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

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!

Happy Birthday to me!

Luke and I celebrated my birthday this weekend! We headed out for an early dinner downtown Naples at Pazzo’s. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a table outside on 5th Avenue.
Whenever I go out to eat I love to go somewhere that doesn’t just offer gluten free options (meat, potatoes, veggies) but has food that wouldn’t otherwise be gluten free….like pasta! Naples is awesome for gluten free options and they have tons of authentically Italian restaurants. Pazzo’s is rated the number 1 Italian restaurant in Naples and it lived up to it!

They had a separate gluten free menu with lots of options. They had four pasta dishes that could be made gluten free by substituting the regular noodles with your choice of gluten free penne or spaghetti.

I had the tomato soup (so good!) and Pappardelle Ragu Alla Bolognese: Noodles tossed with slow roasted ground veal and beef, arugula, peeled cherry tomatoes, crushed red pepper, pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Luke had bruschetta and Linguini e Crabe: Jumbo lump blue crab, king crab and linguini tossed in a spiced marinara with jalapeño and fresh basil Topped with toasted ciabatta bread crumb.

Both our meals were incredibly yummy! They also gave us a complimentary drink afterwards. It was a combination of chocolate and red wine 🙂After dinner we walked around downtown for a little bit before stopping into Grace and Shelly’s for some gluten free cupcakes and then over to The Brick where Luke had some coffee.It was such a fun night! We thought about going out somewhere to dance but I felt pretty tuckered out at the late hour of 7:45 pm 😉 So we headed home and snuggled up to a movie instead.

Oh! I should also mention…Luke did AWESOME on my birthday presents! First he got me a gift card to Gap so I could get some much needed shorts! (Shorts are year round in Florida :)) Then he totally surprised me and got me the most beautiful drapes for our bedroom!! They are gorgeous! I had registered for drapes when we were married in January but didn’t receive them and it wasn’t something I felt comfortable spending our money on since we didn’t really need them. Every now and I again I would think about how nice they would look but figured we could get them in our next move (in a few years). When I opened his gift I was so surprised! Drapes weren’t even on my radar anymore! Plus they are even more beautiful then the ones I had originally registered for (that were no longer available) so it worked out perfectly! I have the best husband ever…just sayin’ 🙂

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.

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!

Lasagna Bolognese

This was too good not to post. I’ve never been a huge fan of lasagna….until now 🙂

This recipe is originally from The Silver Spoon, but can also be found here. The recipe in that link calls for ground beef, however, you can use a variety of ground meat. It can also be adapted for those of you who are gluten free like me by simply using gluten free noodles. My favorite are the Tinkyada Brown Rice lasagna noodles. They are superb 🙂

We had ours with grilled asparagus on the side. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill on high heat for about three minutes. This is our favorite way to make asparagus…sooooo yummy! Enjoy!

Eggs with Tomatoes

Happy Saturday! What a great way to start our day with this yummy breakfast and a fun skype session with family! The recipe below comes from our favorite cookbook The Silver Spoon. If you like Italian cooking and love good food…it’s a must!Eggs with Tomatoes

Serves 4
Preparation: 30 minutes Cooking: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
4 large tomatoes
pinch of dried oregano
4 eggs
1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush an oven proof dish with olive oil. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Sprinkle the insides with a little salt and place them upside down on a paper towels for about 10 minutes to drain. Season the insides of the tomatoes with oregano and pepper and divide the olive oil among them. Place the tomatoes in the prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, break an egg into each tomato, return the dish to the oven, and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Note: We don’t like our eggs quite as runny so we put them back in the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes! Maybe our oven is off or maybe the recipe is off…you decide!I’m off to pick up some items for our herb garden that I will be planting today…can’t wait to see how it turns out 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!