Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snickers Icebox Pie

This delish recipe has been in the que for's 'bout time it gets the attention it deserves.
Who wouldn't like an oreo crust, layered with melted chocolate, caramel and finely chopped peanuts, then a peanut butter-caramel marshmallow cream topping? And it tastes exactly like a Snickers bar...only better. It takes longer to eat. Translate: it allows for more time to savor. This is the best pie I've eaten, but it does have many steps for the layers, so allow a few hours. It is soooo worth it!
Because we are in a stage of life where we are on a strict budget, one of my favorites things to do is invite a small group of friends and their families over for dessert (rather than a full-on dinner). We let the kids play while we socialize, and enjoy a yummy dessert. It's a great time for the wives to try out new desserts, I served this one time and it seemed perfect for the occasion.
This recipe comes from one of my favorite trusted cooking kitchens - America's Test Kitchen (on PBS). When I saw their recent cooking magazine in my favorite local bakery titled, "The Absolute Best Chocolate Recipes Ever" I couldn't resist.

Snickers Icebox Pie (Cooks Country, "Chocolate Desserts" edition)
16 Oreo cookies, broken into rough pieces (not the double stuffed Oreos, the original)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme (try Jet-Puffed or Marshmallow Fluff)
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
7 ounces (about 26) soft caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
Bittersweet chocolate bar for shavings (again, Ghiradelli is my fav)
1. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse cookies in food processor until coarsly ground, about 15 pulses, then continue to process until fine, even crumbs, about 15 seconds longer. Sprinkle butter over crumbs and pulse to incorporate.
2. Transfer crumbs to 9" pie plate. Use bottom of a spoon to press crumbs into even layer on bottom and up the sides of pie plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and set, about 10-15 minutes.
3. For the Filling: Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over hot crust and let sit until softened but not fully melted, about 5 minutes. Smooth softened chocolate into even layer with rubber spatula. Refrigerate crust until chocolate is set, 20-25 minutes.
4. Using standing mixer fitted with whisk, beat marshmallow creme, cream cheese, heavy cream, peanut butter, and butter together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Cook caramels and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted and smooth, 8-10 minutes. Stir 1 tablespoon caramel into marshmallow creme mixture. Spread remaining hot caramel evenly over chocolate layer in chilled pie crust. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and refrigerate until caramel is just set, about 10 minutes.
6. Dollop marshmallow creme mixture on top of caramel and spread into even layer. Refrigerate pie, uncovered, until chilled and set, about 2 hours.
7. Create chocolate shavings by using a vegetable peeler on bittersweet chocolate bar, sprinkle over top of pie. Serve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Terriyaki Flank Steak

Steak. That's all I've been craving lately. Juicy, tasty steak. And so, I've been over-the-moon every couple weeks when we make this flank steak with terriyaki marinade.

Flank steak is a tougher meat. It's recommended that you marinade it before cooking...24 hours is ideal, but 3-6 hours works for this recipe. Another tip with flank steak is do not overcook it. Like, don't cook it to well done. Medium is the preferred doneness, otherwise, it gets too tough and loses it's juiciness. I have made this mistake and served my husband leather for dinner - not pleasant! So keep an eye on your steak as you cook. You can always put it back on the grill or in the pan if it's not done enough.
This marinade is so easy. You can whip it together in 15 minutes a few hours before dinner and you'll have one of the tastiest steaks awaiting you that night.
Terriyaki Flank Steak (Allrecipes)
1 Flank Steak around 1.5 lbs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Worchestchire sauce
1 tablespoon seedy Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together briskly. 
2. Put flank steak in a sealed, gallon plastic bag, pour in marinade, and let rest in refrigerator for 3-6 hours, or up to 24 hours before cooking. I always flip the bag over on the other side halfway through the marinading process to allow the entire steak the opportunity to soak up as much as possible.
3. Grill, or pan sear steak on a hot grill/pan; about 5-7 minutes on each side depending on thickness. Cook to medium or medium-well.
4. Allow steak to rest on a plate loosely covered in foil for at least 5 minutes (if you cut steak immediately, all the juices will end up on the plate, instead of inside the meat, so let it rest!). Slice meat into thin strips and serve.

Aussie Style Salad Sandwich

Well, it sure has been a while. Many, many months without posting a recipe. Believe me, I've been cooking. And mothering. And cleaning. And on-the-side marketing. And fitness instructing. And now incubating (baby #3). So let's start back with something really easy.
The Aussie Style Salad Sandwich. These are commonplace in Australia - they are found in every bakery or cafe that offers lunch. When we last visited, these were my favorite lunchtime meal. Piled high, you choose what to put on them. And, I make them for my husband all the time. So healthy and filling!
I'm going to give you our preference for how to build this sandwich, but it's completely up to you. You can substitute like crazy for this one.
Aussie Style Salad Sandwich
Sourdough bread
Condiments: spreadable butter, tarragon mustard (found at Hy-Vee) or Mayo
Meat: Ham, turkey or sliced chicken breast
Cheese: extra sharp cheddar (Cabots is our favorite)
Fillings: Carrots (shredded on cheese grater), cucumbers thinly sliced, tomotoes thinly sliced, lettuce or spinach leaves, sprouts of any kind (my hubby sometimes adds sliced red onion and beets if we have them)
Salt & Pepper
1. Spread butter on one half of the sandwich, and mustard or mayo on the other half.
2. Pile sandwich high with all the ingredients. Add a good seasoning of salt and pepper over the carrots.
3. Eat and enjoy!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Homemade Granola

My husband asked me to make granola - or muesli as he calls it. So this is the first recipe I tried, and we like it so much we haven't strayed. In fact, I've made it every week this month. We prefer dried apricots in it, but you can use any dried fruit...cranberries, raisins, dried apples, etc. He eats is as a cereal with milk, while I prefer it with fresh berries and yogurt. The best part is, it takes about 10 minutes to prepare and a short time in the oven. Very easy!

The Neely's Homemade Granola (Patrick and Gina Neely)

3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups unsweetened coconut chips (or lightly toast sweetened coconut in oven)
1 cup chopped dried apricots (6 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, chopped apricots, and chopped pecans.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together brown sugar, canola oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour over oat mixture and combine well, so everything is coated evenly.
  3. Spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and brown, 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet tray halfway through baking and stirring the granola with a spoon so it will cook evenly. Remove from the oven and add to a large bowl so it will stop cooking. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bobby Flay's Prime Rib Roast with Thyme Au Jus

WOW. We are still talking about this unreal, delicious, lick-your-plate prime rib roast with thyme au jus (because that's EXACTLY what we did).

For our Christmas dinner, we thought - what can go wrong with a Bobby Flay recipe? Especially a meat recipe. This was most definitely restaurant quality, it's just too bad the price came with it (prime rib roast is not cheap). So, this will be a one or two-time-a-year meal. In fact, we agreed this IS our annual Christmas dinner roast recipe.

Prime Rib Roast with Thyme Au Jus (Bobby Flay)
1 bone-in prime rib (6 to 7 pounds)
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

  1. Thirty minutes before roasting the prime rib, remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make small slits all over the prime rib and fill each slit with a slice of the garlic. Season liberally with the salt and coarse pepper, place on a rack set inside a roasting pan and roast for about 2 hours until medium-rare, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 135 degrees F (we cooked it until medium, about 140 degrees). Remove the meat to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm.
  3. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over 2 burners set on high heat. Add the wine to the pan drippings in the pan and cook over high heat until reduced, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the thyme and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  4. Slice meat as desired and serve with thyme au jus.

Sugar-Glazed Roasted Carrots

These were a perfect sidedish to our Christmas prime rib roast. And, they're super easy. I love roasting all kinds of vegetables because it brings out their sweetness - you especially should try asparagus, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, squash and potatoes. 'll definitely be doing these carrots again. Thanks to America's Test Kitchen for another great recipe.

Sugar-Glazed Roasted Carrots (America's Test Kitchen)
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 2 by 1/2" pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

*Note: if the carrots have very narrow tips, trim the thin ends; they scorch easily

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat rimmed baking sheet in oven for 10 minutes. (This jumpstarts the browning process)
  2. Toss carrots, melted butter, sugar, salt and pepper in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer carrots to sheet and spread into even layer. Roast until carrots are beginning to brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from oven, toss carrots to redistribute, and continue to roast until tender and deep amber in color, about 3 minutes.

Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies

These could also be named gingerbread sugar cookies...and they will be a holiday favorite for me. Even though I accidentally forgot to include 4 tbsp of butter, they still turned out soft, chewy and full of sweet and spice. America's Test Kitchen has never failed me, and this recipe comes from their "All-Time Best Holiday Recipes" magazine. Loved them!

Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies (America's Test Kitchen)
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (yes, pepper! not a mistake)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light or dark molasses

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in medium sized bowl.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, salt and pepper in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
  3. Using standing mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Decrease speed to med-low and add egg yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Decrease speed and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula. Decrease speed to low; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once more. Give dough final stir with spatula to ensure no pockets of flour remain. Dough will be soft.
  4. Using tablespoon, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into 1 1/2" ball; drop into extra granulated sugar and set on prepared baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Do not overbake.

Pumpkin Pie Streusel Cake

Even though I made this for Thanksgiving several months ago, just looking at these pictures makes me want to make it right now. The bottom layer is a basic pumpkin pie, but it's topped with a mixture of yellow cake mix, melted butter and pecans. Yum. Make sure to add some whipped cream!

Pumpkin Pie Streusel Cake

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
4 eggs
13 oz. evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
yellow cake mix (I like Duncan Hines)
1 cup melted unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat all ingredients except nuts, melted butter and cake mix. 
  2. Pour into ungreased 9x13" cake pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Pour melted butter over mix, followed by pecans.
  3. Bake for 1 hour. Top with whipped cream (Whisk together with electric beater or mixer: 1 cup heavy cream, 1-2 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla).