Archive for ‘recipe reviews’

May 14, 2012

the soft soap recipe

my husband and i have a fondness for mrs. meyer’s soft soap.  we used to purchase it just when we needed a pick-me-up but then we became so attached we began adding it to the grocery list on a regular basis.  if anyone has used any of the mrs. meyer’s products i don’t need to tell you that they aren’t cheap, so when i saw the recipe for soft soap using a bar of mrs. meyer’s as a base floating around on pinterest, i repinned immediately and decided to give it a try.

when i had assembled my ingredients, i discovered that pinterest had eaten my pin so a quick google search soon revealed that there are many recipes out there.  the one that i chose used a bar of mrs. meyer’s soap, one gallon of water, and 2T of glycerin.

since the recipes are so easy to come by i won’t repost here.  suffice it to say the soap is grated, heated in a large stock pot with the water and the glycerin and allowed to cool.  the prep was super easy and came together very quickly ~ well within an hour.

i noticed on some posted recipes, there were comments that the soap was very thin when completed.  i found this to be true.  it did resemble skim milk both in consistency and appearance.  the key here is to allow it to cool for a significant length of time.  after it has cooled, it does have somewhat of a lumpy appearance and i did need to whisk it before pouring it into the dispenser.

my thoughts on the finished product:

~this is a $ saver and one i will definitely be using on a regular basis however:

~the scent is not as strong, and i have to say that is one of the reasons i loved mrs. meyer’s soap.  the scents are so clean and unique.  i can still smell lemon verbena though, and considering the savings i’m willing to overlook this tiny flaw.

~the consistency is still not the same as the original.  perhaps it was the amount of glycerin used (i saw other recipes calling for just 1T) but it seems a bit slimey and often times a drop is left on the pump after use which can make a mess on the countertop.

~after whisking the soap to pour it into the dispenser, i poured the rest into a gallon milk jug for later use.  it promptly solidified.  not rock solid.  more like cream of wheat.  how i will get it out when we need it next remains to be seen. :/

~one blog recommended giving the final product as inexpensive gifts. um. no. don’t do that.  this isn’t *that* great.  if you want to give soap as a gift my suggestion is to make it from scratch.  sorry.

bottom line: if you have a free hour one afternoon and want to save some $ give it a try; it works.


March 21, 2011

vintage postcard cookies

i first saw these in a catalog that came through the mail last summer when our kitchen was under construction.  being the huge fan of anything vintage i was instantly wowed by them.  these edible postcard transfers are available through a company called fancy flours.  the images are printed onto an edible paper (think, very very thin communion wafer) then fixed to a cookie.  the result is an amazing, absolutely adorable edible vintage postcard.

the trouble for me was finding a sugar cookie recipe.  i am usually not a huge fan of decorated sugar cookies.  in my opinion, they are pretty to look at but usually lacking in flavor, or overly sweet.   i think i have settled though, on the sugar cookie recipe from the williams-sonoma cookie cookbook.  the recipe is simple: butter, sugar, flour, and egg yolks; but a generous addition of vanilla gives a great flavor.

rolling them out can prove to be a bit tricky  however, as the dough softens pretty quickly.  it helps somewhat to put the cookie sheet, cut out cookies and all, into the fridge for a few minutes before putting them into the oven to bake.  they are not as apt to spread and lose shape.

fancy flours recommends a 3×5″ rectangular cookie cutter just for the postcard cookies.  it proved to be a bit large in transferring the cut cookie to the sheet, and it did spread some  in baking.  to keep a nice shape, i cut them out a second time after baking.  i did this immediately after they were removed from the oven, still soft, and still on the pan.

the directions for the edible paper recommended using either a buttercream or royal icing and i decided to go with the royal so they could be stacked when stored.  the icing needs to be completely dry, and completely smooth.  i learned this the hard way.

the transfers are cut out and affixed to the cookie with clear corn syrup.  i used a pastry brush and carefully brushed the back of each transfer, then gently stuck it to the iced cookie.  it was a bit tricky getting the corners to stick.

as with the sample in the catalog, i used the edible iridescent glitter to finish them off.  not perfect, but for the first try completely acceptable.  we enjoyed them as a finish to our belated saint paddy’s day dinner.

i plan to try these again, piping a border around the edge to compensate for any little corners that don’t stay put and to give it a more polished, less crafty look.   in addition to the saint patrick’s day transfers that i bought, i ordered a set  that look like vintage seed packets.  i will give those shot in a few weeks or so. we may have to have a happy spring party to warrant the excuse for more cookies.   😛




fancy flours

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March 18, 2011

mocha toffee chocolate cookies. a recipe review.

recently i made these to send to a very dear friend  who claims to be a fan of chocolate, coffee, and toffee.  in contemplating recipes,  i came across this one from betty crocker and was thrilled to find all three flavors combined together in one little package.  i have to admit i was a bit dubious about the toffee and the mocha, especially when i saw that it was a cake mix that bound it all together.  i’m not one for cake mix cookies.  i feel like they are cheating.  and then, i am a total snob when it comes to ingredients.  sodium stearoyl lactylate anyone? however, i was needing to get these in the mail, time was running short, so i decided to just give it a whirl.  i am so glad that i did.  these were wonderful!  they came together very quickly, had a yummy, gooey texture, a great flavor, and, as far as i know, traveled very well.  i was unable to find instant espresso powder so i just used instant coffee granules instead.  it is possible they lacked a little bit of kick for that reason, but the mocha flavor still came through just fine.  if i were to do these again, and i plan to, i would probably substitute my own chocolate cookie dough recipe for the cake mix just to be able to avoid all the artificial what-have-you and feel a little better about eating them.    they don’t last long and would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  made from scratch, of course.

you can find the recipe here.

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March 5, 2011

potatoes romanoff. a recipe review.

marco and i tried this amazing potato recipe last night for our weekly friday night cook-at-home-date.   i found it on page 11 of the latest williams sonoma catalog that was featuring steak house products.  it was presented as a sort of inside out twice baked potato but in my opinion it is better described as an upscale hash brown casserole.  you know the one that i am talking about – frozen hashbrowns, chopped onion, sour cream, and cream of chicken soup.  it tastes so heavenly but if you are like me you are ashamed to admit to it due to the frozen potato product and cream soup.  needless to say, i was thrilled to discover potatoes romanoff. i just wish i had thought of it on my own.

the potatoes are baked the day before and then refrigerated overnight.  the following day, they are grated, and combined with chopped shallots (lovely things), grated sharp white cheddar cheese (thank  you swan’s), and sour cream.  poured  into a casserole dish, topped with more cheddar cheese and baked until brown and bubbly;  the results are to die for.  an added perk is that the whole casserole can be assembled in about 20 minutes. we served ours alongside some steaks we had purchased on sale last week from a local farmer and added some lightly sauteed spinach and grape tomatoes.

the recipe can be found here.  hope you enjoy it as much as we did.