Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Make your own Taco Seasoning

You don't have to keep buying packaged seasoning for your tacos.  Make your own - it's easy, and you can skip the fillers and additives.


1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground Chipotle powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper


To a small bowl add all ingredients and mix well with a spoon.  

Cook ground meat as you normally would.  Drain when fully cooked.  Then, to the cooked and drained meat add one heaping Tablespoon of the seasoning to each pound of meat.   Add 1/4 cup water and simmer on low until the moisture has been absorbed.

Store the remaining seasoning in an airtight container ~~ try repurposing an empty spice container.


This recipe was inspired by one I found on All Recipes.com website.   Here is a link for the the original recipe.   All Recipes' Taco Seasoning

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Carrot and Apple salad with currants

   By Kerrie

This week I received a bunch of carrots and apples in our bountiful basket, which when I saw the bounty I immediately thought about making an old fashioned carrot salad – which I did tonight – and scored raves from the family.   This is how you can score some raves too…..


4  cups shredded carrots
2  cups chopped apples
¼  cup dried currants
¼  cup mayonnaise
1  Tablespoon rice wine vinegar (do not sub – any other vinegar would be to sour)
1  Tablespoon lemon juice
1  Tablespoon Agave nectar  (or honey)


To a large mixing bowl add the shredded carrots, apples and currants.   Set aside.

Next, to a small bowl add the mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice and Agave nectar.   Mix well and top the carrot mixture.  Then, toss well. 

I have garnished each plate with some onion chive blossoms from my herb garden.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Zucchini and Portobello Mushrooms

 After a weekend of BBQs and lots of cheating on my diet, it was time to plan something healthy for dinner tonight.   This pasta dish can be served warm, room temperature, or even chilled.   The inspiration for this yummy spaghetti dish comes from the May/June 2012 edition of Cuisine at Home magazine – and my little herb garden that has been beckoning to me to snip some fresh fragrant herbs.  I tweaked the recipe a bit, here is my adaptation……

Ingredients – serves 4

8  ounces dry spaghetti – I used whole wheat
4  cloves garlic – pressed
3  Tablespoons olive oil
4  skinny zucchini – julienned
2  Portobello mushrooms –sliced super thin
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
½  cup grated Asiago cheese
One or Two ounces of extra Asiago cheese to top servings


Cook 8 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.   Take care, whole wheat pasta cooks faster than regular.  I found my pasta to be a perfect  “al dente” in less than 7 minutes.   When cooked, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, brush the portobellas off with a paper towel and remove the stem.  Slice them very thin.   Set aside.

Next, julienne the zucchinis – I am using a mandoline fitted with a julienne blade.   You could also use a box grater if it has a julienne side.    Set aside.

Now, rinse the herbs and chop.   I actually like to place the herb leaves in a small bowl and then snip them to the desired consistency.  Set aside.

Okay, now that the prep is done, let’s add the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauce pan.   Top the oil with pressed or diced garlic, and sauté over high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Then, add the Portobello slices and toss.   Reduce heat to medium.

Now, add the zucchini and cook until wilted, about 1 minute, then add lemon juice and cover the pan, cooking until both the mushrooms and zucchini are fork tender – about 2 minutes more.

Meanwhile, place the drained pasta in a large bowl.   Sprinkle it with ¼ cup of the Asiago cheese and toss.

Now top it with the cooked zucchini and mushrooms, the remainder of Asiago cheese and the chopped herbs.    Toss with salt and pepper to taste. 

Now you can plate it and top with some fresh grated Asiago and serve as a main meal or side dish.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Banana Cream Cupcakes

   By Kerrie

Hi!    Yep, another cupcake recipe.   Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend and I always like to bring cupcakes to a get-together.   

By the way, you might be wondering why so many of my cupcake recipes include a pudding embellishment, well the answer is pretty easy.  I love cake.  I love pudding.  I really love cake with pudding.  I really, really love little cakes with a little pudding…. get the picture?    Anyway, today I had some ripey ripe  bananas that had to be used, and I promised to bring dessert to a BBQ , so I thought I’d make an old fashioned banana pudding – you know, the kind with vanilla wafers and chopped walnuts…?   But, that kind of dessert might be a little more interesting if transformed into a little cake….?   Getting that picture?     Well, this is what I did….

Banana Cream Cupcakes


1 Box Yellow Cake Mix – I used Duncan Hines Classic Yellow
1 Cup pureed banana – approx. two medium bananas
3 large eggs
1 Cup milk
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 cup (two sticks) butter ROOM TEMPERATURE
3 scant cups confectioner’s sugar   (more or less depending on how sweet you like your frosting)
1 pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons milk or cream (more or less depending on the consistency you desire)
1 small box Jell-O instant banana pudding
1 cup milk or cream
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
24 vanilla wafers


First, line or grease muffin tins – set aside.    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Then, puree bananas.  Two bananas should yield about 1 cup.

Next, to a large mixing bowl add the cake mix, pureed bananas, eggs, milk and oil.   Using an electric mixer, beat at medium high speed until batter is smooth.

Now, using a medium size cookie scoop, fill regular size cupcake liners with one scoop.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Place baking tins on wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from tins and continue to cool them on the wire rack.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the pudding mixture.   Instructions….

To a small mixing bowl add the pudding mix and 1 cup very cold milk (the box calls for 2 cups, but you want a denser consistency to top the cakes).  Mix on high for two minutes or until the pudding mix is very smooth.

Cover and refrigerate.    Let the pudding mixture chill for at least one hour before topping the cakes.  
Now, let’s make the frosting.   Instructions….

To a medium mixing bowl add the two sticks of ROOM TEMPERATURE butter.   I am serious, do not melt the butter, do not soften it in the microwave.  It changes the butter fat properties, and you will not get a fluffy smooth frosting.   Mix the butter with an electric mixer until smooth.

Then, in increments of 1 cup add the powdered sugar.   Use more or less three cups – to your sweetness preference.   Mix on high until smooth.   Then, add the vanilla and milk.  Continue mixing until smooth and fluffy.

Okay, when the little cakes are completely cool, the fun part - decorating……

First, fill a piping bag with the frosting.

Then, frost each cake from the perimeter inward, leaving an unfrosted circle in the middle.

Now, pipe the center with the pudding mixture.

Before serving, place a vanilla wafer in the center of each cake and sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.

Enjoy !!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sauteed Carrots with Thyme

 By Kerrie

Hi!   Don’t you love moving the cooking biz outdoors this time of year?   I especially love the fact that grilling is hubby’s domain, so I just hand the meat off to him and tell him to go work his magic.  Meanwhile I just make a couple of healthy sides to grace the chops and dinner is on the table.   One of our favorite sides for grilled elk chops is carrots with fresh thyme.   This is what I do……

Ingredients – serves 4

6 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme leaves
1 scant teaspoon Agave Nectar


To a medium sized sauce pan add the Olive Oil and herbs.

 Then add the carrots and cook on medium until just fork tender.

Now, drizzle a little Agave Nectar over the cooked carrots - give a toss, and serve warm.

Now wasn't that easy?      Enjoy !!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coconut Cream Cupcakes

 By Kerrie

Hi!   I’m so happy to have a reason to bake today.   I have been doing less of that of late because hubby and I are counting calories. These sweeties will be immediately handed off to some friends to enjoy with only one for each of us left behind.   Anyway, if you want a really fabulous and more importantly, easy cupcake treat try this…..


1 Box white cake mix  --  I used Betty Crocker Super Moist White
1 Box (small) pudding mix – I used Jell-O Coconut Cream
1-1/2 cup coconut milk (you are subbing this in place of water) I use  "SO Delicious Coconut Milk unsweetened
1 Tablespoon of sour cream
1/3 cup canola oil 
4 whole eggs  -- I used Large
½ bag of coconut (7 ounces) from a 14 ounce bag – I use Baker’s Angel Flake sweetened
Frosting for 24 cupcakes – see below
Coconut cream for 24 cupcakes – see below
The remaining coconut from a 14 ounce bag, toasted, to sprinkle over frosted cupcakes – see below


Prepare your tins - either with spray or paper liners.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To a large mixing bowl add the cake mix and pudding mix and dry whisk to combine.

Then, to the dry mix add the coconut milk, eggs, oil and sour cream and combine with an electric mixer.   Mix on med-high until the batter is smooth.

Then, remove one of the beaters and add the coconut.   Using one beater, combine until the coconut is well incorporated.

Now, using a medium size cookie scoop, fill regular size cupcake liners with one scoop. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes or when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   The cupcakes will have a light golden finish on top. 

Frost when completely cooled.
While the cupcakes are baking, make the coconut cream …..

Coconut Cream Dollop

One small box of Jell-O Coconut Cream instant pudding mix
1 cup very cold milk or cream (rather than the 2 cups the box calls for)

Combine the box of pudding mix and milk or cream with an electric mixer on medium high for 2 minutes to insure the pudding mixture will be silky smooth.

Refrigerate immediately and allow to chill for at least one hour before topping the very center point of the butter cream frosted cupcakes with a dollop of this yummy coconut cream mixture.
While the cupcakes are cooling make the butter cream frosting……

Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter (two sticks)  ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Using an electric hand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more milk if needed for spreading or piping consistency.   

Apply to cooled cupcakes.  After the frosting is applied, pipe a dollop of the coconut cream in the middle.

Okay, now toast the coconut you should have left over from the cupcakes (the other half of a 14 ounce bag). 

All you need to do is sprinkle the coconut into a large non-stick fry pan and over medium high heat, toss until the coconut is lightly toasted.    Remove from heat and allow to cool.   

When cool, sprinkle over the tops of the frosted and dolloped cupcakes.

                                  Enjoy !!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Healthy Homemade Vegetable Soup

   By Kerrie

Whenever we need to kick start our plan to eat healthier and shed some pounds, I like to make a pot of this delicious vegetable soup.   You can use any combination of vegetables and/or cabbage or kale to suit your taste.   You can add – or not – Tabasco sauce to heat it up.   However you tweak it, make some and enjoy it for the next couple of days as a bowl full at lunch, or have a cup of it for dinner followed by a light entree.   I like to cook the soup until the vegetables are just fork tender.   

4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups V-8 juice 
3 cloves garlic - pressed or diced
3 skinny zucchinis
1 medium onion
5 medium sized carrots
½ head of celery – with the greens
1 bell pepper – any color
1 can diced tomatoes with all of the liquid
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse and chop to desired size the pepper, celery w/greens, carrots, and onions and place in large cook pot.

Cover with vegetable broth, chopped tomatoes w/liquid and pressed garlic.

Give it a stir and bring to a light boil.  Then, reduce heat to medium and top with the chopped Kale.

Simmer for about 7 minutes and then add the sliced zucchini.   Continue to cook until vegetables are just fork tender.

Pour in the V-8 juice and season with salt, pepper and tabasco sauce.