Archives for November 2011

Homemade Birdseed Brittle

I have to thank my sister-in-law for this delicious twist on peanut brittle. She brought the recipe with her when she visited this weekend and we whipped up a batch. I love cooking with someone (especially an amazing cook like my sister-in-law) almost as much as I love eating homemade candy.

Birdseed Brittle

I’m so glad she brought this recipe. Birdseed brittle has it all over peanut brittle! You get a delicious brittle and can avoid the peanut allergy issues. Oh, and it’s gluten-free and vegetarian (not vegan).

While it might be allergen and gluten free…. it does have corn syrup. I’ve never made brittle without it, have you? I understand you can make brittle with maple syrup, but again, I’ve never done it. Ever hopeful that there was some “healthified” version of corn syrup, I asked at the Natural Grocers if they carried it. I won’t say the clerk showed any outward signs of disgust at my question, I will say he wore a kind of smirk that let me know corn syrup has no place in the Natural Grocers. So we had to make a second stop at Safeway to pick it up. And here’s a little tidbit of information for you. Corn syrup lives with the pancake syrup at the grocery store. Not on the baking aisle. Not sure what logic that follows, but there you go!

This recipe can make several Homemade Holiday presents, OR it can be eaten in two days by yourself in sneaky little bites when no one is looking.

Birdseed Brittle

1 1/4 C quinoa
1 1/4 C millet
1/4 C sesame seeds
2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1/2 C water
2 sticks or 1 C butter
1 t baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 325.

2. Mix the quinoa, millet and sesame seeds together. Spread mixture out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occassionally. Remove and allow to cool.

3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then stir in the butter. Turn the heat up to medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it measures the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer. Stir in the toasted seeds and the baking soda. Acting quickly, spread the mixture out onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

4. Let cool completely until hard. Break it into bite sized pieces and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (as if it would ever last that long!)

Homemade Holidays Have you been making any Homemade Holiday gifts?

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

 The original title of this post was, “How to Make Color Changing Pinecone Fire Starters.”
If you do a Google search, you’ll find that various minerals are supposed to make fire burn in various colors.

For example, Borax, which is essentially sodium borate, is supposed to turn the fire a green color.

How much do I love green? It’s totally my favorite color, right? So I was all aflutter thinking about beautiful green flames in my fire.

Here is the fire we built with a sparkling pinecone just catching fire:

Pinecone Fire Starter

None of the flames look green to me. Any of the flames look green to you?

Trust me, we watched that fire like hawks while the smoke permeated every pore of our beings and the next day we woke up smelling like we’d been in a forest fire.

You’d think I’d just trash the idea. Only check out how beautiful these Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters look:

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

They literally look like they are covered in crystallized snow!

Instead of trashing the idea, I’m making more because the decorating possibilities are literally mind boggling!

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters:

  • In 8 cups hot water, dissolve 3/4 C borax
  • Soak pinecones overnight
  • Allow to dry

This is simple enough anyone can do it! Now, the crystals are delicate and they do knock off easily. If you want to just create a pinecone that has white tips, dissolve 3/4 C table salt instead of Borax. Here’s what these look like:

How to Make a White Pinecone

They are still pretty, don’t you think? Plus, they don’t shed crystals, which is nice.

I plan to decorate my house with these Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters this year. Then I plan to bag them up to use as fire starters in our fire pit and I’ll tuck a few away for camping trips. Oh yeah, I’ll give some as gifts too! They’d be pretty on a wrapped package!

Pinecone Firestarters Basket

Homemade Holidays Are you keeping up with my easy DIY Christmas Gifts that are all part of my Homemade Holidays series? If not, start with my Black Apple Tea recipe, make a cup, then sip away while looking through all the DIY Projects!

How to Make Flower and Button Clothespin Magnets

Flower clothes pin magnets

My friend Crystal at Crystal and Company has a really clever tutorial for making clothespin magnets. Not only a thoughtful gift for the moms-with-lots-of-artwork-to-hang in your life, but these could totally be done in holiday colors for displaying all the holiday cards you receive. You could even leave the magnet off and just use the cute clothespins to display cards on a hanging line strung across your mantle. Crystal also has the brilliant suggestion of making some of these up for an inexpensive teacher’s gift!

Homemade HolidaysIf you plan on making these for your Homemade Holiday, don’t forget to make up a batch of my Non-toxic glue!

Apricot Brown Rice Mix

Apricot Brown Rice Mix

During the holidays, there is no shortage of sweet treats. I’m all for sweet treats. I love sweet treats. However, I hate having to work off sweet treats.

I try to eat healthy, and I want to be an encourager of healthy eating….much to my children’s dismay. This recipe for Homemade Apricot Brown Rice Mix is in that healthy eating spirit. It’s a great hostess gift or DIY Christmas gift that is inexpensive, simple to assemble, and still says “Happy Holidays” without saying “I’m trying to give you Type II diabetes!”

Apricot Brown Rice Mix
serves 4

1 C short grain brown rice
1/4 C chopped dried apricots
2 t dried minced onions
1/3 C slivered almonds

Layer all ingredients in a tightly sealing jar.

To give as a gift, include the following instructions:

To make Apricot Brown Rice, combine rice mix with 2 cups water (or chicken broth0 and 2 T butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 – 55 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, season with salt, serve!

Homemade Holidays For the month of November, I’m featuring Homemade Holiday DIY Christmas gifts. Have you seen my Gift Bows Made from a Magazine? What about my Black Apple Tea?

Costco Black Friday Ad

Costco

One of my top ten most viewed posts EVER is my Costco price list, so I know I’ve got a lot of Costco shoppers who are readers. Will you be shopping Costco on Black Friday? If so, here are the prices and deals that you can expect:

Offers Valid 11/25/11 – 11/27/11

Front Page Special Pricing:

$55 off Tom-Tom VIA 1530TM: limit 5

$20 off JBL Onstage Micro III Portable iPhone/iPod Speaker:limit 5

$30 off Magellan Roadmate 2120T-LM Portable GPS: limit 5

$69.99 for a Seagate 2TB Freeagent Goflex Desk External Drive: limit 5

$699.99 Dell 17.3″ Laptop

$179.99 Panasonic SD40 HD Camcorder

$99.99 Samsung W200 Shoot & Share

Appliances:

$15 off Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System

$50 off Maxi Matic Popcorn Trolley

$15 off Nine Stars Motion Sensor 18.5 gallon divided recycle trash can

Camcorders:

$179.99 Panasonic SD40 High Def

Desktops:

$999.99 Dell XPS 8300 desktop with 24″ monitor

Digital Cameras:

$80 off Nikon Coolpix S6100

$60 Canon Elph 310HS

Electronics:

$30 Off BodyMedia Fit Link Armband

$149.99 Celestron Dual Purpose Telescope

$60 off GAEMS G155 Personal Gaming and Entertainment Mobile System

$199.99 JBL On air Wireless

$99.99 Lorex Live Snap Portable Digital Wireless Home Video Monitor

$20 off Phillips 2-pack in-ear headphones

$99.99 Singing Machine SMD570 Karaoke System

$20 off Sony Blu-ray disc player

$129.99 Yamaha YPT230 Keyboard Package

GPS Devices

$219.99 Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS Heart Rate Monitor Watch

Home Items

$100 off Bond 5-burner LP Barbeque

$100 off Dyson DC25 Animal Ball Bagless upright

$300 Endura 6-piece modular seating sectional

$100 Reebok Trainer Upright Bike

Kitchen:

$219.99 Saber 20-piece knife set

$40 off Circulon 13-piece cookware set

$399.99 Saeco Odea Go Plus Expresso Machine

Television:

$189.99 Hannspree 24″ Class 1080p LED edge lit HDTV

Toys:

$25 off KidKraft Deluxe Garage play set

$20 off Transformers Optimus Prime 6-volt ride-on truck

$139.99 KidKraft Mansion Dollhouse

Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Shhhh. I’m about to share with you the absolute easiest recipe ever. This recipe for whole wheat beer bread has to be the quickest, easiest way to a fresh baked loaf of healthy, whole wheat bread. The resulting loaf is  both impressive and delicious. No one will ever suspect it only takes two ingredients to make the mix, or that all you did was add a beer to the mix to get homemade bread.

What’s that you say? You don’t dig whole wheat flour? I won’t judge. Substitute white flour in this mix. I don’t think you should, but you can. (rats. so much for that whole no-judging thing.)

Ok, so you say you love whole wheat, it’s the beer you just can’t do. Again, I got ya covered. Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Are you wondering if I’m serious? As a heart attack. I’m devouring the loaf you see in the picture right now. I made it with whole wheat flour and Mike’s hard lemonade. It’s delicious.

The only problem with this loaf of bread? I now have crumbs all in my keyboard.

Before you make the mix,  I’ve got a video on How to Measure Flour. I know measuring flour seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to baking, you want to make sure you have your ratios perfect to get the best results. Take a peek if you have 90 seconds. It’ll change your baking if you haven’t been measuring flour this way.

Here’s the ultra easy Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix recipe:

Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix

2 2/3 C whole wheat flour
2 1/2 t baking powder

Mix together the flour and the baking powder.

That’s it! There’s your mix!

You can stop right here. You can package this mix up in a mason jar, add a beer, toss them both in a basket and give it as a gift. Attach the following directions:

To make Whole Wheat Beer Bread:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Add (1) 12 oz beer to the beer bread mix and stir just until moistened.

Bake in a greased 9x5x3 inch pan for 50 – 55 minutes or until the top is brown and the sides are pulling away from the pan.

TA-DA! Bread! 

A mix and a beer aren’t your only gifting opportunity. Why not bake up a loaf of Whole Wheat Beer Bread and bring it to your friends while its still piping hot? I guarantee you they will be impressed. They won’t know you didn’t sweat and slave over it. Nope. They will never guess that you only spent 2 minutes of hands-on prep time. And don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.

Homemade Holidays Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix is another post in my Homemade Holidays series. Have you missed the other projects? Why not Subscribe to The Natural Green Mom and get all these ideas plus organic deals, green steals and real food meals right to your inbox?

Homemade Black Apple Tea Mix Recipe

Apple Tea

This homemade black apple tea mix is a great gift to give the tea lover in your life. Apple tea is a favorite in our family. We find nothing is more perfect to sip on cold afternoons.

There is only one problem with this apple tea. The dried apples and cloves infuse the tea with so much flavor, once you try a cup, you might find you don’t want to give it away!

I do have a helpful hint for making this recipe. The recipe calls for drying 1 apple. That is all you need to make for the tea. However, my advice to you is to make several apples. Cuz what is going to happen is you will smell those apples as they dry. Your mouth will start to water. You won’t be able to resist sampling one, which will lead to two. Plus, you can’t keep a smell to yourself. No, the smell will permeate the home. Your family is going to ask what you are making. They will ask for their own sample, and soon your dried apple will be gone. So do yourself a favor. The food processor is already getting dirty with one apple. May as well slice 3 or 4. The oven already has to be on for 90 minutes, so may as well have 4 trays of apples drying. Really, what’s not to love about making both snack and a gift in one fell swoop?!?

Here’s how to make Black Apple Tea for a Homemade Holiday gift:

Apple Tea Ingredients
Black Apple Tea Recipe

1 sweet organic apple (I used honeycrisp, but you could use gala or fuji)
2 T lemon juice
2 t turbinado sugar
1/2 C loose leaf black tea
15 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken (to break cinnamon sticks, place on towel and fold towel over. hit with heavy object several times)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Slice the apples as thin as possible. (I used the food processor) Soak the slices in a bowl of ice, water and the 2 T lemon juice for 5 minutes.

Soaking Apples

Drain slices and lay in one layer on a cookie sheet lined with either silpat or parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes.

Apple Slices Ready for Drying

Once dried and cooled, chop the apples finely. Mix the dried apples with the remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

**To brew the tea, brew 1 tablespoon in one cup of hot water for 2 minutes.**

Stored properly, the tea will last 6 months. However, I doubt anyone can keep it around that long!

To package my tea, I used a Martinelli’s apple juice bottle. I loved that is was already apple shaped. I then added a green “leaf” that I cut out of a kleenex box that was green. On the backside of the leaf, I wrote the instructions for brewing the tea. This is the result:

Apple Tea

Do you have any tea lovers in your life that would like Black Apple Tea Mix?

Be sure you check out all my healthy drink recipes.

Homemade Holidays