Thursday, March 31, 2011

Girls' Night In: Homemade Spa Night

Sometimes you need a night away from the men in your life. Having a girls' night in with homemade facials was a lot easier than going out. The ingredients were already in my kitchen or can easily be found at any grocery store. Which was great for me because I am not a product person nor do I really know how to do all that "girly stuff".
These facials are an easy 4-step process that leave your skin feeling great. 

Step 1: Cleanse. This helps to remove the dirt, oil and makeup. 
Thyme and Fennel Seed Cleanser (for normal skin)   Source
2 sprigs fresh thyme, crumbled (or 1/2 T dried Thyme)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 cup boiling water
Juice of Half Lemon
- Mix the thyme and fennel seed in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Add lemon juice and steep for 15 minutes. Strain the infusion and store the liquid in a jar, in the refrigerator. 
-To use: Dab it on your face and neck with a cotton ball, and rinse.

Step 2: Tone. Applying a toner closes your pores, and also gets any junk the cleanser might have missed. I have read that it will also restore the pH level of your skin.
After the cleanser, applying a lemon juice toner really cleaned out the pores. It tingles a little but feels so good after. Easy as squeezing lemon juice onto a cotton ball and working around your face.

Step 3: Exfoliate. A great way to get ready for the mask is to exfoliate. Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells off. 
Lemon, Cornmeal and Honey Exfoliate  Source
1 cup of cornmeal
juice of 1 lemon
- Place the cornmeal in a mixing bowl and squeeze a lemon into it. Scoop the pulp of the lemon out, discard the seeds and add it to the cornmeal. Pour as much honey as required to attain a creamy texture and stir well. 
- Moisten your skin and gently begin to exfoliate the skin in a circular motion, keeping your eyes closed during the process. For the next one minute gently rub the face and neck with the prepared scrub and then rinse well. You will need only one tablespoon of the prepared scrub for one exfoliation. The rest of the scrub can be stored in the refrigerator up to the next two weeks in an airtight container.

Step 4: Mask. This mask is very moisturizing. 
Avocado Yogurt Mask   Source
1 ripe avacado
4 Tablespoons plain yogurt

Puree avocado and blend with plain yogurt. Apply to face and leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. 

Each of the cleanser, exfoliate, and mask made a lot more than was needed for 4 girls. I used 2 avocados to be safe, but one would have worked. When the masks were on, we filed and painted our nails. It was a great girl's night that was simple, relaxing, and made from a lot of things you already have on hand. Speaking of on hand, there is oatmeal in my photo from a hand scrub we did not get it. However with our faces feeling so soft it wasn't wanted.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Out Like a Loin or a Lamb, Meal Plan

Will this last week of March be a loin or a lamb? April is coming and fast.
This past week J, Hayden and myself all got haircuts. You can now see my goldendoodle's skinny little legs. This may not be the best photo but please notice the cute MALE dog with the bows in his ears. Cute. But not to manly. He tried to eat them, so I traded him for a bandanna and he was a happy camper.

But now it is Monday Meal Plan. I just had to find a way to squeeze in a cute little woofer.

Now on to this week's meal plan:
Meatless Monday: Veggie stir-fry (bell peppers, snow peas, broccoli, onion, carrots) over rice.
Tuesday: Chicken Souvaki in a pita topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce
Wednesday: Sausage Tortellini Soup
Thursday: Chicken parma with spaghetti
Friday: Date night out
Saturday: Homemade pizza topped with olives plus side salads
Sunday: Beef in some form or other

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cheddar Biscuits

I am sure everyone has had the cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster. I wanted to make some of these because well I hate the smell of fish. Meaning I don't like to go to seafood restaurants. But can you really resist those 150 calories each of the cheddar biscuits...
Most recipes I found, including one released by Red Lobster used Bisquick. Having a box of Bisquick would just go to waste. These were much better without the fish smell in the air!

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
Slight Change from Bethany
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 cup milk 

3-5 teaspoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together using a fork; cut in the butter until it resembles cornmeal. Add cheese. Sir in milk all at one time just until blended. Do not over stir.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a well-greased baking sheet or silicone mat. Brush dough with melted butter mixture. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time for the Plan

Monday has come to quick. I took a last minute trip to my parents' house and stayed a few days. H ran all over town, chased bunnies, and licked preschoolers. We enjoyed sunsets in the east and had afternoon outings with my best friends from high school. Now that I am back home, I am getting back on track.

Needless to say, some meals were not made and vegetables not used. Here is my Monday Meal Plan in attempt to use them all up this week.

Meatless Monday: Waffles with berries (the whole wheat part to be a secret)
Tuesday: Meatball subs on sourdough plus salad (from last week)
Wednesday: Grilled chicken, rice and asparagus
Thursday: Chicken Lime Tacos topped with tomatoes and cilantro, side of refried beans
Friday: Hamburgers, pasta salad plus green beans
Saturday: New recipe
Sunday: Out to eat

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Berry Bloom

Spring is officially here. Now the countdown to summer begins. Only 35 days to Easter now and 93 days until summer. I am looking forward to a spring that doesn't feel like a summer in most places of the country. 
They are very filling. A great grab and go breakfast. I used the California berries from my basket plus some raspberries I had frozen from the summer. Bikini season will be here before we know it, perhaps these will help us to want to bare it all.

Hearty Berry Muffins
Slightly adapted from The Tale of Two Kitchens
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour     
1 cup oats   
1 Tablespoon baking powder   
1 teaspoon baking soda   
1/2 teaspoon sea salt  
1 cup honey     
1 1/2 cups plain fat-free yogurt (or fat free sour cream)  
6 oz mixed berry yogurt 
1/2 cup milk   
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp apple sauce  
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)  
1 cup fresh strawberries (cut in small chunks)   
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blackberry  

- Pre-heat oven to 400 and prepare muffin tins with paper or oil. Prepare streusel and set aside.
- Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. In a medium-sized bowl, mix all wet ingredients except for berries; beat together well. Pour wet ingredients into dry mix; beat firmly and quickly just until thoroughly moistened. Add berries and fold in gently.
- Divide batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan to set the berries. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

It might something a bit nerdy, but I do it each and every week. I meal plan. Usually after I get my vegetables for the week, I make a list of meals. When first we first moved to Utah, I was able to attend a wonderful farmer's market but with the freezing temperatures that ended. In order to get the most local fruit and vegetables possible, I get a Bountiful Basket every other Saturday. Not every all the fruits and veggies are from the United States, a lot are from Mexico but it keeps fresh produce in our fridge until it is growing season here again.

What I got in my basket this week:
Green leaf lettuce
Roma tomatoes
Green beans
Green Cauliflower
Pineapple (Not pictured cause we ate it)

I came across Organizing Junkie after making my meal plan for the week. Here is my participation in Meal Plan Monday this week.

Here is our meal Plan for the week:
Meatless Monday: Mac and cheese with a side of fruit
Tuesday: General Tso's Chicken, rice and broccoli
Wednesday: Meatball sandwiches on sourdough, side salad
Thursday: The classic American Irish meal: Corn beef and green cauliflower
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Pulled pork, cheddar biscuits and green beans
Sunday: Carne Asada with refried beans and guacamole with tomatoes

Maybe not in that order, we like to live on the edge. Something like that.
I have big plans for the berries and bananas that I will share once they are done. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake. Cheese. Cake. What could be better. How about some chocolate and Irish cream in that cheesecake. J loves cheesecake. This is only my second time ever making it for him.
It isn't the prettiest thing. Cracks. Oreos everywhere. But the rich chocolate taste was there. I planned to put in half the of the sugar, however I forgot all together. I noticed when I went to dump it all in the pan, but no one noticed the missing sugar. 

Chocolate-Irish Cream Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups finely crushed Oreo cookies
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1/2  cup  Irish cream liqueur
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For crust: In a medium bowl, combine crushed Oreos and melted butter; toss gently to mix. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Set aside. (Use a measuring cup to press on bottom and edges, helps make it smooth)
- For filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in eggs just until combined. Stir in liqueur, milk, and vanilla.
-Pour filling into the crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in shallow baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
-Cool in springform pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen from side of pan. Cool for 30 minutes more. Remove side of springform pan. Cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Makes 16 servings.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sprinkles of Green

Only 7 days to St. Patrick's Day. I am nibbling on one of these cookies that are sprinkled with green. 
These lime sugar cookies are delicious. I rolled them in sugar and zest, because I wanted to try and get a bit of extra green in addition to more lime flavor. The cookies are very light, you may catch yourself eating five. I left out the coconut from Rock Recipes' version simply because I was more interested in the green color! 

Lime Sugar Cookies
Slight change from Rock Recipes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one large lime, finely minced
4 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies
2 Tablespoons lime zest from rolling

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.
- Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lime juice and lime zest.
- Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
- Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar and zest. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
- Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
Makes approximately 24-30 cookies depending on size

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Cake

Today is Fat Tuesday. The day before Ash Wednesday. The day before the start of lent. Last chance to overindulge for the next 40 days (46 days if you count Sundays). One tradition, I was introduced to a couple years ago was the King Cake. This year I had to make my own without the plastic baby and without sprinkles.
And hello there...
Tasted like a cinnamon roll because I left out the pecans. This King Cake took a long time to make, mostly because it took about 3 hours to rise. I followed this recipe from All Recipes with a few minor changes. No pecans or raisins and for the frosting milk instead of water. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Piña Colada Cupcakes

Sometimes all you need is a beach party to lift the winter blues.

These yellow burst of sunshine are Piña Colada Cupcakes. Created to taste like the beverage, I baked them full of coconut, pineapple and rum. There are non-alcoholic versions, but when someone is turning 30 the alcohol is needed.

Piña Colada Cupcakes
 Adapted from Mermaid Sweets
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup coconut flavored rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained well

- Open the can of cream of coconut, combine all the layers of the can. Then combine cream of coconut and rum. Stir together to help break down the thickness of the cream of coconut.
- Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape as needed.
- Add vanilla, mix until incorporated. Add in cup of four and ½ of baking powder, mix until incorporated.
- Add a third of the coconut/rum mixture and mix until incorporated. Continue to add 1 cup flour and the next ½ teaspoon baking powder, then a third of the coconut/rum mixture. Finish flour with ½ cup, and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Pour in the remaining coconut/rum mixture and mix until incorporated.  Scrape sides of bowl.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the crushed pineapple.
- Fill each one about 2/3 full. Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed or skewer comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Piña Colada Buttercream
½ cup butter, softened to room temp
3-3 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cream of coconut mixed with milk, as much as needed
pineapple juice (optional), as needed

- Beat butter, sugar, rum, and a Tablespoon cream of coconut/milk mixture together with a hand-held mixer at low speed until moistened. Stop after a minute to scrape bowl and add vanilla.
- Beat till thick, fluffy and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add small increments of confectioners’ sugar if too wet, rotate dribbling in a little coconut/milk mixture and pineapple juice if too dry.
- Place in a ziplock bag and cut the corner to pipe on or for a nicer finish a real pastry bag. You can also simply just frost one.

Originally, I purchased sea animal gummies to decorate the cupcakes with. This made them look like they were for a 5 year-old birthday and I would not give rum cupcakes to a 5 year-old. I added what I had left of the can of crushed pineapple and some shredded coconut to class them up a bit.

Fresh Start.

I am not a new blogger, but this is a new blog. My other blog is filled with a scatter of thoughts and events that happened since 2004, none other than my college years. Not something I want to forget, but we all need a fresh start from time to time.

As this adventure begins, I measure the distance in days to spring (13). I love the snow and I missed the falling flakes all those years in Phoenix, but I am excited for fresh fruit, vegetables and exploring Utah.

This blog will be mostly food with recipes and local places of Northern Utah. However, I admit that I will probably talk way to much about my dog, Hayden.

Let us blow past into the wind and measure distance in days.