Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blueberry (Sweet)Bread

My parents graciously gifted us some hand picked blueberries the other day. I was hoping to make a gluten free blueberry bundt cake. Unfortunately, I don't currently have a bundt pan.

To be honest, I never thought I would want to make a bundt cake so why have the pan? What I have found is most gluten free cakes are more dense than a traditional (bleached, white) wheat flour cakes. That being the case, I find myself drawn more to traditionally more heavy cakes- pound cake, bundt cake, dessert breads, etc.

So, in the absence of a bundt pan, I went with a sweet dessert bread. Jon and I both enjoyed a slice for a sweet, cakey dessert after supper last night. It hit the spot with a great balance of sweet and tart. This would be a great option for a brunch or an afternoon nibble with tea or coffee.

Before I share the recipe with you, I want to share a few pictures from the past few weeks. Jon's brother and his family came to visit us from MN. While my in-laws went on a cruise, Jon and I got the pleasure of babysitting our nephew, Zenius. 

As his mom says- some good Zen time.
Uncle Jon and our niece, Lilli at the Sea Turtle Center
We may have turned him into a Twins fan while we was here ;)

My dad rocking Zen to sleep
Mom loves babies :)
Now that you've seen what we've been up to- go make some blueberry sweet bread!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures friends. Cheers!

Blueberry Sweet Bread 
(Original recipe on
Makes 1 loaf

3/4 cup plus 2 TBS rice flour, divided
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

 2 TBS lemon juice
 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or grease a standard-sized loaf pan.

Combine 3/4 cup of the rice flour, the sorghum flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, mix the canola oil, sugar and eggs.  Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk.  Add to the flour mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine. 

Mix the blueberries in a small bowl with the 2 TBS of rice flour and stir lightly to coat the blueberries.  Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until the top turns a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack covered with wax paper.

Make the glaze by combining the lemon juice and granulated sugar and stir to combine.  Pour or brush the glaze over the top and sides of the loaf.  Serve warm,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chicken with creamy dijon & herb sauce

I am always on the hunt for new chicken recipes.

Jon bought some new French's Dijon with Chardonnay the other day while picking up a few things for me at the grocery store. There was a recipe on the back that he wanted to try so we added it to the menu.

We had it this evening with roasted potatoes/sweet potatoes and green beans. We decided it was a definite winner. It's a perfect balance of tang from the mustard and smoothness from the creamy sauce. And an added bonus? I got to use fresh herbs from my garden! YAY!

I prepared this with the oven directions because I had the oven on for the veggies, but I'm sure the stove top version is just as wonderful.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures friends. Cheers!

Chicken with Creamy Dijon & Herb Sauce
Serves 4

1/2 cup chicken broth
6 tbsp. French's Dijon Mustard with Chardonnay
2 oz cream cheese spread, softened* 
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp dry Italian herbs
black pepper to taste 
1/4 cup minced herbs (parsley, basil or chives or combination of all)
4 (6 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 TBS cold water + 1-2 tsp corn starch to make a slurry

For Oven Prep:

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine broth, mustard, cream cheese, garlic, dried herbs, and pepper until well blended.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Add chicken breasts in a single layer. Cover with sauce. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove chicken and keep warm.

Pour sauce into a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Add corn starch slurry, whisk to combine until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh herbs. Spoon over warm chicken. 

For Stove Top Prep:

Combine broth, mustard, cream cheese, garlic, dried herbs, and pepper until well blended. Set aside.

Cook chicken in 1 TBS hot oil in nonstick skillet until browned on both sides, about 15 min.

Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add mustard sauce to skillet. Simmer over medium heat. Add corn starch slurry, whisk to combine until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh herbs. Spoon over warm chicken.

* I use neufchatel cheese cheese instead of cream cheese. It's a personal preference.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ham & Bean Soup

I don't know why, but when it hits 85+ degrees outside I tend to make a big ol' pot of soup. It happens fairly regularly. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I simply love soup. It's easy, it's filling, and it gets better as it sits.

This recipe is no exception- it was fantastic yesterday, but for lunch today it was the bees knees (my hubby's words, not mine LOL). The flavors had all blended overnight to make this yummy soup over the top.

If you are a winter only soup eater, tuck this one away to try. If you are like me and eat soup no matter what the temperature outside may be- give this one a whirl!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Ham & Bean Soup

1 cup dry navy beans, rinsed
8 cups water

1-2 cups chicken broth
1 TBS chicken bouillon base
1 meaty ham bone + 1 cup shredded or diced ham
4 strips smokey bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dry Italian seasoning

3-4 carrots, diced
1 (4oz) can tomato sauce

Cover rinsed beans with 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.

In a skillet, brown and crisp bacon. Remove from pan and drain. Add the diced onion to the same skillet. Saute 3 minutes.

To the beans and water, add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the tomato sauce and carrots. Cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add carrots. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

If desired, slightly mash some of the beans with a potato masher. Serve with a piece of corn bread for a hearty meal.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies

Today I was craving brownies like a mad woman.

It just so happens I recently acquired the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cooking cookbook.

The result? Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies of deliciousness!

Warm and gooey from the oven. MMMMM
They were absolutely divine! They were everything a good brownie should be- fudgy, sweet, and simply decadent.

This week's menu is made up mostly of new recipes from my new cookbook. If the rest of the recipes are this great, gluten free just got even easier! And, since it's Betty Crocker, I have no doubts everything will be wonderful.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies
Makes 16

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

1 box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie mix
1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 whole eggs
1 oz dry sugar free chocolate pudding mix
1 TBS oil
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine brownie mix, margarine, eggs, pudding mix, and oil. The batter will be thick.

Spread 3/4 of the batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with filling mix. Spread the remaining batter over the filling.

Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks over the top.

Bake for 37-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, in the pan, on a wire rack for at least 1 1/2 hours. Cut into 16 even squares.

Store, covered, in the dishwasher.

2012 Garden

I love to garden. It makes me feel close to my family, to nature, and to God.

I tenderly take care care of the plants- water them, feed them, and make sure they get just the right amount of sun. But at the end of the day, it's God who gives them life. He sends the bees, humming birds, and butterflies I need to pollinate the flowers. He provides for them in ways that I simply cannot.

I come from a long line of gardeners- my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents. And I assure you the generations before all planted fruits and vegetables to provide for their families.

I plant for many reasons, and yes, one of those is to provide for my table. But I also enjoy the great experiment of it all! I get to try new foods as well as new varieties. It's fun to see what wild life is drawn to the different plants each year as well.

This year has been especially challenging because it's my first year planting in the south. I planted my garden in February. Yea. For a MN girl, that's crazy talk.

For my first southern planting, I went with what I knew: three varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, and herbs. They are all in containers- high yield, small space. An added benefit for the containers is mobility. I can adjust how much sun a plant gets by moving it closer to the house or further out onto the patio.

Here we are on May 1, 2012. Things are looking wonderful! I even had a neat surprise when I went to tend the plants this morning. A black swallowtail caterpillar is beginning to make a chrysalis on my parsley plant. 

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar. He has taken up residence on the parsley growing out of the topsy turvy planter.

Patio Cherry Tomatoes- these guys are heavy and about the size of a golf ball

MMMM green beans!

Just when I thought my Purple Cherokee was doomed, it set fruit! This is a new variety for me so I didn't know what to expect

A favorite of mine- Parks Whopper. This is a red tomato that gets giant, about the size of a small grapefruit.

Carrots share the space in the Parks Whopper container

A compact container Cucumber, this won't vine out which is great since I have no where for it to go!

Things are growing beautifully  and I am eagerly await garden fresh produce this summer. And this fall, I will be panting winter crops for a new adventure!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!