Aug 31, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Syrup and Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte is back!

No Starbucks in the morning

So Wednesday morning I got a craving for the deliciousness of Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I left my house 15 minutes prior to my usual departure time.  When I get to Starbucks, I realize I left my wallet at home because it had been knocked over.  I left dejected because I couldn't have a tasty PSL.

Once I got back to my car, I looked through my purse and found a five dollar bill!  Success!  Once I got back into the Starbucks, there was a line so I had wait for my coffee.  Then there was traffic so it was stressful getting to work on time.

So it's no Starbucks in the morning.

Making the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte 2 years ago

Two years ago, I posted a recipe for pumpkin spice lattes.  It called for blending the pumpkin puree, vanilla creamer, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.  Then you added it to the hot coffee.  It was good but sometimes you would end up with pumpkin puree at the bottom of your mug.  Not so good.


Pumpkin Spice Sryup

I saw this recipe last year but never could find the cheesecloth so I never made it.  A few weeks ago, I found cheesecloth so I made my own pumpkin spice syrup.  The cool thing about this syrup is I know exactly what is in it.  I can also control the amount of pumpkin pie spice in my syrup.

Stars of the Recipe:
  • 1 C. water
  • 3/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Directions:
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Heat in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes.  (Mine took 4 and a half minutes.)
  3. Remove and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice.
  5. Drain over a cheesecloth or small sieve.
  6. Store in an airtight container (Mason jar) in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Pumpkin Spice Latte


Stars of the Recipe:
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. pumpkin spice syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. half and half milk
  • 6 oz. hot coffee (The stronger the better.  Or use a pumpkin spice blend coffee.)
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add syrup and half and half to the mug.  (Make sure the mug is big enough.)
  2. If you are not using a Keurig, warm the milk up in the microwave for about a minute.  Add hot coffee and then mix together.  Add whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice if you want to.
  3. If you are using a Keurig, brew the coffee over the half and half and syrup.  Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice, if wanted.
  4. Enjoy!!!!



Aug 29, 2014

Kitchen Tip - Slow Cooker Freezer Kits

My life has gotten crazier.  I've been back to work for a month now.  

This year I work at the building that starts and ends the latest.  This means I can clock off at 3:45.  I usually don't leave the building until 4 o'clock most days.  The earliest I get home is 4:30.

Here's the dilemma:  Hubby has to be at work by 5:30 3 days and the other 2 days has to be at work by 6:00.  Even though there are 2 days, he has to be at work at 6:00, he has to drop Know-it-All at Kung Fu by 5:30.

So how do I get dinner on the table? 

There are 4 ways.

  1. Tell Hubby what to cook 
  2. Freezer cooking
  3. Slow Cooker 
  4. Food preparation during the weekend.

I'm to discuss the slow cooker method.  

My slow cooker looks nothing like this slow cooker.



Once or twice a month, I make freezer slow cooker kits.  The bags need to be labeled with the date, contents, and then cooking directions.

I then freeze them.  When I'm ready to use the slow cooker kit out of the freezer and put it in the slow cooker.  Sometimes I use a slow cooker bag.  Other times I don't use a bag.  It's easier to clean up if you use a bag.  

You can certainly thaw your freezer kit in the fridge the night before.  I don't because it takes longer for the frozen meals to cook.  During the day, I am busy teaching so I don't always have time to call or text Hubby to tell him to turn the slow cooker on keep warm or when to do that.  (If I tell him prior or leave him a note, it won't necessarily be done.  I have to call or text him.)

Here are some great blogs to find slow cooker recipes that could be frozen:

Eat at Home

Sidetracked Sarah

The Sassy Slow Cooker

A Year of Slow Cooking


Please be careful with using potatoes.  Russet potatoes will brown easier because the amount of starch in russet potatoes.  Use red or yellow potatoes instead.  They are less starchy.

Oh, some recipes have you put some of the foods closer to end of the cooking time, I make 2 bags with the part you put in first and then the other bag.  I put both of those bags in another freezer bag.

As we eat some of the slow cooker freezer kits, I will start to post some of the recipes.  That is I'll post the recipes of the ones that were hits with my family.

Happy Cooking,
Traci

May 31, 2014

Foodie Pen Pal - May 2014

This month I was paired up with Sara from Austin, Texas.

She sent me some cool food.  One was caoco beans covered with white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. They are delicious.



She also sent me some gingersnaps that were shaped like the state of Texas. They are yummy ! I love ginger and cinnamon so these were perfect.



Sara sent some Texas chili spices and buttermilk cornbread mix.  I can't wait we have these for dinner. She also sent me the recipe for the cornbread.  Win win!





Lastly she sent me some steel cut oatmeal and a recipe for 5 minute steel oatmeal.






Thanks Sara for the great box!

May 11, 2014

Recap of What I Ate This Week - Week of May 3

Last night, my boys were over at my mother-in-law's house.  She has a man made pond.  Sometimes we find wildlife such as frogs, toads, and even a blue heron hanging around the pond.  I was in her house when I heard the Imaginative One "has caught a frog!"  I ran outside and sure enough the Imaginative One had caught a frog.  Really it was an American toad.

They played with that American toad for an awful long time.  George Senior (their name for the toad) was a good sport.  He (or she) did try to hop away because that is in their nature.  But other than that, George Senior let them play with him (or her).

That was our adventure yesterday.


This week was a crazy one for dinner.  On Wednesday, I had a chiropractor appointment.  I never know what time I'm going to get done with the appointment.  The office is about 15 minutes away from home.  After a certain time, it's just easier to pick up fast food on the way home because by the time I get home, it will be time for Hubby to leave for work.  I need to remember to have a freezer meal or crock pot meal on those days.  

I had an awful day on Friday and did not feel like cooking at all.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and just cry.  I'm not going into what happened on Friday.  It was nothing to do with my family.  

Now onto our eats:

Sunday - We ate my mother-in-law's house.  I brought over the pulled pork.  She cut up carrots and celery and made some cole slaw.  We also had chips with the sandwiches.  I ended up with enough pulled pork left over that I froze a fourth bag of it.



Monday - I had some paperwork I needed to complete at work.  So I did not know when I would be home to cook dinner or if I really was going to have time to cook dinner.  It was breakfast for dinner night so I bought some frozen waffles.  We also had some already cooked bacon that I froze.  We had it with strawberries.


Tuesday - We celebrated Cinco de Mayo a day late.  I made a taco soup when I got home.  The boys were a little hesitant about eating the soup.  Hubby loved it though.  He had his with Fritos.  I had chips and salsa with mine.  The boys just ate their soup with no side dish.


Wednesday - As I said I had my chiropractor appointment.  I ended up getting us McDonald's which is a treat.  I need to have better planning.

Thursday - It was my birthday.  Hubby made the boys and himself spaghetti and garlic bread.  I went out to eat at Piada's Italian Street Food.  Oh, my goodness - SO good!  Then I went to see The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz.  Great movie.



Birthday Cupcakes


Friday - As I said, I had a horrible day so I did not feel like cooking.  Hubby brought us a pizza from work.

Saturday  - The Wee One and I went on a mommy-son date.  We went to my favorite farmer's market - Second Street Market. and then shopping.  Lunch was Chick Fil-A again.  The Wee One loves chicken nuggets!!!!!!

While we were at Second Street Market, we picked up fingerling potatoes, fresh green beans, and ciabatta bread.  

I cooked up chicken tenderloins, the green beans, and roasted the potatoes for dinner.  The Imaginative One ate his portion of the potatoes, 1/2 of one of mine, and his dad's potatoes.  Hubby wasn't home when we ate dinner.

After dinner, we went over to my mother-in-law's for dessert.  My niece and I both have the same birthday so we sang to her and I .  My mother-in-law made brownies for her and a fruit pizza for me.



That's what we had for dinner this week.  








May 5, 2014

Mom, What's For Dinner? - Week of May 5

This week is going to be a crazy week.  It's my birthday, anniversary, and getting paperwork done for work type of week.  

My birthday is going to be a laid back affair.  I'm going to be able to wear jeans to work because I contributed to a food pantry drive we had at work.  I got a "golden ticket" that will allow me to wear jeans on any day as long as I turn in the ticket.  I'm using it on my birthday.

The boys have dance class with their grandma in the evening.  Hubby is going to be working.  So I will be by myself.  I'm going to have dinner at Piada Italian Street Food.  Yum!  Then I'm going to go see The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz.  

Hubby is going to my favorite cupcake shop and getting me a cupcake.  Yeah!  

Now to the menu:

Monday - Waffles, bacon, and strawberries

Tuesday - Taco Soup, Chips and Salsa

Wednesday - Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad

Thursday - Hamburgers, Chips, and Raw Veggies (For Hubby and boys) - Piada Italian Street Food for me

Friday - Skillet chicken with tangy sauce, green beans, and roasted potatoes

Here is a printable version of the menu:  Mom, What's For Dinner - Week of May 5  (We had bacon not sausage links on Monday.)

For more menu ides, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.


May 4, 2014

Mom, What's For Dinner? - Month of May

I'm going to do something different this month.  This month, I'm going to write a menu plan for the whole month.  Each month I'm going to post the menu for that week because the menu might have changed.

Week of May 5 - 

  • Monday - Waffles
  • Tuesday - Taco Soup
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti
  • Thursday - Hamburgers
  • Friday - Skillet Chicken with Tangy Sauce


Week of May 12

  • Monday - Pancakes
  • Tuesday - Bramble Beans
  • Wednesday - Chicken Alfredo
  • Thursday - Pizza
  • Friday - Ham in the Crock Pot

Week of May 19
  • Monday - French Toast
  • Tuesday - Chicken Noodle Soup from Freezer
  • Wednesday - Homemade Hamburger Helper
  • Thursday - Tacos
  • Friday - Grilled Chicken

Week of May 26
  • Monday - Waffles
  • Tuesday - Taco Casserole
  • Wednesday - Baked Mac and Cheese
  • Thursday - Quesadillas
  • Friday - Meatloaf from the Freezer

Review of What We Ate - Week of April 27

Last week was a successful week out eating:

On Sunday, I made skillet chicken with a sweet and sour sauce, warmed up precooked rice from the freezer, and cooked up some corn.  We shared this meal with my mother-in-law and another family member.

Monday - I made baked French toast and bacon.  
The family loves this meal.  The Imaginative One kept trying to take strawberries from my plate because he had already eaten all of his.  I told him there were more in the fridge but he didn't want them because they were not cut up.  Stinker.

Tuesday - I made a beanie weenie type dish with pinto beans and kielbasa.  I served it with cornbread.  We also had a salad. 



Both Hubby and I enjoyed the meal.  The Wee One ate his food with little complaint.  The Imaginative One was picky about the food.  Totally annoying.

Wednesday - We had sausage penne pasta skillet, salad, and copycat Zaxby's garlic bread.



The Wee One didn't want the garlic bread so he had a piece of the cornbread from the night before.  The Imaginative One had plain pasta, sausage, and salad.  Hubby loved the pasta and garlic bread.

Thursday - It was a total wash for me.  I came home from work exhausted.  We had testing and then I was observed.  Emotionally and physically draining.  The family had left-overs and I ate at Burger King for my dinner.

We did make microwave S'Mores after Cub Scouts though.  





Friday - I put pork in the crock pot and added a homemade barbecue sauce to it.  It was cooked on low all day.  We had pulled pork sandwiches, salad, and French fries.

There was enough pulled pork left over that I froze 3 bags of it.  We are going to have some of it for our dinner tonight.

Saturday - I had a hair appointment and then wanted to run some errands.  The boys ended up going with me because Hubby had a meeting in the afternoon.  I didn't want to be worrying about what time I got home.

We ate a Chick-Fil-A.  The Imaginative One and I also shared an order of pretzel sticks.  We also had a smoothie.




Since I didn't cook what I had planned for dinner on Thursday, I cooked it up on Saturday.

We had either plain cheese quesadillas or pizza quesadillas with corn on the cob.  The Imaginative One and I were going to see Rio 2 at the movie theater so we wanted something quick and easy.  Hubby loved the pizza quesadilla!  Both the Wee One and the Imaginative One loved the plain cheese quesadillas.  Corn on the cob is always a great treat at the house.


I hope you enjoyed seeing what we ate during the week.  Next week is going to be crazy so I don't know if I'll be able to share what we ate.