Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tangerine Butter Cake Soap...

Buttery Sweet pound Cake mingles with bright Tangerine, with hints of vanilla bean, clove and cinnamon!
Now available! Click here to buy!

Marsala Chai is the Winner!

Thank you to all who voted for the next soap in my Permanent Collection! The Marsala Chai will be ready to purchase through my Etsy shop and for wholesale on March 1st!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

Which soap should I add to the Permanent Collection? I love every soap that I make (even if customers do not) so it is hard to choose what stays and what is a Limited Edition. Here are some Discontinued and Seasonal soaps that I often get requests for and there is a spot in the permanent collection for one of them. Please help me decide! I have a poll going over to the right and would love your vote!

Honeydew Peach: This bright and summery soap is scented with a perfect marriage of Sweet Juicy Honeydew Melon and Peach fragrances.

Marsala Chai: Packed with black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, coriander, nutmeg and warm buttery vanilla!

Pineapple Mint: Sweet, sugary candied mint leaves with a juicy, ripe pineapple finish!

Smoked Balsam: Fresh pine scent with notes of campfire smoke, patchouli and amber!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I ♥ Beets!

I had never had a beet until a few months ago, as my memories are of the red root and bright pink hard boiled eggs in a magenta pickling broth, not so appealing at 5 or 6 years old, and the experience turned me off of beets until they were recently recommended by a friend! Now I absolutely love them, am tickled by the pretty color and since then, have found out just about all I could about the nutritious pink food! Beets are like the Superman of veggies! According to articles I have read they are high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C. Put it up against Spinach and other greens for iron content and Beet Greens are the winner pound for pound! Betacyanin, which gives beets their red color is apparently a superhero against cancer!

Oh, back to the eggs. I wonder if my Mom knew those bright pink pickled eggs and beets are a harmonious combo - Apparently the Choline in eggs and the Betaine in Beets work together to fight inflammation linked to heart disease, Osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes! I don't know what Choline and Betaine are but that is pretty cool!

There are a few precautions as well. Due to the oxalates those with kidney stones or gallbaldder stones should consume with caution and probably if your doctor says it is ok.

I am not an expert and don't want to make claims but you can read all about it on The Worlds Healthiest Foods or by doing a web search for beets  - you will find a lot of resources!

AND - you may see a little red hmm, hmm, down there after eating beets. This is called beeturia and it is a harmless condition that happens to those who cannot metabolize the betalain that makes the beets red. 10-14% of the population suffers from this.

I love that you can eat the whole plant, root and greens - very economical!

Beets are in season in Sothern California right now. You want to look for small unwrinkled beets when buying, though I had some beets the size of softballs last night and they were wonderful - tender and sweet! The were being sold by the bunch rather than the pound so I just bought the Heaviest bunch there was!

I like a simple preparation for the beets and greens, as they have natural sugar and salt so little to no seasoning is required!

Simple Beet salad with wilted greens and walnuts:
It is a great snack on its own but I love to serve this with grilled Firm Tofu drizzled
with Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce.
It goes well with the sweet sauce and would also be wonderful with a side of
Cottage Cheese or a portion of grilled Chicken!

• I started with a bunch of organic beets - about 2 lbs with greens, a bunch of organic swiss chard
(6 cups), and a bunch of organic Mustard (6 cups). I strongly recommend organic produce here!

• separate the beets from the greens, peel, slice into 1/2 inch pieces, place in the bottom of a baking pan, drizzle with about 2 T. of olive oil, a pinch of coarse sea salt (optional) and roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You want them fork tender.

If you want to cut some of the fat out, you may also clean them, wrap in tin foil with the skin on and roast until fork tender. (I just like drizzling with olive oil because all the TV cooks do it and it makes me feel fancy) Remember to peel them after roasting!

• While the beets are roasting rinse your greens well! Take out the tough middle stalks on the leaves, either by cutting, or tearing leaves away from stalk. I like to cut to avoid bruising the greens. Rough chop the greens to about 1 - 2  inch pieces.

• Once the beets are done quickly wilt the greens in 1T of olive oil on high heat. This will take about 2 minutes. Beets greens and chard have a fair amount of sodium naturally so season with a little freshly ground pepper.

• Top with sliced beets and about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds! Serves 3-4! make sure everyone gets a couple beet slices! I say this because I like to keep them for myself. :)


Friday, January 8, 2010

Tutorial: Sweet Treats Mini Soap Chocolates

I always love to give handmade goodies for holidays and I think these little soap chocolates are the perfect Valentine's Day gift for a sweetheart or even friends and co-workers. They are simple and budget friendly! I hope you enjoy it!

• 12 oz. of Bright White glycerin soap
• 8 oz. of Naturally Clear plus 4 oz. of Bright White glycerin soap
• two, 2 cup microwave safe glass measuring cups
• Wilton Bite size brownie squares pan
Strawberry Fragrance Oil
Dark Rich Chocolate Fragrance Oil
Non Bleed Red Liquid Color
Brown Oxide Liquid Color
• two, 2 or 4 oz. Plastic Squeeze Bottles
• Rubbing Alcohol in a Spray Bottle
a simmering pan of water (optional)

1) Melt 12 oz of white soap in microwave - about 2 minutes. Add 6 drops of Non bleed red color, less or more depending on how light or dark you would like your pink, and 4 ml of Strawberry Fragrance. Set aside
2) Melt 8 oz of clear soap base plus 4 oz. of white soap base in microwave - about 2 minutes, Add 30 drops of Brown Liquid Oxide, more or less depending on how light or dark you would like the chocolate color, and 4 ml of Rich Dark Chocolate Fragrance Oil. 

here are the colors you are looking to get

3) Pour about 1 oz of pink soap into one squeeze bottle and about 1 oz of Chocolate Brown soap into the other squeeze bottle. If the soap starts to set up, place the bottles in a pan of simmering water until the soap is liquid again.
4) Working in only 12 of the mold cavities, make thin lines of soap across the mold in a diagonal motion using one of the soap colors. You may get a little pooling depending on how hot the soap is – this is ok! Repeat in the remaining 12 cavities with the other soap color. Let set for about 5 minutes.

I make the lines across the entire mold but if you are less messy than me,  you can concentrate the lines within the individual cavities. The lines will just be thicker if you do that.

5) Make sure the soap in the glass containers is at about 120 degrees, not too hot to melt the soap and not too cool to look goopy. Let cool or heat as needed. Spray the brownie mold with a generous amount of rubbing alcohol coating all of the soap lines. 
6) Pour the pink soap in the mold cavities with chocolate brown stripes and the chocolate brown soap in the mold cavities with the pink stripes. Spray with rubbing alcohol to remove air bubbles and let set about 1 hour until the soap is completely firm.

7) Pop out of the mold and you are done!

Variation: Once you get the hang of the squeeze bottles you can make other designs such as hearts, swirls or dots.

Packaging ideas:
Stack soaps in a wide mouth glass apothecary jar. Decorate with an antique key to your heart and a handmade heart tag and finish with ribbon!
4 soaps fit perfectly in a 3.25 in square by 1 inch box. Add a little paper shred in the bottom of the box, place soaps, and finish with a ribbon and handmade tag.

Add pink wood shred to the bottom of a shallow tin and fill with soaps! What  a nice surprise when the lucky recipient opens the box!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A little Package of Joy!

On Monday I got a little package of Joy from a wonderful customer of mine...
The fabled Neiman Marcus Cookies! 

There is a whole urban legend around the cookie claiming a customer bought the recipe for a $250 price tag. Another recipe is also on the Neiman Marcus site which looks pretty standard save coffee powder, but the Urban Legend version calls for such delights as ground chocolate and finely ground oatmeal and I think it is far better!

The beauty of the recipe is that you can add just about any nut or morsel to it and it will still taste wonderful! Masa's version has pecans, walnuts, butterscotch , white chocolate and semisweet morsels. I had a friend who added cut up Reese's peanut butter cups instead of chocolate morsels - also wonderful!

Next time you are in the mood for some cookies try this recipe (the urban legend one)!
It is always the best cookie at the party!

The super cute card is from Seltzer 

Thanks Masa!


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