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Cooking with ‘Friends’: Paula Deen’s Coconut Christmas Cake


2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 c. self-rising flour, sifted
1 c. canned, unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

¾ c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
4 tbsp. milk
½ c. flaked, sweetened coconut

7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)
Flaked, sweetened coconut for sprinkling

For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour three 9” cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs,1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

For filling: While cake is baking, prepare filling.  Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk and coconut in a bowl until well blended.  Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pan as you prepare to stack and fill.  Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate.  Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1 inch apart until entire cake has been poked.  Spread one third of filling mixture on cake layer.  Top with second layer, repeat process.  Top with last layer and repeat process again.  (As I stack layers together, I stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting.)  You can place the cake in the refrigerator for 3 days to allow it to absorb the filling mixture.

For frosting: Prepare 7-Minute Frosting.  Frost top and sides of cake.  Sprinkle top and sides of cake with additional coconut

⅓ c. water
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cream of tartar or 1 tbsp. white corn syrup
1½ c. sugar
2  egg whites
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water and egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat for 1 minute with a handheld electric mixer.  Using the double boiler method, place the bowl over the top of rapidly boiling water, making sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top bowl. If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the boiler and gently stir in vanilla with a spatula.

Cooking with 'Friends': Janice Dean's Nanaimo Bars


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ c. sweetened shredded coconut
⅓ c. finely chopped walnut
¼ c. cocoa powder
¼ c. granulated sugar
⅓ c. butter melted
1 egg lightly beaten

¼ c. butter softened
2 tbsp. custard powder
½ tsp. vanilla
2 c. icing sugar
2 tbsp. milk, approximately

4 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
1 tbsp. butter

In bowl, stir together graham crumbs, coconut, walnuts, cocoa powder and sugar. Drizzle with butter and egg, stirring until combined.
Press into parchment paper-lined 9” square cake pan. Bake in 350°F oven until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.
Filling: In bowl, beat together butter, custard powder and vanilla. Beat in icing sugar alternately with milk, making 3 additions of sugar and 2 of milk and adding up to 1 teaspoon more milk if too thick to spread. Spread over cooled base. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Topping: In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate with butter; spread over filling. Refrigerate until chocolate is almost set, about 30 minutes.
With tip of knife, score into bars; refrigerate until chocolate is completely set, about 30 minutes.
Cut into bars.

Make-ahead: Wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or overwrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Cooking with 'Friends': Rob O'Neil's Spicy, Creamy Deer Pig

Growing up in Montana, former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill spent a lot of time hunting with his Dad. For his family Spicy, Creamy Deer Pig was a “recipe of necessity,” using what they had in the fridge to create a delicious dish.


1 lb. venison (Elk, deer, moose, any will do)
1 package of bacon
1 c. cream cheese
1 jar of sliced, hot jalapeños
Italian dressing
Worcestershire sauce
10-14 skewers

Cut the venison into strips lengthwise, making about 10 – 14 strips.
Mix appropriate amounts of Worcestershire, A1 and Italian dressing into a large bowl. Grandma used the “eyeball” method. Marinate the venison in this for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat the grill to medium.
Lay out the proper amount of bacon, one strip of bacon per strip of venison. Place one piece of venison on top of each piece of bacon. Put a cube, about 1 tablespoon, of cream cheese on one end of each strip. Top each cube of cream cheese with one jalapeño. Roll each one up like a small, bacony fire-hose and secure with a skewer.
Grill on one end for 7-10 minutes, turn and cook until the bacon is crisp.

Wreaths Across America

From the website:

Join us on National Wreaths Across America Day
December 17, 2016

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and...

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