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Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole, Plus My Thoughts on Gelatin ‘Salads’

Delicious casserole being spooned onto a plate.
Much more healthy than it tastes!

While I didn’t grow up going to the neighbourhood potlucks or church suppers, I’ve certainly heard of the dishes that are infamous for being brought to those events. Case in point, that goopy mushroom pea casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas, and topped with things like French fried onions. You know the dish I’m talking about? Easy to throw together and full of preservatives? What if I told you I have an EVEN YUMMIER recipe, AND it’s preservative-free?  Well, I do! It’s Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole, and it’s oh emm gee so delicious!

I mean, I didn’t grow up eating gelatin ‘salads’ and dishes like that, but there is something to be said for your classic comfort food dish. So why not make it healthier and just as delicious? This dish is also so, so, SOOOOOO easy to throw together!

Serving of healthy and delicious casserole!
All I need for dinner!

Basically, you mix together a batch of my homemade Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup (way more flavourful than canned, not to mention healthier!) with some peas, top it with grated cheese, then buttered breadcrumbs, then pop it in the oven to bubble and sizzle and…you’re ready for dinner!

Just think, chunks of real mushrooms mixed with sweet peas in a creamy, herbed sauce, topped with melted cheddar cheese and golden buttered breadcrumbs? This is a dish that makes me look forward to dinner, just so that I can have another serving!

Shall we make some? Let’s!

Yield: 12 servings

Not Your Momma's Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole

Not Your Momma's Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole
Chunks of real mushrooms mixed with sweet peas in a creamy, herbed sauce, topped with melted cheddar cheese and golden buttered breadcrumbs. Perfect for a large get-together or just cause you want some healthy comfort food!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Butter a large lasagna-sized pan.
  2. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas. You can mix it right in the pan.
  3. Top with the grated cheddar cheese.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs and melted butter together and sprinkle on top.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until top is golden and you can see the casserole bubbling in the corners. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1/12

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 19mg Sodium: 275mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g Protein: 7g

This recipe makes a large lasagna-pan-sized casserole, which means it’s great for large get-togethers or when you want to have leftovers to pack for lunches or just for another dinner.

I like to eat this as a main course, since the peas are full of protein, so I check off my veggie and protein requirements with one dish, but I serve it as a side dish for my husband. Either way, it’s just super-yummy!

I will say, if I don’t want to make a fresh batch of homemade cream of mushroom soup in this recipe, I’ve used leftover homemade soup that I’ve frozen and defrosted but it makes the dish a tad more liquidy, so keep that in mind. If you use frozen-then-defrosted homemade mushroom soup, you might want to let the dish sit for a bit after baking it, just so that the dish has a chance to set a bit. Or not. I personally have no patience for that, and will scoop it steaming into a bowl for me to gobble up, but hey, you do you, boo!

This cheesy mushroom pea casserole is one dish that my husband and I will play-argue over: “You already had a second helping, the last bit is mine!”  “But it’s my main dish, I need to eat more of it!” Yes, it’s that yummy! A preservative-free vegetable dish that people fight to eat? Um, can we say WINNING! (Yes. Yes, we can!)

p.s. – Want something bizarre yet charming to follow on fb? Check out the ‘Show Me Your Aspics’ fb group. So quirky and fun and light-hearted. Also addresses that age-old question of ‘If it’s made of gelatin/agar agar, can it still be a salad?’ What do YOU think? Let us know in the comments!

Next Post: Another core content Pillar Post! This time I’m writing about 5 Preservative-Free Lunches that you can toss together this week, whether for work lunches, school lunches, or is-it-lunch-yet stay-at-home-parent lunches.

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup

Bowl of creamy soup with chunks of mushroom.
Creamy, healthy, and delicious!

Have you ever had that canned Cream of Mushroom Soup? Kind of bland and goopy, right? It might just be me, but I absolutely cannot stand canned cream of mushroom soup – so beige and unnatural. But have you ever had HOMEMADE Cream of Mushroom Soup? With chunks of real mushroom floating in a creamy herbed base? There’s a world of taste difference between canned and homemade, not to mention there are no nasty preservatives in homemade soup. But it’s so hard to make homemade soup you say? Pffft! Try this recipe for Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup; it’s surprisingly quick and easy and OMG it’s delicious!

I can easily eat bowlfuls of this soup just because it’s yummy; it’s really just a bonus that it’s preservative-free too. I love that I can feel good knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body, while happily stuffing my face just cause the food is yum.

Plus, any recipe you have that calls for canned Cream of Mushroom soup, replace it with this one – it’ll make the recipe that much more delicious, not to mention healthier too!

Want to make some? Lets!

Yield: 2 servings

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup
This fragrant mushrooms soup is full of chunks of real mushrooms, all in a herbed and creamy base.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 square stock
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1 c. yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Wash the mushrooms and chop or slice them. (I like to quarter them.) Mince the garlic.
  2. Melt the butter and fry the garlic and mushrooms until they’re tinged golden-brown and have shrunken about 1/3 in size.
  3. Stir in the flour and fry for two minutes. The mixture will clump up and that’s ok.
  4. Stir in the milk. Again, the mixture will be all clumpy and that’s ok.
  5. Add in the water, stock, thyme, and pepper, and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Let cool slightly and stir in the yoghurt. Serve, and revel in the fresh and creamy taste!

Notes

You can use liquid stock instead of a square of stock plus two cups of water, as long as the liquid is equal to two cups. You can even use homemade vegetable stock -- in fact, I recommend it!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1 c.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 59mg Sodium: 418mg Carbohydrates: 37g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 14g Protein: 16g

Since I was trying to make a healthier version of Cream of Mushroom soup, I used yoghurt instead of cream. Yoghurt will end up the slightest bit grainy in the soup, especially if you stir it into very hot soup. I personally do not care, as I love the health benefits of yoghurt (probiotics, get in my gut!), but if you are super keen to photograph your soup, you could replace the yoghurt with milk and get a smoother final look. Eh. You do you, boo!

Let us know in the comments how you think this preservative-free Cream of Mushroom Soup stacks up compared to the canned version! And share it on social media, so we can get a preservative-free revolution going on!

Next Post: I’ve been a busy little blogging bee and am working on my pillar posts, so will have a summary post of 5 Preservative-Free (And EASY!) Dinner Recipes for the Beginner Cook (and Anyone Who Likes Good Food)

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread, and My Childhood Dream

Garden veggie spread in a container, next to two slices of bread being spread with the cream cheese mixture. Next to those items is a mason jar that is spilling out dehydrated peppers, and a garlic bulb in the corner.
I can’t even tell you how yummy this healthy cream cheese spread is! So yum. All the yums!

When I was a child, I used to loooooove eating raw red peppers. My mother would cut them into sticks and give them to us for lunches and snacks and I would gobble them up. I always said that when I was grown up, I would eat nothing but red peppers for a whole day. Fast forward a few years (*cough* decades *cough*) and my sweet husband, who knows that I still love red peppers, comes home from a shopping trip with several BAGS of them. Now, I love red peppers but there’s only so many even I can eat. What to do? Well, I sliced and froze some, and then I dehydrated the rest. I used the dehydrated peppers in soups and stews and tossed them in my Best Ever Macaroni Salad, but I still had a ton left. That is, until I started making Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread!

This cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies and is tastes absolutely incredible for something that only has four ingredients. It’s slightly sweet and totally savoury and is perfect to spread on fresh bread, toasted bagels, or even crackers.

I plan to add it to the next cheese and cracker platter that I make; that is, if any is left after the DH and I finish taste-testing it! I can not overstate how delicious this spread is. And bonus, there are no nasty preservatives in it, only healthy ingredients.

This spread is so good, it will have you looking forward to meal times, just so you can eat more of it! (True story, just replace ‘meal time’ with ‘late-night snack’ and you’ll be living my life!)

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread

This healthy cream cheese spread is chock-full of veggies, but tastes like your favourite coffee shop bagel spread. 

Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. dehydrated red and green peppers
  • 1 tbsp. dried chives
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (227 g)

Instructions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dehydrated red and green peppers to a powder. You can leave a few larger chunks in, but most of it should be a finely ground powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a spice grinder, or even (IF you’re making a large quantity) a blender. 

  2. Soften cream cheese in a microwave for 15 seconds. This makes it easier to mix everything together. 

  3. Stir all ingredients together. 

  4. And…you’re done! Enjoy your super-delicious and healthy spread!

Dried chives, ground dehydrated peppers, and garlic powder are in a bowl. Dried peppers are spilling out of a mason jar on its side.
Three simple ingredients bring a whack-ton of flavour!

This Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread deepens in flavour the longer you let it sit, but you can also eat it right away. Personally, I like to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds after pulling it out of the fridge, so that the cream cheese spreads more easily, but if you’re serving it on a cheese platter, room temperature would be perfect.

Next Post: Easy Chocolate & Strawberry Trifle with Almond Sherry Whipped Cream. Yes, it IS as delicious as it sounds! (Also way easier than it sounds!)

Shortbread Crumble Apple Pie, a Bonus Vegan Version, and my Christmas Baking Plans

I want this pie…now! *drools*

A few weeks ago it was my father’s birthday, and as he always requests an apple pie instead of cake, that’s what I baked. But I love trying new things in the kitchen (plus one of my sisters is dairy-free) so I baked a Shortbread Crumble Apple Pie, instead of my Ultimate Caramel Crumb Apple Pie. I’ll share the recipe for a version of the pie with butter, but if you’re vegan (or dairy-free), just replace the butter with shortening, like I did for my dad’s birthday pie.

I always prefer a crust make with shortening AND butter, as shortening gives it that flaky texture (as does vinegar or vodka), but butter gives it that flavour that I love. But like I said, either fat is fine — you do you, boo!

Now, let’s get into the recipe, and then I’ll tell you all about my Christmas/holiday baking plans! (Oh, funny story, one of my sisters has been coming over to our place a lot to help with the baby recently, and has taken to sticking her head in the fridge to see what yummy things I’ve been making. I’ve had to warn her off certain things: “Don’t eat the fruitcake, I’m aging it for Christmas. And don’t eat the candy cane bark, that’s for some hostess gifts. Oh, and the butter cookies are for baby’s pediatrician, and the chocolate-covered oreos are for my cookie tins….” She deliberately doesn’t keep a lot of sweets at her place, so it’s temptation city when she comes over to my place. I ended up giving her a bag of Danish butter cookies. They did not last 12 hours. Is she my sister or what?)

So, pie. Let’s!

 

Apple Pie with Shortbread Crumble

This apple pie can be made vegan or not, as you can use butter or vegetable shortening in the crust. I like the butter version best, but the vegan version is also sure to be a hit! I mean...pie! 

Servings 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • pinch clove and nutmeg, each
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 10 apples
  • 1 pie crust recipe (link in recipe notes)

Instructions

  1. Mix first three ingredients together to form the shortbread crumble. The mixture should be slightly crumby. You can mix it together with a fork, a pie crust mixer, or your fingers (I've done all three). 

  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples, and mix with the remaining ingredients together (except for the dough, obvs). 

  3. Roll out the dough to line a pie plate. I like to crimp the edges, but you can also use the tines on a fork to make an impression on the edges. 

  4. Pour the seasoned apple mixture into the pie plate, mounding in the middle. 

  5. Sprinkle the shortbread crumble mixture on top. 

  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 60 minutes. The pie is done when the apples are forkably soft, and the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

I always recommend this pie crust recipe -- you can replace the vodka with vinegar if you want, but...why? 🙂

Welp, it’s that time of year, when my baking ramps up along with my waistline, as I think of and try to bake All The (Yummy) Things. This year my baking is a little scaled back, what with a new baby and all, but I’m still managing to get in some delicious things. I made my usual White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark, several iterations of Ginger Cookies (vegan and low-gluten), plus Fruitcake, and Danish Butter Cookies. I still have lots of candy canes left, so I might try baking a batch of Candy Cane Redux Cookies. And I’m thinking of making some Lemon Meringue Tartlets to celebrate the New Year with. And possibly some Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread to go with it. But this is all assuming baby develops a napping schedule and lets me get some baking in! Because this new mummy wants to get some eating in! Actually, just like last week, I’m typing this while baby is napping on me. Parent life, amirite?

p.s. – I was just googling some of my past Christmas/holiday-themed recipes, and came across my Peppermint Patties recipe. OMG, I totally have to make that one soon! I recommend it HIGHLY! Much easier than you’d think!

Next Post: I’m thinking I’ll share my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. I’ve made it into a super-easy version, so that even a beginner cook can make it. 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Skittles-Flavoured Tutti-Frutti Popcorn! (w/ Bonus VEGAN Version!)

A rainbow of flavour in every bowl! That’s what I’m talking ’bout!

How did I come up with this TUTTI-FRUTTI POPCORN recipe? Well, when I was younger I used to love the multi-coloured and multi-flavoured popcorn one could buy at the popcorn store in the local mall. My sisters and I would buy it as a gift for each other on birthdays. Somewhere along the line, I stopped eating it, why I don’t know. (Adulthood, maybe? Eh.) Then last week someone gave me a whole bunch of skittles packages and I was trying to figure out how to use them. Suddenly it hit me…I could make TUTTI-FRUTTI POPCORN at home! Childhood regained!

This TUTTI-FRUTTI popcorn reminds me of the double-glazed kind I would buy at the local popcorn shop, glossily glazed in mouth-watering sweetness, yet with a hint of tartness and lots of crunch. One batch is just enough for a v. indulgent Netflix binge-watching session for one, or perhaps a couch and movie night for two.

Have I piqued your interest yet? Let’s get to making some!

TUTTI-FRUTTI POPCORN 

  • 10-12 c. popped popcorn (about 1/2 c. unpopped + 1/4 c. oil)
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. butter plus 5 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. corn syrup
  • 7 regular-sized packs of skittles (or approx.. 1/3 c. skittles of each flavour)
  1. Melt and mix brown sugar, corn syrup, and ½ c. butter over medium to high heat and stir until boiling. A light sauce will form (as opposed to butter running separate from sugar. You’ll know what I mean when you see it). Continue stirring caramel sauce and let it boil until it has become a slightly thicker caramel sauce.
  2. Put 1/5th of the caramel mixture in a separate pot and add in one flavour of skittles plus one tbsp. butter. Stir over medium heat until skittles have dissolved into the caramel and it has become a homogenous sauce (it will take a bunch of continuous stirring and smushing of the skittles). Stir in 2 c. of popcorn, until thoroughly coated, and spread on a half a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven. Do the same with the remaining 4 flavours, one at a time.
  3. You’ll end up with two cookie trays in the oven, one with two flavours of popcorn on it, and one with three flavours of popcorn on it. Every time you add one of the 5 flavours of popcorn to the oven, stir the other colours to re-coat with flavoured sauce (it has a tendency to melt off). Be sure to keep the flavours of popcorn separate on the trays.
  4. Once all the flavours are made, bake both trays in the oven at 250 degrees, for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie trays. Once cool, break up any chunks that have formed, and mix together in a large serving bowl. Then…dive in! Try each flavour separately, then try them together! You really can taste the separate flavours. Yum-o!

Often I bake and cook and bring in my creations to my workplace, or send it in with the DH to his, but this? This popcorn is all mine, my friends!  I’ll be honest, the process is a bit finicky to do with all the different flavours, but the final result is worth it.

Yum, yum, YUM! (Is all I have to say.)

BONUS VERSION: If you use a vegan margarine instead of butter, it’s…VEGAN because skittles are vegan. (Did you know that? I didn’t until recently.) Impress your vegan friends and be the life of the vegan party. Or just eat it because something this delicious will probably not make it out your door, just sayin’!

NEXT POST: I’m thinking either Cinnamon Swirl Bread (yes, I’m all about the swirl lately) or maybe something with veggies. I could do with some nice green veggies right about now! Mmm…nutrients. Veggies may not sound delicious when compared to candy-covered popcorn, but I always feel better after eating a veggie-based meal, and that sense of well-being and vitality is just as great as a bowl full of candy popcorn. (Yea or nea? Let me know in the comments!)

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday (x2) and at Happiness is Homemade! And at Full Plate Thursday! Plus, at Southern Bite!