Mocha Pot de Creme

I haven’t cooked anything in a long time. Like…….. at least a month?

Before you start asking, “How? That’s amazing! What’s your system?!”, let me be clear: this is not necessarily a good thing. This means that my husband cooks (which is not inherently bad, since his favorite thing to make is tacos), we sometimes get takeout, but we mostly just scrounge. We have toast for dinner, or rice, or maybe some sauteed frozen vegetables. We don’t eat unhealthy foods, but we don’t really enjoy what we are eating either.

So, this weekend, I decided I wanted to go all out! I LOVE to cook, and it’s been far too long since I’ve put together a big dinner. I had huge plans for carne seca tacos, guacamole, fresh tortillas: the works! But, this thought came into my head at 2pm on a Sunday, and good carne seca (or machaca) takes at least 3 hours of braising, and we didn’t even have a single worthwhile ingredient in the fridge (Think, beer and watermelon, and not much else).

So, I decided, “Ok, we’ll get takeout tacos! But I am making an amazing dessert!” And so the Mocha Pot de Creme came to life. I’ve adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks ever, Cooking with Cafe Pasqual’s. Cafe Pasqual is a truly incredible restaurant in Santa Fe that I have been dying to return to ever since I ate there a few years ago. But as close as Tucson and Santa Fe are, it might as well be across the world, because I haven’t been back. Their cookbook is the next best thing. I made a few personal changes, but the foundation is the same. I hope that’s ok. Being new to the world of food blogging, I definitely don’t want to infringe on any copyright issues, or take credit for work that isn’t mine, but I do want to share this awesome recipe with you! So, this is my take on the Mocha Pot de Creme.

Please be advised, this is super strong, intensely rich, and the coffee flavor is powerful!!

Mocha Pot de Creme (makes 6  4-oz ramekins)

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely ground decaf coffee (not instant)
1/4 cup coarsely ground decaf Pinon Hazelnut coffee (not instant)
8 oz very dark chocolate, either chips or coarsely chopped from a block
8 egg yolks
Dark chocolate covered almonds, for garnish
Additional heavy whipping cream (about 1 cup), for garnish 

Before you get started, refrigerate 6 empty 4 oz ramekins. Measure the milk, cream, sugar, and coffees into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat down very low and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes.

Pour the steeped coffee mixture over a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Discard the grounds. Rinse out the saucepan and dry well. Return the pan to the stove, pour back the coffee cream mixture, and add the chocolate over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally as the chocolate melts.

Meanwhile, separate your egg yolks and whisk well. Whisk 1/4 cup of the cream mixture into the yolks to temper them, then pour the yolk/cream mixture back in the pan. Keep stirring over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly, and coats the back of a wooden spoon. (Once you have added the egg yolks, do not take your eyes off that pot!!! Keep stirring and watching, unless you want chocolate scrambled eggs)

Pour the pudding into your nice chilly ramekins and pop into the refrigerator, about 3 hours, until set. Before serving, whip the additional cream until stiff and top each bowl with a heavy dollop, and garnish with a dark chocolate almond.

A Few Notes! Very Important Ones!:
* The recipe specifies decaf. Use decaf. Trust me. The chocolate and sugar and strong coffee flavor is stimulating enough without having several cups worth of caffeine in your system.
* I love the addition of the flavored decaf Pinon Hazelnut coffee. I buy it at Sprouts, but you could easily substitute an appropriate decaf flavored coffee, or just use plain. I used plain for the fine grind and flavored for the coarse grind because I didn’t want the hazelnut to be overwhelming. However, it’s your kitchen. Do whatever you want!
*You could use dark chocolate covered espresso beans for the garnish!
*You could use storebought whipped cream for the topping if you don’t have time or don’t want to whip the cream yourself.
*The original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. I was able to find it at Sprouts, but it was way more expensive than the very dark chocolate, and we are on a budget. The main point is that you don’t want the chocolate to have a ton of sugar in it. Definitely do not use semisweet chocolate chips or milk chocolate.

Before straining out the coffee grounds

After adding the chocolate and egg yolks. Nice and glossy 🙂

Nice and chilly and ready for whipped cream!

Ready to go to the table!

Recovering from DIYers Guilt

Oh my, oh my, Pinterest. How I have come to love you. Since I was young I have dabbled in crafts and DIY, but then you came along… and what started as simple love of putting a handmade touch on my life has turned into a monster.

A big, red, swirly monster.

Ok, Pinterest, I still love you. But we need to have a talk.

I recently bought a bottle of shampoo. “Who cares?”, you say. “Why is that a big deal?”, you wonder. Pinterest has made a crafting monster out of me, that’s why.

I have, at one time or another, made DIY laundry detergent, cloth baby wipes, wipe solution, facial moisturizer, mineral makeup, sugar scrubs, cleaning products, bug spray……. If you’ve seen it on Pinterest, I’ve probably tried to make it. And some of these products I continue to make myself because I love them, and they are better than the store bought versions!

Back to the shampoo. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect DIY shampoo recipe. “No poo” doesn’t work for me, and so I tried a recipe using castile soap. It was way too watery, left my skin feeling tight and strange, and after fixing my hair in the usual way, it looked greasy, flat, and disgusting. I started to think “Man, maybe I need to look up a different main ingredient, or maybe there’s a way to thicken it up so it’s easier to lather. I’m sure I could find a great blog about it if I just search it on Pinterest.”

And then the thought flew across my mind: “Maybe I should just go to the store and buy shampoo….”

But I thought, “NO!! I am a craftsperson, a modern day homesteader! I make my own products! My pantry is stocked with the bulk ingredients to make all of the products we need! I’m never going to buy soap again!!!”   ……. Ok, maybe not that last one.

Here’s the takeaway from all of this, what I realized as I looked at my mat of dull, oily locks: I am lucky enough to be in a situation where I don’t have to make everything for myself. Crafting is supposed to be fun, not a source of stress or frustration. We are not lost on a desert island. We have Target. I shouldn’t feel guilty for buying a bottle of shampoo, and I definitely shouldn’t feel like I’m not doing enough with my life, or that I’m not creative enough, or that I’m not living the lifestyle I want to be living (the one where we make by hand everything that we consume).

I have 32 boards and 3700 pins. That’s 3700 things I feel like I should be doing or making right now.

Isn’t that INSANE?!?!

It is unfair to expect myself to do everything. I can’t make our butter and our bread — our soaps and our candles, and then expect myself to have a weekly meal plan, a daily fitness routine, a beautiful garden, a sewing room, a sparkling kitchen, empty laundry bins, and fresh cookies coming out of the oven. Right after I hop in the shower and use my homemade sugar scrub and shave lotion, but just before I throw a load of cloth diapers in the washer, bubbling up with our homemade detergent. Oh, and also pay attention to my kids a little bit.

It’s ok to set high standards, and it’s ok to want to make things for yourself. It’s really rewarding! But if it’s costing you your sanity, knock a few things off your “to-make” list. Narrow down the things that are the most important to you. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

And so I’ll leave you with that. Goodnight.

A post a day keeps the … perfectionist monster away?

In my first post, I revealed that I am a perfectionist, and I like to put things on hold until I know I can make them perfect.

This is a Bad. Habit.

My plan for my super-awesome-amazing second post was to do a tutorial for my family’s banana bread recipe, which is legendary around these parts. I have, all planned out in my head, stunning food photography, beautiful shots of my raw ingredients, clever and witty tidbits tucked into the instructions… well, here we are. No banana bread. Because, as it turns out, I’m not perfect!

Now, this is not a “Mom Blog”, but the fact is, I am a mom. I might occasionally sneak in anecdotes about my children because, let’s face it, they are adorable. But yesterday, I wound up in the doctor’s office with my 16-month little adventurer. He tried to climb up a ladder on the playground at school and fell down, getting a huge cut on his eyelid. I have to celebrate with you a little bit, because I actually made a great decision as a mom yesterday. Instead of taking my little man to the ER, I took him to his pediatrician, and we got out of the office in 30 minutes, with a little bit of glue painted on his cut! It’s the small victories, guys. Sometimes I question my decisions as a mother (scratch that, I always question my decisions as a mother), but it is amazing to think at the end of the day, “Today, I did something right”.

I want to be able to tell myself that every day.

So, because I am trying to get this blog up and running, I wanted to post something, just to make sure I didn’t post nothing, for fear of it not being perfect.

I’ll tell you about my delicious banana bread very soon, complete with lovely pictures. For now, I am drinking one of my favorite Trader Joe’s teas (the Ginger Pear White Tea), and listening to my children starting to wake up in their beds (mumbling about getting up to “pet the doggies”).

It’s going to be a good day.

Bringing you sunshine

I’d love to tell you a little bit about myself. Given that this is my first ever blog post, and the likelihood that anyone will read this is minimal, I’ll keep it brief and get back to my cup of tea.

I’d like to share my love of the little things with you.
I plan on sharing all kinds of tutorials, printables, tips, and inspiration for leading a lovely, simple life.
At the top of my brainstorming list: tea blends, banana bread recipes, scone recipes, apron tutorials, jam recipes, and so on. Oh! And tutorials for pot holders, tea towels, cakes, decoupaged tea trays…. I think that’s enough to get me started, right?

Personal confession time: I take on more than I can handle. I am a serial perfectionist and overachiever. When you go into a job interview and the interviewer asks you, “What’s your greatest weakness?”, you’re supposed to say “I work too hard and I care too much”, right? (Except don’t ever say that, because that is so cliche you will surely be kicked out of the conference room). Anyway, the point is, I am that person. I care so much about everything being exactly right that sometimes, if I don’t think I can execute something to the utmost pinnacle of perfection, I don’t even bother. (Like, if I don’t have time to perfectly sort the children’s laundry into coded piles, I just say “screw laundry”). Sound familiar? I hope I’m not the only one.

-SO- In an effort to try to relax, embrace imperfection, and live a little more simply, I’d like to share my days with you. Hopefully, I will inspire your lovely, romantic, bright, sunny, charmed, picturesque lifestyle while trying to get there myself.

Jennifer

PS: My husband just brought me a cup of tea. In one of my favorite mugs! Bonus husband points!!