Time to Detox!

It’s that time of year again! After months of overindulgence and a few pounds later, it’s time to detox! I have never been one to go on a crazy juice diet or cranberry water only diet. If you eat a diet rich in vegetables then you can naturally rid your body of the pounds!

I belong to Annies organic Buying club which provides organic produce to those in Florida. I am sure each state has their own and I would highly recommend you look into it. Every two weeks I get a full box of fresh seasonal produce that is ten times better than any you can find in a supermarket. Most of the time the supermarket (and yes I mean whole foods as well) doesn’t even carry what you can get from annies. Each week that create themes that correspond to the contents of the boxes. This week was a detox themed share, including, broccoli, ginger, celery, daikon radishes, carrots, kale, rainbow chard, blueberries, grapefruit, etc…Who needs a nasty detox supplement when you have nature’s finest available!

Fridge full of organic produce!

Everything we eat is broken down into micronutrients that help (or hinder) bodily functions. Some foods such as refined and processed foods are broken down into toxic substances that do more harm. On the other hand fresh vegetables and fruit are the miracle workers of the food pyramid!

Let’s take a look at how produce can help:

Broccoli:  Broccoli is full of antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, lutien, zeaxanthins. Also, a great source of heart heathy folate and fiber. But for the purpose of detoxification, it contains one of the largest sources of sulfur compounds, such as sulforaphanes and isothiocyanates. These increase the ability of the liver to detoxify toxic substances. All these wonderful and healthy attributes come at a low-calorie cost of 44 calories per one cup cooked broccoli!!!! What a deal!

Ginger: contains natural anti-inflammatory nutrients (gingerols) that also soothe the stomach and relieve nausea. And only 20 calories per 1 ounce!

Celery: is more than a side dish for wings! Is an excellent source of vitamin K and C. Rich source of antioxidants, such as coumarins, which promote a healthy immune system and helps rid the body of harmful substances. Other antioxidants found in celery are pthalides, which help lower blood pressure. And to top it off..only 19 calories per cup!

These sound like a perfect way to detox! So how do I get all these powerful antioxidants in one meal…make a soup!

Detox Soup

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

3-4 ribs of celery, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

2 daikon radishes, peeled and chopped (can substitute any root vegetable)

2-3 large heads of broccoli, trimmed and chopped

~4 cups of vegetable broth (may use water)

1 tsp dried parsley (didn’t have fresh)

sea salt and pepper


  • In a large soup pot, saute onions, garlic, celery, daikon, and garlic in olive oil (~1 tbs).
  • Then add ginger and broccoli, sauté for another minute.
  • Add broth (enough to cover veggies), parsley, and salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes or until veggies are soft.
  • Then transfer (in small batches) in the blender. Can use an emersion blender but sadly I don’t have one!
  • Blend until smooth.

Detox soup in my favorite owl mug!

Detox never tasted soooo good! Reminds me of an asian ginger broccoli dish but much healthier!

You'd be wise to eat this soup 🙂


I had a few more vanilla beans to use up so I decided to reinvent the classic vanilla cupcake. First I made a vanilla bean caramel sauce. I would love to post it but I forgot where I put the piece of paper in which I wrote my recipe and notes on 😦 I promise once I find it to post it. But I do believe it was just a simple caramel sauce recipe in which I swapped a vanilla bean for vanilla extract and used honey instead of corn syrup. (One thing you will notice about my recipes is I prefer not to use refined products when I have natural available)

Anyway, once the caramel was made I let it cool and began with the cupcakes!

(I made them mini but you can make them regular sized with a cooking time of 20-25 minutes. Also, my oven is from the 60’s and cooks at superpower heat so my cooking time are normally shorter than most.)

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes:

(makes 24 regular sized and ~50 mini cupcakes)

2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract plus 1 vanilla bean, scraped*
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in cupcake/muffin pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In  a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and light in color, ~ 2 minutes.

Mix in the oil, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean contents. Then mix in the sour cream until well blended.

Mix in the flour mixture until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Pour into prepared cups and bake 20 minutes for regular size and 10 minutes for mini-cupcakes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and completely before frosting.

*Place leftover vanilla bean pods in your sugar to make vanilla sugar.


Soooo Cute!

  Caramel Buttercream:

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temp

 1 stick of salted butter, at room temp

 2-4 cups of powdered sugar (I used around 4 cups)

1/4 cup of vanilla bean caramel sauce, room temp (any caramel sauce will do)

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add half of the sugar and mix well. Then add caramel sauce. Continue adding sugar until desired consistency.

Spread or pipe onto cupcakes and drizzle a little extra caramel on top!

Cupcakes for everyone!

Inspired by Vanilla!

Every October I come up with my plan for homemade Christmas gifts. Last year it was infused vodkas and homemade bath salts. This year I was  inspired by Vanilla! It all started when I came across an excellent resource for imported vanilla beans from Madagascar. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CPZSC8/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ASBG6UVTMWDAY

I have made vanilla infused vodka so why not homemade vanilla extract! So I used my techniques (vanilla beans + high-proof vodka+ time)  for infusing vodka to start my extract infusions. And the end results…

Now to make it gift worthy I need labels. So I went to customelabels.com and created personalized labels. These labels added a professional like quality that inspired me to sell them on etsy.com. http://www.etsy.com/shop/madetobeunique

My homemade vanilla extract

I have sold 2 products so far and will be trying new infusions (i.e. Bourban Vanilla Extract) 🙂

Well I had some leftover vanilla beans and decided to try my hand at vanilla infused organic sugar!

Organic vanilla sugar

So how did my family and friends react…THEY LOVED THEM! I have used both the extract and sugar to make most of my Christmas treats and I continue to be INSPIRED BY VANILLA!

You can find them on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/madetobeunique

My first recipe back from a long break happens to be one created out of the need to use up what’s left of my organic share from last week. I didn’t have any cilantro and limes so I couldn’t make guacamole, so what was I going to do with these beautifully ripe avocados…make muffins! I have never baked with avocados but have seen a few posts on avocado breads. They are a great source of “good” fat and we all now that fat equals moist when it comes to baking. So I further explored my pantry to see what I had on hand. After a round of experimentation I came up with this delicious chocolate avocado muffin recipe!

Double chocolate avocado muffins

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins (vegan and gluten-free)


1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking flour mix (can use any flour)

1 tsp xanthum gum (omit if not using gluten-free flour)

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 medium avocado, pitted and scooped out

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/3-1/2 cup natural cane sugar (can use any sugar)

1/3 cup olive oil (i used extra virgin)

1 cup almond milk (can use any milk you’d like)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix all dry ingredients together

3. In a separate large bowl, mash avocado with sugar, then add remaining ingredients (maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and oil)

4. mix in dry ingredients until combined.

5. fold in chocolate chips

bake for about 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

 Enjoy these delicious and healthy muffins!

My First Biscotti

I might be German and Irish but like the Italians, I am a dunker. I love to dunk anything crispy into my coffee and tea! So when it comes to biscotti you know I am a fan. Although I may have enjoyed a few in my lifetime I have never actually made my own. So why not give it a shot.

Here is my Double Chocolate Pecan Biscotti:

Double Chocolate Pecan Biscotti: (makes 24)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups pecan, toasted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg for egg wash plus 1 tsp kahlua

Pre-heat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, oil and sugar using an electric whisk.

Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until fluffy and pale (1 min).

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold this in to combine.

Then fold in the toasted nuts and chocolate chips.

 Divide the dough in half and turn each one out onto a floured surface and roll each half into a log and patting down slightly to form the dough to approximately 2 inches wide by 14 inches long by 1 1/2 inches high.

Place each log on to the prepared baking sheet several inches apart.

In a small bowl mix an egg with a teaspoon of Kahlua and then brush the egg wash lightly over the top of the logs.

 Bake in the middle of the oven for 27 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through.

Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 300F.

Allow the logs to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing them at an angle to about 3/4-inch-thick pieces.

 Lay each slice back on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between each.

Bake them at 300F for 5 minutes and then flip each biscotti piece over and bake on the other side for 5 minutes again.

Time to Dunk!

It has been three weeks and the vodka is almost ready to be bottled, given aways as gifts, and enjoyed by many!

Strawberry and Vanilla Vodka!

All they need now are some martini recipes…

Could even garnish with a white chocolate covered strawberry…yum!

Can’t wait to make one or two 😉

This Christmas I have decided to make gift baskets. This gave me an excuse to infuse vodka once again. I did it a few years ago with Cranberry and Orange. It came out good and everyone loved it. This year I wanted to make two different flavors and maybe try something that is used on popular martinis. So I have decided on Vanilla and Strawberry. Drooling at the thought of martinis I could make with these….espresso martinis and strawberry basil martinis!

So I went to the container store and got two 3 Liter (about) glass jars and four 750 mL of Gordons vodka. Four vanilla pods and 2 pints of strawberries later…

I am going to let this infuse for a few weeks and in the meantime will get some decorative glass bottles and create little tags and recipe cards to go with them.