Friday, January 28, 2011

Bye Bye Birdie

My baby girl, also known as my teen daughter, is right at this very minute getting ready to spread her little wings and fly out of our little nest.  I am fighting with all my might to refrain from assuming the fetal position.  I can't guarantee it's not going to happen.  I still remember saying goodbye to my now married daughter when we left her in snowy Provo to pursue her dreams a few years ago.  I cried until my eyes were swollen shut.  It wasn't pretty.  Not at all.

My married daughter had a lot of fun pursuing her dream, and her dream ended up becoming my sonny-in-law!

Now it's time to let another birdie go, and I'm not sure I'm ready. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not ready at all.  But these little birdies of ours grow up and inevitably they venture out into the world to find their way.   It's a good thing.  It's what we raised them to do.  It's what we worked for.  It's what we prayed for.  It's what we've wanted.  It just came way too fast.

My little birdie before:

My little birdie now:
Why am I posting this sob story on my little cooking blog, you might ask?  Because I told my baby girl aka teen daughter aka little birdie that for the week before she left she could choose any dinner she wanted each night of the week.  So, I thought I'd share with y'all what she chose:
Roast Beast and Smashed Potatoes with Gravy
Sorry there's no recipe for this one, but it is her all time favorite dinner!  Or maybe her second, Thanksgiving takes her #1 spot!

I know that's only four nights of dinners but get serious, I'm not superwoman.  You didn't think I really cooked seven nights in a row, did you?

Tonight we are having a "Have fun in Utah" party for our little birdie.  We would never call it a goodbye party.  I am not a fan of the "g" word.  For the party I asked her what she wanted and this is what she said:

UGH!  We should have known that she would pick this!  Just to torture me!  But I rebelled and we made them into cupcakes and then I made homemade frosting instead of that yucky canned stuff.  You know by now I am not a lover of store bought frosting.

Thankfully my teen son is still planted firmly in the nest, at least for another year or so.  The good news is that for now I'll still have someone to smother, oops, I mean mother.  Lucky him, now all my mothering skills will be aimed straight at this handsome boy. 
I do realize this post has a lot less to do with food and a lot more to do with my needing to let my birdie fly, but blogging is therapeutic for me, and seeing my birdies fly has caused me to need therapy.  Which reminds me, cupcakes are also very therapeutic.  Gotta run, I hear those cupcakes calling my name!

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Low Fat Carrot Cake

9 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
2 C. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C. low-fat buttermilk
2 C. finely shredded carrots   

4 ounces block-style fat free cream cheese*
1/4 C. butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 3/4 C powdered sugar, divided
Orange sugar sprinkles (or whatever you have around)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.**

To prepare cake, coat a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper.  Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.

Place 9 Tbsp butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended.  Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time; beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy.  Beat in 2 tsp of vanilla.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife.  Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt, stirring with a whisk.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.  Stir in carrot.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles.  Bake at 350 degrees** for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.  Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese, 1/4 C butter, 2 tsp of vanilla and 1/8 tsp salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.  Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat).  Stir in the remaining 3/4 c. powdered sugar.  Cover and chill 30 minutes.  Spread frosting over top of cake.  Garnish with  sprinkles.  Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. 
Yield:  16 servings

Calories:  309; Fat 10.3 g; Protein 4.5g; Carb 50.2 g; Fiber 0.9g

*I have never been able to find Fat free cream cheese so I always use the 1/3 less fat ones.

**The recipe calls for the oven to be at 350 degrees, but I bake it at 300 degrees for one hour or until done.

From whence it came:  Starts with "K", ends with "erinda".  That's right, my great friend, Kerinda gets another gold star for sharing another golden recipe.  (Knowing her like I do, she's not gonna want a gold star.  She's gonna want chocolate.  She and I share a love of all things chocolate.  But all she's getting is a gold star.  And a great big thank you!)

Why it's blogable:  To be totally honest, which I always am, except when it comes to listing my weight on my driver's license, I think this carrot cake recipe is better, but it's also a lot more fattening.  So, this one is blogable because it's a lot less fattening, and still really yum-e.  No one will know it's low fat unless you tell them.  And you really shouldn't tell them, at least not until they tell you they love it, and they will.

Give it a try. 
Take it for a test drive. 
Give it a whirl. 
Take it out for a spin. 

Click here to get the printable:
Low Fat Carrot Cake

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cali Cheesesteak Sandwiches

A few nights ago we barbecued New York steak, which is my favorite steak.  We don't eat it very often, but this past week The Spy Who Loves Me and I made it to the 29 year mark in the marriage department, so we thought a good steak dinner was in order.  And it was a good dinner.  We had quite a bit of steak leftover, and it would be a sin to waste New York steak, so last night I put it to good use.  Very good use.  Here's how it went down:

I chopped up some green bell peppers and onions and stir fried them in a little bit of olive oil.

When they were getting a little bit brown and soft, I added the steak, which I had thinly sliced.

Once the meat was warmed up, I added about 1/2 c. steak sauce, like A1, only I used the Walmart brand, and it was great!

Then I stirred it up (hey, this blog isn't named Stirring It Up for nothin') and let the flavors combine.  (Sorry for the steamy picture, it was very steamy in my kitchen last night.)

While I was doing all of that, my teen son put a little bit of butter and Parmesan cheese on some rolls and we toasted them under the broiler until they were just a little bit brown.  Then we topped the rolls with the heavenly meat mixture.  Yes we did!

And these divine little sandwiches couldn't be Cali Cheesesteak Sandwiches without cheese, so I topped them with a mix of Italian cheeses:  mozzarella, provolone, Romano and Parmesan.  Don't be overly impressed by my use of so many cheeses, they came already grated and mixed in a bag.  I shouldn't have told you that.  I should have just let you be overly impressed. 

Then I popped 'em back under the broiler for just and minute and, drum roll please, this is what happened:

Let me just say that the crowd went wild over these sandwiches.  The crowd included my marvelous momma, who was celebrating her birthday yesterday.  (I have the best mom in the whole world.  The whole wide world!)  She was a big fan of these sandwiches, and she wasn't alone.  The flavor from the barbecued steak combined with the vegies and steak sauce is over the top good.  Then you put it on that crispy, cheesy roll and add more cheese, well, you've got yourself something worth blogging about.  I named them Cali Cheesesteak Sandwiches because I'm from Cali, not from Philly.  I've never even been to Philly.  I've never even been to the right coast.  I'm a left coast girl, through and through. 

I served these sandwiches with baked beans and a fruit salad.  And for dessert, I made these cookies.  I probably should have made my mom a birthday cake, but she is crazy about these cookies, so I make those instead.  And my mom went crazy.  In a good way.  Not in a padded room kind of way.  But in a really good, thanks for making my favorite cookies on for my birthday, kind of way.

If you have leftover steak, make these sandwiches.  If you don't have leftover steak, barbecue steak and make sure you have enough to have leftovers.  Then make these sandwiches.  You'll be glad you did!

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

This is more of a process than a recipe.  And here's the process:

First you need a crockpot.
If you don't have a crockpot let me know and I will begin to pray for your soul.  How can a person survive this treacherous life without a crockpot?  I shudder to think of it! 

Next you need a glass bowl.
I'm sure you have one of those.  If you don't, no amount of prayer can help.  That situation would be considered beyond help!  The glass bowl needs to be able to fit inside your crockpot with enough room around the edges to add water.

So, here's whatcha do:

Place the glass bowl in the crockpot.

Place 4 c. water, 1 c. steel cut oats and a pinch salt inside glass bowl.

These measurements make four nice size servings. 

Add enough water to crockpot to reach about 1/2 way up the inner bowl.

Basically, we've now created a double boiler using our crockpot.  How cool is that!

The inner bowl might float a little bit, but don't worry, the lid will push it back down.

Speaking of the lid, put it on the crockpot.  Plug it in.  That part is important.  You must plug it in.  And you must turn it onto low.  Then walk away, put on your pj's, wash your face, brush your teeth, say your prayers, eat a cookie, brush your teeth again, and go to bed.  (That's my nightly routine, just in case you're wondering!)

You will wake up in the morning to the creamiest bowl of oatmeal that you ever have imagined.

I put it in the crockpot at about 9:30 pm and served to the teen son at about 5:30 am.  Then I put the lid back on it and had a bowl myself around 8:00 am.  Then I put the lid back on it again and The Spy had a bowl around 9:00 am.  I tell you this not because I think you're fascinated by our morning routine, but rather so you'll know it stays warm and well in the crockpot if you eat breakfast in shifts like us Andersons. 

Now, things are about to get even better:
Sprinkle on some brown sugar and chopped walnuts or pecans.  You can also add blueberries or really anything that floats your boat.  But we're not done.  Oh no we're not.
Pour on a little bit of milk.  Or heavy cream if you don't care about heart health.  I use milk because I treasure my ticker.  Mix it all up and gobble it down!

That's all folks!  How easy is that?  If you've never tried steel cut oats, you simply must.  They are so much better than regular oats, and so very good for you.  You can buy them so cheap at a store like Henry's, or at any grocery store, but they're a lot more expensive at the grocery store.

If you don't live near a Henry's Marketplace I will pray for your soul.  I love and adore Henry's.  That's the place where I buy all my spices in bulk.  It's so much cheaper than buying them in those little containers at the grocery store.  I also buy all my nuts in bulk at Henry's.  And their produce rocks!  Steel Cut Oats at Henry's are only about .79 cents per pound.  And a pound makes a whole lotta oatmeal.  A whole lotta!

Steel Cut Oats are one of the healthiest and least expensive breakfasts you can eat.  The Spy Who Loves Me and the teen son love this stuff!  The teen daughter not so much.  She likes the little unhealthy packets of instant oatmeal that are loaded with sugar.  But she's a skinny little thing so we let it slide.

If you love your family, and I know you do, make this for them.  And they're sure to love you right back!

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tim McGraw's Chicken and Dumplings

  • 1 small chicken
  • Water
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Milk
  • 1 egg
Boil chicken, adding salt to taste. When tender, pull chicken from the bone and return to the broth.

Pour flour into a bowl, leaving a hole in the middle. Add 1 egg and enough milk to form a doughy consistency (similar to how you would make biscuits). Sprinkle flour on cutting board. Pinch off part of the dough and roll into a thin sheet and cut into squares. Drop one square at a time into broth. Continue this until all of the dough is used. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer until tender.

Allow the dumplings to thicken the broth until it is a creamy consistency.

From whence it came:  Sigh!  Double sigh!  Sigh again!  Sorry, but I can't help myself.  I always sigh before I say (or type) the name Tim McGraw.  I love him!   I know it's wrong, considering that I am married to a spy who loves me, but if loving Tim is wrong, I don't wanna be right!  My friends make fun of me and tease me mercifully, but I don't care.  Being Tim's #1 fan is my calling in life.  And I've got the Tim McGraw earrings to prove it!

Why it's blogable:  I guess I'm going to have to confess right here and now that I've never made this recipe.  I've never eaten this recipe.  I honestly don't think I've ever tasted chicken and dumplings of any kind in my 50 years of existence.  I'm not sure I'd even like them.  Dumplings are mushy and gooey (like my feelings for Tim).  Mushy and gooey feelings are good, but mushy and gooey food is not my favorite.  So why post this recipe and break one of my major blogging rules of never posting a recipe that I've never made?  Because tonight I saw the movie Country Strong starring that hunky cowboy and now he is on my mind.  Oh, who am I kidding, he is usually on my mind.  But now he's on my mind more than usual.  

The Spy:  You might be wondering how The Spy Who Loves Me feels about my Timmy obsession.  He's cool with it.  Honest!  He really is!  He mostly just rolls his eyes and acknowledges that there's no point in fighting it.  It is what it is.  A middle aged woman with an unhealthy and at times slightly disturbing crush on a country superstar.  And to show y'all just how great The Spy really is, tonight he sat right beside me in the movie theater and held my hand as I watched my "other boyfriend" on the big screen.  I love The Spy!  And I love that he lets me love Tim, from a distance.  A long distance.  A very long distance.  No, there isn't a restraining order against me...yet!

Click here to get the printable:

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Favorite Mac and Cheese

1 (8 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (12 ounce) container small curd cottage cheese
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook until done; drain.

In 9x13 inch baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle topping over macaroni mixture.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden.

From whence it came:  My wonderful friend, Kerinda, shared this recipe with me recently and boy oh boy am I glad she did!  It really is good and she is such a good girl for sharing. 

Why it's blogable:  I have made homemade mac and cheese before and I haven't loved it, but this recipe is very lovable.  I like it much better than the super saucy recipes that are made with a white sauce.  This recipe is so super easy to make, and the flavor is great.  I used sharp cheddar like the recipe calls for and I thought it made a great difference, but if you're not into sharp, use medium.  Our family gobbled this up and the boys went back for seconds!  I call that success!

One more thing:  I used Panko bread crumbs for the topping and they worked great!  Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) are made from bread without crusts and have a crispier texture.  I'm sure any bread crumbs would be good, but the Panko ones are great!  You can get them in any grocery store.  I found them at my BFF, Super Walmart!  Also, I turned the broiler on for just a minute before removing the dish from the oven, just to brown the top a little bit more and increase the crispiness of the bread crumbs.

Click here to get the printable:

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!