DIY Sugar and Salt Scrubs

As you may have noticed I love taking things that you can purchase out (dinners, snacks, etc.) and making them at home. I love being able to control what goes into the items that I am using and eating. On top of that I live on a budge…a very tight budget so being able to go out to eat or buy things for myself or presents for others is just not realistic most of the time. I know it won’t always be like this but at the same time it is nice to live within my means and still enjoy life and celebrating others.

This year I am on a mission to make as many homemade presents and I can…for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc. For starters this year I am working on creating some lovely smelling sugar and salt body scrubs to give as presents. Right now I am just playing around with different scents, mostly with items that I already have at home. These scrubs make such cute little presents for someone and these blank canvases gives you the ability to create whatever your little heart desires. Below are three recipes that I came up with today and I’m rather fond of so I’m thinking they just might make it into the running to make as presents.

You only need a few simple ingredients:

Oil – You can use pretty much any oil that you would like…coconut, almond, jojoba, grapeseed, avocado, olive, pistachio, vegetable, etc. If you are going for a more neutral oil (smell wise), I would suggest the almond or jojoba.

Salt or Sugar – Completely up to you. Sugar is heard to be a bit more gentle on the skin. Suggested options include brown sugar (light or dark), white sugar, turbinado sugar, kosher salt, sea salt, etc.

Scent – Essential oils work great in these scrubs. The amount of essential oil used will determine the fragrance level of your scrub. According to Aura Cacia below are the Aromatherapy benefits for some commonly used essential oils:

  • Basil, Sweet: clarifying, uplifting, energizing, refreshing.
  • Bergamot: uplifting, inspiring, confidence-building.
  • Cedarwood: useful in times of emotional stress and anxiety to overcome feelings of powerlessness.
  • Chamomile: calming, relaxing, soothing.
  • Cinnamon Bark: comforting, warming.
  • Cinnamon Leaf: refreshing, vitalizing.
  • Eucalyptus: purifying, invigorating.
  • Ginger: warming, strengthening, anchoring.
  • Grapefruit: refreshing, cheering.
  • Jasmine: calming, relaxing, sensual, romantic.
  • Lavender: balancing, soothing, normalizing, calming, relaxing, healing (also used a lot in yoga practice in various ways).
  • Lemon: uplifting, refreshing, cheering.
  • Lemongrass: vitalizing, cleansing.
  • Nutmeg: rejuvenating, uplifting, energizing.
  • Orange: cheering, refreshing, uplifting.
  • Patchouli: romantic, soothing, sensual.
  • Peppermint: vitalizing, refreshing, cooling (great for foot scrubs – use epsom salt).
  • Rosemary: clarifying, invigorating.
  • Tea Tree: cleansing, purifying, uplifting.
  • Vanilla: calming, comforting, balancing.
  • Ylang Ylang: sensual, euphoric.

Other – You can add many other ingredients (many you probably already have on hand) such as: zest of citrus, honey, agave, coffee grounds, loose tea (you can even remove the tea from a tea bag and use that), etc.

There is no set formula in creating these…but a good rule of thumb would be two parts of the salt or sugar and one part oil with between 5-10 drops of essential oil, 1 teaspoon of zest (if using) and 1-2 tablespoons of loose tea/coffee grounds (if using)

The joy of these is pure creativity!

Orange Black Tea Sugar Scrub

BS-03011 Cup Organic Sugar (I use Wholesome Sweeteners)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Orange Flavored Black Tea (use your favorite brand – loose or from a tea bag)

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

5 – 10 Drops of Orange Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Hibiscus Slat Scrub

BS-03131 Cup Sea Salt – You can use fine or Coarse – I used a mixture of both (1/2 and 1/2)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Hibiscus Tea (use your favorite brand – loose or from a tea bag)

1/2 Teaspoon Orange Zest (optional)

5 Drops of Orange Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Lavender Salt Scrub

BS-03301 Cup Sea Salt – You can use fine or Coarse – I used a mixture of both (1/2 and 1/2)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lavender Buds

5 – 10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Time to get creative, make pretty smelling goodies for your or someone else and save some dollars! If you buy loose tea – you only need about 2 oz to make several jars of these which doesn’t cost much money at all. Or as I said before just rip open some tea bags and use those if you would like. You can also use ground coffee beans or even grounds that have been used…the unused/fresh grounds with be a bit more coarse (just an FYI).

I’m thinking of making some seasonal scents as well…fall is coming so keep checking back for new scents and ideas!

Fudgesicles {Homemade}

(My monster fudgesicle – gluten and dairy free! Happy Summer)

I’m always up for making things at home (beef jerky, granola bars, ice tea, etc.). I know there is convenience in buying many of these things, but I rather enjoy making things at home. One it’s a challenge for me, two I know exactly what is going into my food. I love making gallons of ice tea at home because I can control the amount of sugar (or honey, or agave) that goes into my tea. It is truly amazing how much can be found in a gallon of store-bought ice tea.

We don’t buy much ice cream at the store and I don’t ever make it only because I do not have an ice cream maker. Oh, how I wish I had one. Instead I make pops. We bought two packages of Monster Popsicle Molds (I found mine at Marshall’s/T.J. Maxx) which can be purchased from Amazon.com. We love these little things, maybe it brings out the inner kid in both of us, but they just make me laugh. I’ve taken regular juice and frozen it in these to make juice pops in the past and this works out rather well. You can even throw in some chunks of frozen fruit that you might have (I’m a fan of pineapple juice pops with chunks of pineapple and mango in them!).

Last night I was searching online for new recipes and came across one for homemade fudcesicles from one of my favorite blogs Baked By Rachel. Rachel’s recipe was an adaptation from Comfy Belly. I read through the simple ingredients and instructions and was a bit sad when I realized I didn’t have any milk in the house. I don’t normally have regular milk in the house because after so many years of thinking I was lactose intolerant (and Bryan really is lactose intolerant) the taste and smell of regular milk just make my stomach turn. I always have either soy, hemp, nut, or rice milk on hand though. I wasn’t sure if this would work out the same but I was pleasantly surprised today when I tried one! Woo Hoo – homemade fudgesicles made with chocolate hazelnut milk and agave nectar were a success!

The chocolate hazelnut milk I used in this recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free. I also used this in my Samoa Rice Pudding recipe. These little pops are great during these warm days. The recipe below filled seven of the monster popsicle molds with a little extra left over that I just threw in a small ramekin and froze – if you do not have pops you can pour the mixture into ramekins and freeze for at least four hours (comes out like chocolate Italian ice!!! so good). The pops should be frozen for at least 12-12 hours before removing from the molds.

(In the freezer – don’t these molds just make you smile? The purple ones remind me of Leela from Futurama- see image below)

Fudgesicles (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Ingredients (serves 7)

1C milk – of your choice. I used chocolate hazelnut milk however you could use regular milk, soy, nut, etc.
1C water
1/2C agave nectar or honey (you could even do half and half)
1/4C cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat combine all ingredients. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes just until all ingredients are combined and well blended. Remove from heat, and set aside for at least 15 minutes or until the mixture has reached room temperature.
  2. In the meantime you can prep your molds. If you do not have popsicle molds you can pour the mixture into ramekins and freeze for at least four hours (comes out like chocolate Italian ice!!! so good)
  3. For easier pouring I followed Rachel’s note and I transferred my liquid to a large glass measuring cup and filled my molds that way.
  4. If using molds, put the tops on them (with the stick end) and place in the freezer freeze for at least 4 hours but freezing over night is much better.
  5. If using ramekins freeze for at least 4 hours but again freezing over night is much better.
  6. To release the pops from the molds dip them in a glass filled with warm water for 5-7 seconds to help release them. Pull straight up.
  7. Enjoy!

(Leela – Futurama, one of our favorite shows)

Granola – Cinnamon-Vanilla and Pecan

Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends.

This year I hope to make a few changes – not so much “new years resolutions” because I feel like those don’t ever stick and people feel obligated to make one with out the intention of keeping it.  These will be more along the lines of continual adjustments. So I’ve decided on a few things to “work on” this year and they include: getting in better shape (working out, eating healthier, etc.), making more vegetable based dishes, creating a gluten-free flour blend, more recipe development, canning/preserving more with my dad, reducing the amount of refined sugar that we intake, and making more items at home (granola, muffins, bagels, and non food items such as bath salts, etc.)

A few weeks ago I taught my neighbor David how to make refrigerator and bread and butter pickles.  I gave him a jar of each a few months ago, and what I didn’t know was he is a huge pickle fanatic.  I think both jars were gone in less than a week.  So when we see each other he talks about them saying “these are the best I’ve ever had”. Bryan headed to NJ for a few days so I figured I would have David over and we would make a batch of each.  He was so excited. We had a great time. While we are making these I kept thinking…”I need to do more of this”. I know my dad and I have plans to can a whole bunch of things, but I just get such great pleasure out of making something and being able to not only enjoy it myself but share it with others.

As I thought of other things I could make at home I came up with a list of items and one of them was homemade granola.  I’ve made it in the past and even blogged about it. I don’t know why I haven’t made it in such a long time – it is so simple and delicious, but yesterday I decided to make a batch.  A simple batch consisting of gluten-free oats, cinnamon, vanilla, and chopped pecans.  You can add anything you wish to granola as long as you have the basic recipe down. Granola to me is a blank canvas – feel free to adjust this recipe to your specific tastes.  I store my granola in a pint-sized mason jar (you can also store them in any air tight container).

Basic Granola Recipe

1/4 cup honey (you can substitute agave nectar or use 1/2 honey 1/2 agave)

1 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare a sheet pan with either a silpat or lightly spray with cooking spray (make sure it is gluten-free) or you can line the pan with tinfoil (lightly spray with cooking spray)
  3. Heat honey (and/or agave) for 10 seconds to help loosen it up.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl all honey (and/or agave), and oats.
  5. Evenly spread oat mixture in a thin even layer.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Turning pan half way through.
  7. Let cool. Crumble into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Additions: If you wish to add any of the following ingredients add them in step 4 – mix well.

Nuts: Pecans, Walnuts, Macadamia, Almonds etc. (chopped, slivered, sliced) (1/2 cup)

Coconut: Fresh, Shredded (unsweetened) (1/2 cup)

Cranberries: Dried (re constitute them in a little bit of water for 10-15 minutes prior to adding them in) (1/2 cup)

Spices: All Spice (1tsp), Cinnamon (1tsp),Vanilla extract (1/2 – 1tsp)

Chia Seeds: (1/8 – 1/4 cup)

Puffed Rice Cereal: make sure this is gluten-free (1/2 cup)

Really – the options are endless.

Bryan eats his granola (I make his without any nuts) just as it is…not milk, yogurt, etc. I on the other hand love it over some vanilla yogurt (like Stonyfield Farms and Chobani).

This is only the start of homemade goodies for this year…stay tuned for more goodies.

 

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich-Gluten Free

(sorry the pic isn’t so great, I rushed because I really want to try this, its been over 2 years since I had one)

We don’t eat fast food much.  If we do, we either go to Subway so Bryan can get a sandwich and I get a salad or we go to Wendy’s because they fry their french fries in a separate fryer and I can get a bun-less cheeseburger and Bryan can get his favorite spicy chicken sandwich.  That sandwich used to be my favorite also before I found I had Celiac Disease.  Every time he gets one I ask “can I just smell it” – you laugh but I seriously do this quite often with some of his “regular” food.

Lately I’ve been on a kick of making things at home instead of going out and buying them.  For example in my last post I shared recipes from homemade beef jerky and granola bars.  I can’t go out and get a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich but I sure as heck can make it at home.  Making things at home also lets you control the ingredients you use.  Not saying that this sandwich is super healthy by any means, don’t get me wrong.  I mentioned to Bryan the other day that I could try to recreate that sandwich for him, but would have to do it gluten-free so I can enjoy it too…he said sure.  So I looked online for some ideas of what is actually in the sandwich and then went to work on creating a recipe for it.  I have to say it came out pretty darn awesome!  We both really liked it.  I served mine between two pieces of romaine lettuce and Bryan had his on a “regular” bun.  The spicy flavor in mine was much more pronounced without having all that bread in the way.

Gluten-Free Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Wendy’s)

1/4 Cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1/2 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Bisquick

1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt

2 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

1/8 Teaspoon Fine Ground Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Paprika

1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

2 Chicken Breasts – pounded until about 3/8 inch thick

4 Pieces of Romain Lettuce

1/4 Teaspoon Mayonnaise (optional)

2 Tomato Slices (optional)

Mix together the Gluten-Free Bisquick, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Pepper, Paprika and Garlic Powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and water.

In a large high-sided sauté pan heat 1/2 cup – 1 cup of canola oil (should come up about 1/2 inch the side of the pan depending on the size of your pan) on medium heat.  You could also use a deep fryer but I didn’t want to deal with all of that.

Take one chicken breast at a time and dredge it in the GF Bisquick mixture, then coat it in the hot sauce/water mixture and then again in the Bisquick mixture.

Cook chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and no longer pink in the center (I cut mine just to make sure).

Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.  Serve on lettuce or a bun and top with mayonnaise (optional), tomato (optional) and an additional piece of lettuce.  Enjoy!!

The Bisquick worked perfect for this recipe.  It was nice and crunchy and the chicken was juicy, and just the right amount of spice.  Oh how I have missed this sandwich, but now I can make it at home!

 

 

Making Snacks At Home

Before we go grocery shopping I start by getting out that weeks ads to see what is on sale, and then try to plan meals around that.  I also look at the coupons we have, new ones that have come in and also search online for them (at first Bryan made fun of me and my coupon clipping but once he saw how much I save each time he’s pretty thankful) I then make a list of all the items we need and next to it I write what the sale is and at which store, I also write if we have a coupon for it.  For the most part we try out best to stick to the list as best we can, but every now and then we find a thing or two that we really want and that is usually a snack or two.  Well actually it is mostly Bryan that finds these things because for me it is a bit harder to find gluten-free snacks.

He will usually grab some cinnamon buns, beef jerky or corn muffins, all of which I love but sadly can’t find gluten-free options in the stores so I decided that I could learn to make a few snack items at home.  I’ve made cinnamon buns and corn muffins/bread before and they came out great.  I hadn’t attempted to make beef jerky or granola bars and those are two things I have been wanting to attempt for a while, so I finally did.

Making snacks at home is easy, a great way to control what you and your family are consuming but also it is a great way to save money!

Beef Jerky

Bryan and I both love beef jerky and we usually buy him a bag of it but its gone in one sitting!  Before moving back east I bought a great cookbook “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It And Other Cooking Projects” by Karen Solomon.  Including in the cookbook are recipes to make your own bacon, cheese, marshmallows, limoncello and so much more.  The recipe calls for very lean top sirloin or flank steak, I choose the flank steak because at BJ’s you can get two pounds for the same price, if not less than one pound of flank steak at our local grocery store!

I used the recipe listed in the cookbook just as a guideline and made it gluten-free and adjusted the ingredients to our spice level.  My recipe is below – I checked their website and they don’t have the beef jerky recipe listed so I can’t link to it, however you should really buy this book, you will love it!

Gluten Free Beef Jerky


2 pounds lean flank steak (remove every bit of fat from the meat!  this is very important-if you leave the fat on it will like go rancid!)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce

4 teaspoons dark brown sugar

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (you can adjust this to your taste level, we really like heat)

Advanced Prep: Freeze steak for 30 minutes – this will help with the slicing. Line two sheet pans with foil and oil (canola or gluten-free cooking spray) two racks.  Place one rack in each of the pans, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees – if your oven doesn’t go that low, set it to the lowest temp that it will and leave the oven door cracked open an inch or two, or use a wooden spoon to keep it ajar.

Remove steak from freezer, and make sure that all the fat has been removed (see note above).  Thinly slice steak 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick pieces.

In a large bowl mix together salt, gluten-free soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add meat and let marinade in the refrigerator for two hours (or over night).

Lay the meat on the racks in a single layer, but don’t let them touch or over lap.

Dry the meat in an oven for 5-7 hours.  Check for doneness for the first time around 5 hours.  The jerky shouldn’t be brittle but should be able to be torn into strings and not look raw in the inside.

Allow jerky to cool completely and enjoy!

Store in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.

Granola Bars

I love granola bars, but since going gluten-free I haven’t had one, and I’ve really missed them.  They are the perfect take along snack.  I’ll be making more of these when it comes time for school.  They are super easy to make and you can add in pretty much anything you like.  I think next time I might add in some peanut butter chips.

Gluten-Free/Allergy Free Granola Bars

The recipe listed below is from Martha Stewart’s website.  I did a few little tweaks to the recipe and they are noted in red below.

Makes about 16 bars

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free quick-cooking oatmeal (I used 3 cups of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats)
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free crisp-rice cereal (I didn’t have any so I omitted them)
  • 1/2 cup mini gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey

Directions

  1. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, oil, and honey. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add to oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and well combined.
  4. Evenly pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with chocolate chips. When mixture is cool enough to touch, press down into pan. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into 16 (1-by-4-inch) bars. Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.
From The Martha Stewart Show, April 2010

*I would recommend following the directions – I got distracted when making these and ended up adding some of the chocolate chips in with the oats and when I poured the liquid over it they all melted so it became chocolate granola bars. Woops – I mean they still came out pretty good.  I would also suggest that if you have the gluten-free crisp rice cereal, use it.  Also Martha’s photo is WAY better than mine!

Hope you enjoy these two homemade snacks!