Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m not a fan of banana bread (or anything with banana) but Luke looooves all things banana so I baked him up some banana bread yesterday evening. I thought if I topped it with cream cheese frosting I might like it too 🙂 I could still taste the banana…but the frosting was yummy!BananaBreadI recommend this simple frosting recipe. However, I added a Tablespoon of milk and left out the vanilla this time (and halved the recipe). We used Pamela’s Ultimate Pancake and Baking Mix (gluten free) to make the bread. There is a recipe for it right on the bag 🙂 Luke told me I outdid myself! ha

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Happy Birthday!

Today is my sweet husbands birthday! We celebrated this weekend by having some friends over for a Dessert and Game Party. We offered five different delicious desserts and spent the remainder of the night playing Reverse Charades. It was really fun! The dessert menu featured:

I highly recommend all of these recipes!

Happy Birthday to the most handsome, intelligent, hardworking, loving, caring, sweet and simply the best husband in the world! I love you so much and I am so thankful that God brought us together. Looking forward to celebrating many many many more birthdays with you! XOXO 🙂

Luke's-Birthday

Macaroni with Broccoli

Happy Friday! I love Fridays. Luke drives me into work on Fridays which is such a treat for me. Lately I’ve been struggling to keep my eyes open on my drive in (the time change didn’t help since it’s now dark for almost the entire drive) but on Friday’s Luke drives so I get to sleep! I even brought a pillow and a blanket this morning and had the heated seat on! It was delightful! While I worked Luke spent the day running errands, studying (at the beach!), hanging out at a sports bar…etc and met me for lunch at PF Changs 🙂 It was a great day and I am thrilled for the weekend.

I had nothing planned for dinner except for no meat (on Fridays) so I looked in the fridge and we had parmesan. I decided to make mac and cheese. Then I totally surprised myself by adding broccoli to it! For anyone that knows me…I would not have touched broccoli with a ten foot poll a year ago (or any veggie for that matter) but marriage has broadened my horizons! It was delish 🙂 The recipe is adapted from our fav book The Silver Spoon. Bon Appetit!

Macaroni Macaroni-3Macaroni with Broccoli

Serves 4

Preparation: 40 minutes Cooking: 15–20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
1 quantity of Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
12 ounces macaroni (I like Tinkyada gluten free macaroni noodles)
salt
1/4 head broccoli, stalk cut off and cut the head into very small pieces

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I use Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix)
2 1/4 cups milk
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Make one quantity of bĂ©chamel sauce (recipe below). Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just al dente, then drain and pour into a bowl. Add the broccoli to a pan with about an inch of water, bring to a boil and then turn to medium low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Next add the Parmesan, butter, and egg yolks to the bĂ©chamel sauce, stir to combine and melt together. Gently stir in half of the bĂ©chamel sauce mixture with the macaroni noodles. Stir in the broccoli. Pour the pasta into the prepared dish, then spoon the remaining bĂ©chamel sauce mixture on top. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden brown.

Béchamel Sauce:

Directions:
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in all the milk, making sure the sauce is smooth between each addition. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until it starts to boil. Season with salt, lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and not run off. Taste, add more salt if necessary, and season with pepper.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

MMM this soup is so so yummy! I began by following this recipe but decided to change it up a bit. The original recipe calls for mushrooms, poultry seasoning and barley. To my husbands dismay, I left out the mushrooms 🙂 I also omitted the poultry seasoning, threw in red bell pepper and substituted rice for barley since I have to stick with gluten free. I think quinoa would also be a nice substitute. I served it with our favorite gluten free biscuits made with gluten free Bisquick.Chicken&VegetableSoup Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt + a little extra
6 cups water
5-6 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
2 3/4 cup potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup brown rice

Directions:
1. In a large pot bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Dissolve 5-6 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base into the boiling water. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the boiling water.

2. In a large pan heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, red pepper, carrots and pepper. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Sauté a few minutes until the onion becomes clear.

3. Throw the veggies in with the chicken. Add potatoes, rice, basil, parsley and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender and the rice is cooked. Serve with biscuits 🙂

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

PB_cookiesThese cookies are naturally gluten free and so so delicious! They are super easy to make and use ingredients that you are likely to have on hand…try them! 🙂

Ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
9 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the first four ingredients. Once mixed well, add the chocolate chips. Spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet into medium sized balls and flatten with a fork. Bake 9-10 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Enjoy!

Pizza Margherita

This was SO good!! Luke said it was the best pizza he has ever had! I think he was flattering me but…it really was super delicious 🙂The recipe can be found here: Pizza Margherita. The only change I made was to add more basil. It calls for 3-4 large basil leaves cut into strips. We love basil so I used about 9 to make sure I could cover the whole pizza. This is definitely going to be a regular for us 🙂

For those of you who are gluten free…we use Chebe Bread Pizza Crust Mix. It is really yummy!

Chicken & Vegetable Spaghetti

This is quick, easy and delicious…my favorite combination! My mom tore this out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine last year and I am just now getting around to trying it out. So glad I did! The original recipe calls for broccolini but we used one of our favorite veggies, asparagus. We threw it on the grill first and then added it to the pasta. We also substituted grape tomatoes for cherry tomatoes and it was super yum!Chicken and Vegetable Spaghetti

Serves 4
Start to Finish: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups pearl onions
12 oz dried spaghetti (I like Tinkyada gluten free spaghetti noodles)
8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut in bite-size pieces
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth (I use 2 cups water and 2 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base)

In a large pot of water (enough to cook noodles) cook the onions for 3 minutes. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same water cook the pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, in a 12-inch skillet cook chicken in a tablespoon of hot oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until white all over. Add asparagus and onions. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, 2 cups broth and spaghetti. Cover, simmer about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Notes: Substitute broccolini, broccoli, green beans, peas or zucchini for the asparagus. Substitute yellow or red cherry tomatoes for grape tomatoes.

We grilled our asparagus for a couple of minutes before adding it to the pasta. Just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill on high heat for about three minutes. Remove from grill and cut into bite-size pieces before adding to the pasta.

Beef Stew

This may be my all time favorite meal ever!! Seriously tender stewed meat over creamy mashed potatoes…yes please! This is my mama’s recipe and it does not disappoint 🙂This recipe can be made on the stove or in the crock pot. My personal preference is to get it going in the morning and cook it all day in the crock pot. It will make your home smell delicious! I will include directions for both below 🙂

Beef Stew

Serves 4
Prep: 20 minutes Cooking: 2 hours and 10 minutes to all day

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat (I like bite size pieces of meat, so I often cut the stew meat up into smaller pieces)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups beef broth (I like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
1 Tablespoon (plus a little more) Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 medium onion diced
1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 good pinches of ground cloves
1 pinch allspice
3 large carrots or a couple handfuls of baby carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Stove:
In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the meat in olive oil over medium-low heat, for about 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook together with the meat until tender, about 5 more minutes. Next, add 2 cups of beef broth (reserve 1 cup for later), worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, pepper, paprika, cloves and allspice. Cover and simmer on low for an hour and a half. After an hour and half, remove the 3 bay leaves. Add the carrots and the celery. Cover and cook an additional 40 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup water with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch has dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture to the remaining 1 cup beef broth. Pour the combined mixture into the stew. Cook and stir occasionally until bubbly.
Crock pot:
In a medium pan, brown the meat in olive oil over medium-low heat, for about 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook together with the meat until tender, about 5 more minutes. Next, pour the meat and onion mixture into the crock pot. Add 2 cups of beef broth (reserve 1 cup for later), worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, pepper, paprika, cloves and allspice. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. After 3 hours in the crock pot, remove the 3 bay leaves. Add the carrots and the celery. Cover and cook until 30 minutes out from dinner time (this would be the same time I would start boiling my potatoes) Combine 1/4 cup water with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch has dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture to the remaining 1 cup beef broth. Pour the combined mixture into the stew. Cover and cook about 30 minutes.

Enjoy over mashed potatoes! Yummy delicious! 🙂

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

Tonight we celebrated Luke passing his final language exam for his doctoral studies in Theology!! Woo hoo! He just found out he passed his French exam. Luke has dedicated the last several years to learning, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish and French. Whew! I’m still working on English…how ’bout you?? 🙂 I had this Mexican Chicken and Rice soup planned for dinner and it turned out to coincide perfectly with Luke passing his exam. It’s one of his favorite meals so it was a great treat for him!!Luke went on and on and on about this meal! Had I not forgotten the sour cream, he said it would have been in his top five favorite meals ever!! Wow! I really blew it 😉 This is delicious topped with cheese, broken chips, avocado, cilantro and Luke’s beloved sour cream. We had it with Bisquick’s gluten free biscuits on the side. If you haven’t tried Bisquick’s gluten free mix…it makes delicious biscuits, pancakes and even strawberry shortcake! It is VERY good. Try it! Below is this yummy recipe that my dear talented mother came up with from scratch! Thank you, Mom!

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

Serves 4
Prep: 20 minutes Cooking: 1 hour

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut up into bite size pieces
6 cups water
6 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can green chilies
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup rice

In a stock pot, sauté the onion and celery in olive oil until tender. Boil 6 cups of water and add 6 teaspoons of bouillon base, mix well. Add the broth mixture to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Then, add the cut up chicken to the boiling broth mixture. Poach the chicken (about five minutes, or until all the chicken turns white). Then add the diced tomatoes, green chilies, sweet corn and carrots. Add cumin, chili powder and cilantro. Bring the soup back to a boil and then simmer for at least one hour. Rice may be added about 30 minutes prior to serving the soup or rice can be prepared separately and added to each serving bowl with the soup mixture.

Note: I prefer to prepare the rice separately. When serving up the soup add a couple of scoops of rice to the bottom of your bowl and pour the soup over the rice. Then top with sour cream, cheese, chips, avocado and cilantro.

Enjoy!!

And last but not least, I just want to say how PROUD I am of my sweet husband!! I feel so blessed to be with such a hardworking, talented and holy man. Thanks be to God! 🙂

Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil

Oh, how I love fall! It is my favorite time of year (next to Christmas). We don’t get to experience fall here in Florida so I am going to pretend we do by cooking up some fall deliciousness and decorating the house with fall decor! First up, this hearty Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil and fancy mozzarella grilled cheese. Mmmm this did not disappoint. Luke and I stuffed ourselves to the brim. It began pouring rain this evening and turned out to be the perfect day for soup. Nothing like soup on a rainy day. Now I am about to snuggle up on the couch while my husband serenades me on the piano. Hello, Friday!
This is my first time making tomato soup from scratch. I have no idea why it turned out orange…do you? I was going to make a simple Cream of Tomato soup and began following a recipe but soon decided to change my plans and add some fresh basil from our herb garden we just planted. I plan on trying lots of different versions of this all fall long! It’s perfect with grilled cheese. My favorite gluten free bread is Udi’s Whole Grain Bread. It is in wide circulation so you can probably find it in your local grocery store…if not, you can buy it online.

Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil

Serves 4
Prep: 35 minutes Cooking: 1 1/2 hour

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about three cloves)
2 cups, fresh basil leaves
2 1/4 lbs plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
3 cups chicken broth/stock (I use Better than Bouillon)
2 potatoes, diced
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to serve

Melt the butter in a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour in three cups chicken broth and the diced potatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for one hour. Transfer to a food processor or large blender and process to a puree, then pour back into the pot. Reheat, then stir in the cream. Pour into a bowl and top with Parmesan and fresh basil to garnish.

Note: If you have never peeled, seeded, and sliced tomatoes like me, I found this website to be very helpful! It worked like a charm. However, I found peeling and seeding the tomatoes to be pretty time consuming…might try a recipe that calls for something canned next time.

Enjoy! I plan on posting about our new vegetable and herb garden soon!