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S’mores Mix

17 Aug


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What’s better in the summer than s’mores? Why limit yourself to being around a campfire to eat them? I made this tasty s’mores treat that can be enjoyed any time! And the best part is that it’s NOT messy!

Recipe:
Mini marshmallows (I used micro-mini marshmallows)
Hershey’s milk chocolate chips (or chocolate bar chopped into chunks)
Honey Graham Crackers

I tried making this a few times. It turns out marshmallows don’t stay intact very well if you broil them. They turn into a gooey mess. Which is great for some recipes! But not this one. In the end, the blow torch was the way to go.

Toast the marshmallows with a blow torch until they’re the desired result. I like mine nice and black, but decided not to char them too badly for this project (but if it was going on a s’more, it would have been TORCHED). Let the marshmallows cool and set them aside.
Break your graham crackers into bite size pieces. If you want a really nice presentation, cut the graham crackers into little squares. (If you do it this way, you can make cute little MINI s’mores!)
Mix equal parts chocolate chips, graham cracker chunks, and mini marshmallows. Toss to combine.
I think this would be a fun treat for a hiking trip, camping trip, or even a summer barbeque! And really, who can resist s’mores? It’s sure to be a hit!

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Cold Brewed Coffee

11 Aug


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I’m sitting outside in a comfy lawn chair, watching my two kiddos play in the yard.

I love summer! I’ve got my handy dandy laptop, Kindle, and of course, my iced coffee by my side! It’s just gorgeous today. 75 degrees, sunny, just a few fluffy clouds in the sky.

I’m currently watching Emma attempt to baptize her doll in her water table (or is she trying to drown it?)

As promised, here’s a quick tutorial on how to cold brew coffee! I originally got the instructions from the Pioneer Woman.
In her original instructions, she says to use 16 oz. of coffee to make 2 gallons of coffee, but I don’t have anything large enough to hold that much coffee, so I usually cut it in half.
The ratio that she uses is 2 oz. of coffee for every quart of water.

Take your coffee grounds and place them in a large container. I used 8 oz of coffee here. (Store any leftover coffee grounds in a sealed container in your freezer.)
Add a gallon of water to the coffee grounds (16 cups).Give it a stir to make sure the coffee grounds are saturated.

Let it sit 8 or more hours at room temperature. I like to give it a couple stirs during this time, just for the heck of it.
The coffee grounds should settle at the bottom of your container (mine did, anyway).
Place a fine mesh sieve (or any ‘ol strainer you have sitting around) on top of a large bowl. Line it with a paper towel, cheese cloth, or coffee filter. Strain the coffee through the filters.
I replaced the paper towels and ran mine through again (into a clean canister) to make sure I had all the grounds filtered out.
Chill in the fridge in a sealed container, and store up to 3 weeks.
I like to keep a container of both caffeinated and decaf coffee in my fridge at all times. I love the convenience of the cold brewed coffee. It takes a little bit of time to make up a batch, and it can get a little messy, but it’s so convenient to have it on hand!

Now whenever I want iced coffee, I can just get it right from my fridge, instead of brewing, and waiting for it to chill. It also has a nicer taste than hot brewed coffee. Sometimes when you hot brew coffee, it can get a kind of burnt, bitter taste. That never happens with this method! I’m seriously addicted to iced coffee now. I’ve been going through so much of it! My favorite way to drink it is poured over ice, with a packet of zero calorie sweetener, and a shot of flavored creamer. If I’m really feeling adventurous, I’ll top it with whipped cream and a drizzle of either chocolate syrup or caramel. YUM!

This picture says a 1000 words. My favorite iced coffee cup, and my kiddos playing in the background. Describes my day perfectly.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

8 Aug


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I love experimenting with ice cream. It’s interesting to see how you need to tweak the ice cream base to accommodate for the add-ins. Sometimes you need a higher fat content to offset a high water content addition (like adding espresso to make a coffee ice cream). Sometimes you need to do a lower fat content to compensate for something rich being added, like caramel. You don’t want your ice cream to be so soft that it barely sets, or so hard that you can’t get your spoon into it. It’s important to get it right so that your ice cream has the proper mouth feel.
I absolutely love this dark chocolate ice cream. It’s so rich, with intense chocolate flavor. You’ll never need another chocolate ice cream recipe. I can’t wait to make it again, it was gone too soon!

Recipe:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¾ tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Warm the cream and milk on the stove in a heavy bottom sauce pan without stirring. While that’s heating up, whisk the egg yolks, salt, and sugar, until pale in color.
Once the cream is heated and bubbles start to rise around the edges (don’t boil!), slowly whisk a ladle-full at a time of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Make sure to do it slowly, so you don’t cook the eggs.
Mix the heated yolk mixture back in with the rest of the cream, and put it back on the stove on medium heat. Stir constantly, until slightly thickened. You should be able to draw your finger across the back of the spoon and have it leave a trail. Don’t over cook it!

Once the cream has started to thicken, remove from heat. Add your chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, and stir to melt. Chances are it’s not going to combine 100% smooth, so throw it in the blender and run it for a few seconds, it should get out any lumps.

Stir in the vanilla.

Chill thoroughly and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. I prefer my ice cream best if it sets in the freezer for over 24 hours.

Skinny Caramel Frappuccino

1 Aug

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If you’re someone who enjoys your frappuccino’s as much as I do, you’ll love this recipe! I found a way to make Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuccino with half the calories! And none of the richness is sacrificed. The secret to it’s richness? Using frozen milk cubes! Instead of using ice cubes (which are terrible to try to grind up in your blender!) I use frozen milk cubes. They break up so much easier, and make such a smooth and rich frappe (with no chunks of ice that get stuck in your straw). So next time you’re about to throw out milk that’s about to expire, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it! I like to keep a ziplock of milk cubes in my freezer at all times, so I can have a rich, creamy frappuccino at any time!

Recipe:
6- 1 oz. fat free milk cubes (a standard ice cube tray will freeze 1 oz. cubes, but you may want to measure if you’re watching your waist line!)
4.5 oz. of cold brewed coffee (or chilled coffee or espresso)
1 ½ oz. (3 tbsp) Coffeemate Fat Free Vanilla Caramel Creamer

Freeze fat free milk into 1 oz. cubes the night before.
Brew your coffee or espresso, and chill in the fridge.
Add your coffee, 6 milk cubes, and creamer to the blender and pulse until smooth.
Pour into a glass, and enjoy!

Calorie Count:
67.5 calories from the fat free milk
75 calories from the creamer
0 calories from the coffee

Compare:
Starbucks 12 oz.Caramel Frappuccino: 290 calories
My 12 oz. Skinny Caramel Frappuccino: 142.5 calories

Low Calorie Frozen Caramel Espresso Shots

30 Jul


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My Frozen Caramel Espresso Shots seemed to be a big hit! I realize though, that they’re full of sugar (and delicious caramely goodness), and some of us would like a healthier alternative. I revised my original recipe to be much lower in calories, about 10 calories per shot! Now they can be enjoyed as often as you want; guilt free.

Recipe:
4 oz. of espresso (or strong coffee)
1 ½ oz. (3 tbsp) Coffee Mate fat free vanilla caramel creamer.

Brew your espresso.
Mix in the creamer.
Pour into ice cube trays (or a silicone mold, must be flexible).
Put your filled molds into the freezer, checking on them after about an hour – hour and a half. Once the espresso shots are completely iced over, stick tooth picks in them.
Wait until they’re frozen through, at least 5 hours, preferably over night.
To unmold, gently twist your ice cube tray, and they should pop right out.
Store in an airtight bag in your freezer.
Makes 8-10 shots.

Refrigerator Pickles

29 Jul

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This is one of those recipes that I kept seeing over. and over. and over again. Until finally I went out and bought the ingredients to make it! If any of you are on Pinterest (you can find me here), you’ve probably seen it, too. Refrigerator Dill Pickles.

I love fresh dill. And I love cucumbers. These ones looked amazing. I’ve never had pickles that weren’t canned; I’ve only even known the slight soggyness of the pickles that come in jars. But these? They’re fresh. Crunchy. Crisp. A little sweet. And they’re soaked in an amazing vinegar dill brine. And guess what? They’re EASY to make. No canning. No complicated recipes. Just a few simples ingredients, and throw it in a jar. I adapted the original recipe to make it simpler (because I’m all about short cuts!) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Recipe:

3 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp of pickling spice (or 1 tsp each of mustard, coriander, and dill seeds)
2 cups hot water
2 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 bunch of chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Combine your vinegar, sugar, salt, and pickling spice in a large bowl. Pour the hot water over the vinegar mixture, and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
Chop your cucumbers into ¼ inch slices, and divide them into jars (mine fit perfectly into 3 quart size jars). Chop the dill and the garlic, and divide it evenly between your jars.
Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers. If the brine doesn’t quite cover the cucumbers, add more water/vinegar mixture (I just mixed 1 part water to 1 part vinegar).
Place the jars in the fridge overnight.
They’re ready to eat after 24 hours, and will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Raspberry Limeade

20 Jul


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This drink was inspired by Red Robin’s Raspberry Limeade. I have a feeling theirs contains far more calories than should ever be consumed in a drink! For this version, I added less sugar. It’s tart and a little sweet, with vibrant colors. Perfect for these hot summer days.

Recipe:
24 oz. lemon-lime soda (2 cans)
Juice from two limes (about 2 oz.)
1/2 cup raspberries
2-3 tsp. sugar (or more, depending on how sweet you want it)

Squeeze the juice out of two limes. Mix the sugar in and stir until dissolved.
Roughly chop 1/2 cup of raspberries.
Mix all of the ingredients together and stir to combine.
Pour over ice, and garnish with lime slices.
Makes 3-4 servings.