Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kitchen Confidential

So did you ever go to make cookies or a cake or brownies perhaps, only to realize you were out of one ingredient? Then curse yourself for not being prepared? Then curse yourself again because you are too lazy/tired/not willing to drag the kids to go to the grocery store?? No? Me neither (cough, cough..) but let's pretend that happens. A lot. Then go ahead and follow a few basic steps to A) get prepared and B) keep things in stock. If you think it might be a pain, you are correct. Unless you are already organized then no need to read on. But if you are a little like me and slightly disorganized, read on sister, read on.
First, pull everything out of your cupboards and get those babies wiped down. Sort through your items and chuck whatever does not belong in your kitchen cupboards (batteries? Easter baskets with the messy paper grass?? Yes, those were in there.) Then decide where you want things to go. I decided to have one of my main cupboards for snacks, canned and dry goods, and the like and the other purely for baking. I went to town with my baking cupboard because, well, it just makes me happy!
So once everything is out on your counters, take stock of what you have and what you'll need. I suggest making a "top ten" list of things you make often. A few on my list are: spaghetti and meatballs, homemade pizza (for pizza Friday, of course), oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, and chili with cornbread. So think of what ingredients you need and stock up! Then the fun part...choosing containers! I decided to go with mason jars of varying sizes because they are pretty, clear so you know when you are low on something, and timeless. Oh, and affordable compared to say, matching cookie jars. You can take the time to find them at yard sales to save money but Wal-Mart, Target and even some grocery stores carry them. Super easy to find. Then get filling! Load your cupboards, take a step back, and survey the beauty. Then give yourself a pat on the back. It'll be such a joy to make recipes once you actually have all the ingredients on hand. You can then move on to the refrigerator, freezer and even take the organization to the rest of your house which I fully intend to do. One room at a time. You gotta pace yourself, girl. Have fun!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Memoirs of a Peppermint Mocha

All it took was one sighting of that trademark red Starbucks holiday cup and it was all over. You see, I've been making do with flavored creamers, pumpkin lattes and homemade hot chocolates but nothing says "holiday" like that signature peppermint mocha from Starbucks. Now, I am not one to swoon over the coffee conglomerate and in fact, I tend to be a bit "anti-Starbucks" to tell you the truth. I prefer to keep my neighborhood java joints in business. But I have to admit, there is something about walking through the doors of a Starbucks during the holidays that puts a bit of a spring in my step. Maybe it's the bedecked windows and counters, the old fashioned Christmas carols playing and the smell of warmed treats that gets to me. Whatever it is, I am hooked. I fully admit that it is ridiculous to pay upwards of $4 for a "tall" beverage no matter how good. So I am on a mission to recreate that creamy goodness at home for a fraction of the price. Here is what I came up with:

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Recipe (and 5 others)

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Recipe

  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 tablespoons powered cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 cup hot espresso
  • 1.5 cups steamed milk
  1. Stir water and sugar in a pot until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add 1.5 teaspoons peppermint extract.
  3. Allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Mix cocoa and water in a cup until paste forms.
  5. Add espresso and 1.5 teaspoons peppermint extract.
  6. Add milk and serve immediately.

Starbucks Eggnog Latte Recipe

  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup espresso
  • sprinkle of nutmeg (for garnish)
  1. Combine eggnog with milk and steam.
  2. Add espresso shots to steamed mixture.
  3. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve immediately.

Starbucks Gingerbread Latte Recipe

Gingerbread Syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh espresso
  • 8 ounces milk, steamed (with a little foam)
  • whipped cream
  • ground nutmeg
  1. Make the gingerbread syrup by combining water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Make sure your pan is large enough so the mixture won’t boil over
  2. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer syrup, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat when it’s done and put a lid on it.
  3. Make a double shot of espresso (1/2 cup), using an espresso machine. Use the machine to steam 8 ounces of milk, or heat up the milk in the microwave if your machine does not foam and steam milk.
  4. Make your latte by first adding 1/2 cup espresso to a 16-ounce cup. Add 1/4 cup gingerbread syrup, followed by the steamed milk. Stir.
  5.  Top off the drink with a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 8, 2013


With the holidays in full swing, it's easy to forget what it's all about. Crafting your Thanksgiving menu, compiling your Christmas list, trips to the crowded mall, baking cookies for your kid's class...things are bound to get lost in the shuffle. The first that seems to go? A true appreciation for what makes this time of year so amazing. We have a few Beebe family traditions we look forward to all year long: visiting Santa at Bass Pro Shop, strolling Downtown Disney for their warm beignets and Christmas decor and watching the Newport Beach Boat Parade. We try and savor the moments and enjoy the time with our families, teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas and reach out to those in need.
There is so much to be grateful for and I've found that small things: the sympathetic shopper who lets you go ahead of them in line when your kids are out of control at the grocery store, the friend who understands when you have to flake..again, and the grandparents who lend a helping hand when you just need a break (shout out to my ma and pa!), are just as important as the more significant: a family member who bails you out when you need help financially, someone who brings you meals and support when you've just had a baby and friends who never fail when the chips are down.
Let's all take a little time this year to put on the brakes, make more time for family and friends, for cranking up the music and dancing with your kids, for Christmas movie marathons, for watching the rain fall and for having an attitude of appreciation and giving. Yes, it will take more time if you let the kids stir the batter, if you let the frazzled mom cut in line and if you stop to take that phone call or visit from the friend in need but maybe you'll find that the more you give, the more you'll receive. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin: A Love Story

I know I'm not alone when I say I'm eager for the first signs of fall: changing leaves, cooler weather, sweaters and of course...all things pumpkin. When Starbucks, McDonald's and bakeries everywhere roll out their offerings of pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cookies, scones and muffins, I am downright giddy. Because it is only a short time we have to enjoy these offerings, I indulge, baby. So here are a few recipes you can make at home to enjoy all year!

Pumpkin Spice Latte:
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup hot milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon sugar, adjust to taste
whipped cream and cinnamon for top
In a large mug, stir together hot coffee, pumpkin puree, sugar, hot milk and mix well. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon or garnish with a cinnamon stick before serving.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread:
Combine and mix in bowl:
3 ½ c flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
3 c sugar
Make a well and then add:
1 c oil
2 c canned pumpkin
2/3 c water
2 c chocolate chips
4 eggs
Pour into 2 bread pans and bake 1 hour and 10 min at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean. If crust is getting too dark and the bread is not done yet, you can cover the tops with foil for the last 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Boy

This morning, in the wee hours, my son whispered "I uv you, Mommy" in the dark. Although the sun had yet to rise and I was just hoping for a little more sleep, I was suddenly putty. "What did you say, buddy?", I whispered back. I just had to hear him say it one more time. All the jumping, noise, yelling, throwing and climbing on furniture for no reason were suddenly a distant memory. All I could think was how lucky a mommy was I that God chose ME to mother and guide this little man through life. ME to teach him how to be a gentlemen and treat girls right. He chose ME because He knew I would have the patience, love and endurance to withstand the coming years with a rowdy boy!
Girls are full of sugar and spice and everything nice? Whoever came up with that never had a boy AND a girl. Yes, girls are sweet and my daughter is a testament to that. She is so good with her brother, constantly helping and teaching him. She loves to snuggle in the morning and read to me, do crafts and have "mommy and Jovie" time. But there is something unexpected about a boy. As crazy as they are, and they ARE crazy, they have a soft, tender side that just may take you by surprise. Like this morning before dawn. Enjoy them, ladies.