Friday Favorites | No. 17

Friday, May 30, 2014

Happy Friday! It is time to link up with Lauren from Lauren Elizabeth to share my top five favorite moments of my week...which flew by with Monday being a holiday. I love four day work weeks. I think we should always have Monday's off :)

Now, here are my top five moments:

I have really enjoyed using my French Press for making coffee in the mornings. It takes a little more effort, but it is so worth it.

So You Think You Can Dance has started again on Wednesday and since Dancing With the Stars ended a couple of weeks, it has now filled the void. I love watching dance shows on TV, not talent or singing shows, just dancing. Anybody else with me on that?

The weather has been really great lately and really no rain which is pretty unusual for this time of year in Miami. I am not complaining about it at all because that means that I can still enjoy walks around the lake with Jasper after I get home from work and do not have to fight off mosquitoes!

Thursday morning at work, our department celebrated a couple of birthdays with a yummy brunch. I made cinnamon biscuit fans (a combo of a biscuit and a cinnamon roll) and boy, were they a hit!

Friday's are always great, but they are even better when it's a "Pay Day" Friday like today :) I try to remind myself to save, save, save, but sometimes a girl has to have a little fun and go shopping!

How has your week been and how will you be spending your weekend?

French Press Coffee

Thursday, May 29, 2014

There is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh cup of brewed coffee. Most mornings I use my Kuerig single cup coffee maker and it gets the job done. But then there are some mornings that call for a good ol' fashion cup of coffee made with a French Press.

Brewing your coffee the French Press method way allows the coffees true flavor to show through and creates a richer taste. French Press coffee is simple to make and only has a few more steps then brewing the regular way, but once you taste the difference you will want your coffee made this way every day!

French Press Coffee

Start by removing the plunger out of the press and set aside, then place your coffee of choice into the pot. Make sure to follow the recommended tablespoons per cup from the coffee package you are using. Mine called for 1 tablespoon of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water. 

In a pot, pour in the corresponding amount of water called for the coffee and place over high heat until water comes to a rapid boil. Carefully remove the pot of boiling water and pour it over the coffee grinds, then stir with a plastic or wooden spoon (metal can break the glass beaker).

Place the plunger on top of the glass beaker and press down slightly to position the plunger only. You do not want to press down completely as the coffee grounds need time to steep; roughly four to five minutes.

Then hold the French Press handle firmly with the spout turned away from you (to avoid any unexpected steam/hot liquid) and slowly press down the plunger down into the pot until you reach the bottom. The slower you move the plunger the better. It reduces the amount of coffee ground sediments that might come through the press and will give you the best coffee taste. 

Pour the freshly brewed coffee into your favorite cup, snuggle up on the couch with the morning paper (or iPad...) and enjoy.

I add a little vanilla almond milk to my coffee or a flavored creamer and sip away! So get out there and try the French Press method at home; you will not be disappointed with end result. What is your favorite way to brew your morning coffee? Let me know in the comments below.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

There is just something about oatmeal cookies that bring me comfort. I have always loved making them with my mom on a lazy Sunday afternoon just because we felt like something sweet. They are also the perfect pick me up snack on a long road trip or flight. When I get right down to it, oatmeal cookies remind me of home and family.

This past weekend I was in a mood for oatmeal cookies and saw that I also had a bag of cinnamon chips hanging out in my pantry. I usually make maple oatmeal scones with those cinnamon chips, but thought that they would make a great addition to the oatmeal cookies. I substituted the cinnamon chips for the raisins and let me tell you, that was the best decision and the cookies were delicious!

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

{yields: 3 dozen}

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups quick oats
10 oz. cinnamon chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a standard mixer, add 1 cup of softened butter with 1 cup of light brown sugar tightly packed and a 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. Beat together until light and fluffy.

Add in both eggs and vanilla extract and combine. Then add 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and teaspoon of baking soda and mix on low until all traces of flour have disappeared.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and add 2 1/2 cups of quick oats along with a 10 oz. bag of cinnamon chips.

Combine both ingredients by hand using a spatula until oats and chips are distributed throughout the cookie dough.

Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow the baked cookies to cool for 1 minute on the sheet before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

These cookies are great all on their own with a glass of milk, but can also be jazzed up easily for summer. Just add a scoop of great vanilla bean ice cream and sandwich it between two of the cookies and there ya go...homemade cinnamon oatmeal ice cream sandwiches!

Friday Favorites | No. 16

Friday, May 23, 2014

So I have been a little preoccupied with life outside of Sunflour Cottage Creations and am sorry that my normal posting schedule has been off. Starting next week, I will be back at it and can't wait to share all the goodies I have been working on!

Here is a look back at my top five moments from this past week:

I got talked into doing a 5k mud run at the zoo with some of my co-workers about a month ago and on Saturday I had to go and pick up my bib and goodie bag! 

Sunday was the official race day! This was my first 5k and I did not really know what to expect, except that there would be tons of challenging obstacles, lots of mud and...running (my least favorite thing to do...ever)

We motivated each other along the run, though each obstacle and in the end our team #lazybuttalented crossed the finish line together. I had a great time and cannot wait to do another one!

I couple of weeks ago I bought a new orchid for my office and cannot get over how beautiful it is. The purple really is the color of the year "radiant orchid" and I just love having this extra burst of color at my desk.

Lately I have been in a music funk so I decided to do a little browsing on Spotify yesterday. Under the decades genera I found '00s SMASH HITS! and Ultimate 90s Playlist and have been listening to them non-stop. Brings me right back to my middle/high school and college years!

My undergraduate and master's diplomas are finally off the floor in my office and now hanging up on the wall! This might seem strange that this is one of my "top moments" of the week, but its a big deal because they have been sitting in my office since Christmas.

How was your week? Let me know in the comments below and hope that you all have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

Homemade Iced Coffee

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When I get to my desk after my very early morning workout, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of hot coffee. It awakens me and gives plenty of energy to tackle the day ahead. There is just something about the rich and bold taste of coffee (and fun creamer flavors) that always perks up my day. 

But as summer comes strolling along, the Miami heat (the weather, not the basketball team) can be unbearable and the last thing I want to drink is something hot. So this time of year is when I turn to drinking iced coffee; homemade iced coffee that is!

Homemade Ice Coffee

{yield: 1 gallon}

12 oz. of freshly ground coffee (dark roast, breakfast blend, etc. the options are endless)
8 cups boiling water
8 cups ice cold water
1 can sweetened condensed milk

To start making the iced coffee, pour the ground coffee into a large and heat proof bowl. Then add 8 cups of boiling hot water to the coffee and stir until the grounds are completely wet. 

Let the coffee steep for 5 minutes. Note: your house will smell like Starbucks...which is not a bad thing in my book!

Once the 5 minutes have passed, place a large colander over a new clean heat proof bowl or pot and line the colander with 5 layers of cheesecloth. You can always use a clean "flour sack" type kitchen towel folded in half like I did. However, please note that the coffee might stain the towel.

Take the coffee grounds mixture and slowly pour it into the lined colander to strain the grounds away from the brewed coffee. The grounds can bog down the process a little, so it helps to use a spoon to move them around to allow the liquid to pass through easier.

When all the coffee has been strained, remove the grounds and add in the 8 cups of cold ice water to the brewed coffee and place in the fridge to chill. The amazing thing about this iced coffee is that it will last for up to 3 weeks if kept cold. Now, it will never last that long in my house, but for some it might.

Making the iced coffee is the hard part (and I'm using the word "hard" loosely!), but the easy part is enjoying it. I like to take a tall glass and fill it to the top with ice. Then add the coffee leaving a little room for cream, milk or my new favorite sweetened condensed milk. 

Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the sweetened condensed milk to your coffee depending on how sweet you want it and stir to combine.

Add a straw (preferably pink) and the end result is the best iced coffee you've ever had. Enjoy!

Friday Favorites | No. 15

Friday, May 9, 2014

It sure as been a blur of a week, but that is a good thing because today is Friday! We have had actually really nice weather here in Miami and I am taking full advantage of it by spending a lot of time outside and exercising. I am hoping the humidity stays away for as long as possible! Lets take a few to look back at my top five moments of the week:

On Saturday, my mom and I did a little shopping and tan some errands. Driving home we saw DSW and decided to just "look around."  Well I ended up with 4 pairs of shoes. So much for just looking...

I am loving all the fresh berries that are available in the market now and I am taking full advantage by adding them to my morning cereal routine!

Cinco de Mayo was celebrated at my house on Monday by enjoying my mom's homemade guacamole with my baked tortilla chips.

If you are looking for a refreshing dessert for the weekend, I made this no-bake lemon margarita pie during the week and it is perfection not only in looks, but in flavor too!

Waking up at 5:45am to exercise is not fun, but when I get to workout with a beautiful sunrise like the one today, it makes it worth it.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments below!

Lemon Margarita Pie

Thursday, May 8, 2014

With summer on the horizon, it means that more and more time will be spent outside with family and friends. From a backyard BBQ to lazy days at the beach, I am always looking forward to enjoying something refreshing to help cool me down from the Miami heat and humidity. And sometimes...that refreshment is margarita on the rocks! Made with fresh citrus and smooth tequila, the classic margarita is a summer must-have. 

Another summer must-have are desserts that do not require the use of an oven. It is just too darn hot sometimes for that, am I right!? And that's why I turn to this refreshing no-bake lemon margarita pie recipe because checks both of those summer must-haves off my list.

Lemon Margarita Pie

{yield: 8 servings}

1-9 inch pre-made graham cracker crust 
3 eggs, beaten
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons silver tequila
1-8 oz. container sour cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and the beaten eggs until fully incorporated. Stir in a 1/2 cup of fresh squeeze lemon juice (about 2 lemons) and the 6 tablespoons of silver tequila to the mixture.

Then place the pan over medium heat and stir consistently until it starts to boil and mixture becomes thick. Remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool slightly. Once slightly warm, pour all of it into the 9 inch graham cracker lined pie plate.

Then in a medium bowl, whisk together the 8 ounces of sour cream and teaspoon of granulated sugar.

Take the sour cream mixture and spread it evenly over the top of the pie with a spatula. If you want to get more detail on the pie, you could always pipe the mixture with a large star tip.

Using a micoplane, zest the peel of one lemon making sure to not get any pith as it can be very bitter in taste. Then sprinkle the fresh lemon zest over the top of the pie and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.

If you would like to make this refreshing refrigerator pie even colder, place it in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving. The tequila will keep the pie from freezing completely solid, but that is okay because it makes the pie easier to cut and serve. It tastes great both ways, so I'll leave that decision up to you all!

Sometimes with desserts that contain alcohol, you can only taste a hint of it. However, this pie delivers not only on fresh citrus flavor that comes from the lemon juice and zest, but the tequila is present and doesn't taste as my mom would say "like it walked though the pie with rain boots on" in the least bit.

This fun and creative dessert will definitely be the main attraction at any summer gathering!

Baked Tortilla Chips

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! If you are throwing a little fiesta tonight or just want to enjoy some good Mexican food, skip the store bought chips and make your own from scratch. Trust me when I say that these chips are simple to make, are a healthier alternative to fried and taste thousands of times better than anything you can get from a plastic bag.

Make some fresh homemade salsa or guacamole to go with these baked tortilla chips and with the first bite, you will feel like you have been transported to a beach in Cabo!

Baked Tortilla Chips

{yield: 4 to 6 servings}

Twelve 6-inch tortillas
1 tablespoon of canola oil
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lay out two large baking sheets.  Take the tortillas and cut them into the eights to make the chips.

Then lay the unbaked tortillas chips on the baking sheets and and drizzle the tablespoon of canola oil over them. Next, season the tortillas with Kosher salt and toss together on the cookies sheet.

Spread out the tortillas in a single layer over the cookie sheet so they will bake evenly and crisp up. Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Be sure to rotate the sheets once while baking.

As soon as they are crisp and golden brown, remove from the oven.

Personally, I love to serve the baked tortilla chips right as they come out of the oven, but you can make the chips ahead of time as well. Just allow them to cool completely before they are placed in a zip lock bag. They will stay fresh for 2 to 3 days.

These are not only great with salsa and guacamole, but are also great for making homemade nachos or taco salads; the options are really endless.

And as you can see, I went classic and enjoyed mine with some of my mom's killer homemade guacamole! Olé

Let me know in the comments below how you will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo and what you are planning on making!
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