Monday, November 29, 2010

Marshmallows & Breakups


Some people do their best thinking in the shower, or on long jogs.  Me, I come up with the best ideas when I'm brushing my teeth.  On Saturday night, I was getting ready for bed and brushing away with my current favorite toothpaste (I'm a toothpaste addict!  Right now I'm into Tom's new flavor Wicked Mint), when I thought "savory marshmallows!"  EEEP!  How come people don't make savory marshmallows?  Would they taste good?  Would they roast well?  How delicious would a savory flavored marshmallow be on top of a pumpkin soup or on a sweet potato casserole?!  I found a fellow blogger that had already given savory marshmallows a go!  I was so excited to make them I could barely sleep!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 3 Update on Homemade Skincare - Homemade Honey Aspirin Mask

Friends, my face feels as tight as pterodactyl skin!  I'm starting to question my dedication to this 4 week experiment!  I'm going to persevere though because, let's face it, I'm pretty stubborn.

This week I've been using the homemade almond cleansing cream in the morning, followed by Weleda Rose Cream and a few drops of jojoba.  If I'm going to be outside a lot, I wear a Yes To Carrots SPF 30 sunscreen.  Then I apply my makeup, which is becoming more difficult due to the dryness.  There are patches of dry skin and flakiness.  At night I remove my eye makeup with a MAC oil cleanser.  Then I remove my foundation and such with Cetaphil.

Earlier this week, disaster struck.  I was chatting with a friend about this routine and she said that Cetaphil does not remove all of her makeup.  I want to make sure I'm removing it all, so I used my Pretika facial brush (which is a Clarisonic dupe).  OH DEAR LORD.  My face was so tight all night that I could barely sleep!  The Pretika stripped off all the remaining moisture I had in my skin!!  It was horrible.  The next day I purchased Desert Essence Organic jojoba oil and started using that.  It has really helped, but the dryness is winning at this point.  Applying the jojoba and moisturizer help to apply my makeup, at least.  It's at nighttime that the dryness is really bothersome.

Last week I talked about how my pores are beginning to empty on their own.  That's still happening to some degree, but now I mostly have impacted blemishes.  They are deep under the skin, and if I want clear skin, I need to figure out how to safely and effectively get rid of them!  That's when I decided to make a homemade mask from these two ingredients:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reinventing Thanksgiving Leftovers - Sweet Potato Biscuits & Thyme Gravy

To people outside the South biscuits and gravy may seem like an exotic dish, but to Southerners it's commonplace.  Like many people my age, I have moved away from home and find myself craving things that I didn't care much for as a kid (S.O.S.!!!).  When I'm craving something my grandma and mom used to make for me, I now have make it for myself.   I think my grandma would have a heart attack if she knew I paid $8 for a small plate of poblano-cheddar biscuits and country sausage gravy at a local restaurant because I didn't know how to make it myself!

sweet potato biscuits & thyme gravy

Today I put a twist on the classic biscuits and gravy by making sweet potato biscuits and thyme gravy.  This recipe is great for this post-Thanksgiving weekend when you probably have leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge that no one wants to eat since all the marshmallows are gone!  I will admit that my biscuits are delicious but not as good as my mom's!  I'm pretty sure it's because I use whole wheat dough instead.  And because things taste better when your mom makes them!

Click through for the recipe!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thankful Sundae

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  There's food, family, friends, no stress about presents and it has a great message - thankfulness.  I am so thankful for my life. It's full of love and happiness. I am thankful that I passed the bar exam (YAY!) and I have a bright future ahead of me!

Since this holiday is so special to me, I am going to use it to debut the first Salty Girl video!  In this video I show you how to make a Thankful Sundae - pumpkin frozen yogurt topped with cranberry syrup and toasted pecans.  It's a little too  late to make it for your family for Thanksgiving, but any day is great to give thanks, right?  Friends, it is very embarrassing and difficult to record a video.  The sound of my own voice and the things I say are just ridiculous.  Please feel free to laugh.  I hope you enjoy the video!

Click through for the recipe:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 2 Update on Homemade Skincare

It's 2 hours and 15 minutes until I find out some very, very important news - whether I passed the California Bar Exam!  I'm shaking in my flats and polka dotted tights, let me tell you.  This stress cannot be good for my skin!  I wanted to peek into the blog and give an update on my homemade skincare regiment before I go take the edge off my anxiety with some hot sake. 

This week has been pretty difficult without and evening moisturizer, but I think it's starting to help my pores shrink.  When I go to bed, my skin is very tight.  But when I wake up in the morning it feels great!  Also, when I wake up now, my pores have shrunk overnight and (ick) sometimes there are bumps on my face where my pores have cleared out some gunk.  Sorry that's gross, but it's pretty cool that my pores are naturally cleaning themselves out. 

I am loving the homemade almond cleansing cream, and I will probably continue to use it even after this experiment is over.  It feels nice and gentle on my skin, and I like that it's very simple and homemade. 

Lastly, while my pores are looking great, the lack of moisturizer was causing some dry patches on my face!  I broke down yesterday and purchased some jojoba oil.  I am raving happy about the jojoba oil!  As soon as I put it on, my skin drank it up and looked amazing.  Last night I didn't use any moisturizer, but I woke up today with amazing skin. 

Good thing, too, because on a day like this, I don't need any extra stress. 

Good luck to all of those who are getting bar results today, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!  I will be back soon with more recipes for skincare and baked goods alike! 

Please please please please let this picture come trueeeee!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skillet Pot Pie

Yesterday I needed something to warm my heart.  Life can really get to me sometimes, and I just wanted a little comfort.  Preferably in pie form.  Savory pie, of course!  A friend of mine recently mentioned a restaurant in Apple Hill that sells nothing but pot pies.  What a great idea!  I decided to do my own spin on a pot pie.  So that I had only one dish to clean (and for a pretty presentation), I decided to do it all in my very favorite pan - my cast iron skillet.

This skillet pot pie is delicious, but it does take some time to make.  The hands on time is nominal, but it takes about 40 minutes to cook the chicken and another 50 minutes to bake the pie.  A two hour process, but it's really easy.  Plus, it really does warm your heart. 

Read on for the recipe!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Experiment in Homemade Skincare Products

Friends, that was a tasty hot toddy.  I'd share the recipe, but I didn't do veer too far from the original recipe.  A shot of whiskey, lemon juice, and hot water.  Oh yeah, instead of using honey, I made a quick simple syrup out of spices I found in my cabinet - cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom pods.  Too bad this blog post isn't about hot toddys - it's about skincare.  I'm sorry friends, I didn't have an opening picture for this post so I tricked you with hot toddys.  But if you are interested in making your own fresh almond cleansing cream, or at least seeing if it breaks me out like a teenie bopper, keep reading!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fluffy Whole Wheat Tortillas

After my last post on macarons which required tons of time and special equipment, I thought I'd better do an easy utilitarian recipe.  Homemade tortillas fits the bill.  They are simple because they require ingredients I always have in the cupboard and they are super tasty.  I like to use them for homemade fajitas, but it's also a nice recipe to have in case you are at home find yourself out of tortillas!   I like them with whole wheat flour, but you can easily use all purpose flour and have something that resembles the Texas flour tortillas I miss from El Chilito in Austin.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

cranberry macarons

Now I know that our grandparents probably never made macarons. They probably haven't even had macarons! They are probably more familiar with the shredded coconut macaroons. That said, I know my grandma used to make meringues for my mom growing up. Macarons are not so far off from meringues. These little macarons have a meringue base that is mixed with very finely ground almonds.

I tend to make a jam, curd, or whatnot, use it once, and then store it in my refrigerator for a long time. I'm making an effort to use what I make, so pardon the use of cranberry curd so many times! Thank goodness it's all gone now, so I promise no more cranberry posts (for a while)!

Making macarons is not for the faint of heart. I am going to be honest with you, they are very difficult. That must be why they are so expensive! Sadly, my favorite Parisian shop in town that sold macarons recently closed. What was I to do but learn to make them on my own? Well, I could go to Paris and have a macaron from Pierre Hermé, the father of macarons! Sigh. Someday!

This was my 4th attempt making macarons, and I am brimming with happiness. They turned out beautifully! Lucky for you, I've got it down and I'm ready to share my secrets! The owner of that Parisian shop shared a few secrets of macaron making with me, and I have learned many of my own tips through experience and research.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

make your own delicious ketchup

ketchup (or catsup!) is one of those things i never knew people could make from scratch. the bottle of Heinz always sat in our fridge and i took it for granted. now that i'm an adult, i know why so many kids love ketchup - it's filled with sugar. but not just just any sugar, high fructose corn syrup. high fructose corn syrup is the trans fat of sugars, no matter what their commercials say or what they name it (corn sugar?!?!?).

i decided to make a ketchup that was flavorful, high fructose corn syrup free, low sugar and costs the same or less than Heinz. the recipe i produced is so delicious, and very inexpensive. i used 2 cans of tomato paste, which was the most expensive ingredient. if tomatoes are in season of course use those instead! i used tomato paste because tomatoes are not in season here, it saves a lot of time, and it's inexpensive. i added balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes because i lovvve them. typically ketchup is made with distilled white vinegar, but i really love the flavor of balsamic and tomato. it reminds me of a caprese salad. the balsamic paired so nicely with the tomato flavor, but it made my ketchup a little dark. if you prefer a bright red picnic ketchup, use white vinegar instead. the result was much cheaper than store bough ketchup, much more delicious, and had a lot less sugar. not to mention it's customizable - you can play with the spices!! this recipe is so versatile! i added few cloves, but allspice, cinnamon, bay leaves, or star anise would be delicious.

(these are the essential ingredients for making your homemade ketchup!)

the ketchup recipe is included below. as for the sweet potato fries, i used cat cora's recipe. i didn't change the recipe at all, and the only thing i would suggest is making your fries thin matchsticks and of equal size. that's because when you are baking them the different sizes they are more and less done depending on the size. the recipe was a cinch!

it was a great snack - healthy and delicious.

TSG's spicy catsup
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • half a tomato paste can's worth (or 1/2 cup) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves (but only if you feel like fishing them out of the ketchup later on, which is a pain)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes if you are a spice wuss, and up to 1 tbsp if you are as into heat as i am!
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • large pot with a lid
  • funnel (optional, but helpful)
  • a container to store your ketchup - an empty Heinz bottle or canning jar works well. i used an empty balsamic vinegar jar.
add everything to a large pot with a lid. bring it to a boil, and when it starts bubbling put the lid on and turn down the heat to a simmer. keep it simmering for about 2 hours. fish out the cloves, if you added them. otherwise, use the funnel to pour the ketchup into a container.

the containers for holding your ketchup are not sterilized, but they have a lot of acid from the tomatoes and vinegar so they will last in the refrigerator at least a few weeks, and probably longer. if you want your ketchup to last for months on a shelf, please see this link on the safety precautions to take when canning your homemade ketchup.

Monday, November 8, 2010

the many incarnations of cranberry curd

last year i was obsessed with lemon curd. i made it for fourth of july, spreading it between layers of pound cake topped with whipped cream and berries. i ate it with blueberry scones and devonshire cream at my dad's house. i made the best shortbread cookies in the world and baked lemon curd on top of them. when i ran across this recipe for cranberry curd in nigella lawson's book, how to be a domestic goddess, i was swooning. cranberry curd is pure genius.
fresh cranberries, waiting to turn into something yummy.

look at that cranberry curd! what a pretty pink!

keep reading for the recipe!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

fig jam poptarts!

who doesn't love poptarts?

no one. that's right. everyone loves pies regardless of the form. i've seen poptarts on blogs recently, but no one has made a seasonal version. so here's my first run at seasonal, local poptarts - fig poptarts. they were perfect mixes of seedy bites of figs and flaky pie crust.

i took pie crust and cut it into perfectly shaped rectangles for poptarts. too bad perfectly shaped pie dough doesn't create perfectly shaped poptarts. some people embrace free form pies, but i try to make mine perfectly shaped every.single.time. you'll never see an apple galette on this blog!

keep reading for the recipe!

Fig and Balsamic Jam

i didn't have my first fig until i was 24 years old, and i didn't have fig jam until yesterday!

let me tell you, fig jam is so delicious. i've often eyed fig jam at the specialty grocery store, but i never took the plunge because it was so expensive. the bad news is figs are always expensive, despite whether they are in fresh or jammed form. i paid $6.99 per pound for figs at my local coop. if i had any patience to wait until sunday to buy figs. figs run about $4 per carton at my farmer's market. but i don't have any patience at all, so i paid the $$$, made the jam, and i'm happy i did. that's because it's amazing and lends itself to many uses. i have big plans for this jam such as homemade fig poptarts, fig macarons, and savory uses such as fig and goat cheese tarts. yums.

here are figs before they are turned into delicious jam!

this jam is really easy to make, but it's not shelf safe. make sure you store it in the fridge and use within a couple weeks.

homemade fig balsamic jam recipe
adapted from Kiss My Spatula

  • 2 pounds fresh figs, washed, stemmed and cut into small pieces.
  • 1 cup sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of figs)
  • zest of 1 lemon and its juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (any balsamic will do, you don't have to use your best for this recipe)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • splash of homemade vanilla vodka, if you have it, if not regular vanilla extract will work
  • Place figs, sugar, lemon zest + juice, balsamic vinegar, vanilla and salt in a non-reactive, deep pot. Let the figs macerate in the pot for 3o minutes, occasionally stirring.

  • Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. Keep stirring and cooking the jam for about 20 minutes, or until it's as thick as you'd like. You can break up the figs with your spoon as they break down in the jam.

  • If you'd like, you can mash the remaining chunks of figs with a potato masher.

  • Spoon into jam jars and allow to cool to room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator for several weeks.