Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap

Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap

I'm taking a break from food recipes today to share my most recent batch of soap! Soap-making is one of those random hobbies I've actually kept up with. I have a tendency to start a hobby for a few months, buy all the gear and supplies needed, and then abandon it a few months later. Soap-making, though, has been one that's stuck.

Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap

Homemade cold-process soap is gentle on my skin and doesn't dry me out like many commercially made alternatives. And, if you decide to get into soap-making, you'll find you can make a batch for a fraction of the price of what's for sale at Whole Foods or other stores selling natural body products.

Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap
Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap

If you haven't ever made a batch of cold-process soap before, make sure to read this tutorial over at Offbeat + Inspired. You'll find everything you need to know, and it may even bring you back to your high school chemistry days (although if you were like me and wasn't a huge fan of chemistry class, don't let that scare you away!). Happy soap-making! 

Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap

Lemon-Basil Shea Butter Soap
Makes about 16 (4 ounce) bars of soap

*If you are new to soap making, visit this post from Offbeat + Inspired for the full instructions. 

Base Oils
14 ounces Shea butter
13 ounces coconut oil
8 ounces olive oil
3 ounces jojoba oil
2.5 ounces avocado oil
1 ounce beeswax

Lye Solution
14 ounces water
5.5 ounces lye

Additives
Add 2 ounces lemon essential oil and 1 ounce basil essential oil right before the mixture reaches trace. (Note: With this recipe, the lemon-basil scent was very strong at first, but it mellowed out perfectly after a month of curing.)

Remember to let your soaps cure for 4-6 weeks before using or gifting

Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

A friend dropped his phone in the crevices of our couch a few weeks ago. He started reaching between the cushions and my internal alarms sounded. Fear and panic washed over me like a tidal wave, and I immediately issued a warning: “Be careful! I have no idea what you’ll find down there!”

Would he reach for his phone only to discover stale popcorn and animal cracker crumbs? Or worse yet, would he unearth a scary, sticky, mysterious substance whose only home should be a laboratory? Would he ever sit on that sofa again or return to our home without a hazmat suit? We laughed at the thought of what he might find, and despite my fear of the creatures beneath the cushions, I found the situation amusing rather than stressful. That would not have been the case a couple years ago.

Continue reading and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!

Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

Full recipe and instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

I'm currently halfway through my third Whole30, which is starting to become a once a year challenge for me. I'm not a paleo eater 100% of the time, and unless I develop any debilitating food allergies, I don't plan on giving up wine or doughnuts forever. Yet every time I participate in a Whole30, it forces me to think through what I'm eating. I learn better what my body likes and dislikes, and my clean eating recipe repertoire expands. When the 30 days are over, sure, I'll add back rice and chickpeas and whiskey cocktails. But after having said no to various foods for a month, I'm able to discern better when it's worth saying yes. 

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

I still have a lot to work on when it comes to my lifestyle choices. In no way have I "arrived." I'm learning and growing, and as I look back on what I ate a few years ago, I'm encouraged that my eating has drastically improved. I've also realized that my cooking has become much simpler, which is a change I didn't expect. I used to think clean eating had to be complicated. As it turns out, salt and pepper can work wonders on almost anything, and a few really good ingredients can do more for a dish than 20 mediocre ones.

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa
Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

This Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa is an exercise in simplicity. Good quality salmon requires just a bit of seasoning. Perfectly ripe avocados and mangoes add sweetness and a buttery texture that's balanced out by a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Few ingredients, simple preparation, and a whole lot of flavor. 

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa
Yields 3-4 servings

12 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 ripe mango, diced (I prefer Ataulfo mangoes for their sweetness and buttery texture.)
1 avocado, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 lime, juiced (plus additional sliced for serving)
1-2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay the salmon pieces on the prepared baking sheet, skin side down. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 12-14 minutes, or until the salmon is opaque and easily flakes apart. 

While the salmon is baking, add the mango, avocado, shallot, lime juice, and cilantro to a medium bowl. Mix until everything is fully incorporated. Spoon on top of the cooked salmon. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Quick Tip: Instead of salmon, try this salsa on top of white fish, shredded chicken or pork!

Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail

Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail

Iced coffee was invented for days like this. Days when the heat brings beads of sweat the moment you walk out the door, and the humidity increases the volume of your hair ten-fold (a la Monica Geller). Days when a glass of iced water just won’t cut it. You need the afternoon pick-me-up that only coffee can provide...and some days, that iced coffee begs for a shot of brandy and a splash of milk. 

I posted this Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail a couple months ago on Instagram, but it bears repeating on the blog. It’s the perfect way to cap off a hot summer day. Cheers!

Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail
Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail

Cold Brew + Brandy Cocktail
Yields 1 cocktail

2 ounces cold brew coffee (such as FreshGround's Black Ice Brew)
2 ounces brandy
2 ounces whole milk (or cream)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Ice
Cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom for topping

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass.

Sprinkle the top with cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom. Enjoy!

Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

We are entering the stage of sticky. There was always some of that from the earliest days of parenthood, but toddler sticky is a whole new level. No matter how many times I clean my kitchen floor, I still end up repeating the phrase, "What did I just step on?!" more times than I care to admit. I carry baby wipes with me wherever I go – and it's rarely ever for actual diaper changes. They’re for wiping granola bar crumbs, spilled applesauce, snot, drool or other mysterious liquids off my own body or that of my two munchkins. Clean up after meals all too often requires a full-blown bath rather than a quick wipe down. And summer? No one told me before having kids that summer is really three straight months of reaching epic levels of sticky.

Continue reading and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!

Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

Full recipe and instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!

A Birthday Celebration, Summer Update + Giveaway!

Favorite Things Giveaway-2.jpg

I can’t believe it’s been a year already! The Homemade Haus officially turns 1 this summer! It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m incredibly thankful for the encouragement and support I’ve received from friends, family and readers. You have helped make this an amazing adventure, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in for the next year.

Speaking of what's next...

I’m a planner. I like lists and calendars. I get a goal in my head, and half the fun for me is plotting out how to reach it. The only problem? Sometimes I get a little overzealous and overcommitted, resulting in either crappy work or complete burnout. I don’t want that to happen to this site. I’m trying to be more careful, intentional and realistic in my work – and motherhood adds an entirely new set of challenges that I didn’t have to work through in my previous blogging experience. 

Favorite Things Giveaway

So, I’ve decided to take the month of July off from posting new content here for two reasons: to rest and to learn. I will be spending time intentionally resting and unplugging for part of the month as my husband, kids and I go on vacation. In other words, I will be actually reading books – you know, those paper things that don’t require Internet or an outlet to enjoy? No wifi, no Netflix…just family, the woods and a good book. I seriously cannot wait!

The second reason for this month off is to have time to focus on learning. I’ll be participating in a writing workshop, tinkering with the backend of the blog and finishing up some video tutorial classes I started months (some even years) ago. It’ll still be a very full month, but you won’t see the fruits of that labor in the form of new content, at least for now. 

With all that being said, I thought that the first birthday of The Homemade Haus and the kick-off to my month away deserved a giveaway! (After all, we launched this site with a giveaway…why not keep that tradition going?) Thanks to several amazing sponsors that I’ve had the privilege of working with this past year, one winner will enjoy a prize pack (worth about $120!) filled with a few of my favorite things! 

Favorite Things Giveaway

Here’s what’s included:

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! 



Product for this giveaway was provided in partnership with FreshGround Roasting, K'Tizo Tea, Sonoma Syrup Co. and The Spice House. All opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is only open to US residents and will start Wednesday, June 29 and close at 12:00am on Wednesday, July 6 (CDT). The winner will be contacted via email or social media and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected. 

Summer Long Sangria

Sangria

There are certain recipes that have become signs of the season in my house – Autumn Chowder in fall, beef stew in winter, my favorite bacon, lettuce and peach sandwich in spring and sangria in the summer. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as sipping a cold glass of sangria on the back deck, around the fire-pit with friends or after a long day in the sun. 

Sangria

My brother shared this recipe with me a couple years ago, and I haven’t made another version since. The idea is simply that you make a base mix with ingredients like fresh fruit, brandy and various liqueurs, and then you add that mix to a bottle of wine when you're ready to serve. It’s become a family staple during the warm weather months. The best part? The recipe below makes enough of the base mix to last you all. summer. long.

Summer Long Sangria-2.jpg
Sangria
Sangria

If you scroll down and look at the ingredient list, you’ll notice it requires a lot of alcohol. Don’t let that deter you. This recipe should literally last you all season (or make enough for a huge crowd), and you don't have to buy top-tier liqueurs (use a decent wine when serving, though).

Sangria

If you make the full batch as written, you’ll have enough sangria base mix for about 18-24 bottles of wine, depending on how many ounces of mix you use per bottle of wine. Keep that in mind, and adjust accordingly. This summer, we split a batch with my brother and sister-in-law, which gave us each enough base mix for about 10 bottles of wine per couple. 

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Sangria

You can pare down the recipe to make enough sangria for just one evening or one party. Personally, though, I rarely use ingredients like peach schnapps or amaretto for anything else, so I’d rather use up those entire bottles. 

If you're willing to share the fruits of your labor, a jar of the base mix wrapped up with your favorite wine makes a great housewarming or hostess gift. It’s also the perfect addition to any cookout or picnic, and the base mix works well with reds, whites or roses to please nearly any palate. 

Sangria

Are you a fan of sangria? What’s your favorite beverage to enjoy during the summer months?


Summer Long Sangria

1 (8-12 ounce) jar of sangria base mix (recipe below)
1 bottle wine of choice*
Sparkling water (optional)
Ice
Fresh lemon or orange wedges

In a large pitcher, mix together 8-12 ounces of sangria base mix with 1 bottle of wine, adjusting the amount of base mix to your taste. I prefer about 12 ounces of mix (including the fruit) per 750mL bottle of wine. 

You can also top the sangria off with sparkling water if you want to tone down the intensity. Serve with ice and a few fresh orange or lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Note: *The base mix adds quite a bit of sweetness, so I'd stay away from using very sweet wines. 


Sangria Base Mix
Yields enough for 18-24 bottles of wine

6 oranges
6 apples
6 lemons
2 bottles* triple sec
1 bottle brandy
1 bottle apricot brandy
1 bottle peach schnapps
1 bottle amaretto
½ bottle raspberry liqueur

Chop the oranges, apples and lemons into small wedges. In a very large bowl or pot (I use my big soup pot), mix together the fruit with all of the other ingredients. 

Ladle the sangria base mix into smaller containers (I use 8-12 ounce freezer-safe jars), making sure the fruit pieces are evenly distributed between the jars. Seal tightly and store the jars of sangria base mix in the freezer until ready to use.

You can also store the jars in the fridge or even at room temperature. The alcohol in the mix helps preserve the fruit. However, if you want to be extra cautious about food safety, the freezer is a better option. I also prefer to keep the jars in the freezer so that when I add the mix to the wine, it helps cool the wine without needing to dilute it with too much ice. 

Note: *A “bottle” in this recipe is a 750mL-sized bottle. 

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

I read an article a few months after giving birth that said something to the effect of, “It can take up to a year to get your pre-pregnancy body back.” 

“OK,” I thought. “I can do that. I can be gracious and patient and let myself have a year.”

It’s been 16 months, and I’m not even close. 

I thought I had moved past the body image insecurities I had when I was younger. I don’t struggle as much now with the shame monster that used to rear its ugly head while I leafed through glossy, Photoshopped magazine pages in high school. I haven’t worried like I used to about measuring up to those around me who are running faster or racing farther. I thought I’d learned to be content with my body, and this negative self-talk battle was behind me. 

Read more and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

Full recipe and instructions can be found over at Coffee + Crumbs!