Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Snow Day

It's snowy today here in Northeast Iowa.
The wind is blowing, too.
It's one of those days when most schools are canceled.
It's a great day to stay at home and make soap :-)
Here's what I'm working on today.
Now I'm hungry for donuts.
Yesterday we saw record highs.
Tomorrow will be bone chilling cold.
Wind chills are expected to be well below zero.
It will be another good day to stay inside and make soap.
Well, okay.
Any day is a good day to make soap!
You may have already noticed.
I took these photos from inside.
I'm an Iowa girl through and through, but
I enjoy the snow much more from inside the house.
Yep.  It might be a while before I venture down these steps.
I hope you are having a wonderful day
Whatever your weather brings.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

SoapArt on Etsy

Here's a little peek at some items from my Etsy shop.
What's Etsy?
It's an online marketplace.

What will you find on Etsy?
Handmade Items
Vintage Items

Thanks for Reading! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Bacon

Like Bacon?
Like Chicken?
Like Pasta?
You get them all in this dish!
Okay, so it may not be the healthiest dish ever,
But it's a great winter warm up kind of meal.
Cut the bacon into little pieces.
Then fry it until it's good and crispy.
Remove the bacon from the pan.
Drain most of the grease.
Save a little if you want a little extra kick of bacon flavor. 
Fry the chicken in the bacon grease or
Olive Oil.
Turn once so both sides get a little browned.
Mmmmm. Bacon!
Sour Cream and Cream of Chicken Soup
While chicken is browning,
Mix the Sour Cream and Soup.
Add Some Milk.
Mix some more.
Add the Bacon.
Add Mushrooms if desired.
Stir gently to mix.
Add the soup mixture to the chicken.
Cover the Pan
Cook on medium low until chicken is cooked and
Sauce is heated through.
This takes around 30 minutes.
Proper temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
While chicken is cooking,
Prepare a pound of pasta.
We used spaghetti,
But any pasta will do.
After mixture is heated through
And chicken is thoroughly cooked,
Add 2 cups of grated cheese to the pan.
We used an Italian blend.
Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.
Add a little more milk if sauce needs thinned.
Put pasta on a plate.
Add a chicken breast
And sauce to taste.
Season as desired.
Here's the Recipe:
1/2 Pound Bacon
4 - 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
8 oz. Sour Cream
1 Can (10.5 oz.) Cream of Chicken Soup
4-6 Ounces Milk
4 - 8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms
2 Cups Shredded Cheese
Cut bacon into small pieces. 
Fry until crisp.
Remove bacon from pan and drain.
Reserve 2 T. bacon grease in pan.
Discard remaining bacon grease.
Add chicken breasts to bacon grease.
Cook on medium until lightly browned.
Turn chicken.
Cook to brown other side.
Meanwhile, mix sour cream, soup and milk together.
Add bacon and mushrooms and gently stir.
When chicken is browned on both sides,
Add soup mixture to pan.
Cover and cook about 30 minutes on medium low.
While chicken cooks, Prepare Pasta.
When chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit or more,
The sauce should be heated through.
Add shredded cheese.
Cover and cook another 5 minutes.
Dish pasta onto individual plates.
Top with chicken then sauce.
Season as desired.
This can be skinnied up by using reduced fat sour cream and soup.
Shredded cheese can be reduced, and you can use less bacon too.
If this sounds good to you,
I hope you'll give the recipe a try.
Then let me know what you think.
What special twists did you add to make it great?
Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clove Soap and Rosemary Mint Soap Cut

Here are the clove soaps
And the Rosemary Mint soaps

They are cut and stamped,
But they still need a few days of cure time.
They're available for pre-order on Etsy now.
They'll be ready to ship on January 30th.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rosemary Mint Soap from Scratch

One of the first batches of 2013
was Rosemary Mint.
The batter contains these oils:
Olive, Canola, Coconut and Palm.
It also contains lye and distilled water.
I added rosemary powder, rosemary essential oil,
and peppermint essential oil.
I used the in the pot swirl method like I did for the Clove Soap
 Here the batter is divided into two parts.
Both parts already have the essential oil incorporated.
The rosemary powder was aded to the part on the right.
I like to mix it in with a wire whisk.
 In this picture, the powder is partially mixed.
 Now it's time to pour the part with the rosemary powder
Into the plain part.
 This shows the difference in color between the two parts.
 Almost finished pouring.
 All the batter is now in the big pot.
Without stirring the parts together,
I poured the mixture into the molds.
 Here are the loaves after the pour.
In future posts,
I'll show you the cuts of the clove
And rosemary mint soaps.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you'll check back soon.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Clove Soap

Happy New Year, Everyone!
I don’t know where 2012 went.
Some parts of it are just a blur.
The year was full of blessings.
For that I am thankful.
Best wishes to you all
For a blessed year in 2013.
I finally soaped again on Friday.
That is, I made soap from scratch.
It had been too long since the last time.
Here are the first soaps of 2013!
Now comes the hard part –
Waiting for them to cure.
In 3-4 weeks they will be ready to go.
Today I'll tell you about the clove soap.
Future posts will focus on the others. 
I made a five pound batch of clove soap.
I wanted to make double that amount.
But clove essential oil tends to accelerate trace.
I thought I better play it safe with my first batch of the year.
 After mixing the batch and bringing it to a light trace,
I separated it into two equal parts.
I added ground cloves to one part.
I like using a wire whip to mix in the cloves.
See the little patterns in the soap?
Those indicate trace.
That means the process of saponification has started.
Saponification per WordWeb:
"A chemical reaction in which an ester is heated with an alkali
(especially the alkaline hydrolysis of a fat or oil to make soap)"
This chemistry is part of why I love making soap.
Ingredients are measured by weight in making soap.
Here the essential oil for one part is weighed out.
I like to use Clove Leaf Essential Oil from Bramble Berry.
Here the clove essential oil is being mixed into the plain base.
Now the clove EO is mixed into the base with the ground cloves in it.
I used a technique called in the pot swirl.
It involves pouring one part into the other.
Here it is all together in one pot.
For this batch, I didn't combine them any further before pouring.
As I poured, some of the base with cloves went into the mold.
And some of the base without the cloves also went into the mold.
No two batches come out exactly the same.
No two bars are identical.
I love that each bar is a unique creation.
All the base is now in the molds.
The finished loaves.
I decided to make little peaks on the top.
Just for fun.
This soap is a good seller.
It is also my go-to soap.
I won't say it's my favorite soap.
That would be like choosing a favorite child.
It just can't be done.
I usually keep a dozen or more bars of clove soap on hand.
And I always keep one in the shower.
Thanks for reading!