Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Candy Cane Bath Salts

Candy Cane Bath Salts

2 cups Epsom salts
1/2 cup sea salt
4-6 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops red food coloring

Place one cup of Epsom and 1/4 cup sea salt in a bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add 2-3 drops peppermint oil.

Place the remaining ingredients in a second bowl. Mix all ingredients well.

Layer the red and white salts in a clear bottle or jar, tilting the bottle or jar as you fill it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

National French Toast Day

Yesterday was National French Toast Day. What a delicious day to celebrate! We love french toast with blueberries, bananas & walnuts, strawberries or even Nutella on top. This recipe is one that is prepared and can set overnight.

Victoria Baked Caramel French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1-inch thick slices bread (the thicker the better), approximately 6 pieces

5 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and corn syrup. Stirring constantly cook over moderate heat just until the butter melts. Pour the brown sugar mix into an ungreased 9x13-inch baking dish.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer overtop the brown sugar mix; set aside.

To prepare the batter, beat the eggs, milk and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl until combined. Pour the batter over the bread in the pan, saturating all the slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the baking dish and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the center appears set and the top is lightly brown. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh fruit and powdered sugar.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Thanksgiving

1. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted 3 days. Oh my, the calories consumed!

2. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada. How that works with the Indians and Pilgrims coming to America, I have absolutely no idea.

3. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and takes place in Manhattan. If watching from the streets of NYC, it is not advised to view the parade from Columbus Circle, as due to higher winds in this flat area, balloon teams race through it.

4. Studies suggest that the turkey meat is not to blame for the after Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness, but the carb-loaded meal consumed.

5. The 5 most popular ways to serve leftover Thanksgiving turkey are: sandwich, soup or stew, casserole, stir-fry, and salad.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hats Off to Turkey Day!

Pilgrim Hat Cookies

1 cup vanilla frosting
7 drops yellow food coloring
32 miniature peanut butter cups
1 package (11-1/2 ounces) fudge-striped cookies
32 pieces orange mini Chiclets gum

In a small shallow bowl, combine frosting and food coloring. Remove paper liners from peanut butter cups.

Holding the bottom of a peanut butter cup, dip top of cup in yellow frosting. Position over center hole of a cookie, forming the hatband and crown. Add a buckle of Chiclets gum.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Buttered Up

It was the Thanksgiving of 2008. I decided to go all out - there was even a notebook put together with recipes. This was one of those "things" I decided to try my hand at. My leaf didn't come out so great but I think my butter got a little warm so make sure it is pretty chilled.

Fall Leaf Butter

Flatten chilled butter with your hands or a rolling pin to about an inch thick, then cut with a cookie cutter. Drizzle with maple syrup just before serving. The combo is especially yummy on corn bread, rolls, or yams.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Pumpkin Puree Exfoliating Facial Mask

Pumpkin Puree Exfoliating Facial Mask

*Pumpkins are not only a festive symbol of fall, they are also high in Vitamin C, which helps build and heal skin tissue. Honey makes a great base for any mask.

1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

Mix ingredients together. Slather mixture on face and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water. *This mask may be messy but the end result is worth it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harvest Baked Acorn Squash

This is another new found recipe from Kraftfoods.com. After reading the reviews (and realizing I didn't have any crackers), I substituted crushed walnuts for the crackers and added in some craisins. Next time, I will also add more spice. It had great taste, but we like things to have lots of flavor.

Harvest Baked Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash (1-1/2 pound each)
2 cups finely chopped apple
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
32 wheat thins crackers, coarsely crushed
1/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half crosswise; remove seeds. Place, cut sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish. Add enough water to fill dish 1/2-inch deep. Bake 40-45 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove squash from dish; cool slightly.

Scoop cooked squash from shells into medium bowl, leaving 1/4-inch thick shells; set shells aside. Add apples, apple juice, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to squash in bowl; mix until well blended. Stir in crackers and raisins; spoon evenly into shells. Return filled sides up, to baking dish.

Bake 10 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheese Pumpkins

A couple of years ago, I made these Cheese Pumpkins. Warning: 1) They tasted good and looked cute but were extremely time consuming 2) Do not be afraid of the phrase "cheese food".

Cheese Pumpkins

8 tablespoons smoked Cheddar cold pack cheese food (from 8 ounce container), well chilled
2 teaspoons finely chopped peanuts
4 butter-flavored pretzel spindles ro sticks, broken in half
16 tiny pieces of fresh parsley leaves

Line small serving plate with waxed paper. Roll each level tablespoon cold pack cheese food into a ball; place on waxed paper-lined serving plate. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes for easier handling.

With end of toothpick, draw ridges around balls to resemble pumpkins. *Note: I would keep all the other "pumpkins" in the fridge until you are ready for them so they don't get soft.* Dip bottoms of cheese balls in chopped peanuts.

Just before serving, insert pretzel halves into cheese balls for pumpkin stems. Decorate with parsley for leaves. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slow Cooker Lasagna

The other day I was looking for a fast yet somewhat healthy recipe to make. While browsing through the recipes over at Kraftfoods.com, I found this recipe. I always read some of the reviews to make sure it really isn't going to be spit-out-nasty food, but the reviews raved about how delicious and easy it was to make. I was sold! I did substitute ground turkey and added some minced garlic and Italian seasoning when cooking the meat. The reviews were right! It was good and easy to make! Although I must make a note here and say that Sissy's lasagna is still my favorite!!!

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 jar (24 ounce) spaghetti sauce
1 up water
1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
1 package (7 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked

Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 tablespoons parmesan, egg and parsley.

Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles, broken to fit; and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit; cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.

Cook on low 4-6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 minutes or until melted.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Bread Day

This is not exactly homemade bread ... How many of you go to Red Lobster just for their biscuits? My hand is raised. They are so good! Now, no more going out - you can make them in your very own kitchen. Unless of course you want an excuse to not cook - then head on over to Red Lobster.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2-1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
1 heaping cup grated Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup cold whole milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Brush on top
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. you don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add Cheddar cheese, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

Drop approximately 1/4-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl in microwave. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter.

Recipe from Top Secret Recipes

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Essence of Lemon Splash

Essence of Lemon Splash

Peel of 1 lemon
2 cups water
2 cups witch hazel
Several slivers lemon peel

Peel lemon and put peeling in a pot with water. Simmer until just 1 cup of liquid remains. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into decorative container. For better preservation, the container should be of darkly-colored glass. Add witch hazel and lemon peel slivers. Make sure lemon peel is covered by liquid so that peel is preserved. Shake. Allow to settle for several days before using. Essence of Lemon Splash is refreshing added directly to bath water. Or splash it on after showering.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today is ....

Clean Your Refrigerator Day

Back in September, Sissy posted about knowing if the food in your refrigerator is safe. I thought this was very relevant to today. Click on the link below to go back and refresh your memory as you clean out that refrigerator.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Five Facts Friday - Chocolate

1. Chocolate is rich in magnesium and iron, which your body needs. See ... chocolate is good for you.

2. A typical dark chocolate bar contains significantly fewer calories and carbs than milk chocolate.

3. Chocolate is made from cocoa which is the dried fermented seed of the cacao tree.

4. Hot gourmet cocoa mixes will remain fresh about two years if kept tightly sealed and away from light.

5. Chocolate's melting point is just below your body temperature, so it melts in your mouth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Recipe for Warm and Cozy

Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups milk
3/4 cup marshmallow creme

In 2-quart saucepan, heat sugar, cocoa, water, cinnamon and nutmeg over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in milk. Heat over low heat. Pour cocoa into mugs. Top each with 2 tablespoons marshmallow creme.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

1-3/4 cups devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup vanilla frosting
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa
6 miniature pretzel twists, broken in half

Heat oven to 350 degrees for shiny metal pan (or 325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and egg with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter even among muffin cups.

Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small bowl, mix frosting and marshmallow creme. Spoon into small plastic bag; seal bag. Cut 3/8-inch tip off 1 corner of bag. (Or spoon mixture onto cupcakes instead of piping.)

Pipe 3 small dollops of frosting mixture on top of each cupcake to resemble melted marshmallows. Sprinkle with cocoa. Press pretzel half into side of each cupcake for cup handle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Chocolate Body Scrub

Chocolate Body Scrub

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla oil (or extract)
Olive oil as needed

Mix all ingredients except for olive oil.

Start adding olive oil, gradually until the mixture starts looking like a paste.

Apply to moist skin, preferably after a shower.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Difference is ...

What is the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate?

Cocoa. While cocoa is technically the powdered product, many people use the term "cocoa" to mean the drink, "hot cocoa."

Hot chocolate. This is a chocolate beverage made by mixing shaved, ground or other form of actual chocolate with water or milk, plus a sweetener. Many products made from cocoa powder are called "hot chocolate" but they are not. As chocolate contains far more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, hot chocolate will be smoother and richer than hot cocoa. The chocolate can be ground, shaved, made in small beads or pellets, tablets and other forms. If you were to eat it, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Actually I have no idea. No idea why for the past 3 days there has been no post. Well I do know why. I just didn't do it. However, let me tell you next week will be different from this week. Enough said. See you next week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Ancient Formula Milk Bath

Ancient Formula Milk Bath

2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons barley or oat flour
1 cup powdered milk
2 drops essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour directly into bath water (about 2 tablespoons per bath). Store at room temperature.

Monday, November 1, 2010

1 Month

There is only 1 month left until the 25 Days of Christmas Cookies begin! There are some good ones in the mix (haha!). We've been trying them all out and they are yummy! Let the countdown begin!