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!

 

15 Low-Carb Recipes

We are going to end this old year right by sharing a blog post by Carolyn over at http://www.alldayidreamaboutfood.com. She has compiled 15 mouth-watering recipes that were favorites on her blog during 2015. From breakfasts and snacks to lunches and dinners, she has a little bit of everything!  I, for one, can’t wait to give some of these a try!

You can read them here! Go ahead! What are you waiting for?  🙂

Peppernuts and Christmas Memories

As many people do, I become very nostalgic during the Christmas season. It is the time of year that I miss my parents, especially my dad, more than any other time of the year. My dad absolutely loved Christmas! He loved having all the family together around the table, the food, the fellowship, and the giving of gifts. My dad was a giver. He loved giving to others without ever expecting anything in return. He was a great example to me of giving!

When we lived in New Jersey, we always had Dad’s two oldest daughters and their families over to our house for every holiday. When all of us got together it was fun…noisy, but fun! After dinner, we kids would all go up stairs and play tag, freeze tag or upset the fruit basket. We didn’t rely on the adults to entertain us!

This picture  from the mid-1960s shows my grandmother (my dad’s mom) seated in the middle with her daughter, daughter-in-law (my mom), grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I am assuming my dad was the photographer for this one!

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Here is a picture of my parents in the early 1980s.

 

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As my dad got older, his taste buds changed, and his desire for sweet things increased. Mom and I often speculated that he could taste only sweet things, but we really didn’t know. Anyway, one of the treats he loved most at Christmas were small cookies called Peppernuts. They are actually a German cookie called Pfeffernusse. My oldest sister, Sybel, married a man of German heritage, and his mother had the recipe. My mother would make these for my dad. He would often fill his pockets with them every morning after breakfast and have them to munch on throughout the day! I always thought they were rather hard and loved dipping them in hot tea to soften!

I have searched and search for the original recipe, but I can not find it anywhere! I am so disappointed! However, thanks to the internet, I did find a recipe that is pretty similar. This recipe calls for anise seed, but ours called for anise oil. Mom also made the dough into long ropes and cut them into bite-sized pieces instead of making the dough into balls.

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.

 

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Looking for a new Christmas cookie recipe?  I made these cookies over the weekend when I needed a quick sweet treat to serve with some ice cream. Although I used my own flour blend in this recipe, they are not at all THM-friendly! I was even surprised to find that I still had some brown sugar left in my cabinet! But I don’t any more!

2 sticks butter, softened

1 c. packed light brown sugar

1/3 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 Tbsp. vanilla

1-1/2 c. low-carb flour blend (see link above)

2-1/2 c. old-fashioned oats

1 tsp. baking soda

10 oz. pkg of cinnamon chips

1 c. raisins (optional)

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Combine flour blend and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture. Stir well and add the oats and cinnamon chips. Stir well. Add raisins if desired.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 11-12 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

*I didn’t have the time to make these drop cookies, so I spread the cookie dough into a medium-sized jelly roll pan and baked for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly and cut into bars.

Ranch Dressing

 

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Trying to stay calm here! My 2Lt comes home on Friday for at least 10 days!! We missed him at Thanksgiving, so we are glad that he will be here for Christmas!

Last week I shared a DIY ranch dip which we really enjoyed. Today another blogger has shared ranch dressing. This sounds so amazing! I can’t wait to give it a try.

I’ve been following Nana’s Little Kitchen blog for several months now. She shares some great recipes! Click on the link above to try the ranch dressing. Then scroll down through her other recipes. You won’t be disappointed!

Low-Carb Chocolate Milkshake

Everyone loves a good chocolate milkshake! I’ve toyed around with recipes but never found one that I really liked.

My niece shared this recipe over on her blog today. It sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to give it a try!  And for the winter? Add some peppermint flavoring or a drop or two of peppermint essential oil! Yumminess in a mason jar!

DIY Ranch Dip

Here we are already with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas fast approaching! I had all but one of my kiddlets around my Thanksgiving table this year! We had fun just being together, playing games, eating, and then hiking on Friday. Barbi and her man wanted to go hiking while they were in town for their brief visit. We headed up to Table Rock and tried the Table Rock Trail. It is a 3.6 mile hike up a very steep trail! The hubby and I desperately wanted to make it to the top, but after 2 hours of hiking and still only half-way, we decided that we should head back down. The five 20-somethings all made it to the top along with our sweet little grand! I really can’t complain, though, because if we had tried this hike a year ago, neither the hubby nor I would have gotten very far at all! Actually, the hubby probably would not have even tried it! All of us have tired and achy muscles today!

This was our view from the half-way point:

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This is how Mia hiked most of the way:

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At this time last year, I was about 1000 views to this blog over the goal I had set for 2014. This year I am about 1000 views behind! Such a bummer! Many thanks to you who have stayed with me and supported me so far in this blogging venture! I do appreciate you!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was definitely more traditional than THM. But that’s ok, because we will get right back on THM next week. I love that this eating plan is so forgiving!

I was trying a few new things to go with some snacks this year and found a ranch mix in the new THM cookbook. I modified it and then realized that I could add some to sour cream and have my own ranch dip for raw veggies. It was really pretty good! Next time, though, I think I will go a little easier on the garlic. It was strong!

1-1/2 tbsp. garlic powder (can use dried sliced garlic)

3 tbsp. dried chives

3 tbsp. dried parsley

1-1/2 tbsp. dried minced onion (can use powdered onion)

1-1/2 tbsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until mixed and the larger pieces are much smaller. Add about 2-3 tbsp. of this mix to 1 cup sour cream and stir well. Give it a taste test to see if you need to add anything else. Enjoy with raw veggies like carrots and broccoli!

Black Bean Brownies

We made it home last night after a whirl-wind trip down to FL to see our 2Lt. He’s been gone since the end of September,  he won’t be home for Thanksgiving (the first time ever to miss it), and his December schedule will have him home before Christmas, but not on Christmas day. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to go see him!

I checked the weather before packing and really thought that I had packed the proper clothing. However, the weather forecasts did not tell me that the wind would blow the entire time we were there! That wind made it feel colder than it really was, and I nearly froze on Friday afternoon and evening! We did have a great time, though, getting to see quite a few planes (even go up inside some), spending time in the Navy museum, the lighthouse and museum, the fort, and the beach! Sunset on the beach was breath-taking!

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I have been greatly enjoying the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook! The recipes are so good, and I am working hard at getting the hubby and me back on track to healthy eating.

The other day I had an opened can of black beans that I needed to use. I remembered a recipe in the new cookbook and thought that maybe I could use the beans instead of the okra that is called for. They turned out great! Even my picky son thought they were pretty good…for diet food! Ha! They tasted even better after being in the fridge overnight.

4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

3/4 c. butter

3/4 c. low-carb sweetener blend

2 pinches salt

1/2 c. oat flour

1/2 c. ground pecans

1 c. black beans

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Lightly coat a 9×9 pan with coconut oil. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Combine sweetener, salt, flour, and pecans in a large mixing bowl. Combine the beans, eggs, and vanilla in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the chocolate/butter mix and the puree to the dry ingredients. Stir well by hand. Pour into pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan. Cut into bars and serve, or refrigerate overnight for a fudgier brownie!

 

Being Thankful

I’ve been working on a few new recipes from my new THM cookbook. I have to get the hubby back on track!! There are a few that are definitely going to be favorites in the coming months. I am beyond thrilled! Later I will share some with you.

My friend Brenda over at http://www.petalsfromthebasket.com/  often encourages her readers to be thankful during the month of November. My friendship with Brenda goes way back to high school. We reconnected on Face Book several years ago, and she has encouraged me with this blog. I could easily name Brenda for days 8, 12, 18, and 27 on her gratitude chart!

You can read about Brenda’s gratitude chart here and print your own copy. I can’t wait to try it! Most of my gratitude methods will probably be e-mails, texts, or phone calls, but that is really not the point. The point is to be thankful for all the people God has graciously given us in our lives. Many times we might mumble a “thank you” when we receive something from a friend or even a stranger, but our hearts are not really thankful. This chart will help us to show gratitude from our hearts. So, I challenge each of you to give this a try! Let’s see what a difference it will make, not only in the lives of others, but in our own as well.

Happy November, everyone!