Holidays · New Favorite

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

Peppermint Mocha is my favorite coffee drink of the year but I rarely order it at Starbucks because it’s loaded with empty calories.  After several years of using COFFEE-MATE Peppermint Mocha Sugar Free Coffee Creamer, I decided to try making my own Peppermint Mocha with the help of the internet.  This was a great recipe that I’ll make again and again!

The second recipe is for a Pepper Mocha Creamer which is also good, but the first recipe is my favorite.  For the creamer, I added a packet of Stevia to my coffee before using the creamer.  The creamer is a little strong for my taste, but still good!

SKINNY PEPPERMINT MOCHA

2/3 cup black coffee brewed, medium roast or coffee of choice
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet stevia or sweetener of choice (I used 2 packets)
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

Toppings (optional)

Reddiwhip use coconut for dairy free
Cacao bites or sprinkles

  • Brew coffee, I used leftover coffee that I stored overnight in the refrigerator and warmed in the microwave.
  • In a small pot, combine milk, cocoa, stevia and peppermint extract.
  • Bring to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until cocoa powder dissolves and liquid becomes bubbly.
  • Pour into a large coffee cup with the coffee then use a handheld foamer to blend until it becomes frothy and foamy. Add additional toppings as desired and enjoy.
  • OR I heated all ingredients together and then poured in a coffee mug and topped with Coconut Reddiwhip.  YUMMY!

Recipe slightly adapted from Skinnyfitalicious

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4 tsp chocolate extract
  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until the ingredients are fully combined.
  • Transfer to a glass container and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks to add to brewed coffee or baked goods.

Recipe from Skinnyfitalicious

Holidays · New Favorite

Fireside Coffee Mix

Curling up by the fire with a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate is one of the things I look forward to as we approach the holidays and cold, snowy weather.

Last year, my daughter, Megan, introduced me to Fireside Coffee and I was a big fan. I kept a container ready all of last winter and will do the same this year.  I made my Fireside Coffee with decafinated coffee so I could enjoy it day or evening.

What a wonderful gift this would be for neighbors and friends.

FIRESIDE COFFEE MIX

2 cups powdered cocoa mix (15 packets of Swiss Miss individual servings)
2 cups powdered coffee creamer
1 cup instant coffee (I used decaffinated)
1.5 cups sugar (I used 1.5 tablespoons of Stevia instead)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Mix ingredients well.  Store in tins, jars, or plastic bags.
  • Mix 2 heaping tablespoons mix with 2/3 cup very hot water.  Stir and enjoy!
New Favorite

Fresh Pear Bread

Pears, pears, pears!  I’ve overrun with pears thanks to my CSA shares this fall. They have been absolutely delicious but more than I can eat.

This recipe was simple and resulted in a moist, delicious bread great for a breakfast treat with a cup of hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate.  Due to family tastes, I omitted the nuts, but it would be delicious with walnuts or pecans!

Fresh Pear Bread
Fresh Pear Bread

FRESH PEAR BREAD

3 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups finely chopped peeled ripe pears (about 4 medium)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; stir into the egg mixture just until moistened. Toss pears with lemon juice. Stir pears and walnuts into batter (batter will be thick).
  • Spoon into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves.

Recipe from Taste of Home

New Favorite

Cherry Crumble Coffee Cake

Sour cherries in coffee cake sounded perfect given the wonderful frozen pie cherries in my freezer.  I did not have a recipe for a cherry coffee cake but was delighted to find this recipe.  Perfect for a Sunday brunch and perhaps leftover for breakfast during the week.

 

CHERRY CRUMBLE COFFEE CAKE

TOPPING

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CAKE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups (1 pound) fresh sour cherries, pitted, or frozen dark sweet cherries
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish, and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  • Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Make the cakes: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with a spatula.
  • Dot top with cherries, and sprinkle with crumb topping.
  • Bake until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. (Note from Cathy:  My oven tends to bake hot so about 50 minutes worked for me). Let cool before serving.

 

Recipe from Martha Stewart

New Favorite

Cheesy Sausage Grits…MMMM, MMMM, Good!

Grits and Cathy did not have the opportunity to meet until about 8 years ago when I tasted a Grits Breakfast dish at a party. They actually tasted good and weren’t just a mushy, bland bowl of nothing like I expected.  Of course, what doesn’t taste good when mixed with cheese and sausage?

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of grits at Sprouts before I found a recipe for this yummy dish for my annual Mother’s Coffee/Tea. Every recipe I came across called for ‘instant grits’ not just plain old grits.  After much searching, I found this recipe. As one Southern friend told me, instant grits aren’t as good so don’t even bother!

Grits are now like a dear, old friend (at least when cheese is involved). I plan to make this again, without the sausage, as a side dish for BBQ.  MMMM, MMMM, good!

CHEESY SAUSAGE GRITS

1 cup grits (uncooked)
1 lb. breakfast sausage (bulk, if you need to use links, finely dice the cooked links)
1 cup onion (diced)
9 oz. green chiles (drained and chopped)
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
10 drops Tabasco
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Cook the grits in 4 cups of salted water until done (follow package directions). (I whisked the grits into boiled water and it only took me about 5-10 minutes to cook the grits)
  • Saute the sausage and onions, breaking the sausage into small pieces.
  • Drain the grease from the sausage and onions.
  • Add the chilies, butter, eggs, cheese and Tabasco to the cooked grits.
  • Combine the sausage and onions with the grits mixture.
  • Pour everything into a 9″x 13″ casserole and garnish with the paprika and parsley.
  • The mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days before baking (bring to room temperature before baking to use the same bake time).
  • Bake at 325°F for one (1) hour.
  • (The recipe states that this freezes well but I didn’t have any left to freeze!)

http://www.food.com/recipe/sausage-and-grits-casserole-92343

Family · Family Favorites

Banana Bread with Banana Jam…double the flavor!

Banana Bread is an old time favorite that my Mother and the women before her made for their families. I like it plain, with a little butter, but always shared with family and friends.

This time I decided to try it with the Banana Jam we drooled over in Nicaragua and I wasn’t disappointed.  This combination is great for breakfast, coffee, or dessert. Just say BANANA!

BANANA BREAD

2 cups sifted all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon flour

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together 2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  • Cream together shortening and sugar.
  • Blend in eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  • Add dry ingredients alternately with bananas, mixing just until blended.
  • Combine pecans and 1 tsp. flour; stir into batter. Pour into greased 9″ tube pan.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on rack.

Yield: 1 loaf

New Favorite

Blackberry Peach Coffee Cake

Fresh fruit…pies, cakes, coffee cakes or naked is my favorite dessert or breakfast treat.  This recipe, from Southern Living, caught my eye and with more beautiful peaches and a box of fresh blackberries, I had to try it.

My oven bakes a little hot, so the bottom is quite brown but still delicious.  This recipe will stay in my recipe box and perhaps a straight peach coffee cake will be in the plan for next summer!

BLACKBERRY PEACH COFFEE CAKE

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat just until blended.

Cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches (about 2 large peaches, 7 oz. each)
1 cup fresh blackberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare Streusel Topping.
  • Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan (I used a small oblong pyrex baking dish).
  • Top with sliced peaches and blackberries. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of Streusel Topping, and drop over fruit.

 

  • Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until center of cake is set. (A wooden pick inserted in center will not come out clean.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish, if desired.

  • Peach Coffee Cake: Omit blackberries. Increase peaches to 3 cups sliced (about 3 large peaches, 7 oz. each). Proceed with recipe as directed.
New Favorite · Nicaragua

Iced Vanilla Latte, please

Remember when we used to have a plain cup of coffee brewed in our Mr. Coffee machine or percolator?  Coffee was typically Folgers, always hot, and if it cooled, you nuked it in the microwave. God forbid, I would EVER drink iced coffee, or so I thought.

I clearly remember when my perception of coffee changed…twice.  In the 1980-1990s I traveled on business to Seattle quite frequently and small, gourmet coffee shops and trucks were everywhere.  Seattle was the hot-bed of gourmet coffee yet to hit my home in the Mile-High City.  (Thinking back…why didn’t I invest in Starbucks?)

Ordering a coffee was far beyond the typical ‘I’ll have a cup of coffee, black to go’. Now there were terms like tall, grande, venti, Americano, espresso, skinny, Macciato, half-caf, blends, etc., etc., etc..  It was an anxious moment when I tried to figure out what to order without embarrassing myself. I can still imagine the people in line behind me rolling their eyes at this out-of-state novice.  Despite my initial fumbling, I started experimenting with difference blends, flavors, iced coffees and loved it!

My second perception occurred when I traveled to Finca Esperanza Verde, a coffee plantation in Nicaragua, in 2012.  My ‘cup of Joe’ would never be the same as documented in my 6/12/12 Fork-Lore post. My daily iced latte is simple:  One packet of Starbuck’s Via, a packet of Stevia with 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Stir.  Add cold water to the cup, stir.  Pour contents over a large glass full of ice.  Top with about 1/4 cup of Almond Milk and stir again.  Add a splash of vanilla or cinnamon to taste. My easy version of an Iced Latte!

Starback Via Vanilla Latte

When my daughter and fellow blogger, Megan, asked me to join her to make Iced Vanilla Latte I jumped at the chance to 1) spend time with my daughter and 2) make (and drink!) my favorite summer morning picker-upper.  Our recipe follows and I’ve enjoyed our creation for the past two days. Megan’s blog, Lifeloveandgarlic, also features the Iced Vanilla Latte AND includes a Seattle’s Best give-away.  Check it out!

EASY PEASY ICED VANILLA LATTE

2 tbsp. vanilla simple syrup (see recipe below)
1/3 cup whole milk coffee ice cubes (see directions below)
Seattle’s Best Level 4, Medium-Roast Coffee brewed (we used 3.5 scoops for a pot)

  • Fill your cup (or fancy tumbler) with coffee ice cubes.
  • Pour simple syrup and whole milk into the bottom of the cup
  • Fill the rest of the cup with your coffee of choice. Stir!
  • Voila! Enjoy a delicious, easy and perfect drink for summer mornings. *This is the simple syrup, which actually looks like coffee. The brown sugar + vanilla give it the darker hue. 

Vanilla Simple Syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of cinnamon
4 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • Put both sugars, water and pinch of cinnamon in a pot over medium heat. Bring to boil.
  • Pull the pot off the stove and pour the vanilla into the syrup. Allow to cool. You’re done!
  • Note: Don’t be alarmed that your syrup is quite dark in hue (almost coffee colored). The brown sugar/vanilla have that effect – it’s perfectly normal.

Coffee Ice Cubes

  • Take your left over coffee and pour it in your ice cube tray and freeze! They’re perfect for cooling down your coffee without watering it down!

 

Holidays · New Favorite

Cranberry Coffee Cake for brunch, lunch, anytime!

Cranberry Coffee Cake is a new recipe that my sister-in-law, Donna, shared with me several weeks ago.  The Mother’s Day weekend coffee/tea was a great time to try it. The cake is so moist and the extra treat of cranberry is so good.  I chose to go without nuts this time but the glaze was a wonderful touch.

This coffee cake is wonderful anytime of year but could be a wonderful addition to your holiday go-to-recipes.

CRANBERRY COFFEE CAKE

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 can (16 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

GLAZE:

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 teaspoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs; mix well.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.  Add extract.
  • Spoon a third of the batter into a tube or bundt pan.  Top with a third of the cranberry sauce.
  • Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with walnuts (optional).
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted hear the center comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool and transfer to serving plate.
  • Optional:  Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over cake.

Family · Holidays

Mother’s Day 2013…Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Friend

Mother’s Day 2013 will be a weekend of celebration starting with my annual Mother’s Day Coffee/Tea on Saturday.  There will be much laughter, hugging, catching up and, of course, delicious treats.  This year our friend Barbara has designed T-shirts to celebrate our annual event.

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Sunday, our family will share a meal celebrating daughter Sarah as a Mother and now adding Grandma to my title.   We are blessed.

As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I think about my Mother who passed away in 2001.  I miss her every day.  How many times have I wished that I could pick up the phone and talk to her!

Our journey as Daughters and then Mothers (and now Grandmothers) takes many twists and turns.  I recently read this poem which reminds me of my Mother being there to support me and my own journey as a Mother.  And the journey continues with my daughters.

Love you, Mom.  Love you girls!

IMG_3571
Baby Evan with Grandma, Mommie and Aunt Megan

A Mother…

When you’re a child she walks before you,
To set an example.
When you’re a teenager she walks behind you
To be there should you need her.
When you’re an adult she walks beside you
So that as two friends you can enjoy life together..
Author Unknown