Monday, May 14, 2007

The More, The Merrier

Not that I need to be coerced into cooking and sharing food with friends... but after our girls' night potluck Saturday, these top 5 reasons to have a potluck just popped into my head so I thought I'd share in case you need convincing...

5. It's just a great excuse to cook or bake

4. Hungry friends are always willing to be guinea pigs for a new recipe

3. You get lots of new recipes, tips and ideas

2. Hanging out with other people who love to cook always means debating your favorite Food Network personality (Rachael vs. Giada?)

1. You get to eat A LOT because it's downright rude not to try everyone's dish

I also realized what happens when you have a room full of cooks... it soon turns into a bunch of very stuffed (and happy) bellies! Some of the dishes we enjoyed included fresh olive tapenade served with pita wedges, spicy corn dip with Frito's Scoops, chicken skewers with satay sauce, fresh garden salad, 3-bean baked beans, asparagus salad with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, and cheesy baked rice.

Luckily, we all pulled out of our food comas in time to enjoy some dessert... including my contribution for the evening, Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. I'd made this before but actually didn't have a chance to taste it so I made sure not to miss out this time! If you love peanut butter, this one's for you!!

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
7 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 tbsp sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup plus 1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla, divided
1 cup peanut butter chips
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray 9-inch glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tbsp sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 10 minutes.

Microwave peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup cream in large microwave-safe bowl on medium heat at 15-second intervals just until chips soften, stirring often. Whisk in peanut butter and 1 tsp vanilla. Cool to barely lukewarm. Beat remaining 1 cup cream and 2 tbsp sugar in medium bowl until very thick but not yet holding peaks; fold into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spoon mousse over chocolate layer. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

*top with drizzled chocolate and rough-chopped peanuts for added texture and flavor!

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