Monday, July 29, 2013

Shiitake ginger chicken soup

Shiitake Ginger Chicken Soup
1 small onion
thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms
3 carrots, cut
2 chicken breasts, cut (or you can shred them after cooking)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
(opt) 2 teaspoons of dried hyssop
2-3 tablespoons of oil
(opt) 1/4 cup long grained rice
Sea salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in oil. When onion becomes translucent, add carrots. Continue to saute until carrots begin to get soft, then add mushrooms.

While vegetables are cooking, fill a pot with vegetable stock, rice and chicken. Bring to a boil, then let simmer.

When mushrooms are soft, transfer all vegetables to the pot. Let them simmer together for quite a while or at least until chicken and rice are cooked. Add herbs and seasonings.

I've decided to start posting my personal recipes. Part of this is for selfish reasons and that is because I always forget how to do it a second time unless it is written down.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lavender vanilla macarons

I used vegetable coloring to make these a soft purple. I stuffed them with vanilla butter-cream, then rolled them in dried lavender flowers.

On an interesting note, that day I made four batches. One of them completely failed in the oven. I have no idea why! It is so weird to make the same recipe, using the same method, and have one batch out of four completely messed up.

Sometimes I wish I could run a part-time bakery. No, no- a coffee shop! Now that would be amazing. That has actually been a dream of mine for about ten years. Maybe one day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wedding anniversary

Today is our anniversary- four years! It feels both very long and very short. :)

I really wish Pinterest existed back then! Ha!

Hydrangeas, roses, a sprig of heather (undying love for Scotland) and myrtle from my parent's house.

We were on a very tight budget. I actually did all of the floral arrangements myself. The night before. The morning of my wedding I was trying to scrape the green from under my nails, haha.

One of my favorite things was that my brother (who is an excellent musician) played "You Belong to Me" for our first dance. It was my grandparent's love song when they were young.

 My friend's mom (she was like my second mom through my entire childhood) made our cake. 

We had a lot of stressful events that day- most of them were due to my plans not being as thorough as I thought they were. Overall though, it all worked out with the extra help of some great people.

Then we spent two weeks in the Caribbean. That was awesome.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Save lots of money by making your own vanilla extract

Making vanilla extract is super easy. I have been doing it since last November. Actually, what that really means is that I made one batch last November and have been using it ever since.;) I also used it for handmade Christmas presents.

To my horror, I thought I had one more jar of it. Nope. I only have a tiny bit left, so I hurried out to get more supplies.

What you need:
Cheap Vodka. Yes.
Vanilla beans (I get 1/4 lb of them from Amazon) I use a ratio of 1 bean to 4 ounces of Vodka.
Glass jars (Instead of recycling glass jars, I save them for this)

I spent about $29 on beans and Vodka, which makes 1.75 liters. I could to to our local grocery store and buy two ounces of McCormick Vanilla for $4.39. Yikes! At those prices, I am getting the value of $129 worth of vanilla for $29! A HUNDRED DOLLARS CHEAPER. Plus, I have a lot of beans left over than I can use to made delicious whipped cream, ice cream or anything that vanilla bean would be splendid with.

So, how do you make it?

Cut a slit in the vanilla bean, put it in the vodka. Put a lid on it and let it sit for at least three months. I have heard said that the longer it ages, the better it tastes, so, with that in mind, making a lot at once makes sense. I didn't start using mine for about four months. I will never go back to store bought vanilla extract.

I use vanilla a lot, so this saves me a good amount of money. :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Refresh your water

I keep a jar of mint leaves on my windowsill to add to my water.

It is so refreshing!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Coconut oil

I really like to use coconut oil in many of my baking endeavors. I know it is expensive, but since I save money by making food from scratch, it all works out. Also, sometimes I would rather spend more on a particular product since it is so much healthier.

I have tried several different types of coconut oil. So far, my favorite has been from Tropical Traditions (I was given one to test- it was so much creamier and thick than previous oils that I have tried), though I also like Nutiva, from Amazon. Really, it comes down to whatever is the cheapest.

One of my favorite things to make with coconut oil is homemade deodorant! We have been using this for about a year and it works great. It is especially fantastic on sensitive skin. All you need is coconut oil, corn starch and baking soda (see link for measurements). I also add some drops of essential oils.

I have also made these delicious "Almond Joy" chocolates. Yum yum. It is also vegan.

There are a ton of other things that I use it for. You can substitute it in any recipe that calls for vegetable/canola oil.

Any who, Tropical Traditions is having a good sale today. You can get a free quart of Organic Gold Label Coconut Oil for free! Hooray. The only catch is that you have to spend $16. I combined offers with a buy-one-get-one-free sale. In the end, I will be getting three quarts of coconut oil for $48 (including shipping). It does sound like a lot, but it comes to the same price as Amazon. If you have ever used coconut oil, you have probably noticed that it is not cheap. Personally, I think it is worth it.

Any who, I thought you might like to know about the sale. If you would like to save more money, you can sign up for a referral program so that you get a $25 credit if friends use your link (like mine, haha).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Easy bread cutting and bread crumb saving.

I know, I know, two posts in one day? What is the world coming to? Ha. Any who, since this is time sensitive, I couldn't wait to share it.

I found this today on Zulily and ordered it like my dreams had come true. This bread board has a bamboo lattice so that the copious crumbs fall right through. Bread crumbs are one of my pet peeves with making fresh bread. I like freezing them until I have a lot, then I toast them with seasoning to make healthy bread crumbs (store bought ones have loads of preservatives and other junk). However, when cutting, they get all over my counter and that is just gross, so I throw them in the compost bin. Now I can easily collect them and save myself from a messy board. Hooray!

$96.00 $22.99

Dress to skirt in a jiffy

Since it is finally summer, I decided to convert some old dresses into skirts. I thought I would share the process with you to show how easy it is. You can score these at garage sales or thrift shops.

1. Procure a dress that you wish to make into a skirt. Why would you want to do that? I generally find myself getting more uses out of skirts than dresses. I have been in the need of longer skirts to wear around the monastery, rather than shorter dresses. Also, it is a great way to turn an immodest dress into something that you would be comfortable wearing.

2. Cut off the bodice evenly.

3. Sew an elastic waistband together that is 2-3 inches smaller than your waist. Use an elastic or zig-zag stitch. If your dress has elastic ruching, you won't have to gather and baste. If not, then simply baste around the top and pull the thread to gather until it matches the size of the waistband.

5. Sew the waistband to the skirt using an elastic or zig-zag stitch.


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