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The DIY Life: Arugula Pesto

22 Oct

So, um, wow. I haven’t blogged for over a month. Now that I’ve had this epiphany, I feel it’s a little ridiculous because I’ve been cooking my ass off making all this from scratch food. Lots of squash type dishes. Complete with photos. And yet, not a blog post to be found for over a month. Damn.

Well folks, don’t you worry your pretty little faces off anymore. I am back. I have recipes out the wazoo. But since it’s been so long, I wanted to start off simple. With a different twist of pesto sauce. Most of the time when you think of pesto, you think of basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Which is delicious and simple in its own right. BUT…what if you were to try a pesto made from peppery arugula, mixed with salty parmesan and nutty roasted almonds?!?!?!? Have I blown your mind yet?!?!?!? It’s a simple list of ingredients, and the only other tool you need to make this is a food processor. And like, 5 minutes. Really. I made a bunch of this and froze it into cubes so that I could use it on pizzas, in sauces, or as a cooking medium for chicken. It’s pretty versatile. And tastes wonderful. For reals.

2013-09-07 12.07.28 2013-09-07 12.08.22

Arugula Pesto

7oz bag of arugula

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2oz toasted almond slivers * see notes below on how to toast

Add your arugula, cheese, almonds and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to add the arugula in batches (I did). Once all of the arugula has been processed, turn the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Use immediately on whatever tickles your fancy, or freeze for later use.

Spoon into ice cube trays and let freeze until solid. To remove cubes. set the ice cube tray in a shallow dish of hot water to loosen up the pesto cubes. Place in a freezer safe bag or container and use as you need to!

Notes:

To toast almonds, put in a dry skillet that has been preheated over a medium flame. Toss around until they start to brown. Let cool completely before adding to food processor.

The DIY Life: Canning your own fresh made pasta sauce – Tomato Basil

13 Sep

I realized when looking into my freezer, stuffed to the gills with bags of frozen garden tomatoes, that I had never posted the recipe for Tomato Basil sauce last year. Then I looked at my drafts and confirmed it. And I’m thinking, hmmm….we are coming up on the end of tomato season here in Pa, with the last bushels available for purchase at the local farms thinning out and thought ya, I should probably post that recipe. You know, as a reminder to folks who want to can some sauce to get their hands on some tomatoes…and those who have tomatoes get canning! Below is my original, forgotten about post from Tomatopalooza of 2012. Tomatopalooza of 2013 hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know what my sauce yield will be. I still have some sauce on the shelf, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get on canning sauce. Plus, I’m waiting for hubs to hook me up with an outdoor propane stove so I can can on the deck under the the open sky. *hint hint hubs*

Enjoy the post from the past!

 

Tomatopalooza continued – this round consisted of a basic pasta sauce with simple flavorings so that it can be canned and stored for later use. With the surplus of tomatoes I have in the freezers, I needed to get a head start on making pasta sauce. We don’t eat TONS of pasta anymore because of the heaviness of it and the fact that it packs on pounds unless you are planning to run a marathon – so pasta becomes a special treat instead of a weekly meal. But I wanted to stop having to buy canned pasta sauce. I have become a huge fan of being able to look at a the jars on my shelf and be able to recite – and pronounce – all of the ingredients, regardless of the jar. And gifting someone a jar of something I made from scratch is so fulfilling. People are so appreciative of something, anything in a mason jar. And canning makes me feel proud and empowered. In control of my food source. It also makes me feel in touch with my family history because my Bubba was the canning icon in our family. Sadly, she passed away when I was only 7 so she never got to share her wisdom with me but I can feel her in the things I do.

This batch of sauce was something I spread out over 2 days. Since all my tomatoes were frozen, I thawed them in a HUGE pot over the next two nights, draining off any of the water that seeped out of the tomatoes (this made the cooking down process much faster!) and piling more in as the tomatoes settled and squished down. Out of roughly 40lbs of tomatoes, I ended up with 8 quarts + 6 pints of sauce. It wasn’t super thick like some of the commercially produced sauces but it was a nice consistency. We had some for dinner and with it being just a basic tomato sauce I added spinach, ricotta cheese, some salt and some cooked sausage. It was great!

I have linked to the original post on the Ball canning site for those of you wanting to not do such a huge batch of sauce. Me, I can’t help but do everything in bulk!

Basil Garlic Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Ball Canning

Yield: will vary depending on how long you cook the tomatoes and what type you use. 

2012 yield: 8 quarts 6 pints

40lbs frozen tomatoes – preferably Roma’s

2 cups chopped Vidalia onion

16 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – ½ cup dried basil

Citric acid or bottled lemon juice – refer to canning book for amounts based on jar size

Canning jars, lids and bands – sterilized and hot according to proper canning methods.

The day before cooking sauce, thaw your tomatoes in the pot you will be cooking them in. Drain off any “water” that seeps out of the tomatoes. Add your onion, garlic and basil to the pot. Use a potato masher to break up the frozen tomatoes. Cook until everything is boiling and onion is soft.

Strain the mixture through a food mill to remove seeds and skins. (At this point, you may put the strained sauce into the fridge and cook down another day)

Cook the strained mixture down until reduced by half for a thin sauce.

Add your citric acid/bottled lemon juice to each jar according to size. Fill with sauce to 1 inch headspace. Add to PRESSURE CANNER and process for 15 minutes for both pints and quarts at 11lbs of pressure, adjusting for your altitude.

No pressure canner, or you’re scared of it? You can process jars in a water bath canner as well: 35 minutes for pints

Let cool on counter for 24 hours. Remove bands and wipe down jars and store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. Any jars that did not seal can either be reprocessed or stored in the fridge for use.

***Follow all canner directions for both pressure and water bath***

Apple Pie in a Jar – Apple Pie “Shine”

2 Apr

When I think of apple pie, it reminds me of being a kid, playing outside and being able to smell the delicious fragrance of freshly baking apple pie flowing out the open windows in the spring. There is just something about that smell and taste. It’s childhood.

As an adult, I like to enjoy apple pie in different variations. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, tarts. As a grown up beverage, it can’t be beat. I did an Apple Pie Sangria with a jar of this mixed into the batch. It was AMAZING. Slightly potent, but AMAZING.  The best way to make a batch of that sangria is to actually have a jar of the Apple Pie “Shine” to mix into it. It’s easy to make, and just as easy to drink. My second batch was a little less potent, so I may add another shot of grain to the jars upon opening them. The recipe listed below is my variation of the recipe given to me by a friend. I think it makes something great tasting become epic tasting!

apple pie shine

Apple Pie Shine

1 gallon apple cider

1 gallon unsweetened apple juice

3 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons vanilla extract – do not use imitation

1 liter (plus a couple extra glugs if you are heavy handed like me!) moonshine, Everclear, or the highest proof vodka you can find

Take and put all of your ingredients into a large pot, with the exception of the alcohol. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve brown sugar and molasses. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add your grain alcohol, stirring to combine.

Fill clean pint or quart mason jars to bottom of threads on jar, wipe rims and add lids and screw bands, twisting to finger tight. Rinse jars to get rid of any sticky residue and store in a cool dark place. Let “age” about 1 month to get rid of any strong booze flavor. Enjoy ice cold, shaking the jar before passing the jar around with friends! Tastes just like apple pie – in a jar!

Sriracha Salt. You’re Welcome.

11 Mar

Nope. You read that right. Sriracha Salt. In the wild world of flavor, this salt is an odd yet flavorful addition to your spice cabinet. I don’t know if Randy Clemens, the author of the Sriracha Cookbook is the originator of the recipe for this tasty salt or not, but I’m just going to go with that.

I don’t have his cookbook. I like sriracha, but not enough to justify giving primo shelf space up for something devoted completely to this one condiment. I don’t know what his exact ratio of ingredients is for his personal mixture, just that it contains kosher salt, sriracha, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. I decided to keep it simple and make up my own mixture. I refused to research any further something as simple as a flavored salt. The process is pretty simple. Measure, mix, dehydrate. Boom.

My suggestion would be to use this as a flavor booster on already cooked foods. Sprinkled on eggs – scrambled or over easy. Sprinkled on roasted veggies, chicken, sandwiches. This would be a great replacement for season salt on wings. Anywhere you would season your meal with salt, this would generally be a decent replacement.  Using it in soup would be something I’d avoid. I think you’ll lose the garlic and sriracha flavor with all that liquid. Although the originator does suggest using the salt to rim glasses for adult bevs – this would be fabulous for a bloody mary!

If you make this, let me know what you think! Don’t feel like making it? Lucky for you, you can buy it from Randy Clemens via Etsy. Buying it’s a bit lazy. This is so easy, just do it yourself!

sriracha salt

Sriracha Salt

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/3 cup sriracha hot sauce

1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix them up. Put a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and spread the mixture in a thin layer over the parchment. Place in the oven on the lowest setting it will go. Once the oven reaches temperature, turn off the oven and let the mixture sit overnight to dehydrate.

The  next day, check the mixture. If it’s still moist, stir it, spreading it into a thin layer again. Put it back in the oven to dehydrate for an hour or two, until totally dry. Once the mixture has cooled, add it to a food processor and pulse until chunks are broken down, and it looks like orange red kosher salt again. Store in an airtight container and use on what you want whenever you want!

The DIY Life: Homemade Lotion Bars

25 Feb

I know I’m not the only one suffering from dry winter skin. Between the constant hand washing, hot showers, and the furnace sapping the moisture out of the air, my skin is THIRSTY!  I always apply lotion when I get out of the shower, and in the winter I will use coconut or body oil since it seems so much more in need of the additional moisture! I’ve been seeing lotion bars popping up everywhere – at beauty stores, online shops, and make your own recipes floating around on the internet. Since I’m more of a DIY girl, I figured I would just make my own! These were so simple to make. I did a total of 6 bars with shea butter and olive oil on the first batch, adding a little bit of lavender essential oil to half of the batch as a nice little bonus since I was gifting them. For my 2nd batch, I did a combo of shea & cocoa butter mixed with coconut oil. They smell lovely! I love these lotion bars. Rubbed directly onto the skin, they offer soothing, much needed moisture. They are all natural, so it’s nice knowing there are no weird additives or chemicals in them that can give my sensitive skin a reaction. I hope that you enjoy these as much as I do!

lotion bars unmolded

Homemade Hard Lotion Bars

The formula for these is very simple – equal parts beeswax, a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut, and shea or cocoa butter. When using shea butter, be sure to add this last since if you add it with the beeswax and carrier oil it can turn grainy, which would be gross.

Here’s the process.

I made a double boiler out of a pot and glass bowl, filling the pot up about halfway with tap water.

Add in your beeswax and carrier oil. It took about 20 minutes for the beeswax to melt for mine, but I was using chunks of it and did 12 oz of each item for this batch so I could have 1/2 dozen 2oz bars.

Once your oil and beeswax are combined, add in your shea or cocoa butter, stirring until dissolved. Once all the ingredients are combined, immediately put the mixture into molds. I used square silicone muffin molds which made them easy to pop out and gave them a cute little shape. If you want to add any essential oil, you will need to do it at this stage – add a few drops of the oil of your choice, using a toothpick to incorporate. Don’t wait too long since the mixture cools rather quickly and this could affect the look of your lotion bars.

Once the bars are totally set, pop them out of the molds and store them in a container for easy use. I packaged up a few as a gift in a clear bag with a cute little tag and bakers twine. The ones that were left for myself I stored in a wide-mouthed deco mason jar so they were easy to get to.

lotion bars packaged

The Shea and Cocoa butter as well as the beeswax I used were raw and unrefined, purchased through some great sellers on Etsy. I have a tub of organic unrefined coconut oil on hand at all times for all kinds of uses which I purchased at a local health store. The olive oil I use is purchased right from the grocery store! Links listed below if you need somewhere to get the ingredients that you can’t just walk into the grocery store and purchase!

raw, organice unrefined shea butter

raw, unrefined beeswax

raw cocoa butter

essential oils

The DIY Life: Candy Cane Salt Soak

12 Dec

We’ve got a theme going here – Candy Cane bath items. Yep. I love it. These were SO SIMPLE to whip up. I had extra so that I could enjoy them myself. Awesome! This is a thoughtful gift to give, especially around the holidays because so many of us are busy busy busy. Lifting packages, decorating, cooking. Our muscles get sore. We are tired. Epsom salts are great at relieving achy muscles. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for dry winter skin. Peppermint and vanilla go great together. Bliss in a mason jar!

Fret not when you smell these – the smell will be very potent. You want it to be this way, because over time the smell will start to decrease. I promise it’s not overpowering when they are added to the bath. It’s a light scent that leaves your skin super soft and your body soothed and relaxed. I was able to skip my usual after bath lotion application because the coconut oil helped soften my skin!

candy cane salt soak

Candy Cane Salt Soak (Peppermint Vanilla Salt Soak)

4lbs epsom salts

2 tablespoons peppermint extract

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Place your epsom salts in a large bowl. Drizzle the vanilla, coconut oil and peppermint all over the oil. Using your hands, mix up the salts until everything is nice and combined. Add to containers of your choice and decorate with a ribbon for gift giving.

To use: Add 3 tablespoons to bath water, swirling around to dissolve salt. Enjoy a long soak!

The DIY Life: Candy Cane Lip Gloss

10 Dec

This is another simple and easy gift to make for your lady friends – Candy Cane Lip Gloss. Simple, natural ingredients. I wanted this to be simple. I didn’t use any waxes – like beeswax – so it’s nice and melty when you touch it with your fingers making it easy to apply. To thicken it and make it less able to melt in your purse on a hot day, I’d recommend adding 1/2 oz of beeswax. You’ll want to heat it on the stovetop to get everything combined if you do that. If you omit the tint, it can also be utilized as a hand cream for those dry chapped areas, especially around this time of year. How big your yield is will depend on what type of container you utilize. I got a dozen little tins out of this batch.

peppermint lip balm

Candy Cane (Peppermint Vanilla) Lip Gloss

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Agave Nectar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

tint (optional. I used kool-aid)

containers for gifting (I used stainless steel clear lidded tops used for favors)

Place all of your ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 15 second spurts, until coconut oil is melted. Stir well so everything is combined, and pour into containers. Let sit overnight until set. Add some ribbon and you are ready to gift it!