Spice it Up! (The Meats Version)

Well, the hubby and I have made it successfully through the first 4 days of this week eating on the THM plan! It feels so good to be eating better! We have even gotten our exercise in! This morning I was blessed to be able to share my morning walk with a dear friend from high school. We had planned to meet earlier in the week, but with morning temps down in the 20s, I opted to wait. This morning it was in the upper 30s–still cold, but much more bearable! Becky and I got in several miles of walking while we caught up on each other’s lives.  We hadn’t seen each other in about 8 years, so it was wonderful to be able to visit again.

Today I am sharing with you the spices and herbs that go well with meats. We eat a lot of chicken and fish in our house, and knowing the herbs and spices to use with them gives us a greater variety of flavors!

CHICKEN—basil, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, sage, tarragon, or thyme. These are best if you have them fresh from an herb garden.  Other spices are curry, ginger, or mustard

FISH—basil, bay leaf, chives, dill (the hubby’s favorite), marjoram, parsley, rosemary, thyme, or tarragon. Sometimes I also will sprinkle on allspice, cayenne pepper, curry powder or paprika

BEEF—basil, bay leaf, chives, garlic, marjoram, oregano, ground onion, parsley, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, paprika

PORK–basil, caraway, fennel, lemon, ground onion, ground garlic, parsley, sage, thyme, paprika, and black pepper

If you have even a small spot of yard near your back door, consider planting an herb garden. We have enjoyed our own chives, parsley, rosemary, and sage this year. Fresh always tastes better than dried!


Spice it Up! (The Veggie Version)

Here we are in the middle of the first week of the first month of a new year! Last week I mentioned that I missed my goal of 20,000 total views to the blog in 2015. Well, somebody discovered my blog and did a lot of browsing on the 30th! I had 187 views in one day! It became my busiest day ever!

The hubby and I are fully back on track of eating the THM way this week. The junk food that was brought into the house during the holidays is gone and hopefully won’t return! Yesterday was our first full day back, and it went well! I just have to keep encouraging him to drink more water!

I came across a small chart recently that matches seasonings and spices with various veggies and meats. This is a very helpful tool for me since we are cutting the carbs out of our diet. We are also trying to use less salt. Veggies and meats don’t need to be covered in breading and deep-fat fried to taste good. By using the spices you have in your cabinet, you can make delicious meats and side dishes that are also good for you! And, according to my hubby, a little garlic or onion powder helps everything taste better!

We like to cook our fresh veggies in coconut oil and add these spices.

Here are spices you can pair with vegetables.

ASPARAGUS—-lemon juice and mustard or thyme or marjoram

BROCCOLI—-dill, lemon juice, mustard or nutmeg

BRUSSELS SPROUTS—-garlic powder, onion powder, or lemon juice with dill

CAULIFLOWER—-dill, nutmeg, parsley, tarragon, or rosemary

GREEN BEANS—-basil, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, or a touch of red pepper flakes

SUMMER SQUASH—-marjoram, parsley, or paprika

TOMATOES—-basil, chives, garlic, or thyme

I hope you give some of these a try, or experiment with your own ideas! Next post I will share spices for various meats.

Out with the Old–In with the New

I can’t believe that we are at the door of a brand new year! Where did 2015 go? To me it seems like just yesterday that 2015 began, and here we are at its close.

A new year is the time when everyone evaluates the past year, sets new goals, starts dieting and  starts working out at the gym. Reflection over the last year is a good thing. We need to see our mistakes and learn from them. And, we need to look ahead to see what we can achieve in the days to come.

As I look back over 2015, I see a few goals that I have actually achieved, and some that I didn’t.  Personally, I challenged myself to follow the daily Bible reading schedule developed by Robert Murray McCheyne in 1842. It is designed so that the entire Bible is read through once, and the New Testament and Psalms twice each year. While I always read a portion of Scripture each day, I knew that reading 4-5 chapters a day could prove to be challenging. However, I persevered and actually finished the schedule today…2 days early!

For this blog I decided to try to post more recipes which are THM friendly. I think that I did ok in this…not perfect, but not too bad. I definitely need to post more frequently than I did last year. There is just something about a new grandbaby that seems to slow the blogging down a bit! Mia was born in the fall of 2014, so a lot of 2015 was spent playing with her and watching her grow!

Another goal I had for the blog was to try to reach 20,000 views. This, I am sad to admit, did not happen. Each click on a post counts as one view, so one person could actually have many views depending on how many posts they read when they visit the blog.  I am 788 views below that goal as of tonight. And I don’t think that 788 views are likely to happen in the next 52.5 hours!   Facebook seems to have changed the way my posts appear once I publish them. If I have pictures on a post, Facebook friends can see that picture without actually getting to the post to count as a view. Not sure when that happened, but it did. Anyway, the goal of 20k was probably a bit ambitious! We shall see what happens in 2016.

The two most popular posts were my quick and easy pie crust which you can read here, and my post about mailing packages to college students!

How did you do with your 2015 goals? Are you setting new ones for 2016?


5-Cheese Layered Quinoa Casserole

I needed ideas for supper last night, so I asked the hubby if he had any suggestions. I told him it had to use hamburger since that is what I had thawed and ready. Between the two of us, we came up with this casserole. I am just estimating on the amounts because I really didn’t measure the spices or most of the cheeses! It must have been a success because there are no leftovers!

3/4 c. dry quinoa (I used tri-color quinoa)

1-1/2 c. water

Combine the water and quinoa. Bring water to a boil and cook quinoa for about 15 minutes. While it is cooking, work on the beef mixture.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

2-3 mini sweet peppers, diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

Brown the ground beef. Add the peppers and onions to the meat and cook until tender. Drain off fat. Sprinkle the beef mixture with (maybe 1/2 tsp each) salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and chili powder. Stir in well. Add a medium handful of fresh spinach, stir, and cover. Turn off heat and let rest while you make the cheese sauce.

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c. cottage cheese

2-3 eggs

1 c. ricotta cheese

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

Add the cheeses and eggs together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. I used my stick blender, but a hand mixer is fine, too.

Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. Spread half of the meat mixture on the bottom of the pan. Layer half of the quinoa on the meat and then half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Spread grated mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve with a fresh green salad!

Serves 6-8.  If you make it for 6 servings, there are just 13 carbs per serving. If 8 servings, there are 10 carbs per serving.


Low-Carb Flour Blend

Finding the right type of flour to bake with while trying to eat on the THM plan has not been easy. The family still loves baked goods, but wheat flour is full of carbs. After playing around a bit with mixing flours, I think that I have found one that works for us. I might still toy with it, but for the most part, this blend works. It has just 31 grams of carbs per cup as opposed to 88 grams per cup of all-purpose flour and 117 grams/cup of whole wheat flour. Lots of ladies over on the THM Face Book page have created their own flour blends, and there are quite a few on Pinterest. If you are wanting to cut back on your carb intake this holiday season, but still want to have yummy baked goods, give this a try…or create your own! It isn’t that hard at all!

2 c. oat flour*

1 c. coconut flour

1 c. almond flour

1/2 c. ground flax

Mix together and keep in a labeled container. That’s all there is to it! Enjoy some low-carb baking!

*I buy old fashioned oats and grind them in my Ninja to make oat flour.

Our Trim-aversary!

Well, we made it!! We have passed the one-year mark for eating the THM way!! It has not always been an easy road, but we stayed on-plan for the majority of this last year.

For those of you not yet familiar with Trim Healthy Mama, this post gives a wonderful explanation of the way of eating.

While the hubby is slowing down on his weight loss and even gaining some weight back, he understands how much better he feels when he is eating in a healthy manner. Although I mentioned some health benefits in a different post last week, here they are again.

  1. No more snoring!
  2. No more symptoms of sleep apnea.
  3. No more acid reflux.
  4. More energy to do physical activities.
  5. More strength to do physical activities.
  6. Less joint pain (for me).
  7. Fewer over-all aches and pains.

This is truly amazing! Hubby used to get out of breath just walking from the car to the front door of the house. Last summer on our road trip, he struggled with all the walking we did at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. Now he has the stamina to hike and walk/jog a 5K.

Here is our “before” picture taken last summer at the Grand Canyon:


And here  is a picture taken in May:


I don’t have a recent pic of just the two of us, but here is our family pic taken 2 weeks ago at Sweet Thing’s first birthday:


He is still looking good, still has energy, and is continuing to work out 3 times a week.

I strongly recommend giving THM a try if you need better health! It isn’t just for moms!

Figs, Figs, and More Figs!

After going through a dry spell this summer, we started getting some much needed rain in the last two weeks or so. The hubby put up a new rain gauge, and it is finally getting some use! This is what it showed this morning–our rain amount for the last 7 days!


If you look carefully (I know it isn’t the best picture!) you will see the level up above 4″. Over half of this fell during a 2-hour time span yesterday afternoon!

While we’ve been getting rain, the temperatures have stayed on the high side, so it still feels icky sticky outside once the rain stops. It has been perfect for our figs! This year only one of our fig trees has produced figs, but it has R E A L L Y produced!! We are approaching the 30-pound mark! Yes, you read that right! One tree has given us almost 30 pounds of figs, and it isn’t finished yet.


We have eaten fresh figs (well, the hubby and Ben have). We have frozen them, dehydrated them, sold some and given some away. Over the weekend I made a Fig-Strawberry butter which was amazing! And today, my kitchen come-on is a wonderful smell of Peach-Fig butter currently in the crock-pot!

A friend shared the recipe for Fig Butter which I also found here. I didn’t have any white grape juice on hand, but I did have regular grape juice. I used a mix of grape juice and water. I also used about 4 cups figs and 2 cups strawberries to make up the 6 cups of figs. It was amazing!

I am using the same recipe today except that I have used half figs and half peaches to equal the 6 cups. I also used half cup lemon juice plus 1/4 c. water in place of the white grape juice.

I hope it tastes as good as it smells!

Organizing for THM

The hubby and I have been eating the Trim Healthy Mama way for 10 months! Yay for us!! It hasn’t always been easy, especially for him since he is a major carboholic. However, with exercise and eating mostly on plan, he is down nearly 50 lbs and quite a few percentage points of body fat. Although he’s slipped up some over the last few weeks, he is determined to keep at it. The difficulty now is seeing weight loss since he is gaining muscle weight by working out 3-5 times a week. He and son #2 have a goal of doing their own tri-athalon sometime before the end of September. We’ll see how that goes!

Good organization makes cooking the THM way easy. I haven’t yet tabbed my book, but I do have a notebook put together of all the recipes that I have printed from the very smart ladies who share their recipes over on the THM facebook page. My niece Hannah over at Through the Lens has a great post for getting organized. You can read her post here. I’m so proud of Hannah! She is expecting her first baby in a few short weeks and has been eating healthy the THM way. She feels amazing! I can’t wait to meet my newest great-nephew soon!

Salsa Verde

May 1, 2015! Can you believe it is May already? Or maybe you are thinking that it is finally May! Either way, the year is passing quickly. One week from today my college senior commissions in the AF, and one week from tomorrow he graduates! How is that even possible?  My 3rd child is old enough to graduate from college?? It seems like only yesterday when we dropped him off, a scared knob at a military college. Today he is a confident senior, sure of his calling in life, and ready to do it.

May 1 is the 5th anniversary of The Cookbook Experiment!! We have had almost 17,000 views to the blog (just need 90 more!) and this post is #333!

May 1 is the 9-month mark since the hubby has been eating healthy and exercising. As of this morning, he is down 48 pounds! He has gone from a size 58 suit coat to a 46!! He will be in that uniform for the commissioning next week!!!

And just a bit of fun family trivia…we always made May 1 the birthday of the very first pet to join our family. We knew her birthday was around that date, so that was the date we chose for the vet records. Today is the 16th birthday of the first cat we ever had. Barbi wanted a calico kitten for her birthday that year. By the time we found one and went to get it, the owner had already given it away to another family. But they still had a solid black one which we took home that afternoon. Properly named Blackie, she has been a faithful pet for all these years.

Today’s recipe is a new one for me.  I often make fresh salsa during the summer when tomatoes are in abundance. However, when I realized that the 2 tiny cilantro plants that I put into the garden 2 years ago have become so prolific that I now have over 15 plants, I knew that I had to come up with some new recipes for cilantro! This recipe happened to be in our local paper this week. It is wonderfully easy! And the article written with the recipe gives lots of ideas for additions to the basic recipe as well as ways to serve it. So if you like green salsa, give this recipe a try!

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp. salt (the hubby said it needed more)

zest and juice of 2 limes

1 bunch cilantro, large stems removed

5 oz. fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

1/2 c. olive oil (I used less)

Put the garlic, salt, lime zest and juice into a food processor and process until garlic is chopped finely. Add cilantro, spinach leaves and part of the olive oil. Process until smooth, adding more oil as needed.


And that’s all there is to it!  I added a small onion and some peppers in with the garlic. Hubby thought it wasn’t quite hot enough for him, so he added some ground red pepper and some ground white pepper.

Other ideas can be using kale instead of spinach and adding tomatillos, capers, or jalapeno peppers.

This salsa can be served as a dipping sauce for chips or spooned over grilled chicken or fish.

Cherry Nut Bread, Low-Carb Style

I’ve been learning a lot by following the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page, and it is not just about  recipes! The ladies on that page come up with wonderful ideas to help make life easier as they try to lose weight and get healthy.  My favorite tip so far has to be this creative way to make pouring those half-gallon Mason jars full of wonderful beverages.003



Isn’t this a great idea? I just cut around a pour spout from a carton of almond milk and used it as the flat lid with the ring to my Mason jar.  Seriously, why didn’t I think of this?  I’m telling you, these ladies are absolutely brilliant!

One of the favorite recipes in our home at Christmas is this delicious cherry nut bread. I first discovered this recipe while I was still in college. I baked it for my parents who just loved it.  Once I got married, I made it for the hubby and for friends as gifts. You can read the recipe here.

Now that we are trying to eat a low-carb diet, I had to figure out a way to make this recipe without all the carbs, so that we could still enjoy it. While it doesn’t taste the same, it is a good substitute. I followed the basic recipe but made these substitutions:

1. I replaced the 2 c. flour with a combination of almond, coconut, and oat flours. I used 1 c. almond flour and 1/2 cup of each coconut and oat flours.  I think when I make this again, I will switch the amounts of oat and almond flours.

2. I used stevia as my sweetener instead of sugar.

3. I used 1 cup of tart pie cherries instead of maraschino cherries.

We liked the flavor of this bread, but it is rather crumbly.  I made the recipe into 16 muffins so that I could try to figure out the carbs per serving.  If I did my math right, it comes out to 7 carbs per muffin. For those following the THM plan, these would be an S.