Oven Roasted Candied Nuts

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​Candied Peanuts 
Want to be a rockstar to your family and friends this Christmas? Give the gift of candied peanuts. This recipe can

Also 

be used on Pecans and Almonds.

Ingredients:
Two 16 oz jars of peanuts. Salted or unsalted.
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet. Make sure it’s got raised edges. If you use the flat sheets with no edges you will have regrets. So many regrets…
Line the pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl whisk together egg whites and vanilla extract. Pour in sugar mixture. Stir.
Add one jar of peanuts, mix until they are well coated. Add second jar, stir till coated.
Pour out onto parchment paper. Spread out nuts.

Bake for 1 hour. Stirring every 15 minutes.  This ensures candied mixture cooks completely.

Once cool. Store your nuts in an airtight container. I line gift tins with wax paper and fill them with the peanuts. Stick on a gift tag. Give as gifts. BAM! Rockstar!

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Smores Cupcakes

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Happiness

Happiness

Some time ago I saw on the aisle at the grocery store a box of Smores cupcake mix kit type thing. I looked the box over. A light bulb went off. I could do that, I had all the ingredients I needed at home.

First I must confess, this was some time ago. Like beginning of summer. Yes I am a slacker to wait this long to share. But the worst is yet to come, I was so excited to try this I did not even think to take pictures until things were almost ready to go into oven. So pictures are scarce and we must rely on my memory from that day. In short we are doomed!

Here is how I recall that day.

My dad who at the time was on this kick of buying me cake mixes when he saw them on sale. There was this one mix that was, double chocolate or something like that. I just remember it was more chocolate then your average chocolate cake mix. So it was to be sacrificed in this experiment.

I mix the cake according to package directions. Now time for the graham cracker crust to be our foundation. I made a guess on how much I would need to line the bottom of the cupcake liner. So graham cracker crust is something I do make on a regular basis , I did not measure I eyeballed, cause you know my extensive experience would never lead me astray . I put some graham crackers in my little generic cheap version of the bullet thingy (technical term). Once I had crumbs I began adding melted butter till it was moistened. Well I made way too damn much. So I am going to make a guess and say you need 1 to 2 cups. Not a bowlful as I ended up with.

I pushed this mixture done firmly into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Now goes a thin layer of the cake mix. Here is the part that had me wishing I just bought the darn box kit to make this as I‘m sure the company has found the best way to handle this part. I needed to transfer my marshmallow cream into a baggie to squeeze the stuff into each cup. I first tried just using a spoon and putting a spoonful of cream into each cup but I was getting the stuff everywhere but the center, you know how sticky that stuff is. I went to the squeeze bag method.

Marshmallow cream is messy. Maybe it’s just me but that stuff fights me. So after fighting it into the baggie I snipped my corner and squeezed. Worked much better than the spoon. I then covered the cream with another layer of the cake mix. Into the oven to cook following the cake mix temp and time.

As I stood up from putting the pan in the oven I noticed the disaster of my kitchen and myself. My kitchen and my arms, hands, front of shirt and have mercy, even my hair had cake mix and marshmallow cream on them. Again I felt I would have been better off buying the box kit.

FYI: coconut oil will help get marshmallow cream out of hair.

As I finished cleaning up my timer let me know my cupcakes were done. I took them out of the oven. I wanted so badly to bite into one right then but I had this vision of me biting into one and marshmallow lava erupting all over me. I let them cool down while I took a few quick pictures. They were cooled down enough to taste test.
I finally took my first bite.

Holy Mother of Cupcakes. I don’t know how the box kit of this stuff taste but this, this was cupcake heaven. No icing was needed. At all. Now I had enough of everything to make a second pan but I was not fighting the marshmallow again. EVER.

You know you want to bite me

You know you want to bite me

SMORES CUPCAKES

Ingredients:
Chocolate cake mix from a box or your favorite recipe
Items needed to make the batter (eggs, oil, etc)
1 to 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
Enough melted butter to moisten the crumbs
1 jar of marshmallow cream or fluff as some people call it.
Strong baggie or icing bag to pipe out cream/fluff
Coconut oil to get that stuff cream/fluff out of your hair

Mix batter according to instructions on box or your recipe.
Moisten crumbs with butter, put a spoonful of crumb mixture into bottom of each cupcake liner. Press down until bottom is completely covered.
Next put down a thin layer of cake batter.
Pipe in a small amount of cream/fluff into center of the batter. Try to avoid it spreading to the edges.
Cover with another layer of batter.

Bake according to box/recipe instructions or until toothpick comes out clean. Avoid doing this to the center you will just hit the cream. Let cool, eat as is or cover with chocolate icing.

Now remember I made my own using ingredients I had at home. If you have to buy all the items it just might be cheaper to buy the box kit instead. It’s on the grocery store baking aisle with the cake mixes.

Don’t want to use the box kit? My recipe to vague? Hit Pinterest and search. I know there’s a recipe out there. Trust me when I say, if it’s not on Pinterest it doesn’t exist.

Warning: marshmallow cream is sticky and messy

Warning: marshmallow cream is sticky and messy

Honey, I Shrunk the Pores

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Cleanser, toner and face cream

Cleanser, toner and face cream

 

Today I am sharing with you my 1,2,3 skin care regimen I use on my face.

Over the years I have spent a good bit of money on face washes and lotions. Only to face extreme breakouts and rashes. The only thing that did not break me out was Noxzema, which is a great product. But as I began to age my skin began to dry. Badly. I suspected at one time I was beginning to mummify because my skin was so dry.

So I had to say goodbye to my beloved Noxzema and search for alternatives. Luckily my search was short. I researched natural beauty products and singled out a few ingredients I knew my sensitive skin could handle.

Step 1 is the sensitive skin cleanser.
Step 2 is a toner
Step 3 is an anti-aging cream

Before we go any further lets talk about shelf life. After researching natural skin care I have learned this: shelf life is a tricksy thing. Some people believe these products have a shelf life of three weeks other three months. Yes that big of a difference. I just make small batches of these recipes so I know I will use them up sometime during the 3 week to 3 month range. Now each product on it’s own seems to last forever but once mix together that changes. I don’t know why. Maybe they don’t play well together?

Step 1: SENSITIVE SKIN CLEANSER
I’m going to share some information on the Sensitive Skin cleanser, which I found on Pinterest which led me to Beautyandthefoodie blog. Check her out she has some great DIY beauty recipes. Here is the recipe located on her blog. Sensitive Skin Cleanser.
I have been using a few weeks now. Just twice a week and eventually three times. The other days I wash my face with coconut oil.
So far I am liking this cleanser. It is gentle yet you feel like you are getting a deep clean. The recipe does call for raw honey, I used some honey I bought during a trip to Asheville, NC. It is that dark amazing tasting honey. So good. I’m sure you can find a good quality honey at your local farmers market.

face cleanser

Step 2: SKIN TONER
The toner I also got from Pinterest but as sometimes happens you pin then next time you try to visit the site it is blocked. Luckily I wrote down the recipe, I changed some amounts because I felt the amount of one item was too much for my aging dry skin.

Skin Toner
1 oz distilled water
½ oz apple cider vinegar
10 drops tea tree oil

Just mix. I store in an amber glass jar. You can also use 10 drops lavender essential oil instead of the tea tree oil. The vinegar has a strong odor but will be gone by the time the toner dries.

Step 3: FACE CREAM/OINTMENT
The Face Cream or Ointment. It does look more like an ointment instead of a cream. I concocted this recipe from products I researched and had on hand. This stuff turned out to be amazing. AMAZING! I use it at night before bed. A little goes a long way. Sometimes I use a dab in the morning after my shower. Once a week I heavily slather this on my face, let it sit for an hour then use the cleanser. I love this stuff.

What you need

What you need

GOTHA’S FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH OINTMENT

¼ cup almond oil
2 droppers full of Argan oil
2 tbsp coconut oil (solid)
2 tbsp beeswax pellets
1 tbsp Shea butter
10 drops lavender essential oil

Use a large glass measuring cup, that is sitting in a water bath on the stove (medium low heat). Add your two droppers full of Argan oil. Pour in ¼ cup almond oil. Add the coconut oil, beeswax and Shea butter. After everything has melted and stirred well remove the glass measuring cup or whatever you are using from the heat. Add your lavender oil. Mix well. Pour into your storage containers. Let cool completely before putting on lid. Store in a cool dark place.
You can add a few drops of vitamin e oil when you add the lavender. It would just make this great cream even better. I do not use vitamin e oil because my skin tends to itch when I use it.

Freshly poured magic

Freshly poured magic

Fountain of youth?

Fountain of youth?

Just for your 411: when you begin to use natural products your face may experience a breakout or two as your skin releases built up toxins and anything yucky lurking about. Now if after a few weeks you are still experiencing breakouts this stuff may not be for you.

I buy everything but the coconut oil off of Amazon. Only because that’s where I find the best deals.

Now let’s talk common sense. If you begin to break out in hives or your skin begins to experience a burning sensation STOP. WASH OFF PRODUCT! As I always say, research all the ingredients before using them. Know what is going on your skin!

 

Gotha’s Chocolate Coconut Bombs

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Too damn tasty

Too damn tasty

I have added coconut oil to my diet in hopes of helping my dry cracking itchy skin. I am trying to heal my skin from the inside out because in my 40 something years nothing has helped my skin from the outside. If I had back the money wasted on lotions, I wouldn’t be rich but I’m sure I could pay a few big bills off.
I first became familiar with coconut oil from Pinterest when I was looking for natural hair treatments. That sparked my interest about that amazing oil, so I researched the many uses and benefits of the awesome coconut and the oil it produces.
What you must first understand is the oil is solid like lard. Fortunately it has a low melting point of 76 degrees. Which makes it easy to use on the hair and skin. Now getting it inside the body is easier for some but not everyone. I fall into the not everyone category.

I have tried melting the coconut oil and just slamming it down the hatch like a shot of liquor. Nasty doesn’t even begin to describe that process. Some Pinterest pins suggest just eating it by the spoonful, solid. That ended up with gagging like a cat trying to upchuck a fur ball. I have added it to food and drink with some success.

When done properly coconut oil in coffee is a great tasty way to get it into your diet. But when you have stomach issues like me, coffee every morning is a no-no.

Much by accident I came across several pins about coconut bombs.
What are coconut bombs you ask? Just a tasty way to ingest good ole healthy coconut oil.

There happens to be a few ways to make these bombs. Some recipes just have you mix the solid form of the oil with some tasty ingredients. Some call for you to melt the oil before mixing.

Ingredients added to the oil varied also. Some people used ground cinnamon, some cinnamon with chocolate and others used just chocolate or cocoa powder. None that I found had shredded coconut in the recipe. What?
Now my version is one of many. You may not like it. No problem. Go to Pinterest and search ‘coconut bombs’ you will have so many recipes you are sure to find one you love.

Here is my version:

What you need

What you need

Gotha’s Chocolate Coconut Bombs for Smoother Skin

1 cup of melted coconut oil. (about 60 seconds in microwave handles that)

A small handful of chocolate chips, about 25. Semi-sweet, milk chocolate, basically whichever floats your boat.

One tablespoon cocoa powder.

1 cup of shredded coconut.

Here is the easy peasy way to build your bombs:

Add your chocolate chips and cocoa powder to your melted coconut oil and stir. Stir a lot. It took some convincing for the chocolate chips and oil to decide to become one. After that mix in the shredded coconut. Your mixture will be runny. Just toss it in the freezer for two minutes. While your bombs are cooling lay out some wax paper on your counter.

Remove mixture from freezer, stir well. If it’s still too runny pop back in freezer for another minute. Once cooled and slightly hardened use two spoons or a melon baller to shape bite size bombs. Place on wax paper to set up. I ended up with 25 bombs. You may get more or less depending on how you size them. I have most at a two-bite size.

This is from a smaller test batch. The recipe makes much more.

This is from a smaller test batch. The recipe makes much more.

Adding the coconut. Yum

Adding the coconut. Yum

I store the bombs in the fridge. Remember coconut oil has a low melt point. My house is HOT!
The husband thinks we live in the artic and keeps our heat on what I call the tropical setting. I have had to go outside in 20 degree weather wearing shorts and a t-shirt to cool down. True story. Neighbors must think I’m having menopausal hot flashes. So I feared my coconut bombs would react like Frosty the Snowman on a tropical island and turn into coconut puddles.

Tasty. This is a skin treatment that can spoil a girl.

Tasty. This is a skin treatment that can spoil a girl.

Right now I have two bombs a day. One at my first break at work the other during my second work break. If in a few weeks I feel I need more coconut oil I will add a third bomb. And yes I do yell, “Bombs away” before eating one. (UPDATE: with two per day for two weeks my skin still looks dry, but man it feels soft. So it is helping. I will now add a third bomb to see where that takes me on my dry skin journey).

How do they taste? Like an Almond Joy minus the almond. But without almonds it’s a Mounds you say. Nope. Mounds uses a dark chocolate which changes the taste dramatically. Don’t argue I’m a ‘robust’ girl, I know my candies.

Now some people use coconut bombs for weight loss. Does that work? I don’t know but you might want to omit the chocolate chips from the recipe if you are trying to watch your weight. I have not lost any weight but I have noticed that after eating a bomb I do feel full plus do less mindless snacking. It’s the late evenings that kill me with the over eating. I will soon tackle my food issue. First I am focusing on being more active. Which with my Vivofit is working well. Small changes, not all at once is my plan.

A note on buying coconut oil. My first suggestion is do your research so you can make an informed decision. After trying several, some refined some unrefined. Some virgin some not so virgin. Some without taste others with a coconutty taste. As of right now my favorite is a unrefined virgin coconut oil from Target. It does have a coconut taste. I still try other types/brands as I find them so one day my favorite might change. So, research, try a variety, maybe look at some brands on Amazon and read the reviews.

Are you a coconut oil user? If so please share with me, I am always looking for new ways to try this amazing oil.

UPDATE: I have tried this a few times adding extra ingredients. After research I have discovered Cacao Nibs are a nutritional powerhouse. Brazil nuts may help my Thyroid issue. So I added 1 tbsp of the nibs and three chopped Brazil nuts to the recipe for my bombs. The bombs are still great with the add ins.

 

You Gotha Try This Banana Pudding, Pt. 3 of a Family Food Saga

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banana pudding 4

Banana Pudding. There’s a hundred recipes out there, each one claiming to be the best. How do you determine which is the best? Easy, it’s the one you grew up on. See, it is not about the taste when it comes to banana pudding (unless you find yourself face to face with a bowl made by someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing), banana pudding is about memories.

I come from a big family. BIG. Not only do we breed like bunnies but once you become friends with someone in the family, you become family. There’s no getting out either. Kind of like the mafia but with less violence.

With a big family and the merging with other families comes many variations of banana pudding. To me each one is good. One does stand out above the rest but for the sake of family peace I will not name names. Over the years I have learned these recipes and have combined the best of each one to make…‘You Gotha Taste This Banana Pudding’. I’m sure the name won’t catch on but I think once you try this banana pudding recipe you just might be hooked.

You Gotha Taste this Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

Bananas

Vanilla Wafers

Vanilla instant pudding, 2 small boxes

2 ½ cups milk

1 small tub of cool whip, thawed

½ small can of condensed milk about 7 ounces.

2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl mix the 2 boxes of pudding with 2 ½ cups milk. I use a hand mixer. Once mixed add condensed milk (you can use the whole can but your banana pudding will be way to sweet) along with the vanilla extract. Beat until it has a smooth pudding consistency and has started to thicken up slightly. Gently fold on the cool whip. I put my pudding mixture in fridge until I’m ready to assemble.

Just the pudding and milk

Just the pudding and milk

With cool whip added

With cool whip added

While you’re pudding mixture is chilling out in the fridge, take a handful of vanilla wafers, place them into a Ziploc bag, and seal it.

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Find a weapon, I use a hammer with a dishrag or small hand towel laid over the bag (this prevents the hammer from tearing open the bag). Now beat the wafers. Beat them until they are vanilla crumbs. This will be the topping.

Beating the wafers. Ignore my chipped nail polish

Beat the wafers. Chipped nail polish is optional.

wafers to crumbs

wafers to crumbs

Slice your bananas. The amount depends pretty much on what you have on hand. I usually have a lot since my dad is always coming by with a bag of bananas he found on sale. I swear that man has not met a banana he didn’t like.

I just toss the banana slices into the cool whip bowl. No need to dirty extra dishes.

I just toss the banana slices into the cool whip bowl. No need to dirty extra dishes.

Once the bananas are sliced it’s time to get assembling. A pretty bowl or casserole dish is what you need.

Line the bottom of your bowl/dish with vanilla wafers. Spoon half of your pudding mixture over wafers. Add a layer of bananas. Repeat.

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Wafers, pudding mixture and banana.

Wafers, pudding mixture and banana.

Now the top is up to you. Some people line the top with whole wafers while others sprinkle the top with wafers crumbs. There are even those who lay down another layer of wafers, cover with a layer of just plain cool whip then sprinkle wafer crumbs. No wrong choice here. Cover with foil and allow to sit in the fridge a few hours.

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An important note: if you are making this dish for a get together you must make a small bowl of banana pudding and put in fridge. Why? Because if it’s like my family gatherings you’re not going to get any of it unless you do this.

Cover with foil and let chill in fridge for a few hours.

Bowl I made for myself as I was assembling the banana pudding

Bowl I made for myself as I was assembling the banana pudding

banana pudding 3

banana pudding 2

banana pudding 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Chia Muffin with Raspberry Glaze

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A few weeks ago I made Lemon Chia Muffins with a raspberry glaze.

They turned out somewhat okay.

By that I mean they tasted good but had the consistency of cornbread. So darn dry. If you try this recipe add more milk or better yet add water to the Chia seeds. Don’t add them dry.

When I followed the recipe the batter was thick, thinking about it the concoction was so thick I’m not sure we can even classify it as batter. So again add more milk. Hopefully that will help. If I make this again and I discover adding more milk does help I will update this post.

By the way, the raspberry glaze ROCKED!

Here is the recipe:

Lemon Chia Muffins with Raspberry Glaze

2 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ c. butter softened

1 tsp. lemon extract

2/3 c. sugar

2 lg. eggs

2 tbsp. chia seeds

½ c. milk

1 pkg. lemon pudding (no need to make the pudding, powder goes into muffin mixture)

 

Muffin Instructions:

Cream together: butter, eggs and lemon extract until creamy. Add rest of ingredients.

Bake 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Glaze

½ c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. flavoring ( I used LorAnn Oils, raspberry flavor)

Glaze Instructions:

Mix sugar and flavoring. If glaze is to thick add a ½ tsp more flavoring.

Dip muffins into glaze before serving.

 

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam in the Crock-pot

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I have made strawberry jam in the crock-pot before. Using apple for the pectin to make it gel. For me that process it hit or miss, one time I used apples it set up fine the next time we ended up with strawberry syrup. Then I got some Chia seeds to use as egg substitute in baking. You mix 1 tablespoon Chia seeds in 3 tablespoon of water let it set for at least 15 minutes. The seeds absorb the water and you are left with this jello type mass to use in place of your egg.

That got my dark mind racing, ideas began to form. I think there may have been evil plotting music playing in the background. Or that might have been in my head. I asked myself, can it work? Will Chia seeds be the gel that holds my jam together?

I went to Pinterest (I go there now before heading to Google) to search this out. I discovered that yes, yes you can use Chia seeds. Once I discovered that golden gem of knowledge I began to form a recipe. I then tried that recipe out. Eureka! It worked!


 

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Ingredients:

4 packets of Truvia (or 6 for a sweeter jam) You can also use granulated sugar. ½ cup.

2 pints strawberries, cut in half

¼ c. lemon juice (this will help the strawberries keep their red coloring)

2 tbsp. Chia seed

In the Crock-pot add berries, lemon and Truvia. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir and mash your mixture up some. Cover and cook 1 more hour. Stir. Cook uncovered for 2 hours or until the mixture thickens/reduces down some. Stir in Chia seeds. Let set about 15 minutes. Then pour into your jars. Refrigerate and/or freeze.

Strawberries, sweetener and lemon juice in crock pot

Strawberries, sweetener and lemon juice in crock pot

I wish I could tell you exactly how much this made but it seems the day I made it and before I could put all of it into jars the husband went on a PB&J kick. I did manage to fill two 4 oz. jars and one 8 oz container before he confiscated the rest. He ate a lot of PB&J over the following days. His only complaint… he would have liked it to be a little sweeter. Next time I make the jam I will use more sweetener.

Nice and cold. oh so yummy

Nice and cold. oh so yummy

That was a month ago. I froze the 8 oz container of the jam. Today I thawed it out to see how well it held up. It was still great.

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