Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creamy Noodle, Potato and Mushroom Soup

"Soup. The culinary artist's canvas of creativity. The culmination of cruising the cupboards and refrigerator for inspirational ingredients and ingenuity. Remember, an artist can only paint the same picture once."

That's the excuse I gave my daughter when I told her that we were going to have her favorite, milk noodle soup, when she came for dinner last night and I'd changed up the recipe from what she was used to. (Quick thinking on my part, eh?)

Milk noodle soup was a comfort food for me when I was growing up and I must have passed on that comfort gene to her because it remains her favorite soup. My mother fed eleven of us on a concoction of her homemade noodles, home-grown potatoes, homemade chicken stock and a touch of heavy cream. Pennies per serving, I'm sure, but delicious nonetheless. Through the years, I've reinvented it too many times to count. The following is just another adaptation of my mother's milk noodle soup recipe (as seen through the eyes of a self-proclaimed culinary artist. When I go on tour, I'll autograph your soup bowl.)

Creamy Noodle, Potato and Mushroom Soup (for lack of better description)

1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned well and diced
2 stalks of celery, leaves included, diced
kosher salt and pepper
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
2 quarts chicken stock
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled, small cubed
8 ounces egg noodles
1 cup half & half

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium-medium high heat. Add leeks and celery. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until leeks and celery have softened, 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme and saute until mushrooms have given up their moisture, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over all and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to prevent the flour from burning. Add the wine and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add potatoes and noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes and noodles are tender. Remove from heat and stir in the half & half.

*The Other Side of 50 will be on vacation (yes again) until sometime next week. You see, hubby has decided to repeat his faux pas of last year and invited 16 of his "closest" friends to stay at our home for the Buckeyes/Illinois game this weekend. I'm leaving town to avoid the chaos and the possibility that this time I might injure him in some way for doing this to me AGAIN.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fettuccine With Pesto Cream Sauce

Hubby loves Italian food. It always gives him the worst heartburn, but that never stops him from ordering it wherever he goes. I, on the other hand, am not much for Italian food, but I only recently discovered why. As much as I love fresh tomatoes, I'm not a huge fan of pasta dishes with tomato sauce. I find myself scooping a tiny little tablespoon of sauce onto my pasta and then dumping half a cup of Parmesan cheese over all. Yeah, I know.... nothing like adding a gazillion more calories to something that is already calorie dense.

The answer to this anti-tomato sauce problem of mine was to make a white cream sauce to drown my pasta in. *SIGH* I know, I just went from bad to worse. Even more calories, right? I see it this way. If it helps hubby not have heartburn from the tomato sauce, I am in fact doing this for him, not for myself. (The mind can always get itself out of a guilt trip if you give it enough time.)

Fettuccine With Pesto Cream Sauce

12 oz. dried fettuccine
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
kosher salt and pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 cup half & half
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup basil pesto (either jarred or homemade)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot of boiling water, boil pasta per package directions. Drain.

While pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and red peppers and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over all and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to prevent flour from burning. Add the half and half and whole milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in the pesto, parmesan cheese and parsley. Check to see if additional seasoning with salt and pepper is needed.

Place pasta on plate and spoon cream sauce over all. Garnish with parsley and more parmesan cheese.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"My Favorite Salad" Panini

I know, I know...what a strange name for a panini. But seriously, I couldn't come up with a name for this grilled sandwich. You see, my favorite salad is a spinach salad with grilled chicken breast, blue cheese, pecans, apples, and dried cranberries. Now I couldn't very well call this a chicken, blue cheese, pecan, apple and dried cranberry panini, could I? No, I didn't think so either.

The spinach, blue cheese, pecans and cranberries are processed with a little reduced-fat mayonnaise to form a pesto-like spread which is first placed on both slices of bread, focaccia, in this case.

Then thinly sliced grilled chicken breast is placed on top of one of the bread slices.

And thinly sliced apples are layered on top of the chicken breast.

Put the whole thing together and grill on a panini press or grill pan for a few minutes and you'll have one of the tastiest grilled sandwiches you've ever eaten. Swears. (It REALLY was good.)

My Favorite Salad Panini (makes 4 sandwiches)

8 slices of focaccia bread
2 seasoned and grilled chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

Process the spinach, pecans, dried cranberries, blue cheese and mayonnaise in a food processor. Spread mixture on each slice of bread. Top with grilled chicken slices and apple slices. Grill on panini press or grill pan until bread is toasted.

I'm entering this panini recipe in My Kitchen Addiction's September Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chillin' With The Greats (Grandma's Brag Book)

Great grandparents, that is. On Saturday we kidnapped G-baby and went on a road trip up north to visit his Great Grandma Bea....

And his Great Grandpa and Grandma Zona. As you can see, they were as smitten with the little big-head as he was with them. Once again, he's wearing his lucky Buckeyes jersey and was solely responsible for their big win against Eastern Michigan. His parents think he'll most likely play for the Buckeyes one day, but I think because of his 99th percentile head size, he's going to make a better mascot, Brutus the Buckeye!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ultimate Turtle Brownies (Treats For Co-Irkers)

These little parcels of palate-pleasing perfection were supposed to be treats for the co-irkers last week, but as unluck would have it, BOTH local grocery stores were out of caramels.

Tell me that this has happened to you before. You go to the store for one thing and one thing only. You get to the proper aisle and EVERY SINGLE SLOT is filled with whatever it is you're NOT looking for, and then you lean down and read the label for the ONE EMPTY SLOT and it's the SINGLE THING YOU'RE LOOKING FOR. Do you:

A. Buy a bunch of other stuff you don't need and forget about it?
B. Drop to the floor and throw a tantrum the likes of which no grocery store employee has ever seen before?
C. Calmly return your cart to its proper place and head to the other store where you find that they are also out of that same ingredient and THEN drop to the floor and throw a tantrum replete with any and every obscenity your mother has ever washed your mouth out for saying?
D. Go home. Drink a glass of wine. Then make something else?

Ah... maturity. I chose D. The turtle brownies could wait another week.

Ultimate Turtle Brownies (from Betty Crocker's Fall Baking)

1 box Betty Crocker Premium Brownies Original Supreme
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
36 caramels, unwrapped
3 TBSP heavy whipping cream
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan.) Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Make the brownie batter as directed on the box. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes.

While brownies are baking place caramels and cream into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted and smooth.

Pour caramel over partially baked brownies. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate chunks and half of the pecans. Spoon the remaining batter over the caramel layer. Top with remaining chocolate chunks and pecans.

Bake for an additional 34-37 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and cool one hour. Cover, then refrigerate for one hour before cutting. Store covered at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BRANana Cinnamon Chip Muffins

When I'm bored I like to bake. And by bored, I mean I don't want to do laundry or clean my house. So while the dust bunnies are organizing family reunions under my bed and hubby is down to his last of 26 pairs of work socks, I'm in the kitchen baking..... because I'm bored. Please don't judge me. My oldest sister was born with rosary beads in her hands. My other sister was born with a can of Pledge and a cleaning rag in her hands. And I was born with a stick of butter and a spatula in mine. See? It's nobody's fault. It's all in the genes and chromosomes and other such genetic matter. Can't be helped.

Today's healthy muffin recipe is an attempt at atonement for yesterday's ridiculously fattening cheesy potato tots. I'm going to load you up with whole grains, plenty of fiber and enough omega-3 fats to force you into forgiving me for ever posting anything unhealthy. But please don't think I've skimped on flavor. These muffins are so moist and have just enough brown sugar to solve that morning sweet-tooth problem if you're one of those who like a little something sweet with your A.M. coffee. Delicious AND nutritious. Am I forgiven?

BRANana Cinnamon Chip Muffins (makes 1 dozen muffins)

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup milled flax seed
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda (or 1/2 cup regular brown sugar)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1 1/2 cup very ripe mashed bananas
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, flax seed, wheat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

In another bowl whisk together the bananas, sour cream, eggs, canola oil and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir well to combine but do not over mix. Spoon batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 24-26 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on cooling rack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cheesy Potato Tots

Forgive me in advance for this recipe. It is completely unhealthy and extremely unfriendly to your figure. But I feel that if Paula Deen can make deep-fried mac and cheese, I can make deep-fried cheesy potatoes. Only make this recipe if you have a written note from your physician telling you it's OK.

First of all, I'm going to ask you all to step forward and admit that at one time or another, you've made cheesy potatoes. You know the kind I'm talking about, made with frozen hash browns, canned cream of chicken soup, sour cream and cheddar cheese. If you don't admit to it, I'll understand, but I'm going to have to call you a bold-faced liar and then we'll just agree to disagree, K?

Cheesy potatoes are kind of my signature dish. They're often requested for family get-togethers and potlucks. Who am I to deny family and friends of their favorite potato dish even though it's totally Sandra Lee and requires no culinary skills whatsoever. I comply with their request and accept the accolades. Done deal.

Well, a few weeks ago I got a little over zealous with the old cheesy potatoes and decided to make a double batch. One batch was going to work with hubby for a take-in lunch, and the other batch was to be used as a side dish for the "fish extravaganza" weekend I was going to have with my friend. Needless to say, I had cheesy potatoes coming out my ears (great visual, eh?) and I needed to find a way to serve them that would be different and interesting. Thus the birth of the deep-fried cheesy potato tot. And can I just tell you? (said in my best Sandra Lee voice) that these are to die for. I plan on tucking this recipe away and making these for my Christmas Eve appetizer buffet. I'll most likely have to forge the written note from my physician, however.

Cheesy Potato Tots (makes about two dozen)

2-3 cups leftover cheesy potatoes, cold
pickled jalapeno slices, optional
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 whole eggs, whisked with a couple of tablespoons of water and a couple of dashes of hot sauce
2 cups panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil

Roll cold cheesy potatoes into 3/4" balls. If you're feeling sassy, place a slice of jalapeno pepper in the center.

Place potato balls onto a plate that has been lined with wax paper. Place balls in freezer for a least an hour. This will make them much easier to handle when you coat them.

Heat approximately 4 inches of vegetable oil in heavy pot or deep fryer to 375 degrees.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Place whisked eggs in another shallow dish.

Place panko bread crumbs into a third shallow dish.

Dredge potato balls in the flour, then dip them into the egg wash, then coat them with the panko crumbs. Gently drop the balls into the heated oil and fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tuna Tetrazzini

Here's a little story about how ahi tuna ended up being a part of tuna tetrazzini, Mags style. Now we all know that ahi tuna is a delicious piece of fish that is meant to be treated with respect and reverence for its unique flavor and it's certainly not typically a piece of fish that is tossed in with pasta and heavy cream. Even Emeril, from whose tuna tetrazzini recipe I modified my own, uses canned tuna.

You see, I have this friend (who shall remain Nanless) who loves fish.... ALL fish. So when she was here last weekend, I thawed three different packages of fish: the ahi tuna, swordfish steaks, and some Mahi Mahi, planning on making the weekend a "fish extravaganza" for her.

Here's how the weekend went down. And I should know better because it's always how the weekend goes down when she visits. We go to McDonald's for breakfast. We drink our lunch and dinner. And then we go to bed.

So after she left on Sunday, hubby and I were left with three packages of thawed fish. We enjoyed the Mahi Mahi on the grill on Sunday night and the swordfish on the grill as well on Monday night. But by now, that tuna had been thawing in the fridge for three days. I knew I had to do something with it or I'd be tossing it. So when I grilled the swordfish, I grilled the tuna too and then I flaked it and refrigerated it to be used in this recipe. I wrote the recipe as I made it (with the ahi tuna) but you most certainly may use canned tuna instead. I know I will the next time I make this. It was absolutely delicious, but the ahi tuna didn't stand out any more than canned tuna would have.

Tuna Tetrazzini (adapted from Emeril)

3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
kosher salt and pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
12 ounces white button mushrooms,sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup half & half
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb ahi tuna, grilled and flaked (or three, six ounce cans of solid white tuna, drained and flaked)
12 oz spaghetti, cooked per package instructions, drained
1 sleeve Townhouse or Ritz crackers, crushed

In large pot heat butter and olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they lose their moisture, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and oregano and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over all and stir well to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, so flour loses its raw taste, then add the wine and the chicken stock. Stir well, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and add the cream and the half & half. Return to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Stir in the parsley, parmesan cheese, and tuna. Check sauce and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine cooked pasta with sauce and place into prepared dish. Cover with cracker crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

___________________________________________________________

G-baby and his mom and dad were here again this weekend and things got wild when the Buckeyes won BIG. Gavin was king of the house, per usual, and had the crown to prove it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caramel Apple-Nut Bars (Treats For Co-Irkers)

Yeah, I know, I posted about caramel and apples yesterday. I tend to dwell on certain ingredients and can't get my mind off of them. Does it help to know that I bought three identical shirts of different colors last Saturday? Do you have a little better understanding of how my mind works now?

This particular recipe came from Betty Crocker's Fall Baking (it's the one with Bakerella on the cover!) There are way too many easy and delicious recipes in this edition and you can expect more of them to be showing up here in the near future. These caramel apple bars are buttery caramel bites of delight, I assure you.

Caramel Apple-Nut Bars (adapted from Betty Crocker)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup caramel topping
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In bowl of stand mixer mix together the flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix on low speed until mixture is evenly crumbly. Press about 3 cups of this mixture in the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the caramel topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour,

Sprinkle diced apples and pecans evenly across crust. Drizzle caramel evenly over all. Sprinkle with remaining crust mixture.

Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caramel-Peanut Butter Apple Dip

I think most of you are aware by now that I'm not a big fan of fruit. I rarely post fruit recipes and when I do, they're usually savory recipes that incorporate fruit as an afterthought. I think it's a genetic thing, like my hatred of cilantro because it tastes like soap and Moscato wine because it tastes like my grandma's rose garden bathroom air freshener, but regardless, my taste buds do not groove on fruits.

Why then am I displaying sliced Granny Smiths on parade? Well, I should think it would be obvious. They're about to be dipped into a caramel sauce and as far as I'm concerned, you could probably dip my hubby's sweaty gym shorts in caramel and I'd be all over that. Too much info? Let's move on.

This caramel, peanut butter apple dip is as easy as they come. Three ingredients and about thirty seconds and you're done. Except for the apple slicing, of course.

Caramel Peanut Butter Apple Dip

3/4 cup caramel sauce (the kind you buy to top ice cream)
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup marshmallow Fluf
1 TBSP chopped peanuts as garnish (optional, but you'll gain sensitivity points for notifying the peanut allergy people that there is peanut butter in this dip)

Combine the caramel sauce and peanut butter until smooth. Fold in the marshmallow Fluf. Spoon dip into serving bowl and top with optional chopped peanuts.

Serve with sliced apples....Granny Smith's preferably.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken, Okra and Sweet Potato Soup

It is my understanding that okra is one of those foods (like grits and chit'lins,) that northerners such as myself are unfamiliar with for the most part. I'll admit that I probably have no business even posting a recipe using okra because I can make no claim to experience with southern cooking. I can't even say y'all correctly. It comes out "ye haw." However, when I saw a bag of frozen okra at the "big city" grocery store a few weeks back, I threw it in my cart and was determined to come up with a recipe in which it played a starring role. I just love trying new vegetables!

Some leftover chicken and some tweaks with spices and herbs led me to this finished recipe. I was very pleased with the flavor of this soup and would suggest it be served with some johnny cakes or buttermilk biscuits. (See? I did my research.)

Chicken, Okra and Sweet Potato Soup

2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely diced (use two if you like it spicier)
2 stalks celery, diced
kosher salt and pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP all purpose flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 large sweet potato, peeled, small dice
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 pound frozen cut okra
2-3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded

In large soup pot heat olive oil. Add the onion, peppers and celery. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for several minutes to lose the raw flavor of the flour, then add the chicken stock, sweet potatoes, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add the okra and the chicken and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!

Also, I'd like to congratulate Rye, whose comment was chosen by random.org, on winning the Saucy Mama giveaway! Please contact me with your mailing information.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Braised Beef With Mushrooms And Onions

I have been making this recipe for years but have hesitated to post it for two reasons.

Reason #1: It looks like a dog did his business on my plate and left a pretty pile of corn as an apology. And if you look closely, you can almost envision the outline of a poodle in the way that I piled the beef. Purely accidental, swears. (This photo WILL NOT be submitted to Tastespotting or Foodgawker.)

Reason #2: This is not my recipe and I hate to post recipes without giving credit to the person who originally created the recipe. You see, years ago I scribbled this recipe on a sticky note without paying attention to the source, so please, if this is your recipe, let me know and I will give you the credit it deserves because it is absolutely delicious.

Braised Beef With Mushrooms And Onions (source unknown... for now)

1 1/2 lbs. boneless chuck steak, cute into 1" cubes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1 large onion, sliced or diced
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef broth
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp corn starch
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

In large skillet, heat oil. Season beef cubes with salt and pepper. Place flour in a gallon ziplock bag and place beef cubes into bag. Shake to coat beef with flour. Using tongs, and working in batches if necessary, transfer beef to hot oil and brown on all sides, 6-8 minutes total time.

Transfer beef to a Dutch oven or casserole dish with a tight fitting lid. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In the same skillet, add the onion and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms have given up most of their moisture, 5-7 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and then add the beef broth and bouillon cube. Stir to combine well while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Pour the onion and mushroom mixture over the beef. Cover the Dutch oven or casserole dish with a lid and place in oven. Bake for 2 hours.

Remove dish from oven and place on stove over medium-high heat. In a small bowl combine the cream, corn starch, Dijon mustard and soy sauce. Add this mixture to the beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, or until sauce thickens. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweet Onion Potato Salad

Hold onto your chef's hats folks, because your pal Mags has just entered her first recipe competition. Generally I shy away from competition since the fiasco that was high school cheerleading try-outs (It turns out that the judges weren't keen on a bebopping klutz who fell on her face before she even got to the try out area, but that's a subject for another day and another psychiatrist.)

Anyway, the folks at Barhyte Specialty Foods were kind enough to send me an entire package of their Saucy Mama sauces and condiments and invited me to enter into their recipe competition. Personally, I was elated just to get the free products, but when I sat down and really put my mind to it, I thought that maybe I could come up with something that would at least earn honorable mention, or maybe they have a boobie prize for the most ridiculous recipe. I'm post-menopausal and suddenly I think I have a place in the recipe world! (Julia Child would so be hugging me right now if she were still alive.)

Here's where you, my readers, get to profit from the adventure. Simply leave a comment and you'll be entered into a giveaway for this bottle of Saucy Mama Cracked Pepper Marinade. (US and Canadian residents only)



And if I win the competition, I promise to donate the winnings to my favorite charity, Gleaner's Food Bank. I might even donate my junior high pom-poms to Good Will, but I can't promise that one right now because of attachment issues. (I still sleep with them at night)

I decided to use the Saucy Mama Sweet Onion Marinade in a potato salad recipe.

I was particularly pleased with the results because I consider myself a potato salad snob and I was proud of myself for stepping outside of my potato salad comfort zone. The sweet onion flavor of this marinade really makes a delicious and different potato salad.

Sweet Onion Potato Salad (serves 12)

4 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup Saucy Mama Sweet Onion Marinade
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp then crumbled

Place potatoes into a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, season water generously with salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let cool.

In a small bowl whisk together the onion marinade, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Place cooled potatoes into a large bowl. Add the diced bell pepper, celery and parsley. Pour dressing over all and stir to combine well. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Garnish with crumbled bacon before serving.




*Don't forget to leave a comment. You have until midnight on Monday, Sept.13th and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, Sept. 14th.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Change is good, yes?

I've finally taken the plunge and bought my own domain. I'm transitioning through Blogger however, and they're supposed to be taking all of you along with me. If you somehow get lost along the way, my new web address is http://www.othersideoffifty.com/

This transition will be occurring over the next three days so bear with me and hopefully we'll all come out the other end unscathed and still together. I've already noticed that the blogs I follow on the right hand side are no longer there, so I'll be working on restoring those.

Thank you for your patience through this transition. Please don't leave me or I'll have no one to cook for and the depths of despair will set in. You don't want to be held responsible for that, do you?

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Ebelskivers

Along with the return of cooler weather comes the return of my desire to cook and bake. And when I opened the cupboard where I keep my pots and pans, my ebelskiver pan was staring at me, begging me to use it. In the two years that I've had this pan, I've managed to use it only a half dozen times. I'm pretty sure that qualifies as gadget neglect and for all the whining and begging I went through to get it for Christmas that year, I should be drawn and quartered. Well, maybe just drawn.

A little bit of head-scratching and a look through the pantry and freezer gave me the inspiration for these apple cinnamon oatmeal ebelskivers. They're easy to make (as far as ebelskivers go,) and they're perfect for the upcoming fall weather. Great for breakfast or brunch, I think you'll love them as much as we did.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Ebelskivers

1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup buttermilk
2 whole eggs plus two egg whites
3 TBSP melted butter (plus more to brush the ebelskiver pan)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup applesauce

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and whites, melted butter, vanilla and applesauce.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and let batter sit for about 15 minutes while you make the filling.

For the filling;

Beat four ounces softened cream cheese with three tablespoons of softened butter. Add a half a cup of sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and beat until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Heat ebelskiver pan over medium heat. It is important to not let the pan get too hot or the ebelskivers will burn before the batter is fully cooked. Brush each well with a little melted butter. Spoon about a tablespoon of batter into each well. Put about a teaspoon-size dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each.

Top with another spoonful of batter, just enough to cover cream cheese. Do not overfill wells.

Cook for 2-3 minutes or until ebelskivers start to pull away from the sides of the well and have browned on the bottom. Using wooden skewers or picks, gently flip each ebelskiver and finish cooking on the other side, another 2 minutes or so.

Remove ebelskivers from pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Repeat the above steps with the remainder of the batter. This was enough batter for about 28 ebelskivers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken Wing Wars

After nearly 32 years of marriage, we don't fight about much. We rarely disagree. We even rarely agree to disagree. I think we might even be starting to look like each other (you know how they say that about people and their pets spouses?)

However, when it comes to grilled chicken wings, our individual sets of taste buds have been known to contact separate lawyers and the papers have been drawn up citing "irreconcilable differences in wing sauce taste." We go to court next month.

Hubby likes his wings hot. He wants his tongue and lips to burn. His sinuses must be draining and there has to be visible sweat on his forehead in order for him to declare a wing sauce a success.

I'll admit to liking a little kick to my wing sauce, but just a little twinge of heat that lets me know I enjoyed some spiciness.

So, not unlike sleeping in separate beds when he's getting his snore on, we make our own separate chicken wings. Hubby of course grills them all with his secret wing grilling technique.

And then we sauce them separately. It was Labor Day and I had no ambition to make my own sauces, so I pulled out a bottle of Saucy Mama wing sauce for him...

And my personal favorite, Bangkok Padang peanut sauce.

The Saucy Mama wing sauce was sent to me along with several other sauces, mustards and stuffed olives from Barhyte Specialty Foods. I have not been compensated by them in any way for this review, other than the fact that the sauces were sent to me free of charge.

The verdict? Hubby thought the buffalo wing sauce was great, and although he's not a true fan of regular buffalo wing sauce, he thought Saucy Mama's had the required heat but also had added flavor that is not typically present in buffalo wing sauce. He gave it two thumbs up. I ate all my peanut sauce wings then tasted his Saucy Mama wings and once I wiped off the "mounds" of sauce he'd put on them, I thought they were delicious too. If you're a buffalo chicken wing fan, you will definitely like this sauce.

What's your favorite wing sauce?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Weekend At Grandma's House (By Gavin)

On Friday morning I left my house with my Grandpa and rode for three hours in the back seat all by myself to his house in Indiana. I didn't cry one bit and Grandpa said that I was a really good boy in the car. Of course I was crying secretly because I had no idea where we were going or what Grandpa would do to me if I cried, so I decided to keep my feelings and emotions to myself. I'm like that.

When we got to Grandpa's town we picked up Grandma and her silly sweet rolls and took them to where Grandpa works. The ladies who work there drooled over me as much as I drooled over them. I flirted openly and without shame.

I think we all know where my hand was headed here. I get away with stuff like that because I'm only six months old.


When Grandma took me back to her house it was time for me to eat those strained green beans she'd made for me. It was a harrowing experience, to say the least.

I totally gagged, natch.

When Grandpa got home he gave me a bath in the kitchen sink. I'm like seriously? Have they no clue that I gave up sink baths when I was a baby? The humiliation was extreme.

I settled down when they put me in my favorite towel and I'm thinking of using this photo on my Match.com profile. Chicks dig guys in yellow. Something about showing off my feminine side, I think I heard Mom say one time.

Or I might use this pic because personally, I think chicks also dig guys in hats. Whichever picture I use, I plan on having a hot date by next weekend.

Unless Grandpa decides to use the hat trick to pick up his own hot chick.

Saturday was all about football and since this is my first football season, I'm being programmed to root for the correct teams. Dad says I'm too young to know how to pick the right teams myself, so he'll do it for me and he'll buy me all the appropriate team gear to wear as I grow up. Grandpa said that there's two things in life you can't pick for yourself: your religion and your favorite football teams.

I did discover that timing is everything, and when Grandpa got wrapped up in watching a certain play, I took advantage of the situation. Dad says that Miller Light is the proper beer to drink, but Grandpa insists that Bud Light is better. I think that when I grow up they're actually going to let me choose my own favorite beer!

Even when we went outside, they all sat around a TV that Grandpa had set up on the patio. They pulled me clear over into the shaded corner of the yard and left me there by myself while they watched more football.

A lot of my favorite people were at Grandma and Grandpa's this weekend. I'll start with Mom, because she'll get mad at me if I don't always put her first. (Moms are like that.)

Then there was Aunt Molly, my Godmother.

And Uncle Kellen, my Godfather.

I'm not sure why there aren't any pictures of me with my Dad, Uncle Matt, Colleen or Ken, but I think Dad said something about Grandma going to bed early because she had too much "medicine" and she was the one taking the pictures.

Anyway, my favorite 50 things about the weekend were my diaper changes. I love having a nakie butt and being able to grab my feet. (I can almost get them in my mouth now!)

I can't wait to go visit Grandma and Grandpa again. But between you and me, I hope she loses the rest of those nasty green beans before I go back.