Archives for July 2014

How to Make a Perfect Cup of Iced Coffee

Perfect Iced Coffee

There is nothing like a cup of really good iced coffee on a warm summer day.  You know you are in for a treat when the barista hands you a cup filled with liquid that sparkles like a chocolate diamond.  Taking that first refreshing sip, the flavors slowly blossom starting with the robust toasted notes of the coffee beans and ending with a slightly sweet flavor that lingers on your lips.  There is no need for sugar or milk- with one sip you are totally in the moment.

Unfortunately, brewing iced coffee seems to be a science that not all baristas have figured out. One day it will be perfect and the next day it’s a total disappointment. I started to wonder if there was a fool-proof way to make it at home.

If you have ever tried making iced coffee you know that pouring a freshly-brewed cup of hot coffee over ice is not great.  The biggest problem is how to keep the rich flavor of your coffee without the ice watering it down.  If you brew an extra-strong pot to balance out the melting ice, or let your coffee cool before drinking, you risk a strong and bitter aftertaste.


The trick to creating that fresh-from-your-favorite-cafe flavor requires a little patience and a new approach. Skip the coffee pot all together and let your coffee grounds soak in cold water overnight. This cold-brew method not only brings out the natural flavors of your coffee beans but saves you from a watered down or bitter drink!

Coffee Grounds:  When choosing a coffee, keep in mind that how the beans are ground will affect the taste of your coffee.  If the grounds are too fine, the flavor ends up bitter and strong.  If the grounds are too course, you end up with a coffee that is mild and flat.

For cold brewing, you want medium grounds with a consistent texture.  Blade grinders are great because they are inexpensive and readily available, but they can be tricky when trying to get an even finish.  Thankfully, most large grocery stores have burr grinders in the coffee aisle so you can grind your beans when buying.  Make sure to keep your beans or grounds in an air-tight container and store away from heat and moisture.  Do not refrigerate coffee that you use daily as moisture from the refrigerator will cause the coffee to deteriorate.

If all this sounds overwhelming, fear not!  I have tested this recipe out multiple ways and found that Chock full o’Nuts (which is available at your local grocery store) is as good, if not better, for cold-brewing then some of the more expensive beans I have bought at specialty stores.  Start with something you know and experiment from there!

Water:  Coffee is 98% water so make sure that you choose a water that is clear of impurities or taste.  If there are any strong odors or chemical smells, like chlorine, choose bottled or filtered water instead.  Always use cold or room-temperature water when cold brewing.

adding water

Preparing: In an empty jar or carafe, add 2 tablespoons of ground coffee.  Top with 1 1/2 cups of water.  Seal container, shake gently and transfer to refrigerator.  Let the liquid sit overnight (10-12 hours) to steep.

Straining:  Place a fine mesh strainer over a kitchen bowl.  Line with a coffee filter or sheet of paper towel (this will help minimize the clean up time and keep any small grounds from getting into the coffee).  Slowly pour the coffee mixture through the strainer and filter to separate out the grounds.  If there are any grounds left in the jar, wipe clean and rinse.

groundsServing: Add half a cup of ice to your original jar and pour the coffee back in. You now have the perfect cup of cold-brewed iced coffee!  Depending on how you like your coffee, add milk and sugar and enjoy!

How to Make Perfect Cup of Iced Coffee

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Serving Size: 12 oz


  • 2 Tablespoons freshly ground coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup Ice
  • Milk, to taste
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. In a carafe or jar, add ground coffee and cover with water.
  2. Secure lid and shake gently to mix.
  3. Let sit in refrigerator overnight to steep (10-12 hours for optimal taste).
  4. Once mixture is ready, place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and line with coffee filter. Pour mixture through the strainer and filter to separate coffee grinds from the liquid.
  5. Wipe out any remaining grinds from the container and rinse.
  6. Place ice to jar and pour coffee over ice.
  7. Finish with milk and/or sugar as desired.


Beet Pineapple Carrot Juice


With juice shops popping up all over the place, weekly Groupon deals featuring pre-packaged juice plans and affordable juicers available at most major retail chains, it is easy to get your juice on.  But if you are new to juicing, the number of choices out there can be intimidating.

This recipe for Beet Pineapple Carrot juice is a great place to start if you are new to the juicing game.  It is a sweet and refreshing drink that requires no added sugar and it leave no bitter aftertaste.  Served over ice, each ingredient is packed full of beneficial nutrients that will give your body a well deserved pick-me up on a warm summer day.  If you don’t have a juicer or aren’t quite ready to commit to one, stop into your nearest juice shop and ask them to whip this up for you.  Even the pickiest eater I know enjoyed this drink!


Beets:  While the green leaves and stalks are slightly bitter, beet root is recognized for it’s rich purple-red color and it’s sugary-sweet flavor.  High in vitamin C, potassium, manganese and fiber, beet root is know to help lower blood pressure and aids in the body’s natural detoxification process.  Beets also contains betaine, a nutrient known to help protect cells from environmental damage and reduce inflammation.

Pineapple:  In addition to being jammed packed with nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, manganese, and potassium, one cup of pineapple includes 131% of the daily recommended serving of Vitamin C. Fresh pineapple is also the only known source of bromelain, an enzyme that is believed to help reduce joint pain, swelling, bruising and arthritis.

Carrots: Known for their high concentration of beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body, carrots also contain a slew of other beneficial nutrients like vitamin B6, potassium, copper, folic acid and magnesium.  While most people associate carrots with improving vision, they are also anti-inflammatory, and are believed to help lower the risk of coronary disease and cholesterol levels.


 Preparing vegetables and fruit at home for juicing: 

  • Beets:  For the most benefits, always look for beets that are firm, plump and preferably organic.  You do not want beets to be bruised or wrinkled as their nutritional value will have gone down.  Trim off the greens and gently wash outside skin.  Use a vegetable peeler or knife to remove outer skin then cut into pieces that will fit in your juicer.
  • Pineapple:  It is best to use fresh pineapple whenever possible (for more information how to pick and cut fresh pineapple click here).  If you are in a rush, most grocery stores have fresh pineapple chunks located in the produce department.  If you must use canned pineapple, make sure that is is packed in fresh pineapple juice and not syrup.  Pineapple packed in syrup will have sugar added to make the syrup.  This drink is sweet enough on it’s own!
  • Carrots:  Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to prepare for juicing.  Just scrub the veggies to remove and dirt and you are ready to go.  No need to peel or chop.

Beet Pineapple Carrot Juice

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 10 oz

Serving Size: 1


  • 1 medium beet, leaves cut off, washed and peeled
  • 3 medium to large carrots, washed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pineapple


  1. Cut vegetables and pineapple into chunks that will fit into your juicer.
  2. Put beets, carrots and pineapple through juicer.
  3. Serve over cup of ice and enjoy.


If your juicer has 2 speeds, put beets and carrots through first on high setting. Put pineapple through last on low setting.

Red, White and Blue Berry Salsa

Celebrate the 4th of July with this Red, White and Blue themed Berry Salsa!

red,white and blue

Salsa is a popular food dish that has been around for centuries.  Literally meaning “sauce” in Spanish, it’s roots can be traced all the way back to the Incas and Aztecs.  Originally made with a combination of tomatoes, chili peppers and squash seeds, it was used as a compliment venison, turkey, lobster and fish.  Nowadays, salsa is most popular condiment in the United States, even beating out ketchup!  Because of it’s popularity, salsa making has come a long way from it’s humble Mexican roots.  You are as just as likely to find a Mango, Black Bean or Corn based salsa next to the traditional tomato salsa at your local supermarket.

This is not your traditional salsa recipe!  Instead of being spicy, this Berry Salsa is both savory and sweet.  Made from fresh strawberries and blueberries marinated in a balsamic vinegar and cinnamon syrup, it is served chilled and is a fun dessert to try on a warm summer night.  Dip into the Berry Salsa with pizzelle cookies and add a dollop of whipped cream on top to round out the flavors and create some real fireworks for your tastebuds!

salsa 4Preparing the berries:  Rinse fruit and check for any bruised or wilted berries that need to be removed. Measure out one cup of fresh blueberries and place in a large bowl.  The strawberries will be measured after they are cut, so start by removing the tops. Chop the strawberries into pieces that are similar in size to the blueberries.  If your strawberries are small, simply quarter.  If they are larger, you will need to cut in half before quartering.  Be careful not to cut the pieces too small- you want to create a chunky, not mushy, salsa!   Once strawberries are cut, measure out one cup of chopped berries add to the blueberries already in your bowl.

To make the syrup: In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 3 tablespoons of organic raw sugar over medium heat.  Bring liquid to a boil and whisk together until sugar has completely dissolved.  Add the juice from half a lemon and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Reduce heat and let liquid simmer for approximately 12 minutes, stirring often, until vinegar reduces to a thick syrup.  You will know sauce is ready when you pull your whisk through the liquid and it pulls away from the bottom of the pan and sticks together (see photo above).  Remove from heat and let stand for a minute.  If there are any bubbles floating around the edges of your mixture (it might look a bit like foam), use a spoon and simply skim off the bubbles before adding to the berries.  The foam does not affect taste, it just doesn’t look as pretty.

Mixing your salsa:  Pour the warm balsamic syrup over the fresh fruit.  Gently stir together until all the berries are evenly covered.  It is important to add the syrup while hot as the heat of the syrup will gently cook the fruit, releasing their natural sugars.  Cover bowl and let mixture marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature then transfer to fridge for another hour and a half.  Once it is completely chilled it is ready to serve.

red, white and blue 4

Final Touches:   Salsa is just not the same without chips to dip and since you are serving this as a dessert, you are going to want to use something sweet!  Pizzelle Cookies are thin Italian waffle cookies that are traditionally flavored with vanilla, lemon or anise.  While you can make your own, they are inexpensive and usually available supermarkets (you may need to ask).  Because the cookies are large, I break into quarters to create “chips” for dipping.  If you can not find pizzelles, don’t fret!  Look for a vanilla based thin cookie that can be used for dipping.  Lemon cookies also taste great!

red, white and blue 2

Once your salsa is chilled, create a mini-dessert dessert bar.  Lay out your pizzelle chips, a bowl of whipped cream and Berry Salsa along with plates, spoons and napkins.  Enjoy!

Red, White and Blue Berry Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes


    Berry Salsa
  • 1 cup of blueberries, washed
  • 1 cup of strawberries (measure after chopping)
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons raw organic sugar
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • To Serve
  • 12 pizzelle cookies
  • 1 cup of whipped cream


    Berry Salsa
  1. Cut tops off strawberries. Chop strawberries into large chunks, similar in size to the blueberries.
  2. Place strawberry pieces and blueberries in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Whisk together until sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Add the cinnamon and juice of half a lemon and continue to simmer and whisk over medium heat until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Drizzle the hot syrup over the fresh fruit. Using a spoon, gently mix the fruit and syrup together.
  6. Let stand for half an hour at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to chill for an additional hour and a half.
  7. Serve with pizzelle cookies and whipped cream topping.


Bottom’s Up! The Perfect Caesar

ceasar 2In honour of Canada Day, I would like to take a moment and introduce you to the Caesar. I’m not talking about the salad or the famous dead guy from Italy.  It’s a wonderfully boozy beverage straight from the heartland of Canada that was made to spice up your weekends.

Originally concocted in 1969, this tasty cocktail was the brain child of Walter Chell, a hotel manager in Alberta, Canada.  Asked to create a signature drink for a new Italian restaurant, legend has it that Chell was inspired by his favorite dish, Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams).  The Caesar, a mixture of vodka, spices, tomato and clam juices, was born and became an instant hit.  Word of mouth spread the recipe across Canada, and it’s popularity has continued to grow over the last 45 years.   In fact, it is estimated that 350 million Caesars are consumed every year in Canada.  Considering there are only 34 million people in the country, it would not be a stretch so say that it is Canada’s favorite drink!


Add a touch of fun to your next BBQ or Brunch by setting up a Caesar Bar. Guests can mix up their own drink!

While a good Bloody Mary can contain many ingredients, a Caesar takes a direct approach.  In fact, all you really need to remember is “one, two, three, four”.  One shot of vodka, 2 dashes of hot sauce, 3 dashes of salt and pepper, and 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.  Top that off with Clamato juice, stir, garnish and voila- instant heaven in a glass!

So why has the Caesar not taken off outside of Canada? I suspect that it is the mixture of clam and tomato juices that scares people off. Don’t let it! It is not an overly sharp or even recognizable taste once mixed. It blends in seamlessly with the spices and gives the tomato juice a little extra kick. Clamato juice is ready pre-mixed in your local supermarket’s juice aisle so there is no need to mix your own.

Entertaining Tip:  Creating a “Caesar Bar” for your next Brunch or barbecue is an easy and fun way to experience this drink.  Label each ingredient with the correct amount to add, give a little explanation to your guests and let them play bartender on their own.

Bottom’s Up! The Perfect Caesar

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Bottom’s Up!  The Perfect Caesar


  • 1 and 1/2 oz vodka
  • 6oz Clamato Juice
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Lime, washed and sliced into wedges
  • Celery salt
  • Celery stalk
  • Bacon (optional)


  1. Run a lime wedge around the edge of the glass and dip rim in celery salt.
  2. Fill glass with ice.
  3. Add vodka, 2 dashes of hot sauce, 3 dashes each of salt and pepper, 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and top with Clamato juice. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Garnish with celery stick, lime wedge and enjoy.