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Posts Tagged ‘scratch made’

While the majority of our homemade Christmas gifts were edible this year, I wanted to try making something for the girls besides more candy.

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I thought about doing flavored olive oils, but after seeing that I had some leftover Ball Jars from this summer, I decided to make a homemade sugar scrub they could use this winter to keep their skin silky smooth.

My little sister used it the other day and told me her hands were incredibly soft! I’m so excited it actually worked, because it was the easiest thing I’ve ever made.

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Vanilla Sugar Scrub

To make one 1/2 pint jar:

  • About 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 cup light, unscented oil (i.e., safflower, etc)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Pour sugar into jar until it’s about 1” from the top of the jar.
  2. Add 1-2 Tbsp of oil – it will sit on the top of the sugar at first, just be patient! You’ll need to keep adding oil, a little at a time, and wait for it to seep down into the sugar.
  3. Keep adding oil and waiting until you can stir the sugar to get it all coated with oil.
  4. Once you have enough oil in the jar, stir in the vanilla, add any additional (if you need more), and put the lid on.
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My Nany was one of a kind.

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She ate a bowl of ice cream every single night before going to bed. She made the best Chex Mix, deviled eggs, and potato salad.  She used to let us girls crawl all over her in her favorite recliner and put our Strawberry Shortcake doll’s rollers in her hair.

She was a yard sale fanatic, marking up her newspaper each week with the houses she wanted to visit early Saturday morning. And even though most things at yard sales are cheap, Nany never missed a beat – she was a hard bargainer and would rarely pay more than fifty-cents for anything.

She loved Hardee’s breakfast biscuits, grits, and coffee. She had a collection of housecoats, slippers, and long beaded necklaces hanging on the back of her bedroom door. Her house was decorated in mauves and country blues and had one of those frilly curtains hanging around her shower.

We played in her make up, using her mood lipstick as much as possible – even tricking my dad into putting some on one day.

She gave the best hugs and kisses.

And, no fail, you’d get a phone call on your birthday from her. But not just any phone call. As soon as you picked up, she’d start singing “Happy Birthday”, adding her signature “I love you. Guess who?” at the end. We never had to guess – we’d know that sweet, southern, joyful voice anywhere.

I miss that. I miss her.

Many of her recipes, including her famous deviled eggs and potato salad, were lost when we lost Nany. She never wrote them down and no one has been able to recreate them yet.

But one recipe lives on, and it’s one that my dad and his brother remember as one of their favorite snacks and a true treat when Nany would pack it in their lunch bags.

 

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Nany’s Chocolate Sauce.

Or Would-be-cake-frosting-if-it-included-butter.

And Delicious-spread-for-saltine-crackers.

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According to my dad, the best was when Nany would pack a few chocolate sauce and saltine sandwiches in their lunchbags because, by the time lunch rolled around, the crackers were just a bit soggy, making each salty-sweet bite even better. Sort of like when your mom would pack you a pb & j sandwich and the bread would be mushed together and soggy from rolling around in your bookbag or locker until lunch. I loved that.

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Sadly, I never had this when Nany was alive. She didn’t make it much once the boys were grown up, but it’s so simple, I knew I could make it and create my own memory of her special chocolate sauce.

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Yes, it’s one stick of butter away from being homemade cake frosting.

But it’s also incredibly easy and delicious. And very good spread between a few saltine crackers…or eaten right off the spoon.

Nany’s Chocolate Sauce

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  1. Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in bowl.
  2. Add in milk and vanilla and stir until mixture is combined, adding more powdered sugar until sauce is thick enough to spread onto crackers.
  3. Serve.

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I’ve never morphed one dessert into a totally new dish before. But there’s always a first time for everything.

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On Thanksgiving Day, we made two desserts. One was a homemade berry pie and the other was this Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cider Sauce.

By Saturday afternoon, we still had about half the pumpkin cake leftover and half of the caramel sauce so Nick’s dad and I started brainstorming – what could we do with the rest of the cake and sauce to make sure we didn’t waste it?

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I’ve had trifles before, but I’ve never tried making my own. And while we didn’t have the actual “trifle” dish, I think it came out perfect.

This is a great way to use up extra cake or sweet breads and it’s versatile enough to stand up to just about any flavor combination you could put together.

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Pumpkin, White Chocolate, and Caramel Toffee Trifle

  • 4 cups cubed pumpkin / spice cake or bread
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 package White Chocolate Jello instant pudding
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee pieces
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (we used the leftover caramel cider sauce, but regular caramel – store bought or homemade – would also be delicious)
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  1. In bowl, whisk pudding mix into 2 cups milk and set aside to thicken up.
  2. Take caramel sauce (cooled, if you make your own) and stir in heavy cream.
  3. Beat cream and caramel mixture until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. In trifle dish or other large dish, layer half of the cubed cake/bread.
  5. Spread on half of the pudding, sprinkle half of the toffee pieces and top with half of the whipped caramel cream.
  6. Take the rest of the ingredients and do one more layer – cake/bread, pudding, and whipped cream – and top with the remaining toffee.
  7. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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A fair warning?

This won’t last long.

And if you’re the one putting this together, make sure you taste the whipped cream on its own. It’s pretty incredible.

 

Don’t forget to donate and help Holly  + I raise money for Jovenes en Camino, an orphanage in Honduras for abused, homeless and orphaned children. Tis’ the season!

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Think cranberries are just a Thanksgiving Day table filler?

Think again.

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1. I have never (and probably will never) eat the canned cranberry sauce. If something comes out of a can and holds that shape, with the ripples down the sides, it makes me want to stay away.

2. Fresh cranberries are delicious! They deserve more respect and shouldn’t be relegated to being just a jiggling side dish.

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This dish has so much going on, but it all works together.

Chewy wheatberries, creamy chickpeas, fresh and crunchy zucchini. Tart cranberries, salty feta, decadent olive oil dressing.

Since so much of the flavor comes from the feta, cranberries, and dressing, feel free to toss in whatever veggies you have on hand. Grain salads are extremely versatile, which is one reason I love them.

Wheatberry Cranberry Salad

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1.5 cups wheatberries
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine cranberries, maple, and orange zest in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let simmer 5-10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped. Take off heat and let cool.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add in wheatberries, lower to a simmer and let cook 30-40 minutes.
  3. Once wheatberries are cooked, mix all ingredients in large bowl.
  4. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

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I hope you’re not sick of pumpkin yet.

I realize that pumpkin recipes have been everywhere the past few weeks, but fall is just starting! Thanksgiving is still a month away, and my pumpkin “season” goes throughout the winter or as long as I can find it.

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Whether or not you’re tired of pumpkin, you can’t deny that this time of year just screams for warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger.

And combining those with pumpkin, toasted pecans, and dark chocolate? Even better.

These scones would be great any time of year, but they’re especially delicious on a crisp fall morning or with hot tea as an afternoon snack.

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And please – if you’re making scones, use real butter.

You can health them up any other way, but you have to have butter to get the right texture. There’s nothing more disappointing than biting into a scone that has the texture of a muffin.

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Believe me – butter is necessary.

The great thing is you don’t need a ton of it! And, thanks to the moisture from the pumpkin, you can cut out the usual heavy cream. So while this recipe does call for butter, they’re much lighter than other recipes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pecan Scones

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1/3 oatbran
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 6 Tbsp butter, diced and chilled
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 flax “egg”  – 1 Tbsp flax mixed with 1-2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix flour through spices together in large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter (using pastry blender, hands, or two forks) until mixture resembles cornmeal.
  4. Stir in chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
  5. In separate bowl, mix pumpkin, flax egg, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp almond milk.
  6. Pour pumpkin mixture into flour and mix until dough just comes together.
  7. Dump dough onto floured surface and knead 5-10 times until dough holds together.
  8. Pat out to 1/2 – 3/4” thickness and cut into 8 wedges.
  9. Brush tops of scones with other 1 Tbsp almond milk and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.
  10. Bake 15-17 minutes.

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All these garlic knot recipes floating around online lately got them stuck in my head.

Plus, they were one bread item I had yet to make!

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I used to be terrified of baking with yeast, but it’s so simple. Yeah, it adds another step but it makes such a difference in the final product.

You just can’t get that flavor without it!

Basic Garlic Knots

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  1. In bowl, mix yeast, agave, and warm water. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until creamy.
  2. In large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Add yeast mixture and oil to flour and knead until dough comes together and is smooth.
  4. Put dough into oiled bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled.
  5. Preheat oven to 450.
  6. Once dough has doubled, punch down.
  7. Tear off golf-ball size rounds, roll out into long strips and tie into knots.
  8. Place on baking sheet or stone and bake 11-12 minutes.
  9. While hot, toss knots in mixture of olive oil or butter, minced garlic, and salt.

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I made these Sunday afternoon and we had them along with some homemade chicken noodle soup.

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I love them simple like this: just tossed with salt, garlic, and olive oil.

But they’d be delicious tossed with some fresh herbs like oregano and basil and parsley, too.

Tying these little garlic knots gave me a little practice, too – I may try making soft pretzels soon! That’s another item on my I’m-intimidated-to-make-these-on-my-own list.

If I can make homemade garlic knots, you can, too.

So get in that kitchen and bake!

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