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Pina Colada Pound Cake

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My husband to the baby: Goobs (our nickname for the baby), tonight we begin Operation Go the ‘Fudge’ to Sleep.

The baby responded with a happy leg shake and wide eyes which clearly seemed to communicate, Oooh…sounds important!

Then he shook his hands excitedly above his head, I love secret missions! I’ve been working on Operation Stay the H.E.Double Hockey Sticks Awake for almost a year now. It’s been remarkably successful.

We know, Goobs. We know. But your mission ends tonight.

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Our littlest man’s sleep habits have been a challenge, to say the least. We’d established a routine where he’d spend the first half of the night in his crib and the second half snuggled in bed next to me. It wasn’t our ideal plan, but it enabled everyone to get some sleep, so we went with it. (And to be perfectly honest, I frickin’ love those snuggles.) But lately, this routine isn’t working and no one is sleeping. We’re being forced to confront his sleep routine head on. Parenting, much like being the president, is hard work.
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I could really use a vacation, preferably someplace sunny and tropical. Someplace where I can drift off into an uninterrupted sleep to the sound of gently crashing waves on a beach. Someplace with an endless supply of fruity beverages, garnished with bright red cherries and fresh orange slices. And pink paper umbrellas.
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Perhaps once the baby learns to sleep through the night, we’ll plan a weekend getaway. In the mean time, I’ve got this piña colada cake. I started with a buttery lemon pound cake and upped the ante with a touch of rum and a hefty dose of tropical fruits. Then, I drizzled the sweet cake with a tart lemon glaze and shredded coconut. It’s no drink on a tropical beach, but it’s pretty darn good!
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Piña Colada Cake 
Ingredients
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1/3 cup mandarin orange slices, well drained and chopped
For the garnish
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a large loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add the lemon juice, zest, and rum. Gradually add the flour mixture, about a third at a time. Beat just until blended. Stir in the coconut, pineapple, and mandarin oranges. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

To make the glaze: Combine the confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice, a little at a time, until it reaches a thick, but fluid consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cake. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.

References: Martha Stewart’s Glazed Lemon Pound Cake and Gale Gand’s Lemon Pound Cake

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Tropical Smoothies

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Apparently, when your child turns four, their inner menace is instantly activated. With this activation comes such inexplicable behaviors as hurling oneself at a moving swing, superman-style, with such force that said four-year-old flies directly over the swing, head first into the gravel. Ouch!

Pulling down one’s pants and walking around the produce section of the grocery store, butt cheeks fully exposed, is apparently another new behavior triggered at age four. True story.

Oh, the list of things I never imagined myself saying goes on and on…

Pull up your pants! You’re in the middle of a grocery store!

Stop licking your brother’s feet. 

The baby doesn’t want your underwear on his head.

You shouldn’t be eating any type of boogers! I don’t care which ones taste better.

Sometimes, the only response I can muster is Why?? Why would you do that??

But with this new mischief also comes a deeper passion for favorite things. And my four year old has a deep passion for smoothies. Lucky for him, I happen to love them too, so I’m more than happy to fire up the blender for a daily smoothie. We’ve enjoyed all sorts of smoothies this summer, but these are the smoothies which brought my son to tears. Literally, to tears. They’re really that good!

Tropical Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas, chopped and frozen
  • 1 mango, chopped and frozen*
  • 3/4 cup pineapple yogurt
  • 3/4 cup mango yogurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
(Click here to see my photo guide for how to dice a mango.)

Directions

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

The coupon for FREE Dannon Activia Selects yogurt is still available for a few more days. Get it while you can! Their new French-style yogurt comes in both the mango and pineapple flavors needed for this recipe! (Check your grocery stores’s coupon policy before redeeming, as some stores will not accept printable coupons for free products.)

Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion.

FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 – 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11.

Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a ‘$1 off 3 Activia Selects’ coupon.

Tropical Chicken Salad

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Thankfully, the temperatures have finally started to rise around here, allowing us some much-awaited walks and outdoor playtime. After living in two urban areas, where most of our needs could be met within a few minutes walk, I can’t even begin to express the value I place on our proximity to a well-stocked, walking-distance grocery store in our current suburban neighborhood. Had I never become accustomed to walkable grocery access, it might not matter so much. But to me, our ability to walk to our grocery store is worth more than any other feature of our home.

Once walk-friendly weather arrives, daily trips to the grocery store become part of our routine. I plan our meals in the morning. Then, the kids and I walk down to the store to gather the ingredients. It’s practically like living in Provence, making daily trips to the outdoor market for freshly picked produce, meats, and fine cheese! Well…maybe not quite like Provence, but we’ll take what we can get!

So, on a recent bright, sunny, morning, the boys and I set out for our grocery walk. My four-year -old had suggested chicken salad for dinner. The addition of tropical fruit flavors was my contribution to the dish. Not only do the sweet fruits add a delicious accent to our salad, but tropical fruits, such as the pineapple, mango, and kiwi I selected, contain an enzyme which has been shown to help prepare a woman’s body for labor. And at this point, barely a week from my due date, I’ll gladly give nature a helping hand.

I hadn’t initially planned for this meal to become a family cooking activity. The boys were happily playing in the living room when I began cooking. But, as soon as my little men caught the sight and smell of the fruits, they were at my side like glue, begging bits of mango and pineapple. Moments later, they were asking to help with “the steps”. So, after a quick trip to the sink to wash their hands, my little chefs joined me in the kitchen.

This recipe is ideal for young chefs of any age. Older chefs can prepare the entire dish independently, from start to finish, especially if you start with precooked chicken. Younger chefs will need more support, but with child-safe cutting tools, there are plenty of ways for them to get involved. Chopping fruits, measuring ingredients, and mixing are ideal activities for little chefs. It’s also a great opportunity to taste new fruit flavors, which may be less familiar than the more common apples, bananas, and berries many kids are accustomed to.

Tropical Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded*
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup salted cashews, coarse chopped
  • 1 kiwi, diced
  • 1/2 cup mango, diced (Click here for my photo guide on How to Dice a Mango)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced (Click here for my photo guide on How to Chop a Pineapple)
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
*You can use pre-cooked chicken, packaged or pulled from a rotisserie chicken. Alternately, you can cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts by placing them in a pot of water, bringing to a boil, and simmering for approximately 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

Directions

Combine the chicken, green onions, mayonnaise, mustard, and cashews in a large container. Stir until well blended. Gently fold in the fruit. Season with salt and cayenne pepper, as desired. Refrigerate until serving.

Serve on doughy bread with avocado, if desired.

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