Kennedy says

K: Daddy, your hands are cold. Are you from Amartica? It’s a snowy place.


With the most serious expression… I thought she might tell me that one of he dolls had died.
K: Mom, I have confawdince.


When trying to describe something that occurred yesterday
K: Once upon a very long time ago…


Lying in bed
K: I want to be brown
K: Ray’s brown. I want to be brown like Ray. I want you, and me and… umm… I want us to be brown. Okay?
Me: Um… Well… errr… (I start talking about how everyone is unique and a little different, but she’s not really having it)
K: (Starts whimpering)
Me: (Continuing on)… But were all the same on the inside… we have bones… and red hearts… and…
K: NO MOM… I have a pink heart.
Me: umm… well, no, actually…
K: MOM… It’s PINK.
Me: Ugggh.


Bourbon Ginger Snap Punch

Truth be told, I’m not really a big drinker these days. Even more so, I am not a big drinker of the Bourbon; however, this is one of my go to, can’t go wrong, always delicious party punch recipes. I have made this a few times now and I am always stoked on the way that it turns out. It’s not real sweet, or overwhelmed with bourbon flavor, and is primarily made with water, which somehow makes me feel better about it than a lot of other punch drinks.

INGREDIENTS:
2 quarts water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup honey
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cups orange juice
4 cups pear nectar
1 liter bourbon (I use Bulleit)
2 lemons sliced (garnish)
Ice for serving

DIRECTIONS:
In a large pot, 2 quarts water, lemon juice, honey, and ginger. Bring these to a boil and let simmer on medium for 5 minutes. Strain into a large bowl and let cool. (Depending on time constraints, you may want to put some ice in a large bowl and set the smaller bowl with the lemon ginger syrup in it and stir to assist in it cooling faster.) Transfer the cooled lemon-ginger syrup into a pitcher or large bowl for serving. Add orange juice, pear nectar, bourbon and lemon slices. Serve over ice.

(Original recipe can be found here)

Homemade Deodorant

I should have known that it would come to this; It was only a matter of time. $18.50 for some chemical-free pitt paste is crazy business, especially when I have this huge 13.5 pound bag of baking soda that I bought on accident a few months ago when making bath bombs. I looked around at the ingredients on a variety of natural deodorants and found that most of them are made with basically the same ingredients, with the main difference being whether or not to add beeswax. Of course, the best part of making your own deodorant is deciding what smells you want to add, so you’ll want to experiment with that on your own. Here is the base recipe that I used:

Makes approximately 10 ounces

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup beeswax
Essential Oils
4 3-ounce jars (I used these Weck jars)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix together arrowroot powder and baking soda.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut oil and beeswax until beeswax has been incorporated.

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir. Add essential oils. As they cool they will continue to thicken, so you will want to work a bit fast so that the mixture can be put in the jars easily.

Just by looking at it, it seems like the right consistency. I am going to give a jar to the neighbor, so we will see if I have her coming back and begging for more (hah!). For this first lot I used sage, bergamot, black pepper, tea tree, and grapefruit essential oils… since that is the combination that is used in the deodorant I currently buy. The only thing I will say about natural deodorant is that it is not an anti-perspirant; you WILL sweat, but it wont stink. This took me a bit to get used to, but now it is just the way that it is and it doesn’t bother me. Some people have issues with rashes with baking soda, so obviously this wouldn’t be the recipe for you. In the future, I look forward to playing with various combinations, pending on what mood i’m in. If you’re not sure what to use, you cant go wrong by going to Whole Foods and finding a premixed blend like NOW essential oils “Cheer up Buttercup” and using that. I’ll update this post in a month or so after I have tried it for awhile. As for now, I call it a win.

The Bestest Vegan Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

In truth, I was tempted to not write “vegan” in the title of these chocolate chip cookies because they are amazing, vegan or otherwise. This is another recipe that comes from my boss (and friend) and just knocks it out of the park. Matt and I have been on this fitness kick and haven’t been eating much of this sort of thing, but if i’m going to feel guilty about something, these are worth it. The only drawback about these is that you do need to plan slightly ahead, because the dough needs to refrigerate for 12-24 hours. On the plus, prep time is minimal, so you just have to know how to ignore the pile of cookie dough in the fridge all day… ahem…

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 dark chocolate chips (double check the ingredients to make sure they’re vegan if thats important to you)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup olive/canola/grapeseed oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Coarse grain sea salt (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture and toss to coat. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugars briskly with the oil and water until smooth and incorporated. Add vanilla. Stir. Add the wet and dry ingredients until combined, do not over mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours. (NO CHEATING!) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with foil (spray with a little olive oil) or parchment paper. Remove dough from the refrigerator and use an ice cream scoop (or spoon) to portion into 2 inch balls. Freeze the balls for 10 minutes; this will help them retain their shape better when baking. Sprinkle the balls of dough with coarse sea-salt and bake 12-13 minutes until golden. Careful not to overbake.

 

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract at home is almost unworthy of a blog post because it is so easy, but bottling and gifting it is so cute, I couldn’t resist. This year, I decided to make a bunch for my work family and friends that I usually don’t give gifts to, but always wish I had, and it worked out perfectly.

Makes 15 (4 oz) Bottles

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 lb Vanilla Beans
1.75 Liters Alcohol  (Vodka, Bourbon, Brandy, or Rum)
Patience (2 months worth)

(If you aren’t making this in bulk, or making a different quantity,  I’d plan on using 3 or 4 vanilla beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol.)

EQUIPMENT:
2 quart-sized jars with lids
Scissors
15 (4 oz) bottles
Avery brown kraft labels & printer
Small Funnel

DIRECTIONS:
Separate the vanilla beans into two equal sized piles, one pile for each jar. Using your scissors, split the vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving the top 1/2 inch connected at the top. Place the vanilla beans in the jars and fill to the top with alcohol (I used Trader Joe’s “Vodka of the Gods”. While I know you can use any 80 proof alcohol, from what I can tell, Vodka seems to be the standard.)

Close off the jar and store in a cool dark place. This should live in your cabinet for at least a month, giving it a shake about once a week, before you plan on bottling it.

BOTTLING:
Once the vanilla extract is ready, open the small 4 oz jars and place 2-3 of the vanilla beans directly in each. This will allow the extract to continue to infuse, as well as allow the user to add small bits of vodka to the bottle to create an “everlasting” vanilla extract. Of course, it wont last forever, and the beans will run out of oomfuh… but we will just call it everlasting because that just makes it seem so much cooler. Using a small funnel, add the extract to each of the bottles. Some people prefer to strain it, but that just seems like crazy talk, so don’t do that. That’s like removing the goldflakes from the Goldschlager…

LABELING:
I created my labels in Photoshop directly and printed them onto the Avery kraft paper; however, there are many free sites that exist for label creation. There are even some free templates available that can be customized, if you’re not savvy in design. If you’re really at a loss, I have my label saved in Photoshop. While I won’t create a totally new custom label for you, I am willing to update mine with your info and send you the jpg, if you’re really good at begging and tell me I’m pretty.

One last note: I’d recommend not putting the labels on the bottles until they have been filled, or they might not look so pretty in the end. 

COST:
Bottles: $15.75
Vodka: $10.99
Vanilla Beans: $54.00
Labels: $5.29
Total: $86.03
Total per bottle: $5.74

Cheap, good quality, and pretty… just like me.

 

Kennedy meets Kermit

Kennedy meets Kermit YouTube play
Matt made this a video of Kennedy chatting with Kermit the Frog and sent it to me while I was at work. It had me laughing so hard. I love Mickey the most.

Spicy Ginger & Coconut Stew (v)

Something about overcast days that just scream stew. Seeing as though I don’t eat meat, and I try to avoid large amounts of potato, I had to come up with something that still satisfied the cravings; I’m pretty proud of this one. I have made it unapologetically twice over the last two weeks, and warmed it as leftovers for myself a handful of times after that. You can easily spice it up or keep it mild, and this easily makes plenty to eat tomorrow. On with it…

Makes 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 med. red onion (chopped)
1.5 lbs brussel sprouts (halved or quartered if large)
2 tbsp ginger (minced)
4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large sweet potato (peeled and diced 1/2 inch)
1 zucchini (green beans are good too)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 can coconut milk
1 can chickpeas (rinsed/drained)
Juice of 1 small lime
Zest of 1/2 lime
Salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
In a large pot, saute onions in oil until lightly brown. Add brussel sprouts and cook on med-high until most have some brown on them (4-5 minutes). Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper and cook for another minute. Add the vegetable broth, zucchini (quartered and sliced), and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add chickpeas and lime zest and reduce heat to simmer. After about 5 minutes, add lime juice and coconut milk. If you’re like me, add a shit ton of salt and pepper. Simmer a few more minutes to allow all the flavors combine. Thats it.

Poison Apples

I’ve been wanting to try to make candy poison apples ever since I saw this post on pinterest. I haven’t made candy or caramel since high school, and I thought I might blow up the house, but the whole process was actually much simpler than I anticipated.

INGREDIENTS:
6 large unwaxed apples or 12 smaller ones (or a mix of the two)
Bamboo sticks / Popsicle sticks /tongue depressors / real sticks / pokey-things / whatever
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Black gel food coloring
Arsenic (optional) (I KID I KID!)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Wrap a few pieces of saran wrap around a baking sheet and stab innocent apples mercilessly.

2. In a medium pot, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir over medium heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. The easiest way to check this is to dip your finder in the pot every few minutes and rub your finger and thumb together. Once you no longer feel the grit of the sugar, add a few drops of the black food coloring and turn the stove on high.

3. Allow the mixture to boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (150°c/310°F). You’ll need to check the temperature frequently with a thermometer. The minute the temp reaches 310°F, move the pot to another burner (that is off) and let it sit for 1-2 minutes, just long enough for the bubbles to disappear.

4. Carefully twirl the apples into the tar pit. You will need to move somewhat fast here because the mixture will harden as it cools. Place them back on the saran wrapped cookie sheet and point and laugh at your kids for having to wait 30 minutes for them to cool.

5. Wrap em’ with some saran wrap and some flair and call it a day.

There are a few things I might do differently next time:

  • Realize I am making candy apples and not caramel apples. When I saw the recipe initially, my brain told me that toffee and caramel were the same thing. Wrong-zilla. I should have caught this when I saw I was bringing the temperature to a hard-crack stage, but my soul still said caramel. In my opinion, caramel apples are for eating, and candy apples are for looking pretty, but that is just me. I can’t chew ice either, if that tells you anything.
  • Definitely wait for the bubbling to come to a minimum. I have a few that have some bubbles on them. No biggie, just trying to get pro-status.
  • Make Kennedy eat hers at the dinner table, and chop most of the candy off. Seriously, how much dog hair on a candy apple will it take to make you gag? What is the likeliness that you’ll have to cut this out of your toddlers hair if you fail to make a ponytail? What the hell was I thinking?