Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make-Ahead Pizza Crusts

I'm sure you've noticed that for the past several months I've spent little time blogging about recipes and such. While I've been focusing on quitting smoking, I've elected to spend less time on my computer and more time reading. In the past three months I've read no less than 30 books and have now developed a serious case of reader's wrist (it's like tennis elbow but with less calorie burn.) Whoever came up with the whole "Hooked on Phonics" thing most likely didn't know that there would be people out there who would take that concept literally and spend day after day after day reading anything they could get their hands on. When I found myself reading the back label of the toilet cleaner bottle, I realized I had a problem. Another day, another rehab. But I digress.

Anyway, even though I haven't been blogging as frequently, I've still been busy in the kitchen. This week I made a huge batch of homemade kolaches to bring to the kids when we visit them this weekend.

I also made them pizza crusts. I've tried just giving them the dough in the past, but evidently that was a little challenging for them so I decided to par-bake the crusts for them this time.

Kellen wanted 100% whole wheat crusts and Wes and Heather wanted half white/half whole wheat so I made two different batches.

After baking them for about eight minutes on a parchment covered pizza stone, I let them cool completely, then wrapped them individually in plastic wrap.

Then I stacked them and wrapped them securely in foil before freezing them.

I'm going to remember this trick for when I have my next pizza party. It'll take away much of the stress by having the crusts already made and only having to top and finish the baking process during the party. Good idea, eh?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Always Somethin' (Almost Wordless Wednesdays)

Very bad habit.

Very bad and very expensive bad habit.

Very bad and very expensive bad habit gone for 78 days (hash marks never lie)

Still in rehab for this bad habit. Pray for me.

Smuggled this bad habit into rehab with me.

How bad can it be? Small bites with a small spoon every once in a while. Like hourly, maybe. And maybe a small spoonful on top of a Girl Scout Thin Mint a time or two. Is that a crime?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three-Bean Smoked Turkey Soup

You know what they say in Indiana? If you don't like the weather just stick around for an hour or two; It'll change. Indiana is also an excellent state in which to be a meteorologist because one could pretty much forecast ANYTHING within a 24 hour period and at least part of it would be correct. Last week's single digit temperatures have turned into today's balmy mid-60's. And though the weather remains unpredictable, our meal plan around here is as predictable as ever. For dinner we usually have soup, and for lunch the following day we have leftover soup. Lest you think that we live a very boring culinary life, let me remind you that I get all big and bad at breakfast time and eat eggs and toast. Sometimes even with jam!

This is a very hearty and satisfying soup. Deliciously warm and smoky from the chipotles in adobo, it really makes a statement if you use broth made from smoked turkey bones. If that isn't available to you, feel free to substitute ham or chicken stock. You may also use a can of pinto beans instead of refried beans if desired. I just liked the way the refried beans thickened the soup.

Three-Bean Smoked Turkey Soup

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely diced
salt and pepper (if you're using smoked turkey broth, check it for saltiness before adding any salt)
1 TBSP tomato paste
6 cups smoked turkey broth
1 (15-16 oz. can) great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (15-16 oz. can) black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (15-16 oz. can) refried beans or pinto beans
2 cups diced smoked turkey or ham

In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute for 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, pepper and salt and saute for another minute or two. Stir in the chipotle in adobo and tomato paste. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the beans and turkey and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Green Giant Pizza

Things got crazy here today at the Other Side of 50. I'm not talking just a little bit crazy like me finding the cure for potholes or being able to promise you a five-minutes-or-less trip into the BMV to renew your vehicle's registration. I'm talking pure loony-ness, like Lucy and Ethel splitting the atom or maybe Paris and Lindsay sharing a room at the convent of Our Lady of Perpetually Lost Panties. I have crossed the border from sanity to insanity without skipping a pill beat.

Here it is. Take your time in admiring it and then make note of the date and time so you'll always remember when and where you first heard of Mag's Green Giant Pizza Sauce. Isn't it awesome?

OK, a little background info for those of you are truly interested in seeing if this is indeed a real recipe or if I'm just yanking your chain. A few weeks back I received a package from Green Giant through My Blog Spark. In the package were the items pictured below. (Notice the pedometer? I'm thinking someone on the outside of my closely guarded bubble has been making suggestions to someone that I might possibly need to lose some weight.)

Instead of merely microwaving and serving the broccoli and cheese sauce as is, I decided to get a little creative and turn it into a pizza sauce. I've been thinking that pizza really gets a bad rap in the dieting world when in fact, it can honestly be a dieter's friend if made properly. Pizza crust typically contains very little fat or sugar and when white flour is replaced with whole grains, the crust actually becomes quite healthy. And when that healthy pizza crust is topped with lean protein, veggies and part-skim cheese, suddenly you have a complete meal before you that really does fall within the specifics of most weight loss plans.

Green Giant Pizza (from the kitchen of Mags the Insane)

1 (10 oz) box of Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce, prepared per package directions then processed in food processor until 'saucy.'
1 (10-12 inch) whole wheat pizza crust
6 ounces seasoned, cooked and cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Spread broccoli and cheese sauce on top of pizza crust then top with chicken, cheese, peppers and crushed red pepper flakes. Place pizza in oven.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ice, Ice Baby

Mother Nature (like all good mothers) needs us to know who's in charge. At the same time that she's laying the groundwork of feminine strength and beauty.....

....she's making sure we know that after the loveliness comes the reality. Clean-up detail.... just like life, eh?

A little ice storm suspense story for you, starring yours truly. (I will be SHOCKED if someone doesn't make this into a movie with Kathy Bates playing the role of moi and Lassie (# 247) starring in the role of Sloopy, the dog who cannot walk on ice. (Many will audition, but only one will have what it takes.)

The set: Tuesday morning, 6:00 a.m. Sloopy the Stupie (oh relax, we already have him in therapy) decides he needs to do his business. I let him out the back door of the deck. My view of the world is an ice sheet. I can only imagine what Sloopy was thinking other than the fact that he had to pee like a racehorse. I heard him round the corner to the deck steps, then heard the thud, and knew immediately that he'd slid down the steps to his little toilet corner of our fenced yard. I made coffee (truth), walked 5 miles on the treadmill (lie), then listened for him to want to come back in. Instead of his impatient bark, "hey, I own you at all times, so let me in," I heard his yip,"hey, I've gotten myself into a bit of a pickle and I need you to get me out."

I knew immediately what had happened. He'd fallen down the deck stairs and couldn't get back up. Hindsight, which will always remain 20/20, reminded me to get him one of those necklaces that shouts, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" Of course, I did what every strong woman would do when faced with such a situation. I called hubby at work. I can't go into detail here about what he said for me to do, but I knew IMMEDIATELY that it was up to me to save the dog. So I put on my big parka and gloves, stuck my cell phone in my coat pocket so I could call 911 when I broke my hip, and I rescued my dog. (Eat that, Lassie.... you ain't all that)

Tonight, as I'm layed up in the hospital with two broken hips (I lie,) I thank God that Sloopy lives and that I had the opportunity to tell this tale.

(All agents please contact my email address for rights to this story.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes And Peppers Over Quinoa

Long time no post, eh? When I ran out of peanut M&Ms yesterday, I decided that I really, really needed to cook something that might include some vegetables. And by vegetables, I felt that meant something other than the lettuce I was putting on my peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. (Hey, when I get into a funk, I funk quite well don't I?)

Hubby and I both loved this dish. The heat from the chilies was perfectly paired with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the smokiness from the cumin. If you don't care for mild to moderate heat, you can cut back on the chilies, but I found it to be perfect as is.

Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes and Anaheim Chilies With Quinoa

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 whole Anaheim chilies
1 TBSP olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
8 ounces fresh chorizo
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked per package instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or regular foil sprayed with cooking spray. Place sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl and drizzle with two teaspoons of the olive oil. Season with salt, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Spread in a single layer onto baking sheet. Rub the chilies with remaining tsp of oil, place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Place baking sheet in oven and roast vegetables for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir sweet potatoes and turn over peppers. Return pan to oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and peppers are slightly charred.

While vegetables are roasting, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chorizo. Crumble it as it starts to brown and then add the onions. Saute until onions have softened, 7-8 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for another minute or two. Remove from heat.

Also while vegetables are roasting, prepare the quinoa according to package instructions.

Slice the chilies, remove the seeds and dice.

Add the chilies and sweet potatoes to the chorizo mixture and stir to combine. Serve over quinoa. Garnish with sour cream if desired.