Monday, July 9, 2012

Iced Lattes

Coffee has been referred to by many as the nectar of the gods.  Since the 15th century, coffee has steadily increased in popularity until the present day, where it is one of the most popular beverages in the world.  During the colonial period in the United States, tea and alcohol were the drinks of choice, but during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, tea imports were cut off by the British Empire, leading to the growing popularity of coffee in the United States.  Today, people will stand in line to pay upwards of $5 to enjoy a 20 oz cup of the hot black liquid.

Although you could stop at your local coffee house for an iced latte, you can achieve the same results at home for a fraction of the cost.  Iced lattes are some of the simplest coffee drinks to make.  All you need are a few simple ingredients, an espresso maker, and a cup in which to mix the ingredients.  Unlike the hot version of the drink, there is no need to steam the milk or produce a milk foam.  Just brew the espresso, stir it with milk and your favorite flavoring (if desired), and pour over ice.  I like mine with a mixture of hazelnut and vanilla, but my wife likes hers with caramel or chocolate.  Add whatever flavors you like.  Just remember, making you own is so much quicker and cheaper than ordering that large decaf soy vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso over ice.

Iced Latte

2 oz espresso
12 oz milk
1 1/2 oz flavoring syrup
1 1/2 cups ice

Brew espresso according to manufacturer's directions. In large cup, stir together espresso, milk, and syrup. Add ice and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

After spending four months away from home for work, all I wanted was a taste of home.  With me currently living in Omaha, there is nothing more Nebraskan than corn.  I don't even have to go a mile from my house to find corn fields as far as the eye can see.  So when I went to the farmer's market and found fresh corn available, I knew I had to get some.

This salsa combines the fresh corn from Nebraska with the flavors of my previous home in Texas.  Black beans, chipotle peppers, and lime combine to provide a flavor that screams Tex-Mex.  Roasting the corn really changes the flavor of this salsa, so don't skip that step.  If you do, you'll definitely regret it.

A quick note on removing corn from the cob.  Make sure you use a very sharp knife, as a dull knife will make this difficult and can be dangerous. I like to remove the corn by holding the cob upright in a large mixing bowl rather than on a cutting board.  As the knife cuts through the corn, the kernels fall into the bowl and do not go flying all over the kitchen.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

4 ears fresh corn
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 chipotle, seeded and chopped fine
3 Tbsp cilantro, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove corn from cob.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In mixing bowl, toss corn kernels with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour onto foil lined cookie sheet and roast in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

In large mixing bowl, stir together corn kernels, beans, red onion, chipotle, cilantro, and remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate at least one hour.  Serve with corn chips or use in your favorite taco or burrito.

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