Swedish Hasselback Potatoes

Swedish Hasselback Potatoes

My husband likes experimenting with food to make interesting new dishes. Me, not so much. He also likes to watch The Food Network. The other day, he and my daughter saw a show featuring Swedish Hasselback Potatoes, and my daughter immediately wanted to make them. I was not so excited. However, I looked up the recipe online, and realized that they were super-easy (which is important for me). I made a few changes to make cleaning up easier. And, best of all, they turned out super-tasty too! They end up like a cross between baked potatoes and french fries or potato chip. Hasselback Potatoes are softer (and healthier) than fries or chips, but with a lot more of the crispy, salted goodness than a normal baked potato.

Swedish Hasselback Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, scrubbed (leave skin on)
olive oil
salt
garlic salt
grated Parmesan cheese
chopped chives for garnish (optional)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220ºC).
Slice each potato crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting to within 1/4 inch of the bottom.Be careful not to slice all the way through. The potato will fan out a bit as it bakes.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Brush with oil, making sure to brush in between each slice of the potato. Sprinkle with salt, garlic salt and parmesan, again making sure to sprinkle between each slice.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes. The inside should be cooked thoroughly and the skin of the potato will be a bit crispy.
Garnish with additional parmesan and chives, if desired.

DIY Dry Hair Detangler

DIY Dry Hair Detangler

My children have crazy hair. It is straight in the front and on the sides. In the back, it is coarse and curly. Like many children, they wake up with a nest on the back of their head every morning. However, due to the texture of their hair in the back, which is very similar to my husband’s hair, it does not comb out without a HUGE tantrum-and-tear-inducing fight. We finally found a detangler that we liked, only to have it discontinued less than a year later. Being me, I looked up the ingredients that were in it, and compared it to other detanglers that we had tried. Eventually, I created this recipe for DIY Dry Hair Detangler to lessen our struggle.

The vinegar seems like a strange ingredient, however the slight acidity smooths the hair shaft, making the hair less prone to snagging. This makes for many fewer tears at our house. In fact, in a pinch, you can just add vinegar to water and use it. It will get the job done. Argan oil adds some moisture; as my older daughter has entered her teens, we have reduced the amount of oil we used in the recipe (12 drops instead of 18). For my younger daughter, who has very dry hair, we use 18 drops of oil. Castor oil adds shine. The optional ingredients mainly add a silky appearance and feel to the hair. They aren’t necessary at all, but they do make the final product feel more like commercial detanglers. Most likely, you will have to order these two ingredients online. I get my argan oil, castor oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and liquid silk from The Sage. (I don’t get anything for referring you. I’m just trying to make your life easier.)

Finally, we have found that, along with the a hair pick, Goody makes a line of Ouchless brushes that we use with our detangler to make our lives much easier.

DIY Hair Detangler

4 oz water
2 oz white vinegar
12-18 drops argan oil (or other light easily absorbed oil such as fractionated coconut, almond, canola, or light olive oil)
10 drops castor oil

Optional: 10 drops hydrolyzed wheat protein
10 drops liquid silk

Mix all together and shake well before using.

Creamy Potato Salad

Creamy Potato Salad

 

My sister’s mother-in-law makes the BEST potato salad. EVER. This is coming from a person who doesn’t like potato salad generally, probably because most recipes have “squeaky/crunchy” things in them and I don’t like squeaky crunchy things in my nice creamy foods.
This recipe has a secret, however; the onions, are grated instead of chopped. My children and friends (who also have food texture issues) wolf this down without a complaint. I added my own touch with a taste of pickle juice for added flavor. Whip this up for a holiday BBQ next week for a full-flavored creamy potato salad.
POTATO SALAD
9 Potatoes
9 boiled eggs
onion
diced dill pickles
lots of salt & pepper
mayonnaise  ~about 1/2 – 3/4 qt with this many potatoes
2 TB dill pickle juice
Boil the “spuds” until you can put a sharp knife through them.  Drain completely.
(I like to boil them the day before I make the salad. I also like to use white potatoes.) Grate onion into the salad. Add dill pickles, juice and lots of salt & pepper (to taste).  Add  salad dressing – about until it’s quite moist.
DIY Luxurious Lotion Bars

DIY Luxurious Lotion Bars

Have you heard of lotion bars? Technically they are actually a body balm not a lotion because they are in solid form, but they are shaped like a bar of soap and used in place of your regular lotion (or after use of your regular lotion if you want super duper moisturization).

They are typically made of equal amounts of beeswax, solid fats, and liquid oils; there is some room for variation though based on your desired qualities and what oils/butters are being used. There are numerous recipes floating around the web, but the recipes I had tried were either too hard or too greasy feeling. Or both. I had a store-bought lotion bar that I loved; it was just so creamy and soft without being oily feeling, but it was often hard to find, and it cost $15 a bar! So, I made my own recipe based off the ingredients label of my favorite store-bought bar and made it for 1/10 the cost!

This recipe is the smallest I can make while keeping everything easy to measure. You can make it larger as needed, I frequently make it in batches 4x this size.

Luxurious Dry Skin Body Bar
Beeswax: 4 oz – I prefer beeswax with the natural scent
Solid Fats: 4 oz shea butter (you can reduce this measurement to 2 oz for a firmer bar for elbows, feet, etc)
Liquid Oils (or brittle butters): 2 oz cocoa butter – again I like the natural scented
1 oz sweet almond oil
1 oz sunflower oil (you could use 2 oz almond, but sunflower adds glide)
Extra Additives:   1 oz lanolin – this is the ingredient that really helps dry skin
essential oil as desired – my favorites are almond and vanilla, with a splash of amber

Melt all ingredients except the essential oil in the microwave on 60-70% power. Using reduced power keeps the temperatures lower so that the shea butter does not fractionate or become grainy textured. It isn’t a real problem if that happens, it just doesn’t feel as nice on the skin. I start with 5 minutes and then stir. Microwave for additional minutes on reduced power, stirring every couple minutes until everything is melted. Pour into molds – I use greased lotion tins from the dollar store which can hold 1.5-2 oz each. Place in the refrigerator for quick cooling – do not freeze at this point! Once they have solidified, pop them out of the mold and rub away!

 

Notes: You can substitute many of the fats and oils with other fats and oils that have similar qualities. Here are just some of my observations.
Solid Fats – Some people use hydrogenated vegetable oil (crisco) in their reicpes, but I LOVE shea butter. I think it gives me a richer feeling & longer lasting moisturization. I my climate I need all the help I can get, so I use Shea.

Liquid Oils – You don’t have to use all one type, as long as your total amount is roughly 4 oz. Sweet almond is great for many skin types and is fairly inexpensive, but I have also used sunflower and light olive oil. I want to try a small amount of Argan oil next because I love how velvety it feels and how quickly it absorbs.

“Brittle” butters such as cocoa or mango butter or coconut oil quickly turn to oil on the skin, therefore I prefer to include them in the liquid oil portion of the recipe to maintain a more creamy feeling bar. Initially I tried using these in the solid fats portion of the recipe (as many other recipes do), but noticed that it made a very oily feeling bar, which I didn’t like. Also, coconut oil will make a softer bar even in small amounts, so I always use an equal portion of cocoa or mango butter to firm it up a bit (for example: 1 oz cocoa butter, 1 oz  coconut oil, 2 oz sweet almond oil   OR 2 oz coconut oil, 1 oz cocoa butter, 1 oz olive oil).

Firmness
Initially, I had less shea butter (as noted above). I liked this feel, and it felt nearly identical to the commercially manufactured bars I had purchased in the past. I altered this because a friend who always had noticed that the bar didn’t melt quickly enough for her because her hands were always cold. She was really having to rub to get the lotion to soften!
I tweaked the recipe a bit and noticed that the slightly softer bar was even more moisturizing on my skin as well, so this became my standard recipe!

I found a great picture tutorial at snapguide.com that covers a lot of detail as well.

One last note: I order my products from thesage.com . They have great quality and low prices. I have used them for years and never been disappointed. If this is your first time making lotion bars, you might want to get with a friend and split an order because, while there is no minimum order amount, the smallest size that many things come in is 8 or 16 oz, which can make an awfully large batch for a single person!

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