Fresh Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberry sauce with my Thanksgiving turkey, and this make-ahead recipe is super easy.

1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries

2 cups honey

1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 orange, zested and juiced

1/4 tsp. ground ginger (or fresh grated)

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the rinsed cranberries, honey, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes; the berries will begin to pop.

Add the diced apple, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, and ginger. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, smashing the berries as they soften. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into serving dish and chill til ready to serve.

Skin Care

Over time, I’ve developed my own skin care moisture cream which is super creamy and luscious, at a fraction of the cost of the stuff you will find out there. I use the body cream after showering and the scrubs are great for moisturizing hands, feet, elbows. It works especially well for getting stinky stuff off. I keep small containers of salt and sugar scrubs next to my sinks for cleaning up after gardening, peeling shrimp, or cleaning up after a crawfish boil.

I can buy all the ingredients to make my skin care products for just a fraction of the cost of the ready-made stuff, so I usually make big batches and gift small containers to friends and family.

Basic Body Butter:

3 cups coconut oil

1 (8 oz.) container African Shea Butter (I order from Amazon)

2 tsp. vitamin E (you can get the gel caps, punch a pin in one end and squeeze the oil out, but I get the small bottle through Amazon)

50 drops essential oils — here’s where I get creative. I mix about 15 or so drops of 3 or 4 different essential oils that I think work well together. In the summer, I like light scents like orange, lemon, tea tree, lavender, lemongrass. In the winter, or for the guys, I go with earthier scents like bergamot, rosemary, and cedarwood. The choice is up to you; whatever you prefer.

In a large mixing bowl, add the coconut oil and shea butter; microwave about 30 seconds, just enough to soften. Using a hand, mix  the oil and shea butter at medium speed until smooth.  

Add the vitamin E and oil and continue to mix at medium speed; add your choice of essential oils and mix again until smooth. Divide in half and store in air-tight (I prefer glass) containers. Chill for about an hour, then store at room temperature and use as a body moisturizer.

Scrubs:

With the remainder, divide in half into two smaller mixing bowls.

In one bowl, add 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, then mix at medium speed until sugar is incorporated into the moisturizer.

In the other bowl, add 1 1/2 cups salt, then mix at medium speed until salt is incorporated in.

Transfer to small air-tight containers and store at room temperature. Use to exfoliate hands, feet, elbows, cuticles, or to clean up after dirty or stinky tasks.

The scrubs will leave your hands fresh and clean-smelling, and don’t worry if your hands have a “greasy” feel after using the scrubs. That will work itself into your skin in a few minutes, leaving them soft and smooth.

Skin Care!!

Over time, I’ve developed some skin care recipes that are much more cost-effective and just as moisture-effective than the insanely expensive stuff. I whip up a basic body moisturizer that’s great for after showering, then I divide part of it and add salt  and sugar to make scrubs.

The ingredients I use make a lot, and cost a fraction of what you will find anywhere!

Basic Body Butter

3 cups coconut oil

1 (8 oz.) container African Shea Butter

2 tsp. Vitamin E oil

2 tsp. Brazil nut or jojoba oil

 

Boho saddle blanket backpack 2.0

Got a PM from a very nice man from Greeley, CO, inquiring about the leather and saddle blanket backpack I’d made last year. He had stumbled across my blog by Google-ing around, looking for a backpack for his wife. #youcangoogleme

Luckily, he found me and this is what we came up with:

The backpack is lined with 100% cotton fabric and has two interior pockets in addition to the two exterior pockets. It has a drawstring-open top and a zippered opening in the back. The fringed top flap has a magnetic snap closure.It’s on its way to CO with my best birthday wishes!

Summertime Shorts

image          Well it’s summertime–yay!! And temperatures are rising, baseball season is in full swing, and it’s time for lots of outdoor activities. Yep, time to put away the jeans and put on some shorts. I’ve been in a sewing mood lately, so I ordered some 100% linen from FabricStore.com (sadly, we do not have a decent fabric store in Lake Charles, so I have to either drive an hour to JoAnne’s Fabrics in Lafayette, or order on-line).

 

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I ordered this fabulous linen in natural and a wasabi green. Here is one pair made from the natural, using Simplicity pattern 1165. They are so comfy, with a wide elastic waist and deep front pockets. There are also back patch pockets. These are perfect–dressed up for shopping trips, concerts, or even casual dining out; dressed down for the ball tournaments or other outdoor activities.

I have fallen in love with Style Arc sewing patterns (www.stylearc.com). The patterns are downloadable; I put in my order then print them out, tape them together, and cut them out. That may seem like a lot of work–and it is, I guess, BUT the patterns sew up so much nicer than the more popular commercial patterns do. The biggest advantage is that I get 3 sizes for each pattern I order; the patterns aren’t nested, like the tissue-paper patterns. They are more expensive, but the company loads me up with lots of free downloads for each full-price patten I order.

Here are two of the Style Arc patterns I ordered; the top is actually a dress pattern (Adeline) but I shortened it to blouse length. I used a linen blend (Robert Kaufman 60% linen-40% cotton) in denim that I ordered from Amazon. The shorts (Jennifer City Short) are made from black stretch denim (Telio Stretch Denim) that I ordered from Amazon.

imageWhat I like about this City Shorts pattern is the longer length, the zip fly front (which can be a challenge to get in right), and the front pockets. I can roll them up for a more casual look.

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I’m ready for all my favorite summertime activities!!!

Almond Butter

Eating healthy ain’t cheap, y’all. Have you priced almond butter in the grocery lately? It’s much too exorbitant for me, so what do I do? Try to make it myself, that’s what!! Here’s my cheap(er) and easy recipe.

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About 1/2 pound raw whole almonds
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
(optional; I add it for its nutritional value and to add to the
creaminess of the finished product)
2 tsp. raw local honey
about 1/2 cup water

You will also need a food processor with a good motor; I can see that this could burn up a motor on a lighter-weight one.

Process whole almonds in the food processor until roughly chopped. Add the nutritional yeast and honey; process until the contents become unyielding. It will start to clump and not move around in the bowl of the processor.

Drizzle in the water, a little at a time while the processor is running (if that’s possible). Slowly add enough water for the butter to reach a fairly smooth consistency. Continue to process until you feel that it can not get any smoother. It probably won’t be a smooth as the store-bought kind, but I prefer it kind of grainy. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.

Infused Olive Oil

After checking out the $17 bottles of infused olive oils at the local gourmet store, of course I thought, “I can do this myself!” So here’s what I came up with.

Pick a handful of fresh herbs from the herb garden.

 

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With the real winter we had here; actual snow, a couple of freezes and an extended cool spring, my herbs are just getting started. However, my thyme did survive, so I’ll use it for this recipe.

Start by cutting a big bunch of fresh herbs, wash well, and trim as needed. Thoroughly pat dry between several sheets of paper towels, being careful not to crush.

 

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Pack the clean, dry herbs into a clean glass quart jar then fill with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Cap tightly, then roll the jar around lightly to mix. Store for about 2-3 weeks in a cool, dark spot. The longer they steep, the stronger the infusion.

 

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Here I have my thyme and I’m also doing a crushed red pepper jar. I placed about 2 cups crushed red pepper flakes in a quart jar, then filled both jars with olive oil.

After a couple weeks, I strain the oil through a small-mesh strainer lined with cheese-cloth, discarding the herbs. I sometimes will repeat this step if the oil looks cloudy. Then I fill my labeled jars; if the oil is too herby (or peppery) I will cut it with some plain oil.

I repurpose my wine and liquor bottles, using wine pouring spouts as toppers, and I found some “chalkboard” labels that I can change easily.

I store my infused oils at room temperature for many weeks on my countertop, but you could refrigerate. I’ve seen recipes that require heating the oil and herbs; they don’t require the time that this recipe does, but those require refrigeration.

 

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Any leafy herb, like thyme, rosemary, chives, basil, to name a few, works well. I’ve even gotten creative and used, in addition to red pepper flakes, peppercorns, lemon peel, garlic cloves, and purple onion. Once I forgot a jar of peppercorn for several months, and boy, was it HOT!

The garlic and onion oils tended to get cloudy quickly, so I store those in the fridge.

Christmas Crack

This is soooo addictive and soooo good!

INGREDIENTS:

35 – 40 saltine crackers (or graham crackers)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups toppings as desired such as pecans, walnuts, crushed OREO cookies, pretzels, toffee bits, M&Ms, or drizzles of other melted chocolate
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 15” x 10” x 1” pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Line up crackers in a single layer in rows on foil.
Meanwhile, using a candy thermometer, melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (270 to 290 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Immediately pour over crackers and spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake 5 minutes or until the candy hardens (300 to 310 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power until melted. Spread over hardened caramel.
Sprinkle nuts or other toppings and press into the chocolate using a greased spatula. Cut into squares while warm. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.