Apple Pie Oatmeal

I think I called this Caramel Apple Oatmeal when I took my picture, because I used so much brown sugar and butter… mmm.. it was sooo yummmy.

I am a member of Pinterest. If you aren’t, and you like stuff, you ought to be. No, really. Etsy used to be my favorite site, because of all the cool stuff. Since Pinterest, Etsy has had to take a step back (maybe two or three, because I like Pinterest just that much). But that is all beside the point.

Apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and oatmeal are spot on the point. I found this pin at pinterest for Apple Pie Oatmeal. It looked so tasty (and I was really hungry, but oatmeal is one of my favorites), I re-pinned it and actually got up right that minute and made my own.

It’s easy peasy, even still I made a few adjustments of my own, out of preference and necessity.

1 c. of water (I use 1/2 water and 1/2 milk – I like my oatmeal creamy)
1/2 c. oatmeal (minute oats – the quick cook kind)
1 TBS butter (real stuff.. mmm good)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced*
brown sugar – your preference

Put liquid and butter on stove and bring to light boil. Add Oats, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, turn heat down to simmer – and stir for 2-3 minutes. Top with brown sugar, milk/cream and more butter if you want.

* I was trying to be quick and I diced my apples. I started out slicing thinly and once cooked, I really liked those, but was running out of time (I’d already put my liquid on to boil) so I diced the rest quickly. I didn’t care for the tartness of diced apples (I used granny smith), but the thin slices were perfect. Next time I’ll slice the apple thinly, like I do for Apple Crisp.

I made it for a mid-afternoon meal, on a chilly winter day.. it was perfect.

Oil Cleansing Method – OCM

The Oil Cleansing Method of facial wash, is a healthy and natural alternative to washing with soaps or facial cleansers.

There is already a lot of information out there on this method of washing your face, so maybe you’ve already read about and are just looking for more support.  I like to read several articles on something before I try it, because everyone has their own reasons, their own method and process.

This year, 2012, brings with it my 42nd birthday.  And while I hit my 40’s happy, I can say I’ve never been happy with my skin.  I’ve always battled breakout and redness.  I’m now noticing my skin is getting thin, and fine lines.  I’ve used my own handmade soap on my skin for years, but I think it’s time to change my routine for my face.  Here’s where OCM comes in to play.

This method calls for simple ingredients which you should be able to easily find at your grocery or drug store.

  • Olive Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Essential Oil

Olive Oil, it’s good for all skin types, but don’t feel limited to this one oil.  There are plenty of other oils that are easy to get, but will help target problems, like dry or oily skin.

Castor Oil – this helps clean and dissolve dirty oils on your skin – but can be drying so you’ll want to use more or less, depending on your skin type ( oily skin = use up to 30%, dry skin = use 10% or less).

Essential Oil – this isn’t necessary, but I had Lavender oil and Patchouli oil on hand, so I made two small bottles 1 of each eo.

Bottle it up: I had plastic bottles from my days of lotion making, but any jar or small container with a lid will work.

  • 3/4 Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Castor Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon EO

How to Wash your face with Oils:  You need a nice washcloth and hot water (running, so it’s clean).  I wet my face out of habit, then pour the mixed oils in my palm to equal the size of a quarter or so (more or less, no big deal).  Rub the oils together between your hands to warm the oils, then rub on your face.

Pay attention to any problem areas, rubbing and rubbing.

Side note:  This is a great time to get in a pep talk to your body.  While I’ve always sort of done this, I had it put into words when my sister came home from France recently.  On her long trip on the plane, she did some knitting, but most inspirational to me is her writing in her journal – she wrote to her body, telling it she was sorry for all the things she done wrong, and what she plans to do better.  So, get in a chat with your face.. you’ve likely put some nasty stuff on your face over the years.

Once this is done, turn your hot water back on and get your cloth wet.  First thing I did was lay the cloth against my face and let the hot moisture open my pores.  Then I rinsed the cloth again and gently rubbed away the oils – and I visualized wiping away the dirty oils.

Rinse a few times with water as hot as you can stand it (this helps break up the dirties and wipe them away), until you feel you’ve gotten most of the oils off your skin.  Pat dry, gently.  You may or may not need extra moisturizer.  Today, I chose not to use any – I’m mostly curious how my skin will respond to the oils only.  It’s winter, as I write this, so my feelings on this may change depending on the weather.

One down side to this method is your skin might go into a panic the first few weeks, much like it does when you stop using store-bought shampoo.  It’s ok.  Give it a couple of weeks to get use to this new gentle method.. but in the meantime, you may be faced with more breakouts than usual – they should clear up after a few weeks.   No fun, I know, but all things good usually come with a little discomfort to start out.

How the Oil Cleansing Method works:  Well, others have explained it sooo well (Crunchy Betty and Simple Mom), that I don’t think I could do better, but essentially, Oils clean oils.. the Oils in this mixture, are warmed on your skin and cleanse away the dirty oils, leaving soft clean skin behind.   Simple Mom does a good job explaining the hows and whys it works, while Crunchy Betty gives a list of oils to use, ratios and some why’s as well.

How to Make Powdered Laundry Soap – homemade

You may have seen my post about making Liquid Laundry Soap. Almost two years later, I am finally getting around to adding my Powdered Laundry Soap Tutorial. (About time!)

Honestly, I prefer this powdered recipe over the liquid one.. either way, they both save money.

Ingredients to gather:
Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer)
Borax (20 Mule Team Laundry Booster)
Fels Naptha (stain pre-treatment bar)

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the ingredients at your local grocery. If you can’t find something, you can always order it online.

Grate about 2 cups of the Fels Naptha.

One cup each of the Laundry Booster and Washing Soda.
borax ingredient for powdered laundry soap

washing soda for powdered laundry soap

We had some clumps, so we took a fork and broke up any clumps (tiny ones we didn’t worry about).

Add in the Fels Naptha (if you haven’t already). Mix together well.

I divided the recipe into 2 smaller containers with lids.. with lids on tightly, I handed over to my helpers, who shook the containers until all ingredients were well mixed.
mix all ingredients well - shake shake shake

I did not add any essential oils or fragrance to this recipe. If I wanted a fragrance added, I’d put around 15 to 20 drops in with the Fel Naptha and coat it well, then spread on a lined cookie sheet to dry over night. Then add that the rest of the mixture and mix well.

To use: 1 to 2 Tablespoon(s) per load.

Bean and Rice Salad

One of my favorite dishes is simple and cheap… black beans and rice salad.  Rice and beans are a staple I keep on hand, and we almost always have cheese and sour cream.. so when I get in the mood for this, it’s not very costly (just pick up a tomato and avocado).  This isn’t one my kids are fond of though.  Usually just me & Em.

Ingredients – and layer in bowl in this order:

Shredded Lettuce
Cooked Rice (I like it when it’s still warm off the stove)
Black Beans (I use canned and drain/rinse)
Salsa or Diced Tomatoes
Sour Cream
Mashed Avocado
Top with Shredded Cheese (your choice)

For seasonings, I just use salt (or the No-Salt Salt, since I need to watch my sodium because of my crohn’s disease and presdnisone issues). I also like a seasoning called Nature’s Seasons..

Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

The past few times I’ve picked up the box of large shells in the pasta isle at the grocery, I couldn’t find the recipe I liked to use. Going through all my recipes, I realize I’ve had it all along posted on my other site. So I’m condensing and moving this recipe here to MommaMuse. This is my favorite Cheese stuffed shells recipe.

While this may seem like a time consuming meal to prepare (for some reason it always does to me), it really isn’t bad at all.

Periodically, I’ll buy ground beef in bulk. I’ll brown and drain it all, then separate it into baggies marked with the date made. Either freeze or plan to use in the next couple of days. Doing this makes this recipe run much smoother during preparations… while the pasta shells are cooking on the stove, I prepare the meat and cheese stuffing.. it takes me almost as long to make the stuffing mix, while cleaning up after myself as it does for the shells to cook.
The cheese stuffing
1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (I actually use tomato sauce usually)
1 lb browned ground beef, drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheese (mixed or mozzarella)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs parsley (I used dried, but fresh would be best)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta shells as package directs.

While pasta is cooking, add together all ingredients EXCEPT the spaghetti sauce and a little extra shredded cheese to use for a topper.

In a large casserole dish, spread some of your pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Once the pasta shells are done cooking, I drain and rinse under cold water so handling the shells is easy to do – not hot.
Ready to Bake - Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Using a large spoon, scoop the cheese and meet mixture into each shell, then placing it into the casserole dish.

Pour more sauce on top of the stuffed shells and place in over for about 45 minutes. In the last 10 minutes or so, top with the remaining shredded cheese. Once melted, remove from oven and enjoy!
Baked Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Serve with salad and bread.

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Grilled Veggies with Cheese in a Pita pocket

I’d forgotten about this recipe.. it’s so tasty, too. Will make soon and add pictures.

Found this recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens June 2008 edition.

I am not a real big fan of onions – they just don’t agree with me, but there are other veggies I’ll happily add to this recipe and I don’t think the onions will be missed. In any case, here is the recipe, from the magazine.. add to it, take away, exchange… do whatever to make it work to your taste.

1 8 oz block feta cheese, quartered
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2″ slices [1. Instead of onions, I’ll add avocado and maybe some asparagus.]
1/4 cup italian salad dressing
4 pita bread rounds
2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 Tbsp. honey [2. I wasn’t so sure about the honey… but thinking about it, I bet it softens the italian dressing just enough and makes it that much better.]

First, drizzle cheese, zucchini, and onion slices with half the salad dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

On rack of grill place zucchini, onion slices, and a 6-inch sast-iron skillet (use the skillet to soften the cheese) directly over medium heat. Grill zucchini and onion for 9 minutes or until tender, turning once halfway through cooking time. Remove vegetables.

Grill pita bread and tomatoes on grill rack for 2 minutes or until bread is toasted and tomatoes are lightly charred. Place cheese in hot skillet; heat for 1 to 2 minutes to soften.

To serve, cut zucchini in chunks. Drizzle cheese, vegetables, pitas and tomatoes with honey and remaining salad dressing.

Jell-o Poke Cake

This tasty jello cake is great desert for a gathering, but it needs to be refrigerated.

Very simple to make too!

– A boxed white or yellow cake – mix/bake as directed in an 9×13 pan

– While your cake is cooling, make a box of cherry jello according to the package directions.

jello for jello cake

– Use a fork to poke holes all over the top of the cake, but not quite to the bottom of the pan.

– Pour liquid jello all over the top of the cake, making sure to get into each of the holes.
jello cake

– Place in fridge for several hours, until jello sets and stiffens up the cake.

– Top with whipped topping….

Ranch Dressing Recipe – Outback Crave On

Ranch dressing is my favorite dressing. But I don’t care for the ‘out of the bottle’ dressings.

My daughter gave me this recipe and I’m sure credit must go to Outback directly as it tastes exactly like their yummy ranch dressing. I made it, and immediately had to have a salad – it was yummmy!

1 cup of real mayo
1/2 cup of milk
1 TBSP Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix (powdered)
1/4 tsp cracked pepper (I used fresh)
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix it all together and top on your favorite salad fixings.

I happened to have 1/2 of a petit filet from Outback (dinner the other night.. we splurged!).. so I sliced off a few slices, heated it in the microwave and put my salad greens right on top of it. I wish I’d had a few grape tomatoes to add to it, but as it was, with the dressing, I ate it up.

Typically, I like my salads diced up really neat. Chop the greens into easy to manage bite-size bits, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, shredded cheese, and chopped bacon. I also like fried chicken fingers on top.

One place we like to get salads use to put oriental crunchy noodles on the salad instead of croutons. We loved this. Now that I have a good ranch dressing recipe, I may have to stock up on some of the simple salads fixings – like maybe some homemade croutons… oh yum!

Don’t feel like a salad? Chop up some veggies and use it as a dip.. it’s just as tasty.

Rosemary Mint Cold Process Soap Tutorial with Recipe

In doing some updates on MommaMuse, I realized I didn’t have a dedicated post for my Rosemary Mint Soap recipe. It is included on my Crock Pot Soap Making Tutorial, but it’s such a good soap, it deserves a post all to its self… Instead of just sharing the recipe, I ended up with a Tutorial on how to make cold process soap.

Gather your ingredients and additives:

Rosemary Mint Handmade Soap
4 pounds
– 38 ounces olive oil (59.38%)
– 14.4 ounces palm kernel oil (22.5%)
– 11.6 ounces palm oil (18.13%)
– 8.7 ounces sodium hydroxide (5% discount)
– 17.5 ounces distilled water
– 3 ounces rosemary mint blend essential oils
– 2 teabags of Organic Peppermint tea

This soap makes a 4 pound batch. That may be a bit large, or too small, for your needs, so the percentage is included to help you downsize (or up-size, as the case may be).

If you follow the link for the Crock Pot Soap tutorial, you’ll find step-by-step instructions, including pictures, on how to make it with your crock pot. One thing I really like about the crock pot is that it produces a sort of translucent soap.. it’s a very lovely soap. But, you may prefer the cold process of soap making.

This process may be used for any soap recipe. Read through the directions before starting, to familiarize yourself with the process.

1. Measure your solid oils and melt them over low heat.
Melt your measured oils for soap recipe

2. a. While your oils are melting over low heat, measure you liquid (in this recipe, distilled water) in a dedicated lye mixture container – this is something you will not use for anything but your lye mixture.

2. b. Measure you lye, and add your lye TO your water. note: Always add the lye TO the water to avoid sudden splash-up. This will heat up pretty hot.. so set it aside to cool.. or you could put it outside (if it’s cool/cold) or in the fridge (Be sure you container is labeled clearly so no one uses it, and be careful in moving it around so as not to spill it).. so, your lye mixture is mixed and cooling.

2. c. You could use extra tea bags to make a tea with the distilled water. Steep the teabags, as you would when making tea. Allow the tea to cool. Make sure you use more water than is called for for the recipe, so when the wet tea bags are removed, you’ve got enough water left to make the lye mixture. Cool, or chill, measure and then follow steps above for the lye mixture.

3. Measure out your extra ingredients. Set aside.
– In one bowl measure your fragrance or essential oils.
– In another bowl, open the tea bags, so the teas are loose.
Measuring Soap ingredients

4. Make sure your soap mold is clean, lined and ready to use. My first soap mold was an old cigar box. I then made myself a flat, square wooden mold. I lined each of these with freezer paper, or wax paper. Once I started making soaps for sale, my husband made me wooden molds that produced nice soap logs. One short end was able to screw on and off, for easy log-removal. I used high temperature quilting mylar (found in the quilt section of your local fabric shop – make sure to get high temperature), cut to fit all four sides and the bottom.
Soap Mold

5. Once your solid oils are melted, add your olive oil. This will help bring down the temperature of you melted oils. You want your melted oils to be close to room temperature when you add your lye mixture. I found room temperature (or the slightly cooler) was best when combining your lye mixture to your oils.

When the temps are warmer it seems to speed up ‘trace’ (when the mixtures thickens), causing the combined lye mixture and oils to thicken up faster. This could be a problem if you are adding colorants, or other additives, when you need a few extra minutes to get things mixed well.

6. Add your lye mixture to the oils, and with your handy-dandy stick blender and begin mixing and blending. Mix and blend, mix and blend.
Blending lye and oil mixture for soap making tutorial.

7. When you see a light trace.. this will be like a “trail” that is left when you move the stick blender through the soap mix. It will take a few seconds to melt away on its own.
Reaching Trace - soap making tutorial

Trace has been reached.. now it’s time to add your fragrance or essential oils and your loose tea. Blend it in well and get ready to pour it into the prepared mold.

8. Pour gently, so as not to splash up, the soap into the mold.
Soap poured into soap mold

9. Set aside to finish the saponification (this is what the chemical process of the lye mixture and the oils go through in order to “change” and make soap) process. Some people like to “insulate” their soap while it goes through this process. To do this, you can wrap it in a towel or blanket. I would put a folded towel on the rack (or table or shelf) and then lay a piece of saran wrap across the top of the soap and then put another folded towel on top. This helps contain the heat of the soap. OR, if you mold fits in your oven, you can turn your oven on low heat (about 175 degrees) and let it sit in there over night.

10. Now, you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes. What I like to do it rinse the bowl with the fragrance oil and set aside. Leave the dirty pot you mixed your soap in until the next day. If you wash it right after making your soap, it will be greasy / oily feeling and won’t wash well. If you leave it until the next day, it will have hardened up, and when you wash it, you won’t have to add any soap to wash it, because it’ll be lined with soap! Add some hot water, and see how well it bubbles. Mmm.. and it smells good too. 😉

11. It’s 24 hours later, give or take, and you’re ready to unmold your soap. Yay! Gently remove the soap from the mold.
Handmade soap log

12. Slice and allow to cure… 3 or 4 months is good, if you can wait that long. Your soap will harden up and shrink some, as the remaining liquid is evaporated from the soap. If you can’t wait long, give it a week or so before you use it. It won’t be as good as it will be in a few months, but it will work.
handmade soap log and cut soaps

This soap is not suitable for your face or ‘tender parts’. It makes a wonderful wake-me-up morning soap, but do be careful where you use it. Or in a soap tray for hand washing. It’s great for after cooking and gardening.

If you are looking for a soap for your face (and all over parts), try Nana’s Lavender Goat Milk Soap Recipe, or it’s Vegan alternative Nana’s Vegan Lavender Soap recipe.

Soap Making Recipes FAQ

I’ve gotten many great questions on the comments to some of my soap recipes. I thought I’d add some of the most important ones into one FAQ for ease of accessibility.

Q: Can I substitute one oil for a different one?

A: Yes, absolutely. But, be aware that certain oils behave differently, or have different properties, and it may not turn out to exactly what you want. I won’t pat myself on the back and say that my recipe is the best. 😉 But I will highly recommend that if you switch one oil out for another, you do a test batch to determine if the end result will meet your expectations.

Remember – if you substitute one oil for another, in a soap recipe, you MUST run the recipe back through a lye calculator – This is not optional. This is absolute, you HAVE to do this, to ensure you are mixing the right amount of lye / water to your oils. If you don’t, it could mean a soap that won’t harden, at the least, and at worst, a soap that may actually burn someones skin, or worse.

Here’s more information on Oil Properties for your Soap, Lotion or bath / body oils.

Q: Megan asks: “What about substituting coconut oil for PKO? It’s a lot easier for me to find.”

A: You can use coconut oil, but you don’t really want to use more than 15 or 20% – even at 20% it can be drying. Regardless, whatever you do to substitute, make sure you run the recipe back through a lye calculator. Each oil is different and requires a different amount of lye to make soap – soap that won’t burn 😉 or end up too soft.

Q: Jami aks: “Can you use this recipe follow a crock pot hot process?”

A: Sure – all of my recipes can be used to make crock pot / hot process soap. Just follow the Instructions for Crock Pot Hot Process Soap using the ingredients from this recipe. It’s super simple… and you know when it’s done, it’s good to use – though, letting it cure a few weeks to even a few months will allow it harden quite a bit more.

Jami tried it and had this to say:
“I made this recipe using the crock pot method on this site and it turned out wonderfully! I didn’t have lavender powder so I just added lavender flowers and it looks great. I tested the recipe and it lathers so nice and feels so good. And my hands are nicely cleaned! Thanks for the wonderful instructions and recipe!”

I just want to make a note about using lavender flowers. If you use lavender flowers IN the soap, when the soap cures, those once pretty little flowers can turn out looking rather like … erm… mouse poop.. so I’d suggest making your soap and then sprinkling springs of lavender across the top, or even tying small bunches of lavender flowers sprigs to the soap.

Q: Dayna asks: “Could rose eo and rose powder be substituted for the lavender and still be safe for the face?”

A: The simple answer is yes, absolutely. Rose is good for the skin, even the face. However, your bank account may disagree. Rose eo can be very costly; and you’ll need about 1/2 ounce per pound of soap. Rose powder would be great, as well as rose clay (this will give it a lovely color too). I get rose water to use in my facial creams, but I’m not sure the lovely, soft scent would come through in the soap. You could compromise and use rose powder, rose clay, rose water, rose buds / flowers, and then use some rose fragrance oil rather than essential oi – unless, of course, you aren’t concerned with the cost factor.

In regards to Substitutions:
In general, fragrances, essential oils, powders, clays, or spices (primarily used as natural colorants), micas, teas, etc, generally don’t change the outcome of the basic soap recipe.. But there could be some changes…

For instance, my Nana’s Lavender Soap recipe calls for lavender powder. The powder, even though it’s very fine does make a fine exfoliating soap. If you wanted to make this soap for a baby, leave out the powder, and it will be a soft, creamy, use-it-on-the-most-delicate-skin soap.

Q: Pam says: “Thanks for sharing so many different recipes. I’ve started making my own lotion and love the variety I can produce just by altering the ingredients with something I like. Keep up the good work!”

A: No, that wasn’t a question, but I wanted to put it out there and respond to it. I love that Pam is altering ingredients and creating a product that works for her.

I always try to view a recipe as a guideline – and I encourage others to do so too. If you don’t want to use a specific oil, or it’s not readily available to you, find one that is, with similar properties and make a small test batch to see if it produces something more suited to your needs.