Category Archives: Recipes

PEI Potato Leek Soup Recipe

PEI Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup

I am not sure which country can, in fact, lay claim to being the originator of Potato Leek Soup.  Some say it is of Welsh origin while others give Ireland credit for this tasty soup.  If you have ever eaten Vichyssoise, a cold version of Potato Leek Soup, you may attribute its origins to France due to its association with Vichy.  Then, of course, there is Tattie and Leekie soup from Scotland.

Potato and Leek Soup has two main ingredients – potatoes and leeks.  They are complemented by some gentle seasonings of garlic, onion, celery, bayleaf, and thyme, all cooked in chicken stock.

PEI Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup

Leeks are related to the onion and shallot family but they do differ.  Leeks resemble giant overgrown green onions. Leeks are usually 12″-14″ long and about 1″-2″ in diameter.  They will have three shades that vary from white at the bulb end to light green in the middle to deep green at the top.  The deep green top is tough and bitter so is discarded, leaving the light green and white sections as the usable parts of the leek.  The root end is cut off and the outer layers of the white and light green sections discarded.

Leeks have a more subtle flavour than onions or shallots so don’t overpower other ingredients in a dish.  Sometimes, as in my recipe for Potato Leek Soup, when I want some strengthened flavour, I will add a small amount of onion .

There are a couple of ways this soup can be made – either the entire mixture puréed until smooth or, if you prefer some chunkiness to the soup, simply remove about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups of the vegetables and purée the rest. This is what I have done in the soup you see in these photos. Either way, it is a filling and satisfying soup.

Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup

I make good use of my immersion blender for cream and purée soup making. However, you can certainly use either a blender or a food processor to purée the vegetables.  I generally allow the soup to cool for 30-40 minutes before using my immersion blender and, sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I put the soup pot in a sink full of cold water for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process.  I know some people do use their immersion blenders in really hot soup. I recommend you check your instruction manual for your immersion blender to see what it says about using the blender in hot liquids.

Potato Leek Soup can be served perfectly plain or it can be dressed up with a garnish of sour cream, croutons, chives or parsley.  Serve the soup with biscuits or crusty rolls or bread.

Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup

PEI Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼“ slices (about 3 cups, chopped)
1 stalk celery, sliced
1¼ lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup whole milk
½ cup white cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
Sour Cream, Croutons, Parsley or Chives, and Truffle Oil for garnish (optional)

Method:
Melt butter in medium-sized stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add leek, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Add potatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves.

Remove about 1¾ cups vegetables from the soup and set aside. Using hand-held immersion blender, purée the remainder of soup until smooth. Add the milk and heat over medium-low heat until mixture is hot, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the cheese and stir until cheese is melted and blended into soup.

Add reserved vegetables to the soup purée. Stir gently over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes until heated.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls. Add dollop of sour cream and croutons and, if desired, a drizzle of finishing oil such as truffle oil and a sprinkle of parsley or chives.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings (1+ cups each)

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PEI Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup

The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola Recipe

The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

This granola recipe features a tasty mixture of toasted rolled oats, coconut, and dried fruits and berries.  Notably missing in this recipe are any nuts or whole seeds which are often found in granola.  This is intentional.  For anyone who, for any reason, cannot consume nuts or whole seeds, this granola is especially for you!

The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

Granola is an oat-based cereal. Typically, the base ingredients will include:

  • rolled oats (use the ones that have large flakes; easily customize the recipe to be gluten-free by using gluten-free oats),
  • some kind of sweetener (e.g., brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey),
  • an oil (e.g., coconut, vegetable, or olive),
  • dried fruits and/or nuts, and
  • flavoring (such as vanilla and a medley of spices that often include cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon).

Granola is very versatile and is so much more than a cereal served with milk for breakfast, although that is quite lovely. Here are some ways I like to use granola:

  • topping for yogurt parfaits,
  • snack food (like a trail mix),
  • ingredient in muffins, cookies, and bars,
  • crushed/ground and used to bread chicken pieces or as a topping for casseroles,
  • sprinkled over salads, or
  • mixed with toppings for a baked fruit crisp

It’s very easy to customize granola to suit your taste. If you want to add some nuts or chocolate chips to the granola, for example, swap out an equal amount of dried fruit or berries.  Or, if don’t like raisins, exchange them for an equal amount of another ingredient such as dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, or apricots.  The important thing is to keep the proportions of ingredients in the recipe.

The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

If you can turn on an oven and heat a mixture in a saucepan on the stove, you can make granola!  The sweetener, oil, and flavorings are heated in a small saucepan on the stove top just until they are warmed and well blended.  This syrup gets poured over the oats and stirred to ensure the oats are coated.  The oats are then spread on a large cookie sheet and baked in the oven for 35-45 minutes until they turn golden brown.  They are then cooled and tossed with the mixture of dried fruits and berries.

It’s very important to pay attention to the oats as they bake because they can easily burn.  The oats need to be turned 3-4 times as they bake to ensure that they toast evenly on all sides.  As soon as they start to turn a deep caramel color and begin to get a bit crispy, they are done.

The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola

Ingredients:

3 cups large flake rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
1 cup sultana raisins
½ cup hemp hearts
¼ cup chopped dates
½ cup dried pineapple
½ cup dried papaya

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

½ cup flaked coconut

Method:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Combine rolled oats and ground flaxseed in large bowl.

In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, dates, pineapple, nd papaya. Set aside.

In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and salt. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil.

Pour hot syrup over oats and toss to coat. Spread oats evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy. Stir oats every 12-15 minutes, turning them over with a spatula, so that the oats toast evenly. Add coconut to oats during the last 5-7 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit. Stir well to combine all ingredients.

Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.

Yield:   Apx. 7½ – 8 cups

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The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola

Yield: Apx. 7 1/2 - 8 cups

A tasty nut-free granola made with a wonderful blend of dried fruits and berries

Ingredients

  • 3 cups large flake rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • ¼ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup dried pineapple
  • ½ cup dried papaya
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup flaked coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  2. Combine rolled oats and ground flaxseed in large bowl.
  3. In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, dates, pineapple, and papaya. Set aside.
  4. In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and salt. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil.
  5. Pour hot syrup over oats and toss to coat. Spread oats evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy. Stir oats every 12-15 minutes, turning them over with a spatula, so that the oats toast evenly. Add coconut to oats during the last 5-7 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.
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The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

One of my very favorite ways to present potatoes is in the form of Scalloped Potatoes.  A mixture of potatoes, onions, and milk along with a bit of seasoning and grated cheese make this a great comfort food dish any time of the year.  My mother often made scalloped potatoes sometime on the weekend and made enough that we’d have leftovers for dinner a day or two later. To this day, I still believe that this is one dish that is better a day or two after it is made as the flavours really settle in.

My favorite potatoes to use in scalloped potatoes are red potatoes. They hold their shape yet they cook up well.  I recommend using whole milk or, if you want to be really decadent, use a mix of milk and cream.  While skim or partly skimmed milk can be used, it won’t make a sauce that is as rich and creamy as when at least whole milk is used. My grandmother used pure cream when she made her scalloped potatoes and, boy, were they good….but extremely rich!

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

This is not a difficult dish to make and really doesn’t take anything out of the ordinary in the way of ingredients.  A simple white sauce with a bit of seasoning is easily cooked in the microwave until slightly thickened then poured over the layers of potato and onion. I always add just a teaspoon of liquid chicken bouillon to the cream sauce for extra flavour boost.

Some purists will argue that a traditional dish of scalloped potatoes should not contain cheese and neither my mother or grandmother ever used cheese in theirs.  However, I find that adding about 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese steps this dish up a notch. The cheese adds both flavour and richness to the potatoes but, like the other ingredients I have added to my recipe in moderation, doesn’t take away from the traditional basic flavour of the scalloped potatoes.  All the chicken bouillon, Dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, nutmeg, and paprika do are delicately add a hint of extra flavour.

I recommend removing the casserole cover during the last few minutes of the baking process as it will give the scalloped potatoes a nice tasty crust on top.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

1¾ lbs. red potatoes (about 3 medium-sized), peeled and sliced about 1/8” thick
1 medium onion, sliced in rings
1½ cups milk
1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp flour or cornstarch
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp melted butter
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray or grease a 1½-quart casserole.

Place a layer of sliced potatoes in casserole.

Add a layer of sliced onions.

Repeat potato and onion layers to fill casserole.

In microwaveable bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken bouillon, Dijon mustard, flour or cornstarch, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Microwave for about a minute, then stir and add the melted butter and 2½ – 3 tbsp. grated cheese. Microwave 1-2 minutes, just until mixture is heated and starts to thicken slightly, stirring once or twice. Pour over potatoes and onions in the casserole.

Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and paprika.

Bake, covered, for about 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to bake until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with ham and your favourite side vegetable.

Yield: Apx. 4-6 servings

 

Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Yield: Apx. 4-6 servings

Rich and creamy scalloped potatoes make this the perfect side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1¾ lbs. red potatoes (about 3 medium-sized), peeled and sliced about 1/8” thick
  • 1 medium onion, sliced in rings
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp flour or cornstarch
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray or grease a 1½-quart casserole.
  3. Place a layer of sliced potatoes in casserole.
  4. Add a layer of sliced onions.
  5. Repeat potato and onion layers to fill casserole.
  6. In microwaveable bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken bouillon, Dijon mustard, flour or cornstarch, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Microwave for about a minute, then stir and add the melted butter and 2½ - 3 tbsp. grated cheese. Microwave 1-2 minutes, just until mixture is heated and starts to thicken slightly, stirring once or twice. Pour over potatoes and onions in the casserole.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and paprika.
  8. Bake, covered, for about 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to bake until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before serving.
  9. Serving Suggestion: Serve with ham and your favourite side vegetable.
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Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup Recipe

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

I make a lot of soups and freeze many of them in single servings so that they are quick and easy to place in the lunch bag on weekday mornings. They’re healthy and nutritious, not to mention tasty.  I like to have a variety of different soups on hand that includes those that are broth-based and hearty vegetable along with those that are cream-based or puréed.

The recipe I am sharing today is a new recipe creation that is a cream-based vegetable soup.  It’s the perfect soup for winter because it uses what we often refer to as winter, or root, vegetables. These are ones that are traditionally harvested late in the fall and they store and keep well over several months – think of potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, and parsnip, for example.

This is an easy soup to make and it blends a number of wonderful flavours that include both celery and leek. It’s very lightly spiced and is a silky smooth soup that I would put in the comfort food category. The great thing about this soup is that none of the nutrients from any of the vegetables is lost.  The vegetables are all cooked in the chicken broth and then the whole mixture is puréed so all of the goodness of the vegetables is maintained.

I find recipes that simply call for ingredients in quantities like a small parsnip or 2 medium-sized potatoes or 1 large carrot are not very helpful, particularly for less experienced cooks.  I have, therefore, tested out this recipe and carefully measured the weights of vegetables to be used for best success.  One of the most used (and most useful) tools in my kitchen is my digital scale and I use it all the time. I highly recommend that every cook invest in a good quality digital scale.

I miss my herb garden in winter. However, dried herbs work really well in this winter soup. Because, for presentation purposes, I don’t want any specks of herbs to appear in this soup, I make a small herb packet out of cheesecloth to contain the herbs while the soup cooks. The cheesecloth has a sufficiently open weave that the soup mixture is infused with the flavour of the herbs as it cooks. It’s very easy to remove and discard the herb packet before the soup is puréed.

Different vegetables take different cooking times so this soup starts with those that take the longest – rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery.  Give them about 15 minutes headstart before adding the leek and let it cook for 10 minutes then add the potatoes which take the least amount of time to cook.

I make good use of my immersion blender for cream and purée soup making. However, you can certainly use either a blender or a food processor to purée the vegetables.  I generally allow the soup to cool for 30-40 minutes before using my immersion blender and, sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I put the soup pot in a sink full of cold water for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process.  I know some people do use their immersion blenders in really hot soup. I recommend you check your instruction manual for your immersion blender to see what it says about using the blender in hot liquids.

I recommend that whole milk be used in this recipe (or, alternatively, you could use a milk-cream blend for a richer soup). I have tested freezing this soup and find it freezes well for me; however, it is very important that at least whole (not skim, or partly skimmed) milk  be used if you intend to freeze any of the soup. Using a fat free or low fat milk will result in the soup breaking down when frozen and it just does not hold its structure when it is reheated. I know that some people frown on freezing puréed and cream soups but I have been freezing them with great success for many, many years.

When making the roux (the butter and flour) for the cream base, make sure you stir the roux while it is blending to prevent it from scorching. Add the milk slowly to the roux, whisking it constantly to prevent lumps from forming. It’s quite unappealing to have lumps in what is supposed to be a silky smooth cream soup.

Adding some shredded cheese to this soup makes a richer soup and certainly enhances the flavour. While a basic cheddar cheese could certainly be used, my preference is to use a shredded cheese blend such as mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan.

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp. dried fennel
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz rutabaga, diced
5 oz carrots, sliced
2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
2 oz celery, sliced
7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
7 oz potato, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Method:
Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.

Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add the herb packet to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.

Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat and discard the herb packet. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.

Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!

Yield: Apx. 5-6 servings

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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Yield: apx. 5-6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. dried fennel
  • 1/8 tsp dried marjoram
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 oz rutabaga, diced
  • 5 oz carrots, sliced
  • 2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz celery, sliced
  • 7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
  • 7 oz potato, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.
  2. Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
  3. Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.Remove from heat and discard the herb packet.
  4. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.
  5. Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup.
  6. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!
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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

> Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Funny how certain foods will evoke great memories. When I was a small child, our family often went to a tiny local restaurant in North Tryon, PEI, on Sunday evenings for dinner.  Simmons’ Restaurant was built and run by Jean and Harold Simmons and they served up really good traditional home-cooked meals.  One of the desserts I most fondly remember from their restaurant was coconut cream pie with mile-high meringue. Every time I have coconut cream pie, I remember Sunday dinners at the Simmons’ restaurant.

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

While not all coconut cream pie recipes use coconut milk, I have included it in my recipe to give the pie extra coconut flavor. It does make a difference.  Some tips on successfully making custard pies:

  • Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a smooth custard.
  • Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs while they are cold but let them come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using them in either the custard or the meringue. Room temperature eggs will blend better into the custard and, for the meringue, they will whip faster with more volume.
  • Temper the beaten eggs with a couple of tablespoons of the hot custard mixture before adding the eggs to the custard. This will prevent the eggs from curdling.
  • Stir the custard constantly as it cooks to prevent it from scorching.
  • Add the sugar slowly to the egg whites when making the meringue and do so after first beating the egg whites to the soft peak stage.
  • Work quickly to make the meringue as it is important that it be applied to piping hot custard in order for it to seal to the filling. This will also help prevent the meringue from shrinking.
  • When applying the meringue to the pie, make sure it completely covers the custard, right to the pie shell edges. This will seal in the custard and will also help to keep the meringue from shrinking.
Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients:
1 – 9” pie shell, baked
¾ cup granulated sugar
3½ tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
1½ tbsp  butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Meringue:
3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Method:
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).

Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell.

Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it.

Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

Yield: 1 – 9” pie

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Coconut Cream Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie

Ingredients

  • 1 – 9” pie shell, baked
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
  • 3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
  • 1½ tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Meringue:
  • 3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).
  3. Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell. Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it. Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.
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Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie soup was on the menu during my first cruise in 1991 and I have loved this simple fare ever since.

While its origins are unclear, this savoury broth soup is most often associated with Scotland.  In particular, it is often standard fare as a starter on menus for “Burns Night” dinners which, of course, celebrate the birth of Scotland’s famed poet and lyricist, Robert Burns (aka Rabbie Burns) on January 25th. Burns, as you may know, wrote many famous poems and lyrics during his short life and one you may most recognize would be “Auld Lang Syne” which is often sung on New Year’s Eve.

And, as a wee bit of soup trivia, “Cockie Leekie” was also one of two soup options on the Titantic’s  First Class Passengers’ lunch menu on the  day the ship sank in April, 1912.

Earliest tracings of this soup date back to the 1500s. Of course, with Scottish ancestry, I am wondering if my ancestors from the Isle of Skye may have dined on Cock-A-Leekie soup. As I write this posting, it is the eve of “Burns Night” so it seems apropos that I would do a posting with a Scottish flavour.    I am, therefore, sharing my recipe for Cock-A-Leekie soup.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

So, what’s in Cock-A-Leekie soup? Well, the answer is, not much, actually.  As its name suggests, the two main ingredients are chicken and leeks – in fact, you may hear the soup called “Chicken Cock-A-Leekie” or “Chicken and Leek Soup”.  Original recipes also called for the addition of prunes in this soup and it’s unclear as to why unless they were added for extra nutrition.  Barley is often added to the soup to act as a filler and to provide some natural thickening to the broth.  Rice is sometimes used instead of barley.  Very little seasoning is added to a traditional Cock-A-Leekie soup, often nothing more than a bit of thyme and parsley.

Over the years that I have been making this soup which, by the way, freezes well, I have “jazzed” it up a tad to add some additional flavour. By adding some parsnip, carrots, celery, and rutabaga, nutritional value is increased and the soup is more filling and can, in fact, be used as a main meal for lunch, as opposed to a starter.  My recipe also has some flavour boost from minced garlic, allspice, and Herbes de Provence.  I don’t add a lot of any of these but just enough to increase the flavour a bit.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

I use chicken breasts with bone in for this recipe.  In my view, any meat or poultry with the bone in has more flavour than boneless versions. Because chicken is one of the main ingredients in this soup, about 2 cups of meat will be required.  Generally, about 1 1/4 lbs of chicken breast, bone in, will yield around 2 cups of cooked chicken, diced. I also add a bay leaf, some liquid chicken bouillon, and a handful of celery leaves to the chicken as it cooks – the leaves from 2-3 stalks of celery will suffice.  I find chicken can be very bland unless it is given a flavour boost.

The chicken for this recipe can either be diced or shredded. My preference is to dice the chicken (as shown in the photo below) as it makes a tidier soup and I find the shredded chicken to be too stringy for my liking.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

The different vegetables in this soup require different cooking times so, parsnips and rutabaga and celery get added first to give them a head start on the cooking process.

Because this soup does not need to cook for hours on the stove, I recommend the use of pearl barley over pot barley because it cooks quicker.  In addition, I have added some split red lentils to the recipe as they, along with the barley, help to naturally thicken the broth without adding any other thickening agent (such as flour or cornstarch). Lentils belong to the legume family and are edible pulses which are crops harvested solely for the dry seed.

Split Red Lentils
Split Red Lentils

Because the split red lentils cook quickly and the idea is that they not turn to mush in this recipe and detract from the soup’s broth texture, add them near the end of the soup cooking process. Lentils are, of course, rich in fibre, have a high protein content, and are a good source of vitamins and minerals all of which naturally lead to numerous health benefits. So, they are a good contributor to healthy soups.

This soup can be served with crusty rolls, baguette, biscuits, crackers, or with traditional Scottish oatcakes as I have done here.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

I hope you will try Cock-A-Leekie soup and that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups water
2½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
1¼ lb. skinless chicken breasts, bone in (should yield apx. 2 cups diced chicken, cooked)
1 bay leaf
Handful of celery leaves

1 small parsnip, sliced thinly
1 celery rib, sliced
2/3 cup rutabaga, diced
2 tbsp pearl barley
¾ tsp salt
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 cups sliced leek (white and light green parts) – apx. 1 large leek
1½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp split red lentils
1/8 tsp allspice
¾ tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp dried parsley

Sour cream, parsley, and truffle oil for garnish (optional)

Method:

In medium-sized soup pot, bring the water and chicken bouillon to a boil. Add chicken breasts, bay leaf, and celery leaves. Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until chicken pieces are cooked, using a meat thermometer to check doneness.

Remove chicken pieces from broth and transfer to heat-resistant plate to cool slightly before removing meat from the bones. Remove and discard celery leaves.

While chicken is cooling, add the parsnip, celery, rutabaga, barley, and salt to the broth.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for about 10 minutes then add the carrot, leek, garlic and brown sugar.

Sliced leek for Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Sliced leek for Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Return mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the lentils, allspice, Herbes de Provence, and parsley. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, just until lentils are tender but not mushy.

Split Red Lentils
Split Red Lentils

Dice, or shred, chicken and add to soup. Heat gently for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dob of sour cream, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings (1 cup each)

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

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Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1-cup

A tasty broth-based soup filled with nutritious ingredients and flavour.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 2½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 1¼ lb. skinless chicken breasts, bone in (should yield apx. 2 cups diced chicken, cooked)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Handful of celery leaves
  • 1 small parsnip, sliced thinly
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 2/3 cup rutabaga, diced
  • 2 tbsp pearl barley
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leek (white and light green parts) – apx. 1 large leek
  • 1½ tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp split red lentils
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • ¾ tsp Herbes de Provence
  • ¾ tsp dried parsley
  • Sour cream, parsley, and truffle oil for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized soup pot, bring the water and chicken bouillon to a boil. Add chicken breasts, bay leaf, and celery leaves. Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until chicken pieces are cooked, using a meat thermometer to check doneness.
  2. Remove chicken pieces from broth and transfer to heat-resistant plate to cool slightly before removing meat from the bones. Remove and discard celery leaves.
  3. While chicken is cooling, add the parsnip, celery, rutabaga, barley, and salt to the broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for about 10 minutes then add the carrot, leek, garlic and brown sugar. Return mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the lentils, allspice, Herbes de Provence, and parsley. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, just until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  4. Dice, or shred, chicken and add to soup. Heat gently for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  5. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dob of sour cream, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.
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Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

Today marks my 4th Blogiversary and I’m celebrating with my newly-developed recipe for Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes!  These are perfect for any event, any time of the year but, with their pink swirl centers and mile high frosting, I think they would be very suitable for Valentines Day. So, they’re doing double duty as they celebrate my 4th Blogiversary and act as a catalyst for Valentine’s baking.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

These cupcakes deliver a flavor punch with coconut milk, amaretto, shredded coconut, and maraschino cherries. That’s a flavor combo that’s hard to beat!

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

In addition to the wonderful flavor, the coconut milk makes these cupcakes lovely and moist. They also have a fine tender crumb which makes them very velvety when you sink your teeth into them.

Here are my tips and recommendations for making cupcakes:

  • Use the best quality ingredients available.  Don’t substitute margarine for the butter or artificial vanilla for pure vanilla in this recipe. Using lesser quality ingredients will affect the quality and taste of the cupcakes.
  • Measure ingredients accurately – that means, for example, spooning the flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it off with the flat side of a knife, without stirring the flour around in the cup or tapping it to shake the flour down into the cup.
  • Use the stated size of eggs – this matters as extra-large eggs (which this recipe calls for) yield more liquid than do large eggs. If you use smaller eggs than the recipe calls for, it will yield a drier cupcake.
  • Resist the urge to add increased amounts of ingredients such as more coconut or cherries than the recipe states as the liquid content in this recipe has been calculated to moisten the dry ingredients accurately. If more dry ingredients, such as extra coconut, are added without increasing the liquid content, the cupcakes will be dry.
  • All the ingredients should be at room temperature as this will help them to blend together better.
  • The eggs should be at room temperature for about 20 minutes or so before using them in this recipe.
  • Soften the butter at room temperature.  Never melt the butter in the microwave to soften it as it will change the properties of the butter.
  • Add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately in three parts, always starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Don’t overbeat the batter as this can make a tough crumb and a heavy, dense cupcake as opposed to a light-textured cupcake. Beat the batter on low speed and just until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Grease the top of the cupcake pan as, even if paper cupcake liners are used, there will always be at least one rogue cupcake that will rise up and stick to the top of the pan, making it difficult to remove the cupcake without damaging it.
  • Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and that the oven has been preheated. If the oven temperature is too high, it will dry out the cupcakes; if it is too low, they won’t rise and bake properly.
  • It’s also important not to overbake the cupcakes as that will make them dry. I recommend checking them at about the 14 or 15-minute baking point by either a light finger touch to see if the top of the cupcake is set and if it bounces back from the touch. Alternatively, use a cake tester to insert into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are baked.
  • Let the cupcakes rest in the cupcake pan for 3-4 minutes to allow them to set then gently remove them from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

The frosting consists of two flavors to complement the cupcake flavor – coconut and cherry. Combined, these two recipes will give you ample to frost 12 cupcakes with mile high swirled frosting as shown in the photos.  If, however, that’s just a tad too much frosting for your taste, simply make just one of the frosting recipes.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

I used Wilton decorating tip 2D for the swirl frosting and the two colors were achieved by filling one side of the decorating bag with white frosting and the other side with the cherry frosting.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry

Pink food coloring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.

In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.

Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.

Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes.

Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes.Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.

Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with the amount of swirled frosting shown in the photographs that accompany the cupcake recipe. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Coconut Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1 tbsp coconut milk
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

Cherry Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1½ tbsp cherry juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.

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Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this posting and recipe, please share it on your social media websites.

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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Rich and decadent cupcakes packed full of coconut flavour and covered in mile-high coconut and cherry frosting

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry
  • Pink food coloring
  • Coconut Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)
  • Cherry Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1½ tbsp cherry juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.
  6. Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.
  7. Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes. Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes. Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.
  8. Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with lots of swirled frosting. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.
  10. Coconut Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  11. Cherry Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  12. To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.
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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes