Oooh I have infusion fever. Once you start you just can’t stop, there are too many creative and easy ideas out there. My next big project is a custom salt (inspired by the one that I currently love) with ingredients that are readily available from the kitchen or yard.
Rather than a straight sea salt, which can get very strong very fast, I created a Kosher and sea salt blend with dried lavender and lemon.
PS the last big infusion project included olive oil and rosemary, you can find it right here.
This is the perfect top salt for a finished dish – sprinkle on roasted chicken, raw salads, sliced tomatoes, avocados, in olive oil and vinegar with toasted baguettes… you name it. One of my favorite uses? Bruschetta.
An added bonus is that this was so very easy to whip up – even easier than my rosemary infused olive oil! And it doesn’t need ages to infuse, either. You could use the finished salt right away (ideal for a last minute gift) or allow to sit for a more intense mingling of flavors.
Lavender & Lemon Sea Salt
Materials for six 3.4oz jars: 10-15 fresh lavender sprigs, grated rind of one lemon (more is optional), 1 pound sea salt, 1 pound kosher salt, small glass bottles/jars with a sealable lid
As mentioned above I chose a blend for my salts, Celtic sea salt as the dominate flavor and a standard Kosher to help balance out the taste buds (Kosher is an excellent everyday cooking salt). Granulated salt is extra important here! Table salt just won’t be the same.
I chose lavender and lemon as my concentrated flavor mix, though you could really substitute any delicious herb or infusion here (the sky’s the limit!). Lavender was an easy pick because we grow it right in our front yard.
As with the rosemary from last week, I thoroughly soaked my lavender clippings in a bowl of water for about an hour and then rinsed to ensure that all I had left was fresh and clean sprigs.
Then I lined them up on a cookie sheet (covered in foil) and popped the sprigs into the oven at 200 degrees until they were nicely dried (there’s no precise time here, but maybe 2 hours ish).
When they came out, they were ready to go!
I stripped the leaves from the stems and discarded any extra crispy pieces. I added the dried lavender leaves and fresh lemon rind to my Kosher salt:
And spread the entire mixture out onto my cookie sheet once again for another round of light toasting. The goal now is for the Kosher salt to bake with the lavender and lemon, and also for our lemon rind to dry out completely (to avoid any bacteria growth in our salt containers).
Once my mixture is sufficiently dried out, I added the infused blend to my raw sea salt and mixed well.
I used a small spoon (a baby spoon or cocktail spoon) to add the mixture to each of my little jars.
I made matching labels for the sea salt mixture (similar to my olive oil labels) and applied a sticky backing (available at most craft stores) to create mini stickers for the front of each jar. Here’s a link to a downloadable pdf with a generic version of the below labels if you’d like to print out a version for yourself, and you can always email me for the .ai file to substitute your own name.
Then I cut the stickers into tiny squares and applied to each jar:
Sure is delicious with just crudités and olive oil!
That’s two infused projects down and a couple of more handmade gifts to go… happy cooking!
PS You can find the line up of this year’s handmade projects by sorting all posts here.
Tags: Parties & Entertaining, Recipes, Tutorial
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Here’s a quick DIY gift to share today that I just finished and put under our tree. I can’t remember where this idea stemmed from – possibly a Pinterest post? or an excess of cupcake supplies in the kitchen? perhaps from something I’ve seen at the store? – but either way this was a fun and easy gift to assemble and one I hope the recipient will think is thoughtful and fun (especially for the baker!).
I made two versions of this gift, one that was smaller and is packaged more as a hostess gift, stocking stuffer or little favor, and the other as a meatier version with plenty of cupcake treats.
The larger kit contains a colorful mix of mini taper candles, cupcake liners in a variety of shapes and sizes, sprinkles (repackaged in little bead containers), specialty nonpareils, mini cookie cutters (perfect for fondant or cupcake pops) and lollipop sticks (more cupcake pop!). You could also include icing tubes, food coloring, marzipan flowers, toothpick toppers or a little cupcake book for decorating inspiration. I found my cardboard box right here.
I like the idea of sticking to a rough color scheme (mine below is sort of pink, orange and yellow) to keep the contents looking a little planned. But it could be equally fun to go crazy with color! Or design a kit based off of a specific event, like a graduation with school colors, a bridal shower theme or a holiday.
The mini kit contained some of the above but in a more edited form.
I found the clear-topped cupcake boxes at Michaels, it’s kind of fun to peek inside!
One more gift to cross off of the Christmas list and one more handmade project that I’m really digging. Now on to the rest!
PS You can find the line up of this year’s handmade projects by sorting all posts here.
Tags: Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Desserts, DIY, Parties & Entertaining
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Gift Guides, Handmade Gifts, Holidays, Parties & Entertaining | 8 Comments »
This weekend I finished my first batch of handmade Christmas presents. Warning friends and family – you may or may not be gifted one of the several projects that I’m planning to feature over the next two weeks. If you are, pinky swear you’ll act surprised.
This first gift is inspired by our love of cooking. Kevin and I are the type that really dig those usual (and sometimes a little crazy) gifts of thyme-infused syrup, lemon sea salt, curry pistachio paste, pickled potatoes… you know, the weird stuff that you can experiment with in the kitchen. This actually happens to be my favorite find of all time, I keep containers of it in our pantry and add it to almost every finished dish. Especially raw avocados. Mmmm.
My goal was to make something unique – and not too crazy – for kitchen use for friends and family. Actually, many of my homemade ideas this year stem from some sort of favorite cooking or bartending technique.
Pretty, inexpensive and not too time consuming! The trifecta of handmade gifting. I really enjoyed spending this past Saturday morning decorating for Christmas with this delicious fragrance roaming through the house in the background. A homemade gift that I highly recommend.
The infusion will now sit in the fridge until Christmas, soaking up all of that wonderful rosemary goodness while the oil becomes the perfect base for salad dressings and marinades, or drizzled alone over sliced heirloom tomatoes or crusty bread.
Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
Materials for six 8oz bottles: 15-20 fresh rosemary sprigs, one half gallon of olive oil, small glass bottles with a sealable lid
A quick note on materials. You really could swap out any fresh herb in exchange for rosemary (or even lemon, garlic or roasted veggies, for that matter – though you’ll want to read up on how to prep these to avoid bacterial growth). Olive oil is completely subjective to taste but I’ve read that original (and not extra virgin) is ideal for taking on infused flavors. I imagine EVOO would work great as a substitute in a pinch. I considered ordering a fancy gallon of olive oil online and then I read the rave reviews and blind taste testing results for Costco’s very own and was sold. It’s supposedly one of the best! Finally, any glass bottle will do (even canning jars) and I’ve heard that Ikea carries a nice selection as well.
One big secret here is to use fresh herbs, preferably those that you grow just under your window sill (or in your front yard, we have waaay too much rosemary in our front yard, but it does smell fresh and yummy year round).
I found my little glass bottles at Save-On-Crafts after searching and searching (my kind sister noticed my dilemma over Thanksgiving and a day later she pointed me to a pinterest link for these adorable bottles! Thanks sis.) and was pleasantly surprised at the quality, price ($1.29 each!) and adorable little corks. When the bottles arrived, they received a thorough dishwasher washing and were allowed to completely dry.
The rosemary, mind you it’s straight from the garden where bugs live and children play, was cut down to sprig size and thoroughly rinsed. The whole bunch was left to soak in a water bath for about an hour. This is a sure fire way to uncling any unnecessary flavoring, if you know what I mean, from the sprigs. Followed by a few more rinses.
Once the rosemary is thoroughly washed, allow it to thoroughly dry (either out on the counter or by speeding up the process on a low temp in the oven). This is especially important for the rosemary sprigs that will go straight into the bottles (rather than the infusion) – any type of moisture allows for the possibility of mold. Update: my very first batch began showing mold at the very top of the rosemary in several jars after two weeks. I did a bit of research and realized that by soaking the rosemary I had allowed too much moisture into the bottle. For my second round, I let my rosemary dry out for several days so that no water was present during bottling.
To prep my infusion, I poured half of the olive oil and half of my clean rosemary into a large pot on low heat. To keep the olive oil from frying the herbs, ensure all goes in at the same time and that the oil is not spattering when you dust a little water over its surface, the oil should be luke warm. Let the mixture sit and infuse for 5-10 minutes, there’s no science to this process but you’ll know that much of the flavor has been steeped out of the herbs when they begin to wilt and turn a different shade of green. Turn heat off and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, use the other half batch of fresh rosemary to fill your glass bottles. You don’t want to reuse the same rosemary in the above process, this rosemary is now a sad shade of green and will droop in your bottles.
I used a small liquid measuring cup to scoop out the rosemary infused olive oil from the pot to pour slowly into each bottle. It’s okay if some rosemary leaves and even sprigs are transferred with the oil. Fill each bottle half way with warm, infused olive oil and half with your remaining fresh olive oil.
Pouring over a foil lined cookie sheet makes clean up a breeze. Simply scrunch up the mess when you’re done, no gooey oil to sop up.
Oh it smells sooo good.
Cork well and let sit for 1-2 weeks for a full infusion. If you’re planning on gifting right away, the oil will still be deliciously infused after just a few days, but mention to the giftee that if they let it sit in the cupboard for a full two weeks the olive oil will reach its peak. If they plan on using the olive oil slowly over time rather than immediately, the fridge is the best place to keep it to prevent it from spoiling.
I made these labels on my computer at home and printed on brown card stock. A little stamp in the background adds a subtle handmade touch. Do you use Illustrator? You’re welcome to my template if you’d like, just shoot me an email since I can’t post ai files directly on the blog.
Update: So thrilled there are so many of you who would like to try this out! I’ve made a generic pdf template without the ‘Love, Morgan & Kevin’ that you can download here, you could always leave it blank or write in your own name on the printed version. Of course I’m also happy to share the .ai file, too!
A couple of snips, a grommet and some twine later, and my rosemary infused olive oil project is finished.
Did I mention it’s delicious with just plain bread and salt? Oh man.
Tags: Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Parties & Entertaining, Recipes, Tutorial
Posted in DIY, Handmade Gifts, Holidays, Parties & Entertaining, Recipes | 11 Comments »