Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homemade Salted Caramel Latte

Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve been trying to steer a little clear of coffee. At least to keep the caffeine intake down to an acceptable level. I’ve discovered, though, that a latte has less caffeine than a brewed cup of coffee, so I have found a new love.

This recipe will be a copycat Salted Caramel Latte. I do use brewed coffee for this, but put less in my cup than usual, so we’re still good on our caffeine intake, don’t worry.

To start out with, you will probably want to go ahead and invest in a milk frother. They are fairly inexpensive and it will definitely pay for itself by your having skipped a few Starbucks runs. Wouldn’t take long at all, especially if you make a coffee run that includes more than one drink.

Here are a few options. I have both, my sweet hubby got them both for me for Christmas this year, not sure which one would work better, and honestly, I love both of them.

Pros and cons for each.

The battery powered one
PRO: A little faster to wash
PRO: Less pieces to get out/wash
PRO: Easy to froth milk right in your cup. (Make sure it’s just milk. Don’t add your coffee yet.)
CON: Takes a battery
CON: Must not overload your cup, or froth after you’ve already creamed your coffee. Trust me, you don’t want the mess.

The self-contained one
PRO: Make a double batch easily
PRO: Self-contained beaker makes for less mess and easier to know how much you can froth at once without making a mess
PRO: Does not need a battery
CON: More pieces to get out/wash
CON: (Obviously) Have to froth milk in a separate container from your cup

So equal playing fields, all in all. Just depends what you want to try first.

Okay. Here’s how to do it.
First, go ahead and get your coffee brewing. I make mine the regular strength that I usually do.

Now, warm up some creamer or milk or some combination thereof. About 40-60 sec in the microwave is great. For a big mug, I’m using about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of creamer and about 6-8 oz. coffee. If you like yours a little more or less creamy, adjust accordingly. My hubby is the candy-coffee drinker, and likes his the same way I do, with about 1/4 cup creamer. Play with it and see what you like best. You can always add more creamer after you taste your creation, so start with a little and go from there.

Froth! This is the most fun part. Both my frothers say to let the milk set for one minute before using, and this does seem to help the bubbles stay in my cup longer. Make enough froth to fill your cup half-full.

Doesn’t matter what order you put the items in your cup. When I’m using the battery frother, I warm the creamer directly in my cup, so coffee comes second. When I’m using the beaker, I warm it up in the beaker, and usually put coffee in my cup first. Again up to you. If you take sugar, go ahead and mix it in your coffee before adding the froth, or just add it to the creamer before you warm it. I’ve done it all combinations of ways and it seems to work just fine.

If you’re wondering how I got the coffee in the pre-foamed cup without destroying the foam, it’s not as hard as you might think. Just pour the coffee along the side, and watch the foam rise. It’s kindof fun.

Last, after your coffee with its nice topping of foam is in your favorite mug, drizzle caramel ice cream topping over top.  Shake a few shakes of salt over top and enjoy!

Variations: Add some English Toffee Torani syrup for an extra treat! It's delicious.

Notes: I use homemade creamer, made from milk and sweetened condensed milk. I actually make my own sweetened condensed milk too, and the recipe for both can be found here. I like that I can count (and pronounce) all the ingredients in my creamer. Milk, dry milk, sugar. C’est tout. Not all the preservatives you’ll find in a creamer from the store. Up to you. Not sure how store-bought creamer performs with the frothers, but if you’ve tried it, let me know.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Skinny Jeans From Old Jeans Tutorial

We’ve all had a pair (or two, or three. Let’s be honest here) of jeans that we never ever wear because either A) we have too many other jeans we like better, or B) because there’s something wrong with them- the fit, the cut, something. I have a pair like this that I recently turned into maternity jeans and here’s the main reason. My other maternity jeans were not skinny-jeans. They did not work with my boots and I was really missing all my cute boots this winter. So I found a pair and a solution right in my own closet. On the bottom of the stack. Because I never wore them anymore. Now they’re my favorite pair.

Here’s how to turn regular flares or bootcut jeans into skinny jeans in an easy afternoon.

1) Lay your jeans out flat and determine at what point they start flaring out again. Put a pin there to mark it. Mine was just below the knee- yours probably will be too.
(Please note that the rest of the instructions have us working with the inner seam of the jeans. I had pinned the outer seam for the picture, and ended up moving it to the inside seam.)

2) Next, (and there’s probably another way to do this, but this seemed easy enough, dorky as it may be) stick your foot into the end of the leg and pin the cuff around the widest part of your foot. See picture. This will ensure that you’re able to actually get the jeans over your foot once you’re finished. Pin it as tight or loose as you like – my jeans have a bit of stretch in the fabric, so I went ahead and made for zero ‘wiggle room’, but if you have regular denim you may want to add a finger-width in there just in case. Your call.

3) Measure the amount you want to keep (the part that was around your foot in the previous step). Mine was right at 6”. Easy to remember so I didn’t write it down.

4) Here you get kindof a visual of the area that will be taken away. Pin to pin, essentially.
Please note that this is not the actual piece that will be taken off, but is just to give you a visual.

5) Turn your jeans inside out. With a seam ripper, rip out the inner seams from the cuff all the way up to the pin at the knee. I chose the inside of the leg but you could do the outside instead if you want. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

6) With jeans still inside out, lay out the part you want to keep, measured to the length you figured out in step 3. Mine was 6”. Mark it with a pin but don’t pin it together just yet.

7) Go ahead and, using your seam ripper, rip out the cuff  where you will be stitching it together. Now pin the two together.

8) Laying the jean leg as smoothly as you can, taper from the top of where it’s ripped out (at the knee) all the way to the cuff. It may not lay very smooth and that’s okay- just make sure that it’s a nice, even taper all the way down. The triangle sticking out (the part you’re cutting off) should lay fairly smooth. DO NOT CUT IT OFF YET.

9) Stitch along the previous stitching line. I got this wrong the first go-round and had to start over. In the below picture, I’m holding the pin where the correct stitching line was on mine. You can see my first attempt (light blue thread) over to the left just a little. I left it there till I stitched the correct one, then I ripped out the wrong one. No biggie. This was important to me, because as you’ll see in the next picture, nobody will be the wiser that these jeans have been altered, because the fading by the seams is all still there just like when I bought them. (Okay, maybe not just like. They’re likely a bit more faded now because I got them back in high school. But you know what I mean.)

10) Try them on. Make sure you like the way they fit before cutting off the extra triangle. If it’s too big or too small, rip out the new seam and start over, adjusting accordingly. You’ll be glad you did. When you’re satisfied, cut off the extra triangle piece.

11) Restitch the cuff. If you did the inside seam of the jeans like I did, restitch over the seam, in the same stitching line that the manufacturer used. I should probably have used Blue Jean Gold thread for the topstitching but didn’t want to run to the store, and the light blue blends in pretty well for this pair. Pick out any remaining gold threads.

Finished! Good job! Don your jeans and grab your boots.

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