Cold Brew Iced Coffee

You may not have heard of this method to making iced coffee before, but the chances are you have. Coffee shops across the country are advertising this “cold brew” coffee, and it’s not a wonder why! When I finally decided to give this method a try (after having pinned it on Pinterest a long time ago), there was no turning back. In fact, I almost prefer this coffee to buying one out at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. Maybe I am becoming a coffee snob, maybe it’s because making your own is much cheaper… whatever the case, I will take my own coffee over store bought any day.

Why? Well, I guess you’ll just have to try it yourself! There are many different things you can do to reach the cold brew coffee to your personal taste. You can let it “brew” for longer time, choose different brands and roasts of coffee, grind your own beans fresh…

The possibilities are endless. I have really enjoyed trying out different coffee grinds and have come to find my perfect routine. I originally started following The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for her Perfect Iced Coffee. That’s where it all began. I just love her pictures of the process! I will be showing you a few of my own (quickly taken) photos of how I make up a cup each morning, but her photos are just perfect for showing you the process of making the brew.

Here are a few of my own preferences and tips that I have discovered in my months of making this:

-Do not skimp on quality. Even if it costs you more to buy a nicer brand of coffee, in the end it is much, much, MUCH cheaper. So if buying a $10 pound of Starbucks coffee seems steeper than what you’d normally buy, imagine getting 3-4 weeks worth of iced coffees for only that price! Remember, this is a coffee concentrate by the time you are finished, so it lasts for a very long time.

-Buy a cheesecloth… BUT, don’t fully rely on it to filter out all the itty-bitty pieces of coffee grinds. I invested (very small investment) into a cheesecloth, but found that my brew still looked “murky” after straining. I just don’t like that, so in addition to that, I strain it again through a regular coffee filter over a fine mesh strainer. It works well, regardless of how much time it takes to filter.

-Halve the recipe. Unless you have a huge amount of space in your fridge, you may want to cut this recipe in half. This is what I do, unless I plan on giving a bunch away to people. I just don’t have the space in my fridge. So instead of making 2ish gallons worth of concentrated, cold brew coffee, you’re making 1.

Those are just a few of the things I have found necessary for me during this process. My husband and I are in love with this version of iced coffee, and look forward to every morning when we can go straight to the kitchen and make up a cup of amazing REFRESHING iced coffee!

The best part, in my opinion, besides the taste is that it doesn’t melt down to this watery substance when you pour it over ice. It’s just smooth and creamy (if you like using half n half) and much less acidic than regular brewed coffee.

Below is my process for making up a cup. I have also listed some tools to help make your life easier when you go to make this amazing stuff!

The process to making a cup is simple, but please remember, this is a coffee concentrate. So a lotta’ ice and cream is needed! FILL your cup to the top with ice. No skimping! Next, pour coffee 2/3rd of the way. Add cream, milk, half n half… whatever tickles your fancy. Sugar is good too. ;) I love using a mason jar, so sometimes I put the lid on and shake it up. The end result is a creamy, foaming iced coffee. Mm. Land O Lakes is my favorite half n half. Just look at how cold and refreshing it looks!

And because an iced coffee is not an iced coffee unless there is a straw involved, I get these cheap plastic straws to stick in there. It makes it so much better for some weird reason!

COLD BREW COFFEE

1 pound ground coffee (medium/bold roasts)
8 quarts water

Combine coffee grinds and water in a large container. 
Let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. 
Strain through a cheesecloth over a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. 
For additional filtering, pour through a coffee filter and fine mesh strainer. 
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

To make a cup, fill a glass full of ice cubes. Pour coffee 2/3rd full, and add 
cream and your choice of sweetener. Best made in an old fashion mason jar. :)

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do in this house. Below are some items that you can find to help with the process.

Enjoy!

The Happy Homemaker




Summer Fresh Corn & Zucchini Chowder

I had recently been given a very large zucchini from someone’s garden. ‘Tis the season for fresh veggies! I used half of it in a recipe last week, so decided to find a new recipe to use the other half. I found this summer chowder on Pinterest and knew I just had to try it. It sounded so yummy!

Of course, I had to omit the bacon (hubby hates pork), and didn’t have all of the ingredients I needed, like carrots, celery and fresh herbs. But it still came out pretty incredible. I substituted the carrots with sweet potato chunks, which was almost similar to a carrot in texture in taste anyway. Another tip she gave for a thick chowder without the need for flour or heavy cream was to give half of it a quick zip in the food processor. I was too lazy to do that, so I just took a slotted spoon and smashed a bunch of it up against the pot. It worked just as well and saved me time (and more dishes!).

We sprinkled grated parmesan cheese and quite a few dashes of hot sauce on top. My, it was good. The cheese always takes dishes to another notch, but the hot sauce was really what did it for us. It just gave it that perfect amount of heat to a fresh and sweet dish. Call me weird, but I toasted up an english muffin with a smear of butter to dip into the chowder. It satisfied alllll the cravings of a tired, busy mama like me.

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Photo from Little Broken blog. Check out her other photos of this delicious chowder!

Today, I had the leftovers for lunch and ate it cold from the fridge. It was even better than the night before! The flavors had time to meld together in the fridge overnight and it was the perfect, refreshing cold lunch for a summer day. I love this chowder. I want to eat it every day. And really, it is a low calorie meal, so I could eat it every day if I wanted to. :D

Check out her recipe and get to making this wonderful meal!

The Happy Homemaker

My Favorite No-Knead Bread

I started making this bread a couple of years ago, and recently pulled the recipe out again. I’ve tried basic bread recipes before where you knead the bread, let it rise, etc. and it has just never worked out well for me. It’s probably just because I am impatient and really bad at baking anything with yeast! Until I came across this recipe…

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Don’t you just want to pick it up and smell it?! 

All you have to do is mix unbleached flour, salt, yeast and water. That’s IT. You let it rise for many many hours (18+ hours, usually overnight) and bake in a Dutch oven (or any oven-proof pot with a lid). It’s simple, and it is soo good. It’s a hearty bread, delicious with a nice spread of butter on top! There are many flavors yummy treats you can add to the dough, but I have yet to try any. Once you get the basic method down, the possibilities are endless on what you can add to make the bread extra special. These little loaves make perfect gifts too!

So, if you’re like me and homemade bread isn’t typically your thing, try this recipe. I can assure you that it will be put in your “make again” recipe collection! :) You’ll feel so proud as you pull this beauty out of the oven, and smile in satisfaction when you say, “I made this!”. There’s just something so satisfying about baking your own bread. Forget that cheap, fluffy white stuff you find at the store. ;)

Now, let me just warn you… your first loaf might not exactly be perfect. But that will just make you want to try again and tweak it here and there. Too dry? Just add a bit more water. Too flat? Cut back on the liquid. There are lots and lots of reviews on this recipe, as well as many tips on how to get it to work for you. So, hop on over to Simply So Good for detailed instructions.

Let me know how you like it! Bread baking… is there anything more heavenly? I know you’ll just love it.

The Happy Homemaker

(The photo above is my own. Can you believe I made that?!)

 

 

It’s Been A While…

Two children makes life very different; a good different, but a crazy different. Less time for me, more time for them… never a dull moment! Never ever. I am so happy to be the mother of, not one, but two beautiful children now. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride these last 9 1/2 months since I gave birth to our second baby, Carter James, and it’s been hard to find time for much else other than my kiddos and getting in any moments of rest I possibly can. I’m sure many of you relate to having children close together! It’s not been an easy road for me in my postpartum journey this time, surprisingly, but sometimes in life you just have to keep on keeping on. So that’s what I did! It’s been all about survival for me.

That being said, I am so ready to start adding more back into my life that doesn’t involve messy diapers, cleaning up cheerios off the floor and constantly running my washing machine (cue tears of joy!). My blog has suffered and I have missed it. So, here’s my attempt at getting back into what life used to be before it got chaotic. ;)  I make no promises though! Hehe.

During the past year, I have tried many different recipes and products (mostly baby related!), so I have lots to share. Hopefully you will see a post or two here soon.

Thanks for bearing with me, folks! I appreciate all of you!

The Happy Homemaker

Mystic, CT

My husband and I recently had our 4 year anniversary. It’s amazing how much can happen in a short amount of time! We hadn’t been away for a vacation in over 3 years, let alone a short getaway by ourselves since Layla has been born (that would be 19 months!). So we bought a Groupon deal and saved all our cash in a jar so we could get away for a couple of days!

My aunt and uncle both highly recommended a trip to Mystic, CT. I had heard so many people say we just had to take a trip there sometime. After all, it’s only about 1 1/2 hours from where we live! Being about 1.5 weeks away from my 3rd trimester in pregnancy, we knew that now was a great time to go if we were going to get away before baby arrives in September.

Our accommodations were at the Bellissimo Grande Hotel in North Stonington, CT, just a little ways from the Mystic Seaport. When I thought of Connecticut before, I never would have known that a lot of the Mystic Country really is “country”. Lots of beautiful farms and winding back roads to get from our hotel to Mystic. Many people just think of the casinos down in that area, but we weren’t there for that part of it. :) Below I will show a few photos of our time away and places that I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance to travel to Mystic, CT.

Our time away was cold and rainy. But still very romantic and fun!

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 Our first food stop was Mystic Pizza II in Stonington (there is another Mystic Pizza right in Mystic). We built our own small pizza and shared an appetizer. Mine was fresh mozzarella with roasted red peppers and sausage. It was divine! Such good pizza.

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We stayed at the Bellisimo Grande Hotel in North Stonington. It is a luxury hotel. We had a good experience, but honestly I felt the only luxurious part was the curtains and bedding. Hahha. We had a Jacuzzi tub right in our room. The bed was very comfortable and we slept very well!

 

Below is my husband digging into a lava cake. :) We stopped at Bartleby’s Café since I had a hankering (okay, pregnancy craving) for coffee and a sweet. He also enjoyed an iced caramel machiatto.

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Kitchen Little was recommended to us and we are so glad we tried it out! It is featured in many different magazines, including Gourmet and Yankee magazine. It’s tucked in this marina! It was so cool to see all the different boats and such and enjoy a view of the water.

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Our food was absolutely incredible. I’ve never had such a tasty breakfast! I ordered the biscuits and sausage gravy. It came with scrambled eggs and home fries. All for a very low price. We were so impressed and even got to see the chef behind the food! We ended up going there again the next day for breakfast because we liked it so much.

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We shopped along Mystic Seaport right where the drawbridge is. It was rainy, but not too bad. At first we were bummed because many of the shops were closed! But they opened up later on and we stopped into this ice cream place to warm up with a coffee and pastry.

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Below is a pecan bar with chocolate drizzle. It was so good. The coffee was also very good!

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Mystic drawbridge.

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Not too far from the drawbridge is another store that sells spices, teas, flavored sugars and salts and more. It’s called The Spice and Tea Exchange. It was a fun place to stop! They had many different blends of spices and teas. The flavored sugars and salts were also amazing. We picked up a couple of things for gifts and definitely would visit again!

On Monday night we had our special “expensive” meal. We dressed up and picked a place with some specialty food. It is so hard to pick a place with all the options available! We were extremely happy with our visit to Anthony J’s Bistro! We ordered crab cakes for an appetizer, which literally melted in your mouth. I got their Carbonara and Kyle got lobster filled ravioli in a cream sauce with broccoli. It was great, quality food! We took dessert “to go” and ate it later in our hotel. We were stuffed!

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The Mystic Seaport Museum is right down the road from this area, but we decided to save that for a day where we could enjoy it more. The weather was pretty rainy and windy at times and very chilly for June 1st! There are so many things to do in Mystic, so we will be going back when we get the chance. On Tuesday, we checked out of our hotel, went and had breakfast, then headed to the Olde Mystick Village, which is basically shops. We enjoyed stopping at some cool stores, like a specialty Scandinavian shop, a pasta shop, a Southwestern shop and the general store. We spent almost 2 hours there walking through the rain and shopping. That about wrapped up our trip, and we felt like we had done about as much as we could do in the rainy weather.

It was a lot of fun spending time with just my husband. No time schedule and no responsibilities! Even driving in the rain down the country roads was just relaxing and fun for us. We missed our daughter a ton, but she did great without us for the first time!

Mystic is known for being right between Boston and New York, so if you are on your way through that area, it’s worth a stop!

Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of our time away in Mystic, CT.

The Happy Homemaker

Chicken with Mustard

I must admit… I have been dodging a post for a while… a long while, I know. First trimester really got me this time around! We had sickness come and go, come and go, through our house, along with my pregnancy fatigue and nausea. I had no energy to get myself ready each day, let alone think about a posting. And even as I sit at my dining room table writing this, my daughter is in my lap munching on apple chunks, and I am trying to keep her from deleting my entire post. See, there is never a dull moment in the life of a mom. :)

So now that I am 15 weeks along, and into my 2nd trimester, here we are. I am back into the swing of dinner meals finally after being pretty lazy for a few weeks. My poor hubby. We have (shamefully) been eating frozen pizzas, soups, and anything pre-made or really easy these past few months. Ick. I was ready to get back to my home cooked meals.Chicken with Mustard - simple enough for weeknights, but special enough for company

The last special meal I made was for me and my sweetie on Valentine’s Day! I was trying to figure out something really delicious, but different and something to “wow” my husband! Since we both love chicken thighs, I knew I had to make this Chicken and Mustard dish when I saw it. Plus, I was going for something French inspired, to add a little flair to the evening. Jennifer from Seasons and Suppers really broke down the recipe and made it easy to follow.

When I made this chicken, it did take a while to prepare. But it was well worth the work and wait. It smells heavenly as it simmers on the stovetop! I don’t cook with wine, so I just substituted the white wine with crisp white grape juice. The chicken was to die for. Absolutely a new favorite to add for special days, or even when having guests over.

Oh, and I should add that I was forced to keep the bacon out. My husband won’t eat anything pig, so I really feel that it would have added even more flavor! Bacon makes everything better, right?! But it was still very delicious. So if you don’t like bacon either, just opt out!

I served this with garlic and parmesan mashed potatoes. I basically used white potatoes and cooked them. Then I added garlic powder, sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, and the star, parmesan cheese. Whip them up and they are so decadent and creamy! We used the gravy from the chicken to drizzle over the potatoes. Are you drooling yet?! I bought fresh asparagus for the green part of the meal, and it just was awesome with the potatoes and chicken.

Try not to skimp on the mustard, either. The ingredients for this recipe are not that complex, and the list is actually rather small. It calls for Dijon mustard and grainy mustard, which are both the main star of the recipe. They aren’t expensive, which is nice.

So if you are looking for a French recipe, but don’t want something difficult, you should try this chicken!

Happy cooking!

The Happy Homemaker

Heartwarming Soups and Chowders for the Chilly Months

Have you gotten into the swing of things with the new year in place? We are almost to the end of January already and I feel like all I wanted to accomplish has not gotten done yet. Part of my excuse is that we will be welcoming a new addition to our family the beginning of September! That has caused lots of excitement in our house, along with a pretty exhausted mama dealing with morning sickness around the clock. But what a great way to start off my new year. :)

Of course with January in full swing, it brings even colder weather with it if you live in New England like I do! I don’t know about you, but this time of year always makes me crave a hot bowl of soup or chowder. Add some homemade biscuits or bread and butter and you have the fix for that mid-January chill. Most people think of soups when fall time arrives, but now is a good time to revamp your recipe collection and add some new heartwarming meals to your weeknight menu!

Here’s a list of some of my favorites, and some new kinds you can try out:

Cheeseburger Soup.

I have used this exact recipe, and it is fabulous! It is so good, and so filling. I can bet your whole family will love this.

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Cauliflower Chowder.

Though I have never tried this recipe, it looks heavenly! And it is low-carb too, which is even better. I love cauliflower, and look forward to trying this.

Cauliflower Chowder - A creamy, low carb, hearty and wonderfully cozy soup for those chilly nights!

Lasagna Soup.

This soup is also incredible. So filling, and soo good. Who doesn’t love lasagna? Lasagna Soup - afarmgirlsdabbles.com #lasagna #lasagnasoup

Zuppa Toscana.

One of my favorite soups from the Olive Garden! Did you know you can make this at home, and it tastes just as good? This soup is so yummy.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Another recipe to add to my “to make” list! This looks like a very easy soup to put together. I can imagine it has tons of great flavor! Topped with crispy tortilla strips on top… it’s calling my name.

The best slow cooker chicken tortilla soup! Recipe by @bakedbyrachel

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup.

I am crazy over broccoli cheese soup. How can you go wrong?! Broccoli… cheese… cream…. ahhhmazing! This is a recipe for your crockpot, which is even better! Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup | Cooking Classy

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup.

This is a vegetarian soup, with the option to add meat if you like. It’s loaded with veggies, whole wheat orzo, and lots of flavor!

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup | gimmesomeoven.com #recipe

Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder.

I don’t know about you, but the picture below makes me so hungry! I have always loved dishes with a bit of a bite, and this twist on the classic corn chowder has me dying to trying it out!

Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder

Do these soups and chowders have you drooling yet? I can’t wait to try some of these out, can you? They definitely seem like a good cure for a cold day!

The Happy Homemaker