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!