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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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!

 

 

Make Vanilla Extract

I love vanilla.

The smell, the aroma, and the fact that a vanilla bean comes from an orchid makes the most common flavoring actually quite exotic.

Having your own perpetual vanilla extract on hand is a simple thing to do and the rich, full flavor of this extract is well worth the six months you have to wait for it to develop.

You will need:

  • Supplies for making vanilla extract

  • Cutting board for cutting the vanilla beans open
  • Sharp paring knife
  • 3-4 fresh vanilla beans
  • A clean, sterile bottle to fit the vanilla beans
  • A funnel to fill the bottle easily
  • Plain, unflavored vodka (Does not need to be a premium vodka)
  • A stopper for the bottle that fits well enough to shake the bottle vigorously

The procedure is quite simple. Slice the beans open lengthwise, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch at the top of the bean still attached. Scrape the tiny seeds from inside the pods, then place the beans and seeds into a glass bottle. Place the funnel on the top of the bottle and fill with the vodka.

Cut the beans open and scrape the seeds

Put the stopper on the bottle and shake vigorously. Make a small label for the bottle (a piece of tape will do) and write the date you made the extract on it.

Here’s the hard part; store in a cool dark place for at least six months. Shake the bottle from time to time to loosen the seeds.

The color will go from pale to  warm brown. As you use other vanilla beans in your cooking, add the remaining pods (even if the seeds have been used) to the bottle to fortify the vanilla flavor.

Different stages of extract development

After six months you can begin to use the extract. As you use it, refill with vodka as needed. You will have a lifetime supply of wonderful premium vanilla extract. If you want the vanilla specs in your cooking, shake and measure. If you want just the extract with no specs, don’t shake it.

Hint: Make 2 bottles so as you refill one, use the other so the flavor can continue to develop and become richer as time goes by.