Summer Mornings Never Tasted So Good

If you don’t remember, one of my first posts here on The Coffee Darling, talked about how I like to take my time in the mornings and take a few minutes to just enjoy life, or read a book. Lately I’ve had to kind of give up some of my “morning” time so that I can get into work earlier, get my nine (or more) hour days in, and still be home to go to a class at the gym after work. As such, I’ve kind of been missing that nice “calm” feeling that comes with a quiet house and a cup of coffee. The other morning I was rushing around trying to feed the dogs and get myself ready for work when I decided I just wasn’t in the MOOD for hot coffee, plus all my carrier mugs were in my car, and would have needed to be washed. That’s when I came up with this beautiful concoction. (Actually that’s kind of a lie, nothing super hard or unique about this, just thought I’d share it with you.)

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Basically, I’ve only tried making iced coffee in my Keurig a few times and I was never that impressed. This time I felt like I had picked up an iced treat from some fancy coffee caffe. Here was what I did- I filled my 24oz tumbler about half full with ice and then I put in about a “shot” of caramel syrup (I picked up my bottle at SAMs for about 5 dollars, but I’ve seen them at other grocery stores too.) Then I poured in my half and half. I let my k-cup brew over all the ice/ingredients because it normally mixes better that way. I used an extra bold k-cup to try and maintain some coffee flavor.

After it brewed I put in more ice until my cup was absolutely full. This drink is delicious. I don’t think the coffee flavor is super strong, but it’s definitely still there. I love this drink and I’m so glad I thought to try it- I’m sure other flavors like vanilla or hazelnut would be yummy as well.

Let me know what you think. Is there an unique way you use your Keurig?

Adventures in Jam Making

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This past weekend a friend and I set out to make jam. It was such a fun process that I thought I’d share. We ended up making 24 total; 9 peach and 15 raspberry- we did two batches of the raspberry.

The process is pretty simple. For the peaches you peel and finely chop them until you have 4 cups. I can’t remember exactly how many peaches this took- maybe 10. For the raspberry jam you just use a potato masher to “mash” them until you have four cups- it will take around 30oz of raspberries. If you are making the peach jam, you will need to add a quarter cup lemon juice at this point and mix it in so that the jam doesn’t turn brown. This step isn’t necessary for the raspberry.

Once your fruit is ready, you combine it with the correct amount of sugar per your recipe. For the peach we needed 7 1/2 cups and for the raspberry we needed 6 1/2 cups. (Don’t short yourself on the sugar!)

Now go ahead and put the sugar and fruit mixture on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil (this might take a while- I recommend having a friend to chat with!) Make sure to stir it constantly to make sure nothing burns. Once you reach a rolling boil, add 1 packet pectin, this is what allows the jam to “thicken” or “set”. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and let it cook one more minute.

At this point you will transfer your jam to your 8oz mason jars, I would use a funnel. Make sure you fill them very close to the rim (about 1/8th inch should remain). Before you put the lids on clean the rim of all residue. Take a lid out of hot water (I should have mentioned that you will need to keep your lids in hot water) and put it on top of your jar, and then screw on the metal ring,

Once your jars are filled, turn them up side down for 5 minutes (we did 7 to be sure)- this is what will seal the jars. After 5 minutes flip the jars back over and do not touch them until they have cooled a bit. After about half an hour or forty five minutes press the center of the jar lid- they should only pop once (if at all) and you shouldn’t be able click the lid repeatedly. If you can they didn’t seal- if that’s the case, you can either seal them another way (there are big pots and pressure cooker methods, but I am not versed in those) or freeze them.

This is just the process we used- you can use pretty much any fruit, just look up the specific recipe. Methods vary a bit, especially when it comes to sealing, but I thought it would be a fun idea for anyone looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon with a girlfriend or their mom.

Thanks for reading!

Easy Stuffed Shells

Fresh out of the oven stuffed shells!

A few months ago I decided that I was going to make my life easier and learn how to prepare meals that I could freeze so that on work nights I could just come home and pop them in the oven. I know you can buy frozen meals at the store- but in my head these are both less expensive and healthier. The reality is that I only found one meal that I liked and was easy enough to make. I stumbled upon “Growing Up Geeky’s” 5 Ingredient stuffed shells. I’ll link you to her recipe but I actually have some suggestions and modifications.

Ingredients:

– One box jumbo shells

– 2 28oz cans of tomato sauce

– 1 32oz container of ricotta cheese

– 2-3 cups Mozzarella Cheese

– 2 eggs

– Italian seasoning

Preparation:

Total prep time is between 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and start a pot of water to boil on the stove. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 32oz ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, and 1/3 of one can on tomato sauce. The original recipe calls for 1 egg but I found that the shell filling was a bit thicker and less runny when I included a second egg. Combine those ingredients until it is mostly smooth (as smooth as it can be). The next step is optional but I folded in a small bit of italian seasoning to taste. This step is purely a matter of preference.

Cook the shells for 7 minutes and then drain. You don’t want the shells to be as soft as pasta you’d normally eat would be because it’s going to absorb the moisture of the filling when it bakes as well.

This recipes normally makes two pans for me (there are two of us eating in this house). The next step is to now use the remaining 2/3s of the first can of tomato sauce to line either one large piece of cookware, or divide it among two. Then you just set out to filing your shells and ¬†placing them in the small pool of sauce in the baking dishes. Once all your shells are filled. Use the remaining can of tomato sauce to top. I don’t normally use the whole second can of sauce but it’s a matter of preference.

At this point all that is left is to use the remaining mozzarella cheese to top them off. The original recipe called for only two cups but I don’t feel like that ever fully covers the tops (even used somewhat sparingly) of my shells, so I would suggest a bit more.

Once that is done just cover the dish with tinfoil and cook for 50 minutes. Easy Peasy!

Freezing: 

If you want to freeze your second dish, I suggest using a dish with a lid and then covering the outside of the dish again with either tinfoil or saran wrap to prevent freezer burn. I’ve never left ours in the freezer more than a week, so I can’t say how long they would last but it does make a nice 2nd dinner.

Because the ingredients will be frozen I recommend pulling this out for 10-15 minutes before cooking, and cooking it 60 minutes instead of the 50 minutes like was done for the first batch.

Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite meals to make and freeze? Have you tried these, do you like them? Did you make any modifications? Please let me know!