Latte success!

I have found the perfect line up to make my own hazelnut latte at last!

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I posted the other day about trying to find the perfect creamer component for an at home hazelnut latte, which ended up being the Silk soy creamer. With that in mind, I picked up some Sugar in the Raw, a bottle of Torani hazelnut syrup, and a new decaf French blend of dark roast coffee by Tully’s.

I use a Keurig to brew my coffee, so for this recipe sake, just use 10 oz of dark roast brewed coffee.

For my home-brew hazelnut latte, I use:

  • 1 Tully’s French roast decaf K-cup
  • 2 Tbsp Torani hazelnut syrup
  • 1-2 Tbsp (or to taste) Sugar in the Raw
  • Silk soy creamer in original, to taste (I eyeball it, so I have no idea how much I’m using)
  • A sprinkling of both nutmeg and cinnamon (I use a bit more cinnamon than nutmeg)

Stir it all up and enjoy with a book, while writing, or on the way to work! Let me know what you think in the comments.

The creamy taste test

I am on a quest to find the perfect hazelnut latte recipe to make at home. Like many, I really like a good latte from Starbucks, but it’s just too expensive to enjoy regularly. So I developed my own taste test to try out what seems to be the most important variable in the latte: the creamer/milk.

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My three contenders: Silk original creamer, So Delicious original coconut milk creamer, Silk soy milk

I brewed myself a mug of decaf coffee (can’t do caffeine, unfortunately), and poured a bit into three glasses. In turn, I added each creamer to their respective glass.

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When I started making coffee at home in the fall, I began using the So Delicious hazelnut. But when I order my latte from Starbucks, it’s made with soy milk (I don’t know which brand they use). I was prepared for anything to work. What surprised me was that neither of those won the taste test. The Silk original creamer came out on top with the best flavor and mouth feel. It’s smooth and lends itself well to adding in spices and other flavors. Overall, best of the three. Now it’s on to perfecting the rest of the recipe. I bought some Sugar in the Raw, a hazelnut syrup, and a new brew of hazelnut coffee. I will report back!

National Day of the Mushroom

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Today may be the greatest food holiday ever. I do not think I can begin to describe the love affair mushrooms and I have. We go through them crazy fast in the house because I’m constantly putting them in salads, stir-fries, sauteed veggie mixes, omelettes, etc. Hell, I will just saute them with some onion and garlic to stir into pasta, no sauce. I think my favorite recipe, though, is one I learned when I was prepping to go to Spain. A few friends and I had a party where we all brought Spain themed food, made our own sangria (white and red), and ninja chalked (definition: a group of slightly inebriated adults grab a box of chalk and draw ridiculous but imaginative narratives in the cover of darkness).

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Toasted Bread with Mushrooms and Alioli – Tostada de Setas y Alioli

This tapa recipe comes from a bar in Madrid. I used to jog around the Retiro and then eat these tostadas washed down with a nice cold caña! When I serve this recipe at a party, it is always the first to go!- Sonia Chan

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 20 min.

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp sherry wine (or a dry white wine-which is what I usually use)
Alioli (garlic mayonnaise) *recipe below
French bread, sliced into rounds

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a pan that has a cover. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, salt and sherry. Cover, and lower heat. Cook until liquid is released from the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Toast bread slightly, just to dry it out a bit. Spread with alioli and top with mushrooms. Broil for about 30 seconds or until alioli starts to bubble.

Alioli

2 garlic cloves, pressed, or garlic paste (found in a tube in the refrigerated produce section of your local supermarket)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the most part, I eyeball this. In the mayo, mix the salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour (the longer, the stronger the flavors). Consider adding pepper to taste (I don’t usually, but then I’m not a huge pepper fan).

That recipe I promised you

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A few weeks ago, before the craziness of learning to drive and starting a new business took over my life, I said I’d share a recipe that I found on the end of a box of the ginger Annas cookies. When I made this for myself, I will be honest, I did not follow the letter of the recipe. Instead, I took a handful of cookies and crushed them, then layered them with chopped strawberries and my soy whip cream. It turned out to be really tasty and I could see serving it at a dinner party or something like that.

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Pro tip about my iced tea recipe

I shared my recipe for Starbucks-esque Passion Iced Tea a while back. I’ve been making a lot of it lately and I learned something interesting about the delicate balance of the construction of the drink. I mix brewed Tazo Passion tea with ice, sugar, and berry Propel. My usual method is to, once the tea is steeped 2-3 minutes, add the sugar and Propel to the ice, then pour the tea over it. I noticed, though, that there seemed to be some settling at the bottom. It didn’t taste bad, but I wondered if there was a better way to incorporate the sugar and powder so that there would be less settling at the bottom of the pitcher.

What I found, instead, was one way not to do it. This last time I made the iced tea, I added the Propel powder and the sugar to the hot tea, stirred, then poured over the ice. Voila! No settling powder. I thought I was genius. Until I tasted it.

It doesn’t taste bad, per say, but it doesn’t taste as good. I think it was heating the powder with the tea that changed the flavor. Next time I make up a pitcher, I’m going to try added just the sugar to the hot tea and see how it goes. Otherwise, I may just have to settle.

National Corn Chip Day

According to Eat the Year, today is National Corn Chip Day. To celebrate, I thought I’d share my family’s super simple taco salad recipe. Now, I know you’re thinking, how hard is taco salad that you have a “super simple” version. Well, this is not your ordinary taco salad. This, my friends, is the perfect mix of “I want good food” and “I’m too lazy to do anything more than dump stuff in a bowl,” i.e. big bang for your cheap college dollar. The only equipment you need is a big ass bowl and either tongs or salad servers.

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For a family of 5 (with a bit left over), in a big bowl, mix up:

  • 1 large bag American style salad mix
  • About half a bag of tortilla/corn chips (preferably broken into bite size pieces)
  • 1 can of ranch style beans, with the juice in the can
  • 1/2-3/4 can pitted black olives (to your own taste), without their brine
  • 3/4 bottle Catalina dressing
  • 1 pkg grape tomatoes (or, 2-3 diced tomatoes)

Once it’s all in there, stir and serve. Could it get easier than this?

Grandma’s Recipe: Porcupine meatballs

I know, I know. You saw that title and asked, “What the heck is a porcupine meatball?”

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Those are porcupine meatballs (served with broccoli, obviously). They are amazeballs. They also come with a family legacy (at least three generations have made them) and a funny story involving fourth grade me, my mom, and an ill-balanced carrying container.

First, the recipe. Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup tomato soup
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 tsp salt

Shape the mix into balls (makes approx. 16). Brown them in 2 tbsp (or less if your ground beef has higher than 7% fat) shortening with a small clove of minced garlic. Once brown, add the rest of the tomato soup and 1 cup of water (though I’d like to try it with vegetable broth), and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until rice is tender, occasionally stirring.

I try to serve it with a green, like broccoli or sautéed cabbage (which is my favorite veg–it’s the German in me).

Now for the funny story. So, from what my mom and I remember, my fourth grade class was doing some sort of bring ethnic family food to class to share thing, and I volunteered to bring these. I loved these as a kid (still do), and they’re bite size so they’re perfect for sharing a batch amongst a class of 20 or so. Because they’re served hot, my mom decided to bring them to my classroom just before I was to give my presentation about them. I have no memory of talking about them, but I do remember that while we were waiting for her to get to the classroom, our room phone rang and it was the front office. I was called up and my mom was on the phone. I think maybe you can see where this is going. While she had been walking through the cafeteria to my classroom, the *glass* bowl of the meatballs had fallen and they had splatted pretty well on the floor (it was a big cement outdoor place, as is common in Southern California). The bowl was in shards and my class was now going to be meatball-less. It was disappointing, but we can laugh about it now.

So I have a warning for you if you make these: use plastic!

Mushrooms and snow peas and onion, oh my!

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This may be the best randomly whipped up side dish I’ve ever made. It was so flippin’ good.

I took:

  • snow peas, trimmed
  • mushrooms, sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • granulated garlic
  • s&p
  • soy sauce

I started by sauteing the onion in a little butter and olive oil for a few minutes on med-high heat. Then I added the snow peas and sautéed them for a couple of minutes to start softening them. I sprinkled them with the garlic and s&p to taste, then added the mushrooms. I sautéed the whole thing until the mushrooms started to brown, then I added a few splashes of soy sauce. I let it cook for another minute or so, stirring it, then served it with sticky rice and roast chicken. Delicious!

Grandma’s Refrigerator Pickles

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Five years ago, my grandmother shared her recipe for “refrigerator pickles” with me, and now I’m sharing it with you. I don’t remember when she started making them, but they are my favorite homemade pickles. A big plus is that they are SUPER simple to make. Like a kindergartner could do these. Maybe it’s something to do with the kids?

So here’s what you need:

  • 3 medium cucumbers-or-2 English cucumbers (I prefer the English cucumbers)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tsp celery seed
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 1/2 C white vinegar

Start by peeling and slicing the cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices, as well as thinly slicing the onion. I’ve never done the bell pepper, but it’s on the recipe my grandmother gave me. If you choose to include them, a julienne is the way to go. Once it’s all sliced, put the veg in a Tupperware container with the salt and celery seed and stir to coat. Cover and leave on the counter or in a cool place (not the fridge though) for an hour.

After the hour is us, mix the sugar and vinegar together and pour over the veg. Recover the container and refrigerate. They should be ready in 24 hours. Don’t use a stainless steel bowl for this. It will affect the flavor.

See how simple? They are delicious and last quite a while. If you try with the pepper, let me know how it comes out!

Peppers and onion and sausage, oh my!

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The other night I cooked up a dinner that could be summed up in one word: YUM! I never use that word. In fact, I have a weird aversion to it, probably because it tends to be overused. But that’s how much I loved what I made. It really all started with a bag of Marie Calendar’s Corn Bread mix that I bought. It was sitting in the pantry, pleading for me to make it. So I decided to follow my Southwest kick and bring in some peppers and sausage to the party.

First, I julienned four bell peppers (two red, one green, one yellow), and sliced up some yellow onion. In a big skillet, I sautéed the onion alone with some butter, garlic and s&p. After a few minutes, I added the bell pepper along with a little thyme, oregano, and a little more salt and garlic. I have a thing about not adding pepper to cooking bell peppers. I don’t know if it makes any sense, but about a year and a half ago I stopped and I like them better with a lower black pepper profile. Then I took a Hillshire Farms smoked turkey sausage and cut it on the bias. I like doing this mostly for the look. Because it was precooked, I didn’t have to worry about it too much. Of course, I am a genius and planned for everything to come out at the same time (which almost never happens the way I want it to–usually something needs longer than I planned or something cooks waaay faster than I thought it would). The two dishes made a delicious plate, and a bit of heartburn the next morning, but I didn’t even care.