hey party people! let’s get crazy today and talk homemade cleaning solutions, shall we?
turns out, a lot of you are very into the idea of natural cleaners. whether it’s because you want to decrease the chemicals in your home, because you prefer to buy cruelty-free products, or even that you just want to save money, there are so many good reasons to start making your own cleaners at home.
my mom has been making homemade cleaning solutions for a really long time, so you’d think that i would do that too. well, let me tell you, it’s taken me until pretty recently to get on board. i used to like the idea of making homemade cleaners, but it just felt like it would take so much time and energy to do, so i decided it wasn’t for me. and then i made my first homemade glass cleaner, and was DUMBFOUNDED that it had taken me so long.
homemade cleaning solutions have so few ingredients, and you probably already have them all in your house already. and i’m not exaggerating when i say that making them takes less time than a run to target.
this glass cleaner is so great because it actually gets the scum off of your windows. the first time i used it on my windows, i could actually see it taking off the residue left behind by the windex that i’ve always used. my windows and mirrors are so clean and i love it! it brings me so much irrational joy!
homemade glass cleaner recipe
1 1/2 C. water (distilled or filtered is best)
1/4 C. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. rubbing alcohol
10-15 drops citrus essential oils (i used 12 lemon, 3 tangerine)
add all ingredients to a glass or heavy duty plastic spray bottle. shake to combine before using. spray on windows and wipe with a microfiber cloth, paper towel or newspaper. slap a cute label on it if you’re feeling fancy and store in a dark, cool place.
i have recipes for wood floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner that i’ll be posting over the next few weeks months (i’m nothing if not self-aware). if any of you try making any of these recipes, please let me know in the comments or send me a quick instagram message, i’ll be so interested to hear what you think! also, i know not everyone is familiar with essential oils, so if anyone is curious about anything to do with essential oils and how i have been using them for cleaning and around the house, or if you’re curious about the type of oils i use, please reach out, i love talking about it!
i have to tell you guys, this is one of those recipes i’m a bit embarrassed to even post. not because this soup is not delicious…it is. but it’s so mindlessly easy to make that it feels like i’m cheating by calling it a recipe. this is one of those soups that you make when you want something homemade, but you don’t want to have to go buy a bunch of ingredients that you won’t ever use again, or that are going to hike up your grocery bill. this is such a good thing to make if you’re looking for an inexpensive but filling recipe that everyone will like. you can just tell your kids that the kielbasa is hot dogs and call it hot dog soup, and you’re all good. (sidebar: in our house, we call breakfast sausage “breakfast hot dogs” so Amelia won’t question why she should eat them…)
the cabbage, potatoes and beans in this help to bulk it up and make it really filling, even though there aren’t that many ingredients. it freezes beautifully and makes a huge batch. this would be a great recipe to make if you need to bring a meal to a new mom…no dairy, not spicy, and it takes no time to throw together, plus you can keep half of it for your own dinner that night without having to double the recipe.
i know we’re headed out of soup season, and i really let you guys down in the soup arena this winter, so i’m going to make some of the more “springtime” soups in the cookbook here in the next couple months to make up for it. although it snowed here in minnesota today, so i guess it’s still kind of soup season here in a way. gross.
portuguese soup (makes a large batch without doubling)
6 C. chicken stock or broth
1 lb. smoked kielbasa sausage, diced
1 lb. boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 medium head of green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
combine all ingredients in a large pot. bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. reduce heat; simmer until thick, stirring occasionally (about 2 hours).
use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
omit the kielbasa (can also add another can of a different type of bean, like great northern to add more bulk)
if you ask me what my favorite dessert is, my answer is going to depend on the time of year. in summer, give me all the ice cream. in the fall, it’s my mom’s coffee cake. winter, creme brulee, preferably at a cozy restaurant with my husband. but springtime has me craving anything with fruit. the fresher the better. even if it’s not quite in season yet, i just want all the fruity, baked goodness.
my hands-down, all-time favorite fruity baked dessert is the strawberry cream cheese pie that my mom has made since before i have memories. something about the juicy strawberries, the sweet creamy spread on the bottom, and the homemade glace holding it all together gets me every time. it reminds me of eating dinner on the porch when the weather finally gets warm enough, and of family dinners on sunday nights.
did i mention that it’s also gorgeous?
make this and serve it to people you love. they’ll be able to taste the love when they take a bite.
strawberry cream cheesepie, makes one pie, serves 8 with big slices
1 1/2 qts. fresh strawberries
4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature (use neufchatel cheese for a lower fat option)
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
splash of milk (to moisten cream cheese mixture)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4-1 C. white sugar
1/2 C. water
for the pie: make your pie crust (or use a pre-made one like i mostly do, pillsbury works great!) and lay it in a 9-inch pie pan. bake according to the directions, making sure to poke the bottom with a fork before baking so it doesn’t puff up. let the pie crust cool.
mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar, almond extract and the splash of milk until smooth. the consistency should be somewhat firm and not runny, as you will be spreading this in the bottom of the pie crust. add more powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. spread in the bottom of the crust and refrigerate until set, around a half hour.
while crust and spread are setting up, quarter the strawberries, reserving 1 C. of them aside for the glace. fill the pie crust with the strawberries. the strawberries should be slightly rounded at the middle of the pie.
for the glace: in a small saucepan, mix together the cornstarch and white sugar. mash the 1 C. of reserved strawberries with the water. mash well so there are no large chunks. add to the sugar and cornstarch. heat over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. boil for one minute, then remove from heat and cool for about five minutes. pour the glace over the top of the strawberries, covering well. refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
the nesting has begun with a vengeance. to the point that my husband keeps acting all surprised when he comes home to the dishes done, the laundry clean and the entire first floor vacuumed. does that mean that i wasn’t cleaning enough before now? don’t answer that.
i’m obviously chalking it up to the baby making me insane, because that’s my excuse for everything these days. forgot to send that email? pregnancy brain. dumped whole coffee beans into the ground coffee canister? pregnancy brain. fall asleep watching youtube videos in bed before Mister Man gets home from hockey? that’s just real life.
there is some good coming out of all this, besides the obvious clean house factor. i’ve been tapping into my inner laura ingalls even more than usual lately, which means making crazy decisions like not buying sliced bread at the grocery store anymore. simplifying life has become a pattern for me these last few weeks. i’ve been incredibly inspired by jenna over at eat, live, run and her preparations for her fast-approaching baby boy. but while her main projects have been freezer meals and preserves, i’m being pulled to replace some staples with scratch-made items. i’m starting with bread, and i think i might even have the husband on board for this change.
my mom sent me this recipe, so i don’t know where it came from, but it is most definitely not my own. i cant lie, it has been a bit of trial and error with the first batch. but please try it. it sounds so scary to bake your own bread, but i don’t think there is anything more satisfying than taking that loaf out of the oven, perfectly browned, and knowing you made it with four ingredients and your own two hands.
i think that bread can be temperamental, and so it’s a lot of learning and guessing and just trusting your gut when you learn how to bake it. i like to think of it as my meditation for becoming a mom. some people have mantras, i have yeast and flour and a loaf pan.
homemade sandwich bread (boule dough), makes 3-4 loaves
3 C. lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher or coarse salt
6 1/2 C. all purpose white flour (or bread flour)
warm the water, it should feel just a little warmer than body temperature (100 degrees). add the yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl, or if you have one, a resealable, lidded food container or bucket. don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.
mix in the flour, adding all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry ingredient measuring cups. mix with a wooden spoon, or your mixer fitted with the dough hook, until uniform in texture. the dough will be wet, slightly “shaggy”, and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container you’re using.
allow the dough to rise. cover with a lid that fits well to the container you’re using. don’t use a lid that is totally airtight. for example, i used my kitchen aid mixing bowl to mix the dough, and covered it with saran wrap, which was plenty. allow the mixture to rise in a warm place until it begins to collapse, or flatten on top, about 2 hours. then refrigerate the dough for up to 2 weeks. you can use a portion of the dough any time after this rising period, so you can bake it right away, but It is easier to work with, though, after it has been refrigerated for a while.
dust the top surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a cantaloupe sized piece. dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides rotating the ball a quarter at a time as you go. lightly grease a 9x4x3 inch nonstick loaf pan (if it’s not non-stick make sure you grease it well so you will be able to get the bread out of the pan).
elongate the ball into an oval and drop it into the prepared pan. you want to fill the pan slightly more than half full. the first loaf i made only filled the pan about halfway, and so the loaf wasn’t quite tall enough for sandwich bread.
allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). lightly dust with flour and slash the top of the loaf with the tip of a serrated knife. this allows the top of the loaf to puff up.
20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray (or jelly roll pan) on the bottom shelf. the reason you do this is to heat up the oven and the tray to a nice hot temperature before putting the loaf in the oven. when ready to bake, place the loaf pan on a rack near the center of the oven. pour 1 C. of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. bake for about 35 minutes, or until brown and firm.
remove the loaf from the pan immediately and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing or eating. enjoy with sandwiches or toast at breakfast, my favorite way so far is avocado toast…it’s the perfect combo!