Grounds and Hounds

I follow a lot of coffee companies and coffee shops on Instagram. We all know this isn’t a surprise, right? Well, this company, Grounds and Hounds came across my feed one day as an ad because every site tracks every little thing. I was curious, as one would be who loves coffee as much as I do, and I clicked (which just fed the little stalker monsters). For every pound of coffee bought, they funnel money back into dog rescue efforts. I’m a cat person, but I’m here for rescuing ALL animals and was happy to part with some of my money for a pound of their Snow Day coffee blend…

I was in love with their holiday post card, too!

I’ll be grinding some of this to make some iced pour over and am so looking forward to tasting it. They even have a subscription service along with an online store with merchandise.

If you’re interested, click to be taken to their site… Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co.

Are you a cat or dog person?

Have a great week!

Holiday Blend Coffee

I’m a sucker for it.

Always. Every year.

But at least I can admit that I’m a sucker for it. I buy Starbuck’s Christmas Blend and Caribou Coffee’s Reindeer Blend in whole bean for cold brew and iced pourover and for use in the Aeropress.

And I have fallen victim this season to buying K-Cups… Peet’s Holiday Blend. I love it. It’s a quick, hot cup of coffee on cold mornings. And I’ve missed the convenience. I know all about re-usable K-cups, so don’t flog me just yet. I just have to not be lazy the night before and pre-fill one. But I have been lazy and well, I’m gonna own it and not feel the shame.

Do you drink Holiday Blend coffee or tea? And have you seen the tea advent calendars? They’re so cute! If I was a regular tea drinker, I would totally be all over one!

Have a great weekend!

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Lissa

Everyone waits with baited breath and eager anticipation for Starbucks to bring out the Pumpkin Spice latte each year. Okay well, almost everyone. Not me. I tied one once and promptly returned it. It was too sweet for me.

So, while the majority of latte drinkers seek out the Pumpkin Spice, I await the Gingerbread latte. It’s not advertised as much anymore and I’ve been in several Starbucks stores that won’t even make it. Makes me very sad. I had to take matters into my own hands more this year than usual. Instead of buying gingerbread syrup for the latte, I decided to make my own.

The internet has more food blogs than one could visit in a year, even if you tried to visit one several in one day. And because there are so many food blogs, there are many recipes for homemade gingerbread syrup. I’ve only tried one so far, and it’s very good. When it’s gone, I’ll try a different one simply because that’s what I do. I like trying different versions and modifying, tweaking…

Most of the recipes I read through use whole spices. I don’t usually have whole ones. I might invest in them for the next time. For now, I had to find an equivalency chart for whole spices to ground spices. I had to fiddle with the amounts a bit, but it worked just fine, I think. The chart I used was Cook’s Thesaurus: Global Spices

The recipe I tried came from the blog, The Galley Gourmet. I’ve visited this site many times and really like her recipes.

Homemade Gingerbread Syrup:
(modified from The Galley Gourmet)

Homemade Gingerbread Syrup
makes about 1 1/4 cup

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon molasses (the only molasses I have is Sorghum, but Blackstrap would be good)
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
8 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (though I think I added more like 1 Tablespoon)

In a medium saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a cheesecloth or very fine mesh strainer and transfer to a container to cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

The vanilla is my own addition. It cuts the sharpness of the spices and adds a bit of sweetness in a way that only Vanilla can.

If you are looking for a Gingerbread latte recipe, the Galley Gourmet has one on her site as well. I never follow a latte recipe exactly because some days I want it stronger and some days I want it sweeter.

Usually though, a latte is 2 oz espresso, 3/4 cup steamed milk, 1-2 Tablespoons syrup (gingerbread, cinnamon, caramel, etc…), and whipped cream or the froth from the milk. I add a dash of nutmeg to the top of the whipped cream… Yummy!

The Gingerbread latte is my holiday indulgence. I make one several times a week. If I bought one from Starbucks (when I can get them to make one), I’d be broke very quickly. My espresso machine was relatively inexpensive given how often I use it in the fall and winter. After the holidays I usually make caramel or cinnamon lattes, sometimes a mocha (I’m still trying to get a mocha right).

For now though, enjoy…

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Coffee Creamers

Coffee. I love coffee. We all know that. I also like my coffee sweet. I’ve tried it black, straight, strong, weak, medium, fresh ground, pre-ground, cheap, and not so much… No matter what the brand, the price… I don’t like straight black coffee.

When I started drinking coffee, I started out on the sweet kind and well, you know how it goes.

My preferred coffee of choice now is cold-brewed iced coffee, but I drink my fair share of hot coffee. I drink flavored lattes only on rare occasions now, because frankly they’re too sweet and too heavy. I like a good mocha and my favorite is from Caribou Coffee. They have a dark chocolate campfire mocha that’s amazing. It’s the only mocha I like really and I only have one of those every now and then. They are rich and sweet and so yummy that I can’t have them very often.

I have found in my drinking of and experimenting with coffee that different sweeteners work better in hot coffee than in iced coffee. Some don’t really work in either one because, if you like your coffee sweet, you’d have to use so much more than the suggested serving size of 1-2 tablespoons.

When I would get iced coffee from the coffee shops, I’d get a shot of vanilla or caramel syrup followed by milk. Sometimes soy, sometimes almond, sometimes regular. When I started moving away from refined sugars, I stopped buying iced coffees already prepped behind the counter. I’d instead use sugar in the raw and half and half. That one works in hot coffee too and isn’t too bad. It wasn’t enough though, I still needed to play and try things out.

My favorite store bought creamer was Bailey’s. Their caramel was my favorite, their French vanilla, a close second. And unlike most of the other coffee creamers on the market, there was no partially hydrogenated oil in it. And at the time, I wasn’t concerned with the fact there was sugar AND corn syrup AND artificial flavors. Eventually, I did become interested and stopped using them. That was a very sad day. I tried Coffee Mate’s new Bliss creamers and they were very good, only sugar, cream, and milk. Still though, one needed to use more than the recommended serving size if one was going to be able to taste it. For a small cup of coffee, 6oz, 2 tablespoons was good for me. In a large cup, 10oz or more and we’re talking 4 maybe 5 tablespoons depending on the strength of the coffee.

All this aside, I do understand why there are serving sizes and my coffee seems to be the one area I have the biggest portion dilemma in.

For the time being, I am using So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut creamer. It is great in hot coffee. It is awful in iced coffee.

I’ve tried Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer and I don’t like it in either hot or iced. Almond milk and regular soy milk? Same thing. Rice milk? Ick!

The flavored coffee creamers in the stores are delicious. But I don’t know how much sugar is in them, what kind of cream, or milk. I don’t want artificial flavors, oil, water, corn syrup. So Delicious has organic coconut milk, and does have sugar in the form of dried cane syrup. I don’t use a lot of it at one time. It doesn’t have an over the top coconut taste either and that’s great considering I don’t really like the taste of coconut.

One of the things I love for iced coffee now now is homemade coffee creamer. I’ve used three different recipes… And the one with Sweetened Condensed Milk (Organic), Milk (Organic), and homemade vanilla extract is my favorite for iced coffee. I’ve used Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk too and nothing in the flavor is compromised. It’s a very thick creamer and I measure it out to my tastes.

For this kind:

1 1/2 cups milk (2% for me)

14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 T pure vanilla extract

Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Keep refrigerated and shake before use.

I’ve made it with evaporated milk as well and didn’t care for it as much, but it’s still good and I may try it again…

12 oz can evaporated milk

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 T pure vanilla extract

Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Refrigerate. Shake before use.

The other that I’ve tried is from one of my favorite food blogs… Deliciously Organic. She has a ton of flavors and even an organic dairy-free, sugar-free recipe. This is the recipe, I’ve used before and it’s excellent.

French Vanilla

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 vanilla bean

Whisk together milk, cream and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half, and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla bean to milk mixture. Turn off heat, cover the pot and steep for 30 minutes. After mixture has steeped, strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, simply replace it with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)

This a thin creamer but it’s delicious.

And here’s the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe from Deliciously Organic… (she even has an Almond Joy flavor)

French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

For the creamer:
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons date paste (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Will store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one week.

Here’s the recipe she uses for the date paste:

Date Paste

For the syrup:
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1 cup hot water

Directions:
Place dates in a blender or food processor. Turn blender or processor on and slowly add in hot water. Leave the machine on for about 1 minute, until smooth. Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

I haven’t tried the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe yet, but one of these days, I will. I’m always up for trying new things.

If you’re so inclined, give some of the homemade creamers a try…I haven’t yet tried to make homemade sweetened condensed milk. It’s on my list though. I do make my own homemade vanilla extract.

What do you use for creaming and sweetening your coffee? I want all the details…grins.

~lissa