Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Coffee Shop Latte Recipe (Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts)

This is another recipe I got from a friend who worked at Starbucks.   So many people wonder what is the big secret to making Starbucks (or Dunkin' Donuts) style lattes at home (iced or hot).   Well…   Their big secret is, they DON’T use regular coffee,  OR water, in a latte!  Nope.   That waters the drink down too much.  The idea is FLAVOR, and you don’t get flavor when the bulk of your drink is WATER.   Coffee shops want return business, and they stick to pure flavor— so lattes are made from a shot of espresso, some milk and flavored syrups.  That’s it.  No water added (except ice).   No espresso on hand?   No problem!  You can mimic a shot of espresso by mixing a single serving packet of instant coffee with hot water.   So here is a basic recipe of pretty much most coffee shop lattes, which you can make at home and save tons of money, but still get that great taste you love.     

Coffee Shop Latte Recipe (Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts)

1 Starbucks iced coffee single serving packet, or any single serving packet of instant coffee  (sweetened or unsweetened), 
 OR use 1-2 shots espresso
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute (leave this out if using pre-sweetened packets)
3 tablespoon HOT water (leave this out if you’re using espresso)
2 cups milk (hot for a hot drink, cold for an iced drink)
Coffee flavor syrup of your choice, such as chocolate, vanilla, hazel nut, etc.   You can also use those little Coffeemate single serving creamer cups, they have fantastic flavors available!

1.       In a large glass, mix together the coffee packet with the hot water (or the espresso), sugar (only if coffee packet is unsweetened) and hot water.  Then add your flavor syrup (or flavored creamer).  Blend very well, until completely smooth. Heating the water up in the microwave for 20 seconds before adding it, makes the mixture even smoother. 

2.      Then pour 2 cups of milk into the ice/coffee mixture and blend well.  If making an iced drink, add ice to the mixture BEFORE adding the milk.  If making a hot drink, microwave or boil the milk until it reaches desired temperature.

3.      If desired, top with whipped cream and an extra drizzle of your flavor syrup over the top for garnish.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

I had to add this one.  And admit it-- when you look at the picture, your mouth waters.   I mean who doesn't love cheesecake?  And caramel apples?  Put them together and you have magic!  lol.   You are essentially making your own graham cracker crust from scratch here, so I guess you could use crushed graham crackers with butter and sugar instead.   But this way you get more bragging rights.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in
butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is
crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with
heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an
electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1
at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2
tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over
cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping (for this topping, in a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the
butter into the mixture).

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with
caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dad's Chicken And Canned Biscuit Dumplings

Well, what can I say?  This is a timeless classic our family frequently ate, and I totally forgot to add it!  But we always did it our own simple way.  Sometimes we used fresh cut vegetables.  Sometimes we used any old canned veggies we had on hand.   Sometimes we didn't have stock or bouillon, and we compensated the flavor in other ways!  lol.  We were creative folks.   But this is how we preferred to do it.  TIP:  The leftovers can be simmered down thicker and made into an excellent chicken pot pie!

Dad's Chicken And Canned Biscuit Dumplings

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large onion (red, yellow or white) coarsely chopped
1 fryer chicken cut up, skin removed (or the equivalent in chicken pieces)
1 tablespoon dried basil flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
½ tsp poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp ground rosemary
2 bay leaves
6 small cubes (or 3 large cubes) of chicken bouillon crumbled  and dissolved in 6 cups hot water (or use 6 cups chicken stock instead)
1 ½ to 2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 sticks of celery, sliced (optional)
1 can whole kernel corn (with juice)
3 carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick (or canned slices)
1 can sweet peas OR green beans (with juice)
4 tablespoons corn starch or flour
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup cold water
1 can of canned biscuits (regular or grand size, any brand you have)


1.        In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium heat.   Add the onions and fry until clear, stirring occasionally.   Add the chicken, basil, parsley, poultry seasoning, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.  Blend well and let the chicken cook in the spices and onions for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.       Add bullion / water mixture (or chicken stock). 
3.       Add milk, butter, celery, corn, carrots, peas and blend well.  Then salt and pepper to taste.   Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add more water or chicken stock, if the liquid gets too low (it should always be at least 1 or 2 inches above vegetables).  Stir occasionally. 
4.       In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch (or flour) with the cold water.  Beat out any lumps.   Pour immediately into the soup mixture, while stirring, to prevent clumps.   Simmer about 5 minutes until soup begins to thicken.   Or add more cornstarch (flour) / water mixture, if its not as thick as you like.   If you add more, simmer an additional 5 minutes.   Stir occasionally.
5.       Open the can of biscuits.  Turn the soup pot up to medium-high.    Separate the biscuits and place them in the soup pot at the top.  Dunk each biscuit slightly to moisten the top with soup liquid.   Place a lid over the top of the pot and cook the biscuit/dumplings for about 10 to 15 minutes, until done.   They will puff up to double their size.   Try to separate them carefully.  Soup may also thicken a little more as the dumplings cook. 
6.       Remove soup pot from heat and let soup stand uncovered for 10 minutes.  Serve.