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Lunch Lady Peanut Butter CookiesSimple Tomato Soup (Campbell's Copycat)Mom's Slow Cooked Boston Baked BeansMake Your Own Christmas Ornament WreathPumpkin Pie Latte




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Entries in coffee (4)


Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

A real mouthful, for sure! Not only to say, but to eat. Just the way I like my ice cream. I went with the Ben & Jerry’s let’s pack a lot of stuff in there so you get chunks in every bite method. I think that’s what I love the most about Ben and Jerry’s. They’re geniuses. This ice cream is a flavor packed mocha with extra dark cocoa and deep, rich coffee. I then added in brownie chunks and large pieces of English toffee that’s enrobed with milk chocolate and chopped pecans. Oh, yes, please!

Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

So--what brought this ice cream on was that I was talking to Heather about Scoopapalooza. That’s our ice cream project that we dreamed up two summers ago. Summers full of scoops! This ice cream doesn’t quite follow the “local ingredient” guideline, but it’s still a fabulous scoop, so I’m going to have to add it. If any of you are interested in joining us for this summer’s Scoopapalooza, please, feel free! We’re super laid back about rules and stuff, so don’t worry--we won’t be breathing down your neck or looking over your shoulder. We’re too lazy (busy) for that!

We were talking about making ice cream and I was saying most of my ice cream ideas just didn’t gel last summer…and Heather reminded me that I had just baked fabulous brownies. This ice cream was the result of that conversation.

The brownies are my new favorite recipe. I don’t  have any left to photograph, but I’ll be making them again soon so I can post them here. I guarantee you’re going to want to try these right away. They’re made in a way I’ve never made brownies before, but will now always want to. The English toffee is from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any kind you like. Heath bars would be fine here!

Coffee! Let’s talk a bit about the coffee. I don’t drink instant coffee, but I do keep it on hand for baking. I usually keep espresso powder on hand, but someone finished that up, so while at Trader Joe’s, I grabbed their instant. One day when I had a headache and needed caffeine, Billy grabbed it and made me an iced coffee with it. Holy coffee, it’s fabulous! Like fresh brewed coffee! If you’ve been on the fence about picking some up, you shouldn't be! Even if you just keep it on hand for enhancing chocolate baked goods, you won’t be sorry. But just once, try drinking it. Seriously.


Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Makes roughly one quart
Adapted from Ben and Jerry's

2 cups heavy cream (or whipping cream)
1 cup milk
3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cocoa powder (Hershey's Special Dark was used here)
3 tbsp very good quality instant coffee, DIVIDED (mine is from Trader Joe's)
2 eggs (See note below)
1 1/4 cups brownie chunks (about 1/2 - 1 inch cubes)
1 1/4 cups toffee chunks (don't break them up too small!)

Start by cutting the brownies into chunks. Set aside, and then put the toffee in a quart sized Ziploc bag. Smash it up, but don't make the chunks too small. You want to have nice large pieces to make this a truly chunky ice cream. Place the toffee and brownie chunks in the freezer to chill while you work on the ice cream. (I won't hold it against you if you swipe a few of the chunks for yourself. Because you *know* I did.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream, milk, sugar, cocoa and 2 tbsp of the coffee. Make sure all of the sugar is dissolved before you proceed. Whisk the eggs in a smaller bowl until light yellow in color. Pour the eggs into the cream mixture and blend well.

Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions for freezing. Just as the ice cream is finishing up it's freezing thing, add the remaining 1 tbsp of coffee, and the brownie and toffee chunks. Let those mix in, and then transfer the ice cream to a container to finish freezing. In the freezer, of course. After you've had a few bites. Because it's the law--you have to.

  • NOTE: I recently had a comment calling me out for using raw eggs in ice cream. I have been using the same method that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream book does, and that’s to use raw eggs. I use fresh eggs and don’t worry about it. Salmonella is found on the outside of the eggs, so wash them gently first if you like. I wouldn’t serve it to someone who was pregnant or had a compromised immune system. My kids eat these ice creams--and we’ve had no issues. If you’re worried about it, use an Egg Beater type product or pasteurized eggs. Or use a cooked base that you feel comfortable with.
  • This ice cream is everything you want in a chunky ice cream. It’s creamy and velvety, and absolutely loaded with chunks of brownies and toffee. For those times when you want serious chunks in every single bite.

Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream


AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker Giveaway (US and Canada!)

Who loves coffee? Raise your hands…


Now, who loves coffee, but has to settle for burned, over roasted, weak, or just all around bad coffee? A show of hands, please…

Wow. That’s a lot of hands! I know, I used to belong to the “has to settle for” group. I know the frustration. And be honest. When is the last time you took that first sip from a mug of coffee, and just felt your knees go weak because it tasted so damn good? It had been a long time for me.


GIVEAWAY CLOSED. Winners are Lisa in the US and Sam in Canada. Congrats winners! Thank you to all that entered and stay tuned for more fun giveaways just around the corner. 

That was until I received an Aerobie AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker to try. It’s changed the way I look at coffee. It’s changed the way I brew coffee, to be exact. And I don’t think I can ever go back to any other method! It’s so simple (and fast!), and yet--the espresso/coffee that it brews…you’ll taste it and wonder where it’s been all your life! And incidentally, Aerobie is also responsible for bringing some very cool toys to the market, as well. Check the site for details!



Read through for your chance to win your own AeroPress Coffee & Espresso maker! I’ve got one for a US reader and one for a reader in Canada!

Here’s why it works so well (from :

  • Total immersion of the grounds in the water results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor.
  • Total immersion permits extraction at a moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew.
  • Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20 seconds. This avoids the bitterness of long processes such as drip brewing.
  • The air pressure also gently squeezes the last goodness from the grounds, further enriching the flavor.
  • Because of the lower temperature and short brew time, the acid level of the brew is much lower than conventional brewers. Laboratory pH testing measured AEROPRESS brew's acid as less than one fifth that of regular drip brew. The low acid is confirmed by coffee lovers who report that AEROPRESS brew is friendlier to their stomachs.
  • The AeroPress is made of totally BPA free plastic.

Until I was contacted by Constance, representing AeroPress, I’d never heard of it. Now, I’m shouting about it from the rooftops. Don’t believe me? Check out the 737 5-star reviews on Amazon! I’m not putting up with bad coffee any longer. The real test for me? I tried some black fresh brewed coffee from it the other day. I’ve never been able to handle black coffee, but brewed with the AeroPress--it’s smooth and rich with flavor. It was a pleasure to drink it that way!

Basically, you’re brewing a double shot of espresso. When you’re finished brewing, enjoy your shot as is, or top off with hot milk for a latte, add steamed milk for a cappuccino, or top it off with hot water for an Americano. The Aeropress will brew one to four espressos at a time. You can also make a full carafe of coffee using the AeroPress in less time than it takes to brew a pot of drip coffee. Two 3-scoop or 4-scoop pressings, topped off with hot water, will fill most vacuum carafes.

My method is simple:

My favorite coffee mug holds 24 ounces. (I like to heat up my mug by letting it sit for a couple of minutes with hot tap water in it while I heat the water for brewing. I pour out the water when I’m ready to brew.) I heat up 2 1/2 cups of water, then make two double shots. This means 2 scoops of coffee grounds, and then I pour hot water into the chamber up to the #2 mark. I then stir the water and grounds for about 10 seconds, and then push the plunger down through the chamber. I discard the grounds and rinse/reuse the filter, and repeat the steps to make another shot of espresso. The remaining hot water tops off the 2 shots, and I add half and half to complete my coffee Americano.

I could just pour all 4 scoops into the chamber, and add the water to the #4 mark, but it’s just as easy for me to do it the other way. And it’s still quick to do it twice, anyway. It’s also a cinch to clean! Just give it a quick rinse and air dry. It’s dishwasher safe, too.

A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Your water should ideally be around 175 degrees. Too hot and it’ll extract all the bitterness from the grounds.
  2. Slightly moisten the filter once you place it in the filter cap.
  3. Grind your beans somewhere between Fine and Espresso on the dial. I set the dial smack in the middle of these two settings, and it’s just right.

There's also something called the Inverted Method that a lot of AeroPress fans swear by. It gives you a slightly longer brew time--about a minute, before you flip it back over and press to brew. You can see a video on my friend Josh's site, The Quest For Zest. I haven't tired this method yet, but I will be very soon--I'm intrigued! 

Here’s a great, basic video on how to use the AeroPress. If you look on You Tube, there are a whole lot of people dedicated to theirs.

See? So simple!


The AeroPress is totally portable, too! So if you like, take your AeroPress to the office. Then you can drink fresh coffee all day! Or before you leave in the morning, just brew it right into your travel mug and take it to go.

Take it camping, or stock one in your RV.

It takes up barely any counter space. In fact, it’s so compact, you can store it away and use zero counter space!

It’s great for baking, when you need some brewed espresso or coffee.

It’s very affordable at just $25 and makes great gifts for the coffee lovers in your life!

Coffee lovers are so dedicated to the AeroPress, that they hold World AeroPress Championships! Last month, this year’s was held in Milan, Italy. Now that’s some serious dedication!

I’d like to leave you with a couple of the reviews I came across for the Aerobie AeroPress:

“You must try it to understand why this device is the only coffee maker I will ever own again. Making an AeroPress coffee takes only 30 seconds (start to finish) and best of all, only takes a few seconds to clean! The only negative aspect about the AeroPress is that I cannot drink the burnt espresso anymore at our favorite bakery.”

“A couple of years ago I bought a $1500 espresso machine. It works well – but it doesn’t turn out the consistent quality of the AeroPress. Now I use the AeroPress for ALL brewing and only use my expensive Italian machine for heating the AeroPress water and for foaming milk for my cappuccino.”



The folks at Aerobie have agreed to give two AeroPresses away to my readers. I’m choosing one US winner and one Canadian winner. That’s right! Pay attention, all of you in Canada--I’ve got one for you, as well!

  1. Please leave a comment here (with a valid email address!) telling me what kind of coffee maker you’re currently using. You must specify if you’re in the US or Canada so I can choose one winner from each.

Bonus Entries:

1. Let me know which you’ll try first: espresso, latte, or cappuccino.

2. Tweet about the giveaway if you like. You can copy this text:

    AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker #Giveaway @elleskitchen (US and Canada!) Your days of bad coffee are over!   

    Be sure to leave a comment on this post letting me know.

3. You can share this on Facebook if you’d like to. Again, leave a comment on this post to let me know that you did.

I’ll choose two winners on Friday, November 11th. Good luck!


Disclaimer: I was given an Aerobie AeroPress to review and experiment with at no charge. My opinions are my own and I was not endorsed for them.


Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

I know. I do! You’re addicted to that famous coffee shop’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. You wait all summer long for the day they bring it back, and you’re sad when they retire it for the season. It’s so simple to make your own at home--and cheaper! This new version I came up with puts a spin on the Pumpkin Latte. I added premium coffee ice cream along with cold brewed coffee to make a cool, refreshing, ice creamy-smooth shake!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

I can’t believe that it was already three years ago that I wrote a post on Pumpkin Pie Latte! That one is a recipe that New England Coffee had in their newsletter. It’s fantastic! If you like Morning Glory Muffins, you may want to have a look at the Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffins that I made on that same day. I took the classic MGM recipe and cut the fat in half by using pumpkin. I also cut out some of the sugar and added some white whole wheat flour. So go ahead and indulge!

Even though it’s getting somewhat cooler here in New England, we still have some warm days left--as I’m sure a lot of you do, as well. This fall inspired shake will cover you for those warm days and take you right into the cooler ones.

Now, I have to tell you…the famous coffee shop uses “pumpkin flavored syrup.” It’s true, they do. Go look. I’ll be the first one to say that when I want a sweet fun coffee drink, I don’t usually think twice about indulging occasionally. But I figure, even though I added some ice cream to this, it’s made from all natural ingredients--see my note and link below the recipe. Who knows what’s in that syrup?

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

These shakes that I made have 1 1/4 cup of real pumpkin in them. Pumpkin is good for you, too!

  • Pumpkin is very high in carotenoids, which not only give them their orange color, but they’re very good at neutralizing free radicals, which are molecules that attack cell membranes, leaving them damaged.
  • Pumpkins are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which fight free radicals in the lens of the eye. This could potentially prevent the formation of cataracts.
  • Pumpkins are loaded with Vitamin A, very low in calories, have zero fat and cholesterol, are low in carbs, and also have Vitamin C, Calcium, and Potassium.
  • Pumpkin puree is an excellent fat replacement in baking. Check out those muffins I linked to above if you don’t believe me.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

Makes 5 cups, so--serves 2 (16 oz) glasses,
with a little left over--for the chef?

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom

Mix all spices together in a small jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake:

1 1/2 cups cold brewed coffee
1 1/4 cup plain pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coffee ice cream 
1 cup ice cubes
3 tbsp agave or honey

Add all of the shake ingredients to the blender and blend for about 2 minutes. Pour into glasses and garnish with a little pumpkin pie spice, and maybe even some whipped cream if you like. Serve immediately!

  • The amounts here can vary for the pumpkin pie spice, as well as in the shake. If you don't have the Chine Five Spice or the Cardamom, try using Allspice. I just happened to be out of that one. Just be careful with the cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. Too much of those, and they can be overwhelming.
  • Same with the shake. Want more spice? Go for it! More sweetener, or no sweetener at all? It's up to you. I like my latte drinks to be sweetened.
  • Use your favorite coffee or espresso in this recipe. I happen to use Trader Joe’s Decaf. It’s the best tasting decaf I’ve found.
  • For the ice cream, I like to use Haagen Dazs. Ingredients? Cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Coffee. That’s it. No chemicals or fillers--just the good stuff you’d use at home! They also have a coffee frozen yogurt if you prefer that!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake


Pumpkin Pie Latte, to go with your Pumpkin Muffins

Mmmmm, coffeeeeeee! I love coffee. It doesn't love me. Well, decaf loves me, but I get such a buzz from regular coffee that I can't drink it. Weird, right?

My current favorite decaf is from Trader Joe's. It's their Smooth and Really Mellow Blend Whole Bean Coffee. SO good, as far as decaf coffees go. And since I can only have decaf, my choices for good coffee are very limited, hehe.

A little while ago, I was looking up some stuff about brewing coffee, and came across this page from Alton Brown. Now, I love Alton Brown, and already do most of what he advises there, but 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water? Wha??? This did not compute. My mom, who made great coffee, always used one tablespoon.

But you know, it's Alton, so I figured I'd brew a small pot, to see if he was right.

And yep, you know it. He was. My coffee has gone from good to great! It's not stronger or bitter, it's full bodied. Yes, I finally know why people say "full bodied" when they talk about coffee.

It's a coffee revelation. For me, anyway. I guess I've been living under a rock. Or a bad pot of coffee, you decide.

Which brings me to Starbucks. Their coffee always tastes burnt to me. Always! And the prices? Holy coffee beans! With the way the economy has been sliding down it's slippery slope, saving some cash everyday would be good, right?

They have a new Pumpkin Spice Latte this season. I don't know how much it costs, but I'm guessing it's way more than it costs to make this one. This latte is from New England Coffee, who by the way, is a close second to Trader Joe's decaf. And it's incredibly easy! Make the latte part while your morning coffee is brewing, then mix the two, pop it in your travel mug, and you're ready to go! Or any time you want a warm, (very) slightly spicy latte. It's delicious, and I enjoyed mine with a nice warm, Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffin. Pumpkin overkill? No, it's very subtle in the latte. And though I drink my everyday coffee with half & half, but no sugar, I like my latte-ish coffee drinks sweetened. So I added sugar to taste in this.

Pumpkin Pie Latte
Adapted from New England Coffee

1 serving

1 tablespoon canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup of your favorite coffee
-cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling over the top

In a saucepan, heat milk and pumpkin until steaming, or even easier--mix the milk and pumpkin in a 2 cup measuring cup and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.
Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.
Pour the milk mixture in a blender, and blend 20 seconds until it's all foamy and pretty.
Pour into your favorite mug, then add coffee.
Add sugar to taste, if you like.
A sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice over the top, and drink up!