Momma Told Me: December 2012

Blog Archive

Starbucks Holiday Roast and Market Fresh #DeliciousPairings Make For Flavorful Gifts

delicious pairings
Momma Told Me: Like a cup of fresh coffee and a slice of Momma's apple pie.

There are some things in this world that we simply know are meant to go together. That's how the iconic phrase "Like peanut butter and jelly" came to be, and who Momma swore up and down any fresh baked good wasn't properly enjoyed unless accompanied with a cup of her favorite fresh roast coffee. My loyal readers already know I inherited a passion for the brewed bean from Momma, who essentially spoon fed the stuff to me from 12; but, much like the 'Cop-Donut-Coffee' #DeliciousPairings stereotype, Momma would never be seen sipping without her favorite freshly baked pastry. Not only did I learn a strong appreciation for various brews undertones, much like an aged oak whiskey, but I was taught the importance of proper pairing. Nothing was more crucial than the careful selection of seasonal baked goods to compliment the year's Winter blend. And no single coffee brand was trusted more, in my household, than quintessential Starbucks.
Recall those infamous 7 hour, 3 grocery store, weekly coupon treks with my Momma? They'd always start at 6AM, and begin with a much anticipated (and Momma would argue, needed) trip the the Starbucks kiosk inside our local Safeway. This was a treat for us, as Momma's strict budget kept this name brand splurge to coffee shop visits; we rarely would afford the treat of a bag in our home. Now managing my own household I still hold the flame for that evergreen mermaid, Starbucks the pillar of coffee excellence at home, and on the go, in my opinion. There is something simply indulgent about enjoying a simple cup of fresh roast coffee, inside one of these chains. The buzzing atmosphere and trendy vibe keeps this coffeehouse much more than a stop, but a hotspot hangout for friends and family. Knowing I can take a bit of that simple indulgence home, with Ground Starbucks, and K-Cups, is the perfect incentive for any long Winter day. Nothing illustrates this more for me, than Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend with "Notes of Spicy and Sweet, with Hints of Comfort and Joy."
Artisan Freshtiramisu
I recently discovered that my favorite seasonal blend, the yearly Starbucks Holiday Blend, is not only sold in 28oz Value Bags at Sam's Club, but pair perfectly with the warehouse chain's Artisan Fresh baked goods collection. Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend pairs perfectly with complimentary notes; ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon, orange, and cloves, making it the natural partner for a slice of Artisan Fresh Apple Lattice Pie, or Tiramisu. During a recent trip to my local Sam's Club I was especially inspired to create some #DeliciousPairings when I happened across the in house brand, Artisan Fresh, Assorted Sampler Pie and Tiramisu. I should note that the Artisan Fresh Sampler Pie is a truly unique, colorful, 4 flavor pie featuring individual quarters of Apple, Peach, Cherry, and Blueberry. It's a reach showstopper on the holiday table, and the perfect solution for those picky relatives who like to handpick their slice. On this occasion, however, I was stopping in to pick up a few of the 28oz Holiday Blend Starbucks bags, and 3 Tiramisus, to pair with a handmade Christmas gift I'd planned for my bowling teammates.
Because every good little elf should always reward themselves for a job well done, I skipped the work and began my project with a sampling of this year's 2012 Starbucks Holiday Blend. I have to admit, I love buying our ground coffee at Sam's Club because it simply goes further than stocking up on consumer portions at the local supermarket. We use an eco-friendly re-usable K-Cup, and I'm always guaranteed a fresh cup of my favorite Starbucks blend at an exceptional price over manufactured K-Cups. In any case, back to the juicy stuff- the 2012 Holiday Blend! Starbucks is known for it's amazing world sourced blends, and they certainly did not let down; this batch was mellow in undertones, and many of the finer points were easy to overlook when solo. My first few sips yielded a lingering aftertaste of spice, with a bolder roast than my usual Breakfast Blend. I'd place this a 7 on a strength scale of Breakfast (mellow) to Columbian (bold).

I have to say I was particularly impressed with my decision to pair this blend with the Tiramisu; the heavier notes were especially complimentary against the espresso soaked sponge cake. The Artisan Fresh Tiramisu was wonderfully soft, yet less intense than I had expected, and helped shed light on a cinnamon undertone within the Holiday Blend. I knew the recipients of my pairing would not be disappointed, as I sat down to dive into an equally flavor inspired holiday gift craft with a fresh cup beside me. I'd recently learned of a last minute gift exchange among my bowling teammates, and wanted to whip up a holiday treat that would help get them through the week ahead, as well as inspire treasured memories. With some empty Pint size Mason Jars, Flannel Scrap Fabric, Seasonal Ribbon, Leftover Gift Tags, and a heap of Household Dry Goods, I set out to pair Starbuck's Holiday Blend and Tiramisu with may favorite baked recipes. These Recipes In A Jar include all the dry ingredients needed (simply ass eggs/oil/milk as required), to fill any home with #DeliciousPairings as tempting as my Sam's Club crafted duo.
It could not be simpler to create a rustic home crafted gift; hunt down your favorite holiday recipes and portion the dry goods to fit Pint Mason Jars (old washed jam/jelly jars work just as well as store bought ones). Layer the dry ingredients to create visible variations to excite the eyes. Be sure any flour bases for bread are mixed with rising ingredients (such as baking soda/powder) prior to layering. Cap the mason jar with a piece of ribbon tied around a 5" square of scrap fabric. Identify the recipe with a clearly labeled gift tag, complete with preparation instructions flip-side, and attach it to the ribbon with a bow. Include a seasonal cookie cutter for cookie recipes, and pair with your favorite Starbucks Seasonal Roast. Present the Recipe In A Jar and Ground Coffee in a wicker gift basket or hand painted crate. I had a few leftover mason crates from previous gifts I'd received. I painted them Holly Red with a Glitter Red Topcoat for an extra hint of pizazz. We also chose to include a Sam's Club Tiramisu with each Jar and Coffee bundle, along with a card that instructed; "Enjoy the Tiramisu and Coffee now, to keep holiday vibes flowing while you wait for your fresh baked treats to emerge from the oven!"
Starbucks Holiday Blendholiday craft

I picked 3 recipes in total to pair with the Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend; Cinnamon Pancake Mix, Spiced Apple Cake Mix, and Gingerbread Cookie Mix. You may wish to include the complete (dry ingredients) recipe as well, for those who desire to replicate your treats after baking from the jar. Try one of the  below out and let me know how you thought they pair with Starbuck's Holiday Blend!
Cinnamon Pancake Mix:

3 C All Purpose Flour, 2 TBSP Sugar, 2 TBSP Baking Powder, 4.5 TSP Ground Cinnamon, 1 1/4 TSP Salt

In a 1 Quart Jar combine all ingredients, layering. Gift Tag: In a Medium Bowl combine 3/4 C Milk, 1 Egg, and 2 TBSP Oil. With fork, blend in 1 1/3 C Pancake Mix until moistened, yet still lumpy. Cook on lightly greased griddle or skillet. Yields 10 (5") pancakes.

Spiced Apple Cake Mix:

3 C All-Purpose Flour, 1.5 C Sugar, 1.5 TSP Baking Soda, 1.5 TSP Ground Cinnamon, 1/4 TSP Ground Nutmeg,  1 Cup Chopped Nuts (I prefer walnuts), 1/2 C Golden Raisins

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing thoroughly. Gift Tag: Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray bundt pan with on-stick coating. Toss 3C chopped, peeled, apples in 3 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice. Empty dry ingredients into large mixing bowl. Beat 3 Large Eggs in Medium Mixing Bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1.5 C Oil and Eggs. Stir until mixture is smooth and even. Fold in apples until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 Hour and 10 Minutes, until toothpick inserted removes clean.
I especially love this craft because children of all ages can help out. Younger children, especially, will love the layering of the dry ingredients and the puffs of flour that erupt from mixing and pouring. It's especially fun to enjoy the fruits of your craft alongside one of the recipes, prepared, and your favorite cup of Starbucks roast coffee. I was really pleased with how this simple craft turned into a meaningful handmade gift, and even underestimated it's popularity. Everyone was buzzing about the Artisan Fresh Tiramisu, and there were rumbles of breaking out a long lost coffee maker to sampler the Holiday Blend at the alley. I know my recipients will love indulging in the Delicious Pairings of  Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend, Artisan fresh Tiramisu, and my handcrafted Mixes In a Jar, this holiday season! What would you pair with a fresh cup of Starbuck's Holiday Blend?

What Daughter Says: Like peanut butter and jelly, pair this year's Starbuck's Holiday Blend with your local Sam's Club Artisan Fresh baked seasonal varieties!

I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All photos and opinions are my own.  #CBias #SocialFabric

The Sweetest Time Of The Year?: My Thoughts on Sugar


It's that time of year actually seems inappropriate upon further inspection. While I thought I would open with a bit about how tempting the sweets are during the holiday season, I'm alarmed to realize that nearly every season in mainstream culture is a 'holiday' season. That is to say various major manufacturers are vying for your hard earned dollar with the same products wrapped in different parcels; the majority of these celebratory 'gifts' made of sugar. Yes, we may eat copiously among friends and family during November and December, but what about the month of sugar leading up to and following Halloween, or love filled February? The ultimately confusing practice of rabbits, eggs, and candy at Easter?  And, of course, there are multiple birthdays, peppered with cake, ice cream, and seasonal munchies, every other month. Even if your birthday falls during glutinous Fall, you are likely attending soirees all year round. So, when one considers it, we cannot truly blame 'this' time of the year, when we live in a society groomed to buy and celebrate.

And if you're controlled enough to be mindful of those extra celebratory indulgences, what of the sugar drinks, and desserts to tempt us each and every day? My ex-husband could, and would, drink a 12 pack of 12oz cans (of soda pop) on a single day off of work. As someone who has never really monitored or checked their diet and sugar intake, I would feel guilty just for the can I drank and craved every other day. I was even more alarmed to hear that, in the US, the average consumer drinks 45 gallons of soda pop a year, or an average of 2.5 cans/day. While you, or those you know, may not be drinking literal cans (perhaps they get their fix in a 32oz gas station drum, or 20oz bottle), the consumption is occurring, and at an alarming rate. That's an average of 3/5 Cup of sugar intake from soda alone, per day. But we cannot point the finger exclusively at Soda- I'll freely admit my recent medical awakening was thanks largely in part to a regular consumption of Juices and Smoothies. Fruits contain natural sugars already, and are often processed and combined even further when translated to commercial juices, and smoothie sherberts. Just one 12oz glass of my favorite juice has nearly 1/2 the sugars of a can of soda; and because it's 'healthy' and made from 'fruits' I never questioned my consumption.
Where are we going with all of this?

As an adult I have never denied myself any form of beverage or food. For the most part I have eaten what I want, when I want it. Yes, I exercise common sense. That is to say, I do not eat nonstop for the sake of eating, and I am mindful of the frequency of fast food, or 'junk' food. I try to eat my veggies regularly, and I preferentially forgo many carbs. But when I wanted candy, I'd have candy. And if I wanted to drink 64oz of grape juice in one day, I would. So, when I had blood drawn 8 months back, and was flagged as pre-diabetic, I was a bit rattled. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, and one that can not be reversed at this time. It was obvious to me, while I knew I would not like it, I had to cut my sugar intake immediately; or face a life without sugar at all. I thought I did good. I cut nearly all soda out of my diet and changed my daily routines to nearly a 50% cut in damaging habits. Where as I used to eat a Baby Bottle Pop (don't judge), a day, I'd have one every other day as a reward. I drank much more water, to help curb cravings and keep me filing full. I passed up desserts when out to eat, and ate carrots with peanut butter (natural, no sugar), at night. But when I returned for my 6 month blood panel, the verdict was not good.

My numbers had actually gotten worse! I've never walked out of a doctor's office with more of a grave sense of control and necessity. Not only had I agreed to be put on a beginning diabetic maintenance drug (now the 5th pill in my regimen, at 26), but I knew this was all or nothing. No more sweet rewards at night; all of my stockpile was replaced with 'sugar free' confections that upset my stomach in any quantity and have an aftertaste that naturally curbs my  cravings. Any soda I wanted would have to be diet; and as I dislike the taste and chemicals so much, primarily seltzer water with citrus juice. I began looking at every label, educating myself. The 'sports drinks' I had been substituting soda for, prior, had just as much, if not more, sugar AND blood pressure aggravating sodium! All of the sauces I loved to dip fries and protein in were chocked full of sugar. Ketchup and barbecue sauce are now extreme indulgences. The changes were swift and without favor.
Interestingly enough, each time I have cut sugar, the first and most recent changes, I have found myself regain more energy. I truly can't stand the flavors of diet, so I drink less and less (diet) soda or drinks; which means more intake of necessary water. I can taste food with more clarity, and get more enjoyment from the flavors I do ingest. I enjoy those foods more, especially the ones with a bit of sweet essence for flavor. When one enjoys their meal more, they tend to eat less, and feel more fulfilled. The pill I have been taking, to very gradually reduce blood sugar over a long period of time, makes me fairly ill, and reacts poorly with various foods (particularly greasy ones), so I am learning to naturally eat better.  There are still times I crave my favorite candy like I would expect any addict would, but the times when I resist are even more rewarding than those in which I give in. Don't get me wrong, I do have a treat 1-2 times a week (particularly when the blog calls for my opinion or sampling of something sweet), but I feel it's fair to say I have eliminated over 90% of the sugar intake from my precious diet. I've even lost a few pounds, amidst the holidays!

I get a kick out of vintage ads from the Sugar Information Panel, much like any consumer product, trying to take the rational fears of informed consumers and turn them on end with backwards reasoning. The ad at the top of this post tells mothers that kids need sugar for the confidence and boost to get them through the day. That sugar is a great reward and incentive, a bring me up (sound like some other not-so-good-for-you products?). The problem there is that sugar, like other 'upper' products only makes you feel that way for a short period of time, then crash. So, as part of a 'balanced diet' sugar's place would be increased exponentially each day to account for the body's adaptation and thirst for those feelings. Just like tobacco, at the time, sugar had industry wide campaigns to promote the product, not one brand or make. When an entire industry has to sell itself to you with such creative ads, what does that tell you as a consumer? Have you seen similar ads, recently for High Fructose Corn Syrup? Please don't read this as an anti-sugar blast. I LOVE sugar, and I will, hopefully, continue to enjoy it in educated moderation. This is simply a post to get the masses thinking a little more about the frequency of, and what is put into their bodies!

Note: This is a piece of good, old-fashioned, blogging. It is not endorsed or sponsored by any organization, individual, or brand, All opinions within are mine, and mine alone.

Tasty Tuesday: Doritos Chicken Casserole Recipe- Let's Pin It!

Momma Told Me: You don't have to be gourmet to be creative in the kitchen.

Since it's introduction in 1968, by Frito Lay, the Doritos enterprise has captured the hearts of Americans, and junk food lovers worldwide. And, while you likely recognize the fire engine red bag of Nacho Doritos first, with Cool Ranch a distinguishable second, there have actually been over 20 flavor variations of the popular tortilla chip, including Fiery Buffalo, Zesty Taco/Chipotle Ranch Collisions, Tapatio, and Salsa. Like most things, the more obscure flavor varieties were sold in limited release, often with small international markets, and tied to a larger event or promotion. Whatever the case, it seems that the name 'Doritos' most often solicits an association to the Nacho Cheese variety, which recently inspired the Yum brand's chain, Taco Bell's, wildly successful Doritos Loco tacos. Already a snack time staple, and one of the key players in the Frito Lay brand, I spent many childhood lunchtimes trying to barter granola bars and apple slices for a Fun Size bag of these orange tortilla chips.
I wish I could say my Dorito munching habits have subsided, like the speed of my metabolism, but this is one junk food favorite I've refused to part with through the years. I want to make it very clear I am not advocating a diet of Doritos; it is a high calorie snack with basic (minimal) nutritional value, in my opinion. However, I do have a recipe I'd love to suggest the next time you are looking to serve up nachos for the big football game, or tostadas/tacos for your family's Southwest night. I'll admit, when it's all melting, halfway to completion, in a giant pot on my stove, it hardly looks appealing, but this Doritos Chicken Casserole is impressively flavorful, and well rounded with veggies and protein. Of course there's plenty of cheesy flavor, thanks to Velveeta, and the addictive crisp of Doritos too! Just consider it a thick Enchilada/Torilla Soup, perfect to warm up those chilly winter nights and sure to put a smile of wonderment on the youngsters faces!
2lbs Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts
1 (11.5 oz) Bag of Doritos Nacho
1 (10.5oz) Can of Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup
1 (10-12oz) Can of Rotel
1 (8-10 oz) Can of Corn Kernels
1 (8-10) oz Can of Cooked Pinto Beans
1 (16oz) Velveeta Cheese Package
1/2 White Onion
1 Bellpepper, Red/Green (Optional)
1 Stick of Butter
Preheat Oven to 350F

1.  Boil or crock pot chicken breasts until fully cooked. I prefer to crock pot a large amount of chicken at once and portion the breast meat for meals like this. Either way, ensure you have about 2 mounding cups of shredded chicken.
2.  Saute your onion and bell pepper with your block of butter. Adjust butter to met the quantity of veggies you are sauteing. If you are forgoing the bell pepper, use about 1/2 a stick of butter.
3. When your veggies are soft add in your can of cream of mushroom (don't forget to add water for condensed), cook for about 10 minutes.
4.  Next, add the can of corn, pinto beans (drained well) and Rotel. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes.
5. While the mixture is simmering slice the Velveeta into cubes, then slowly add them to your mixture. Be sure to stir constantly, while adding, and after, to ensure even melting.
6.  Once all of the Velveeta has melted into the mixture combine with shredded chicken.
7. I use a large 4 qt Pyrex bowl, but a Lasagna Pan will do as well- Coat with a non-stick spray such as PAM.
8. Cover the bottom of your cooking vessel with a light layer (1.5-2") of the cooked mixture.
9. Crumble a handful of Doritos across the bottom layer. Repeat the layering process, ending with a generous coating of Doritos, until the pan is full or product is gone.
10. Cover with foil and cook 25 minutes, removing foil for the last 10 to ensure a nice crisp to the top layer.
As you can see my favorite, and the messiest, part is crumbling the Doritos chips! You could, of course, put them in a gallon size back and smash the heck out of them, but then there wouldn't be any yummy orange residue to lick off your hands! This is definitely the part the kiddos will have the most fun with! We enjoyed our Doritos casserole for 2 days, reheating beautifully each time. Feel free to keep a reserve of chips on hand to spruce up the crunchy factor of that top layer. This is actually a very filling dish, and not at all as intense in flavor as you might amuse. Many recipes will omit the additional corn, or exclude beans- I found the addition of beans really rounds this recipe out and gives it some extra 'meat'.

***Please Note: This is not, in any way, sponsored or endorsed by Frito Lay, Doritos, or any brand name referenced within the recipe above. This is an adapted version of Doritos Chicken Casserole, as found through Pinterest on multiple channels, primarily adapted from Brands may certainly be substituted for generic, or like ingredients with the same result.