Friday, May 29, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

Let me tell you about this pie. I saw it in Bon Appetit and knew I had to make is as soon as possible. I get a lot of good magazines (Food and Wine, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Bon Appetit) and so I see a lot of recipes. But sometimes, when I see one, I know it's going to be awesome.

I made this pie for easter and while everyone enjoyed it, there was some leftover (there was also a Strawberry Shortcake and a Sunshine Cake) so I brought it home. And hoarded it.

Normally when I make desserts, I give them away. I get pleasure from making food and serving it to others, but not as much from eating it myself. This pie, however, I kept for myself and ate a piece a day over a couple of days.

And you know what? I'd do it again. So I probably won't be making it again soon out of concern for my calorie intake.

But you should make it. Like, right away.

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
From Bon Appetit

For crust:
6 oz vanilla wafer cookies
tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
tablespoons sugar

Vanilla Pudding Filling:
cup sugar
1 1/2
tablespoons cornstarch
teaspoon salt
cup heavy whipping cream
cup whole milk
large egg yolks
vanilla bean, split lengthwise
tablespoon unsalted butter
firm but ripe bananas, peeled, divided
tablespoons orange juice, divided

Peanut Butter Layer:
oz cream cheese, room temperature
cup powdered sugar
teaspoon vanilla extract
cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients in processor; blend until mixture resembles moist crumbs, about 1 minute.

Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish and press mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of dish.

Bake crust until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven; press crust with back of spoon if puffed. Cool crust completely.

Vanilla Pudding Filling:

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan until no lumps remain.

Gradually whisk in cream, then milk. Add yolks and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until pudding thickens and boils, about 5 minutes.

Add butter and stir until melted. Spread warm pudding in cooled crust. Chill until filling is cool, about 1 hour.

Thinly slice 3 bananas on diagonal. Combine banana slices and 2 tablespoons orange juice in medium bowl; toss to coat. Transfer banana slices to paper towels and pat dry.

Arrange enough banana slices in single layer over vanilla custard filling to cover completely.

Peanut Butter Layer:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter.

Beat cream in another medium bowl until firm peaks form. Fold large spoonful of whipped cream into peanut mixture to loosen, then fold in remaining cream in 2 additions.

Spread peanut butter layer evenly over bananas. Chill at least 3 hours.

Thinly slice remaining banana on diagonal. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, then pat dry with paper towels. Arrange banana slices around top edge of pie.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beef Stew

With spring rapidly approaching, I knew that I needed to make beef stew once last time before the weather started warming up. Alex and I are both fond of beef stew and I didn't make it as much this winter as I normally would have. I'm not sure why this is, except that I spent the winter trying new recipes and didn't find as many for beef stew.

Beef Stew is really simple to make. You can make it more complicated, of course, but at its heart, it really is simple ingredients that work well together.

Beef Stew
Rain City Kitchen, 2009

1 lb stew meat
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, slice
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 onion, diced
4-6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
32 oz beef broth
Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Toss everything in the slow cooker. Season with thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with some bread for dipping.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin

After our friend Abby brought Coq au Vin to our wine dinner, I wanted to make it at home. I've yet to invest in a dutch oven (but I have one on my Amazon wishlist, and I have a birthday coming up... I also have a pair of Franco Sarto loafers on there too...) and when I happened to find a recipe for Coq au Vin in the slow cooker I decided to give it a try.

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin
From CrockPot 365

6 to 8 chicken thighs
6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 red wine (inexpensive is just fine!)
2 large fresh thyme sprigs

Cook the bacon and drain on a paper towel.

Put the chicken thighs in the crock pot, and then put everything else in on top. Cook on low for 8-9 hours.

Serve with rice, or egg noodles, or eat it as it is. It's pretty low fuss.

This recipe produce okay results, but I definitely liked the one that Abby brought to our house better. It's Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network and I'm going to try it next time I want Coq au Vin (or Alex does, which will probably happen sooner).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas and Leeks

I like risotto because of its creamy texture. This risotto was especially nice because of the addition of fresh vegetables. We both enjoyed it and it even reheated fairly well to be a nice lunch the next day.

Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas and Leeks
From Cooking Light

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch thick) sliced leek
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Cook peas in boiling water for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and carrot; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup broth, vermouth, salt, and oregano.

Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes). Add peas; cook 4 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining ingredients

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

African Sweet Potato Stew

This was so good. Like, really good. It had a really interesting flavor and texture. Even Alex liked it (though not as much as me), and he's not as fond of peanut butter as I am.

Plus, it's a slow cooker recipe which makes it even better because it's so easy!

African Sweet Potato Stew
From Cooking Light

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups cooked small red beans
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
6 lime wedges

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.

Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients (through chiles). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew. Top with peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lamb Fajitas with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

I like lamb. It tastes so yummy. Alex is not as big of a fan as I am, but every once and awhile, he'll humor me and let me indulge. (Of course, since I make the meal plans and buy the groceries every week, I could buy lamb more often if I wanted to, but it's kind of nice to have it as something special).

A few times in our CSA box, we've gotten cucumbers and I feel like I always do something basic with them. What I mean by this is that they usually end up sliced and in a salad. So the last time we got some cucumber, I wanted to do something a little bit more with it.

Lamb Fajitas
From Cooking Light

3/4 pound lean boneless leg of lamb
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

Trim fat from lamb, and cut into thin strips. Combine lamb and next 5 ingredients (lamb through garlic) in a zip-top heavy-duty plastic bag; seal bag, and shake well to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.

Heat tortillas according to package directions.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb; sauté 6 minutes. Divide lamb evenly among tortillas; sprinkle with mint, and roll up. Serve with Cucumber-Dill Sauce.

Cucumber-Dill Sauce
From Cooking Light

1 cup diced seeded peeled cucumber
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (8-ounce) carton plain nonfat yogurt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Cover and chill.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Almond Crusted Pork Chops

Sometimes you need a basic recipe to satisfy your hunger without having to put too much work into what you're doing. This recipe is definitely one of those.

It's not flashy or glamorous, but it is pretty tasty. The dipping sauce is tangy and goes well with the pork.

Almond Crusted Pork Chops
Adapted from Eating Well

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large egg white, beaten
4 pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.

Place breadcrumbs, almonds, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse until the almonds are coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

Place egg white in another shallow dish. Dip both sides of each pork slice in egg white, then evenly coat with the almond mixture. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the pork on the prepared rack and coat on both sides with cooking spray.

Bake the pork until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 16 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk honey, soy sauce and mustard in a small bowl. Serve the pork with the honey-mustard sauce.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sauternes Mousse (with Poached Apples) with Almond Cookie Cups

Every couple of months, a group of our lovely friends and us get together and have our own version of Iron Chef.

Our most recent dinner featured wine and it was delicious! Monica and Andrew brought a bruschetta on garlic toast, Abby brought Coq au Vin, and we provided dessert.

Now, let me tell you about this dessert. It ended up costing us a lot of money because we chose to use good Sauternes (because we're picky like that) but I'm confident that it would be equally good with less expensive wine. You can use Sauternes for this like we did, but any sweet dessert wine would probably work.

The almond cookie cups were quite frustrating, and the recipe needed to be doubled to produce the original amount of cookies it said it would make. In the end, however, I'm glad I persevered because the end result was delicious and paired extremely well with the mousse.

Sauternes Mousse and Poached Apples
From Epicurious

For mousse
3/4 cup sweet dessert wine (such as Sauternes or orange Muscat)
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 cup chilled whipping cream

For apples
2 cups sweet dessert wine
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

6 Almond Cookie Cups
Toasted sliced almonds

Make mousse:

Whisk wine, sugar and yolks in medium-size stainless steel bowl until well blended.

Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom to touch water) and whisk until thermometer registers 170°F and mixture is thick enough to fall in heavy ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes.

Remove from over water; whisk until mixture is cool, about 3 minutes.

In another medium bowl, whisk cream until medium-firm peaks form.

Fold cream into wine mixture in 2 additions. Cover mousse; freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 4 days ahead; keep frozen.)

Make apples:

Bring wine, water and sugar to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add apples.

Simmer until apples are just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until mixture is cool, about 45 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer apples to plate.

Boil syrup until reduced to generous 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. Return apples to syrup. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill. Rewarm over low heat.)

Place 1 Almond Cookie Cup on each of 6 plates. Fill each with scoop of mousse. Top with apples, syrup and nuts.

For Almond Cookie Cups
From Epicurious

6 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup (about 2 ounce) finely chopped toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Set 2 small custard cups or ramekins on work surface, bottom side up. Stir first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Mix in almonds.

Separately drop 2 level tablespoonfuls batter onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 6 inches apart. Using moistened fingertips, press each to 2-inch round.

Bake cookies until deep golden (cookies will spread to about 5-inch diameter), about 7 minutes.

Let cool on sheet until set enough to lift without tearing, about 1 minute. Using metal spatula, lift hot cookies 1 at a time and drape over cups, gently pressing to cup shape; cool. Remove from cups.

Refrigerate baking sheet 2 minutes to chill quickly. Repeat with remaining batter, making 2 cookies at a time. (Cookies can be made 4 days ahead. Carefully enclose in resealable plastic bags and freeze.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Baked Cheese Polenta with Swiss Chard

To make up for forgetting the cheese with the Golden Vegetable Soup, I made today's recipe. Okay, it wasn't actually to make up for it, it was because I like polenta, swiss chard, and cheese. Alex, who likes polenta and most cheeses but is not a huge fan of swiss chard (and boy is he going to be eating it a lot once my little plants start producing) liked this dish. It wasn't his favorite by any means, but he did eat it and didn't complain. He didn't even request that I not make it again.

My favorite part of this dish was the fact that it tasted like it should be REALLY bad for me. But it wasn't!

Baked Cheese Polenta with Swiss Chard
From Cooking Light


1 bunches Swiss chard
Cooking spray
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons water

5/8 cups water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare chard, remove stems and center ribs. Discard stems and chop ribs; coarsely chop leaves. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add ribs and 2 tablespoons water; cover and cook 5 minutes. Add the leaves; cover and cook 5 minutes or until wilted.

To prepare polenta, place 1 3/4 cups water, salt, and broth into a large saucepan. Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cheeses, stirring constantly with a whisk. Spoon half the polenta into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading evenly. Top with the chard mixture. Spoon sour cream over chard, spreading evenly. Quickly add remaining polenta, spreading evenly.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Giveaway, or: Paying it Forward

I'm posting this forward from my lovely friend Abby:

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. You get what you get.
2. What I create will be just for you - if you have a blog I can mine for ideas, it might be based on what I think you'll like - or it may be random.
3. It'll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something digital. It may be weird or beautiful. It may be baked goods.
5. I reserve the right to do something strange, if inspired to do so.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note of your own - or a blog post - and make something for the first 5 people to respond to your note.
7. Send me your mailing address if you don't live close to me!

IMPORTANT: You DO have to pay it forward.

Golden Winter Vegetable Soup

I realize that it isn't winter anymore, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give this soup a try if you can find the ingredients. It's creamy and flavorful but not heavy at all. It went really with a crusty bread (but what soup doesn't?) and tasted great the next day.

Golden Winter Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoons butter
2.5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
6 ounces baguette, cut into 8 slices
1.5 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (I forgot this, and was surprised at myself)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat broiler.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil bread slices 2 minutes or until golden. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls. Serve 2 bread slices with each serving. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cold Sesame Noodles

Alex and I really like the cold noodles you can get at Blue C Sushi, a Seattle area conveyor belt sushi chain. They are so good.

If I were to try really hard, I could probably recreate them at home without much problem. However I decided that I would rather create something similar, instead of exact.

So here is what I came up with. And I can't wait to make this again in the summer.

Cold Sesame Noodles
Rain City Kitchen, 2009
With Ideas from Epicurious and Blue C Sushi

1/2 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
16 oz yakisoba noodles

Bring water to boil and blanch the sugar snap peas (about 2-4 minutes in the water). Remove, and cool.

Mix the rice vinegar through the chili oil in a small bowl.

Combine the yakisoba noodles, sauce, and snap peas and toss until noodles and peas are well coated with sauce.

Eat. Enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bacon Fried Rice with Garlic Chicken

Every once in awhile, you should take the time to use leftover ingredients so things in your kitchen don't go bad.

I had intended to do an entire week of this, but food cravings got the better of me and Alex so we only ended up doing it for two days. We did use a fair number of ingredients though.

Our first dish was Bacon Fried Rice and Garlic Chicken. I've made the chicken before as well as the fried rice I based this off of, but together the flavors melded and made something completely different and completely delicious.

Bacon Fried Rice
Adapted from Cooking Light

4 cups cold cooked long-grain rice
1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup frozen peas
4 -6 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Break up rice with hands to remove large clumps, if necessary.

Heat a 14-inch wok (over large skillet if you don't have a wok) over high heat. Saute bacon and when crispy, remove and drain on paper towel. Add canola oil to bacon grease in wok, swirling to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion and garlic to wok; stir-fry 1 minute or until onion begins to brown. Add peas and stir-fry 2 minutes or until peas are almost cooked.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Add cold rice to wok; stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper. Push rice mixture up sides of wok. Pour eggs in open space in center of wok; cook 30 seconds or until set, stirring to scramble. Gently stir scrambled eggs into rice mixture.

We ate this for dinner and lunch and it was quite delicious. The chicken mixed nicely the nice day for lunch.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bailey's Irish Cream Creme Brulee

To go with the corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day, I made creme brulee. And not just any creme brulee, mind you, but Bailey's Irish Cream creme brulee. And man oh man, was it delicious. And I'm not even a huge fan of Bailey's.

It's very simple and extremely delicious.

Bailey's Irish Cream Creme Brulee
From Gourmet Sleutth

3 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup Bailey's
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons vanilla

Warm whipping cream and Bailey's over a double boiler.

In a separate bowl, mix together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add the warm cream mixture to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour mixture into individual soufflé cups and put soufflé cups into a 2" deep pan. Fill the pan with warm water and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the topping, sprinke white sugar on the top and either put under the broiler or use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar.