tag: homemade

Posted by in lifestyle

plan a popsicle party!

1 & 2: a popsicle picnic
3: no melt pop invitations
4: diy popsicle tote
5: striped juice popsicles
6: striped ice cubes

with the heat of summer setting in, i’ve been craving ice cold drinks, chilled fruit and homemade popsicles. after seeing so many popsicle inspired pretties around the web, i thought how fun it would be to throw a popsicle summer soirée! with so many options for unique invitations, diy projects and delicious popsicle mixtures, this is a party i’d be sure to attend!

have you ever thrown a food inspired party?

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homemade lemon curd

December 5, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas
homemade lemon curd image via bbc

The above photo of lemon curd, sweetly packaged in jars, inspired me to share with you my favorite lemon curd recipe. Homemade lemon curd is such a versatile gift – it can be used for baking – as filling in pastries and tarts, or topped onto cookies; it can be spread on toast or wafers, and eaten plain. Using just a few ingredients, you can have homemade lemon curd in about half an hour!


4 lemons
1.5 cups sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
4 eggs
pinch of salt


Begin by zesting your lemons with a vegetable peeler rather than a grater. In a food processor, combine the zest and sugar, and process for three minutes. The mixture is ready when it’s as smooth as baby food.

Cut your lemons in half and squeeze them for a half cup of lemon juice. This was three lemon halves for me.

Transfer the lemon zest / sugar mix into a bowl, and cream in the butter. Use an electric mixer to combine well. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and salt. Mix well

In a saucepan, cook your lemon mixture on medium-low heat, stirring often. Heat the curd to 175 degrees F, which is the temperature needed for thickening. Once the mixture is sufficiently thick and the temperature has reached 175 degrees F, remove from heat and let cool.

Store the lemon curd in an air-tight container. Because it contains eggs and butter, make a note of when it was made if you are using it for gift giving. For long-term storage, you will want to use traditional canning methods. Your lemon curd is now ready for baking, gift-giving, or eating as-is!

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Homemade Mint Extract

November 7, 2011

The holidays are only a few weeks away, and now is the perfect time to start making homemade mint extract. This mint extract takes less than 5 minutes to make, but it takes 30 days to sit in a dark space before it is ready for use – that means if you make some now, it will be ready just in time for holiday baking.

Not only does this project require little time from your day to complete, it only requires two ingredients and one supply. You may choose to use peppermint or spearmint leaves, and unlike the vanilla extract I made a few months ago, we will be using rum instead of vodka (although either is fine!). Just make sure that the alcohol is at least 80 proof.

1/4 cup mint leaves
1 cup 80 proof rum or vodka
1 air-tight glass jar for storage

Begin by bruising the mint leaves, which is basically crumpling them up in your hands. This process releases the mint oils from the leaves, which chopping the leaves just won’t do as well.

Place the leaves into your jar. Pour in your alcohol – make sure your leaves are covered. Any leaves that are sticking out of the alcohol and into the air could become rotten or moldy. Place an airtight lid on your jar, and shake around a bit. Store in a dark, cool place, swirling the jar around a bit if you get the chance.

After 30 days, you may strain the leaves from the alcohol, and the extract should be ready for use! I’m already imagining the minty lattes, cookies, and frosting I can make with this – here is a peppermint mocha latte recipe if you’re ready to get started. The extract would also be a sweet holiday gift bottled up in a pretty little jar.

What would you make with your own homemade mint extract?

ashley pahl

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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known to many as a miracle superfood, green tea contains one super ingredient after another, specifically catechin. this antioxidant helps to fight cancer in a number of ways, but most importantly has the ability to shrink tumors and slow tumor cell growth. elevated levies of a special chemical called egcg stymies tumor growth as well as aids cells in avoiding damage and premature aging. with plenty of varieties and blends of green tea to choose from, there are no excuses to not make a cup a part of your daily routine! if you’re a coffee drinker (like me), try subbing a cup a day with green tea. supposing the flavor isn’t exactly your ‘cup of tea’ you can always doctor it up with ginger, lemon or honey.

you can also make your own green tea right at home! follow these easy instructions and have your own homemade supertea right at home (and let me tell you, this was the best tea i’ve ever had!). here’s to being happy and healthy!

resources: the whole person

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Homemade Biscuit Mix

October 3, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

ashley pahl

I love to have ready-made mixes for baking on hand, but I don’t enjoy unnecessary ingredients and preservatives found in store-bought mixes. For every boxed food mix out there, there is a homemade alternative. From muffins to pancakes, cakes to cookies, hot cocoa to biscuits, there are alternatives that we can make at home, thus controlling the ingredients we feed ourselves and our families.

I have tried a few different recipes, and ended up taking the best parts of a few different mixes. This recipe for anytime biscuit mix can be kept in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks – or up to four months if you choose vegetable shortening instead of butter (I prefer butter). Use this mix in place of your average brand-name biscuit/baking mix, and just add milk to have fresh biscuits in 8-10 minutes.

Biscuit mix for storing:

12 cups of flour (white or whole wheat)
6 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons of salt
1 cup of butter (6 – 8 weeks of storage) OR 2 cups of shortening (for up to 4 months of storage)
optional: 1/4 cup sugar (if you like sweeter mixes, or plan to use for pancakes)

To mix:
Start by sifting dry ingredients together in a large bowl. I use a bowl with an air-tight lid, so I can store the mix in the same container.

Cut in butter or shortening – I used a fork for this step. Mix well.

To bake biscuits:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Stir together 2 cups of mix with 2/3 cup of milk. Roll out dough and cut biscuits, or simply use the drop-biscuit method (just a drop of dough on your baking sheet).

Bake biscuits for 8 minutes.

To make pancake batter:

Stir two cups of mix with 1 cup of milk and two eggs. Heat a skillet on medium heat with a bit of butter for greasing, and pour batter into pan. When bubbles rise to surface of batter, it’s time to flip! Cook until both sides are lightly browned.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Diy Donuts

September 19, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

Homemade donuts (or, doughnuts) are an extra-special treat that I save for weekends when family visits from out of town. Admittedly they’re not the healthiest breakfast, but everything in moderation, right?

The recipe I chose to use was a highly recommended, well-thought out tutorial by The Pioneer Woman. I’ve decided not demonstrate the step-by-step method of this recipe, as Ree (the author) obviously put so much work into it and deserves every bit of credit.

I am going to show you the cooking method of my donuts, and really, you can use whichever recipe out there you like. I’ve even used the canned biscuit dough method, and it worked like a charm, although there’s no question that homemade donut dough can’t be beat. Once we’ve cooked the donuts, I am going to show you my favorite toppings for this melt-in-your mouth treat.


Donut dough, fully prepared, risen and refrigerated
oil for frying – I used canola as it is a little heart-healthier

for glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

for chocolate glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt

for rolling donuts


rolling pin
baking pan
mixing bowls
a pot for frying
tongs or slotted spoon
cooling rack
paper towels
donut or cookie cutters


Begin by removing your previously prepared donut dough from the refrigerator. I placed mine onto a floured baking sheet, and rolled it out.

After rolling out my dough, I began to cut out my donut shapes with cookie cutters. If you have a round donut cutter with a smaller cutout for the center hole, then that is great. The reason that donuts usually have the center cut out is because donuts tend to cook quickly and unevenly in the oil – the outsides tend to brown while the center remains doughy. Cutting a hole in the center solves this problem.

I don’t have a round or donut cutter, but I did have these very cute Autumn-themed cookie cutters (a leaf, a pumpkin, a pine cone, and a crescent moon, if you were curious). They’re pretty small, so I wasn’t too worried about the centers not cooking thoroughly. Lightly grease the inside of your cutters to prevent sticking to the dough.

If you’re using Ree’s recipe, she further instructs you to allow the cut dough to rise again, for an hour in a warm, moist place. This will produce a very light and fluffy donut. If you like a thicker, chewier donut, you could skip this step, which I’ve done and still been pleased with the results.

The next step is to fry the cut dough. I filled my pan with a little over an inch of canola oil. I did not measure my temperature as Ree did, but once the oil began to simmer, I began to place the donut dough in, starting with just one.

Once the bottom began to brown, I flipped it over. The cooking usually happens pretty quickly, and you don’t want to over cook.

Once fully cooked, I removed the donut with a slotted spoon (tongs could work, too), and placed it on a double-layer of paper towels to soak up the extra grease.

If you want cinnamon sugar donuts, roll the donut while still pretty moist and hot in a shallow bowl or small brown paper bag with cinnamon and sugar. I honestly don’t measure out my cinnamon and sugar mixture, but 3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon should do the trick.

For glazed donuts, I let them cool a bit longer.

To prepare the glaze, I microwave the milk and vanilla for 30 seconds in a microwave-safe bowl. Next, stir in the confectioners (powdered) sugar until well blended. Dip the donuts in the bowl of glaze, one side at a time, and it works well to place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch any drips.

For chocolate glaze, combine the butter, milk, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and just a pinch of salt. Mix well, and dip donuts in the glaze, one side at a time, and allow to dry on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

And that’s it! You can also leave these plain, and they’re still great when eaten warm with a cup of coffee. These donuts can be left out for a while, or placed in a paper bag. You could keep in an airtight container, but expect them to get a bit sticky and gooey.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Diy Cake Decor Lettering

August 8, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas


One of the easiest ways to decorate a cake is with stylized lettering and text, but store-bought sugar letters can be tacky, while icing-piped text can look messy. An easy solution is to make custom edible letters all of your own!


– chocolate morsels (white, milk, or semi-sweet)

– a glass container for melting chocolate

– a Ziploc bag

– wax paper

- optional: a computer, paper and printer

– dessert

I used white chocolate letters on this pan of chocolate raspberry brownies I made this weekend – the combination was amazing!

This project can be done freehand, but if you’re nervous about creating evenly-sized letters, you can create your own stencil.

Making the Stencil

Print your desired text from a word document. Make sure you use a large enough font that is easy to cut and trace, and looks proportional on your dessert. I printed mine in Arial Black, 80 point font.

Next, cut your letters out with a craft knife. Layer your stencil over wax paper on a flat, solid surface. When your stencil is ready to go, you can start melting the chocolate.


Melting the Chocolate

I placed about 1/4 cup of white chocolate in a glass measuring cup, and microwaved it on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until it was melted smoothly.

Spoon the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag, and press all of the air out of the bag before zipping it shut. Let cool a couple of minutes, or else the melted chocolate could burn your hands through the bag. When it doesn’t burn to touch the bag, snip a small corner off the tip of one side of the bag.

Trace along the sides of the letter stencils with a steady stream of melted chocolate, and gently squeeze more out to fill the letters in. For any mess-ups, a tooth pick can be used to shape the chocolate the way you want it before it hardens.

The stencil is not totally necessary – you can free-hand your text on the wax paper, or even draw shapes with the chocolate.

Your letters should be hardened enough to transfer onto your frosted dessert within 20 minutes. Gently – and I mean very gently – peel the letters off the wax paper. If you used a stencil, the letters should easily pop of the paper if it is touching it along the edges at all. Next, carefully arrange the letters on the frosting.

If you have leftover letters, you can place them in sealed containers, separated with wax paper, in the freezer for a month or more.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Posted by in handmade

One thing that I have always wanted to make is homemade ice cream. I have always wondered – how would my own, fresh, homemade ice cream taste? Would the difference be detectable? Would it be worth the time?

Despite not having an ice cream maker, a simple Google search provided me with a recipe: homemade ice cream that can be made without an ice cream maker! Additionally, it is easy to flavor it to your liking, or add custom mix-ins. I like that you can control all of the ingredients – even make them completely organic.

This recipe comes from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on SeriousEats.com. I chose this basic recipe because of the amount of testing the recipe author conducted. J. Kenji understands that the purpose of the ice cream maker is to provide continuous churning, which prevents icy crystals from forming; so, the secret to producing creamy, non-crystallized ice cream is to initially freeze the mixture in small compartments.

First comes the ice cream, followed by my custom mix-in: edible cookie dough with chopped peanut butter cups.

ice cream ingredients

8 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp kosher salt

12 oz can condensed milk

2 cups whipping cream


cookie dough ingredients

1/2 cup flour

6 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons water

mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, or chopped peanut butter cups (optional)



Begin with the ice cream. Separate 8 large egg yolks into a bowl, and whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk on medium-high for about 5 minutes, and then set aside.

Bring evaporated milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Pour the heated milk into the egg/sugar mixture, mixing well. Return the milk/egg/sugar mixture to the saucepan, and heat until 180 degrees F – any hotter than this could cause the eggs to scramble. Whisk the mixture constantly. Once the mixture has thickened and reached 180 degrees, remove from heat, and chill completely.

While the mixture is chilling, beat 1 cup of whipping cream until it has doubled in size. Once the egg mixture has chilled, stir in the whipped cream. Pour this mix into ice cube trays, and freeze until solid – about four hours.

cookie dough directions

While your ice cream mixture is freezing, start on your edible cookie dough.

Cream together brown sugar and butter in a bowl. Next, add vanilla extract, water, and flour, stirring well. Stir in the mix-ins of your choice – I went with chopped peanut butter cups. You can either roll this into a log, and chop into pieces once frozen, or if yours is a little soft, just drop small pieces like drop-cookies on wax paper and freeze.

Back to the ice cream…

Once your ice cream cubes are frozen solid, remove cubes from the tray into a food processor (I had to use a butter knife). Pour in your mix-ins and the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream (not yet whipped), and process for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Pour the mixture into an air-tight container and place back in the freezer, at least 4 hours, or overnight.

The next day, my result was smooth, creamy, scoop-able ice cream. There were no large crystals, no crunchy ice pieces – it tasted fresh and perfect!

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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