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Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

You may recall that one time and the other time that I paired up and reviewed a recipe and a book in one sitting. Because nothing beats scarfing something down while flipping through some awesome pages. So let’s all take a break from analyzing the VMA awards and Googling what twerking is. Please.

Disclaimer: Depending on the food you’re eating, take care when turning pages. Loaning out a book with cheeto-fingerprint-corners can be awkward.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, I love my soups and my novels… Almost equally. Not sure which one edges the other out, but in this case, it was pretty much a dead heat. I’m excited to share with you Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa and a maybe-not-all-that-authentic-but-really-yummy Shrimp Gumbo. Let’s hit the books first.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, this is when I was dueling books at the airport with a somewhat strange pairing.
It totally worked though.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

4 star rating.png

If you’re in the mood for a novel that is both substantial and engaging, here it is. Every family’s story is both a comedy and a tragedy, and every individual is influenced by their heritage in ways we often don’t understand. This highlights the balance in one family and the insight into what drives us from one generation to the next.

Sometimes with a determined grimness and sometimes with a smirking humor, Diaz baldly lays out historical backgrounds and cultural experiences as a foundation for characters that feel very real. It’s rare to find a book that blends modern experiences so comfortably with a sense of ancestry and deep-rooted ways. There is perseverance, fear, and destiny – Beli, Lola, and Oscar are always moving from something, towards something and through something at the same time.

With multi-perspective storytelling, it can easily feel jarred and confused; somehow this novel manages to avoid that. Yunior serves as an anchor while the books moves fluidly through several characters, stories, and time periods to create a more rounded understanding of the family as a whole. Get 1/3 of a way through the book, and you’re sunk into it – you’ll feel compelled to stay up late and finish.

If you’re into this kind of thing, might I suggest some other fav’s of mine such as House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Okaybees, let’s get to the food!

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Sources: Pinterest and Original

Yes, this took a little bit of time to make. Consider it an investment. This stuff is very customizable, delicious, filling, and even freezes awesomely. Try it asap with some brown rice (not only a healthy choice, but a little more substantial when paired with the goodness of gumbo) and some fresh-baked rolls. Wegman’s were responsible for ours, of course.

Check out the original source, and keep in mind how easily you can make it your own. I changed a few things up, myself…

  1. Instead of being a seafood gumbo, mine was simply a shrimp one. Shrimp was a more affordable choice, and one everyone in our fam will eat a little more readily.
  2. I skipped the green bell peppers – I don’t eat them.
  3. I used vegetable stock instead of water/seafood stock. I keep vegetable bullion cubes in the house at all times since they are so useful.
  4. I skipped the boiled ham, as two out of our four don’t eat meat (but do eat fish & seafood).
  5. I use one of these fresh seasoning tubes in EVERYTHING as they are amazing, instead of dried herbs, etc.
  6. Obviously, I added cayenne pepper. You know me.

I give this recipe 4 stars, as well.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

My little guy even tried some out. What a champ!

Anyone else reading Junot Diaz? Think cayenne pepper is the finishing touch to pretty much anything? Finally watching Orange Is The New Black? I’m obsessed.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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To Bento Or Not To Bento: The Pre-school Power Lunch (I’m about to learn a lot)

Somehow I’ve managed to avoid packing school lunches. It’s almost a miracle, really… and it’s about to change.

Both of the kids have solely attended daycare/preschools that provided lunch as well as morning/afternoon snacks, so the kids just ate a quick breakfast at home. When H began kindergarten last year, the price for a before-school breakfast and hot lunch was reasonable and her school had good quality, healthy and wholesome food; so we just loaded funds onto her school account. We did pack a morning snack for her and chipped in to the afternoon snacks her teacher collected. We got really lucky that the arrangements were so easy. Now, in a week H is attending summer camp where she needs to bring a packed lunch and Lo will be at a preschool where all students bring their own lunches (healthy morning/afternoon snacks are provided). I figure when September rolls around, it makes sense to keep packing lunches for both kids since one will need it anyway.

There are some awesome resources out there for brown-bagging it… interestingly, none of them recommend actual brown bags. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the creative/affordable/healthy/convenient ideas people have for their kid’s lunches and wanted to share for anyone else in the same boat.

The Best Bloggety Resource Out There

Okay, this lady is the coolest. Seriously. Her name is Melissa and she writes the super-helpful-to-me-anyway blog Another Lunch. I have no recollection of how I stumbled upon her posts, except probably after some serious Googling sessions and it has been the number one best resource. I feel like we’re friends already. Melissa, I promise not to stalk you, please don’t leave!

Another Lunch has not only cute lunch ideas, but some practical tips and most helpful of all, reviews and recommendations on tools for packing lunches. Full confession: I have no intention of packing lunches as adorable as hers. I just don’t have it in me. I do want to prepare lunches as healthy and well-rounded as hers, and I think a lot of the same tools will help me pack quick and well-received lunches for both kids. Each lunch she posts about includes a description of what she used to make it, and links to the products on the bottom.

Lunching Paraphernalia

Yeah, when you’re starting from scratch with this, it takes some tools. I’m keeping it simple for now, at least – no need to pick up a bunch of extra things to cut sandwiches into elephants and so on at this point… I just need stuff to put the food in:

  • After reading this How To Start post from Another Lunch and this round-up and review of lunch containers from 100 Days of Real Food, I went with the EasyLunchboxes which I ordered off Amazon and am waiting to be delivered. It’s awesome it comes in a set of four for less than $14!
  • Since I know I will be packing mostly finger foods and the kids don’t like things to mix together too much, I also tossed some Wilton re-usable baking cups, and Mini-Dippers (also from EasyLunchboxes) into my Amazon cart. It also brought me up to the $25 to get free shipping, which is nice. A lot of lunch ideas I’ve seen use the baking cups to create additional compartments.
  • Also on the recommendation of Another Lunch’s guide, I will wait until the lunchboxes get here and take one to Target to buy lunch bags that fit them. I really want to check the bags out in person, to be sure they have good insulation – neither kid will be able to use a refrigerator.
  • I’ll pick up some ice packs at some point, too. Any recommendations? Water filled vs. gel filled?

(also, I just spelled paraphernalia correctly on the first attempt. I deserve something for that.)

Pinning For A Good Lunch

I went a little pin-crazy on a Pinterest board, looking up lunch ideas. I’m hoping if I find myself stumped while making a grocery list, I might be able to refer back and come up with a couple realistic ideas. There are some other kick-ass boards with kid’s lunch ideas too (about half on the practical side and half on the shaping-food-like-panda-bears side) – check out this one and this one! EasyLunchboxes also have their own Pinterest boards too. No offense to anyone shaping their kids food like panda bears… I’m just not there yet.

To Bento Or Not To Bento

Our preschool recommends going for finger-food style packed lunches vs. the traditional brown-bag sandwich/fruit/chips/milk combo. This rings true for my own kids, who tend to love snack-ish items such as cheese cubes, fruit, carrots, and so on… but often don’t finish a whole sandwich or big item. Using a compartmental lunch box also allows me to add leftovers from dinner when there is something I think they are likely to eat cold the next day, like some pastas or pizza. We also have one kid who eats meat and the other doesn’t, so adding little bits of different things makes sense for us.

However, this strategy is not what a lot of people mean by bento. Check out the links I’ve listed above and you will see lunches with shapes cut out, cute little picks used to hold food, and very detailed themes. It has become a fad in some areas, from what I can tell online – and a lot of time can be spent turning a kids lunch into something creative and cute. I’m not sure this is my style, but for a lot of people it is worth it and a family bonding activity. What do you think? Over the top or a special treat? Maybe just on birthdays, or if the kid is old enough to work on it themselves? Or do you just stick to the traditional PBJ?

Going Nut-Less

Yes, I know. There was no real way to write it that didn’t come across that way, so I just went for it.

I totally support nut-free classrooms. It’s about safety, and I know I want care, respect, and kindness towards my children if they are ever in that boat. It is a challenge, though, and Lo’s new classroom is not only peanut-free but completely nut-free. Lo loooooves peanut butter – it is very much a staple in his diet. Because of this, I’m hoping to try out some peanut-butter-alternatives such as a soy-butter. Any experience with this, good or bad?

Wish me luck in the world of lunch-packing, and please drop me any suggestions, recommendations, and opinions! Especially if you have a magical peanut-butter-fake-that-tastes-delicious!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Introducing Ginger Dijon Salmon, Our Most Favorite Fish

For a few months now, every Saturday evening the husband and I make dinner together for just us, and it is usually this salmon with a ginger Dijon sauce. That sounds like it would get old, but with something this good we just never get tired of it. “Salmon Saturdays” even rhymes, so obviously that makes it more delicious.

This is really guest post, as the salmon recipe was created by the very own hubs. Thanks babe! He was inspired by this recipe, and went on to tweak it and add ground ginger, which is what catapulted it into the realm of fav recipes.

The roasted red potatoes are also so delicious. Mental Note: remember to bring those back up another day.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Can you see how delicious that glaze is?

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

The best part is the crispy edges, as seen above. I’m not a girl who likes things “blackened” under almost any circumstance, but with this a little bit of crunch is good.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

(Full and concise recipe at bottom of post)

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (a little less)
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

This is so, so simple. To start, clean and prepare your salmon fillets then lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. We use fresh ground pepper.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and ginger until smooth.

We are generally only preparing two salmon fillets, and have about half of the sauce left over. I keep thinking we need to find a way to save the rest, but generally come to the conclusion it wouldn’t be as fresh and good the next week so we continue to prepare it fresh each time.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Coat the salmon fillets generously with sauce, but not to the point that it is dripping off of them.

Broil on low until cooked to your liking. Mr. Sunny likes it well-done with no pink, so broils it for 14 minutes. This also makes the edges nice and crispy. To achieve the same affect with a more rare-cooked fish, I imagine you could broil it on high for less time.

We add another light layer of sauce to the top after it comes off of the broiler.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Serve with your favorite sides. We often do roasted red potatoes, or baked potatoes, or mashed potatoes with a vegetable side as well. This vegetable side was from a frozen prepackaged mix, which we sometimes default to for convenience.

Anyone else have a weekly dish they never get sick of? Is it salmon? With half our family not eating meat but all of us eating fish, it is something we can agree on. Any tips on bottling up your own sauce?

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (a little less)
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard

Clean and prepare your salmon fillets then lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and ginger until smooth. Coat the salmon fillets generously with sauce, but not to the point that it is dripping off of them. Broil on low until cooked to your liking. For well-done, broil for 14 minutes. Optional, add another light layer of sauce to the top after it comes off of the broiler. Serve with your favorite sides.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Quintessential Chocolate Cake

This is less the unveiling of a new original recipe, and more a review of and shout-out to a classic one I stumbled upon. Not using StumbleUpon, just to be clear.

Last weekend, the daughter and I were lazing about watching Cupcake Wars (our fav show to watch together) when I suddenly felt a deep instinctual inspiration to get up and bake a cake. However, like I mentioned – we were being lazy. Obviously a trip to the grocery store for ingredients was totally out of the question. Instead, I challenged myself to make a recipe with only ingredients we already had in the pantry. After turning to AllRecipes.com (my usual go-to resource) I noticed that a very highly rated chocolate cake recipe had all these snarky comments about how it was just the one off the Hershey’s Cocoa box.

A) People can be so harsh with their recipe commentary. I mean, cool it people – she probably didn’t jack the Hershey’s recipe on purpose… it is a pretty obvious recipe. There are only so many ways to bake a cake. Sheesh.

B) It totally was the exact same recipe as the one on the Hershey’s container. I got up and happened to have a box of Hershey’s Cocoa in the house – yep, a perfect replica of the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake.

Which is when I realized I had every single ingredient to make that cake. You see what happened there? The fates aligned…

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

… and it was delicious.

I know, I know – you should use the fanciest cocoa you can possibly afford for any chocolatey recipe, since the right cocoa can make all the difference. I totally agree. Sadly, my Discover Card often does not. So Hershey’s is usually what’s knocking around the pantry.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

The original recipe is located right on the back of the container, or here.

I’m not going to copy the entire ingredient list and recipe to this post since it feels a little redundant, and they have a better system for putting it in a print or email view. What do you expect? They are Hershey’s, and I’m a suburban mother of two and college administrator. It’s all about resources.

I will share my review of the recipe, a couple tips about how I made it quick and easy, and some pictures to make you crave chocolate cake. This story totally goes full circle here, people.

As you can see from above, this recipe does take more than a handful of ingredients… but not by much. They are also pretty much standard staple ingredients I would guess your average person has on hand, and I’m sure you’re totally above average.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

This is seriously no-lie a one-bowl recipe. I heart those. It also takes only a few steps to get the batter together, so the time between Food Network making you jones for refined sugar and having a finished, frosted cake is pretty reasonable.

You begin with adding the dry ingredients to a bowl (as shown above), mixing it up a bit, adding the wet ingredients, mixing it up a bit, then adding the boiling water. See how quick that is?

TIP: I highly recommended sifting your cocoa into the bowl. I did not, and regretted it. I redeemed myself by sifting the cocoa in the frosting and it was so much more consistent and easy to mix.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

Cool the cakes in the pans for a bit, then move to the cooking rack until completely cool. Or, if you are me, cheat and stick the rack in the fridge once it is mostly cool so you don’t have to wait an extra 10 minutes.

TIP: I use springform pans because they are the most straight on the sides, and I just think are easier to get the cakes out of. However, with a thinner batter like this one, I put foil around the bottom of the outside of the pan to catch any drips. I also hate to have a ton of pans in storage, so just using springform pans for all round cakes saves some cabinet space.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

In the meantime, let’s make some frosting. Since it is literally built into the cake recipe, I figured I might as well try it out. Look how few ingredients it takes! This turned out so creamy, I was more than pleasantly surprised. How is that even possible without butter being added? Color me impressed.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

See? Doesn’t it look melt-in-your mouth creamy and chocolatey? Okay, frosting doesn’t really photograph well on it’s own. I can’t tell if that picture is appetizing or not. I mean, if you didn’t know it was frosting… well, never mind. It’s delicious chocolate frosting and that’s that.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

I doubted there would be enough frosting to actually cover the middle, top, and sides of a full-sized two-layer cake so I skimped on the frosting in the middle, just to be sure I’d have enough to cover the whole cake. Well, I regretted that – it made a TON of frosting. I just couldn’t waste it, it was so tasty… so the sides and top ended up a little heavy on the application.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

I love a fancy and modern recipe, but you know I love a classic one as well. Think of how many kitchens over the years have made this cake for an after-supper dessert! How many little kid’s birthdays have included this recipe? Okay, if you’re now feeling all misty-eyed nostalgic, go ahead an read this history of chocolate cake post from Nice Chocolates. Yes, I’m a nerd. A nerd on a sugar-high.

Anyone else discovering recipes right off the back of boxes? Which totally isn’t discovering something at all, since it is literally on the back of the box? It’s kind of like when you start using a trendy new word and then everyone acts like you’re crazy, and you realize it hasn’t actually been trendy since the 90s. And you better stop rolling the cuffs on your acid-washed jeans, too.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish

Anyone else have issues spelling zucchini? I seriously never get it right. That one little n seems so lonely, I just want to add another one… Anyway, this dish was so easy, so affordable, and so healthy – I was pretty skeptical at how it would taste. It was, in fact, delicious. The black beans are a boost are protein in the otherwise vegetarian dish.

Both the hubs and I went back for more. I won’t say it was a hit with the kids, because to be honest they just will not get on board with anything they can identify zucchini in. Kids are weird.

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

I pinned this recipe from ReadySetEat ages ago, and immediately forgot about it. So glad to have rediscovered it this weekend!

I changed it up a little bit to suite our taste and pantry, so the recipe shown right here is not quite the same as the original one. I normally try to give the original recipe a shot first, but I try to switch out white rice for brown rice and I don’t eat bell peppers (slight allergic reaction to the green ones which makes me disdainful of all the bell pepper varieties.)

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

Let’s raid our pantries! Concise recipe at the bottom of post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbl canola oil
  • 3 medium zucchini’s, quartered lengthwise and then chopped.
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack, just ‘cuz)

Note: The taste is really, surprisingly good… but I like things kicked up a notch, so next time I will add more seasoning. BTW, I really do think Hunt’s fire-roasted tomatoes have the best flavor, and the least weird-tomato-parts in the can.

The reviews at the original link had a bunch of suggestions for things to add or alter, and they sound delicious! This is a great recipe to experiment with.

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until it is shimmery but not smoky.

Add your zucchini and stir to coat it in oil. Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

When the zucchini is mostly done but not-quite-cooked-through, add the black beans, tomatoes (without draining), and the water. Stir well.

Increase the heat to high, and allow it to come to a boil.

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

When it has come to a boil, add the rice and stir well.

Cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. Let it stand for 7-9 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Sprinkle with cheese! Isn’t that always the best part?

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish | Painting Sunny

Anyone thinking of a good acronym for this dish? ZBBR does have a fun ring to it, I think. Anyone else avoiding those weird tomato parts in cans? Nothing is worse, I swear. Ideas for veggies to toss into this dish?

Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet Dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbl canola oil
  • 3 medium zucchini’s, quartered lengthwise and then chopped.
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack, just ‘cuz)

Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until it is shimmery but not smoky. Add your zucchini and stir to coat it in oil. Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the zucchini is mostly done but not-quite-cooked-through, add the black beans, tomatoes (without draining), and the water. Stir well. Increase the heat to high, and allow it to come to a boil. When it has come to a boil, add the rice and stir well. Cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. Let it stand for 7-9 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with cheese!


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Life and Bloomington and Mahi Mahi

Last Saturday, Haven was in her children’s Theatre & Drama class here at IU, while Mr. Sunny had to go into work. This left the little man and myself free to have fun and explore the town for more than an hour together – a rare occasion!

Obviously, we spent our first 40 minutes perusing Target. That is classic Bloomington on a Saturday morning. Eventually, we made our way back to the IU campus and snapped some quick (iPhone) pictures of Lo in some of the campus hot-spots. That night, we broiled Mahi Mahi. If you are just here for the Mahi, scroll down!

We are going to miss you, B-Town!

Bloomington Love | Painting Sunny

Hav’s class was in the Theatre department attached to the Neal Marshall Black Cultural Center and the IU Theatre reception hall. So, we strolled around there for a bit. They have such wide-open spaces and great views!

Bloomington Love | Painting Sunny

Lo especially admired the artwork. Let’s pretend he isn’t touching it. Please don’t call security.

Bloomington Love | Painting Sunny

If you’re from IU, you know this sculpture of Hoagy Carmichael near the famous Showalter Fountain. Lo was seriously freaked out by him at first, so I had to walk around knocking on the guy’s head to show he was hollow and not a real person. The statue’s head… not our three-year-olds.

Bloomington Love | Painting Sunny

Speaking of the fountain, we explored it a bit too but it was the last cold-ish weekend before they turned on the water – so it’s not so very impressive looking.

Broiled Paprika Mahi Mahi | Painting Sunny

Alright, alright…  on to the Mahi Mahi. Didn’t it turn out pretty?Broiled Paprika Mahi Mahi | Painting SunnyThis was our first time making this fish, but it was on a great sale at our local Kroger in the fish department. The fish-man highly recommended it, so we thought we would give it a try. We started by making sure it was fully thawed, lightly coating both sides with extra-virgin olive oil, and placing it on a lined baking sheet.Broiled Paprika Mahi Mahi | Painting Sunny

This is not a full recipe post because I didn’t really use a recipe. I was just too tired and hungry angry hangry to follow one. After a brief Google, it did seem as though many of the recipes called for broiling the fish with lemon juice and paprika. Which I conveniently had on hand.

A little lemon juice and paprika were rubbed on top and voila! Amazing.

Side note: the sweet potatoes were cooked in the crock-pot, with no liquid added. I love to do it that way – amazing and convenient. Amazivenient. And, Coming Monday there will be a BIG post where I will show off a project long in the making. Exciting!

Anyone else trying out a new fish? About to say goodbye to a town they love and start a new adventure? Leave their baked potatoes in a crock-pot all day?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Ice Ice Coffee

Okay, that pun just had to be done.

I really, really love my coffee. Actually, I didn’t even drink coffee until I was 27 or so… I made it through two college degrees and a one baby before I started. By the time our son turned 4 months old, I was hooked on a pretty large coffee every morning. I feel like Nancy Botwin on Weeds… well, minus a few character details.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

While I love coffee in general (and yes… Starbucks in particular) my favorite is iced coffee. When I am if I were Oprah, it would be one of my favorite things. Buying Starbucks every morning is not a fiscally responsible decision, however. So last year I went on the hunt for an iced coffee recipe, and via my Pinterest, found this iced coffee recipe  by Craving Comfort. It is easy, affordable, and we lived happily ever after.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

I like my coffee strong, particularly when iced, so when the ice melts it stays strong. I do not, however, like it sweet. Which is weird, because I am fueled almost entirely by refined sugar. For some reason sweet beverages are not my thing – I like unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water instead of soda, and dry wines. I’m a weirdo. So, I do not use the Sweet Cream portion of Craving Comfort’ recipe, even though I am sure it is delicious.

My version of events is here, and is tweaked a bit from the original pinned recipe just to accommodate what I have on hand and works best for me. For some reason, I just never have cheesecloth around.

The Supplies:

  • 12 oz. bag of coffee, choosing one that is good cold-brewed (see note below)
  • A very large bowl
  • 6 quarts of water
  • Something to strain with (cheesecloth or coffee filters in a strainer, or a permanent coffee filter)
  • A ladle
  • Pitchers or jugs
  • A cloth large enough to cover the bowl

Note on coffee choices: Over time, I have tried out various coffees, and I do believe that some are better when cold-brewed than others. There are coffees I love brewed hot that just don’t translate well in the world of ice. My favorites are any of the blonde roast Starbucks coffees or Dunkin’ Donuts original roast. After that, Starbucks Breakfast Blend. I love flavored coffees, but they turn out weird iced. That’s just what I’ve found that works best – please experiment and let me know how it goes!

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

The beginning is the easiest part. You take your bowl and fill it full of approximately 6 quarts of cold water. Make sure you still have a little room in the bowl!

Empty the entire 12oz bag of coffee into the bowl. Yes, I know this is scary. Please just trust me… it will all work out fine.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

I like to stir the coffee into the water until moistened. This might not be necessary – I once got distracted and walked away from it, and when I came back 20 minutes later it had all sunk to the bottom perfectly. I may just be a control freak.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

When your coffee is all saturated with water, cover it with a cloth and leave it overnight or for 8-12 hours. I tuck the ends of the cloth under the bowl just a bit, so it doesn’t sink into the coffee.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

After the appropriate amount of time has passed, grab your jugs! Wait, that sounded wrong. Totally wrong.

Get your pitchers out, and your straining device and ladle.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

I use the gold permanent coffee filter that came with my coffee pot. My personal method is to wrap the cloth around the bottom of a pitcher to catch drips, use one hand to hold the filter over the opening of the pitcher, and the other hand to dip the ladle into the bowl. See above photograph! My best tips are:

  • Keep the pitcher close to the bowl as you ladle the coffee.
  • Go slowly.
  • Try not to get a lot of coffee grounds in the filter.
  • When you run out of liquid at the top to ladle up, just grab the bowl and very carefully pour the last of the liquid out of the bowl into your strainer. Seriously, be careful though since if you tilt the bowl too far you have a cold mess of coffee grounds.

If you find you’re making a mess, keep in mind it just takes a bit of practice. Actually, after the first time I was able to do it without dripping any coffee at all, really. You’ll get a knack for it.

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

This is how much I get out of one batch. Not bad, huh? It lasts for daaaaays…. as in, at least a week and a couple days… maybe 10? For me, the cost is $6 for the entire batch, since I usually get the coffee on a good sale and stock up then. A vente iced coffee with non-fat milk from Starbucks is something like $3.49, so this saves me approx. $28.90 for that many large coffees. Not bad!

Ice Ice Coffee | Painting Sunny

If you wondered what to put the iced coffee actually in, I have a lovely Tervis mug my mother gifted to me, which I use every single day. I love it. And My Mom. I don’t have the actual Tervis straws but need to grab one. I think one of these is something like $14.99 from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It keeps things cold forevs.

Anyone else thriving off coffee and desserts all day? Have a good iced-coffee recipe? A particular coffee I should try out?

Happy Wednesday!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.