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Mmmmm…smoothies…..

11 Jul

Has anyone else noticed how stifling hot out it’s been? The other day, the weather dude said that oh, it hasn’t been that hot out. We haven’t reached a 90 degree day yet. If I was near mr. weather dude, I would have throat punched him. In western PA it doesn’t need to be 90 degrees out to be miserably hot. We have humidity thick enough that it feels like you are walking through sweat. Gross, I know.

Soooo….since it’s been so hot out, cold beverages and breakfasts are becoming a thing around our house again. Lots of salads, frosty glasses of iced tea (or vodka, lemon & water), ice cream cones. You know, cold stuff.

I admit that I’ve been lazing around in my bed for another 30 minutes after my alarm goes off. Because I’m cozy. The ceiling fan is going, the morning news is on. I just want to delay starting my day a bit. I still have plenty of time to get ready for work and be out the door, but it limits the amount of time I have to whip up myself breakfast. And this girl HAS to eat breakfast. Otherwise my blood sugar drops and the hunger turns to hanger. It’s bad for everyone. So, when I’m pressed for time, I whip up a smoothie. Combining protein powder, oatmeal, and plenty of fruit helps to make a filling, satisfying breakfast beverage. The oatmeal helps to thicken the smoothie without watering it down, and using frozen berries means I can skip the ice and won’t have a watered down smoothie 20 minutes later. Because I combine protein powder & oatmeal, I use this smoothie as a meal replacement. It’s filling, it tastes good, and is healthy for me! Be sure to experiment with the types of fruits and liquids you use. Add in some frozen banana slices, pineapple, mango, strawberries. Whatever! Just make sure it’s frozen since this helps you avoid adding ice.

Don’t want to commit to purchasing a protein powder? You don’t have to, but it certainly helps the smoothie to be more filling. Not sure where to purchase some of the ingredients listed? Click on the ingredient to be taken to the site where I purchase. The protein powder I use is a whey protein that is non-GMO, non-denatured, no growth hormones and no artificial sweeteners or ingredients. I have only tried the double chocolate flavor and it’s very good. The RAW superfood powder is organic and lets me get a dose of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from more veggies than I could pack into a smoothie (and veggies or grasses that I just wouldn’t otherwise eat). Both of the powders I add in last me about 2 months as I only have smoothies on weekdays, with the most being 5 per week, so it helps to offset the cost of buying the protein and RAW powders. I can honestly say I feel more energy in the mornings of having smoothie than I do with a couple of cups of coffee. Minus the jitters and the afternoon slump.

Give it a try!

berry breakfast smoothie

Chocolate Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Smoothie

1/4 cup oatmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons ground flax meal

1 cup frozen berries (I use a triple berry blend – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

1 cup coconut or almond milk

1/4 cup organic vanilla yogurt

4-5 drops  Sweet Leaf Stevia drops – optional

1 scoop Natural Factors Double Chocolate Whey Powder

1/2 scoop Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Organic Chocolate Cocoa powder

In a blender, pulse your oatmeal and flax meal until it’s a powder. Add in your berries, coconut or almond milk, protein and RAW powders, and Stevia drops if using. Blend on high until everything is combined, 1-2 minutes. Blending for a longer time whips everything together and adds air, making the smoothie taste ridiculously creamy. If your smoothie is too thick, add a little more coconut or almond milk.

Pour into a glass, add a straw, and enjoy your breakfast beverage!

The DIY Life: Fermenting your own Kombucha Tea. Part 1

1 Jul

Good things come from fermentation – pickles, wine, beer, kraut. But who would have thought tea? I know I didn’t. Until I heard a friend talking about brewing up her own Kombucha. The short of the process is you brew up some tea, sweeten it, add the SCOBY to the cooled sweet tea, cover with a clean cotton cloth and let sit for 7-21 days to ferment. The longer you let it ferment, the stronger the tea. Drink a little of the tea each day for the health benefits. The health benefits are wide and don’t really have a whole lot of documented proof because Kombucha tea is not evaluated by the FDA. I think it’s pretty refreshing to have a  jelly jar full each morning or evening.

A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast. They are also known and kombucha mushrooms, Mother, Baby or plain old kombucha.

Why did I decide to start brewing some? Because it DOES contain probiotics, like those found in yogurt. Probiotics are good for you. They help keep the good bacteria in your body from going all wild. Here is a great article over at Kombucha Camp if you want to see more of the purported benefits of drinking Kombucha.  Since I have only been drinking it for a couple of months, I can’t confirm or deny any of the implied benefits. However, I like the taste and the process of making it is so easy that I can’t find a reason to NOT make it. So far I made a batch up with black tea and let it ferment for only 7 days. I wanted to see how it tasted at that point. At the 7 day mark, the tea was slightly carbonated and still sweet. My next batch was a green tea, and I let that one ferment for 10 days. It was a lot milder in flavor over the black tea I had from the first batch, and was a teeny bit more carbonated and tangy. Batch 3 I went back to black tea and let ferment for 15 days. The carbonation was pretty good, with a nice flow of small champagne like bubbles. It had a bit more zing to the taste. I think 7 days will continue to be my max first fermentation time for right now, until I get a little more adventurous.

The longer that you let the tea ferment, the more pronounced vinegar flavor it takes on. I like vinegar, but I don’t want to drink it. If for some reason I forgot about my tea, and the flavor was more vinegar like than I could handle, it can easily be saved and used AS vinegar – in dressings and what not.

Below is a basic recipe for Kombucha, for a single fermentation process. You can do a double fermentation, where after the first round you remove the SCOBY and ferment with a fruit or flavoring. I’ll be doing a follow-up post on how to do the second fermentation.

Since the Kombucha is fermented, there is a low percentage of ABV – the highest I’ve seen is 1%. So no, you can’t get drunk off of it. It does have a very slight booze taste when you first take a sip, because of the little bubbles and the whole fermenting process. But you are fine.

And please, don’t freak out about the sugar content. The sugars are for the SCOBY, not for you. The SCOBY will eat the sugars, which are what causes your brew to ferment. There will still be SOME sweetness to your finished brew, but it won’t be like the overly sweet tea you started with.

Tips

* If you don’t have a friend who brews their own Kombucha and can hook you up with a SCOBY, be sure to purchase one from a reputable supplier. Kombucha Camp does sell them as well as kits.

* NEVER allow any metal to come in contact with your SCOBY. Contact with metal will kill it. Nobody wants to have “SCOBY killer” as their nickname.

* NEVER use organic teas. They will cause the brew to grow mold and you will have to throw everything out.

* Don’t worry if your SCOBY sinks or is sideways. It will float back to the top of the container and right itself. This usually happens if the SCOBY and tea are not at the same room temp. No biggie.

* DISTILLED WATER ONLY. Just suck it up and spend the $0.88 on a gallon of the stuff. Don’t use tap, whatever you do. Just don’t.

* Don’t be sloppy with your sanitation skills. Make sure all jars and containers are clean. You wouldn’t want to eat dinner off of a dirty plate, so don’t use dirty utensils for brewing!

* NEVER store your SCOBY in the fridge.

* Share your baby SCOBY’s with others! Be sure to include some of your finished Kombucha tea/Mother with the baby so they can get their own brew going on.

* Too many SCOBY’s from brewing tons of Kombucha? Toss extras or old SCOBY’s into your compost pile. They are good for your garden.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar – I use Zulka Pure Cane GMO free 

4-6 tea bags

1 SCOBY + 1 cup Mother (starter tea)

8-10 cups distilled water

Tools:

Large glass container (I use this 1 gallon mason jar, minus the lid)

Tea towel

Rubber band

Large pot

 

In a large pot, bring your water to a boil. Add your tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes. Add your sugar and stir until dissolved.

Let your sweetened tea cool to room temperature.

In large glass container, add your room temperature sweetened tea. To the sweetened tea, add the starter tea. Gently place your SCOBY into the jar, letting if float on top.

Cover the top of your jar with a clean flour sack/tea towel that is secured with a rubber band. This will let your tea breathe and ferment, while keeping out bugs. Place your jar in a dark corner of your house out of direct sunlight and let sit, undisturbed for at least 7 days.

At 7 days, remove your SCOBY and 1 cup of the freshly fermented kombucha. Store in a ziplock bag or jar until you are ready for your next round of brewing. If you have a second “baby” SCOBY, separate it from the Mother SCOBY and store with another cup of Kombucha to give to friends. I always keep 2 SCOBY’s on hand, in case something happens to the original.

To store your finished tea, strain the tea through cheese cloth to remove any of the stringiness that happens when you brew Kombucha. You do not have to strain the tea if you don’t want to. Store in a gallon sized glass jar in the fridge, or pint/quart mason jars for easily portable drinking.

Enjoy daily, and get started brewing your second batch!

The DIY Life: Homemade Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer

14 Jun

I’m slacking lately on the posts. Between the garden, weekend obligations, and a ginormous amount of work, ain’t nobody got time for blogging. But before my anniversary camping trip, I decided to grace you all with an easy to do from scratch post.

The hubs and I love to have a morning cup of coffee, english breakfast tea or chai tea. Something about a warm beverage jest feels like it helps to slowly melt away your sleepiness and get you ready for the day! That being said, when you have two people drinking a cup of coffee on average 5 days per week, you can really go through creamer. I admit that I have been purchasing the Sweet Cream varieties in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. 😦 I decided to stop that since only one or two options contain actual dairy ingredients, and all contain additives that aren’t found in homemade versions. This is so simple to make that I can’t believe I was spending $3.50 weekly when I could spend that same amount for enough creamer to last us at least 2 weeks and not be full of artificial ingredients!

This recipe isn’t exact in taste as the store-bought, but that is because I don’t have any chemical taste enhancers. The next batch I make I think I’ll add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to boost the flavor profile.

sweet cream coffee creamer

Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer

1 14oz can organic sweetened condensed milk

3 12oz cans organic evaporated milk (not fat-free or low-fat)

Add all of your cans to a medium saucepan and heat of low heat for roughly 5 minutes, until the milks have combined. Let cool and place inside a container that you can easily pour from. Store in the fridge and use to sweeten your coffee and tea!

Apple Pie in a Jar – Apple Pie “Shine”

2 Apr

When I think of apple pie, it reminds me of being a kid, playing outside and being able to smell the delicious fragrance of freshly baking apple pie flowing out the open windows in the spring. There is just something about that smell and taste. It’s childhood.

As an adult, I like to enjoy apple pie in different variations. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, tarts. As a grown up beverage, it can’t be beat. I did an Apple Pie Sangria with a jar of this mixed into the batch. It was AMAZING. Slightly potent, but AMAZING.  The best way to make a batch of that sangria is to actually have a jar of the Apple Pie “Shine” to mix into it. It’s easy to make, and just as easy to drink. My second batch was a little less potent, so I may add another shot of grain to the jars upon opening them. The recipe listed below is my variation of the recipe given to me by a friend. I think it makes something great tasting become epic tasting!

apple pie shine

Apple Pie Shine

1 gallon apple cider

1 gallon unsweetened apple juice

3 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons vanilla extract – do not use imitation

1 liter (plus a couple extra glugs if you are heavy handed like me!) moonshine, Everclear, or the highest proof vodka you can find

Take and put all of your ingredients into a large pot, with the exception of the alcohol. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve brown sugar and molasses. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add your grain alcohol, stirring to combine.

Fill clean pint or quart mason jars to bottom of threads on jar, wipe rims and add lids and screw bands, twisting to finger tight. Rinse jars to get rid of any sticky residue and store in a cool dark place. Let “age” about 1 month to get rid of any strong booze flavor. Enjoy ice cold, shaking the jar before passing the jar around with friends! Tastes just like apple pie – in a jar!

When the chickens give you fresh eggs, make Homemade Brown Sugar Custard Egg Nog!

17 Dec

christmas tree 2012

If this is the first time you are tuning in to Seasoned with Sarcasm, I’ve got chickens. Those hens (and duck) give me eggs daily. Even with it being sporadically cold out (mother nature has our temps all over the place – 25 degrees one day, 52 the next) and it’s getting dark at literally 5:10pm, they are still producing at least 3 eggs per day. That being said, with the holiday baking all completed and us really only eating eggs on weekends, we have a plethora of eggs.

Right around Thanksgiving, I get a hankering for spiced rum spiked egg nog. Especially when I start decorating for Christmas. I’ll buy one of the cardboard cartons from the store and hubs & I will enjoy it until it’s gone. Sometimes I’ll buy a second carton. Or a half gallon. This year, while sipping on a store-bought glass of the stuff, I thought damn. Why don’t I just make my own? It certainly has to be better than the overly sweet store bought stuff. And, I mean, eggs don’t get any fresher than straight out of the nesting box that evening. So I whipped up a batch. Man, I’m glad I did. The hubs and I are really enjoying it. This is my second batch, which I have improved upon with the addition of molasses. This recipe is for a custard like egg nog. If it is too thick for your liking, add a little more milk or cream. Since it is cooked, it will last a little bit longer than its uncooked counterpart. For best quality and flavor, consume within 5 days.

Why is it called BROWN SUGAR Custard Egg Nog if there isn’t actual brown sugar IN the recipe? Because all brown sugar is white sugar mixed with some molasses. I decided to use white table sugar and add the molasses for a more concentrated flavor. Plus, I was fresh out of brown sugar from all my baking.

Feel free to use whatever type of sugar you like. Splenda, Stevia, brown sugar, raw sugar, agave nectar. Whatever floats your boat! Just remember to adjust according to what you are using. I have made this with Stevia liquid as well and it’s just as delicious. Don’t like spiced rum? Spike it with some whisky, scotch, vodka. Or leave it virgin. I like the additional spice flavor added from the spiced rum. I use The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. It’s extra dark and takes this egg nog to the next level. And every time I pour some I say “Release The Kraken!!!!”  just like Liam Neeson in Clash of the Titans.

eggnog

Homemade Brown Sugar Custard Egg Nog

serves 4

  • 2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks, preferably fresh
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces spiced rum
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Add your eggs to a medium sized bowl (or stand mixer bowl). Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and molasses and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add your milk, heavy cream, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove your saucepan from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixer with the egg/sugar mix. Return everything to your saucepan and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat and stir in the spiced rum. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any thick custard like pieces of egg nog. Bottle and let chill overnight.

Serve with an additional sprinkle of nutmeg and whipped cream if desired. For a kid friendly version, skip the spiced rum.

Pumpkin Pie….Smoothie!

5 Nov

Ah pumpkin. And my new addiction to smoothies. Because they offer a sweet treat, without all those pesky calories that usually convert to fat that goes right to my ass, hips and thighs.

I love pumpkin pie, but let’s be honest – that crust is a killer when it comes to calories. And I just can’t bring myself to eat just the filling on a pumpkin pie, leaving behind the crust to be tossed or fed to birds. I blame my childhood. I was raised to clean my plate, and wasn’t permitted to leave the table until my plate was clean of all food. So, ya.

Since the fall starts the pumpkin food obsession in my house, I figured I needed a smoothie option. Hubs and I aren’t the only ones eating pumpkin. The chickens and ducks are enjoying a whole pumpkin. It’s helps keep them from getting bored when they are in their run, and it’s a great nutrient booster to their eggs! It will also supposedly help fend off intestinal parasites, which is always a good thing if you are a chicken. Plus, we’ll get nice orange yolks from all that pumpkin ingestion! Yay!

For us humans, pumpkin is also super beneficial. It’s loaded with fiber, so it’ helps you feel fuller longer, which in turns helps aid in weight loss. It contains beta-carotene, which helps our body prevent cancer, as well as help to keep us looking wrinkle free. 1 cup of pumpkin contains 564 milligrams of potassium, which is a great way to refuel after a workout. They also contain vitamin c, which can help ward off colds. Oh ya, and pumpkin tastes great, sweet and savory!

This recipe tastes decadent. The key is blending it for a longer period of time to get that creamy ice cream like richness without all the fat. Don’t get lazy and only blend it for a minute. Go for 2-3. It makes ALL the difference! For those calorie conscious folks, this recipe is only 114 calories per serving. If you were to drink the whole recipe, that’s still only 228 calories – and you will be so full I don’t think you’ll be ABLE to finish it!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon molasses

1 gram of Stevia sweetener

1tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup non fat milk

1 cup ice

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until about double in size. You want to blend it for about 2-3 minutes. This will create lots of air bubbles and make the smoothie taste rich and creamy like a milkshake! Serve immediately and enjoy!

The DIY Life: Living Frugal and making your OWN Smoothie Base!

22 Oct

Ever since I made the decision to watch what I was eating, exercise and finally shed this excess weight gain (damn you homemade and craft beer with all your deliciousness!!!), I have attempted to have healthier “snacks” or dessert options. After I got my cardio done for the day, I was enjoying a Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie from the freezer section. Now, $2.38 for a little bag of frozen berries and some chocolate yogurt chunks is kinda pricey as an almost daily treat. Especially when I’m sharing it with the hubs. Then I decided I could totally do it better and CHEAPER!

If you are a fan of smoothies, this is a great way to have a ready-made “mix” where you just add some milk, blend, and off you go!

I chose to purchase fresh berries because they were *shocker* cheaper than the already frozen. If you wanna skip that step and just buy frozen, go for it, but you just can’t beat sale berries! I’m going to buy up some raspberries and freeze them too into this mix to get a big boost of nutrients from all that red berry goodness!

Strawberry Vanilla Smoothie Base

Ingredients/Directions

2lbs strawberries – rinsed, cored and larger berries cut in half/quartered

1 large container vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)

Ice cube trays

waxed paper

rimmed baking sheet

Take a piece of wax paper and line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Spread your strawberries in a single layer.

For the yogurt, spoon it into ice cube trays. Before stacking the trays for freezing, put a layer of saran wrap in between to keep the trays from getting messy. Freeze for 2 hours along with your baking sheet of strawberries.

Once items are frozen, toss into a gallon size freezer bag or freezer safe container.

To make a single serve smoothie, take 3 yogurt cubes, a handful of the strawberries and add to blender. Add a squirt or two of chocolate sauce, about 1/2 cup milk for a thick smoothie and blend until combined.

Voila! For $10 you get at least 16 smoothies. The frozen prepackaged kind? Double that!