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.


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:


This is how Mia hiked most of the way:


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!

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?



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!


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!!


A Better Tomato Pie

As we’ve been harvesting more tomatoes lately, I was hungering for a good tomato pie.  Last summer I posted a recipe for tomato pie that I got from  a friend of mine.   Last week another friend shared her recipe for tomato pie over on her Face Book page.  It sounded amazing!  I did a little experimenting and ended up with a combination of the two recipes.  It was yummy!!

1 9-inch pie shell, baked

6-7 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly and patted dry (I dehydrated mine for 2 hours.)

salt and pepper to taste

8 slices of bacon, fried crisp, crumbled, and divided

7-8 slices Swiss cheese

4 tbsp chopped, fresh basil

3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. crushed crackers (I used store-brand of Ritz.)

Place half of the dried tomato slices over the crust bottom and up the sides. sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with about 1/3  the bacon bits and about half of the chopped basil.  Layer Swiss cheese over the bacon and basil.  Repeat layers. Combine Parmesan cheese with the mayonnaise, stirring well. Spread over the top. Sprinkle crushed crackers on top of the mayonnaise mixture. Top with remaining bacon.

Bake uncovered at 350* for about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

Alfredo Sauce

My family always enjoys Italian foods.  The guys mentioned last week that we hadn’t had Alfredo sauce in quite a while, and my husband mentioned that I hadn’t made lasagna in a while either.  So with these “subtle” hints, I made sure that I had all the necessary ingredients on my grocery list last week! 

My husband found this recipe on the internet about 8 to 10 years ago.  It is supposed to be similar to the recipe used by the Olive Garden restaurant.  Not sure about that, but I do know that my family just can’t get enough of it! 

It is best if you make it about 2 hours before you want to serve it and then let it sit at room temperature to thicken before serving.  It can be used as a dipping sauce for Italian bread or garlic bread, or as a sauce poured over spaghetti or lasagna!

1 pint of heavy whipping cream

1 stick butter

2 tbsp. cream cheese

3/4 to 1 cup parmesan cheese

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan combine heavy cream, butter and cream cheese. Heat until butter and cheese are completely melted, stirring often. Add the parmesan cheese and the garlic powder. Let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, continuing to stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Let cool to thicken.   Warm it just a little before serving.

Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan

We just completed one of my favorite weeks of the year…VBS week at our church. We had about 150 children from age 4 to 12!   I absolutely love working with the children, especially the middle group, ages 7-9.  They are so much fun at that age, they respond well to instruction, and there are few discipline problems!  This year’s theme was The Fruit of the Spirit.  I am always amazed at how quickly the children can memorize verses!! I’m praying that the Lord will bless our efforts of this past week!  Here is a picture of all the children:

Since I was away from the house every morning this week and coming home pretty tired, I needed something fairly easy and fast to prepare for dinner.  I came across this recipe on a card that I must have received in the mail a few years ago.  There is no name on it, so I don’t know who published it! It is a quick and easy chicken dinner!

4 chicken breasts

1 egg, slightly beaten (I omitted this)

3/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs

28 oz. jar pasta sauce, seasoned as you like

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Dip chicken in egg, then bread crumbs, coating well.  Arrange chicken in a lightly spray-oiled pan. Pour pasta sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the sauce.  Bake until chicken is tender…30 minutes or so for boneless chicken; about an hour for bone-in chicken.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the chicken and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.