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Homemade Cinnamon Coffee Creamer

I was having coffee at a neighbors house one day when I was served up something completely new (to me at least) and totally unexpected. My neighbor’s husband had just returned from a trip to visit family in Mexico and he brought back some cinnamon coffee! I had never tried anything like it. It was a subtle flavor change but it was just somehow so warming and so rich that I proceeded to invite myself over for coffee nearly every day that week to have more! ;)

This recipe is for a cinnamon flavored coffee creamer, not straight coffee itself, but it does a good job of replicating the warmth and taste I experienced without grinding up a stick of cinnamon and sprinkling it into your mug. I have to say, off all my creamer recipes – this one was BY FAR the hardest for me to come up with. You’ll notice that I use cinnamon extract and not powdered cinnamon or a grated cinnamon stick. Did you know that cinnamon doesn’t dissolve? I mean, EVER dissolve? If you make the recipe with the actual ground cinnamon, all the grounds float on top of your creamer batch. You can shake the batch to disperse the cinnamon but even then once it’s in your mug the cinnamon floats on top of your coffee and you get a few mouth-burning-ultra-cinnamon-y gulps and that’s about all. Basically, what it all comes down to is that no matter how much I wanted to use a more conventional cinnamon, we really do need to pick up an extract for this recipe to work.

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Ingredients:
1/2 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (save the other half in the fridge for your next batch of creamer!)
1 cup Milk (I used 2% because that’s what we have in-house)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 TBSP Cinnamon Extract

Directions:
1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Mix together really well, you don’t want the condensed milk to be a dense sludge on the bottom. Get your whisk out and give yourself a quick workout!
3. Pour it into any sort of container you like and store it in the fridge. It will stay fresh as long as the milk you added hasn’t met its expiration date yet.
4. Enjoy!

If you like this recipe, you may like:

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‘Bailey’s’ Irish Coffee Creamer

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Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

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Homemade Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer

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Homemade “French Vanilla” Coffee Creamer

 

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Apple Butter

Is there anything better than a large schmear of apple butter on a slice of fresh bread in the morning!? Every fall my family drives to a (relatively) nearby farm and goes apple picking. We come home with great memories…and buckets and buckets of apples!! At least a dozen of these apples are always put aside to become apple butter. We are barely even home from the apple orchard and my kids are already asking me if I’ve made the apple butter yet ;) There’s very little work involved other than prepping the apples, and if you’re the canning type, you can even water-bath can the fruits of your labor.  (See what I did there? Haha)

Apple ButterIngredients:
1 dozen medium sized Apples, peeled, cored, and cubed.
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice
1 Large Dollop of Honey – roughly 1-2 TBSP

Directions:
1. Prep your apples.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the apples, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix them together well to combine.
3. Dump it all in your crockpot and cook on low overnight.
4. In the morning, stir the mixture in the crock. Put the lid back on but prop it open a little with a spoon and turn it on high. Let it cook on high for a few more hours – I like to go for another three hours or so to get the thickness and color I prefer, but it’s really up to what you like.
5. When you’ve tasted the apples and you’re happy with the thickness and flavor, turn off the crock and let the mixture cool a bit. Pour it into the blender (or use an immersion blender if you have one) and add a dollop of honey. Puree until smooth.
6. Pour it all into a mason jar or other air tight container and store in the fridge.
7. Enjoy!!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Breakfast, Crock Pot, Easy, Homemade, Kids, Sweets

 

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Homemade Baked Beans

Baked Beans are a wonderful thing. They’re easy to make. They’re delicious. They travel well so you can bring them to parties, picnics, or events. Kids and adults alike will eat them as a side. And, my favorite part, the crock pot does almost all of the cooking work.

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Homemade Baked Beans
Ingredients:

2 cups Navy Beans
1/2 lb Bacon
3 TBSP Molasses
2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Directions:
1. Soak your beans overnight in water, covered.
2. Drain the beans and transfer into a pot and fill with enough fresh water to cover the beans. Simmer until tender – approximately an hour and a half to two hours. Drain the beans and **reserve the water**.
3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees if you are planning to bake the beans in the oven. If you are using your crock pot instead, you can just pull out your crock.  ;)
4. In a sauce pan, combine the molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, and brown sugar. Mix to combine and bring to a boil.
5. While that is heating, pour your beans into either a 1/2 sized casserole dish or into your crock pot – whichever you will be using. Chop up your raw bacon into small bites and mix into the beans.
6. Once your sauce pan mixture reaches its boil, pour over the beans and bacon mixture and add just enough of the reserved bean juices to cover the beans.
7. If you’re baking in the oven, cover the casserole dish with foil and bake 3-4 hours until tender and add a little more of the reserved bean liquid half way through cooking if needed. I
If you’re using your crock pot, put the lid on your crock and cook for 6-7 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low. You might need to add some of the reserved bean water mid-way through the cooking.

 

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Mediterranean Chicken

I love chicken legs. They’re always cheaply priced at the store, there’s a bazillion ways to flavor and cook them, and it seems almost everyone loves them!  Fried, baked, grilled, marinated. Yum.

We call this recipe our Mediterranean Chicken, but to tell the truth I have no idea exactly how ‘Mediterranean’ it really is. The difference in this dish is that we marinate the chicken legs in yogurt for a few hours before cooking – have you ever tried that before? There’s something about yogurt that completely changes the texture and feel of a meat when you use it as a marinade. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a go! It is a great way to get incredibly moist meat – just be careful not to over-marinate or the flavor gets a little off.

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Mediterranean Chicken
Ingredients:
1 package Chicken Legs
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1 TBSP Paprika
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Kosher Salt

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, paprika, olive oil, and salt. Add the chicken legs to the bowl and turn to coat each leg evenly with the mixture.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 8 hours.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the skin is crispy and meat is cooked through.
4. Enjoy!

 
 

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Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This is my first ever ‘guest recipe’ post!  Today’s recipe comes from a good friend of mine that always makes sure to go above and beyond for her children and family. One of her little ones needed some extra special care earlier this week and she went so far above-and-beyond, that she surprised even herself and made her best ever soup! She has been kind enough to share the recipe with us too, so with no further ado…..Here’s Jessica K.’s Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup!

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Jessica K. writes:
I don’t know about you, but I have always had a hard time making an awesome broth-based chicken soup. I always find that it turns out bland– especially the chicken part. So, when my youngest had surgery this past Monday, I decided to play around with some ideas I had on how to make my chicken soup more like the ones you can get at a restaurant. What I ended up with was so flavorful, I had to stop eating and write down exactly what I did so I wouldn’t forget. ;-)

Ingredients:
1 box (32 oz) Chicken Broth (I use reduced-sodium)
2-3 cups Water
2 Chicken Bouillon cubes
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Creasts
½ a medium Onion, chopped
Veggies you have on hand (I used a handful or so of baby carrots chopped, two stalks of celery chopped and roughly a cup of broccoli pulled apart)
1/8 tsp of oregano (increase or decrease depending on how you want it seasoned)
Garlic powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oil (I use EVOO)
1/3 cup of pasta (I used gluten-free small shells)- optional

Directions:
1. Sprinkle two chicken breasts with garlic powder (both sides).  Put oil in a pan on medium heat and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Once the chicken is on its second side and close to being done, add the chopped onion to the pan. When both side of the chicken are browned remove them from the pan. (This is how I made sure the chicken had favor. If you just put chopped up, raw chicken, in broth I find it comes out bland.)
2. Put the chicken on a plate and cut into pieces. Don’t worry about any pink areas in the middle of the chicken because it will continue cooking in the broth. Use a bit of chicken broth to deglaze the pan.
3. Add the chopped veggies, chopped chicken, and oregano to the deglazed pan. Add more broth to the pan until the ingredients are just covered. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Once everything has been able to mingle and soak up all that wonderful flavor, transfer it to a soup pot (a large pot). Add the remaining chicken stock, the water, and two bouillon cubes. You can also add a little salt and pepper for additional flavor. I find that you don’t need salt because of the bouillon cubes, but I did add a little pepper. Cover and keep it on a low to medium heat for at least an hour. You can leave it on a low heat, simmering away until you are close to when you want to eat.
*At this point, instead of simmering in a pot on the stove, you could also transfer it to a crock pot and leave it on low for about an hour or two and then switch it to warm.*
5. Got noddles? When you are about 20-30 minutes before you want to serve, add the pasta. If you are making this ahead and not eating it right away, I would NOT put the pasta in until the day you are eating it. Just heat the soup on the stove, bring to a boil, and add the pasta. That way your pasta is fresh and not super mushy.
*Though I have not tried this yet, I would imagine this would make a good freezer meal soup as well. Just don’t add the pasta if you intend on freezing and add it once you’ve defrosted and heated it up.*

FYI– My 3-year-old little patient LOVED it. =)

 

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Whisky Jerky

Old No. 7 – a little Jack can make anything taste better.  Jerky is no exception.  The flavor of charred Oak mixed with beef makes a jerky everyone loves.

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Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef – 90% lean or better
3 TBSP Whisky
2 TBSP A1 Sauce
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
3/4 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Table Salt
1/4 tsp Curing Salt

Directions:
First thing you need to do is to pour the Whisky and A1 into a small saucepan and mix to combine. Heat the mixture to below a simmer and allow to reduce approximately 80%, around 20 minutes, stirring very frequently. (Make sure to reduce fully or your jerky will turn out brittle.) Do not allow the sauce to burn to the bottom of the pan.
Next you need to mix the reduced sauce will all the remaining spices into a large bowl and stir together well.  Then add the ground beef into the sauce/seasoning mix bowl. Get in there with your hands and mix the meat and the sauce together very well. Mix a few minutes past when you think you’re done mixing. The more mixing, the better, it will extrude easier.

Jerky

Start piping some of the meat mixture into your extruder gun, you can see our gun in the picture above. Try not to allow any air bubbles to get in the works and mess up your jerky strips. Begin extruding approximately 6 inch strips onto the dehydrator grate trays. Allow a small amount of space in between the sticks. Do this until all the beef mixture is used up.

Extruding ground beef jerky

If the jerky strips are coming out in bits and spurts it means one of two things. Either your ground beef was too red and bloody (and extra moist), or that you did not reduce your sauce down far enough. The jerky should come out of the extruder gun easily. There’s not much you can do to fix the meat at this point so if it’s coming out poorly, just do the best you can with it.

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We dehydrate for 7-8 hours, rotating the trays every 2 hours, and checking for done-ness along the way. The time will vary depending on the temperature of your dehydrator. Our JerkyExpress only has an on and off setting, no actual temperature setting, but it runs at around 150 degrees. The jerky will feel slightly stiff when done. We like to allow the jerky about a day in the fridge before eating so the texture can firm up properly. Then you can store in the fridge or in a closed container in the pantry for 3-4 weeks, although most likely you’ll have eaten it all long before then. If you plan to store the jerky in the fridge, allow some time for it to warm up before eating, as it tastes much better warm than it does cold.

That’s it, how hard was that? I hope you like it! Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Beef, Homemade, Jerky, Party Foods

 

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Veggie Tree

Last year, my then-two-year-old desperately wanted a christmas tree made out of broccoli. I have no idea why or where she comes up with this stuff….did I mention she was two? I remembered having seen something close on Pinterest a while before so I gave it my best attempt and this is what came of it.

Veggie Tree

First I want to mention that I just might be the least crafty type person ever to have walked this earth. This project intimidated the heck out of me, but actually ended up being pretty easy. The real fun was serving it to our extended family at our Christmas party as an appetizer and seeing their faces :)

Supplies:
1 Foam Craft Cone
1 Serving Tray you are comfortable hot gluing something to
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks to refill as needed
1 box of toothpicks
Vegetables of your choosing – keep in mind both what you want to eat, AND what would decorate a tree. Broccoli is the obvious choice for the green branches, I used cauliflower for snowy pieces and just a color variance. Red cherry tomatoes and orange baby carrots work as ornaments. If your family likes bell peppers, you could cut ribbons off the different colored peppers and use it like a garland. Again, I made mine for a 2yr old, so our veggies were pretty standard fare.

Directions:

1. In case you’re not sure what I mean by a foam cone, here’s a picture of a generic one:
01260P                                                               It’s just a small cone made of foam ;)
Anyways, using your hot glue gun, very generously glue the base of the cone down onto your serving tray. I used a dollar store throw-away tin one for mine so I didn’t have to worry about any damage.
2. While that’s cooling, chop up your veggies into pretty little pieces that you can attach to the cone.
3. Use the toothpicks to stab a piece of veggie – a broccoli floret, for example, in the base of the veggie and then stab it into the foam cone. Don’t go all crazy with your greens and expect to come back later and put in your colorful pieces – you’re going to have to plan ahead a bit and leave space for the other veggies. Perhaps if you’re really clever, you can decorate the naked tree with your “ornament” veggies and then go back and fill in the green veggies.
4. That’s it. Be creative with it. Use any veggies you like to eat. And when it’s time to serve up, remember to offer some sort of veggie dip to go with.
5. Enjoy!

 

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