Friday, July 31, 2015

Rinn's Cold Brew Coffee vith Vanilla-Turbindao Simple Syrup

Cold-brewing coffee is a nice way to cut down on acidity while raising flavor in iced coffee. It's super easy, and much more affordable than a trip to Starschmucks.  Yes, it's a it time consuming to start, but perhaps a little calculation will help you out.

I'm not feeling coffee snobbish right now, so I buy what's cheap.  I do have my moments, when I specifically go to the local roasters, but right now I'm poor, and I'm using Dunkin Donuts Cinnamon Roll, because it was on sale for $5.99 a bag USD.  It's not my most favorite of the pre-ground, bagged coffee. That would be Archer Farms, the Target brand, but it will do when the others are 7.99 and I have $10 for groceries for the next 2 weeks (Mom, if you're reading this, don't worry, it was before my summer pay kicked in, and the Farm Share makes sure I have more than enough food!). But, I also keep some rather "fancy" goods around the house.

Ready, here we go.

Dunkin Donuts Cinnamon Roll Coffee. $1.71 a batch/ $0.57 cents a serving
The ice adds about $0.15
Wholesome Sweetners Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar. $1.66 a batch/ $0.06 per serving
Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste $1.37 a batch/$0.40 per serving

Even using the super expensive vanilla bean paste, with expensive sugar, this coffee costs less than a tall Starschmucks iced coffee with a flavor shot.  And in that one you're getting watered down coffee because of the ice cubes, and a lot less coffee because my calculations are before ice is added-theirs is after. You can sub the expensive sugar for plain white (0.009 cents per serving, 0.26 per batch), and the expensive vanilla for extracts of any flavor (0.94/0.04). So, for $2 or more, you can have a mediocre iced coffee, watered down, with one of the cheapest flavored syrups available, or this for $0.77-$1.50.

In this version, I'm going for all of the flavor, but not the concentrate.  This is why it's a two step process.

The first batch is a 2 day event, but trust me, it's worth it.

First, you need a container.  I save glass containers for storage, so I have a lot.  You may do this in more than 1 container. I have a 3.5 cup mason jar I like to use. A large spaghetti sauce container will do the trick as well.

You need:
6 heaping Tbsp. of medium or coarse ground coffee
3 1/2 cups filtered, cold water

Now, a lot of people say 3.5 cups water to 3/4 cup coffee, but to me that makes more of a concentrate, and I want a cool, refreshing drink I won't be watering down.  Why am I not watering it down?

Because the first batch is for coffee ice cubes!

Coffee Ice Cubes & Coffee
  1. In the morning, combine 6 Tbsp. of coffee with 3 1/2 cups filtered, cold water. 
  2. Lid it, and give it a good shake.  In my mason jar, it's water to the 3 1/2 mark, and coffee grounds to where the lip starts. 
  3. Then, place it in the fridge, and forget about it until bedtime.
  4. 12 hours later, strain it through your mesh coffee filter (nice and reusable, and included with just about any good coffee pot kit) a bit at a time into your 2 cup measuring glass.  
  5. Then, pour it into ice cube trays to freeze overnight. 
  6. Rinse your jar, and repeat with another 3 1/2 cups cold, filtered water and 6 heaping Tbsp. of coffee.  Shake it like you shake your money-maker, and once again toss it in the fridge.  
  7. 12 hours later, shake it one last time, strain it into a clean bowl, and then empty your grounds and rinse your jar with cold water.  
  8. Pour the coffee back in and store up to 3 days.
Coffee grounds, btw, are great for several flower beds and compost piles.

Vanilla-Turbinado Simple Syrup
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vanilla.
  1. Stir sugar and water until it's as dissolved as you can get it.  
  2. Stir over heat to fully dissolve, and bring it just to a low boil until all is dissolved.  
  3. Once you see those bubbles a little bit, remove from heat and cool.  
  4. Once completely cool, store in glass jar.  Add vanilla bean paste, shake, and refrigerate. 
  5. Keeps for freaking ever, but remember a little goes a long way!
To serve, pour strained cold-brew coffee over coffee ice cubes. Add syrup to taste.  I wanted it sweet this morning, so I use 1 1/2 Tbsp of syrup when I use it.  I recommend adding it by the 1/2 Tbsp. Some mornings I just drink it black.  It all depends on how I'm feeling when it comes to calories. Either way, because it's so sweet, even in this amount it only adds about 41 calories.

All together, 40-50 calories. Most coffees are less than 5 calories per cup and a bit of potassium. Since this coffee is so smooth, and so flavorful, I often drink it straight up black.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chocolate Waffles

I sat my nephew down with some background noise TV. Good Eats. The 8 year-old was absolutely riveted by the waffle episode, and wanted to make chocolate waffles.  I wanted to encourage this, but lacked the ingredients in the episode, so we fiddled a bit, and what it resulted in was a wonderful, crispy waffle on the sweet side. Milk chocolate rather than the popular dark.

Note-there is nothing redeeming in these, except their deliciousness.  (If you're looking for low cal yumminess, I recommend my Beet Waffle recipe  Just remove 2 Tbsp. of flour, and add 1/4 cup cocoa.)

1/2 cup salted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk drink
  1. Beat together.  
  2. Drop into waffle iron. 
  3. Cook until completely stops steaming.
Seen here with my Strawberry-Ginger Compote.

9 waffles of the small square iron variety. About 294 calories a serving.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Squash Brownies

I've got a kid on loan for the weekend while my babier sister is visiting friends in Idaho, and we're going to a potluck picnic with our new international students. So, I needed to come up with something amazing, whether they eat it or not, and using what I have in the house.

These brownies are a slight variation on Crazy for Crusts Zucchini Brownie's.

I'm not a huge squash fan.  I'll eat zucchini fried or in bread, but rarely any other way. I like the summer squash even less, but can choke it down.  This was a perfect use of the two things.

Super moist, super chocolatey goodness, and easy to switch to vegan. Just sub 1 tsp salt and 1/2 cup coconut oil for the butter in the brownie, and use a chocolate chip drizzle for the topping rather than mine.

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup summer squash, grated
1 cup zucchini, grated
2-3 Tbsp. So Delicious Coconut Milk drink, unsweetened
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa and soda.  Whisk together. 
  3. Add chips and whisk again.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, squash.  
  5. Beat well then add to dry ingredients.  
  6. Use electric hand beater to bring together.  If a bit powdery, add coconut milk one Tbsp. at a time.  Batter will be thick, but shouldn't be lumpy and powdery.
  7. Line 9 X 13 pan with foil, and butter it thoroughly.  Add in batter, and smooth it out.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until springs back when touched in the middle.
Fudge Topping
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
2-4 Tbsp. So Delicious Coconut Milk drink, unsweetened
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
  1. Whisk together sugar and cocoa.
  2. In a small bowl, combine butter and milk.
  3. Slowly add milk mixture into sugar mixture while stirring.
  4. If too thick and globby, like cookie dough, add 1 Tbsp. at a time more milk until thick, but creamy.
  5. Frost once brownies have cooled and refrigerate.
  6. These freeze well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beet Waffles with Sweetened Blueberry Cream Cheese

Sometimes, you hit a home run when you thought you were going to miss the ball.  This is one of those times.

I knew I was playing with fire.  I could find a lot of waffle recipes using beets, but most of them had chocolate added, and I was thinking savory.  I actually used 10thKitchen's Beet Bread recipe as a base.  At first, I thought I was going to stick with the dill cream cheese too, but once I taste what I had made, I knew blueberry was the way to go.

There is nothing savory about these babies.  The sweetness of the beet really shines through. These waffles were fluffy, with just enough sweet, and were just amazing.  The leftovers are going to be awesome in my toaster.  And the colors-there's just so much that could be done! This picture does it no justice. Thanks evening lighting.

1 cup + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 cup pureed beet
1 egg
1/3 cup so delicious unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted but cooled

2 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup blueberries
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
  1. Poke holes in your beat with a fork.  Don't stab it like Dexter on Mr. Potato Head, or you'll learn a hard lesson in how far beet juice flies-trust me, I know. You want enough beets to make about 3/4 a cup chopped.  In my case, I'm using the bigger one, and portioning it out as I go.
  2. Put the beet, freshly poked, on a plate and microwave 3 minutes over and over again, flipping it each time, until the beet gives a bit to the touch.  For smaller beets it will probably be about 6 minutes. My humongobeet took 9. Yes, you can also wrap it in tin foil and bake it at 400 for about 40 minutes, but it's summer, and I'm not baking things. Not even for possible added flavors.
  3. Let cool until you can comfortably touch it.  
  4. Wear gloves, and slice it.  Cut each slice into smaller cubes as needed while doing the pureeing. I dice mine small because I use a blender. The gloves are to keep your hands from becoming pink for a day or two.
  5. In a blender or food processor, combine beet cubes with a bit of water. Just a bit.  Enough to get it moving.  Blend.  
  6. Do this until you have your 1/2 cup of beet puree, not juice.
  7. Measure out what you need, and store your beet products for later.  The puree freezes well and can be used in many other recipes.
  8. Toss your 1/2 cup of beet puree back into that dirty blender, and combine with coconut milk, melted butter, egg, and baking powder.  Blend smooth.  
  9. Add flour about 1/4 a cup a time to the blender.  At the end you might have to get out a spoon to finish stirring, but I usually finish it all in the blender. Pulse until all combined and smooth.
  10. Heat up that waffle iron.  If you have PAM around, spray it down. Alton Brown said it's ok.  I don't keep that in the house, so I always wipe it down with a bit of butter or coconut oil.
  11. Spoon into middle of waffle grid.  Just as much as you normally do.  Maybe a tad more.
  12. As with any waffle, cook until steam dissipates, and store under towels to keep warm.
  13. Combine topping ingredients, and mix well. 
  14. Serve with topping, or syrups.  Sometimes I used just a plain blueberry compote.

About 86 calories a waffle. Topping not included.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greek Yogurt Dill Dressing with Salmon

I've got a nice cut of salmon from Wegmans, and a ton of dill weed from my farm share.  Fish and dill go together nicely, but, you know, I never stop there.

Salmon is a wonderful thing for a single lady. You can buy it by the 6 oz. serving, and it cooks super fast. Salt, pepper, and 3 minutes on each side in a hot pan usually does it.

So, I used a mix of my last 2 weeks of farm share greens (radicchio, beet, lettuce, and a bit of arugula from my garden), some pretty edible flowers (bachelor buttons, nasturtiums, zinnias, hearts ease, and pansy pictured here), and fish need something wonderful to go with them.

1-5.30oz. container plain greek yogurt, nonfat (6 is fine, just adjust a tiny bit)
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. So Delicious Unsweetened Original Coconut Milk
1/2 cup dill weed, stems removed
  1. Combine wet ingredients in blender, then add the dill. 
  2. Blend until dill is chopped and sauce is a light, dilly green.
Leftovers will refrigerate for up to 3 days tightly sealed, but, I use about half here.  The bottom of the dinner plate is sauced, then the greens and flowers, then the salmon and a bit more.  It's a wee bit wasteful, but sooooo pretty.

As seen here, 50 calories of dressing per half.  Obviously, you can use 1/4 easily, for 25 calories a serving. The whole meal was 420 calories.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Banana-Almond Bread

I love bananas.  For about 2 days, when they are a perfect blend of yellow with a tinge of green. Then I'm out.  I know, the fruit isn't even rip until the brown spots appear, but there's something about them after that stage that is just a nope.

Unless, of curse, they're in banana bread.

This recipe is a variation of my mother's. It makes 16 domed, but not high-muffin-capped muffins, which I like it as best, or one loaf. It's pretty much exactly her recipe, except I cut out the shortening and add in coconut oil instead, which I find is a wonderful sub for shortening. It is just bursting with banana flavor.

I just had to take that close up so you could see the wee chunks of bananaie goodness in there.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup + 2 tsp turbinado sugar
2 large eggs
3 brown bananas
1 small package sliced almonds (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  1. First, you need to know that if you have rip bananas, you can totally brown them by sticking them in the freezer overnight.  When it's go time, pull them out, and microwave them 1 minute on one side, and 1-2 minutes on the other, until soft to touch.  You will them be able to split them in half, and scoop the banana out perfectly.
  2. Also, turbinado sugar is too coarse.  I grind mine a bit more in a coffee bean grinder I keep just for sugar and spices. 3-4 pulses usually does the trick.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, powder, soda, salt, almonds, and spices.  Whisk until combined.
  5. In small mixing bowl, combine egg and sugar.  
  6. Then add coconut oil.  
  7. Finally, add banana and mix everything together until well blended.  Coconut oil and bananas should both forms a few bits, and that's fine.
  8. Stir into dry mix, and muffin mix.  In other words, stir just until combined, and no more.
  9. Scoop into lined muffin pan or bread pan.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and toothpick test comes clean. Loaf will take longer.
190 calories per muffin.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Rustic Strawberry Tart

Tarts are my new favorite.  Easy to whip together, and the crust doesn't gross me out. Which, unfortunately, real pie crust does (you'll notice, I never post pie crust pie recipes).  Added bonus, because there is no egg involved, you can cut that recipes down all the way to one.

This batch, however, is for company.  In fact, I forgot to take a pretty picture before serving, so all you get is the frumpy last piece left.

1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour, sifted
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and diced
2 Tbsp. salted butter, cold and diced
2 Tbsp. ice tea, un-sweet

9 oz. strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp Strawberry Ginger Compote or strawberry preserves
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and butter. Mix with your fingers until sand-go past the stage that you would want for a crumble. 
  2. Pull out 2 squares of tin foil, about the size of a dinner plate. 
  3. Add tea to flour, and quickly mix together and then hand form into two balls.  
  4. Place each ball on a piece of foil.  Form a thick disk, and then loosely wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Just before you remove the dough, in a medium mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, compote, and vanilla until pasty.  
  7. Toss strawberry sliced in and mix to coat. 
  8. Set aside for 5 min to marinate.
  9. On the same foil, flatten out tart into circle using fingers. 
  10. Flip onto small baking sheet (with edges, to prevent leakage) covered with parchment. 
  11. Make a good lip if you're using berries or other juicy fruits, or it will spill over and make a mess. 
  12. Fix any cracks, and then prick holes all over the bottom using a fork. 
  13. Bake 15 minutes.
  14. Remove.  
  15. Distribute berries evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining juice mix on top.  
  16. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden.  
  17. Let cool completely before serving.
Makes 6 servings at 200 calories a serving.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grilled Papaya with Lavender Honey and Vanilla Ice Cream

Grilling is a summer pastime, and fruit is just as amazing grilled as it is raw.  In the case of papaya, the grill seems to really bring out the flavor.  This is a new favorite.

Added bonus-papaya is really, really good for you.  It's full of vitamin A, C, and potassium. So you feel like you're being super naughty, but you're not!

9.5 oz, give or take, papaya, raw, peeled, seeds removed
1 Tbsp lavender honey
1 vanilla ice cream cup

I love these vanilla ice cream cups, just like the ones we got in elementary school.  They're generally 100-120 calories a serving, so portion control is much easier than say, eyeing that pint.
  1. Once you have your papaya ready, toss it on the grill, until both sides have those pretty char marks.  It doesn't matter if it's electric, gas, or char.  All are tasty.  Today I'm using my Forman grill, because I didn't cook out.  Feel free to play with woods and flavors as well.  A favorite of mine is the hickory.
  2. Once the char marks appear on both sides, remove, pour honey over it, and scoop the ice cream on, distributed evenly.
Makes 1 serving at 260 calories.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Simple Lavender Shortbread Cookies

My mother has been growing lavender for a couple years, brought to us by her friend with the green thumb. I've been eyeing them for shortbread cookies for some time. Lavender is often paired with sweets for a savory-sweet culinary blend.  These are a delicious, buttery blend of yummy goodness.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 stick salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a bit more.
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. lavender flower
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together everything until crumbly dough forms.
  3. Powder the surface with more powdered sugar.  
  4. Knead like crazy until soft, pliable dough forms.  
  5. Roll 1/4 inch thick and cut. 
  6. Finish with a dusting of granulated or decorative sugar. I used turbinado.
  7. Place on parchment.  
  8. Bake 15-20 min, until lightly golden.

Makes 16 cookies at 180 calories each.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Individual Cardamom & Black Plum Upside-Down Cake

Alton Brown is my Spirit Animal, both in his sweets and his epic weight loss.  So when I saw his Individual Peach Upside-Down Cake, I knew I had to tinker with it. Generally, I avoid peach in baked goods, as my mother is allergic to them.

I have no idea what the original tastes like, but this is absolutely heavenly.

4 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 black plum, skin on, but washed well
1 1/4 oz. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch baking soda
pinch kosher salt
4 Tbsp. coconut milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter. Divide 3/4 Tbsp butter between 2 ramekins, and roll them to coat the bottom evenly.
  3. Sprinkle butter with 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar for each ramekin (2 Tbsp). Lightly dust with cardamom. I said LIGHTLY. You don't want it to overpower the vanilla bean and plum.
  4. Cut plum into 12-14 pieces, and set on sugar evenly distributed on sugar and between ramekins. That's 6-7 pieces each.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, powder, and soda.
  6. Melt the remaining butter, and then whisk together with the remaining sugar.
  7. Then add coconut milk, and vanilla to the butter. If you add it before, you might have to microwave it a second to melt that sugar and butter again.
  8. And liquid to dry, and stir until just combined.  Think muffins.  Don't over do it!
  9. Pour evenly over fruit. Bask in the glory of those little black vanilla bean spots.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden, surface springs back when touched AND toothpick comes out clean. Edges will be bubbly.
  11. Cool 5 minutes. Serve room temp or slightly warmer by running a knife around the edges first, and then popping them out by turning them upside down over your serving plate.
Approx. 300 calories a cake. Makes 2.