Posted in Edible Awesome, Featured Inspiration, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

5-minute DIY Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe! (using TJ’s Umami seasoning)

I LOVE mushrooms.  Chunky or not, they’re right up there with olives for me on my list of top flavor pops.  But I understand that not everybody is a fan of their texture, which is why I am super excited about Trader Joe’s Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend.  First of all, I can have all their ingredients, which in seasoning blends is becoming more and more rare for me (they usually have MSG or soy mixed in, or tomato, or something like that on my intolerance/list of no-no’s).  It’s just porcini and white button mushroom powder, salt, dried onion powder, ground mustard seed, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and dried thyme.


I’ve heard umami described as that “something something” that just makes a dish taste more enjoyable.  For my sensational kids  and husband (others might call them picky, but sensory processing disorder is a thing), texture with food is a biggie, and now I can use this mushroom-packed powder in recipes without them detecting squishy little chunks of “yuck” yum. ( Please note it does have the crushed red pepper in it, so if you are sensitive to spiciness, go easy on it.  I’m not a lover of too much spice, but I do like the level in the recipe below. )

We got the flu, and it was not fun.  I made a bunch of chicken broth that week to try to speed the recovery process, and after chicken noodle soup, I wanted to make GF stuffed manicotti.  My mom’s no-bake recipe for manicotti growing up used a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.  As I have to read food labels for gluten, MSG, soy, etc., I find it rather challenging at least and expensive for sure to buy considering those parameters. 

When I went GF and dairy free, I knew there were ways to make your own.  But previously, when I used pre-cut mushrooms, it came out gritty when the ones I got turned out to have dirt in them.  Now that’s disgusting! So this time I wasn’t going to mess with actual mushrooms, plus I was sick and wanted something easy, and considering the aforementioned sensory issues, was delighted that I’d recently bought 3 of the mushroom seasoning mix jars at TJ’s the week before.  (A risky move, since I’d never tried it before.  But as I said–mushrooms=love.  So that was enough for me. )

Below is the Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe I came up with in order to use it in the Instant Pot Manicotti recipe I attempted!  (Son asked for seconds of the manicotti, so since he’s generally the pickiest of them all, I consider that a win!)  I used the organic chicken stock (a little thicker than broth because it uses the bones, too) I’d made, which was already flavorful, but I am sure you could use store-bought as well.  I also used my GF flour blend mix.  This recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

6 TBSP gluten-free flour

2 TBSP dairy-free butter (or coconut oil, ghee or regular butter if you can tolerate those.              I used nitrite-free bacon grease since I am not opposed to some fat in the diet for                good hormone synthesis.)

2 Cups organic chicken stock

2 TBSP TJ’s Umami Mushroom seasoning

1 cup dairy-free milk (or regular works too)

Directions:  (You could choose to saute’ some onions prior to step one…but I was tired and didn’t).

1. Melt dairy-free butter (or whatever fat/oil fits your diet) and mix the 6 TBSP GF flour in to make a roux.


2.  Pour chicken stock and stir with a whisk/fork until the roux has dissolved.



3. While stirring, mix in the Umami seasoning.


4.  Keep stirring occasionally until you see bubbles and thickening occurring.
(At this point I kind of wanted to eat it all like that, condensed-soup style, but I needed it for my next recipe.  If you want to freeze this recipe, stop here before adding the dairy-free milk, which you can add after thawing).


5.  If you want it to be like soup and not condensed cream of mushroom soup, add 1/4 to 1 cup dairy-free or regular milk and stir until incorporated.Easy pleasey!  (Not peasy…there are no peas in this recipe.)









Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

Amy’s Favorite GF, Egg-Free Waffles Recipe

screen shot 2019-01-19 at 10.00.16 pm

This recipe was inspired by an Allrecipes Pumpkin Waffle recipe; however I have an intolerance to egg and found the original recipe’s batter way too dry, so I customized it to my diet and tastes.  I like to make a double batch of this and use 3/4 of the waffles to prep some of my sons’ school lunches, using the waffles as a bread replacement since GF loaf bread is so expensive! (Otherwise he gets leftovers from the week, which he doesn’t mind.)  Have you ever noticed the frozen PBJs in the freezer aisle of the grocery store? Well, that’s what I make, except I can’t have peanuts either, and the school is a nut-free zone, so we use sunbutter instead.  (Sunflower seeds, btw, are hormone friendly…heard of seed cycling?)  I mix it all up in a blender to make it easier for pouring into my Belgian Waffle Maker.  I bet this recipe would work for pizelles if you have a pizzelle press and add a dash of anise extract to the batter and leave out the baking powder.  Speaking of baking powder, I can’t have corn, and corn starch is usually in baking powder.  So I made my own replacement to refill my old baking powder container using 2 TBSP baking soda plus 1/4 cup cream of tartar (while cream of tartar usually comes in tiny spice containers, I bought mine in a big bulk container because it’s handy for cleaning powder as well). Anyhow, on to the best GF, egg-free waffle recipe ever!

5 minutes prep time, plus cook time.  Makes 4 huge Belgian waffles (or 8 thin waffles, depending on your waffle iron.)

Amy’s Favorite GF, Egg-Free Waffles Recipe

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  1. Start by measuring psyllium husk and flaxseed into a blender (or bowl…I just like to make things easier for myself) and adding the warm water to create the flax eggs.
  2. Pour in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin puree, and give a pulse with the lid on before adding the cold almond milk. 
  3. Preheat your waffle iron.
  4. Add gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to the blender (if you want to play it safe, you could mix these in a different bowl before adding, but I’ve never had an issue with distasteful baking powder or salt clumps) and blend until the batter looks like cake batter with no dry spots left.
  5. Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 cup batter (depending on what your waffle iron normally holds) onto the preheated iron and spread to the edges. Close iron and cook until iron stops steaming or the light comes on, plus another minute or so.  Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Swat impatient hands away until everybody can sit down and eat together.  Try not to let them see you swiping some secretly.
Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

My Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Blend Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time paying $8 for a GF cup-for-cup flour blend.  In fact, I’ve never bought even a bag of that stuff, on principle.  Doesn’t seem right to capitalize that much on others’ health-related need for GF flours.  But enough of my rant–let me tell you what I do instead!  I went online to Vitacost (which frequently has sales going– the GF flours of several varieties were anywhere from 15-47% off, last I checked, which was yesterday) and during a buy-one-get-one sale I bought 4 boxes each of sweet sorghum flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. The sale happens regularly, and I’ve restocked twice this way.

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Then, I mix them in this ratio:

1 1/2 cup sorghum flour

1 1/2 cup potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Buuuut I don’t like to measure.  So instead I just dump these amounts into a container and shake it up.  Easy peasy.

2 lb bag sorghum flour

2 lb bag potato starch

2/3 of 2lb bag tapioca flour

Keep reading!  In regular wheat flour, gluten acts as a binder that allows baked goods to stretch, and the GF mix needs a binder too…so for each cup of the mix, I add 1 tsp of psyllium husk to whatever liquid is in whatever recipe I use.

screen shot 2019-01-19 at 8.46.26 pm

In my research for digestion-friendly replacement for xantham gum (which is a product of the bacterial fermentation of the sugars in either corn, soy, wheat or dairy) or guar gum (which is derived from the guar bean–not bacteria–but can still cause digestion issues), I settled on psyllium husk.

P.S.  You can use that leftover tapioca to thicken your GF soups and gravies!  Use 1-2 TBSP with your butter, ghee, or coconut oil (I would use the latter) to make a slurry, then slowly add your broth or other liquid.


Posted in Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, Uncategorized

Gluten-free Sugar-Free Blueberry Crumble Recipe

This is a no-fuss treat that both non-GF friends and GF folks all can enjoy together, and it’s great both warm or cold, as dessert or breakfast!  I tend to serve this when we have company, since it’s quick and no-fail and makes the house smell great! (I use Wyman’s of Maine frozen wild blueberries, since Ibotta has an offer for a few dollars back on up to 5 bags sometimes, which I deep freeze.  This recipe takes about 1/2 bag.)

Prep time 10 minutes, bake time 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serves 8.screen shot 2019-01-19 at 7.38.23 pm

  1.  Pour blueberries into the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole dish filling it about 1 inch deep (about 1.5 lb/half the bag of Wyman’s frozen blueberries).
  2. Stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional) or 1 tsp zest.
  3. Mix in 3 Tbsp maple syrup (optional).
  4. Stir 1/4 cup brown rice flour into the berry mix (or other GF, but I like the brown rice flour to give it a sugary texture).
  5. For the crumble topping, mix two cups of old fashioned oats with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon and another 1/4 cup brown rice flour.
  6. Melt 1/3 cup coconut oil in a pyrex bowl, and stir into oats.
  7. Mix in 3 TBSP maple syrup.
  8. Spread oat topping evenly, and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers if you have any.  The coconut oil makes it retain its crunchy topping texture–my favorite part!



Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Quick Project

Creative Therapy!

Here’s the sink herb-garden planter now that the plants are growing!
The lily-pad looking plant is nasturtium, a spicy edible leaf and flowering plant (kind of tastes like hot raddishes and you can use the leaves and flowers in salads or sandwhiches.  Mine are REALLY spicy so I think I’ll pass. )  There’s kale, baby lettuce, and parsley.


(Above it, if you’re wondering, are vertical-gardening shoe-organizer planters.)

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Edible Awesome


I’ve been itching to get back to fun projects like sewing now that we’re pretty settled into the 1920’s house. (I’ll admit, the Christmas decor is still up…not high on my priority list yet; at least there’s not a ton of it to put away anyhow). The demands of everyday life sometimes take all my time and energy, though, and crafting gets put on a back-burner. Still, I try to be creative in the kitchen daily, usually with plenty of flops to show for it. Sometimes it’s better to stick to a recipe than tweaking them. (I will forever blame Miley Cyrus for my mental audio replay—you know, the voice inside your head that reads to you what you’ve written—stumbling over the word “tweaking” and mispronouncing it “twerking.” *Shudder*. No, no twerking, please!) However, sometimes you have to just go with what you have in your fridge or pantry and see what happens.

Recently I wanted hot chocolate and didn’t want to pay over a dollar for only six single-serve packages, so I decided to make my own mix, something I’ve done before but not in years. I had made sweet potato hot chocolate (sounds healthy, right?) a few times using this clean eating recipe: We liked it pretty well as it was creamy (though somewhat sludgy at the last) and tasted good. Actually, I should say the little one LOVED it and kept demanding more, very unhappy if I put a limit on that. But it meant I had to clean out my blender all the time and since we’re doing green smoothies these days (fruit smoothies with spinach or kale–so the picky kiddo gets SOME greens…and I said I’d never raise a picky kid. Not always a choice), I didn’t want the hassle when the next morning I would need to use the blender again. I wanted a shelf-stable supply I could use when the hubs made his instant coffee (instant because I value my counter space and don’t want another appliance). After searching through a bunch of recipes I went with more or less the following mix:

Simple, Inexpensive Hot Cocoa Mix
2+ cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
2-1/2 cups powdered milk (food processed into powder instead of the beady clumps it comes in)
1/2 cup creamer (some left this out, but I had it so used it)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
optional: up to 1 cup food processed chocolate chips (try mint!)
additional optional add-in: tiny freeze-dried marshmallows

I kept seeing recipes that called for Nesquick or other things that I consider cheating. If I’m bothering to make homemade, Nesquick is not an option. It’s too expensive anyhow. (By the way, a great article on the cost and health breakdown of homemade vs. storebought can be found here which peaked my interest as a home economist.) The only reason I included the option marshmallow add-in is because I was able to find those on sale for 35 cents a container at Big Lots (a great place to snag deals) and they’re kinda fun. I doubled the recipe and whoaaaah did I end up with a lot of mix. So then I made these beauties with the help of an adorable little taste-tester (before we added the raw eggs):

They’re Hot Cocoa Mini Cheesecakes, a recipe I adapted from . The original recipe called for sour cream and chocolate graham crackers, neither of which I had. But I did have plenty of homemade yogurt to substitute for the sour cream, and cocoa powder and granulated sugar to make the regular graham cracker crumb crust chocolate!

Hot Cocoa Mini Cheesecakes
yield 18 cupcakes

1 1/2 c crushed graham crackers
1/3+ c cocoa powder
1/8 c sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese packages, softened
1 c hot cocoa mix
2 eggs
2 Tbsp plain yogurt (greek if you have it)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp flour

1 c whipped cream
candy sprinkles
mini hot cocoa marshmallows

1. Mix (easiest in food processor, mixer or by hand will work, too) together the crushed graham crackers, cocoa, sugar and melted butter to make a dark-chocolate-colored crust. Distribute evenly into paper cupcake cups (I used a cookie dough scoop which put just the right amount in each). Flatten with a small glass or cup bottom to compact.

2. Blend cream cheese and hot cocoa mix until smooth, then add in eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and flour until homogeneous. Spoon into cupcake liners 3/4 full. (I didn’t have any left over).
3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (don’t worry if they crack–you’ll be frosting them!)
4. Set for a few minutes in the cupcake pans, then cool on wire rack and refrigerate until ready to dollop whipped cream on top, decorate with mini marshmallows and your choice of candy sprinkles (customize to the occasion! No limits! I thought silver sprinkles looked classy.)

I made these for a book study but half the gals had made New Year’s resolutions to do a health cleanse, so Hubby took a few extra to work and got rave reviews. I also found that these froze especially well, and the whipped cream frosting didn’t stick to the lid of the container because of the marshmallows and sprinkles!

Today was an unusually productive day at home, thanks to a good attitude I suppose and a mid-day nap for the little one (who lately has been trying to skip them). I de-boned the chicken thighs from yesterday’s crock-pot chicken-broth batch (recipe to come) and got about 4+ cups of shredded chicken (enchiladas, here we come!) and 5 qt. homemade chicken broth. Healthy stuff. Froze most, but to get it into the freezer I first had to organize said freezer. How I miss the side-by-side freezers I’ve been spoiled with for most of my marriage. Anyhow, this one works and came with the place.
What’s this? I now have room to spare? Meat Sale Wednesday shopping trip can cure that, methinks!
On a further note about organizing, check out the dollar store bin I am dubbing “the snack bin” which can fit a whole bag of grapefruit as well as apples while sliding neatly in and out for my convenience.
I cut up carrots and put snack baggies full in there for Hub’s lunches, and this morning while eating my grapefruit I used the extra juice to dip apple slices in to prevent from browning (since I think the lemon juice solution is too tarty), so put baggies of apple slices in there, too. But because I thought it’d be fun to put an on-the-go peanut butter “dip” with a sliced apple as a snack, here’s my solution to prevent a sticky/soggy/slimy peanutbutter mess (you know, how it turns lighter weird-colored when it gets wet?):
A little medicine measuring cup is perfectly sized to fit into the core-spot when the apple slices are arranged in one of those 1 cup rubbermaid containers.

Then there was the flopped black bean chicken chili (so I soaked dried black beans overnight and thought they’d be tender in the crock pot after 6+ hrs. on low…wrongo!). We didn’t end up crunching on that for supper—-leftover chicken fingers dipped in BBQ sauce instead.
(You can see I have a slow-cooker-fixin’s freezer container for next time, which I think I will cook overnight to solve the crunchy-bean prob).
Yup, an exciting day in the kitchen for me.

AAAAAaaaanddddd….I even got to sew a little! The little one was so excited to sit on my lap as I tried to keep him from impaling himself on needles or doing other damage while I replaced the elastic to two of his pairs of pants.

I didn’t have the right size of elastic, but I DID have the cut-off recycled elastic from…uh…well, from a pair of boy-short underwear I thought were wedgie-factory-quality. Weird, I know, to cut off the elastic from unmentionables and save it, right?! Who does that? I learned it from my grandma and then my mom who both passed it on to me. We just do stuff like that, saving bra-hooks, velcro and such off spent clothing to re-use (whether or not we ever do…can become borderline hoarding). Yes, people, I can survive a depression. 🙂

Finally, a great triumph of my day was exercising during naptime to an online pregnancy pilates workout for 45+ whole minutes! Thanks again to naptime. See my nifty dumbbell substitute? Cuz I’m cool like that.

All this unusual productivity pooped me out today! (Once you have kids, everything is “poop”y. It’s just on the brain.) Time for bed, where I’ll dream of a clean kitchen. Not something I posted a picture of for a reason :).

Posted in Edible Awesome

It’s Greek to Me: Greek Yogurt how-to

There are a lot of health benefits to eating yogurt…but if I’m honest, I just eat it cuz I like it.  My favorite way to eat it is in the morning as a milk substitute with my cereal (call me weird but I don’t like how milk splashes if cereal falls off the spoon) with a little honey.  But store-bought yogurt can be expensive (especially if you eat as much as I like to now that I’m no longer going 100% dairy-free) and I like to keep a pretty low food budget.  I will buy the Yoplait for my hubby to pack to work because it’s in serving sizes, etc., but for myself I make a whopping batch of plain yogurt.

It’s not that hard though I started with fear and trepidation.  If I can do it and not mess it up too badly, you can too!  Lately Aldi (blessed store I shall miss incredibly…) has had gallons of milk for $1.89!  I use a half gallon to make a batch of yogurt so that’s a lot of yogurt for under a dollar!  A couple months ago I bought some plain greek yogurt on sale and used that as the starter (the live cultures in it “inoculate” the cooked milk and grow more yogurt cultures), then with every batch I just reserve 1/3 cup as my next batch’s starter.  You can freeze it if need be and then thaw for use next time if you won’t be making yogurt again soon.

Amy’s Stovetop and Oven Yogurt Routine
(I start in the evening so it sits overnight).

1. Prepare supplies: 1/3 c. plain yogurt, whole milk, plastic wrap, candy thermometer, big pot, metal whisk, glass jars big enough for the amount of milk I’m cooking, a cookie sheet with a towel on top for wrapping in the oven to keep warm, sink filled with ice water.

  • Heat your oven to 250 degrees, then turn it off.  Turn the oven light on to maintain heat.

2. On medium, cook milk (stirring occasionally) until it reaches 180-185 degrees.  This takes about 15 minutes?

3. Cool the milk quickly down to 115 degrees by floating the pan in the sink filled with ice water.  This takes a few minutes  and you’ll want to stir occasionally and watch it, ready to pull it out before it goes below that temperature.

4.  Whisk in the yogurt starter, then pour inoculated milk into the jars.  Cover the mouths of the jars with plastic wrap and then set them on the towel-covered cookie sheet, wrap them up, then set the pan into the pre-warmed oven with the light on.  Leave there minimum of 6 hrs…18 max, then refrigerate.  Longer time=more tartness.

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(I tend to leave mine in longer so it’s more like Greek yogurt thickness, and I use it as a sour cream substitute, too).  If it appears runnier than you’d like, wait a few hrs after it has been in the fridge to peek again, and it should have thickened. Mine always comes out smooth and not chunky with this method, and I don’t have to strain off the whey to make it thicker. Not sure if using the Vitamin D milk has anything to do with the outcome.

Posted in Edible Awesome

The Best Cookies EVER!!

Heh….guess who forgot her password?    Good thing I had that epiphany and it came back to me.  “It’s like lightning just struck my brain!”  <—name that movie (without googling!!) and get a kajillion cool points!

Okeedokee…This is my favorite cookie recipe.  I’ve made these so many times I have the recipe memorized.  If I have a party to go to, I normally take these and there usually aren’t any left on the plate.  AND I get lots of compliments, besides…I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a swell baker…but really, it’s just a great and easy recipe.  If they don’t turn out spectacularly, it’s not the recipe; it’s…(sorry)…you or the ingredients…I’ll bet it’s the ingredients.  But like they say in Ratatouille…”Anyone can cook!” so let’s think optimistically, k?

~~~~~~~~Chocolate Chippers~~~~~~~~

3 doz. 3 in. cookies,   9-11 min. @ 375 degrees

3 cups flour         1/2 cup oil     1/2 oleo (margarine/butter)     1 cup white sugar        3/4 cup brown sugar            1 teaspoon vanilla extract            2 eggs           3 cups flour        1 teaspoon baking soda       1 teaspoon salt         1 cup chocolate chips …..mmmmmm

Beat oleo, oil, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually add dry ingredients ( I mix these together in a separate bowl to avoid nasty baking soda or salt chunks in the cookies).  Stir in chips.  Eat a lot of cookie dough.  Shape into small slightly flattened spheres and bake.   Eat a lot of cookies. 

Posted in Edible Awesome

Aim’s Food Channel…The Salivation Station!

Hey people…I constantly have the urge to write about what I’ve been cooking, baking or eating on my regular blog, but that would clutter it up too much; I’ll probably post a bunch of recipes for you to try for yourself.  The first one is a quick and easy treat….


ECK!  What is that nasty looking thing?  It’s delicious, that’s what.

Mom’s No-Bake Cookies:

1. In saucepan combine    2 cups sugar, 1/2 c cocoa (4 Tbsp),  1/2 c milk, 1/2 c butter

2. Mix well, bring to a boil and maintain for 1 min.

3.  Then add  1/2 c pb and 1 tsp vanilla.

4. When dissolved, add  4 c oats.

5. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let harden.