Sunday, March 29, 2015

Coffee and Sugar Skin Scrub

This is a wonderful exfoliating scrub that smells great (if you like the smell of coffee that is!) and softens and moisturizes your skin. I use this often--even on my face! I love the stuff. Even better? It is so simple to make and takes all of about 5 minutes. So here goes:
Coffee and Sugar Skin Scrub

Coffee and Sugar Skin Scrub

1/2 cup coconut oil (use cold-pressed oil made from ground coconut meat)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup coffee grounds (unused!)

Gently heat the coconut oil just until liquefied. (It doesn't take much effort because coconut oil starts to liquefy at about 75 degrees.) You can heat the oil in a double boiler or the microwave. Pour the oil into a medium sized mixing bowl and immediately add the honey. Stir to mix and "melt" the honey. Let it sit until the oil has cooled. (The oil won't yet be solidified even though it has cooled, so check often.)

Once the oil and honey are cool, add the vanilla and stir to mix well. Next, add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Last, add the coffee grounds and mix thoroughly again.

I store my scrub in wide-mouth half-pint canning jars. (It takes three of them per batch.) I keep one jar in the shower to use and store the others in the refrigerator so the coconut oil doesn't liquefy during warm weather.

To use, simply scoop out a small amount and massage into your wet skin. Rinse.

That's it! So simple. Your skin will love you!


Applesauce Nut Bread

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a soothing treat, but find that I either don't have the energy to involve myself in a lengthy process, or I'm busy and don't have much time. That's where quick breads really come in handy--they are quick and easy to prepare, and I can satisfy my desire without investing much time or effort. What's not to love about that?

The recipe I'm going to share with you today is called Applesauce Nut Bread. This bread isn't very sweet, so it's a good choice for breakfast, and actually complements scrambled eggs very well. It's tasty plain, or you can spread a bit of butter or apple butter on it (toasted or not) as well.
Close-up view
You can find this recipe--and others like it--in The Amish Baking Cookbook:

Applesauce Nut Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the rolled oats, walnuts, and raisins.

In another bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in applesauce and milk.

Add creamed mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 30 seconds. Although the batter will be lumpy, don't overbeat it. Pour batter into a large, greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Let the bread cool a bit before attempting to slice it. It's even better the next day (if you've kept it covered with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out).

Note: If you want a slightly sweeter bread you can add a bit more brown sugar to the batter (about another 1/8 cup) or sprinkle sugar or cinnamon sugar on top of the loaf before baking.

Next time I plan on sharing an even simpler quick bread recipe--Apple Pecan Bread. Be looking for it soon!

Blessings on your week.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies--A Good Old-Fashioned Treat

Last week I made a batch of Chocolate Crinkle Cookies to take to work. They were gone in a flash, and several people asked me for the recipe, which I thought somewhat odd because I figured everybody has a Chocolate Crinkle Cookie recipe. But apparently not.

I'll be sharing the recipe from my book The Amish Baking Cookbook--Plainly Delicious Recipes from Oven to Table.

So, for those of you who would like this recipe, or for those of you who have fond memories of your mother or grandmother making these tasty treats, I hereby offer to you...

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (**See below for substitution)
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
powdered sugar

Thoroughly cream together shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs and then chocolate. Sift dry ingredients together and then add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, blending well after each addition. Chill dough for 2-3 hours.

Form into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Place 2 to 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet or use a silicone baking mat (no need to grease these). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

**If you don't have baking chocolate you can use 6 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter or shortening instead.

These are delicious cookies--not too chocolatey, and the powdered sugar looks and tastes great. If you haven't made Chocolate Crinkle Cookies in a while, give them a whirl. Your family will thank you for it!

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Amish Reader Guest Blog Post--Homemade Macaroni and Cheese--The best!

Here is a link to a gust blog post appearing today on

It's n easy, kid-friendly meal idea. And even better (to my frugal way of thinking, at least!) it's inexpensive. What's not to like?

Give it a try. Your kids will thank you...and you'll be delighted as well. Comfort food at it's simple best.

Blessings to you and yours,

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Quick and Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken with a Bit of Kick

It's lunchtime. I'm starving. I'm writing about food. And I have half of a boneless, skinless chicken breast thawing. I don't want to take forever making lunch, but I want something that will satisfy.

What to do?

Oh, I'm glad you asked!

Here is what I did:
Sweet and Sour Chicken--Yum!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with a Bit of Kick

(Serves 2 easily, but double the recipe to serve 4-5)

1/2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. olive oil
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (optional)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
several good shakes of hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 T. catsup
1/3 cup cold water
2 T. corn starch
cooked rice

Heat the olive oil and brown the chicken, celery, onion, and bell pepper if using. Reduce heat and add the garlic, hot red pepper, honey, soy sauce, and catsup. Cover and simmer on low while you cook the rice. A few minutes before serving, remove cover and increase heat a bit. Mix together the cold water and cornstarch and add to the chicken mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and come to a light boil. Remove from heat and keep hot until ready to serve. Ladle it on top of the cooked rice.

I never keep water chestnuts around, but I'll bet it would be delicious to add some. For that matter, you can add anything that sounds good to you. Cook's choice!

Hope you give this a try. I think you and your family will enjoy it!

Blessings and happy eating,

Easy Homemade Leather Shoe Shine and Conditioner--Scuffs Gone!

I'm currently writing a book on old-fashioned, homemade remedies for all sorts of interesting "problems" we come up against in our daily routine. It has been enjoyable so far, and as I talk to people about what I'm up to, I realize that so many folks don't know about many of the useful, inexpensive, and easy-to-prepare (read "no expensive or exotic ingredients!) solutions that are just waiting to be explored...and successfully used. So today, I'm going to talk about how to condition and bring new life and shine into your old leather shoes.

I have nothing but old shoes, it seems! I tend to be frugal in all things, and when I find shoes that are comfortable, I tend to wear them out. In fact, the shoes I've photographed for your perusal today have even been resoled and re-heeled once because the leather uppers were still fine. But, alas, and not surprisingly, those leather uppers were beginning to look pretty scuffed after several years of regular use. Here's a sample of what I was wanting to fix:

Scuffed leather shoes
And here's what I did:

I mixed together about 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil and then added several drops of dark malt vinegar. (I included the vinegar because I think it helps clean the leather, but I suppose it's not really necessary.) I chose those two particular ingredients because of their dark color--I figured that they would help the dark brown leather to look better as it would darken as well as brighten.) I whooshed the oil and vinegar together, and then soaked a paper towel in the mixture and wiped my shoes. I let it soak in and then softly wiped away the excess. And here's how they look afterward:
Shoes shined!
They look so much better! This was an easy and ridiculously inexpensive fix. I'll bet it didn't even use a penny's worth of ingredients...or maybe a penny's worth, which is still about as cheap as it can get.

So give this DIY shoe shine a try next time you want to breathe new life into old shoes. Or try it on your leather purse--anything leather, in fact. I think you'll be pleased!

And if you're interested in cleaning and conditioning wood furniture using oil and orange peels, be sure to read my post on that subject:

I hope you have a day rich in blessings. And even when life is hard, God is right there with you and He cares. May you feel His comfort.

Blessings to you and yours,

Friday, March 6, 2015

Cup-at-a-Time Hot Chocolate from Your Food Stash

Do you keep a food stash in your pantry "just in case?" I do, and I use and rotate my stash regularly. Several evenings ago I got the urge for a cup of my homemade hot chocolate (that uses several of my shelf-stable stash items such as dry milk powder and cocoa powder). Here's the post for the big batch recipe if you would like that:

But as it happened, I had used up my latest batch and I was too lazy to whip up another batch. (It was the end of a long and tiring day.) So I decided to make just one cup. I figured I could mix ingredients and simply taste until I got it good enough. But lo and behold, I hit the mark on my first attempt. And so I'll now share that with you.

Cup-at-a-Time Hot Chocolate

6 teaspoons powdered milk (I measured in teaspoons, but that's probably around 2 rounded tablespoons)
1 slightly teaspoon each granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder
about 6 grains salt (optional, but I always think a smidge of salt brightens flavors)
about 8 ounces of boiling or near boiling water

Measure ingredients into a mug:

Add boiling water and stir well to mix:
Drink as is, or top with whipped cream:


This is a good recipe to have on hand if you don't have many hot chocolate drinkers in your house, or you just want a cup every once in awhile. But if you like a steady diet of hot chocolate (especially during the cold winter months), mixing up a big batch is definitely the way to go.

Enjoy! And try to stay warm. Summer will eventually get here.

Blessings to you and yours,