Posts Tagged by homemade

Soapmaking – Not as Hard as It Sounds

I like to try new things. Nothing too crazy, but I like learning how to do stuff.  Soapmaking has intrigued me for a good while. It looked so beautiful, but also complicated. I mean, I don’t want to mess around with lye and do chemistry and buy a bunch of equipment.  I thought I’d have to leave the cool soapy gig to the brave women.

Then I thought, wait a minute. I’m a brave woman. Why am I scared of soap?  I know how to be safe. If it doesn’t work, then I make adjustments and try again.  OK. I can do this.

I started watching YouTube videos and I joined a soapmaking group on Facebook to pick up tips, recipes and encouragement.  It was at this point I read about Bramble Berry and all the awesome kits and supplies I could get in one place. (Just an FYI – I have no affiliation with Bramble Berry and received no compensation from them. I purchased everything myself and have no obligation to them.)

I decided to start on something easy, so I opted to go the “melt and pour” route as opposed to a cold process soap.  I’m not quite ready for lye and all that. I selected four different kits from Bramble Berry to test the soapmaking waters, jumped in my boat and went to Soaptown!

Kit #1 – Bees Soap Kit

These kits come with all you need.  Soap base, fragrance, soap mold, everything.

First I cut up the base into small chunks.

Then melted it in the microwave in 30 second bursts. This amount of soap base took a total of one minute, though I think I could have stopped around 50 seconds and had enough heat to finish melting the soap.

Then I added the fragrance. This one combined Oat Milk and Honey with a nice Vanilla. The whole room smelled to good!

I poured the mixture into the mold and spritzed each one with alcohol to remove the tiny bubbles.

After cooling for 3-4 hours, the result was so awesome that I didn’t get a decent picture. They’re shown in the center of picture at the top, with all the soaps in the basket. Sorry folks. The interesting thing about this soap is that it continued to darken over the next couple of days. I read that the vanillin in the vanilla fragrance oil has a tendency to discolor some soaps. In this case, it turned into a pretty honey caramel color and was perfect for this this application.

Kit #2 – Gardener Soap

I’m excited about this one.  It has THREE different soaps, THREE different fragrance oils, color, and mix-ins to exfoliate. Nice.

As I cut up the soap base again, I felt like I should be in a “Breaking Bad” episode!

This layer gets a bit of color!

The first pour, which ends up being the top of the bar, has crushed walnut shells and is scented with zucchini flowers. Light and fresh.

After adding a middle layer that included Grass Stain fragrance oil, I prepared the top layer with clear base, more green color, Sweet Grass fragrance oil and some ground loofah.

After cooling about 4 hours, the soap popped right out of the mold and was very simple to cut into bars. Look how beautiful they are!

Kit #3 – Shaving Soap

This fabulous kit helped me make a wonderfully rich shaving soap in just a couple of steps.  I started with a foaming bath butter and added chamomile, bentonite clay, olive oil, and a great fragrance oil called Tobacco and Bay Leaf. I swear it smelled like my dad was shaving in my kitchen.

All of this got whipped in my mixer.

The kit came with these fabulous jars.

So I filled them up – 4 ounces, I think.

Then I cut apart the labels that came with the kit. Yes, sometimes you get labels, too!

Check out how professional (and adorable) these turned out. Love.  Both my husband and my daughter tested this one right away and gave it a big thumbs up.

Kit #4 – Mermaid Soap

OK, I’ll admit that this one was so fun to make that I completely forgot to take pictures. Blogger fail.

However, this pretty, glittery soap gets its ombre effect from about 8-10 layers of increasingly darker tinted soap.

I began with white and an amazing Yuzu fragrance oil (think sweet lemon and tangerine) and added just a little color at a time.  When the soap hardened, I unmolded it and cut it into bars.

Can you believe how this looks?

This kit also came with labels that wrapped around the soap.

I love these so much!

My tester bar.

So, I think I’m sold on soapmaking. It was easy to follow the directions and these kits certainly helped. The end product is very impressive in a sort of “I can’t believe I actually made that” kind of way.  I’m taking these to the office next week to find some testers.

I’ve ordered some more supplies to branch out on my own a bit.  Lots of new fragrance oils coming and also the stuff to make bath bombs!  I’ve purchased everything from these three sites so far. If there’s another site that you like, please share in the comments. Otherwise, I can strongly recommend these:

Bramble Berry

Nature’s Garden 

Bulk Apothecary 

Homemade Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples

Super easy caramel apples dipped in chocolate with decorations. Can be modified for any holiday or event!

I get a TON of catalogs.  Don’t get me wrong – I love catalogs. But I get a ton. There are a couple of fancy pants food catalogs that offer me the opportunity to order tiny cookies or popcorn or chocolate-dipped things for a lot of money (but use this special code to get 10% off your purchase and free shipping on orders over $100…small print, exclusions apply, expiration dates, credit application, etc.)  

Anyway, one of the items I often consider are the big, gorgeous caramel apples with different kinds of decorations and embellishments. I rationalize the $6.95 per apple price by telling myself that it’s so much trouble and so many ingredients, rendering them a huge pain to make. (Buy all the fancy apples now!)

Stop it!  These cuties are easy, adorable and cost maybe a buck each when all is said and done. We can do this and it’s a blast for kids to help with. So put down that catalog and let’s make our own.

I made this first batch for Halloween.

Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples

What will you need?

  • Well, grab your favorite apples.  Tart, firm Granny Smith apples are my favorite, but Gala are very good, too. Red Delicious tend to be a little mealy and too sweet – not the best choice for caramel apples.
  • Pick your caramel. Want to make your own? More power to ya! I usually opt to spend a little time in front of the TV unwrapping the traditional caramel candy squares. I wish someone else in my house could be trusted to do this, but I’d have no caramels left if I turned this job over. You could also use one of those cups of caramel that gets heated in the microwave and it’s ready to go.
  • Melted chocolate. I used chocolate chips, but use your favorite here.  White chocolate, butterscotch and peanut butter chips are pretty yummy, too. Maybe you want to use a bag of candy melts like these in your favorite color?

  • Toppings! Don’t immediately run out and buy a bunch of new stuff. Inventory your pantry, cupboards, kitchen drawers and cabinets to see what kinds of goodies you already have on hand. Don’t forget that secret hiding spot and always look at things with a creative eye.  Yes, I know cereal isn’t typically associated with caramel apples, but how cute would Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles be on an apple? Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch would taste amazing with the chocolate coating, and duh…Apple Jacks?  Try granola or crumbled cookies. What about potato chips? Crumbled bacon? Pop Rocks? Cracker Jacks? You could also make your own colored sugars.
  • To skewer or not to skewer? I have done these both ways. A skewer in each apple makes them more fun and easier for kids to eat.  Grown-ups usually find themselves trying to be proper and take out the stick so they can cut the apple into slices.  So, when I’m giving these to my friends, I take the stick out before packaging.

Directions and tips:

  1. Wash your apples in very warm water or soak them in a vinegar and water solution to remove the wax coating (unless you buy right off the tree, direct from a farmer or organic). This will help the caramel to stick better. Dry the apples completely.

Granny Smith apples to dip in caramel

2. Add the sticks. I found these at my grocery store. Popsicle sticks work well, too.

Skewered apples ready to dip in caramel

3. Prepare the caramel according to the instructions of your preferred product or make your own caramel. I simply melted mine per the directions on the bag of candies.

Melting caramels

4.  Let the caramel cool just slightly, then carefully dip each apple in the caramel and allow the excess to drip off.  Place each apple on a nonstick surface (this is very important) to cool.  Note:  If you aren’t dipping in chocolate later, be sure coat the entire apple, including a little bit of the stick, to seal the hole and help it stay fresh longer.

Dipping apples in caramel

The caramel on some of my apples pooled a little more this time. This comes from not letting the caramel cool enough. You can also refrigerate the apples to help the caramel cool quicker.

Apples dipped in caramel cooling on a nonstick surface

5. Prepare your toppings! Get your toppings set up while the caramel is cooling and before you melt the chocolate. Mine include traditional sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, candy coated sunflower seeds, crushed pretzels, peanut butter chips, Reese’s pieces, chopped peanuts and colored sugars.

Toppings are ready to add to the chocolate-dipped caramel apples

6. Melt the chocolate according to the instructions on the package – whether it’s chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter chips, candy melts, etc. I melted chocolate chips in a double boiler (a bowl over a pot of simmering water) with a little bit of shortening.

7. Dip each apple into the chocolate (up to the stick if these won’t be eaten in the next couple of days), allowing the excess to drip off.  Let the chocolate set up a minute, then coat the apple with the toppings before it gets too hard. Set aside to fully harden. This will keep the toppings from sliding down as much.

8. Package your beautiful chocolate-dipped caramel apples and share!

Caramel Apples

What are your favorite toppings? Find any treasures in your pantry that you put on your apples?  We used gummy bears one time that became the star of the party!


Easy Homemade Peanut Brittle

Easy Peanut Brittle

Looking for a yummy and simple homemade gift? Turn to this old-fashioned favorite when you want to make in large batches for holiday gifts. Peanut Brittle is one of our family’s traditional recipes and folks eagerly await it (and our Homemade Vanilla Extract) every year.

Peanut Brittle

Serves 2 pounds
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Allergy Milk, Peanuts, Tree Nuts
This is the easiest peanut brittle recipe I've prepared. Yummy and not too hard on the teeth!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups raw peanuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


My family has used this brittle recipe for as long as I can remember. We've substituted macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds and walnuts with wonderful results. One of my favorite varieties is macadamia nuts and shredded coconut. So good! This also stores well in a cookie tin or plastic container. Can be made ahead and frozen, too, but seems a little sticky when thawed.


Step 1
Gather all of the ingredients before you begin cooking. The process goes quickly once the sugar comes to temperature and there won't be time to measure then.
Step 2
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water and cook over medium heat until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add butter and peanuts. Continue to cook until peanuts turn golden brown and sugar reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (or until a small amount dropped in cold water immediately separates into hard, brittle threads.
Step 3
Remove from the heat and add vanilla and baking soda. The candy will foam up a lot. Continue to gently stir to keep the mixture from overflowing.
Step 4
While still foamy, pour the candy onto a greased cookie sheet. Allow to cool.
Step 5
When completely cooled, break the brittle into pieces and enjoy!
Easy Peanut Brittle

Homemade Dried Onion Soup Mix


I needed a dip to serve Sunday night and my go-to onion soup packet was nowhere in sight. Man, that stuff has become a crutch in my kitchen.  Meatloaf, stews, pot roast, hamburgers, potatoes, chicken, chili, gravy, veggies…oh my gosh! There has to be a healthier, easier, more dependable way to season our food.

I had just finished a Homemade Taco Seasoning and did a quick search on the internet for an onion soup mix I could make at home. I was overwhelmed by the number of options that were presented and set about making a blend of several.  Basically using the ingredients that were common among all of them.

This recipe will work well if you’re trying to lower the salt in your diet (i.e. sodium-free bouillon) and the ingredients are easily adjusted to suit your tastes and dietary needs.


Onion Soup Mix

4 tablespoon dried, minced onion
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules (I had cubes and simply crushed them for this)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

(Optional – I found many recipes that also included spices like turmeric, sugar, thyme, dry mustard, etc. and most called for 1 teaspoon.)


Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.  I tripled this recipe and stored it in a pint-sized jar.  (You might have noticed my affinity for jars by now…)  You could portion this into snack-sized zip-top bags, or even in your own packets made from aluminum foil – fold it right up inside.

Use about 4 Tablespoons of the Onion Soup Mix in a recipe in place of 1 envelope of onion soup mix.  In many cases, you can use less. Be sure to give dips time to sit (overnight is best) to develop the flavors before serving.


My next batch will be with chicken bouillon cubes – it’s what I have on hand and I bet it will be delicious!

What’s your favorite Onion Soup Mix recipe?


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

While I am perfectly aware that it’s only July, I also know that I’d like to give my friends Homemade Vanilla Extract for Christmas this year.  It doesn’t necessarily take six months to make, but the longer is sits, the richer the flavor.


About three years ago, I was at the grocery store purchasing yet another bottle of vanilla extract when I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to pay nearly $8 for a tiny bottle of pure vanilla extract, and I certainly didn’t want to sacrifice flavor of my favorite recipes just to save a couple of dollars on imitation vanilla extract. Yuck!  It was then that I learned how to make my own. What makes homemade vanilla extract so much better than store bought? You have control over the quality and type of vanilla used in the extract, and making your own will provide significantly better flavor and aroma than commercially produced extracts. Did you know that the FDA regulates vanilla extract by weight, not quality. Yikes!  There’s really no way to know what you’re getting.  Homemade vanilla also has nothing artificial – colors and sweeteners (corn syrup) are found in many store-bought extracts. It is also now possible to make vanilla extract from different types of vanilla beans, each of which has a unique flavor.  For example, Mexican vanilla beans are a little smokey and spicy (awesome in homemade ice cream), while you’ll get a rich and creamy flavor from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans.  Tahitian vanilla beans are more floral and a little fruity. Each one, however, is excellent for homemade vanilla extract. Also, don’t get hung up on using Grade A beans. Those are generally best for cooking – like tossing one in to steep when making custard for ice cream. Grade B vanilla beans are great for making extract.

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans

This doesn’t mean the vanilla contains whiskey, it refers to the I’le de Bourbon (now known as Réunion.) Most Bourbon vanilla is now grown on the island of Madagascar, the largest vanilla-producing region on the world. Bourbon vanilla is the strongest and most full-flavored of all the vanillas and gives you the most bang for your buck. I use Bourbon vanilla for baking, since it’s flavor doesn’t lose potency when cooked.  Homemade Vanilla Extract

Tahitian Vanilla Beans

Tahitian vanilla has a more delicate flavor; very floral and tropical. I use it in things like fruit salads, smoothies and whipped cream since baking with it seems a waste of it’s subtle flavor. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract - Tahitian Beans I’ve always purchased my beans from Vanilla Products USA, both directly from their website and from them on eBay. I’ve been very happy with their products and service.  They even toss in freebies when you order!  I’ve also read that Beanilla is good and carries a wider variety of beans, and Olive Nation is pretty popular. (Olive Nation, btw, has tons of fabulous stuff. I am particularly smitten with their huge selection of PURE extracts.  Cherry, pear, coconut and banana are my favorites. These are super hard for me to find locally and in pure form.) So, let’s get to the vanilla-making – it couldn’t be easier.

Ingredients for 1/2 gallon of Vanilla Extract:

  • Vanilla Beans (your favorite variety) –  1 oz ( about 8-10 beans depending on the size) per cup of alcohol (1/2 gallon = 8 cups) or approximately 64-80 vanilla beans
  • Vodka – no real need to get top shelf here, anything 75-80 proof is perfect  (1/2 gallon of vodka very nearly equals one 1.75 liter bottle of vodka)

A note about the alcohol choices: while vodka is most commonly used to make vanilla extract because of it’s neutral flavor, I’ve also made extract with rum and with whiskey.  Each adds a bit of flavor which I think enhances my recipes and I usually have a jar of each in my cabinet. (For a vanilla extract recipe that is alcohol-free, see the end of this post.)   That’s it…two ingredients.  Booze and beans. What could be easier? Homemade Vanilla Extract-Beautiful Vanilla Beans 1. Split the beans Cut your vanilla beans lengthwise either with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. I usually leave one end attached…I dunno…OCD  quirky personal preference? To scrape or not to scrape? While I truly love the look of the vanilla bean seeds running through my recipes, I’ve found that scraping out the inside of the beans at this point isn’t necessary and I, quite frankly, find it tedious and don’t have the time.  It all seems to make it’s way out into the extract eventually.  Others like to hasten this process by scraping the caviar and adding it separate from the beans. Homemade Vanilla Extract-Scraping the Vanilla Beans 2. Add the split beans to your container.  I make this in pint jars (2 cups each) and wind up with 4 jars of extract per 1/2 gallon.  I use 15-20 beans in each.  (I feel like this ultimately gives me something close to a double strength vanilla extract.)  You may simply use a half gallon jar or any combination in between. Some people make the extract right in the vodka bottle, though you have to remove some of the vodka to make room for the beans.  For my pint jars, I fold the beans in half so they’ll fit. I also put them in with the ends facing down to make them easier to work with. Homemade Vanilla Extract-Vanilla Beans in the Jar 3. Fill your container with vodka (or you alcohol of choice). Make sure the beans are completely covered, pop the lid on and give it a shake.  It reminds me of a snow globe with all the beautiful seeds floating around. Homemade Vanilla Extract-Pouring the vodka into the jar I also label the top of each jar with what each blend is comprised of and the date it was started.  In this case, I used Madagascar beans and vodka. Some of my lids say “MAD RUM” for Madagascar beans and rum or “TAH VOD”  for Tahitian beans and vodka. You get the idea… Homemade Vanilla Extract-Label the jar 4. Keep shaking. The full extraction process takes 4-6 months (yes, I know that’s a long time.) Technically, you could use it sooner, but the flavor will be better if you wait. During this time, keep your jar(s) is a cool, dark place like a closet.  For the first week or so, try to give it shake each day. Don’t worry if you forget sometimes, it’s no big deal.  🙂  After that, visit it every so often to see how it’s doing and shake it again. Open it up and take a whiff.      …I *heart* vanilla. Homemade Vanilla Extract-Beans and Vodka in the Jar   5. Ready to put it into action!  Finally.  Around here, I simply use the extract right out of the jar I made it in.  Remember how we put the ends of the beans in first? This keeps those cute curly ends from hanging on to my measuring spoon when I dip it in the jar. Every so often, I top off my personal jar with a little more vodka to keep the beans pretty well covered.  It doesn’t take long to bring the flavor back to full strength. Homemade Vanilla Extract-Final Giving it away as a gift?  Great idea and you’ll be so popular you’ll need a new social calendar!  Grab yourself some amber-colored bottles (mine come from here and I use the 4 ounce and the 8 ounce Boston round bottles; this website has them pretty cheap, too. Amazon has a good variety here Boston Round Bottles, 4 Oz Pack of 12), a funnel and a coffee filter or fine-mesh strainer. Put the funnel into the bottle and add a coffee filter (if you don’t want any of the seeds) or a strainer (if you don’t mind the seeds.) I’m am on Team Vanilla Seed and also add a fresh, split vanilla bean to each of my bottles to keep that flavor maturing.   Decant your fabulous extract into each bottle, print up some cute labels and you’re all set! Homemade Vanilla Extract-As a Gift

Homemade Vanilla Extract as a gift   Oh, and don’t forget to add me to your gift list!

Alcohol-Free Homemade Vanilla Extract

In case anyone is interested in an alcohol-free vanilla extract recipe, I came across this in search of one for my friend who has Celiac disease. It uses vegetable-based glycerine. 16 fl. oz. food grade vegetable glycerin, 6 fl. oz. hot water, and approximately 8 vanilla beans.  In jar with tight fitting lid, mix glycerine and hot water, replace lid, shake well. Split beans in half length wise, scrape out seeds and add to jar, then cut split beans in half, add to jar. Replace lid, shake well, store in cool dry place, shaking occasionally.. While some said it would be ready after six weeks, others said three months. I’m going to follow Ivan’s advice and go six months. No refrigeration required.

Have you made vanilla extract before?  What’s your favorite blend?  I bet you could also play around with some of the flavored vodkas that seem to be really popular right now.  How about buying a few of the mini bottles (less than two ounces) and popping 1 split bean in each bottle?

Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries

Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries


I’ve been declaring for years that my dream is to open a mashed potato-themed restaurant. Every time something reminds me of it, I start talking about it. Then I turn into kind of a Forrest Gump of mashed potatoes…

Mashed potatoes topped with pot roast, mashed potatoes topped with mushrooms and onions, mashed potatoes and meatloaf, mashed potatoes topped with pulled pork, mashed potatoes topped with fried egg and bacon, mashed potatoes topped with truffles, pizza mashed potatoes, mashed potato ice cream sundae, mashed potatoes with wings, mashed potatoes topped with asparagus and feta cheese, mashed potato-stuffed tomato, mashed potato quesadilla, mashed potatoes with spinach, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes…oh, and the possibilities for sweet potatoes.  Don’t get me started!

I guess I can see how I might be a little annoying.  My daughter just rolls her eyes when I mention it…she’s grown weary of her mom’s dreams. *sigh*

Regardless of my shattered smashed mashed potato dream, I’ve also been on a quest for the perfect baked french fry. I found a few things that make them lovely and crispy, just how I like them!

First, pick the right potato.  Russets and Yukon Golds seem to work the best for me and taste wonderful.

Next, while it’s just fine to cut your potatoes by hand, I’m a fan of a mandoline and the Swissmar Borner V Power Mandoline, V-7000 is the one I use. Whichever way you go, make sure to cut uniform pieces and keep a close eye on your fingers  and the potatoes will cook in the same time.

Third, rinse the starch off the potatoes with cool water, then be sure they’re as dry as possible before baking.Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries

Also, if your fries aren’t quite as crispy as you’d like them to be, try putting them on a baking rack placed on the baking sheet.

Finally, one more thing that helps if you want more “crisp” is to add a beaten egg white to the oil and seasonings when you toss the potatoes.  (And btw, I almost always use Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil when I cook – even for fries!)

Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries

So let’s get to it!  Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries for everyone!


Crispy Homemade Baked French Fries

Serves 2-3
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly


  • 3 medium baking potatoes (Russets or Yukon Golds are nice)
  • 1/4 cup oil (your choice - olive, canola, coconut, vegetable, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


For a spicier kick, you can add equal amounts (about a teaspoon) of garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme - or any combination of these - to the fries before baking.

Baking time will depend on the size you cut your potatoes, how full your baking sheet it and how brown and crispy you like your fries.



Step 1 Wash potatoes. Peel, if desired. Pat the potatoes dry and slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Turn each slice flat and slice again lengthwise into even fries, about 1/2-inch thick.

Place cut potatoes in a bowl of cool water to prevent them from turning brown.

Rinse cut potatoes several times to eliminate excess starch.

Put the bowl of water and potatoes in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Step 2 Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain the potatoes and spread them on a clean dish towel or paper towels and pat dry. Be sure to turn the potatoes to get them as dry as possible.
Step 3 Place the potatoes back in the bowl and toss with oil and seasonings, then put them on a baking sheet in a single layer.
Step 4 Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping/tossing after about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.


One Ingredient Homemade Peanut Butter


We have recently discovered the joys of homemade peanut butter. All these years I’ve spent so much money on jars of peanut butter at the grocery store, having had no idea how easy and yummy peanut butter is when you make it from scratch.

So…one ingredient peanut butter.  I love this!  No preservatives, no weird oils or chemicals. The one ingredient, of course, is the peanuts. I start with raw peanuts from the local farmers market.  If you live in the Atlanta area, and haven’t been to the DeKalb Farmers Market, you have to go! I get a 5-pound bag of peanuts there for less than $10. Its a real bargain!


Next, I roast the peanuts without salt or oil or any seasonings. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and place a layer of raw peanuts on a baking sheet. Maybe about 3 cups – enough to cover the sheet without piling up.  Throw the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes.



Around the time you start to smell their roasty yumminess, take them out and give them a toss, shake the pan and turn them with a spatula.


Put them back in the oven for another 6 to 8 minutes. They will be a nice golden brown when they’re ready. They’ll go past golden brown really (I mean REALLY) fast, so keep an eye on them. Take them out and let them cool right on the sheet pan.


Once they’ve cooled, toss the whole batch into a food processor or blender. Add about a teaspoon of salt (if you want) and turn it on. It will look like the peanuts don’t want to do much of anything that comes close to resembling peanut butter…but, like the song says “let it go.”  You’ll notice a chopped nuts stage, then something that just looks crumbly.  After about two minutes, it will start to get creamier and I start to get a little giddy!  Scrape the sides when you need to, and magically it will turn into a nice creamy peanut butter. Let it go another minute or so and you’ll be in peanut butter heaven.

As the magic begins, you’ll see the transition between crumbly weird peanuts and beautiful, smooth peanut butter.

Homemade-Peanut-Butter 6



Test it for seasoning, and add a little salt if it needs it. This is also the point that you can add other flavorings to the peanut butter. Mix in things like cinnamon, honey, cocoa powder, garlic powder or maple syrup. How about a bit of Chinese Five Spice? We usually enjoy it just plain, but my husband also likes it with a little cinnamon and honey. If you like crunchy, toss in some chopped peanuts.

Have this on some fresh baked bread with some yummy preserves or jam and you’ll never go back to store bought peanut butter, I promise! Store this in a sealed container in the refrigerator – how about in an old peanut butter jar? It will keep for a month or more, but I promise I won’t last that long!



Next time, I’m going to try making some with almonds or sunflower seeds. Back to the Farmer’s Market!  I wonder if pumpkin seeds would work?  I think I have already have a jar of pepitos.


Have you made homemade nut butter before?  What flavor or nut is your favorite?  



Homemade Taco Seasoning – Easy and Flavorful!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I was up early this morning feeling pretty ambitious.  I had challenged myself to try a few homemade mixes after really studying the ingredient lists of some of our favorites. If you’ve never noticed some of the crazy stuff in these mixes, you really owe it to yourself and your family to at least be sure you can pronounce everything in the food you’re eating. 😉

DH and I had picked up some fresh ground chicken at one of our local farmer’s markets that was destined for tacos this evening, so Taco Seasoning is first up this morning.  (By the way, if you’re lucky enough to live in the Atlanta area and haven’t visited the DeKalb Farmers Market, you’re truly missing out on one of the BEST markets in the southeast.  Go. Run! Bring a sweater, though…it’s chilly in there.)

Coffee in hand and inspired by my friend Kyndra at Peace, Love and Low Carb – she has a beautiful cookbook you should check out – I start pulling out spices from my cabinet.

Homemade Taco Seasoning 2


1 T Chili Powder
1 T Ancho Chili Powder
2 T Cumin
1 t Onion Powder
1 T Dried Onion Flakes
2 1/2 t Garlic Powder
2 t  Celery Salt
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
½ t Black Pepper
1/2 t  Salt

Then, it’s really just as simple as mixing all this up.  You can adjust the heat by increasing (or decreasing) the cayenne pepper, or adding some red chili flakes.  This particular blend reflects a little less heat, two kinds of chili powder and a bit more garlic. You can use whatever mix of chili powder you like, too.  Evidently I’m trying to be Bobby Flay, and had Ancho Chile Powder on hand.  (Again – thank you, DeKalb Farmer’s Market for having the most amazing array of fresh, inexpensive spices.)

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I also doubled this recipe.  It lends itself quite well to multiples. My doubled recipe nearly filled a half-pint sized jar.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

To use the Taco Seasoning, after I browned the ground chicken (if you use ground meat, be sure to drain it, too) I started with 1 Tablespoon of the mixture per pound of meat. I also added 1/4 cup of water per pound and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, uncovered.  You can adjust the amount of seasoning to suit your family’s taste.

It was really flavorful and simple.  DH gave it a thumbs up.  Nothing in this stuff is hydrogenated, made with silicon or includes ethoxyquin.

6:45 a.m….Stay tuned for Onion Soup Mix, I’m on a roll!

Have you made any homemade mixes?  Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try?