Beat the Heat with Homemade Strawberry-Banana Yogurt Popsicles – Mighty Pops Review and Giveaway!

Mighty Pops

We have a neighborhood ice cream man that comes by our house every. single. day. We made the mistake of buying something from him ONE time and now he keeps coming back, but he is only half of the problem! My daughter and her super dog-like hearing can detect the ice cream man’s tune from blocks away, WHILE we are in the house. Then I have to break her spirit by telling her, “Not today.” all of the time because really, she does not need to be eating that crud and also, the prices are pretty insane.  So I found a solution! Now I make my own fruit-filled, organic, healthy treats and when the ice cream man rolls by and I have to let my daughter down once again, I can offer her one of her new favorite popsicle treats from our freezer. Problem solved.

Have you ever made homemade popsicles? It is one of the easiest things I have ever done. Mighty Pops was nice enough to let me try out a set of their silicone ice pop molds. They are BPA free, dishwasher safe, durable, reusable and mess-free.

Here is a delicious recipe for Strawberry-Banana Homemade Yogurt Popsicles that I came up with this week:

This literally took me five minutes to prepare.

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 cups of yogurt  – we used our homemade yogurt, but any store-bought yogurt will work just fine as well.
  • 5 organic strawberries, quartered
  • 1 whole organic banana, chunked <— yeah, that’s the technical term 🙂
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (skip if using store-bought yogurt)
  • 1 splash of vanilla (skip if using store-bought yogurt)

You can be creative with the amount of fruit you put in there.  If you are hoping for more of a strawberry-dominant flavor, then use less banana and more strawberries.

Directions:

Made from scratch - Strawberry-banana yogurt popsicles - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Made from scratch - Strawberry-banana yogurt popsicles -- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Blend all the ingredients together. I used my convenient hand-mixer that I LOVE but a food processor will work just as well. Leave some chunks if you’d like.  Taste test once blended to make sure it has the flavor you are looking for. If you are using store-bought yogurt and it just isn’t quite sweet enough, add some honey or even some organic sugar.

Once blended, I found that pouring the “smoothie” into a measuring cup is easiest to distribute into the molds.

Made from scratch - - Strawberry-banana yogurt popsicles - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Leave some space for the tab to fit back in and for the liquid to expand when it freezes.

Made from scratch -- Strawberry-banana yogurt popsicles - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

This recipe makes 5 yogurt pops. They take about 6 hours to freeze so I make them at night and they are ready the next day for enjoyment! My daughter gave this recipe her “So nummy!” seal of approval.

Tip: Before eating, I found that running the ice-cold mold under warm water for a few seconds helps the popsicle loosen up so it’s easier to push up out of the sheath.

Would you like to make your own popsicles? Well Mighty Pops has been kind enough to offer one free pack of popsicle molds to one lucky MinnesotaFromScratch reader!

Click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the directions to get entered!

——>a Rafflecopter giveaway<——

If you like this recipe, please pin it, share it or tweet it!

Take care, Stephanie

Advertisements

Awesome Garage Sale Finds

Yesterday, Kristin and I went to the annual neighborhood garage sale in the neighborhood that we grew up in.  For one day only, 100+ homes in the area have a garage sale and I try my very best to never miss it. I have loved garage sales since I was a little kid. I’d drag home such random items. I remember buying a wobbly end-table for .10 (that my grandparents kept for at least fifteen years) and a wig box full of wigs (who could pass that deal up?). I still have the wig box fyi. Don’t ask me why.  Nonetheless, I LOVE buying gently used items at a fraction of the cost; it is eco-friendly and cost-effective!

Here are some of my favorite finds from the weekend:

Minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

I’ve wanted to make bread for a long time, so I’m looking forward to testing out some recipes!

Ice cream maker

An ice cream – frozen yogurt – and sorbet maker. This was my most expensive purchase, but it has only been used twice and Kris has the same one and swears by it. I can’t wait to try it out!

085

Organic lavender!

076

An encyclopedia of essential oils – AWESOME! And those little bottles (to-be used for my essential oil concoctions) are brand new and were in the free bin!

My grand total for these items was: $12.75, but the ice cream maker was $10 alone. I felt it was a lot to spend on something at a garage sale, but Kris said it was worth it. I’ll find out soon enough!

What is your best garage sale find and how much did it cost?!

Take care, Stephanie

Homemade Chemical-free Insect Repellent

Bug Repellant - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Here comes the sun!  The rain has finally stopped here in Minnesota, however, after a spring as wet as this one we are no doubt going to be left with a summer full of bugs and flying pests!  Over the years, my preference has been to OPT OUT of the chemical-filled bug sprays (DEET has always freaked me out).

Now that I have my son to think about (and as much as we love being outdoors), I felt it was time to actively repel insects, without harmful chemicals.  Turns out it’s super simple to make your on concoction!  Just pick a carrier oil and add essential oils based on what insects you want to repel!

I worked off of these Google search results:  Natural Insect Repellent Recipe (for the recipe) Natural Repellents (to decide which oils to use).  Here’s what I ended up with:

Homemade bug spray - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

The Ingredients:

  • 4oz blue glass spray bottle – $2.99 at Whole Foods
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Sunflower Oil – left over from my homemade lip balm
  • 30 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil –  repels mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, ants
  • 30 drops Citronella Essential Oil –  repels mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, ants

Simply measure and mix.  Done!  I used my handy Pyrex measuring cup with the spout so I could easily pour the potion into my jar.  Just spray onto your skin and rub in.

Substitution:  Replace the Carrier Oil (sunflower oil) with Vodka or Witch Hazel for better “spray action” and a try bug spray that can be used on clothes, etc.

You need a dark bottle and/or store in a dark place.  Use or replace within a few months.

Thanks for reading,
Kristin

Ashleybug Organic Spa Products: Review and Gift Basket Giveaway!

Ashleybug organic spa basket -- minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Last fall I came across Ashleybug which at the time was a company that made organic cotton baby items. I admired the cute custom patterns and the variety of handmade items she offered.  This spring, Ashley announced that in addition to her organic baby products, she was also working on a high-quality organic spa line.  I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to try some of her spa creations. About a month ago, I was sent a cute gift basket which included an organic lip butter, sugar scrub and lotion stick to try out.

Why is it important to use organic products on your skin? Well, my cousin once told me that she doesn’t put anything on her skin that she wouldn’t put in her mouth. I love that. I keep that in mind every time I buy a skin care product. Our skin is our largest organ and it soaks up a lot of what we put on it. The dangerous ingredients are spread throughout our organs and can eventually cause damaging side effects. It is crucial to consider the poisonous chemicals we are introducing to our bodies and our children’s bodies – we have a choice, they don’t.  That is why organic skin care products are so important to me.

Before becoming aware of the harms of conventional beauty products, I favored Blistex medicated lip balm. Check out the ingredients list: Beeswax, camphor, cetyl alcohol, cetyl palmitate, euphobia cerifera (candelilla) wax, flavors (?! OK…) isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, isopropul stearate, lanolin, lanolin oil, menthol, methylparaben, mineral oil, ozokerite, paraffin, petrolatum, pilybutene, propylparaben, red 6 lake, therobroma cacao, seed butter, titanium dioxide.

Ashleybug.com organic spa products - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Now here are the ingredients in Ashleybug’s Organic Lip Butter: Organic extra-virgin coconut oil, organic unrefined shea butter and natural beeswax.  That’s it! Three quality organic ingredients! Which would you rather rub all over your lips, or your child’s lips? What I like about the Ashleybug lip balm is that it feels nourishing immediately and doesn’t leave your lips feeling dried out after it wears off, as many other commercial brands seem to. It doesn’t feel sticky feeling either; it is very smooth.

Ashleybug.com organic spa products -  MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

My favorite of all three items I tried is this Organic Almond Oil Sugar Scrub. The sugar exfoliates unlike any luffa I’ve ever used and the natural oils immediately moisturize the skin. I like to leave the scrub on for a couple minutes, just to let the oils soak in a bit longer and once rinsed off, my body literally feels like I just stepped out of the spa. I don’t even think I’d need to moisturize after because my skin feels so wonderful. After drying off, there is absolutely no oily residue on my skin.

Ashleybug.com organic spa products --- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

The Organic Spa Lotion Stick comes in a cute recyclable cardboard push-up applicator and though it is small, a little goes a long way. I love the size because it’s great for spot treating my dry skin areas, but also, my daughter can easily apply it to herself without making a big mess.  The lotion is just as nourishing as the lip balm, but intended for full body hydration.  Between the sugar scrub and the lotion stick, you’re body is going to be silky soft, without all of the harsh chemicals found in your conventional lotions.

The scent of all three products are very light, fresh and sweet smelling.  I love that the scent is light, especially for babies. My husband even tried the products and appreciated the exfoliating sugar scrub, since he has psoriasis and the scent did not leave him smelling “girly” as some of my other shower products. That’s why these products are perfect for everyone in the family. And safe!

Today, June 15th, Ashleybug launched her spa line of all organic, handmade spa products! Today through June 22nd, Ashleybug is offering all of her organic spa items at 50% off! Check out these incredible deals here: Ashleybug Spa Item Sale.

Ashleybug organic spa basket - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

In addition to her fantastic sale, she is also offering to GIVEAWAY an Organic Spa Gift Set to one lucky MinnesotaFromScratch reader!

To ENTER this giveaway, follow the Rafflecopter link below and gain up to 32 entries for this giveaway!

——————>a Rafflecopter giveaway<—————–

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THE WINNER IS….

Ashleybug winner

Congratulations, Justine!  You have 48 hours to reply to my e-mail or another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

Take care, Stephanie

Organic Rhubarb and Apple Jam – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added

Organic Rhubarb-apple jam - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Strawberry-rhubarb jam is my absolute favorite, but since strawberries aren’t available here in Minnesota for another week or two, I decided to try something new. I gave rhubarb-apple jam a whirl and it is a big hit around here so I wanted to share the recipe with all of you.

Ingredients

  • 10 stalks of rhubarb, which was about 5 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 3 organic apples, peeled and diced – which was about 3 cups diced
  • 1 cup of filtered water (we use reverse osmosis)
  • 2 cups of organic sugar

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together all of the ingredients. Heat to a boil and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin -MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I like chunks of apple in my jam so I diced my apples in fairly large chunks which I decided I wanted a bit smaller once I started cooking. Once the fruit began to soften, I used the potato masher to smash things up just a little more. If your run into the same situation, the potato masher offers a great solution.

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Once your fruit is the consistency you want, grab your funnel and ladle the sauce into sterilized jars. If you are processing these, process for 10 minutes, otherwise refrigerate.

Organic Rhubarb-apple jam -- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

After all said and done, I only had five small Weck jars of jam. Next time I’ll double this recipe for a larger batch. The flavor is beautiful with the sweetness of the apples and the sour of the rhubarb. My mom said it would be “great on pork” and my aunt said, “it tastes like rhubarb flavored apple sauce”. You could even add cinnamon or nutmeg for a great seasonal flavor for enjoyment in the fall or winter.

Take care, Stephanie

Garlicky Pickled Asparagus – Canning Recipe

Pickled asparagus --- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

So last Tuesday I pickled 6 lbs of asparagus using a recipe I hadn’t tried before. It wasn’t actually a recipe, it was more of an experiment.  I began canning in 2008 and back then I used standard Mason jars to pickle with. But three years ago, I learned that the canning jar lids have BPA in the lining of the lids. Ever since, I have been hoarding Weck jars. They are more expensive, but I LOVE them.  If you follow my blog on a regular basis, you have likely already learned about my infatuation with Weck jars, but if not, you can read about it here. That said, the one problem I have run into is that I never know how many jars to clean or how many jars a recipe will yield because the jars that I use are all different sizes. (It is easier to eyeball with jams and harder with brines). The perk of this is that I am usually forced to quickly materialize a solution which has so far ended up with positive results and new favorite recipes.

I actually pickled 12 lbs of asparagus last week but the second “experimental recipe” didn’t turn out as well so I won’t be sharing that one. I was trying to hold out for two weeks before I tried the first batch I pickled, but with urging from my daughter, we decided to bust into a jar a week early and I’m sure glad we did. WOW! These are good. I’ve pickled asparagus in the past but this time the recipe was very different and very simple. I’d describe the flavor to be similar to a garlicky pickle; an asparagus pickle. They are perfect.

After tasting one spear, I decided I needed to try it out in a Bloody Mary. So I did.

Pickled Asparagus - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.comMmmmMmmm… yep, just as expected: Delicious

So here’s what you’ll need to recreate this awesomeness…

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs of fresh picked asparagus
  • 1 Tablespoon of dried dill seed
  • 1.5 bulbs of garlic (15-20 cloves), cleaned and slivered
  • 1/2 cup of pickling salt (honestly, you could do less)
  • 4 cups of white, distilled vinegar
  • 4 cups of water – we use water from our reverse osmosis
  • 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes (optional – add more for more spice)
  • Jalapenos (optional)

You may need more or less brine depending on the jars you are using. I used 4 small asparagus jars and 2 large asparagus jars. If you are using standard Mason jars, then you will likely be fine with the amount of brine.

I bought my asparagus from the local farmer’s market.  It was picked on Friday and canned by Sunday. Can’t really ask for anything fresher unless I grew it myself. I prefer to use medium-sized stalks, for some reason the really large ones totally turn me off. But use whichever floats your boat, they are going to taste great either way!

Pickled Asparagus - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Clean the asparagus thoroughly.  Snap off the ends at their natural point of breakage. (If that doesn’t make sense to you then just cut off the bottom 2″ or so). After it is all cleaned,  blanch it. To blanch asparagus, heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Put the asparagus in the boiling water for 60 seconds and remove.Pickled Asparagus - blanching 101 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Then promptly place the asparagus in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  Pickled Asparagus -how to blanch - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Then set them on paper towels to dry off some.

At this point, you’ll need to trim the asparagus to fit in your jars. The cut-off 1″ or 2″ can be used in a soup, or sautéed, or simply pickled with the rest of the group. I always pickle the extra cut-off part. Remember to leave 1/2″ of head space in the jar.

Peel, rinse and sliver the garlic.

Put together the brine. In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, pickling salt, dill seeds and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Pickled Asparagus - - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

While the brine is heating up, divvy up the garlic amongst your jars. Begin packing the jars with asparagus. You want to pack them as tightly as you can without damaging any of the spears. I use a stainless steel chopstick to aid me in this task. Add jalapenos if you are looking for some spice.

Once you have all your jars packed, grab your funnel and pour the hot brine in the jars, leaving 1/2″ head space. Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean cloth, put on the lids and process for 10 minutes.

Try your best to wait for these guys to pickle before devouring. The longer you wait, the better they’ll taste!

Enjoy!

What is your favorite pickled treat?

Take care, Stephanie

5 Great Gifts The Homesteading Father Will Love

Back in May I compiled a list of five gifts any homesteader would love, with focus on Mother’s. Well since Father’s Day is this weekend, I have decided to compile a list of  great gift ideas for the homesteading father.

1.  Dual Grill Plank and Veggie HolderFather's Day Ideas - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Available at Cost Plus World Market

I don’t know about the man in your life, but the men in my life LOVE to grill.  With this platter, you can hold veggies on one side and fish, chicken or meat on the plank, giving your food a delicious smoky flavor from the grill.  Planks can also be used without the veggie platter.

2. A Great Knife Set

Father's Day Ideas - 2 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Available at Crate&Barrel

Everyone loves a great knife set. ‘Nough said.

3. Keen Shoes

keen

Available at Keenfootwear.com

Keen is a solid brand that offers a wide variety of shoes, boots, and sandals.  Whether your father is into hiking, kayaking, walking, or would just appreciate some great footwear this is a “sure to love” gift!  And the bonus: all the styles double for great gardening shoes!

4.  Hori Hori Garden Knife

Father's Day Ideas - 4 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Available at DuluthTrading.com

This versatile tool is great for weeding, cutting open packages and digging in soil. Conveniently, the steel blade is even marked with millimeters for a quick measurement of planting depth and spacing. Not quite sure about it? Check out the great reviews it has received.

5. T-Shirts

Father's Day Ideas - 5 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.comAvailable at OneLaneRoad on Etsy

Does your dad love to preserve?  There are some many awesome t-shirts to pick from and finding one that’s the perfect fit for your father could be fun!   This t-shirt is great for the pickle lover or the canning pro.

I am not being endorsed by any of these companies, all the opinions are my own.

CryOOw!-Dolls: Review and Giveaway! Encourage The Creativity Of Your Child

Cryoow dolls - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I am so excited to introduce you to a company that I recently learned about called Cryoow! It is a company based in beautiful Bali that was the “brain-child” of the owners 7 year old daughter, Nora.  Cryoow! stands for “Create Your Own”. Nora asked a local tailor to create a doll from a drawing she had made and with that idea, came this wonderful business.

Kris and I had the opportunity to experience this process first hand since Waly and his staff in Bali offered to let our kiddos submit a drawing to be made into a real doll.

My daughter really enjoys drawing, coloring and painting so I knew she’d be up for this. The morning I told her the exciting news, we sat down at the table together and drew several different pictures. We had a great time inventing new pictures. After we were finished, I told my daughter to pick out which drawing she’d like to have made into a REAL doll. I scanned the picture to Cryoow! and within a few weeks, we received our awesome dolls.

Cryoow! Dolls - Minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

The dolls came in very pretty packaging that included a fun bracelet and a certificate stating who made the doll and who the doll belonged to.

Cryoow! dolls - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I expected the dolls to look similar to the drawings Kris and I submitted for our kids, but I had NO idea they’d be SO detailed. We were both in awe of the dolls. Our kids were very excited to receive them and the expression on their faces after opening their dolls were priceless. The Cryoow! dolls are all handmade, without machines and every single detail of the drawing is taken into consideration while making the doll. Look at the giraffe below that my daughter colored in. She colored harder with the orange crayon near the bottom of the belly and on the actual doll, there is extra stitching to depict the darker color. Now that is what I call detail! There is no room for improvement on these dolls, they are amazing.

Cryoow - giraffe - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Cryoow Doll - Super James - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

These dolls are a perfect gift for any kid (or adult, honestly). Who wouldn’t love to see their unique creation pop off the page and become a 3-D toy to play with? This doll is not just another stuffed animal, this unique piece of art is a very well-made keepsake that I expect to be around well into my daughter’s adulthood.

Do you know a child that would LOVE to create their own doll? Well Cryoow! is giving one of Minnesota From Scratch’s lucky readers a chance to win their own personalized doll. This is a $149 value.

Cryoow! wants you to know that nearly 50% of the cost of the doll goes to DHL shipping. DHL shipping is super quick shipping that updates the delivery status continually, which allows your kids to track the doll’s status as it travels around the world. Can’t wait to get started? Order your doll now!

To enter this giveaway, please click the Rafflecopter link and follow the prompted directions: This giveaway has now ended.

Congratulations to the winner, Nicole H. You have 48 hours to reply to  my e-mail or another winner will be chosen.

Cryoow Doll giveaway winner

Good luck!

Take care, Stephanie

Cryoow

We were given these products free in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own and were in no way influenced.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-41549617-1', 'wordpress.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');