Marinated Mozzarella Balls feat. Aleppo Red Pepper Flakes & Harissa EVOO

My mother came to visit me last week and we went to a couple of really neat specialty shops – Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars and the Savory Spice Shop. We were in the shopping center specifically to go to Con ‘Olio and we accidentally walked in the Savory Spice Shop. It was right next door and I had never been to either one and just walked into the place with the spices in the windows. My mother and I were like kids in a candy store. 🙂

Harissa Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar

Aleppo Red Pepper Flakes & Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

I was really interested in trying a recipe that would showcase the red pepper flakes and the Harissa flavor in the olive oil. While I was out shopping at Central Market, I grabbed some mozzarella balls and knew that’s what I wanted to do with my flakes!

In a plastic sandwich bag, I mixed up about 1/3 ounce of red pepper flakes, a dash of chili powder (the flakes are relatively mild), paprika and kosher salt. Then I poured in about 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of the Harissa olive oil, and about 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Once I mixed it all up in the bag and coated the mozzarella balls really well, I poured them back into the container they came in and let them marinate. I put them in the refrigerator overnight, then brought them to room temperature and let them soak for a while today before I used them.

They were just spicy enough that you needed a drink with them, but they taste wonderful! The Harissa is a chile sauce as well, but again, none of these are over a 5 on a 1-10 heat scale. The flavors together made a wonderful mix on pasta. I didn’t take a picture of that, but I made some cappellini and tossed in some mozzarella balls and the olive oil mix for a wonderful lunch. I love both the olive oil and the red pepper flakes and I am glad I tried them out this way. I have some other ideas for them in the future. 🙂

Stain Remover: Hydrogen Peroxide & Original Dawn

I have seen a few different pins about how great this combo is for removing stains. Well, my carpet has quite a few that I was short of burning out, so I decided to mix it up and give it a try. I found the recipe for this at Modern Day Moms, and I love it!

It has two simple ingredients: 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part Dawn liquid soap. I made 30 ounces so I used 20 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 10 ounces of Dawn.

I have labeled my bottle so I will just reuse this one over and over. I got the spray bottle at Wal-Mart (ugh, sorry) for less than a $1.00 and the peroxide & soap are both about $1.00 a piece. Needless to say, this was really cheap to make. NOW, to see if it works!

This is a small spot on my carpet that most likely is ash. It could be dirt. Who knows? Anyway, it’s a small spot and we’ll see if this blue spray can knock it out.

I sprayed enough to cover the area and I let it sit for a few minutes. I suggest letting it sit longer if the stain has been there a while, and possible spraying it again to really get the cleaning action. It may not magically disappear, but I decided to scrub it with a sponge. A brush would probably have been better, but I didn’t have one.

What?! WHAT?! Seriously, I am amazed. Okay, so let’s see what it does on big spots. I have small and big, and I don’t believe how great it worked.

Now, this is a big spot. Again, this is probably ashes, but there is no telling. It’s horribly embarrassing, but I am glad I get to test out this spray. So let’s see after a spray and a scrub if I can get rid of this eyesore.

Okay, so it didn’t completely go away on the first scrub, but this is INCREDIBLE. I know once I spray it one more time and scrub it with a brush, it will be good to go. I am super impressed. I haven’t tried it on anything else yet, but I may give it a shot in my bathtub for soap scum, or my shower for dirty grout. It smells wonderful! I definitely recommend giving this a shot in place of your regular stain remover.

Hand Soap made from Bar Soap

In an effort to save some money, I have decided to start making household products that I usually have to buy a couple of times a month – laundry detergent, body wash, whatever I can find to make! Hand soap is something I like to keep around the house, but it’s expensive. I found a nifty pin on how to make your own hand soap out of a bar of soap and decided that I would accept the challenge.

The blog that I found the idea for this on, Frugally Green, doesn’t appear to work for me anymore, but I added the link anyway in case it’s back up soon! The recipe calls for grating up 1 bar of Dove soap (any variety of Dove will work for this; she also has a recipe for making it with other types of soap that do not have moisturizers) which is equal to about 2 cups. Since finishing this particular batch I have found another set of directions for making this bar soap into liquid body wash, and it also has a nifty idea to microwave the soap. I will be trying that soon. 🙂 In the meantime, I hand grated my soap.

It is a little bit time consuming, but it’s mindless work while watching television. Idle hands are the Devil’s playground. 😉 I love this particular scent of Dove. It is the Go Fresh! Revive, and it smells like pomegranate & lemon verbena – to me, it smells like Heaven. I have the body spray & deodorant. I have also used the liquid body wash (and shampoo/conditioner), but they are super expensive and I am going to try my hand at making my own shampoo. Anyway!

Once you’ve grated all of the soap, you will melt it down in water. The hand soap recipe called for 6 cups of water. I read through the comments and a lot of people mentioned having different consistencies depending on whether they had hard water or not. I used distilled water in mine, just in case.

The process just takes some time. It melts on medium heat and it will start to foam a bit. The higher the temp and the longer you allow it to melt, the smoother your soap will be. If you have an immersion blender, you can blend it when it’s done. Be prepared for a few suds! I tried a hand mixer and had moderate success, but no pictures of that! Sorry!

I funneled mine into a 1 gallon milk jug, though there is hardly that much. Then I used it in my regular soap dispensers! It is truthfully a little thin, so I may try it with a little less water next time, or I may try it without the distilled water to see if it makes a difference. For now, though, I am enjoying the smell of pomegranate & lemon verbena all over my apartment!

Avocado Pasta

I promise that I am going to pin some recipes that don’t use avocados, but they are so delicious and it’s that time of year. My best friend, Olga, came to visit for the weekend and it’s the first time we spent a few days together in about 3 years! We had a wonderful weekend of eating & crafting. She had the idea that we make some avocado pasta that she saw on Pinterest, and naturally I agreed! We used a recipe from Avocado.org and it didn’t take 10 minutes to make the whole meal.

I started with olive oil, lime juice (of course I didn’t have lemons), 2 cloves of garlic, and some coarse salt. I added 2 avocados, some oregano & basil, and black pepper and pulsed it in the food processor until it was creamy.

I tossed mine with some cappellini and topped it with some Parmesan cheese.

There isn’t a single thing I would change about the way I made this, except use fresh herbs. I didn’t have any and we weren’t going to the store so I used dried herbs.

This is by far one of the most amazing recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. I was so surprised at how well it came out and I will be making this for years to come! The avocados take on the taste of the garlic and olive oil very well and it tastes so wonderful you wouldn’t expect it to be green. It was a lot like pesto, only with avocados. Amazing!!

Avocado “Mayo” Spread

One of the most disappointing things about Pinterest is when a pin doesn’t link to anything! How obnoxious is it to see something “crafty” and there isn’t a tutorial? And how frustrating is it to find something that looks DELICIOUS, but there’s no recipe? This doesn’t happen to me often, but I found what I thought would be a delicious recipe for avocado “mayo” spread WITHOUT mayonnaise (I hate the stuff!) only to have my stomach’s dreams ripped away. The link is broken! I even Googled the spread and couldn’t find it with the specific ingredient list. Now, I realize you can just whip up some avocados in the food processor and they would be tasty alone, but I like to know what was so amazing about someone’s recipe that they felt the need to post it, you know?

At the very least, the pin’s comment has a list of what should be in this, but I didn’t have everything so I had to make some substitutions. I always have to make substitutions. Anyway, the original pin says this spread is an avocado, whipping cream, lemon juice, mustard, & Tabasco sauce. I rarely purchase lemons so I used a lime instead, and I also prefer Louisiana Hot Sauce over Tabasco Sauce. Use what you love!

I chopped the avocado up a bit, squeezed a lime, used about a teaspoon of yellow mustard, and some hot sauce as the recipe called for, and then I added sour cream & a touch of milk, and whipped it up in the food processor.

I didn’t take any pictures of the finished product, but it looks like the original pin and it was delicious! When I make it again, I will use spicy brown mustard instead of yellow mustard. I ate it as a baked potato topping and it would be delicious on a grilled cheese or a sprout-y sandwich. Another win for avocados!

Fresh Spinach and Cherry Salad with Quinoa

My favorite fruits are stone fruits: peaches, cherries, and almonds. (Yeah, it’s a nut and a fruit. *giggle*) I don’t care much for maraschino cherries, but I love fresh cherries and can never find enough uses for them in the summer. I’m typically not a salad fan, but fresh spinach is delicious, healthy, and a great substitute for boring lettuce. I found the inspiration for my dinner this evening at Time at the TableI pinned it a week or so ago and have been waiting to try it out. This recipe calls for kale, but I didn’t have any and I’m not a huge fan of it yet. I also didn’t have the orange juice this recipe called for so I used lemon juice instead, and I substituted Parmesan cheese for Gorgonzola. It would be great even without cheese!

Now, I made a few other adjustments – some out of necessity, others just for health/fun/taste. I had some quinoa cooked in coconut milk that I wanted to use so I put in about 1/3 cup of that. I also added cinnamon to my dressing for extra flavor. The cherries were a bit tart but the maple syrup from the dressing definitely made up for it! You’ll notice some chunks of carrot in there, as well. The taste of cherries and carrots together was surprisingly refreshing. This was a delicious salad and definitely worth the time spent halving and pitting the cherries! (Maybe an extra 5-10 minutes, but tedious.) I am thrilled that I saw this recipe because I’d otherwise be noshing away on my cherries as a snack – this was definitely better. Vegetarian, healthy, and tasty!

Reusing Old Candle Jars

I have no problem admitting that I am a packrat. I love to hold onto “useful” things, such as old pieces of fabric, glass jars, or frames that could be re-purposed. Those books I read as a child? Yep, I’ve still got ’em. Clothes that don’t fit? If I love the fabric enough, it’s stuffed in a bag waiting for the perfect use. My newest obsession is saving glass – jars that were once full of syrupy fruit and jars with leftover candle wax in them. In the past, I have always thrown them away. What was I going to do with a waxy candle jar? And then came this handy blog from Yellow Brick Home.

She has much better pictures of the actual process, but I had a fun experience and will provide tips as I go here. I had a couple of large candle jars that will make excellent apothecary jars and some small jars that make excellent rocks glasses.

As you can see, I did not get pictures of an actual “before”, but I’m pretty sure we all know what used candle jars look like – a thin layer of wax holding the wick in place and it just never burns! All you have to do is pour boiling water into the candle and let it cool. Most of them came up on the first try. I let them cool overnight, but it’s not really necessary to wait that long.

Notice the jars with red wax aren’t clean – I had to use quite a bit of water as they didn’t burn down very well and they didn’t come up as easily. The author of the blog had soy candles, and these are just regular Glade candles so I’m not sure if that makes a difference in melting temps. I am too lazy to look that up, but I was able to remedy the situation just fine.

I just poured the boiling water into the jars, removed the pan from the heat, and set the jars inside of the water. Within a few hours the red wax had all risen to the top and I was able to cut into it with a knife and remove it. Notice they are all wax-free! Just wash them very well, scrub any remaining wax or paper off, and I would recommend sterilizing them regardless of what you’re using them for.

True to my nature, I saved the pieces of wax in a container and I’m storing them for future use. I am so excited that I was able to reuse these things! Now I don’t feel bad buying candles and I can start making containers for my bathroom, kitchen, and craft supplies. It’s a win-win! Check out the blog at Yellow Brick Home for better instructions and pictures – and let her know how much you appreciate this because it’s such a money-saver.

– Miranda

Broiled Avocadoes with Parmesan and Hot Sauce

As my first post at Pin-spired, I am going to share this wonderful vegetarian recipe that I re-pinned. I absolutely love avocados and I’ve only recently developed a taste for them. Five years ago I wouldn’t have touched one, but one day I got a craving for them and it hasn’t stopped since. They are filling and full of healthy fats – and I love healthy fat!

I found the recipe at Morsels and Musings. She made hers with chipotle sauce but I used Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce on mine. First, I didn’t realize I had Louisiana Hot Sauce but I made it once with Frank’s and once with Louisiana and I loved it most with the buffalo sauce. You can scoop it out with a fork and it is wonderfully delicious! I am so glad I found this quick little snack because it is a new favorite. Hope you enjoy as much as I do! 🙂

– Miranda