Tag Archives: Summer

Better than Starbucks Chocolate Frappuccinos

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With finals week approaching, I thought it would only be appropriate to share my new favorite way to consume copious amounts of caffeine. I’ve come up with a spectacular, easy way to get a drink that tastes as good as Starbucks without breaking a grad student’s budget (plus I bet my recipe is even lower in calories then the purchased kind!). If you are a coffee drinker, I bet you’ll have almost everything you need right in your kitchen. The one thing you may have to add to your grocery list is chocolate syrup or powder. The addition of the chocolate completely transforms the every day ordinary (sometimes boring) cup of coffee. To say that I am totally obsessed with this recipe is an understatement–I have literally been addicted and have made one every day! Give it a try! I bet you’ll love it as much as I do.

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The Ingredients:

Necessary equipment: blender or large food processor 

  • 1 cup brewed coffee–I usually let mine chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes but if you don’t have the time to let it chill, just add more ice
  • 1/2-1 cup milk–depending on how strong you like the coffee flavor
  • 2 tbs chocolate syrup or chocolate powder
  • 1 tsp or 1 packet of sweetener of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

How to:

  • Add ice, coffee, and milk to blender
  • Pulse until smooth
  • Add chocolate syrup and sweeter and pulse until well incorporated
  • Top with whipped cream if desired and enjoy:)

Homemade Barbecue Sauce & Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

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Homemade Barbecue Sauce & Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

What better way to celebrate a 3 day and Holiday weekend then with a barbeque. Although we’re missing my favorite part–the grill–I am able to make a killer substitute using our crockpot and making homemade barbecue sauce. I can’t even imagine how good this recipe would taste if we actually had a grill to cook it on. What can you do though–when life gives you lemons. This was the first time I have ever made homemade barbecue sauce. Not only is it super simple, it is super delicious…and the best part? It only takes 5 minutes of cooking time to bring the barbecue sauce together! I won’t ever go back to the bottled kind. Who knew it was so simple? This recipe also makes about 4 cups of sauce that can last in the refrigerator for up to a month if stored in an airtight container. Next summer I plan stock up on the homemade sauce to enjoy for weeks on end.

This barbecue sauce tastes like the sauces that are provided at authentic barbecue places. It’s not nearly as thick as the sugary commercial version, so if that’s what you are looking for, this sauce is unfortunately not it. I will say though, that this barbecue sauce has much more depth than the commercial kind. It’s sweet and tart at the same time (from the brown sugar and vinegar) with a little heat thrown in (from the dry mustard, ginger, and chili pepper). We were pleasantly surprised with how delicious the sauce came out and Matt is already asking for me to make ribs to try it on next.

I was inspired to make my own barbecue sauce because the more I learn about the production of food in our country, the more conscious I am about what we are putting into our bodies. I am really trying my best to become an informed cook to protect the things my husband and I are consuming. So many products have ingredients that you–1. don’t know you’re eating or 2. loads of artificial preservatives and additives. It gives me piece of mind to know exactly what kind of products we are consuming on a daily basis. It is also a bonus because it is good for our bodies too. I would say the only packaged food we eat on a regular basis is 90 second rice and that’s the way I intend to keep it for the rest of our lives. I splurge on a bag of chips probably every three months (but even those are typically organic) and in moderation. I really believe that your body does reflect the fuel that you put in it and you can’t expect to feel well if you aren’t doing your part to treat your body well. That is why I enjoy creating recipes like my crockpot chicken because it allows us to always have a healthy protein on hand and sets us up to make delicious meals with very low effort.

The Ingredients:

Makes about 4 cups of sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups of ketchup
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. dry mustard
  • 3 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs. canola oil
  • Juice from half a lemon

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S’more Popcorn? Yes please!

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S’more Popcorn? Yes please!

We are gearing up to take a 9 hour jaunt across country tomorrow, so I thought that it was imperative to create some snacks that not only travel well but taste great too! My absolute favorite treat in the summer are S’mores. I like them the traditional way and absolutely love them with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in place of the chocolate bar. If you haven’t tried this–it is an absolute must ASAP! It’s delicious…but definitely a treat to enjoy in moderation.  Anyhow, today’s treat came about because as I was browsing our pantry I saw that we had some popcorn kernels. I had initial intentions to make Kettle Corn, but my husband being the big kid that he is when it comes to his cereal selection, had just purchased some Golden Grahams last night. From there I realized that we had chocolate chips in the fridge and marshmallows as well…my mind immediately began to wander to S’mores. This creation is so good and super easy to make. I look forward to making some other popcorn creations in the future.


The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Popcorn–I made Kettle Corn instead–using 3 tbs canola oil & 3 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips 
  • Mini marshmallows or regular marshmallows cut up
  • Golden Graham Cereal or broken up Graham Crackers 

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Best Ribs Ever & A Spicy Dry Rub Recipe

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Best Ribs Ever & A Spicy Dry Rub Recipe

My husband, Matt, died and went to heaven when I made him these ribs for dinner. All he kept saying while he was eating them was that “nothing should taste this good. It’s ridiculous.” I was only able to take two pictures because he kept sticking a fork in the pan and stealing meat. He said that he could eat these every day for dinner because they were so delicious. I would call this recipe a definite success and the bonus is that they are so easy to make too! The secret is cooking them all day in the oven at a very low temperature. They were literally fall off the bone ribs, so much in fact that I had to use a spatula to get them from the pan to our dinner plates. The preparation is a snap: preheat the oven to 225 degrees, cut up a large onion to line the bottom of your pan throw a few whole garlic cloves and bay leaves into the mix, and sprinkle them with the homemade dry rub recipe to follow. Cover them in foil for about 8 hours and the results will be flawless every time.

Dry rub

The Ingredients: 

Enough seasoning for 2lbs of ribs; stores great if you want to make a larger batch

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard

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Fantastic Homemade Biscuits! & Tasty Tri-berry Shortcakes

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I accidentally stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago when I was looking to add a homemade biscuit recipe to my baking abilities. The awesome thing about it–well besides the fact that they are amazingly delectable–is the fact that the recipe was published in my hometown paper in 1933. So cool!

If you are still using the canned biscuits–you’ll not only find the recipe just as easy to pull together, but about 100 times more flavorful. They are light and fluffy–with that always sought after layered effect. They are perfect with a little honey & jam, a great biscuit for my midwestern husband’s fav–biscuits and sausage gravy, but also great for berry shortcakes.

CALUMET BAKING POWDER BISCUITS
Makes 12 biscuits
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons Calumet Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter or other shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk (about–add a little more milk if dough doesn’t pull together)
  • (All measurements are level.)

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cut in shortening. Add milk gradually until soft dough is formed.

Turn onto slightly floured board. Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2-inch floured biscuit cutter.

Bake on ungreased baking sheet in hot oven (450 degrees F) 12 to 15 minutes.

Source: Calumet Baking Powder ad in the Lewiston, Maine, Daily Sun newspaper, April 8, 1933.

The only adjustment that I made to the recipe was the addition of a pinch of cinnamon because I was using them for dessert purposes. I brush my biscuits with my favorite sweet cream coffee creamer to ensure they get that beautiful crust–plus the creamer gives them a slightly sweeter taste. I also skip sifting the flour and they still come our great using my all purpose flour. I’ve never made them with shortening as I always use butter–but I’m sure they’d turn out just as well. I hope you’ll incorporate them into your baking repertoire.

For the shortcakes: I sliced strawberries and added raspberries & blueberries to a bowl with a little lemon juice and a little less than 1/2 tsp of sugar (berries are very sweet right now because they are in season–taste them and adjust accordingly). Let flavors meld for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator before spooning over biscuits and serving. Add a little whip cream or serve with vanilla ice-cream. Yumm.

Vine Ripened Tomato Salsa

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Vine Ripened Tomato Salsa

If you know me at all…you’ll know that I am not a big fan of tomatoes. Matt on the other hand can eat them like apples–all he needs is a little salt and he bites right into them. Eeeek. I’ve been warming up to them in the past couple of years though–as long as I squeeze out all the gooey seeds before eating them. Randomly enough, I do love two tomato products: ketchup & salsa (if you’re wondering I’m a strictly butter only on pasta–unless it’s homemade sauce). Since salsa encompasses all the gooey stuff in tomatoes I am sometimes surprised myself that I love it so much. I put it on a lot of foods too–ranging from scrambled eggs to traditional tacos.

At the grocery store, the tomatoes looked particularly fresh. I’m a sucker for buying produce if they’re unloading the shipment fresh, so I decided to grab a few of the vine ripened tomatoes. Avocados were on sale too & Matt is always asking for a taco night (we used to do Taco Tuesday’s ever week but somehow we’ve strayed from that tradition), so I figured I could surprise him with a Mexican night. Something about homemade salsa in the summer is particularly magical. What a healthy, quick treat. I make a lot of versions of homemade salsa–peach salsa, mango-pinapple salsa–but today I decided to go the more traditional route. It was fantastic.

The Ingredients: 

Equipment needed: Food Processor 

  • 3-4 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2-3 large cloves of fresh garlic
  • Jalapeños-I used pickled because I forgot to pick up some fresh ones 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime 
  • Dried oregano 
  • Salt & fresh cracked black pepper