Saturday, January 12, 2008

Orange Garlic Beef and Spicy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

What a time we've had the past couple of days. First of all, Don's father was hospitalized Thursday night, and while I won't go into details to respect his privacy, it sounded very serious at first. It's going to be all right, but for two days Don was worried he'd have to be going on an emergency trip to Florida. I could hear the relief in his voice this morning when he called to talk to his stepmother and instead his father answered.

Then, Friday morning, my daughter called to say her car had been broken into outside her apartment (the second time in a year), her passenger side window was broken, and the CD player was stolen. So today, instead of relaxing in his recliner to watch the football playoffs, Don had to spend the day at T's apartment waiting on the glass repair guy to come replace the broken window. He's still not home.

Next, I went to a memorial service today for a fabulous man. Steve Wilson was a photographer and coach, married to Debbie, a counselor at the high school. I had both of their daughters in class, and they have grown up into wonderful young women. Debbie has been a comfort to me and a source of inspiration - she has this capacity to care about anyone and everyone more than you could ever know. Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer 7 months ago, and passed away December 19. The memorial service was delayed so that everyone who wanted to be there could be there - and I think there were 400 or more in the high school multi-purpose room today. There were fellow coaches from all around, teachers and staff from schools all over town, former students and players, family friends, and former school employees who worked with Debbie. It was so touching to be a part of the celebration of Steve's life.

I put dinner in the crockpot before I went down the mountain, so all I had to do when I came home was boil some Success brown rice (I use that when I'm in a hurry) and throw together a salad. Now that I'm a moderator of a Yahoo crockpot group, and I insisted on a new crockpot for Christmas, I need to use it as often as I can. This dish surprised me. It was really good. You really can't tell there's canned mushroom soup in it.

Orange Garlic Beef

3 tablespoon oil
1 lb. boneless beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon orange peel
⅓ cup water
1 can condensed mushroom soup, (I used the fat-free kind)
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
2 tablespoon molasses
pepper, to taste

Brown steak strips in oil over medium-high heat. Remove from pan and transfer to crockpot. Top strips with onion, garlic and orange peel. Stir water,soup, tomato paste, orange juice, bouillon granules and molasses together and pour over mixture in crockpot. Sprinkle pepper over all. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours and serve over hot noodles or rice.

Also this morning, I made dessert, so that it could sit in the refrigerator and chill all day. I got this recipe from a fellow blogger named Patti, who has quit blogging. I would post her site here, but when you go there you get a message that she has stopped and asks that you remove her from your blogroll. But Patti, if you see this, these bars are good! You can taste all the spices - especially the clove and allspice. While these remind you of pumpkin pie, they're much better, in my opinion.

Spicy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 cup finely chopped pecans
¼ teaspoon allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch ginger

12 ounces cream cheese (1.5 packages), softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoons ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground clove

Preheat oven to 350˚. Generously grease 13" x 9" pan. Cream brown sugar and margarine. Add allspice, clove, nutmeg and ginger. With electric mixer on low, add Bisquick and nuts until mixture is crumbly. Reserve two cups. Press remaining mixture in pan with fingers. Bake 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese in electric mixer until smooth. Add sugars, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and clove and mix well until smooth. Pour mixture over crust in pan, and sprinkle with remaining two cups of crust mixture. Bake until center is set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting, serve well-chilled.

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