Tag: cooking

My Experience With Trim Healthy Mama

I’m sure you’ve heard of Trim Healthy Mama. It seems everyone has. I had heard about it from friends for years before I decided to buy the books and give it a try. I researched it for quite a long time before committing. I’m not really one to try diets, despite needing to loose weight. I did the Whole 30 a couple years ago with huge success. But since living that way is almost impossible for an active family, I decided to give Trim Healthy Mama a try. Everyone said it was whole family cooking and it wouldn’t leave me in the kitchen all day long.

The good:

  • The meals were made for large families in mind. I didn’t have to double and triple recipes, which was refreshing. Most family meals feed 6-8. They do have lots of single serve recipes in the cookbook for things like breakfast and lunch, too.
  • I found some ridiculously yummy recipes that my kids love in the cookbook. Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce, Slim Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans, Lentil Soup, Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup, Tomato Chicken Bisque, Nacho Stuffed Peppers, Trim Healthy Pancakes. Amazing food. Really.
  • I found most of the sippers to be awesome and I love them! Good Girl Moonshine & Singing Canary are staying. Period.
  • The Pastor lost lots of weight in the first month.

The Eh:

  • I lost minimal weight. Very minimal. Likes, in 3 months maybe 8 lbs.
  • While it was a whole family plan, you have to tweak every single meal for every single person. This meant adding cheese to kid food but not adult food. Adding an extra side for kids. So while I was only cooking one “meal”, I was having to adjust at the table.
  • While they claim you don’t have to use specialty ingredients, I found that they were necessary if you don’t want to be completely frustrated. So, you’re buying special flours and weird stuff that are really hard to find and expensive.
  • They also claim you can do the plan without Stevia. After reading their stuff, I just started using the Stevia, even though I really didn’t want to. Cutting it out is a bigger deal than they make it.
  • You can have brownies! they say. Then you make the brownies exactly like the recipe and they are gross. The online community then tells you that your taste buds are just messed up from years of real sugar. You’ll adjust. But chocolate should never taste like chemicals. I don’t want to get used to that. So these beloved desserts are apparently all acquired tastes that will eventually be okay to you once you forget what real baked goods taste like.
  • Despite saying you can be a food purist to stick to the plan or a “drive through Sue”, I found that I was having to make a lot of concessions to food purity. I was eating things that didn’t seem normal for me to eat. So, I’m sure there was a way for me to not bend on my food standards, but they weren’t easy if they were available.
  • There are a lot of rules. It takes time to understand and properly implement the plan. While there is good support through their Facebook pages and such, you have to be careful what you say so you don’t offend the plan. (Really just never critique the plan. Just watch how much hate mail will come from this post. And not all of the groups will be like this. You’ll also find a lot of encouragement and a lot of help. Just don’t complain- they don’t like it.)

The Bad:

  • My milk supply tanked, despite doing crossovers as described for nursing moms.
  • My immune system plummeted. I had eczema and then Shingles. The nutrition just wasn’t there.
  • It was expensive. The specialty ingredients are very pricey. They say you don’t need them, but over half the recipes call for them. Want to price them yourself? Whey Protein, Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend, Stevia, Super Sweet, Gentle Sweet, MCT Oil, Gelatin, Collagen, Glucomannan, Not Naughty Noodles. Now, some of these things will last quite a while, like the Stevia and the Glucomannan. But some, like the baking blend and the super sweet will be monthly expenses at least.
  • I was eating more meat and less veggies than usual. While they say vegetarian and vegan options are available, I don’t really see how.

My Conclusions:

I have seen lots of people loose weight and have great health on this plan. I will still be using my cookbook, despite my not using the plan because some of the food is really yummy. But this plan is clearly not for me. I had so many health problems that started when I switched to this plan. I did not see results anything like I would have liked to see. And my family was just eating too many things I wasn’t really super comfortable with. So, I am going to take some of the recipes, but leave the plan. It just didn’t work for us. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It worked fine for my husband.

Do I recommend you try it? I don’t know. I don’t recommend you NOT try it. I’m just not a fan because it really wasn’t a fit for me and my family. I had really high hopes and it just did not deliver.

I also think I am somewhat biased in my attempts. I’ve never been a Stevia fan. In fact, I think I might actually be allergic. I’m not a fan of processed foods. I’m not a fan of casseroles or crock pots meals. It isn’t that I am picky. I’m just more of a whole food, clean food person. So telling me no potatoes and limit carrots isn’t ever going to sit well with me.

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Birthday Cake

Today marks 8 days since my first, and only, C-section. Lots of emotions in that sentence. 8 years later, I’m still mad about the whole thing. I have come to have a gratefulness about the whole situation, it lead me to where I am today and brought new friends into my life I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It opened my eyes. But it was still painful. And it still sucked. And it is that bring glaring example of how messed up our system really is. Doctors making decisions based on malpractice insurance coverage rather than individual patient care. Not that my doctor wouldn’t have done the same even if her insurance had let her. She wasn’t skilled in breech birth. We both knew that. So, maybe she put the blame on her malpractice insurance company when the reality was that it was a skill she didn’t possess. And few do- because no one is teaching them- because no one is doing them- because of those insurance companies. I really wish I had never been cut. But I was and that is my reality. I have a scar. I was left without choices. Funny how that “woman’s right to choose” bit only applies to whether you will or will not continue a pregnancy.

aidan 6


I let my kids pick their own cake each year. We don’t have birthday parties every year. But cake is a birthday necessity. I don’t care how much sugar, butter, lard, whatever is in there. On your birthday you get cake! Or pie. Whichever you’re into. So, I have one kid who wants grocery store cakes. Those super sugary, questionably decorated, cakes. Cookie cakes on occasion. The rest of my kids usually want mama made cake. Well, there was that one year one of them made me get a cake made with his picture on it of him as a zombie complete with frosting pumpkins- and his birthday is in July. You get looks at the store for that one. But usually, they want something homemade from mom. I am a decent baker. Terrible decorator, but decent baker.


Aidan and the cupcake

My new 8 year old poured over my cook books trying to find the perfect cake. He had plenty to choose from. I have quite the collection of cookbooks (I’ll post links below). Unlike his younger brother who simply requests banana cake every year, he is a little more adventurous. He wants a unique and fun cake each year. What does he choose? Grasshopper Cake.

mr. bean


So, here I sit, thinking about this day 8 years ago when I briefly considered just getting lunch instead of heading to the L&D unit for my C-section. Sitting here thinking about how unprepared we were for that outcome. Thinking about my little baby born and having to wait 5 days to hold him. Remembering the panic and fear and pain that came along with his birth. Sitting here now while he runs around the neighborhood with friends while I bake some weird mint cake thing because he thinks it is cool. Laughing at the memory of him being born male parts first, after I was 100% convinced I was having a girl. My second baby. My first son. Eight. Time has healed most wounds with the help of God and friends. I don’t feel forsaken like I did on this day eight years ago. Today, I feel blessed.

Aidan Butt Face


My Baking Cookbooks:

Baked (this is where the Grasshopper cake is from)

Sweet Chic

Bell’s Best

The Treat’s Truck Baking Book (this is where the favorite Banana Cake is from)

Milk & Cookies

Desserts in Jars

Splendid Spoonful

Perfect Bundt Cakes

kitchen ljI love baking. I have tried recipe after recipe in pan after pan. I find that some recipes aren’t quite large enough for a layer cake while other recipes could easily make a triple layer cake. I like making Bundt cakes. I like a cake that doesn’t require icing. And they are so easy to serve! Today, I am giving you my two favorite Bundt cake recipes.

Amazing Banana Cake

1 stick butter (I always, always use unsalted)

2 eggs

3 or 4 very ripe bananas

1 teaspoon rum, bourbon, or Southern Comfort (My favorite rum to cook with is Kraken.) (Just pick whichever liquor you have or want.)

3/4 cup white flour

3/4 cup wheat flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend butter, bananas, and sugar. Add rum, bourbon, or Southern Comfort and eggs. Mix in all dry ingredients.

Spray your Bundt pan like a crazy woman. I wish I could tell you that there is some all natural, cheap alternative to cooking spray but I can’t. Just buy the spray. (Pam for Baking is my favorite. Baker’s Friend is my runner-up-if-it-is-on-sale choice.)

Pour batter in. Bake at 325. It is done when it smells done. What? You can’t smell a done cake? Okay. It is going to be about 30 minutes, use a toothpick to check if you need to.

(This recipe is also awesome in mini bundt pans and mini loaf pans.

chocolate cakeChocolate Cake

Now, this one is the most awesome chocolate cake ever. Be warned. If you’re wanting a layered cake, double this. If you’re wanting to do a bunch of cupcakes, double it. This recipe is just enough for a Bundt.

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup grape seed oil (You could also use vegetable oil.)

1 cup hot coffee (No, this cake does not taste like coffee. Yes, it needs to be hot.)

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon rum (I use rum instead of vanilla extract. It is cheaper and has the same flavor. If you’re buying, Kraken or Tattoo by Captain Morgan are the best rums for baking.)

Blend in this order: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, vegetable oil, coffee, milk, eggs, and rum.

Spray your pan like a crazy woman. (See above on banana cake about spray.) Pour batter into the pan. Bake at 325 until it smells done. Okay… about 30 minutes. Use a toothpick to check if you need to.

You can serve this hot out of the oven or cooled down. I prefer it cooled down.

Chocolate Ganache

It only sounds fancy, but it is unbelievable easy. Heat about half a cup of heavy cream in a small sauce pan. When it is hot (not boiling) stir in about 4 oz. of chocolate. (Chips or chopped bar.) When it is mixed. you’ve got ganache. Spoon it over your Bundt cake. The better your chocolate, the better your ganache.




The Best Roast Beef Sandwich

I have had so, so many requests for how to make my unbelievable roast beef sandwiches and for the horseradish sauce I make to go with. So, instead of writing the recipe over and over, I figured I would share it here! Believe me, this is how you make a man happy!

I got both recipes (for the roast beef and for the sauce) on Recipe Zaar. Of course, I made my little changes and it turned out beyond perfect!!!


For roast:    3-4 lb. boneless chuck roast

soy sauce

1 beef bouillon cube

1 bay leaf


dried rosemary

garlic powder

dried oregano


For horseradish sauce (taste like Arby’s horsey sauce):

horseradish (I got the jar of minced stuff)




white vinegar

For sandwich assembly: french bread

cheese (I used muenster, but anything creamy would work well.)

The original recipe for the roast beef is a slow cooker recipe. If you work or like your slow cooker, you can go with that. My slow cooker has been broken for 6 years and I never missed it, so I never replaced it. (Though the dumb, broken thing is sitting in my cupboards and somehow manages to move with us every time. Why? Who knows!) I changed the recipe to an oven roasting method. You can change it back if you want. Ready for this super roast that will make your man think you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day?

Put the beef in your roasting pan. (I used my shallow one.) Pour soy sauce over it and cover the bottom of the pan in soy sauce. (I do not measure things unless I am baking.) Pour a couple cups of water over the roast. Sprinkle the roast with dried herbs and throw the peppercorns on top (I threw in a small handfull of peppercorns). Throw in the beef bouillon cube. Place the bay leaf on top. Put the lid on your roasting pan and put it in the oven (on 300 for the first 2 hours, then turn it down to 250 for the next few hours). Don’t touch it. I cooked mine for 5 hours, but it could have gone 6 and it was probably done at 4.

To make your horseradish sauce, you’ll need a container with a lid. Mix a few Tablespoons of horseradish (I did a little under 3.) with about twice as much mayo. Add a couple teaspoons of sugar, a dash (maybe a Tablespoon or so) of vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Mix it up and refrigerate!

Assemble your sandwiches just before serving. (I pull the beef apart with a fork.) Spoon the sauce from around the beef into small bowls for dipping! (Believe me, you want the au jus!) Put on an apron and make him think you spent all day in the kitchen making the perfect roast! (Warning: he will insist you cook this often once he’s tasted it once! The beautiful children even ate this and loved it! Made about 6 sandwiches (most eaten by The Pastor).

Lentil Soup

First, I apologize for the lack of pictures. I am blogging from my BlackBerry. I think it is cool that there is a WordPress Application for BlackBerry. It is really easy to use, but I’d much rather blog from a computer! Hopefully, we will have a new computer soon. Fingers crossed!

On to the reason for today’s post- lentil soup! Although, you may call it stew. I would, but soup sounds more elegant and appetising than stew. You expect bad, unidentifiable things in stews. Lentil soup is so ridiculously cheap to make! And while it does take a little time, it doesn’t need much petting. This recipe makes a lot of soup! You’ll want to cut it in half (or fourth) or prepare for lots of leftovers if you aren’t feeding several very hungry people!

The Ingredients:
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Half a bunch of parsley, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 T of butter (or whatever you want to use to sautee your celery and onion)
1 bag of dried lentils
2 quarts vegetable broth
As much bacon as you want (If you want, you can omit the bacon and you’ve got a hearty vegetarian meal.)
Small pasta (I actually just use whatever dry pasta I have leftover. I’ll break up leftover spaghetti or put in those half containers of macaroni or penne.)

First, you’ll want to soak your lentils overnight. It’s really no big deal to do so. Just put your lentils in a stockpot. I generally sift through them a bit to make sure there is nothing odd in there. Put plenty of water over the lentils and cover. If you don’t want to soak your lentils, or if you forget, it isn’t a huge deal. It will just make your cook time longer. (An hour or so longer.)
Strain your lentils. Remove all the water from your stock pot. Pour both quarts of vegetable broth and cook over mediumish heat. Add salt and black pepper to your taste. You want to get it up to a boil, then simmer. In my experience, you’ll cook them for about 30 minutes if you soaked them or about an hour and a half if you forgot. While the lentils are cooking in the broth, chop up your veggies. In a separate pan, sautee the onion and celery with the butter (you can also use olive oil if you prefer). Once your veggies are tender, dump them into the stock pot with the lentils and broth. Check and see if your lentils are done (eat one). When they are done, toss your small pasta in the broth to cook. While your pasta is cooking in the soup, cook the bacon if you’re putting it in. (I bake mine in the oven. Just lay it flat on a baking sheet and into a 400 degree oven it goes. My mom microwaves hers. You do it your way.) Add the parsley to the soup just before serving! I add the bacon to each person’s bowl before putting it on the table. (That way if someone wants none, fine. If someone wants lots, okay.) That is it. Enjoy! It really is good, just ask the Pastor.

Twinkie Tiramisu

The Pastor loves Tiramisu. For our fifth anniversary last Saturday, we all went to eat at an Italian joint and ate some tiramisu for dessert. For Father’s Day, the Pastor requested I make him some of my fabulous Twinkie Tiramisu. Of course, I made it for him. Would you like to know how to make it? It is super easy!

First, you need to know what to buy, right? Get a box of regular Twinkies, a regular sized tub of Cool Whip, a box of instant vanilla pudding mix, and you’ll need a little cocoa for sprinkling on top and about a sup of coffee.

You will have one extra Twinkie for eating when you make this dessert! I call it a treat for the cook! (Even though there is really nothing to cook- this is all assembly.

Arrange 9 Twinkies in a square dish. It is a tight fit, but as you can see, they do fit. Pour the cup of coffee over the Twinkies. Try not to add too much- you really just want it to soak into the Twinkies. If you prefer it to have a stronger taste- you can brew super-strong coffee or use expresso.

In a bowl, mix the instant vanilla pudding according to the directions of the package. Once you have it mixed up (before it sets), add about a third of the Cool Whip to the pudding. Mix it up well. It makes your pudding oh-so-light-and-fluffy!

Pour the pudding mixture over your coffee-soaked Twinkies. (You’ll notice mine in the picture has chocolate chips. That is because I didn’t have regular vanilla pudding on Sunday. I only had vanilla pudding with chocolate chips. It worked. It was actually pretty good.) Try to get it evenly on there.

Now, take the rest of the Cool Whip and spoon it over top of the pudding. Spread it over and make it look nice. Now, sprinkle cocoa on top! (You can use as much or as little as you want. I like mine to have a good  heavy dusting of cocoa.) Put it in the fridge to let the pudding set. (It really only needs about 15 minutes or so to set perfectly.)

Serve and enjoy!

Boston Cream Cupcakes (Filled Cupcakes)

I promised that I would post how to make my yummy Boston Cream Cupcakes. Well, here I am making good on my promise! Here is what you’ll need:

– one package of butter yellow cake mix

– one regular size package of instant vanilla pudding

– one container of chocolate icing

– cupcake cups (paper or foil- whatever you want)

– zipper top bag

Make cupcakes using the instructions on the box of butter yellow cake mix. Let them cool.

Using a chopstick or skewer, poke a hole in each cupcake. I wiggle my chopstick just a little to make a little room inside my cupcake. Be careful not to poke through your cupcake cup! (I’ve done that before and the filling comes out the bottom!)

Mix your instant vanilla pudding according to the package directions. Pour into a zipper top bag. (I usually do this while my cupcakes are cooling. ) Once your pudding sets (just wait a couple minutes), you can continue. Cut the corner of the zipper top bag. Don’t make your hole too big.

Now fill your cupcakes with pudding! Put the cut corner of your bag into the hole you’ve made in your cupcake and squeeze the bag! Be careful not to over-fill your cupcakes. You’ll notice if you’re putting in too much- your cupcake will start splitting apart.

Now put the chocolate icing on and you’re done! Eat and enjoy! I do not take the time to ice my cupcakes all pretty. I just blob some icing on. I’ve been let down by pretty cupcakes in the past. They look so nice and pretty- you bite into it and find that you were deceived by a pretty exterior. So, I make yummy cupcakes, not pretty ones! You can use any combination of cake mix, pudding, and icing you like. I have made chocolate with vanilla pudding. I’ve made butter yellow with chocolate pudding. You can make whatever your little heart desires!

Lessons Learned

Tonight, I learned two very important lessons. The first is that if the grocery store is out of mai fun, sai fun is not a good substitute. Mai fun is a rice noodle. Sai fun is a mung bean noodle. In dry form, they look similar. That is what made me try. They bean_thread_noodles.jpglooked similar, even had similar names. When sai fun is boiled, it turns clear and has the consistency of a jelly fish. It tastes fine, but looks and feels too creepy to enjoy. The Pastor ate it. I picked out and ate the chicken and veggies and tried to avoid the creepy noodles. The second lesson I learned tonight was that I probably shouldn’t give my dog curry. He ate a little of my Singapore Sai Fun and he was wheezing and coughing after a few bites. I really shouldn’t give Lucas Joe curry. I realize now that was a bad idea. Poor guy. He really liked the taste, but just couldn’t handle it. So, I learned a lot tonight.

Lettuce Make Some Lunch!!!

I’ll start by saying that I am very cautious about my food. If I have the slightlest hint that anything has gone bad or is on its way to bad, I will not eat it. I am not one for leftovers or potluck. So, today, I take the lettuce out of the fridge to make salads for lettuce bathlunch. The lettuce is less than a week old, but it is a wee bit droopy. Normally, I would throw the lettuce away. I really wanted a salad for lunch, though. I thought I remembered Rachel Ray once saying that a bath of ice water would perk saggy lettuce up. I figured it was worth a try! I placed my saggy, sad lettuce into an ice cold water bath. Viola! Perky lettuce fit to eat! I was very surprised it worked. It is a neat little trick to know.