Who was your Cooking Inspiration?

I woke up to a stormy morning, leaves were flying across my yard, it was raining sideways at some points.  Icky way to start a Monday!  I brought Old Blue as my camera to work today – I thought it would just be dark all day so didn’t bring the DSLR.

Be prepared from some interesting eats this week.  I decided not to grocery shop and use up some of the pantry/freezer items we have on hand.  Although, I did spend $20 bucks at Trader Joe’s on Sunday. 😀

Breakfast was a spinach cheezy egg white sammie on 2 ounces of ciabatta bread with a sliced kiwi on the side.  Breakfast comes in at 9 points.

I was super busy at work, and it was iffy because of the weather if I was going to get a walk/jog in.  I was at a good stopping point, and checked weather.com and it said between 12 and 1 it was an 80% chance of rain.  I thought about it, and said “who the hell cares if I get wet?”

With Shelley’s hat she gave me and my hoodie, it was all good.  It sprinkled on and off and I ended up walking/jogging/running for 55 minutes.  It felt good I hadn’t worked out since last Wednesday!

I ran through the covered bridge only to discover there was a small waterfall on one side of it – so pretty!  I still have no idea, but my blackberry pictures come out looking like paintings!

Lunch was delicious tasting if it doesn’t look appetizing – 1/2 cup of bbq pork (chopped up from a roast I made last weekend) on Thomas light english muffin, and an apple, edamame, grape spinach salad – it was supa filling and comes in at 10 points.

So before leaving work I pulled out a small sirloin steak and some chicken breasts.  On my drive home I started to think what else I had and decided to make a chicken and steak stroganoff.  I did have to stop at the store to pick up coffee creamer so the only thing I needed was the mushrooms.  So add $5.27 to my grocery bill this week. 😀

I adapted this from Cooks Illustrated:

Beef Stroganoff
recipe from Cooks Illustrated

1 1/4 lbs sirloin steaks, tips ( trimmed of excess fat and cut lengthwise with grain into 4 equal pieces) (I had 12 ounces of steak and chicken)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (I only used 1 teaspoon)
1 lb white mushrooms, quartered (I only used 8 ounces since Tony is the only one that eats them)
2 teaspoons hot water
1 tablespoon dry mustard (I used 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard)
1 teaspoon sugar

fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onions, finely chopped (you know I left these out)
table salt
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. white wine or 1/3 cup dry vermouth (I used 1/3 cup white wine)
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream (I used 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (nope)

Using fork, poke each piece of steak 10-12 times. Place in baking dish; rub both sides evenly with soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.  (I marinated for 15 minutes)

While meat marinates, place mushrooms in medium microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until mushrooms have decreased by volume by half, 4-5 minutes (should be as much as 1/4 cup liquid in bowl). Drain mushrooms and set aside; discard liquid. Combine water, dry mustard, sugar, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl until smooth paste forms; set aside.

Pat steak pieces dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place steak pieces in skillet and cook until browned on all sides and internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees, 6-9 minutes, reducing heat if fond begins to burn. Transfer meat to large plate and set aside while cooking sauce.

Add mushrooms, onion, and 1/2 tsp salt to skillet and cook until vegetables begin to brown and dark bits form on bottom of pan, 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring constantly, until onions and mushrooms are coated, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/3 cup wine, beef broth and mustard paste and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce has reduced slightly and begun to thicken, 4-6 minutes.

While sauce is reducing, cut steak pieces across grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Stir in meat and any accumulated juices into thickened sauce and cook until beef has warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let any bubbles subside. Stir in sour cream and remaining tablespoons wine; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.  I didn’t have any parsley, so I just quickly shred some zucchini and added some crushed red pepper to mine.

For the meat mixture, each serving (makes 4) comes in at 282 calories, 14 fat, 7 carbs and 25 protein, or 7 WW points.  With the cup of cooked egg noodles, dinner comes in at 12 points.

Holy yum, was this good – and a super easy weeknight dinner – this was done in about 35 minutes from beginning to end.  And while I love the flavor of mushrooms, can’t stand the texture – best part about this meal?  Tony gave it two thumbs up! 😀

When I was at my Mom’s house yesterday, I was going through some old photographs.  I think I should carry this picture around with me as inspiration that at least at one time I had a flat stomach!  I have the hot sexy red bathing suit on, my sister is sporting a klassy short/shirt up to boobs look.  Gotta love 1985 swimwear!

The next picture I found was of Hannah and my Dad – probably taken around 12-18 months before he died.

My Dad didn’t really learn how to cook until the late 1970’s when he decided to try his hand at restaurant management and went back to school.  One of the classes he had to take was cooking classes, and he would come home and show us his skillz at making crepes suzette!

I think he made them five nights in a row if I remember correctly.  And while my Mom is a great cook, my Dad was I think more adventurous of a cook, which I totally didn’t appreciate at the time.  My Dad’s Mom however was a horrible cook.  I remember goign to her house and she would make us Chef Boyardee boxed pizza – and she would take her slice, eat the sauce and cheese on top, then put more sauce and cheese on the naked pizza dough, and put it back in the oven – she wouldn’t eat the bottom crust until the second time around.

My Mom’s Mom had a can of bacon grease on her stove at all times – need I say more? 😀

So who inspires you to cook?  Parent/grandparent/friends/t.v. chef?  Just curious!

Stats for Monday:

  • 55 minute walk
  • 31 WW points
  • average blood sugar 129
  • I put the strength rock on my bedside table so I can see it when I wake up 😀  Thanks for the idea Jacky!
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34 thoughts on “Who was your Cooking Inspiration?

  1. I need to do a use up the pantry/freezer week! Glad you got your walk/run in despite the rain. And I love how you just throw together awesome meals- so fabulous. My Mom is definitely my cooking inspiration! She cooked pretty much every night when we were younger and we all ate together as much as possible (vs. eating at different times).

  2. HURRAY! I’m finally getting to comment after being blocked for days. Couldn’t ever figure out why I was blocked.

    While I was growing up my mom was pretty good at cooking good old-fashioned homestyle stick to the ribs sort of meals…. meatloaf, fried chicken, etc. In fact, I grew up eating a LOT of fried foods. After I left home and was able to choose more things that I liked, I chose to cook in a different way… healthier I’d say. But I definitely got my foundational cooking skills (i.e. how to braise and roast and pot roast and saute, etc.) from my mom. Now? My mom often calls on me to figure out how to lighten and make healthier versions of her favorite recipes!

  3. Great job on getting back out there despite the weather! I’m working on doing the same and I think I’ll actually get out for a run today…

    I’m inspired by all of the great blogs I read. I’ve always enjoyed looking at cookbooks and thumbing through culinary magazines but it wasn’t until I discovered food blogs that I dusted off my pots and pans and started trying lots of new recipes. I’m not ready to create my own recipes yet, but I do like to tweak things here and there. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all of *your* wonderful recipes!

  4. Every once in a while I do the same thing, go through the pantry, freezer and refrigerator make a list and then make my meals from what is on hand. I admire how thrifty you are with your grocery budget. It shows me that I could do a much better with mine!

    My mom, Grandma and mother in law were my cooking inspiration. All three taught me different things. I started cooking when I was 10 years old as my mom worked nights so I had to cook for my dad and three brothers. Mom would have things prepped for me and leave me instructions. The first time I tried to fry chicken in a cast iron skillet I burned it and my dad made my brothers eat it. I sat at the table and cried!

  5. Good for you for getting out there and working out!! My mom and grandmom inspired me to cook – they make awesome Italian meals!

  6. You are rockin’ the workouts Biz! Good for you for getting out there despite the weather. My hair would have been a mile wide on both sides, but that is what hats and hoods are for!

    My Mom always cooked, but she never enjoyed cooking. It wasn’t until I was older that she let us in on that secret. My inspiration to cook has honestly come from the wonderful blogs that I read, yours included Biz. I didn’t really start cooking until after my son was born. My husband and I ate out often and I relied on quick and easy frozen foods or uninspired dinners like pasta with jar sauce. I shudder when I think back to those days. My salads are more creative now than anything I ever cooked back in those days.

    I involve my son in cooking and baking as much as I can because I wish I had learned more at an early age. I want him to be comfortable in the kitchen. Besides how much do we love a man who can cook!

  7. How smart to spend a week eating pantry food. I really need to do that. I’d say that my mom is definitely a cooking inspiration. She made dinner every night when we were growing up and I think that habit of eating at home really inspired me to learn to cook. Now I just love sharing recipes with her.

  8. Gotta love the OPRF gym shorts!

  9. We are going thru a stored food purge in our house too. Drives my husband crazy, good thing he is gone this week. Glad you like the location for the motivation rock. 🙂

  10. Way to not let the rain hold you back!
    I think it was my grandpa who inspired me to bake. Every time we would visit him and my grandma he would have baked a cake or had cookies for me and my sister. It was always my favorite part of our visit! I miss him…….

  11. We’re doing a freezer clean out week here too. I tend to throw things in there too often and forget about them. Good thing my family isn’t too picky about food!

    Way to rock the rain run, Biz! Can’t let a little wetness get in the way of your health! 🙂

    My mom was an awesome cook, but very traditional (she only liked to cook Vietnamese foods.) I watched her cook a lot growing up, but I was never much of a help. It wasn’t until I moved in with my husband when I learned to cook out of need (there was only so much Hamburger Helper a girl could take!) My little girl likes to help a lot when I’m cooking so maybe someday she will tell others that I was her inspiration. 🙂

  12. Roz@weightingfor50

    HI Vat. Yay for freezer/pantry clean out week!! Look forward to your creativity! And LOVE the picture of you and Jenn sunning yourselves. When I was growing up, neither of parents were into cooking that much – we had lots of quick, prepared things. However now, they both get right into it….not sure why, but I’m ALWAYS loved cooking. In hindsight, I took the wrong career path and should have been a “food something” rather than a “desk something”. I guess it’s never too late…. Have a great day.

    • I couldn’t agree more Roz to your last sentence. 😀

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  13. I need to do a pantry thing like that. I am afraid to look too far back in there.

    My grandfather was the one who got into cooking and he made me want to try. No one else in my family is a real foodie and cooking was always a chore for anyone else. I personally love cooking, as does John.

  14. good for you for getting out and working out! my hubs and i both love to cook-it is fun!

  15. Your dad looks like a real sweetheart! My Mom’s mom was always my inspiration for cooking. And I cook just like her- no measuring. Gets me in trouble every time someone wants a recipe!

  16. Yeah on your workout! Love the pics, your dad is so cute!
    I didnt like to cook till I was about 40! Just got interested, and started fooling around! There weren’t blogs then though! 🙂 I Had to use recipes and I have a hard time following them! I love to just wing it now!:)

  17. Nice job getting your walk on in the rain! Now that’s the way to attack exercise!

    Love the swimsuit picture – it’s amazing how flat teenage stomachs can be. Oh, memories…

  18. I love old pictures. Thanks for sharing!!!
    That beef stroganoff looks just amazing!!! Your pictures always make me hungry. 🙂

  19. My mom, bless her heart, is SO not adventurous in the kitchen. She has a few basic dishes that are tasty though. On numerous occasions she would throw chicken in the crockpot. Just chicken. No salt, pepper, or any kind of spice. When I was living with them, I felt bad for my dad and added stuff to the pot. My dad is a great cook though! His biscuits and gravy are KILLER! He also makes the most random “leftover” eggs. He puts whatever leftovers are on hand in them and calls it breakfast! One day when Ryan was in Afghanistan, I told him we were eating breakfast. He asked if my dad added Spam and Snickers into his crazy ass eggs! Bahahaha! He knows my dad all too well.

  20. I love pantry diving! [That’s what we call it] Any given week I can get 6 or 7 days out of stock on hand. Especially handy when one of those unexpected bills comes up and money is a wee bit tighter.

    Rock on Biz. It is great that you got out and got it done despite the weather. You are awesome. And so cute. Your smile always makes me smile. 😀

  21. Thanks for sharing the fun memories of you Dad. Mine passed away when i was 6mo old so i don’t have any, but i do have great memories of cooking with my grandma and grandpa. My grandpa is my cooking inspiration. He never follows a recipe and just remembers things he herd on cooking shows or from friends. He makes the most delicious lemon rosemary salmon. Everything he makes is slathered in butter.So inspiration, but not necessarily following the same recipes, or at least not without substituting a few ingredients.

  22. Nice trip down memory lane! I can’t really say who or what was my cooking/baking inspiration. My mom was kind of the iconic late 70’s/80’s working mom that made A LOT of convenience foods ( probably why I shy away from these things now!) post divorce from my dad, I think before that she liked to cook and bake, but I was too young to remember. My grandma’s mom died while giving birth to her, so she was NOT a good cook at all…I don’t remember her cooking anything…

    so ya, no real family inspirations. I was given a betty crocker cookbook when I was a tween, that I think I started baking every single cookie in it when I was a teenager. I found out that I liked it, and I was good at it…so I guess Betty was my inspiration. Today, I get inspired from lots of places!

  23. Thanks for commenting on my blog today, it’s great to meet you. I’ve just been looking around your blog, and I have to say I love it already!

    My cooking inspiration was my husband’s grandmother. Since my husband is Italian and I’m not, she taught me how to cook authentic Italian meals!

  24. You look so much like Hannah in that picture! Like mama like daughter 🙂

    My dad cooked most of the time growing up, so I suppose he inspired me to learn how to cook and my grandma was such a good cook, I remember all sorts of meals she made and just the thought makes my mouth water even though she passed away over 10 years ago. TV chef wise – I love Paula Deen, which is funny since I don’t eat meat and am cutting down on dairy, but she just cooks with so much love! And after reading her book and seeing all the behind the scenes of how she came to be on TV, I’m even more inspired to keep cooking!

  25. You know, I don’t know that anyone has inspired me to cook, it was all kinda me. When I became a vegetarian I just HAD to learn how to cook or I couldn’t eat! But my mom definitely influences my banana bread recipes and my grandma for my chocolate chip recipes.

  26. This was a nice post. 🙂
    My dad never cooked; he was the ultimate manly man who stayed away from the kitchen unless my mom is sleeping and he needs a late night snack, then he’ll cook an instant ramen. Haha!
    My love for cooking started late; I think watching emeril having so much fun with his joyful “BAM”s really made me like cooking more. 🙂

  27. You and Jen look so tall in those photos! But you’re not, are you? I think you said once you’re short, like me. Gag me with a spoon re: your Grandma and her pizza. Ew. Ew. Ew. No one inspired me to cook, I just wanted to be able to eat and I hated my Mom’s food. The love was born of necessity. Ha!

  28. I haven’t seen that picture of us in a thousand years! 🙂

    Love the picture of Dad and Hannah!

    I would say Dad is my inspiration mostly – but Mom I still make your slumgulion!

    And Biz, remember when it was open face sandwich night? White bread, toasted, with cooked bacon, topped with mozzarella cheese and broiled until the cheese melted..that was the best!

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