Appetizers, Recipes

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
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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.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Desserts, Other, Recipes

Bunny Bait, or White Chocolate Snack Mix You Can Make All Year

I feel so lame calling this snack mix “Bunny Bait.” What I REALLY want to call it, despite those springtime Easter M&Ms, is Ho Ho Ho Cheerio Mix. Because that’s its real name [for Christmastime]. My mom was given this recipe back in the day with her friend Kim, and it’s been a family favorite ever since. The sweet and salty snack mix is super addictive, so I don’t suggest making a batch unless you have lots of friends and family to share with.

Bunny Bait, or White Chocolate Snack Mix You Can Make All Year Long | thepajamachef.com

Though I want to tell you that the ingredients in this snack mix–Crispix, Cheerios, pretzels, peanuts, and M&Ms are sacred, they really aren’t. Case in point: when I was shopping for ingredients to make this batch, I accidentally grabbed Chex cereal instead of Crispix. I don’t know what I was thinking! But it worked just fine. So feel free to substitute ingredients with what ya got or what you want to use. Cause really, when you pair M&Ms with crunchy cereal and salty pretzels and peanuts [that I left out this time because this batch was a gift for student workers in the library, and I wanted to be sensitive to possible peanut allergies], and top everything with white chocolate, you can’t go wrong. This Bunny Bait or Ho Ho Ho Cheerio Mix or White Chocolate Snack Mix is just divine. It’s perfect for Easter or any holiday, just use the seasonal M&Ms to make it extra festive. Enjoy! 🙂 Happy Easter!

Bunny Bait, or White Chocolate Snack Mix You Can Make All Year| thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Pork Chops with Quinoa, Kale, and Blood Orange
two years ago: Best Burrito Bowls Ever
three years ago: Sausage Egg Apple Strata

Bunny Bait, Ho Ho Ho Cheerio Mix, or White Chocolate Snack Mix You Can Make All Year

  • Servings: 12 cups
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from my mom’s friend Kim
Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Crispix or Chex Cereal
  • 6 cups Cheerios
  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 2 cups peanuts, optional
  • 2 cups M&Ms [I usually use the smallest “large” bag they sell, about 12 or 13 ounces]
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips, or 1 package vanilla/almond/white chocolate candy coating –> this works wayyy better than the white chocolate chips and I think it comes in 18 ounce packages
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, optional

Directions:

In the largest bowl or roaster you own, stir together cereals, pretzels, peanuts, and M&Ms. Then melt white chocolate chips or candy coating  in the microwave, heating in 30 second bursts and stirring well in between until melted. This usually takes me about 90 seconds.

Stir oil into white chocolate to help with pouring if you like, then pour white chocolate over cereal mix. Stir together to coat, then spread on wax paper to set.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Cookies, Desserts, Recipes

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. In fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January 2013, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from June 9, 2011… I wish I had a plate of these cookies now 🙂

So you know those days when you need dessert? Not in a a couple hours, but a couple hours ago? Yeah, me too. Doesn’t that always seem to happen when you reach into your pantry and discover that you’re out of flour [or in your fridge and lament the lack of butter]? Been there, done that. Don’t want to do it again. It’s not too much fun, friends. But thankfully… next time that happens, you have a solution!

That solution is… Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies!

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies | thepajamachef.com

Six ingredients and 30 minutes later, you can have a plate of delicious cookies chock-full of peanut butter and chocolate delight-fullness. What could be better?

The only problem is that these cookies are dangerously addictive, and you just might find yourself “accidentally” out of flour or butter more often. 🙂 At least, that’s what I may or may not have found true in my life…

one year ago: {Healthy} Mexican Hot Chocolate Breakfast Bars
two years ago: Lime Chicken Rice Bake
three years ago: Crispy Honey Ginger Chicken

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies [from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter [I use regular, not natural]
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, and baking soda. Then gently fold in chips and peanuts and mix until just combined. Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets in 1 tablespoon increments, shaping into balls with moistened hands. Place two inches apart on baking sheets, then bake until cookies are golden and puffy, about 12-14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for five minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely…if they last that long! Enjoy!

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies.

Main Dishes, Other, Recipes

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice

Lately I’ve been really into quick but still healthy meals. Working full time is great… but when I get home from a long day and an even longer commute, half the time I want to just curl up on the couch with my soft blanket and my Kindle, and the other half of the time I want to bake doughnuts, cookies, and muffins and skip dinner entirely. No idea why this disparity, but dinner is usually not my highest priority. But ya gotta eat, right? So I’ve been turning to quick meals that are still healthy and that make loads of leftovers to eat all week long, like this fabulous Pineapple Fried Rice. This crave-worthy dinner can be made in about 20 minutes so it’s awesome for busy or lazy nights when you just want something yummy but not heavy.

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

I started off this dish with the Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil from STAR Fine Foods which they graciously sent me to try out. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store, just add a little ginger [fresh or ground] and some extra soy sauce as the veggies are sauteing. Normally I wouldn’t think of using special infused oils on an ordinary weeknight, but I’m beginning to change my mind. They really make an ordinary dish shine–and cut down on my prep time so I can get back to my book sooner. 🙂 #librarianalert

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

For this batch of fried rice, I used garlic, carrots, edamame, peas, and green beans, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. I’m thinking some sugar snap peas and broccoli would be good to try next time. What we especially loved about this vegetarian fried rice was the subtle sweetness of the pineapple with the salty soy sauce and sesame oil. Oh man, what a combo! This dish was hearty enough without meat [I totally think fried rice is one of those dishes where meat isn’t missed] but if you gotta have some, pork or shrimp would be good. Chicken is too predictable, methinks. Oh, and don’t forget the chopped honey roasted peanuts on top. Crunch crunch! 🙂 Cilantro would be a good addition too! TTYL 🙂 [I can’t believe I just wrote that. LOL! Hahaha.] Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
two years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons STAR Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil [extra virgin olive oil infused with soy and ginger]
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained [reserve 1/4 cup pineapple juice and save the rest to drink or for something else]
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked, cold rice [day old if possible]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for serving
  • chopped honey roasted peanuts, for serving

Directions:

Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in edamame, peas, green beans, and pineapple. Cook for a minute or so until they just begin to soften.

Add rice and soy sauce to vegetables, then stir continuously for about 4 minutes, until rice is hot and begins to crisp up.

Push all the rice mixture to one side of the pan and pour the eggs in the empty spot. Quickly stir the eggs on the hot surface until they just begin to cook, then whisk them into the rice mixture. Pour in toasted sesame oil, then stir to combine.

Remove from heat, and serve fried rice with sesame seeds and chopped honey roasted peanuts.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Disclosure: STAR Fine Foods sent me a complementary package of their new cooking oils and some other goodies to try out. I had no obligations to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try them though! Thanks to Ruby and all the other great people at STAR Fine Foods for their generosity.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

Breakfast, Granola, Recipes

Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. Last fall, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from April 12, 2012… these still get alot of traffic from my blog, even though the link is broken! and I figured it was high time to have the recipe here too!

I love granola bars. Love them for a snack after a workout, love them as a sweet treat in my brown bag [well, pink and black insulated tote] lunch, love them any time… day or night. But you know what I don’t love? I don’t love that my favorite varieties are sold for at least $1 a piece, and that the cheap kinds taste like cardboard and still run $3 for 8-10. $3 for a mediocre processed, packaged snack that contains tons of chemicals and/or preservatives? No thanks, I’ll make my own.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars | The Pajama Chef

I’ve had a few successes in the homemade granola bar department… Chewy Granola Bars–your classic character with dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips as mix-ins. Or perhaps, Fruit and Nut Granola Bars are more your thing–they’re a little softer with more variety inside. Lastly, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bars–a crispy granola bar with a fall-flavored twist.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars | The Pajama Chef

These Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars are different. They’re more substantial. Flavorful and filling, but not heavy and dense. Sweet and salty. Pretty much unbelievable, til you try them. And you should, because they’re made up of mostly pantry ingredients, and take virtually no time to whip up. I promise they’ll make your lunchtime and snacktime fabulous!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars [adjusted from How Sweet Eats]

click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 1 cup crushed salted pretzels
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped dry roasted or honey roasted peanuts
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients: oats, cereal, pretzels, flax/wheat germ, brown sugar, flour, and peanuts. Then, add peanut butter and mix with a spoon or your hands to create a rough “dough.” This should take about 5 minutes.

In a smaller bowl, combine butter, vanilla, and honey. Pour into peanut butter dough and stir to combine completely. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut flakes.

Press dough into prepared pan, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. But don’t forget the golden rule of granola–it always hardens as it cools, so don’t overcook it! Let pan cool completely before cutting, refrigerating for an added chill if necessary. I let my granola bars cool overnight before cutting just to be safe.

Time: 40 minutes. [15 minutes active].

Yield: 18 servings.

Linked with: Weekend Potluck.