Homemade SUGAR SALT Scrub

Homemade Sugar Salt Scrub

Winter is here in Colorado and its time for flaky, dry skin again! YAY! Well, not really yay…

Its time to add some permanent fixes to your skincare and here is a great addition.

I have started trying to find ways to use more organic, natural and chemical free items as much as possible. This scrub is made out of two simple ingredients; salt and sugar! Simply use this in the bath or shower to remove dead skin cells and keep your body feeling soft and perfect all winter long. It is especially great on the bikini line and underarms to prevent razor bumps.

 

Homemade SUGAR SALT Scrub

Ingredients:

3 cups Epsom salt

2.5 cups brown sugar

10 drops essential oil (optional). I used Jasmine on this batch

Takes 5-10 minutes start to finish.

 

In a large bowl, mix Epsom Sal & Brown Sugar together until well blended. Add desired essential oil and mix. Store in an airtight container to prevent brown sugar from clumping.

Finally, I like to keep my scrub in a small jar by the tub and refill it as I use it. Whatever you use to store your new scrub, just make sure that its air tight s the brown sugar doesn’t harden. You can find a glass jar with a scoop at Hobby Lobby for under $5.

I get about 5 uses out of one small jar and about 30 uses out of this mixture. I estimate that this costs about $5.00 to make. I buy my Epsom salt at Costco which makes the price even lower!

Use to scrub head to toe in the bath or shower, especially before shaving or applying self tanner. Follow with your favorite lotion or oil.

 

If you’re like me and when you went to grab your brown sugar and it was a giant rock here’s what to do:

Place hardened brown sugar in large microwave safe container. Place the brown sugar and another small microwave safe container with water in the microwave (this is to add moisture back to the sugar). Microwave for 3 minutes. Break up the brown sugar brick in the bowl until it is back to original granulated consistency.

Happy Scrubbing!

10 Minute Pasta with Garden Fresh Tomatoes!

It’s the end of the season and tomatoes are going nuts in my garden! It’s funny because, before this season, I planned to quit growing tomatoes. I tried Pots and in the ground and never got much at all.

This year, my neighbor gave me four plants so I decided to go for it one more time.

Two of them seem to have given their all to keep me engaged.

This recipe is easy, and includes blanching the tomatoes and peeling the skin off.

If you don’t want to peel the tomatoes just chop them instead! It took about 10 minutes to prepare and then you can serve immediately, wait till it comes to room temperature, or even chill it. I like it at room temperature with a little parmesan cheese on top.

summer-tomato-pasta-dinnerSo a little pasta is in order!

3-5 fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (optional)

1 sprig fresh basil, shredded

1 small garlic

1/4 c. olive oil

1 lb. spaghetti

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Put in the spaghetti.

Chop the tomatoes into small cubes. Place in a bowl, along with the olive oil. Crush the garlic to the bowl of tomatoes. Sprinkle the basil on top, reserving a little for the top.

Test the pasta for doneness after the time recommended on the package. It won’t cook much more so make sure it is the amount of doneness you like.

Drain pasta completely in a strainer, toss in the bowl till completely mixed. Serve on plates with Parm or fresh tiny Mozzarella balls.

Try it and time yourself. You can do this early in the day and put in the fridge or on the counter for later if you are a do-ahead person. Or just take care of the tomatoes while the pasta water is warming.

 

Try these Weeknight Taco Sloppy Joe’s with Grassfed beef!

I stopped by Isabelle Farm stand to pick up some veggies. I realized that as long as I was there I should get everything I needed for dinner. Since Raleigh Street Bakery was there I decided to work with their delicious bread. I make sourdough bread myself but theirs is better!

raleigh-st-bakery-pretzel-rollsThey had some lovely little pretzel rolls so that’s what I chose. I decided to pay a little extra to save a trip and get ground beef there. It was grass fed, which I normally don’t love, but I thought I’d give it a shot. With the ingredients decided, what to make? Mexican Sloppy Joe’s on the pretzel rolls!

Mayo Clinic says, “When compared with other types of beef, grassfed beef may have: Less total fat. More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks.” That said, I like 80 or 85% fat, but well drained. According to Best food facts, this brings it down to 90%.

The grass fed did taste cleaner and my husband loved it. I had to add zucchini, tomatoes and Pace’s picante to make it interesting enough for me though!

taco-sloppy-joes-meat1lb. ground beef

1 red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove

1 zucchini

1 tomato

1 T. Olive oil

3 T. ancho chili powder

1 t. salt

1 t. pepper

1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano

Pinch of cumin

1/4 c. Pace’s picante sauce medium

Pretzel rolls or hamburger buns

Saute the onion and garlic with 1/2 T. olive oil and set aside. Brown the ground beef with salt and pepper and the spices including chili powder. Add grated zuchini and tomato and the reserved onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the vegies are soft. Add the paces picante. Cook two more minutes. Serve on pretzel rolls or hamburger buns. These remind me of taco burgers from Taco Bell!

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Julia Child’s Vichyssoise

Since I am spending a lot of time cooking for one, I have been looking for recipes that I can freeze or turn into something else later in the week. Soups are such a savior for me because I can make a big batch, keep out two servings and freeze the rest for later. That way I don’t have to eat the same thing for a week in a row and I have something convenient and usually healthy after working all day. It helps a ton knowing that I can come home, pull soup from the freezer and have dinner in under 20 minutes with very little effort. I have saved a fortune doing this since I don’t feel compelled to stop for take out! Bonus: a soup like this is both economical and elegant.

I have been inspired this week to pull out Mastering the Art of French Cooking in honor of Julia Child’s birthday month. Leek and Potato soup is one of the very first recipes in the book and a wonderful easy way to dig in. I have some favorites of hers, but things like Beef Bourguignon or Chocolate Mousse are complicated and have a ton of ingredients. Sometimes making these dishes, I feel like I use every pot and pan I own! This soup was simple, straightforward with very few ingredients. It is also really versatile. The first night, after cooking, I just ladled it into a mug to be eaten on the couch. The second night, I had this as chilled vichyssoise; perfect for a warm summer evening. Fresh herbs from my garden on top and a glass of Rosé were the perfect compliment. If you wanted to go a step further, you could use this as a base and add anything you love. It is the perfect canvas to get creative. Enjoy a classic!

Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

  • 3-4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white & a bit of the tender green part)
  • 3-4 cups diced potatoes (baking potatoes recommended)
  • 6 to 7 cups water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 4-6 T heavy cream or 2-3 T butter (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced

Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to the boil in a large pot. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 40-50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mash the vegetables or purée the soup. Taste, and correct seasoning. Off the heat, stir in the cream or butter. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning (sometimes salt becomes muted when chilled). Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.

Note: the original recipe calls for water only. I almost always sub chicken stock for water, but refrained this time. I think stock always adds something, especially when you have homemade stock on hand. I also used an immersion blender which produced a silky texture. You could purée half the soup and leave it a bit chunkier.

 

Sunday Supper

Summertime and grilling go hand in hand. Even more so when my wonderful BF is here to help me divide and conquer on dinner prep. Tonight’s dinner was a great team effort and if I do say so myself, one of the better things we have put together in a while! A combination of Cedar Plank Salmon with a Soy Thyme Marinade, Grilled Potato Salad with a Lemon and Scallion Vinaigrette finished with a dessert of Grilled Pineapple Glazed with Whiskey Peach Jam with Whipped Cream and Mint. Such a nice way to spend a Sunday evening while preparing for the week ahead! The cedar plank really adds a special flavor to salmon without being overpowering. You will also see some lovely caramelization on the fish. The potato salad has a fantastic heat from the jalapeño with brightness from the lemon and scallion. We also included some grilled bell pepper to round out the plate. Finishing with the pineapple gave the perfect sweet way to end the meal. Enjoy a healthy but flavorful meal; great for a group or just a quiet meal for two. Enjoy the week ahead!

~Kelly

Cedar Plank Salmon with Soy Thyme Vinaigrette

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1 Lb Wild Salmon

4 T Soy Lime Marinade from Sisters Pantry (You can sub soy sauce and lime juice with some crushed garlic and/or grated ginger)

1 Sprig of fresh thyme

1 Cedar Plank, soaked for 1-2 hours

Place soy & thyme in a zip top bag with the salmon. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to several hours. Pre-heat grill to high temp. Place Cedar plank on the grill with the salmon on top. Close the lid and allow to cook for 15-17 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Grilled Potato and Scallion Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Adapted from Food and Wine

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1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes

Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Juice of one lemon juice

1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, grilled then thinly sliced

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then halve lengthwise. Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down over high heat until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. In a large bowl, whisk the 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and lemon juice. Add the scallions, jalapeño and potatoes and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Note: I improvised a bit since our store did not have fingerling potatoes. Since the small boiling potatoes I used were small, I wrapped them in foil cut side down to save myself from turning a thousand tiny potatoes on the grill. This was still a fantastic dish, but the grill marks and char would add something. The original recipe grilled the scallions as well, but I liked the bite of the fresh scallion.

 

Grilled Pineapple with Peach Bourbon Jam, Whipped Cream and Fresh Mint

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1 Pineapple, cleaned and cored, cut into 1-2″ sticks

2-4 T Whiskey Peach Jam, we used Deliciousness (this is optional but highly recommended)

Whipped Cream to taste

Place pineapple in foil and cover with peach jam. Grill pineapple until tender, juicy and beginning to caramelize (about 10-12 minutes). Place 1-2 sticks of pineapple per plate, garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint. Enjoy!

 

**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for any recommendations in this post. These are things I enjoy and use in my kitchen!

Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

As promised, I want to share my new recipe attempt this week in my Farro Salad made in the Instant Pot. I got the Instant Pot as a gift for Christmas. At first, I felt intimidated by it, but Mary had a stove problem and was left without one for a few weeks. I took my Instant Pot over along with some crockpot meals I had made and stored in the freezer. It was a good introduction and now I have been trying to incorporate it into my regular repertoire. Farro seemed like a great fit for a pressure cooker. It is a wonderful grain that I first made when I had Blue Apron. I had bought some after that and it has just sat in my pantry waiting for the right recipe (or for me to remember it was there 😀 ).  Farro can take a long time to cook because it absorbs less water than rice over a longer time frame. The Instant Pot takes care of that taking the cooking from an hour to about 20 minutes. I also love that I can set it and not worry too much about it, since it will let me know when the time is up. The other great thing about farro is that you can mix things up early in the week and it will hold up without getting soggy. The grilled veggies add great smoky flavor and the vinaigrette is bright and flavorful. Enjoy right away or later in the week!

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Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Juice from two lemons, reserve the zest from one

1 cup uncooked farro

Kosher salt & cracked black pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 red onion, cut into wedges

3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn basil leaves, and thyme leaves (or whatever you have on hand)

 

For the Vinaigrette:

Mix the juice from one lemon, olive oil, salt pepper and honey if you have it. Reserve for the salad.

For the Farro:

I started the farro on the saute function with a bit of butter and some green onions. Once the onions start to soften, add the farro to toast the grain until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cancel that function and add the liquid. I used chicken stock, but water would also work. You can season this with whatever you like for any recipe you have on hand. Put the lid on and lock. Set the function to manual and set the timer for 15-20 minutes. I live at altitude and sometimes grains need a little extra time and liquid here. I usually add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid and 5-10 minutes of time. You could shorten the cooking time and let the Instant Pot slow release. I am a bit impatient and let it go a little longer and used the quick release. I pulled the lid off and left it on keep warm for about 5 minutes to let some of the liquid finish absorb. Unlike rice, you will still need to strain off the extra liquid. Once finished, put in a large bowl and toss with a couple tablespoons of vinaigrette and the lemon zest. Set aside while you prepare the veggies and chicken.

For the Grill:

Combine juice from one lemon, the crushed garlic, half of the the herbs, salt, pepper and a little olive oil in a zip top bag. Add the chicken and marinate 30 minutes to several hours. Prepare the veggies and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill. Cook the chicken 5-7 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Cook the veggies until charred and tender. Times will vary depending on what you use. Chop finished chicken and veggies into bite sized and roughly uniform pieces.

Finish by combining the cooked farro, veggies, chicken and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette (to taste). Enjoy!

Kelly

 

**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated by any of the products mentioned. These are just things I use in my kitchen.

 

Weekly Menu

As I have shared in the past, the thing that is most helpful to me for a successful week is meal prep. I like to make my lunches ahead, I keep smoothie packs ready to go from the freezer to the blender with no work, and I try my best to plan my menu for the week. For me, that often starts with a look at the calendar so I know how many meals for how many people I need each week.

This week, I need meals for two for most days, but we have a couple of dinners out for work or with friends. I usually head to my Pinterest boards for inspiration. It helps if I can find recipes that work together with overlapping ingredients to minimize waste and maximize time. I found some inspiration using some things I had on hand and rounded things out with lots of fresh veggies and protein. Many of the recipes have ingredients that I cooked on the grill; that means a healthy means of cooking, that allows me to prep once and cook lots at the same time and, bonus, it doesn’t heat up my kitchen in the summer! It is even better when my partner in crime is home to help do the grilling while I prep and assemble. Today, I was on my own and was proud I managed the grill myself!

In order to prepare for today, I shopped yesterday to spread out the work. That also gives me the chance to do things as I go. I started the day making my snacks of Peanut Butter Protein Balls, which are my favorite emergency snack. I fit the prep in between my morning coffee and smoothie then let them chill during my morning yoga. After cleaning and laundry, I started on my marinades, getting the chicken in the fridge to absorb the favor before prepping my veggies for grilling as well as my mise en place for lunches. I also pull out containers for my lunches so I am ready to throw the final product in easily.

Today, I tried something new, making farro in my Instant Pot. Farro is a wonderful grain full of protein and a lovely chew that holds up well in prepared dishes for the week. The downside is that it can take a long time when you use the whole farro. The Instant Pot solves that beautifully; instead of an hour, I had it done in 20 minutes while I prepped my veggies. I will go through the process later in the week as well as my riffs on the recipes below. Keep an eye out!

While I find inspiration from lots of places, I rarely follow a recipe exactly. Since I try to find some overlap between recipes, I also change up techniques to make my life easier. For example, I made Chicken Tinga over salads for lunches this week. I love that because I keep the salads separate to stay fresh and just pour the soupy chicken on top, which gives me a dressing without a lot of extra calories. Normally, I poach the chicken to shred for this dish, but since I was already grilling, I just marinated the chicken in some salsa, and threw it on the grill before shredding and finishing in my sauce. I also grilled my honey lemon chicken and will heat it later in the week in the sauce. That same honey lemon marinade is what I used for the grilled chicken for the Farro Salad. Remember that recipes are a guideline, but you can make changes to suit your needs! Here is my menu and inspiration for the week:

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Weekly Menu:

Breakfast

Green Smoothie Packs

Cold Brew Coffee

Lunch

Chicken Tinga over Arugula and Spinach Salad

Dinner

Honey Lemon Chicken with Green Beans

Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

Roasted Tomato and Sausage Summer Pasta

Snack

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

What are you cooking this week?

Kelly

Happy (Hour) Friday!

Hooray! We made it through another week. If you are looking for a twist on a classic to kick off your weekend, try a Montemojito! I stumbled upon this on a cocktail menu and it sounded so good, I had to try it at home. We were turned on to Amaro at our favorite pizza place in town. It is so fun to see how each one is unique with a blend of herbs creating harmonious floral and bitter notes. It is the perfect way to end a meal. When I saw this as the substitute for rum in a Mojito, I just knew it would be the perfect thing.

The Amaro used here is a favorite of mine: Amaro Montenegro. If you love a good story, te history of Montenegro is a good one…over 130 years ago, a noble citizen of Bologna, Stanislao Cobianchi, left home in search of adventure. He found his adventure by tasting his way through the Balkans and returning home to open a distillery. He decided to dedicate his perfected spirit to the second Queen of Italy, Princess Elena of Montenegro in celebration of her marriage to Victor Emmanuel III, the current sovereign of the time. It is now the #1 Amaro in Italy. Cheers!

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Montemojito

1 Part Fresh Lime Juice

2 Parts Montenegro (or your favorite Amaro)

1 t Sugar

4 Mint Leaves

Club Soda (I used Lime LaCroix)

Crushed Ice

Add lime juice, sugar and mint leaves to the bottom of a tall glass. Muddle ingredients together to combine well and release the oil in the mint leaves. Top with crushed ice and add Amaro, fill with club soda. Garnish with lime and mint. Enjoy!

Kelly

**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post. All products mentioned are things I love and use in my own kitchen.

Cold Brew Made Easy

Over the last few years, it seems every coffee shop has come up with their version of cold brew coffee. No wonder since it is smooth and tastes much better than watering down hot coffee over ice. It never gets cold enough and is never strong enough for me! A bonus of cold brew is that it is a great and easy way to get myself out the door on weekday mornings with as little hassle as possible. This is the perfect addition to my routine, because I can start it the night before, let it steep overnight in the fridge, pour over ice in the morning and be on my way. If you have a French Press, you are ready to go!

Kelly

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Cold Brew Made Easy

1/3 C Coffee Beans (depends on the size of your press and preference for strength of coffee)

Water

Ice

Grind your beans to a coarse grind. This is important to keep the coffee from getting muddy. Add ground coffee to your French Press. Fill about 3/4 of the way with water. Top with the lid, but do not push the plunger down. Put in the fridge 3 hours to overnight. After steeping, push down the plunger, pour over ice and enjoy!

Sweet Summer Treat

On a hot summer day, there is nothing quite like a cold sweet popsicle. There are so many versions, but I love this lightened up version of a mint chip ice cream bar made with greek yogurt. I am still perfecting things a bit, but this was a solid first try. I like the dark chocolate shell hardened with coconut oil and the lightness of the mint. I may try adding some fresh mint in the next version (maybe steeped in the milk). I don’t love adding food coloring where it isn’t needed, but you could make them a fun green color if you wanted. 🙂 One things that is interesting about these, is that the greek yogurt makes them substantial enough to be filling. I used a Zoku mold, just their traditional version that goes into the freezer to set up. Enjoy a little piece of summer!

Kelly

 

Mint Chip Greek Yogurt Pops

Makes 6 – 8 Pops

1 1/2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt

1 cup whole milk

1- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (to taste depending on your yogurt)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon mint extract

1 cup chocolate chunks

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions

1. Mix the yogurt with the milk, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, mint extract to combine. Stir in the chocolate chunks. I did this in a large measuring cup for easy pouring.

2. Divide the mixture among the molds, filling each mold to about ¼ inch from the top. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until solid, at least 3 hours or overnight.

3. Heat the dark chocolate and coconut oil in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth and melted. If you have something taller and narrower that would fit the pops, I think that might be the easiest way to get a smooth coating.

4. Unmold the pops. Working quickly, dip each one into the melted chocolate. Store the pops in the freezer for up to two weeks. I used an airtight container and wax paper.

5. ENJOY!

 

**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated to promote any products mentioned. These are just things I love to use in my kitchen!