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Cookbook Review: Vegan Secret Supper (W/ Recipe & Giveaway!)

VSS

I was intrigued when I received a copy of Vegan Secret Supper: Bold & Elegant Menus from a Rogue Kitchen. It is a playground for inspiration and the unusual. Many of the recipes are presented as a course for a dinner, giving instructions on how to plate, and more. A book for those who love to cook and to entertain. The pantry staples section of recipes are worth the book alone: vegan cheese sauces, condiments, chutney, sauces, reductions and so much more.

Oh…and hand crafted soda extracts:

Soda1

As I served glasses of Lavender Lime Sodas to Kirk and my brother, Dave, I got a whole bunch of yuk-yukking from them. The kind of “Oh great, now Sarah is making soda. Hipster alert!!” Har har you two. I loved the delicate floral essence of the lavender, a nice use for the bounty from my many plants. Do be sure to use culinary lavender and that chemicals were not used on it. In fact, there are also ginger beer and root beer concentrate recipes. Once you realize just how easy it is to make your own soda…well, you might fall in love with it. And here is the thing – I don’t normally care for pop. It is too carbonated, too sweet and too full of junk (preservatives). Even when I can find a quality brand, the carbonation bothers my stomach. But as I read the book, my mind kept wandering back to soda. I thought of years ago when I was a barista and making Italian sodas. Those were not over carbonated, due to seltzer water. So I decided I had to try this crazy blend of flavors.

And? Perfect.

Just the right sweetness and just a bit of the bubbly! I actually had the thought that the syrup would be wonderful added to sparkling wine (say Champagne) in summer.

Soda2

Lavender Lime Soda Concentrate (From page 185)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers (culinary varieties only)

Directions:

In a pot on medium-high heat, bring agave nectar and lime juice to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lavender seeds and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain (a fine mesh strainer works well).

Store in a bottle, in the refrigerator.

To make soda, use 1 Tablespoon concentrate per 8 ounces sparkling water (seltzer water), served over ice.

Makes about ¾ cup syrup.

~Sarah

The Giveaway!

Having enjoyed reading and using this cookbook, I’d like to share my copy with a reader! Enter using the Rafflecopter link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy of VSS for potential review. We are hosting the giveaway of this book ourselves.

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So Delicious Barista Style Creamer – A Latte and a Frappe

BC5

As soon as I had heard about the new Barista Style Coconut Milk Creamers from So Delicious, I was waiting for them to show up in stores. So Delicious offered me the chance to try them out…and well? I wasn’t disappointed  These creamers are a game changer.

And…..the best part? You can steam it! It makes an amazing latte, the velvet texture and richness reminded me of a Breve – the choice of low-carb fanatics in the early 2000’s, made with steamed half n’ half. Just without all the “I need to nap” after drinking it…..

It is shelf-stable, so look with the boxed milks or in the coffee aisle in stores.

BC1

 

So you might be thinking…ummm….how does Sarah have a Romania mug from Starbucks? (Or you might not care….hah) Kirk was on a business trip and was in Romania for a couple of weeks. Being the good husband he is, he visited the one in Cluj, which is in the county of Transylvania, and brought me back a present. What a good husband 😉

 

BC2

 

One Creamy Latte

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add sauce or syrup to mug of choice. Steam creamer to about 150°, or preferred temperature. Fill cup half-way with steamed creamer, stirring well. Pull shots of espresso, add in and top with remaining creamer. Drizzle a little more sauce on top, if desired…and hey, some mini marshmallows…well, that is if you happen to have a mini-espresso hut as I do….

Makes one Grande latte.

BC3

 

The frappe we had this morning came out of a past frappe recipe that never fails me. Loaded with caffeine goodness, the creamer blends with the banana for a creamy drink. If you remember my post a few days back, I had frozen a bunch of unsweetened coconut milk into ice cubes, then stashed them in the freezer. If you happen to not like banana, leave it out, the drink won’t be as creamy though.

Mocha-Banana Frappe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add the ingredients in a high-speed blender, process on high until smooth, tamping as needed.

Serve topped with additional chocolate syrup drizzled on top.

Makes 2 16-ounce glasses, serve with wide straws.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received complimentary product used in our recipes.

PS! Don’t forget to enter our Wholesome Sweeteners giveaway!

Sarah’s Espresso Hut: Gingersnap Latte Syrup

A recent look into the ice chest told me I needed to start creating a new set of latte syrups. And while Christmas is long past, I happen to like gingerbread lattes most of the year. And none of those weak ones either. Lets go rich with molasses and spices here. And considering it is the typical Washington January weather, where the days are blinding sun but freezing, it is a perfect start to my day. Now if my van doors would quit freezing solid, and I didn’t have to climb through with the baby, to put him in his seat……the latte at least makes it bearable.

PS: Want to see more latte ideas?

Gingerbreadsyrup

Gingersnap Latte Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Add everything but the vanilla to a saucepan, bring to boil. Turn to medium simmer for 15 minutes, stirring as needed.

Let cool, strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Store in a sealed bottle, in the refrigerator, use up within 3 to 4 months.

Makes about ¾ cup syrup.

Gingerbread Mocha

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots espresso
  • Steamed milk of choice
  • 1 Tbsp gingerbread syrup
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate syrup

Directions:

Make sure your espresso machine is preheated properly, running hot water through the group head to warm up the portafilter, and heating one’s mug as well.

Steam milk to preferred temperature (I aim for 165°, I like it hot). Add syrups to warmed mug, mix with half of the hot milk. Pull 2 shots espresso, add to mug down the center, gently pour in the remaining milk and swirl foam on the top.

Serve and drink immediately.

On milk amount:

I prefer to use about 1¼ cups milk, once I add the espresso and syrup I have a tall drink. 1 cup will give you a very strong-tasting short latte, 1½ cups will give you closer to a Grande.

PS: Most unsweetened non-dairy milks steam OK, use what you prefer. Almond and soy are both good choices. I like coconut, but it can overpower the coffee.

~Sarah

Super Frappe!

I really, really love Navitas products – their quality is always good, the product is fresh. So when I get the chance to review new products from them, I am very, very excited! Navitas is currently producing a custom line of Smoothie Mixers for William-Sonoma, both in store and online. They are not inexpensive, ranging from $14.95 to 24.95 a bag, although you can expect 10 to 15 uses per bag, depending on how much you use. It isn’t just for smoothies either, they can be sprinkled or stirred into oatmeal, yogurt and so much more – they can be added to recipes for part of the flour(s) called for. It is worth the cost, at least for me.

proteinmix

I was sent a bag of the Protein Smooth Mix, which is an organic blend of Hemp, Cacao, Maca and Lucuma. Of the ingredients I had not tried Lucuma before, it is very interesting! I am going to have to pick a bag of it to play with. Navitas carries a similar line of Twister Smoothie Mixers, except for the Superfood Blend doesn’t have the Lucuma in it.

I needed a lift on Saturday, a smoothie/frappe sounded delicious. And wow, it was. Thick as a shake, and frankly, I’d rather have this over a shake any time! It was chocolately, smooth, rich…..I adapted the recipe off the back of the packaging, converting it to plant-based and using my preferred milk – unsweetened coconut milk – for cold drinks.

PS2

Delicious, no? After working out, this went down nicely!

Protein-Packed PB & Espresso Frappe (Smoothie)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large very ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup cold-brewed espresso
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter, preferably organic
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey, preferably local
  • 2 Tbsp Protein Smoothie Mixer
  • 1 cup ice cubes

PS1

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, process on high, tamping until smooth.

Divide between 2 glasses, serve immediately with wide straws.

Serves 2.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received product sample for potential review.

Candy Cane Mochas

Craving an intense handmade peppermint mocha? One where you know exactly what is going into it? In my quest to outfit “Sarah’s Espresso Hut“, I got busy on Saturday and produced a number of syrups, all of which store nicely in the refrigerator. Just waiting for whatever latte flavor strikes my fancy at 7 am.

I wanted to make a peppermint syrup that didn’t make me think of mouthwash. And to make it stand out I colored it (naturally of course!). Combined with a handcrafted chocolate syrup, well….what are we waiting for? It is always latte time somewhere!

CandyCane1

Some notes on this syrup:

I source natural peppermint candies at Trader Joe’s and natural food stores, you can use whatever you have/like or leave them out. Candy canes broken up work as well.

The natural red coloring I use can be sourced at many natural food stores, Whole Foods carries them. Do you need it? No, but it is neat looking!

For peppermint extract, buy the best you can afford. Buy it in glass, not plastic. I HATE plastic for the extracts, they seem to never seal right, and you lose your expensive flavors to evaporation. Glass jars are simply superior! This is the time of year to watch for both sales and coupons, shop wisely (I have seen sales of 50% off and I pair that with $1-2 coupons!)

Candy Cane Peppermint Syrup

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
  • ¾ cup water
  • 5 natural peppermint candies
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • Natural red food coloring

Directions:

Add the sugar, water and candies to a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high, stirring until sugar is dissolved and candies mostly melted. Strain off any candy not melted, discard.

Pour into a glass measuring cup, stir in peppermint extract, color as desired. Pour into a sterile glass bottle, let cool and seal or put in bottle pourer. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 cup or so.

ChocolateSyrup

Chocolate Syrup

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably organic
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Add the cocoa powder, sugar and salt to a quart measuring cup. Boil the water, add to the dry and whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Let cool a bit, pour into a sterile glass jar. Store in refrigerator, tightly sealed.

Shake gently before using.

Makes about 1½ cups.

CandyCaneMocha

Candy Cane Mocha

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups unsweetened non-dairy milk or dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp Candy Cane Peppermint syrup
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 2 shots espresso

Directions:

Make sure your espresso machine is preheated properly, running hot water through the group head to warm up the portafilter, and heating one’s mug as well.

Steam milk to preferred temperature (I aim for 165° to 170°, I like it hot). Add syrups to warmed mug, mix with half of the hot milk. Pull 2 shots espresso, add to mug down the center, gently pour in the remaining milk and swirl foam on the top.

Serve and drink immediately.

On milk amount:

I prefer to use about 1¼ cups milk, once I add the espresso and syrup I have a tall drink. 1 cup will give you a very strong-tasting short latte, 1½ cups will give you closer to a Grande.

Makes one latte.

~Sarah

Handmade Coconut Syrup & The Granola Bar Latte

When I worked at the espresso shop on The Island, my friend Nikole would often draw a weekly chalkboard scene, which then I’d come up with a drink special to match it. Between Nikole and I, we came up with what we dubbed ‘The Granola Bar Latte”. It paid homage to the hard, crunchy granola bars of our childhood. It ended up being very popular and was featured often. I started thinking about it last week, trying to remember what I put in it. I even polled some of my old co-workers on Facebook on what we used. Being that it has been nearly 10 years since I made one….yeah, my memory is slipping. But it came back and honestly? It was way freaking better this time.

GranolaBarLatte2

I was making a number of latte syrups on Saturday afternoon and decided to try coconut. Then it occurred to me, why not use coconut palm sugar? Creamed coconut? Make the syrup rich, thick, indulgent and real. Remember my lecture on how many latte syrups have preservatives? A bottle of Torani Coconut Syrup contains:

Pure cane sugar, water, natural flavors, fractionated coconut oil, ester gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness)

Mine? 3 ingredients. All real. Nothing fake or unneeded. This is phenomenal latte syrup but also would be heavenly drizzled over fruit, oatmeal, pancakes…ummm…you get the idea.

CoconutSyrup

Coconut Syrup

Ingredients:

Directions:

Finely grate the creamed coconut using a box grater (I do a whole bar at a time, storing in an airtight glass jar in my pantry), then measure.

Add the coconut sugar, water and creamed coconut to a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high, stirring until the sugar and coconut are melted. Take off the heat, let cool a bit, pour into a sterile glass jar. Cool fully, then store sealed in refrigerator. Do not use a pour spout as this syrup is thicker than most.

Shake before using, it will get thick in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1¼ cups syrup.

AlmondSyrup

You will also need Almond Syrup, simple and quick to make. It keeps a very long time, so go ahead, make a string of flavors!

Almond Syrup

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high, cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, pour into a glass measuring cup, add almond extract, stir in. Pour into a sterilized glass jar. Let cool, then seal. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Makes a shy cup.

GranolaBarLatte

Granola Bar Latte

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups Milk (non-dairy unsweetened or dairy)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut syrup
  • 1½ tsp almond syrup
  • 1½ tsp honey or agave nectar
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 shots espresso

Directions:

Make sure your espresso machine is preheated properly, running hot water through the group head to warm up the portafilter, and heating one’s mug as well.

Steam milk to preferred temperature (I aim for 165° to 170°, I like it hot). Add syrup to warmed mug, mix with half of the hot milk. Pull 2 shots espresso, add to mug down the center, gently pour in the remaining milk and swirl foam on the top.

Serve and drink immediately.

On milk amount:

I prefer to use about 1¼ cups milk, once I add the espresso and syrup I have a tall drink. 1 cup will give you a very strong-tasting short latte, 1½ cups will give you closer to a Grande.

Makes 1 latte.

~Sarah

Mint Mocha Frappes

Once October is over and the craze of PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!!!! dies down, you know what is next: CHOCOLATE MINT EVERYTHING!!!!

Hehheh….

I am proud to say that I can enable you all in that. I “forced” myself to be a test subject and try this out to make sure it was the good stuff. Just be forewarned that there is a fine line in using mint flavoring/extract. Go over it and it is like chugging mouth wash. And that isn’t what we are looking for in our morning go-go drink. Well, maybe you are…but I am not 😉 So watch your measuring of it….

Mint Mocha Frappes

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add the ingredients to a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), process on high, tamping as needed until smooth. Serve immediately with wide straws.

Serves 2.

~Sarah

DIY Adult Sippy Lid for Mason Jars

In the past I often used cold cups with lids, the double wall ones for Frappes, for our daily drinks. Then we went to Mason jars (yeah, I know…how hipster of us). My real issue with it is I use straws to drink from (better for the teeth!) and I have had a few ‘oopsies’ where jars went over, due to the straw catching on my shirt or whatever. Not good for computers to say the least. So Kirk came up with an easy solution. He made me an adult sippy cup lid. Hahhah!

Pretty neat, eh? He used digital calipers to measure the straw width, then drilled a hole in the canning lid (with a block of wood under the lid), made sure it was smooth and then handed it over to me to wash. (I have a number of the Starbuck reusable ones – they work great and are easily cleaned with a good soaking. Many of the stores have them in stock, keep an eye out.)

Since the Starbuck straws have a ring at the bottom they don’t come out once the lid and band are on. Now if my drink is knocked over? No fear. No messes! You can do this with any size canning lid and mason jar, buy smaller or longer straws as needed (a pint jar would use tall size straws).

And I have to say this…if you have a “Handy Husband” around it is way cheaper than this option I saw this morning, the Cuppow, which costs $8 + Shipping for a lid – although if one doesn’t happen to have a Handy Husband + tools loitering around, well that might be a good deal after all….if it had been me drilling that hole I am sure I’d have wrecked my lid. Lol…..

~Sarah

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