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Stove-top Hot Chocolate

Fine and Feathered - Stovetop Hot Chocolate

I am kind of a total sucker for hot drinks as soon as the weather drops. During the summer I have no problem making sure I get plenty of water throughout the day, but once it's cold you'll find me forever with a mug of tea, coffee, cider, and basically anything else I can wrap my frozen hands around. I especially love the occasional indulgence of a cup of thick, rich, hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, and basically whatever else you want to put on there. I am a total snob and turn my nose up at those "just add water" packets though. No, give me the real, clog my arteries thing. If I'm going to indulge, I'm going to make it worth it. And let me tell you, this is totally worth it.

This recipe is actually really easy to make! It takes a little bit time (as in, more than the two seconds it takes to make the pouch variety), but it's very simple. 

Stove-top Hot Chocolate

4 Servings

2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

3/4 Cup Sugar

2 Cups Milk (divided)

1 Cup Heavy Cream

Splash of Vanilla

Whisk together the cocoa poweder and suger in a pot, add 1/2 cup of the milk, and turn stove to medium. Whisk together while it warms up. Let come to a simmer for a minute, and then add the rest of the milk, and cream. Allow to come back to a simmer, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Divide between mugs, top with tons of marshmallows, and enjoy!

Oatmeal Rasin Ice Cream Sandwiches

Fine and Feathered - Oatmeal Rasin Ice Cream Sandwiches

Confession time: I am one of those weirdos who loves oatmeal raisin cookies. Whenever cookie talk come up and chocolate chip lovers are all like "who even eats oatmeal raisin" I'm in the corner throwin' my hands up in the air like I just don't care. I especially get hankerings for my favorite cookie come fall. 

I decided recently to combine my fall cravings with a little fat kid summertime magic and make some amazing oatmeal raisin ice cream sandwiches! It's the perfect combo if you're already craving some autumn goodies, but, hey, it's still almost 90 degrees outside, so maybe you should hold off on the hot apple cider for now. 

These are also super easy to throw together, and you can stash them in your freezer to treat yourself with after a long day, or just because. 

OATMEAL RASIN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon table salt 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Use small spoons to dollop dough onto greased cookie sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes (sometimes these smaller ones cook a little faster, so keep a close eye on the first batch). Allow to cool completely on cooling racks. 

Sit vanilla (or whatever flavor you prefer!) ice cream out for several minutes to thaw slightly, so it's easy to scoop. Slather a spoon full of ice cream on one cookie, and smash another cookie on top. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and keep in a ziplock bag in your freezer until you're ready to eat (give them a good ten minutes if you're planning on digging in right away!). Enjoy!

Simple Cold Brew Coffee

Fine and Feathered - Simple Cold Brew Coffee

This has been my summer of cold brew coffee. There seems to always be a jar brewing on our counter, paired with an almost empty jar, waiting to be finished off, in the fridge. It's been like a little miracle for me. I never have been able to make a decent cup of iced coffee for the hot months, so I've always been stuck spending a couple bucks for someone else to make it, and usually not liking it all that much anyways. 

I had actually never heard of the term Cold Brew until Starbucks introduced it this summer. I usually hate their coffee, but was able to stomach their cold brew, so I knew I had to look into this whole idea and figure out how to recreate it for myself. 

The truth is, it's insanely simple, and if you love iced coffee, you should definitely be making your own cold brew. From my experience with it so far, I've found that it's really all about focusing on the little things that might change it. I like to make my cold brew a really strong concentrate and then just dilute it with a little water when I'm adding my milk and sugar too. Since it's a concentrate, one jar can easily last an entire week for me. 

Making your own cold brew is actually incredibly easy. It takes time, but almost all of it is passive. 

THE BASICS

In a sealable jar, combine one cup of coffee grounds and three cups of cold water, gently stir and allow to sit at room temperature for eight hours, or in the fridge overnight. Strain mixture twice using a coffee filter, or cheesecloth. Refrigerate, and you're done! 

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SOME TIPS

- Invest in good coffee. That's really the most important thing you can do. Go to an awesome local coffee roaster, and get some of the good stuff. I don't have a grinder myself, so I just have them grind it to percolator for me. I've been getting mine from Pour Richards in Devon, PA since it's on my way to work, and it's oh-so good. 

- Try to use a container that it will completely fill. I've read online that the less air in with your brewing coffee, the better. I use a large mason jar (I believe it's a quart size) and it's perfect for me. 

- For straining, I like to use my large mixer bowl to strain it into just because it's convenient, and it has a spout, which makes it easy to pour back into a jar when I'm done, but you can really use any bowl or strainer set up that you already have on hand.

- You should note that the first filtering will take some time. Usually a good 10-15 minutes. Try not to rush it, just do your thing while it's doing its thing. The second filtering will go a lot faster. 

- Depending on how strong my concentrate is, I usually cut it half and half with water when I drink it, but that's all about personal preference, so experiment with how strong you like it.

- Not cold brew specific, but just a tip, If you're like me, and like your coffee just a little sweet, try brown sugar instead of white! It dissolves easier into cold drinks, and tastes even better than white does. 

Fine and Feathered - Simple Cold Brew Coffee

Simple Blueberry Cobbler

Fine and Feathered - Simple Blueberry Cobbler

Summer desserts, to me, are all about keeping it simple. Using fresh, local ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. I actually went out in hopes of finding some straggling strawberries, but it seems I pretty much missed that season this year. However, it's blueberry season, and since we live only a few towns away from the "blueberry capital of the world" it was easy to get my hands on a big bowl of these beautiful berries, so I called it fate, and made a cobbler.

SIMPLE BLUEBERRY COBBLER          

For the Filling:

2 Pounds of Blueberries

1/4 Cup of Sugar

1/2 Tbsp of Flour

Zest of a lemon

For the Topping:

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup of Old-fashioned Oats

1/2 Cup of Flour

1/2 tsp of Cinnamon

6 Tbsp of cold Butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a pie pan or baking dish. Combine sugar, flour, and lemon zest for the filling, then pour over blueberries, toss to coat, and pour into baking dish.

Whisk together brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon for topping. Add in chilled butter and use fork to cut up pieces further and combine until butter pieces are pea sized or a little smaller (you could also just pulse all ingredients in a food processor, if you have one). Top blueberries with the mixture, and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until crumb topping is browned and blueberries are soft.

Enjoy with some fresh whipped cream