Slam Dunk Buckeye Pie

I’ve apparently been on a pie kick.  Two pies in one month is a pretty big deal.  First, we had the Drunken Pirate Coconut Cream Pi in honor of Pi day, and now we have the Slam Dunk Buckeye Pie, and I promise you, it will be a hit. 

Image

Now, I’m no Ohio State fan (On Wisconsin!), but since they are already out of the playoffs, I figure I can make a basketball reference and still be ok.

Besides, the candy that inspired this is the buckeye candy, which represents the lovely state (though I’ve never been there) and not the school.  The Hub-dubs and I are attending a potluck, sort of a farewell deal, for someone from Ohio who looooooves buckeyes–and Ohio State.  And I promise you, everyone will loooooove this pie.  It will be a slam dunk (see what I did there?)   

Who knew naming could be so difficult? (Kvothe does, but that’s a whole other story)

Anywhosie…

Ingredients:

crust:

  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 c. chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3-5 T. melted butter

filling:

  • 1 block neufchâtel cheese
  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 T. sugar

ganache:

  • 1/2-1 c. chocolate chips (or other chocolate)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. cream

 

Here’s the deal with both the crust and the ganache: a lot of cooking is just formulas and ratios.  For instance, you always make ganache with a 2:1 chocolate:cream ratio.  And that’s as mathy as I get.  As for the crust, the ratio needs to be such that your crumbs will come together and stay together when you go to bake it.  So, if you use 1 1/2 c. chocolate graham crackers and 3 T. butter, that would never work.  Your crust would be too dry.  You technically can’t have too wet a crust, but there will come a point where you can definitely taste the butter.  My typical ratio for crust is 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs and 4 T. butter, because I like a drier crust. 

I think that’s about enough science for today.  So, what I did was take some Keebler Fudge Stripes Dark Chocolate Cookies and 4 graham crackers (8 squares) with 3 T. butter–the fudge helped act as a binding agent, and since cookies are sweet, I omitted the sugar usually found in graham cracker recipes. 

This time, I used the blender to get crumbs because the food processor wasn’t cutting it. 

Image

Like all graham cracker (or any crumb) crusts, mix the butter into the crumbs, press into a pie plate, bake for 15 minutes at 325 and set aside to cool. 

You want your crust to be 100% cool before you pour the filling in, because you don’t want any weird  melting to go on. 

Take out the neufchâtel and let soften, then mix together with the peanut butter and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla and beat again.  

While the peanut butter mixture is mixing, combine the cream and sugar into a small bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.

Image

Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, then pour the whole gob into the pie crust.  Freeze for a few hours or overnight. 

Image

Yum-o.  You could leave it like this and throw some whipped cream on top so you have a weird peanut butter cheesecake thing, but then it wouldn’t be a buckeye pie. 

What makes this pie–or any dessert, really–great is the ganache.  It sounds fancy, looks difficult to do, and it wicked easy.  It’s like the trifecta of baking tricks. 

All you do for ganache is heat your cream in a small saucepan on low until you see the first ‘boil bubbles,’ pour into a bowl over the chocolate, and whisk until smooth. 

The less ganache you make, the more difficult getting that smooth consistency is.  I used 1/4 c. cream and 1/2 c. chocolate chips here, and I could stand to double it.  Plus, if you have leftover ganache, you can save it in the fridge for a week or so, reheat, and use.

Once you spread the ganache over the pie,  you will have to work quickly, as you pie is frozen and your chocolate will cool down really fast.  Spread the ganache over the top, let sit at room temperature until it has set, and serve.  

Image 

Drunken Pirate Coconut Cream Pi

Pi day is an exceptionally great day for pie.  Although, if we’re honest with ourselves, isn’t every day an exceptionally great day for pie?

Image

Cream pies can seem daunting, especially when you don’t throw fruit into some pudding and call it good.  Cream pies–true cream pies–are so beyond delicious you won’t ever eat one from a restaurant again.  Cream pies are actually pretty easy, too.  Here’s what you’ll need for this delightful Drunken Pirate Coconut Cream Pi:

For the crust:

  • One 9-inch graham cracker crust (buy one from the store of get out the food processor and make one)
  • 7 graham crackers (14 squares)
  • 4 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. sugar

For the filling:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. + 1 T. flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1 T. water
  • 3 T. light rum
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 c. sweetened flaked coconut

For the topping:

  • 1 c. Cool Whip
  • 2 T. toasted coconut

If you make your own crust, just know that I like mine a bit dry, so add another T. butter to make it a little stickier.  Anywho…

Take your graham crackers and sugar and throw them in the food processor.  Once you have nice, fine crumbs, combine them with the melted butter and mix well. 

Image

Pour the crumbs into the center of the pie pan and push out gently with your fingertips.  Then, use the bottom of a measuring cup to pat down the bottom and up the edges. 

Image

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes and let cool. 

While the crust is baking, pour the sugar, flour, and salt into a medium saucepan.  In a measuring cup, mix the milk and the rum (don’t forget the rum!)

Image

Turn on the heat to medium.  Slowly, slowly whisk the milk into the dry mix. While you add the milk, whisk well so there are no lumps–kind of like you are making gravy.  Once the milk is all added, stir frequently until the milk is hot.  While you’re waiting for the milk to heat up, mix the water and cornstarch together and mix well.  Add the cornstarch to the milk mixture and keep on a stirrin’.  Once the mixture is bubbling, add the coconut.  Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl with the vanilla.  Add a small amount of milk mixture to the eggs, then dump the whole bit back into the saucepan.  Cook until it bubble and then for two minutes longer.  

Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  Pour the filling on top of the crust and stick the whole thing in the fridge for a couple hours.  

Image

While your pie is cooling, toast the coconut.  It’s easy.  Pour what you need (plus enough to eat when you’re done) into a small (teeny tiny) skillet or saucepan.  Turn the heat on medium-low, around 3 or 4.  Stir constantly.  You do have enough time to pour a glass of wine until the coconut toasts.  Once it’s done, your coconut will be a lovely, beautiful golden-brown color. 

Image

Mmmmmmmm. 

After your pie has cooled for 2-3 hours, top with Cool Whip and sprinkle the coconut on top. 

Image

Image

Pi Day only comes once a year, but pie day can be every day.  So bust out the rum and get cookin’!

  

 

Banana Split Petits Fours

You know when you have an idea in your head, and it’s pretty much going to be the greatest thing ever, and then  you do it, and then…your idea comes out ugly (or at least, definitely not how you envisioned it)?

Well, these banana split petits fours are the pretty much the embodiment of the above scenario.  But they are damn good.  

Image

I suppose they’re not the worst thing in the world, but when I thought this idea up in my head, here is what I envisioned: three dense, gorgeous layers of cake with a delightful medley of traditional banana split toppings in between, topped with a fancy dollop of whipping cream and garnished with a crispy, glazed banana chip.  That’s what I thought I was going to get.  Instead, I got…these.  They’re homely.  They look *slightly* unappetizing.  But trust me, this is a recipe worth making AND I can tell you how not to make your version ugly! Or as ugly.  I hope.

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 qt of crushed pineapple
  • 1/2# fresh strawberries, diced OR  about 1/2 c. strawberry jam
  • 1 small pkg. chocolate fudge pudding prepared with 1 3/4 c. milk (to make it extra thick)
  • 4 T. cornstarch
  • 1 recipe for a white cake (if you want thin layers like mine) OR double the recipe for a thicker cake layer
  • Reddi-Whip or whipping cream or whatever floats your boat
  • Banana chips for garnish

Seriously simple, right? First, place the strawberries in a bowl with 2 T. sugar and let it sit for awhile, like you would with rhubarb.  Leave it on the counter for about 15 minutes or until you get a nice sugary syrup in the bottom of your bowl. 

Next, put the crushed pineapple in a medium saucepan.  Put the strawberries in a separate saucepan and add 1/2 c. water.  Turn both to medium heat.  While the fruit mixtures are heating, take a potato masher and mash up both fruits a little more.  You’re really going for a jam-like consistency here.  Image

Once the mixtures are warmed up a bit (but not boiling), take out 2 T. of liquid from each pot and pour into a separate bowl.  Whisk 2 T. cornstarch into each bowl and mix well.  When you think you’re done mixing, mix a little bit more.  Then, pour the cornstarch mixture back into its respective pot and stir frequently.  At first, your fruit mixes will look creamy and gross.  Once the cornstarch has fully incorporated though, your mixture will be clear and gooey.  At this juncture, it is perfectly acceptable to throw a boatload of food coloring into each mixture (vibrant colors were also a part of my vision).  

Image

Image

As the mixture cools, it will gel up even more, and you want a really thick filling, so don’t worry.  There’s no such thing as too thick for this recipe.  While the fillings cool, start baking your cakes.  The recipe I used was for a butter cake, which I think is like a normal cake.  Use a box mix, I don’t care.  We just didn’t have any in the house.  After the taste test, the hub-dubs suggested using angel food cake.  I think pound cake would be really good with this and give it that thick, dense look I was going for.  I The only thing I would be really adamant about would be white cake, not yellow.  You may want to throw an extra splash of vanilla into your batter to make it seem more like vanilla ice cream.  Bake in an 8×8 square pan according to recipe directions. 

Image

Let your cakes cool completely.  If you use one recipe (or box), carefully cut the layers in half (like, separate the top half and the bottom half).  If you decide to use double the cake, you can start right in on the layering.  First, lay the first later on a baking sheet or clean surface or whatever.  Then, top with the strawberry mixture (also completely cooled):

Image

See those crumbs on top? I did not “carefully cut.” I sort of haphazardly cut.  See where it got me?

Anyway, put another layer of cake over the strawberries.  I think the strawberry layer was almost too think, or I did not adequately dice/cut the strawberries enough.  If you spread your filling and only have a little bit leftover, save it for something else (like your reward for all your hard work)–this is best underfilled than overfilled.  

Next, layer the chocolate pudding over the second layer of the cake.  With this and all other fillings, leave a little room on the edges of the cake–as the fillings and layers get piled on, the filling will spread to those areas.  

 Put another layer of cake, then top with pineapple.

Image

Finally, top with the last layer of cake.  Put the ‘finished side’ of the cake up–when you pulled it out of the oven, this will be the side you saw.  Make sense? Hope so. 

Cut off the sides, where the edges are uneven and the filling didn’t quite make it to.  Then, with a sharp knife and wiping clean in between every one or two cuts, cut into 12-16 pieces.  I struggled with come of my pieces wanting to fall over, but it was all ok in the end. 

Transfer to a serving platter, throw a gob of whipped cream on top and very artistically, place a banana chip on top. 

Trust me, this process sounds a lot more complicated than it really it.  Besides, even if it wasn’t, these would be worth it, right?

Image

Who doesn’t love a beer with their banana split?

If the idea of petits fours freaks you out, here are some alternatives that will make your dessert pretty and still delicious:

  • Use two cake recipes (or boxes).  I really think this would solve a lot of problems.  Partially freezing the cake and covering it with filling, then partially freezing that (and so on) may help too.
  • Once you cut your cake layers, wash one of the pans and fit your layers back into the pan, alternating with the filling.  Top the while thing with whipped cream and banana chips.  No one will ever see the uglies and they’ll be really excited when they find out it’s not just a banana cake. 
  • Bust out your trifle bowl and make a trifle.  If you’ve never made a trifle before, they’re wicked easy: tear up the cake into chunks, layer one filling, then whipped cream, then cake, then filling, then whipped cream…you get it.  Top with whipped cream and banana chips.  Heck, throw some chopped peanuts on there too.  Go crazy. 

You could, of course, simply ignore the homeliness and focus on the taste.  It rocks. 

Image

 

Community Post: Great, Easy Recipes!

Do you ever get tired of hearing yourself speak? Granted, some people never do (and we all know these people), but sometimes it’s nice to shut up for a bit and let other people share their knowledge. 

A couple weeks ago, I put our a challenge to my friends on social media: send me a recipe and two photos–one of the ingredients and one of the finished product–of your best one-pot or easy meal. 

My friends are awesome.  Many rose to the challenge and now I have some GREAT food to share with you!

Recipe 1: “I forgot to add the Basil” Chicken Casserole (AKA Tuscan Chicken Tortellini Casserole)

Ok, so she didn’t forget to add the basil, she forgot to tell me she added basil.  Until, you know, she remembered.   

Image

You’ll need:

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 pkg. spinach & cheese tortellinis
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 c. flour
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning to taste: poultry seasoning, black pepper, garlic salt, and basil
  • 1/4 c. garlic herb butter, melted
  • Spaghetti sauce, for dipping

In a bowl (or ziplock bag), combine olive oil and seasonings.  Add the chicken and let it marinate for a few hours in the fridge.  Then, preheat your oven to 350. Coat the chicken with a tiny bit of flour (1/4 c. should do the trick) and put in a pan on medium heat.  Cook until just done.  Meanwhile, prepare the tortellinis according to package directions.

Spray the bottom of a 2-qt. casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer the tortellinis and chicken and then pour the butter over it all.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and then cover with mozzarella.  

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.  

Image

Bingo.  

Recipe 2: Winter Winter Tropical Dinner!

Aunts always come through for you, don’t they? If you’re an only child and don’t have an aunt, find a surrogate because they are the bomb.  Not only will they provide you with great recipes, aunts will also come up with a clever name that rhymes and is a play on your blog’s name. 

Image

Ahhhh yum-o!

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 c. red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 mangoes (depending on taste), cubed
  • 2-3 slices fresh pineapple, juiced
  • Juice of one fresh orange + 3/4 c. orange juice (from a can–or you could use fresh)

In a large skillet over medium heat, add a touch of olive oil.  Cook until completely cooked.  Remove the chicken and add the onion.  Saute for 2-3 minutes or until translucent and soft.  Add the juices and bring to a boil.  Add the mango pieces and simmer for about 2 minutes.  While the mixture is simmering, place the cornstarch in a small bowl with 1/4 c. hot water and mix well with a fork.  Add to the skillet and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened and it no longer looks milky.  Place the sauce over the chicken and serve with sides (like couscous and a veggie).

Image

Uhhh, yeah.  Like that.  I feel warmer already!

Recipe three: “I Double-dog Dare You” Hot Pepper Sauce

Shockingly, the first two recipes I received were from a dude.  A brewer extraordinaire (my favorite is a Skittlebrau, aka a Belgian wheat with a ton of skittles dumped into the carboy), this guy can cook.  If you’re brave enough, you can try your hand at this hot sauce:

Image

Having never made this sauce but worked with peppers before, wear the gloves.  For God’s sake, wear. the. gloves.  You’ll need:

  • 3/4 Cup Distilled Vinegar
  • 14 Whole Dried De Arbol Chilies
  • 1 tablespoon Cayenne Powder
  • 1 tsp Jalapeno Powder (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp Salt 

Rehydrate the dried peppers in a bowl of hot water.  Place everything in a blender until liquified.  Place in a stock pot and simmer for 20 minutes.  Pour into serving containers (like a glass bottle) and age for at least two weeks before digging in.  

Image

And, of course, enjoy with a beer.  

Recipe 4: Jalapeno Beer Chili

Another recipe from The Dude, this one is a winner.  I tried it and it was awesome.  

If you like what you see from Zane, visit his website.  The ‘before’ photo is mine from when I made it; the after photo is his.

Image  

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can green chilis
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 can pinto or chili beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 4 jalapeno peppers (diced) w/ seeds
  • 4 oz hot pepper sauce (cayenne or arbol based typ.)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 cup Soy sauce

This is truly a one-pot meal, unless you want it to taste even better.  If that’s the case, then grill the burger first, then start in on making this bad boy.  If you can’t grill it, add liquid smoke to the chili (and every dude should have liquid smoke in his pantry).  This is so simple! That’s why it’s for dudes! You can’t mess this up.  Brown/grill the beef in a dutch oven.  Add everything else.  Simmer all day on low heat.  Eat that night if you can’t wait–but if you can, wait until the next day.  

Now, when I tried this I probably cut the total amount of peppery-type stuff in half and it was still spicy, still good.  If you’re not in love with lots of rich spice, start small and go from there. 

Image

This really hits the spot.  Especially all the time. 

 

Well, folks, this is all I’ve got…this time.  Go on, try out your new easy meal recipes!