From Cupcakes to Traditional Korean Food and Everything in Between

Homemade Soda From Scratch

Soda isn’t typically something I have on a regular basis.  It’s something I enjoy as a treat.  To further elevate this indulgence, I like to take it a step further and customize my drink by making my own.  Homemade soda is a fun little project, especially if you have children.  It’s simple and delicious, with most of it being inactive time, waiting for your drink to get fizzy and full of bubbles all on its own.

 

 

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Homemade Soda From Scratch
 
Author:
Serves: 1 Jug
Ingredients
  • 2-3 tb orange zest {plus 1 tb soda extract for stronger flavor}
  • 1 c sugar
  • ½ c water
  • ⅛ ts champagne yeast*
  • ¼ c orange juice
  • 7 c water
  • *For cream soda, add vanilla and/or cream.
Instructions
  1. In a pot, combine the zest, sugar, and ½ c water. Simmer on low for 2 hours. Then strain/cool slightly.
  2. In a clean bpa-free jug {glass or plastic but plastic is easier to gauge} fill with the champagne yeast, orange juice, 7 cups of water, and the slightly cooled sugar syrup. The warmth from it will activate the yeast.
  3. Gently {not vigorously} shake the jug to mix the ingredients unless you want this to happen : {video scene at 2 minutes 41 seconds}.
  4. Leave the jug at room temperature for 12-48 hours. Lightly squeeze against the {plastic} bottle to test. If it's firm, it's ready and may need a quick open to "breathe."
  5. Chill and serve. You may strain out the yeast if desired {it's completely edible}. If there's any left, remember to open the jug each day to allow it to "breathe" or the video scene I mentioned above can happen again. Too much handling or warmer temperatures can build up pressure inside of your jug and create a fun, albeit a very sticky soda explosion.
Notes
*Champagne yeast yields the best flavor but bread yeast will do in a pinch. It will just take on a stronger taste {some find unpleasant}. You may also use brewers yeast.
As with most fermented drinks, it will have a naturally occurring alcohol content by volume of <1% if this is something that concerns you, you can simply combine the syrup with sparkling water instead.

I found my champagne yeast here: http://amzn.to/1DriMTU

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Dark Chocolate Almond Lacey Cookies

If you’ve never had a lace cookie {or Florentines} you’re in for a real treat.  They’re paper thin and light as air, melting in your mouth at first bite, possessing soft toffee-like flavors.  Its classic pairings are with citrus and chocolate, but you can certainly veer off a bit and include a variety of nuts, extracts/zest, or even white chocolate and caramel!

 

 

 

5.0 from 7 reviews
Dark Chocolate Almond Lacey Cookies
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 1 Dozen
Ingredients
  • ⅔ c brown sugar
  • 2 tb cubed butter
  • 2 tb heavy cream
  • 1 tb raw honey
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 1 ts extract {I used vanilla}
  • ¼ c unbleached flour
  • ½ c toasted nuts
  • ½ c melted bittersweet chocolate
  • Optional: candied orange peel, white chocolate/caramel, etc
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the brown sugar, butter, cream, and honey together. It's ready when it pulls away from the sides, thickens in texture and deepens in color. {238* to be exact but I've never bothered testing with a thermometer when it comes to these cookies}. Stir in the salt and vanilla.
  2. Pull the pan off the heat and stir in the flour in 2 additions, taking care not to over mix then fold in the nuts.
  3. Allow the mixture to set for 5-10 minutes before scooping onto baking sheets lined with parchment/silpat {so it doesn't stick as the dough is very sticky} leaving 3-4" space in between each cookie. Lightly press each cookie down with barely wet or greased hands to flatten.
  4. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Leave on the baking sheet about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and drizzle with chocolate/caramel if desired.
  6. Cool to harden then enjoy.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Homemade Soap From Scratch

Homemade soap making doesn’t have to be complicated.  Several years ago, when I first began venturing into the world of soap-making, I was {admittedly} pretty overwhelmed but after a couple batches, I found that it wasn’t so difficult after all.  This is my recipe for simple, 3 ingredient cold process soap.

Today, I’ve whittled it down for ease and accessibility for you to be able to successfully make your very own soaps at home.  It’s fun, easy, and saves you money.  Additionally for me, completing practical DIY’s like this that have day to day use is not only functional but highly therapeutic.  There’s a great satisfaction that I garner from watching simple ingredients transform into a whole product.  The process of gathering and pouring, waiting and watching helps me slow down and funnel my energies into a fun and productive project that I’ll get so much use out of later {like my homemade lip balms and candles}.  The best parts?  I know exactly what went into it and can share the bounty with my loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Homemade Soap From Scratch
 
Author:
Serves: 6 Soaps
Ingredients
  • 6 oz oil* {I used a combo of coconut/olive oils}
  • 1.93 oz distilled/purified water
  • .76 oz lye {100% sodium hydroxide}
  • Optional: add-ins of your choice
Instructions
  1. Properly weigh out all three ingredients.
  2. Standing back, pour the lye into the water {never the other way around!!} and stir until it gets clear and set aside. It will fume/heat up so don't breathe it in and make sure you're in a well ventilated area.
  3. Heat your oil/s in a separate bowl. I used a microwave and heated in short bursts just until the coconut oil melted Using a digital thermometer allow both your oil and water/lye to be at 110*
  4. Pour the lye/water into the oil/s.
  5. Stir/blend by hand for the first 5-10 minutes. You can then switch over to an immersion blender if you'd like. It's ready when it's thickened and homogeneous. It should resemble loose pudding or pale egg yolks.
  6. Stir in your desired add-ins.
  7. Pour into molds. Wrap in plastic and cover with a towel to rest in a dark/undisturbed place of 1-2 days.
  8. It's ready to turn out onto baking racks when the soaps are firm. It's important to allow the air to circulate on every side which is why a baking rack is helpful here.
  9. Allow your soaps to dry/cure on the rack for 5 weeks before using.
  10. Keep them individually wrapped in an airtight container.
Notes
This recipe is *specifically* tested with 3 oz olive oil and 3 oz coconut oil. Other oils I like are avocado, cacao butter, jojoba, grapeseed, and lard-yes lard ;)
As for add-ins: natural colors like cocoa powder/cinnamon, turmeric or beet root and essential oils, pressed herbs/flowers, oatmeal, sea salt, coffee grinds..the options are endless!

Notes:

  • There are no substitutions for lye aka 100% sodium hydroxide.  If you’re interested in a short cut approach, melt and pour soaps are another option but you won’t be producing soap from scratch and still, the base of all soaps is lye.  I source mine online here: http://amzn.to/1NqBIb5 or from my local hardware store.
  • Be careful.  Lye is caustic.  You can always use googles and gloves if you’d like.  Always make sure to make soap in a well ventilated area/outside/next to an open window and never breathe it in.  You can also cover your work area with craft/butcher paper/newspaper.  Keeping vinegar handy with help counteract the lye if you do get some on you.  Afterwards, wash your hands and arms.
  • After saponification, meaning the lye has reacted with your oils, you don’t have to worry about the lye.
  • Use dedicated materials.  I use tempered glass, wood, and silicone molds {there’s debate on this but this is what’s always worked for me}. Invest in a digital thermometer and digital scale.
  • Add-in’s can range from herbs and essential oils to beet powder and turmeric for color or milk and honey as skin softeners.  The options are endless.
  • The most important factors to successfully producing soap: properly weigh your materials, allow both oil and lye to register at 110*, and blend them together until they’re at the “trace” stage meaning the mixture looks creamy and thick.

Happy soap making!

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Healthy Breakfast Cookies

Why not have cookies for breakfast?  I know for me, the thought of enjoying dessert first thing in the morning has always motivated me to get out of the bed without hitting the snooze button for the millionth time.  These breakfast cookies are soft, chewy, and gently sweet, filled with some of my favorite things for an interesting bite every time.  The best part is that these are half the guilt with good-for-you ingredients that won’t make your crash and burn later.

 

 

 

 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Healthy Breakfast Cookies
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2 Dozen
Ingredients
  • ¼ c coconut oil
  • ¼ c ripe banana
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • ¼ c raw honey
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • ¼ c grated apple
  • ¼ c grated carrot
  • ¾ c spelt flour
  • ½ ts baking soda
  • ¼ ts fine salt
  • ¾ ts cinnamon
  • 1 ts ground flax
  • 1 ts hemp seed
  • ¼ c chopped nuts
  • ¼ c dried fruit
  • 1½ c quick oats
Instructions
  1. Cream together the coconut oil and banana {you can also use the same amount in avocado} until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Blend in the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and egg.
  3. Next, add the apple and carrot. This is your wet bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flax and hemp. This is your dry bowl.
  5. In thirds, combine the wet and dry bowls together.
  6. Fold in the nuts, fruit, and lastly, the oats.
  7. Scoop and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Let’s talk about some of those good-for-you ingredients.

  • Coconut oil and bananas vs a stick of butter.  Coconut oil is my miracle balm.  I use it for health and beauty purposes as well as for cooking and baking.  It’s high smoke point is great for any stir fry and can easily be substituted for butter in baked goods.  It’s one of the richest sources of “good fat” with heart healthy fatty acids {but of course, use good sense and moderation}.  Bananas are my go to for creamy smoothies, face masks, and in these cookies.  Just one serving {1 banana} has 450 mg of potassium.
  • Flax is a great source of fiber, lignans, and omega 3’s.  Both flax and hemp are my favorite add ins for my daily smoothie. Did you know that hemp contains all the essential amino acids?  It’s also dense in protein and contains a specific omega-6 fatty acid not found in any other food.
  • The natural sweeteners I used in these cookies include honey, apples, carrots, and dried fruit.  This allowed me to scale back the amount of refined sugar.
  • Oats and nuts.  You can always use soaked steel cut oats but quick oats are just fine for me.  As for the nuts, feel free to use whatever nuts you like.  Walnuts are unique in that they contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Easy Microwave Mac and Cheese

MacAndCheese

The fact that I don’t have a walk-in closet is the norm for me-that, and the fact that even if I did, I wouldn’t care to fill it.  Likewise, I realize that not having a full kitchen might be the norm for others-that, and the fact that even if they had one, they wouldn’t use it.  Needless to say, some of my top viewer requests are for quick and easy recipes.  You can’t get as quick and comforting as a piping hot pile of buttered, cheesy noodles that takes less than 10 minutes and minimal effort.

 

 

 

5.0 from 6 reviews
Easy Microwave Mac and Cheese
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1 Serving
Ingredients
  • ½ c pasta
  • ¾ c whole milk
  • ½ tb butter
  • Salt
  • 1 tb cream/goat cheese
  • ½ c - 1 c shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large heat safe vessel, {the larger the better to control overflow} combine the pasta, milk, butter, and salt.
  2. In my 1.58 kw microwave, it took me a total of 6 minutes in short bursts to cook the pasta through.
  3. Carefully take it out and stir in the cheeses. Microwave for an additional 30-60 seconds to allow the cheeses to melt and cover the pasta in the creamy, cheesy sauce.
  4. Let stand to cool slightly then enjoy.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

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