Friday, October 26, 2012

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Hubby's birthday was this month and I found the perfect recipe for his special dessert. He loves chocolate and peanut butter. Last year, his mom made an amazing chocolate peanut butter dessert for him up at her house in Carmel. But this year, we stayed close to home, and shared dinner with friends from church.

A friend had posted this pie on Facebook a couple of months back. I flagged the recipe from Food & Wine, and made sure that I had everything ready to make it on my guy's special day.

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, from
4oz or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1/2 stick of unsalted butter (I used salted butter and it was fine)
8oz chocolate wafers, finely ground (I used Oreo cookies without the cream center)
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
Kosher salt
4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium glass bowl, combine chocolate and butter and microwave in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted.

Stir well, and then stir in the cookie crumbs.

I couldn't find plain chocolate wafers, so I bought the generic brand of Oreos. This just meant that it took an extra step - removing the cream filling - in order to grind up the cookies. And, I used a scale to make sure I had 8 ounces.
Press the cookie crumbs over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and 1.5 inches up the side. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until set; the crust will continue to set up as it cools.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl (or your stand mixer, just transfer the peanut butter mixture to another bowl), whip the chilled cream until firm.

Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream and 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

3. In a medium glass bowl, combine chocolate with heavy whipping cream and microwave in 20 second intervals until the chocolate is melted and cream is hot. Stir well to combine the two, so that you have a smooth glossy sauce. Let it cool until barely warm, stirring occasionally.

4. Spread the chocolate mixture over the chilled peanut butter filling, making sure that it reaches the edges of the pan. Refrigerate until firm, at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie. Carefully run a sharp knife along the pie crust to loosen, then remove the springform ring.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pie into wedges, running the knife under hot water and drying between each spice for best results.

It's beautiful, it's creamy, chocolate-y, peanut buttery, and perfect with a cup of milk or coffee (or coffee with milk!). If you want to make it entirely no-bake, you could use a store-bought chocolate crust. It is also great to make ahead of time, like a day in advance...

This is a keeper! Happy dessert-makin'!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mama Lu's or Mama's Lu Dumpling House!?!

Asian restaurants in the United States are funny. The name that's on their menu might differ from the name they had plastered on the front door or awning. When I was growing up we would frequent a Chinese restaurant that we called "Daniel's Place" and I'm pretty sure that's how they would answer the phone, but on the outside, the green awning clearly said "Daniel's Palace." Typo or not, one has to laugh a little.

We find the same little things here in Los Angeles. We were meeting some friends for lunch in Monterey Park, a city full of yummy Chinese food. I looked on Yelp so that we could try something new, and I was craving dumplings. I found 3 listings for what seemed like the same place: Mama's Lu, Mama Lu's, Mama Lu's Dumpling House. Turns out there are two locations, with conflicting names on both the door and the menu. It's comical. But either way, this place rocked. We went to the newer and larger location, and it wasn't even crowded at 11am on a Saturday, surprisingly.

Mama's Lu, or whatever it's called, serves up some delish Taiwanese specialties like pan fried rice cakes, which are like coin-sized rice noodles stir-fried with veggies and meat.

They have beef rolls or wraps - like a Chinese burrito made with a green onion pancake and marinated beef and green onions inside. Yum!

And, of course, lots of different styles of dumplings!

I didn't even take a picture of every dish we ordered. There were four of us, and we polished off seven dishes. A little excessive, but soooo good. And, on top of all the goodness in the tummy, it is CHEAP! We ordered 7 dishes and only spent about 45 bucks total, with leftovers to take home.

This place definitely satisfied my craving, and we will be back. Next time maybe with the baby in our arms. :) If ever in the San Gabriel Valley, try out Mama's Lu in Monterey Park!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Easy Tater Tot Casserole

My cousin, Erica, and her family passed through Southern California this summer and left us with some food items that they had used in their hotel kitchenette, including 1/2 bag of tater tots and 1/2 bag of mixed frozen veggies. I thought I would clear out some space in my freezer, so I searched for ideas on tater tot casseroles and I found a YouTube how-to video from that was perfect for what I had on hand!

It called for:
1.5 lb ground beef
1/2 cup diced onions
4 cups of frozen veggies
2 cans (19oz) of cream of chicken condensed soup
1 bag (32oz) of frozen tater tots

I had everything for about half of this recipe but the ground beef. But, I had just purchased a rotisserie chicken, so I diced up one cooked chicken breast, and baked it at 375F for 40 minutes instead of a whole hour. I also added in some frozen celery and leeks that I had from my CSA box in the spring. You can also use cream of mushroom soup in place of the cream of chicken.

I realized, after we had eaten it, that it was essentially what we like to bring on camping trips to cook over the campfire - ever heard of hobo packets? You can put all these ingredients in a foil pocket, throw it on a campfire for 20-30 minutes, and dinner is served. It's pretty delicious and beats hot dogs any day.

Half of the recipe was enough for about 3 servings. It really hit the spot, and was an easy weekday meal that kids of all ages would love. This was "cookin' with whatcha got" at its finest. Thanks, Erica!