Friday, April 17, 2009

Peanut Butter

I know, I know...peanut butter is an ingredient, not a recipe. Today, I reconsidered this opinion. I've been on a mission recently to use up the random items that have been in my pantry for longer than I care to admit. Way in the back, I happened upon a huge canister of dry roasted peanuts from one of those warehouse stores. I'm not sure what ever made me think I could possibly utilize that many peanuts in my lifetime, but so goes the story of those types of places. The vast majority of products that I purchase there inevitably lead me scouring the internet for recipes in which to use them up (except for cheese, of course, which is the product that sends me to said warehouse store every three weeks...I know, a shame). In any event, I had a craving for peanut butter cup bars, but aforementioned pantry was all out of peanut butter. So began my search of the internet for directions on how to make peanut butter out of peanuts (it had to be possible, right?). It turned out to be way simpler than I had anticipated. Before I get started though, I must mention that having a food processor or a pretty phenomenal blender is crucial here.

Here whatever quantity of peanuts you need to use up into your food processor. Turn food processor on and let it run until the peanuts begin to dissolve into peanut butter. Add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil per cup of peanuts to thin it out, if necessary. If you like your peanut butter Jif-style, you probably will want to add a few teaspoons of sugar per cup of peanuts to sweeten it up. Taste test after each addition to see how you like it.

Really. It's that simple. Peanuts in a food processor. Crazy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Corn and Crab Chowder

My wonderful hubby recently planned a surprise birthday party for me at one of my favorite restaurants in Neptune Beach, Florida...Caribbee Key Tropical Bar and Grille. Truthfully, I'm a sucker for any restaurant with the word "Grille" or "Bistrol" in its name, and adding the "Tropical" to it just makes it all the better for me. Caribbee Key is truly awesome though, and they have the best conch fritters in Florida (my husband has done the honors of taste-testing conch fritters throughout Florida, including the Keys, and he says it's true, so I must believe him). I was so busy enjoying the company of all my wonderful friends that I barely had time to grab a bite to eat myself. The corn and crab chowder on the menu caught my eye, and I ordered a bowl and slurped it down within 2 minutes of its smell reaching my noodle. The recipe below is my attempt at recreating the soup, but with more reasonably-priced canned crabmeat instead of the lump crabmeat they served in the soup. Although it's not quite as good as Caribbee Key's soup, it still satisfied the craving for soup I had today to ease this spring head cold I've caught.

2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 scallions, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 tbsp flour
4 bouillon cubes
3 cups water
15 oz. (1 can) corn, with water
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
12 oz. (2 cans) crabmeat
1/3 cup half and half
2 tbsp cilantro

1. Add butter, onion, scallions, and celery to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add flour and stir until the vegetables are coated. Cook approximately one minute, until it gets golden-colored. This creates a roux, a common way to thicken soups and stews. Cooking the flour with the butter supposedly (according to the able chefs on the Food Network) imparts a nutty-flavor to the soup and prevents the flour from making the soup tastes "dough-ey."

3. Add the water and the bouillon cubes and whisk until the flour and bouillon cubes are completely dissolved.

4. Add the corn, Old Bay, and hot sauce. Stirring occasionally, allow to come up to a simmer. The full thickening affect of the flour is created when the soup is brought up to a simmer...until then, it might not look very thick.

5. Remove from heat. Using a submersion blender, blend the soup until it's creamy. If you don't have a submersion blender, you can allow the soup to cool a bit and blend it in a regular blender. Immersion blenders are awesome for making soups, though...they prevent the mess that always comes with my trying to pour a liquid into my nearing-the-end-of-its-life blender.

6. Stir in the crabmeat, half and half, and cilantro. Garnish with sour cream and additional cilantro.

Makes approximately 5 servings.

Nutritional Analysis (from Calorie Count): Calories - 231; Total Fat - 8.1g; Saturated Fat - 4.5g; Cholesterol - 32mg; Sodium - 1193mg; Total Carbohydrates - 33.1g; Dietary Fiber - 3.3g; Sugars - 8.3g; Protein - 9.7g; Vitamin A - 11% RDV; Vitamin C - 16% RDV; Calcium - 5% RDV;
Iron - 6% RDV.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

I had the worst craving for Reese's peanut butter cups a few days ago. Since I do not allow myself to even gaze at the candy bars so temptingly placed near the check-outs in grocery stores, I did not have any of said yummy candy bars in my home. After waiting for the better portion of an afternoon for the craving to go away, I gave up and decided to make my own. Yum. I have now found my new go-to recipe for when I need to bring a sweet something to a [fill in the blank].

4 graham crackers
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
2/3 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1. Put graham crackers in food process and process until completely crumbled. Add the 4 tbsp. melted butter, peanut butter, and confectioners sugar and process until combined. Press into bottom of a 9x9 pan.

2. Melt the additional 4 tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted and completely smooth. Spread over peanut butter mixture and refrigerate until set.