Tag-Archive for ◊ coffee ◊

11 Feb 2013 Crunchy Oat Clusters / Granola Bars

oat clusters

Sometimes, I don’t want to cook in the morning.  Sometimes I don’t even want to make toast.  I just want a lovely latte (I am always willing to make a latte) and  something on the side, while I casually drink my coffee and read the newspaper in my recliner. Sometimes that “something on the side” is a graham cracker, sometimes a cookie, sometimes  it’s something even more sinful. For a couple of years now, I’ve been thinking I should figure out a breakfast that works with my morning routine. You are probably thinking, fruit, eat fruit! No. Apples and oranges, pears and bananas do NOT go with coffee.  Dried fruit does, but that causes me to…ummm…make rude noises on a frequent basis, so dried fruit is out, too.  Last year I made a lot of granola.  I like granola.  I made some good ones, but eating granola  while balancing coffee and a newspaper is  inconvenient and messy.  I couldn’t get my granola to clump, and I needed clumps, big clumps, clumps like the size of a graham cracker.  Paring it down even more: I. want. crunchy. oat. clumps.  Now there’s a challenge!  Try running “Crunchy Oat Clumps” through a search engine and see what you get.  Not encouraging.

So! I have figured it out myself!  It took a couple of tries, and I pared down a lot of recipes, to get just want I wanted. And, tada! I have them now! Sweet, crunchy oat clumps, sort of like a Nature’s Valley Granola Bar.  My oats are tossed with a bit of butter, a bit of oil, some honey and some corn syrup, all necessary to get the large, crisp clumps and I added in some vanilla and a bit of cinnamon, too, so these oat clumps taste GOOD! They have none of those nasty additives, no preservatives and none of the excessive packaging that processed granola bars have. Score!

Crunchy Oat Clusters

  • 4 cups Old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil (or coconut oil, or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Stir to combine.
  2. In a small sauce pan combine honey, corn syrup, butter and oil.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. While sauce is simmering, line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and pour over the oat mixture.
  5. Pour oat mixture onto a parchment lined baking pan.
  6. With spatula or offset knife, spread oat mixture to an even thickness, and press down slightly.
  7. Place tray into preheated 300° oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Open and turn off oven.  Let oats stay in oven for another hour or so, or until oats and oven are cool.
  9. Remove oats from oven and when completely cool break into pieces.
  10. Store in an airtight container.
  11. Eat whenever.  My son snacks on them after swim practice.  I like them in the morning, with a latte while I read the newspaper, in my recliner 🙂

In am sure these Crunchy Oat Clusters can be gussied up a bit.  You could add some coconut, chopped nuts, dried fruit…, make them yours!  You could probably also substitute real maple syrup for the honey, if you wanted.  You have to keep the corn syrup though (don’t worry too much, the corn syrup you buy at the store is not high fructose corn syrup). As for me, I like them just like this.  Simple, slightly sweet, very crunchy, and full of those good-for-you breakfast oats.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today and have a wonderful morning!

11 Feb 2013 Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steak

cowboy steak bite on fork 2

Last weekend I had a Wild West themed party at my house.  I suggested to my friends that they come dressed as cowgirls, and they did!  They moseyed on over to the Bar –the Trail Mix Bar– to fill their saddlebags with snacks and quenched their thirst at the watering hole.  I wanted the dinner to be Wild West themed, too, and steak immediately jumped to mind as the perfect main dish (I was later to find out that cowboys rarely ate steak, oops!).  Nevertheless, before steak enlightenment,  I set out to find out how to cook steak for twelve, quickly, accurately and indoors in February!  It was easier than I ever imagined, and more successful, too. After steak enlightenment, I was so excited about this easy, easy way to cook delicious steak that I decided to put it on my Wild West menu anyway.  I also served BBQ drumsticks, onion rings, cornbread with a delicious maple-orange butter, and roasted veggies.  OK, so the menu wasn’t exactly authentic, but it did have a Wild West feel to it 🙂 Also, in preparation for this Wild West dinner, I made place mats out of old blue jeans and bought red bandannas to use as napkins!

Now, for the steak.  Buy some really thick steaks.  I used rib-eyes, but any kind is fine as long as the steaks are thick…, over one-inch thick!  When you get the steaks home, dry age them.  This is a crucial step so buy the steaks early in the week.  Take the plastic wrap off the steaks, place them on a rack, and set them in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to five days.  That’s right, put the steaks on a (baking) rack (with a tray underneath) in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few days.  THIS, my friend, is the first half of the equation of a delicious steak.  The second half of the equation is the cooking method in the recipe below. This recipe includes the Cowboy Steak rub I used on my steaks, but you can use any favorite rub, it’s the dry-aging process and cooking process that are important.

For most cowboys,  even for the heartiest meat lovers, one-half of a thick rib steak is probably a good serving size.  I served my cowgirls one-third of a steak each. So with that in mind, your 4 thick steaks, with side dishes, will serve 4 football players, 8 men/boys, or 12 lightweights/small women/teenage girls.

Gunpowder Polly’s Wild West Cowboy Steaks  

(cooked in a modern indoor kitchen)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika (regular or smoked paprika can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can substitute onion powder, if you don’t have garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon favorite dried herb, many people like thyme, I prefer basil, some like oregano…put in what you like
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked ancho chili powder (or any other chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • 4 thick bone-in rib eye steaks ( 1 ¼” to 1 ½ thick; each steak weighing 12 to 16 ounces)
  1. Buy your steaks and dry age them in the refrigerator for up to five days.  Remove the steaks from the package.  Place them on a rack.  Place a tray under the rack to catch any possible drips.  Place the steaks, rack and tray in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to 5 days.
  2. One or two hours before you want to start cooking, remove steaks from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  3. Mix  all rub ingredients –salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, dried green herb, cumin, chili powder, and ground coffee– in small bowl. Sprinkle approx ½ teaspoon of rub mixture over each side of the steaks, press and rub mixture into meat. Let steaks stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  5. Get out an oven safe frying pan large enough to fit all steaks (or use two frying pans), put 1T-3T olive oil in the bottom of the frying pan/s and heat (on the stove) until the oil is smoking (but don’t let the oil burn) and the pan is very, very hot.
  6. Keep heat under the pan on high, or medium high if there appears to be imminent danger of fire, and add the steaks to the hot pan.  Do not touch the steaks for the next five minutes.  Let steak cook on high for exactly five minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off.  Quickly turn the steaks over.  Place the still hot pan–with the steaks still in it–into a hot oven. Close the oven door and set the timer for five minutes.
  8. Remove the steaks and pan from the hot oven. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board, cover lightly with foil, and let sit for ten minutes before cutting or serving.
  9. Serve!  You’ll be amazed at how easy it was to cook the perfect medium rare steak.  Your guests will love, love, love the texture and  taste of the steak.  Look at THIS!

My daughter made these delightful cookies for dessert, so fun and tasty! Check her out at Party Girl Cookies or on Facebook 🙂

Here are a few more pictures from my Wild West party, yeeeeHAW!

Thanks for stopping by my Wild West kitchen today!  I hope this recipe becomes a staple in your kitchen, it definitely has in mine 🙂

15 Oct 2011 Pumpkin Spice Coffee

It took two years, but FINALLY, I have a Pumpkin Spice Coffee recipe that is delicious and…, wait for it…, better (yes, BETTER!) than Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte!  I don’t make this assertion casually.  I had taste tests.  With friends.  Eleven taste testers.  This Pumpkin  Spice Coffee won over Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  The coffee was made with an easy, homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup. I found the recipe at Budding Baketress (after been tipped off by Foodgawker)!  Thank you, thank you! I made no ingredient changes, I just refined the method.

Now about the taste tests.  We tested a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, a Latte with Torani Pumpkin Spice syrup, a Latte with this Pumpkin Spice syrup, and coffee with this Pumpkin Spice syrup.  The hands down winner? The COFFEE with this homemade syrup!  The COFFEE!  The Torani syrup Pumpkin Spice Latte was set aside immediately.  Yuck. There is something in that syrup that was just NOT good.  I poured the bottle down the drain.  I wasn’t go to try it in anything else, and I wasn’t going to pass it on to anyone.  I was hoping we would find something close to the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (because I love, love– correction–loved, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, but after the taste test…the Starbucks version was set aside, TOO!  BTW, have you ever looked at the Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Taken the top off,  eaten the whipped cream and looked? There is some nasty orange slime floating on top of the latte which is not at all appetizing….but even if there were no slime, homemade Pumpkin Spice syrup would win anyway.  YES, it’s true, bye-bye Starbucks!

Next in our taste testing,  we tried this homemade syrup in a latte, and then in coffee.  The coffee won!  We liked the stronger coffee flavor to compliment the complex pumpkiny-spicy deliciousness.  What a HUGE surprise!

Here is the recipe for the Pumpkin Spice Syrup, and the recipe for a batch of Pumpkin Spice Coffee which can be made to serve at parties, meetings or family get-togethers this fall,.  Of course, the syrup can also be used on a one cup of coffee at a time basis.  I have included directions for all three below.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Coffee

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine pumpkin puree with vanilla and spices.  Stir well to combine.  Add in water, stir well.
  2. Bring pumpkin mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat. Cool. Then refrigerate until needed.

To make a batch of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

  • 1 cups of syrup
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 cups of very strong, hot, coffee
  • whipped cream, optional
  • sprinkles or ground nutmeg, optional
  1. While the coffee is brewing, heat milk with syrup.
  2. Blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender, or with a whisk).  Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.  Re-heat and re-blend then continue as directed below.
  3. Stir hot coffee into milk-pumpkin syrup mixture.  (I usually blend a bit more at this point, but it’s probably not necessary).
  4. Pour into cups.  Top with whipped cream, and maybe some sprinkles or ground nutmeg, if desired.  MMMMMMm (You can set a small pitcher of extra syrup out in case some people like a stronger/sweeter Pumpkin Spice Coffee).
  5. Makes approx. 6 servings.

To make one cup of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

This is up to you! Start with a cup of strong, hot coffee.  Stir in 1-2 T. pumpkin syrup, to taste.  Add hot milk, or 1/2 and 1/2 or whipping cream…what appeals to you?  Stir well.  If desired, top with some whipped cream and some ground nutmeg or sprinkles. Remaining Pumpkin Spice Syrup can be stored in the refrigerator.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, and not by Starbucks!  You’ll find it cheaper to make your Pumpkin Spiced Coffees at home. And you might be surprised by how much better they taste, too! I was, and I am a loyal,  long time Starbucks aficionado.

10 Oct 2011 Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

I am not a big fan of the food section of my local paper.  In fact, I am not a  fan at all.  I read it every Wednesday just to see which recipe will cause me to roll my eyes the most.  Sometimes I even post LOL comments on my Facebook page.  It’s THAT bad.  Occasionally, there are recipes that don’t cause me to roll my eyes. They cause me to fall asleep. LOL. Just kidding! NOT!  Sometimes there are recipes I think aren’t too bad, but rarely am I inspired to try one.  Then, last Wednesday there was a recipe that hit me over the head and hollered, “Try me, try me”.  The recipe was  “Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies”, and I did roll my eyes before I tried it.   Not because the recipe was bad, it was really very good (as  you have probably guessed based on the picture above).  I rolled my eyes because  the  name of  the brownie was wrong.  I’ve had cream cheese brownies, bars, breads, muffins.  The cream cheese is mixed with a bit of sugar and perhaps an egg, then layered in with the batter. When baked, you get a nice layer of cream cheese. This is  NOT a cream cheese brownie.  It’s a cheesecake brownie.  There’s a world of difference.  A world of yummy difference.

I baked the brownies, as directed, in a 9×9 pan.  I won’t do that again.  The brownies were too tall. They were so tall they were hard to get into my mouth!  And, I had to bake the brownies 15 minutes more than the recipe suggested to get the cheesecake layer to set.  Now I think they the size if the baking pan was wrong in the recipe (or maybe I just know better!). Next time I will bake these Mocha CheeseCAKE Brownies  in a 9×13 pan and then the suggested baking time will probably be spot on.

About one third of my pan of brownies is in the freezer right now.  I think they will freeze very well.  Brownies freeze well.  Cheesecake freezes well.  Why not Cheesecake Brownies?  If they don’t freeze well, I will update this post…but I am pretty sure that won’t be necessary.

This recipe was published in the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, October 5 as “Mocha-Cream Cheese Brownies” and attributed to Emly Luchetti, “The Fearless Baker”.

Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie Layer

  • 9 oz. dark chocolate (58-62% cacao)
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • large pinch Kosher salt

Cheesecake Layer

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a pan, your choice, a 9 inch square pan (as the original recipe originally specified), or as I suggest, a 9×13 oblong pan.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate and the cubed butter into a microwaveable bowl.  Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave.  (I did this on 50% power for three minutes, stirring after every minute.)  Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.  (You can get the rest of the ingredients for the brownie layer ready to go and also make the cheesecake layer while waiting for the chocolate mixture to cool) (Skip step #4  and come back to it when the chocolate has cooled.)
  4. Whisk 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs together until smooth.  Stir in the melted and cooled chocolate. Add in the flour and the salt and mix until well blended.
  5. Mix the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth. Blend in the two eggs, and then the instant coffee and the vanilla.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the cheesecake layer on top of the brownie layer. Swirl the cheesecake layer and the brownie layer together (use a spoon or a knife–don’t over swirl)
  7. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I had to bake mine–in a 9×9 pan for an additional 15 minutes)
  8. Cool to room temperature.  Cut into bars. Serve.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Have fun with these brownies.  They are deeelicious!

15 Jan 2011 Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie! You’ve heard of it, right? Toffee, bananas and coffee flavored cream in a pastry crust? There is more to British desserts than Trifle, Spotted Dick, and Sticky Toffee Pudding, you know!

This pie took the British Isles by storm in 1972, and  gets more and more popular by the year. I’ve read Banoffee Pie is now on Australian menus, New Zealand menus, and even a few US menus!

Last March I went to England with a specific goal: to taste Banoffee Pie.  It didn’t happen.  FINALLY, almost one year later, I got a taste and it was made by me in my own kitchen!  If you want something done right… 🙂 It’s a pity I had to wait so long, but it was worth the wait.

Now that you’ve heard of Banoffee Pie, don’t wait as long as I did to try it.  It’s as easy as pie to make!  There is no doubt in my mind that my very next dinner party will feature Banoffee Pie. No doubt at ALL.

The original pie was made in a regular baked shortcrust pastry, but I made mine in a crust of crushed “Digestive Biscuits” (another English specialty! And, no, I don’t know why they are called “digestive” biscuits. I don’t want to think about it actually.) and melted butter.  A graham cracker crust can be substituted.  So you have three crust options! Pick the one that best suits your tastes, what you have on hand, or is easiest for you to pull together.

Banoffee Pie

For “Digestive” crust

4 oz. melted butter

8 oz. English Digestive Biscuits (available in International sections of many larger grocery stores, British Food stores and Indian markets…)

For Bottom Toffee Layer

4 oz. butter

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

For Middle Banana Layer

3 or 4 small bananas

For Top Cream Layer

1 ¼ cups whipping cream

½ – ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons sugar

small amount of grated chocolate (or ½ of a “Flake” bar, crumbled–another very good British chocolate bar)

Directions:

Decide what kind of crust you want and prepare it.  To make the English crust, crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor and then stir in the melted butter.  Press mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  (If you don’t have a 10-inch tart pan, use a quiche pan or a regular pie pan).  Chill until firm.

Combine the butter and sugar into a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the condensed milk and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.  Let sit until cool.  This step is OK to prepare one day in advance.

If using a tart pan, remove the pie from the pan and place on serving tray.

Cut the bananas in half lengthwise.  Using the curve of the banana against the outside layer of the pie crust, begin to layer the banana halves lengthwise on top of the toffee layer.  When you get towards the inside you will have to cut the long banana halves to fit.

Combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Spread the cream mixture on top of the bananas.

Grate the chocolate, you only need a tablespoonful or two, and sprinkle over the top of the whipped cream.

Serve immediately (or within an hour or two, although leftovers do keep rather well for a bit longer than that.., if there ARE any leftovers…)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope you make this soon and NEVER say terrible things about British food again! I may get offended! There is some very good British food out there, you know 🙂

31 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate and Mochas

One of my daughters doesn’t drink coffee.  How she managed to grow up in this house and not drink coffee is a mystery.  She’s not into tea either.  It’s shocking!  She’s left out when the rest of us sit around enjoying the serenity and civility of  good cup of coffee (or tea, when the English relatives stay with us).  As a good Mama, I am trying out some hot chocolate recipes so she can join us for a cuppa.  Last year I found a winner in Chai Hot Chocolate.  This year, and just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving, I have found another winner, Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate, which I found posted at Good Life Eats.

Note:  I upped the cocoa powder a bit, reduced the white chocolate a bit and upped the milk a bit because I found it unbearably sweet at first.

When I tasted this concoction, it was just crying out (yes, crying out) for coffee.  So I gave it some. YES!  Beautiful!  Perfect!!!  So, not only do I have a delicious Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate for my daughter, but the rest of us can enjoy Pumpkin Spice White Mochas!  (To make a mocha, combine equal parts of the base mixture and a very strongly brewed coffee–see recipe below).  YUM!

I love it when things work out like this!  Everyone in the family gets just what they like, with almost no extra work. Aaahhh, I can’t wait until they all get home and we canhave a cuppa together!  Having a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea, together is an honored ritual the world over, and for good reason.  Take the time!

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

6 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 bag (11 ounces) white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli or Guittard, NOT Nestle)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice

In a heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, white chocolate, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking periodically, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ginger. Add the remaining milk, 1 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Makes six servings.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Pumpkin Spice White Mocha

Brew some very strong coffee, 1 cup ground coffee to 4 cups water.  For each serving combine equal parts of the strong coffee and the Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate from the recipe above.

Isn’t this a perfect recipe for a family to enjoy together this time of year? Thanks SO much for stopping by my kitchen today!