Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Make Orange Essential Oil from Orange Peels!~

It’s clementine season! I snatched a box up the first minute I saw them in the grocery store and raced home. Love eating them... save the orange peels!!

How to Make Orange Essential Oil

You will need

Orange peels
Grain alcohol or vodka* (a cheap grocery store brand vodka is perfect for this project)
Tray, cookie sheet, or towel
Knife or food processor (the food processor/chopper is easier!)
Coffee filters
Two jars, one should have a tight fitting lid

Make it

  1. Eat a bunch of oranges, clementines, or mandarins and save the peels. Yum, yum, yum!
  2. Lay the peels on the cookie sheet, tray or towel and let them air dry (do not put them in a dehydrator or you will lose the oil!) until the peels are rock hard. It took my peels about one week to dry.
  3. Use the food process/chopper/knife to cut the dry peels into small bits. Do not over process the peels in the food processor/chopper until they are mushy or you will lose the oil in the peel.
  4. Add the chopped peels to the jar with the tight fitting lid and cover the peels in grain alcohol or vodka.
  5. Shake the jar to release the oil several times a day for several days. The longer you let the peels steep the more orange oil you will extract. I let mine sit in a sorta sunny spot on my kitchen counter for a weekend. 

  1. Use a coffee filter to strain liquid from the orange peels and into the second jar.
  2. Place a clean coffee filter or cloth on top of the jar of liquid. Allow the alcohol to evaporate from the jar. I let mine sit for one week.
My orange essential oil after one week.

  1. Optional: I had sediment in the bottom of my jar of orange oil after one week. It isn't going to hurt anything. I had an extra disposable coffee filters that I know I wouldn't use for coffee ( I use a reusable gold coffee filter. It's supposed to make better coffee.) I strained the orange oil again with a clean coffee filter into an amber jar (a re-purposed yeast jar.) A dark colored jar will keep sunlight from degrading the essential oil.
The disposable filters came with a new coffeemaker. 

  1. What you have left is a jar of orange essential oil!

Delicious Lemon Squares

These are incredible!!
Delicious Lemon Squares

Ingredients --

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp Butter Extract, 2 oz

Cream Layer:
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz fat-free or light cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 tsp  Original Double-Strength Vanilla
Half of a 1-quart/liter container of whipped topping

Lemon Layer:
1 pie filling recipe from Watkins Lemon Dessert package, using 2-1/2 cups water, Lemon Dessert Mix
1 tbsp lemon juice

Cooking Directions

Combine bottom layer ingredients and pack into an 11 x 7”/28 x 18 cm baking pan. Bake at 375°F/190°C for 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Cream together powdered sugar and cream cheese. Add whipped topping and fold in. Prepare lemon pie filling; add lemon juice and let cool.

Spread a thin layer of cream mixture over baked bottom layer. Spread lemon filling on top; spread rest of cream mixture on top of that. Chill. (Note: Chilling after applying lemon layer may make it easier to spread top layer.) Cut in large squares.

(Note: Other Watkins Dessert Mixes may be used in place of Lemon.)


Vanilla Chai Tea Recipe

Vanilla Chai Tea Recipe
Photo by: Taste of Home

Vanilla Chai Tea Recipe

This warm chai is comfort in a cup. It’s extra special with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of ground allspice on top.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen

  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 individual tea bags
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon watkins vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
  • Ground allspice


  • Place the first five ingredients in a large bowl; with the end of a wooden spoon handle, crush spices until aroma is released. Add the tea bags, honey and boiling water. Cover and steep for 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat milk. Strain tea into a heatproof pitcher; stir in milk and vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, beat whipping cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Serve individual servings of tea with whipped cream; garnish with ground allspice. Yield: 6 serving
To Make Ahead: Whipped cream can be made a couple of hours in advance; cover and refrigerate.

 Chai Latte
The exotic taste of chai…the creaminess of latte…
the ease of instant cocoa! Have it all with this delicious beverage that’s perfect for a quiet evening by the fire. This is true effortless entertaining with style.
(7.5 oz) - $6.99

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Banana Split Cake

Yummy Dessert
Author: Courtesy of
  • banana dessert Mix
  • vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • Strawberries, blueberries or other fruit of choice
  • Non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream flavored with Original Double-Strength vanilla
  • Optional toppings: chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, chocolate syrup
  1. Prepare banana pudding;
  2. while still warm, blend with cake mix and bake according to directions on cake mix package.
  3. While cake is baking, prepare vanilla pudding.
  4. When cake is done, poke holes in warm cake and pour vanilla pudding over cake.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Add layer of berries or other fruit; top with whipped cream.
  7. Decorate with chopped nuts and cherries and drizzle chocolate syrup on top.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


MAGIC Decal Transfer Tutorial with Free Printables!

Magic decal coating paper is a complimentary product designed to be used in conjunction with standard decal paper to make the finished transfers durable - yes, even dishwasher safe!

If you're already familiar with magic decal coating paper then please excuse my tardy excitement, though for everyone else who is just getting to the party now too, feel free to start throwing the streamers!

As there are probably several brands of magic decal coating paper out there, each with slightly differing application requirements, for clarity in this tutorial I will specifically pertain to the particular product I used which I got from here....

The paper I received came with one sheet of water slide decal paper (distinguished by a blue watermark on the back) which you print your image onto and one sheet of the magic coating paper (distinguished by attached translucent protective paper).

1. Image to transfer
Use anything you like.
I made up my canister labels in Photoshop. I wanted them to be a bit different and quite typographic so decided to style them based on dictionary definitions (my artwork is attached as a free printable if you would like to use them!)
2. Inkjet printer
3. Decal paper (blue watermark on back)
Decal paper comes in clear or white. I'm using the clear paper because I want a transparent background around my image.
4. Magic paper (attached translucent protective paper)
5. Laminator
Basic laminators can be bought for around $20 from most office supply and department stores.
7. Water
8. Soft cloth
9. Item to embellish
10. Microwave, oven or hairdryer


1. Print your image onto the glossy side of your decal paper (DO NOT mirror your image) using an inkjet printer. Allow to dry thoroughly.
I created my canister labels in Photoshop and have attached them below as a free printable if you would like to use them.

2. Separate the translucent protective paper from the magic paper. Do not throw the translucent paper away.

3. Place the magic paper gloss side up on your table. Lay the decal paper printed side down on top of the magic paper. Place the translucent protective paper gloss side down on top of the decal paper.
As my image took up the entire sheet of decal paper I did not need to trim around it first. If you are working with a smaller image you may wish to cut roughly around it with scissors.

4. Laminate your stack of three papers together on low speed and at low temperature.
Like I said, basic laminators can be bought for around $20 from most office supply and department stores.

5. Discard the translucent paper. Your decal paper and magic paper should now be fused together. Trim closely around your image - you can see it quite easily through the paper if you hold it up to the light.

Where there is no ink, the decal will leave a very fine, slightly translucent film which is visible close up or on certain angles. As my image is text alone with no border I experimented with techniques and found the neatest finish to be a nice even box (trying to mimic the outline of the text just looked messy). If your image has a distinct border then trim approximately 2mm all the way around it (leaving a small buffer ensures you get a good seal).

6. Dampen the back of the decal paper (watermarked side) with a cloth until it becomes translucent. Wait around 15 seconds then gently peel the paper away completely.
Important: ensure you remove the watermarked decal paper only at this stage.

7. Quickly immerse the decal in a shallow dish of water to dampen the other side then position it, image side down, on your item, smoothing it down with your fingers and a slightly damp cloth to remove excess water.

8. Carefully slide off the backing paper and manipulate the decal into its exact position then continue to smooth it until it is water and air bubble free (the image for step eight shows the transfer with some minor creases and bubbles. This is only because the photograph depicts the removal of the backing paper before I have smoothed the decal. Rest assured that it does flatten out completely).

9. Finally, set the decal by either:
- Baking in an electric oven for 8 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius
- Cooking in a microwave for 5 minutes on low
- Blowing with a hairdryer for 5 - 10 minutes

Although I was hesitant, I did find the courage to run these babies through the dishwasher - twice, just to be certain - and they didn't show any signs of distress. I was honestly AMAZED! Of course given I have only had them for a few day I can hardly vouch for their longevity so advise hand washing for frequent use.
As I mentioned, there is a very faint translucent background (which is the case with regular waterslide decals too) though once the canisters were full it was barely noticeable.

And here are your complimentary printables....
(simply click on the image to enlarge to full size then save it to your computer)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring

Gooey Yummy....
Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring

2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits 
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 C. pancake syrup (any brand you like, I used Mrs. Buttersworth)
1/3 C. packed light brown sugar
1/4 C. chopped pecans, optional
1/4 C. chopped almonds, optional

Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired). Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top. Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring. Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter and enjoy!

** I ended up using 1 1/2 tubes of the Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits (1 tube didn't seem like enough) and baked it for about 30 minutes. It needed a bit longer to bake since I used more.

Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Fiesta of Flavor: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m a sincere lover of Mexican food – find this easy recipe!
All the flavor of a delicious taco, in a bowl, but healthier and lower in calories!! Sign me up, señor. 
On a cold winter day, there’s nothing I want more than a hot bowl of soup  And a nap..  Here’s my recipe for ‘taco in a bowl’.  It’s yummy yummy to your tummy.  Muy bueno.  Enjoy.
Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup
chicken tortilla soup crop

Pantry (Dry) Ingredients
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Four 14 oz. cans chicken broth (or equivalent with bullion)
1 package taco seasoning
1 tbsp red taco sauce (mild or medium)*
4 oz. can diced green chiles (mild or medium)
6 oz. can tomato paste
8 oz. petite diced tomatoes – half the can and completely optional
3/4 tsp ground cumin
*add another tbsp taco sauce if you like it spicy
pantry ingredients side
Fresh Ingredients
4 chicken breasts
14 oz. water
1 medium onion – finely diced
1.5 cups diced celery
1.5 cups diced carrots
1.5 cups roasted or frozen kernel corn
4 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded jack cheese
Sliced avocado (optional, if available)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
fresh ingredients
Start by dicing your onion, celery, and carrot.  In a large pot or dutch oven, soften your onion, celery and chiles in 1 tbsp vegetable oil for 3 – 4 minutes on medium low heat.
soften onion celery chiles
Add chicken broth, and then fill one can with 14 more ounces of water and add to pot.
broth and water
Add carrots, corn, tomato paste, taco sauce, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low. 
Meanwhile, coat your chicken breasts in taco seasoning.
coat chicken in seasoning
Grill chicken breasts on an indoor grill or a panini maker for 6 to 8 minutes.  You can also broil in your oven for the same amount of time, but to me, the grilled chicken tastes better.
grill chicken indoors
Once cooked, dice your chicken into chunks, then toss into soup pot.
dice chicken dos
Cook soup on low for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ten minutes before your soup is done (or before you intend to serve) thinly slice your corn tortillas.
corn tortilla thin strips
Toss in pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, and stir on medium heat until lightly browned.
tortillas in pan
Soup can be made one day in advance, stored in fridge and reheated.  Serve hot by garnishing with fresh corn tortilla strips, shredded jack cheese and fresh avocado slices (if available).
chicken tortilla soup
Other optional garnishes: fresh chopped cilantro, squeeze of lime, sour cream, or diced fresh tomatoes.
One note on ingredients:  If celery, or diced tomatoes, or corn is not your thing, then simply leave it out.  No worries, amiga.  The great ‘taco’ flavor comes from the combination of the liquid ingredients and the dry seasonings.

This recipe serves six.  Total calories per serving: 300 including garnish of cheese and tortilla strips.  Add another 60 calories per serving for the avocado. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Yum... Root-Beer Float!!
1-3/4 cups sugar
2-1/4 cups water
2 tbsp Watkins Root Beer Extract
Club soda or sparkling water

Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan; heat and stir until mixture starts to boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Add root beer concentrate and mix thoroughly. 

To serve, add 1/2 to 1/3 cup (according to taste) root beer syrup 
to 5 fl oz club soda or sparkling water.

Makes 3 cups root beer syrup.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pizza Margherita

A Taste of Summer

A bouquet of fresh basil has an especially summery fragrance during the winter months.

Southwestern Tomato Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 chopped onion
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp Natural Garlic & Herb Seasoning Blend
1 tbsp Watkins Chili Powder
1-1/2 tsp Watkins Garlic Liquid Spice
3/ 4 to 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
Freshly ground, to taste Watkins Sea Salt
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over hot cooked pasta. Makes 4 servings

One of our favorite meals to make is Southwestern Tomato Sauce is Pizza Margherita. 

For the sauce, simmer all seasonings with diced tomatoes to preferred thickness. 

Pizza dough recipe :
Our delicious, fast-rising mixes make homemade pizza quicker and easier.
Save money and get a better pizza, made just the way you like it.
Makes one fantastically wholesome 14-inch crust.

Remove from oven and drizzle with Garlic & Parsley Grapeseed Oil 
or your favorite olive oil over crust and top with fresh tomato sauce. 

You may use fresh basil or add Watkins excellent All-Natural Gourmet Basil

Top with shredded Italian cheeses

Bake at 425 until done

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken Casserole with Green Chiles

 and it's (low-carb)

I made this on two separate occasions during the holidays for family and friends. It was a big hit. It’s very hearty and satisfying. I hope you give this one a try!

Chicken Casserole with Green Chiles

7-8 cups cooked and shredded chicken*
1 medium-large onion finely diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1.5 cups sour cream
7 ounce can of green chiles
3/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
8 ounces of shredded pepper jack
1/2 cup colby jack shredded cheese or shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup french fried onions (optional)

Sautee onion in olive oil until soft and caramelized. While the onion is cooking, mix mayo, sour cream, green chiles (drain excess liquid), salt, pepper, and cumin in a large bowl. Add sauteed onions, cooked chicken, and pepper jack to the mayo mixture. Stir mixture thoroughly and spread it evenly in a 9 X 13 pan. Top with colby jack  or shredded cheddar cheese and fried onions. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
*You can use rotisserie chicken for this recipe if you are in a hurry. If you have time to roast your own chicken, I would recommend it. You get more meat for your money. It’s really simple to do. Use bone-in chicken breasts with the skin. Season them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately one hour. Use 4-6 breasts depending on their size.
Also, this is a great meal to make ahead. Don’t add the fried onions until you are ready to put the casserole in the oven. We usually have enough leftovers to pack a few lunches too. This reheats really well.

Serves 8: Net Carbs 5.4 per serving

Cajun Caramel Corn

    Cajun Caramel Corn

Cajun Caramel Corn Recipe!

Blazin' Cajun Snack & Dip Seasoning, (3.5 oz) 02069

Turn "ordinary" into "extraordinary" with our versatile Gourmet Snack & Dip Seasonings. Just mix with regular or low fat sour cream, pureed cottage cheese or plain yogurt to create delicious dips and spreads for everything from crackers to crudités. Mix with cream cheese for flavorful spreads for roll-ups, cheese balls and canapés.
$8.99 Order yours today, click here!

Cajun Caramel Corn

Makes a great Super Bowl snack 
 8 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
2 to 4 tsp Watkins Blazin' Cajun Snack & Dip Mix
1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 200° F/95° C. Pour popcorn into a large roasting pan.
In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter, syrup and lemon juice. Mix well. Cook on medium, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil until mixture reaches 260° F/125° C (hard ball stage).

Remove pan from heat. Quickly stir in 2 tsp/ 10 mL of Watkins Blazin' Cajun Snack & Dip Mix and the baking soda. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat well. Bake for 1 hour in preheated oven, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Empty popcorn onto waxed paper. Break apart with hands. Sprinkle with additional Blazin' Cajun seasoning to taste, if desired. Store in a tightly-covered container.
Makes 18 (1 cup) servings