Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Iced Chai

This drink is so simple ! Well, kind of. You first have to make or buy the chai concentrate. If you buy it, it's simple. If you make it, it's rewarding and even more delicious! Here is the recipe to make your own Homemade Chai Concentrate.

Making an iced chai really just consists of ice, milk, and chai concentrate.  It tastes best to me when I do a one to one ratio of milk to concentrate. 

Of all of the chai recipes I've been playing with lately, this super easy drink is definitely one of my favorite recipes.  I love to sit down at night after a long day and relax (while doing five thousand different things on the computer...which is still relaxing, sort of) with this drink. 

You can also do a hot chai by heating up the same ratio of concentrate to milk, which would be so nice when it's cold out.  I'll try that one tomorrow night. 

Here are my other chai recipes:

Chai Cookies with Caramel Icing

Chai Italian Soda

Homemade Chai Concentrate

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chai Italian Soda

Finally, I made chai Italian soda!  I'd been wanting to accomplish this goal long before the Paleo diet became cool.  It is just as delicious as I hoped it would be! 

You can use my recipe for Homemade Chai Concentrate or you can buy your own concentrate.

Here is what you will need:

Homemade or Store Bought Chai Concentrate

Club Soda

Cream (I used half & half)

Ice and Straw (optional)

Directions for making Italian soda:

Fill a pretty glass with ice.

Pour as much concentrate in as you like. I would use about 5 tbsp per 16 oz.

Pour soda in leaving space for optional cream.

Top with a little or a lot of cream.

Add a straw, stir, and enjoy.

As you can tell, I like a LOT of cream. 

If you like Italian soda, try these homemade Berry Italian Sodas!

Also, these Chai Cookies with Caramel Icing are wonderful!

 If you can't tell by my posts, I might be a bit obsessed with chai.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Homemade Chai Concentrate

Here I go again...on my chai kick

I've been wanting to make a chai Italian soda for a while now, but in order to do that I had to find a good chai syrup or concentrate recipe. 

This recipe for chai concentrate is the one I used.  I only altered a couple of things.  I cut down on the caffeine level by only using two tea bags (since I'm preggo), I used sucanut instead of coconut sugar, and added a little more cardamom and cloves.  I honestly only put the tea bags in for a little color.  It's made with eight tea bags on the site I found, and is usually quite a bit darker.  You can use all eight of them if you don't mind the caffeine and want a darker color.

Here is what you'll need:
(yields approximately 4 cups)

4 1/2 cups water
2 bags black tea – I used black chai
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half so the seeds are exposed (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract added at the very end)
1/2 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sucanat Brown Sugar -- 2 lbs (you can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your chai)
1 – 3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into pieces
12 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods (open them, and leave seeds in the pod)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon raw honey (optional, if you want it to be sweeter without the honey, add a bit more sugar in at the beginning)
1 small square section of cheesecloth, approximately 8″ square (If you don’t want to mess with cheesecloth, make sure you have a good strainer you can use at the end.  You can also avoid using the cheesecloth while simmering, and instead, use a funnel with a cheesecloth in it at the end.)
kitchen twine

I love this recipe!  You really can play with the amount of sucanat and each spice to fit what you like. 

If you can read them, check out the awesome prices on those spices!  I learned that it's really wise to shop at an authentic Indian store for things like cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, cardamom, star anise, saffron, ginger, and cloves.


-Prepare the teabags by removing any tags if there are any and tying them all together. Prepare the spices, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean and orange zest by laying them in your cheesecloth.  Tie the cheesecloth pouch shut with a small piece of kitchen twine.  I did this very loosely, so that the spices wouldn't be tightly stuffed in the cloth. 

-If you don’t wish to use cheesecloth, you will just add all of your spices directly to the pan when the time comes and strain them out after.

-Add the water and sucanat to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and put in the tea bags and cheesecloth pouch. Simmer for 25 minutes.

-Remove the pan from the heat, strain the concentrate through a sieve or just remove the tea bags and cheesecloth pouch. At this point if you want a bit more sweetness you can add a tablespoon of honey, stir to dissolve.

-Allow the mixture to cool before pouring it into an airtight jar or container. This amount fits perfectly into a 1-quart mason jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.  You can also freeze the concentrate in ice cube trays to make it last longer. 

I didn't know what nutmeg looked like inside before this.  It's really easy to grate by the way.

I ended up loosening the cheesecloth while it was simmering to get the full flavor of the spices.

 These are recycled baby food jars.  I'm hoping to come up with several ways to recycle all the jars I saved.  The funnel really helped, too. 

 The recipe filled five large baby food jars perfectly.

 I mixed gold and red acrylic paint to paint the tops of the jars just to spruce them up.

 The honey color is really pretty.  The concentrate would be darker if you were to use more tea bags. 

 These little baby food jars with ribbon and a tag make a great gift.  You can also include instructions on how to make the chai concentrate on a tag, so that your friends can make it themselves when they run out.  Don't copy my tags!  I read that saying "Chai Tea Concentrate" is like saying "Tea Tea Concentrate", so the website on the tag isn't correct either since I changed the blog title to "Homemade Chai Concentrate". 

I've already used this concentrate to flavor scones, Chai Italian sodaiced chai, and a frozen chai dessert drink.

These Chai Cookies with Caramel Icing are yummy, too!

I'd love to hear how you use chai concentrate.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Cakes and Cupcakes

Basically, I'm creating this post for anyone who is looking for Fall/Halloween cake or cupcake ideas.  I remember when I was making cakes all the time back in the day, I would search for picture ideas online for a long time before starting the cake.  So, here's to you online-picture-searching-cake-creator! 

 Skinny Pumpkin Cake (two bundt cakes stacked with filling)

fondant stem and leaves 

Fat Pumpkin Cake (two stacked bundt cakes with filling) 

 Fall Leaves Cake

Sunflower Cake #1 

Sunflower Cake #2

Pirate Cake 

Pirate Cake (The sword is broken in half, then stuck into both sides, so I didn't have to stick it all the way through, which probably would've damaged it.)

Giant Fall Cupcake Cake 

Fall Leaves Cupcakes 

Owls are Fall-ish, right?  The leaves are at least.

Pie Cupcakes with m&ms.  Orange or brown would be cute for Fall, too.

 Halloween Cupcakes!  (In case you can't tell, the white with pink cupcake is a brain.)
 Mummy Cupcake
Pumpkin Cupcake 

...and my favorite of all. The Ghost Cupcake!

I just have to say, I always wanted to make a haunted house cake.  There are so many neat designs for them online.  Someday...someday.  If I had to redo these, I would try to use a more natural icing coloring like India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, 3 bottles(red,yellow,blue)

If you have any questions about materials I used or how I made anything, please feel free to comment or email me. 

Check out my favorite icing recipes:
Simple Buttercream Icing
Chocolate Fudge Icing

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homemade Refreshing Shea Butter Soap

Homemade Refreshing Shea Butter Soap:
The Melt and Pour Method

The combination of malaleuca, peppermint, cedarwood, and eucalyptus essential oils is very relaxing.  It's like going to a spa every time you take a shower :)  Here is how you can make this soap yourself.
32 oz Natural Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap package halved (each half makes four large bars)
5-10 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
5-10 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
5-10 Drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil
5-10 Drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
10 Drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional)
Natural Soap Dye (optional)
Alcohol in a spray bottle

Melt the soap in a double boiler.
Add dyes once the soap is melted. 
Mix well.
You can swirl colors by layering them.
Lightly spray the top of the soap with alcohol once it’s in the mold to prevent bubbles.
Allow the soap to sit at least an hour.
The package may say less time, but the large molds I used required a good bit more time.

How to order essential oils:
If you are looking for essential oils, I recommend using doTERRA's certified, pure therapeutic grade oils.  You can find them at  my doTERRA store .  If you'd like to receive wholesale prices, 25% off retail, please comment below or email me, and I can help you sign up.

Packaging: I wrapped the soap in plastic wrap, and then sealed them with a label sticker that has all the ingredients on it, but there are so many other cute ways to wrap soaps.

There are different methods to making your own soap, but I chose melt and pour method for my first time, because it's so quick and easy. This is also a good route to take if you want to avoid messing with sodium hydroxide (lye), although I plan on posting some lye soap recipes down the road.

Examples of soap bases you can find at craft stores or online:
Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap
Olive Oil Melt and Pour Soap
Clear/Opaque Glycerin Melt and Pour Soap
Goat's Milk Melt and Pour Soap

Once you have a melt and pour base for your soap you can be creative in choosing soap molds, adding your own colors, herbs, and essential oils. Bases and soap molds can be found at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and on Amazon. The Jo-Anns where I live doesn’t carry soap making products. There are also lots of melt and pour soap recipe books out there. I used the Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap, and made two different recipes from one package split in half (it made four large bars).

For gift ideas, take a look at the other items that went into these Gift Baskets :
Citrus Brown Sugar Scrub
Lavender Bath Salts
Tired Muscle Soak
Orange Almond Bath Fizzies
Peppermint Bath Fizzies
Homemade Chai Tea Soap

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homemade Bath Bubbles, FAIL

Bug messes with the drain in the bathtub so often that I felt the need to buy some baby bubble bath, so that he wouldn't be able to see the drain under all the bubbles.  ...but most of the bubble bath out there has parabens and other crazy stuff that paranoid mommies like me don't want to buy.  I thought I might try to make my own bubble bath with...you guessed it...Castile Soap! 

Here is the recipe I decided to use:

  • 1 cup liquid castile soap

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon glycerin

  • essential oil of choice

  • Simply mix ingredients together, then let them sit for 24 hours before using. Read below before trying this recipe!

    So, I ordered a big bottle of Castile Soap on Amazon for $15, and discovered that just as I'd heard, it really is a very earthy, hippie product.  If you ever see a bottle of it, try to read all of the spiritual writings on the label.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It's a novel.  I found the glycerin at Earth Fare for $10.  So, there's $25 so far (I was trying to go the cheap route!), but I have a lot of the glycerin and castile soap left over to use for other things. 
    I chose to use lavender, neroli, and Roman chamomile for the essential oils, because they are relaxing (and safe for mama to use during pregnancy).

     I recycled this sunflower oil bottle to store the bubble bath in.

    I then painted the bottle with chalkboard paint.  This is the bottle with one coat of paint. 

    After it dried completely, I painted another coat, and wrote on it with these awesome chalk markers. 

    These are calendula flowers that I infused into the water portion of the recipe.  I love calendula, because it's relaxing and smells wonderful.

    I anxiously funneled all of the ingredients into the bottle.  I couldn't wait to use the final product!

    Little did I know that this time consuming project would be a flop!  The recipe just didn't work for me.  The bubbles were terribly flat and rapidly disappeared.  I researched and discovered that this is the case for a lot of people out there.  There are tons of homemade bubble bath recipes floating around, and most of them just don't work like you might hope, because they don't contain surfactants. 

    So, in an effort to rescue the bubble bath, I tested the mixture with three more ingredients I had seen in other bubble bath recipes including:
    table salt, nonfat dry milk, and epsom salt...fail, fail, fail

    Back to square one... I finally broke down and bought some premade unscented bubble bath for $10 at Earth Fare.  It seemed natural enough.  The good thing about it being unscented is that I can add different essential oils to each bath.  Bug LOVES the big bubbles this stuff makes.  They do a good job of hiding the drain, so he doesn't mess with that anymore.  Mission finally accomplished. 

    The point of this failed blog post is to let people know that most homemade bubble bath recipes just doesn't produce large, long lasting bubbles.  Please let me know if you have tried making your own bubble bath, and have found something that really works!