Im-Pressed

First impressions are kind of a big deal.

It sets the tone for an entire relationship.

A bad first impression can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Literally.

At least when you’re talking about food.

Here’s a list of foods that did not leave a good first impression:

Mushrooms

(I couldn’t even eat a slice of pizza if a ‘shroom was in a 12 inch radius of my slice)

Whole tomatoes

(Too mushy)

Papaya

(Slimy)

Maple Syrup

(Too thin)

Beer

(I spent about a year chasing it with soda)

Flax Seed

(Too “healthy” tasting)

Olive oil

(Too earthy)

I love trying new foods but I don’t always love them the first time I try them.

Sometimes I don’t even like them the second time.

Or the third.

Then there are things that are truly an acquired taste like beer and coffee.

I approach new foods the same way parents introduce food to their toddlers.

I try it at least seven times before I decide if I like it or not.

(You may even need to try a food several times over several months)

And you know what?

I almost always end up liking it.

Craving it even.

Coffee is the perfect example.

The first time I had coffee, I spit it right back out.

It was bitter. 

Well, a couple shots of flavored syrup and chemical creamers took care of that problem.

Couldn’t taste the coffee at all.

And I loved it.

I was abhorred by the fact that husband could pour himself a cup of piping hot black coffee and then just…..drink it.

No sugar.

No splenda.

No mocha caramel macchiato sundae flavored syrup.

Straight black coffee.

“How can you do that?”  I said.

His response?

I like the flavor of coffee.

I spent the next couple of days choking down black coffee before work.

By the third day, it happened.

I could actually taste the coffee.

I felt like I was reliving a Folger’s commercial.

When we stopped buying cheap ass Folger’s and drinking good quality, fresh ground beans, it was all over.

Coffee is now pretty much the reason I wake up in the morning.

But as much as a love coffee, it can sometimes still be bitter tasting and my stomach is not a huge fan of the acidity.

Then I learned about cold pressed coffee.

Cold pressed coffee is steeped in water overnight instead of brewing the grounds in scalding hot water. Cold pressing allows the flavor of the coffee to come through without any of the bitterness.

Since I don’t have a french press, the traditional mechanism for making cold pressed coffee, I prepare it right in my coffee carafe. The process is super simple and only takes a little advanced planning since you have to let it soak overnight or for at least eight hours.

Many recipes make a coffee “concentrate” and then add water to it before serving. I find that using the same amount of water and grounds as I would use when preparing brewed coffee is the perfect ratio for cold pressed coffee as well.

 If you add cinnamon and cocoa powder to the grounds, its like drinking a fancy coffee shop drink for a fraction of the price, and there’s no need for shots of flavored sugar “syrup” or creamers that don’t actually have cream as an ingredient.

The process might seem complicated, but I assure you it’s as easy as brewing a regular cup of coffee.

Unless you own a Kuerig.

It’s more complicated than a Kuerig.

But I save a bazillion dollars by not buying those damn K-cups.

COLD PRESSED COFFEE

8 cups of water

1 1/4 cup coffee grounds, or to taste

1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa*

Tidbit: Make sure the cocoa is dutch processed. I find regular cocoa powder to be too bitter in this mix.

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Grind the beans (if using whole) with the cinnamon.

Add the grounds and the cocoa to a carafe, pitcher, or large bowl.

Add the water.

Make sure all of the grounds are wet.

Allow to soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Place mesh strainer over large pitcher.

Line strainer with papertowel or coffee filter and strain.

Lasts for weeks in the refrigerator!

This makes the perfect iced coffee.

Or hot cup of joe.

And even though cold pressed coffee is delicious on its own, sometimes I like to sweeten the deal.

Here are my favorite coffee additions:

Coconut Milk

The small amount of fat in coconut milk makes coffee extra creamy.

Almond Milk Blends

Almods, cashews, and hazelnuts all in one delicious blend.

Honey

Local honey is thought to help alleviate seasonal allergies.

Molasses

This is my sweetener of choice in the fall and winter months. It’s also a rich source of calcium, iron, and potassium.

And my all-time favorite:

Maple Syrup

Yes, the very food I disliked for being “too thin.”

A lifetime of processed food will do that to you.

It masks the flavor of real food.

Luckily, the more real food you eat, the more your body loves it.

And if you’re wondering what to do with the leftover grounds, add them to your garden.

My basil loves coffee almost as much as I do.

Keep calm and get your caffeine on!

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The Cookie Police

I don’t have a lot of personal experience with the police.

Except for that time I was questioned about credit card theft.

(It wasn’t me)

And the time I was caught underage drinking in college.

(Honesty is NOT the best policy)

((Run like hell is))

And the time I got into a car accident….with a bus.

(I didn’t see it?)

The woman on the bus that sued me might have needed a police officer.

To stop me from punching her in her “whiplashed” face.

Just so you know ma’am, suing three people in the same year seems slightly suspicious.

I suggest you take your 100 grand and get right with God.

But I digress.

When the police aren’t chasing around drunken college idiots and writing up accidents involving  major city transportation systems, they are doing very important things.

Like capturing the true credit card thieves.

(I told you it wasn’t me)

They also pretty much save the world on a pretty regular basis.

The nature of my job actually does require a fair amount of police interaction, and I thought it would be nice if I could find a way to say thank you for all of their hard work and dedication.

And for not making spend a night in the drunk tank.

The agency I work for was kind enough to let me hold a cookie drive (RAK!) so that I could deliver batches of homemade cookies to each of the state police troops in the county.

Now this is a big, fat cliche, but when I think of cops, I think of coffee.

I mean, they need a good cup of joe to carry them through exhausting shifts of busting bad guys.

Espresso is nice, but I have a feeling police try to avoid things that come in shots.

Like espresso.

And bullets.

The solution?

A cookie with two kinds of chocolate, coffee, and freshly chopped coffee beans mixed right into the batter.

It is the perfect balance of  bitter coffee and sweet cookie.

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MOCHA JAVA COOKIES

½ cup non-dairy butter

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon chia seeds + ¼ cup brewed coffee

2 squares (2 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¼  cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼-1/2 cup chopped coffee beans

Chia seeds are much cooler than chia pets. The seeds offer fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and heart healthy omega -3's. Chia pets just die because no one EVER remembers to water the chia pet.

Combine chia seeds and coffee and set aside for five minutes to gel.

When combined with liquid, chia seeds make an excellent replacement for eggs in vegan baking.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

For a chewy, brownie-like cookie, reduce flour by 1/4 cup.

In a large bowl, cream the non-dairy butter and sugar.

Add chia mixture, melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Fold in chopped coffee beans.

Since the coffee flavor is prominent in this cookie, make sure to use a high quality bean. If you have extra because you don't regularly use whole beans, you can put the leftovers in glass vases and have a great smelling centerpiece.

Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a cookie sheet.

Tidbit: These look much better if you take the time to roll them into balls instead of just dropping the dough on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

The cookies will be very soft when they come out of the oven. Let them cool completely before shoving them in your face.

Bag the evidence.

Don’t forget the K-9 unit.

Thank you to all of the men and women who work hard to keep our community safe.

We appreciate all that you do!

You have the right to remain RAK’D!

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Whole latte love

Here’s my morning.

Wake up. Hydrate. Nibble. Work-out. Make coffee. Brush teeth. Shower. Get dressed. Put on make up. Drop make up all over dresser coating it in ivory powder. Cuss. Remove turban towel from head and dry hair. Flat iron already pin-straight hair. Burn self on flat-iron. Cuss. Hairspray for a solid 35 seconds while simultaneously killing the o-zone layer. Find glasses. Find phone. Switch purse to match outfit. Kiss sleeping husband. Stub toe. Cuss. Locate sweater to retain body heat in the arctic tundra that is my office. Let dogs out. Pack lunch. Pack breakfast. Pack coffee to go. Boot up computer. Cuss because it’s taking 7 minutes. Check e-mail for four seconds. Let dogs in. Gather the 18 Tupperware containers I’ve packed for the day. Try to open and lock door without dropping the ridiculous amount of Tupperware I’m trying to balance with my cute, matching bag. Start car and pray the stupid engine light will magically go off. Make the hour-long commute to work.

Upon arrival, I’m taunted with the wafting aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

Of course.

It’s pumpkin latte season.

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To-go cups are filled with the essence of fall and my nostrils are filled with the spicy combination of sweet pumpkin and strong espresso.

Unfortunately,  frazzled mornings and a meager budget don’t allow for such indulgences on a weekly basis.

Starbucks uses espresso, milk, and pumpkin flavored syrup to create their famed fall beverage.

I make my own using real, honest to goodness packed pumpkin.

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That’s right. I make my own latte using real pumpkin! It might sound unusual, but once it gets all blended up, it’s like pumpkin pie in your mouth every morning.

I like to use flavored soy milk and molasses but you can use regular milk and the sweetener of your choice. Personally, I prefer the creaminess of the soy and the brown sugar flavor provided by the molasses.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

1  cup (8 oz)  light vanilla soy milk, warmed

1/2  cup (4 oz)  strong, fresh-brewed coffee

2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin puree

1-2 teaspoons molasses

1/4-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Place all ingredients in blender to combine.

Makes one 12 ounce serving.

Tidbit: The blender makes it nice and frothy! No espresso machine required!

This clocks in at about 90 calories if made with light soy milk and 2 teaspoons of molasses.

Just for fun, I thought it would be fun to check out the stats on a pumpkin spice latte from the ‘bucks.

16 oz. grande pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk and whipped cream:

380 calories

13 grams of fat

49 grams of sugar

YOWZA!

Drink this everyday and you’ll be as round as a pumpkin by Thanksgiving.

If you’re buying, stick with a 12 oz. beverage with skim milk and no whip for a much more reasonable 130 calories, zero fat, and 24 grams of sugar.