Key Lime Pie

Want to hear something kind of crazy?
Key Lime Pie | A Nerd Cooks

This was my first key lime pie.  Baked or eaten.

I mean, I know that I’ve had some sorts of key lime-flavored desserts in the past, but this was my first legit key lime pie.

Key Lime Pie | A Nerd Cooks

I made it for a research assistant’s last day in the lab, and shared it with a group of coworkers and RAs at a small going away party last week.

Now, I can tell you that I thought that it tasted pretty amazing.   But the reviews I received from others were pretty fantastic, too.

Key Lime Pie | A Nerd Cooks

It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and tangy.  The crust is also phenomenal.

I found this recipe on the blog Honest and Tasty and couldn’t not make it.

You’ll need:

For the crust –

  • 11 whole graham crackers
  • 7 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • big pinch of kosher salt

For the filling –

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tbs key lime zest (reserve a bit for the topping)
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice (~1 lb key limes OR bottled key lime juice)

For the whipped cream –

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tbs granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a blender/food processor/zip top bag, smash the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs.

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and granulated sugar.  Mix until everything is combined.

Turn the mixture out into a 9-inch pie pan and gently press it into an even layer, bringing the crust up the sides of the pie pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow the crust to cool while you make the pie filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and lime zest together until thickened.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and whip for 3 more minutes, or until further thickened.  Add the lime juice and mix until just combined.

Pour the filling into the crust and spread it around with a spatula, smoothing the surface.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the center is not completely jiggly.  There will be some movement, but it will look done.  Also, the filling may puff up a bit, but won’t change color.

Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for about half an hour before covering it and letting it cool completely in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once the pie is cool, you’re ready to top it with some whipped cream and more lime zest!  In the bowl of a stand mixer, again using the whisk attachment, whip the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form.

Slap some whipped cream on top and garnish with more zest.

Key Lime Pie | A Nerd Cooks

Key Lime Pie | A Nerd CooksKey Lime Pie | A Nerd Cooks

Dr. Pepper Bourbon Floats

You guys.  It has been HOT in Baltimore this week.  Like question-why-I-bothered-showering-this-morning-after-stepping-outside-of-the-house-because-I’m-drenched-in-sweat hot. It feels like death outside.

What better way to cool off than with some boozy ice cream floats?  While sitting inside in the AC, of course.

You’ve seen Dirty Coke Floats (featured on Buzzfeed a few months ago!) on this blog before.

Now, let’s talk Dr. Pepper Bourbon Floats.
Dr. Pepper Bourbon Floats | A Nerd Cooks

They’re sweet, delicious, refreshing, and oh-so-easy to make.  Just pour three ingredients in a glass and you’re good to go!

You’ll need (makes 1):

  • 1-2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • Dr. Pepper

In the bottom of a glass, drop the scoops of ice cream.  Add the bourbon.  Slowly pour the Dr. Pepper over the ice cream and bourbon.  Enjoy!

Dr. Pepper Bourbon Floats | A Nerd Cooks

Easy Roasted Shrimp

I’ve been making these easy roasted shrimp for my husband and myself since we moved in together 6 years ago.

They’re so simple, healthy, and yet delicious.  I’ve used them to top salads, pasta, rice dishes, and often just eat them on their own with a roasted vegetable or two.Easy Roasted Shrimp | A Nerd CooksYou’ll need:

  • 1 lb raw medium/large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

In a large zip top bag, combine the raw shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Toss it all around until the shrimp are well coated.

Lay the shrimp, in a single layer, on the lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  The shrimp will be opaque and firm to the touch.

Eat them as a main course on their own, as an appetizer (roasted shrimp cocktail, anyone?), or incorporate them into whatever dish you’d like.

Easy Roasted Shrimp | A Nerd Cooks

The Black Eyed Susan

When the lovely ladies over at 5 O’Clock Fashionistas asked me to take part in their Coaster 2 Coaster series, I was ecstatic!

Their blog is full of great posts about fashion, cocktails, and life.  If you haven’t been to their site yet, pop on over.  I’ll wait.

Since I’m living in Maryland (for another month or so, anyway!!), I was asked to create a cocktail that represents the state.

After some internal debate about whether to feature an Old Bay-heavy drink (what, people from other states don’t go nuts for the stuff??), I settled on a sweet, fruity, Black Eyed Susan.

The Black Eyed Susan | A Nerd CooksHead on over to 5 O’Clock Fashionistas to see the recipe and full post!

The Black Eyed Susan | A Nerd Cooks

Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins

These muffins were inspired by an overabundance of produce and desire to make some slightly lighter baked goods.Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins | A Nerd CooksDespite being on the lighter side, they do not disappoint in the flavor department.
Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

They’re slightly sweet, and also super moist.

Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

These muffins were inspired by the recipe on Mix and Stir.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus a little more for topping the muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana with a fork.  Add the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract, stirring with a spatula to combine.  Add the zucchini and mix to combine again.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the chopped nuts.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full with batter.  Sprinkle the top generously with chopped nuts.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick, when inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

Salmon BLT Tacos

Salmon.  BLT.  Tacos.

Need I say more?  Didn’t think so.

Salmon BLT Tacos | A Nerd Cooks

These tacos are the product of leftover ingredients from various dinners throughout the week + my foodbrain working overtime.

You’ll need (makes 8 tacos):

  • 1.5 lbs of salmon
  • 3 tbs Ranch dressing
  • 1-2 tsp Sriracha
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • arugula
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

You can prepare the salmon any way you like: grilled, pan seared, baked.  I prefer to bake the salmon, wrapped in foil, and then flake it with a fork.  The method that I use can be found here.  Once the salmon is prepared, set it aside for the moment.

In a small bowl, combine the Ranch dressing and Sriracha.  If you aren’t big into spicy foods, start with 1tsp of the Sriracha.  Taste, and add more if you still want some more heat.  Set side.

Heat the corn tortillas.  You can do this one of two ways: 1) by microwaving them for 30 seconds, sandwiched between layers of damp paper towels; 2) heating them in a dry skillet over medium heat.

Once the tortillas are warm, start assembling the tacos!  Start with a little bed of arugula, followed by the salmon.  Top with some quartered cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar, crumbled bacon, and a drizzle or two of the pleasantly spicy sauce.

Salmon BLT Tacos | A Nerd Cooks

Filled Peanut Butter Cupcakes Two Ways: PB&J and Chocolate

I am beyond excited to share these cupcakes with you.  The flavor combinations are classic, and the cupcakes are crazy delicious.

These cupcakes have been billed as “the best cupcakes I’ve ever had” by two different people.  The PB&J version resulted in another cupcake-eater having a bit of a moment, and then declaring that they “taste like childhood”.  The chocolate-filled cupcakes resulted in appreciative eye-rolling and silence.

Not to toot my own horn anything, but, you know… beep beep.

 PB&J and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Half of these cupcakes are filled with raspberry preserves, and topped with chopped peanuts and a single raspberry.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The other half are filled with a chocolate cream cheese frosting and topped with shaved chocolate.Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Trying to squeeze two separate blog posts out of these cupcakes seemed a bit like cheating, so today you’re getting a twofer!

The recipe for the cupcakes and chocolate cream cheese frosting come from Joy the Baker’s first cookbook, and the peanut butter frosting recipe comes from Joy’s second cookbook.

This may seem like a lot of steps/ingredients, but trust me, it’s really not so bad, and totally worth it.  Alternately, you could make just one of these varieties of cupcakes to cut down on ingredients.

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes 24) –

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the fillings (enough chocolate frosting for 24 cupcakes; enough preserves for 12 cupcakes) –

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 15 oz. jar raspberry preserves

For the salted peanut butter buttercream (enough to frost 24 cupcakes) –

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbs milk

For the toppings –

  • 12 raspberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • milk chocolate, for shaving

To make the peanut butter cupcakes, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two muffin tins with paper liners.  Set aside.

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

Using an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Do this until everything is light and fluffy looking, which will take about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat the mixture for about 1 minute at medium speed between egg additions.  Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture.  Then slowly add all of the buttermilk.  Once things are just coming together, add the remaining flour mixture and continue beating on low speed until everything comes together.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  They should be filled approximately 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 15-20, or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the chocolate cream cheese filling, place the softened cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat the cream cheese for about 1 minute, until it is soft and fluffy.  Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the butter to the bowl.  Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute until thoroughly combined.

Add the cocoa powder and beat on medium speed, until incorporated. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Beat until almost incorporated.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed until all of the powdered sugar has disappeared and mixture is smooth.

To make the salted peanut butter buttercream, add the other softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed until it is softened (about 1 minute).

Add the creamy peanut butter, salt, and vanilla extract and beat well.

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and beat on low until well combined.

Add another 2 cups of sugar along with 1 tbs of heavy cream/milk.  Beat until combined.

Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar (depending on your desired consistency) and remaining cream/milk and beat until the frosting reaches the desired thickness.

Beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy (about 4 minutes).

Now that all of our ingredients are prepped and ready to go, you’ll want to hollow out the cupcakes.  Using a melon baller, scoop out the middles of the cupcakes, setting the scooped out cupcake bits aside (snacks for the baker!).

Spoon raspberry preserves into half of the cupcakes (you’ll end up using the entire jar).  Spoon or pipe the chocolate cream cheese frosting into the other half of the cupcakes (you’ll have some left over).

PB&J and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Once the cupcakes are filled, frost with the peanut butter buttercream.  Top the PB&J cupcakes with a single raspberry and some chopped peanuts.

Top the chocolate-filled cupcakes with a bit of shaved milk chocolate. PB&J and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Now go to town on these cupcakes!  Consider sharing with some friends.  They’ll thank you for it. PB&J and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks