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Happy New Year, The Mayo Clinic Diet Book Giveaway , and Ten in Ten

Happy New Year friends and readers. Hard to believe its back to the grind tomorrow at work. I have really enjoyed this last week just chilling with Certain Someone doing nothing really. Even my tweeting has decreased, although he would argue with that. Certain Someone gave me some great tools for the New Year. Kitchen Aid pasta rollers, and IPhone 3GS. I'm going crazy with the IPhone as I'm a Blackberry addict. I love all these apps, esp the recipe and fitness related ones. I have a lot of seeds and plans for this year. Certain Someone has surprised me the past few days with agreeing to some tiny changes in ways we eat. He didn't balk when I suggested whole wheat pizza dough for our New Years pizzas. I even got him to eat some greens and beans. Last night he made me dinner, a pizza with the whole wheat dough I made. It was good, but couldn't convince him to go totally meatless. Baby steps. If it wasn't 7 degrees right now we would be going for a walk. But There is the treadmill.
I was the lucky recipient of an advance copy of the Mayo Clinic Diet. I'm not really a dieter as I love food and life to much to deprive myself. However I need to put things in check. Many have claimed they had world renown Mayo Clinic certified diets before, but, this is the only official one ever released by them. In reading through the book and journal. its not a diet per say, but a way of life. Using the classic pyramid, the book educates you on proper serving within the food groups. Fitness and breaking of bad habits is emphasized as well. All nothing new and gimmicky, just clearly illustrated good practical sense. A few recipes and menus are given , but you really do the work in figuring it all out with the tools they give you. I like this as you can work with what you have and not have really expensive shopping lists of items you have and never will eat again like some diets.Although here is a whole link to Mayo Clinic Weight Loss Recipes.You can jump start your way with the Quick Start Plan designed to help you loose 6-10 lbs in 2 weeks. I love the tool they give, a journal to record your progress. If only they had that as a IPhone application.

About Donald Hensrud, M.D.
Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.
For more information, please visit

I confess this will be hard with food blogging, recipe development for future projects, etc. But I can only try. I am giving away a copy of this book and journal to randomly picked commenter. Just leave a comment telling me what your Food or health related goals are this year .

Adapting recipes
If the recipe calls for
Butter Margarine Shortening Oil
Try Substituting
✚✚ For sandwiches, substitute tomato slices, catsup or mustard.
✚✚ For stove-top cooking, sauté food in broth or small amounts of healthy
oil like olive, canola or peanut or use non-stick spray.
✚✚ In marinades, substitute diluted fruit juice, wine or balsamic vinegar.
✚✚ In cakes or bars, replace half the fat or oil with the same amount of
applesauce, prune puree or commercial fat substitute.
✚✚ To avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, don’t substitute oil for butter
or shortening, or substitute diet, whipped or tub-style margarine for
regular margarine.
Meat Try Substituting
Keep it lean. In soup, chili or stir-fry, replace most of the meat with beans
or vegetables. As an entrée, keep it to no more than the size of a deck of
cards — load up on vegetables.
Whole milk (regular or
Try Substituting
Fat-free or 1% milk, or evaporated skim milk
Whole egg
(yolk and white)
Try Substituting
¼ cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites for breakfast or in baked goods
Sour cream
Try Substituting
Cream cheese
Fat-free, low-fat or light varieties in dips, spreads, salad dressings and toppings.
Fat-free, low-fat and light varieties do not work well for baking.
Try Substituting
In most baked goods, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half
without affecting texture or taste, but use no less than ¼ cup of sugar for
every cup of flour to keep items moist.
White flour
Replace half or more of white flour with whole grain pastry or regular flour.
Try Substituting
✚✚ Use herbs (1 tbsp. fresh = 1 tsp. dried = ¼ tsp. powder). Add towards the end of cooking and use sparingly — you can always add more.
✚✚ Salt is required when baking yeast-leavened items. Otherwise you may reduce salt by half in cookies and bars. Not needed when boiling pasta.

I have committed myself to Ten in Ten(10 weeks to Healthy 2010). I know its cliche to begin a new regime at New Years, but better now than never. I have found since I began food blogging,turning 40,change of job to more sedentary one, and co habitation, I have gained a significant amount of weight. I rarely work out like I used to. The Mayo Clinic Plan appeals to me because its its not a fad diet, but is just streamlining and actually practicing what basically I know and is not about deprivation, but just good common sense. I realistically plan to lose 2 lbs per week. I need that extra motivation to exercise and move.

My goals are realistic.
  • Try to stay within 1200 calories for at least 1 month
  • Exercise at least 2-3 times a week. I may join gym near office with pal and work out at lunch( undecided about the lunch time part).
  • Try to lower blood pressure
  • Lose 20-40 lbs this year.
  • Pay more attention to portion size.
So enter a comment on your food and health goals for the New Year. Be sure to spread the word via Twitter and Facebook too. Cutoff is January 10, 2010.

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Daring Bakers Make Gingerbread Houses... Home For The Holidays

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

For someone who's into cake decorating , I can say Ive never made a Gingerbread house. It was always on my list. I'm amazed I even got it done with the craziness of December, I can think of no challenge more apropos than this.Linda of Make Life Sweeter, who I meet in Vienna last week insisted I do it as we dined over Wiener Schnitzel in the Nachtsmarket.

Certain Someone is finally home and the holidays will be as they should, warm and comfy in the confines of our home. I don't want much for Christmas , really....

I remember last Christmas in Germany and hearing the news the late great Eartha Kitt had died. They don't make stars like that anymore.
Back to the Gingerbread. I had the same issues as everyone else with a very dry dough. I used Ana's Good Housekeeping recipe and added more cream. After chilling overnight, the moisture expanded and the dough became manageable. Still a dry one compared to to other recipes, but it worked. I m glad I used cheap Flour for this as 9 1/2 cups of flour were used. I still have plenty to make another house if I wish! Here is the template I used.
I had wanted to shingle the roof with some sliced black licorice fudge I had from Denmark. Unfortunately when I was satisfied and turned my back to wash my hands, the roof caved in. I had to scrape the roof and rebuild. Thankfully I had enough powdered sugar to make more royal icing to salvage a messy situation.
My decorations are just piped and painted royal icing (food color gels), pecan pralines I made, some coconut flakes for snow, and edible glitter. I broke some cinnamon sticks to make a wood pile. Certain Someone was impressed and we are bringing this to his bosses house for Christmas later. Although next year he challenged me to make a house like the White House's Gingerbread House.

Please Check out my fellow bakers. You can find the hostesses recipes and instructions on their sites which I have linked at the beginning.

Certain Someone and I wish you Happy Holidays, Peace, Health and Prosperity.

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We Bake Bon Appetit... Day 10 White Chocolate Cranberry and Pecan Cookies

Forgive me. I got sidetracked in my cookie baking. But with the Uncles death, flying to Vienna for three days for the funeral, coming home, other obligations, and the main man Certain Someone returning, it takes a while to get back on the saddle. And that was just in one week! Hard to believe Christmas is here . I posted two savory dishes when I returned just to get acclimated to my kitchen again. Thankfully my baking group is a no pressure group and we all remember this is fir fun, not an obligation.I cranked out these simple , non glamorous cookies for a friends holiday party last Sauturday. Nothing fancy here, but just good wholesome deliciousness. They went over well that evening. The original recipe was for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies by Tyler Florence. But with almost bare baking cupboards and a more empty wallet due to the unexpected travel, etc, buying expensive Macadamias was not a priority for me . I had tons of pecans from Mississippi just dying to be used, and these made a suitable substitute for a high fat nut. I have seen others using pecans here as well. I also used fresh cranberries rather than dried, as I did in an earlier cookie recipe because I liked the tang it gave. This is an easy recipe to pull together and requires not a a lot of time. You can find the recipe here.
Just two more days to go hopefully by Christmas.!

Be sure to visit the other bakers:

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Judy of No Fear Entertaining
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dog
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

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Rillettes De Paris ...Holiday Spreads

Yummy Rillettes. When I was a stupid teenager I would look at this type as food as gross. I wish people would get over this misconception and actually taste something first. Granted this is not an everyday food, or very healthy for that matter, but why not for the holidays. Rillettes are any sort of meat or fish cooked down in fat. There are delicious salmon versions, duck, rabbit, and of course Pork. The French call it brown jam as its so spreadable . Serve Rillettes with crusty bread, cornichons,perhaps a tad of mustard and enjoy. A few weeks ago I promised my buddy Terry that I would make some after we had some at a party. Compared to other other pate spreads this is pretty cheap and simple to make . The only thing required is time. After comparing various recipes on the Internet, I decided to go for what seemed the easiest, but just as effective. A slow cooker version. Once the hard work of skinning and cutting the pork belly up in one inch pieces was achieved. I just seasoned and put the slow to cooker to work while I slept. A few turns over 10 hours and draining of the fat to reserve to seal later and by morning I had buttery soft brown pieces of slow cooked pork seasoned by Bay Leaf, salt, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, and mace. I could and should have added a little garlic as some recipe call for it and some don't , but why not? Don't let copious amounts of fat deter you. That helps preserve the Rillettes for a few week in the fridge if well sealed. And it just adds to the richness.
I plan on bringing to these to friends and family over the weekend. Once I potted the meat in the cute containers from World Market, I put them in a Bain Marie to insure more fat rose to the top after pouring some on top to seal. You want a good cover. Some say at least 1/4 of an inch if you want to preserve up to one month in the fridge. I'm sure ours will be finished by New Years.

Use your own taste for seasoning. You will find Rilletttes vary by region. Some just call for salt and pepper with Bay and some call for more. Think of what you like with Pork. Serve with loaves of Crusty bread and enjoy. For the recipe for Rilletes De Paris, I used click here. The author Jane Grigson advocates using a mortar and Pestle. I used my handy immersion blender for the task. Just be careful to the final texture. You want it smooth but not mushy. Most important serve at room temperature, not straight out of fridge.On New Years you can start your diet.

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Greensbury Farms Organic Chicken With Borowiki Mushrooms And Pumpkin Seed Oil

After travel, no matter how much you love it, there is no place like home and a home cooked restorative meal. When I travel I love to discover a place via its food. I have always been impressed with the food of Europe. Austria is a gateway to the East and one finds not only rich, sturdy,and at times decadent food, but a emphasis on health. If you go to any restaurant you will see Kurbis or Pumpkin on the menu. And in these regions like Austria and Slovenia, they love Pumpkin Oil which they drizzle on anything from soups , salads, and meats.Pumpkin Oil is high in health benefits. One doesn't cook with it, but use it as a finishing oil to retain the beneficial properties( rich in vitamins, omegas, good in urinary and prostate health, irritable bowel, and kidney stones). In the United States it's hard to find and quite costly at around $25 a bottle from I have seen. But its available via mail order .
Europeans have always adhered to seasonal and local eating which we are just getting enthusiastic about here. Eating this way is not always convenient or affordable. I was lucky to receive organic meat and chicken samples from Greensbury Market.
I'm usually not a huge fan of mail order frozen meats. I will use them if on hand,but not something I go out the way to purchase. Greenbury sent me both beef and chicken. Prior to leaving I made the beef which was genuine 100 Grass Fed Top Sirloin. Just a simple grill with homemade steak sauce from Michael Symons Live to Cook book I won from Feeding Maybelle. It was excellent. The flavor and texture survived the freezing process and was really quite exceptional.
So after resting from a literal 24 hour journey with a long rest in Krakow Poland, where I spent my time looking at the Polish Vodkas in Duty free and buying Dried Polish mushrooms, I reintroduced myself to my kitchen. I took the Greensbury Farm Chicken Fillets, which are just as superb as the beef, and decided to incorporate my Pumpkin Oil and Borowiki mushrooms. A quick simple meal with a nod to my love of European Flavors.
The dried mushrooms are the King of Forest Mushrooms in Poland and emit a rich earthy flavor. If you google Polish Dried Mushrooms, you will find all sorts of sources to order from. Just soak the mushroom in hot water and let sit for 5 minutes or more. Don't discard the liquid, as it can be used in the cooking. I used my mushroom liquid in the boiling of Quinoa, which was a side dish.
Greensbury Farms Organic Chicken With Borowiki Mushrooms And Pumpkin Seed Oil
2 Servings
2 Greensbury Farm Organic Chicken Breasts
1/2 onion chopped coarsely
1 cup Boiling water
1/4 dried Borowiki Mushrooms ( you can use regular mushrooms as well, but try to get Borowiki. The flavor is intense.)
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Soak Dried Borowiki Mushrooms in 1 Cup Boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add Chicken breasts. Cook for a few minutes on each side to sear on medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped onions to skillet and brown with the chicken.Add Thyme and dried Mustard powder. Reduce heat to low medium. Once onions start to brown, de glaze pan with the chicken stock. Add mushrooms( save liquid for cooking rice, Quinoa, etc.). Reduce stock and mushrooms with the chicken. Add fresh heavy cream and cook until reduced and thickened slightly. Plate and drizzle with the Pumkin Seed Oil.
Serve hot.

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Remember The Soul... Bob Curtis

I had grown up knowing I had this exotic worldly uncle who lived in Rome and was a dancer. When my mother married my stepfather and went to Rome on her honeymoon, she came back with this big Italian Harper's Bazaar , where my uncle was in a fashion spread with fellow Italian dancers decked out in jewels, furs, and watches. That layout made a vivid impression on me and reinforced my desire to study in Europe and one day be a designer. I went onto to Europe at seventeen and never connected with my Uncle Roy, or Bob as he was known to many .
When my mother died in 2000, I picked up the phone to call him. It was our first conversation ever and he immediately flew 'home' for his eldest nieces Memorial service. My mother wanted a cremation and we had a beautiful two day music and dance filled memorial service. I had a cousin show up with her boyfriend at the time who was in the funk group Cameo, and all sorts of people from various walks of life. And then there was Bob, or Roy as he was know to his family . Everyone was blown away when they saw this beautiful man dance down the aisles. He must have been in his mid seventies , but his movement and grace captured all. I could feel my Mommy's spirit beaming at this spectacular service. All who didn't know him were amazed that this man ,who was so fit and had body most people cant attain, was in his seventies. Uncle Bob was home and he reconnected with his surviving siblings.
I next flew to Vienna to visit him later that year with my Auntie Mame. He had a big exposition of his artwork,called Remember The Soul, in which he was focusing on now, that the dance career was winding down. So many friends and admirers turned out for his exhibition, and its seemed as if Vienna was at at our feet. His friends were so eager to see his nieces from America and were curious about us. He was so happy we were there for him.It was truly an artistic and glamorous crowd.That first trip to Vienna was so memorable. I since returned a few more more times , the last being for his grand 80th birthday celebrations in 2004. A book on his life was also released to coincide with this event. He looked a little weaker and thinner as he caught a bug while traveling and teaching in Africa. His heart weakened more and more over time. He gave me some art on that trip and I remember going through photos with him and looking back over his life. He dropped the names of all these glamorous and beautiful people one only reads about. He was frank and real about his life and experiences. His life was one for the books.
His dear friend Christoph came to the US last year for his one man show. While here, he was also working on a documentary of my dear uncle. We were worried as we knew he was getting frailer and older. His manager and good friend had passed away earlier and we all started to wonder what if? Good friends, like Renate continued to look after him. The family gathered at Auntie Mame's condo and we spoke to Uncle Bob via the miracle of Skpe. It was amazing to see this man, born in 1925 in Mississippi, just as chic and slim as ever in his black turtle neck surrounded by his art, talk to his many generations of family via a Mac Book, just after the election of our nations first black president. I guess on some level we all knew. Uncle Bob never wanted to trouble us and kept his health struggles to himself for the most part. As of recently there was talk of a exposition.
On Saturday Auntie Mame and I will fly to Vienna for his funeral.
We will Remember the Soul and toast his beautiful life.

You can read and see more of his amazing life here.
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We Bake Bon Appetit...Day 9 Tea Cake Sandwich Cookies

This was one of the first cookies that caught my eye for We Bake Bon Appetite.The Tea Cake Sandwich Cookie looked so simple and perfect. I kept putting this recipe off as I was trying to knock out the easy, no chill cookies first. This recipe contains no eggs and at first seems dry, but comes together nicely as you blend.The process and chilling times in this recipe can be a little tedious, and I readily admit I skipped over some steps in the rolling out. If you are an experienced baker you know the key is to keep the dough well chilled.

I used a scalloped cutter for these. I am trying to avoid royal icing this year and just stick to sugar sprinkles. I embellished my cookies with various sugars I had laying around. I even made my own sanding sugar with some powdered food color and raw sugar. I plan to play around with that more and more. I found some red glittery edible dust and made a few dabs here and there. All in all a festive platter of cookies. The fillings are Goya's Strawberry and Passion Fruit jams. The beauty of these is that you can dress them up or down.
You can find the recipe here.

Be sure to visit the other bakers:

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Judy of No Fear Entertaining
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dog
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

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We Bake Bon Appetit ... Day 8 Holiday Biscotti With Cranberries and Pistachios

Forgive me. I OD'd on cookies this week coupled with work and family related issues. One of my favorite uncles is not doing well and its just a matter of time. He lives in Vienna Austria, so the distance is stressful on my family here. Thankfully I have another uncle ( paternal) checking in on him and we are getting daily updates from friends. It seems death and illness is rampant with most of my acquaintances lately. So many sad stories lately.So you can imagine cookies were the last thing on my mind these past few days. But baking is always great therapy and a way to unwind.
I chose what looked like an easy recipe to pull together.The appeal of Holiday Biscotti With Cranberries and Pistachios was no chilling time! My dried cranberries didnt look all bright and red like Bon Appetites photograph, but I loved the flavors of anise, lemon, and pistachios mingling with the tart cranberries. I used Anise extract and I didn't have whole anise seed. I wonder why I don't use that flavoring more often in my baked goods. My only problem was baking two sheets at a time and the bottom sheet burning a bit when I toasted the sliced biscotti. That was easily remedied by scraping the burnt bits away like toast. I used an off set spatula to aid in the dipping of chocolate as my pot wasn't deep enough. The offset spatula made the chocolate easy to handle.
You can find the recipe here.

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Be sure to visit the other bakers:

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

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We Bake Bon Appetit ...Day 7 Stained Glass Lemon Cookies

For a few years I have been seeing these Stained Glass Holiday Cookies. Ground hard candies are inserted into the cookies cutouts for a stained glass effect. I used Jolly Ranchers. The recipe called for red and green candies, but I took artistic licensee and used the assorted colors. I love the zesty lemon bite to these buttery cookies. My only problem with them is sometimes the candy oozed out of the lines. But no biggie. Once hardened its like two treats in one, the cookie and the candy. Be creative with this. I tried to mix two colors but they all ran together.
You can find the recipe here.

Be sure to visit the other bakers:

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

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We Bake Bon Appetit...Day 6 New England Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

I really need my weekend to bake. One little thing can throw your game off. Happily I received my latest Springerle from House On the Hill. I became
obsessed with these molds a few years back. Last year while reading Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, she featured a few Springerle from House On the Hill, a local vendor. The irony is that I could not find these in Germany. Its a lost art and those that have them use them for wall decoration if anything. Here is my first attempt with Springerle last spring. You can use the molds for cookies, cake decorations, and even ornaments. I decided to use mine in New England Molasses Gingerbread Cookies For Day 6 of our 12 Days of Cookies from Bon Appetit.

The recipe states these cookies are not so crisp but more tender and cake like. I was worried it wouldn't be stiff enough for my Springerle mold, but it held up very well.

Forgive me not using the cutesy Gingerbread Men, Would you believe I don't even have a cutter in that shape? I did make other traditional Holiday shapes , however. This recipe yields a lot and my mold for the Christ Child with Angels was very large. I still didn't manage to use the third disc, and put that away in freezer for later use. The mold is a Medieval reproduction based on a work Stuttgart's Wurttembergische Museum.

Sprigerle molds are tricky and when using a dark dough, I used oil to paint in every crevice to get the detail, rather than flour or confectioners sugar. The dough was soft and crumbly and you really had to press or lightly roll with a rolling pin to ensure the detail. Releasing was very tricky, but after a few attempts I got it.

I decided to take out my other mold , even though it wasn't as Christmas like. These would make stunning little token gifts. When cooled I brused gold luster to highlight the detailed work.
You can find the recipe here.

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

Be sure to visit the other bakers:

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Sugar Body Scrubs...Low Cost Holiday Homemade Gift Ideas From C & H Sugar

If you are looking for cookies today, bear with me, they will come later.I promise. This weekend threw an unexpected work gig my way and coming home from it that evening I had a car accident on the highway caused by a teenager rear ending me. I am fine, but as you can see was shaken and couldn't even think about baking last night.
One project that did relax me and I am so excited for was making these sugar scrubs. C& H Sugar contacted me to write about some wonderful Holiday gift ideas. What makes C& H Sugars on the market is that use pure cane sugar, not beet sugar. Find out here what makes cane sugar so much better for baking and why their Brown Sugars are true brown sugars.
I am a bath products fiend! Many of you don't know that I have worked in the cosmetics industry over 20 years, since leaving university. In this industry I have and wear many hats from makeup artist, account executive, to developing and supporting new business stateside and abroad. So beauty and most importantly skin is very important to me. To many of us, myself included abuse the largest organ on out body with not enough water intake, moisture, chemicals, and to much sun. Cosmetics and products abound and many are costly that we cant afford to take care of ourselves in the optimal way the companies say we should. But wouldn't it be great if we can whip up some fabulous beauty products at home. And what wonderful gifts these would make for the Holidays, birthdays, Mothers Day, etc. They can even be tailored for the men in your life. I don't know about you , but they have been known to use our product from time to time. So next time you are about to give your loved one a massage, throw in some sugar scrubs for their shower afterwords. Their backs and feet will smooth and cuddly.
The following are some great recipes. Be sure to visit C&H Sweet Ideas Page for more edible and Non Edible ideas and great tips and templates for decorating, gift tags, etc. Feel Free to play around with your own essential oils , extracts, and spice blends. I added Lime Essential oils to my White Cane Glimmer Sugar Scrub and yummy Pineapple extract to my Brown Sugar Scrub. The Sense of smell in regards to aromatherapy is part of the whole de stressing package. So use what appeals to you. I only advise that these be used for body, not face.

White Cane Glimmer Sugar Scrub

1 cup - C&H® Pure Cane Sugar
1 cup - vegetable oil
Oil from 1 vitamin E capsule
1 or 2 drops - of essential oil, lavender or orange
1 16oz. - glass container with lid

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Using a spatula, transfer mix into the container and secure lid. Contents will settle, mix before using. Scoop a teaspoon or two of the scrub on your hands and gently massage in circular motions onto your skin. Leave on for 3 to 4 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. The scrub will tighten on your skin.

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

We know the perfect way to relax after a long day of baking! Try this luxurious homemade spa treatment using a delicious aromatic blend of C&H® Brown Sugar, moisturizing oils and fresh fragrances. You can also create this homemade sugar scrub, as a thoughtful, low-cost gift that will make your friends feel a little sweeter!

1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup ground oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup almond oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Small containers with lids

Combine all ingredients using a spatula in a large bowl until well blended. Mix should have a paste like texture. If it is too dry add more oil a few drops at a time. Conversely, if it is too oily add more dry ingredients until you reach the desired consistency. Store in jars for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator. May need to mix before use if ingredients settle.

Gently apply to wet skin in a circular motion concentrating on dry patches and rough areas of your skin. Avoid using the scrub on sensitive areas, in cuts or on skin that is irritated or sunburned. Sugar scrubs are also not recommended for the face. Thoroughly rinse with warm water.

Caution: the oil in the sugar scrub can cause the tub to become slippery.

Have fun creating your own signature body scrub by experimenting with various scents from essential oils like grapefruit, lavender or peppermint, found in specialty markets or crafts stores.

Sweet N’ Spicy Brown Sugar Scrub

1 cup - C&H® Dark or Light Brown Sugar
1 cup - C&H® Pure Cane Sugar
¾ cup - almond oil
2 tsp. - cinnamon, powdered
2 tsp. - ginger, powdered
2 tsp. - nutmeg, powdered
1 16 oz. - glass container with lid
Cinnamon sticks, optional

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients until thoroughly blended. Be sure to break up any lumps from the brown sugar or from the spices. Spoon into the glass container and secure with lid. Scoop a teaspoon or two of the scrub on your hands and gently massage in circular motions onto your skin. Leave on for 3 to 4 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. The scrub will tighten

Some decorating ideas. I went a little ethnic with mine on some . I also used odd and ends from my sewing box and a glue gun. Recycle any old jars you may have and be sure to include the instructions on the gift tag.Hope this inspires you.

Star Anise and Cinnamon Sticks Glued to Lid

Disclosure: C& H Sugar provided me with a $20 gift card to help me with expenses in this project.

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We Bake Bon Appetit...Day 5 Brownie Thins

On Day 5 of the We Bake Bon Appetit challenge, I am baffled by these Brownie Thins. The photo on the Bon Appetit holiday slide show captured me.This is a quick batter to whip up, but a worrisome cookie when baking. The directions called for dropping the batter which is on the loose side and pressing an oiled piece of plastic wrap to shape and flatten. I used oiled parchment first, then tried it with plastic. I found each way the batter clinged onto the paper/plastic, which called for me to scrape off with a bench scraper and try again. I manipulated the shape with an offset spatula as this other method wasn't working for me. When I baked these I didn't have pistachios which added a nice garnish, so I economized and used pecans ,which I felt would taste just as good. The Brownie thins baked up regardless and I had a very thin delicate and fragile cookie. They do taste like the tops of brownies, so maybe I wasn't to far off course.
Surprisingly these cookies went over very well at the office. In fact I received two separate holiday orders for these cookies as well as the Orange Almond Lace on platters. The same combo.This seems to be the year of Skinny Cookie. Who knew?
You can find the recipe here.

Also this may be of interest to some of you if you like contests.
Enter to win a 12 Place Table Setting For the Holidays!

Be sure to visit the other bakers:
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We Bake Bon Appetit... Day 4 : Pecan Lace Sandwich Cookies with Orange Buttercream

So far in day four of the 12 days of cookies, I have to say Pecan Lace Sandwich Cookies are a leading favorite. Another lace cookie like the Orange - Almond Lace Cookies I made earlier on Day 1, these have a richer, deeper flavor with use of fatty Pecans. As an extra added bonus is an orange butter cream is sandwiched between the layers. These cookies can stand alone with out the butter cream in my opinion as well. No egg is used in this cookie. Just the butter, sugar, corn syrup and flavors cookies on the stove stop before being dropped on the parchment baking sheet. This cookie can be made ahead and assembled. They keep very well once assembled.

You can find the recipe here. This has to one of the easiest, yet most refined cookies I have ever made.

Be sure to visit the other bakers:

Andrea of
Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Michelle of Big Black Dog

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