Incredibly Delicious Banana Nut Muffins

banana nut muffins group

I’ve always loved bananas, banana bread, banana pudding, banana nut muffins, etc.  Lately, bananas have been a staple in our house because I know they’re good for me and the baby so I’ve been eating at least one banana a day. We had such a large supply of bananas last week that I wasn’t able to eat all of them before they started getting too ripe which gave me the perfect excuse to make banana nut muffins.

banana nut muffins overThese banana nut muffins are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  I normally don’t eat a whole muffin or a whole cupcake or a whole cookie.  I usually eat half and then leave the other half for Luke.  I tried to only eat half of one of these muffins but after about 30 minutes, I went back and ate the other half.  I just couldn’t resist!  It was too incredibly delicious!  I didn’t even feel guilty for eating it because I told myself it’s banana so it’s good for the baby. 😉

banana nut muffin upclose


Banana Nut Muffins

Servings:  About 20 muffins

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 ripe bananas, peeled

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.  Spray each wrapper with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt together.  Then set aside.

3.  Peel the bananas and break each banana into 4 – 5 pieces and drop into your mixing bowl.  Add the sugar and brown sugar and mix until combined.

3.  Add the butter to the banana mixture.  Then add the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla extract.

4.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the bananas mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.

5.  Using a medium ice cream scoop, pour the batter into the greased cupcake wrappers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 24 minutes.

banana nut muffins out of oven


The Growing Baby Bump

I’m 23 weeks pregnant now.  There are days when I feel like this pregnancy has lasted forever, but then there are other days when I can’t believe I’m this far along.  On numerous occasions Luke has said he wished pregnancy wasn’t such a long process because he’s ready for the baby to get here.  I’ve had to remind him that we have way too much to do to prepare for the baby to get here so I’m okay with the “long process”, and I also asked him how he thinks I feel sometimes.  I was the one with all day morning sickness from week 6 to week 14!  Those weeks seemed to last forever!

For those of you who don’t know, we’re having a GIRL.  I finally started feeling her kicking and moving around 2 weeks ago.  Luke was able to feel her kick for the first time about a week ago. That was such a sweet moment.  His face just lit up.  He’s going to be a very proud Daddy.  He’s already told me the baby is going to be a “Daddy’s girl”.

A few days ago, I ordered the baby’s bedding, but until the bedding comes in, I can’t pick out the paint color for the nursery.  The expected delivery date of the bedding is February 11th so I plan on going to pick out the paint color as soon as the bedding arrives.  I also looked at nursery furniture earlier this week and narrowed it down to 2 sets.  I felt a little panicked when I was told some of the furniture takes 12 weeks to deliver. That means if we go back and order the furniture this weekend the furniture will be available around April 18th which is only 4 weeks before my due date.  That’s cutting it a little close for me.  Hopefully, the furniture we choose won’t take 12 weeks.

Yesterday, we had the baby’s anatomy scan and everything looked great!  The baby weighs 1 pound 7 ounces. According to the doctor, the baby is in the 56th percentile in size so the doctor was pleased with that.  The doctor said “you have a very healthy, happy baby in there.”  Luke and I were extremely happy to hear that! :)

These are a few pictures from yesterday’s ultrasound!

baby profile

This is the baby’s profile.  It looks like she has a tiny, little nose. :)

baby hiding

baby hiding 1

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see her face.  She covered her face from us the entire time so I think she’s going to be a little tease!

I’ll leave you with a few baby bump pictures…

pregnancy pic1

 17 weeks

pregnancy 23 weeks

 23 weeks

Blueberry Pound Cake Muffins

I love pound cake, but I’ve actually never made one.

pound cake blueberry muffins3

A few weeks ago, Luke asked me to make my blueberry muffins.  I never got around to making them and then Luke started a low carb diet.  He said he’s gained a few sympathetic pregnancy pounds so he’s cut back and started working out more.  Since he’s working so hard to lose those extra pounds, I decided it wouldn’t be a good time for me to make those muffins for him.

pound cake blueberry muffins

Last week, I was in the mood for pound cake but I wasn’t in the mood to conquer an actual pound cake so I decided I’d start small and make pound cake muffins.  Then it occurred to me that blueberries would be perfect for the pound cake muffins.  So these blueberry pound cake muffins were created!

pound cake blueberry muffins2

Blueberry Pound Cake Muffins:

Servings:  10 – 12 muffins

1/2 cup butter/margarine, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus one additional tablespoon

1/2  tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup blueberries

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.  Grease each wrapper with cooking spray.

2.  Beat butter and sugar.  Once combined, add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda together.

4.  Slowing add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Beat until combined.

5.  Pour the blueberries into a small bowl and stir in a tablespoon of all-purpose flour.  Then add the blueberries into the muffin batter and stir to combine.

6.  Using a medium ice cream scoop, spoon the muffin batter into the greased wrappers.  Bake at 400 degrees for 17 – 21 minutes.

pound cake blueberry muffins1


Cheesy Vegetarian Rice Casserole

southwestern rice serving topped

Since I’m not eating for just myself at the moment, I’m trying to make sure I get plenty of protein.  I’ve been eating a lot of whole grain bread, peanut butter, brown rice, whole grain pasta and beans so I’ve had to get a little extra creative with my recipes.  I get tired of food fairly quickly so I’ve had to change up my recipes in order to have a variety of meals so I don’t get bored.

southwestern rice

This recipe came to me one afternoon while I was sitting at my desk at work.  I jotted down the ingredients that came to mind and threw everything together for dinner that night.  It was a quick and delicious meal that Luke and I both enjoyed.

Cheesy Vegetarian Rice Casserole

4 – 6 servings

4 servings instant brown rice

1 10 oz. can rotel tomatoes

1 16 oz. can refried beans

half of 1.25 oz. package taco seasoning

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

2 – 3 tbsp pickled jalapenos slices (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cook rice according to the package directions.  Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir the rotel tomatoes and refried beans together.  Pour the refried bean mixture into the greased 8 x 8 dish and spread into an even layer.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until bubbly.

3.  Stir the taco seasoning into the cooked brown rice.  Then spread the rice over the refried bean mixture.  Bake 4 – 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the cheese over the rice layer and top with pickled jalapenos.  Place back in the oven to make for another 2 – 3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

I topped each serving with salsa and guacamole but this is optional.  It’s delicious without them!

southwestern rice serving topped1



Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

brown sugar cookie close up

Originally, I planned on baking these brown sugar cookies for the holidays, but by the time I made all of the goodies for my co-workers, finished Christmas shopping and wrapping presents, there wasn’t any time left to bake these cookies.  When I came up with this recipe, I imagined them in the shape of snowflakes with light blue icing.  By the time I squeezed in the time to bake these cookies though, I didn’t have the time or the energy to refrigerate the cookie dough, then use a snowflake cookie cutter to make the cookies into snowflakes and them make the icing and ice the cookies.  I decided I’d just give the recipe a try and see if they turned out as yummy as I imagined and then eventually bake them again and make them all pretty.

brown sugar cookies cooling

The day I made these cookies I hadn’t planned on doing any baking, but Luke bought me the Artisan Stand KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, and he told me I had to break it in.  I was really excited to use my new mixer but I’d already planned on cooking several other things that day and it was also the day we took down our Christmas decorations so I didn’t really want to take the time to bake anything.  I’m glad I didn’t though because I LOVE my new mixer and I was very happy with the way the cookies turned out.  They were moist and slightly chewy and the brown sugar flavor was just the way I wanted it.  I could taste the brown sugar but it wasn’t too sweet.  These cookies are so YUMMY!

brown sugar cookies plated

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

Servings:  25 – 30 medium/large cookies

1 1/2 sticks butter/margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar and an additional 1/4 cup reserved

1 egg

1/2 tsp molasses

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat 2 large cookie sheets with cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter/margarine with 1 1/2 cups brown sugar.  Once combined, add the egg, molasses and vanilla extract.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture.  Beat until combined.

4.  Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar to a shallow dish.  Use a small to medium sized ice cream scoop to scoop the cookie dough and roll each cookie dough ball in the brown sugar.  Use your hands to form each of the brown sugar cookies into balls and place on the greased cookie sheets.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 14 minutes.  Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 4 – 5 minutes.  Then remove the cookies from the cookie sheets and place on cooling racks/baking racks to finish cooling.

brown sugar cookie close up1


Creamy Spinach Lasagna that Everyone Will Love!

spinach lasagna1

Do you ever crave Italian food?  I’ve never had many food cravings but I get a taste for Italian food at least once a month.  I love pretty much every Italian entree you can think of.  Pizza is my very favorite but I also love spaghetti, manicotti, baked ziti and lasagna.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

Luke and I ate at 2 different Italian restaurants within a week and for some reason, that wasn’t enough.  The following week, I was still in the mood for more Italian food so I decided to make spinach lasagna for dinner.

spinach lasagna

The spinach lasagna was as creamy and delicious as I’d hoped.  This is also a meal everyone will enjoy.  I had several “meat-lovers” try the lasagna and they loved it.  I made a 2 layer lasagna because I wanted thick, creamy layers, but you could make it a 3 layer lasagna.  If you make a 3 layer lasagna, you may need a little more marinara sauce than I used.  Quick tip, you don’t have to cook the noodles according to the package directions because they’ll cook in the oven.

spinach lasagna2

Creamy Spinach Lasagna:

8 – 9 uncooked lasagna noodles

2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 oz. sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 5 oz. container fresh baby spinach

32 oz. ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 7 oz. package shredded mozzarella cheese

2 25 oz. jars marinara sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large cooking pot, bring salted water to a boil.  Add lasagna noodles and cook according to the package directions.  Drain.
  3. Over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet.  Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook until tender. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.  Pour the mixture into a colander to drain.  Using a wooden spoon, press the excess liquid out.  On a cutting board, chop the spinach mixture finely.
  4. Combine ricotta cheese, 2/3 cups Parmesan cheese, spinach mixture, salt, oregano, basil, pepper, and egg in a bowl.  Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the ingredients together until combined. Lay 3 – 4 lasagna noodles in bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.  If layering 3 noodles at a time (making 3 layers), spread one third of the cheese mixture over the noodles.  If layering 4 noodles at a time (making 2 layers), spread half of the cheese mixture over the noodles.  Sprinkle about 1 cup mozzarella cheese over the cheese mixture and spread about 2 cups pasta sauce over cheese.  Repeat layering.  Top with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.
  5. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil (spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray before covering the lasagna so the cheese won’t stick.  Bake for an hour.  Cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

spinach lasagna3


Baby Coming Spring 2015!!!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Luke and I have been keeping a little secret. We’re having a baby in May!!! :)  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are about our precious baby!  I hope Izzy is ready for a sibling since it’s been all about her for her entire life.

Luke and me on Christmas

I wish I had more pictures from Christmas but there was so much going on that I didn’t even think to take pictures. We went to Georgia the weekend before Christmas to have Christmas with Luke’s family and I didn’t get a single picture there.

Then Luke and I went to Florence to be with my family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and this is one of the only pictures I have.  I normally take picture after picture but I just didn’t think about it this year.

izzy with christmas doggie

Izzy got her annual puppy dog from PetSmart as one of her Christmas presents.  She loves those stuffed dogs.  I think she loves them because they’re almost as big as she is.

with ash at reception

Since my sweet friend Ashley had a destination wedding and not everyone could go, she had a “Country Formal” reception on New Year’s Eve.  She looked gorgeous!

me and izzy on new years

Due to my pregnancy, I’m a bit of a party pooper these days so Luke and I called it a night and left the party a little after 9 o’clock.  We got home around 9:45 and hung out with Izzy while I drank my New Year’s beverage…Welch’s White Grape Juice.  As a kid, I loved that stuff and I have to say, I still think it’s pretty good.

new years grape juice

Happy 2015 y’all!  We’ll be back later this week!

Merry Christmas!

How is it already Christmas Eve?  The month of December flew by!  Time always seems to get away from me, but I’m sure most people feel that way especially at Christmas time.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!!!  We’ll be back in 2015!


Oreo Cake Balls


oreo cake ball goodies

If you’re looking for a delicious chocolate treat for the holidays, I have just what you need.  Oreo Cake Balls!

Oreo cake balls

I personally don’t like most store-bought cookies.  If I’m going to waste my calories on a cookie, I’d much rather bake a batch of homemade cookies instead of a store-bought cookie.  However, Double Stuffed Oreos are my weakness.  Give me a big glass of milk and a plate of Double Stuf Oreos and I’m in heaven!  Hmm!

If you’re like me about Double Stuf Oreos, then you’re going to love these Oreo Cake Balls!  They taste just like Double Stuf Oreos.

I dipped the Oreo Cake Balls in melted Almond Bark but you can use any melting chocolate for this recipe.  I dipped most of the cake balls in the Chocolate Flavored Almond Bark but I also dipped a few in Vanilla Flavored Almond Bark to give them a different look.  They taste the same either way.  I only dipped a couple of cake balls at a time because I sprinkled each cake ball with Christmas sprinkles for an extra festive appearance.  The chocolate can’t dry before you add the sprinkles to the cake balls because then the sprinkles won’t stick.

oreo cake balls2

Oreo Cake Balls

Servings:  About 60 – 70 cake balls

1 package Double Stuf Oreos, crushed/chopped

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

36 oz. Almond Bark, melted (I used 24 oz. melted Chocolate Flavored and 12 oz. melted Vanilla Flavored)

Place the Oreos in the food processor and chop until fine.  Pour the chopped Oreos into a large bowl and add the cream cheese and combine.  I used my hands to combine them together.

Use a small ice cream scoop to measure each cake ball and roll each cake ball with your hands to form them into balls.  Place the cake balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and place in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes.

Place the Almond Bark into a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 45 minute increments.  Remove from microwave and stir.  Continue to do this until the chocolate is completely melted.  Dip the cake balls in the melted chocolate (only a couple at a time) and place the cake balls onto wax paper to dry.  If you’re using sprinkles, sprinkle each cake ball as soon as you place it on the wax paper so the sprinkles will stick.


Busy, Busy, Busy

Christmas nut crackers

This time of year is always so busy.  I think I need another weekend to relax!  The weekends just fly by especially since the weekends are all I have to get anything done.  On Saturday, Izzy and I had our “beautifying” appointments.  She went to the groomer and I went to my hair stylist.  Then I spent the rest of the morning running from one store to the next.  Then I came home and cooked a few Christmas goodies.

Saturday evening we went to the Christmas program at church and then went to dinner.  On the way home, we stopped at Cookout for milkshakes.  If you’ve never tried one of their milkshakes, you’re truly missing out!

On Sunday, I spent the morning wrapping presents.  Izzy didn’t seem to be a fan of the mess I made in “her” den floor while I was wrapping the presents.

Sunday afternoon, I made more Christmas goodies that afternoon.  I’ll share one of those recipes with you later this week.

Christmas goodies

In the meantime, since I haven’t had much time to cook or bake lately, I decided I’d share a few pictures of our Christmas decorated house.

Christmas Santa table

Christmas table


Christmas ornament table

Christmas stockings

Christmas tree with Izzy present


Everyone needs an Izzy under the tree!  Isn’t she the cutest little dog you’ve ever seen?  I love that little cutie!

I’ll be back later this week to share a recipe for one of the Christmas goodies I made over the weekend.

Simply Gloria