Category: Recipe

Chai Latte Recipe

Anytime I’m at a coffee shop, I order a chai latte.

I am a minimalist when it comes to ordering at coffee shops.  I get nervous at Starbucks.  Don’t give me too many options or I’m going to freak out.

Whole milk or soy milk?  I can make that decision.  But adding in shots of flavor, calling it anything but small, medium, or large, or using fancy words are going to intimidate me.

I grew up in a household with instant coffee, and then later my dad got a coffee maker.  He drank it black.  Simple.

I once got nervous at McDonald’s when I ordered a hot latte.  She asked me what flavor.  I paused…. uh… vanilla?  I figured a plain latte was an option, but just to be safe I went with vanilla.  I clearly hadn’t looked at the menu.  I figured it was pretty straight forward…. guess it wasn’t.

Sooooo, when Chai Latte is an option, I go with that.

I remember I first had a chai latte a few years back when a woman was demo-ing the new Keurig in Bed Bath & Beyond, and I selected the chai latte K-cup on a whim.

It was so good it made me purchase a keurig (from craigslist of course) so that I could buy those K cups.  After that, I realized that chai wasn’t so exotic… I’m just sheltered.

I bought the Twinings chai tea, and then the ultra chai, and a chai tea latte mix from Aldi when I happened to see that there.  But none of those came close to an actual chai latte at a bonafide coffee shop.

So, I worked on creating a little zippier version of it at home, and I think I got pretty close to matching it, (at least to satisfy my craving for an overpriced chai latte.)

(I discovered that there are other brands of tea latte mix out there, and of course on amazon.  So if you didn’t happen to get yours at Aldi, you can still make a mean chai latte!)

This recipe, will be a part of the FREE Nicolyndime Printable Holiday Cookbook which I talked about in my previous post.  If you want to get that cookbook, sign up to get my emails!

 

Virtual Holiday Cookie Swap

I’m doing a holiday cookie swap.  A traditional one goes like this:

You make a zillion cookies, and then you take them to a place.  And then you also have to print or hand write a zillion recipes so you can swap all of that stuff with everyone else too.

That might be your thing, but it might not be your thing.  And around these parts I try very hard to give you EASY solutions for your life.  Plus we can’t do the traditional way…so I want to think outside of the box.

So I’m doing things a little different.  We are kicking off some fun holiday posting with….

Cue the tree lighting……

Nicolyndime First Annual Virtual Cookie Swap!

Here’s what you need to do to participate:

  1. Sign up here for the Nicolyndime Email Subscriber List.  If you’re already a member, no need to sign up again.  Deadline to join is Friday Dec 8th.

  2. Send me an email at nicolyn@nicolyndime.com and tell me the following:  Your cookie recipe title, the ingredients, the directions, your first name or initials and state where you live (only of you want this published) and a little story (if you have one) about your cookie recipe.  A photo of the finished product is helpful too, if you can manage it.  Deadline for submission is Friday November 24th.

  3. You can also send me tips, simple craft projects, traditions, and other ideas to supplement your holiday cheer.

  4. It doesn’t have to be a CHRISTMAS cookie recipe.  In fact, I’d love cookies from all faiths and walks of life!

  5. You automatically get a FREE pdf cookbook of all the recipes that were sent in.  Emailed on Saturday Dec. 9th.

So wait… what you’re telling me is I hand over one cookie recipe, and I get an entire free, easy printable, cookie recipe cookbook in return?

No fees?  No baking?  No hand cramping by writing out thousands of cookie recipes on a little index card?  (Well no, it’s 2017 and that’s what computers are for…)

Yes, I say… you get lots of cookie recipes in return for giving only one. (Or more if you feel like sharing.)

Is this awesome, or what?  Please don’t say “or what.”

There IS a catch:  You have to get these into me by Friday November 24th so that I can steadily, and without a fevered pace, put together a beautiful cookbook.

The recipe book will go out only once… like Santa.

Send me those recipes and ideas folks……

 

 

Cheese Board under $25

Fall seems like a good time to talk about a cheese board, doesn’t it?  I’m not sure why, because cheese is great any time of year, but it seems like we want to get more earthy and aromatic when the air gets a little chilly.

I like entertaining, and I occasionally like to get a little fancy.  I got this cheese board for my wedding over 3 years ago, and I was way more excited than anyone should be to use this darn thing.  I’ve not had a cheese board worthy style party at my home yet… more like cookouts and really laid back shindigs.  So when one of the studios where I work was having a little graduation ceremony and we all were bringing some food to eat, I looked at that cheese board and said, “it is your time to shine!”

Of course I didn’t know what you actually put on a cheese board to make it all swanky like… except for cheese, and I didn’t know any cheese rules.  I don’t like stupid rules anyway.  Some are meant to be broken.

After researching all about cheese boards, I felt I knew enough to throw the rule book out and do my own thing.  Plus if Aldi didn’t have it, it wasn’t going on that board anyway!

Here’s how I did an Aldi cheese board for under $25.  $22.11 to be exact.

A cheese board should consist of at least a few things.  Cheese.  Cheese in a can is a no no.  Fruit.  Made with real fruit, doesn’t count.  And something else.  The something else can be salty, sweet, or savory.  I made sure I had a few different textures and layers of tastes for the palate.

Cheese board deconstruction is as follows:

You know my mentality… it doesn’t all have to be expensive.  Heck none of it has to be expensive, but you don’t want to look like you didn’t care enough to not just rush and throw some stuff together and pass it off as caring.  People can see right through it, and I take pride in my work.. be it a dance piece, or a simple cheese board.

Did you know Aldi has some fancy things in their store?  Yeah, if you take the time to look.  I selected this “high end” roasted garlic and tomato basil cheese, to pair with a regular swiss and cheddar block cheese.

   

The fruit… simple grapes, dried apricots, and a trail mix with nuts and dried fruit.

The something else….thinly sliced prosciutto, plus crackers (not pictured).

The presentation:  The tomato cheese was all pretty and marble-like.  It looked great on its own.  I cut the rectangle cheese block into some triangular wedges.  Leave the grapes as God created them, and slice the prosciutto in small strips and roll them up into bite size pieces.  A ramekin, or any other small dish can hold the dried apricot and trail mix so guests can add some sweetness to their taste buds.

Grand Totals:

Roasted garlic tomato basil cheese  $2.99

Cheddar Block  $1.79

Swiss Block  $1.79

Prosciutto  $2.49

Dried Apricots  $2.79

Trail Mix  $4.99

Red Grapes  $1.98

Six Cracker Assortment  $3.29

Drum roll please….$22.11

It’s also worth noting that all of the food is not pictured here, and I could have easily made two or three cheese boards with the above products.  That’s enough to replenish your board all the night through!

Don’t have a cheese board?  Use a cutting board!  No one will even know the difference, and remember… no rules.

You rebel you!

 

A Dog Friendly Birthday Cake Recipe

There are tons of dog friendly recipes out there, but I think I’m a little overly protective of what my furchild eats.  I felt bad the other day because I gave her some canned peas, then later researched it on the internet and started to panic because there’s sodium in canned peas.  I only gave her a few peas, but still felt really bad about the unnecessary sodium.
So when I told hubby I was having a cake for furbaby’s 10th B-day and he asked if it was going to be a doggie cake, and I replied yes, then he asked from where, I scoffed.  “From where???”, I retorted, “I’m going to make it of course!”

I looked up a few recipes to get an idea of the amounts, but in all honesty, just winged it.  Density, and other frivolousness, is reserved for humans with preconceived notions about how should look.  But furbabe doesn’t know what cake should be like.  She just knows if it’s good, she eats it.  And it must have been pretty good!
This cake has no baking soda, baking powder, or anything else added as a leavening agent, so….it’s a brick.  I do not suggest giving this whole cake all at once.  Think treat size pieces.  No need for overwhelmed tummies and sicknesses.  I also left out the “oil” that most recipes call to use.

Ingredients:
Cake:  1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/2 heaping cup applesauce, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg.
“Frosting”: I large Sweet Potato, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine peanut butter, applesauce, and pumpkin puree in bowl.  Lightly beat egg and add to mixture.  Last add the flour and mix well.  Mixture will be dense.  Spray pan with oil and flour with whole wheat flour.  Shake out excess.  Add your batter.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Baking times will vary.
“Frosting”  Microwave your sweet potato until a fork inserted in center pierces through.  Carefully cut the potato in half and scoop out potato.  Mash in bowl, and add pumpkin puree to desired consistency.

Once your cake has cooled you can get creative.  I made a two layer cake with a layer of low sodium Braunschweiger (Liverwurst) in the center.  Then the top tier had the “frosting” in the center of that.  I basically just coated the whole thing in the mashed sweet potato mixture.

The cut out treats are another recipe for another time, and are equally simple.  I made some cake decorations with those, including the 10.

She didn’t know what was going on, but leaned in for a nibble, figuring she wasn’t told to leave it.  Then I cut her a proper slice, which was quickly gobbled up.

Yummy!  Celebrate!

 

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Pie Recipe

Seriously, it’s really easy and you have to lemon squeezy.
I have a meyer lemon plant.
It’s been growing some large lemons.
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I don’t know what to do with meyer lemons.
I shared this lack of knowledge with my aerial artist peeps, and my instructor told me to bake something.  Why didn’t I think of that?
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A google search brought up this really easy meyer lemon pie recipe.
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It was really good!  Tart and sweet, just like a meyer lemon… go figure!  Great for wishing for spring to come early….. darn groundhog.  (I’m a hypocrite.  It’s in the 80’s here in the sunshine state.)
Enjoy!

Easy, Affordable Valentine Dinner with Dessert for under $30

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Hey all!  If you take note of the post schedule… I’m late.  But mainly because I was asked to do this guest post on a blog, and was unsure of when the post would go live.  My post on their blog isn’t up yet, but I didn’t want my readers to miss out on my Valentine Dinner plus Dessert for under $30 idea with V-day right around the corner!
So here it is:
Sometimes simpler is better. But when relationships are new, sometimes money is no exception, and we pull out all the stops with lavish gifts and elaborate dates. Then one day you may realize it’s the simple things that should be cherished.
Eating out, especially for Valentine’s Day can be really really expensive. Not only do you have to pay for the food, but also gratuity and the cost of getting to and fro. It’s an expense that can be too much for those that are watching their bottom line, and most everyone is these days!
So, let’s cut out the middle man and make a date night in, super easy and super special! You can even get all dolled up if you want to… or not…. whatever is your fancy.
So, you know I’m going to talk about my #1 budget conscious grocery store option… Aldi. I love Aldi so much! Even the employees are nice, which makes it even easier to shop there.
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With Aldi shopping, a “surf and turf” meal plus dessert for under $30 (yes that’s for the two of you) can be on the menu for your date night in. Assuming you have a few cooking staples, your Aldi bill will be under $30. So, what’s on the menu for tonight’s dining? Tender beef filets, shrimp, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, sparkling water with frozen fruit as beverage, and cheesecake for dessert.
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Yes, you do have to cook this yourself, but I promise you, it’s one of the easiest meals to make, but looks so indulgent you won’t even believe it!!
Ingredients:
Exact pricing may vary by location, product type, and season.
Cattleman’s USDA Choice Bacon Wrapped Beef Chuck Tender Filet. 2 in a package for approx. $5
Sea Queen Easy Peel Raw Shrimp. Varies based on size and area approx. $5
Fresh Garlic 99 cents
Bag of potatoes. Varies by type and area, approximately $4
Broccoli $1.69
La Vie cans of sparkling flavored or original water, approx. $5
Frozen strawberries $2.09
Two pack slices of frozen cheesecake $2.09
  1. Wash and chop your broccoli. Toss with a few teaspoons of oil and add some garlic salt (optional). Place on baking sheet and roast in 400 to 425-degree oven until roasted to preferred doneness. Start this first as it can take the longest.
  2. Chop potatoes and place in large pot of salted water to cover the potatoes. Boil until soft. Drain water from potatoes when done. Heat milk and add the warm milk and butter to potatoes. Use a hand blender to whip potatoes and make them soft and fluffy. I add a little milk at a time until I get them to the consistency I like. You can also add a nice chunk of butter to melt in too. Again, start this along with your broccoli, as this can take the longest.
  3. Thaw per package directions and remove the shells and legs from the shrimp and rinse them in cold water. In a small glass dish, spray the bottom with a light coating of nonstick cooking spray or coat with oil. Lay shrimp in single layer, and add some dots of REAL butter, along with some minced fresh garlic. Place in preheated 375-degree oven, and bake until pink. They get done fast so save this for after your broccoli is done. You can keep your broccoli in the oven while the shrimp cook to keep it warm.
  4. Cook the beef filets per the directions on the back of the package. I like to use the grill pan, but you can use a skillet and/or finish them off in the oven to your preferred doneness. Make sure to let them rest before cutting.
  5. Pour your sparkling water and add frozen strawberries
  6. Be sure to take cheesecake out of freezer to thaw with ample time before consuming.

Here are some ways to make it extra special:

Shop your home for a special tablescape. Add an appropriate tablecloth, or even a fashionable scarf to your table.
Bring out the “good dishes” and wine goblets.
Do you have cloth napkins? Bring those out too!
Add some non-scented or complimentary scented candles. Everyone looks romantic in candlelight!
Lastly, take a cue from your elementary school days. Take a piece of paper, and fold it in half to cut out a heart. Take a minute to write down the things you love about your partner. We always enjoy hearing the specifics about what our partner loves about us, and it’s important to let them know too.
Bonus tip: Leave the dishes and the mess for tomorrow! Enjoy your night together, and don’t fall back into your old routine, at least for one night. Take this night as a time out, to enjoy time spent together!
(Photo credits: Aldi.us and morguefile)

Valentine’s Day Easy Dessert Ideas

Sweets for your sweetie, or your sweet tooth!
These super easy no bake dessert recipes are two of my favorites!  Why?  Because they are super duper easy, they whip together in no time, and no need to fire up the oven or use multiple pans and bowls!  Less dishes = more time to spend doing what you want or love to do.
Chocolate Eclair Dessert:
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This is a recipe my grandma made for me all the time, and is my absolute childhood favorite.  I thought she invented it when I was little, until I had it somewhere else, but was glad to know I could hunt down the recipe on the internet later in life.  I’m so glad that it’s now one of my husband’s favorites too.  And I think I’m going to have to make it really soon.
It’s always better the next day so it’s a great recipe to toss together ahead of time.
I’m linking this recipe to allrecipes, but my gramma always made it with French Vanilla pudding and it adds a little extra if you can find it.  She also put a semi hard glossy chocolate on top, which I sometimes do too.  I think the chocolate she used has long since been discontinued, but I add a few handfuls of melted milk chocolate chips to the can of prepared chocolate frosting to get it to a more fudgy consistency.
My next recipe is an easy truffle candy that uses just three ingredients!
Oreo Cookie Ball Truffles
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This is one of those recipes that you can have some fun with too.  I discovered it trying to make some truffles for my gramma since she loved them so much.  I’d always buy them for her on Valentine’s day, and then when I started to get a little savvy in the kitchen, I wondered how to make them.  I found these, and have been bringing these to parties ever since.  I just love how you can add little decorations, or colored chocolate to get as fancy or as simple as you like.  These are so easy to devour, and never last long!
Enjoy making these easy desserts for Valentine’s Day or anytime!

 

 

This One’s for You, Dad. Italian Easter Pie Recipe

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I’m so excited to announce that my Dad’s beloved Easter Pies turned out!  I had my doubts when the baking was going on, but I learned from my mistake, and it seems to not have been a disaster.

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Let me tell you guys my recipe!
Now, this was NOT an exact science for me, which I think is a good thing for you!
It means you can adjust the recipe to your own liking, and there’s room for mess ups.
I went to the deli and Publix and had the girl cut me two chunks of deli meat.  If she was a little over or a little under, I said, “That’s fine.”  I figured it wouldn’t have to be an exact measurement…. and I was right!  I cut all of the chunks into diced cubes, and added it all to the ricotta.

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The mistake I made was filling the pies a bit too full.  You can tell that one pie was a little puny, and I think I stuffed the first one way too much.  There’s a baby, a mommy and a daddy pie in there, and there should be triplets!

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I looked at two recipes for these pies.  One said to use 5 eggs for two pies, and one said to use 6 eggs for one pie.  So I was really just winging it when it came to the eggs.  I also didn’t measure the ricotta exactly, and just eyeballed half of the container.  I know I got a little more than just 15 oz. into the bowl, and that’s what the one recipe called for.  Oops!

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When I was combining the pie mixture I was hopeful because it smelled like the pies I remember.  After the pies were cooled, and refrigerated, (we always ate these cold) I cut into one.  I smelled it and it smelled like I remembered… and it looked like I remembered…and by jove it sure did taste like I remember.
My husband said it reminded him of his grandmother’s pepperoni bread too.
My dad LOVED these pies, and always had one frozen ready to pull out.  Someone else in the family made them, but I’m happy to have figured out the recipe myself.  I’m having a slice for dad on Easter Day!
Here’s MY recipe for Italian Easter Pies:

Italian Easter Pies Recipe - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

National Chocolate Cake Day!

Did you know that today is National Chocolate Cake day?  Whaaat?  I must have some chocolate cake in order to honor such an esteemed and special day!  One of the best chocolate cakes that I remember having was at Max & Erma’s.  It was their Triple Chocolate Cake which I shared a piece with 2 other people and we all had our fill.  It was decadent, delicious, and of course super chocolatey and I have been searching for that recipe ever since.  Why does no one seem to have a copycat for it…. WHYYYYY?!
I could go for that cake right now.
But since the recipe is eluding me I think I’ve found a close replica.  I fell upon these chocolate layer cake recipes while searching the web.  By the way, have I mentioned I’m moving (only a few thousand times)?  So I haven’t actually tried these recipes out myself.  Let me know if these work out and which one you liked the best if you all decide to try it!
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First a submission to allrecipes.com.  I often find myself on this site, and have just finished up the year’s subscription to the magazine.  I love both.  This recipe was submitted by Denise on Allrecipes and has 4673 reviews with an overall 5 star rating.  This “Too Much Chocolate Cake” I think has met its match.  There’s never too much chocolate for me!!!
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The next recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction, in her own words “a self-taught, mom-taught, grandma-taught baker.”  I absolutely love that description, and those are always the best teachers.  Her cake makes me want to drop everything and make it right now…. but this place is a disaster area, and I packed my measuring cups.  Here’s her Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
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Last, if you’re like me and you have an itch to scratch for chocolate cake… you can resort to this easy one serving option.  A recipe from Sweet Little Bluebird that has no eggs, milk, or butter.  I’m going to run to make this right now…. Crazy Cake in a Mug.
Have your chocolate cake and eat it too!  Happy National Chocolate Cake Day to all!!!!

 

 

Simple Recipe for Honey Cinnamon Butter

For New Year’s Day, I make a bread recipe that was given to me last year.  It’s a really simple, no knead dough recipe.  The first year I made it, I formed it into a pretzel for good luck, but it didn’t bake evenly because I had some thick parts and some thin parts.  So the subsequent times I made it, I just plopped it all onto the cookie sheet just as the recipe calls.
Here you can see the finished, just out of the oven product.

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But that’s not what this recipe is about….
Its about the Honey Cinnamon Butter.
I must be honest…. when I am making this recipe, I rarely measure a thing.  So I can assure you that it is really that foolproof, but for sake of giving you an actual “recipe”  I will estimate my measurements.  You can add or change to taste.
My husband is crazy for this Honey Cinnamon Butter.  I got the idea when I was at a buffet for the holiday season years back.
This little butter recipe is a sweet addition to complement your basic store bought bread or bread recipe.  I don’t have a photo of it, because I only made a half stick and it was gone before I got a chance to even think about snapping a photo… it’s that good!
Enjoy!

honey cinnamon butter recipe