Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Syrup

A little bit of Fall in sunny Florida

Fall is here! Fall is here! Fall is...Oh, that's right. I live in Florida, land of palm trees, old people and 87 degree Christmas'.

Autumn is but a faint memory for me after living in the Sunshine State for the last 18 years. In Florida, the signal Fall has began can really only be attributed to what flavors are removed and added to the restaurants in the area. Apples, pomegranate, and squash begin making an apperance. Pumpkin bursts out of every dish, both savory and sweet. When I worked at Starbucks a year ago, my best month there was the month we released the pumpkin spice latte and I learned how beautifully it paired with our chai syrup. That's why I was so excited to find this recipe for homemade pumpkin spice sauce. While I adore the  Starbucks version, $3.55 for my daily latte is a bit steep.

 This pumpkin spice syrup is great in coffee or espresso, or even as a topping for vanilla ice cream. My sister-in-law Allison swears by it with peanut butter on sandwich bread. Although there is no substitute for hay rides, rolling around in crunchy leaves or the cool smell in the air as summer fades away, this pumpkin spice syrup comes pretty close!

Whisk vigorously to prevent scorching

Stir through a mesh strainer to remove any grainy pieces and create a smoother sauce

Perfect for lattes, ice cream topping, or plain on it's own!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Makes 8-12 servings

2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine, but make sure it's pure pumpkin not pie filling!)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or equal parts ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg)
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a heavy sauce-pan, combine the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  2. Let the mixture cook down for 10-15 minutes until thick and syrupy (best test is whether or not it coats the back of a spoon)
  3. Remove from heat, and strain over a fine, mesh strainer or pour through a cheesecloth to catch any chunky bits.*
  4. Store in the refrigerator and stir 2-3 tablespoons into your morning coffee or espresso for a special treat. I've found it's also marvelous as an ice cream topping. 
*not required but I really disliked the chunky cinnamon/pumpkin bits in my first latte. If you don't mind the texture, feel free to skip this step! 

This weekend when I'm home with Jeff, we're going to experiment making our own pumpkin spice frappes in the smoothie maker! I can't wait! 

What are your favorite fall recipes? Comment below!

Simple, Delicious, Done!


Shauna E!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodie Friday: September 14, 2012

Welcome to Foodie Friday! Foodie Friday is a freestyle segment of Easy Eats where I entertain you with a story or two, regale you with my latest successes (and failures!) in the kitchen, and provide reviews of my favorite new food products and gadgets!

Last Sunday I got on a cooking frenzy and made a roast chicken in my crock pot. I stuffed that baby with rosemary, parsley, lemon, and garlic and set it on high for 3 hours until the meat literally fell off the bones! All week we whittled away at it making chicken and mushroom skillet, curried chicken salad, and barbecue chicken over brown rice. I wish I had a picture to show you all, but of course I forgot to take one. This is definitely something I plan to make often! The ingredients were under $10 total and make at least 5 meals for us throughout the week.

Rosemary, parsley, garlic, lemon for my roast chicken
On Sunday, I also whipped up a batch of oven-roasted tomatoes. Now, I'm not normally a tomato person (at least not fresh), but these babies taste like sweet candy. Simply halve and core a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, toss in a little olive oil, then spread on a (lined) oven pan and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Once they are done, sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar, a grind of salt, and roast an addition 10 minutes until they turn a rich, deep red color. These are insanely good in salads, pastas, wraps, or even just on their own. I had to stop myself from eating the whole pint in one sitting!
Oven-roasted tomatoes are nature's candy

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were hellish days at work. Half our office is out with the flu, so every day I stayed late. By Wednesday I had almost 35 hours! I was so exhausted Wednesday I made Jeff take me to dinner instead of cooking. Of course after such a busy week, I woke up sick myself on Thursday. After getting myself to the doctor's, (and calling off of work) I spent the day sleeping, and being a bum. It was much needed. 

I had today off too, so I've been cleaning and cooking all day. I stopped at one point to make my new favorite beverage, a club soda and lime. We had an abundance of limes from the farmer's market two weeks ago and I couldn't think of any other way to use these bad boys up. Although sugar-free, it does remind me of soda which is nice when I'm craving something other than water or coffee. 

My refreshing, post-cleaning treat: Lime and club soda spritzer

Lastly, I FINALLY got around to mixing up this sourdough starter I ordered months ago from Amazon. Sourdough is a lot like a baby; you have to feed it, and baby it until it's just right. Every 12 hours I have to add flour and water to the sourdough yeast. After a few days I'll throw out (or turn into pancakes) about 1 cup of the starter to give it more room to breathe and grow. Yes, it's odd to think of yeast as a living thing but it most certainly is! I cannot wait until I can start pulling from this jar to make amazing rye bread, or English muffins from scratch. Jeff does not know how lucky he is to have a partner like me!

Patience is a virtue.
So how was your week? What cooking highs and lows did you experience? Comment below!

Simple, Delicious, Done!


Shauna E!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Technique of the Week: Outstanding Homemade Oatmeal Packs

It's obviously no secret that the more processed and convenient a food is, the more money it will cost. Diced celery will always cost a bucket-full more than it's stalk counterparts. Dried beans, while being more expensive per unit, will always be a better value than the canned stuff because of the amount of servings one bag holds. The cost of ingredients needed to make popcorn at home are still less than the bagged, microwave ready stuff. I could go on for hours, trust me...

Possibly the worst offender is pre-packaged oatmeal. These little envelops are chock full of calories, unnecessary additives for "freshness" and grossly overpriced. 10 tiny little packs for almost $5.00? You have to eat 3 of them to feel full! No way!

I learned awhile ago (total "duh" moment on my end!) that it's easier to just buy the tub of quick oats and make my own flavored oatmeal concoctions. A container of oats has about 30 servings and will run you around $2.50. Throw in some brown sugar, a bag of nuts, and some dried fruit and you're up to a little over $7.00 for three times as much oatmeal as the boxed stuff. The best part? YOU can control exactly how much sugar, sodium, and preservatives go into each pack, therefor making it loads healthier. Give it a try!

Pre-Portioned Oatmeal Packs

Makes 5 individual servings

You will need:

  • 5 sandwich or snack size zipper bags, or other small containers. 
  • 2.5 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup s dried fruit (I used cherry-infused cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup crushed nuts (I had macadamia nuts on hand but almonds, walnuts or pecans would be great)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients, making sure the brown sugar breaks up and is distributed evenly with the oats. Portion into small containers, about a heaping 2/3 cup per serving. 
  2. When you're ready to eat pour the contents of the bag into a bowl, and add 1 cup of water. 
  3. Microwave in 20-second intervals until the water is absorbed, about 1 minute total. 
  4. Enjoy!
A few tips: The ratio of mix-ins to oats is perfectly optional. I know most people would probably enjoy much more sugar in their oatmeal, but I don't have big sweet tooth in the mornings so for me, less is more. If you don't like nuts, skip them! The one important thing to account for is the water. Making sure you double the amount of water to oats is crucial in having oatmeal that isn't too dry. 

If you want to save on the bags/containers, you can also just store the whole she-bang in a large canister and pull 2/3 cup of the mixture out each time you're ready to eat. I leave these on my desk at work so the more portable, the better!

Simple, delicious, done!


Shauna E

Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome to Foodie Friday! Foodie Friday is a freestyle segment of Easy Eats where I entertain you with a story or two, regale you with my latest successes (and failures!) in the kitchen, and provide reviews of my favorite new food products and gadgets!

This week has been ridiculous. I managed to work 45 hours in 4 days due to the Monday holiday, and boy am I wiped! Because of my crazy week, I took tonight to just relax, watch some TV (I scored the entire series of Boy Meets World from my little sister, hello!!!), and be a bum.

Part of my Friday night was making kale chips for the first time. My sister-in-law Allison tempted me to try them when she posted a simple recipe for them on her blog. I have to say, the texture and crunch were great, but the flavor left me flat. Don’t get me wrong, I love my greens! I think I overcooked them though, which gave them a slightly bitter aftertaste. I definitely think I will try them again soon, and maybe add some garlic salt and onion powder to the show to amp up the flavor.

In other news, I bought an ice cream maker a few weeks ago and I am in love. So far I’ve made pumpkin spice ice cream, strawberry ice cream, and chocolate toffee chip ice cream. I have so many recipes bookmarked in my recipes folder that I want to try.

The pumpkin spice tasted like pure heaven; it was sweet, it was creamy, and the pumpkin came through wonderfully. The strawberry was OK; it lacked a wow-factor that really makes me want to experiment to get the fruity flavors to come through more (what do you think? strawberry extract? more puree? less puree?)

The best of all three was the chocolate toffee chip which is funny because I literally whipped it up in 5 minutes once I realized I still had a ton of ice and salt left over from making strawberry! (Don’t judge me, I don’t like to waste stuff!)

I went for a 4-quart maker which means it’s gigantic, and I haven’t made larger than a quart at a time. It’s nice to know that I have the option to though! A pint seems to work just fine for 2-3 people though, and it isn’t like regular store-bought ice cream—you have to eat it pretty quick or the texture changes.

So, what’s up for your weekend, dear followers?  

Stay tuned for Sunday's Technique of the Week--it's oatrageous!

Shauna E!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Pesto Pasta Salad

As summer draws to a close for the rest of the country, Florida summer rages on. Today the temperature was 86 degrees and it won’t be getting any cooler for at least another 3 months.

So while the rest of America can begin to embrace boots, jackets, and cocoa weather, we in Florida can enjoy this cool pasta salad (and our bikinis) for a little longer! 

I love, love, love basil pesto. It’s nutty, it’s slightly sweet and it’s perfect with pasta. The best part is you can use it sparingly and still come out ahead with tons of flavor. I prefer to buy my pesto from the store (Bertoli makes a great one!) but feel free to make your own with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, and olive oil.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Makes approximately 8, ½ cup servings.

  • 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto (or make your own!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked bowtie (farfelle) pasta
  • 1 cup cubed, fresh mozzarella
  • 1 cup fresh spinach chiffonade*
  • ½ cup pepperoni slices, cut into quarters
  • Salt, and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the pesto and olive oil. 
  2. Add the still warm bowties, and spinach and stir to combine. The heat from the pasta will slightly wilt the spinach. 
  3. Gently fold in the pepperoni and mozzarella. 
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Serve immediately or chill for 4-24 hours. 
  6. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese,  if desired.

(*to chiffonade, simply roll a handful of spinach leaves tightly then thinly slice into strips. It’s more visually pleasing than torn spinach and you won’t get big hunks of greens in every bite!)

Simple, Delicious, Done!

Shauna E

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Luscious Sweet Potato Latkes

All through college (and now as part-time on the weekends), I worked at a NY-style deli that specialized in Jewish delicacies such as chopped liver, knishes, challah and rye bread, nova salmon, matzo ball soup, and of course, potato pancakes. Potato latkes are a delicious marriage of shredded potatoes, onion, parsley, and egg formed into a patty and fried in oil. They are wonderful plain, or with a dollop of sour cream and applesauce. I’ve even had customers smother their potato cakes in maple syrup!

These potato latkes I present to you today are with a slight twist on the old classic: I used sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are, as the name suggests, slightly sweeter than their white counterparts. They are higher in fiber as well. The sweetness in sweet potatoes isn't sugary like you would expect, but a mild, earthy sweetness that is delicious when complimented with cinnamon, brown sugar, or butter. 

Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, these latkes are a perfect starter to a New Year’s Seder, or a simple side dish with grilled meat. I personally enjoy them with runny eggs at breakfast! No matter how you slice it, these sweet potato latkes are divine.

Shauna’s Sweet Potato Latkes (adapted from )
Makes about 20 small latkes

You will need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup sweet yellow onion, grated
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying

  1. Peel and grate the sweet potatoes and onions. Place a cheesecloth or paper towels over the mixture and squeeze out any excess liquid. Let the potatoes sit to release more liquid, then squeeze again.
  2. Place the potatoes, onion, egg, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Form the mixture into small, 2” patties.
  4. Heat the oil and fry 2-3 minutes until brown, then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Place cooked latkes in a warm oven while you continue to fry until the mixture is done.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of honey, and greek yogurt or sour cream for dipping.


Questions? Comment Below!


Shauna E!