Thursday, November 27, 2008

peanut butter bliss

So how much do I love peanut butter? Let me count the ways... Nah, I won't bore you with details, but seriously though, I really do love peanut butter. There may even be a post somewhere of me confessing my undying love of this smooth and seductive treat.

Really though, one of the best things in life is a new jar of peanut butter, fresh-off-the-shelf. Ohhh, what a rush you get when peeling off that covering under that red lid to reveal nothing other than smooth-as-a-ice-rink peanut buttery goodness. Sigh...not much can really compare.

So this recipe for Peanut Butter Bliss is what you would call an Epic Recipe. When I was little, my mom had this calender highlighting beautiful desserts for each month, complete with recipes. So of course, being the chocolate-peanut butter maniacs that we were (yes, even back then), once we laid our eyes on the recipe for Peanut Butter Bliss, we knew it had to be made. And so began a Legacy of Deliciousness.

Now, I've always loved baking at home, but one of the best things about home-baking is...

GINORMOUS bags of chocolate chips that never run dry! Yes, my friends, this here is a 72 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, just waiting to be baked up into something delicious. And where are they from, might you ask? Costco, of course. :)

And Feets! I definitely miss Feets when I am away. And he makes a great chocolate-chip melter. Except for the fact that Feets' feet get terribly hot when put in the microwave, 3 minutes on HIGH. Gotta watch out for those feet.

So the best part about this pie is that it tastes like you're nom nom nom-ing into one giant Resee's peanut butter cup. Only better. And topped with a whipped cream-mountain. And sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

Yep, Peanut Butter Bliss trumps a Resee's cup any day.

And now, my friends, it is time for some food porn. Hold on to your hats.

Yummmmmmm. Eeeeee.

Yum. One bite, and you'll be sold on this pie. And will get wicked urges it to attack it like we did post-Thanksgiving feast.

Peanut Butter Bliss

1 frozen pie crust

Peanut Butter Layer:

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter

3 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

1 large egg*

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Layer:

¾ c. semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened

1/3 c powdered sugar

1 large egg*

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (8 oz. container) whipped topping

Bake pie crust as directed on package. Set aside to cool.

To make peanut butter layer, beat brown sugar, peanut butter, and butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. On high speed, beat 5 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Smooth top. Chill in freezer 10 minutes or in refrigerator 25 minutes until top is set not sticky.

To make chocolate layer, beat melted chocolate, butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes. Beat in egg, vanilla and salt. On high speed, beat 5 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Spread evenly over peanut butter layer. Chill in freezer 10 minutes or in refrigerator 25 minutes until top is set.

Spread whipped topping over chocolate layer. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over top. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Refrigerate leftovers, and prepare to be in chocolate-peanut butter heaven.

*Do not use eggs with cracked or dirty shells. Egg Beaters work good for this, if you're schared of salmonella.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

s'more fudge squares minus marshmallow

So I started out making these because they were in bar-form. And who could ever pass up anything that is baked in bar-form? Not me.

I'm not going to write much about these guys because basically: a) I'm sleepyish. and b) Sometimes pictures speak much louder than words. But anyway, these chocolatey squares are basically fudge with graham crackers in them. And it seems that they would be great with marshmallows on top to make them s'more-like.

One word: yum.

S'more Fudge Squares Minus Marshmallow
Altered from My Easy Cooking

2 sticks butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 eggs, beatened
1 sleeve graham crackers, broken into chunks

Melt butter in big pot. When completely melted, take pot off heat and add powdered sugar and cocoa and mix well. Stir in beaten eggs and mix until smooth. Add graham crackers and fold into butter-sugar-cocoa-egg mixture until crackers are completely covered with chocolate.

Pour into 8x8-inch pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and flatten mixture with spatula. When cooled completely, cut into squares and keep in airtight container.

chicken pot pie soup in breadbowls

So I swear there were breadbowls involved in this Chicken Pot Pie-inspired soup. I swear. Kevin and I just kind of ate them all before they could have been photographed. Whoops. :) And this is why a slice of bread is pictured instead.

But anyway, basically I used that amazingly phenomenal No-Knead Bread recipe, baked them in smaller lumps, and dug out all the goods from inside once they were baked. Be careful, though, to not dig too far, or else you risk making big holes that are just asking for soup drippage to occur. Not good, not good. This is why we eat soup in a breadbowl on plates. Just in case.

So this soup was pretty easy, and pretty delicious, too. The only part that got to me, though, was the stir constantly part. You would think I would carefully read directions. You would think that nearly ten years of baking experience would be enough for me to be a successful first-time-soup-from-scratch-maker. Nope. Let's just say that lovely carcinogen-like smells filled our kitchen and that the second time around is a charm.

Ohhh, look at that chicken pot pie goodness going on there. How delish. Basically, this soup is perfect for a cold night and will warm you right up!

Sheesh, that sounds lame. But 'tis the season to be cozy, right? :)

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Altered from The Crepes of Wrath

3 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (I used Tyson pre-cooked chicken in the round can...who knew it would look/taste like real chicken?!)
1 can carrots, drained
2 cups potatoes, cubed
1 can green peas, drained
1 can corn, drained
6 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups of milk (skim works fine)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt

Put the potatoes in a pot with 1 cup of the broth and enough water to cover them. Cover and cook until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add in bouillon, pepper, garlic, broth and flour. Stir until smooth. Gradually add milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until it boils, simmer for a minute, stirring constantly. CONSTANTLY is key! Or else it will burn. I speak from experience.

Add chicken and then each vegetable one at time and stir carefully between each addition. Drain potatoes from broth and stir into chicken/veggie mixture.

Monday, November 17, 2008

have a slice of humble crumbled pie

In the midst of a human physiology-studying-frenzy last week, I came home from the library in a tizzy. And to a kitchen already filled with baked goods. And not just ordinary baked goods, Communal Baked Goods.

Living in a house with four of my best friends certainly has its ups:

1. We know everything about everyone, whether we like it or not.
2. We know what each other are least 75% of the time.
3. Basically, it's hilarious to live with these people.
4. Communal Baked Goods.

So let me formulate a definition...

Communal Baked Goods (noun, plural) a: of or relating to a community and its consumption of baked delicacies without judgment from others b: goods either baked for communal purposes or are deemed communal after their original use for consumption has been fulfilled
i.e. "Andy and I are done eating this delicious tiramisu I made for our special date dinner. It is now Communal!" - Leah

In the words of my high school physics teacher (Mr. Arnold, I believe his name was), I hope that was "clearish".

Anyway. As I walked into the kitchen the Communal Baked Goods that had already been baked were: chocolate Resee's Pieces cookies, baked by Neho, and white cake with cookie crumble on top and bottom, concocted by Anita. And then I gladly contributed this Humble Crumbled Pie to the slew of sweets. Because, obviously, there wasn't enough deliciousness to go around in our house.

So one of my favorite things to do is raid the cupboards and fridge to see what lonely baking ingredients I can find, and then, I put them all together and voila! A new creation has been made. This stressful night, I was craving nothing other than crumble. How convienent to find a lost, lonely refrigerated pie crust in my fridge, just waiting to be rolled out into something delicious.

Away I went making some crumbs and filling up that crust. Baked it for a bit until brown, and out popped Humble Crumbled Pie.

While it was pretty decent-tasting, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed. Maybe it was the old pie crust? Perhaps it was my rush to bake, and I didn't take the time to put some love in this creation? Whatever though. It still was consumed just the same. :)

Oh, and it was much more delicious with some caramel drizzled over the top.

Humble Crumbled Pie

2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pie crust and place on cookie sheet. Mix together oatmeal, butter, flour, and brown sugar. Crumble it all on top of the crust, leaving an inch away from the sides uncrumbled. Fold over the dough to make a crust.

Bake until browned, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

grilled sandwiches = love

Day two of bread-deliciousness. Enter: spray butter, garlic, and Mrs. Dash. Add to frozen mixed veggies in a nice little pan. Heat 'em up, and voila! You've got delicious veggies to go into none other than a delicious grilled sandwich on....what?! Even deliciouser crusty bread!

So, yes, there is a story behind these sandwich concoctions. In the good ol' high school days, I would go sandwich-crazy. My mom made this crazy amazing bread a la breadbaker, and I would make these crazy delicious veggies to go inside. All with some turkey lunchmeat, of course. And then, I'd grill it all up on The George (aka the George Foreman Grill). I swear, I was probably addicted to these sandwiches for about 6 years...I would even recreate them in my dorm. I always thought it was hilarious when people gave me weird looks and asked, "What? You put veggies in your sandwich?!"

Uhh. Heck yes, people. I never could imagaine why this ever seemed so strange. I mean, people put spinach and lettuce and tomato in sandwiches, right? How much different is...broccoli, mushrooms, green peppers, and....errr, corn? Not weird at all. :) And yes, these veggies do tend to slip away much easier than your tame ol' lettuce leaf can, but hey, it makes life interesting right? Heck yes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

oh my, I just made bread and it is good, sooo good., baking something non-desserty?! I must be sick, or something. However, as delicious as they are, one should not live on desserts alone. Key word: should not. Cannot would be blasphemy. See, this is what will make me a successful dietitian someday. Even though there are some (errr...many) days where dessert is impossible to resist for dinner, I realize that this lifestyle should not go on. And you realize this once you start craving vegetables, which, my friends, is a very strange feeling, indeed. And I am sure that all of my relatives who read this blog are flipping out by that comment and are all imagining me as a Poor Malnourished College Student. Don't worry, guys, it all balances out in the end. :)

The inspiration behind baking this bread is rather quite silly, and it just proves to me that I am, without a doubt, turning into my mother. No worries, though, this is not a bad thing because she's a great baker! Anyway, I was sitting in anatomy lecture, my eyes (and mind, for that matter) glazing over, when I decided that it was time for a walk and a bathroom break. I mean, seriously, people, how interesting can the effects of insulin and glucagon on the Islets of Langerhorn be? So down the hallway I went, and what smell was wafting through the air of the Med Sci II building? Bread. Yes...bread. Yeasty bread. Glorious bread. Bread with those perfect pockets of airy bready goodness. Okay, I never did see this bread, nor do I even know that it existed for sure. But it inspired me, and I knew that bread had to be baked today.

So I went home, furiously scanning foodgawker for bread recipes. And then, I saw it, as if in shining flashing lights: NO-KNEAD BREAD. BAKE ME NOW. Okay, okay, the "bake me now part" was a figment of my imagination...but it spoke to me, it did. Basically, the part about bread-baking that irks me the most is the kneading. And the waiting. With this recipe, there really is no kneading, but there is waiting. But...good things come to those who wait, right? With this as my mantra, I thought I would persevere through the 5 long hours of rising and try it out.

And man, was I ever glad that I did. This bread was Amazing, with a capital A. I only halved the recipe, and I will admit that I am so sorry that I did. Also, I lightly shined the pans with olive oil and rubbed some of it on top of the bread, as well. I'm a firm believer that this is a crucial part of the baking process, as the oil is what gives the bread it's crispy crunch.

Look at those airpockets of love, that fluffy white goodness. They're just screaming to be coated with a layer of spray butter.

My plans for this bread, you ask? Sandwiches. Really good sandwiches on really good bread and grilled on The George. And if this hunk of deliciousness cannot inspire me to eat real food, then I don't know what will. :)