Upping My Coffee Game

It’s a well established fact that I am just not a coffee drinker.

The smell is heavenly – but the taste has always let me down.

My kids, however, all drink coffee.

And not just any coffee – but good coffee. That’s why they make their own when they are here.

The only time I make coffee is when my parents come to visit and I pull my little vintage percolator and attempt to brew a pot. They’ve always said it was “fine”.

To be honest. I never even think about coffee except to make sure I have some in the freezer and half & half in the fridge when the kids are home.

So when Peter brought a bunch of friends down to help tear down the hovel, coffee was the last thing on my mind. At least until they staggered in the kitchen Saturday morning with bleary eyes and mumbling “Coffee?”

I went into full on panic mode and grabbed my little vintage peculator which looked grossly undersized and frantically tried to remember how to make coffee.

I don’t think I succeeded by the number of mugs full of coffee that were left on the table when they went outside.

The next day I texted my oldest son – the one known in our family as the connoisseur of fine brew – and asked him to teach my how to make a good cup o’ joe.

He took the challenge seriously and began lessons the very next time he was home.

I will admit he looked uncertain when I pulled out my little vintage percolator but gamely tried it.

He immediately dumped the pot.

Lesson 1 – when coffee is boiled it becomes bitter. Bitter is not good.

He then introduced me to the French Press <insert heavenly music> which is the easiest and almost dummy-proof way to make coffee.

As he carefully measured the coffee grounds and started the water boiling, he began explaining the different kinds of coffee, pros and cons of coffee beans and already ground coffee and how to tell when your coffee is old and why nobody wants to drink the three year coffee in my freezer.

Lesson 2 – Nobody likes old coffee. Old coffee is not good.

I listened intently as I watched him take the boiling water off the burner, let it sit for a minute to bring the temp down (lesson number 1!) and poured it over the ground coffee.

He then told Siri to set a timer for three minutes, and continued my education on all things coffee. Did you know there’s a roast date on every package of coffee? And the lighter the roast the more caffeine?

My head was spinning by the time Siri told him his coffee was done.

He carefully poured his perfectly made brew into a mug and sat down satisfied with the look on his face that only the most serious coffee drinkers understand.

I sat across from him holding my massive cup of green tea and realized that my brain was about to burst with information.

So I grabbed a recipe card and started making notes.

I fully realize that I may be teased about this for the rest of my life – but I will confess hear and now that I actually have a recipe for coffee.

And I used it when my parents visited.

And they immediately noticed that my coffee had improved. Greatly.

This momma has upped her coffee game!

Next lesson – how to get Siri to set the timer for 3 minutes!

Okay – don’t hold your breath on that one!


Mocha Java

Mocha Java CoffeeDagmar’s been in the kitchen again.

She’s experimenting.

With coffee this time.

And chocolate.

Maybe that’s why she’s smiling?

And has so much energy?!

Today’s winner – a Starbuck’s look-a-like – Mocha Java.

Mocha Java

1 cup strong coffee
2 Tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 half & half

Brew 1 cup of strong coffee.

Add the semi- sweet chocolate chips and sugar. Stir together. Pour into a mug.

Slowly add the half & half, stirring carefully if you want to make a barista design on top.

Grip the mug with two hands.  Drink slowly with a smile on your face.


Iced Mocha

So what does a coffeeIced Mocha addict do when the temperatures hit the 90’s, the humidity is soaring – and they need their coffee fix?

They head to Pinterest and find a recipe for Iced Mocha!

That’s just what Dagmar – our resident coffee aficionado – did.

She made it – fell in love with it – and the girls have been indulging ever since!

(Please note that I said the girls – that does not include me! I have never tasted this recipe – nor do I plan to – ever! You all know my thoughts on that stuff! And to think – they actually wasted good chocolate in it!  I shudder.)

But anyway –

It starts with frozen coffee ice cubes, so now they keep an ice cube tray of coffee in the freezer just in case a craving hits.

Which it does. Daily.

Iced Mocha

2 cups cold coffee (try different flavors for a twist)
1 tray of coffee ice cubes
1/2 whole milk (or coffee creamer – especially flavored!)
1 ounce chocolate syrup

Throw everything in the blender and whiz.

Pour it into a fancy glass and top with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup!

This can serve up to four – if you share.


World’s Easiest Purple Punch

GradWe did it!

We got the girl graduated and celebrated!

And I had enough buns and we’ll be eating chocolate chip cookies for a long time!

And we had fun – lots of fun. So much fun that the weekend will take its very own post!

But since I still have a house full of family and friends who spent the night and are keeping us rolling in laughter…

and who ate left-over puppy chow and drank Hawaiian punch for breakfast – with some even eating them together like milk and cereal (right Seth!?)…

I’m going to share a quick and super easy recipe today, and a longer post later.

Originally served at my nieces wedding –  the world’s easiest punch is both fast and refreshing.

purple punchAre you ready?

For Purple Punch- just take one jug of Hawaiian Punch Berry Bonkers and one 2 liter of 7 Up (or any lemon-lime soda).

Get them both cold and pour them together.

That’s it! I told it was easy!

Now since I’m so relieved the whole thing is over and I survived – I’ll throw in the recipe for the world’s easiest blue punch.

One jug of Hawaiian Punch Berry Blue and one 2 liter of 7 -Up. Get them both cold and pour them together.

I just bet you can figure out the recipe for the world’s easiest orange punch or green punch… or red punch…


One batch of punch (one jug of Hawaiian Punch and one liter of 7-up) will yield about 20 – 8 ounce servings. 

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Salted Carmel Hot chocolateI love Starbuck’s   Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate – but the nearest Starbuck’s is almost 2 hours away!

We desperately needed to find a recipe we could make at home, because – let’s face it – you never know when a craving will hit!

So Dagmar and I hit the kitchen with lots of enthusiasm and a recipe to try.

An hour later we had four dirty saucepans, major sugar buzzes – and some amazing salted caramel hot chocolate.

***At this point – those of you who need a quick fix – simply make an envelope of hot chocolate mix, squirt  some caramel ice cream topping in it and sprinkle it with salt and enjoy.

If – however – you want the real deal – so rich and creamy and wonderful that the Hallelujah chorus plays when you drink it – keep reading.***

Let’s start with the caramel sauce. The original recipe was a disaster. (That’s why we had so many dirty saucepans – what a mess!)

So I dug out a recipe for caramel sauce that I pinned on Pinterest. Hot diggety! That was some seriously good caramel! It was so good that you could eat it by the spoonful! (not that I would know from personal experience or anything ! 🙂 But seriously – you should try it with a whole almond!)

Caramel Sauce

1/4 c. butter
1 c. corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat stirring constantly. Keep cooking and stirring until the temperature reaches 235 -240 degrees (soft ball stage).

Remove from heat and add vanilla.

At this point – you could make a delectable caramel candy by pouring the caramel mixture into a foil-lined baking dish and refrigerating. Then cut into squares and enjoy. Or – you could add nuts or coat with chocolate…but I’m getting carried away.

We’re making caramel sauce here – so you need to add half – half to prevent the caramel from turning hard. (We didn’t add enough and ours turned into a semi-solid that makes it very difficult to sneak out of the fridge when the kids aren’t looking!)

Now for the hot chocolate part. You could use a packet if you wish, or my hot chocolate recipe, or even hot milk with chocolate syrup stirred in. But if you want to go over the top – try this one.

Uber Rich Hot Chocolate

12 oz. chocolate
1 c. heavy cream

Melt together the chocolate and heavy cream in a double broiler.

When melted and mixed, add milk until you reach the desired consistency and chocolately goodness.

Now let’s assemble –

Coat the inside of a mug with the caramel sauce and fill with hot chocolate. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the very top and behold your masterpiece.

Now slowly inhale the chocolate aroma before taking your first sip.

Did you hear the music?

Yep – I thought so.


I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

smoothieIt’s hot.

Really, really hot.

I mean beastly hot.

And of course it’s time to bale hay.  So when the guys have been out in the brutal heat all afternoon – I like to have something really cold and refreshing waiting for them.

Something like this frozen strawberry lemonade.

It took seconds to whiz up in the blender and was a big hit with my hot crew.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

2 cups of lemonade
1-2 cups of frozen strawberries
2 cups of ice cubes
1-2 tablespoons sugar (as needed)

Dump all the ingredients in the blender and give it a whirl for a minute or two. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Serves 4 normal people but only 1 hot and thirsty kid whose been haying.

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Staying Cool with Fruit Slushies

It’s hot. Really hot.

And humid.

So hot and humid that an extensive heat advisory is old news.


So hot and humid that your glasses fog up when you walk out of the house.

So hot and humid that you fight over who gets to wash the dishes so you don’t have to go out and spread mulch in the garden.


So hot that you just dump the water gun on yourself, rather than wait for a sibling to hit you with a spray of water.


It’s so hot that it’s time for Fruit Slushies.

Back in the days when we lived in the hovel with no AC – we would try to “celebrate the heat” with special cool treats in the afternoon.

These Fruit Slushies were always a favorite!

We’ve discovered that they are still a treat – even with the air on!

The recipe couldn’t be more simple – or more versatile.

Fruit Slushies

Blend together in a blender:   (I blend these in batches because my blender isn’t big enough for everything at once.)

1 can fruit cocktail
1 can apricots
1 can peaches
1 can pears
4 medium bananas
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate

Pour into a plastic container and freeze. ( I use an ice cream bucket.)

To serve – let the fruit mixture sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Using an ice cream scoop, place scoops of the mixture into a glass and fill it with lemon-lime pop. (We’ve used 7 Up, Sprite, and even store brand – it’s all good!)

I have substituted almost any canned fruit in this recipe and it’s always worked. It doesn’t matter what size cans you use – whatever is in the pantry or on sale will work. Make sure you use the juice and the fruit -just dump it all in!

It’s an inexpensive and fun way to celebrate the  last days of summer.

Stay cool!

I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam,  Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff, and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.

The Smoothie Follies

Smoothie FailIt all started back in October when I was grocery shopping. There – sitting in the produce aisle – was an entire banana box full of bananas for $8.00.

An entire banana box!

Yes, they were getting ripe fast – but still it was a great  deal!

I bought them and we ate them – quickly.

The last few we peeled and threw in the freezer.

A few weeks later I saw the same deal. Only this time the kids weren’t so thrilled with eating that many bananas. More went in the freezer.

Then my husband brought one home. Even more went in the freezer.

This went on well into November before we realized that none of us even wanted to look at a banana again!

Last week I cleaned out the freezer and realized that we had many, many bags of frozen bananas – and there were starting to impart a banana flavor in the homemade rolls and even the frozen french fries they shared the freezer space with.

Major banana fail.

It was time to use them up. The problem was, we are banana’d out. We’ve had banana bread, banana muffins, banana cake…you name it, we ate it, until we can’t stand to look at it again!

Then I thought of smoothies.

I taught the kids the basics, gave them a few ideas ideas – and set them loose. The only rules were they had to use a frozen banana AND they had to eat what they created.

Boy – were they creative!

Some were actually good.

Dagmar’s peanut butter, yogurt, banana and chocolate syrup was yummy. As was the blueberry, raspberry, banana and yogurt combination.

Pedro did not do as well.  His banana, chocolate syrup, raspberry syrup, and a carrot stick combo was not very tasty. It was edible, however. But in his zeal to out-do his siblings he added barbecue sauce.

Words can not describe.

He sat and tried to drink it for over an hour (remember rule #2!) until I showed him mercy and grace, allowing him to feed it to the chickens. Such relief on his face! (I did hear him tell his brother at lunch that he could still taste it several hours later!)

The kids continue to enjoy smoothies for breakfast and snack – but are more cautious about their choice of ingredients!

Little by little the massive banana pile in the freezer is slowly dwindling – one smoothie at a time.

And when I go grocery shopping – I walk right by those cheap bananas!

PS: I’ve linked this post up with my friend Myra over at My Blessed Life for her Friday Fails fun!

Chunky Blonde Brownies & Chocolate Cream Soda

Chunky Blonde Brownies Chocolate Cream SodaOnce again my Mom steps in as guest blogger with these two chocolate treats…

I needed to make a batch of cookies to serve at an evening Bible Study. We always make Decaf coffee so thought I’d rather not make Chocolate Brownies.

Instead, I did the next best–Blonde Brownies. I did not have vanilla chips, but did find some white chocolate chips on the shelf. Good substitute!

Papa and I enjoyed them for “tea time” with a glass of Chocolate Cream Soda. (We had to do a taste-test of course!)

Chunky Blonde Brownies
From Taste of Home

½ Cup Butter or Margarine, softened
¾ Cup White Sugar
¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt
1 Cup Vanilla Chips
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chunks
¾ Cup Nuts(macadamia, blanched almonds, walnuts or pecans)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add the eggs & vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder & salt; add to creamed mixture & mix well. Stir in chips, chunks & half of nuts. Spoon into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 2 dozen

Chocolate Cream Soda
From Everyday Meals

In a tall glass stir together ¼ Cup Half & Half and 2 Tbs. Chocolate Syrup.

Add 2/3 Cup Seltzer

Stir to make foam on top!

(Could substitute whole milk for less calories or softened ice cream for more calories!)

Until next time,


Staying Cool with Homemade Chocolate Shakes

It’s still hot at my house. The afternoons get long and tempers get short in the heat and humidity.

So I tried a trick my mom used to do, I made a cool treat mid-afternoon to sweeten everybody up and cool everybody down!

Today’s treat was Homemade Chocolate Shakes.

I pulled out the blender and threw in a few scoops of ice cream, poured in a little milk and some chocolate ice cream syrup.

If it looked too thick, I would add more milk.

If it looked to thin, I would add more ice cream.

If it looked just right I poured it into a cup with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Served with a spoon and a straw, this was one treat that soothed the savage beasts (oops…I mean my hot and tired children!)

And yes, Mom enjoyed it, too!