Archive for the ‘foodie’ Category


coffeeFor a very, very, very long time coffee and Catholicism have gone hand in hand. You say Catholic, I say COFFEE! You say family mass, I say DOUGHNUTS! MUFFINS! It’s just how the coffee cake crumbles.

I remember sitting in Sunday morning mass as a child, as a teenager, as a 20-something in my hometown church on Family Sundays hardly able to make it through mass because of the tempting odor of coffee wafting up through the floors from the basement/gathering hall and into the pews. As an adult in my current church, I can’t say that it’s much changed (when my pain doesn’t keep me from attending) because it hasn’t.

Coffee and church: It’s like chocolate and coffee or, you know, mocha.

Coffee and church: It’s like cream and sugar… in coffee.

Coffee and church: It’s like sea salt and caramel or, you know, salted caramel chocolate chip cookies … with salted caramel coffee.

Maybe you can see why maybe just maybe some people are a little confused as to why coffee, Christmas, and Christianity are all tangled up together:

It’s because of Family Sundays aka Coffee and Doughnut Weekend. 

Let me just say, though, if you take away the coffee on Family Sundays, there will be a REAL controversy. I remember talking with the former pastor of my current church saying that weekends of Family Mass shows higher attendance. When they have better quality of coffee, attendance is even higher. He wasn’t joking. Not even a little. He felt very strongly that good coffee, frequently, brought families to church.

Don’t mess with Catholic coffee. We will cut you.

Pastor Emily C. Heath is awesome. I’m going to show you why. Christians and Coffee Cups: [CLICK HERE] |Pastor Heath shared some simple and beautiful truth regarding the non-troversy (by an individual who fancies himself to be an evangelist pastor).

Her blog entry could be relevant every year with each new created non-troversy towards the imaginary “War on Christmas.” A strong faith doesn’t worry about every new media-proclaimed outrage. At least, mine doesn’t. But my faith is a whole ‘nother series of posts, ha ha.

What I think I’ll do with the money I could spend on the Starbucks coffee (and for that matter, any money I’d spend on my beloved Dunkin Donuts… mmm Snickerdoodle) is keep some non-perishable food in the car and donate it to the next homeless person I see. I’ll donate more food to the local food bank with my children.

I do find it amusing that the Pagan Goddess in the dramatic forefront of the cups 100% of the time, including Christmas and Easter, doesn’t seem to bother the evangelical versions of my brothers and sisters in Jesus. 😉

Apart from that, my parting thoughts on what Jesus might think:

Luke 6:20 NASB

a.k.a.

Dudes, if you choose to hate others, ostracize others, insult others, scorn others don’t you dare throw me under the bus when you do it and tell them it’s because I said so. Because dudes, woe to you. Woe. To. You.

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My eldest daughter just asked me if being vegetarian was easy.  I had to be honest with her.

“Most of the time it’s easy, unless bacon is involved.”

I haven’t found a way to keep bacon in the house and prepare it for others without wanting to eat the whole pound.  As a vegetarian I would still eat bacon wrapped bacon, and then as someone with Fibromyalgia I would regret it for the next couple of days with some pain issues.  Even as I regretted it, I would consider it worth it because it was bacon.

Otherwise I don’t miss meat.  I miss some of the seasonings used.  For instance, if I’m craving buffalo wings I realize that it’s not the meat I’m craving but the buffalo sauce and dipping it in ranch or bleu cheese dressing.  I found a fix for that.  I put hot sauce on my pizza.  I also do something after that, which I used to think was gross when I heard people talk about it:  I take the hot sauce pizza and dip THAT into ranch or bleu cheese dressing.  It’s perfect.  Not vegan, but I’m not vegan.  🙂

I also enjoy seasoning my tofu with hot sauce and chili pepper, much like a taco, and while it will never taste like taco filling and will never be the same texture as any sort of recognized taco filling, I get the seasonings I love and top the tofu onto rice and black beans.  Sometimes the tofu has curry, sometimes Lawry’s salt.  Sometimes I put it in a chef salad with avocado in place of BBQ chicken.  It’s EVEN BETTER than BBQ chicken that way.

The hard part is if/when we go out to eat at a restaurant although most seem to be catering more to vegetarians these days.  It’s harder when you’re a guest in someone’s home and nearly everything they’re serving is meat or was cooked steeping in meat.  Making adjustments and accommodations is necessary, but it’s hard to compromise when it’s for health issues.  That’s what I’m slowly coming to terms with.  The rare cheat just might not be worth it.

So yeah, vegetarianism is easy when I consider the alternative.

Except when I’m confronted with bacon.

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I heard about these in passing, and then yesterday at my mother’s house one of my brothers mentioned that his mother-in-law makes them all the time for her grandchildren (did you get all of that?).  Word on the street is that the children love them, and they can be made in countless flavors.  They can be made using boxed cake or from scratch.  They can be served with whipped cream or ice cream or topped with chocolate chips.

In my research I’ve seen them referred to as “breakfast.”

I found this recipe and decided to try it because it’s from scratch, I can make it lactose-free, it’s chocolate, and it’s easy.  It also seems to get rave reviews wherever I’ve found it being referred to online.  Other blogs go so far as to try to make copycats of this recipe.

2 Stews: 1-2-3 Chocolate Microwave Mug Cake.

So here it goes.  Sweet Girl was skeptical, so of course she’s going to be my little guinea pig.

Okay, I made it and here’s the verdict.  Sweet Girl claimed she likes it but when I asked if she wanted more than a bite she said,

“I brushed my teeth.”

It needs a pinch of salt and some leavening.  It just… does.  It’s tasty but flat, so it definitely needs the salt.  And it needs leavening to help it rise better and not feel like paste in the mouth.  With those additions I’m thinking it would be fabulous. Or, you know, I’ll find a new recipe. Pinterest, here I come.

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Cinnamon Roll Cake Recipe.

There it is.  I follow the recipe nearly exactly except I bake it for 34 minutes so that it’s golden brown all over the top.  I also cut the icing recipe in half, except I keep the full amount of vanilla, and drizzle it.

Delish.  And a household favorite.  It’s so delicious and homey and yes, it’s full of butter.  I cut it into 24 servings.  I also make sure to share it.  A lot.

 

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Last night I made two Easy Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes (click here for recipe).  They’re beautiful, although they did crack a little bit.  If I were entering them in a show (which I’m not) it would matter that they cracked but they’ll still be delicious.  I promise.  It’s my most requested recipe to bring to parties.

Today I’m planning to make my Easy Homemade Italian Bread.  It’s so good and homey and Italian-y.  It’s not the crusty, rock-hard rustic bread that you have to dip into soup or sauce to soften in order to eat but the nice big fluffy one that you can still put your teeth into without triggering TMJ.  Don’t let the written appearance fool you… it really is very easy.

On Christmas morning every year I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  It’s one of our favorite traditions.  I originally got this recipe from Allison M. Dickson, a friend and wonderful fictional writer that you really MUST look up on Amazon.  She writes some fantastic short stories.  This Cinnamon Bun recipe is what inspired my Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe.  I love snickerdoodles, but I needed one that was chewy enough and cinnamon-y enough… and what I really wanted was for them to taste like mini cinnamon buns.  I usually make snickerdoodles for Christmas but lost track of the time this year.  I’ll have to make them on the 26th.

I’m sharing the recipes of course, but I don’t have nutrition information.  If you go to SparkPeople.com I think you can plug recipes in there and it will give you nutrition information for individual servings.  It’s been a while since I’ve been over there.

Easy Italian Bread:
(Jessica)
Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. or 2 pkg. (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water, 95 to 110*F
  • 1 Tbsp. very soft butter, or olive oil
  • 6 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water

Preparation:

  1. Warm oven to 200* for five minutes, then turn it off.  You will need the oven to have a warm and non-drafty place to rise and rest the dough.

  2. In large bowl, stir together sugar, salt, yeast, and water. Allow the yeast to proof (produce bubbles and bloom).

  3. Add in the butter or olive oil.

  4.  Add flour by the half cup, turning it with a fork, just until there’s enough flour for the dough to be soft and kneaded by hand.

  5. Turn dough out of medium-large bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more flour as you go if the bread becomes sticky.  Bread should become smooth and pliable.

  6. Put the dough into a medium sized bowl that’s been greased with vegetable oil and turn the dough until all of it has been greased.

  7. Cover the bowl with a clean, slightly damp (warm) kitchen towel and let set for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.

  8. If you’re using a baking sheet, grease it lightly.  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal, if desired. If you’re using a flat baking stone, do not grease it but simply put cornmeal on it if desired.

  9. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured table and cut into equal halves.

  10. Roll each dough half into a 15/16 X 9-inch rectangle, tucking dough from the long sides tightly under the bottom.  Be sure to pinch from underneath to the ends or the dough will open up during baking and flatten out the loaf.

  11. When folding and pinching is done, the loaves should similar to footballs.

  12. Allow the dough to rise in the still-warm oven for 15-20 more minutes, then remove from the oven.

  13. Heat the oven to 425*F.

  14. On top of each loaf, using a non-serated knifed, cut three diagonal slits.

  15. Using a pastry brush,

  16. Tightly roll dough along the 15-inch side. Pinch seams and taper the ends of each loaf. Place loaves on baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place for only 20 minutes.

  17. Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Make 3 deep diagonal slashes on each loaf. Using a pastry brush, lightly but firmly baste the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.

  18.  Bake bread for 25 minutes, or until bread is browned and makes a hollow thumping sound when tapped firmly.

Cinnamon-y Snickerdoodles:
(Jessica)
makes 4-5 dozen

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl, combine 1/8 C sugar and 1/8 C cinnamon, blend well, then set aside.
Beat together shortening and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
Beat in vanilla.
Incorporate eggs separately.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Beat dry mixture into egg mixture.
Taking about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll the dough into balls, then roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar, coating completely.
Set onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 12 balls of dough on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove cookies to a sheet of wax paper on the counter OR a cooling rack.
Store tightly covered.

Cinnamon Buns Popped Out From Spring Form Pan via Jessica’s Kitchen

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Buns:
(Allison Dickson)To make things more convenient, melt all 8 tablespoons of butter for the recipe at once and measure out as needed.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for pan

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cinnamon Bun from the middle

Biscuit Dough
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (Jessica’s note: I clabber lactose-free milk with some white vinegar)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Icing
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (Jessica’s note: I don’t use cream cheese and don’t have a lactose-free substitute, so I just use enough clabbered lactose-free milk and confectioner’s sugar to act as a glaze, mixed with about a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

3. To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

4. Pat dough with hands into 12X 9-inch rectangle. Spread filling over, roll lengthwise, and cut into 8 even pieces, and arrange buns in buttered cake pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

5. To make icing and finish buns: While buns are cooling, set rack with buns over baking sheet. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over; whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately.

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English: Roasted coffee beans photographed usi...

English: Roasted coffee beans photographed using a macro technique. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I think I’m a coffee snob.  Not a huge one or anything, because I’ll drink coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Starbuck’s or even McDonald’s in a pinch.  I don’t get the coffee “drinks” either… I get the actual coffee, nice and bitter with just a little bit of creamer and sometimes a lovely flavor like pumpkin or vanilla or mocha.

 

I don’t really get the huge fucking deal over Keurig.  It’s not the best tasting coffee.  You can’t convince me that it is.  I know what good coffee tastes like, and I make it in my own kitchen.  With a French Press.  I have a lovely Bodum French Press.  I use fresh coarsely beans that I grind myself at the grocery store.  They would, of course, be more fresh if I ground them in the kitchen but until I get a coffee grinder as a gift I’m  happy with grinding at the store.

I’ve been served delicious coffee at my mother-in-law’s house.  She makes wicked coffee and espresso.  My grandfather makes really good coffee too.  I’ve been to a couple of restaurants that have perfected good coffee, although most are just okay.  You really want a cafe that specializes in making premium coffee or make it yourself.

 

Keurig… well… it’s kind of like coffee.  The thing is that even if you put in a K-cup that says it’s dark coffee, you can still see through it.  I use a clear glass mug sometimes and I brought one to work where we have a Keurig.  I can see through the dark coffee.  I can’t see through my coffee at home.  It has enough caffeine to keep me awake, but it’s just… I guess I’m a snob.  It doesn’t taste substantial.  I kind of like mud in my coffee.  Not coffee grounds, but MUD.  I like my coffee to have the consistency of blood, ha ha.  It makes sense if I’m using it as a transfusion, really.

 

Seriously though! Is it that we Americans as a whole like Coffee Drinks and therefore Weak Coffee? Am I spoiled by growing up in a household that enjoyed strong coffee? Am I spoiled by having a real Italian mother-in-law who knows how to make Real Italian Coffee? Am I spoiled by my French Press?

 

Don’t get me wrong… I’ll even drink the coffee they serve on Family Weekends at church.  I’ve often told them that if they served BETTER coffee that they would get higher church attendance, though.  Oddly enough, about a month ago they “changed coffee suppliers.”  I hope that soon they change the big tank they keep the coffee in, because it’s burning that shit.  Can I call it “shit” if it’s coffee made in a church?

 

And don’t me wrong on the Keurig… it’s better than Church Coffee.  And since we have it at work, I drink it.  I even drink the decaf mild breakfast blend.  Why? Because it’s THERE.  But, you know, I’m still being snobby about it.  I admit it was deliciously amazing the week that I splurged and shared some Dunkin Donuts pumpkin spice K-cups with the office.  When I’m temporarily rich again, I may have to do get some more D & D K-cups.  I also have to say that Keurig coffee is way better when it’s in a real mug and not in a paper cup, but I’m thinking about spoiling my coworkers and getting an electric kettle and a French Press eventually to share the joy of muddy coffee.

 

Okay, I’ll stop being obtuse now.  I know that it’s a major benefit to have coffee at your fingertips without actually having to prepare the coffee.  Fill a water tank, put in a prefilled K-cup, mug under a dripper, and press a button.  BAM you have coffee.  So I guess you (I) have to make sacrifices somewhere.

Yes, yes, I know… I blog altogether too much about coffee.

 

 

 

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Don’t let the prettiness fool you… this is failed cooked caramel icing.

Notice the lovely “whipped” texture?

Oh wait… no, it’s not.  It shattered.

Shattered Failed Cooked Caramel Icing

It did taste good, as long as it wasn’t too thick to bite into.  The birthday girl was ecstatic and the girls (including a guest) thought it was delicious.  The Mister wouldn’t try it, though.  He probably didn’t want to break a tooth.

I should have used my Lactose Free Soft Caramel recipe that I blogged a while back.  That would have been lovely and soft drizzled all over the cake.  Ah well.  I’ll know for next time.  To never have a next time when it comes to cooking icing ever again.

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