Friday, January 3, 2020

Bath Cookies - Bath Blend of the Month

I usually share a cookie recipe in December, but I decided not to wait on this one, because a bubbly bath in January will chase away the chills and give you a chance to relax after all that holiday hoopla.  This blend has an ingredient I have just recently discovered -SLSA, or Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.  If you make bath bombs or other bubbling bath items, you'll love SLSA. It creates amazing bubbles in the water. You can also use it for solid bubble bath, bath truffles, and bath salts. This product is derived from coconut and palm oil, so it's 100 percent natural.

Bath Cookies

1 cup Baking Soda

1/2 cup Citric Acid

½ cup SLSA (or increase baking soda and/or citric acid by ½ cup to make up for the volume)

2 oz Melted Cocoa Butter

1 oz Melted Shea Butter

1 oz Essential oil of your choice (Lavender to relax, Peppermint to wake up, or Lemon to increase happy thoughts)


Melt your Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter. Combine all of your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Pour your Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter into your dry mixture and add your essential oil. Mix until well combined. You want your mixture to hold its shape when pressed into a ball, so experiment that it has enough stickiness to stay together and not crumble, by making a ball in your hands to test it. Once it is firm enough and not crumbly, press your mixture into a silicone mold as tightly as you can. Allow to set over night. Remove from molds and enjoy a nice relaxing fizzing bubble bath.

TO USE: Drop a single bath bomb into the bath water and watch the fizz!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Hurricane with Herbed simple syrup - Final Cocktail for the Year

Happy New Year!

Today I want to wrap up the month of cocktail / mocktail recipes by speaking about the making of simple syrup.  A simple syrup is the key to many cocktails and with herbs as a base you can create an unlimited combination of flavors to make an equally numerous series of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Once you learn how easy it is, you'll discover just how essential it is to keep simple syrup in stock in your bar and kitchen. It's found in many mixed drink recipes, including the mojito, daiquiri, and hurricane. You can also use it to sweeten your coffee, tea, and homemade lemonades and sodas.
Just add a Tablespoon to 8 ounces of seltzer water or club soda and you have your own flavored drinks.  You can also add to still water for a refreshing beverage.  Below I share how to make the syrup and a hurricane which is a fun citrus drink to brighten the long winter days.

Traditional Herbed Simple Syrup

      1 cup water

      1 cup sugar (white, turbinado, raw demerara sugar, your choice)

      1 cup fresh (only half if using dry) herbs


1.         Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
2.         Add sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely.

3.         Reduce the heat, add the herbs and cover the pan.
4.         Remove the pan from the heat. Allow it to cool and steep for at least 1 hour until room temperature.

5.         Strain out the herbs, pour the syrup into a bottle, and refrigerate. The syrup will be good for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.


·       Because of the short shelf life, I place my syrup in plastic squirt bottles and freeze it.  When you want a cocktail it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the frozen syrup to thaw.

·     Don't expect the syrup at either ratio to be as thick as maple syrup or honey. Instead, it will be thin and very easy to pour—more of a consistency similar to a liqueur.

·     Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or the syrup will be too thick once it cools.

·     To prolong the shelf life, add a little vodka. Usually between a tablespoon and an ounce is enough, depending on how large the batch of syrup is. 

Using your Simple Syrup to Make a Cocktail

The hurricane is an iconic tropical cocktail that you should know and will never forget. It is a fun rum-filled drink that includes the captivating pairing of passion fruit and orange juices. While it looks and tastes rather complex, it is quite easy to make.

This cocktail became popular at Pat O'Brien's bar in 1940s New Orleans. It's said that O'Brien created
the heavily rummed drink as a means to get rid of the large stock of rum his Southern distributors forced him to buy.

The story says that it debuted during the 1939 World's Fair in New York City and was named after the hurricane lamp-shaped glasses that the first drinks were served in. This style continues to be known as a hurricane glass.

Tropical Hurricane with Herbed Simple Syrup

2 ounces light rum 

2 ounces dark rum

2 ounces passion fruit juice

1 ounce orange juice

1/2 lime

1 tablespoon simple syrup made with herbs – lavender, mint or lemon balm are all good choices

1 tablespoon grenadine (see below to make your own!)

Garnish: maraschino cherry and orange slice


1.                  In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, squeeze the juice from half a lime.

2.                  Add the other ingredients.

3.                  Shake well, until the outside of the shaker tin becomes frosty.

4.                  Strain into a hurricane glass and garnish with a lemon slice.

Other Simple syrup flavors you can create

·         Sour mix (aka bar mix or sweet and sour) is also used in the bar, often for tropical cocktails. You make a plain or herb flavored simple syrup and add 1 cup of the syrup to 2 cups of citrus juices and you have a homemade sour mix.  It is great with lemon and lime juice, but also with tangerine and orange.

·         Cinnamon simple syrup is an excellent sweetener for coffee as well as classic and modern cocktails. Cinnamon is warming and is perfect for use in winter. The cinnamon can be combined with other flavors like apple, cherry, thyme, and vanilla. Make yours by combining 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks and follow the typical directions.

·         Ginger simple syrup made with 1 cup of sugar added to ¾ cup water and 1 cup of sliced peeled ginger offers a subtle spice that is very versatile. Because ginger is a root, you will need to bring the syrup to a light boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer over heat for 15 minutes to truly gather the unique flavor of the ginger.  It can be added to tea or mixed into cocktails where you might use ginger ale or ginger beer and it's a good substitute for a ginger liqueur. Ginger can be combined with other flavors; vanilla or habanero are just two very fun possibilities.

·         Use 3 Tablespoons of dried lavender flowers with 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar and use the above instructions to make a lavender simple syrup which are a great an easy way to add flavor to cocktails. These are used all the time in modern drink recipes and the basic recipe works for nearly any herb, including basil, parsley, and rosemary.

·         Chile peppers in simple syrup give the sweetener a nice heat that's an excellent way to spice up your cocktails. Any pepper will work, so you can customize the spiciness to suit your needs.  Use two peppers with 2 cups of raw sugar and 1 cup of water.

·         The most popular flavored syrup in the bar is grenadine. That's right, the key ingredient to a Shirley Temple and tequila sunrise is little more than a pomegranate-flavored simple syrup and it is easy to make grenadine from scratch.

·         One uses pomegranate juice instead of water adds the sugar and flavors it with lemon balm leaves to craft your own grenadine.  If you have some orange water, you can splash a few dollops of that in to enhance the flavor.

·         Split a vanilla bean in half and pour warmed sugar/water mixture and allow to steep 8 to 10 hours to create this amazing simple syrup. It is a fantastic sweetener for almost any beverage. You can build on the sweet flavor with a little ginger.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

MInt and Lemon Grass Cooler - Weekend Recipe

Today’s cocktail uses a technique called Muddling.  Muddling is when you place the fresh herbs in a tall glass with some sugar and press with a muddler (a wood or ceramic rod) several times.  You are not pulverizing the herbs, just breaking the leaf enough to release the flavor into the sugar so that when the alcohol and other ingredients are added the flavors will meld and create a robust flavor.  This cocktail uses a shaker to marry all the flavors before you pour into a glass and add soda.

Mint and Lemon Grass Cooler
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass (from bottom of stalk)
2 slices lemon, quartered, plus 1 for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ounce anise liquor (such as Ricard or Pernod)
Soda water
Top of lemongrass stalk, for garnish (optional)

Muddle together mint, lemongrass, lemon slices, and sugar. Add to a shaker with ice and liquor and shake well.  Strain as you pour into a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with remaining lemon slice and lemongrass, if desired.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Herb Punch

The website Sugar and Soul gave me the idea for today's cocktail, perfect for Christmas celebrations.
They called it Christmas Punch, I modified it to include my favorite Christmas herbs and call it the so original name of Christmas Herb Punch.  The best part about this is you can get out the punch bowl, serve this to your guests and family and don't have to be a bartender all evening.

Christmas Herb Punch 

1 orange sliced

1 lemon sliced

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup Lemon Balm leaves
2 cup cranberry juice

2 cups orange juice

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 cups ginger ale

1 cup brewed lemon grass tea

1 cup white rum, optional (or you can use vodka or whiskey)



Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl over ice. If using a really large punch bowl, you can double the recipe.  If preparing ahead, leave out the ice and ginger ale until ready to serve to guests.

Additional Notes: if you have children in attendance, keep the alcohol on the side to allow adults to add their own as desired.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Apple Breakfast Tea Cocktail - weekend recipe

There are many books on making Herbal cocktails, like the Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart or Clean Cocktails by Beth Nydick and Tara Roscioli.  Each of these has great ideas for turning your garden jewels into a wonderful relaxing beverage.  After reading these I started to experiment with tastes and flavors and cocktails and mocktails and came up with quite a number of them.

One of the great ways to get the taste of herbs into a cocktail is to make a tea.  Tea Cocktails take the flavor of tea and use it to enhance a combination with alcohol.

Here are some tips for making tea cocktails

1.      Always make your tea stronger than you think necessary for cocktails. Don’t use more time to achieve this; instead, use more tea. Many people make the mistake of steeping the tea for too long to try and get more flavor. The results? Bitter, sour tea. Use more dry tea but stick with the suggested steeping times. You’ll love the power behind a tea concentrate.

2.      Be aware of balance. A stronger tea like rooibos, a tisane versus true tea, has nutty notes that beg to be enhanced by a robust spirit like bourbon or rum. On the other hand, a more delicate tea like white tea requires a spirit that won’t overwhelm it, making vodka or light rum ideal.

Apple Breakfast Tea Cocktail

English breakfast tea


Apple juice


Apple, sliced thin

Brew a fresh batch of tea with added sprigs of thyme.  Chill and add equal parts clear apple juice and tea.  Pour into a balloon glass and spike each one with a shot of your favorite whiskey.  Garnish with apple wheels and sprigs of thyme.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Non-alcoholic Gin Lime Rickey with cilantro

This is my 1000th post so we are celebrating with a COCKTAIL!  Today is a Rickey. Rickey is a name for a cocktail served in a highball glass made from gin or bourbon, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the rickey

Originally created with bourbon in Washington, D.C. at Shoomaker's bar by bartender George A. This version uses the added flavor of cilantro and a fake gin (see below) and adds a bit of sugar, because Gin is naturally bitter, so sugar can be used with gin, but rarely with bourbon.

To make the Fake Gin you follow these simple directions:

Using a quart glass canning jar place the following items in the bottom:

2 tsp juniper berries

Peel of one entire lemon (no pith)

Peel of one orange

1 star anise

1 tsp coriander seed

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp savory

Add 2 cups cold water

Place a cover on the jar and infuse in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours before using. Strain out the solids.  No need to strain out the citrus early, that bitterness from the peel is desired.

We make a kit for crafting this Faux Gin in water for a nonalcoholic version or vodka as an alcoholic version.

Once you have the Fake Gin, then you can make the Lime Rickey

Gin Lime Rickey with Cilantro
1 cup water
Juice of 3 limes
1 cup Fake Gin
3 tablespoons sugar
1 small bunch cilantro
2 limes, quartered
3 cups club soda

Combine water, lime juice, fake gin, sugar, cilantro and lime in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To serve, add club soda.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How Tuesday - Making a Dry Snow Globe

I found several folks on Pinterest who had made these and was so enamored with them I just had to make one.  When I realized how easy it was, I taught the members of the garden club.  It works so perfectly in my pine cone and snow flake decoration style this year.  Don't you agree?

My husband's family gifts him sugar-free jelly for every occasion, so I have 1/2 pint jelly jars which are perfect for this craft.  However, if you have larger one pint jars, those will work too.  These are a fun project and were a huge hit with the garden club.

Pinecone Dry Snow Globe

Jelly jar with lid
cork coaster
cotton balls
lots of glitter
hot glue
tacky glue
length of jute

STEP 1 You need to prep the cork first.  I got bulletin board squares and cut them into circles that were about 1/4 inch smaller in diameter than the enamel canning jar lid.

STEP 2 Once you have the Cork circle, you need to glue it to the center of the backside (inside) of the canning jar lid.

STEP 3 After the cork dries, you need to add the pinecones.  I used plain and painted, Douglas fir, white pine and ponderosa pine among others, and one I even decorated with red balls or glitter.

STEP 3 continued. Attach your decoration to the cork.  I am all about pinecones this year, so the decorative items are pinecones.  I am making these for my sister, mother and in-laws for the holiday this year, so that is why you see 6 different globes in the photographs.  One cone was rather tall, so I carved out a hole to glue it into, the others were glued directly to the cork and one was too short, so I put an extra piece of cork under it.

STEP 4  After allowing the mounted cones to dry, you need to cover the cork with cotton.  I used one cotton ball for each globe (so not much.) You need to separate the fibers by pulling apart with your fingers.

Then place some glue on the cork and press the cotton down into it.  You want it to stay put when the globe is turned upside down, so you do need to glue it.  You do not need to cover the sides of the cork, as these edges will be hidden by the glitter and the finished edge of the jar (see step #8.)

Once you've created “snow covered” cork, you are ready to assemble the snow globe.

STEP 5 Add glitter.
I made a glitter of a combo of small crystal glitter and faux snow that is a mixture of sizes.  I blended them together on a plastic lid, then measured three teaspoons into the jelly jar and test to see if  it is deep enough or too deep. 


I added up to 6 teaspoons in some with taller cones, but stopped at 3 teaspoons for shorter.  I put in 6 teaspoons first and sealed a jar then turned it and found the snow covered the entire pine cone.  Not exactly the effect I was looking for.

STEP 6 Attach the lid to the jar.  You have to place a bead of hot glue all around the lid, turn upside down and press down onto the rim.  

Realize hot glue will make that lid edge very warm, so hold the pine cone while you apply the glue and press in the center of the lid to get the glue to hold.

I tried putting the glue on the jar rim to avoid the cotton, but the glue dripped into the jar, the cotton got tangled in the glue when I put the lid in and it did not seal very well, so although it requires more effort, put the glue on the lid edge, then turn it over and drop onto the jar rim.

STEP 7 Allow the jars to dry entirely before you turn them over.  You do not want the glitter sticking to the glue. 

STEP 8 Cover the jar threads with jute or ribbon. While I was letting them dry, I decorated the jar rim with a length of jute tied in a bow. The best technique was to use a long piece,  120 inches.  I centered it against the jar rim, 

Then wrapped right and left ends around the jar until the threads of the jar were entirely covered.  Then I tied it off with a bow or a knot.

In a couple cases I experimented with ribbon and pine garland, but the jute was by far the most attractive. And Farmhouse Chic!

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