Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Holidays!

The winter holiday season is upon us, and I've just realized how neglected my poor blog has been.

This is just a quick update, regarding sales:

Any/all orders of $50 or more receive free shipping with the code "FREESHIP".

Turnaround time this time of year is (or rather, can be) a liiiiittle longer than usual. Depending on the size/complexity of the order, it is currently running at anywhere from 1 to 9 days. For REALLY large orders, it's at about 14 days, but I'm working really hard to pare that down to get orders at their intended destinations before Dec. 24th.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween is ALMOST upon us (69 days from the date of this posting)!

I've added a Halloween & Horror section to my shop, so you can now bypass the pesky "cute" stuff, and get straight to snapping up cool, creepy, fall-y, spooky goodies. ;)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Taco Seasoning Recipe

After posting my pumpkin pie spice recipe, it occurred to me that I should probably post my taco seasoning recipe, as well.
It is as good as (better, actually) than store-bought, and -- like the pumpkin spice blend -- utilizes spices you probably already have on hand.

My version is adjusted and tweaked from different recipes, but is largely based on (surprise!) Alton Brown's.

Taco Seasoning

2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cornstarch (you can omit this, but the sauce may be a little thin/watery)
 1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp Kosher salt (or 1-2 tsp table salt)
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne (omit if you prefer it with little to no heat)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp onion powder

Mix together all ingredients and store in airtight container.

Use 2-3 Tbsp per pound of meat/tofu/veg/whatever.
Add 1/4 cup of water while cooking, and let simmer for a few minutes until reduced/thickened.

And there you go - no more trips to the store for taco seasoning packets!

Added bonus: YOU control the amount of sodium content. Many of the store-bought packages are LOADED with sodium (some as high as 800+ mg!).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe

Summer is coming to an end, and fall is nearly upon us already, and for me that means gearing up for my favorite time of year for scents. Damp fallen leaves, simmering stews, the dark, brooding amber/patchouli/spicy perfumes I don't dare wear in the heat... and of course, now that it's beginning to cool off in the Pacific Northwest, I can finally start baking again.

One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is pumpkin, but every year I find myself running to the grocery store to pick up the pumpkin spice blend I ran out of the year prior.  This year, I decided to make my own (I already make my own taco seasoning and garam masala), and am SO glad I did. It's super-easy, inexpensive, versatile, and if you have the most basic baking spices on hand, you can make this yourself.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom (if you don't have this on hand, it'll be just fine without. I just personally love any excuse to use cardamom)

Mix together all ingredients and store in airtight container.

...And that's IT.

Added bonus - adding this blend to your baked goods (banana bread, muffins, pancakes, apple pie, and of course pumpkin pie) will make your home smell SUPER-scrumptious and autumn-y. :)

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Crêpes

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons... Make Lemon Infused Vinegar!

Now let me just start off by stating that I *know* vinegar is one of the best all-purpose natural cleaners there is... I know.
BUT it's the smell that has always deterred me from using it on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I loooooove the tart, mouth-smacky-ness of it in food, but I don't want my home to smell like it...
So when I came across some recipes for lemon infused vinegar, I was really skeptical.
I couldn't imagine that even a few weeks of steeping citrus peels in vinegar could not only make it even better as a cleaner, but smell GREAT.
Well, about a month ago, I had some leftover lemon peels after making some lemonade, and I figured I'd give it a go...

4 weeks later (I admit it, I tend to start projects, and then forget about them), I remembered I had my lemon peel / vinegar mix under my kitchen counter, and put it to test.
The harsh smell is GONE, and it cleans better than anything I have ever used before.

Wanna' try? Here's how you can make your own:
  • Citrus peels* (I used 2 lemons, but you can use lime, orange, grapefruit, or a combination -- whatever you prefer)
  • White vinegar
  • A lidded jar (make sure it has a tight seal, as you don't want the vinegar splooshing out when you give it the occasional shake).
...And that's it.

Add the peels to the jar, and pour over enough vinegar to cover the peels.
Put the lid on, and forget about it for awhile -- although it couldn't hurt to give it a good shake every day or so.
If you're like me, you'll forget about this for a month (no harm done -- I'll probably continue to infuse for 4 weeks, considering how incredibly lemony it has become), but it will be ready to use in as soon as two weeks.

Strain out lemon bits through a fine mesh strainer, add the pulp-free vinegar into an empty spray bottle, and prepare to have your mind (and grime) blown away.

* - If you can use organic lemons for this, please do -- otherwise you'll also be infusing your vinegar with whatever has been sprayed on the non-organic lemons (pesticides, chemicals... ew). No bueno.
If you can't (or don't want to) use organic lemons, scrubbing the lemon really well before use should suffice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Black Bean & Brown Rice Veggie Burgers Recipe

I first tried this recipe out about a year ago, and wasn't expecting it to be all that great -- to be honest, I was just looking for a cheap, healthy alternative to burgers. Much to my surprise, these proved to be not only cheap and healthy, but delicious! Since then, I've made these more times than I can count -- even crumbling up the leftovers, reheating adding taco seasoning, and using in place of ground beef for "veggie tacos".

Black Bean & Brown Rice Veggie Burgers

1 can of drained black beans (or 1.5 cups of black beans, if you prefer to soak/cook dried black beans yourself, as I do)
1 cup of cooked brown rice (Alton Brown's recipe for baked brown rice is super-easy, and has never failed me)
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 diced onion
1/4 cup of chopped, fresh cilantro
2 egg whites
1 tsp Chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Use a fork to mash half of the beans, leaving the other half unmashed. Stir in all remaining ingredients.
[Come to think of it -- I've even pureed ALL the ingredients together in a food processor, til smooth -- they lose the "burger-like" texture, but stay together much better during cooking/flipping.  Whichever way you prefer -- this is a relatively foolproof recipe.]

Form into four patties. Either bake them in the oven at 375 ° F for 25 minutes or place in a pan lightly coated with olive oil. Be careful when you are turning them, because vegetarian burgers do have a tendency to fall apart easily. Cook on each side 4-5 minutes on medium heat.

Confession: I would have posted a photo, but the last time I made these, I had already started snacking on them by the time I got my camera ready, so the only photo I have is one with  patties with the edges picked off.  Whoops.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Solid Lotion Bar Recipe

When I first started making my own bath/body/skincare items, solid lotion bars (a.k.a. massage bars, belly bars, etc.) were one of the first things I started making. I ended up loving them SO much that (after tweaking a few recipes) I started selling them on my etsy site. I use them daily -- they keep my skin moisturized much longer than standard lotions, are super-convenient, and easy to apply.

The following is a recipe for a simple, unscented solid lotion bar -- nothing particularly fancy (I can't give away ALL my secrets), but you can adjust it to suit your preference (lighter/heavier oils, additional butters, etc).

If you don't want to make your own, mine can be found here.

Basic Solid Lotion Bars

Recipe makes approximately three 3-oz. lotion bars
  • 6 Tbsp. beeswax (if you can get them, beeswax pellets/pastilles make measuring SO much easier, and melting SO much faster)
  • 3Tbsp cocoa butter
  • 3 Tbsp shea butter
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil
In a double boiler (I use a Pyrex measuring cup in a pan of water), add beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil, and stir until beeswax and cocoa butter are fully melted. Add shea butter, and stir over low-medium heat until completely melted (I add the shea butter after the beeswax and cocoa butter have melted, because if you heat shea butter for too long, it has a tendency to become grainy/mealy. No bueno.)
Remove from heat.

If you want to scent your lotion bars with fragrance oil or essential oil, let mixture cool for a few minutes (but before it starts to set), add FO/EO, and mix well.

Pour into molds -- anything you want, really: a butter dish, an empty yogurt container, soap molds, heck, even ice cube trays or candy molds work for smaller-sized "mini-bars".

Pop lotion bars out of their mold once fully cooled -- if you're as impatient as I am, you can hasten the process by popping the filled containers into your refrigerator/freezer for 15 minutes.

If you have a cute container to store yours in, great -- but to be honest, I just keep mine in a resealable plastic baggie, and apply post-shower, to towel-dried skin. Easy peasy.