Friday, October 31, 2014

Phone Friday: Soup, Snow and Bars



First of all, let me apologize in advance for the number of Helen photos in this post. What can I say? She was pretty cute this week. 


Butternut Squash Soup
With the butternut squash I found at the Farmers' Market I decided to make a soup. Reuben didn't care for it, but Helen and I really enjoyed it. 

Here's what I did: Sliced the squash in half, scooped out the seeds and put it in a big roaster pan. Added an apple, half an onion and half a head of garlic. Spread ghee on the squash + garlic and spooned it over the apple + onion. Baked at 400. Added beef broth as need to keep things from getting too burned. Scraped out the squash and added everything to a blender with some more broth. Pureed until smooth. Added salt to taste. Served with cream drizzled on top.

If I did it again I would cook the squash by itself for a while before adding the other ingredients. I would also wrap the garlic in some parchment paper - it got a bit too done.



Oops...
One evening Helen decided to give herself a yogurt hair mask. Maybe it will help her hair to grow in. :P



Target Haul
I got stuck in the Target dollar section. It's a dangerous place, folks!



Enjoying her soup...
I LOVE making my own broth. It makes the best soups. I'll have to do a post about it sometime. 



The folks at Natural Balance Foods sent me some of their fruit and nut bars to review. So far my favorite flavor has been the gingerbread. I'll have to do a more in-depth review once I try out all the flavors.



Snowy Day
We had quite the snow day on Tuesday. Of course it didn't stick, but it won't be long before we have to don our snow boots before heading outside. It was 20 degrees this morning. Brrrr.


What's your favorite soup to make on a chilly day?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Make Mocha | His and Hers



How to Make Mocha
How to Make Mocha
How to Make Mocha
How to Make Mocha
How to Make Mocha
How to Make Mocha

I don't remember the first time I tasted a mocha. It was probably at a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee when I was 18 or so. In general I am nonplussed about most chain coffee drinks, but, if my memory serves me well, I believe that I quite enjoyed it. It wasn't extremely sweet like most specialty drinks. The flavors of the coffee and chocolate meld almost seamlessly.

I also can't remember the first time I made my own mocha, but I have made many since. Not gonna lie: it isn't the simplest coffee drink you'll ever make. But if you're already in love brewing your own lattes, the only extra steps are stirring in chocolate and adding whipped cream. If you're having a relaxed morning/afternoon, I highly suggest going to the extra effort to try this out.

I have included two ingredient lists: one that's milder and sweeter and one that's more intense. Reuben enjoys his coffee soft and sweet, I like mine with a bit of a bite. You can always experiment with the sweetener/milk levels until you get it just how you like it.


Notes:
  • This recipe is for an 8 ounce mug. You could use a larger one, but it won't be full.
  • You can use either cold or fresh espresso. If you decide to use cold, make sure that your milk is piping hot.
  • I like to use my little milk frother (I got mine at IKEA) to whip my cream. I can't be bothered with dragging out ANOTHER piece of equipment. 
  • This recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, but you could also use chocolate syrup for a smoother consistency. Make sure you leave out or cut down on the maple syrup if you do.
  • I actually don't use a recipe most of the time when I make a mocha: I make it up as I go. Think of this recipe as a starting place and customize to your liking!
  • My preferred coffee maker is the Aeropress. Of course if you're all set up with an espresso maker you can make your espresso and froth your milk using your machine. Lucky you. 






How to Make a Caffe Mocha
recipe by Erica Kastner
makes one 8-ounce serving

His:
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (I used cacao powder)
1/2 oz espresso, fresh or cold
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Hers:
3/4 cup half and half
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
4 teaspoons espresso, fresh or cold
2 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions:

1) Place your half and half in a small pan and heat until steamy. 

2) Meanwhile, place your cocoa powder in your favorite mug. Pour in half of the espresso. Stir until you have a fairly thick, very smooth mixture. This could take a bit of time. Stir in the remaining espresso, then the maple syrup and vanilla extract. 

3) Froth the hot milk using a handheld milk frother. Slowly pour the frothed milk into your mug. Whip your cream in a small bowl or cup with the milk frother until it's softly whipped. Spoon over your mocha. Enjoy!




How to Make Mocha

Friday, October 24, 2014

Phone Friday: Various Food Adventures



Hey everyone! Hope you've had an awesome week. I'll admit that this week seemed to drag a bit. Hooray for Friday!

Here are some awesome things I've made/purchased recently:


Green Smoothie
My first actually green smoothie. I cooked my greens (kale) first, as advised by Carrie from Deliciously Organic. This was delicious and refreshing. 

Here's what I used: frozen peaches, kale, milk, cream, maple syrup and grass-fed gelatin. To my surprise, the kale seemed to complement the flavor of the peaches.



Crispy egg (method via @debperelman ) over kimchi rice for lunch. #smittenkitchen
Crispy eggs are delicious and fun to eat. I used the method outlined by Deb from Smitten Kitchen



New Tea Kettle
I bought a new tea kettle! It's adorable (from Japan) and makes pouring water into my Aeropress so much easier.



Homemade Ghee
Homemade ghee is so so easy. I made it one morning before Reuben went to work. I used Heidi Swanson's method.



Farmers Market/Healthfood Store Haul
Earlier this week I went to our local health food store and the farmers' (is that the proper way to spell it?) market. We got all this for less than $45.



I tried cinnamon in my cocoa for the first time the other day! It was good, but I think I need to put more in next time. #latergram #cocoa
I finally broke down and tried cinnamon in my cocoa. It adds a lovely depth of flavor. Next time I need to use more...



Avocado Hummus
Avocado hummus. It's yummy. Helen gobbled down several spoonfuls.



Doughnuts
I made doughnuts, guys! For breakfast, even. I had some leftover bread dough from making fry bread tacos last night. We couldn't think of anything else to make for breakfast, so I fried up the dough, dipped it in butter, and rolled it in powdered and cinnamon sugar. I'm not a doughnut girl, but these were delicious. 
Just so you know, we had eggs as well - it wasn't an all-carb breakfast. ;)

xoxo
Erica

How was your week?




Note: some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Grandma’s Cooking School: Apple Strudel




This was originally posted on September 9, 2010 on Cooking for Seven. Because these lessons were such an important part of my life, I will be re-posting them here.
{Grandma’s Cooking School is my chronicles of the informal cooking lessons that my Grandma graciously decided to give us girls. Enjoy!}


Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel. A thing of beauty. Sweet apples encased in a thin, flaky dough. Delicious.

Apple Strudel
We began our lesson by reading through the recipe and preparing the apples.

Apple Strudel
Next, we mixed together two kinds of dough: a quick version and a more traditional version made with yeast. Meanwhile we cooked the apple filling.

Apple Strudel
Time to roll out the dough! It must be so thin you can see writing through it.

Apple Strudel
Then we brushed it with butter, spread it with the apple filling, and rolled it up!

Apple Strudel
Baked.

Apple Strudel
Enjoyed by Dad.

Apple Strudel
Jealous yet?
I can’t believe I have come to the final lesson Grandma has shared with us. Hopefully she will continue our classes this Fall/Winter when things quiet down and we settle in for a long Minnesota winter.
Here are all of our lessons so far.

Part 1: Banana Cream Pie
Part 2: Chocolate Crepes
Part 3: Roast Beef Dinner

Part 4: Poppy Seed Torte
Part 5: Homemade Bread and Sweet Rolls




Friday, October 17, 2014

Phone Friday: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice


Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | Buttered Side Up

Ever since I discovered that you can mix your own spices I have shied away from the pre-mixed store-bought varieties. I'm sure there are some lovely blends out there, but there's just something nice about knowing exactly what and how much of everything goes into your seasonings. 

Plus, if you prefer to use organic spices, it can be a more affordable option. I like to buy my spices a little at a time from the bulk bins at our local health food store. That way I don't keep an entire bottle of cloves in my drawer for a few years until it goes stale. 

Note: If you don't like a particular spice used in the recipe, feel free to leave it out! Also, if you're out of a spice (with the exception of the cinnamon), it's not going to be the END of the world if it isn't put in. 


Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice, optional (I didn't have any on hand so I left it out)

Directions:

Mix everything together and store in an air-tight container. Use as you would store-bought pumpkin pie spice.




Looking for some pumpkin recipes?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Pudding


Pumpkin Pie Pudding
Pumpkin Pie Pudding
Pumpkin Pie Pudding

As I've said before, pumpkin is my favorite of all the pies. However, there are few days besides Thanksgiving and Pi Day that I feel inclined to attempt an acceptable pie crust. If only I could find a way (besides using shortening: the horror!) to make a good pie crust without tears, blood and sweat. 

Thankfully there's this delicious little thing called Pumpkin Pie Pudding. It's hardly more trouble than regular homemade pudding (which is stupid easy), and has the lovely, spicy flavors of a pie.

I was a bit apprehensive about the outcome of this pudding. I've made some pumpkin flavored recipes that didn't exactly please (I don't know if I can ever bring myself to make a pumpkin smoothie again). But to my relief, this was scrumptious. Helen loved it, and so did Reuben. 

Is is every bit as good as pumpkin pie? No, but it's so much easier (and just about foolproof). Make sure to serve with a big dollop of whipped cream.



Pumpkin Pie Pudding Recipe
Adapted from Health.com
Makes about 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch, preferably organic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

Directions:

1) In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the eggs. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.

2) Temper the whisked eggs by slowly whisking in about half of the hot milk mixture. Pour into saucepan and return to heat. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

3) Remove from heat and whisk in the pumpkin, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Pour into a heat-proof storage container (I used a large glass bowl). 

4) Let cool a bit then press plastic wrap onto the surface to keep the pudding from developing a skin. Let cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator. Serve with plenty of whipped cream and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.





Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Note: Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. I would never share something with you guys if I didn't care for it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey y'all! Two posts in one week, what what!

I'm thinking about starting a series called "Phone Friday" where I share a quick recipe with photos provided by my iPhone. What do you guys think? Do you like the idea of a Casual Friday post?

Often times I'll make something that's utterly delicious, but I simply don't have the time to drag out my camera, pose the food perfectly and edit the photos. In other words, there's some awesome recipes I wish I could share with you guys but never get the chance.

Let me know in the comments if I should do more of these!

But about these cookies. My gripe against cookies is that they're often overly sweet. However, if you cut back on the sugar too much you mess with the texture. Adding a sprinkling of coarse salt on top is a wonderful solution. It balances out the sweetness of the cookies nicely. The added crunch is quite pleasant as well.


Notes:
  • These cookies are pretty soft and crumbly. Please to not over bake unless you like your cookies on the firmer side.
  • In addition to the salt the sucanat and demerara provide a bit of crunch as well.
  • I did, of course, cut back on the sugar a bit. If you like your cookies pretty sweet you can go ahead and add 3/4 cup each of the sugars.




Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted slightly from Baking Chic

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • scant 2/3 cup sucanat
  • scant 2/3 cup demerara 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chip
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and mix for a few minutes. Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla.

3) Dump your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the mixer. Mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4) Form the dough into flattened balls with your hands. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven until the bottoms are just browned, 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt while still warm. Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks. 

Store in an airtight container for a few days.



Note: Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. I would never share something with you guys if I didn't care for it.

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