Of Chicken Soup and Missing Forks

I can’t believe that we are 10 days away from Thanksgiving! And finally, we have weather that actually matches the season. We’ve had temps in the 80’s for weeks on end and little to no rain since July. We are finally having night time temps in the 40’s, and we actually got 1/4 inch of rain yesterday. I know that isn’t much, but we’ll take it!

One of my favorite activities with my children when they were small was the time spent reading aloud. I loved reading out loud to my kiddos! We read book after book each morning after we had our Bible time and before we started our school lessons. One of the series of books I read was called  The Borrowers by Mary Norton. It was a fun series to read. I thought of these books recently when I discovered that some of my forks are missing. Seriously, why should my forks be missing? It makes absolutely no sense at all unless my house is infested with borrowers! Years ago, my parents bought me 12 place settings of my flatware. They did it over time…a place setting for my birthday, another one for Christmas until I had the complete set including the serving pieces. Over the summer, I began to think that I was missing some forks. I mean, really…there were only 2 of us living here for over 3 months when Sam was deployed, but I noticed that I didn’t have all the forks. I  searched other drawers thinking that someone had put them in the wrong place, and that gave me one of my dessert forks, but the dinner forks are short by 4. Instead of 12, I have only 8. And even the 2-piece child set of spoon and fork that I used with my own children, and carefully saved for my grand babies is now missing the fork. It was not missing the fork 3 months ago! It has to be the borrowers, I tell ya!

One more thing before I share the new recipe for chicken soup. This, ya’ll!!!

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I am beyond excited to have a new little pumpkin join the family in April!!

Ok, now to the recipe. I found this recipe in our local paper a few weeks ago. It is actually supposed to be chicken in a sauce to serve over pasta or rice, but as I read the recipe, I realized that it would make a wonderful creamy chicken soup…and it did!

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 large shallots, chopped

2 c. chicken broth

1 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. minced fresh oregano (I used dried)

1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme (dried)

1/2 c. cream cheese

1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 c. roughly chopped spinach

1/2 c. chopped tomatoes

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear the chicken for several minutes on each side, or until browned and just barely pink in the center. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Saute the shallots for a few minutes until they start to become tender. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the cream, oregano, and thyme. Heat until the edges of the sauce start to bubble. Stir in the cheeses until they melt. Stir in spinach and tomatoes and lightly simmer until the spinach wilts.

Return the chicken to the pan and allow it to heat through. If soup is too thick, add more chicken broth. If it isn’t creamy enough for you, add more heavy cream. Adjust flavors to your taste with salt and pepper!

 

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Wow! It’s been several days since I’ve been here on the blog! I just checked the views and we are at 20,998! Almost to 21,000. I know that is just small stuff to those who are really into the blogging world. But for little old me, that is amazing!

Last weekend we had all the family together again!!!! I was so glad that it worked out for my girl and her man to come as well as son #2 and his favorite lady friend. It has been since last Labor Day that we were all together, and with one of my Blue Stars heading overseas for several months, and another one of my Blue Stars also leaving soon, it will be a while before we can all be together again. I cherish the times we can all be under my roof and around my supper table!

We decided to have our 4th of July celebration on Saturday since my girl and her hubby would have to travel home on the 4th. Saturday was such a fun day!! While some of the guys went for a run, the girls and I  went shopping! Seriously, what else would we do, right?  In the afternoon  and evening we played some bocci out in the yard, played several very loud rounds of Scattergories, ate some amazing food, set off some fireworks, and laughed–a lot!

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In addition to grilled steaks, we had potato salad, baked beans, tomatoes, hummus and salsa with chips, watermelon, etc. You know, all the good stuff that goes along with 4th of July! For dessert I had gotten a birthday cake for Barbi, but she decided that it would be better to celebrate all the July birthdays instead of just hers. Our combined ages equal 106!

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On the spur of the moment I decided to put together some jalapeno poppers to add to the meal. These are very easy to make, and all the guys loved them! I really don’t have a recipe that I follow, but I will try to give close estimates on the amounts. They are THM-friendly, too!

The jalapeno peppers that I used were huge! Our local Aldi had them in a package of 5 for less than 75 cents! The bigger peppers are much easier to work with than smaller ones.

5 jalapeno peppers

2-3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 wedge of garlic and herb cheese (got mine at Aldi)

Sprinkles of onion powder, garlic powder, salt (to taste)

5 slices of bacon

Cut the peppers in half length-wise and remove the seeds. Combine the cheeses and spices and mix well. Spoon the cheese mixture into each pepper half, using all of it.

Wrap each stuffed pepper half with a slice of bacon and place on a jelly roll pan.

Bake in 350* oven for about 15-20 minutes. The bacon should be getting crispy. Enjoy!

 

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I discovered this morning that I am only 39 views away from the goal I had set for the end of 2015. I’m only 2 months behind…oh, well. I guess I shouldn’t have set such a lofty goal of 20,000 total views! This year I will be a little more realistic! Oh, and this is post #375! I guess that’s not bad for 5 years of blogging.

I also saw this recipe today and thought I would share it here with you. It looks so amazing!! I definitely need to give it a try. I think you all will enjoy it too!

Taryn over at Joy Filled Eats has created this dessert. I am new to following her blog, but if this recipe is any indication of her creativity in the kitchen, I will be making quite a few of her others!

Winter Weather and Low-Carb Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Monday, everyone! I can’t believe that we are on the last full week of January already! Time is flying by!

We enjoyed a bit of winter weather on Friday and Saturday. Now, I realize that we didn’t get the 14-38 inches of snow that our northern friends received, but here in the south, a few inches is a big deal. New-fallen snow seems to put everyone in a good mood, and what’s great about living in the south is that we can enjoy our few inches of snow and a day off of school or work and then go right back to our temperatures of 50-60 degrees within a day or two! We can enjoy the beauty of new, clean snow without the trials that come with northern snows!

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The one thing that we have missed the most while trying to eat a low-carb diet is cinnamon rolls or coffee cake. My sons reminded me of this over the weekend! I used to make sourdough coffee cake every Sunday morning. However, since it just doesn’t suit our eating plan, and we would eat way too much of it, I don’t make it at all any more.

I saw this recipe over on the THM Facebook page the other day and decided to give it a try. We all enjoyed it! Using mozzarella cheese in the dough is absolutely brilliant! The guys thought that the icing needed to be a little bit sweeter, so when I make it again I will add more truvia. I love the way Briana made brown sugar using a little bit of molasses. I think that I would double that for this recipe next time.

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.

 

4-Cheese-Bacon-Ranch Cheese Ball

Last weekend we took a whirlwind trip to see my sister and her family for Easter. I don’t know when my sis and I were last together on this special day! I do know it has been years.  She was blessed to have had ALL 5 of her children, their spouses (the 4 who are married), and all 7 of her grands with her!!  Isn’t this a beautiful family?

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Yes, I do realize that the name of this recipe is quite a mouthful! I was trying to figure out the best name for my cheese ball and didn’t want to leave any part out. So, this is what I came up with!

Believe it or not, I had never made a cheese ball until this week. Not ever. My mom never made one, as far as I know, and we only ate them during the Christmas season, so I usually bought one.  However, a few weeks ago, a friend asked me to make one for a bridal shower. I did some searching on Pinterest and on the internet and found several that I thought would do, but none of them seemed to be just right.  So, as I often do, I created my own! This is the Cookbook Experiment, after all, you know!  Anyway, the ball was a hit at the shower (and the hubby gave it his approval, too)!

16 oz. softened cream cheese

3 wedges of spreadable garlic & onion cheese (I get mine at Aldi)

1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

8 oz. finely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 to 2/3 c. crumbled  cooked bacon

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix

powdered garlic and onion to taste if you want a little more flavor

1-1/2 c. chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cheeses, bacon, ranch dressing, and spices. Mix well until very creamy.

Spread chopped pecans on a piece of plastic wrap.  Shape cheese into a ball and roll in the pecans until fully covered, pressing the nuts into the cheese.  Gently lift ball and place into a bowl about the same size as the cheese ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 2-1/2 hours.  Serve with your favorite crackers!

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This recipe is fine for my hubby to eat on his diet plan as long as he uses the Wasa crackers instead of traditional crackers. Yay!!

 

On-the-Plan Peanut Butter Cups

As most of you know I’ve been trying to help the hubby to lose weight and exercise ever since September. I am delighted to tell you all that he is just one pound away from 30 pounds lost!! Believe me when I say it has taken lots of hard work!! He has been swimming laps, lifting weights, and walking. We even completed a 5K last weekend!! We didn’t run it or even jog it, but we power-walked it and jogged a little of it. Here we are crossing the finish line:

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We all know that Valentine’s Day is a day for candy and flowers, right? Well, since the hubby has been working so very hard to lose the weight, I did not dare purchase his favorite peanut butter cups for Valentine’s Day. Thankfully, on the Trim Healthy Mama face book page, someone shared a recipe for peanut butter cups that are permitted on the plan. I was so excited to see the recipe!! I knew that I could give my man his favorite treat but not give him a sugar high. I don’t remember who shared the recipe or if it came from a blog, so I apologize in advance for not giving credit where credit is due.  And of course, these don’t taste completely like the name-brand candies that can be purchased at the store, but they still give the delicious peanut butter/chocolate flavor that most of us love.

3/4 c. coconut oil, solid but soft

1 tbsp. natural peanut butter

3 oz. 85% chocolate (I got it at Aldi)

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 pinches of sea salt

1/2 c. sweetener (I used a powdered Stevia and needed a bit more)

1-2 tbsp. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all these ingredients together in the top of a double boiler. Bring water to a low boil in the bottom part of the double boiler. Whisk until melted and smooth.

Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners. Drop about 1 tsp of the chocolate mixture into each liner. Freeze for about 10-15 minutes. Keep the remaining chocolate at room temperature.

While the first layer of chocolate is hardening, mix all these ingredients together until well-blended:

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted, but not hot

1/3 c. natural peanut butter

1/4 c. full-fat cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. powdered sweetener

1-1/2 scoops vanilla whey protein isolate

Once blended well, drop about 1 tsp on the top of each muffin paper and smooth it out a bit over the chocolate. Stir the remaining chocolate and pour about 2 tsp. on top of the peanut butter mixture. Make sure to cover the peanut butter. Return pan to the freezer or refrigerator for about 30 minutes. When set, remove paper liners of peanut butter cups from the pan and store in a plastic freezer bag in the fridge. They soften easily at room temperature, so be sure to keep them in the fridge.

You may have extra chocolate and peanut butter mixtures. I lined a glass pan with foil and spread the extra peanut butter blend in it, and then drizzled the remaining chocolate over the top of it. Once it set, I broke off pieces to enjoy!

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