Food Story: Coffee Granita

Last Sunday Shelton said he had a surprise for me, but said that I’d have to wait for it. We went along our normal Sunday routine, him puttering around in the kitchen and me on the living room floor scrapbooking. He said I would not be able to guess what he was making, so I didn’t even try. I just waited patiently, and oh my, was I rewarded.

Being the food geeks that we are, we absolutely love Alton Brown, and watch re-runs of Good Eats like it’s Homeland. On a recent episode that Shelton had watched sans me, Alton focused on frozen treats. He recommended saving leftover coffee to make a granita instead of throwing it out, and Shelton pounced on that idea (with great vigor, I might add).

This is the story of the Coffee Granita.

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Everything I love about iced coffee and honestly, coffee in general, was represented in every single spoonful of icy awesomeness. There was no bitterness, just the creamy essence of an incredible cup of coffee. The Kahlua helped add richness and a sweet edge with no sting of alcohol whatsoever. The whipped cream was fresh, and complimented the sweetness of the coffee perfectly.

Perfect. Everything about this Coffee Granita was exactly that.

Best. Surprise. Ever.

The End.

Reference Materials

Alton Brown’s Coffee Granita Recipe
* Mexican Vanilla is the true vanilla
* Kahlua is not necessary, but definitely amps up the flavor
* This recipe makes a LOT – would be perfect for dessert shooters as a night cap
* Pin it, make it, love it

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla Cheesecake | sweetandsavorylife.com

This recipe is a favorite of mine, but I cannot take credit for it. I have been eating sopapilla cheesecake for many, many years (long before there were hundreds of posts about it, with even more Pinterest pins to follow) thanks to a dear family friend named Vance. Goodness. How do I sum up the amazing-ness that is Vance? Feels impossible. He’s just one of those people. If you’re lucky, you have a someone like this in your life.

Dad & Vance

Dad & Vance, May 2012

Many moons ago, Vance was married to my dad’s sister, but I think they got divorced before I was born, so while he might not have ever technically been my uncle, he has been an incredible role model and father figure throughout my life. Vance and my dad knew each other prior to him marrying my aunt, and formed a strong bond between themselves. It’s never broken over the years, and I think that is a tribute to the kind of person Vance is. When you meet someone like that, you want to keep them around forever. He’s been there for us through thick and thin, and when I think of Vance I only have good memories.

*When I was 16 years old, my dad took me to Paris. It was my first trip overseas that didn’t involve white sand and hair braiding, and I was beyond excited. As the plane lifted off, my dad handed me a card. It had my name written on the front. I was surprised – who was this from? I opened the envelope to find $200 and a note from Vance. Spending money for my first European adventure.

In his spare time, he is also a Captain. Not joking.

In his spare time, he is also a Captain. Not joking.

*Carthage, Texas, where I grew up, is what I have always referred to as a painfully small town. I exposed myself to different cultures and experiences as much as I could, but some things were still very limited. One of these things (that I would surely learn to love over the next few years) was good Italian food. There was no such thing in deep East Texas. One weekend, Vance said he was going to take me out, but that it was a surprise. We ended up in Shreveport, Louisiana (for all intensive purposes the closest big city) in a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that was run out of a remodeled home. I had no idea what to order off the menu, so Vance did the honors. He ordered me an entree of chicken stuffed with cheese, herbs and butter. I’ll never forget it.

*Speaking of chicken, the first time I ever held a live one was because of Vance. Each summer, he used to host a Chicken Roping at his house out in the boondocks. What is a Chicken Roping, you ask? Well, it’s essentially a cookout, with large amounts of food, music and people. Also, beer. Chickens are put in a circular pen and then once you are good and sauced you climb in the pen and do your best to rope one. My memories of these events are kinda fuzzy – but I think we were awarded prizes at the end. I have a t-shirt somewhere. But, this was Vance’s brainchild and the sort of thing that only happens in East Texas.

Vance cooking in his loft, which he remodeled himself.

Vance cooking in his loft, which he remodeled himself.

There are more memories, but these are the ones that stick out. Along with being a Chicken Roping master and general sweetheart, Vance is also an incredible cook. His specialties are homemade margaritas, guacamole and, you guessed it, sopapilla cheesecake. Without further adieu, here is the recipe straight from the horses mouth.

Sopapilla Cheesecake | sweetandsavorylife.com

Vance’s Sopapilla Cheesecake

You’ll need:

Crescent rolls (2 containers)
Cream cheese (1 package)
Sugar
Cinnamon
Vanilla

“Mix sugar and cinnamon, as strong as you like. Whip the cream cheese and add enough vanilla until you feel guilty. Mix in most of the sugar/cinnamon mix . Put half the crescent rolls on a cookie sheet. That would be 4 triangles and take note of the lines. Spread the good stuff on top and then place the other half of the crescent rolls to cover and line the top triangles with the ones on bottom. Bake as directed on the roll package. Use the rest of the sugar mix on top while it’s hot, may even bake the sugar on. Play with it , I never do it the same twice. Love ya.”

I followed Vance’s directions to wing it, and the only thing I added was a couple tablespoons of melted butter over the top before baking. It was delicious.

You should make this immediately. Life is not worth living if you haven’t had sopapilla cheesecake. And if you have a Vance in your life, tell them how much they have meant to you over the years and also how much they mean to you now. It’s good to let people know just how big of an impact they’ve had on you.

-Sarah

Strawberry Cloud Cookies

If you are a strawberry lover (and who isn’t?), these cookies will buh-low your taste buds out of the water. Shelton says that these cookies are his favorite, and truth be told, I should really make them more often. They’re incredibly easy to whip up and are just dangerously delicious. It’s impossible to eat just one.

Strawberry Cloud Cookies | sweetandsavorylife.com

Strawberry Cloud Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Recipe adapted from The Church Cook

You’ll need:

For the cookies…

  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 stick Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups pureed strawberries (about 10 regular sized strawberries)
  • 4 – 6 drops pink food coloring (optional – gel works best)

For the glaze…

  • 1-½ cup Powdered Sugar (I sift mine, but you don’t have to)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest (more if you’re feelin’ extra zesty)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • In your large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese and strawberries. Stir to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Add food coloring.
  • Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), drop the batter on a baking sheet. These cookies are crazy dense, so they won’t puff up or spread out, but make sure to give each ball of dough a little wiggle room.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  • Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cooled cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread the glaze. Glaze will hardened almost immediately!

Very important: Let the cookies sit out overnight – do not immediately store in a sealed container even if the glaze has dried! Along with being very dense, these cookies are also very moist. Which means if you stick them in a Ziploc or plastic container they’ll get oddly wet and sticky. This won’t deter you from eating them… it’s just mostly unpleasant. You have been warned.

Strawberry Cloud Cookies | sweetandsavorylife.com

And there you have it. These little gems get many a moan wherever you take them. The best way to eat them is to pop one in your mouth upside down! Try it. You’ll see.

-Sarah

Snickers Cookies

If you have leftover Halloween candy, this recipe is perfect. Or, if you bought a bag of Snickers on sale now that Halloween is over (smart) then this recipe is also perfect. Or, if you just want to take one of America’s favorite candy bars and make it worse better for you, then this recipe is perfect.

It’s just perfect, okay?

Recipe adapted from Cooks.com. When I say “adapted” I mean that I gave the Snickers a rough chop, instead of quartering them and surrounding each quarter piece with cookie dough. Huge changes, if you ask me. I also sprayed the cookie sheet even though the directions specifically say not to. I am a rebel like that. And even though this post is about to take a turn towards Guilt City, you should know that these cookies were a big hit for everyone, and incredibly delicious. So, there. Make them someday, ‘kay?

~

You could say that my diet is not going as great as I’d intended. But then I’d just think you were mean, so please don’t say that.

Not today. I can’t handle it.

Initially I did a really good job of resisting these Snickers Cookies (or “Snookies” as Shelton calls them). They were for some client thank you gifts I was putting together, not for me. I packaged them all up, but there were too many leftover. In a round-about way, the extras ended up back in the apartment, and last night I ate three. I know that’s not horrible – it’s not like I ate the whole bag, but coupled with the whiskey I also drank while watching CNN… I definitely have some residual food guilt that lingers.

You see, last week, I decided that I am not going to buy new jeans, although I desperately need to. My current jeans are too tight and I feel like Regina George on a Kalteen frenzy, wishing everyday was Friday so that I could wear sweats and not be judged. The thing is, since I work from home I can in fact wear sweats freely. But I miss the days when my jeans were comfy. Don’t get me wrong, sweats are amazing, but there is something really special about a pair of jeans that just fit great. It’s been awhile for me, and even with last night’s setbacks, I’m still working on getting back there.

I can’t change what I did yesterday, but I can change what I do today, and right now I’m going to go get our healthy Fresh 20 dinner started and then work out.

No excuses. No guilt!

-Sarah

Easy Apple Tart

The word “pie” elicits two very strong emotions from me.

On one hand, when I hear the rumblings of pie being thrown around in conversation, I immediately want pie in my mouth. Like, instantly. On the other hand, I think about how much trouble it is to make pie. Especially if you’re going to do it right. And then I try to force the aforementioned thoughts of pie from my brain. It’s a painful process, to say the least.

The other day, Shelton said he wanted to make apple pie. I actually groaned, can you believe that? Thank goodness he ignored me.

He went on to make the most delicious, simplest apple pie I have ever witnessed. I would liken it to watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, or Einstein discovering E=mc2. It was that brilliant. Swear.

To make things even more awesome, he used fake butter and fake sugar and saved on a lot of calories. Score.

Enjoy the pictures – recipe is at the bottom!

Easy Apple Tart

You’ll need:

  • ~2 cups chopped apples (a tart apple is the best, we used Galas)
  • dollop of butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
  • spices (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg)
  • 1 pie crust, thawed
  • 1 beaten egg, set aside
Note: Substitute ingredients as necessary… Just because the holidays are upon us doesn’t mean that you have to use real sugar or real butter!

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put chopped apples, butter, sugar and spices in a medium saucepan on low heat. Low and slow, as Shelton would say.
  • Stir apples every few minutes. You want the mixture to be sticky and the apples to be soft. While they are sweating you can roll out your pie crust on a floured cookie sheet.
  • When the apples look good and taste like heaven, spoon them in a straight line in the middle of the pie crust. Shelton got fancy with his tart and cut slices on the sides (at an angle) and then alternated folding them to enclose the filling. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to – feel free to just wrap the pie crust over the filling. (Make sure there are no large gaps.)
  • Brush the surface with the beaten egg and sprinkle on more spices and sugar for decoration.
  • Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or a little longer if the crust is not brown and beautiful.
  • Let cool for a few minutes (if you can stand it), before diving in, fork first.

We have another All-American recipe to share with you tomorrow… It’s a glorified breakfast favorite.

Hint, hint.

-Sarah (on behalf of Shelton)

S&S MAKEOVER

Hey there!

So, Sweet & Sultry is now Sweet & Savory! On Sunday night, while Shelton was preparing an amazing dinner consisting of Panera’s Mac & Cheese and porkchops and I was simultaneoulsy whipping up some red velvet cupcakes (from scratch)… He made the comment that the menu we were creating represented us very well – that in life he is the savory and I am the sweet. I love any life-based analogy that involves food, and this got my wheels turning… I realized I wanted to make Sweet & Sultry less about me and more about US! Shelton has expressed the desire to blog alongside me and I wanted to create a channel where we could both do that… So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to OUR new site…

Sweet & Savory!

I am so very excited about this. I fully believe that whatever I achieve in life, Shelton will be right there with me, so a joint blog makes so much sense for us. He wrote his first post last night and I can’t wait to share it with you later! For now though I have to talk about the delicious dinner we created Sunday night…

Decadent doesn’t even begin to cover it. We are huge (HUGE) fans of Panera’s Mac & Cheese, because it is quite possibly the best out there. A few months ago I realized that they have the recipe available on their site (read more about the recipe development here!) and I knew that at some point we were destined to recreate it. Shelton paired it with porkchops marinated in a teriyaki sauce and it was a sweet, creamy, scrumptious combination of flavors. If you attempt Panera’s Mac & Cheese, we recommend that you purchase the ingredients exactly as they are listed (splurge on the Vermont cheese – it IS worth it!). And don’t be discouraged – you CAN make this dish at home! :)

For dessert I made red velvet cupcakes from scratch with chocolate filling and homemade cream cheese frosting. Shelton stumbled upon this recipe late last week and presented it to me. I have to admit – I was so apprehensive to try it! But as usual, anytime I put my faith in him I am rewarded handsomely. These cupcakes were incredible, and I will definitely make them again. Just promise me one thing – if you go to the trouble to create these cupcakes please please PLEASE don’t slap pre-made Betty Crocker frosting on them. I feel like Joe from MasterChef in saying this… but please show these cupcakes some respect! Otherwise everyone who eats you cupcakes will make this face…

And the shame you will experience might cause you to never bake again. :)

That’s all we got, folks! Our inaugural sweet and savory dish that you can prepare at home, from our kitchen to yours!

Enjoy,

Sweet Sarah

Spring Break Shenanigans

More fun things we did over Spring Break… P.S. I don’t know who came up with the idea of Spring Break, but they’re my favorite person in higher education ever.

Click on an image to open gallery.