Tag Archives: homemade

I’m In Love With My Mixer

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Good evening my beauties!

How is everyone doing on this rainy Saturday night? I just came back from a nice, mild climb and a filling Thai dinner with Sarah. Now, I’m sipping on a “Grey Lady” from Cisco Brewers, enjoying life. I’ve got no complaints.

In honor of today (3.14 “Pi Day”), in this post I wanted to vaunt about the new toy I acquired a few weeks ago: My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Oh gosh, is she magnificent. I’m obsessed. I purchased an Artisan Series, and there is a reason these beauties are so coveted. Seriously. I will have this for many, many moon phases and my belly (along with the bellies of loved ones) will be constantly contented. Any requests are welcome!!!

Obviously, I have been putting her to work. So far the concoctions we have created together are limited, but damn delicious. The maiden voyage were these bad boys:

THE BOMBLet me assure you, they were even better than how they looked. The were fudge brownies with an emphasis on vanilla extract (my homemade vanilla extract); the ones on the left are topped with peanut butter frosting and the ones on the right have nutella frosting. Yes, that is correct. Those didn’t last long.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My Homemade Vanilla Extract! Jus d’Azure

Once the brownies disappeared, I made baked oatmeal with walnuts, dark chocolate, strawberries and banana. Another great success. Normally, I don’t even enjoy oatmeal, but this is one I will definitely be making again for a climbing trip breakfast.

The last project I took on were mountains of almond butter and banana bread cookies. Essentially, they were healthier shortbread cookies with a twist. Autre fois, they were thoroughly enjoyed.

Almond Butter Banana Bread Cookies

Here’s where I got really crafty: I had made too many cookies and wanted to do something creative with them. So, I smashed up a few and lined a pan with the crumble, forming a pie crust. From there, I made pecan pie bars that are deadly awesome. Need I say more? Nope.

Now that I am sufficiently drooling (kidding, sort of), I’m going to leave you all to have a little treat – aka, my pecan pie bars. Have a splendid Saturday and take advantage of Sunday… go live! Sending out my love, as always.

Not Just A Pretty Face, But Natural, Too!

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Well hello there 🙂
It’s a rainy day today… but you know what? I actually am sort of digging it; it’s soothing to hear it outside my window, and as long as I’m still wrapped up in a bathrobe and toasty warm, it can hang around. We’ve been having some drought problems lately, so this should hopefully help.
If you aren’t so thrilled about the rain as yours truly, but still find yourself trapped indoors with nothing too exciting to do, here I am at the rescue! Here are two natural face mask recipes that I encourage you to try. What harm can it do? I mean, it’s your FACE! You should want to keep it beautiful at all times, yes? Yes. Plus, going natural is way better, as you know. There are too many companies out there that test on animals (cruel) and use sketchy chemicals that are probably doing more harm than good to that lovely mug of yours.
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So, without further ado, here are the recipes:
1. Carrot & Friends. The ingredients within contain natural antiseptics and antioxidants which kill germs – great for this time of year – and protect the skin from damaging free radicals while at the same time promoting the regeneration of healthy skin cells. Boo-yah!
Ingredients:
  • 2 Medium Carrots
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon

Directions:

  1. Peal the carrots and steam until soft.
  2. Mash the carrots until they’ve reached a creamy consistency.
  3. Mix in the all natural honey – try local if you can, too.
  4. Stir in olive oil.
  5. Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice into the face mask mixture. Lemon is a natural astringent and will help clean greasy skin.  If your skin tends to dry easily, add only 8 to 10 drops; if you skin tends to be oily, add up to 1 tbsp. of lemon juice.
  6. Use a spoon to drop small amounts onto your hands and gently massage the mask onto your face for several minutes – you can keep it on for an additional 5 minutes for maximum awesomness.
  7. Wash it off with water in sink or hop in the shower.

2. Pumpkin Spice. This do-it-yourself face mask recipe with all natural ingredients is so incredibly simple to concoct and only takes about two minutes to make; there is no reason not to give it a try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, but with no added ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bentonite Clay
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or less) cinnamon powder*

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Apply to face in a gentle, circular motion.
  3. Leave on skin for 5 minutes, then wash off with a warm, wet washcloth.

*Be advised that this is not for sensitive skin, so omit if you fall in this category.
This recipe will make enough for 2 face masks, but can be doubled or tripled to make a larger batch. However, a little goes a long way. I wouldn’t recommend making a bunch and storing it for later, either. Fresh is best.

If you’re not familiar with Bentonite Clay, it is composed of aged volcanic ash and is named after the largest known deposit of Bentonite Clay in Fort Benton, Wyoming. In this instance, it’s purpose is for external skin care, but it has various other beneficial uses. A good quality of clay should be a cream or gray color (be wary of white), and the texture is fine with a velvety feel. It does not smell or stain, so it’s kid friendly! You can find Bentonite Clay in various online stores as well as select stores that sell health supplies, such as The Vitamin Shoppe, Walgreens or Walmart.

There you have it my turtle doves. Now, what are you waiting for? Try at least one of those masks, pop on a Christmas movie, make some hot chocolate and let your pores do their happy dance. Plus, think of how much money you would spend for a facial at the spa… this makes your pocket pleased to boot. Stay awesome everyone ❤

Apples For Days

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Hi!

It’s a bit after noon and I must say, I’ve had a pretty nice day (and previous night) thus far. I stayed at Max’s house in Narragansett last night, where we made a stellar apple crisp with some apples that Max and I picked at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown over the weekend. Yeah, we’re pretty cool. If any of you feel like crossing the Newport Bridge to check out this farm, I highly recommend it. They are definitely doing it right over there.

Apples

This morning, I met with an old professor of Max’s who teaches business; I figured now is the time to start making some connections, and the meeting went great! We clicked; I will be making that a semi-regular occurrence for sure (look at me, acting all grownup and whatnot).

Anyway, back to the apples. Sweet Berry Farm had seven different varieties for us to pick from this time around, which was awesome. If you aren’t aware, I love apples. I think they are amazing fruits and so versatile, and I like to try as many different types as possible. Also, because I am always thinking of my lovely blog readers, I took pictures of each apple variety and jotted down the names so I could share them with all of you! Cue apples:

Ginger Gold

Ginger Gold

Summer Macintosh

Summer Macintosh

Gala

Gala

Honey Crisp

Honey Crisp

Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious

Macoun

Macoun

Macintosh

Macintosh

… that’s some pretty good stuff, huh? They are all delicious, might I add. Between Max and I, we left with over 20 pounds of apples, oh yes. Sunday night, we put one Mac into our chicken pesto and tortellini soup, which added a sweet twist to the loaded soup.

Then, last night, we used my fancy pants apple peeler/corer/slicer that I bought a few months back and turned 6 apples – Macs, Ginger Golds and Macouns – into a delicious apple crisp! Seriously though guys, easiest thing every to bake. So much so that next time around, I plan on getting more advanced (and healthy). To fancy it up this time, we caramelized the apple skins left from the peeler and combined it in a pan with Jarlsberg cheese and added that as a topping.

Apple Crisp MMMM

Apple Crisp MMMM

Simply line 9″ pan with apples, then evenly coat with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and juice from 1/2 lemon. Then in a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 tsp cinnamon. Once mixed, add 3/4 stick of unsalted butter that is chopped in even, small pieces to the bowl. Mix around until butter has been folded in and break down any large chunks with your fingers. Bake for about 35 minutes in an oven at 375 and BOOM! Apple Crisp. All of Max’s roommates approved it, and I may or may not have had two helpings for myself. Next time, be prepared for even more sophisticated magic.

Well, I do have to get ready for work now, so I must leave you drooling over my apple-y goodness. I also snagged two pumpkins during the escapade; if anyone has any ideas what do with them, I’m all ears! Stay awesome, folks.

Doesn't this remind you of the pacman ghosts?

Doesn’t this remind you of the pacman ghosts?

The Colors <3

The Colors ❤

Fresh Orange Juice

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Hi!

I’ve had a fabulous past couple of days that I can’t wait to tell you all about! However, that post is going to be a bit more time consuming, so be patient and hat will be popping up within the next few days.

To tide you over until then, I wanted to say that YOU are 100% capable of making fresh pressed orange juice in the comfort of your own kitchen — even without a juicer!

Here’s how:

Blend approximately 10 oranges (dependent on size, of course). Once blended, pour the mixture through a strainer; this removes most of the pulp. After strained, zoom the mixture once more in a blender with some ice cubes to create a tasty, nutritious and chilled drink! If you desire some extra sweetness due to more bitter oranges, add a bit of stevia, honey or agave to the fresh juice.

There you have it! Stay tuned for my adventure re-cap, but in the meantime, make yourself some fresh OJ!

Do-It-Yourself: Vanilla Extract

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If you’re a baker – or even if you just spend some time in the kitchen – you probably know that vanilla extract is expensive. Like $11 for a tiny bottle of organic vanilla kind of expensive. I use vanilla extract pretty often, especially since I have been adding it to my homemade almond milk recipes.

So, in an effort to save some money, and just because I really enjoy making things myself; that way I know exactly what goes into the product, I have made my own vanilla extract! It’s super easy and I highly recommend that you try this out. Of course, once you make the concoction, you have to leave it alone for at least a month (longer if you want more potency), but I think it is so worth it!

Vanilla ExtractWhat You Need:
~ 3-5 vanilla beans (make sure they are Grade B**) for every 1 cup of your choice of hard alcohol. I went with vodka, but brandy, bourbon and rum are also recommended.

What To Do:

  1. Split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. If you like, you can leave an inch connected at the end of the bean for an attractive presentation. You can also chop the beans into smaller pieces if necessary to fit in your jar or bottle.
  2. Place the vanilla beans in a clean jar or bottle. Cover them with alcohol, making sure they are completely submerged. Cover the jar/bottle and give it a good shake.
  3. Store the jar/bottle of vanilla beans in a cool, dark place for at least one month, shaking it from time to time.
  4. You may wish to remove the vanilla pods afterwards; the flecks of seeds can be a nice touch, but if you want a clear extract you can strain them out using a coffee filter.
  5. You can also leave the beans in the alcohol and top off the bottle as you use the extract. Eventually, all the flavor will be extracted from the original vanilla beans, so you should periodically add fresh beans as well as leftover vanilla pods.

Obviously, I don’t know what the extract tastes like yet because I just made the concoction, but in a month or two I will give you beautiful people an update!

** Also, take note that you should use Grade B vanilla beans – and better yet, make them Madagascar (that’s what I used). Grade B beans contain significantly less moisture (and are less attractive) which makes them perfect for extracts, but not for baking. The flavor is rich, dark and creamy with a sweet and buttery aroma. I had originally gone to the grocery store in search of them, but 1 bean was $8, which is insane. So… to the inter-web I went! I wound up finding a great deal here – 12 beans for $6! Now that’s how you do it, folks.

Stay beautiful 🙂

Utilizing It All: Almond Pulp Cookies

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Remember how I’ve been making my own almond milk? Well, last round, I saved the almond pulp and today I decided to put it to good use, with the help of this recipe.

Almond Pulp

Almond Pulp

First, I had to turn the almond milk pulp that I had been storing in my refrigerator into almond pulp flour. It was quite easy; I just broke up my almond pulp into the smallest pieces that I could, and placed them on a baking sheet. If you have a dehydrator, simply dehydrate them in that. I don’t own one, however, so I dehydrated them by setting my oven to 135°F (it’s the lowest my convection oven would go to) and letting them hang in the oven for a little over 5 hours. It can take anywhere from 4-8 hours, though. Once they are hard and completely dry, simply process them in a blender/food processor until they make a fine powder, and voila! You’ve got homemade almond pulp flour.

Almond Flour

Almond Flour

Now, you’re ready to make almond pulp cookies! As a note, I used all organic ingredients because that’s what we have in my pantry, but that is not a necessity.. just healthier 😉
What you’ll need: (yields roughly 20 cookies)

  • 10 Tb peanut butter
  • 4 Tb honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • few pinches of salt
  • 1 cup almond pulp flour
  • 4 Tb chopped dark  chocolate
 Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, honey, vanilla, salt, and almond pulp flour together until thoroughly combined.
  2. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  3. Roll into tablespoon sized balls; serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator – that’s right, you don’t even have to bake them!
Almond Pulp Cookies

Almond Pulp Cookies

Not only are these bite-sized morsels super easy to make, but they used almond pulp that may have otherwise been thrown away, AND they are good for you!!
How you ask? Well… peanut butter is chock full of healthy fats and proteins, honey helps prevent cancer and heart disease, reduces ulcers, cough and throat irritation, increases athletic performance, regulates blood sugar, is a pro-biotic, helps keep skin beautiful, and if the honey is local, it also helps with allergies.  Almond pulp flour has a ton of fiber and dark chocolate is an antioxidant warehouse.

Definitely try these out sometime; if you don’t want to make your own almond pulp flour, you can find almond flour in the grocery store, but beware it can be expensive!

Stay beautiful my dears.

Do-It-Yourself: Almond Milk

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Bon soir, mes amis.

As I’ve mentioned, I started working at a local juice bar, Raw Bobs. We just started doing this thing where we make and sell our own coconut, almond and hemp milk. It’s pretty righteous. We’ve always made our own, it’s just the selling that’s a new thing.

Anyway, via working there I’ve learned how to make almond milk at a fairly inexpensive cost, yet still taste pretty good. Enjoy!

The night before you want to make your milk, get a mason/ball jar and fill it a little over halfway with plain almonds (I use organic), and then fill the jar up with water, allowing the almonds to soak overnight. As a rule of thumb, if you fill the jar with almonds to that level, you should yield enough to fill the whole jar with milk (and then some possibly), regardless of what size jar you are using. Remember though that this stuff has a shelf life of about 4 days, so don’t be wasteful.

After your almonds have soaked overnight, drain and rinse them, then put the cleaned almonds in a blender. Next, add water. I used a quart jar, (filled it a little over halfway with almonds – they expanded like woah!) then added 4 1/2 cups of water to the almonds.

*Now, I used Raw Bobs to my advantage and brought my soaked almonds with me on my shift and did all this after I had clocked out. That way, I had access to a powerful vitamix blender and the milking bag (heh); I’m not sure how this will pan out in other blenders and the like, so maybe start off with a smaller handful of almonds and getting a feel that way.*

Blend your almonds thoroughly, and then in a separate container lay out the milking bag – this is actually called a nut milk bag, and looks like this:

Place the blended mixture in the bag and squeeze all the milk from the concoction into your new container, leaving the pulp behind in the bag. You can use the pulp in porridge or cookies if you’re feeling adventurous, too! More on that at a later date.

After you’ve sufficiently milked your almonds, you can call it a day and drink it as is… or, if you’re like me, I would take an extra, simple step. Put the almond milk back in the blender and add the following:
(For a quart serving)
– 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
It had a mild sweetness to it, and I think nutmeg could also be interesting.

Place in cleaned out quart jar, and behold your milk! Seal tightly. Mine made a little more than the whole jar; next time, I think I want to use less water for a slightly thicker milk. I also may try a legitimate 1 cup almond to 2 cup water ratio that I saw recommended.
I’ll let y’all know how that goes as well. I think I’m going to keep experimenting with this and creating in my opinion, the best homemade almond milk.

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Happy Saturday! Ciao