Pumpkin Spice Latte

Next to the thing of this being a cozy delicious Fall-ish drink, you know what the best thing about it is? It tastes for all the world like it has pumpkin in it… but it doesn’t! Here’s why that’s so great: I would have to open a whole new can of pumpkin puree just to get one little spoonful out to stir in here because most of the time, I don’t usually have open cans of perishable pumpkin puree on hand in my fridge.

Oh! I just had a lightbulb moment! (which is very noteable because it’s 5:20 a.m. and at 5:20 a.m., thinking thro the fog on my brain is a stretch, much less a lightbulb moment going on!) You could freeze little dollops of pumpkin puree in an ice cube tray, then they’d be ready in the right quantity to pull out at will. You could do that when you freeze or can your pumpkin puree each Fall. Notice I’m pretty much just using the term “you”… I did pumpkin puree 3 years ago and decided it wouldn’t be on my list of things-you-can-buy-in-the-store-but-the-do-it-yourself-mess-is-worth-the-extra-good-taste. The only 2 things so far on that list for me are sweet corn and strawberry jam.

You know, I was just thinking about that lightbulb moment… it wasn’t so bright after all because this recipe doesn’t even take pumpkin puree! It’s like answering a question that was never asked! But I’ll just leave it there in case you want it or in case it would spark some other cool idea for mini serving sizes in ice cube trays… like right now I have bacon grease frozen in one and next time I need to fry something, out of the freezer and into the pan it goes. Wow, I think we’re taking a nature hike on a bunny trail! Where was I?

Pumpkin spice lattes. In case you’re picturing me curled up in a blanket on the couch in pjs typing on my laptop with one of these lovely lattes steaming in a cup on the end table, you’d be wrong. Well, it’s right until you get to the latte part. I had full intentions of sipping one while writing this, but then I thought about the blender… and then I thought of it possibly waking the kids. So, I thought of taking the blender outside, but that seemed a little desperate. And cold. Then, I thought of taking the blender into the office/exercise room… but then I had flashbacks of making this latte yesterday afternoon………………..

I poured the scalded milk into the blender, put the lid on, and pressed the button. I also subconsciously knew that my 15-month-old was running into the kitchen. The next moment was a blur of thoughts about scalded milk flying thro the air and what if it hits the baby. The moment after that was relief that none hit the baby and the baby purposely splashing in warm milk puddles on the floor.

……………….Now, back to the present. I do try to learn from my mistakes and hoped this crazy scenario wouldn’t happen again, but on the off-chance it would, I decided that maybe I shouldn’t take the blender into that room. I pictured milk potentially all over Shannon’s desk and dripping off the treadmill and soaking down into the carpet… because I wasn’t totally sure what mistake I had made to know how to fix it. My guess is that hot liquid going at high speeds in a small airtight space creates pressure. I just never blend hot stuff… next time I’ll try doing only 3/4 cup or so at a time or putting the lid on loosely and putting a towel over the whole works. Or both. It’s gotta be blended though because it’s gotta be frothy! What’s a latte if it’s not frothy?!

 Also this morning, I was planning to take progress pictures and a decked out with whipped cream final picture, and I still might do that, but I probably won’t post them today because today is going to be crazy… I have 3 things planned, none of them overlap, none of them are at home, and they’ll probably take an average of 3 hours each. But I’ll edit those pictures in later.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte … recipe from my friend Dinah (Thanks, Dinah! This recipe is a keeper for sure! Especially at this time of the year!)

2 cups milk
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup double strength coffee (I used just regular strength, but I’m kind of a coffee wimp… if I ever tell you “You’re the creamer in my coffee”, that would be a very good compliment to you. ;) )
Whipped cream, optional

Heat milk til there is a skin on top (scald it basically). Pour it into the blender with the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. (Dinah said if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, just dash in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger til it tastes right.) Blend just until frothy, then fill two mugs about 3/4 full. Add coffee to each mug. (Dinah said she made hazelnut coffee and that added a special taste of its own.) Put whipped cream on top, then sprinkle more pumpkin pie spice on top. I didn’t put whipped cream on when I made it yesterday because I didn’t have Reddi-Whip on hand and there was no Cool Whip thawed in the fridge and I wanted to enjoy my latte NOW.

Here’s my take on this recipe: I was honestly surprised how good it was! I’ve seen and tried alot of “coffee shop knock-off” recipes and very few of them were worth making, I thought. This one is a winner, though. I’m not gonna mess with it too much because it’s close enough to perfection as is, but one variation I thought of is replacing the sugar and vanilla and 1/4 cup or so of milk with 1/4 cup of French Vanilla creamer. I also think I’ll up the pumpkin pie spice quantity just a little next time. And then there’s always the add-pumpkin-puree option. ;)  

Please make this… it’s quick and easy and uses common ingredients and it’s handier than Starbucks. You know you want a cup! :)

Happy Mother’s Day…

…to my mom and all you other moms, too!

Mom, I made you a mocha this morning…
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Wish you were here to drink it with me. But that’s not really possible with you at home 180 miles away. We could talk and laugh till our sides hurt about the adventure it is to be a mom, even though we’re at different stages. Since I became a mom, sometimes I think back to when I was growing up and am awed at the patience you had! Always calm and taking things in stride. For example, remember that goat we had? :) I could go on and on about memories, like the creative way you gave me a life-sized doll for my 6th birthday, the fun we had having our own little garden plots out of your big garden, jumping in the car to go see the ‘billowing smoke’ that turned out to be a cloud, how I openly told my teenage girlfriends that you are my best friend, etc., but since this is a cooking blog, I’ll stick with stuff in the kitchen.

Thanks for teaching me how to cook and bake. Not every 12-year old can make pie crusts, but you taught me young. And I’m sure that in my young days, you thought about how it would’ve been easier to just make things yourself instead of dealing with stuff like batter splattered on the ceiling or having to throw the whole batch away because I got ‘teaspoons’ and ‘cups’ mixed around when I was putting the salt in. But the thing I remember the most is: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That was said when I’d start peeling eggs or potatoes or making some other mess right on the counter instead of putting down a paper towel or plate first. After awhile, it got to the place where you’d only have to say, “An ounce of prevention…”. Not sure why that was so hard for me to learn, but I did learn… I don’t do that anymore.

Here is a picture of my mom and my mother-in-law… another mom who’s had an impact on my life. She’s done alot of babysitting since we live in the same area and she’s like a walking medical book when one of us has a problem. Very handy and helpful! Each of the moms had 6 children… I’m second to the oldest of 3 boys and 3 girls, Shannon is the oldest of 6 boys. On the picture, they are with my youngest daughter Tiffany, who was 5 days old. She’s surrounded by grandma love.
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My mom is the one in the purple holding the baby and my mom-in-law is in the black. I can’t tell you both how much you mean to me and how much I love you and how thankful I am that you love your granchildren so much! I know how blessed I am to still have my moms, and I especially think of it every Mother’s Day. Other things I especially think about on Mother’s Day are the 3 babies I lost via miscarriage, those of you  who don’t have your moms anymore, and those of you who are a mom only in your dreams. I’ll breathe prayers especially for you throughout the day.

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And now, here’s the mocha recipe that I’m still sipping. Shannon is sipping black coffee because it goes better with the raspberry cream cheese cinnamon rolls that were eating. HE thinks it goes better with it anyway. I can’t handle black coffee. He usually uses cream and sugar, but not when he’s eating something sweet. How do you drink your coffee? I’d LOVE to know! And do you like it black too when you’re eating a sweet roll with it?

Mocha, but don’t think Starbucks!

1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 cups hot brewed coffee
1/4 cup half-and half cream
2 to 4 Tbsp. sugar
Whipped cream

Melt the chocolate chips and put in a plastic bag. Snip of a tiny piece of the corner and pipe “MOM” onto plastic wrap.
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Put in the freezer until hard (at least 10 minutes). Stir the coffee and rest of the chocolate together.
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Add the half-and-half and sugar.
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Serve in mugs with whipped cream and “MOM” garnishes. Yield: 4 sevings.
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Iced Tea and Cookies

Cookies!

Lexi (my dau, just turned 4) and I made some cookies last night. She seemed to sort of need some “mom time”, so we put Tiffany (9 mos) to bed, Shannon (my husband) had a late hockey game, and Lexi and I had alot of fun baking. Baking with her is interesting… She dumped all the ingredients in the bowl, except the eggs, of course. It always amazes me how the mixing bowl can be 10″ across and the measuring cup is 2 1/2″ and she still dumps part of the sugar, flour and choc chips over the edge onto the counter!!!!   She also decided we should wear “cookie baking beads”. She had some in her toybox, so we each wore them… you can see hers on a picture.

This recipe comes from the Mrs. Field’s Best Ever Cookie Book . Did you ever see “Mrs. Fields” in a mall (cookies, candy, etc.)? Well that’s her. This cookbook is written by her, Debbi Fields. Her store/bakery has been going for over 20 years. Shannon got the cookbook for me for Christmas 2 years ago.

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

6 oz, semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened (I didn’t use unsalted because I only had salted, maybe I should’ve omitted the 1/4 tsp of salt then)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz milk chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
24 – 30 whole shelled peanuts (we used 55 because that’s how many cookies we had)

Preheat the oven to 300. In a double boiler, melt the semisweet chocolate over hot, not simmering, water. (My microwave worked great for this. ) Set aside to cool to about room temperature.   In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, then add the butter and beat until well combined. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture and the milk chocolate chips and beat until no streaks of flour are visible.      Pour in the melted chocolate
cookie1  and mix partially with a wooden spoon until marbleized. Drop the dough into 3-Tablespoon mounds (that would be huge, I made them smaller), 2 in apart, onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Top each with one whole peanut. I thought the one peanut thing was kinda ‘yeah, whatever’, but it turned out to be a really fun job for Lexi.
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Bake for 23 min, or until just set but still soft. Cool on the cookie sheet for 30 seconds, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: About 2 dozen. M ine made about 4 1/2 dozen.  
cookie3    These taste GREAT, but they beg for a glass of milk! I prefer chewy cookies, these are kinda dry. Maybe it’s because they bake so long at a lower temp. They don’t melt down into a flat cookie… however you put them on the cookie sheet is how they’ll look when they come out of the oven, so I smashed them down a little before putting them in the oven, after the first batch came out and I saw that’s what they do. Another thing, semisweet chocolate chips are not my thing… if semisweet was the only chocolate, I would not be a chocoholic. Chocolate would tempt me about as much as, let’s say, raisins (I like them, but nothing special.), so next time, I’d do ALL milk chocolate in these cookies.

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I’m also going to feature a tried-and-true recipe here. Iced tea . I try to keep it on hand in the fridge. If I do, we go thro’ at least one pitcherful a day. It’s so easy and fast… in about 10 minutes, you can go from no tea anywhere around to drinking a cold glass of iced tea. For the taste, it’s comparable to meadow tea , if you know what that is. When I first started making it, I thought it wasn’t as good as meadow tea, but was well worth it for less work and time being put into it. Now that I’m used to it, I like it better than meadow tea. My mother-in-law makes it too and I forget who started making it first, so I’ll give her credit in case it was her.  Maybe we don’t even make it quite the same anymore, I haven’t compared notes with her on it lately.

Iced Tea

Put a coffee filter in a coffee maker (sometimes little pieces of leaves somehow get out of the tea bags, so the filter catches them then). Put 1 Mint Medley tea bag in it.
tea1 Fill the coffee pot with water to 8 cups and pour into coffee maker. Turn it on and run it thro’ just like you’d be making coffee. While that’s being made, put a little over 1/2 cup of sugar into a 2-qt pitcher. When the tea is done, pour it into the pitcher (I don’t know if piping hot liquid is good for a pitcher, but I’ve used the same 2 Pampered Chef pitchers for this for a few years and they’re holding up great… putting in a plug for Pampered Chef, you’d love the plunger thing to stir it with too). Stir it to disolve the sugar,
tea2  then fill it up with ice
tea3  to within 1″ of the top. Stir till ice is about all gone. It’s cool, but not cold by this time, so if we drink it right away, we serve it “on the rocks”, as my dad would say.
tea4   I really need a lemon slice to put on the side of this mug!

By the way, if you rinse out the coffee pot and filter holder thing right away each time, you can make coffee and tea in the same coffee maker and the tastes don’t cross over… at least WE don’t notice a coffee taste in our tea anyway.

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Also, the ‘What’s your kitchen theme/colors’ is SO interesting! In a couple weeks, I’m planning to compile a post with excerpts from all your comments (anonymously… people will have to go back and read the comments if they want to see who said what) on what your kitchen is. So, I’d still love to hear more!