12 December 2011

Where Did November Go?

Blogger has certainly been making me angry. I had a great post all set up for Thanksgiving where I was going to share my very secret and yummy recipe for sweet potatoes that I just made up this year, and now the post is gone. I didn't even realize it disappeared until I got on here to post something else. Add on top of Blogger hating me (or just deciding that sweet potatoes were too yummy to share), I just got a phone call from my cousin telling me that someone stole all of her kids' Christmas presents from the trunk of her car. Being a thief is bad enough, but to steal from little kids is just evil.

I feel physically sick about the whoel situation and didn't know where else to go to vent about it. Several years ago, I had a purse stolen. Luckily there was no money and I cancelled my bank card and one credit card, but I still felt beyond violated and hurt. Now I just feel downright angry. How does someone do that? Paul is five and adores Toy Story as well as his baby brother. Taylor just turned four on Saturday and likes to feed her baby dolls the same way she sees Mommy feed her baby brother. Ben is three months old and has the most charming little baby smile. It breaks my heart that those kids are going to wake up on Christmas morning wondering why Santa didn't visit them. It doesn't help that I feel guilty for calling Santa on Saturday in order to get them to help clean their rooms (the threat of no visit from Santa certainly helped them buck up real quick). Now it's going to look like even though they helped clean the house, it wasn't enough.

I truly just needed to vent where I knew no one would judge me for being so emotional over something like this. Thanks for listening (if you made it this far). I'll bring you something yummy later this week after the craziness of having dinner guests has passed.

15 November 2011

Happy Autumn!

This is the best time of year to live in Oklahoma. The mornings and evenings are crisp, just a slight chill to the air. The afternoons are arm enough to shed the light jacket you may have donned upon your departure in the morning. The leaves that haven't made their way to the ground just yet are bursting out in gorgeous hues of red and orange and gold. Some evenings, you may even be lucky enough to catch the lingering scent of someones fireplace, roaring with fire inside their home. It's the perfect time of year to sit out on your front porch with a mug of hot chai tea and chat with an elderly neighbor on a Saturday morning. Or you can have an iced chai after spending the afternoon raking leaves and watching little kids jump into the piles, scattering those reds and golds to the wind.

I've got an obsession with chai tea, and when I found out that I could make my own concentrate and suit to my own tastes, I was nigh on ecstatic. It's been my go to drink any time I've found myself at a Starschmucks, but I just hated how expensive it was and how sweet and mild it always seemed. Chai shouldn't be mild, and it certainly shouldn't taste like syrup. Don't get me wrong, I love a sweet chai, but I don't want to feel like I just drank the equivalent of a pound of sugar. Gross.

What I love most about this recipe (another I found via Pinterest) is it's easy to customize to your own tastes. It does take a little work to get everything together, and the ingredients can get pricey if you don't already have most on hand already. I was lucky and only needed to buy one of the ingredients since I generally try to keep a well stocked spice cabinet (yes, I have one cabinet saved just for spices; don't judge me). And since this was my third time making this particular recipe, I've been able to really fine-tune it to my own tastes (that one ingredient I bought, anise, has been the biggest waste of my money since I absolutely loath black licorice). Feel free to play around with it if you give it a try. I tend to make mine a little spicier with only a touch of sweetness to balance it out.

Chai Tea Concentrate
Recipe by A Wooden Nest, adapted by me

4 1/2 cups water
2 stick cinnamon
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (unfortunately, I had to use ground ginger; it's fine, just not as strong)
15 whole cardamom pods
1 whole star anise pods
20 whole cloves
1/2 Tbl freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Orange zest from a medium sized orange
10 bags of black tea (I love a good English afternoon tea, but feel free to use your favorite black tea)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. Pull out all of the spices and tea, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the spices and the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or large bowl using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, discarding the spices. Add the sugar, honey and the vanilla, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the refrigerator (this should keep for about 2 weeks).
  3. To serve, mix 2 parts concentrate with 1 part milk. Enjoy hot or cold (either heat the mixture on the stove top in a pot or place your mug with the mixture in the microwave and heat until steaming hot).

12 November 2011

It's Cold...Let's Have Ice Cream!

You're never going to believe this recipe. It's two simple ingredients most people have in their homes at any given time, especially with the holidays coming up. What makes it even better is how insanely easy it is to customize it to your own tastes.

I'm not crazy. Not like stalker/slasher/scary crazy. But I love ice cream when it's cold outside. I really love ice cream that doesn't require me to babysit an ice cream machine. I'm even more enamored with an ice cream that is so ridiculously easy that there really are no excuses to not make it. You can have several different flavors of ice cream hanging out in your freezer right now just waiting for any unannounced guests stopping by for dinner. You could have one huge batch of your favorite flavor stashed away for those midnight cravings that hit when the insomnia is kicking in and all those infomercials are showing all the tasty things you can cook in those tiny little ovens.

I found this recipe via Pinterest forever ago (and if you've never heard of Pinterest, it's time you go and find your new addiction). I have no idea where the recipe originated or who to give the proper credit to, but there seem to be so many variations on this one that I'm not going to any more time trying to find the original one (if you do know who came up with it, please link to them in the comments and I'll be glad to give credit where credit is due). I've made so many variations of this simple recipe: Nutella with chocolate chips, cookies n' cream, chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, straight up vanilla. I'm giving you the base recipe as well as the variations I've already tried (this weekend, I'll be experimenting with a flavor that's been stuck in my head for a few months now).

Two Ingredient Ice Cream Base

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can (12 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  1. Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold in the sweetened condensed milk. Place a freezer-safe bowl with a lid and freeze until solid. Enjoy
Nutella with Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Nutella (or to taste; feel free to try peanut butter, almond butter, or any other kind of spread with a similar consistency)
1 Tbl butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (this is just a rough guess; use more or less depending on taste).
  1. Add Nutella and butter to the sweetened condensed milk. Fold into the whipped cream. Add chocolate chips. Follow above directions on freezing.
Cookies n ' Cream
7-10 Oreo cookies, crushed (give or take based on your preference)
  1. Fold the crushed cookies into the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Follow above directions on freezing.
Chocolate Chip/Mint Chocolate Chip
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp mint extract
  1. Fold the mini chocolate chips and mint extract, if using, into the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Follow above directions on freezing.

09 November 2011

It's Been Too Long

Want to see what I was baking?

I never realized how much I would miss blogging until today. Nothing really happened that would cause me to feel this way. It just sort of clicked. I missed trying out new recipes to share with you all and reading your silly comments back and forth that sometimes had to do with the food but more often then not were just gentle ribbings to get me to post more. I do have a few explanations as to why I wasn't blogging, but please don't see these as excuses. They aren't.

Last time we talked, I was pregnant. Morning sickness and fatigue were dragging me down. Something had to give. For my own sanity, I dropped the ball on the blog. You weren't missing anything anyway. The sight of raw meat made me gag. I couldn't even eat cooked chicken if I had had the misfortune of seeing it before it hit the pan. The hubby and I ate a lot of fast food during those last few months. Then the baby came. And with a face like his, who could blame me for not wanting to sit a computer in the evenings to review a recipe? We also moved from our apartment to a house, but that's beside the point for now.

He is the most amazing thing I've ever "cooked" up. And the recipe is easy, assuming you have the time and energy to put into it. My sister lovingly calls him "The Poopsmith". It fits so well. He's almost nine months old and can crawl so he might be considered fast food, but I think good ol' Jamie Oliver would approve of this.

Recipe by Me

1 daddy
1 mommy
Lots of Patience
Even more Love

Mix all ingredients together. Wait nine months. Serve with a side of laughter and tears.

I promise the next recipe will be a real one and will hopefully be up by tomorrow (assuming I can figure otu something tasty with the ground beef that's defrosting).