Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Carrot Cake Frosting

It has become a tradition of mine to make carrot cake for the library staff on Halloween. After all, it's got all those orange carrots in it, and we can have pumpkin stuff in November too as part of Thanksgiving.

I've tried and liked several of the carrot cake recipes at the Baking Bites website. There's a one bowl carrot cake I made for home, lightening it for SC by replacing the fat with applesauce. I like the spicing on it, with the orange and orange zest added too, but I think it needed more carrots. And I decided that my go to recipe from there, the low fat carrot cake I bake in a 9x13 pan needed jazzing up, so it got a little nutmeg and allspice added to the usual cinnamon.

In both cases I use bagged matchstick cut carrots and chop them up well in my mini food processor.

The frosting recipe came from the Skinnytaste website, long before she started doing her cookbooks. I have mixed feelings about her stuff--I often find that they sound a lot better than they taste, and that I have to tweak them for best results. But this simple cream cheese frosting is tasty, and making it with reduced fat cream cheese (often called neufchatel) is just fine.

I throw myself on the mercy of the foodies, and admit that I frosted the cake for work today with the canned stuff. This is mainly because the cake sits out for hours, and the true cream cheese frosting melts quickly, and the Halloween sprinkles I add for fun melt along with it.  But for the home cake, I made the real thing. It took less than 5 minutes with a hand mixer.

And it tastes far, far, better!

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese  (reduced fat is fine)
1 cup confectioner's sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 

Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until creamy. Beat in the vanilla.

That's it!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Gingery Low Fat Goodness: Pepparkakor Cookies

When I last posted here, back in the fall of 2014, my daughter SC had just had a horrific gall bladder attack. She had to have surgery, but had to wait about 6 weeks until it could be scheduled, and for those 6 weeks she had to be on a drastically low fat diet.

It was a challenging time, especially since it was during the holidays, but we got through it. She had the surgery and recovered well. But having her gall bladder removed has meant that she has fat tolerance issues. Too much of a good thing, and well, it sends her running for the nearest bathroom.

She manages it nicely for the most part, and one more reason I am glad that she is living at home during college is that she avoids all the perils of bad dormitory food. And since she is at home, I like being able to make things that are delicious but low fat.

I discovered these cookies in that same fall of 2014. I was hoping to find a recipe for hermit cookies akin to the version Freihoffer's Bakeries in the Albany, NY area used to make. They were a favorite of mine in college.

I didn't find those, but I did find the recipe that follows, and I was thrilled to discover that despite the butter and eggs in the recipe, they are low fat!  That's because this recipe makes so many cookies, so you get only a tiny amount of fat in each. And unlike most recipes, not only does this recipe really make as many cookies as it says it does, I've made more. This week's baking yielded 6 dozen.

I recognized the name of these cookies from one of my favorite books: Pippi Longstocking:
"Pippi was baking pepperkakor, that's a kind of Swedish cookie."

Pippi rolls out and cuts her cookie dough into hearts, and apparently that's the traditional Swedish method, but several people reviewing this recipe said that these are even better. They are spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and if you put them in a closed container stay chewy but soft. 

They mix quickly in a stand mixer, and shaping them doesn't take much time once you know how.
And if you don't want to use the dough all at once, it can be refrigerated easily for several days. Or roll it into individual balls and freeze them for later baking.

Pepperkakor  (Swedish ginger and spice cookies)
Originally found HERE at

3/4 cup  butter, softened
2  cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs ground ginger
2 tsp   baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Sugar (about 1/2 cup) for coating the cookies

Beat butter and 2 cups sugar in a mixer (or by hand) until creamed.
Beat in the eggs and molasses.

Combine the other ingredients in a separate bowl and add a little at a time to the liquids, beating continuously.

Roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls. Or use a cookie scoop/mini meatball maker to make small balls, split them in half, and roll each half into a small ball.

Put the 1/2 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Roll the cookies in the sugar and place them on
greased or parchment covered baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. When they are done, the cookies will have nice color and puff up,but still be pretty soft to the touch.

Let them cool on the sheet for a minute or two, then flip them over onto their backs.
Let them cool a bit more, then flip them back over and put them on a plate or in a container.
(They will shrink back down and may even have a few wrinkles. That's how they're supposed to look!)

If you want them to stay soft, store them in a closed container.
This will yield 5-6 dozen cookies.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Another Way to Eat All That Salmon

Last Sunday I cooked a 2 lb salmon fillet on my grill. It was marinated in Rosie's bourbon marinade, only I used rum because that's what we had on hand. And I cooked it on a cedar plank. Salmon heaven.

Only the Man went out on a bike trip that day, came home late, and didn't eat it. He didn't end up eating it over the next few days, and he's away this weekend. The girls don't really like salmon, and SC is away as well anyway,

So I've been eating some of the best salmon I've ever made, all by myself, and loving it. And the other night I remembered that long ago, pre-kids, I used to make a sort of pickled salmon, baked in a vinaigrette thing--a Jane Brody recipe. And that it had a simple yogurt sauce.

The original recipe calls for yogurt mixed with a little mustard, but I simple topped bow tie (farfelle) pasta with some plain yogurt, tossed it with salmon chunks, and sprinkled on a little dill. And it's lovely and creamy and healthy.

In fact, I'm having some for lunch right now and loving it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Daily Dinner: Crockpot Turkey Chili

In my late, much missed mama's words "To make a long story short," (though she never did), we had a horrible late night visit to the emergency room with SC, aged 19. And it turns out she has gallstones and needs her gallbladder removed.

This isn't happening till December. Meanwhile she is on a walking regimen and a low fat diet, and I am working to find lots of good things she can eat. I need to do the same myself--no gallstones as far as I know, but I am suffering from stress/menopausal weight gain and it's time to get back to doing things the right way.

I'd tried another version of turkey chili a few weeks ago--wanting to make something similar to a prepared version that I'd liked, but that suddenly disappeared from my grocery store. That one didn't work, but this one did. JR raved about it, and SC and the Man agreed with her. And this one is doubtlessly healthier than the grocery store brand--and less expensive!

It's very simple to make.The only fiddly thing I did was draining the turkey thoroughly after browning it.
I did the same with ground beef a few days ago only with the beef I went even further, putting it in a paper towel lined colander to remove even more fat. And the Man said it was some of the best spaghetti sauce I'd ever made!

It was a little too thin, so I used my favorite cornstarch and water slurry trick and it came out just as we liked it. If you like it soupy, you can probably leave it as is.

And next time, I think I'm going to have to make a double recipe!

Turkey Chili

1 package (1.3 lbs usually) ground turkey
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
(I used 1 plain can and 1 can with mild green chiles. You could also use a 28oz can of tomatoes and a small can of diced green chiles)
1 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed.
(You can use any combination of beans you like)
1 chopped yellow onion or 1/2 package chopped frozen onions (always in my freezer)
1 red pepper  (you could use green, but red are prettier and sweeter and have more vitamins)
2 Tbs chile powder
1/2 - 1 tsp cumin

  • Brown the turkey in a nonstick pan. You won't need any oil, but stir frequently so it doesn't burn.
  • Remove the turkey with a slotted spoon and put it in your crock pot/ slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and the beans.
  • Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel to remove fats. If you are using fresh onions, spray the pan with cooking spray and add the onions. If you are using frozen onions, just toss them in.
  • Let the onion begin to cook as you slice up the pepper. You can dice it with a knife--I just cut it in strips and tore it into smaller pieces. Add the pepper and cook till the onions begin to turn translucent,and until the pepper has softened a bit. Add them to the crock pot.
  •  Add the chili powder and the cumin. 
  • Cover and cook--all day if you set it on low, 3-4 hours on high.
  • If the chili is too thin when it's done, you can thicken it with a cornstarch/water slurry. Shake equal parts of cornstarch and cold water in a small jar, or stir it in a bowl. Add some of the slurry and stir, wait a few minutes and check the consistency. Add more as needed.
  • Great topped with a little cheese, or stir in some yogurt or sour cream. I like to eat this atop lettuce like a taco salad, along with some crumbled tortilla chips. We recently discovered the Xochitl brand, which are lower in fat, not overly salty and delicately delicious.
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