How to Make Yummy Grilled Cheese on Gluten Free Bread (and Tomato Soup)

I’m pretty new to eating gluten free, but the longer I maintain this diet, the easier it gets and the better I feel. I have more energy, I feel healthier, and I make better food choices, especially when it comes to snacks.

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But as anyone who has eaten gluten free bread knows, it’s not quite the same. It doesn’t hold together as well, and it doesn’t toast the same way as regular bread. But it still makes a decent grilled cheese. I served it with this delicious tomato soup.

I’m sharing this recipe because I’ve decided this is the best way to make a grilled cheese on gluten free bread. Putting the cheese on both sides of the bread really seemed to help keep it all together. And the cheese kind of oozed out of the bread and toasted onto the outside, which ended up being just marvelous. Plus, the tomato soup is amazing. So there’s that.

What You Need for the Grilled Cheese:

  • 2 slices regular or gluten free bread
  • Enough butter, softened, to cover one side of each slice of bread
  • 10 thin slices of your favorite cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 2-3 avocado slices, mashed into a spread
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

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What You Need for the Tomato Soup:

  • 12 plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground sage

What You Do to Make the Grilled Cheese:

Heat a medium skillet on low-medium.

Butter the bread sides and prepare cheese slices, tomato and avocado before placing the bottom slice in the pan.

Place cheese sliced on the bread in one single layer that covers the bread surface.

Place the tomato slices on the cheese.

Next, spread the mashed avocado and sprinkle the crushed red pepper on top so it sticks.

Press down another layer of cheese slices on top of the avocado and cover with the top bread slice.

Slowly cook, flipping often because the bread will stick easily to the pan. Add more butter if necessary. Remove from heat when the sandwich is lightly toasted and the cheese is melted (mine didn’t fully melt but I couldn’t keep the bread on the stove any longer).

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What You Do to Make the Tomato Soup:

Preheat oven to 400F

Halve the plum tomatoes and layer them in a large baking dish.

Add onion slices and garlic between each layer of tomatoes and over the top.

Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and pinched with the skin broken, and the juices bubbling.

Place everything in a food processor and pulse until it is roughly blended and thick.

Pour into a large bowl and stir in the thyme and sage. Serve alongside the grilled cheese and enjoy!

 

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Buttermilk Red Pepper Tomato Soup

It’s football season. I’m not super into watching sports on TV. I like playing sports, but there’s a fine glaze that forms over my eyes whenever Mike switches the channel to a game of any kind. I’m still trying to figure out why there is Sunday night football, Monday night football AND Thursday night football. It feels like it’s always on. (Sorry football fans).

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But – BONUS! If I don’t care about what’s on TV, that leaves me plenty of time to cook. And that’s something I’m totally fine with. On a separate note, does the buttermilk face I made in my soup look slightly demonic to anyone else?

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What You Need:

  • 15 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into rough strips
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large baking dish, place the halved tomatoes, onions, red peppers and garlic, alternating layers to ensure they’re all combined.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are puckered with split skin, surrounded by juices.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the solid veggies and place in a food processor.

Blend the roasted veggies until smooth, and pour into a large bowl.

Add the spices and buttermilk and stir well. Reheat if necessary but it should be hot enough to serve.

Pro Tip: Dip a grilled cheese in it. Is this even a pro tip? Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together like chocolate and milk.

My other pro-tip is to save the leftover baked veggie juices, pour into a Tupperware and freeze. It’s vegetable broth for your next recipe. BOOM!

Winter Warmer Turkey Soup

I feel like this entire holiday season has been filled with turkey. After roasting and frying two free work turkeys, the leftovers were staggering despite inviting several friends over to share in the spread.

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Our dog is still enjoying the fried turkey, the oil from which apparently remains in trace quantities in our backyard. And if anyone is going to track down a small drop of fried turkey oil, it’s Madison.

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We were left with so much food that the obvious solution is throwing it into a giant soup. I can’t take credit for this dish though. Mike has a knack for randomly deciding to make dinner and busting out an amazing recipe. This soup he made on a chilly day last week is definitely blog-worthy, although he wasn’t used to having to keep track of every shake of the spice bottle.

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Soups have the advantage of being filling and giving you tons of leftovers, which was great in the midst of the holidays when I felt like the last thing I had time for was cooking.

Whether you have leftovers or not, this dish is doable with any combination of ingredients, and with our without meat.

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What You Need: 

  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth (you can make your own by boiling veggies in water and draining out the broth)
  • 3 carrots, sliced into disks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped
  • 2 large yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1.5 cups roasted turkey, hand-pulled into small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

In a large skillet heated on medium with oil, add carrots and celery and cover, cooking until just softened.

Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent.

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In a large soup pot, bring broth to a boil and add the yams, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Turn the soup pot heat down to a simmer and add the carrots, celery, onion and mustard greens to the pot.

Stir and continue heating for about 10 minutes or until all veggies are soft and mustard greens are limp and reduced.

Serve with bread of choice for dipping – we used pretzel bread rolls from our local food store. Delish!

Pro Tip: As I said, you can add anything to this dish that you have lying around. It would be great with other greens like bok choy, spinach or kale, and other veggies like sweet potatoes or turnips.

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Thanksgiving Day 5: Creamy Butternut Squash, Potato and Pear Soup

Nothing beats two foods that “pear” together well (har har), and Butternut Squash and Pears are no exception.

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This is a delectable soup perfect for a cold day, and since there will be lots of those coming up, my suggestion is to stock up on Butternut Squash and pears now. Not kidding!

This dish is quick to prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, and makes enough for leftovers (depending on how large/hungry your family is) 🙂

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What You Need:

  • 1 large Butternut Squash, skinned, halved and seeded (about 3 cups mashed)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • One large or two small white potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, roughly sliced
  • 4 Bartlett (or other) pears skinned, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • A few pear slices for garnish

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Place the squash facedown on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is soft enough to get a fork through.

While the squash is cooking, boil water in a large pot and boil the potatoes until soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.

Once the squash is done, pile it into a food processor along with the potato, onion, pears and spices, and give it a good whirl. It should still be fairly thick at this point.

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Scrape the whole mixture into a large 4 or 5 quart pasta pot and turn the heat up to medium.

Gradually add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly, until it is the consistency of, well, a creamy butternut squash and pear soup. (You might find you need more or less broth depending on how you like your soup, but 2 1/2 cups was perfect for mine).

Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with a few pear slices, and you’re good to go!

Also, I enjoyed this soup with a hearty slice of no-rise whole wheat stout bread. Highly recommend!

Pro Tip: You can cut your cooking time down if you cut the raw squash into chunks and boil them with the potato. Once they’re soft, drain, and blend with the remaining ingredients.

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No-Rise Whole Wheat Stout Bread

What’s better than bread? Bread made with beer, that’s what! AND bread that needs no rises!

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I love baking bread, don’t get me wrong. Spending an entire day carefully kneading and rising, all the while the house filling with the irresistible aromas of what can only be produced by the marriage of yeast, water and flour – it’s amazing. It’s the quintessential winter-in-New-England activity (I know, surprising that it’s not skiing or snowshoeing right?!? 🙂 )

But in a pinch, like when you decide to make soup for dinner at 4:30pm and have no bread to go along with it (and you MUST have bread with soup), there is just no time for kneading and rising.

I always thought rise-free bread was restricted to dessert breads like banana bread or lemon poppy-seed. But, thanks to my extremely talented friend and fellow blogger Leslie, those days are over.

WE WILL HAVE BREAD WITH OUR SOUP!

Ok. Anyways, Leslie made this bread with Smuttynose Porter beer – I made it with Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout – either way it’s delicious and so easy.

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What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) bottle of stout beer (like I said, porter is the original recipe ingredient so choose your poison)

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

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Slowly add the beer while stirring. A thick batter should form – this is more batter-like than bread dough-like so don’t be alarmed or feel like you need to add extra flour.

I used both hands to knead this around inside the mixing bowl, but it really just caused a huge mess. If you feel like sticking to a spoon, just do that.

Scrape the mixture into a well-greased loaf pan, and bake for about an hour. At around 45 minutes, insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. If not, give it another 10 minutes, checking to ensure it’s not burning at the top.

Pro Tip: If served with a full-bodied soup like squash soup or a creamy soup like clam chowder or cream of mushroom, dunk this sucker right in there. You won’t regret it.

 

Ratatouille with Coconut Curry Sauce

I feel bad calling myself a cooking enthusiast since I had not even heard of ratatouille until I saw the Disney movie. After seeing a rat prepare it, I thought, “I could do that.”

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But then, a lot of time went by. (A LOT of time. I just checked, and that movie was released in 2007 – yikes!)

So seven years later, I got my act together and made a decision to prepare this undoubtedly delicious meal for my in-laws, who were visiting from New York. I learned the basic gist of the recipe, and I was only feeling a little apprehensive about being able to pull it off.

But then, I was totally sidelined. The power of suggestion is absurdly effective. One second, I am happily going about my day thinking about trees and flowers (not really, just trying to make a point here), and the next, I see a commercial for pizza and suddenly, that is ALL I WANT.

As I was preparing for ratatouille-making, a friend happened to mention having had a delicious coconut curry dish at lunch.

Well. I’ll be damned. I LOVE coconut curry.

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So, since I was already feeling overwhelmed by the recipe, I made an effortless decision to swap out the sauce for a coconut curry tomato sauce.

I’ll tell you – it was an amazing decision. This dish does not disappoint, and was a hit with my in-laws (at least that’s what they told me) 🙂

Quick Disclaimer: If you don’t own a mandolin, this recipe is still possible to make – it just might drive you crazy. Make sure you have a sharp knife, at the very least!

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What You Need for the Ratatouille:

  • 1 medium zucchini squash, ends cut off
  • 1 medium summer squash, ends cut off
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, tops cut off and de-seeded but still bell-shaped
  • 2 cups dry Jasmine or white rice

What You Need for the Coconut Curry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced (seeded if desired)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (powdered ginger will also work fine)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices (this is equal to 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes if you wish to stay away from canned foods)
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large wok or skillet, pour in the olive oil and lightly simmer the onion, garlic, jalepeno and fresh ginger until soft. (If you only have powdered ginger, add it later).

Add the tomatoes and curry powder (also add ginger powder if using).  Turn heat up to bring to a slight boil and stir well.

Add the coconut milk and sugar, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Set aside, but keep warm on low heat.

Using a mandolin, thinly slice all of your vegetables. As I said, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can get away with cutting everything by hand. Try to make very thinly-sliced pieces. Thicker pieces really only impact how long the dish will take to cook.

Layer the vegetables in alternating order along the bottom of a large baking dish or dutch oven. Each time you complete a layer, spoon about 1 cup of the still-hot coconut curry tomato sauce over the veggies.

Continue layering and alternately pouring with sauce until the veggies have been used up. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may find you have vegetables left over. This is ok! They make great snacks, after all!

Pour remaining sauce over the top, gently poking apart the vegetables to let it seep through.

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Cover, and place the whole concoction into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are easily pierced with a fork. You may find it takes slightly longer depending, again, on the size of your baking dish and thickness of your layers.

While the dish is baking, cook your rice according to package directions.

When everything is ready, serve the ratatouille over the rice and enjoy! It’s where French cuisine meets Indian cuisine, right? Bon’ appetite!

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Pro Tip: If you have leftovers and want to re-purpose the meal to try and pull a fast one on your family, simply pulse the ratatouille (without the rice) in a food processor with a small amount of vegetable broth to turn it into soup! Make it as chunky or pureed as you desire, and add the rice after for some additional texture.

Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ooooh Fall I love you.

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Every time I find myself feeling slightly saddened about the end of summer and impending onslaught of cold weather and snow storms, I have to stop myself and go take a walk. Right now, the trees are BEAUTIFUL (living through a New Hampshire winter is worth it!) and the temperatures are PERFECT. There is literally nothing about this season to dislike.

Potato and Pesto Pics (21)And I could go on and on about how this is the best time of year for farm-fresh veggies, but if you’re reading this you probably already know this, so instead I will just move ahead to the reason you’re here and give you this recipe for potato and roasted red pepper soup. It has all the farm veggie essentials loaded right in, and is super easy to make.

What You Need: 

  • 6-7 smaller sized red potatoes, skins on, diced into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-7 red small-medium sized red peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, roughly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • About 3 cups vegetable broth. I made mine using my tried and true vegetable broth recipe.
  • 2 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup chives chopped
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

Add your veggies to a large baking dish and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are soft and emitting juices.

While the veggies are cooking, fill a large pot with enough water to cover all your cubed potatoes. Add potatoes, cover, and bring to a slow boil, watching to ensure the water doesn’t foam and bubble over.

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When boiling, turn down to a simmer, and leave covered, cooking until potatoes are soft and fork tines easily pierce through.

When both the potatoes and vegetables are done cooking, add everything to your food processor and pulse, being careful to just roughly blend and not puree. We want this to be a little chunky with standout potato pieces!

Transfer the blended mixture to the large pot and, keeping the pot on low-medium heat, and add 3 cups of vegetable broth (you may need slightly more or less depending on your mixture and how thick you prefer your soup.)

Stir well until well mixed and soupy.

Pour into bowls, and top with chives and cheese. Then, enjoy!

Pro Tip: This is an awesome way to create almost a week’s worth of food without really doing too much. You can beef up this soup to an even larger total yield by adding additional ingredients like your favorite type of bean (cooked and roughly blended into the mixture), shredded chicken (cooked and added at the same time as the vegetable broth), or a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, with juices (this will cut down on the amount of broth you have to add).