Pumpkin Spice Syrup

I am a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte fiend!! When I got the e-mail this year that they were coming back I made sure to plan a trip to town and swing by Starbucks to get one. Even though it was hot and I usually drink iced lattes, I could not resist the allure of the PSL. Now it had been a while since I had gotten anything at Starbucks and it was a nice treat but it only served to drive the urges. I have had three PSLs since they came back earlier this month. Luckily I had birthday money to spend. A couple years ago I bought myself a Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker with some money I got for Christmas and I started to make my own lattes and caramel macchiatos at home. I buy the Torani syrups at the grocery store and it's great. Every once in a while I buy a syrup at Starbucks. One day a couple weeks ago I was googling for recipes for the base Starbucks uses for the PSL and I came across this recipe. I decided as soon as I found some pumpkin and some time I would give it a try. Yesterday was the day!
The Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 small (8-10 ounce) bottle

Simmer together water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.

Measure out the pumpkin and spices while you wait.

Add the pumpkin and spices to the sugar water and simmer 6 to 8 minutes.

Strain mixture, if desired and once it cools, pour into container. Store in the refrigerator.

Fast forward to this morning and I am ready for my first attempt at the homemade PSL!!
The Ingredients:

ground espresso
pumpkin spice syrup

Start the espresso brewing in your machine. While you wait, add some pumpkin spice syrup to a coffee cup.

Once the espresso begins to brew and reaches the correct level...

...switch over to steam for frothing the milk.

When the milk is finished, switch back to brewing and add some of the steamed milk to the pumpkin syrup in your cup. Stir it up.
When the espresso finishes brewing add your shot(s) and then fill your cup with milk and froth.

This turned out okay. It is a little cinnamon-heavy for me though. I think I will make it with more pumpkin and less cinnamon in the future. In the meantime I may try to make another batch without any cinnamon and mix the two together. Also, I don't know why but  this is very gelatinous (for lack of a better word). It mixed okay with the hot milk though. I think maybe I cooked the sugar water too long. It doesn't seem to have hurt the flavor though.
If I do go back and make a modified version I will post the results here. In the meantime, the latte goes really well with a couple of these:

I made another syrup base using 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar with 2 Tbsp pumpkin and added that to the previous batch. It's not as thick now and I will see how it tastes next time I make a PSL. I also found and made this recipe and I will let you know how it tests as well!

So I made myself a PSL this morning using the second recipe (link above) and it was very good. One of the problems I have run into is the chunks of spice and pumpkin floating around in my drink. I'm not a fan of chunks! The syrup itself proved too thick to strain, but I have had success straining my drink once it is made. I also found I need to add sugar to my drink for it to have the correct sweetness for me, again a personal preference not a fault of the recipes.
The next time I make it I think I will make more of an infusion by adding the pumpkin and spices to the water and bringing to a low boil/simmer. Then I will strain that mixture and add the sugar to make it a syrup. If/when I do that, I will update again. Happy Fall!!


Pumpkin Spice Donut Muffins

I found this amazing recipe over at Strawberry Cake. I believe she said in her post that she created these with an adaptation to Pioneer Woman's French Breakfast Puffs. I have been dreaming about the wonderfulness waiting for me ever since. Today was the day!!
The Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
2/3 cups Crisco shortening
2 large eggs
1/2 cup +1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin (no sugar or spices added)

Cream together sugar, shortening and eggs in a stand mixer, if you have one. Look at mine...it's older than I am but it is the only one I've got so I love it. But if you feel bad for me and want to send me a new one, that'll be just fine *bats eyelashes*
Once that mix is well blended, add the pumpkin. While that blends, mix together all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and measure out the buttermilk. Begin alternating adding the dry mix...
...and the buttermilk...
...until all ingredients have made a lovely batter, like so:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare your muffin pan(s). I had to resist using my new jumbo pan today. It was calling to me...

In the end I decided I would use my new mini muffin pan. NO! The fact that I can put an entire mini muffin in my mouth most certainly DID NOT color my decision! HMPH!

Spray with no-stick cooking spray (or grease in whatever way you prefer) and fill cups 2/3 full. I used a cookie scoop.
When the pan is ready
cook at 350 for about 15 minutes. While they were cooking I put the rest of the batter in regular sized pans.

When the mini muffins came out...
I dumped them out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Oh Dear!! One of them is horribly misshapen and deformed! Do you see it? There on the left? I shall have to put it out of it's misery...

But first, I had another job to do!
The Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Mix together sugar and cinnamon.

Set up an assembly line with your melted butter, cinnamon sugar and cooked muffins.

Take each muffin and dunk it in the melted butter...
...then roll it around in the cinna-sugar until coated on all surfaces.

Oh, there it is again, the sad little misshapen one...there on the right by itself.

Come here little one...it'll be okay.

MMMMMMMMMM! There, now...isn't that better? The regular sized muffins cooked for about 22 minutes and then were treated to the butter bath and cinna-sugar coating. Now try to fight off the rest of your family long enough to snap one last picture and then ENJOY!!



Menu 9/24 - 9/30--2010

Friday--I was going to make BSTs**, but I had a coupon that was about to expire for pork loin so we are having Maple Bourbon pork loin and mac & cheese
Saturday--BSTs and chips
Sunday--Taquitos and Rotel dip along with Pigs in a Blanket while we watch the Texans beat the Cowboys!
Monday--Garlic Chicken Parmesan (a family fave I have not yet blogged but will after making)
Tuesday--Steak Fingers
Wednesday--Raley Gravy
Thursday--We may or may not be home so I have not planned anything yet

**Bacon, Spinach and Tomato sandwiches


French Dip Roast

This is the Chaosville version of one I found on PW's Tasty Kitchen. We have a winner!! This was so good! I am trying to be good and not go through a whole loaf of bread just soaking up the au jus.
The Ingredients:
3 1/2 pound chuck roast (I couldn't find one that big so I bought two that added up to that weight)
1 can beef consomme
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 packet onion soup mix
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer I chose to use a Sam Adams Oktoberfest but I can't wait to try this recipe with other kinds as well.

Season your roast(s) with some salt and pepper.

Place them in the crockpot. Mix the consomme and onion soup mix together.

Pour over meat.

Pour beer over meat.

Drop bouillon cubes in on opposite sides of crockpot.

Cook on low 6 - 8 hours. Slice or shred meat and place back into au jus.

To serve, slice French or Italian bread into thin slices and toast lightly. I put a little butter on them first.

Place a slice or two of meat on top of the toasted bread and top with provolone cheese.

Broil lightly until cheese melts. Dipping into a small bowl of au jus puts this over the moon!!


Crockpot Fajitas

I came across a recipe the other day for chicken fajitas from the crockpot. I can't find the actual recipe I saw though!! It wasn't in the cookbook I thought it was in, so I googled it and found one on a food blog I love so I based these on it.
The Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen ones)
you could also use beef cut into strips
1 medium onion, cut into strips
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 packet fajita seasoning
1/2 cup water

Put the chicken, onion and green pepper in the crockpot. Mix the seasoning with the water and pour over meat and veggies.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 - 8 hours.
Serve on warm tortillas with whatever fixin's you like. I made mine with cheese, spinach and green sauce.

Clay had his with cheese and taco sauce.

Raley opted for cheese, picante and jalapenos.


Marinara Sauce a la Stacy

When we lived in Germany I had a wonderful friend (well, I still do, but that's where we met) named Stacy. She made homemade spaghetti sauce that was so good, it was very hard not to just eat it with a loaf of bread *Do you hear that? It's the voice of experience because one time, I DID eat it with a loaf of bread* When I asked her for the recipe, she was kind enough to share and for the past 10 years I have used it as my own. Now you can too!
The Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil (or you can use dried)
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large stockpot and saute the onions and carrot until golden.

Add the garlic and tomatoes (including tomato sauce).

Simmer, partially covered for 15 minutes.

While simmering, mix together the salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add to sauce when 15 minutes is up.

Also add the Parmesan cheese.

Please don't be overly jealous of my fabulous Hulk bowl! Simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. Stir in parsley and season more if needed.
Add parsley.

Serve over hot cooked noodles or use in any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce.

You can also go the aforementioned loaf-of-bread-route. This makes a LOT of sauce and it freezes beautifully. I have also prepared this in a crockpot. After sauteing the onion and carrot, just add all ingredients except parsley to the crockpot and turn on low heat until serving. Add parsley just before serving. It only gets better the longer it sits! I have also added meat many times, or meatballs. Put the cooked meat in before the 30 minutes simmer.