Monday, September 29, 2014

Crock-Pot Pumpkin Spiced Lattes

It's National Coffee Day today and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't blog about coffee today, especially with "coffee" in my title!  I love coffee.  I love the smell, the taste, the various blends, but mostly I love the fuzzy feeling it gives me when it is just mentioned.  I love coffee! 
That being said...  I recently had a Pumpkin Party with some girlfriends where we all made various pumpkin or apple recipes.  I tried several new recipes, but one that I was super excited to try was this one.  Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!  We have Starbucks here, but they are super limited on the amount of pumpkin spiced goodness that they get, so you have to get it while you can.  But have a found the answer to such a problem?  I think I have!  These mugs full of happiness were just as good as the S-bucks and I knew exactly what was in them.  And you know what else?  They were super easy to make and made my house smell delicious!  Give them a try!

6 cups of milk (I used whole)
4-6 cups of strongly brewed coffee
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of vanilla extract
 1/2 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 cinnamon sticks

In your crock pot, combine the milk and coffee.
Whip together the pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and pour into the crockpot. Mix together well. Toss in 3-4 cinnamon sticks.
Cover the crockpot, and cook on high for 2 hours.
Ladle into cups, top with whipped cream, cinnamon or just insert a straw to the pot and drink!

*If you don't have a large group, you could easily halve the recipe.

Sooo Good!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homemade French Fries with Cheese Sauce

Sorry for falling off the grid for a little while!  Since moving here things have not gotten dull, that's for sure!  The kids are in school and each have an activity during the week and we jumped in full force in getting involved in our church.  It's a good thing though, it helps keep from getting homesick and missing family and friends as much. 
Life in England....  There's something new all the time that we discover.  Being here, one thing is for sure, you can find potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onions anywhere.  Even on the side of the road.  They are so cheap and so fresh and so delicious!  It's going to be hard to leave some of these things behind in a few years.  About a month ago we bought a 25 kg bag of potatoes from a side vegetable stand.  They are so fresh that they are still covered in dirt.  I had to buy a veggie brush to clean them.  I love it!  We are finally at the bottom of the bag, but they have lasted and not gone rotten and have been cooked in just about every way.  One way that we enjoy a lot as a treat on Sunday's after church is to come home and fry up a bunch of French Fries.  If you haven't made French fries at home before, you have to do it at least once in your life.  They are so yummy!

Our giant sack of potatoes.  :)

Homemade French Fries
Wash, Peel, Cut and Pat Dry the desired amount of potatoes you want.
Heat oil in a heavy pan to 350 degrees.  Drop cut potatoes in carefully!  Give them a slight stir so they don't stick together.  Let fry until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes per batch.  Take out and drain on paper towel lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and/or other seasonings as desired.  If you aren't eating them right away or are making multiple batches put the baking sheet in oven at about 200 degrees to keep warm.  Heat oil back up to 350 before adding next batch.  If you like crispier French fries you can double fry them.  That's what a lot of places do, but we like them like this. 

Cut potatoes.  I like to make mine thick, but if you like thinner
ones, go for it! 
Be patient while the oil heats.

Bubbly fried goodness when you add in the
Fresh batch of French Fries!

Cheese Sauce

-First you need to make a roux. 
- In a sauce pan melt 4T butter and then add 4T flour (I used GF flour).
-Whisk the butter and flour a little to get it combined, it will be like a paste at first.  Let it simmer and bubble for 2-3 minutes or until it begins to brown and/or has a nutty smell.
-Whisk in 3-4 cups of milk slowly.  Bring back to a slow simmer until it begins to thicken.  If it gets too thick, add a little more milk.
-Stir in about 2-3 cups worth of cheese.  I used a little bit of everything, but you can use all cheddar or whatever mixture you want.  I did cheddar, mozzarella, swiss and pepper jack.  Add more cheese if you want it cheesier!  Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper if you'd like to taste.
- Once it is your desired taste and thickness, remove from heat and pour into small bowls to dip your freshly fried fries into.  Delish!

Roux just before adding in the milk.
Finished Cheese Sauce!  Pour over cooked
macaroni and bake for 20 minutes for
fresh mac n' cheese too!