Chocolate and peppermint are a great combination for holiday treats and you can enjoy these two flavors in these Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes! When I saw this recipe over at BetterHomesandGardens.com, I just had to try it! I changed some of the ingredients in the recipe and prepared it slightly differently. One of the things I did was substitute butter for the shortening, and it worked out fine.Continue reading
This is the first Peppermint Bark recipe I ever made. Since I don’t often make candy, I needed to keep it as simple as possible, and this recipe is about as easy as you can get! I was really happy with how it turned out, and received good reviews from my friends who taste-tested it! This recipe uses an 11 x 7″ pan and makes about 1 pound of bark. If you want to make a larger batch, you can double the recipe and use a 9 x 13″ pan.Continue reading
I was wanting to bake something that I could use my extra candy canes in, so I modified a chocolate chip recipe of mine, using dark chocolate chips and adding in some crushed candy canes. I made these into cookie bars, so they’re really easy to make and bake! The dark chocolate and peppermint flavors combined with the cookie dough is a really yummy combination!Continue reading
There’s nothing like a relaxing soak in the tub with bath salts to make you feel revived and refreshed! The challenge is finding the time to do it! I decided a few months ago to start making time, at least once every few weeks, and it is something I really look forward to. It really feels wonderful to take time out and pamper yourself this way.
I thought it would be fun to make my own bath salts and came up with these Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts. They are very easy to make…you just need some Epsom Salt, Peppermint Essential Oil, and Tea Tree Essential Oil (you can find essential oils at your local health food store). I did not add any food coloring to the salts, but you can add a drop or two if you want–I prefer to just keep them the natural white. The peppermint scent is really refreshing, and the tea tree oil is good for your skin, so these two oils make a great combination!
I also discovered that soaking in Epsom Salt has health benefits because it’s rich in both magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions like muscle control, energy production, and the elimination of harmful toxins. Sulfate plays an important part in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins, and also helps detoxify the body of environmental toxins. So, soaking in an Epsom salt bath is an easy way to increase your body’s levels of magnesium and sulfate. No wonder it’s so refreshing! Your body and muscles will be relaxed, toxins will be flushed out, and the salts also help reduce the swelling of sprains.
Here’s how I make my bath salts…
PEPPERMINT TEA TREE BATH SALTS by NancyCreative
Makes enough for one bath (I multiply this recipe by 4 and keep it in a large jar)
- 2 cups Epsom Salt
- 5 to 7 drops Peppermint Essential Oil (depending on how strong of a scent you want)
- 3 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 1 gallon-size zip-loc freezer bag (I like using freezer bags because they’re thicker than regular storage bags)
Put Epsom Salt in zip-loc bag and add the drops of Peppermint and Tea Tree essential oils; mix oils into the Epsom Salt by squishing ingredients together in the closed bag for several minutes. You can use it right away or store salts in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. To use, add 2 cups of the bath salts under the running warm or hot water in your tub. To get the maximum benefit from this Epsom Salt bath, you should soak for at least 12 minutes. And you can do this 3 times weekly, if you have the time! 🙂
I like to make larger batches and keep it in a jar in my bathroom; that way I don’t have to make it so often. These bath salts make a great homemade gift, too–you can make a double batch and put it in a jar tied with a pretty ribbon.
Here are some other uses I found for Epsom Salt, if you’re interested in trying some of these out. The first one I try will probably be the skin cleanser. If you try any of these out, let me know!
- Skin Exfoliator–Add a drop of essential oil (or a Tablespoon of olive oil) to a handful of Epsom salt and massage over wet skin. Or just use the Epsom salt by itself. Rinse thoroughly. Makes your skin smooth and silky. Can be used on face as well as the whole body.
- Olive Oil Epsom Salt Scrub–Mix 1/2 cup Epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil; scrub skin in the shower and rinse thoroughly for soft, smooth skin.
- Skin Cleanser–Mix 1/2 teaspoon Epsom salt with your regular cleansing cream. Massage into skin and rinse with cold water.
- Bath Crystals–Mix 2 cups Epsom salt with a few drops of fragrance or 1/2 teaspoon glycerin. Store in airtight container until ready to use.
- Blackhead Remover–Add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt and 3 drops of iodine into 1/2 cup boiling water. Apply mixture to blackheads with a cotton ball.
- Hand Wash–Mix equal parts of Epsom salt and baby oil; put in a dispenser by your sink to clean and soften hands.
- Hair Volumizer–Combine equal parts deep conditioner and Epsom salt and warm in a pan. Work the warm mixture through your hair and leave on 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
- Remove Hairspray Buildup–Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup lemon juice, and 1 cup Epsom salt. cover mixture and let set for 24 hours. The next day, pour mixture onto dry hair; leave on for 20 minutes, then shampoo.
- Itchy Skin Remedy I–Mix 1 Tablespoon Epsom salt into 1/2 cup of water until completely dissolved. Spritz on itchy skin or bug bites with a spray bottle, or dab on with a cotton ball to help relieve itching. Or use as a compress on the skin area. Can also use on minor sunburns.
- Itchy Skin Remedy II–For mosquito bites, bee stings, mild sunburn and poison ivy, make compresses by soaking a cotton washcloth in cold water that has been mixed with Epsom salt (2 Tablespoons per cup). Then apply to skin.
- Foot Soak–Mix 1/2 cup to 1 cup Epsom salt in a large pan or plastic tub of warm water and soak feet for 10 to 20 minutes–soothes achy feet, softens skin, smooths calluses and removes foot odor.
- Epsom Salt Pedicure–Mix 1/2 cup of Epsom salt with warm, soapy water; soak feet to soften skin; remove polish, cut and file nails and calluses; then soak feet in an Epsom salt bath for 5 minutes (use another 1/2 cup of Epsom salt in a large pan of water).
- Toenail Fungus Treatment–Soak affected toes in hot water mixed with a handful of Epsom salt three times a day.
- Splinter Remover–soak area in concentrated Epsom salt water to draw out splinter. Or, add enough water to 1/8 cup of Epsom salt to form a paste. Apply mixture to injured area and let sit for 10 minutes. The magnesium sulfate in this paste works to gently pull the splinter to the surface so you can pull it out easily.
- Bathroom Tile/Grout Cleaner–Mix equal parts Epsom salt and liquid dish soap; apply on dirty tiles and grout; scrub and rinse well.
- Slug Remover–Sprinkle Epsom salt on areas where you have a slug problem–on floors, patios, or garden beds–the salts will help deter slugs. It’s supposed to help keep raccoons away, too, if you have a problem with them!
- Fertilizer for House Plants–Add 2 Tablespoons Epsom salt per gallon of water and stir to dissolve. Fill a spray bottle with mixture and use this to feed plants once a month.
- Keep Lawn Green–Use same mixture as above, 2 Tablespoons Epsom salt per gallon of water, and sprinkle on your lawn to keep grass healthy and green. Or another tip says you can use 3 pounds of Epsom salt for every 1,250 square feet. Apply with a spreader or dilute the Epsom salt in water and use a sprayer.
- Natural Insecticide–Mix 2 Tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water and spray onto your plants to safely and naturally get rid of insects like cabbage worms and spider mites. For roses, just use 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water to help discourage pests.
- Prep Garden Soil–Sprinkle up to 1 cup Epsom salt per 100 square feet, then work it into the soil before seeding or planting. This helps seeds to germinate better and helps mature plants transition when replanted. Note: If you’re growing the herb Sage, do not do this–sage does not like Epsom salt!
- For Tomato Plants–Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Epsom salt per hole before planting your tomato seeds or small plants. As plants mature, work in 1 Tablespoon per foot of plant height around the base of the tomato plant every 2 weeks.
- For Fruit– Mix Epsom salt with water at a ratio of about a quarter-cup of Epsom salt per 500 square feet when you irrigate your plants. Epsom salt supposedly reduces the amount of fertilizers you need and makes the fertilizers you use more effective in growing fruit.
- For Rose Bushes–Soak unplanted rose bushes in a mixture of 1/2 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water before planting to help roots get stronger. When planting, add 1 Tablespoon of Epsom Salt per hole before planting each rose bush. After planting, you can spray the bushes each month with the same liquid mixture (1/2 cup per gallon of water), or work into the soil at the base of each plant 1 Tablespoon of Epsom salt per foot (in height) of each plant. Another tip says to add 1 Tablespoon Epsom salt diluted in a gallon of water per foot of plant height every 2 weeks.
- For Trees–Work in 2 Tablespoons per 9 square feet into the soil over the root zone (or dilute in water and apply) three or four times a year, at the beginning of each season–this helps prepare the trees for the change in weather.
- For Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron)–Work in 1 Tablespoon per 9 square feet into the soil over the root zone every 2 to 4 weeks (or dilute the same amount of Epsom salt in water and apply).
The name Epsom comes from a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. It’s not actually salt, but a natural pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.
I think I’ll be using Epsom Salt a lot more now that I know about the benefits it has…have you used Epsom salt for any of your beauty, household, or garden needs? Do you have any tips of your own for how to use it?
Sources: Epsom Salt Council and several other sites linked to within the post.
Chocolate and peppermint is a great combination for the holidays! I was wanting to make a Christmasy kind of muffin, so I thought I’d experiment a little with chocolate and peppermint and I came up with this Chocolate Peppermint Muffin recipe. It’s very rich and chocolatey, with some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips added in for good measure! 😉 And it has a nice, mild peppermint flavor. Topped off with a peppermint glaze and crushed candy canes, this is more of a dessert muffin than a breakfast muffin…but if you want one for breakfast, go ahead…it’s Christmastime, after all! 🙂
CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT MUFFINS by NancyCreative
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (6-ounce ) container plain or vanilla yogurt (or about 2/3 cup)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s®)
- 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Peppermint Glaze (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; set aside.
In medium bowl, blend flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the yogurt, then add the vanilla and peppermint extracts, mixing well. Add the cocoa powder and blend everything well.
Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, half the amount at a time, until well blended. Fold in the mini chocolate chips and stir just until the chocolate chips are evenly distributed in batter.
Spoon mixture into the 12 muffin liners (the muffin batter is thick, so you won’t be able to pour it!). Bake at 350˚F for 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (your toothpick may not come out totally clean because of the mini chips being in there–you may want to poke your muffin in a couple of places). Let muffins cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When these are completely cooled, you can add the peppermint glaze…
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons half and half (or milk)
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 3 regular-size candy canes, crushed (about 1/4 cup)
In medium bowl, blend the powdered sugar with the milk or half and half, stirring until smooth. Add the peppermint extract and blend well. This will be a thicker, creamy glaze. Top each muffin with a spoonful of glaze, then add the crushed candy canes on top…as much or as little as you want.
There…don’t these look like Christmasy kind of muffins? It’s one of my new favorite flavors now…you just can’t go wrong with chocolate and peppermint!
Do you have a favorite holiday muffin recipe?