Key Lime Yogurt Pie

You may recall that giant box of Cheerios I got for free and was trying to use up. Well, despite making another batch of peanut butter Cheerio bars, the bottomless Cheerio pit was still not exhausted (can you believe it?) You’re probably thinking, Sarah, just throw out the dang box of Cheerios already. You won’t go to hell. I know, I know. But I can be a real stickler about food waste, so I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of how to finally mine the last of the Cheerio quarry. Somehow or other I started to wonder if crushed Cheerios could stand in for crushed graham crackers as a pie crust. Recently I’ve been craving a yogurt pie my grandma used to make with a chocolate Rice Krispy crust. If Rice Krispies can suffice as pie crust, why not Cheerios, eh?

With this in mind, I decided to look for a yogurt pie recipe that I could try with a Cheerio crust. I ended up opting for a Greek yogurt-based key lime pie, chosen primarily for the fact that it doesn’t contain any Cool Whip (or marshmallow snot, as I like to call it–seriously, have you ever read the ingredients in Cool Whip?) The result was a luscious, creamy dessert with no artificial ingredients.

So there. Now I’m FINALLY rid of that entire monolith Cheerio box.

I’m freeeeeeeee!

Except……guess what came in the mail yesterday:

Noooooooo!!! (These ones are definitely getting donated to church.)

Greek Yogurt Key Lime Pie
(Heavily adapted from Cooking on the Side)

Ingredients:

1 1/3 c. crushed Cheerios (or graham crackers)
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 c. key lime juice
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
whipped cream, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine crushed Cheerios or graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom and sides of a 10″ tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.

Whisk together Greek yogurt, lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs. Pour into prepared crust and bake approx. 25 minutes or until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly. Chill for at least two hours. Garnish with whipped cream.

Betcha wouldn’t have guessed those are crushed Cheerios!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Two Ways

How would you describe the perfect cookie? I think I would describe it like this:

Wait, no. Like this:

Nope, changed my mind again. Like THIS (as in most of the way eaten):

Hmmmm, I’m sensing a theme here. Chocolate and peanut butter…peanut butter and chocolate…Finkel and Einhorn….wait, what? Certain food pairings were simply meant to go together–wine and cheese, strawberries and banana, and definitely peanut butter and chocolate. I have this daydream that in the Garden of Eden the peanut butter tree was located right next to the chocolate tree, and that’s how the magic started. And even though Adam and Eve went and royally messed things up, at least this flavor combination has endured to make for happy tongues and tummies to this day.

In a nutshell, with peanut butter and chocolate, you can’t go wrong. Well, okay, maybe you could if you went and added eggplant or something, so just steer clear of a move like that. (I’m guessing you knew that.)

These are two of my favorite PBCH desserts: a soft, chewy chocolate drop cookie with peanut butter chips and a decadent Reese’s cup-type bar. Both satisfy the craving for good-to-the-last-crumb dessert comfort food. Now just imagine what it would be like to eat them together.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the peanut butter chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about ten minutes, or until just set.

Makes approx. 20 cookies.

A bit ironic that I made both of these the week I did a lesson on dietary fat for my nutrition course…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
(Also adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and  peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 8×8 inch pan.

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Chill at least one hour before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.


If you ever need to identify me by my dental records, please refer to this cookie.

Lemon-Thyme Granita

I always used to be skeptical of granita. Typically containing only three ingredients–fruit juice, water, and sugar–it kinda sounds like some Weight Watchers trick to make you think juice is dessert. (Nice try, Weight Watchers.) But then I started making it, starting with this fancy-schmancy lime recipe, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It still doesn’t exactly fit the bill for a “real” dessert in my book (I think my definition for real dessert is “must contain fat”) but it is a lovely, light, refreshing after-dinner palate cleanser. Any fruit juice will do to make it. I’ve tried grapefruit, watermelon, lime, and lemon, and I’m especially curious to try this sangria version.

This time around, I happened to have a couple of lemons hanging around waiting to be put to some culinary use, so Dear Old Uncle Google willingly obliged an appropriate recipe. I love the unique twist the thyme infusion gives the flavor here–a subtle depth that balances the lemony sweetness nicely. Excellent for a little something different!

Lemon-Thyme Granita
From Taste of Home

Ingredients:

1 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. fresh lemon juice
2 fresh thyme sprigs

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in lemon juice and thyme. Transfer to an 8-in. square dish; cool to room temperature.

Remove thyme sprigs. Freeze for 1 hour; stir with a fork. Freeze 2-3 hours longer or until completely frozen, stirring every 30 minutes.

Stir granita with a fork just before serving; spoon into dessert dishes. Yield: 2 cups.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Cheesecake Parfaits

Since my last post was about Christmas, I guess I’ll get back to reality and focus on the holiday actually at hand: the 4th of July! Happy Independence Day! As with most holidays, I imagine everyone has their own food associations for the 4th, probably usually to do with things you can smother in ketchup–burgers, hot dogs, cheesecake…

Wait–did someone say cheesecake?

I don’t actually smother my cheesecake in ketchup, but I do associate any kind of creamy, berry-topped dessert with the 4th of July. My aunt would always make one of those Jell-O and Cool Whip concoctions with a berry stars and stripes flag on the top. But a cheesecake topped with berries would be even better, yes? (I guess now would be the time to tell you that my love for cheesecake is so extreme that my husband proposed to me with one AND we had it as our wedding cake…if that tells you anything.)

Our neighborhood 4th of July potluck has been on my radar for a few weeks now, and I knew I wanted to bring dessert. When I saw this lovely recipe, it looked like the perfect choice, especially since I happened to have some 8 oz. jelly jars laying around from when I made strawberry jam. It definitely took some time to put these together, since there are several steps (and since I doubled the recipe), but they are certainly simpler to make than an actual cheesecake. Not only that, the Greek yogurt stands in for quite a bit of the usual cream cheese. Most cheesecake recipes I’ve seen call for four to five 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, where this recipe took only two 8-oz. blocks for 15 parfaits.

How about you? What kinds of food do you associate with the 4th of July, and which are your favorites to make?

Red, White, and Blue Berry Cheesecake Parfaits
(From Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

For the strawberry topping:

1½ cups chopped strawberries
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

For the blueberry topping:

1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1½ tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the graham cracker base:

¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake layer:

8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
2 cups low-fat greek yogurt
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. heavy cream

To make the strawberry topping, combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl and toss with a fork to combine. Let stand at least 1 hour, stirring once or twice, until the berries have released their juices. Mash the berries a bit with the fork. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the blueberry topping, combine the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. In a small pinch bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir the berries occasionally when they begin to release their juices. Once the juices are bubbling, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Set out 8 8-oz. mason jars (small glasses will also work). In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Stir with a fork until evenly combined. Scoop about 1½ tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom of each jar and tamp down gently with the bottom of a small glass.

To make the cheesecake mixture, combine the cream cheese and greek yogurt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well incorporated, 1-2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla and heavy cream on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more. Divide the mixture between the serving jars. Spoon the blueberry topping over 6 of the servings. Spoon the strawberry topping over the remaining servings, partially draining of the excess juices before using. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Christmas in July: Raspberry Eggnog Trifle

IIIIIII’m dreaming….of a whiiiiite…..Christmas….

Actually, no. I’m just dreaming of a day I can walk outside without feeling like my organs are going to melt right out of my body. This last week in Mesa, AZ has been outrageously hot. You’d think I would be used to it by now, having lived in the Phoenix Valley since I was two years old, but you know, when it’s 119 degrees outside, I don’t care who you are, it’s just too dang hot. I could swear I saw the Heat Miser from A Year Without a Santa Claus trying to sneak into an air conditioned movie theater the other day. Even with the A/C on in my house, my bag of chocolate chips was literally melting when I walked into the pantry to grab a heaping handful before dinner.

With all this organ-and chocolate-chip melting heat, I am trying to savor those moments throughout the day when I can actually get cold (in my car, usually, or at JC Penney’s where the middle-aged ladies work). I am also reminding myself that I truly would rather be excessively hot than excessively cold. Four years of college in Chicago have drilled that into my psyche pretty firmly. And yet, I can’t keep my thoughts from turning to fantasies of winter and Christmas. And if I’m going to fantasize, it might as well include food, right?

This showstopping dessert was one of the features at our Christmas party this past year. The party is an annual tradition eight years running, and as a foodie/obsessive planner, I view it as my time to shine. I spend weeks preparing the menu, and in addition to an array of Christmas cookies, I always try to include one other fabulous dessert in the lineup. The more jaw-droppingly decadent, the better. This delightful trifle fit the bill. Technically, I realize this may be considered cheating to blog about something that I actually made six months ago…but it really was that good. And if you substitute the eggnog for regular milk, this could easily transition to a summer dessert. A trifle is one dish that has the aesthetics and versatility to pull off any time of year. And if you decide to make it now, at least it won’t heat up your kitchen. 🙂

Raspberry Eggnog Trifle
(From Boston Uncommon)

Ingredients:

2 4-oz packages vanilla instant pudding mix
3 1/2 c. eggnog (or milk)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 purchased angel food cake, cut into cubes
2 12-16-oz packages frozen raspberries (or 24-32 oz fresh)
24 whole graham crackers, crushed

Chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Prepare the pudding mixes using the package directions, substituting the eggnog for the milk, if using. Blend in the nutmeat; set aside.

Beat the cream with the powdered sugar in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in the vanilla.

Layer 1/3 of the angel food cake, 1/3 of the pudding, 1 1/2 cups of the raspberries, 1/4 of the graham cracker crumbs, and 1/3 of the whipped cream in a trifle dish. Repeat the layers twice to form three layers. Garnish with the remaining raspberries and graham cracker crumbs. Chill before serving. Serves 24.