a balanced plate with room for dessert


Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

No, not for my Mike, but for food blogger Jennie from In Jennie’s Kitchen‘s Mikey. He passed away suddenly from a heart attack a few days ago. Jennie posted a tribute to her husband and asked everyone to make a peanut butter pie in honor of him on Friday and “share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”

So, here it is. I made the peanut butter pie. And for the first time, I didn’t mess with the recipe.

Peanut Butter Pie
from In Jennie’s Kitchen

8 ounces chocolate cookies (16 chocolate graham crackers put me at just over 8 ounces)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
  3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
  4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Leave a comment

Silken Chocolate Pie

After I made brownies, strawberry shortcake cake, and a French silk pie, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough dessert for Mike’s birthday bash. My main concern? Those that wanted the French silk pie but couldn’t eat it because it contained raw eggs. I hate the thought of any one leaving disappointed, so I caved in and made this egg-free pie. Please give it a chance. It’s deliciously rich and chocolatey and the texture is to die for. When I served it, I refused to tell people what was in it. It was only after they tried it and liked it that I told them the secret ingredient: tofu. Tofu itself is pretty tasteless and bland. Silken tofu has a remarkable texture that blends itself beautifully with just about anything. Smoothies? You got it! Soups? Sure, why not! Chocolate? You know it!! Silken Chocolate Pie
serves 10

9 full chocolate graham crackers
6 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup coffee, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound silken tofu, drained well (my package was 1 pound, 3 ounces – it worked)
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Pulse graham crackers in food processor until fine crumbs. Slowly add in butter and blend until combined. Press into bottom of a 9” cake pan. Bake until crust no longer looks wet, 18 – 20 minutes.
  2. Place chocolate chips, coffee and vanilla in double boiler and melt, stirring frequently. Or, place ingredients in microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments until melted, stirring after each increment.  Let cool slightly.
  3. Place tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey in food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour filling into crust and refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours.
  5. Serve with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream.

Please don’t ever ever ever buy whipped cream from the store. It’s oh-so-easy to make yourself and it tastes so much better. I forgot to take pictures of the whipped cream, but you can kind of see it on the bottom of the pic. Oops.

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Place metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment to mixer in freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Whip cream in chilled bowl until soft peaks form (this is when they can’t quite hold itself into a peak).
  3. Add in vanilla and sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (this is when they can stay in peak shape).

See, easy! The whole whipping process only took 2 minutes in my stand mixer. It may take a bit longer with a hand mixer. The most important part is making sure that your bowl and whisk are cold!!

Leave a comment

Apple Crisp

Apple crisps are tricky. They almost always look and smell great, but only sometimes taste good too. It’s hard to find the right balance between tart and sweet; more times than not I think an apple crisp is too sweet. This recipe, however, is a perfect match of the sourness of Granny Smith apples and the sweetness of the sugar.

Apple Crisp

10 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup water

2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, cubed

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F .
  2. Mix sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Pour in apples and stir to coat evenly. Pour into a 9×13 inch pan and pour water on top.
  3. Combine the oats, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda together. Cut in butter until crumbly and sprinkle over the apple mixture.
  4. Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Leave a comment

Caramel Apple Pie

This pie was made a while ago, during a “family” Thanksgiving dinner with my friends and it turned out wonderfully. Unfortunately, we were too full from dinner to enjoy the pie while it was still warm. The good news is that it still tastes good right out of the fridge! If you like apple pie, try this recipe. I can guarantee that you will never make apple pie without caramel again. I only have a picture of the top of the pie; the next time I make this I will try to remember to take a better picture!

Caramel Apple Pie
makes 1 deep dish pie

1 deep dish pie crust (homemade or frozen)
6 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 a lemon, juiced
1/2 cup  sugar
4 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 jar caramel topping

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the crumb topping by cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter and mix in brown sugar, oats, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Pour apples into pie crust and top with crumb topping. Wrap pie crust edges with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil from crust and sprinkle pecans onto pie and bake for 10 more minutes.
  5. Remove pie from oven and pour the caramel topping over the pie. Cool slightly before serving alone or with some ice cream. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

With summer comes a plethora of rhubarb. Mike’s family, my family and the farmers’ market are my sources. This was my first attempt at making a pie from scratch, crust and all. The results are not visually pleasing, but trust me – it tasted wonderful.

Strawberry rhubarb pie filling

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
adapted from

For crust

3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling

3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  1. Make the crust: combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)
  2. Make filling: preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.
  3. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips.
  4. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.
  5. Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet.
  6. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.