Layered Asian Dip

This layered dip is chock full of crunchy vegetables and chicken drenched in a yummy Asian-inspired sauce. The creamy peanut butter base adds a fun twist! Enjoy with crackers at your next party! 

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

There’s nothing like a good appetizer to get the party started, right? I have a confession to make: I am terrible at appetizers. Most seem so finicky. If I’m hosting, I can totally make some hot little bites in the oven. But as things have it, in this stage of life, I rarely host [even though I'd love to]. We’re usually tasked with bringing x, y, or z to a gathering…and it’s just a pain to try to transport a hot dish, and sometimes those cute little bites just get gross if they sit for awhile. So cold dips are my go-to appetizers. Hummus, guacamole, salsa, I love them all. But they aren’t very fancy.

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This Layered Asian Dip takes a normal dip up a notch! It’s a play off of Mexican Seven Layer Dip, even though it’s only a three layer dip. But it’s three layers of awesome: a creamy base of peanut butter and cream cheese; a wonderful medley of chicken, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, scallions, and aromatics like ginger and garlic; and last but not least–a slightly sweet, slightly spicy Asian dressing on top. This dressing is really what makes the dip, imo. Sure, chicken and peanut butter are staples of my diet, but the sauce brings everything together in a nice package. It’s tangy and delicious!

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This dip is perfect for a party because you can make all the components ahead of time and chill them in the fridge, then go get ready, and then assemble at the last minute. I love it when things work out that way so I don’t have to worry about the dish losing its beauty while we’re waiting for things to get started. This dip is best enjoyed the day it is made, but the leftovers are still tasty the next day. By the way, you’ll have some extra sauce leftover–it’s perfect for tossing with some plain white rice and cooked veggies [I love those bags of frozen Asian vegetables] for a quick side dish during the week. Enjoy!

one year ago: Grandma’s Banana Nut Bread
two years ago: Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Pineapple Black Bean Rice
four years ago: Butterscotch and Chocolate Yellow Cake

Layered Asian Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2-4 hours but only about 20 minutes active time
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from The Sweets Life

Ingredients:

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops hot sauce [like Sriracha]

for topping

  • 3/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
  • 2-3 sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

for base

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2-4 ounces creamy peanut butter [depending on how strong of a peanut butter flavor you like]
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • crackers for serving

Directions:

First, prepare sauce. Whisk brown sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in water, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate to further thicken for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in advance.

Next, stir together all topping ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Just before serving, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and just enough milk to make mixture smooth. Spread on the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan or serving dish. Sprinkle topping over cream cheese mixture, then drizzle 1/2 cup sauce [there will be leftovers] on top.

Serve with crackers immediately.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondies

These blondies have all of your favorite flavors: chocolate, peanut butter, and honey… and are healthy too! They’re a great gluten free and/or vegan dessert. :)

Dark Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondies - Gluten Free, Vegan Option | thepajamachef

Growing up, my little sister Kathleen would always copy me. Drove me nuts! Whatever I had, she wanted. Clothes, friends, privileges, etc. Man. We’re five years apart, so in my world, this was totally awful. I considered her quite the little pest for many years… but she did too, so I guess we’re even. And let’s not even get into bathroom wars. Can any other sisters relate?! :)

Thankfully, today Kathleen and I aren’t antagonistic towards each other anymore, and Ben and I love to hang out with Kathleen and her husband Grant. Too bad we live five hours apart! Kathleen copied me a year or so ago and made her own food blog, Two Happy Bellies. For pretty much the first time ever [in older sister speak], this copying benefited me as I could finally see all her yummy recipes in one place! Before, she’d just email/Facebook/instagram/pin them to me. Now it’s my turn to copy her with these delicious blondies!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondies - Gluten Free, Vegan Option | thepajamachef

These blondies are the closest thing to a healthy dessert  you can have without it being fruit or something else super natural [read: WEIRD]. There’s no flour, white sugar, oil, or butter in them… they’re gluten free, and can be made vegan in a snap. The chickpea base may weird some people out, but if you don’t tell ‘em, they probably won’t even know. #totallyserious These blondies are completely delicious though, and are so simple to make that they’re sure to become part of your regular rotation. Enjoy y’all!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondies - Gluten Free, Vegan Option | thepajamachef
P.S. I just realized that my sister is the ultimate copycat… she copies me, and her nickname is Kat. Get it?!?? CopyKat! Lol I crack myself up. I should go now. :) Love ya booboo!

one year ago: Eggplant Potato Frittata 
two years ago: Baked Flounder
three years ago: Brown Sugar Fruit Dip

Dark Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondies - Gluten Free, Vegan Option

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 45 minutes
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from Two Happy Bellies

Ingredients:
  • 1 can [15 oz] garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter [or other nut butter]
  • 1/3 cup honey [or pure maple syrup or agave nectar for vegan option]
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3.5 oz dark chocolate bar, chopped or broken into chunks OR 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp chocolate chips [regular or vegan]
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray or shortening and line with parchment paper.
Using a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except chocolate and blend until smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then top with chocolate, pressing in to incorporate.
Bake for 15-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean AND edges are just beginning to brown. My sister took hers out at 18 minutes and I did at about 20. They might look underdone but they will firm up as they cool.
Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Keep refrigerated.
Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

These French Dip Sandwiches cook all day in your crockpot, making a delicious dinner with almost no work! 

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com

I almost hate to admit that I made these yummy sandwiches in March, for Ben’s birthday. And I’m just now getting around to sharing them. #whoops! Sorry guys, sometimes I just blog about what I made recently… what sounds good… and forget about what’s been sitting in iPhoto for ages. What will be really bad is when I start blogging about recipes that I made when we lived in Indiana–more than 9 months ago! Oh wait, that’s happened already. #whoopstimestwo

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com

Anyways, back to these sandwiches. As it often goes in our house, the only time I cook “big hunks ‘o meat” are for special occasions or on the weekends. The rest of the time it’s vegetarian fare or meat on the side sort of meals. Obviously, Ben’s birthday qualifies as a special occasion, and he chose French Dip Sandwiches. I know alot of people eat them at restaurants all the time, but I’m not sure I’d ever had one before. Now I’m hooked! I loved how tender and flavorful the beef is in this dish, but my favorite bites included all the extras: a little bit of  meat, some soft, meaty onions, and a big hunk of chewy baguette. I used these cute mini baguettes for extra crust on each sandwich. :) Deeeeeelish! I need to make this meal again soon. You can add cheese to the sandwiches if you like too, but it’s flavorful enough as is so we left it off. Enjoy!

one year ago: Kale Pesto Pasta
two years ago: Fresh Tomato & Mozzarella Crostini 

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 6-8 hours
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Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.comfrom What Megan’s Making
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large baguette—cut into 4 pieces, split horizontally or 4 mini baguettes
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese, optional

Directions:

Add broth, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and flour in the bottom of a large crockpot. Whisk to combine. Season the brisket with a generous amount of pepper, then place in the crockpot. Turn to coat with broth, then cover and cook until very tender, approximately 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. I cooked mine on low for about 7 hours.

Ten minutes before serving, place brisket on a cutting board and thinly slice against the grain. Alternatively, you can gently shred meat with two forks [this is what I did]. If desired, strain the cooking liquid and reserve onions, then bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook about 5-7 minutes until reduced. [I didn't do this.]

If using cheese, place cheese on bread and toast at a low broil for a couple minutes, watching carefully. Serve brisket on bread with onions, and serve cooking liquid as au jus on side for dipping.

Ginger Ice Cream

This ginger ice cream is tart and tangy, refreshing, and unlike anything you’ve ever tried! It’s delicious alone or with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Ginger Ice Cream | thepajamachef.com

So. It’s Fridayyy! And you know what that means, right? Ice cream! Just kidding. Every day is a good day for ice cream, not just Friday. That’s what my husband says anyway. He could eat ice cream day after day without getting sick of it. Me? I go through phases where I’m into ice cream, and I buy multiple flavors at the grocery store or send Ben endless emails/texts from work about the Dairy Queen Blizzard of the month flavor [s'mores!!] that I just have to have every year/my fro yo craving/the buy 1 get 1 free Bruster’s coupon I got in my email, etc. But then the rest of the time, I’m all about cookie bars or some other sweet treat in the evening.

Ginger Ice Cream | thepajamachef.com

For our anniversary last year my parents bought us an ice cream maker. [Yes, Ben is okay with me asking for kitchen appliances as couples' gifts as long as they make something he'll enjoy.] And before our anniversary this year I had used it precisely once. It made the best darn vanilla ice cream I had ever had, before chillin’ [bahaha pun intended] in the closet for a year. So this year, on our anniversary in May, I decided to pull it out to celebrate with a unique ice cream flavor. I sat Ben down and read him an endless list of ice cream flavors from my Pinterest boards. After I reached ginger, that was it. Ben is a ginger addict–he just loves that spicy flavor. And this ice cream did not disappoint!

Ginger Ice Cream | thepajamachef.com

Since ginger is a bit spicy and tart, I wondered how that would pair with the creaminess of the custard-base, and actually it reminded me quite a bit of sorbet or Daiquiri Ice from Baskin Robins [that and Superman were my favorite flavors as a kid, btw.Weird.] It’s hard to describe, but it just works. I guess I don’t typically consider ginger as something that can be smooth and creamy, but here it is… and it’s perfectly delightful! This ice cream is awesome plain, or with a bit of chocolate sauce/chips.  Natalie also has a few other ideas of how to enjoy it so you should check out her original blog post for that too.

Ginger Ice Cream | thepajamachef.com

Making this ginger ice cream has inspired me to get my ice cream maker out more often! It’s not that hard and I love how rich real, homemade ice cream is. :) I even added an ice cream category to my recipe index to encourage me in this ice cream making endeavor! What flavor should I make next?

one year ago: Mom’s Potato Salad

Ginger Ice Cream

  • Servings: 1 quart
  • Time: 60 minutes + time to chill
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from The Sweets Life

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups half  and half [I used whole milk]
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside

In a medium heavy saucepan or dutch oven set over medium heat, combine sugar, ginger, and water. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add half and half and bring to a simmer, then remove pan from heat and pour the hot half and half mixture into the yolks in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly [it helps to have  a second person here but isn't necessary]. Gently pour mixture back into the saucepan and cook on low, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 170 degrees with a candy thermometer. Do NOT allow mixture to boil.

Set a sieve over a medium, clean bowl. Pour custard through sieve, then stir in cream and vanilla. Wrap bowl and refrigerate overnight. The next day, freeze custard in an ice cream maker using manufacturer instructions, then store in the freezer.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.