking power.

3.) In a second large bowl, whisk together oil, egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until combined; be careful not to overmix! Overmixed batter will result in flatter donuts. (Speaking from experience!)

4.) Carefully spoon donut batter into cavities of donut pan, filling until they are approximately 3/4 full; do not fill to top, or else your donuts will spill over and you’ll lose that quintessential donut hole in the center!

5.) Place in oven and bake for 12 – 14 minutes until golden yet springy to the touch. Remove and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing from donut pan. Place donuts on cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

6.) Once donuts have cooled, assemble the ganache: Roughly yet finely chop up ruby chocolate and place into a large heat-safe bowl. Heat heavy cream in a heat-safe in the microwave for 45 – 60 seconds; keep an eye on the cream to make sure it doesn’t boil over or scorch. Remove cream from microwave, slowly pour over ruby chocolate, and allow to sit for one minute Use a whisk to combine cream and chocolate until smooth.

7.) Dip donuts into ganache while it’s warm and place ganache-side up on cooling rack until ganache has set; top with some white nonpareils if you’re feeling the need for a little bit of extra texture in your life.

8.) Eat same day – of course! – or place in an airtight container for up to 2 days in a cool place.