Gift Bag Ideas

Taking a brief pause from my not-so-regularly scheduled recipe posts for a little gift bag idea post. Seemed timely and potentially helpful, so I figured why not.

Plus I just thought they were so cute 🥰

There’s a little something for everyone and it’s super cost effective… Cost effective, but thoughtful details that will definitely bring a smile to anyone’s face. These are great to give neighbors, mail carriers, bus drivers, teachers, or as a sweet little addition to your holiday cards for the friends that live close by. Who doesn’t like a little Christmas cheer?

If you take out the extract and the card, I think each bag (including the bag) cost me around 80cents! Shoot. A postage stamp’ll run ya .59 these days! Why not hand deliver a cute little happy for the Holidays instead (and when you can!)

Here’s a brief overview of what’s inside:

Tiny baggie:

Hot Cocoa+ tiny bell, tied with twine+ “Believe” sticker for my Polar Express fans.

Bath bomb wrapped in a bit of green tissue paper with “You Da Bomb” sticker. If you buy these suckers in bulk, they’re really inexpensive! You could also make them, but I didn’t have time this year 😭

Peppermint and Vanilla Extracts (recipes linked here on the blog)

Couple tiny candy canes and a card!

Voila! A tiny little Christmas Happy to give with tour card.

Here’s a closeup look, along with a link if you want to order the materials!

Hot Cocoa, twine, bell

Bath Bomb, tissue paper, sticker

Sourdough Adventures

Best advice. Just start.

Sourdough is an intimidating thing and if you start thinking about and listing all the steps in your head, you won’t do it. It’s a lot, but it’s worth it and you can do most steps while you’re doing other things. There’s a lot of passive time. You either have to set a time or be really good at keeping time while multi-tasking.

But literally all you need is flour, water and salt. Dass it.

Here’s the link I used for the starter: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337

I stayed pretty true to this method and aged my starter for 5 days… and a little beyond for the second batch. I like my Sourdough really sour, so 5 days is like a minimum for me 🤣. You might not like it as sour, so go with your personal preference here.

I used King Arthur brand Organic All Purpose Flour for my Starter.

I followed this recipe for the bread:

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-sourdough-bread-224367

Don’t be intimidated by the 25 steps 🤣. Just kinda start doing it, and you’ll find that many of the steps take hardly any time at all, or they’re things like “let the dough rise for an hour” and you can do other stuff like fold laundry or make dinner while you wai🤣. You won’t be glued to the kitchen for hours, I promise!

I would also recommend using the all purpose flour the first couple times you make it. I tried using white whole wheat and it came out really dense. I’m going to wait until I’m a little more sourdough savvy before i try again!

All right folks! Happy baking and let me know whatcha think!

Holiday DIY Gifts

I love making gifts for the Thanksgiving and the holidays. It’s way fun. It makes me feel good. Keeps the stir crazy feeling at bay. And it’s usually a good time/fun bonding thing to do with the kiddos. I try and play up the whole giving over receiving thing too, but I’m pretty sure that goes in one ear and out the other. Oh well. One day maybe.

Anyhoo- here are my 4 favorite things to give. WITH links to all the supplies. This took me FOREVER y’all, so I hope you enjoy ❤️😍😘

Rosemary Grapefruit Bath Salts:

For some reason this scent combination is just amazing. You don’t even have to put it in the bath. You could just hide it and take it out every now and again to smell it when you’re having a bad day. I’ve had friends who have done that. No really, I’m serious. It’s the bomb.

And it’s got pink salt in it and little green flecks of rosemary, which makes it oh-so-pretty🤗.

For this you will need Epsom salts, coarse ground pink himalaya sea salt, fresh rosemary and grapefruit essential oil. I’ve also linked all of the products ON the products list below if you want to order them. I almost always use Amazon, cuz ain’t nobody got time for Michaels with 3 kids!!!!

Mix:

2 cups Epsom salts

1cup pink himalaya salt

20 drops grapefruit essential oil

3 tbsp rosemary (get fresh from the grocery! It’s smells heavenly and I feel like the scent disperses more evenly when it dries IN the Salts❤️).

Mix all of this up in a large bowl. Then simply pour into your containers and voila! Done. (Funnels do make the pouring easier 😬… I forgot to mention that)

Pour the salts into these jars and press these labels on and you’re almost done!

Hexagon Glass Jars

Chalkboard Labels

You could even get fancy and give it with this Dry Brush and give the gift of self care and wellness! I like this dry brush because it’s A. Inexpensive and B. Has a long handle for those hard to reach places and C. Has a detachable handle for those areas you really want to work! I do this daily on me and the kids and I love it!

Vanilla Extract:

Because who doesn’t need vanilla extract for the Holidays, aka BAKING SEASON. It’s like the most perfect, most thoughtful gift ever. And it smells great, too.

This is also super easy, but does require a little forethought as it takes about 4-6 weeks for the vanilla to infuse.

All you need for this are:

high quality vanilla beans

80 proof vodka.

1 big glass bottle

Bottles

Bottle funnel (optional, but makes pouring WAY easier)

Labels

That’s it!

I used 3 vanilla beans per cup and ended up making 4 cups of extract (13 beans total… one for good luck).

Simply split the vanilla beans lengthwise and place them in your glass jar with the vodka. Let that sit for 4-6 weeks. Or longer if you want! The longer it sits, the better it gets. Don’t be afraid to shake it, sniff it etc. during this process. It’s not a delicate thing.

Once you’re satisfied with the smell, taste and potency, just use a tiny funnel to pour it into your containers. Slap on a top, some cute labels, wrap it up and poof! A great, thoughtful, holiday DIY gift 🤗. If you really have it together you could gift it with a cute little cookie cutter or something.

PS- I never have it that together 🤷🏻‍♀️. Maybe one day…

Peppermint Extract

Another great gift idea for baking season. This one is like a candy cane in a bottle… for reals!

Same principle as the vanilla extract, except you use fresh mint. Fresh mint can be a little expensive in the winter, but grows like a weed in the summer. So a little forethought goes a long way again here. Just siphon away about 4 cups of mint leaves in the summer, submerge them in some vodka and BAM! You’ve got Christmas in July. And you can let it sit and have Christmas again in December. It doesn’t go bad!

Anyhoo, for this I used a 2:1 ratio. One cup picked, washed and dried mint leaves to 2 cups 80 proof vodka. Just wash and gently rub the mint leaves dry (the bruising helps the peppermint seep out of the leaves), put them in a glass jar, submerge the leaves with vodka, place the cover on the glass jar and let that sit for 2-4 weeks, depending on the desired level of potency.

When you’re ready to bottle the extract, rinse and sterilize your little glass jars, strain the leaves over a funnel to pour the extract into your bottles. Slap on some cute labels and package nicely 🤗.

Lip Balm

I was literally flabbergasted when I saw how easy it was to make all natural EOS like lip balm. And then of course, since I’m me, I went bonkers and made a zillion different scents 😬. My favs here were the sweet, non fruity, fill your whole house with baking smells type scents like vanilla, cinnamon, sugar cookie and coconut. Ohmygosh it was amazing. Lils&Q actually made this with me and we were all pretty wowed as we watched this liquid stuff solidify into lip balm. So I’ll take this as a science-mom/holiday bonding/spirit of giving parenting win too. Woot! Hey, gotta take em where I can get em. Ok, enough story time. Here is what you will need (everything is linked on Amazon😘)

3Tbsp Beeswax pellets

2Tbsp Shea Butter

4Tbsp Coconut oil

10-20 drops essential oil of choice (i went by scent here: vanilla, cinnamon, sugar cookie, autumn assortment)

Lip gloss containers

Labels

Once you have the goods, all you need do is combine the first 3 things in a microwave safe bowl- I used those nesting pourable bowls so it would pot easier- and microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring after each increment until everything is a liquid. Then you just stir in your essential oils and pour the mixture into your containers! And voila! Lip Balm🤗

The materials might seem a little expensive at first, if you don’t already have Shea butter and/or coconut oil, but this will make A TON of lip gloss. And there’s about a zillion other uses for Shea butter and coconut oil that come to mind! Plus it’s cool and fun to do ❤️

Wrapping/Trimming

Nothing says favorite things like brown paper packages wrapped up with string! Keep it nice, simple and elegant with the wrapping- it sends a nice message. You can also use really pretty sticks, pinecones or bits of tree/wreath trimmings as simple free and elegant extra touches.

I didn’t put links to any boxes, because it depends on what you make and how you want to package it. I’ve used cookie boxes, takeout style boxes and cellophane bags with trimmings in there too! The world is your <very fun> oyster😍😘. Let those creative juices flow!

Brown Paper

Twine

Or Decorative Twine

Whole Roasted Chicken

Whole chickens are funny. It’s sounds so simple to cook, but they’re also kind of intimidating! At least they were for me. It took me a while before I felt like I was able to do this <sorta> well.

I do this old school, in a Dutch oven. I’m sure an instant pot or a crock pot would do just fine, but I like my Dutch Oven.

I love roasting whole chickens too, because it’s a really economical way for a whole family to eat organic meat. A whole organic chicken is like $13-$20- and it’ll feed us for at least two meals, plus bone broth which I use in everything and drink all the time. Hey, I won’t say no to a real food immune boost!

I make the bone broth immediately after my family is done with dinner. You can find my recipe here.

There are a variety of things I use the leftover chicken for. Depending on how much is left, I’ll usually make chicken enchiladas, a chicken pasta, chicken soup or chicken salad out of the leftovers.

But I digress. For the whole roasted chicken, I start with the most important step: remove the gizzards from the cavity under the legs! It’s a little gross at first, but you can do it! I believe in you! Now you can rinse the whole thing off. I usually just use a big bowl or I clean the sink and just do it in there.

After that, I usually pat the chicken dry with a few paper towels and trim some of the excess skin/fat- you’ll see it. It’s not the skin on the back/breast that absorbs lots of spice and gets crispy and delicious as it cooks- it’s the stuff around the neck bone and bottom that’s just kind of chunky and flappy and doesn’t do nobody no good no how. Just cut it off. Get rid of it.

Next, separate some of the skin from the breast and back. It’s real easy and you should be able to slide your hand down in there to separate it a bit.

Now is the fun part. Rub the bird down generously with your spices of choice. Sometimes I just keep it real simple with generous rubs of kosher salt and pepper, but sometimes I get fancy with tandoori spices, paprika or turmeric depending on my mood. Don’t be shy here- really rub that sucker down- meat and skin. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, put your <washed> potatoes on the bottom of the Dutch oven, and place the chicken <breast side up> on top. I usually toss a half of a lemon inside the cavity there for aromatics and depth of flavor. A little rosemary sprig never hurt either. But those are just extra. You don’t need them if you don’t have them.

Now I usually like to add some baby carrots on the sides. Put the lid on and pop that bad boy in a 250* oven for 3-4 hours. I like to remove the lid and finish the chicken uncovered on 350 for about 30 minutes so the skin gets nice and crispy too 🤗.

Voila! Dinner is ready.

Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Wondering what to do with those pumpkin guts (as my kids call them)? Well look no further. Regular pumpkin guts, i.e. those stringy mushy bits that scoop out with the seeds makes for a really yummy soup. I promise. Maybe it’ll sound yummier if I stopped saying “guts”🤣. Pulp. We’ll call it pulp.

Side note: I also blend up the pulp with unflavored bone broth, mix it with GF brownie mix (I use THIS or THIS kind) for my 2 ingredient breakfast muffins (recipe here).

Anyhoo, pumpkin gut soup is really easy to make and tastes really yummy! Top it with sweet or savory pumpkin seeds from the same pumpkin and you’ve got yourself a nice, warm, orange, comforting bowl of texturally pleasing deliciousness. Warm fall in a bowl. Pair that with some hot apple cider and pretty much day=made. Amiright?

For this recipe you will need:

Ingredients

  1. Insides from 1 large pumpkin
  2. About 1 cup bone broth (click here for my recipe or here for a brand I buy and trust)
  3. 1/2 can full fat coconut milk*
  4. Dash Pink himalaya sea salt
  5. 1 tsp brown sugar
  6. Generous spoonful of sweet or savory pumpkin seeds

*You can also use a nut milk, but make sure it is a home made nut milk, or a fattier nut milk like

Directions

  1. Place pumpkin pulp and bone broth in a high powered blender and blend well, for about 30 seconds until the blender runs really smoothly and you don’t hear anything chunking around in there. It has to be blended REALLY well.
  2. Pour pumpkin mixture into a medium size pot, add salt, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
  3. Simmer for about 15 minutes and then add your coconut milk.
  4. Allow mixture to come back to a simmer.
  5. I would DEFINITELY recommend you add your pumpkin seeds!

For the Pumpkins seeds, simply

  1. Remove from pumpkin and rinse off pumpkin pulp
  2. Soak seeds in salt water (1tbsp kosher/1 cup water) for about an hour or so.
  3. Spread the seeds out and allow them to dry.
  4. Season your seeds. For savory, I usually add turmeric, pepper and a little more salt. For sweet, I usually add cinnamon, brown sugar and a little ghee. Toss/mix well to coat evenly.
  5. Bake your seeds in a 325* oven for about 25-30 minutes until desired toastiness/crispyness is achieved!

Turmeric Latte

Probably one of my most requested recipes. To be honest, I’m shocked I hadn’t blogged this sooner. It’s pretty much on a daily repeat over here, so I guess I just forgot about writing it down🤷🏻‍♀️.

It’s creamy, flavorful, subtly sweet, spicy and comforting all at the same time. And turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that can help give those immune systems a boost, especially when it gets cold!

Sometimes I change my spices up, but this is pretty much my go to. I’ll also use fresh turmeric + ginger root when I have it and that I don’t measure so well 😬. I just kind of peel and slice off little knobs of it and throw it in the blender. The dry stuff is better if you’re just starting out and want to be able to measure/gauge the strength of the drink for yourself!

Ok, for this recipe you will need:

Ingredients:

1/2tsp dry turmeric

1/4 tsp dry ginger

1/2 tsp dry cinnamon

Small dash pepper

Teeny pinch Himalayan sea salt

1/4tsp cardamom

1-2tbsp maple syrup (or other sweetener)*

1/2c water

1c milk of choice (i use home made almond or cashew milk)

1tsp. MCT oil (optional- I use this kind)

1 scoop collagen peptides (optional- I use this or this kind)

* your type of milk affects the sweetness of the latte. If you’re using a store bought, sweetened nut milk, you’ll need less sugar and might be able to omit it completely

** if using actual ginger and/or turmeric root, peel and cut about 1/4″ knob off of each and blend with 1/2-1c water in a high speed blender before heating over the stove

Directions:

1. Place the turmeric, ginger, pepper, salt, cardamom and cinnamon in a sauce pan and turn the heat on med. Let the spices heat up and get all toasty for about 1 minute

  • 2. When you can really smell the deliciousness, add your water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce that to a simmer and whisk in your maple syrup.
  • 3. Add your milk of choice and whisk gently, but firmly. You can also add in the optional add ins here too. If you’re using peptides and MCT oil, that’s when this will get nice and frothy🤤.
  • 4. At this point you can strain the spices or just pour into a mug and enjoy! I usually don’t strain the turmeric mil if I’m using dry spices, but I do if I’m using the fresh root.
  • Getting Sick?

    Ok. I love fall. LOVE it. I love the vibrant changing colors of all the leaves. I love the crisp coolness. I love the fire and hot cocoa nights. The plethora of delicious squash recipes. Pumpkin Carving… I could go on.

    Autumn is amazing, however it is often also synonymous with a host of mysterious illnesses: colds, cruds, flu bugs, runny noses, stuffy noses, fatigue and all manner of things. It stinks, but we are not powerless. We can fight back! And it doesn’t have to be with various syrupy cold concoctions. Sadly, these end up masking *some* of the symptoms, but often end up introducing other bacteria and junk that could end up making you feel worse. And we don’t even want to get into the devastation antibiotics wreak on our bodies. Antibiotics destroy your gut biome, which will decrease your immunes natural defenses, destroy antibodies and make you more prone to illness and future “bugs.”

    There are other, more holistic natural approaches that we can turn to before reaching for the cough syrup. They certainly don’t hurt to try and usually end up boosting our bodies natural ability to heal itself. Remember that, it’s important. Your body heals itself, not the medicine. Medicines *can* help, but it is YOUR BODY that will ultimately heal you in the end! Ok, so here are my top 5 easily incorporable ways to ward of illness and prevent future ailments

    1. BONE.BROTH: A natural probiotic, this drinks warm, cozy, savory flavor will not disappoint the senses. It is loaded with collagen and other immune boosting, gut healing properties that will often have you feeling better by the next day. I usually *try* to make mine because I enjoy it, but here are some other brands I buy here and here if you don’t have the time (which is totally fine!!!). My kiddos and I drink this on the daily, and I am definitely guilty of disguising this in oatmeals, veggies etc. to sneak even more in! You can also click on the picture below for my recipe😀https://healthyhabitually.com/2018/09/24/bone-broth/
    2. Turmeric. Turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that fights inflammation from inside out, allowing your body to focus more energy on keeping you healthy. Think of it as a way to clear out the crud, so that your bodies transportation methods run more smoothly and efficiently. Makes sense, right? Less blockage=better pathways! As an aside, always combine turmeric with black pepper for that circumin.
    3. Epsom Salt Baths with Eucalyptus oil. Who doesn’t love a warm bath? The warm water and epsom salts work together as a great way to relax the muscles and get rid of any tension hidden inside. Again, less blockage=better pathways. And eucalyptus is a wonderful way to clear the sinuses and decrease brain fog! I’m sure there are better ways, but I get my epsom salt and eucalyptus oils on Amazon here and here.
    4. Dry Brushing. While we’re talking about cleanliness, might as well move onto #4- dry brushing! Dry brushing is amazing and works wonders for increasing blood circulation, which will help the bodies pathways as well! It also work helps your skin by exfoliating and sloughing off all those dead skin cells that build up and make you feel icky and gross . These dead skin cells can also act as transportation agents for all kinds of bad bacteria born illness. Ewwww. Brush that crud away. I actually bought my dry brush from Whole Foods, but you can also buy it here!
    5. Probiotics. Get on that probiotic train before it leaves the station! Choo choooooo. Help your digestive system out by introducing and cultivating good bacteria that will improve the health of your gut biome. This could be a book in and of itself. EIGHTY PERCENT of your bodys’ immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract. 80. EIGHTY! To underestimate the importance of your digestive system is no bueno. Here are a couple of the probiotics I use here and here. I try to switch it up a bit to introduce and diversify with new bacteria strains.

    Ok, I have more, but that could get overwhelming. I’ll probably end up making another post in the future, but this will have you off to a great start. I promise. I use all these methods (plus a few more) DAILY in my home.

    Or if you need everything all in one place to look through, I made it easy for you and created an Idea List for this entire post❤️😘. Hope you enjoy:

    Getting Sick Idea Shop

    Moist, Tender, White Wine Braised Thick Cut Pork Chops

    I did it. I actually used “moist” in a recipe title. Ewww. Ha! And it was a LONG title, but I bet you still cringed…

    However, recipe is definitely not something you’ll cringe at if you make it! It is one of our absolute favorite dishes and everyone in my family is excited when I tell them we’re having these for dinner.

    It’s shockingly simple, but when use “white wine” and “braised” in the recipe it sounds suuuper fancy. Or at least it does to me🤗.

    Anyhoo, for this Recipe you will need:

    2-4 thick cut, bone in pork chops

    2tbsp+ avocado or olive oil

    2tbsp dried, chopped onions

    1 bottle white cooking wine/bone broth/stock

    Generous sprinkle/crust worth’s of kosher salt and pepper (to taste)

    Here’s what you do:

    1. Heat oil in a deep skillet over med/high heat

    2. Rinse, dry and generously salt and pepper both sides of your pork chop

    3. Sear it real good on both sides over high heat.

    4. Drown the chops in white wine and add your dried onions.

    5 Bring wine + chops to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and simmer for 3+ hours. Voila!

    * The sauce this makes is so delicious, I often use it to cook the broccoli in. My son really likes that saucy “Chinese food” style broccoli so sometimes I’ll cook the broccoli in the braising liquid, add arrowroot as the thickening agent and he gobbles it right up!

    I will often eat any leftovers in a salad the next day as well!

    Cilantro Lime Cauli Rice Burrito

    Definitely Chipotle inspired. Their lime cilantro rice is actually everything. I was craving a burrito and Chipotle is easily a 35min drive+parking nightmare for me. So I improvised. I had also riced a TON of cauliflower so I thought I’d put it to good use. One cauliflower yields a TON of cauli rice FYI. It’s a bit of a pain, but the yield is worth it if you have the time.

    For this wrap I used:

    2 cups cauli rice (will have some leftover)

    Juice from 1 lime

    2tbsp finely chopped cilantro

    Garlic salt to taste

    Roasted (or raw) red pepper

    Spinach

    1/2 an avocado

    Dollup of greek yogurt/sour cream

    Wrap of choice

    *beans would have been nice but i didn’t have any🤣

    Directions are:

    1. Heat a large-ish skillet over medium-high heat and spray with avocado oil

    2. Once it’s hot, add your cauli. Squeeze the lime over it and add your cilantro and garlic salt. Stir until well incorporated. Turn heat to med-low and let the cauli do its thing and absorb all those flavors. Doesn’t hurt to stir every so often while you assemble the rest of the wrap.

    3. Start the wrap assembly by laying out a tortilla. Then adding spinach to taste. I add about a handful and smash it down flat. Add your red pepper on top of the spinach. Add your sliced avocado to the side of the red pepper, but on top of the spinach. Add your greek yogurt or sour cream to taste along side your rows of pepper and avo. (I need to add a pic here…)

    4. Pile on as much of that cauli rice as that wrap will hold! I got quite a bit on there, but I use a pretty “stretchy” wrap. The low carb varieties usually have more give 🤣. I usually wrap the bottom first and then either side.

    I know, I know, long winded for a wrap “recipe,” but it’s worth it to get right!

    Bone Broth+

    The thing about bone broth… is that there are a lot of things. All of the things in fact. It’s delicious on its own. Ridiculously versatile. Simple to cook, but it has its nuances, which make it a liiiiitle tricky. And it has a whole host of immune boosting, gut healing benefits that I’ll take <and give my kids> any day.

    I make a very simple bone broth version because I use it in so many things. I even put it in oatmeal for the kids, so I don’t want it to be too too savory. Plus I find that the more I add to the broth pot, the more annoying it is to strain. And ain’t nobody got time for that!

    My favorite type of bone broth is grass fed beef bones, but more often than not, I end up making chicken bone broth because it’s what I have on had from what I cooked- we do whole roasted chickens here probably once a week 👍🤤

    Anyhow. For bone broth, you just take your bones from the meat- I usually use about 8 cups of water for 1 whole chicken. And I only use the larger bones/pieces. The smaller bones get really tough to strain. Place the bones and your water into a pot and add your seasonings. I typically use about a tsp of kosher salt, a tsp of ground turmeric, a 1″ knob of ginger, a bay leaf and a dash of pepper. That’s it!

    I know a lot of people use carrots and celery etc, but like I said- it gets tough to strain and I like to keep mine very simple.

    HERE’S THE TRICK TO BONE BROTH: once it starts gently boiling, you have to add about 1 tbsp of ACV and immediately reduce it to a gentle simmer. The ACV is what draws the collagen out of the bones and of you boil it, you’ll kill it!

    Then, you just let it simmer for about 8 hours, strain it and pour it into glass containers and store in the fridge! Or you can also put it in bags and freeze it. It never lasts long enough here to freeze!

    I usually reheat this in individual servings and add more of what I cooked it with- ie salt, turmeric, pepper and sometimes some crushed red pepper to make it nice and spicy 🤗. Whatever I’m feeling like really. I’ll even do a savory version sometimes and add honey, ginger and cinnamon! Add milk and it’s a bone broth turmeric latte! Sounds weird, but it’s sooooo yummy.

    I also use this for immune boosters in soups, stocks, recipes and even oatmeal for the kids! I could go on forever, but that could get realllly boring… maybe some other time 🤣