Fall / Winter Drink Mixes

Summer gave way to Autumn last week, but this week I ran out of my expensive coffee that I only buy on sale, so for now I made a small batch of cappuccino “coffee” drink mix. It’s nothing more than a jar of dry ingredients that have been well whisked together for almost a full minute (for full incorporation and to break up all of the clumps).

Cappuccino Dry Mix:
1 cup Hot Chocolate powder
1 cup Non-Dairy Creamer powder (optional)
2/3 cup Instant Coffee powder
1/2 cup Sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

I find the cost of the non-dairy product too high to pay in these parts, so I leave it out. I do add milk at some point to cream it up, but in liquid form. I store this in a 500 mL mason jar with a tight fitting lid.

Formula: 3 Tablespoons of mix per mug + 1/4 cup (not a precise measure each time) + 1 cup boiling water.

Instructions: As the water is heating up to a boil, run the mug under hot tap water for a few mins. Turn the water off and let what’s in the mug sit until the boiling water is ready. When the water hits boil, empty the mug into the sink and dump in 3 tbsp of the mix. Add your milk at this point and stir to make a somewhat slurry that allows the powders to start to blend into the liquid. At this point, add about 1/4 cup of the boiling water to the mug and stir vigorously until all of the clumps melt into the hot liquid. Add the rest of the boiling water. Stir a bit more and taste. If you need more creaminess, add a bit more milk.

Bonus mix recipe!

The other mix I like in the colder months when I’m bored of coffee or all out is my Mocha Mix. It’s pretty much the same as the above cappuccino mix without the warm spices and the addition of vanilla. Oh, and it’s the only one I have so far converted to metric for kitchen scales. I know, I know. I’m slower than a dinosaur. 🙂

Mocha Dry Mix:
30g Instant Coffee
50g Cocoa Powder
100g Sugar (of choice)
110g Milk Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Again, like in the above mix recipe, the milk powder can be left out in favour of your fave liquid milk product. Same deal as above for whisking the mix together. I like to put mine in a 500 mL mason jar with a tight lid.

Formula: 2 Tablespoons of mix + 1/4 cup milk + 1 cup boiling water.

Instructions: Exactly as above for the cappuccino mix to set the drink up in a warmed up mug.

Eggnog Talk

Eggnog is so controversial. Like cilantro, I find people either love it or they hate it. Unlike cilantro, I don’t believe there is any science to back up why that would be. My husband hates cilantro – it’s tastes like sand or dish soap in his mouth. Science backs up the theory that we are all predisposed to either like or dislike cilantro; no grey area in between. And that’s coded into our DNA. Fact.

But, when I bring up eggnog, I get a lot of the same reactions: “EWW!”, or, “Gross. I can’t deal with the raw egg situation.” Ok, clearly some of you have issues. (snort)

For the rest of us who are onboard with this custard concoction, have you ever tried making it at home? No? Why not?? Sure, it’s got a shorter shelf life than commercially produced batches, but find me one eggnog fan who won’t blow through a slim 1L carton in less than 48 hours. Go ahead. I’m wait.

This Chowhound Eggnog recipe produces roughly the same 1L volume. I love that I can potentially make a batch of this eggnog the night before and wake up to a bit of it in my morning coffee in less than 12 hours later.

(EGGNOG ALL YEAR LONG, KIDS.)

Give it a go.

Summer Drinks – Fast & Dirty Frappé

FrappeDrinkI’ve been playing around with stripping down the classic frappé into something that’s not only healthier (let’s be honest here!), but faster and easier to assemble and blend into a tasty drink we all don’t feel grossed out consuming so much of. My frappé ends up being a little over half the size (10oz) of the Starbuck’s tall serving (16oz).

Here’s what I’ve got so far. I like this one a lot. Hopefully you all will, too.

Auntie Stacey’s Fast & Dirty Frappé:
8 Ice Cubes
1 C Vanilla Almond Milk
1-2 Tsp Powder Sugar (optional, and can be replaced with other sugar types)
1 Tsp Instant Espresso Powder (double if you like a strong coffee shot flavouring)
1 Tbsp Coffee Creamer

FrappeI mix this all up in the smallest Magic Bullet pitcher the blender came with because it makes the perfect portion size that prevents us from over-consuming (nice little bonus there).

This frappé is one of my go-to drinks to stay cool during the blazing hot days of summer like we’re having this week. Try it at home and tell me what you think in the comments. 🙂

Orange Julius Tweak

OrangeJuliusRedone

So, the other day I blogged about Mel’s lovely Classic Orange Julius, and mentioned in that post that my friend Lisa wondered on Facebook whether she could make this without adding sugar. I said I would play with it and see what’s what.

I am happy to say that taking the sugar and the vanilla out and adding in vanilla flavoured Greek yogurt did the trick. And it also killed a few birds with one stone. It not only pared down the number of ingredients to use, but it also added a great creaminess to the drink that my husband said was missing for him (and I agreed) – all done without any flavour loss or sacrifice!

Here is my version that makes enough to fill two 16 oz tumblers:

Auntie Stacey’s Orange Julius:
1 C Milk
1 C Water
2 Tbsp Vanilla Greek yogurt
4-6 oz Orange Juice concentrate
4-6 Ice Cubes

Summer Drinks – Iced Coffees

TPW_icedCoffee

[ Photo by Ree Drummond, ThePioneerWoman.com ]

There are few things I love more in the wickedly hot Summer months than iced coffee. Sometimes I crave it during the winter, but that’s when I know my hormones are out of whack and I dutifully warn my husband about the rough week that’s ahead of him with me. I’m a considerate wife like that. {ahem}

I have done all the iced coffee brews out there that start with hot coffee and found them all too painstaking and warm, and for awhile I was even using the powdered Starbucks VIA packets (which I recommend if you’re stuck at work – just add cold water and ice if you can get it, and you’ll be good to go!), but I have never made time to try the cold brew methods so many have sworn by.

I’m dumb. Really dumb. And possibly pathologically stubborn. (Don’t ask my family or husband to verify this statement. Please.)

So, here are a few recipes for cold brewing coffee I have been trying out recently that, if you love iced coffee like me, you will want to check out, too. Seriously. Do yourself this favour. Don’t ignore this idea any further. This will complete your life. I swear on my father’s grave!

1. The Pioneer Woman‘s dead easy recipe for brewing a month’s worth of cold coffee. I love her recipes; she never lets me down. And my husband’s eyes light up like a Christmas tree anytime I mention her infamous “crack noodles.” Anyway, I just realized something. She blogged this coffee gold in 2011, and I’m just now getting around to it. Clearly I need life coaching.

I like that her recipe is for the straight brew because that gives me a lot of options for add-in ingredients. I’m experimental when it comes to my coffee drinks, given enough time to think about what I have on hand and how I want it to taste. I don’t always have the time, though. I’m thinking this would be a great weekend brew. Especially if I want to do a great Thai iced coffee drink (with the sweetened condensed and regular milks) idea Ree mentions at the end of her post.

2. Food 52 had posted a great cold coffee recipe that is very similar to Ree’s but it adds all of the sugar and ground cinnamon upfront, so it can stew overnight with the coffee grinds.

This was the first one I tried, and I have to say, it’s perfect. Nothing like pouring the already sweetened strained brew into a glass over ice and being able to drink it immediately. No fussing around with other ingredients because you’ve already added them the night before. This one is a no-brainer on those hot, sticky mornings where you just want to fill ‘er up, and rush out the door to work!

Food52

[ Photo from Food52.com ]

So, there you have it. Your two essential cold coffee brew ideas. Enjoy, and feel free to hit me in the comments with your own suggestions or recipes to add to this post. 🙂

 

Summer Drinks – Orange Julius

 

Orange-Julius-Pour-jpg

Mel, from MelsKitchenCafe.com, has been kind enough to blog about her homemade knock-off version of the mall drink my husband loves so much, the Classic Orange Julius. I said the other day on Facebook I would be testing this drink recipe in the days ahead to see if it needed any changes or if it was solid as a rock the way it is. I’m looking to make this drink lots over the coming hot days of summer, so the recipe has to be perfect.

And it is!

But, me being me, I made the executive decision to kill two birds with one stone and do away with the use of milk and vanilla extract by using Vanilla flavoured Earth’s Own Almond Milk (the only brand I will ever drink from now on because it’s so damn good and doesn’t spoil as fast as the other brands do).

As suspected, the almond milk blended beautifully and the flavour didn’t suffer one iota. In fact, it probably improved upon Mel’s recipe a smidgen. I hope she won’t mind my tweak.

The only other tweak I want to try out is for Lisa. It’s an idea I have for eliminating the sugar as she asked about on Facebook. I want to see if I can make this using the vanilla almond milk as well as vanilla Greek yogurt.

My reasons for using Greek yogurt is to thicken the drink up a bit, to see if it will blend a bit more towards a smoothie or milkshake type of drink. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a milkshake, you know? And the extra hit of flavour from the second source of vanilla hopefully will make up for the omission of the powdered sugar. Well, in theory it will, right? We’ll shall see. {crosses fingers}

And naturally, I will report all of my findings back to all of you here on my blog. 🙂

Iced Tea At Home

Ice tea

I love iced tea, but I really don’t like the overly sweet commercial products sold in stores and restaurants. Syrups used in them are typically made from corn, and almost always way overdone. Gag! So, I make my own, at home, with as much or as little sweetenings as I like. It’s not hard. I make three large bottles on a weekend or a weeknight, and store them in the fridge for the whole week.

Doing this has allowed me to avoid soft drinks, milks and more coffee than I need to consume at night with dinner and afterward. I try to keep my calorie consumption to about 1400-1500 per day, and this is one of little tricks I employ since a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in each 8 ounces of iced tea cup doesn’t add up to much. It’s mostly water, and then the sugar and then the teabag extract. Cool, huh?

IkeaBottle

Here’s my method for Homemade Iced Tea:

1. I fill up a 12 oz mason jar with clean water and stick it into the microwave for 3 minutes to heat it up.

2. Carefully I remove the jar from the microwave when it’s done and drop one or two teabags into the hot water depending upon how strong I want my brew to end up at.

(For teas like Earl Grey I may use one bag, whereas with the herbal teas like Strawberry or Mojito Lime, I will use two. I like a strong herbal punch to my iced tea.)

3. I let the bags steep in the water till it’s completely cooled down. This can take 30-45 minutes.

4. I run the facet till the water is as cool as I can get it, or I pull a few bottles of water from the fridge and get them ready.

5. Using a small funnel, I pour the brews into each of the jars and top them with as much cold water as will fit, cap them and then stuff them in the fridge to chill for at least two hours to overnight.

6. I don’t add sugar to the iced tea jars, so I tend to add my half teaspoon to a cup, run a bit of water over it, and then swirl both around to dissolve the crystals before I add the iced tea and ice cubes over top.

If you like at this point, you can top the iced tea with things like fresh basil leaves you’ve muddled a bit in jar or bowl, or just drop a wedge of lemon or lime into your glass to punctuate the natural tea flavour.