Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Acne Remedy Recipe

Acne Remedy Recipe

2-3 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 cup boiling water

Steep basil leaves in water for 10 to 20 minutes. Cool. Strain. Apply to face with a cotton ball.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Toasted Marshmallow Day

Chris and I watch a show on the Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". The Food Network chefs share their favorite foods from different restaurants. We saw one that described Stand's Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake in NYC. The next time we were in NYC, we decided to swing by and give it a try. It was delicious! I recently found the recipe for it ... Mmmm!

Stand's Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

3 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 large dollop of plain yogurt
5 marshmallows
Whipped cream

Put the milk, yogurt and then ice cream in the blender. Blend carefully, just until you get a "donut" - when you see the shake holding to the sides of the blender with a hollow core.

Toast marshmallows under a broiler until they just start to blacken evenly. Add three of the marshmallows to the blender, and whirl it just until they're all broken up and distributed evenly. Be careful not to overblend it, making it too melty.

Pour shake into a glass, top with a dollop of whipped cream, break the last two marshmallows on top, and serve with an extra-wide straw.

Picture courtesy of www.acozykitchen.com

Friday, August 27, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Enjoy the Perks of Coffee

1. Freshen your breath. Completely out of breath mints? Simply suck on a coffee bean for a while and your mouth will feel clean and fresh again.

2. Don't raise any dust. Before you clean the ashes out of your fireplace, sprinkle them with wet coffee grounds. They'll be easier to remove, and the ash and dust won't pollute the room's atmosphere.

3. Make a dehumidifier. If your basement is too damp, try this effortless solution. Fill an empty coffee can with salt and leave it in a corner where it will be undisturbed, creating an instant dehumidifier. Replace the salt at monthly intervals or as needed.

4. Keep toilet paper dry when camping. Bring a few empty coffee cans with you on your next camping trip. Use them to keep toilet paper dry in rainy weather or when you're carrying supplies in a canoe or boat.

5. Store belts. If you have more belts than places to hang them, just roll them up and store them in a cleaned-out coffee can with a clear lid. Coffee cans are just the right size to keep belts from creasing, and the clear lids help you find each belt easily.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Equivalent To...

Whole wheat flour
1 pound = about 3-3/4 cups

Bread crumbs
1 slice = 1/2 cup soft crumbs; 1/4 cup dry crumbs

1 pound = 4-1/2 cups chopped

Cottage cheese
1 pound = 2 cups

Granulated sugar
1 pound = 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 cups

Frozen whipped topping
8 ounces = 3-1/2 cups

Chocolate chips
6 ounces = 1 cup

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Shower

Two of my five close friends are having babies just weeks apart so we threw a shower for them. We really just used this as an excuse to get together and talk.

One friend is having a girl and the other is having a boy so we had to come up with a gender neutral theme. My other friend Cheri and I came up with the theme of baby blocks. In all of our excitement, we decided that we would make cakes that look like baby blocks. Cheri got the idea from Martha Stewart. Reminder: I am not Martha Stewart. We'll just leave it as ... we tried.

We made a couple of notes for next time (yeah, not sure when that will be). 1) Measure the cakes out so that they actually end up being little squares and not weird toppling trapezoids. 2) Freeze the cake before icing it so that you don't get little crumblies all in your icing. 3) After cutting the fondant, use it right away since it hardens up and makes it more difficult to work with. 4) Call a bakery and order a cake.

I've put the recipe on here twice. Our version and then Martha's version.

Our version
Baby Block Cake

Sheet cake made in a 9 x 13 inch pan
Buttercream icing -We used store bought whipped cream cheese icing
Fondant - Cheri got the fondant from Michaels and bought the already colored fondant to make it easier

Cut the cake in half (not horizontally but simply in half while still in the pan). With buttercream icing, ice top of one half of the cake. Place the second half of cake on top. (By now the cake should be out of the pan). Cut into individual squares *measuring so that they come out in actual squares. *Freeze cakes. Divide icing up and color each a different color (we used blue, green and pink). Ice top and sides of each individual cakes. Cut out fondant using small animal or letter cookie cutters. Place fondant cutouts on sides and top of little cakes. --We also cut strips of fondant using a ruler and a pizza cutter.-- Place strips of fondant on edges of little cakes. Step back and admire. Look at Martha's picture and cry.

Martha's version
Baby Block Cake

1 white sheet cake
1 recipe buttercream
2 pounds rolled fondant divided in thirds and tinted green, yellow and white (available at cake decorating supply stores)
One recipe royal icing divided into fourths and tinted blue, green, yellow and pink
Cornstarch for work surface for rolling out fondant

*All these designs were piped with a #3 plain tip using royal icing, which dried hard in about ten minutes. Turn the side you're decorating face up before piping. Wait for the finished design to dry, and then you can lay it face down to do the opposite side.

1. Place sheet cake on clean work surface, top side up. Trim top to make level. Cut cake in half horizontally. Sandwich layer of buttercream between the layers. Trim sides of cake to be square. Cut cake into twelve 2-1/2 inch squares Place each on its own pice of parchment or waxed paper. Ice each with a thin layer of buttercream to help fondant stick to cake. Chill blocks to set the buttercream.

2. Lightly brush cornstarch onto a clean work surface. You'll cover just one block at a time. Remove a 2-inch ball of fondant from one of the larger, tinted pieces (tightly wrap remaining fondant to keep it from hardening). Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a thin circle about 1/8 inch thick and roughly 7 inches in diameter. Don't refrigerate the blocks after you cover them; the fondant will get sticky.

3. Remove cake squares from refrigerator. Center the rolled fondant circle over a block of cake, and place it gently on the cake. Carefully press the fondant against the sides of the block, working on two opposite sides at the same time and smoothing up from the bottom. Repeat for the other pair of sides. Gently pinch the fondant together at the corners, creating flour flaps. Working quickly, so fondant doesn't dry out, fold two flaps toward center of one side, as if wrapping a gift bow; repeat for opposite side. Use a dab of water to help the flaps adhere, if necessary. Trim excess fondant from base of block with a sharp knife.

4. Repeat process for each block, using different-colored fondants, as desired. (If trimmed scraps are free of crumbs, knead together and reuse).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Eve Beauty Facial Cleanser

Eve Beauty Facial Cleanser

1/4 medium apple, peeled and cored
4 tablespoon plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine ingredients in blender for 30 to 45 seconds. Massage 1 to 2 tablespoons gently into dry skin in circular motion; avoid eye area. Rinse with warm water thoroughly. Store unused portion in tightly sealed container for up to 4 days in refrigerator.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Put on a Happy Face

Start your week off with a smile.

1. Spread a bagel with cream cheese and decorate with strawberry jam.

2. Add a Fruit Loop smile to a bowlful of Cheerios.

3. Make a smiley face of pancake patter on a hot griddle, and cook 45 seconds. Pour more batter over face to form head, then cook as usual.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Salt: Around the House

Recently my friend Jeanne sent me 46 uses with salt. These are just 5 uses that can be used around the house. Thanks Jeanne for always being on the lookout for interesting facts for me!

1. Kill poison ivy. Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water (use a gentle dish soap) and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer, avoiding any plant life that you want to keep.

2. Deter patio weeds. If weeds or grass grow between bricks or blocks in your patio, sidewalk, or driveway, carefully spread salt between the cracks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.

3. Keep cut flowers fresh. A dash of salt added to the water in a flower vase will keep cut flowers fresh longer. (You can also try an aspirin or a dash of sugar for the same effect.)

4. Drip-proof candles. If you soak new candles in a strong salt solution for a few hours, then dry them well, they will not drip as much when you burn them.

5. Repair walls. To fill nail holes, fix chips or other small dings in white sheet-rock or plaster walls, mix 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons cornstarch, then add enough water (about 5 teaspoons) to make a thick paste. Use the paste to fill the holes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's a Tasty Kind of Week

The Pioneer Woman has another website called The Tasty Kitchen (click HERE). This website is where people who love to cook can submit their recipes. Of course other food lovers can also go on and try different recipes. I have been using this website not only for great dinner ideas but it has been a wonderful help to finding interesting and different cookies that will show up here for the 25 Days of Christmas Cookies. It's getting closer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kraft First Taste

If you enjoy trying new foods and giving reviews, Kraft Foods is looking for you. They have a website called First Taste (click HERE) that lets you in on what is new with Kraft products. You may also have a chance to be one of the first to try them and then let them know what you think.

Here are a few I have tried:
-Mousse Temptations by Jell-o
-Velveeta Shells & Cheese Cups

Here are a few I would love to try:
-Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
-Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon
-Ritz Crackerfuls Filled Crackers

Sign up and get tasting!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Cool Peppermint Sunburn Lotion

Cool Peppermint Sunburn Lotion

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon witch hazel
1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 drops peppermint oil

Mix all ingredients together to form a thin, milky mixture. Shake well.

To use: gently apply to sunburned skin and allow to dry. Re-apply, if necessary.

Makes 3-1/2 ounces.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's a Joke of a Day

Ya'll know I love the weird and bizarre holidays "they" come up with. By the way, if anyone knows who "they" are, please let me know. I've always wondered. Thank you in advance.

Today is International Tell a Joke Day. In honor of this joke of a day, I want to share with you the 2 jokes my Chris tells me in order to get me to smile. Although I have heard them over and over and they are not really funny (don't tell him I said that though), they get me every time. Ah! I need to work on my poker face. So without further ado, here they are. Don't smile!

How do you make a Kleenex dance?

Put a little boogie in it.

Where do belly buttons go to school?

The Navel Academy

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five Facts Friday

1. Today is "Left Hander's Day."

2. People who are left handed make up about 5 to 15 percent of the population.

3. People who are left handed use the right side of the brain most while right handed people use the left side of the brain most.

4. There have been 8 left handed presidents.

James Garfield (20th)
Herbert Hoover (31st)
Harry Truman (33rd)
Gerald Ford (38th)
Ronald Reagan (40th)
George H.W. Bush (41st)
Bill Clinton (42nd)
Barack Obama (44th)

5. Both my parents are left handed but all three of us kids are right handed. This is not a nationally known fact. This is just a random fact that got thrown in there.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Substitute It!

Don't have it on hand? Here are some substitutes to keep in mind before you panic and head to the grocery store.

Allspice: For 1 teaspoon allspice use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

Tomato puree: For 1 cup tomato puree use 1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water.

Garlic: For 1 small clove garlic use 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MySweetSavings Seminar

Want to learn more about saving $ and how to use coupons to your advantage? MySweetSavings is hosting a seminar in St. Petersburg, FL. What? You don't live in FL? Me either! Don't worry, it will be broadcast live on the internet.

Here's the info:

Saturday, August 14, 2010
10:00 am EST

Go to www.mysweetsavings.com (or click HERE) to be a part.

If you "attend", let me know how it went. I won't be available - insert BIG frowny face here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Banana "No" Split Hair Conditioner

Banana "No" Split Hair Conditioner

*Banana is nature's hair conditioner. Rich in vitamins and potassium, banana smooths the cuticle and "mends the ends." Mint invigorates.

1/2 mashed banana
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon coconut oil
3 teaspoons fresh mint leaves

Mash the bananas and mint leaves. Add honey and oil. Combine well. Mixtures should be creamy. Apply to freshly shampooed hair. Leave on for at least 15 minutes. Rinse well.

**Warning! Your hair will smell good enough to eat. This is not recommended.**

Monday, August 9, 2010

Raspberry Chews

This recipe had gotten lost all of my other recipes until the other day. It tasted as good as I remember and boy, oh boy, am I glad to have been reunited with it!

Raspberry Chews

10 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed and drained, reserving liquid
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg

1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom only of 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In small saucepan, dissolve cornstarch in reserved raspberry liquid; add raspberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside.

In large bowl, combine cake mix, 1/3 cup oats and 1/2 cup butter at low speed until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup crumbs for topping. To remaining crumbs, add egg; beat until well mixed. Press in bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

In same bowl, combine 1 cup reserved crumb mixture and topping ingredients at low speed until crumbly; set aside. Remove base from oven. Spoon raspberry mixture over base, spreading evenly, sprinkle with topping. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, cut into bars.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Make Your Own

Out of Boudreaux's Butt Paste? Make your own diaper rash ointment and save!

Diaper Rash Baby Balm Recipe

1 ounce shea butter
1/2 ounce sweet almond oil
1/2 ounce rice bran oil

Melt shea butter and add remaining oils. When slightly cool, whip with mixer or hand blender until smooth and well incorporated. 1-2 drops of lavender oil can be added for scent and antibacterial properties.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Golden Corn Bread

No matter if you make it in a skillet or in a baking dish, cornbread is about as it gets. Well, according to us here at our house anyway. We especially love it covered in honey. Mmmm...

Golden Corn Bread

1 cup yellow or white corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Combine corn meal, flour, sugar and baking powder. Add milk, egg and shortening. Beat with mixer until fairly smooth, about 1 minute. Bake in greased 8-inch square baking pan in preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

National Simplify Your Life Week

This week is National Simplify Your Life Week. If you are serious about it (and don't mind a ton of emails every day), then FlyLady is your, er um, lady. She takes you through cleaning and organizing your house step by step. Here is a little of what she says on her website:

"I know that you have become overwhelmed by your home and the chaos that you have been living in. We are here to help you and it doesn't cost you a dime. Keep in mind that your home did not get this way overnight and it is not going to get clean in a day. We are going to teach you how to take BabySteps and establish little routines for getting rid of your clutter and maintaining your home. This system will work for anyone; it doesn't matter if you work outside of your home, stay home with children, retired or work at home. You can do this..."

Click on the FlyLady icon below to go to the website and check it out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Scrub

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Scrub

2 cups coffee grounds
1/2 cup raw sugar or sea salt
2-3 tablespoons almond oil (or grapeseed oil)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 drops cinnamon fragrance oil (optional)

Mix items together in a bowl. Apply to wet or damp skin. The best time to do this is in the shower so that you can rinse it off after application. Apply the scrub directly to your skin and rub it in circular motions with your fingers or washcloth. *The circular motions helps to distribute the caffeine to eliminate cellulite or varicose veins.

**Warning! Cinnamon can cause skin irritations. Make sure not to overuse. If you want to make sure, put a bit of the finished product on the inside of your wrist and wait about 10 minutes. If you experience no redness or irritation, it is safe to use.**