Archive for February, 2012

You are Totally Worth that Peanut Butter Pie

We had friends coming over for a Friday night dinner, and I needed a meal I could prep in advance 100%. So, with grilling in mind, I had marinated chicken, watermelon chopped veggies in a ziploc and corn at the ready for the main meal. I forgot about dessert until it was too late—I no longer had time in the morning to bake and cool something. Luckily, I had all the ingredients I needed to prep a peanut butter pie recipe I’d clipped from Shape or Self magazine before the turn of the century. It had been almost as long since I’d made it last.

It was one of their “make-over this recipe” articles where they take something delicious and make it mediocre but edible. My trick with this recipe was to return some of the fat, so it’s still yummy. It worked! Overheard at the kids table:

Spitfire: I’m not sure about the cream cheese taste.

Friend: I love the cream cheese taste!

Spitfire: Yeah, I like the peanut butter and the crust.

Friend: I love the crust!

Spitfire: This is a weird dessert.

Friend: It is weird.

I’ll take weird. As the Spitfire says, everyone is weird in their own way. The crust, FYI, is not the one from the recipe. I have never made a crumbled crust because I am perfectly happy to buy one. I used the same OREO crust as in our birthday ice cream cakes. This caused my children to believe it was an ice cream cake at first, but they managed to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and eat the pie.

You can scale the fat up or down in this version. Maybe it all depends on how much you think you deserve that peanut butter pie.


Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

Great for: prep-ahead casual dinners with company

Prep: 15 minutes

Chill: 4 hours


1 Chocolaty crust (if you want to make it, microwave 1/2C fudge topping, 1/2C chocolate chips until partially melted. Stir until smooth, then slowly add 2C crispy rice cereal until mixed. Using wax paper, press into 9-inch pie pan)

8-oz package light cream cheese (in this ingredient, don’t go fat free. Fat free cream cheese is the work of the devil).

2/3C peanut butter (I prefer creamy) at room temp

14-oz can condensed, sweetened, fat-free milk

3T lemon juice (I use bottled)

1t vanilla extract

1C light cool whip (or similar), thawed

Fudge topping


  1. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until fluffy
  2. Mix in peanut butter.
  3. Gradually beat in condensed milk.
  4. Add lemon Juice and Vanilla.
  5. Fold in whipped topping.
  6. Turn into prepared crust.
  7. Drizzle toping over pie. Use top of knife to swirl topping decoratively.
  8. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.

Brunch Staples, Valentine’s Day Edition: Upside Pear Pancake

This pancake was the first brunch staple in my repertoire. I made it as a newlywed and have fond memories of serving it on anniversaries and other special occasions. I have not-so-fond memories of forgetting the potholder and burning my hand on the skillet handle. But, I continue to create it for those days that feel celebratory.  And because we have a pear tree in the back yard, I’m always grateful for an easy recipe with pears.  This is good option for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast or, as we like it, Breakfast for Dinner.  It pairs well with the biscotti, pink milk, turkey sausage and a heaping helping of scrambled eggs.

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day meal?

Upside Pear Pancake  (serves 4)


3T butter, divided

1+1/2 firm, ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (about ¾#)

2t lemon juice

2/3C all-purpose flour

¼ C plus 3T sugar, divided

1t baking powder

½ t baking soda

¼ t salt

2/3C plain non-fat or 2% yogurt

2 large eggs

Maple syrup


  1. Peel and slice pears into ¼-inch slices and transfer to a small bowl.
  2. Add 1/4C sugar and lemon juice to pears; toss to coat well.
  3. Melt 2T butter in an oven-proof 10-inch skillet on low heat, tilting to coat skillet.
  4. Arrange pears decoratively in skillet (I tried to make a heart shape) and drizzle any remaining sugar mixture over them.
  5. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until just tender.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if you preheat at all—I rarely do and it makes almost no difference to the timing, but a nice difference to my gas bill).
  7. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add eggs, 1T melted butter and yogurt and whisk together until just combined.
  8. Pour batter over pears. Bake in middle of oven for 15 minutes or until top is golden and center is firm when touched lightly. Remove with pot holder. PLACE POTHOLDER ON HANDLE WHEN YOU REST IT ON THE STOVE.
  9. Place a large plate over the skillet, then USING THE POTHOLDER turn the skillet over to invert the pancake, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together. Carefully lift skillet off pancake and replace any fruit still stuck to bottom of skillet.
  10. Cut pancake into wedges, arrange on 4 plates and cover with 1T maple syrup.

Salmon Two Ways

Nothing tests the Homogeny-at –the-Table rule in our house like salmon does these days. The Spitfire has turned against it and getting her to eat a few bites can be a long process. And yet, I keep making it. The rest of us love it, and I’m hopeful that one day we’ll all be able to eat it in peace again, together.

A few days after serving this roasted salmon, I was reading All-of-a-Kind Family to The Spitfire. It’s a chapter book about a family with five girls in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century. The chapter we were reading that night focused on girl’s stubborn refusal to eat the soup served at lunch. The same soup was served to her at 3 successive meals until she finally took a bite, and then her mom gave her another meal—without vegetables to reduce the likelihood of a second fight. The Spitfire followed up the reading by saying “That is like me and you and the Salmon.” At last, our life has been captured in a novel, just not the part I’d imagined.

I like this recipe from Everyday Foods because it lets me make one easy prpe-ahead meal and then immediately I can prep for the next night’s meal. The roasted salmon was fine but nothing special. The Salmon burgers were amazing. AMAZING. I did not serve them to the kids, though. The adults ate after they went to bed, and thus we avoided another Salmon incident. If your kids like salmon, this will go over very well. I ended up with enough for 6 burgers, so I froze the other 4 patties.

Salmon the First Way: Roasted with Vegetables

Great for: Quick family meals

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


1.25# carrots, in 1-inch pieces

2 medium red onions, in 1-inch wedges


Coarse salt and pepper

2# skinless salmon fillets

2T chopped fresh dill

2T chopped fresh parsley

1T fresh lemon juice

½ # Orzo

2T unsalted butter

4 Hamburger buns


Preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks in middle and lower thirds.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss veggies with oil, salt and pepper. Roast on middle rack until tender and onions are golden, about 20 minutes, stirring after 10.

Line a second rimmed backing sheet with parchment. Season salmon with salt and pepper and roast on bottom rack until opaque in center, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to directions. Drain, return to pot and toss with butter, dill and parsley, and lemon juice.

Transfer 4 salmon fillets and 1 cup vegetables to an airtight container; refrigerate, up to 3 days. Serve remaining salmon fillets and vegetables with herbed orzo.

I made the salmon burger patties that night, and cooked them the next day.

Salmon the Second Way: Salmon Burgers


Four leftover salmon fillets

Leftover roasted vegetables, finely chopped

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (I used bottled)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

Nonstick cooking spray

4 lightly toasted hamburger buns

Bibb lettuce

Chinese mustard (optional)


In a large bowl, flake and mash salmon fillets.

Stir in roasted vegetables, egg white, ginger, and soy sauce until combined. Add flour and stir to combine.

Divide into 4 patties.

Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium; add patties and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Serve burgers on buns with lettuce and Chinese mustard, if desired.