Canola & Soy-Free Salad Dressing

6 TBS olive oil
2 TBS balsamic vinegar or other flavourful vinegar
2 TBS raw/unpasteurized honey
2 TBS Dijon mustard or mustard of choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a smallish mason jar, put lid on and shake to blend. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week! If using from the fridge let it warm up a bit at room temp and re-shake to bring ingredients back together. If its too thick add a little vinegar and shake again.

 

Vanilla Extract

All you need is the following:

Vanilla beans

vodka

glass container

Of course it can be made and stored in a polyethylene plastic container, but the results are much better in a glass container that can be sealed.

Directions:

1. Take the number of vanilla beans you require (1 per 1/3 – 1/2 cup vodka) and slice them lengthwise so the side is split or open. Bisect the beans as needed for fitting into your particular container.

2. Place your beans into the container and fill with the appropriate amount of vodka. Again that’s approx. 1 bean per 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vodka.

3. Now seal and place in a cool location out of sunlight for approx. 6-8 weeks. Of course the longer you let it sit, the stronger and more intense the flavor will become.

You can find excellent bulk vanilla beans here for larger batches:
1/4lb: http://amzn.to/14K073x

Hermetic bottles perfect for making extracts can be found here:
1L bottle: http://amzn.to/14neETO

Of course simply purchasing a glass bottle of vodka, large or small, and adding the proper amount of vanilla beans is an excellent and quick way to simply get the process over with. The only hurdle at that point would be the labeling on the bottle, if that matters to you.

Now as you use the extract, simply top off the jar with more vodka as needed. The same bean(s) can be reused for quite some time. As soon as your solution is no longer darkening or it begins to lose flavor, simply replace or add more vanilla bean(s) as required.

*For our gluten-free and paleo readers, you can use potato vodka. There are also recipes which use glycerin instead of vodka.

 

Almond Butter with Vanilla Bean & Sea-Salt

Almond butter is delicious and very, very good for you. Here is a recipe for some excellent homemade almond butter. This recipe came from a vegan source, so for all of our vegan and vegetarian readers, it should suit your dietary restrictions. Could easily be Paleo-friendly as well. This recipe adds vanilla bean, sea salt and raw honey but feel free to add in chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maple syrup, coconut or anything else you can come up with! It’ll all be delicious.

Ingredients:
2 cups unsalted almonds
1 teaspoon honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/8 teaspoon sea saltMethod:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. On large baking sheet spread out almonds and roast in oven for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown. Be very careful not to burn the nuts.
3. Transfer to your food processor and process for 10-15 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. At this point the almonds should start to clump together. Continue to process until you reach the desired consistency. I always process until my almond butter is liquid like. If desired add salt, vanilla bean seeds, and honey (or whatever you are adding) and process again for another minute.
4. Transfer to tupperware or mason jar and store at room temperature or in fridge. If you store at room temp, simply give the almond butter a stir before you use it.
You can use raw almonds, although it may take a bit longer to make the almond butter. Feel free to alter flavors however you’d like.

 

Garlic Powder

Found a fabulous recipe on http://www.indiankhana.net for homemade garlic powder that I wanted to share. Buying organic spices is so expensive! Here at the better grocery stores you can buy an organic basil plant that will continue to grow (or dill, mint, etc.) but usually most people buy their dried spices. Here is a super-easy process that eliminates that for garlic and onion powders. Visit the website linked above for other fabulous ideas.

Ingredients:

Garlic cloves – 1 Cup [ or use as much as you like]

Method:
1. Peel garlic and dry under sun for 2 days.  [You can slice cloves if they are large]

2. Grind peeled and dried garlic in a mixer, food processor or coffee grinder and pulse for 2-3 minutes until it becomes smooth paste.  Don’t pulse more than 30 seconds at a time.

Don’t panic if you see garlic has become paste instead of powder, we have little more work to make paste into powder.

3. Take a plastic sheet or clean thin cotton cloth and spread garlic spread in very thin layer(spread garlic paste over plastic sheet or cloth evenly), dry under sun for 4-5 days.   Garlic paste will be become like thin crackers/pieces and it will come out of sheet or cloth easily.

If you break and crush between fingers garlic dried pieces (crackers) will become powder.  If you feel it’s still little wet or forming lumps instead of powder then you have to dry for 1-2 days again.  Repeat the test until you get powder consistency.

4. Collect all dried garlic pieces and pulse again for 1-2 minutes in a dry mixer or food processor this time not more than 15 seconds for each pulse.  You will get your very own garlic powder.

5. Spread powder on a sheet/cloth or paper and dry under sun for 1 hour; don’t dry too long or powder will start to form lumps.

We do this to remove any moisture from grinding.

6. Store in air tight jar/container and keep in the refrigerator.

Note:
1. Instead of sun drying you can dry peeled garlic in oven.  Preheat oven to 150 and toast garlic pieces until completely dry, stir in regular intervals.  After it cools down grind into powder and go to step 5. You could also use a dehydrator.

You can also make onion powder the exact same way. Enjoy!

 

Lavender Vinegar

Collect a jar full of lavender.

Heat the vinegar to a simmer, then pour into the jar filled with buds, all the way to the top.

Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then cap immediately and let sit in a cool, dark place – anywhere from one week to six weeks.

Strain and decant into pretty glass bottles for storage or gift giving. 

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