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Balancing Out the Cookies

Raise your hand if your calendar is often crammed with activities. I don’t know about you, but our social calendar seems to revolve around food. In December, for example, I had three separate events centered around cookies. From cookie exchanges to cookie Fridays at the office, I was slightly overloaded on the sugar. Earlier this month, we hosted the dessert portion of a progressive dinner, and then, I decided to bake some cupcakes for our small group just because it had been a while since I’d made some.

I firmly believe that life (as far as food goes, anyway) is all about balance, so when our social life became all about dessert, I started looking for something to offset all the sweetness.

I wanted something that would be easy to put together. Bonus points if I can make it with whatever was in my pantry / fridge. I remembered Annie’s white bean dip, and I thought it’d be perfect for the occasion. Plus, it’s healthy, and it takes all of 5 minutes to make. Cutting the veggies for serving takes longer than making the dip!

And, even better, it’s a dip that Andy truly enjoyed, which is saying something.

garlicwhitebeandip

Garlic Rosemary White Bean Dip

2 15 oz. cans of great northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely minced. Add the beans, salt and water to the bowl and process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the food processor running, pour the olive oil into the bean mixture and process until it is fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then process another 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Taste the dip and season with pepper and salt if needed.

Serve with sliced vegetables and crackers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

From Annie’s Eats, originally from A Couple Cooks

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Appetizer

 

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Buckeye Pie!

It’s no secret that I love chocolate and peanut butter. (All good Ohio girls do, right? There’s a reason we’re Buckeyes, after all!) It’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet, which means that I cannot be trusted around a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups. Or peanut butter M&Ms. Or these cookies. Apparently, I’m kind of addicted. Not that it’s a problem. I can stop whenever I want. (Yeah, right.) 

It’s not surprising then, that this pie caught my attention right away. I was flipping through my “Classic Home Desserts” cookbook last weekend, looking for an easy dessert that I could put together for our dinner and game night some of our favorite people. (Yes, we spend the weekends playing board games with friends. Yes, we might be nerds, and yes, we’re OK with that.) 🙂 Andy suggested vanilla bean ice cream, but I wanted something less, well, vanilla. Plus, with only three hours of prep time, I knew ice cream wouldn’t be ready in time. This pie, on the other hand, could spend a hour in the freezer, get topped with a chocolate ganache and then hang out in the refrigerator until dessert. Perfect!

This recipe called for buttering the pie pan before putting the graham cracker mixture, which seemed kind of strange (after all, the crust has half of a stick of butter in it). I went ahead and followed the directions, and I ended up with my best graham cracker crust ever. It was crunchier than the other graham cracker crusts I’ve made, and it stayed together very well. It came out of the pan cleanly too. I may try the same trick next time I make cheesecake!

The peanut butter filling tastes a lot like the inside of a buckeye. The whipped cream lightens the filling (in texture and taste, not calories!), and if you get a bite of filling and chocolate topping, well, it’s just awesome. This pie is definitely my kind of perfect dessert. It’s really rich (but since when is that a problem?), so you’ll probably want a glass of milk to go with it. And honestly, I don’t think there’s much more to say about this, other than “get thee to the kitchen!” 😉

BuckeyePie2

BuckeyePie

Peanut Butter Pie with Fudge Topping (AKA Buckeye Pie)

For the crust:
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
8 ounce of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, well chilled

For the chocolate topping:
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 9″ pie pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Press the graham cracker mixture into the prepared pin pan, making sure the crumbs go up the sides to the edge of the rim. Use the outside of a measuring cup to tamp down the crumbs if necessary. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the mixture is well-blended, add the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl (unless you feel like washing the bowl for your stand mixer, which is what I did), beat the 1/2 cup of whipping cream just until it’s not quite stiff. Fold a generous spoonful of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten the filling. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread the peanut butter filling in the cooled crust and refrigerate until firm, about three hours. You can also put the pie in the freezer for about an hour if you’re on a truncated timetable.

When the peanut butter filling is firm, make the chocolate topping. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and place the chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Allow chocolate mixture to cool slightly to lukewarm. Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and then return the pie to the refrigerator. Chill until chocolate topping is firm, about three hours.

Cut the pie into wedges and serve cold.

From Classic Home Desserts

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Dessert, Pie, Uncategorized

 

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One of our favorites…

Once upon a time, right after college, my grandma gave me a gift subscription to a great little magazine: Cooking for Two. I loved it – I was living on my own and didn’t need tons of food hanging around to tempt me. And then Andy and I got married, and the magazine was still great; after all, there were just two of us. (Granted, sometimes that meant no leftovers, but if it wasn’t a great recipe, we weren’t stuck eating it for weeks on end… like that one time with the failed chili mac.)

And then, one day, tragedy struck: The publisher discontinued “Cooking for Two.” Apparently, families of two are a small and shrinking market. (My guess is that many of the couples that started out cooking for two suddenly found themselves cooking for three, four, five… funny how that happens.) 

Thankfully, before the magazine folded, they published this recipe. And, one day, Andy stumbled upon it and suggested we give it a try. I made a few tweaks (mushrooms? um, no thanks.), and the rest is history. Apricot Chicken Pasta has become a staple at our house. It’s easy, fast, and very tasty. In fact, it’s the first “real” meal I cooked when we put our kitchen back together after the big remodel last year.

Apparently, I added some chopped parsley when I made this batch. Totally optional.

Apricot Chicken Pasta

1/2 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
9 teaspoons of white wine or chicken broth
1 chicken breast, diced
1 cup bowtie pasta
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/4 teaspoons soy sauce
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Cracked black pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots and wine/broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. (I try to time this where I have the pasta done at the same time as the rest of the dish, but I’m not always successful with this. If your pasta gets done before you have the rest thrown together, simply drain it and set it aside.) 

Saute chicken breast pieces in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until opaque and cooked through. Add the garlic when the chicken is nearly done and saute till fragrant (another couple minutes). Pour the cream and soy sauce into the skillet and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes. Add the cheese, stir till melted and remove from heat. Stir in the onions, apricots and toasted almonds. Season with pepper to taste. Toss with cooked pasta and serve hot.

I like serving this with either a tossed salad or broccoli on the side. For days that I’m really pushed for time, I throw the broccoli in with the pasta and cook it that way. Bam! One-plate wonder! 🙂 

Adapted from Cooking for Two/Taste of Home.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Chicken, Main Dishes, Pasta

 

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