Life on Wednesdays – 1/13/14

Life on Wednesdays is a weekly post of odds and ends from my life – food-focused for sure, but everything else? Wingin’ it. See this page for posts from prior weeks.

I forgot to mention in last week’s post that despite the perpetual Wednesday post date, I promise not to subject you to any quips involving the phrase ‘hump day’ and a certain verbose camel. Or a guy named Mike. I’m sure you get enough of that elsewhere.

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I have a tendency to be a very cautious over-thinker. There’s great merit in “measuring twice and cutting once” for sure, but presented with a quandary I go a little beyond that. I’d probably mull it over for a few days, feed some teasers to my trusted board of advisers (B and my parents) to feel out their initial thoughts, Google it incessantly and eventually go with my gut, which is tough because most of the time all my gut’s telling me to do is to keep researching.

All that, and I’m probably trying to decide which gold spray paint I should buy or something equally trivial.

These characteristics most certainly carry over into shopping, where more often than not I’ll go to the mall and only come out with a nice cappuccino. Recently though, I’ll be browsing around, see something I like and can use…and I buy it. Right there. On the spot. No comparing prices, no polling the crowd, nada. This is BIG.

Either there’s some fundamental shift in my inner psyche going on, or I’ve run into some pretty great stuff lately. In case it’s the latter, I better tell you about it.

1. Torani Sugar-Free Belgian Cookie Speculoos Syrup

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OMG. Not much more needs to be said here. If you’re not aware, speculoos/cookie butter has been blowing up the blogosphere. It’s a spread made of ground up cookies (you can buy it at Trader Joe’s). Sweet and slightly spiced, it’s fab as an ingredient – or eaten straight up with a spoon. Not like that’s happened or anything.

B and I were gifted an espresso machine for Christmas, and we stopped by World Market to look for flavored syrups to make lattes. Is anyone else impressed by the breadth of World Market’s specialty grocery department? Anyway, we hit the wall of Torani syrups and within a few seconds this one had jumped in our basket and begged us to take it home. That’s how quickly I made up my mind.

Two lattes on a Sunday night does not an easy sleep make, but when you just bought a syrup that’s full of sugar and spice and everything nice (minus the actual sugar – it’s sweetened with Splenda), a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

2. Coated Charlie Super Skinny Jeans from Lucky Brand

Coated Charlie Super Skinnies

This purchase was the tipping point where I knew something was up:

A) I bought them online, without having tried on the Charlie Super Skinnies before.

B) Had I been in the store, I most definitely would not have tried them on, because any jean touting their super skinniness probably wouldn’t be a jean that my calves would get along with.

C) I was in bed, in my sweatpants, after a delicious Christmas dinner. Not exactly feeling super skinny.

Against my better judgment, free shipping and a nice sale coddled me along the check-out process. I bought two sizes, fully expecting neither of them to fit. I got them, tried on the smaller of the two sizes first (I’m a dreamer here), and they fit – PERFECTLY. The thighs fit without there being too much room in the waist. My calves didn’t hate me. They stretch, and my feet can fit through the “super skinny” leg opening…albeit not with much room to spare, but they do. Holy comfortable! They’re a little low on sizes at the moment (online, at least), but I’m hopeful they restock because my closet needs more of these, pronto.

3. Three Songs on iTunes.
…iTunes was having a sale. $0.69 each! Even now at full price, it’s well worth the extra $0.60 for these talented artists. (Sequined factoid #2 – I love, love country music).

Friday Night by Eric Paslay

Could It Be by Charlie Worsham

Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves

Anyone else have a three-day weekend ahead? Woot woot! See ya Friday with a quick and easy Asian-inspired dinner that’s perfect for those weeknights after work!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Gelato Affogato

…aka the luxe pumpkin spice latte.

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Hubba hubba.

There are two ways I handle a “sweet” craving – a) jump in the car and head to the self-serve fro yo shop down the street (so as to satisfy it immediately), or b) dream up a recipe that’s detail-heavy and time-intensive (delayed gratification at its finest). Usually, there’s no middle ground.

The inspiration for the delicious concoction above came early one morning before work, as my non-caffeinated self spaced out and stared into the cabinet above our coffee maker, willing my morning fuel to drip just a little bit faster. Nothing ground-breaking spurred my thinking. Really, my gaze just happened to be fixated on a set of tea cups decked out in a festive little winter scene ($1 each at Home Goods – score!) and BAM, it hit me. These cups are just meant for a souped up PSL.

Never mind that I’d never made homemade ice cream before, or even owned an ice cream maker. Go big or go home, baby.

Sure, this recipe takes some planning. My (newly purchased) ice cream maker requires the bowl to be frozen, which can take a few hours. Then the egg/milk/sugar mixture needs to be refrigerated for a few hours. A few hours plus a few hours does not instant gratification make. But trust me, it’s worth it.

And did I mention that this recipe (which is extremely loosely based on the vanilla ice cream recipe in the accompanying Cuisinart instruction booklet) doesn’t call for any heavy cream? Nope, don’t need it! You just saved yourself hundreds of calories, and your taste buds won’t even know the difference.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Gelato Affogato

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
very small pinch salt
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
pinch of ground cloves
brewed espresso

1. Combine milk and 1/4 cup of white sugar in a saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat, until just barely boiling.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks and the other 1/4 cup of white sugar in a large bowl (you can also use a hand mixer). Mix until it looks light and creamy:

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3. When milk is barely boiling, slowly (SLOWLY!) pour the milk/sugar mixture into the egg/sugar mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until all incorporated. Whisk continuously.
4. Once everything is combined, pour mixture back into saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until mixture sticks to back of wooden spoon.
5. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
6. The mixture needs to be cold, so stick in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.
7. Once cold, remove from fridge and whisk in pumpkin puree, brown sugar, remaining 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, and spices until smooth.
8. Prepare according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. For me, this part took about 20 minutes.
9. The gelato is good to go as soon as it’s finished (grab a spoon!), or can be frozen for a little while afterward for a more solid consistency.
10. To make it in the affogato style (did you know affogato means “drowned” in Italian?), brew some espresso, and pour about a shot’s worth over top of gelato. Not into coffee? No problem! This is super delicious as straight-up gelato, as well.

Yields about 6 servings (obviously, this is dependent on your preferred serving size!)

All in all, sure it would be easier to pop into a Starbucks, grab a PSL, and head on your merry way, but the extra effort that goes into this recipe most certainly pays off.