Pineapple, Kumquat and Ginger Crisp with Coconut Topping

Last year for my mom’s birthday I made a cranberry-lemon pound cake with lemon curd filling and Italian meringue lemon buttercream frosting. I wanted to do something lighter and fruitier this year.. something that wouldn’t make us feel like 500 lbs. after we finished eating it.


Edwin tells me that I talk about Sur La Table’s Art and Soul of Baking book entirely too much. I tell him that because he doesn’t own it, he just can’t even begin to understand how it would blow his mind. We’re at a stalemate… too bad his birthday isn’t until late summer.

But you guessed it, this recipe is from The Art and Soul of Baking, and it was everything I ever wanted. As I was making it there were actually a lot of firsts for me – I’d never worked with kumquat before (I actually wasn’t even entirely sure of what they were before setting foot in the grocery store), I’d never cut up a whole pineapple before (I’m not sure how I’d escaped this for so long… luckily this youtube video guided me through the process, which was much easier than I feared it would be), and I’d never worked with candied ginger (usually I leave it out of recipes because I’m not a big ginger fan, but it was wonderful and essential here. You can find it in the spice aisle in one of those tiny spice bottles).


A few notes from the recipe – I baked this is a cute pie dish instead of a casserole dish and it worked out great. Also, I combined the topping ingredients in a stand mixer on low for a few seconds, but the pieces never got pea-sized… and I’m not sure they ever would have. It really formed the consistency of pie dough. So instead of sprinkling it over the fruit mixture, I really sort of laid it evenly on top (again, almost like a pie dough top). It turned out extremely well, so I don’t see it as a problem – just something to be aware of!

If you don’t have the book yet (why.. WHY), you can find the recipe over at Steamy Kitchen.

Chicken with Pineapple Relish

The nursing program I’m starting next week assigned My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult as a summer reading book for all the incoming students (on that note – I was pleasantly surprised in the beginning; it wasn’t the book I thought it would be. But a twist ending left me aggravated). While about to purchase it at the bookstore I noticed the usual bargain book display in the checkout line, and a few interesting looking cookbooks caught my eye.


For only about $8 I picked up Anheuser-Busch’s Great Food Great Beer cookbook. The book emphasizes beer pairings with food, but really it provides an assortment of simple and tasty looking meals that my husband or I could put together quickly on a weeknight – and as you know, that’s what DinnerCakes is all about!


This recipe is adapted from a recipe for chicken thighs, because we never really buy or eat thighs. It doesn’t require much prep or cook time, but it does require a little time to marinate the chicken. I didn’t marinate mine quite long enough, so my chicken could have been a little more soy/satay glazed and less pineapple. I probably like the Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry I made last month more, but this was definitely good too. This recipe would also work well with shrimp instead of chicken (or, hey, in addition to it).


Chicken with Pineapple Relish
adapted from Great Food Great Beer

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweetened lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of red pepper flakes

In a shallow dish combine marinade ingredients and stir. Cut chicken breast into one inch pieces and add to dish to coat with marinade. Cover and leave in fridge for at least 15 minutes, but up to four hours.

While chicken marinates, set a medium size pot to medium high heat and combine all relish ingredients (add pineapple juice as well, do not drain). Stir occasionally.

Stir fry chicken pieces or cook on grill pan until white throughout (be careful not to overcook your chicken). Serve with relish over couscous or rice.

Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry

If I seemed a little scatter-brained lately, there’s a good chance that I am. You see, there are some big changes going on in the Ghost Baker household…


For starters, we’re moving! After three years in the DC metro area (four for Morgan), we’re picking up and moving back to Charlottesville, the town of our alma mater.

This fall I’ll be starting a second-degree nursing program leading to a master’s of science in nursing, moving from the research side of healthcare over to the clinical side. I’m pretty excited about it!


Though Chef Edwin and I will no longer be just a stone’s throw away and there might be a week period where my pots and pans are living in boxes instead of having culinary adventures, Charlottesville offers a lot of really cool things. In 2004, Charlottesville was ranked the best place to live in the United States in the book Cities Ranked and Rated by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander, based on cost of living, climate, and quality of life.

I see many visits to the farmer’s market in my future. If you’re from the area, please let me know other great things to do, see and eat!


In any event, the kitchen isn’t packed up just yet. So today I’ll share with you a very tasty pineapple mango chicken curry recipe. I adapted the original recipe for a mango curry chicken from Simply Recipes. I had to figure out a way to keep the mango flavor toned down because I’m not a huge fan of that particular fruit.

This dish came out on the sweet side because of the pineapple and little bit of sugar (almost like a sweet and sour chicken, but really not quite). If you’d like to tone down the sweetness, add some vinegar. Neither the pineapple nor the mango are overpowering, though. I added most of the pineapple and almost all of the mango to the food processor instead of leaving more as fruit chunks at the end (since, as I said, I’m not a huge mango fan). You can of course vary this according to your personal tastes.


Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry
adapted from Simply Recipes

Vegetable oil for pan
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 Tablespoon yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 can chopped pineapple, drained (15 oz.)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 – 1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup light cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes, then add red bell pepper. Add the curry powder and cumin, cook for a few more minutes. If spices begin to stick too much to the bottom of the pan, add a little more oil. Add the ginger and garlic, cooking for an additional minute or two.

Add vinegar, water, 1/2 to 3/4 of the chopped mango and 1/2 to 3/4 the pineapple to the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully add to food processor. Pulse until smooth, then return to pan.

Add chicken and return to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Add remaining mango and pineapple to the pan. Carefully add cream and sugar and cook on low for an additional minute, uncovered. Do not boil!

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice. Makes about 3 servings.

Day #5 of Smoothie Week – Piña Colada Time!

Happy Friday, everyone!

smoothies umbrella

Piña Coladas are one of my favorite mixed drinks, but not when they’re loaded with weird artificial syrups and sweeteners. Piña coladas typically include pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum – but this smoothie version isn’t exactly like a pina colada (no rum, for one thing… though I don’t see why you couldn’t spike it?).


This smoothie also unfortunately does not have a really cool story of origin like the piña colada. According to Wikipedia,

“The earliest known history states that in the 1800s, Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí (a.k.a. “El Pirata Cofresí”), to boost his crew’s morale he gave them a beverage or cocktail that contained coconut, pineapple and white rum. This was what would be later known as the famous piña colada. With his death in 1825, the recipe for the piña colada was lost.”

monkey closeup


In addition to sharing recipes this week, don’t forget there are a lot of ways you can dress up your glass. Blueberries or raspberries make a great garnish, as does some flaked coconut, mini umbrellas or plastic cocktail monkeys (you can see I got a little carried away…).


Hope you enjoy this sweet, tropical smoothie, and go easy on the rum if you decide to add some!


Piña Colada Smoothie
makes 2 small size servings, with a little extra

1 1/2 cups milk (you could use coconut milk if you want more coconut flavor)
1 cup frozen chopped pineapple
1 medium frozen banana
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 tablespoon orange juice (optional)
1/2 tablespoon honey

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached – the pineapple and coconut may take a little longer than usual to blend completely.

Day #4 of Rainbow Week – Tropical Fruit Salad

You’re looking at day four of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Need a little break from baked goods? Rainbow cakes are a lot of fun and make for great eye candy, but there are other options for impressive and vibrant food as well.



I hijacked this fruit salad recipe from my mom. In fact, I took the photos for this post the last time she made it (which I hope made for some cool action shots). I love the fruit salads that she makes because they always have very sweet and excellent glazes. This one packs a little more punch than some of my other favorites because it comes with tequila!


The tequila is noticeable, but not overbearing. You could leave it out if you really wanted to, but why? This recipe makes a very large bowl of fruit – perfect for entertaining at cookouts or dinner parties. If you’d like to adapt it to every day use, simply cut the recipe in half.


You can probably tell this from the photos, but if you do decide to make a large batch, make sure you use the appropriate size bowl. We ran into some overflowing problems and had to transfer the fruit to a larger, wider bowl so that we could toss it with the glaze.


Tropical Fruit Salad
Adapted from Sandra Jackson-Work’s “Cooking with Friends” submission to Betty Crocker’s “CELEBRATE!” (April 2000, #161)

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Key lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons tequila
1 teaspoon fresh grated lime peel
14 cups cut-up fresh fruit – strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, honey dew melon, red grapes

Heat sugar and water to boiling in small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for approximately 2 minutes, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and tequila.

Let stand to cool. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.

Stir in lime peel. Carefully toss fruit and lime mixture. Serve immediately.

Or, click here for a version without tequila (boo!).

Two thumbs up to Anna at Cookie Madness for including on her site an archive of “Go-To” recipes. I found myself there last week as I was looking for ideas for my brother’s birthday cake. His birthday isn’t until this Saturday, but because he happened to be home for Easter I had to improvise.

My brother seems to really enjoy Cool Whip based desserts (pumpkin pie that has a layer of Cool Whip – which we refer to in the family as “Silly” Pumpkin Pie, Million Dollar Pie, Banana Cream Pie, etc.) as well as desserts that have a lot going on – like fruit, nuts and coconut. He’s not interested in things like rich chocolate cake or red velvet. Apparently there are a lot of people like that out there, but I’ve never really understood them myself. Luckily Anna had tried and tagged pretty much the perfect cake.

hummingbird cake

Hummingbird Cake
is Southern Living’s most requested recipe ever! First published in 1999, it combines chopped bananas, crushed pineapple and pecans for a unique and delightful cake. In 2001 they even posted a Lightened Hummingbird Cake, which cuts down on the sugar, eggs and oil, and removes the pecans entirely. Hummingbird Cake is also made without the assistance of either an electric beater or stand mixer (but sorry, I did use one for the frosting!).

I went for the original, non-lightened version, but I did change the frosting. The Southern Living recipe recommends a cream cheese frosting and, while I love cream cheese frosting, it just felt all wrong for this cake. I like cream cheese frosting on fairly plain, rich cakes. The Hummingbird Cake has so many neat flavors that I thought cream cheese frosting would just make it thick, unnecessarily dense and take away from the other things going on.

As you might have guessed from my comments above, I decided to use a Cool Whip based frosting. I added just a tiny bit of fat free cream cheese to the Cool Whip to give it a little thickness. Even though the cake recipe doesn’t call for it, I also added coconut (I was already so close to the Million Dollar Pie recipe that my brother loves that I figured, “why not?”).

I had to spread my frosting a little thin so that I’d have enough to cover this entire three layer cake. I’d probably recommend adding a little extra Cool Whip so that you don’t have to worry about skimping, but I’m so glad that I changed the frosting from the original cream cheese. It really left the emphasis on the cake, while giving it a little “oomph” and adding oh-so-delicious coconut. If you’re shopping for cake ideas for someone who doesn’t love decadent cakes, you have GOT to make this!

hummingbird cake slice

Hummingbird Cake Recipe
from Southern Living

Coconut Cool Whip Frosting

2 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
8oz. fat free Cool Whip, thawed (plus a little extra)
1-2 cups shredded coconut (start out with 1 cup and add more as desired)

In an electric or stand mixer add cream cheese and beat until softened. Slowly beat in sugar and milk. Now, fold in Cool Whip (do not beat!) using a spoon until fully incorporated. Stir in desired amount of coconut.