Author Archives for geekycooker

About geekycooker

Hi, I'm geekycooker but also known as Bev Davis. I have long been Interested in cooking. I started cooking as a teenager and really haven't stopped since. I'm originally from the South but with many stops along the way now live in Michigan. I am a history major and still have a love for history, so you may find bits of historical information about food in my posts. And remember to always cook with love. Thanks for taking a look at my blog.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

Here it is September.  Fall is not officially here yet but it will be later this month.  I don’t mind fall at all.  It is probably my favorite season.  September is also a good month because it is my beautiful daughter’s birthday on the 15th.  Happy Birthday Sam.

Aster is the flower of the month for September.  I don’t have any asters in my flower garden but I do have a lot of hydrangeas.  Hydrangeas are her favorite flower.  Here is a bouquet she picked from my flower garden.

Sam discovered this dessert in one of my old Taste of Home magazines and has made it several times now.   Possibly it is her favorite dessert.  I’m not sure.  Her favorite dessert for a long time was Amish Apple Pie.  That was then replaced with Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, which I always make for the holidays and her birthday.  Both of the recipes can be found on my blog.

I thought I would give this recipe a try to see if it is as delicious as she claimed.  Now, this dessert does have cool whip as an ingredient.  I’m not too fond of cool whip but I don’t mind using it on occasion.

I can confirm that this is a delicious dessert and also easy to make.  Even if you are not fond of cool whip, you are going to love the rich and smooth flavor of this dessert that includes both chocolate and peanut butter.  There is a layer of oreo cookie crumbs for the crust, a creamy peanut butter layer and then a layer that includes chocolate pudding and more whipped topping.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies  (such as Oreos), divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed, divided
15 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 package (3.9 ounces size) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix

In a food processor crush 16 of the oreo cookies.  (Reserve 4 cookies for topping.)  Combine with the melted butter.  Press into an ungreased 8 or 9-inch square dish; set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Blend in half of the whipped topping.  Spread over the cookie crust.  Sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups.

In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix, and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Blend in remaining whipped topping.  Spread over the peanut butter cups.

Roughly chop the remaining Oreo cookies and sprinkle over the top.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  

Notes:
1. A plastic Ziplock bag and rolling pin can also be used to crush the cookies.
2. This is a  dessert that doesn’t require any baking and is great for potlucks.

A daughter is a gift of love.”  Author unknown.

 

 

Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Tart

I have been fortunate to have been gifted with zucchini and tomatoes this summer.  But it seems like that is never enough fresh veggies.  I still visit my local Farmers Market for more delicious fruits and produce found there.

We all know summer will be over sooner rather than later.  I do love the butterflies that find the flowers in my yard.  Here is a butterfly still enjoying the purple cone flowers in my back yard.

The last time I went to my local Farmers Market, it had the most beautiful selections of produce and fruit.  It was really busy and I couldn’t take any pictures.  So, I am sharing a gorgeous picture that Fulton Street Farmers Market posted on their Facebook page.  I don’t think they will mind.

Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables and I like to cook it different ways.  One of my favorite recipes is the classic Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie that won the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1980.  This recipe sort of reminds me of that classic.  Instead of using crescent dough, this tart is light and crispy from using puff pastry.  It has the creaminess from the mozzarella and feta cheeses.  This tart is great as an appetizer or as a side dish.

Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed if frozen

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese   (4 ounces)
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 in rounds (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Press the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 by 9  inch loose bottom round tart pan.  Cut off any excess dough from the sides of the pan.  Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing.

Layer the mozzarella cheese, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, sliced onions, and chopped sun dried tomatoes over the puff pastry in the pan.  Arrange the zucchini in concentric circles on top of the cheese mixture.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, heavy cream, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper with a fork or whisk.  There should be about a cup full.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until custard is set and lightly brown.  Let the tart cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:
A 9 inch deep dish pie crust can be used instead of the puff pastry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

Next to strawberries, fresh tomatoes are my favorite produce of the summer’s bounty.  From a simple tomato sandwich on very soft white bread to a fabulous tart on puff pastry, you have a lot of delicious food options for the humble tomato.  To me, tomato soup is a perfect comfort food and made even better with the addition of a grilled cheese sandwich.

I hope you have been enjoying all of the good summer produce.  I have visited the Farmers Market several times and been gifted with produce from friends with home gardens.  Here are some lovely tomatoes and zucchini a friend gave to me today.

I make tomato soup quite often.  If I make it when fresh tomatoes are not available, I use a good canned tomato product.  I have already posted a favorite recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup using fresh tomatoes.

However, I noticed that a lot of food bloggers and cookbook authors were roasting the tomatoes prior to making the soup.  I wanted to give that a try.  I can confirm that roasting the tomatoes does intensify the flavor and sweetness of them.

Here are the tomatoes I used for this recipe.  They were a larger size but perfectly fine for this recipe.

Recipe inspired by Roasted Tomato Soup from Tyler Florence.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
basil for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and dry the tomatoes.  If desired, peel them.  Cut the tomatoes in half or in quarters (depending on size).  Place the tomatoes and onions on a large baking tray.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tomatoes soften and start to caramelize.

Remove the roasted tomatoes and onion from the oven and transfer to a large dutch oven or pot.  Add the chicken or vegetable broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until soup thickens slightly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until desired smoothness.  Add the butter and heavy cream.  Serve warm, garnished with basil leaves.

 

 

 

 

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Cherry Clafoutis

Local cherry season is here in West Michigan.  I like to get cherries from nearby Robinette’s Orchard.  They have U-pick as well as already picked for convenience.  I’m not sure what happened, but this year their cherry season was very short.  Before I could get there, they posted on Facebook that cherries were already gone.

Luckily, there are a lot of orchards around Grand Rapids.  I had no problem finding sweet cherries at my local farmers market, Fulton Street Farmers Market.

I usually make a Cherry Clafoutis every year once the sweet cherries are available.  Cherry Clafoutis is kind of a custard but with a firm consistency that will support the cherries.  The cherries raise to the top as the clafoutis bakes.

A clafoutis is a classic French dessert but at the same time a rustic one.  It is also quick and easy to make.  The dessert originated from Limousin in the southern region of France. I have tweaked a lot of different recipes to come up with a version that I prefer.

A traditional Limousin clafoutis will likely contain the cherry pits which give a subtle almond flavor.  However, I recommend removing the pits from the cherries and using almond flavoring in the batter.

I bought a cherry pitter from Amazon a few years ago.  It is made by Prepworks by Progressive and sells for about $12.  It only pits 4 large cherries at a time but does a really good job of removing the pits.

Not everyone in the family cares for this dessert.  However, I look forward to making it every year as soon as the local sweet cherries are available.  The aroma when it is baking in the oven, reminds me of the time I lived in France.

Cherry Clafoutis

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2-3 cups sweet cherries, whole, pitted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 inch *springform pan or baking dish (cake or pie dish).  Sprinkle with sugar.  Arrange the whole pitted cherries in the prepared pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (with the whisk attached) combine the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, kirsch, and almond extract.  Beat until smooth.  The batter will be thin.  Pour the batter over the cherries in the prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until the Clafoutis is puffed and brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm.  If desired, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.  Also good with whipped cream.  

Notes:
1.  Best served warm.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and warmed up in the microwave.
2.  *If using a springform pan, be sure that it is leakproof.
3.  Clafoutis is also spelled clafouti.

 

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Strawberry Ice Cream

When I bought my ice cream maker last year, I was afraid that I might not use it enough to justify the purchase.  But I’m happy say that I used it several times last summer and this summer as well.  I especially like it for making homemade strawberry ice cream.

I have the Cuisinart Ice21 model which makes up to 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream.  It is easy to operate and makes delicious ice cream.  It is a little noisy when it is making the ice cream but for me that is not a problem.  I think it sells for about $54 on Amazon.

The recipe is from the booklet that came with the ice cream maker.  The original recipe calls for part whole milk but I used all heavy cream.  This is a non custard type of ice cream which makes it even easier to prepare.  Even without an egg custard base, it is still rich and delicious tasting.

When the ice cream has finished processing, it will be like a soft serve consistency which is my favorite way to eat it.  A little (or a lot) of Hershey’s chocolate syrup drizzled on the strawberry ice cream is also delicious.

I used fresh locally grown strawberries for the ice cream.  The pureed strawberries turn the ice cream a light pink color; no need for food coloring here.  Every spoonful of this homemade strawberry ice cream is sure to remind you of happy summer days.

Strawberry Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled*
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the strawberries into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse the strawberries until roughly/finely chopped (depending on preference).  Reserve in a bowl.

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the reserved strawberries with all juices.

Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.  Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.  The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.  If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.  Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

*Frozen strawberries may be substituted if fresh strawberries are not available.

Note:
I used freezing instructions for the Cuisinart Ice21 ice cream maker.  You will need to freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

I know summer is not officially here till June 21st.  However, it has been feeling a lot like summertime with our warm weather.  This time of year, we start seeing beautiful wildflowers alongside the roadways and in forests.

I have been wrongly calling these flowers wild phlox.  They are actually an invasive plant called dame’s rocket.  Dame’s rocket has four petals while phlox have five petals.  They are still beautiful flowers and a welcome sight in late May and June.  I took these pictures at a nearby park where I see them every year.


In the summertime, it is so much easier to grill.  I’m talking about not having to deal with the cold and snowy weather we are blessed with here in Michigan.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I do like to cook with it.  One of my favorite ways of cooking with beer is by brining either pork or chicken.

Brining is a method of soaking a meat in a liquid solution.  This can be as simple as water, salt, and sugar.  Brining adds flavor to leaner cuts of meat such as pork chops.  Adding beer to the mixture will provide even more flavor and ups the moisture in the chops.  I like the flavor that the Guiness extra stout adds to the grilled pork chops.

Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/4 cups water
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Guinness extra stout beer
2 tablespoons mild flavored molasses
2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick

olive oil

Extra Seasonings

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

In a large bowl, combine the water, beer, molasses. and salt.  Stir until the salt dissolves. Place the chops in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the brine mixture. Press the air out of the bag and seal it tightly. Place in a baking pan large enough to hold the bag.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours, turning the bag several times to distribute the marinade.

Remove pork chops from brine. Discard remaining brine.  Pat the chops dry with paper towels.  Brush pork chops lightly with oil.  Sprinkle with the extra seasonings.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Place chops on grate, and close the lid. Turn heat down to medium to medium-low. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over, and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Do not overcook, or meat will become tough. 

Notes:
1.  The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork chops to an internal temperature between 145°F and 160°F.
2.  The brine makes enough for 4 pork chops.

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Buttermilk Waffles

Waffles are a family favorite.  There are no picky eaters when it comes to waffles.  Everyone expects them to be served on special occasions and sometimes on the weekend.  These buttermilk waffles are a favorite of everyone.

Waffles have been around for a very long time, even earlier than the Middle Ages.  Here in America, General Electric produced the first electric waffle iron in 1911.  It had a built-in thermostat to prevent the waffles from burning.  In the 1930s, waffle irons become standard kitchen appliances.

In 1964 the Belgian waffles made their debut at the New York World’s Fair in Flushing, NY.  Originally called Brussels waffles, the originator changed the name to Belgian because he thought that most Americans were unfamiliar with Brussels.

The above information about waffles is courtesy of an article from the nibble.

Belgium waffles are made with a waffle iron that has a deeper and larger grid pattern.  The recipes usually include yeast.  Some recipes may include beaten egg whites for lightness.

I used to have a Belgian waffle maker but now I have a Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (standard waffle maker) and that is what I used to make the waffles for this post.  It makes waffles about 7 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick.

This recipe has buttermilk in it and is a favorite of mine.  The buttermilk adds a rich creamy flavor to these light and crispy waffles.  This is a quick and easy waffle recipe.

My favorite way to serve waffles is simply with butter and Michigan maple syrup.

But waffles are often served with whipped cream and a variety of berries.

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Also, we have the popular and delicious combination of waffles and fried chicken.

Homemade waffles are a delicious treat for breakfast that your family is sure to love.

Recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Basic Waffle recipe and can be found here.

Buttermilk Waffles

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and melted butter.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix to combine.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour batter onto the waffle iron (amount depends on iron size).  Close the waffle iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the waffle maker.  Serve immediately with favorite toppings or keep warm in a 200 degree° F oven until ready to serve. Recipe may make more or less depending on size of your waffle maker.  

I hope spring has arrived where you live.  We seem to finally have springtime here in west Michigan.

Thanks to Robinnete’s for sharing their picture of apricot trees in bloom.  A sure sign that spring is here and also the promise of apricots later in the year.

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