Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Spicy Asian Onion Mushroom Soup!

Happy 2016!

2015 was such a blur here and I really got out of the habit of posting recipes and even experimenting in the kitchen as much as I enjoy. As I look to 2016, it is time to start being proactive with our menus and having fun in the kitchen again.

I don't make New Years resolutions, but I do want to eat a little healthier this year by increasing our vegetables and by lowering my beloved carbs. Nothing too crazy or austere, but I'm hoping to add new flavors and recipes to make this challenge one that sticks.

This simple and delicious gluten free and vegan recipe is now on the rotation. It actually started as French Onion Soup and morphed into an Asian-inspired light, but satisfying meal. This is the kind of soup that will no doubt continue to evolve depending on what's on hand and what sounds good. So be creative and make it your own. A bit of rice noodles or one half cup of dry rice can be added towards the end to make a heartier soup. Add more onions if you like and vary the type of mushroom you enjoy. Thinly sliced Napa cabbage, bean sprouts or any veggie you like can be added. A big spoonful of kimchee on top is also amazing.

The Sriracha, Miso and Soy Sauce can be adjusted to taste. You may want to start out with less heat and use half the Sriracha. Its easy to add more later. Fresh garlic, turmeric and ginger are a favorite combination but you can use dry spices, too. We like lots of different stocks and broths in our soups from homemade to purchased, but I really love Pacific's Organic Mushroom Broth. Simple ingredients and a really nice, deep flavor makes a wonderful base for the soup.

Asian Onion Mushroom Soup

In a large pan over medium heat saute:

A splash of Olive Oil
1 pound Sliced Mushrooms
3 large Red Onions

As they soften add:

Garlic - at least one clove minced, but more is great 
Turmeric - I use fresh and approximately 1 teaspoon, minced
Ginger - I use fresh and approximately 1 tablespoon

As everything is completely cooked and barely starting to brown, add

2 quarts broth (if I am out of homemade I use Pacific's Organic Mushroom Broth)
2 tablespoon Miso Paste (I love Miso Master Organic Red Miso)
Sriracha - to your taste, I use at least a teaspoon for a very spicy soup
Gluten Free Soy Sauce - about a tablespoon

Continue to simmer covered thirty minutes or so, but the flavors will continue to improve if you can wait.

When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with a large spoonful of this mix:

1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Mint, chopped
1 Jalapeno, minced
1/2 Onion, minced 

The fresh herbs and crunchy jalapenos and onions work so well together with the warm, aromatic soup. We love it and I hope you do, too.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gluten Free Easily's Paleo Power Balls and Gus!

The summer of 2015 will be remembered by me as the summer of Gus.

Chris and I innocently went out for dog food one afternoon in May and were completely taken by a pup with big brown eyes sitting outside of the pet store with his rescue group. We adopted him on the spot. He was about twelve weeks old and the sweetest, most snugly little pup you've ever seen. Our Elle wasn't sure about him at first but grew to adore him.

The first weeks were full of potty training and crate training. He woke up crazy early and needed so much attention all day long or he would chew everything in sight. I barely function before 7:00 yet there wasn't much choice in waking up and hitting the ground running.

Gus still is sweet and snugly, but at eight months he's 55 pounds of solid muscle. He's sleeping in until at least 7:00 but is still bouncy from the moment he gets up and still has endless energy. He's loving and smart and the most handsome boy. He is still absolutely and completely exhausting.

We walk together well over five miles every day. Every day. I'm so thankful for the beautiful park with endless trails we wander through but it really does get to be a lot.

Over the summer when it was so hot and sticky here in North Carolina and sleep was fleeting, I saw a recipe from Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily.

Shirley's Paleo Power Balls for One became my go to pick me up. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand (only four healthy ingredients) and knew they would go together quickly.  I found it much more convenient to double or triple the recipe so I could keep a few in the fridge. If I was out of almond butter I subbed peanut butter - sometimes a little sweeter, sometimes less. I love the flexibility.

Many a morning I grabbed one on my way out the door and it kept me going for the entire four mile morning walk.

If by some chance you aren't familiar with Shirley and Gluten Free Easily, please click on the link above and then look around her site - especially if you are new to living gluten free. Her focus is on real foods, not processed or packaged, making her site one I can easily recommend. Shirley's many, many recipes range from familiar family favorites to paleo and vegan - like this one. I love that she features other bloggers' recipes and sites so graciously. I can always tell when she has shared one of my links - I see the "Shirley Bump" in the traffic. =D Shirley is an absolutely lovely woman inside and out and an amazing resource to the gluten free community.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gluten Free Focaccia With Our House Bread Mix

House-Autry, a North Carolina-based company established in 1812 has a created a brand new line of gluten free mixes called Our House and I was fortunate enough to receive a sampler box of three of them to try. 

I appreciate that the mixes are not only gluten free but vegan and non-GMO as well. While we are not vegan many of our friends are so it's nice to be able to make something that will work (with an egg substitute, if necessary) for them. I am really happy to say that what I've sampled so far has been really delicious and has had a great texture. As in normal food you can serve to family and friends without them knowing the difference. That's if you want to share, of course. 

The fact they have invested in a construction of a new plant for milling the grains for purity's sake is just icing on the gluten free cake.

The mixes will be available this month in Food Lions and Ingles throughout North Carolina.

I've had a chance to experiment with the all-purpose baking mix and have been very pleased with the results. 

Today I tried the bread mix. There are two recipes on the box, one for a standard loaf of bread and one for focaccia. Since we have been on a focaccia kick lately that is the recipe I chose.

The bread mix includes yeast, so all I added were egg whites, olive oil and warm water. Four minutes in the mixer and one more to spread in the pan and top with olive oil, dried oregano and sea salt. 

My oven seemed a little slow and so I baked the focaccia just a little longer than directed. There were only two of us here for dinner tonight yet one half of the 13 x 9 pan is gone. Whether right out of the oven or cooled completely it is amazing. The flavor had a slight sweetness that was perfect with olive oil,oregano and salt. Since the pan was greased with olive oil and the focaccia was topped with olive oil, the crust has a wonderful crunchy crispness, while the bread texture was soft and chewy. Joe was absolutely crazy for it and said it's the best he's had.

While neither market now carrying Our House mixes are my usual, I will make a special trip for this bread mix. And, while Our House was kind enough to send the mixes, the opinions are mine....and Joe's. 

Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays thanks to Linda at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Bee's Knees Gnocchi!

Kecia Johndrow is someone I "met" online several years ago through the Feingold Association. Four years ago she opened her own gluten free bakery, Bee's Knees Bakeshop in Cedar Park, near Austin, Texas. Not only does she make beautiful baked goods like cakes, pies, brownies and cake balls; she also serves breakfast and lunch.

Now Kecia has written her first e-cookbook, Gluten Free is the Bee's Knees, A Bee's Knee's Cookbook.  A mutual friend let me know about the e-book and I bought it immediately.

The variety of recipes is great. Soups, appetizers, sides, dips, casseroles, breakfast items, entrees from Mexican to Cajun to Italian, desserts and more are included. Kecia has included answers to some frequently asked questions and shopping tips, making this a great resource for anyone newly gluten free.

She graciously has allowed me to share one of her entrees here for a little sneak peek. I had a hard time choosing because everything sounded really good.

Ultimately, I chose Gnocchi because it's one of my favorite comfort foods.  Kecia recommends topping them with a marinara sauce for a GFCF meal.  Since we do some dairy I chose to serve them drizzled with Laura's Garlic Herb Dip and a sprinkle of Asagio cheese.

I am certain mine are not as pretty as Kecia's but oh my goodness, they were delicious! I used brown rice flour and made them a little larger than Kecia recommended so they took a couple minutes longer to cook. Chris and I absolutely loved them and went through nearly half a batch between the two of us.

Here's Kecia's recipe, straight from her book:

Try it, I think you'll enjoy!

Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays thanks to Linda at The Gluten Free Homemaker.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cilantro Hummus!

Traditional hummus is one of my favorite things all year round. Whether I make or purchase it, there is almost always a container of it in the fridge. Hummus makes a great vegetarian protein snack with crackers (I especially love it with my flax crackers) or veggie sticks, and is an awesome spread on sandwiches. A favorite breakfast is simply a half a toasted gluten free bagel spread with hummus.

We love it plain or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sumac or paprika. Chopped olives are my personal favorite, or addiction if I'm honest, these days.

My cilantro hummus is a spring and summer favorite.  It's creamy and cool and has a fresh pop of flavor. It takes just minutes to make and can be adjusted to your tastes easily.

Made as shown below it's very mild, at least with the jalapeños I use. If you like more heat, just add another jalapeño or switch to a pepper with more kick. Habanero is my favorite. The more cilantro, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I use a large bunch - about a cup and a half of washed leaves and stems. Cilantro has many health benefits so I'm always adding it to something I'm making.

This hummus is a great way to get your raw veggies in. Above I used daikon radish. I love the look of the perfect circles and crispy bite of the radish with the creamy hummus. Our veggie selection to the right wasn't the most exotic or beautifully sliced today but they were still delicious.

Cilantro Hummus is great as a spread on a veggie burger like my Chipotle Lime and Black Bean Burgers. My favorite crackers for this hummus are my Spicy Pepita and Almond Crackers which I like for a quick lunch. This combination also makes a nice appetizer with a lighter meal.

To really amp up the color and kick, spoon a little of Gabby's Green Sauce on top.

Cilantro Hummus

3 cups Garbanzo Beans
1 large bunch Cilantro, or enough to equal about a cup and a half leaves and stems
1 large Jalapeño, seeded
1 medium clove Garlic
1/4 cup Lime Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt, to taste

While all ingredients can be put into a food processor at one time and blended, I like to use my Vitamix for an even creamier hummus.  If you use a Vitamix you will need to use the tamp to keep things mixing and moving to blend quickly. Just add all ingredients to the Vitamix at once and blend until smooth and creamy for about two minutes.

The flavor will improve as it chills so plan on letting it sit in the fridge an hour or two prior to serving.


Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays thanks to Linda the Gluten Free Homemaker!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Baking with Gluten Free Mimi!

A while back I received a lovely note from Melissa, also known as Gluten Free Mimi, asking if I would be willing to review one of her gluten free mixes.

When I checked out glutenfreemimi.com I was so impressed with the ingredients she uses in her mixes. The whole grains and coconut palm sugar pulled me right in. The ingredients are all things I would use in my own kitchen with no highly processed starches or gums. I prefer to use flax seed meal instead of gums in my gluten free baking so I was thrilled to see it listed.

Melissa sent me a complimentary package of multipurpose whole grain baking mix to bake and blog. I looked forward to baking but life got in the way and the mix stayed on the shelf for a few weeks. One morning a few weeks ago Marie and sweet Aiden came over with our friend Marie and her kiddos for a little crafting. Our friend Marie is a certified holistic health counselor and is all about healthy living and cooking so I figured it would be a great time to try Gluten Free Mimi.

The mix requires two eggs, 1/4 applesauce, 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup pumpkin plus any spices or mix ins you like). Because I tend  to color outside the lines I made a few changes. Instead of 1/4 applesauce and 1/4 cup oil, I used 1/2 cup of oil. I also subbed butternut squash for the pumpkin because my hubby and youngest aren't fans of pumpkin. A cup of mini chocolate chips was my only addition. Since there were little ones coming I baked them up in mini muffin tins for nice little two bite muffins.

The texture is hearty and very moist. The whole grains give the muffins a great chewy texture without being dense and heavy. The squash (or pumpkin) keep them so moist. The coconut sugar was perfect, sweet without being overly so. In all honesty, baking with buckwheat has been hit and miss for me so I was leery. The combination of teff and millet really round out the flavor well. I liked the muffins warm but enjoyed them even more the next day.

I would absolutely recommend this baking mix and am looking forward to ordering more Gluten Free Mimi mixes.

Happily shared on Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quick & Easy Gifts From My Kitchen....

I love to make pampering gifts like my body butter for my friends. With all the cold weather outside and heaters working overtime inside a little bit of pampering can go a long way to keeping your skin healthy. This is a perfect time of year to spend a little bit of time to make personalized gifts for those special friends in your life.

Thanks to the wisdom of Cheryl Harris, I realize that I also need to take a little time for me so that I can be there for the people I love.

Cheryl hosts a December Sanity Retreat on her blog. My dear blogger friend Shirley of Gluten Free Easily introduced me to Cheryl's blog a couple of years ago. I did a post about it at the time. Please  check out Cheryl's blog, she's switching things up a bit this year with guest bloggers and has links to previous years' posts, I bet there will be something that speaks to your heart.

Taking a quiet afternoon to make with a hot cup of tea and happy noise in the background (and then actually setting aside a jar or two for myself) made the time feel indulgent, rather than stressful. How much more relaxing does that sound than running to a mall and running all over trying to find things your loved ones may or may not be able to use?

My goal these last few days before Christmas is to be mindful to avoid stress and find time to relax while caring for the people I love. Each day between now and Christmas is a little more booked than the last so I need to find time in each day for the things that count. For me that means Bible devotional time, getting moving and eating wisely to stay healthy. I have a great devotional app and am enjoying Advent messages through She Reads Truth. Moving is easy when you live with a dog so I'm trying to up our walks. Being outside is always good for me and the weather has been cooperating more days than not. Eating wisely is just that - no diets or deprivation at all. Just making good choices so I don't get glutened or get too much sugar which also causes issues for me.

So now to our gifts, since the ingredients overlap, it's easy to get everything out and make all three recipes, if you want to, in less than two hours including computer time for the labels.

Avery Labels are a great, easy and economical way to dress up your gift. Avery.com has lots of cute designs you can personalize with your own text. It took just a couple of minutes to find the cute bee design and customize each version. I bought my labels years ago and just print up a sheet with a different label with each batch.

I like to use four ounce ball jars for the scrubs and body butter. It's a nice size to give and a handy size to reuse. However, for those gifts I ship I have been using plastic. The PET plastic bottles and jars are easy to find online or at most any health food store that stocks essential oils. This time I used a couple of sturdy Rubbermaid containers for shipping that I had purchased for my last batch. I'm switching over to glass and PET as I go.

My beauty/body care supplies and tools are kept separate from my other pans and immersion blender. Getting melted beeswax and oil scented with lavender off can be a struggle. Having inexpensive doubles and keeping everything in a box together makes making so much easier.

There are a lot of quality essential oils to choose from. My own box of oils has Young Living, Plant Therapy and Florihana. You can use whichever you enjoy but for these projects Florihana was my choice. I buy them through Tropical Traditions, my favorite coconut company. Florihana's Bergamot is Bergapten free, meaning it isn't photo toxic. Most citrus oils are photo toxic, meaning you shouldn't use them on skin that is exposed to the sun, you may get patchy brown splotches. Citrus oils are a great choice for a hand cleanser/sanitizer making Florihana's Bergamot my first choice.

This is a great gift for a friend with littles to throw in their diaper bag. It literally takes five minutes to put this together, including attaching your labels. The recipe below is safe for young children but can be used by adults. If you aren't using it for small ones, go ahead and add up to double the essential oils.

Bergamot and Lavender Hand Cleanser/Sanitizer

1 2 ounce Pet Bottle with dispenser top

Aloe Vera Gel
9 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
1 drop  Lavender Essential Oil

Pour Aloe Vera Gel into clean Pet Bottle almost to the top, leaving room for your oils. Add the essential oils drop by drop right into the bottle.

Make a cute label and attach. I like to use clear packing tape over the label on these bottles to keep it attached and looking good.

I like to use mine (double strength) after leaving a store before getting into my car or in a public restroom that has awful soap (pink soap with scents and dye cause reactions for me). In that case I rinse and scrub my hands in hot water, dry and then rub in a squirt of my hand cleanser.


A sugar scrub is wonderful to get the dry patches off and reveal smoother skin underneath. You can substitute Olive oil for the Avocado oil. An easy way to measure the liquid oil and the solid coconut oil is to pour one cup of the Avocado oil into a two cup measure and scoop enough coconut oil into to reach two cups. Frankincense and Myrrh were an obvious Christmas combination but you can certainly substitute oils you prefer one to one.

Golden Frankincense & Myrrh Sugar Scrub

3 Cups Organic Sugar (or more if you like)
1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Avocado Oil
1 teaspoonVanilla Bean Powder
30 Drops Frankincense Essential Oil
10 Drops Myrrh Essential Oil

Pour everything into a glass or metal mixing bowl and combine. If you like a more dry sugar scrub feel free to add a bit more sugar in 1/4 cup increments. Mash up the solid coconut oil with the back of your spoon or with an immersion mixer.

Pour into jars and put the lids on and then label. You will probably get about eight four ounce jars or more depending on how much sugar you added.

They are a admittedly a bit more beige than golden, but humor me so the name works!


Body butters save my skin this time of year. This one, is one I've been making for ages. I love it and it works well but I wanted a more simple version. One that had fewer ingredients and no whipping required.

Simple Hand and Body Butter

1/2 cup Organic Beeswax Pearls
1 cup Coconut Oil
1 cup Avocado Oil
1 teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil

Pour everything but your Lavender Essential Oil into your pot and let melt slowly over low heat. While everything is melting I measure the Lavender Essential and pour it into one of the small jars. Stir to mix and once everything is combined turn off heat and pour the Lavender Essential Oil into the mixture. Stir again to combine and pour into your jars. Depending on the sizes you use, you will have about five four ounce jars.

Let cool completely before putting the lids on. Put on your label and you're done! Easy Peasy.

I spent more time at the post office today standing in line to ship some than I did making any one recipe.

When I use the sugar scrub I rinse well at pat dry. Rubbing in a little of the hand and body butter afterwards will keep your skin soft and glowing. Try the combination on your hands at night before bed, you should wake with nice, soft hands.

Wishing you a peaceful and relaxed holiday season so you can focus on what's important to you.

Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays, thanks one last time Shirley! You are the best!!