This past weekend I celebrated my 40th birthday. I wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. Sure, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not as young as I used to be, but I also came to the realization that you are only as old as you feel. I certainly don’t act and feel like I thought 40 year olds act and felt, when I was a teenager.

The weekend was rather low key. No major party, just good times with family. My parents made the trip up from Indiana and my brother and his wife came up from Madison, WI to help me celebrate, and to have our family “Christmas.” Hey, better late than never. We filled the weekend with good food, plenty of games, and lots of laughter….and the occasional Hurricane.

We also filled with weekend with plenty of good food. For my birthday dinner, I chose hamburgers, done on the grill. Yes, I know, it’s not fancy, and surely doesn’t do justice to a chef’s birthday dinner, but I love burgers and besides, we had a big day of eating ahead of us the following day. The following morning started with coffee and Eggs Benedict, using another batch of homemade English Muffins. Eggs Benedict are another one of those dishes that I never tire of, and if I wasn’t afraid of what it would do to my arteries, I’d probably eat it a couple times a week!

Our main meal of the weekend was a full blown holiday feast with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, in other words, the whole works. Over the last few years I have forsaken roasting the turkey and, instead, grilled the turkey in my Weber grill, flavoring it with hickory smoke. As usual, everyone ate too much, especially my brother who refuses to listen to both his body and our warnings about his past years’ gluttony.

Sunday lunch, leftovers, was saved by my brother and his wife, who had brought along a bunch of home canned pickles and relishes, including their fabulous Dilly Beans.

Overall, the weekend was a wonderful success and there were plenty of food highlights, as there always is when my family gets together. One of the standouts was this wonderful pie my wife created. She conceived of the idea a week or so ago while eating a snack of banana and peanut butter pretzels. While, at first, it might seem a little strange, the flavors work quite well together. The pie is ready a few hours after being made, but I found that allowing the pie to sit overnight allows the flavors to meld a little more. The best part is that the pretzel crust was still crunchy 3 days later, though I doubt the pie will last that long.

Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust

makes 1 pie (approximately 8 servings)

2 1/2 cups pretzels, crushed
3 Tbspl brown sugar
3/4 cup butter melted

3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy
1 package (3oz) cream cheese, room temp.
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 container (12oz) whipped topping, thawed
3 bananas, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all the ingredients for the crust and mix well. Save 1/4 cup of pretzel mixture and spread the rest into a 10″ pie tin,working all the way up the sides and making sure that the crust is even. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before filling. Sprinkle remaining pretzel mixture on s cookie and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add 1/3 of the whipped topping and the sugar and beat until smooth and no lumps remain. Add remaining whipped topping and gently fold in until well combined. Fill crust with 1/2 of the filling then top with sliced bananas. Top with remaining peanut butter mousse. Garnish with remaining crushed pretzels and chill for 3 hours or overnight before serving.