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Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Pie

It’s that time of year again folks, National Pie Month! You may recall that last year, in honor of this most glorious month, I made one sweet pie and one savory pie a week.  And I held parties every Saturday so that my friends could come and eat them. I was crazy.  I can’t compete with that schedule again, so this year I’ll be making one pie a week, and I’ll decide at random whether it will be sweet or savory.  I’m playing fast and loose over here.

This week I made a Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana pie.  I had been thinking for a while about how I should start the pie holiday season and my mind kept wandering back to a chocolate cookie crust.  I love them.  Last year for pie month I made a lot of custards and creams and mousses, and while you might think that I would want to go the opposite direction I’ve actually been craving them.  Probably because I haven’t eaten a custard, cream, or mousse pie since last February.

This pie is a basic chocolate peanut butter pie with a cookie crust and a layer of sliced bananas.  It’s light and delicious, the perfect dessert for this dreary, cold, temperamental time of year. From what I could tell Saturday night, it was a big hit.  I’ve certainly been enjoying the leftovers.

In other news the ever-controversial Valentines Day is around the corner, which explains why my inbox is full of “the most romantic meal you’ll ever make” press releases.  I don’t claim to know anything about sexy food, but here’s my list of recipes I like to eat on date nights (read: not too heavy).  Enjoy or ignore.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Pie

Crust:

12-15 chocolate sandwich cookies

1 stick of butter

Mousse:

2 8oz blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp sugar

Whipped Cream:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar

Peanuts for garnish

Two bananas

In a food processor, break down sandwich cookies.  Melt butter and combine.  Press the mixture into a pie dish.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

In a stand mixer combine 1 cup cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp sugar.  Whip until stiff.  Set aside.  Pour the remaining cream, sugar, and vanilla in the mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Set aside and refrigerate.

Combine cream cheese and peanut butter in the mixer.  Beat until fluffy.  Beat in 1/3 of the stiffly whipped cream.  Fold in the remaining stiffly whipped cream.

Slice bananas and line the bottom and sides of the pie crust with the slices.  Spoon the peanut butter mixture on top, spreading evenly.  Next, spoon the gently whipped cream on top and in the center, leaving some of the peanut butter mousse exposed.  Sprinkle with peanuts.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

 

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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 3

I have to say, I’ve been cracking away at this thing and I’m starting to see real results! Today’s installment shows an additional 3-4 hours of heavy sanding. Or if you measure time as I do, one disc of Criminal Minds from Netflix (including the episode where Morgan (played by eye candy Shemar Moore) drives an about-to-explode ambulance into a field in the middle of New York City, I die).  Things at work have been really stressful lately (it’s grants proposal season for us) so taking some of my angst out on this pan has been really therapeutic.  After my last installment I switched from steel wool to coarse sanding paper, which really got most of the rust out.  As you can see, it’s come a far way.

After I posted the first installment my dad (known around the internets as The Capt’n) emailed me a list of advice.  Since he’s salvaged and conditioned many a cast iron piece I was grateful for his suggestions.  He sad that once I’d gotten most of the rust off that I should “burn the bejesus out of it,” so that is my next installment.  In our urban backyard we combined little oil, our large burner, and some baking soda (for fire extinguishing) and smoked out the neighborhood.  This process draws out a lot of the remaining rust, etc, and (according to the internet) restores some of the free radicals that the iron needs.  If you understand why this works, I would love to know.  I trust that it’s an important step but the science is a mystery to me!  Anyway, those that are following along on twitter will know that yesterday we set the pan on fire and it. was. awesome.  I can’t wait to share part 4.  Thanks for following along, and we’ll be back with more cast iron love next week!

Part 1 / Part 2 

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Green Olive Pimento Cheese

This weekend some friends and I took a “mid-winter” getaway to Morehead.  We planned it in November, as we were discussing how hard life and work can become once it’s cold and dark and dreary.  We were hoping that a getaway to look forward to would help us fight the cold-weather grumps.  And, before I knew it, the last weekend of January was here.  The thing is, the cold weather grumps had never really come.  We’ve had a few days of very cold, even a snow, but for the most part it’s been lovely (and a little terrifying coughglobalwarmingcough).  But wonderful weather certainly wasn’t going to stop us from taking a beach vacation, so on Thursday night we packed up and headed south.

We spent four days in Cateret County, visiting attractions like the aquarium and the Maritime Museum, drinking bloody marys on the beach, and reading on the pier of the Swamp House.  It was wonderful, relaxing, and the weather was amazing.

While we were down there I tried my hand at a recipe I’d been thinking of for a while.  You see, I love pimento cheese.  I love making it, eating it, and serving it to guests.  But I always make the same recipe (my grandfather’s), and I’ve been wanting to try something new.  So I thought about the flavors I wanted to highlight and put together a recipe that included sharp white cheddar, green olives, smoked gouda, pimentos, and of course mayo and spices.

The spread was, as I’d hoped, delicious. The smokey cheese played so nicely against the salty olives, a little bit of garlic and cayenne gave it a hint of a kick, and everything worked together to create a cohesive flavor.  It was perfect with the buttery snack crackers and exactly the sort of snack you want when you’re sitting on the pier all day, reading and watching the marsh life.

This is an owl named Alba that we met at the National Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shore.  She likes to watch the sharks.

Green Olive Pimento Cheese

1 medium size block of white sharp cheddar cheese

1 medium size wheel of smoked gouda

1 small jar of pimentos

1/2 cup green olives

1/4 cup mayonaisse

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of salt, pepper, cayenne

Grate your cheese.  Dice your olives.  Drain pimentos.  Combine.  Stir in mayo and spices.  Stir until well incorporated, adding more mayo to get your preferred consistency.

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