Sugar Scrub!

Sugar Scrub Stack

Sugar Scrub Stack

Gifting doesn’t get any easier than this: Sugar Scrubs!

They are super simple and quite inexpensive to make. Choose some nice jars to put them in, create a nifty label and you have a great thoughtful gift. Be sure to make a few extra for you to use too!

Basic Sugar Scrubs

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Up to 1/4 cup oil (See Note Below)

Use grape seed, almond, olive or jojoba oil. Don’t use coconut oil as it solidifies in the drain as it cools. Grape seed oil isn’t as “oily” as the others, with olive leaving the “oiliest” feel, which can be quite pleasant on dry skin.

Always be careful walking after using sugar scrubs as the oils can make surfaces slick.

Use your personal preference as to how much oil to add. I prefer only using enough to make the sugar damp and start to hold together as opposed to swimming in oil. I prefer the drier side.

Orange Vanilla Dream Sugar Scrub

Orange Vanilla Dream Sugar Scrub

  • 5-10 drops fragrance of choosing, I like to use essential oils, vanilla extract, almond extract

When adding peppermint oils, be careful about the scrubs coming in contact with sensitive skin, eyes and private parts. It can sting.

  • Up to 3 drops of food coloring, optional

Don’t use more than 3 drops because you don’t want to color your skin! Other choices for colors are raspberry juice, beet juice for a natural product.

Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Add the sugar to a bowl, add the oil, fragrance and color. Mix and bottle it up in pretty containers.

Make some labels, glue them on, tie some ribbon and you’ve got a lovely gift. I have several jars wrapped under the tree in “Stacks of Sugar Scrub” ready for the last-minute. Teachers, neighbors, hair stylists, manicurists, hostesses, dog walkers, your mail carrier, cat sitters, even baby sitters would enjoy a sugar scrub.

Lavender Rosemary Sugar Scrub

Lavender Rosemary Sugar Scrub

These are the scents I made:

  • Cinnamon Vanilla
  • Vanilla Orange Dream
  • Calming Lavender Rosemary
  • Peppermint Lift

What’s wonderful is the scent lingers on your skin.

Easy , fun, and any leftovers, you get to use!

Peppermint Lift Sugar Scrub

Peppermint Lift Sugar Scrub

These make great additions to the Spa Basket you have in mind and make nice little thoughtful ditty for those people in your life who could use a little “Thinking of You” gift.

What kind of sugar scrub will you make?

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In My Kitchen, March 2013

In My Kitchen this month are many things.

Freshly made croissants

Freshly made croissants

Croissants, Hamentashen, Almond Cakes, so much to give away!

My hairdresser got the croissants (some had lovely chocolate in them),DSC_0043 Hamentashen went to many Jewish friends, IMG_5083Almond cakes went with the TV crew and one got scarfed by us smothered in lovely berries and vanilla yogurt.

There is a Peruvian Blue potato that has  sprouted so I decided to try to grow it. So far, there are at least three areas

Sprouting Blue

Sprouting Blue

“rooting”.  I think these may get grown in a bag, if I can find one, to help with harvesting later.

There is a Vita-Mix in my kitchen this month, to “play with” for school. Also included is the large Whole Foods Cookbook they produce for using the Vita-Mix.

My assignment is to come up with something to use it for next semester when my class is “Global Cuisine”. One thing I have learned is that I really like my food with texture, and I like to chew my food rather than drink it.

Visiting Vita-mix

Visiting Vita-mix

I made a wonderful tasting marinade – Citrus Ginger Marinade – that we really liked the flavor but not the emulsified texture of the marinade,sauce or dressing it could be used as. I’ll play with it for a little while longer to see what else it can do, but so far, while I like a powerful blender, it isn’t something I’d really use that often. Smoothies aren’t really my thing, eventually pureed soups need something more interesting than a smooth texture. My opinion, you may love your Vita-Mix! If so, please comment on how you use it!

Perennial herbs are beginning to show signs of growth as winter wanes.

Emerging Garlic Chives

Emerging Garlic Chives

We only had one good afternoon of snow last Saturday and it was all gone on Sunday. But, the tarragon, chives and rosemary are all showing signs of Spring.

I love eating Rosemary flowers! Right now the plant is bursting with the pale purple flowers.

Rosemary Flowers

Rosemary Flowers

Sage flowers are next and then chive flowers. Gather a bunch of them from your herb garden and pop them onto vegetables, salads or garnish almost any dish with them. The flavors are amazing, be sure to linger over it, notice it and enjoy.

Shout out to Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen Posts!

There are many more things simmering away in my kitchen so I’d better grab my camera and get busy documenting.

March 2 and it has been snowing all morning. 2 weeks ago we had “thunder snow”. Local weather lore says if you have thunder snow, you will have another snow 10 days to 2 weeks later.

We had thunder snow 2 weeks ago and this morning we have lovely big fluffy flakes that have been falling all morning. The ground is far too warm for anything to stick so it is really nice to watch.

IMG_5103

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches for lunch.

Spring is near!

And that is what is happening in my kitchen this month.

Bob’s Paleo Bars

Teaching culinary school certainly has perks. One of the best perks is everyone around you has an interest in some aspect of food. Some grow great gardens, some make cookies, share fish they caught, bread, pickles, wines, liquors, there is always something going around.

A favorite activity for me is taking part in recipe development, especially in the cookie department. While attempting to come up with the “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” it became obvious that ‘world’s best’ is a matter of perception.

Bob’s “Good Health Balls”

Some like cookies crunchy, some soft, others cake like. Then there are nuts or no nuts, milk chocolate or what degree of dark chocolate; 50% 75% 80% cocoa? Or sweeteners, honey, sugar or agave?

I hope you can start getting the picture that “world’s best” is only world’s best to that persons mouth. Certainly their taste buds aren’t speaking for everyone in the world.

Bob is our division director and quite an interesting person. He is very health conscious, an avid practitioner and teacher of Yoga (I don’t know what kind) and is careful with what he puts into his body.

Bob is the person responsible for getting me started in baking our own bread again. He gave me a bit of his sourdough starter last year and I have kept it going and feeding without any issues. The starter makes great bread!

He found a recipe for “Paleo Bars” somewhere that he began playing with to create his own version of what he calls “Good Health Balls”

Perhaps the name needs a bit of work, but the bars are delicious. I don’t think Bob would have appreciated a post title:

“Bob’s Good Health Balls”

Nope, not going there.

They go great with coffee or tea!

Good Health Balls 

  • 1 cup               toasted chopped almonds
  • 1 cup               toasted chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup             toasted chopped sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup             toasted pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup             toasted pistachios
  • ¼ cup             hemp seeds
  • 1 cup               chopped dried dates
  • ½ cup             shredded coconut
  • 1 cup               almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon    cinnamon
  • ½ cup             chopped dark chocolate (optional)
  • ¼ cup                almond butter (Other nut butters can also be used)
  • ¼ cup                coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons     pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large               eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon  organic blue agave

Pre-heat oven to 350°F while making the mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, hemp seeds, figs, coconut, almond flour, cinnamon, and chocolate.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, eggs, and agave. Whisk together well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is moist and blended.

Form the dough into 1-ounce balls, lightly press onto a silicone or parchment paper-lined cook sheet.

A 1-ounce ball is 2 tablespoons. Make the balls all the same size, the weight isn’t as important as even size. If you adjust the size larger or smaller, you will also need to adjust baking time.

Use a small muffin tin lined with cup-cake liners instead of a baking sheet, if you like.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Balls will lightly browned on top.

Makes approximately 36  1-ounce morsels.

Notes: 

  • The dough balls can be successfully frozen.  This allows you to enjoy as many treats as you like.
    Store unbaked dough in a zip-lock freezer bag.

    Bake frozen balls for approximately 20 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven.
  • If you have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, try their 72% dark chocolate.
  • Costco is a great source for hemp seeds

To your health!

 

 

Cinnamon Blueberry Almond Scones

Getting around to making scones for International Scone Week took some doing but finally, here is my dedicated scone.

Celia at Fig jam and Lime Cordial I believe started this “tradition” that now has an international reach.

There aren’t many photos as I figured most reading this would also have posted their scones and know the basic mixing process.

(Mix dry, cut in fat, add liquid, pat into shape, cut, bake)

This recipe is inspired by some pages from over 10 years ago entitled “The Joy of Baking Newsletter”.

This particular article had several scone recipes; some marked with “this is my favorite scone” so I thought it a good place to start.

Taking a basic “English” scone recipe ( less sugar) I added several elements together to create:

Cinnamon Blueberry Almond Scones

Cinnamon Blueberry Toasted Almond Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter int the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse corn meal.

Mix the half and half with the egg.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the milk and eggs into the well and mix together with a wooden spoon. Mix just until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Pat it into a 16×10 rectangle.

Allow the dough to rest while you mix the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Cinnamon mixture:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

Spread the cinnamon mixture all over the 16 x 10 dough, covering it completely.

Sprinkle fresh blueberries and toasted almonds over the surface.

Roll the dough into a cylinder, pinching seams closed.

Cut into 1 inch slices.

Spray a 9 x 9 inch square cake pan with pan release spray.

Place each slice, spiral slice up, into the cake pan, fill it up with the rolled slices.

Brush half and half over the surface of each slice.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown. Test doneness by using a toothpick, if it comes out clean, the scones are done.

Remove from the oven, invert onto a serving plate, flipping them again so the scones are right side up. Two plates are needed for this.

Drizzle the scones with fondant frosting and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Fondant frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons half and half or enough to create the desired consistency to drizzle the scones.

Mix together to reach desired consistency, drizzle over scones.

Serve with fresh blueberries.

Now, go out for a brisk walk or run to work off all these scones!

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Fig and Almond Frangipane Tart

Fig and Almond Frangipane Tart

This recipe has 5 stages.

You will make sweet tart dough, frangipane, and sauté figs to make a jam, blend eggs for custard and then assemble and bake a beautiful tart.

You can make this in stages or in an afternoon, whatever you have time to do.

What is frangipane? Frangipane is a finely ground mixture of almonds, sugar and eggs. It is used as a filling for fine pastries: almond croissants, Danish pastries, underneath fruit in a fruit custard pie such as this recipe.

Frangipane is very similar to marzipan which does not have eggs.

Frangipane must be refrigerated or frozen. If kept fresh, use it within a week for best flavor.

You will have some of these components left to make other things with so get creative!

Pear tarts
The Port Poached Pears are in my “Draft” box.

I had sweet dough, frangipane, and custard left so I made two smaller tarts and topped them with Spicy Port Poached Pears.

For the sweet tart dough

Yield: two 9 1/2 inch tarts
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg

Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt into a bowl.

Place the butter into a food processor and process until smooth.

Scatter the flour mixture over the butter, add the egg and process just until the dough forms a mass; do not over mix.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least for an hour.

Line a greased 9 1/2 inch tart pan with half the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Keep the other half for another use.

For the frangipane:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Place the sugar and the slivered almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground; about 2 minutes.

Add the butter and process until combined.

Add the eggs and the almond extract, if using, and process until smooth; about 1 minute.

Add the flour and process until combined.

Use ¾ cup for this recipe. Extra frangipane can be frozen until another use. Use fresh frangipane within a week if kept refrigerated.

For the figs:

  • 2 pints fresh figs, quartered.

Keep enough uncooked figs aside to ring the outside of the tart

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • sugar to taste*

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan, add the vanilla seeds and beans and the quartered figs and sauté until they have a jam like consistency but retain their shape.

Use sugar to taste.* Often you don’t need it.

Cool the mixture.

For the custard:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac (or to taste)

Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cream and cognac.

To assemble and finish this tart, you will need:

  • One 9-1/2 inch tart shell made from sweet tart dough, unbaked
  • 3/4 cup frangipane
  • Quartered figs and sautéed figs, cooled
  • Custard mixture
  • Slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  1. Spread an even layer of frangipane over the prepared tart pan.

Bake for 14 minutes, until the frangipane layer is puffed but not set.
Cool.

  1. Arrange some uncooked fig quarters around the edge of the tart
  2. Add the fig ‘jam’ inside of the ring you made with the quartered uncooked figs

    Pour the custard mix over the figs

    Bake the tart at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes. The crust will be golden.
    After making the tart, I had some ingredients left over. 2 small port poached pears with frangipane and custard and some decorative cookies from the remaining sweet tart dough.

    Add the fig ‘jam’ mixture on the baked frangipane layer, inside of the fresh fig ring.

  3. Pour the custard mixture over the figs.
  4. Sprinkle the top with some slivered almonds.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes, until the custard is set and the pastry is golden brown.

Cool the tart completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

This is an elegant tart. After putting all your time and effort into it, make it an occasion to eat it! Make up one if you have to.