Tag Archives: recipe

DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash

16 Nov

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This recipe is so easy I don’t even know if it warrants a blog post. But post I shall, because when I was a 15 weeks pregnant first time mommy browsing the aisles of my local Babies R Us to make a grand wish list of junk my baby may or may not need, I had no clue what to do come bath time.

I had bought into the illusion that to keep my child sparkly clean, I needed to buy the piles of baby bath products lining the shelf of the baby bathroom aisle. Since every single bath product (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, etc.) was on the new baby “essentials” checklist the store handed out, I assumed, naturally, that I would be using all of these products on my newborn the moment she popped out of me. If I didn’t, I’d be a bad mother with a dirty baby. Right???!

With the help of wonderful crunchy momma friends (thanks Bree!) and gleaning info from the interwebs on the science behind baby skin and the way it all works, I finally have this whole bath time thing (mostly) sorted out.

Using the giant pile of “recommended” products on your baby isn’t natural or healthy at all. Especially not the majority of products out there. I didn’t discover all of this until around the month Tessa was born. I didn’t even think to question the current status quo of baby bath routines till I discovered the Johnson and Johnson baby products scandal, which I wrote about earlier in my DIY Baby Wipes article.

Basically, it was discovered not too long ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contains the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. They’re even freaking listed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of known human carcinogens NOT to be used in cosmetic products. And here we are, slathering this toxic junk on our newborns skin. W.T.F?!

Baby skin is like a sponge. It soaks up EVERYTHING. That’s why you can’t even put sunscreen on an infant. The SAFE chemicals in sunscreen will get soaked up into a newborns skin and literally POISON the newborn with an overload of chemicals that would just safely sit on top of an adults skin.

So all of that said, the fact is, the best way to care for your baby’s skin is to keep it away from products – even “natural” ones, for the most part. A newborns system has to work extremely hard to remove toxins from the bloodstream, so the less you use on your baby’s skin, the better. God has designed our little munchkins so magnificently – they have naturally protective oils in their skin that are better not washed off.

BUT! Every once in awhile, if baby is getting really grimy, you CAN use extremely gentle natural cleansing solutions on your baby to help clean off and sanitize the gunk that can gather in those beautiful chunky baby skin folds.

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Here’s the utra-simple recipe I use for our DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash:

1 cup of warm water

2 tablespoons Castile soap

1 vitamin e capsule

Castile soap is made by a process called saponification, a process in which an alkali is added to oil. This is how soap had been made for centuries until the recent proliferation of synthetic surfactants, which consist of potentially toxic chemicals. *cough*Johnson and Johnson*cough*

Castile soap made by saponification is safe because none of the unreacted alkali remains in the soap. And since the soap is made with gentle natural oils, like olive oil, it is one of the gentlest cleansing agents you can use on your baby. Used sparingly, the soap will cleanse without drying or irritating delicate baby skin, and what is absorbed into your little ones skin won’t pose a threat to her delicate little system. Just be careful with your baby’s eyes because saponified soap is not tear-free – only baby shampoo made synthetically can be tear-free.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant found in many plant and animal based foods. Vitamin E oil closely mimics the natural oils found in your babies skin, and is one of the few natural oils that are safe for direct use on newborns. The tiny amount added to the baby wash serves as a moisturizer and a preservative for your little squirt bottle of baby wash.

And there you have it! I use this stuff sparingly on Tessa, and only when she gets milk getting all grody in her neck folds. Or if she has a particularly explosive diaper. But we try not to use it all the time – and only sparingly when we do use it. For instance, the last two baths were just plain ol’ warm water baths with a wash cloth to gentle wipe away any sticky milk grime.

If your baby appears to be suffering from dry skin, cut back on the frequency of bath times and use a gentle, safe, natural moisturizer like a DIY All-Natural Diaper Rash Cream to spot treat dry patches.

And voila! Bath time with baby, made simple and fun! I am so lucky that my little Tessa loves bath time so much. She giggles, and splashes, and laughs, and watches the water droplets with such wonder in her eyes. It is such a fun bonding time for Jonathan and I as a new little family. I am going to forever treasure our bath times with baby!

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DIY All-Natural Diaper Rash Cream

10 Nov

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I made this cute little jar of diaper rash cream on the same day I made the DIY All Natural Baby Wipes. And I’m just now getting around to posting it, because I’m horribly lazy. (That, and I am a new mother of a two month old… but yeah, mostly because I’m lazy.)

First off, if you need any jars with character that make you feel like a crafty DIY home recipe guru, check out the selection at Hobby Lobby. They have home cosmetic safe glass jars with solid sealable lids for crazy cheap (when you catch them on 50% off days, you can get a jar like the one pictured above for 99 cents) and they all have old worldy charm. I think the jar I’m using for the diaper rash cream looks like an Alice In Wonderland-esque “Drink Me” jar, so I’m already loving this project. Ohhh, the things that make me happy!

This recipe is another slightly tweaked version of a couple different recipes I found on the ol’ Google machine. I like to find recipes that contain ingredients I have close to hand and I pick and choose ingredients based on what I feel will work best for our needs – for instance, since Tessa is not prone to diaper rashes we just needed something mildly drying, and primarily moisturizing.

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So for this super simple and crazy effective recipe you’ll need:

¼ cup of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of shea butter

1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 vitamin e capsule

2 drops of lavender essential oil

Melt the coconut oil, shea butter, vitamin e capsule and essential oil together in a small saucepan and gently stir into a smooth cream over extremely low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from head and use a small electric mixer to slowly blend in the arrowroot powder, one teaspoon at a time.

Pour into a small, clean glass jar and put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the mixture till it is solid. Pull it out of the fridge, and as it adjusts to room temperature it will turn into a firm, but smooth and airy cream.

Then simply apply as needed! We also use this cream on Tessa after bath times as a moisturizer behind her ears, in the creases on the inside of her arms, and anywhere else the humid Florida air threatens to dry out or rash up. It smells lovely and works like a charm.

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What each ingredient does:

Coconut Oil – This is the main diaper rash fighting ingredient. Coconut oil contains high levels of Vitamin E and is excellent for hydrating skin. It sinks in deep, conditions, moisturizes, and softens skin. Coconut oil mimics the sebum in your skin and so it naturally and gently clears away dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. It even has some antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, killing off harmful bacteria. All must haves for a dirty baby bottom.

Shea Butter – Shea butter contains massive amounts of essential fatty acids and natural moisturizing antioxidant compounds, which makes skin incredibly soft. It is an anti-inflammatory and contains anti-fungal and yeast-killing properties. It is also high in Vitamins A and E, which promotes skin elasticity and soothes irritating and painful rashes.

Arrowroot Powder – Arrowroot is commonly added to moisturizers as a thickening agent and to help active ingredients penetrate the upper levels of the skin. It aids in giving the skin a silky feel and gets the cream to a beautiful, spreadable texture.

Vitamin E Capsule – Acts as a preservative. Vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of oil based products. Just a few drops do the trick.

Lavender Essential Oil – Not only does the lavender oil add a nice scent to the cream, but lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic and deodorant!

Maraschino and Rum Infused Body Chocolate Recipe

19 Oct


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This is a recipe that Jonathan and I tried out when I first moved to Pensacola. I hadn’t seen my husband in over two months, and I was a whopping 8 months pregnant. While my raging hormones wanted sexy fun time, my body was in beached whale mode and sex didn’t sound very sexy. Which called for some creative innovation on date nights with the hubby.

(No, I’m not going to talk about my sex life. Well, kind of.)

Date nights around the Freeman home usually involve some kind of amateur chef foodie concoction, followed by a make out session with a Mel Brooks film playing in the background. So we put our thinking caps on and…

Enter the booze infused body chocolate! There’s just something about drawing chocolate flavored doodles on your husband and then eating said doodles, that just appeals to my gluttonous sensual and foodie sides. Body chocolate is like a naughty dessert. And you can say “desserts on me!” and chuckle at your cleverness. Like twenty thousand times. I know I did.

Anyway, this recipe makes a chocolate that is a paint consistency, which is perfect for using actual paintbrushes. The chocolate paint only keeps for about a week or so, so I advise using it as an ice cream topping afterwards. ^_^

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YOU WILL NEED:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 pinch kosher salt

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon of rum

1 teaspoon of maraschino cherry syrup

Put sugar, salt and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Don’t stir, but wait for the mixture to come to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and watch the pan closely until all of the sugar granules have dissolved. Once it’s all gooey, remove the pan from the heat.

Next, add the butter and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, the rum and the maraschino cherry syrup and whisk until completely mixed. And voila! Use the paint as soon as it is cooled enough to be comfortable! (You can always reheat in the microwave too.)

Enjoy!

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Pregnancy Insomnia Herbal Tea Recipe

23 Jul

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According to Baby Center’s Medical Advisory Board, 8 out of 10 women will experience pregnancy insomnia during their pregnancy. And it’s usually experienced in the third trimester. It’s believed to be caused by a complicated combination of hormones and a number of unhelpful conditions – frequent urination, heartburn, leg cramps, pre-birth anxiety, having a baby the size of a frikkin’ bowling ball bouncing around your innards, etc. etc. etc.

When I started out in this pregnancy I just wanted to sleep all the time. In fact, up till a couple of weeks ago I was being a zombie and sleeping randomly and sporadically throughout the day, like some poster child for narcolepsy. Just four weeks ago I actually fell asleep at 6pm and woke up at 11am the next day… and I felt like I could still sleep some more!

But starting around Week 29 up to now (Week 32) of my pregnancy, I haven’t been able to get to sleep. At all. I wish I could blame the insomnia on some overt discomfort, like heartburn or leg cramps or anxiety. Yes, I have been experiencing those things, almost nightly, but they’re not so bothersome as to be the obvious cause of my sleeplessness. I just… can’t sleep.

I force myself to lay in bed around midnight, wide awake, fidgety and twitchy, trying desperately to ignore the siren call of Facebook, and generally tossing and turning like some cheesy infomercial actress trying to sell a mattress. And when I finally do manage to get to sleep (usually from around 2am to 5am), I end up having the strangest most vivid dreams.

One of my recurring dreams is that my hair has grown really, really long. It’s strong and thick and beautiful and I can’t wait to show Jonathan at his Navy Boot Camp graduation. Then, right before meeting up with Jonathan, something happens to my hair. It gets cut accidentally. Or maliciously. Or I burn it while styling it. Or it just starts falling out. Sometimes I dream it gets moldy or starts mildewing. It’s so strange. And I have this dream, or some variation of it, almost nightly.

I’m not one to put too much stock into dream meanings and symbolism, but the frequency and recurring nature of this dream made me seek out a dream dictionary: “To see hair in your dream signifies sexual virility, seduction, sensuality, vanity, and health. It is indicative of your attitudes. Beautiful hair is a perception of your sex appeal and virility in a positive light. To dream that you are losing your hair or that it is being damaged denotes that you are concerned with the notion of losing your sex appeal and virility. Losing your hair also signifies a lack of strength; you are afraid you do not have the power to succeed in an upcoming task or undertaking. It is indicative of struggling with feelings of being weak and vulnerable.”

Sounds about right. What with being swollen, sweaty, stinky and achey all the time, I feel about as beautiful as a water buffalo. And who wouldn’t be just a mite stressed with an upcoming cross country move and a first child all happening within the same month? So uh, thanks brain, for bombarding me with cryptic clues to what is kind of glaringly obvious?

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At any rate, I finally decided to try a holistic approach to this wretched pregnancy insomnia. I found this recipe for Pregnancy Insomnia Herbal Tea in The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden. The basic ingredients you will need are: Lavender, Lemon Grass, Linden and Chamomile.

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Lavender

A recent clinical study investigated anxiolytic effects of lavender and its influence on sleep quality. It was found that lavender showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances. Lavender relaxes the nervous system and is known to greatly reduce stress via aromatherapy and ingestion in teas. Throughout history it has been used to treat headaches, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender when used in tea adds a floral, slightly sweet flavor and is extremely soothing and relaxing as a bedtime sleep aid.

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Lemon Grass

As a medicinal herb, it is often used to quell anxiety and to combat flus, common colds and nasal congestion. Lemon grass is commonly used in culinary dishes, in pharmaceutical preparations and in skincare products. It contains a high amount of Vitamin A, and is said to help with a clear complexion when ingested and used topically. Lemon grass has a subtle citrus flavor and is commonly used in teas, lending a bright element to herbal concoctions.

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Linden

Linden is most often used to medicinally to cure colds and coughs. The herbs helps to alleviate a stuffy nose and clear nasal passages, as well as break up mucus from the throat. Various studies have also shown that linden is helpful in reducing stress, having a calming effect and reducing anxiety. When linden is consumed in a tea, it acts as a diaphoretic, which helps to boost the body’s immune system and as a sedative, which helps to combat insomnia!

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Chamomile

Chamomile is a pretty, daisy-like herb, best known for its sleep-enhancing properties. Virtually any herbal concoction you find that has, “Insomnia Remedy” or “Sleep Aid” slapped on it, contains chamomile as a primary ingredient.  Because chamomile in large quantities can potentially cause uterine contractions, women are generally warned away from this herb during pregnancy. However, many things that are helpful and safe during pregnancy (such as sex and brisk walking) can cause harmless uterine contractions. The amount of chamomile you would consume in a cup of tea is not one that would pose a threat to your pregnancy, and the benefits that chamomile provides – such as its sedative qualities as a sleep aid – make this herb a good source for pregnancy holistic remedies that many doctors recommend.

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To make the tea, simply bring water to a boil, then take equal parts of the chamomile, linden, lemon grass and lavender. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Serve hot with honey and a lemon slice, if desired.

I am very smitten with the flavor of this tea. When I try to make tea mixtures from scratch they usually end up tasting like a muddled flavor clash that I have to choke down for whatever medicinal property I’m after. But this tea is delightful. I won’t say that it magically solved my insomnia problem. But it did lend a noticeable hand in making it less annoying and drawn out. I forced myself into bed around midnight and found myself asleep in an hour and half, instead of the two to three hours of every other night this week. I also slept much more soundly. I still had some pesky hair themed dreams, but they weren’t quite as vivid as the others. But overall, this tea did help enough that I’ll be making it part of my nightly routine.

I mixed up two little mason jar batches so I’ll have them on hand before bedtime for the rest of my pregnancy. Only 8 more weeks to go!

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Fresh Citrus and Strawberry Sangria Recipe

12 Jul

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I’m always aching for an excuse to make a sangria. Just saying, “Sangria” conjures up all kinds of classy outings – usually of a girly nature – in my minds eye. Bridal shower? Baby shower? Bachelorette party? Sangria!! It is just so visually alluring and appeals to my exhibitionist hostess side. So of course, when I found myself planning a last minute Girls Night to take my maternity photos and other pictures with the girls, I was chanting “Sangria and finger foods!!” till I’m sure my friends wanted to hurl fresh fruit at my head to shut me up.

Now, sangria is a concoction that originally hails from Spain and traditionally includes a dark wine chock full of chopped fruit. But when I make a sangria, I usually indulge in the American bastardizations of the recipe and use champagne. But being knocked up, loosely imbibing wine all night wasn’t an option for this outing. And substituting sparkling apple cider for champagne seemed to be just a cruel mockery of my usual. So after trolling the interwebs for some inspiration, I finally decided to just wing it and make up my own sangria concoction using a light fruit juice. Since I knew a lot of the girls would be interested in spiking my virgin sangria creation, I decided to opt for a nice light mixture that would serve as a fruity base for any wine additions.

I decided a citrus medley was a must, not just for the colorful presentation, but for it’s flavor. And with the Central Valley still in strawberry season full swing I decided: Fresh Citrus and Strawberry Sangria! I used white grape juice as my base and ginger ale as my fizz factor, and brought along a merlot juice box as the alcohol add on for the gals wanting something stronger.

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So! My on-the-fly Girls Night Fresh Citrus and Strawberry Sangria recipe breaks down like so:

3 oranges

4 lemons

5 limes

1 carton of strawberries

1 jug of white grape juice

2 liters of ginger ale

Pour the above mixtue into a half glass of merlot wine for a spiked drink

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The key to the sangria – and any sangria for that matter – is to thinly slice your fruits and citrus, and allow it to sit for at LEAST two hour, chilled, to allow the liquid to fully leech the flavor. Then scoop some of the fruity yum yums into your glass for a decadent drink! Easy peasy and it looks fantastic and festive!

This virgin sangria mixture paired well with a heavy merlot, but it would be equally tasty in a lighter wine – like a white zinfandel. The key is to mix and match, experiment and find a concoction to suit your tastes! Enjoy!

Swedish Sea Salt and Dill New Potatoes with Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce

22 Jun

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Yesterday was the Summer Solstice! The longest day of the year marks the beginning of Midsummer, and this day has been celebrated throughout Europe since pagan times. Midsummer is especially important in the cultures of Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltics where it is the most celebrated holiday apart from Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

So when I was invited to a potluck style Summer Solstice party hosted by Emily of Joyful Abode, I knew that I wanted to get all 7th century old school with the potluck dish. When it comes to historic Midsummer celebration fare, Swedish traditional foods consist of the year’s first fruits, new potatoes, soused and pickled herring, chives, sour cream, beer, vodka and shnapps. After trolling the interwebs for inspiration and simple dishes that would satisfy the living history geek as well as the average modern day potluck goer, I settled on the potatoes.

New Potatoes are a delicacy in Sweden, being essentially baby potatoes that never had a chance to grow up. And their premature picking and wasted potential tastes SO GOOD.

Because they can be harvested very early in a short season, they have come to represent the long-awaited summer after what is generally a cold and dark Scandinavian winter. Since the potato gets its flavor from the minerals in the soil, the young potatoes are much more flavorful than the adult varieties. Early picking results in a flavorful, delicate potato that is high in water content but extremely low in starch content and only has a very thin film for a skin.

Traditionally Midsummer New Potatoes are simply served boiled with dill and sea salt, with a dipping sauce on the side. So that’s what I decided to stick with: Swedish Sea Salt and Dill New Potatoes served with a Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce!

To Make This Simple Dish You Will Need:

2 pounds of New Potatoes

¼ cup of butter

Sea Salt, to taste

Dried Dill Weed, to taste

1 ½ cups of mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of capers

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

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1. Boil the potatoes.

Nothing special here. Simply bring some unsalted water to a rolling boil, and plop the potatoes in. Since New Potatoes are harvested at various stages of development, it really depends on the size of your potatoes as to how long they will need to boil. Usually they will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. When a fork sinks into a potato at a consistency that you’d like to eat it, that’s when it’s done!

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2. Melt the butter over the potatoes.

This dish is really as simple as they come, but the one thing I will say you need to be careful about is be sure to TOSS GENTLY! Since these babies have little to no skin, they are easy to crush, pierce and mangle if you don’t handle them with care. Thinly slice your butter and place it over the potatoes and allow it to melt, turning and tossing the potatoes GENTLY, until they are evenly covered and glistening with buttery goodness.

3. Sprinkle with sea salt and dried dill weed.

For the sea salt, I used some specialty freshly ground Grey Bretagna Sea Salt, a hand harvested Celtic salt obtained through natural evaporation. But any sea salt will do! Sprinkle the coarsely ground salt and the dried dill weed over the potatoes while turning and gently tossing them, until they are evenly coated. This part is all a matter of personal taste. I like flavors to punch me in the mouth and make me it’s woman, so I tend to be heavy handed when it comes to seasonings and herbs.

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4. Stir the capers and lemon juice into the mayonnaise till well mixed.

Nothing special here. Just get your mayonnaise into a bowl, plop in the capers and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice (I used lemons from the tree in my back yard!) and stir stir stir till it’s smooth and well combined. You can add more or less capers or juice to taste. This dip is a fantastic accompaniment to the bite sized New Potatoes, just dip and enjoy!

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Fresh Cherry and Cinnamon Infused Rum For Father’s Day

17 Jun

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Yesterday was my husband’s first Fathers Day as a daddy, and my father’s first Fathers Day as a grandpa! I am missing my husband so much. I have only cried twice since Jonathan has left for Navy Boot Camp, and both times I was standing in the greeting card aisle of Walmart reading sappy Fathers Day cards. (Just doing my part to fulfill every stereotype that I can over the remaining three months of pregnancy. Pregnant lady sobbing into a card in the Hallmark aisle of a supermarket? Check!)

Since my handsome husband is off serving his country and making me proud this Father’s Day weekend, I can only really focus on doing something special for my poppa this year. My dad is one of the coolest, craziest, most amazing men you will ever meet. Everyone who knows my dad loves him. One of the only gratingly annoying things about my father is that he doesn’t really WANT anything. And the things that he does want are so random and obscure that it makes gift giving a nightmare. His idea of a “gift” is just sharing a cup of coffee while he beats you at chess. Which is kind of lame for the aspiring gift-giver.

But over the years, I have discovered a couple of fall backs when it comes to making my dad happy with tangible gifts. And one of those is specialty boozes. For my dad’s birthday this last year I made him some homemade Spiced Whiskey, which he loved. But I wanted to try something a little different this weekend. I got to thinking – it’s cherry season, and my dad has been all over fresh cherries this month…

So why not make a Fresh Cherry and Cinnamon Infused Rum? This isn’t really a “recipe” so much as it’s a “throw things into a jar and then wait” tutorial. But for those who would like to give it a whirl –

You Will Need:

Mason Jars

Fresh Cherries

Cinnamon Stick

Rum of Your Choice

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1. Wash and prepare the cherries.

After washing the cherries you can score the surface of them, or cut little slits into the flesh of the cherries to speed up the infusion process – or you can just toss them in whole and intact. Both ways work, one just takes longer to flavor the rum. I decided to leave the stems on so it’ll be easier to fish the little buggers out when it comes to nom nom time.

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2. Fill the mason jar.

Toss a stick or two of cinnamon into the mason jar. Then fill the jar to the top with cherries. Pour the rum over the cherries and cinnamon until it reaches the brim.

3. Store your cherries, then play the waiting game.

Put the lid tightly back on the jar and let it sit (away from direct sunlight) for 7 days to a full month. You can keep them soaking for upwards of eight months, but who has the patience for that, really? Keep in mind, the longer you let it sit, the stronger the rum will become infused with the cherry flavor and cinnamon flavor.

You can periodically taste the rum to see when it’s acquired a flavor to your liking. It should have a fresh, clean and lightly spiced, woody taste from the cinnamon. As the rum will soak up the cinnamon flavor faster than the cherry, if you intend to keep the mixture brewing for more than two weeks you might consider pulling the stick out early.

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At the end of a week or two, you will have a homemade batch of Fresh Cherry and Cinnamon Infused Rum! And, of course, you can munch on booze-infused cherries when you’re ready to drink your new concoction. You can get creative and use your rum infused cherries in dessert recipes, jams or sauces, top them on ice cream sundaes – or just eat them straight from the jar like my dad will most likely be doing.

And that is pretty much it! Enjoy!