Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars (Treats For Co-Irkers)

I feel a little guilty posting this recipe because it came from the Peter Pan website. I'm a JIF girl and always will be so of course I substituted JIF for the Peter Pan. Now, if we can all get along here and no one reports me to the NCPPBR (National Council for the Protection of Peanut Butter Recipes) everything will remain civil and no one gets hurt in the process. Are you in or out? Just try the recipe before you consider reporting me and I think mum will remain the word.

I used a mixture of Coach's Oats (are you sick of me referring to these yet?) and regular old-fashioned oats for this recipe, but you can use any oats you please. I also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, and butter instead of Blue Bonnet table spread (whatever that is.) So you know what? Go ahead and report me to the NCPPBR, I'm claiming this recipe as my own!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mag Bars (AKA Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars)

2 cups oats (quick-cooking, old-fashioned or Coach's Oats. I used half old-fashioned and half Coach's)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) melted
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
8 (.75 oz snack size) Reeses peanut butter cups, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. Add butter and stir until crumbly. Remove 1 1/2 cups to use as topping. Press remaining mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 13X9 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven.

In microwave-safe dish, microwave the 1 cup of the chocolate chips in 30-second intervals until softened and melted. Stir until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. Stir well until smooth and thoroughly combined. Spread onto crust.

Combine the remaining chocolate chips, chopped peanut butter cups, and the reserved crumb topping. Sprinkle evenly over filling.

Bake for 25 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

The Other Side of 50 will be on vacation for the next week. However, please stop back often while I'm away because I have some excellent guest hosts lined up with some fantastic recipes. AND.... there will be a GIVEAWAY starting Monday!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dill And Garlic Freezer Pickles

Cucumbers again Mags? Really? Didn't you just post about them yesterday?

Well, technically this isn't a cucumber recipe, it's a pickle recipe so let's all relax and cut me a generous amount of slack. Besides, what else am I supposed to do with the mountain of cucumbers that's overtaken my countertop? You can only eat so many on salads and since I'm certainly not the type to promote cucumbers as sex toys, I made the bumper crop into freezer pickles. Are we kosher now?

I actually made a batch of freezer pickles last summer that were really, really good. But this time around I wanted something a little less sweet and with more of a salty, dilly, garlicy bite. When I make these freezer pickles next summer I'm going to add some smashed garlic cloves to the mix to make them even more garlicy. Once thawed, these pickles keep for weeks in the fridge, and remain as crisp as the day you sliced them.

Garlic and Dill Freezer Pickles

8 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
2 TBSP pickling salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 cup Splenda (or sugar)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried dill weed

Combine cucumbers and onions in a large bowl.

In a small sauce pan, heat the remaining ingredients to boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Pour the brine over the cucumbers and onions and stir well. Cover and place bowl in the refrigerator. Stir once daily for the next three days. Spoon cucumbers and onions into freezer containers and cover with the brine. Place containers in freezer. These will keep frozen for up to one year. Thaw overnight in fridge when ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Cool as a Cucumber" Salad

While the actual definition of the phrase "cool as a cucumber" is "calm and unruffled," I've decided to change it to "something that sounds tasty even when it's 150 degrees in your kitchen." Hey.... any idiot can be a writer, but it takes a special kind of idiot to change an idiom. Yeah, that's right. I'm that special kind of idiot.

Cucumber salads are just perfect for this extremely warm weather we've been having. Slap it together in the morning and it's ready to eat by the evening meal, preferably with something grilled outside as the main entree. Take note that those are not red onions in this salad, but rather my gorgeous purple peppers I was bragging about last week.

"Cool As A Cucumber" Salad

4 cups thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 bell pepper (any color) thinly sliced
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp celery seed
2 TBSP Splenda (or sugar)
the juice of one half lime
kosher salt and pepper

Combine the sliced veggies in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Check dressing and adjust salt and pepper seasoning as needed.

Stir the dressing into the veggies and combine well. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours for best flavor.

I'm entering this recipe in Jen's Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge for July.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirled Cheesecake (Happy 21st Molly!)

I didn't cry when she graduated from high school. Well, maybe a snot and a snort or two into an old McDonald's napkin I found in my purse.

I didn't cry when she turned 18. One single solitary soaked pillowcase doesn't count... for crying out loud!

But today the floodgates open because the baby turns 21 at midnight. And tonight while I'm bawling my eyes out, I'll lay out her Barney underpants, her navy blue polka dotted Easter dress with matching bonnet, her white ruffled anklets and her First Communion shoes, and when she gets home from the bars, I'm going to dress her up and rock her to sleep.

She requested a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for her 21st birthday and I made it under protest. For by making it for her, I'm acknowledging that she really, really is turning 21 and there is not a darn thing I can do to stop it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cheesecake

Crust:

1-1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (this was one package for me)
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 TBSP light corn syrup


Topping:

7 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Reese's peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped.(I used 8 of the .55 ounce size)
1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 10" springform pan. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a microwave-safe bowl, place the 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth. Add remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream and stir well to combine

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup of the cream. Add eggs and vanilla; beat on low speed just until combined.

Pour half of filling mixture onto cooled crust. Dollop half of the chocolate/peanut butter mixture onto filling. Using small spatula or butter knife, gently swirl the chocolate and peanut butter into the filling. Add the remaining filling and dollop the remaining chocolate and peanut butter mixture onto filling. Repeat swirling.

Place cheesecake on baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 70-75 minutes or until center is almost set. (I baked mine for 75 minutes and I think it still could have used a few more minutes.)

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; then let cheesecake cool completely before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

The following day, remove the springform pan and place cheesecake (with bottom pan) on serving platter or cake plate. Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly; pour over cheesecake. Decorate top with chopped Reeses candy and peanuts. Return to refrigerator until topping is set. Store leftovers in the refrigerator

Edited 7/27: You thought I was kidding, didn't you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Day That Cleveland Sports Died (Weekend Whine)

This is an article written by my son Wes, who is passionate about Cleveland sports and is absolutely livid about last week's LeBron James debacle. I decided to share it with you because I have always enjoyed the way he writes and hope you enjoy it as well. Please note that there is some profanity in the footnotes, but please also note that it is within the footnotes that my son's true humor and sarcasm shine. I apologize in advance if this posting offends any of you, unless of course LeBron himself reads my blog. In that event, I hope he's completely offended.

The Day That Cleveland Sports Died
AKA “Sign #814 that God Hates Cleveland”

I didn’t sleep well last night. On any normal night, I would have attributed it to the relentless itching of the dozens of mosquito bites that I suffered over the 4th of July weekend. But this was different…last night’s restlessness was due to my reaction to “The Decision[1].”

“The Decision,” of course, was LeBron James’ self-promotional and contrived hour-long special on ESPN[2] in which he announced that he was leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat. Being a fan of all Cleveland teams, this obviously was devastating news to me, but not really a surprise. The writing was on the wall when the Cavs fell to the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, failing to bring Cleveland its first professional sports title in 46 years. The writing was on the wall when LeBron basically quit in game 6 (and stretches of other games) of that series. The writing was on the wall when Chris Bosh declined LeBron’s plea to come to Cleveland and joined the Heat instead (I am convinced that this was part of their master plan…LeBron didn’t try to get Bosh to become a Cavalier because he knew that they would be teaming up with Dwyane Wade in Miami).

So when reports surfaced on Thursday that the trio would be forming a mini “Dream Team,” it all made sense, even before LeBron callously confirmed the reports later that night. And to be honest, I don’t blame him for leaving Cleveland for Miami. I’m not mad at him for wanting to win multiple titles and hitching his wagon to two other superstars to do so (even though his idol, Michael Jordan, would NEVER have done that…he would have taken on that team himself). What I am mad about is the way he announced his decision.

James threw the Cavaliers franchise, its fans and the city of Cleveland under the bus and slowly ran over them in sixty minutes of self-serving, ego-stroking media hype. Sure, he mentioned how he “never wanted to leave Cleveland” and that “his heart would always be in that area,” but how are we to believe that when he strung everyone along for months, anxiously waiting on “The Decision?” How are we to believe that when he publicly embarrassed his hometown organization and its entire fan base on national TV? Give me a break! That’s like a husband confessing to his wife on Maury that he fathered a child out of wedlock with a waitress in South Beach, but he still loves his wife[3].

The truth is that LeBron didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t care about the fans. He didn’t care that he had basically promised a championship to a fan base starving for one. He didn’t care about the total desperation that all Cleveland fans share and he didn’t care that he was “The Chosen One” that was supposed to end it.[4] He didn’t care about how his decision would affect the city of Cleveland. He didn’t care that downtown bars, restaurants and hotels would lose millions of dollars if he left. With the manufacturing sector already gone, the tourism industry was the main thing keeping Cleveland afloat. And he didn’t care.[5] I am seriously scared for that city.

What’s worse is that he didn’t even notify the Cavs front office of his decision prior to announcing it on air. Dan Gilbert and Company found out with the rest of the world! This is the same guy that drafted James first overall as an 18-year-old kid, paid him tens of millions of dollars (and gave him the opportunity to make much, much more) and did everything in his power to surround him with a solid supporting cast to get LeBron a ring. But he didn’t have enough decency to give Gilbert and the Cavs a head’s up before “The Decision.” That is just plain classless.

But LeBron isn’t the only party to blame for this debacle. Plenty can be said about the presentation from ESPN[6], who had already been leading with this story on every SportsCenter for the last two months. With all of their talking heads throwing true journalism out the window and purely speculating on LeBron’s future non-stop, ESPN must have had a wet dream when he approached them with his suggestion for this special. “The Decision” would be their M*A*S*H series finale[7]…just replace Hawkeye with LeBron and Hunnicutt with Jim Gray (Stuart Scott is Spearchucker Jones). What ESPN (and James) failed to realize is what a train-wreck this would become. You had “analysts” in Bristol saying the same things that they had been saying for months and a setting in the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich[8] that just made for a very odd environment (the children in the background got a front-row seat to the execution of an already-dying city)[9]. No one outside of ESPN and Team James could have thought this came across well. “The Decision” turned “The King” into the most despised athlete in Cleveland[10], New York and Chicago. I hope you like hate letters in your mailbox and dried egg yolk on your siding[11], LeBron. You only have yourself to blame.

I know that this rant has been overwhelmingly anti-LeBron, but I understand that this is a business and he did the best he could in Cleveland[12]. I do wish him the best of luck[13] and I definitely hope he doesn’t get eaten by a shark[14]. He is “The King”[15] and I know he’ll do well in Miami, in front of all their loyal[16] fans[17]. I don’t think that “The Decision” will tarnish his brand at all[18] and I honestly believe that he, Wade and Bosh[19] will lead the Heat to multiple NBA titles. I just hope that he doesn’t expect a warm reception at his next high school reunion.[20]

__________________________________________________________________________

[1] Believe it or not, “The Decision” is not the title of a John Grisham book.
[2] ESPN: Serving narcissistic athletes’ egos since 1979
[3] Of course, this would be after the obligatory DNA test (a Maury staple)
[4] For me, this is the hardest pill to swallow. I love the Browns, but I know they will NEVER be good. And the Indians show glimpses every couple years, but I’m not holding out hope for them. The real reason to be a Cleveland fan was LeBron. With him quitting on the Cavs, there is nothing to cheer for. As a new father, I am worried about this for my son. That’s right…I worry about the sports teams my son will follow (I am shallow like that).
[5] Normally I’d argue that it’s not an athlete’s responsibility to worry about a city’s economic stability. But for a local product who claims to love Cleveland? I just thought this might be on his mind…apparently not.
[6] ESPN: Inserting itself into sports stories since 1979
[7] I never watched M*A*S*H (before my time), but I’m still making this reference.
[8] I didn’t realize that there were neglected, sibling-less kids in Greenwich. Besides, I thought that’s what the nanny is for.
[9] Really a wonderful idea on LeBron’s part. “Not only am I going to crush your hopes and dreams on live TV, I’m going to do it in front of impressionable kids.” Nice touch, King!
[10] Though it’s still fresh, I think the hatred for LeBron in Cleveland will ultimately rank just below that of Art Modell, but above John Elway.
[11] Actually, he probably has brick walls.
[12] False…ultimately, he never finished what he started.
[13] No I don’t! I hope he fails miserably
[14] Really…I don’t. But can you imagine if he did? Karma’s a bitch.
[15] Of cocksuckers…that’s right, I said it. Get used to it because there’s more cursing ahead.
[16] By “loyal” I mean fickle. This is the same city that averaged 16,290 attendance (38% of capacity) for the Marlins the year they won the World Series.
[17] And by “fans” I mean juiced-up douchebags.
[18] Sarcasm
[19] And the other cast-aways they get to fill out the team
[20] FUCK YOU, LEBRON…YOU’RE A PIECE OF SHIT!! I know it doesn’t really apply to that line, but I just really needed to get that out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Anaheim Chili Peppers

Now that I've stuffed everything but my bra this past week, I promise you that this will be the last "stuffed" vegetable recipe for at least a couple of weeks. And you know what? Lucky, lucky you that I've saved the best for last. I think it's pretty obvious why it's the best, isn't it? I mean, wouldn't you eat your dog's chew toy if it was wrapped in bacon?

Before you automatically label this as an unhealthy recipe, consider that the bacon used is center cut bacon, which is comparable to turkey bacon in fat grams and calories. It is also less processed. The base for the filling is cannellini beans and a little reduced-fat cream cheese and 2% sharp cheddar cheese. Aren't we now talking about something that might be considered semi-healthy, especially if eaten in moderation? Am I trying too hard to sell this recipe? If it appears that way I apologize, because one bite of these bacon-wrapped stuffed anaheim peppers is going to knock your socks off. Now give your dog back his chew toy.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

6-8 Anaheim chili peppers
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (including the oil)
1/2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
kosher salt and pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 (15.5 ounce) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 TBSP plus 1 tsp chili powder, divided
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup 2% shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions, green parts only, diced
6-8 slices of center cut bacon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add chili peppers and boil for 4 minutes. Remove peppers from pot and allow to cool.

In a large skillet add the sundried tomatoes in oil, onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and saute over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or just until onions start to soften. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray rack (I used my cooling rack) with cooking spray and place on baking sheet.

In bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade pour the sundried tomato and onion mixture. Pulse until finely minced. Add the cannellini beans, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and 1 tsp of the chili powder. Process until smooth. Add the cream cheese and process until smooth. Remove mixture to a small bowl and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese and diced green onions. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

Take each chili pepper and carefully make a slit from the top of the pepper almost to the bottom point. Remove seeds. (I just rinsed the peppers under running water and they came out nicely.)

Place the brown sugar, the remaining chili powder and the cayenne pepper in a pie pan or other shallow dish. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.

Take each prepared chili and stuff with 2-3 tablespoons of bean and cheese mixture, depending on the size of the pepper. Wrap the pepper with the bacon, starting the bacon on the side opposite the stuffing slit and ending on the same side. Roll the bacon wrapped pepper in the brown sugar mixture and place the pepper, stuffing side up, on the prepared baking rack. The ends of the bacon should now be on the bottom of the pepper, thus eliminating the need to use toothpicks to hold the bacon to the pepper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bacon is crispy and pepper is tender.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beef and Quinoa Stuffing for Zucchini or Peppers

With this being the third day in a row that I've posted about "stuffing" something, it appears that if it ain't nailed down, I'll stuff it and bake it. So please take special care to watch over your small dogs and cats this week. (Just kidding....geez)

The zucchini were another gift from the guys at work and they were perfect for stuffing because they were the overgrown home garden variety, the kind with lots of seeds in the middle. If you were to use regular-size zucchini, I would cut them in half, lengthwise and stuff them as zucchini boats. The green bell peppers were actually from our own garden and since this stuffing recipe makes a ton, I decided to use the leftovers on them.

Ground Beef and Quinoa Stuffing (enough to stuff four large zucchini or four large bell peppers. I did a combination of both)

To prepare zucchini and bell peppers:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the zucchini into 3 inch sections. Carefully remove the seeds and hollow out the center of each section, making sure not to hollow completely through the section. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Place zucchini and/or peppers in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Drain any liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the zucchini or peppers. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

For the stuffing:

3/4 cup quinoa
beef broth
1 pound lean ground beef
kosher salt and pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color) seeded and diced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
1 TBSP fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, reserve a little for garnish
3 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

While the zucchini and/or peppers are baking, prepare quinoa according to package instructions, using beef broth instead of water. Set aside.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned. Drain and remove from pan to a small bowl.

In same skillet heat olive oil. Add the onions and bell pepper and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3-5 minutes, or until mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme and parsley and saute for another minute or two. Stir in the tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce. Add the cooked quinoa and ground beef. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all and stir well to combine. Remove from heat.

Stuff zucchini and/or peppers with mixture.

Bake the zucchini for an additional 25-30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness. I like my zucchini tender/crisp so I baked them for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Cover stuffed peppers with jarred spaghetti, marinara or tomato sauce. Return peppers to oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with your favorite cheese. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lamb, Mint and Feta Stuffed Eggplants

I wouldn't say that these stuffed eggplants are the prettiest things I've ever photographed or eaten, but they certainly are among the tastiest. And the best part of all is that the eggplants were given to us by hubby's boss. (And you all know how I love freebies!)

This recipe includes another first for me in that I've never cooked with ground lamb before. I'm not sure why I've shied away from it but most likely it was because I had no idea what I would use ground lamb for. I found a package of it on sale last week though and decided to try it with these little baby eggplants. It was a good call. The combination of lamb, mint, pine nuts and feta cheese made for a delicious marriage of flavors, and one I will definitely try again.

Lamb, Mint and Feta Stuffed Eggplants

4-6 small eggplants
kosher salt and pepper
1 pound ground lamb
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 TBSP tomato paste
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (can use reduced-fat)

Slice eggplants in half, lengthwise. Score the flesh and carefully remove it, leaving 1/4-1/2" shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside. Season the insides of the eggplants with kosher salt and pepper and lay them cut-side down on a paper towel to drain for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crumble the ground lamb in a large skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until lamb is browned. Drain any grease and place lamb in a separate bowl. Set aside.

In same skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and the reserved chopped eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until onions have become translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in the tomato paste, pine nuts, feta cheese and browned lamb. Stir well to combine.

Stuff eggplant halves with mixture and place on baking sheet. Baked in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until eggplant is tender and filling is bubbly.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sausage And Coach's Oats Stuffed Peppers

If Maggie Piper picked a peck of purple peppers, how many purple peppers did Maggie Piper eat?

If you answered anything other than zero, you'd be wrong. It turns out that purple peppers turn green when they're baked. At least mine did! Aren't they just gorgeous raw though? I'll make sure to use the next batch that comes off the garden in a more esthetic, uncooked manner, showcasing the beautiful color of this unique sweet pepper.

OK, now here's the skinny behind the stuffing recipe. I've stuffed peppers with every grain imaginable, including quinoa, barley, rice and couscous. I wanted to try a more traditional stuffing with the flavors of Thanksgiving this time around and I also wanted to try using oats. Coach's Oats to be specific. I can't vouch for how this stuffing would turn out if you used regular old-fashioned oats. And if you decided to use steel cut oats, you'd want to cook them in the chicken broth separately from the rest of the recipe as they take much longer to cook. Then just add them in at the end.

I have to tell you that I loved the oats in this recipe and cannot wait to try other savory recipes incorporating them.

Sausage And Coach's Oats Stuffed Peppers

6-8 medium bell peppers, any color
1 pound ground Italian turkey sausage
3 TBSP olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery (with leaves) diced
1 small bell pepper (any color) diced (I used an Anaheim pepper because I'd just picked one from the garden)
kosher salt and pepper
4 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Coach's Oats
1/2 cups Craisins or raisins
green onions, green part only, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a deep casserole dish with cooking spray.

Slice tops off of peppers and remove seeds. Stand upright in casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes while preparing the stuffing.

In large skillet brown the turkey sausage. Remove from skillet to paper towels to drain.

In same skillet add the olive oil. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 6-7 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms have given up their moisture, another 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme and sage and saute for another minute or two. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in oats and Craisins and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the turkey sausage back into pan. Stir well to combine all ingredients.

Stuff partially baked peppers with stuffing mixture and return to oven for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with green onions if desired.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake (Treats For Co-Irkers)

I thought it was about time to make a "cawfee" cake for the co-irkers so they'd have something to tawk about while they take their cawfee break in the morning. This cake is really a combination of two desserts because it also has a cheesecake layer nestled in between the coffee cake and fruit layers. (Am I making you feel a little bit verklempt?) Made with whole grains and some Splenda, I've helped you out a bit, but there's nothing that's going to trim that 3/4 cup of buttah off your thighs. Bake and eat at your own discretion and then go tawk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Rhode Island; It's neither a road, nor an island. Discuss.

Strawberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup cold butter cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla, divided
1/2 tsp almond extract
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Splenda (or 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
1/2 cup strawberry jam (I used my strawberry freezer jam)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10" springform pan with cooking spray.

In bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, place the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Add cold butter pieces and pulse 8-10 times or until mixture resembles small peas. Remove 1 cup of this mixture to a small bowl and add the chopped slivered almonds. Stir to combine and set aside,

Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the food processor and pulse twice to combine with flour mixture.

In another small bowl whisk together one of the eggs, the sour cream, 1/2 tsp of the vanilla and the almond extract. Add mixture to food processor and pulse until mixture comes together into a sticky dough-type batter.

Dump batter into prepared springform pan and spread around evenly on the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan.

In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Scrape down the beaters and the bowl and add the Splenda (or sugar) and beat well. Scrape down beaters and bowl again. Add the remaining egg and the other 1/2 tsp of vanilla and beat well to combine.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over batter in pan. Dollop jam on top of cream cheese layer and distribute evenly across cream cheese. Sprinkle with reserved flour mixture and almonds.

Place pan in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan before removing the springform pan from the coffee cake.

Drizzle cake with powdered sugar mixed with a little bit of water if desired.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers With Grilled Sesame Pineapple

I scour food blogs like some people scour their kitchen sinks and copper pots. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to either "borrow" (and always give credit to the original recipe author,) or recipes that simply inspire me to create a totally different recipe using similar ingredients. Jen at My Kitchen Addiction, posted a recipe for a teriyaki turkey burger topped with grilled pineapple that both took my breath away in its beauty but also in its simplicity. Jen and I started blogging about the same time and we've both found the time to follow each others blogs throughout the two years we've been doing this. Her photo inspired me, but I changed up the entire recipe to suit my own tastes. However, I encourage you to check out her rendition of teriyaki turkey burgers with grilled pineapple. The photos alone will make your head spin. This gal's got some serious kitchen and photography talent.

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers With Grilled Sesame Pineapple (Makes 8 burgers)

1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP teriyaki sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 TBSP sesame oil, divided
2 TBSP Montreal steak seasoning
2 lbs lean ground turkey (I used one pound 99% fat free ground turkey breast and one pound 93/7 ground turkey)
8 pineapple rings (fresh or canned)
Teriyaki basting and glazing sauce (I used Kikkoman)
Whole grain hamburger buns
Lettuce leaves

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add bell pepper and onion and season with kosher salt; pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove skillet from heat and add the teriyaki sauce, ginger root, and one teaspoon of the sesame oil. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, crumble ground turkey. Season with Montreal steak seasoning. Add in the sauteed vegetables and combine thoroughly but do not over mix to avoid tough burgers. Divide meat into eight patties and either grill on greased grill or pan fry in a little olive oil. I pan fried mine for a little over five minutes per side. Brush burgers with the basting and glazing sauce during the last minute of grilling.

Meanwhile, brush pineapple rings with remaining sesame oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill (I used my indoor grill pan) for a few minutes on each side until nicely caramelized and grill marks appear.

To assemble:

Place lettuce leaf on bottom bun. Top with turkey burger and add more basting and glazing sauce if desired. Top with one grilled pineapple ring and the top bun. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Let's talk about comfort zones. Let's focus on how you always make certain dishes the same way and never ever deviate. Or maybe how you've hung onto your Peter Frampton hair style for 20 plus years.

Of course by "you," I mean me. And before you send an emergency makeover crew to my house, please know that I've ditched the Frampton hair do.... but I still own the "I Love Lucy" dress.

Anyway, deviled eggs are sacred ground to me. Mayonnaise, mustard, a little vinegar, a little sugar, and some salt and pepper. That's it. Don't be screwing with perfection. It shook my nerves and it rattled my brain to try this newfangled way of making deviled eggs, but I did it. And next week when I visit my therapist, I'll receive accolades on my ability to change things up a bit. Baby steps folks, it's all about baby steps...LOL

Spicy Deviled Eggs (from a Kroger flyer, no less)

12 hard cooked eggs
1 packet ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBSP sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used reduced fat)
1/4 cup bottled ranch salad dressing (I used Hidden Valley Light Ranch Dressing)
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

Peel hard boiled eggs and slice in half. Place yolks in a small bowl and mash with a fork into a grainy consistency.

In another small bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add about a third of the dressing to the egg yolks and stir until creamy and combined well. Add enough of the remaining dressing to reach the desired consistency you like your deviled eggs to be.

Spoon or pipe into egg whites. Garnish with chives, dill sprigs and paprika if desired

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blogging To Feed The Hungry

This is a HUGE thank you to all of you who follow my blog and come here to visit me every day. About a year ago I started advertising on my blog and have made a vow to donate all the proceeds from advertising to Gleaner's Food Bank of Indianapolis. In one year The Other Side of 50 has raised almost $250 dollars to help feed the hungry, thanks to you guys. Pat yourselves on the back. You've made me proud. Keep coming back and see my head really swell with pride for y'all, OK?

Hubby asked me if I ever make it REALLY big like Pioneer Woman would I continue to donate the money to Gleaner's? I said "heck yeah" and then I'd have to come back here and tell you all that "I love you more than my luggage."

Thank you again for your support and know that by your daily visits you not only tickle the crap out of me and my ego, your efforts are also feeding the hungry. You guys rock!

If you have the time, please check out the video below on what the folks at Gleaner's Food Bank are all about. And if you're so inclined, leave a donation, or find a way to help out your own local food bank or food pantry.

love,
Mags
P.S. The Other Side of 50 will be on vacation until sometime next week due to my turning 52 on Saturday. I'm heading north to celebrate (or mourn) the event. Behave and hold down the internet while I'm gone, OK?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Balsamic And Herb Pork Tenderloin With Roasted Vegetables

Today's one-skillet pork tenderloin and oven roasted vegetable dinner is a far cry from the one-skillet meals I made back in the days of three young children and a full time job. At that time I was thankful to have remembered to thaw a pound of hamburger the night before and come home to the box with the four-fingered white glove directing me through making "Beef Stroganoff" in 20 minutes. That gave us just enough time shove it down our throats, throw the dishes in the sink and head off to whichever child's basketball/softball/soccer/dance/baseball game....well, you get the picture.


My days are far less hectic now but I still enjoy a one-skillet dinner because I absolutely hate to wash dishes. Just ask my sister Mary. She'll tell you how I always had to go "wash my hair" when it came time to doing the dishes when we were growing up. Right Mary?

Balsamic And Herb Pork Tenderloin With Roasted Vegetables

For the pork:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped
1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (this was two separate pieces for me, each weighing about 1 1/4 pound. I cooked them both but served only one and saved the other for another meal)

Combine all marinade ingredients in a sealable gallon baggie. Add tenderloins. Press air out of baggie and seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

For the roasted vegetables:

2-3 medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
4 ounces button mushrooms, quartered

other ingredients:

1/4 cup canola oil
salt and pepper
1 heaping TBSP flour
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cubed potatoes in microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 8 minutes, stirring after 4 minutes. Set aside.

Remove pork tenderloins from marinade and discard marinade. Season tenderloins with salt and pepper. In a LARGE (12 inch) oven-proof skillet, heat 1/4 cup canola oil. When oil is hot, add the tenderloins and sear on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place skillet in oven and finish cooking tenderloins, about 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Remove pan from oven (BE CAREFUL, the handle will be screaming hot) Remove tenderloins to cutting board and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Increase oven heat to 450 degrees.

Place potatoes, green beans and mushrooms in same skillet. Toss to coat in the oil remaining in the skillet and season well with salt and pepper. Return the skillet to the oven and let vegetables roast for and additional 15-20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and transfer veggies to a serving platter.

Add the flour to the skillet and cook the flour over medium heat for a few minutes. Add chicken broth and whisk until smooth, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet.

Slice tenderloins into 1 1/2 inch slices and add to serving platter. Pour pan gravy over meat and serve.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Coach's Oats Bread

I have family members who would probably say that I've been cursed with a little bit of OCD, obsessive, compulsive disorder. I'll admit that nothing makes my heart purr more than seeing sweeper marks in my carpet or having my Kleenex box not only match my bathroom but my underwear too. However, I have one particular brother who says I have ERD, excessive, repulsive disorder. I'm not exactly sure what he means by that, but I'm certain it's a complement, don't you think?

I'm also kind of known for not being able to leave good enough alone. When my mother put me in charge of icing my own birthday cake when I turned 10, the icing was gray because I kept adding different food colorings to get just that perfect shade of whatever color it was that I was going for. I should have stopped with the first two drops of red and had a pretty pink cake, but gray it was. Lesson learned. Leave good enough alone, right?

Not today folks. I took a perfectly good recipe for oatmeal bread and made some changes just because I wanted to try something different and see if I could make it even more perfect. (Here's where another brother would chime in and say that I'm looney tunes with a side order of nuts.)

You've seen me post various recipes using Coach's Oats instead of regular, old fashioned oats. I love this product and have been incorporating it into almost every recipe that uses oats. However, this is the first time I've made bread with Coach's Oats and I have to tell you that this bread turned out even more beautifully than I had imagined. The other main difference between this recipe and my original oatmeal bread recipe is that I used a biga. I had a 9 ounce portion of biga that needed to be used and I thought I'd work it into this recipe. There is some white bread flour in the biga, but the rest of the recipe is whole grain, which you all know I love and preach about ad nauseam.

Coach's Oats Bread

The biga (makes 18 oz. which is enough for TWO loaves)

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP to 1 cup water, room temperature

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flour and the yeast. Add the 3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP water and using your paddle attachment, mix until the dough comes together to form a course ball. Switch to your dough hook and knead dough for 4-6 minutes, adding additional water or flour as necessary until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl, rolling it around to coat the dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 2-4 hours, or until nearly doubled in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly to degas. Return it to the bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place bowl in refrigerator overnight (and for up to 3 days.)

Remove biga from the fridge one hour before making final dough to remove chill. Place on greased surface and covered with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray.

The final dough:

1 1/4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup Coach's Oats (or regular old-fashioned oats)
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2- 2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dry milk
2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
9 oz. room temperature biga (see above) divided into 5-6 smaller pieces
sesame and/or poppy seeds, optional

Place oats, butter, salt and honey in the bowl of your stand mixer. Pour boiling water over and stir well to combine. Let mixture cool to lukewarm (around 100 degrees)

In a medium bowl combine 2 cups of the white whole wheat flour, the dry milk, wheat gluten and yeast. Whisk together.

Add the flour mixture and the biga pieces to the mixing bowl. Using dough hook knead all ingredients for 7-10 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Use the reserved 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour to get the dough to a tacky, not sticky consistency. The dough make leave a trail at the bottom of the bowl but will clear the sides.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Spray a 9X5 bread pan with cooking spray. Lightly grease hands and deflate dough. Turn dough onto lightly greased countertop and shape into a log. Place into prepared pan. Spray plastic wrap with cooking spray and loosely cover loaf. Let rise until it has risen at least an inch over the rim of the pan, about an hour. My kitchen was so warm when I made this bread that the second rise only took about 40 minutes..

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mist bread with water and top with sesame and/or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake bread for 45-50 minutes, tenting with foil for the last ten minutes to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven and turn onto a cooling rack. Brush loaf with melted butter if you like a soft crust. Let cool completely before slicing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

The only time I eat ice cream is during the warm summer months. It's always so appealing to me as a nighttime snack after a particularly hot and humid day. Hubby however, eats it year round and usually has a pint hidden somewhere in the freezer. Or maybe that's his Crown Royal.... but I digress.

I know ice cream is fattening and that the recommended serving size is 1/2 cup (what a joke, right?) but it took making homemade ice cream to get to me see exactly why it is so fattening. As I was pouring four cups of heavy cream and half & half into my sauce pan and gathering eight egg yolks into a bowl, it was difficult to ignore just how much fat goes into a typical, creamy homemade ice cream recipe. Oh I know there are recipes out there that use milk instead of cream, but if I'm going to eat ice cream, it's going to be the real deal or no deal at all. Believe me; this is the real deal. It has melt-in-your-mouth creaminess and just the right amount of chocolate flavor for my taste. I hope you enjoy it too. In moderation, of course.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream (adapted from recipe by Alton Brown)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch process)
3 cups half & half
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla

Place the cocoa powder along with 1 cup of the half-and-half into a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine. Add the remaining half-and-half and the heavy cream. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.

In mixing bowl beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually beat in the sugar, occasionally scraping down the beaters and sides of mixing bowl. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Add in the pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Cover container and refrigerate for 4-8 hours. (I refrigerated mine overnight.)

Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Serve as is for soft serve or freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.