Category Archives: Food

DIY for the Average Jane: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

DIY For the Average Jane: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

In this new series, blogger Brittany Cooper (an average Jane) tackles weekly DIY projects, giving you tips from her successes–and mistakes!

Finished Pumpkin Spice LatteWelcome to the new series, “DIY For the Average Jane.” True, my name isn’t Jane, but it’s the best way to describe myself when it comes to the DIY realm. I do a little of this and a little of that, and I love DIY blogs, but you won’t find me sewing outfits for my entire family or hand-painting designs on my walls to give them the appearance of vintage wallpaper.

This series is dedicated to simple, quick and doable DIY projects that you can actually do yourself. So, if you love the touch of handmade but don’t have hours and hours to spend, I invite you to join me each week as I tackle these fun, bite-sized projects.

This week’s challenge: Crafting a deliciously homemade pumpkin spice latte (à la latte to the upper right). I love this seasonal drink with just the right amount of sweet pumpkin, milk, espresso and spice. To me, it signifies that fall has arrived. And while I celebrate the drink, I don’t get so skippingly happy about the price tag that accompanies it at certain mega-chain coffee shops. Solution? Learn how to make the lovely little latte myself.* Here’s how you can do the same:

Ingredients: (Makes enough for at least 2 lattes)

-2 cups of milk (skim is healthier; whole is more delicious)

-1 to 2 shots of espresso (or 1 cup of strong coffee)

-2 tbsp canned pumpkin

-2 tbsp vanilla extract

-2 tbsp sugar (I used turbinado sugar)

-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling

-Whipped cream

Step 1: Boil the milk and pumpkin pie filling over medium heat until it starts to steam. You can also do this in the microwave, but I thought the stove was simpler.

Making a Pumpkin Spice Latte Step 1-2

Step 2: Once the milk starts steaming, remove from heat, add the pumpkin spice and whisk it, whisk it good …

Making a Pumpkin Spice Latte Step 2

Step 3: Pour about a cup of the milk into a mug, and then pour 1/2 cup of coffee or 1 shot of espresso over the top.

Step 4: Top with whipped cream and pumpkin spice and enjoy!

*I originally found a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte here.

Pumpkin Spice Tutorial

Food and Wine magazine

Why You Should Be Reading Food & Wine Magazine

Food and Wine magazine October 2012If you’re not a Food & Wine magazine subscriber yet, here’s why you should be. And if you act fast, you can get 12 issues for just $6.

With plenty of magazines available about food or wine or both, why choose Food & Wine over the rest? Sure, it may be perceived as a luxury title reserved for the well-to-do, but you may be surprised at just how accessible it is.

Even still, there’s something about Food & Wine that immediately adds a touch of sophistication to your coffee table or kitchen. Maybe it’s the understated elegance with which it approaches its content or maybe it’s the wealth of wine knowledge that makes it seem a cut above.

In any case, these are a few reasons why you should be reading it.

Recipes: Food & Wine’s mix of recipes ranges from the gourmet to classic favorites, but all are simplified for today’s busy lifestyle. Whatever your skill, you’ll find something you’ll feel comfortable making—or encourage you to the next level.

Travel: Food—and wine—goes hand in hand with travel, and the magazine takes you to the destinations where relaxation and culinary excellence meet. It’s helpful advice whether you’re planning a getaway or just want to daydream about one.

Wine: This is an obvious reason, but it’s an important one even though the subject doesn’t dominate the magazine’s content. If you want to grow your knowledge about wine, it’s explored and presented here in a non-intimidating way.

Wine Pairing: Enhance your developing sense of wine with the extensive pairing guide in every issue that features recommendations for each recipe. Even better, the magazine provides picks that can fit any budget.

6-Hour Only Deal: Until 3 p.m. CDT today only, enjoy a one-year subscription to Food & Wine magazine for only $6. That’s 90 percent off the newsstand price!

How My Crock-Pot Saved Sundays

How My Crock-Pot Saved Sundays

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker CookbookResolving to make dinner in the Crock-pot every Sunday this fall, blogger Brittany Cooper rekindles her love for the oft-forgotten culinary lifesaver.

Four years ago, I was a newlywed sorting through a mound of thoughtful wedding gifts when I made a discovery that I didn’t think was so thoughtful: two Crock-pots. Yes, one person bought us the slow-cooker on our registry, while another mystery person thought fit to throw in a little surprise – a bonus kitchen gadget the size of a small baby bathtub without a gift receipt or any hint as to where it had originated. All signs pointed to a tragic case of regifting, but I digress.

My husband and I spent several hours of our newly wedded life running from store to store trying to return the thing, but we eventually gave up and returned the one from our registry, assuring ourselves that the other crock was more than adequate for our needs. Happy with our decision, I put it in its thermal carrying case and stuffed it in a low cabinet in the land of misfits just next to the fondue pot and the hot chocolate milk frother.

Four years later, with many hours of cooking now under my apron strings, I have come to realize my terrible mistake. Though it is awkwardly bulky and doesn’t do anything to dress up my countertops, that Crock-pot holds the keys to a hassle-free, deliciously homemade meal.

I recently pulled it out and threw in a little of this and a little of that on a Sunday afternoon. We left the house for a couple hours for a Sunday evening church service, and when we got home it was like someone had been there all along cooking us dinner. And you simply cannot beat the feeling of coming home the smell of something cooking (especially when all you had to do was chop the veggies and throw them in with some frozen chicken).

Plus, Crock-pots are no longer relegated to meals with titles like “roast” and “stew.” With the proliferation of mom bloggers and sites like Pinterest, slow-cookers can make everything from enchiladas to cheesecake to chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie. So, if you’re looking for a way to whip up a meal that will have you looking over your shoulder to see if Mom’s there, don’t make the same mistake I did. Give the Crock-pot its rightful due.

And don’t hesitate to join me in Crock-pot Sundays. For starters, check out this Cooking Light feature on favorite slow-cooker recipes or the book pictured above, “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.” Also, be sure to take a look at my Pinterest board and repin the recipes you want to try!

Give Squash a Chance

Give Squash a Chance: Five Ways to Make it Taste Great (Believe Us!)

Butternut Squash Soup from Real Simple

Real Simple's butternut squash soup is a delicious way to eat squash.

Yes, its name is sadly unappetizing, and often the way squash is prepared makes the name seem perfectly suitable. But here are five delicious ways to work the super nutrient food into your diet.

My husband is the perpetual squash-hater. When we were first married I cooked recipes with acorn squash, butternut squash and yellow squash, and while polite and thankful for the food, he just couldn’t get over the texture.

A few years later, I’ve picked up a few skills for getting the vitamin A-, alpha-carotene- and beta-carotene-rich food into our diet — and even getting my husband to enjoy it. Here are some great recipes that have worked for us:

1. Butternut Squash Soup With Sage and Parmesan Croutons from Real Simple Magazine:

This delicious recipe uses the nutty flavor of butternut squash accented with some onion, celery, sage and parmesan to create a delectable bisque that even the pickiest eater can’t turn down. If you’re working with an especially avid squash-hater, you can also add crumbled bacon to add additional flavor.

2. Roasted Vegetables from Whole Living Magazine:

Infuse winter veggies with the flavors of olive oil and any assortment of herbs you like. Roasting with this recipe crispens up the outside of the veggies while making the insides nice and tender and flavorful. The diversity of this recipe allows you to play around with the herbs and spices you enjoy.

3. Summer Squash Pizza from Cooking Light Magazine:

Who doesn’t love a good pizza? With this recipe from Cooking Light, you can get a little zucchini and yellow squash into your meal by including it on a pizza. For those who don’t like the texture of squash, just cut your pieces a little smaller than called for in this recipe. This hides the texture and lets the squash add flavor and nutrients without adding anything else.

4. Summer Squash and Applesauce Muffins from Vegetarian Times Magazine:

Did you know you can even work squash into something as delicious as a muffin? Try this recipe from Vegetarian Times, and you don’t even have to tell anyone you snuck some squash into their snack. If you think about it, it’s not that different than sneaking carrots into carrot cake.

5. Panang Vegetable Curry from Bon Appetit Magazine:

Go gourmet with your squash and enjoy this recipe from Bon Appetit that incorporates the flavors of homemade curry paste, tons of squash and an assortment of herbs. Who ever said squash had to be boring?

With these and other recipes you can start to make squash a staple in your fall and winter diet. For the freshest squash, take a trip to your local farmers market and select from an assortment of just-picked seasonal produce.

Photo by Jim Franco

Skewers on the Grill

The 10 Best Magazines for Great Grilling Recipes and Advice

Whether you’re a grill master or an aspiring one, you’ll find all the tools of the trade and plenty of recipes to make while honing your skills in these ten magazines.

Grilling season may unofficially run from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but don’t think you have to have to put away the grill and tongs just yet. Fall is the perfect time to keep it burning!

The weather’s nice and cooler, plus what goes hand in hand with tailgating better than breaking out the grill?

Whether you’re watching the game from your own luxury suite at home or you’re traveling to support your favorite team, you’ll need plenty of good recipes and advice to try something new or hone your skills, if even just a little.

These are the ten best magazines for tips, shortcuts and recipes for any occasion or meal, so don that apron and fire up the grill!

1. Food Network Magazine: Every issue contains pointers from the network’s celebrity chefs, including grill master Bobby Flay.

2. Southern Living: In the South where football is nearly akin to religion, this magazine reveres the tailgate. In fact, check out its recently published Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook too, which is packed with spirited treats prepared on and off the grill.

3. Cooking Light: Enjoy the fruits of the flame even by cutting back on calories, fats and more, all while searing in good—and good-for-you—flavor.

4. Every Day With Rachael Ray: An all-grilling issue is published in the summer, but Rachael’s still got great advice and recipes to share year-round.

5. Food & Wine: If you want to go beyond the grilling basics—chicken, beef and pork—you’ll find tips for preparing other meats, like lamb, here.

6. Cook’s Illustrated: Marinade not sticking? Meat overdone? This in-depth how-to publication explains what’s going wrong—and how to make it right.

7. Everyday Food: Throw the whole meal on the grill, including simple and flavorful sides often found in this magazine.

8. Taste of Home: Don’t forget dessert! Fruits like peaches can be prepared over the open flame to complement a main dish, enjoy as an in-season appetizer or after-dinner treat.

9. Clean Eating: Vegetarians and carnivores alike will find palatable recipes in this healthy publication. Think everything from grilled Portobello burgers to grilled shrimp skewers.

10. Whole Living: Turn here for tips on preparing the healthiest of grilled fare while being mindful of your environmental footprint. For example, opt for charcoal rather than using lighter fluid as it’s easier on the ozone. Same goes for fabric napkins and sturdy plastic flatware—over just tossing the cheaper versions after one use.

Tomatoes

4 Steps Toward Eating Seasonally

Nashville Farmer's Market

The Nashville Farmers Market is just one market with a wide selection of locally grown, seasonal produce.

If the idea of seasonal eating conjures up thoughts of boiled squash and plain cabbage, it’s time to open up your mind to the diversity and delectability of eating what’s ripe right now.

It can be tough to think about eating seasonally when what we see in the produce aisle so rarely changes. Sure, we’re more likely to score good strawberries and sweet corn in the middle of summer than in the dead of winter, but that’s about the extent of the average American’s seasonal eating.

While it’s certainly convenient to enjoy fresh tomatoes on Christmas Eve, we may be missing out on the benefits of eating seasonally — benefits to our bodies, the environment and our local economy just for starters. Plus, cooking with foods that were picked when they were ripe makes for richer, more flavorful dishes.

What does it actually entail to start eating seasonally? It might not be realistic to expect to eat 100 percent seasonal, local produce, but it’s definitely realistic to start taking some steps in that direction. The benefits are immense, but some basics are that you’re supporting your local growers, you’re eating food that wasn’t shipped across the world at a cost to the environment and you’re also avoiding foods like ethylene-ripened tomatoes, which are picked green and made to ripen quickly with ethylene gas.

Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how enjoyable (and, yes, even delicious) seasonal eating can be. Here are four simple steps you can take:

1. Visit Your Local Farmers Market: If there’s one place to find seasonal food, it’s at the farmers market, where local farmers sell their produce directly to consumers. This supports local growers, cuts out the middle men and ensures that you get the freshest produce available. Use Local Harvest to find a market near you.

2. Join a CSA: A CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, is basically a subscription to fresh produce from a local grower. You pay an up-front fee for a specified period of time, and then each week during that time you’ll receive a huge box full of fresh, local produce. This way, you can plan recipes based on what you have rather than what you see on the shelves at the grocery store. Find a CSA near you at Local Harvest.

3. Find Delicious Seasonal Recipes: If you’re not sure what’s in season, several magazines offer great recipe resources on their websites. Whole Living Magazine offers a seasonal foods tab; the Real Simple Magazine website features a seasonal food guide; Cooking Light Magazine gives great in-season recipes and Clean Eating Magazine has a wonderful seasonal recipe resource as well.

4. Try Something New: One of the most fun parts of eating what’s in season is that you often get to try new fruits and veggies you’ve never prepared or even tasted before. If you’re willing to try new flavors and enjoy them when they’re harvested, you’ll get the benefits of deliciously fresh and locally grown food.