Happy Birthday AiC, and an Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie

A year ago today, I published my first post on Antics in Cooking, Spicy Sausage Pasta. Little did I think then I would still be doing this a year later. I started it as a way to chronicle many of the new dishes I was trying as I was really diving into cooking every meal, attempting to alleviate some of that stress from my wife. I was finding many of the recipes I was trying through similar blogs, which have been an immense help for me. 

I stand by the original description, still on the home page today, “…sharing terrible photos and awesome recipes, and having fun doing it.” I really have enjoyed it, and I still take really horrible pictures!

For the first birthday of the site, I thought I would share what I eat for my “birthday cake” for as long as I care to remember. I actually can’t remember when I had an actual real cake for my birthday. They do nothing for me. I started out many years ago making a Jack Daniels Pie (mix between a pecan pie and a chocolate chip pie) for my birthday. It was/is an amazing pie. Then one year, my wife made me this Peanut Butter Chip Pie. I have never looked back.

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I have a thing for peanut butter chips. Like, I will just eat them out of the bag for a snack. I much prefer them to chocolate chips. Anyway, the pictures here are what the pie looks like when my wife is done making it. When a slice gets to my plate, I will have grabbed the leftover chips and completely covered the top of my piece to where you can barely see the whipped topping through the chips. I highly recommend this technique!!

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Enjoy!

Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie

Ingredients

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips, divided

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1 cup cold whipping cream, divided

1 packaged chocolate or graham cracker crumb crust (I recommend graham)

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Beat the cream cheese and lemon juice in medium bowl on medium speed of mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Place 1 cup peanut butter chips and sweetened condensed milk in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

Add warm peanut butter mixture to cream cheese mixture, Beat on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Beat ½ cup whipping cream in small bowl until stiff; fold into peanut butter mixture. Pour into crust. Cover, refrigerate about 6 hours or until firm.

Just before serving, combine remaining ½ cup whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Beat until stiff; spread over filling. Garnish with remaining peanut butter chips. Cover and refrigerate leftover pie.

Recipe courtesy of the Hershey’s Holiday Collection cook book, 2002.

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Boneless Grilled Pork Chops

Sometimes I may sound like a broken record, stating how much I love America’s Test Kitchen, but I really do! And as you may have noticed, many of my recipes on here are courtesy of them. The one I am bringing you today, is so absolutely delicious and easy, that I do not think I will fix regular pork chops any other way again. This technique turns out perfectly juicy chops, which at least for me is always a challenge not drying them out. To boot, it only takes a few ingredients. The anchovy paste threw me for a few minutes, as I have never actually used it, but I gave in and bought a tube. When I tasted the chops, I never would have guessed that ingredient was used if I hadn’t put it on there myself.

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I served these with a rice pilaf, and they paired together wonderfully. The leftover chops also heated up perfectly the next day for lunch.

Boneless Grilled Pork Chops
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients

6 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or very well-mashed rinsed and dried anchovy fillets)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Cut 2 slits about 1 inch apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue on each chop to prevent buckling. Dissolve salt in 1 1/2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chops in brine and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Whisk together oil, honey, anchovy paste, and pepper to form smooth paste. Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Using spoon spread half of oil mixture evenly over 1 side of each chop (about 1/4 teaspoon per side).

FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chops, oiled side down, over hot part of grill and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 4 to 6 minutes. While chops are grilling, spread remaining oil mixture evenly over second side of chops. Flip chops and continue to cook until chops register 140 degrees, 4 to 6 minutes longer (if chops are well browned but register less than 140 degrees, move to cooler part of grill to finish cooking). Transfer chops to plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Just in case you don’t have enough diet busting meals to eat heading in to the holiday season, here is one more to add to the list. Fettuccine Alfredo has been a long time favorite of mine, but for some unknown reason only when eating out. I never attempted to make it from scratch (the sauce, not the fettuccine noodles), and the jarred stuff in the grocery store is pretty much inedible to me. Low and behold, this has to be one of the EASIEST meals to make, and so delicious! The taste does however come with a heavy price, in the realm of probably a weeks worth of recommended calories consumed in one meal! But hey, you only live once, right!

When I make this dish, I use half the quantities listed below. That works best for our house of two adults and two little people. If you are serving more folks, use what it listed. Also, if you have some left over chicken to use up, definitely throw it on top. This time I had a couple of cooked chicken breasts left over from the night before, so I sliced them up, and reheated them in a skillet with a little olive oil and threw the chicken on top.

The recipe is Ree Drummond’s, minus the nutmeg part. I noticed nutmeg used in a few other alfredo recipes I researched and decided to add it. Very happy I did!

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

1 pound fettuccine noodles

8 tablespoons butter

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

In a saucepan or skillet over low heat, warm the butter and cream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place half of the parmesan cheese in a large serving bowl. Pour the warm butter/cream mixture over the top. Drain the pasta (reserving some water) and immediately pour it into the bowl. Toss a couple of times, and then sprinkle in the other half of the parmesan. Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary.

Beef Burgandy

As we come into colder weather, we can now start making those dishes that heat up our kitchens that are generally avoided in the Summer. This Beef Burgandy is one of those, and one of the tastiest dishes I have ever made. It is a little labor intensive at the beginning before it gets into the oven, so make sure if you have a stretch of time you are able to be uninterrupted.

The layers of flavor that are in this dish are incredible. It is also a fairly easy dish to customize. If you are familiar with the classic recipe, it includes pearl onions which I omit, but yet I add celery. When I first started making this dish, I did pearl onions in it, but after one time when I omitted them because I forgot to buy them, I realized I enjoyed it better without them. I served this with simple mashed potatoes and corn bread. I thought the three foods complimented each other perfectly.

Enjoy!

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Look at that! I actually sliced and chopped all my vegetables before I started cooking! A rarity. You can probably also tell those carrots are baby carrots. I had a bunch in the fridge, so I decided to use those this time instead of normal carrots. These worked just as good.

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Browning the second batch of beef.

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Now the onions.

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Carrots and celery thrown in.

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As usual, my final picture does NOT do this meal justice. The beef was perfect! This is a standard meal, once or twice a month for us in the colder months.

Beef Burgandy

Ingredients

6 slices thick cut bacon, diced

3 pound chuck roast or round roast, cut in to 1—inch cubes (can also use pre-cut stew meat in a pinch)

2 cups red wine, such as Pinot Noir

2 yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cups of beef broth

1 ½ cups of white button mushrooms, sliced

Vegetable oil (if needed)

Directions

Pat the beef cubes dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper, set-aside.

Heat a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, and the fat has rendered. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off and reserve the bacon fat, leaving one tablespoon in the skillet.

Add a single layer of beef cubes to the skillet to sear. Do not overcrowd the pan (you will need to brown in batches), and do not move the cubes until they brown on the bottom and release easily from the skillet. Turn over and brown the other sides. Once all sides are brown, remove from the pan and add to a Dutch oven. Add ¼ cup of red wine to the skillet to deglaze, scraping all the dark bits up. When the skillet is clean, pour the contents into the bowl with the meat.

Add one tablespoon of reserved bacon fat to the skillet. Once it is heated, repeat the steps to brown the next batch of meat. If a third batch is required, repeat the deglazing step before browning the third batch.

Once all the meat is browned, add 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat (or vegetable oil if you have run out of fat) to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Once heated, add the onions and cook until softened and browned. Stir often. Add carrots and celery, and cook until softened. Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the Dutch oven with the meat.

Clean the skillet, or use a new one to cook the mushrooms. Heat one tablespoon of bacon fat (or oil) in the skillet, and cook mushrooms until they have released their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms have become golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.

Stir the meat and vegetables together. Place the thyme sprigs in with the mixture, and add remaining wine. Use the broth to increase the liquid amount until it comes up right below the top of the meat/vegetable mixture. Cover and cook at 300 degrees for 2-3 hours, until the meat falls apart easily with a fork. 15 minutes prior to being done, add in the mushrooms and bacon and stir to incorporate.

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Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My eldest son (5) is a self-proclaimed cookie monster! Odd in fact, as he doesn’t eat or prefer most sweets. But don’t get in between him and chocolate, or chocolate chip cookies! Over the last number of months, we had experimented with different types of cookies, and neglected the good old basic chocolate chip variety. Until that is, reading Sarah ‘n Spices’ My Good Eats blog about Alton Brown’s three go-to chocolate chip cookie recipes. As we all know, they can come in a variety of forms, and everyone has their own preference. He provides the basics for thin, chewy, and puffy.

As these were for my son, I gave him the choice of which ones he would like to make, trying my best to steer him towards the chewy. To no avail, as he picked the thin, or crunchy. Which was fine as I really like crunchy cookies too. Ingredients in hand, along with his step-stool so he can help me, yesterday we set about to make the best chocolate chip cookies we could. As we were both covered in flour, sugar, and chocolate, it is probably a good thing I was unable to take pictures during the process as he and I are not always the neatest boys around. It looked like a dough machine exploded in our kitchen! But man was it worth it! They turned out excellent! And my son was an awesome helper, especially as a taste tester for the chocolate chips, to make sure they were edible of course (and he made sure he had a good sampling size to boot!) before they went into the batter.

As a side note, the directions imply using a stand mixer (which I imagine most people do when making cookies) for these, but as we don’t have one, we used a hand held mixer and it seemed to work just fine. It just adds some additional standing at the bowl elbow grease instead of having a stand style do it for you.

Enjoy!

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Fresh out of the oven. I probably could have left them in there a couple of more minutes to crisp up just a little more, but these were perfect for us.

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This platter of cookies was about 3/4 of the entire batch, to give you an idea of how many the recipe will make.

 

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 ounces milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Combine the egg, milk, and vanilla and bring to room temperature in another bowl.
 
Cream the butter in the mixer’s work bowl, starting on low speed to soften the butter. Add the sugars. Increase the speed, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the egg mixture slowly. Increase the speed and mix until well combined.
 
Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets for more even browning.
 
Remove the cookies from the pans immediately. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.
 

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

In life, I believe we all have a personal nemesis, or maybe a handful (x 10 in my case) of them. This may sound ridiculous (probably because it is), but one of mine has been to make a good pulled pork dish. I have tried slow cooker recipes, braising recipes, etc. And no matter what I try, no matter how much liquid the pork is buried in, how much bbq sauce is poured over it on a sandwich, the meat is always dry. I cannot figure it out.

Well today, I have one less nemesis to worry about! I have conquered the pulled pork sandwich!

The last few weeks, I had been studying different recipes for the dish, reading about different techniques, etc. On a whim, I decided to take what I thought might be the finer points of a few different recipes, and blended them together into a new one. The result, was better than expected, and will now be a featured dinner in our rotation. My wife even suggested we make it again in just two days when some of her family will be over for dinner, that’s how much she liked it. She NEVER eats the same meal twice within a week or two. Me personally, I can eat my favorite dishes (such as my spaghetti and meatballs, chicken enchiladas, etc) 7 nights in the same week and not tire of them.

If you like pulled pork, or is you never had it, give this a try. We didn’t even feel the need for a side dish once we tasted it at the shredding stage, which is 30 minutes prior to eating it. My wife did throw some pickles on her plate which was a great accompaniment, and also another hurdle overcome this week. More on that in my next post.

And by the way, I did horrible taking pictures on this one. There are only a few for you.

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The pork just into the slow cooker with the marinade poured in.

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I went the two sandwich route sans a side. The wife went with the B&B pickles.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup barbeque sauce
¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup honey
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried minced onions
1 teaspoon chili powder (or more if you want a bit of a kick)
Salt and pepper
1, 3-4 pound pork shoulder roast

Directions

Mix the first nine ingredients in a bowl, until well incorporated. Place pork roast in the slow cooker, and add the marinade. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. 30 minutes prior to serving, pull roast out of cooker and shred the meat with two forks. Add meat back into the cooker and mix well with the sauce. Cook for the final 30 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns.
 
Note: On the barbeque sauce, I would go with a non-sweet style. Such as, don’t use Sweet Baby Ray’s as much as I love it. There are enough sweet ingredients in this recipe, you don’t want to overdo it. For this dish, I used the basic Kraft brand barbeque sauce. With so much going on in the recipe, you don’t need an expensive or fancy bbq sauce to make this dish awesome.

Skillet Apple Pie with Cinnamon Infused Whipped Cream

Ok, so truth in lending here. I am not a dessert kind of person. Give me a salty snack over a sweet snack any day of the week. That being said, the Skillet Apple Pie is incredible! And to be honest, you need no other reason to make this other than the cinnamon infused whipped cream. Chances are, you will be making this whipped cream and putting it on everything you can think of! My wife, Mrs. Sweet Tooth thought this was incredible, and when I dared to ask if we should give some of the extra’s to a neighbor I about got my head bit off, it was that good. And as always, don’t mind the pictures as that is not why I do this. I’d rather eat food than photograph it. Hence why there are no photos of the finished product before half of it was gone! Enjoy!

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The butter and brown sugar cooking together to start.

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Throw in one pie crust and the apples.

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Top with the second crust, and make slits in to it. Please do a better job than me! (FYI, this is the first pie I have ever made, so I plead for beginners forgiveness on the looks of it!)

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The final product, again already half eaten because it just smelled that good that I forgot to take a picture before we dived in. Spoon the whipped cream over the individual servings when you plate / bowl them.

Ingredients 

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

2 refrigerated rolled pie crusts, such as Pillsbury

One 21-ounce can apple pie filling

2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar*

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the skillet apple pie: Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; set aside 1 tablespoon of the melted butter for the top crust. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and melt them together on medium heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and line the skillet with one of the pie crusts. Pour the apple pie filling over the crust and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling. Brush the top with the reserved melted butter, then evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar on top. Cut vents in the middle of the pie. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot, topped with a generous dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.

For the cinnamon whipped cream: Chill a large metal mixing bowl and a wire beater attachment in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Pour the cream, cinnamon and sugar into the cold mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes; the mixture should hold its shape when dropped from a spoon. Don’t overbeat or you’ll have sweetened butter!

*I will normally have a cinnamon sugar mixture already mixed up for random uses. The ratio I have found works best is ¼ cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Recipe from Trisha’s Southern Cooking

Spaghetti Meat Sauce

This is another one of the first recipes I learned how to make when I took the plunge in to cooking. We went to Massachusetts to visit my sister and her family late last year. She made this (with meatballs, which that recipe will follow later), and I was amazed. I asked her for the recipe, and she said she would try to come up with it in writing for me. I asked her what she meant, and she said she learned it from watching her husband’s late Italian grandmother make it every Sunday. My sister would watch her make it, and of course the grandmother didn’t measure anything out as I trust she had been making it for 50 plus years.

The below is the best my sister could guestimate watching her. You will not be disappointed!

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Everything just starting to simmer

Everything just starting to simmer

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Meat Sauce

Ingredients

Olive oil

Red pepper flakes

1 onion, chopped

4 gloves of garlic

1 pound of ground beef (or sausage, lamb, or any combination of the 3)

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Salt

2 tsp oregano

Basil (6ish fresh leaves or Tbsp or less of dried)
Directions

Heat thin layer of oil in large sauce pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes. Add onion and cook until a bit translucent or soft. Add meat and cook through. Make a well in the center of the pot and add the garlic, cooking for one minute or so. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano, and basil (if using dried). If using fresh basil, add it 15 minutes before ready to serve.

Bring to a boil; turn down to a bubbly simmer for a couple of hours. Stir occasionally. Serve over whatever pasta is your preference. Ours is penne.

Recipe adapted from my sisters grandmother-in-law.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Legs

How much do we love easy to cook, great tasting meals? Add to that, this one only has SIX ingredients, and two of the them are salt and pepper! Can’t beat that.

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Slowly trying to do better with pictures. If you came to AiC to look at pretty pictures of food, my sincerest apologies!

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Roasted Lemon Chicken Legs

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

4 lemons, halved

2 lbs chicken legs

 

Directions:

1. Add oil and garlic to large resealable bag. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons in to the bag, then throw in the rinds. Add salt and pepper, seal, and mix around to incorporate ingredients. Add chicken, then mix some more to coat all chicken pieces. Let sit for three hours in refrigerator, turning halfway through.

2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a rimmed backing sheet with non-stick spray, layout chicken pieces evenly. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or chicken has reached 165 degrees, flipping once halfway through.

This is adapted from Ree Drummond’s recipe.

Chicken Soup, Tex-Mex Style

This is one of the easiest, and most delicious recipes I make. And I make it fairly often. The soup is delicious, especially if you like a Tex-Mex. The best thing about it is, you don’t even have to remember to thaw out your chicken prior to cooking it. Just throw it in frozen and it does just fine.

I make a cilantro lime rice, putting it in a bowl and then serving the soup on top of the rice.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb chicken breast, thawed or frozen

1 can chicken broth

1 (14oz) can of diced tomatoes

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 jar of roasted red peppers

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in the crockpot, mix it around, and cook on low for 4-5 hours. About 30 minutes before wanting to eat, pull the chicken out, shred, and add back to the crockpot. Enjoy!

This recipe is very slightly adapted from a good friend, and cooking inspiration, Jessica G.